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The first of these arguments is a fun one.  The "socialism is dead" right-wing meme was important just after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  It had a lot to do with the invention of the Third Way, largely shepherded by Anthony Giddens, and with the thesis argued by Francis Fukuyama, that world society was headed toward universal liberal (capitalist) democracy.  Only Fukuyama never explained in his book why the "democracy" part was necessary.  Why not just skip the public, and get on with the trumphalism?  One can pick out Fukuyama's desires by his depiction of the realm of the possible.

The idea of this and my past two diaries (1) and (2) is that dismissals of socialism are generally right-wing memes -- that if we can't have socialism, regarded here in its dictionary sense as public control of the means of production, then (it is implied) we must be satisfied with plutocracy, which is the likely end-result of competition between firms in a capitalist economy (especially given current levels of corporate welfare).  Or maybe it's that old standard, the "well-regulated capitalism" that is currently the province of those with money and connections, with which we must all be satisfied.  We all have money and connections, right?  Have you bought access to your Congressmember yet, to enact the reform of your choice?

Here I hope to establish, au contraire, that socialism is something we ought to want to have.  And if we ought to want to have it, then we ought to try to find some way of making it work for us once we get it.  Arguments that socialism won't work are not out of the question, however, because it's by dialectic and debate that we sharpen our notions of socialism, making it stronger.  Such arguments tend to fall into two categories: 1) Socialism won't work because it's completely out of reach or because it's evil or whatever -- because, as Margaret Thatcher argued, "there is no alternative" to (neoliberal) capitalism, and 2) socialism won't work because it's impractical.  

Arguments of category 2) typically suggest practical barriers to socialism -- for instance, one might argue that democracy requires a political class, a class of politicians, because direct democracy is impossible in groups larger than a certain amount.  And so the political class will end up being a substitute for the public which would otherwise control the means of production.  Practical barriers to socialism constitute practical problems -- and so you have ideas such as participatory economics, which are attempts to get around the practical problems faced by the public as it would attempt to make socialism a reality.

Generally speaking, practical problems are problems which can be framed so as to admit of a solution.  "If man were to fly he'd have wings" was one way of denying the possibility of human flight, but there were plenty of people who, from the Renaissance onward, thought of ways of putting wings on people, and then you had Orville and Wilbur Wright, who no doubt built upon a good number of previous inventors who also imagined the matter of building a successful airplane as a practical problem.  I can easily imagine socialism as presenting similarly inventor-like challenges to those faced by earlier dreamers of airplanes -- once we can get behind the idea that socialism is something we want to invent.

In this vein, there's also the "the USSR is dead so where's the socialist culture going to start?" argument.  In this regard I think the process has been largely begun by organizations such as the MST in Brazil, the Zapatistas, and the "misiones" in Venezuela, under the banner of "21st-century socialism."  In that regard "socialism is dead" is what rich folks tell everyone when that common human ability to dream has gotten out of bounds.

Arguments of category 1), however, are typically made by people who have a stake in the existing order.  This is the "socialism is against human nature" category.  People who argue stuff in category 1) want to put down socialism without making the socialists any stronger.  Such people are like conversational capitalists -- they want to establish their own private control over, and ownership of, the means of argument.  They argue stuff like "socialism is impossible because it's against human nature so shut up about it" or something like that.  These arguments are somewhat odd-sounding when combined with the "omigod the Soviet Union" argument.  So the Russians spent seventy-odd years in contravention of human nature?  Wow.  Someone ought to tell the Cubans.

I think the most popular of these arguments begins something like this: "it is human nature to be greedy."  This can be taken two ways.  The first is that it's actually an argument for socialism.  Rather than only the top 1% of human society being allowed exclusive development of their natural greed, everyone gets to be greedy under socialism, and so socialism is better for human nature than capitalism.  The second would be that almost everyone must deny their human nature so that human nature can be gifted to a select few.  All those alpha males, living and dying through the 200,000 year record of human existence -- tragically denied the right to be Gordon Gekko:

Sad, when you think about it.

Let's just say that it's human nature to be malleable.  All sorts of human impulses can be pushed around by culture, including the definition of "greed" -- if we assume that it's "human nature to be greedy," and we want to explain real-life socialism, why, we just change the definition of "greed."  Problem solved!

In that vein, I guess we can be greedy about a number of things.  We can be greedy for sex, or food, or candy, or alcohol and other drugs, or wealth, or power, or maybe even socialism.  Maybe we could all get greedy, really greedy, for socialism.  What happens then?

why is this stuff important?

As we know now, the challenges of our future are quite daunting from today's perspectives.  In real life, continued operation of the capitalist system is going to bring us global warming hell.  Eric Schechter outlines the primary challenge of this era amusingly, in his essay The Root Problem: "We need a revolution, and soon, and it must be the right kind of revolution".  Big tall order.

But the problem I've been outlining in real life isn't about real life, strictly speaking -- the folks who write global warming diaries here can tell you about that, or you can just watch David Roberts' video  -- but it's about the life of the mind.  The conceptual framework for the mental problem under scrutiny here is easily explained in terms of the early psychology of Sigmund Freud, up to and including Freud's (1920) work Beyond The Pleasure Principle.  In Freud's scheme, there are two main forces operating in the mind (and this is before we read of the "death drive" and the "uberich" and so on).  There was the pleasure principle, the libido, which sought pleasure in the ways once detailed by Jeremy Bentham, and then there was the reality principle, which told the psyche to cool off because pleasure is not immediate, but gained through strategies.  Freud, from Beyond The Pleasure Principle:

Under the influence of the ego's instincts of self-preservation, the pleasure principle is replaced by the reality principle.  This latter principle does not abandon the intention of ultimately obtaining pleasure, but it nevertheless demands and carries into effect the postponement of satisfaction, the abandonment of a number of possibilities of gaining satisfaction and the temporary toleration of unpleasure as a step on the long indirect road to pleasure.  (p. 26)
So that's the procedure.  Our pleasure principles tell us "pleasure!  pleasure!" but our reality principles tell us "no, you must follow the rules outlined by all the stuff in your heads before you can have pleasure."  So that's what all these arguments against socialism are about.  We can tell ourselves all we want that global warming is going to do us in.  But the real problem here is that internalized rules, which condition us to follow the "continued operation of the capitalist system," still have a hold on our society's reality principle.   This is why we do not just "go for" socialism.  

Now I suppose we could try to counter this problem by cultivating the socialist ego (within society), and by developing a socialist reality principle that will solve our society's problems.  All these folks with their knickers in a bunch about "socialism," with all their arguments about "socialism is dead" and "socialism is against human nature" would seem to indicate themselves that there's a socialist ego out there to be cultivated.  How could socialism possibly be dead, or against human nature, if they're so concerned to keep killing it off?

Originally posted to Postcapitalism on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 03:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight and Anti-Capitalist Chat.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I don't think much of human nature, (6+ / 0-)

    so what's the problem is socialism is actually, you know, better than that? ;-)

    •  "Human nature" is a complex feedback system (12+ / 0-)

      Studies have shown that human nature is nothing to be pessimistic about. From what I have read, it seems that perhaps 10-15 percent of us are basically "good" and will go out of our way in most circumstances to be pro-social and cooperative. Only about 5 percent are generally "bad" or selfish in most circumstances. The rest will go according to prevailing conditions: cooperative in cooperative societies, selfish in selfish societies.

      There have been some really amazing experiments performed in the field of experimental economics. They show that humans, for the most part, value cooperation and reciprocity over selfish gain. We are not the selfish creatures the ultra-capitalists would like everyone to believe we are.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    •  Traditional societies are more democratic and soc- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Guyer, radmul

      -ialistic than feudal societies and industrialized countries...

      Some form of agreed sharing and modified controlled greed is probably a more typically human thing... tolerant of variation within the local norms but intolerant of anyone getting just too big for their britches... (see American First peoples prior to European intrusion)

      So harnessing greed via popular consensus appears to be built in to our programming... and can be implemented in a much larger political and social entity... provided the alpha males do not game things to become super alphas with no room for anyone else to bargain... We also have emergency fallback programming when social norms are upended... everyone for themselves (immediate family), run for the hills etc. ... which "Disaster Capitalism" by definition takes advantage of all too readily.

      When the few leverage themselves to where they can make offers that nobody else can refuse... then things stop working.. which is by design.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 05:51:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah (24+ / 0-)
    continued operation of the capitalist system is going to bring us global warming hell.
    The argument that socialism (or some other alternative) can't work is akin to the person behind the wheel who refuses to take an alternative route as he drives over the cliff. Capitalism is killing us.  
  •  Chavez may be dead, but socialism ain't /nt (12+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013

    by annieli on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 03:47:37 PM PST

    •  he kind of messed up the one button Socialism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      milkbone, peregrinus

      he was pushing. The chickens will come home to roost. Sure there was extreme wealth disparity before his reforms, sure the Autocrats at the top had the place rigged to suit themselves... and something had to be done but he has died with a lot of newer looming issues that he has bequeathed to the nation. I hope that instead of going back to the old corruption or continuing with his new replacement corruption they can dial back on all corruption and get a balanced approach... a social democracy that works more like Norway... another country blessed with an oil income....

