Bluelight

Thread: What is socialism? Do I like it? Why or why not?

Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. Collapse Details
    What is socialism? Do I like it? Why or why not? 
    #1
    Moderator
    Current Events and Politics
    cduggles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Incognito
    Posts
    5,145
    Earth
    What is socialism, really?





    During the 2016 presidential election run, as parties candidates were competing for their presidential nomination, now-President Donald Trump lashed out at former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to cheering crowds.


    ?This socialist-slash-communist?? Trump said. ?I call [Sanders] a socialist-slash-communist, because that?s what he is. ? He?s going to tax you people at 90 percent; he?s going to take everything!?


    It was clever political hit to dress Sanders up as a Cold War-era bogeyman, but it displayed a crude? one might say calculated?misrepresentation of the ideology that the Vermont senator holds.





    Although Sanders is not currently running for president, the self-identified ?democratic socialist? has become a guiding light among progressives. And many on the left are now pushing ideas like universal healthcare, raised minimum wages, and taxes on the wealthiest Americans?ideas that have roots in socialism. As a large portion of the American electorate gravitates toward these ideas, let?s take a look at what socialism means?and what it could mean for America.


    What is socialism?


    Socialism is a political ideology that advocates for an egalitarian redistribution of wealth and power in society through the redistribution of society?s means of production (or means of making money). Socialism, in the simplest of terms, involves making more of an effort to balance the scales between the rich and the poor.


    Nowadays, the term refers to a wide swathe of the left-wing political thought. Some socialists believe that workers or communities should manage businesses as stakeholders, what is known as a cooperative, while others advocate for varying degrees of governmental ownership and administration.





    Likewise, throughout history, socialists have disagreed over how this change should come about. Revolutionaries called for a sudden violent overthrow of capitalism, while reformists actively worked to evolve the model of government to a more socialist system.


    Where did socialism come from?


    The ideology emerged in the mid-19th century as a reaction to the rise of early capitalism and the economic inequality it induced.


    Capitalism, or liberalism, focuses on private property and profit. Perhaps the most prominent economic theorist to define modern capitalism, Adam Smith, famously laid out this philosophy in his book, The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, which described how a free market could regulate itself through competition and with little government interference. This idea would revolutionize how society was structured in the centuries that followed. It began a transition from mercantilism?colonial-era state regulated trade through chartered trading companies?to commercial capitalism.





    By the time the 19th century rolled around and industrial capitalism was in stride, working conditions were inhumane. Children were forced into the workplace, workers? days were long and difficult. With few rights, workers had no safety provisions and minimal pay. This was reflected in the abject conditions and poverty that working-class people lived in.





    Socialism was a reaction to all this, and as an intellectual idea, first found its footing among the French elite, where two schools of socialist thought emerged: utopian and revolutionary. While the former group advocated reform, the latter believed that capitalism could only be overthrown through violence.


    In the early 20th century, socialist ideals would change the world, as working people began to organize through trade unions and, later, in political parties. The writings of German philosopher Karl Marx also served to spread and define socialist ideals.





    Socialism vs Communism


    Is socialism the same thing as communism? In short, no. Trump?s criticism of Sanders is either wrong or simply exploiting a confusion that stems from the Cold War. At the time, ?communism? and ?socialism? were used virtually interchangeably in U.S. politics to vilify leftist thinkers.


    There is, however, a distinct difference. Although Marx?s writing was a school of far-left socialist thought, it was also a rejection of it and denounced many socialists as part of the problem. Marx instead imagined the ideals of socialism absolutely as communism. Marx believed communism, in which all class boundaries and notions of private ownership would eventually end, was the endpoint of all socialism.


    Communism required the state own and manage the distribution of wealth and property according to need. There were many countries throughout the 20th century that tried to implement communism, from the Soviet Union to Vietnam, Cuba to China. When economic difficulty continued, however, the dream of a classless utopia often fell to a violent authoritarian regime in which an opportunistic ruling political class and, often, a dictator commanded all material wealth and violently oppressed dissenters.


    Socialism is a more moderate?yet still radical?economic philosophy that seeks to empower the worker through co-ownership of industrial and production capacity and through consensus, whether governmental mechanism or through smaller syndicates.


    Within current European democracies, however, socialism?s principles exist alongside capitalism. In these countries, citizens pay higher tax rates to the government but benefit from universal pre-paid healthcare, free college tuition, and social welfare programs. This broad social welfare system exists complementary to a free economy with lightly regulated businesses that sometimes pay lower corporate tax rates than U.S. businesses.


    This is the kind of democratic socialism that Sanders professes. He has consistently praised Denmark?s model of government. In 2013, he wrote an essay praising the ?extraordinary security and opportunity? that the Danish government offers its citizens, describing it most recently as ?a very different understanding of what freedom means ? ending the enormous anxieties that comes with economic insecurity.?


    Socialism vs Democratic Socialism


    Democratic socialism is a type of socialism. Democratic socialism exists within a larger democracy, hence the term. In other words, democratic socialists want to achieve their political goals?shifting the balance of power and wealth in society?specifically through democratic means (voting, unions, etc).





