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Thread: Define capitalism, socialism, free market fundamentalism, communism, etc.

  1. #11
    Artisan Conquerer Array Halla74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I want to attempt a different sort of political discussion:

    1. Define capitalism, socialism, free market fundamentalism, communism, and any other concepts you feel are relevant.
    2. Defend your decision to demarcate these concepts the way you did in terms of usefulness in discussion, and proximity to colloquial use.
    3. How do your definitions of these concepts relate to statements you often make about these concepts? How would your statements change if you used the definitions that somebody else came up with?

    Yes. My goal is to make this whole discussion centered around semantics, but hopefully a meaningful discussion of the semantics involved.

    I don't expect anyone to "win" the discussion by proving their definitions are best--I don't expect any sort of resolution.

    I am hoping to get a glimpse into the "landscape" of economic conceptions that are often thrown around in political discussion.
    DEFINING any of these forms of government is EASY.

    Simply navigate to and thr task is done.

    What matters MORE tham the DEFINITION of any given form of government is how it is IMPLEMENTED by the countries who choose to use it as their vehicle of public administration.

    To say China is "purely communist" is tomfoolery.
    To claim thst the U.S.A. is a purely capitalist society is non-sense.

    Actions speak louder than words.

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  2. #12
    Dreaming the life Array onemoretime's Avatar
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    An economic system characterized by the owners of productive capital and financiers as having deterministic power within the system. Typical aims of the system are the commodification of all aspects of human life and Planet Earth, including the reification of thought, and the promotion of total alienability of property rights. Other goals are the expansion of production capacity and productivity to the point that labor becomes fungible and costs decrease, and the continuing exploitation of any available resource. Capitalists are bound by a central contradiction in that they fear and despise the power of government, and yet are wholly dependent upon it for their own power. Capitalism demands the unending expansion of production, which will ultimately lead to its doom on a finite planet.

    Useful in that it is close enough to what most people understand as "capitalism," but conceiving of it as a structural power dynamic, rather than an organic system of human economic organization. Takes into account that property rights only signify that the holder can have the government exert physical violence against a person who challenges those rights.

    For me, calling "capitalism" a mere economic system vastly limits the scope of its effect on all parts of the planet. In my mind, capitalism literally has as its end to have all of us outside the capital class consider ourselves mere commodities for sale, and to deny of ourselves any sort of fundamental dignity. Its aim is to turn us all into whores.

    If I were to adopt the competition-oriented definition of capitalism, I probably would not say the above.


    The belief that the aim of government, i.e. the legitimate use of violence against a society's population, is to ensure that no individual member amasses such disproportionate power relative to his neighbors that he can alter their life outcomes through the force of his will alone. The state may monopolize non-violent forms of coercion, such as those enveloped within private wealth and ownership of the means of production, and uses that power toward the ends of satisfying the needs of every member of the society.

    I specify socialism as a belief, as it functions more as an operating principle, that state power should be used for collective social welfare. This is useful because it includes social democracies and socialist command societies. It is nowhere near colloquial use, because said use is a means of propaganda by conceptually othering it from what is familiar in the US.

    I don't talk much about socialism, because in my mind, it's mostly good intentions with mixed outcomes. If I focused on production and consumption, that would likely remain the same.

    Free Market Fundamentalism:

    The worship of Mammon.

    It's useful because this is not rational system, but a modern religion that places faith in the "invisible hand" to provide for personal well-being, provided that all efforts to stop non-believers from blaspheming its name and hindering its will are successful. Such irrationality can be seen in the hand-waving that goes on when things like externalities and market failures are brought up. Meanwhile, the charlatans who run the whole racket are cleaning up left and right.

    I don't talk too much about free markets, because there's usually nothing to be gained from it, one way or the other. If I were to use the derogatory term definition, I would probably point out that the more pernicious aspects of capitalism had very little to do with free markets.


    State monopolization of all forms of coercive power, including all means of production. In the absence of global revolution, ends up with the state acting as a capitalist on the global scale. More governmental repression, and less private repression as a result of wealth disparity and lack of social safety net than within a private capitalist system. Ultimately betrayed by the formation of cadre bureaucratic officials who appropriate state gains to personal benefit

    Close enough to the common definition of the phrase, if that goes beyond "the bad guys during the Cold War." Useful in that it recognizes that a communist state is nothing more than an entire country turned into a company town. It also recognizes that there are aspects of communism that are favorable to the capitalist state of affairs.

    I have said that the problem with communism is that like all utopian systems, it does not take sociopaths into account, and that's where it ultimately breaks down. I don't think I can go with the abolition of property definition, as that describes an ideal that has never occurred on the planet.

  3. #13
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    good thread imo as i often wonder whether we are talking about the same thing when it comes to such discussions.

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