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 05:56:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The lack of a viable alternative to (15+ / 0-)

    Neoliberalism is the primary myth behind its perpetuation at this point. Conveniently ignoring of course that there are extant alternatives, and other alternatives not yet tried.

    I find the fact that capitalists use the fall of the USSR as an example of why socialism isn't possible, and also and example of how great the US is because we destroyed them illustrative in this case. It's pretty clear that by "not viable" we mean "we will fucking destroy you."

  •  I heard two cats joking about the mice (6+ / 0-)

    they eat.  "They want us to stop eating mice?  That's against animal nature!  Dumb mice."

  •  "Socialism is dead" is a big, fat excuse (16+ / 0-)

    For not thinking about or challenging the current system in ways that make scared, lazy people uncomfortable.  This is why, for example, a successful socialist politician, recently deceased, is called "crazy" and a "dictator" by a large number of people on an allegedly left of center blog.

    My patience for ladies-against-women liberals is G-O-N-E.

    A fine diary, Cassiodorus.  Many thanks.

  •  Aren't most tribal groups socialistic??? So (15+ / 0-)

    wouldn't that mean that socialism is what is really natural for human groups? I mean look at my neighborhood... we all have our own crap but if my neighbor was hungry and out of work we would help out. When they need a tool or a helping hand we help. They are not relatives nor lord masters. We look out for each others children and homes. We lend a hand when they need it. We share what we can.

    I know none of us would last  long doing that if the person needing help just sat back and took our contributions without trying. But I think that most know that. Maybe that is what freaks some out like one of our neighbors...The Fox news watching loon who is still a good neighbor. Maybe he got burned by someone who doesn't realize the helping hand is not I will sustain and take care of you for all your life without regard to how diminished my becomes.

    So in order to get socialism we need to have some new (truly Christian for those who claim to be that - me I am an atheist) social rules which resolve what happens if someone is a taker and never a contributor (like the 1% are always trying to do - I don't consider having a business where you take advantage of others labor & knowledge without giving them their due share).

    Fear is the Mind Killer...

    by boophus on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 03:55:20 PM PST

    •  Any grouping of mutual reliance (11+ / 0-)

      is socialism in it's basest definition.

      "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 04:02:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bingo! (4+ / 0-)

        Thus, government of any sort is socialistic. The degree is what matters.

        •  Bingo Bingo! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos

          We need to think of "socialism" in broader terms than the standard dictionary definition of, as the diarist says, "public control of the means of production". At least we need to entertain the idea that "public" does not necessarily mean the government. It might be worker's control or neighborhood control.

          One fallacy that we constantly see is to say the socialism and capitalism are opposites. The opposite of socialism is individualism, not capitalism.

          Socialistic societies with capitalistic economies exist in lots of places. Private businesses just need to have firm rules, and have a "mission statement" to always provide for the common good. Government needs to always balance the needs of the group, with the rights and needs of the individual.

          I see "public/private" and "individual/group" as "yin/yang" situations where neither side is more important than the other, but rather as a situation where they are mutually beneficial to each other.

          Of course there will always be a push/pull tension between the two. Finding the balance is what we call "politics".

    •  We Had Some Decent Old Rules To Keep the 1% (13+ / 0-)

      from being too much of taker. We taxed away their additional income to the point that they weren't asking for what they demand now. 50% rate kicked in around 300 grand in today's money. Those kinds of taxes did some massive compression of compensation and wealth in the 50's and 60's.

      People don't take what they don't deserve when they're prevented by a regulatory structure from doing it. It may not necessarily matter whether they own the apparatus they're using. Excess taking has to be prevented. Only in small tribal units or lifeboats can cultural pressure keep it under control, and even there it breaks down regularly.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 04:50:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you prefer a lower standard of living for all? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        misslegalbeagle

        It is honestly not clear to me if socialists don't understand how retarding incentives to produce and innovate lead to lower standards of living across the board or if it's the case that a morally preferable scenario is discouraging substantial wealth accumulation even if that leads to a smaller overall pie?

        •  I prefer human survival (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus, tonyahky

          Incentives to burn all the coal, oil, gas and tar sands are destructive. And FWIW, over the past 30 years working class folks have not increased their wealth so the system is not working as you think it is.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

          by FishOutofWater on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 04:15:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  debatable (0+ / 0-)

            First, 30 years is a pretty small window of history even if your premise is true.  That said, many measures in fact due show wealth gains across the board, and with regard to something like Internet access, over 90% of US households have the ability to find this post from their living rooms...

            •  Depends on how you define "wealth" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              offgrid

              And you should take into account the fact that many of the kinds of things people own today are very cheap compared to how much they cost when they first came out. You can buy a cell phone for $10 at the dollar general store, a microwave for $40 at wal-mart.

              Changes in the kinds of things most people--including the poor-- own are mostly a function of culture, not wealth.

              Back when my dad was a boy, many people owned the land  (often tens of acres) their houses sat on, had several head of livestock, and owned a large collection of farming implements and hand tools--stuff that would be outrageously expensive to go and buy today. And yet, many persons who owned such things were still considered "poor" by the standards of the time.

            •  I would like to see the data (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              offgrid

              you are referring to.

              And please, no more tired attempts to change the subject by comparing wealth increases to Internet access.

              Look at the gains in real income and wealth since the 70s for those not in the top 5 - 10%.  flat or declining.  all the expanding "pie" is going to those at the top.

        •  the 1% in the 50s and 60s still did very well (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          caryltoo, bluegrass50

          they saved on taxes by reinvesting in their businesses... unlike now where they save by off-shoring and pillaging.
          So they still made money and lived very well by the standards of the day. And there was still room to be a multi multi millionaire and even a billionaire or two... but they had to really contribute something via their companies and investments instead of mostly buying legislation, politicians and tax loopholes... WORK for it... earn it by being a net positive to the people who they live off of.

          Having rich people spending 100 million on a yacht and living in palaces and debating on what size private jet to have... with or without the solid gold fixtures in the on plane jacuzzi... and peons salivating over "lifestyles of the rich and famous" TeeVee fluff stuff and Hello magazine type spreads on people's favorite plutonomy icons is all a tip off that something is out of balance...

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:04:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't condone unchecked greed (0+ / 0-)

            But that doesn't justify the greater degrees of poverty that result from trying to oppress these people...  I certainly share your disgust of people who would buy a $100 million yacht, but trying to unnaturally retard the instincts of those people shrinks societies overall output at the expense of all...  Until we shed the instincts that grew in a primitive existence much different from our modern society, we have to strive to ensure transparency as best we can (in government as well as commerce for that matter).  The ideology of socialism addresses this, but the reality of our existence dictates otherwise.  And socialists seem to ignore the greed of laziness that is certainly a drag on the productivity of humanity when incentives for free riding are too great...

            •  My father was a multi-millionaire (0+ / 0-)

              and go figure - he sent me to a genuinely socialist high school.

              He always told me that in business, business people didn't care so much about money, they cared about being the alpha.

              Money was just the way of keeping score.

            •  It really is all about rewards and social standing (0+ / 0-)

              most poorer people have the same desire to be able to take care of themselves and to be approved of socially ... that is they do not want others to get away with cheating and they do not want to be seen as cheaters.

              Crooks at the bottom or the top do not mind cheating a lot more to get ahead, get things or achievements that raise their social status or gain the admiration of others.

              To imagine that most people, especially poor ones are inherently lazy or that all rich people are greedy is just plain wrong. There are exceptions and people point to them as somehow being the rule.

              ALL humans will cheat a little to gain something... tell a small lie, take a bit more now and then... but they also all have limits to their behavior that depend on the approval or disapproval of others AND themselves...

              The problem of wealth is that over time more and more of them are of the rentier/investment class and not the innovator or creative business side of things... and their success is as much due to money making money and having enough money to be changing the rules to allow faster larger  returns on investment... well past the economic health balance of a society. Placing balanced and well thought out limits on the out of control suction of money upwards is not harmful to a society... no it is in fact GOOD for the society... it makes prosperity sustainable and better overall for everyone. The rich can be rich and stay rich... just not so rich they strangle the golden goose eventually.

              And if the rich keep score with each other via their money... they will just have to do it within rules that benefit a long term growth and prosperity formula. The truth is that the best way for the most competitive to get VERY rich VERY fast is to upset things... disaster capitalism is all about shaking things up and gaming the economy into a pyramid scheme where they pull the strings and engineer wealth transfer from the poorer and also their business rivals. And hiding things beyond normal business secrets is part of this con game and contrary to Democracy... hide the means, the strategy, the tactics and the truth to change the law and fool people into giving away their own prosperity.