    Here?s how the Democratic Socialists of America puts it on its website: ?Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically?to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.?


    Can socialism exist in America?


    In a way, it?s already taking hold. Sanders stands as the most successful democratic socialist ever within American politics; his race to become the Democrat nominee drew the support of more young Americans than Trump and party rival Hillary Clinton.


    For the generation without memory of the Soviet Union, socialism is not a dirty word, and Sanders? nuanced political perspective holds strong appeal?especially to those who came of age in the economic insecurity and injustice caused by the 2008 financial crisis.


    A 2016 poll by Pew Research Center showed that while only 31 percent of Americans overall viewed socialism positively, almost half of those aged 19 to 29 viewed the ideology positively. The statistics were backed up by a separate Harvard survey, which found that within that same age group, half of young adults rejected capitalism.


    However, holding socialist views remains a risk for U.S. political candidates. The Clinton campaign and her supporters attempted to attack Sanders? socialist ideas during the 2016 Democratic primary season. And Republicans viewed an election against Sanders as nothing short of a gift.


    ?Republicans are being nice to Bernie Sanders because we like the thought of running against a socialist. But if he were to win the nomination the knives would come out for Bernie pretty quick,? Ryan Williams, a former spokesman for Republican Mitt Romney?s 2012 presidential campaign, told Bloomberg. ?There?s no mystery what the attack on him would be. Bernie Sanders is literally a card-carrying socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union. There?d be hundreds of millions of dollars in Republican ads showing hammers and sickles and Soviet Union flags in front of Bernie Sanders.?


    Still, more than 12 million people voted Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primary, about 3.8 million fewer than Clinton?s primary vote total.


    So, is socialism about to sweep the U.S.? Not likely. But the fact that those interested in socialism or socialistic ideas constitute a large minority in American politics, it?s clear that Americans are beginning to question the fundamentals.
    Reply With Quote
     

  2. Collapse Details
     
    #2
    Moderator
    Sober Living
    aihfl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    El Pueblo Loco
    Posts
    1,856
    I used to live in Vermont and as much as I admired Bernie Sanders (I met him a couple of times - really a crusty non-personable guy), the "Vermont model" does not work. Taxes are choking and employment is at best stagnant - part of the reason I sold out from up there.
    Reply With Quote
     

  3. Collapse Details
     
    #3
    Senior Moderator
    Sober Living
    Words
    Captain.Heroin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    My hopes are blighted, my heart is broken, my life a burden, everything around me is sad and mournful; earth has become distasteful to me, and human voices distract me. It is mercy to let me die, for if I live I shall lose my reason and become mad.
    Posts
    66,755
    I do not like the idea of socialism. Wrong path.

    Quote Originally Posted by aihfl View Post
    I used to live in Vermont and as much as I admired Bernie Sanders (I met him a couple of times - really a crusty non-personable guy), the "Vermont model" does not work. Taxes are choking and there's no growth in employment - part of the reason I sold out from up there.
    Did not know you used to live there, that's fascinating. Thanks for sharing. Especially in such a small state, I imagine all the people who want to start a small business will just move to New Hampshire.
    Reply With Quote
     

  4. Collapse Details
     
    #4
    Moderator
    Sober Living
    aihfl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    El Pueblo Loco
    Posts
    1,856
    Quote Originally Posted by Captain.Heroin View Post
    Did not know you used to live there, that's fascinating. Thanks for sharing. Especially in such a small state, I imagine all the people who want to start a small business will just move to New Hampshire.
    That's exactly what happens. NH has no sales tax and no income tax. Vermonters have a special brand of self-rightousnessness, but when you went right across the river to Hinsdale NH to shop at Mal-Wart it's all Vermont and "Taxachusetts" plates in the parking lot.
    Reply With Quote
     

  5. Collapse Details
     
    #5
    Moderator
    Psychedelic Drugs
    Trip Reports
    Philosophy and Spirituality
    The Dark Side
    Xorkoth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    In the mountains
    Posts
    29,585
    I believe that governments should focus on providing the best life and opportunities possible for the common people, instead of giving tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations, and making it harder and harder to go to college, and removing funding from schools, and removing environmental protections, and removing social safety nets, and shrinking the middle class. A country is strong when its middle class is strong. I think socialism has had a lot of propaganda against it, with the powers that be relating it to communism, when in fact socialism is not communism. Norway for example is happy to call themselves a socialist democracy. Their tax rate is very high, but the people are happy with their system, it seems to work very well. People are generally well-off and they have great infrastructure and social services. And yes I'm aware it's a much smaller country, it's not so simple here, etc.

    Maybe socialism isn't the answer but we need to be focused on the welfare of everyone, not selfishly grabbing whatever we can for ourselves at the expense of everyone else.
    Reply With Quote
     

  6. Collapse Details
     
    #6
    Bluelighter
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    560
    I am neither socialist or capitalist because both ideologies are really necessary for the human race to move forward.

