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Thread: Socialism

  1. #221
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    There's no such thing as a pure economic system. Huge economic disparities existed in Communist Russia, and every first-world country has social programs in one form or another. Arguing for one system over the other is purely a mental exercise. Further from that, anthropomorphizing these systems (evil communism, anyone?) is both ridiculous and counterproductive to any form of free thought or progress.

    It might be better to ask what the primary purpose of the economic system is (or should be). Once you know that, you can ask what we want to avoid when implementing the system, and what we want to encourage. You could say that the purpose is simply to maximize production. Or maybe it is to maximize the wellbeing of the people within the system. Maybe it is to create a system that maximizes both of these in a sustainable way, or maybe it is something else entirely. The system that you want in place varies greatly depending on what you think the purpose should be, and a different combination of capitalistic and socialistic policies is necessary for each.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    as I noted one was driven more by a direct desire to have some impact on society at large, while the other was based on the sum of individuals seeking to profit for themselves.
    You don't think CEOs are trying to have impact on society? You don't think that Al Gore sought personal profit and power when running for presidency? Intents themselves are complex.

    Anyway, what do you think politics is fundamentally about? Note that politics involves more than just issues affecting a formalised state.

    Quote Originally Posted by dala View Post
    The system that you want in place varies greatly depending on what you think the purpose should be, and a different combination of capitalistic and socialistic policies is necessary for each.
    'Purpose' need not be considered in an top-down and (typically) ideological way.

  3. #223
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    You don't think CEOs are trying to have impact on society? You don't think that Al Gore sought personal profit and power when running for presidency? Intents themselves are complex.
    I told you I was referring to a way to measure a policy. I doubt you'll find one person who only promotes or enacts policies that fit in the exact same place on the continuum. In other words, calling some CEO him/her self laissez-fair, or calling Al Gore socialist, does not even seem sensible to me, just like I do not think it makes sense to call a person good or evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    Anyway, what do you think politics is fundamentally about? Note that politics involves more than just issues affecting a formalised state.
    I still don't quite understand. Are you asking for a definition?

    Sometimes you can conceptually grasp something while having a hard time putting that concept into the most accurate words. My rough attempt to define politics off the top of my head here is as follows: Politics is the process in which some group acting in concert, attempt to enact a policy/policies (were a policy is basically a prescribed action or set of actions within given parameters) to fulfill an interest or achieve a goal.

    It may be possible for the group in question to simply enact their own policy and fulfill their own interests, but the vast majority of the time one group is required to lobby some other group to act in a certain way to get what they want. So in a complex society (pretty much any civilization) politics becomes a matter of using power to get someone else to carry out your policy.

    That definition, as you can see, is very broad. Of course there is politics outside of the state. We all know tribal politics did and still does exist. And because the definition I gave does not define any scale outside of a "group", it can be very small, and that's why it's perfectly just to say the little power struggles going on in the office you work are office politics. It's just that at this point, saving the rare few people who still exist off the grid, most politics happens to take place within a political state. Even that little bout of office politics you are witness to is, in the long run, effected by the processes of the state (in my office, they are tied to changes in response to funding cuts, which can be attributed to my state's government, and in terms of cause and effect, can presumably be tied all the way back to Capitol Hill).

    Reflecting on this, does my definition of socialist policies and capitalist policies (as influenced by recent poplar usage of the terms) reflect all there is to consider in politics? No, of course it does not. I would not attempt to create a continuum with poles that somehow encompass every political matter. That would be pointless and futile. It is merely one way of isolating certain political aspects in a continuum, based on popular political trends.

    Of note, wikipedia's opening definition of politics is more vague still:
    A process by which groups of people make collective decisions.
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  4. #224
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    I'm not at all trying to pigeon hole the politics of individuals. Quite the contrary. Al Gore was an example of someone who merely sought the presidency and his full intentions remain unknown since he did not get the position. The fact is that society consists of a complex network of individuals who themselves have a complex set of behaviours and intentions. The fallacy is to assume that ones actions, from choice of financial transactions to participation in social organisations (I mean this in a general sense - it includes everything from corporations to voting for political representatives, to religious participation) is fully representative of our intentions. This is because the choice itself is constrained for many reasons.
    Whether a political party/president or CEO plays a role in defining those choices is only a small part of the picture.

    Anyway, you mentioned the issue of scale, which is an excellent start. Modern states certainly play a large role in our lives. But is there an inherent reason for this? Or have they defacto assumed control increased over many aspects of our lives due to our submission to the state for its ability to provide (a semblance) of security? How are we to know whether the state is too powerful, or not powerful enough?

    Interestingly, the individual itself can be viewed as a collective and thus political issues can even be discussed with regards to an isolated individual. (isolated from other life anyhow) That is to say that political states exist on all scales. The same fundamental limitations that affect a state on the large scale, also affect states on the small scale.

    The following question is for all participants of this thread.

    Anyway, given such definitions of politics, what are the fundamental issues faced? Consider a group of people who are faced with issues that may or may not require collective decision making. (the issues themselves are irrelevant for this example. They could range anywhere between an individual of the group having an itchy ear, to should homosexuals be allowed to marry, to how to deal with the threat of war with a neighbouring tribe)
    The actual decisions and structure depend on the issues faced. But how should that structure be determined? I mean this in a conceptual sense, the answer is not merely to choose some form of democracy or autocratic leader (or market based economy). How are the individuals of the group even to know whether that is a good idea or not?
    But as a trivial example, a leader is probably not required to tell you whether you can scratch your ear for example. Actually, for that matter, a market based political structure for the issue of ear scratching is not as ridiculous as it sounds either.

  5. #225
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    So, as a one time sociology major, how did you manage to unlearn so much of what it must have taught you?

    I came from a very poor family that had received welfare payments for some time. I have not worked in the business of social programs, however.
    I told you I would touch back on your questions.. but I am bored with this discussion and believe Elfboy and I have brought up pretty valid reasons on why socialism, social policy, and even mixed economies are not the way to go. FEEL how you want about it, I really don't care. You asked me how people wouldnt get together and create coersive monopolies under a free market, and this only indicates that you have little understanding of truly free markets. If you had read Adam Smith, or researched much on Alan Greenspan you would understand that in free markets, monopolies can not develop because the only truly co ersive monopolies that have ever existed, existed *because* government involvment and regulation. Bottom line, under a free market somone can't monopolize then hike prices because there will always be room for a competitor to enter and offer quality product at reaonsable rate. THe market regulates the economy. You asked me about the socialist countries with high living index and so called stable economies.. first its bullshit.. i don't believe their economies are stable.. many of them have major financial crises, secondly-you cant really compare them to the US if your trying to compare socialism and capitalism because as stated before the US is a mixed economy and has been for some time, the more "mixed" we become the more our economy stagnantes. When comparing the US to other countries what is important to rememeber is that originally we were much more capitalistic, it is what laid the framework for us to become a superpower, and the US has been policing and nannying the rest of the world for some time now. What have the socialist countries done for the rest of the world in comparison to us? You don't think that has some baring on our current economic state?

    I haven't *unlearned* crap. I've watched people in social programs for a long time, IRL. Its reinforced that people need to be self accountable. Pure capitalism has never existed.. it probably never will. I think the closer we get to it the better though. Look at what capitalism did for Honk Kongs market.

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  6. #226
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    I'm not really a fan of any of these overarching systems of governance. From a practical standpoint, one needs to look at his desired outcomes first, and work backwards from there to establish appropriate laws to facilitate those objectives. Some of the main problems with pure socialism are due to its incongruity with the nature of human motivation, competition, etc. However, pure capitalism sacrifices individual security, and itself relies on that ideal outcome to be born from the aggregate of individual motivations; I question whether an economic utopia can be born naturally from individuals working for the purposes of personal profit, especially when there is going to be substantial variance in information.

    Also, this is to Elfboy in particular: You mentioned that in a pure capitalistic society, a monopoly cannot exist. Could you elaborate on the reasons behind this? Couldn't a particular firm grow and buy out other firms in the industry, until it was the only firm producing on a competitive scale?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnyboy View Post
    I'm not really a fan of any of these overarching systems of governance. From a practical standpoint, one needs to look at his desired outcomes first, and work backwards from there to establish appropriate laws to facilitate those objectives.
    If you are not a fan of overarching governance, why are you proposing a top down "practical" methodology?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    If you are not a fan of overarching governance, why are you proposing a top down "practical" methodology?
    You are correct. I suppose the only real non-overarching form of governance would be random. Although, always being random would mean that you were applying randomness in an overarching manner. Can you think of a non-overarching form of governance?

    Aside from that tangent, what I said after that still stands.

    Edit: I'm trying to think of what makes my methodology distinctively different than Socialism, Capitalism, Etc. I suppose mine would be utilitarian?
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  9. #229
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    It seems silly to confuse the Welfare State with the Socialist State.

  10. #230
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnyboy View Post
    I'm not really a fan of any of these overarching systems of governance. From a practical standpoint, one needs to look at his desired outcomes first, and work backwards from there to establish appropriate laws to facilitate those objectives. Some of the main problems with pure socialism are due to its incongruity with the nature of human motivation, competition, etc. However, pure capitalism sacrifices individual security, and itself relies on that ideal outcome to be born from the aggregate of individual motivations; I question whether an economic utopia can be born naturally from individuals working for the purposes of personal profit, especially when there is going to be substantial variance in information.

    Also, this is to Elfboy in particular: You mentioned that in a pure capitalistic society, a monopoly cannot exist. Could you elaborate on the reasons behind this? Couldn't a particular firm grow and buy out other firms in the industry, until it was the only firm producing on a competitive scale?
    well, I have a semi intuitive grasp on why cornering an entire market would be impossible, but I can't exactly explain it (my understanding of economics is rather vague at his point and still at a fairly basic level). that being said, the evidence that every monopoly can be traced to some sort of government sponsorship/favorability supports my intuition.

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