              Social Democracy with Capitalism harnessed to a transparent system with an informed electorate does kind of blunt the winner takes all pillage and loot approach but it is really the better way and it allows creative businesses who are creative in solutions and ideas, marketing and improvements to compete better instead of having to be more like cutthroat business Mafia worshiping their own bonuses at all costs.

              Rewarding bullies and cheaters maims society at every level... but small time punks and cheaters who are admired in a slum do far less damage to a society than Banksters looting an entire economy.

              Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

              by IreGyre on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 08:44:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The name of the game is transparency… (0+ / 0-)

                Indeed ultra-greedy people attempt to game the system toward monopoly and information imbalance, but herein lies a key function of government.  Yes regulation can upset economics, but we have to strive toward policies that minimize disruption while fostering transparency.

                The idea that the investment class provides no value is preposterous.  Yes they may take unnaturally high rents and that needs to be considered, but the fact is that economic forces would destroy them if they provided no inherent value (that value being the lending capital to people who need it to grow their businesses because they couldn’t enter that business with their own insufficient capital).  A major reason we are seeing a growing gap in wages and total wealth possession is partially due to the poor economy and partially due to the fact that much of this investment capital is sitting on the sidelines due to uncertainty coming from government and how that will impact investments.  This is why money is flowing to the stock market right now because alternate investments are less attractive.  We need clear policy out of Washington to help drive a true recovery, which will decrease unemployment and drive wages upward….

        •  You do NOT get to "assume" the pie would be (5+ / 0-)

          smaller , and the "average standard of living" would be "lower," under what I am sure you think of as "socialism." There's a whole lot of very good empirical evidence that unbridled corporatist/libertarian-friendly greed shrinks the pie, just cuts off the hugest piece for the few, and screws over the many via everything from externalities to simple theft (see the mortgage racket that's unfolding.)

          The "average good" you espouse is, in my view, bullshit. There are places, "socialist" places, where there's a relatively stable, very comfortable living for the largest number, room for some greed but none of the ridiculous cramming of all the wealth into the very few hands. Along with forcing the "economy" into operating patters based on combustion and manufactured-demand consumption. That pattern is great for the very few, who can steal to their heart's content and live out their lives in "luxury," and like the kleptocrats of yore, sneer at the rest of us, knowing that they are untouchable in the present because they own the corrective mechanisms, and in the future because they will be comfortably dead, so what are the rest of us, eatnig our Soylent Green and Yellow, going to do? Dig up their sorry-ass carcasses and dishonor them a la Mussolini?

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 07:48:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd say simply that your perception of reality... (0+ / 0-)

            Is in fact a non-reality per the other comments I've made here...  That is the rhetoric of demagogues that ignore the very rapid advancement of standard of living we've seen in the past couple of hundred and even the past 40-50 years.  How many homes have washing machines and high speed internet capability?  Who is going hungry?  I don't condone unchecked greed, but trying to repress it through redistribution retards innovation and hurts us all...

            •  Restating the same false syllogism does not turn (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              radmul, offgrid

              it into Truth. Back to Texas with you... you've got your own serious demagogue skills to add to.

              Where have we heard that crap about "everybody has a microwave and TV, so it proves we're all better off" before? One of the favorite RW baits?

              As to who is going hungry, you hang around here and read the dairies, maybe -- so you should have a pretty good picture of who exactly is going hungry. And how many of us. And the plans to strip ever more wealth and income from the many of us to ensure the, ah,, "comfort" of the few of us.

              "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

              by jm214 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 10:27:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Our standard of living is worse (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catte Nappe

              Who, on average, could afford to have a nice house and a parent at home, and the other parent home at 6pm?

        •  tell me how then we have had (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radmul, Mad Season

          a stagnant or lower income and wealth for the bottom half or more of the distribution since the 70s.

          What about reality don't you understand?

        •  If you talk to most small business owners (0+ / 0-)

          you will discover that most of them do not do what they do for money.  

          They do it for pride in themselves.

          Many do not make any money for years - if at all.

          I know, because I am one.

          Someone who is primarily motivated by money is never going to produce anything much worth a damn.

    •  Israel Is Pretty Socialist (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nulwee, Wildthumb

      Do they still have kibbutzes?

      There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

      by bernardpliers on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 07:18:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is one of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mad Season

      size.  People tend to treat those they have regular contact with fairly well.  As soon as you get social relations where people don't know each other things get more difficult.

    •  People do share and help one another. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radmul, Mad Season

      Corporations do not.

      This idea that corporations are people is fallacious, of course, but let's give them that for the sake of the argument.

      Corporations are horrible people. They are legally bound to one motivation, profit, and are forbidden from helping those against whom they "compete." They may be legal persons for the time being, but they are far from attaining humanity, and it is humanity, not personhood, that should drive our legislative and governing impulse.

      So we can either change our laws restricting corporations from acting in ways that support the whole system, even if it's at the expense of their bottom line, or we can do away with the concept that they are people altogether and let humans run our society instead of turning it over to them.

      This lies at the heart of solving our problems going forward. Whose influence should determine the course of humanity, humans or legal persons?

      Atlas shrugged. Jesus wept.

      by trevzb on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 09:29:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Churches=Socialism, Religion=Political Correctness (0+ / 0-)

    Just be careful they don't curb stomp you with the love of Christ.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 04:42:57 PM PST

  •  It is a curious anomoly (12+ / 0-)

    That the period of greatest prosperity and growth in this country coincided with high taxes, and the time the most cherished socialist policies were implemented.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 04:54:15 PM PST

  •  Re: Human Nature (13+ / 0-)

    Whenever someone objects that Socialism is at odds with "human nature", it should be pointed out that the same could be said for any mode of social organization. All social organization aims at altering human behavior, rewarding some behaviors while penalizing others.

    The only real question is which behaviors we choose to encourage and which we choose to discourage.

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 05:24:51 PM PST

    •  In which case it could be argued (6+ / 0-)

      that it is human nature to evaluate and modify our own behavior according to what seems good to us.

      Hell, look how popular monogamy is and has been throughout human history, and that's completely against "natural behavior" for humans.

      •  How "popular" do you imagine monogamy has been (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brown Thrasher

        "throughout human history"?

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 07:59:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Popular in the sense of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FishOutofWater, misslegalbeagle

          practiced in many unrelated cultures, although very far from universally.

        •  it was less so in unequal societies (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WB Reeves

          where women had less say... and since there is roughly just one woman for each man... a man hogging up too much of the reproductive and intimacy, shared life at the expense of too many other men meant he and his fellow woman collectors had to have some sort of power to keep it that way... a social acceptance, religious, hierarchical, ritual or other excuse or explanation for it. And even then the men doing without a wife or lover would not be happy and women pressed into prostitution or stolen from neighboring tribes or nations to help fill the artificial scarcity did not much like it either...

          Traditional societies were typically relaxed about plural marriages but they still tended strongly to be one man one woman for the most part since that was the most conducive to a stable and content population...

          The economics of it also trended that way too... with just big chiefs/alpha males etc. able to hog up extra women... sometimes with the woman totally buying into it and other times not so much... again depending on how much say women had...some women involuntarily stuck with a rich fat old high status meanies born into it... or some voluntarily collecting around the local stud warrior with earned high status...

          Men hate the women choosing if they are not getting chosen... they would rather  have the power to do the choosing...

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:14:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Keep in mind, though (0+ / 0-)

            that one-man-plus-many-women, where those women stay with only that man, isn't "natural behavior" for humans either.  No form of exclusivity is.

            •  sure, one at a time when lives are short (0+ / 0-)

              still made for monogamy to be not for life for everyone...

              But one at a time is more socially stable... having 10 or 20 percent of young males with no partners, no families is a recipe for  unrest if not revolution ... worsens the status of women when they become an artificially created scarce commodity controlled by high status men... the only other use for the apparent surplus of single males is as expendable soldiers who may have the option of bringing back a woman from a neighboring tribe or country...

              So natural for human is... serial monogamy in a stable social situation... and that tends to keep it stable.

              Human males also have an urge to have access to more than one woman and having plural wives is an alternate emergency fallback in unstable times (wars can deplete marriageable males) ... But polygyny if it is not just temporary and uniformly accepted will both create instability or the need for social changes to impose, excuse and perpetuate it which makes for a sicker society which can persist in that alternate balance but it has continual inherent problems.

              Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

              by IreGyre on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 08:54:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Serial monogamy isn't "natural" either. (0+ / 0-)

                If it were, there would never in the entirety of human history have been such a thing as adultery.

                Also, let's not get unnecessarily gendered about this.  Human females are every bit as likely to want more than one man as human males are to want more than one woman.

                Exclusive partnering is a social construct in humans, not an innate behavior.  It's a code of rules that we've made up because (as you point out) it has social advantages, such as stability.  But humans are always going to want sex with more than just one committed partner, because that is what's natural.

    •  Without society, (8+ / 0-)

      we are not fully human, since much of what we are capable of involves relating or reacting to other humans. It is a bit of a balance, to keep one's autonomy and integrity while fitting into a social structure. Depends on the structure, I suppose.*

      *It's been a long, long time since sociology classes....

    •  Some make it sound as if (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annominous, WB Reeves

      real "human nature" is simply the Law of the Jungle.

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 09:44:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i was under the impression that the (0+ / 0-)

      idea of capitalism was that it would it doesn't aim to alter human behavior but instead to simply harness it for a greater social good.

      •  Do people still follow the same patterns (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FishOutofWater, katiec

        of behavior that they did in pre-capitalist societies? Do they live the same way? Work the same way?

        No they do not. Capitalism has altered human behavior in ways completely at odds with patterns that had endured for thousands of years. That's a fact regardless of what the idea may have been.

        Moreover, none of the early theorists of capitalism ever argued that human behavior should be free of social constraint or that market driven values should trump social values.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 02:42:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Contemporary defenses of capitalism are a carica- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WB Reeves, offgrid

          ture of early marketplace thinkers like Adam Smith.

          Fifty years ago, even most supporters of capitalism considered Objectivism or Libertarianism to be an unacceptable extreme. What we've witnessed since 1980 is an astounding vulgarization of capitalist thought, as Objectivist and extreme free market concepts and attitudes have been mainstreamed within right-wing discourse, and from there into public discourse.

          Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here: http://bettysrants.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/my-next-big-thing/

          by Kimball Cross on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 09:43:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I am greedy for Socialism. (5+ / 0-)

    Or was it cuckoo for Coco Puffs? One or the other. I can't remember.  

    Wait, it was Socialism!  I want to share my Coco Puffs.

    "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

    by Bisbonian on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 05:38:12 PM PST

  •  I'm trying to think of a successful nation (8+ / 0-)

    ...that is not largely socialist.

    Anyone?

    I'm stumped.



    Denial is a drug.

    by Pluto on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 06:40:48 PM PST

    •  I think Denmark for example should more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG

      properly be called a welfare state with heavy taxation and
      national healthcare, etc. but it's still largely capitalist.

      I think for socialism to really work there should be worldwide socialism.

      "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

      by Wildthumb on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 08:09:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even China is largely capitalist. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG

        When you think about it. Big time.

        I judge a successful nation by the standard of living that families toward the bottom enjoy. And I judge them by social mobility and child wellbeing at all levels.

        Denmark is very much a social democracy. A socialist state. All socialist states are capitalist states. They engage globally as capitalists and business persons in an array of commerical ventures.

        It is socialist because Denmark makes a huge investment in human capital. That's what socialism is. They invest in health, education, culture, civic events, family leave, long paid vacations, child allowances, low wage support, beautiful public spaces and streets for society to gather, public arts, and transportation and sustainability.

        That is the very definition of socialism.

        Some call that a welfare state.



        Denial is a drug.

        by Pluto on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 09:47:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Important diary. (3+ / 0-)

    It's too bad we're supposed to be enemies or something, according to some.

    A kinder, more gentle capitalism for the long run is probably like trying to have your cake and eat it too.

    Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change -- George Monbiot.

    by Nulwee on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 07:40:16 PM PST

  •  the USSR was never a socialist system (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    newinfluence, FG

    and in point of fact the founder of the USSR had to make up a term (communism) to describe his tyrannical rule.

    Socialism is nice in theory but I remain pestimistic till either I see a true purely socialistic government survive for any real length of time or till technology advances us to the point where being able to create pretty much anything we want captailism pratically collapses (alla star trek)

    In the time that I have been given,
    I am what I am

    by duhban on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 07:58:01 PM PST

    •  Incorrect; both terms originated in the 19th cent. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, JosephK74, offgrid

      My 10th-Edition Merriam-Webster says that the term "socialism" originated in 1837 & "communism" in 1840.

      For that matter Petr Kropotkin's anarcho-communist theory certainly preceded any of the early 20th-century Russian revolutions — & plenty of communal-living experiments, whether inspired by Rousseau or religion, preceded him as well.

      Time once again to fight cyber-spying! Defeat CISPA!

      by Brown Thrasher on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 09:16:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is my problem with it as well. When you see (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, WB Reeves

      a concept (socialism) being tried multiple times and failing every time, it doesn't look promising. Of course, the fact that no one seems to agree what socialism actually is makes its very complicated to discuss it.

    •  USSR was socialist (0+ / 0-)

      the government owned and ran industry.

      It never was communist through.. communism being where the people, in common, ran industry.

      •  Oligarchical Party dictatorship (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annominous, offgrid

        a form of faux-left fascism... people did not have much say in what they were told to do or the decisions made in their name...

        An apparachnik and secret police nobility with a secular Czar ruling via fear and violence replacing a Hereditary monarchy which ruled via a hereditary nobility which ruled via the threat of force and violence... not all that much of a change under the surface.

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:19:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  you're looking at the political side (0+ / 0-)

          socialism is a economic, not political model. If the government runs industry, it's socialism

          capitalism - private entities run industry

          socialism - government runs industry. Government requires the existence of some sort of ruling class

          communism - the people, in common, run industry. Communism according to Marx also has a (non)political part where there are there is a classless society. If society had classes then it would stand to reason one class would have greater pull over what industry did than another

  •  I'm the "human beings are loving and cooperative" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher, IreGyre

    type. If they're allowed ways to shed distresses that come along, our cooperative nature can be allowed to flow. A society based on competition and not cooperation goes against what I think is our basic human impulse. Men especially are taught early and often to compete with one another and are generally not allowed to develop our softer, more loving side. We are discouraged from being close with each other and instead are encouraged to isolate ourselves and "stand on our own and be self-reliant."

    Much of this isn't "economic"; it's psycho-social and cultural, and is much of our historical conditioning.  And we should not ignore this "psychological angle." (But it does dovetail nicely into a more ruthless economic system.)

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 08:04:54 PM PST

  •  Annoy them (6+ / 0-)

    Let a conservative, especially a religious one, define socialism for you, then quote them from the Book of Acts. Won't change their minds, but it is fun to watch the mental gears grinding.

  •  Your premise is flawed... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anime1973, misslegalbeagle

    You are conflating the logic associated with your two categories describing the unworkability of socialism.  The idea that socialism runs counter to human nature is in fact the proper explanation for your 1st category- the impracticality argument (whereas you claim this argument is championed by those wishing to maintain the status quo).  This fact causes the ruling class in socialism along with criminals to become the hoarders  of resources WHILE ALSO removing the self interested incentives of capitalism that build greater societal wealth for all.  You are right to say “socialism is something we ought to want to have,” but until we lose the instincts we developed in a primitive environment outside of society, people will not play by the rules of socialism.  

    People will behave selfishly at either end of the wealth spectrum in all cases and elites will grab resources in either system.  But in capitalism, the poor will suffer much less because innovation through selfishness benefits all to greater or lesser degrees and the free loading tendencies of low ambition people at the bottom is minimized.  You cannot wish this away.  

    Perhaps in time through philosophical enlightenment and even evolution of our brains through computer enhancement we can become wise socialists, but trying to establish this enlightenment through force of policy will never work, and your efforts to do so only bring suffering to us all as history has shown.  I am not proclaiming we are only cold selfish beings- rather we are dualistic in that we are both selfish and social by nature.  That dual nature played well in the tribal setting in which we existed for the bulk of our time on earth whereby a division of labor along with a hierarchy of elites to non-elites helped ensure our survival in a harsh environment, but when that successful strategy led to the advent of society, conflict among elites became the fundamental basis of societal conflict.  Until we change those instincts, it is most wise to champion a system that fosters education and allows self incentives to flourish with as much transparency as we can practically achieve through government.  Meanwhile, broad redistribution and efforts to retard the motives that foster innovation will only bring lower standards of living to those you wish to boost up…

    •  Arise, amateur social scientists! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Panurge, Free Jazz at High Noon

      You have nothing to lose but your brains.

      This fact causes the ruling class in socialism
      You mean us?
      WHILE ALSO removing the self interested incentives of capitalism
      You mean the fear of disappearing into what Marx called the "reserve labor army"?  Yeah, it's a real joy experiencing that!!
      but until we lose the instincts we developed in a primitive environment outside of society,
      Was there some point in the 200,000 year span of human existence in which people lived "outside of society"?  I'm not aware of the existence of such a thing.

      "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

      by Cassiodorus on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 04:20:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If job security is 100% guaranteed, (0+ / 0-)

        what's the purpose of showing up for work?

        •  You're assuming a culture (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Free Jazz at High Noon, offgrid

          that thinks of "job security" as the primary motivating factor. It all depends on how a population has been acculturated. Incentive can come from a number of directions, not just those we're familiar with in capitalistic society.

          In collectivized regions of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, workers were more eager to work due to having, for the first time, the freedom to self-manage their own workplace. Bosses, in the traditional sense, were eliminated. Worker assemblies would decide the direction of the factory. Administrators were not bosses, but rather delegated those positions by the workers. Organization was carefully planned to avoid centralization of authority. Eliminating the subservience to hierarchy is a powerful social incentive. It goes to quality of life. I saw a survey which indicated most Americans hate their jobs. They might go to work (after all, what choice other than homelessness do they have as wage slaves?), but that doesn't mean they're happy doing so.