    There are only a few ideas from capitalism that are really worth saving but it is important to understand that we really can build a new social economic structure that both provides incentive for performance and meets the needs of humanity and the planet we are on.

    Right now we are enslaved by our own doing in a debt driven monetary system. It is important to understand in our world both the socialist and capitalist countries are all enslaved in a debt driven monetary system.

    When ever you look at a problem in our society we evaluate it in terms of dollars but our monetary system is just fictional imagination. We do try to represent our world properly with money but every individual person, business and government has it in their best interests to hold back. The result is massive death and struggle on a planet that has enough for everyone. Forced socialism is almost as horrible as forced capitalism.

    It is really time for a fresh look that doesn't end in an ism we can all hate.

    I am for direct democracy. I have watched America allowing themselves two bad choices for their leader over and over again. This is just joke democracy none of the people really have a say in anything, so comparing American democracy with Chinese socialism they both seem identical with the people who do all the real work not really involved and just stuck living with the decisions of others.

    We are a lot smarter then we were a 100 years ago, the internet has allowed massive instant exchange of ideas and our government is still stuck in the dark ages. We need to look at new solutions that allow for life for all and still wealth for those that tru.y lead humanity forward.

    In the end our government needs to be socially directed and our wealth needs to be managed better. Money is not wealth, it is just an imaginary reference marker for wealth. When you buy a house for 100k and sell it for 200k it didn't grow a basement or a new patio that made your house worth more, your money just devalued to half. We just keep our heads in a box and don't understand how easy it really is to make the world great again.
    Reply With Quote
     

  7. Collapse Details
     
    #7
    I wish people could just be sensible and stop seeing capitalism or socialism as responsible for everything wrong in the world.

    And as for socialism specifically, I wish we'd either stop using the word or work out a solid definition. Cause lots of people seem to view socialism as simply modern mixed economies that have social programs. Even though those systems are far more capitalist than socialist. And despite the fact that such a definition is very inconsistent with the most widely accepted dictionary meaning of socialism. It makes coherent discussion impossible if there's no clear definition of what's being talked about.

    There's a similar problem with capitalism. With people imagining the bad sides of capitalism as capitalism and simply ignoring the benefits.

    You can't say if capitalism or socialism are good or bad of you can't clearly articulate what those terms even mean.
    Reply With Quote
     

  8. Collapse Details
     
    #8
    Administrator spacejunk's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    20,161
    I think there is a lot of misunderstanding (and misinformation) about what socialism means because people seem to think that "capitalism" and "socialism" tend to exist exclusively of one another, when in fact most (if not all countries) have elements of both.

    Australia used to be a lot more socialist (free education, universal healthcare, the pension for retirees, various 'welfare state' benefits for people who need them, and a [sadly decreasing] emphasis on equity and egalitarianism) but sadly a lot of the more socialist principles of government have been eroded by conservative and neo-liberal political interests who are more interested in working to protect and maintain the privilege of wealthy people.
    Since this has been happening, social outcomes across society have dropped, especially in regards to poverty and homelessness.

    I'm certainly in favour of a lot of socialist principles, as i think the best societies (with the greatest standards of living for all - including l the wealthy) are those with the lowest wealth inequality.
    It's really not so radical, in my opinion, to understand that life is better for everyone when there is less dire poverty, less ingrained disadvantage and desperate hardship.

    Investing public funds into things like health and education has had really good social outcomes in places where that is the norm - such as various countries in scandinavia, where there are high levels of education in the vast majority of the population, which increases social mobility, and gives opportunities to young people, regardless of the wealth (or education) of their parents.

    Also, i think it's time we stopped debating how much the minimum wage should be, and start talking about implementing a maximum wage.
    People with excessive wealth don't necessarily contribute much of it to the economy - whereas, the more money the workong classes have - and the more money people at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum have generally, the more of it is pumped into the economy - which benefits a lot more people.

    I think there are lots of arguments in favour of the welfare state (and other socialist ideas) that go well beyond discussing the dignity and humanity of helping people to survive and live their lives, even if they are (for instance) too sick, infirm, elderly - or whatever else - to work and earn money.

    I think meritocracy is absolute bullshit, and that condemning people to a live of hardship and untreated medical needs if they happen to lack the material wealth to provide for themselves (or the ability to trade their labour for financial reward) is barbaric in a wealthy, post-industrial nation like australia, britain or the USA.

    So yeah - i'm pro-socialist, for sure. I think it's pretty essential for governments to look after the social needs of the people. Otherwise, what is the point of having governments at all?
    ✺✹✺✹BLUA✺✹✺✹
    Reply With Quote
     

  9. Collapse Details
     
    #9
    Moderator
    Psychedelic Drugs
    Trip Reports
    Philosophy and Spirituality
    The Dark Side
    Xorkoth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    In the mountains
    Posts
    29,585
    It's really nice to see you posting here, Yourbaker.
    Reply With Quote
     

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •