Friday, January 29, 2016

Discussing the Difference Between Socialism and Capitalism (Part 2)

Here is the rest of the conversation regarding socialism vs. capitalism stemming from my definitions posted at the start of my commentary on the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s June 15, 2015 editorial, Like it or not, Sanders' socialism is mainstream. For part 1, and my definitions, see my 1/28/16 post.

In answer to my statements, “Socialism holds the collective as a separate entity above the individuals that make it up. I think observational evidence of socialism in practice supports my view,” Painter in Jersey wrote:

Like the socialized medicine that exists in every European country today? Does that support your claim? Is France a dictatorship? The Netherlands? Denmark? These are all countries practicing socialism and I can't for the life of me identify any of the phantom dictators you speak of.

At this point, correspondent clancy jumped in:

You forgot the two C's. Castro and Chavez.

Painter in Jersey:

Cuba is Communist not Socialist.


Communism is socialism. So is fascism. Socialism is the broader term. Communism encompasses state ownership of the means of production—the outright abolition of private property. Fascism is total control of the means of production, with ownership superficially left in the hands of private ownership. The difference, in practice, is superficial, as the history of the 20th Century demonstrates.

Painter in Jersey:

Communism is NOT socialism and now you are showing your blind spots. In communism there is no such thing as private property whereas socialism allows for all to gather private property.  


Split hairs. They both espouse statism, and that's their biggest problem.


Don't confuse a mixed economy with full socialism or full capitalism. All Western countries are mixed economies—mixtures of socialism and capitalism. None are fully free or fully dictatorship.

Every issue boils down to socialism or capitalism; i.e., either you are free to act on your own judgement, or your right to self-determination is superceded [sic] by government aggression. Socialized medicine is mostly dictatorial. But that doesn't mean the country is yet a full dictatorship; just heading that way.

[Great Britain never was a socialist country. It was and is a mixed economy; a mixture of capitalism (freedom) and socialism (statism). Britain still has largely free, private enterprise, freedom of migration, freedom of speech, press, and conscience, the rule of law. Full socialism is Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Soviet Russia had the complete nationalization of the economy. In Nazi Germany, all means of production was controlled by the government, with only nominal private ownership. In essence, they were the same.]

Painter in Jersey:

No one is saying all-encompassing socialism will govern America. We are speaking of the implementation of some socialist policies, but not all.

At this point Molly53 jumped in:

an awful lot of words to spread nonsense.  So, only the right is pro-liberty?  The right that supports NSA spying or the right that has dragged us into unwinnable wars? [sic]


Yes. To the extent the NSA violates rights, it is not capitalist.

Properly understood, only the Right is pro-liberty. But in today's confused jargon, both "left" and "right" are pro-liberty on some issues, and anti-liberty on others. For example, social conservatives are anti-liberty because they want to violate rights to to gay marriage, abortion, etc. Liberals are anti-liberty because they want to restrict rights in the economic realm.


You don't make any sense.

Welcome marshwren:

When one argues from a position of ideology instead of practicalities, they rarely do make any sense.


Ignoring the ideology behind the practicality is not practical.


Which makes even less sense than what you wrote previously.

Welcome John Derr, in reply to Molly53’s comment above, “only the right is pro-liberty?”:

Yea but [Bernie Sanders is] a war hawk and a lot of defense dollars go to his state of Vermont. Don't be fooled by his progressive rhetoric? [sic]


War hawkism fits nicely into the statist socialist framework, as statism is an aggressive state that wages war against its own people, which ultimately leads to war with other countries. E.G.—the Soviet/German pact to launch WW II, the North's attack on the South in Korea and Vietnam.

[B]eing a socialist or "progressive" does not preclude being a war hawk. Statism in any form, including socialism—being based on aggressive force—is not a peaceful political ideology, whether or not it wages war against another country.


Sanders has been opposing the militaristic adventurism of neo-cons ever since he was first elected to Congress.  To claim he's a "war hawk" is perhaps the single most ignorant, uninformed, anti-factual thing anyone can say about him.


I did not say Sanders himself is a neo-con supporting war hawk.


Capitalism isn't a system of political governance; it's a system of economics that is profoundly anti-democratic.  All the advances in the conditions of the working class--minimum wage, paid leave, benefit packages, the 8 hour day, the 40 hour work week, weekends off, unemployment, disability, SS, Medicare--were achieved over the often bloody objections of capitalists, who saw unions are "restraints of free trade", and the great conglomerates and cartels as free enterprise.

Unions weren't outlawed until 1935 (Wagner Act) because they opposed all of these reforms, but because they advocated them.  Your ignorance of labor history in the US is beyond appalling; just as your equation of capitalism equals freedom, and socialism equals slavery, is simply childish.  Ordinary citizens in social democracies such as western Europe and Scandinavia have higher standards of living, a better quality of life, vastly superior governmental services, and more freedoms (particularly voting rights) than Americans. [sic]


"All the advances in the conditions of the working class--minimum wage, paid leave, benefit packages, the 8 hour day, the 40 hour work week, weekends off, unemployment, disability, SS, Medicare."

Then why didn't those become reality before capitalism? Statist governments have existed for thousands of years. Yet "the advances in the conditions of the working class" only came about after the prosperity of capitalism, which brought about the rise of the middle class, could finance them.

Unions were never illegal in this country, and under the freedom of capitalism never could be. What was illegal before 1935 was for unions to have the power to force employers to deal with them, and unwilling workers to join them, violating the rights of employers and employees alike.

Capitalism is not anti-democratic. Rather, capitalism properly limits the power of the majority to trample all over individuals' rights. Full socialist democracy—which does not exist in the regions you mention (they are mixed economies)—features unlimited majority rule, which is a manifestation of totalitarianism. In this sense, capitalism is anti-democratic. The feature of capitalism that prevents democratic majorities from becoming plundering mobs is a moral strength of capitalism.

End of conversation.

What comes across in this thread is that the fight for capitalism requires a difficult, long-term strategy of education. The widespread ignorance and/or denial of socialism’s nature risks a repeat of the bloody evidence of the 20th Century.

Related Reading:

Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice—Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard

Related Listening:

Radical Capitalist Episode 13: Why Socialism Won't Die—Yaron Brook

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