          Imagine the affect on motivation to actually be happy at the workplace. In Spain, it was reported that production increased. People wanted to work.

          People were given raises beyond their pre-collectivization wages. They were paid even if sick, or while pregnant, and after retirement. This incentivized them, rather than make them lazy. People want to work and do something productive. They also want to manage their own lives. In a collective, with collective self-management, the incentive is different than in capitalism, but there certainly is incentive.  And it is a much healthier social organization than being a robot at the bottom of a pecking order, in which personal development is not rewarded, since people at the bottom are usually rewarded for subservience rather than bucking the system with innovative thought.

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 10:57:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Without real knowledge of this event, I would ask: (0+ / 0-)

            What happened to that collective? On it's surface, this would seem to be a relatively short lived circumstance happening within a homogenous population.  Show me an example where this sort of ideal has persisted on a broad basis in a heterogeneous society?  A can show you a bundle of examples where it has not...  Socialism is the proper ideal for a relatively conflict free society in my mind, but counter to the arguments of the main post here and as I've pointed out in my responses, socialism cannot exist within the context of humanity as we are currently composed.  Greed will indeed derail it on multiple fronts... Elites and criminals will become the plutocrats broadly decried here, and free loaders will place a drag on productivity.  Until we become something in our core that we are not today, a broad based highly socialist society will always eat itself.  Our best hope given our primitive imperfections is to ensure as much transparency in business as we can through government to prevent monopolies and work against assymetrical information in business transactions.  

            •  The one and only true answer to this question: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Free Jazz at High Noon
              What happened to that collective?
              Someone came along and told it that their activities were against human nature, and they got together and said, "you're right!  We're a failure, and so we've decided to go back to being a rigidly-stratified class society."  And so it was.

              "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

              by Cassiodorus on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:30:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  The Francoist fascists won the war (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Free Jazz at High Noon, offgrid

              and they imprisoned, tortured, and executed thousands of anti-fascist collectivists.

              It's a rather complex history. But the long and short of it is the collectives ended at the point of a gun.

              The collectives existed for almost three years before the fascists won the war.

              But there are historically many other examples of collectives that were successful.

              In fact, one of the reasons the Spanish were so acculturated to collectivization is due to the history, going back to medieval times, in which peasant villages operated as essentially collectivized communities.

              Graeber, an anthropologist, has noted that early human societies have modeled themselves according to various forms of social organization, but that the non-hierarchical social structure, based on mutual aid, was often seen, even if not the only form adopted.

              This notion of individual selfishness being the only reliable human trait is unsubstantiated. Your dire predictions didn't hold true in these examples. You're simply making assumptions based on capitalist free market doctrines going back to Adam Smith's "invisible hand", which isn't at all a proven theory. If anything, the destructive path which this doctrine of selfishness has taken is about to bring down the entire planet.

              "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

              by ZhenRen on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:31:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Altruism is subjegated by the elites.... (0+ / 0-)

                In my view, our primal instincts are aimed toward a stratification  of social structure based on hierarchical collective effort characterized by elites dictating the aims of production and followers dutifully operationalizing those aims.  Indeed we have a certain inborn element of socialist instinct. In that context, we exist as a stratified collective that prospers by way of collective effort. Within the bubble of singular society, collective effort flows relatively easily, but when those strategies are so successful that they lead us to a highly populated modern world characterized by broad interaction, conflict among the ambitious elites among us have become the bane of human existence. A world dominated by elites functions best when we foster a social system that allows ambition to make its way in as transparent a setting as we can manage.  

                •  Libertarian? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Catte Nappe, lazybum, ZhenRen

                  I'm not snarking nor trying to bust your chops.

                  This response is a mishmash that veers towards contradicting itself.

                  For example, you lose me when you veer from

                  stratified collective that prospers by way of collective effort
                  (sounds like a basic anthropological model of society and not inherently ideological)

                  to

                  " [in the] bubble of singular society, collective effort flows relatively easily"
                  (oh? really?)

                  to

                  when those strategies are so successful that they lead us to a highly populated modern world characterized by broad interaction, conflict among the ambitious elites among us have become the bane of human existence.
                  (define your terms?)

                  to

                  A world dominated by elites functions best when we foster a social system that allows ambition to make its way in as transparent a setting as we can manage.  
                  Randian, it is.

                  Correct me if I misunderstand. Perhaps I have.

                  •  clarification (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Free Jazz at High Noon

                    I mean to say that I expect we evolved our instincts in a primitive tribal existence over the first 190k years of the 200k years we have walk this earth, and those instincts don’t play well in the complex society we’ve create over the past ~8k years.  I am defining singular society as the predominately tribal existence we evolved in versus the modern highly interactive society that has only existed the past several dozen millennia.

                    My instincts are definitely libertarian, but in a moderate context.  I embrace a libertarian perspective as a surrender to what I see as our primitive limitations. I decry the shortcomings of us that would not exist within a more sophisticated society, but I don’t believe we can accomplish socialism with only a minority among us embracing those ideals.  A minority of altruism will never overcome ambition through forced policy.  I see us sitting in an unfortunate reality that dictates a different strategy needed to deal with the inevitable conflict that will generate from the ambitions of greedy men.   These ambitions will never be quelled by whatever social system we pursue, but a strategy that accepts (but not necessarily embraces) the reality of these shortcomings has its eye on the ball so to speak and has the best chance of defining policies that can work best within this reality….  Yes, this perspective is Randian in practice, but it’s not strictly Randian in moral perspective…

                    •  Nothing other than a committed minority (0+ / 0-)

                      has ever done anything to improve public morals. In some cases the committed minority swells into an effective voting majority, as in the case of men voting to give women voting rights, not only in the US but in many other countries. In some cases, the minority remains a minority, but changes the majority culture. An example is the Quaker impact on business, which you can read about in many historical accounts, or in the scene in Moby Dick where Ishmael and Queequeg sign up to be whalers, with a Quaker representing the ship owners as guarantor of the crew's contract rights, to assure them that they will by paid what they sign on for when the ship returns in two years' time. To this day a gray suit is known among salesmen as a "closing suit" because Quaker gray has so infiltrated our culture as a symbol of trustworthiness. Which Wall Street and Madison Avenue have done their utmost to undermine.

                      The theory of such effects is laid out in The Evolution of Cooperation, by Robert Axelrod. It explains to some extent the circumstances in which cooperation expands, the circumstances in which it can maintain itself against virulent hostility, and the circumstances in which it fails.

                      I am personally working on expanding cooperation via One Laptop Per Child, which not only provides education and Internet to millions of children around the world, but gives them collaborative software in which they can share application sessions, both active and saved. Google Docs also does this.

                      You do not have Libertarian instincts, TT. Instincts such as insect mating behavior or birdsong are 100% genetic. You have what are called by some Libertarian opinions based on experiences of various kinds, somewhat influenced by various genetic factors that might predispose you in certain directions.

                      I don't know what experiences or genetic predispositions those might be. I have significantly different experiences, and apparently significantly different genetic factors, too. If you would like to understand how I think, message me privately and I can tell you about some of them. Perhaps we can find something to Diary about on that, although I see some obstacles to us doing that.

                      My experience of Libertarians has led me to the definition

                      Libertarian

                      One who holds that everybody should have the right to do anything that does not harm anybody of any importance in any way that really matters.

                      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

                      by Mokurai on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 03:44:35 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  What??? (0+ / 0-)
                        Libertarian

                        One who holds that everybody should have the right to do anything that does not harm anybody of any importance in any way that really matters.

                        By the way, the last I heard, genetic scientists have established that the human genome hasn't change by more than .02 % in the last 40,000 years.

                        "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                        by ZhenRen on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 04:04:38 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  I see humanity as dualistic (0+ / 0-)

                        “ Nothing other than a committed minority has ever done anything to improve public morals.”

                        I generally don’t disagree with this general premise but I view that as being more relevant to fundamental civil liberties.  Oppressing women, ethnic minorities or homosexuals clearly is contradictory to the notion of liberty as it is more or less defined in our constitution, and yes, minority groups have typically led the charge in upending these sorts of hypocrisy.  But the sort of altruistic minority I am referencing above does not exists as a matter of philosophy in my view.  

                        Look at a more simple animal society like a pride of lions and lions as a whole.  You can see there the same sort of duality we humans possess wherein both coordinated group effort along with both intergroup and intragroup conflict are the norm.  I think those same primitive instincts coarse through our own veins, and philosophical efforts alone will not change that.  I also think using lions as a comparison is relevant due to the particularly aggressive nature that separates them at the top of the food chain.  We are very clearly social creatures at our core, and the sorts of social learning characteristics you point to are certainly relevant.  But we are really dualistic as described above, and I think a proper perspective of this dual nature needs to be embraced if we are to do the best job of defining good policies.  I definitely don’t see a “dog eat dog” world- rather I see a world that needs to be defined within the proper context of our dual nature- both cooperative and competitive.  Until we become something fundamentally different that somehow works against the more self-focused side (such as through brain computer enhancement as crazy as that may sound), I believe socialism will inevitably eat itself….

                    •  In short, you're making up theory of human nature (0+ / 0-)

                      to fit your ideology, and then suggesting all of humankind submit to enslavement in a "stratified" society based on Social Darwinism.

                      This is classic:

                      a stratification  of social structure based on hierarchical collective effort characterized by elites dictating the aims of production and followers dutifully operationalizing those aims.

                      That's not a collective effort. That's a dictatorship. It isn't collective when all decision making is concentrated in the hands of a ruling elite, who are economically supported by a cadre of "followers" whose function is to make life comfortable for the privileged at the top, while sacrificing their own quality of life.

                      By the way, this is not anything resembling "liberty" for most people. Most people don't know this, but the term libertarian (tracing back to France in the mid 19th century) was originally used by self described libertarian socialists. Libertarianism originally was used in Europe to describe the philosophy which advocates that society should have freedom from the ruling class, wherein workers would collectively self-manage their own workplaces and communities, free from authoritarian domination of hierarchical control. Libertarianism is supposed to be the opposite of authoritarianism. Thus, capitalism and the so-called "free market" (in which a minority consisting of the wealthy class have domination of property used in production, positioning themselves as the lords and masters at the economic summit of society, peering down at the rest with the power to "employ" everyone else as servants, who in practical terms have little choice but to submit to rulership) has little or nothing to do with liberty and freedom.

                      Using the term libertarian to describe Randianism is about as Orwellian as it gets.

                      I really don't care what your notions of human nature are, at this point. You're basically one of the Ayn Randian capitalists I oppose with every fiber of my body and mind. When I've gone out into the streets protesting the banking industry and end up getting hammered by the police enforcers, you're part of the establishment I'm railing against. There is no justification for economic slavery of the majority of people under a ruling elite.

                      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                      by ZhenRen on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 03:55:06 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You have it precisely backwards... (0+ / 0-)

                        My view of human nature drives my philosophy of politics and economics.  

                        I believe we will see stratification in ANY system.  The ambitions of greedy people will always represent the core of human conflict.  Narcissistic elites will always present themselves, but capitalism drives greater wealth creation in the process.  And we can attempt as best we can to establish transparent capitalism that aims to restrict unchecked greed by preventing monopolies and working against information imbalances that allow the system to be gamed.  It will never be perfect, but it can be good enough.  In socialism, these elites will rule with impunity.  

                        I posted in another thread on this site that I was booted out of my house at 17 after a lifetime of abuse.  My loving mother died at 46 when I was 14.  I dropped out of high school and was pretty much headed for a life of crime.  But my shame drove me to go to junior college and later graduate from honors from the U of TX and go on the get an MBA.  Today I am one of the 2% you hate, but you can't make the argument I had that handed to me.  I think that when you sell the idea that the downtrodden are the prisoners of oligarchs, you kill their spirit, drive division in society, and bring us ALL down in the process....

                •  I note that... (0+ / 0-)

                  you completely ignored the example I provided of a successful collectivist society, after you erroneously declared none have existed.

                  Ayn Randian social Darwinism has been debunked by modern social scientists. Your entire argument is based on your personal assumptions and theories of human nature.

                  "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                  by ZhenRen on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 02:52:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  So why do these theories persist? (0+ / 0-)

                    My answer is that it makes people (well, white men, one of which I am) feel Hard-Headed and Realistic, and people (ditto) think that the more Hard-Headed and Realistic something sounds, the truer it must be.  And so it goes.

                    The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

                    by Panurge on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 08:55:25 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Well, we now have democracy (0+ / 0-)

              which at least gives the people some control over their environment.

        •  who ya gonna get to do the dirty work (0+ / 0-)

          when all the slaves are free?

          "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

          by Cassiodorus on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:18:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Arise Biff from Back to the Future! (0+ / 0-)

        Issuing brain dead insults only impresses his equally brain dead cronies, while everybody else sees he's an idiot.  But good one Biff...  If you want to provide something more than dismissive snarky comments, please read my entire post and indulge me, otherwise, retreating to foolish insults make you appear to be debating your better...

        I am not sure what the first narcissistic comment about the ruling class means exactly, but it seems to imply the sort of ambition I am alluding to above...

        Ambiguously citing Marx is a classic appeal to authority logical fallacy that does not really do anything to bolster whatever argument you are ambiguously trying to make...

        And since you need help understanding what I am implying about society, I am referencing the transition from hunting and gathering tribal existence that led to more dense populations, which we only began to manage in the last 5-10k years...  The rise of these type of highly dense societies led to the complex economic inter dependencies that are relevant today, while our core instincts evolved during the much broader span of human history you reference (and before).  These instincts are in large part incompatible with our current existence, and this is the root of modern human conflict.

    •  See Hamden Rice's comment below (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IreGyre, Catesby

      Socialism allows incentives. China has been beating the world in economic growth for 30 years. Of course, China has also been leading the world in CO2 emissions growth.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 04:37:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  China's growth (0+ / 0-)

        is PRECISELY due to embracing capitalism, and high growth is easy to achieve when they are so far behind...

        •  No, it isn't (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, offgrid, Catesby

          This may be semantics because I'm not sure what your definition of capitalism is. You seem to be equating capitalism with markets and incentives. That's not what capitalism is.

          Having studied the Chinese economic legal codes in great detail, and worked on Chinese economic and environmental planning, I can assure you China is not a capitalist country. You may mean that they have embraced markets and incentives, but that is not the same as capitalism.

          All land in China continues to be owned by either the state or local collectives (and local collectives own A LOT). A huge amount of the economy is in the hands of the collectives as well. The most important firms are owned by the central government. "Private" corporate firms that are important are given detailed "guidance" by the state. The central government carries out detailed economic planning and capitalist firms are expected to carry out their activities within the framework of the plan.

          China's economic planning looks outward for decades if not a century. Capitalist corporations in America look to the next financial quarter, and the central government (other than maybe the Fed) is radically opposed to economic planning of any kind (excluding of course its own budgets and fiscal issues).

          The central government of China is able to carry out vast infrastructure projects because as owner of all land it can cancel "land use permits" and re-take land. China can build infrastructure like high speed rail because of that; by contrast, US rail would be tied up in litigation with "private property" owners for decades despite the power of eminent domain if they wanted to build new high speed rail lines, or, as is the case, remain locked into rights of way that were assembled in the steam locomotive era.

          I'm amazed that people think China is capitalist. Socialism (as opposed to communism) has historically always envisioned a private capitalist sector, but one subordinated to public entities.

          China is exactly what they say they are -- a socialist market economy.

          •  It is semantics... (0+ / 0-)

            China's per capita GDP remains a small fraction of that in the US, and the socialist mechanisms in place there will ensure that gap remains large so long as those mechanisms persist... It is a clearly a move toward market mechanisms that has driven their explosive growth, but the inefficiencies that remain will ensure that the growth will taper off well before living standards there meet ours...  "Socialism" is a wide net, so more specifically, a highly redistributist society will tend to fare worse than one that is less so in terms of total wealth creation and standard of living across the board.  This becomes even more true as the society becomes more heterogeneous as is the case in the US versus the much more homogenous nature of China...

            •  Compare China to Russia (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catesby, offgrid

              China would not have achieved the growth it achieved if it had abandoned its socialist legal and economic infrastructure.

              A big bang sell off, such as happened in Russia, would have been a disaster, as it was in Russia.

              If you look at how their growth was achieved, planning, state ownership of land, directed development, and other socialist mechanisms were indispensable. The Chinese are also very pragmatic and if socialist legal and economic infrastructure were a drag on the economy it would have been jettisoned. It wasn't. And since 2008, they are even more confident that they socialism is superior to unrestrained capitalism.

              There is a sort of mythical syllogism that people believe socialism can't work, and therefore if something works, it can't be socialism.

              Well, both claims are wrong.

              Socialism has been central to what China achieved despite religious dogma to the contrary.  

              There has been disastrous socialism, disastrous capitalism and disastrous communism, as well as successful kinds.

  •  I think the problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre

    ....is more one of political capture by the rentier class. Divorce money from government and you've fixed most of the problem.

    Socialism (or I guess participatory economics since you mentioned it) might be one way. There could be other ways too.

  •  A lot of strange assumptions & definitions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, Catesby, offgrid

    I'm guessing that this is because the diarist is very US-centric?

    The whole "socialism is dead" idea is pretty much limited to the US. Outside the US, socialism is assumed to be alive and well and thriving.

    Also, I think you may be making the mistake of having an extremely idiosyncratic definition of socialism:

    that if we can't have socialism, regarded here in its dictionary sense as public control of the means of production, then (it is implied) we must be satisfied with plutocracy ...
    There's so much wrong here. First of all that is not the definition of socialism. Maybe that's is one part of the definition of communism. Socialism is a lot more complicated. For one thing, it involves public ownership of the commanding heights of the means of production, alongside a private sector, but not as you seem to be implying public control of all (?) of the means of production. Socialism also involves economic planning -- the application of human intelligence to the economy (as opposed to capitalism's leaving economic development to the many individual decisions of owners, workers and consumers, and markets).

    Also, it's somewhat weird to say that the only choices are communism (with little spelled out about what it means) and plutocracy.

    The whole point of the socialist movement has been to allow many, many different gradations.

    By the ordinary, international definition of socialism, China's "socialist market economy" is exactly what it says it is -- socialism.  In China, all land is still formally owned by the state or collectives, and the state owns the leading banking and financial institutions, as well as many, many strategic industries.  Socialism is a means of organizing an economy, not nirvana, not a pony for every girl, and not necessarily decentralized participatory democracy.

    Because China is a socialist country and has the most robust economy in the world, then it would seem that socialism is not only "alive" but the most successful economic system. That's why governments in Latin America, Africa and other parts of Asia are adopting various aspects of Chinese socialism.

    Also, I find it odd that you would say that the reason you think we need socialism is that it is the way to prevent capitalism from continuing the trend toward catastrophic climate change.

    But China is increasingly contributing to climate change.  The Soviet Union was far more polluting than the US after passage of environmental legislation.

    There is no empirical evidence that socialism will be any better at preventing climate change -- yet.

    I would agree that deductively it is fair to conclude that  socialism likely will be better able to curb climate change; it is also fair to say that very recent preliminary evidence gives us some hope that socialist economies will be able to curb climate change.

    But that is because a central feature of socialism is economic planning, not because of public ownership of the means of production, and planning enables countries like China to promote solar and other non CO2 energy systems, while the US is leaving most of the decision making about energy to corporate and individual decisions, which, under current market conditions vastly favor carbon based energy.

    •  I responded to this in a previous diary -- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IreGyre, Catesby

      one of those two I cited at the top.

      I'm guessing that this is because the diarist is very US-centric?
      Silly me -- I thought I was writing for an audience of Americans.
      First of all that is not the definition of socialism.
      Maybe the author of this comment can use some connections to get on one of these groups who writes the dictionaries.  I'm sure they'd all be shocked to know what sort of egregious error they've committed.
      Socialism also involves economic planning -- the application of human intelligence to the economy (as opposed to capitalism's leaving economic development to the many individual decisions of owners, workers and consumers, and markets).
      As if the creation and operation of a market was not itself an act of economic planning!
      By the ordinary, international definition of socialism, China's "socialist market economy" is exactly what it says it is -- socialism.
      I'm sure the ordinary, Chinese, public will be quite grateful to read that it, and not the Chinese Communist Party in association with multinational corporations, owns and controls the Chinese means of production.  What it will do with such knowledge, however, is a rather trivial and unimportant question.
      But China is increasingly contributing to climate change.  The Soviet Union was far more polluting than the US after passage of environmental legislation.
      Even if we were to agree that these two examples count as examples of socialism, which we don't, we'd also have to agree that these two examples serve as a comprehensive illustration of all that socialism can ever do -- which we don't.

      "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

      by Cassiodorus on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 04:38:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True Socialist Scotsman? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HamdenRice, offgrid

        I think Hamden did a good job of debunking the claim that a socialist economy inherently lacks individual incentives and economic growth. Obviously modern China has a political and economic system that does not fit neat definitions.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 05:47:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Whack-a-mole, Fish? (0+ / 0-)

          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          And, no.  HamdenRice recited a good deal of standard ideology on the subject, especially as regards the arbitrary economics-department distinction between "planned economies" (which are themselves already the product of millions of individual decisions) and "market economies" (which are themselves already the product of conscious planning).  

          Are you saying you buy in, too?

          "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

          by Cassiodorus on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 05:58:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Writing for Americans isn't an excuse (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annominous

        to be empirically wrong. That's like saying the population of the world is 300 million because you're "writing for an American audience" or that the population of the world is about 50% white, 12% of African descent, 15% Latin and 5% Asian because you're writing for an American audience.

        An American audience doesn't define what socialism is.

        And even if capitalist economies contain "plans," in the form of corporate plans, that's nothing like a central government getting together experts and drafting a five year plan, deciding politically on the direction of the economy. Surely you don't think that there is socialist planning in the United States???

        Actually ordinary Chinese citizens are very well informed about various economic systems, and as one recent polling has pointed out, if free elections were held in China tomorrow, the Communist Party would win in a landslide. You might also want to take a look at some of the surveys of opinion in the country side in which farmers were asked if they wanted a new system of land holding and the overwhelming majority said they preferred to retain socialist ownership of the land.

        Maybe you don't think China is socialist -- despite what the government says and the Chinese think -- but as I said, you have an idiosyncratic definition. Just because you have your own personal definition which is not shared by billions of people living under socialism in China, certain states of India, Vietnam, Laos, etc., doesn't mean your definition is right and theirs is wrong.

        One true Scotsman, indeed.

    •  Wonderful comment (0+ / 0-)

      If you are not familiar with "Biocentrism" or have never read Judi Bari's treatise on how capitalism and communism relate to the natural world , I highly recommend that you read it.

      I don't necessarily agree with everything that she wrote, but it sure is thought provoking. Here's a link:

      http://www.judibari.org/...

  •  I think the point of "human nature" is that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Panurge

    material incentives are a practical necessity. Even the Soviet Union and China were forced to admit that.

    The objective of "socialism" -- if we insist on embracing the term -- should be to allow material incentives without leaving anyone behind. No one -- especially not children -- should be allowed to starve or die of curable diseases -- no matter what the family income.

    Centralized state planned economies have worked poorly for several reasons, but the two most economic reasons are these.

    (1) R & D and new product development, or to put it another way, productivity. In a market economy, many different centers of R & D can spring up and try out ideas, then find a company to produce and market the resulting inventions. Taking the Soviet Union as my model, Soviet labs had to request their equipment and materials some years in advance, to fit into the national plan. Technical innovations and new product development are certainly possible, but only if some important political leader succeeds in getting his / her R & D ideas into the national plan.

    (2) Agricultural production is impossible to plan partly because we don't know how to control the weather. The Ukraine was the USSR's most productive grain producing region but rainfall fluctuated.

    Contrary to popular belief, lack of material incentives was NOT a problem in the USSR. To the contrary, the whole country was run like a piecework factory, with nearly everyone paid according how close they came to their production goals. It didn't work as well as it might because there were few consumer goods to spend your money on, except vodka. Still, the concept of material incentives was there.

    Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here: http://bettysrants.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/my-next-big-thing/

    by Kimball Cross on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 04:02:46 AM PST

    •  It's like playing whack-a-mole. (0+ / 0-)

      The last diary discussed the Soviet Union as not being a genuinely socialist concept -- but as soon as I moved on, here come the commentators: "oh yeah, socialism.  You mean the Soviet Union!"

      "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

      by Cassiodorus on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 04:44:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What's the best way to enable people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Panurge

        with new ideas to turn them into productive activities?

        Kimball used the USSR as an example of a large bureaucracy that failed to allow the nucleation of new ideas  into the economy. FWIW that happens here with oligarchies and monopolies. Our internet is slow compared to much of the developed world because of local monopolies.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 05:55:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actual public control of the means of production, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Geogre

          as opposed to bureaucratic control by a party with a top-down structure, might be a start.  You want to enable new ideas through genuine socialism?  Discuss them in meeting and lay out a prospective timeline for implementation.  If you can persuade the group, you've won.

          "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

          by Cassiodorus on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:16:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Shares must be offered to the workers before IPO (0+ / 0-)

            Before a merger or sale of any company to any private equity company, all shares must be for sale to the employees at a discount.

            Do these two things, and we'll have Twinkees forever.

            Everyone is innocent of some crime.

            by The Geogre on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 07:39:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Co-operative production and distribution. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          offgrid

          I brought up the USSR to highlight the problem with conceiving workable alternatives to corporate rule, and to show what pitfalls we have to avoid. I want to apologize for not making it plain why I was bringing up the USSR yet again.

          Of course I don't think the USSR is the only possible alternative to Mitt Romney and the Koch Brothers.

          What I would advocate is co-operative ownership of production and retail distribution.

          A co-op could be run by a board of directors elected by the workers, sometimes combined with representation of customers or users, and perhaps also of a minority that could be elected by shareholders.

          Credit unions, already a familiar institution, could replace banks.

          But let us be clear on one thing. Co-ops will not just gradually spread until they replace corporate owned production. The struggle against the bourgeosie is a political struggle. There must be a progressive government to foster the growth of the co-ops, instead of a capitalist government to foster the corporations.

          If the history of America has taught us anything, it's this. The government is never neutral.

          Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here: http://bettysrants.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/my-next-big-thing/

          by Kimball Cross on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 09:34:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Climate change will make big govt inevitable (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid

    Any discussion of the future, as this is, must be center on climate change. It seems probable that little wll be done to slow the consumption of fossil fuels in coming years and therefore that changes in climate will be near-catastrophic later in this century. If food and water supplies are in peril, and if millions of climate refugees are on the move, all governments will be forced to take control of their economies. Nobody will care about the free market if it does not guarantee the basics needed for survival.

    Faced with such a crisis, people rich and poor will demand Big Government. They will demand lots of regulations. They will demand enough to eat. And they will demand that  civil disorders be suppressed. And it won't matter how upset they may be about losing their SUVs or having their civil liberties abrdiged.

    The question of the present only seems to be whether we will have Big or Small Government.  Big Government is already here, at least in terms of surveillance and arbitrary executive power,  and will  grow bigger. The only real question is how that increase in governmental power over sociey and the economy  will be organized and directed.

    If representative government here in the US  is reformed so that such power can be exercised for the greatest good of the greatest number of people, that would be a form of democratic socialism. If government in the US continues to be as unrepresentative as it has been, and as beholden to narrow interests of the ultra-wealthy, then the increase in governmental authority is likely to be repressive and undemocratic.

    Or as Rosa Luxemburg said in 1919: The choice is socialism or barbarism.

  •  There is no "human nature" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid

    1. "Human nature" is an argument for essence -- a pre-eminent state of being of a set of qualities inherent to all humanity. Once ascertained, this "nature" may be used as a delimitation for society -- excluding the deviant idea or person and including the patterned and coercive.

    2. However humans behave is according to human nature, for they cannot behave otherwise. Thus, humans who dream of and act on socialism have no choice but to do so by human nature and according to "natural law" as well. ("Natural Law" arguments that rest on Locke actually rest on Richard Hooker and depend upon a divine authority and is entirely essential and purposeful. I can be an orthodox Christian and reject their arguments.)

    If we drop the language of "human nature" and speak of "the inclination of humans," as if we were speaking descriptively of evolution or some other "law" that is supposed to be binding, then, again, there is no human nature. Humans defy every evolutionary impulse. Some go celibate. Some go on hunger strike. Some light themselves on fire. Some kill their young. Some will do anything and everything.

    Descriptively, more humans share preferentially than steal, take, or hoard. However, Americans especially convince themselves that hostility and aggression are the state of nature. It is a foul lie perpetrated by investment bankers.

    Everyone is innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 07:37:36 AM PST

  •  I always find the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid

    argument from human nature strange.  Marx was a naturalist/materialist that recognized humans act on behalf of their self-interest.  The argument from human nature seems premised on a critique of altruism.  The assumption that socialism is based on human altruism.  But I don't see that is true.  Socialism is a form of government that is in the best interests of the vast majority of people in any social system.  While altruistic people certainly exist in the world, there's no need to assume that socialism is somehow against self-interest.

  •  Socialism's alive and thriving... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HamdenRice, offgrid

    ...in fact, the argument could be made that socialism is the preferred form of government by the People of countries throughout the world.

    Of course, it depends on your defnition. However, the old Soviet Union, while it did practice forms of socialism, was more of a totalitarian communist state than a socialist one.

    Countries currently practicing socialism, with the full support of the people of those countries, include Germany,  Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Japan, Canada, etc., etc., etc.

    There are far more countries in the world whose populations support socialism than most any other form of government.

    Socialism has actually been very successful in most countries where it's been tried.

  •  Socialism is still alive (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid

    It has saved the ass of Capitalism more than once in the last century. The truth is that human nature is fundamentally altruistic. The altruism often doesn't express itself far beyond fairly immediate tribal connections, but most people have a preference for charity and are offended by the arbitrary suffering of others.

    It is almost a refrain that "socialism has never worked," and that makes no more sense than to say capitalism has always worked. Capitalism is inherently unstable, and almost always becomes predatory. If you attempt to dissolve the public sector and depend on the aggregate of completely private decisions to create a functioning civil society, you're going to have a bad time. Socialism has limits that owe considerably to failure of altruism to extend to people not easily identified with. Currently the beneficiaries of socialism tend to be the wealthy, who do not want those benefits, which are viewed to be limited, to be available to everyone.

  •  Socialism IS against human nature (0+ / 0-)

    That's why, some religious folk would argue, it takes the grace of God to rise above it and be the kind of person for whom Jesus set the example.

    Others might say that it reflects a greater influence of the frontal cortex in the evolution of the human brain that permits us to rise above our selfish interests and work on behalf of the broader community.

    For whatever reason, however, is is the right thing to do, and the only way that we as a species will survive what we've done to our habitat.

    Atlas shrugged. Jesus wept.

    by trevzb on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 09:19:53 AM PST

  •  I find it ironic that the corporations have done (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid

    far more to build a real socialism than the socialists have. Everything the Socialist Party wanted to do, the corporations have already begun:

    The Socialist Party wanted to eliminate the private ownership of capital and replace it with collective ownership; today the corporations are not owned by individual proprietors, but by a collective body of shareholders. The Socialist Party wanted to remove ownership from management and introduce managers who held their position by election, rather than by ownership; today the corporations are run by professional managers who are hired by a board of directors that is elected by the shareholders. The Socialist Party wanted to eliminate economic competition and replace it with economic cooperation; today the corporations have become vast interconnected networks who own parts of each other through cooperative joint projects and multilateral ventures. The Socialist Party wanted to replace what they called the “anarchy of the marketplace” with planned economic production over long-term goals; today corporations try in every way to eliminate the shocks of market uncertainty by long-term planning. The Socialist Party wanted to eliminate national borders and replace them with internationalism; today the corporations have become multinational, have built up a global economic framework, and have made national boundaries economically irrelevant.

    In essence, the corporations have already socialized the entire process of production.

    Another utopian goal of the Socialist Party was “world government”, and once again, the corporations are today moving along the same path. The corporations have already built international economic structures—the WTO, IMF and the various free trade agreements--and these already have control over national economic policies and legal veto power over national laws.

    Along with the buildup of international economic power must inevitably follow the buildup of international political power. Just as the “nation” has become irrelevant economically and has been replaced by international economic structures, so too has the  “nation-state” become irrelevant politically, and will inevitably be replaced by international political structures—and the corporations have already begun that process.

  •  Human societies must increase. (0+ / 0-)

    That's the central value. More. More of everything. Until it's all gone. Do you really think we are much different from the Easter Islanders who chopped down every last tree in order to build large stone heads, but then could not build fishing boats? We aren't different from them. There are many other examples. We are condemned by our biology to be as we are. There is no way out.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:09:42 PM PST

    •  Start here: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Free Jazz at High Noon

      http://www.marklynas.org/...

      Colonialism isn't "human nature," but rather a specific historical phenomenon.

      "There's nothing heroic about earning profit." -Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

      by Cassiodorus on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:59:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I never said it was (0+ / 0-)

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:21:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  All humans are colonists (0+ / 0-)

        You see a specific pattern and you think there is something special about it. Colonialism isn't an ideology; it's a biological feature. You think Australian aborigines didn't colonize the continent? You think that native Americans didn't conquer and enslave other tribes, take away their territory? You don't believe that vast tribes of Goths didn't invade Western Europe to plunder the established people of Italy and France? I mean, seriously, the growth and expansion of tribes, nations, clans, families and groups of all kinds is a remarkable constant of humans. You clearly have a devotion to ideology over biology that most people don't share. Good luck with that. History hasn't been kind to your tribe.

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:27:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  jst as single celled organisms came together..... (0+ / 0-)

    to form a greater whole

    the next great leap in evolution is the coming together of sentient beings (made ip of single celled organisms) into a greater whole and that logically is more socialist as vs each for themselves fighting each other

    recently re-read Issac Asimov's FOUNDATION series and GAIA onto GALAXIA is fascinating

  •  Having come of age during the Reagan regime (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid, Cassiodorus

    and that of Bush I, all I've heard virtually all my life is the TINA narrative.  I moved away from that during the late -90's to embrace a worldview quite compatible with socialism.  The good news today is that people are far more open today to at least some of the ideas associated with socialism than they were twenty, ten, or even five years ago, especially amongst millenials and the younger Gen-X cohort (inluding myself)--namely, those under 40.  Neoliberal tropes continue to be echoed by those in public office, even though they ring increasingly hollow.  The bad news is, it'll take another 2-3 decades for that group now in power to be replaced entirely, and not after the protracted inter-generational conflict that we are living through even now (how many of you have parents, aunts and uncles who hang on every word uttered at Fox News and forward right-wing "they're gonna take our guns" emails?  Exactly.)

  •  There is solid evidence that (0+ / 0-)

    Human societies were once more cooperative during the re-bronze age.  Call it socialist if u want. Mobutu if we once were more cooperative, how is it possibly against human nature?

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 07:32:54 PM PST

  •  People are greedy (0+ / 0-)

    and ambitious and want to keep up if not surpass the Joneses next door which is why Socialism fails and Milton Friedman's Capitalism works. Oh, but if you give children welfare and health care they grow up to be lazy government dependents. Wait, What?

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