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Americans and Socialism Watch

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    Over the years I've noticed something about Americans when discussing socialism. This often comes up when discussing Obama, as a large group of right(er) wing Americans believe Obama to be a socialist.

    But what strikes me most about this, is that far too often I see "Socialism" as just being another word for Fascism, or a general catch-all term for something bad or dictatorial.

    So what I wonder, is whether this complete misunderstanding of socialism is just a bi-product of cold war propaganda, or something more fundamental to the fabric of American society.

    Any thoughts?
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    A lot of americans, when using the term ''socialism'', refer to ever perpetual increase of the size of the federal government and its intrusion into the private lives of its citizens.
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    The irony is that America would not be America without Socialism. Socialism is everywhere and society cannot function without it. In the minds of most Americans, Socialism is that ideology, political or otherwise, which has come to mean "anti-thesis" and capitalism as "thesis", which the Hegelian dialectic. But the anti-thesis is not Socialism, but Communism, which is a corruption of Socialism by people of subversive persuasions i.e., secret societies, Freemasonry, etc. Socialism has became caught up in the anti-thesis/thesis paradigm all because of the Hegelian agenda pushed by intellectuals in the West.
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    The Americans have an odd attitude towards socialism. Real left wing politics has never had much of a foothold in the US although they have always had a large and proud working class. They usually talk in terms of 'conservatives' and 'liberals' where centre left social democrats get described as 'liberals'.

    Socialism is seen as a dirty word over there so it gets thrown at Obama, like Republicans often call him a Communist because of his healthcare reforms. I wonder who really won the Cold War, if the Communists ended up running America....?

    What's interesting with Americans and their attitude towards socialism is to see how they view their sports. Their main sports leagues have very tight and rigorously enforced salary caps and draft systems to 'even up' the competition. This seems alien to European sports fans used to generally unregulated financial controls (although 'financial fair play' is coming in to football now), but it's interesting to see how Americans are hugely defensive about protecting these themes: they are 'for the good of the game' and 'the game is bigger than any club'. I think they are quite admirable attitudes tbf and one thing you see in American sports is they run them incredibly well, on a different scale even to our football which we think is big league. Stuff like the NFL is just on another level. But these are quite egalitarian/socialist principles and Americans seem to really big them up in their sports, whilst regarding socialism in general as a bad thing!
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    What's interesting with Americans and their attitude towards socialism is to see how they view their sports. Their main sports leagues have very tight and rigorously enforced salary caps and draft systems to 'even up' the competition. This seems alien to European sports fans used to generally unregulated financial controls (although 'financial fair play' is coming in to football now), but it's interesting to see how Americans are hugely defensive about protecting these themes: they are 'for the good of the game' and 'the game is bigger than any club'. I think they are quite admirable attitudes tbf and one thing you see in American sports is they run them incredibly well, on a different scale even to our football which we think is big league. Stuff like the NFL is just on another level. But these are quite egalitarian/socialist principles and Americans seem to really big them up in their sports, whilst regarding socialism in general as a bad thing!
    You might find this interesting: http://www.thebaffler.com/blog/2014/...ports_moochers
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    socialism is *more* so dictatorial than capitalism, or the american moderation of capitalism - that's why; how is it not dictatorial to tell people what to do with their money or their work places?
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    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    socialism is *more* so dictatorial than capitalism, or the american moderation of capitalism - that's why; how is it not dictatorial to tell people what to do with their money or their work places?
    Except it's socialism that advocates freedom in the work place. Capitalism (or at least, most forms of current capitalism) enforces a dictatorship in the workplace.
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    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    socialism is *more* so dictatorial than capitalism, or the american moderation of capitalism - that's why; how is it not dictatorial to tell people what to do with their money or their work places?
    Not socialism.
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    (Original post by Farm_Ecology)
    Except it's socialism that advocates freedom in the work place. Capitalism (or at least, most forms of current capitalism) enforces a dictatorship in the workplace.
    who owns the privately owned work place?
    the work-place owner.
    e,g. not the worker who didn't pay for it but merely works for the person that owns it.
    if I can claim to own my privately owned property (house), why do they not own their own private property (e.g. their productive means/land)?
    you're throwing around the word "freedom" with a horrific amount of elasticity to the extent that you're undermining its basic meaning altogether; freedom is not something you can claim on someone else's ground of rights; you can't just storm into someone else's property and claim "I like more money, therefore, I have a right to get given it" - that's ridiculous. go back and understand what freedom actually is; freedom is not utilitarianism, freedom is not comfort (in fact it can be far from it) - freedom is independence, not a majority/mob rule. "freedom of the majority" (in words like yours, e.g. "freedom of the workplace" is like "freedom of the dictator; a dictatorship doesn't have to be ruled by an oligarch/despot - a majority can also take away the freedoms of individuals equally so.
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    (Original post by The Socktor)
    Not socialism.
    higher taxation? that costs liberty from the individual.
    minimum wages? that costs liberty from the individual.
    I could go on. and obviously, getting more things through the work of somebody else through force is not liberty, it's sadistic material bribery.
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    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    if I can claim to own my privately owned property (house),.
    But surely, if all property was owned by the state, the state would then have the right to do what it wishes with the land? Right?

    No, of course not.


    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    freedom is not utilitarianism, freedom is not comfort (in fact it can be far from it) - freedom is independence, not a majority/mob rule. "
    No, but freedom is included in it. As freedom is more than just freedom to do what you wish with arbitrarily gained property.

    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    freedom of the majority" (in words like yours, e.g. "freedom of the workplace" is like "freedom of the dictator; a dictatorship doesn't have to be ruled by an oligarch/despot - a majority can also take away the freedoms of individuals equally so.
    Freedom for the majority is better than freedom for the minority. But better yet, is freedom for all. Holding a gun to someones head and saying "you can take a step, but I will shoot you" is not freedom. It is freedom by choice, but not by situation.

    Neither socialism nor capitalism make comments about the manner of government, only the economy. However, Socialism does give freedom from potential dictatorships within their workplace. Going back to the analogy of a state owning something, claiming ownership of something does not give the "owner" the right to place unneeded restrictions on those that must use what they have claimed ownership to. Like the dictatorship, the non-owners are forced to sell their labour as the owners have already claimed ownership to everything, leaving them no choice but to abide by the rules they set. So thus, the freedom of the owners comes into conflcit with the freedom of the non-owners. No matter how high you elevate the freedom of the non-owners against the owners, the level of freedom of the non-owners will never exceed that of the owners.
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    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    higher taxation? that costs liberty from the individual.
    minimum wages? that costs liberty from the individual.
    I could go on. and obviously, getting more things through the work of somebody else through force is not liberty, it's sadistic material bribery.
    Not socialism.
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    (Original post by Farm_Ecology)
    But surely, if all property was owned by the state, the state would then have the right to do what it wishes with the land? Right?

    No, of course not.
    you really need to understand the fact that the state doesn't have any money on its own - it gets its money by the violation of property rights/liberty through taxation (another term for "theft", used by the state to refer to "legitimate theft"). so, if you're saying "it's okay if the state owns it", firstly - if it owns anything, that's a violation of liberty for the individual as it relies on taxation, and secondly, the state has no right, in whatever the circumstances, to violate people rights in fundamental ways whether its on its own land or not, e.g. slavery, abuse of power, etc - the state is bad and you're doing a great job at framing this, because the state, when it can control things, usually either does things worse than the private sector (e.g. loss of both property rights *and* success/revenue seeing as the state sector is not competitive, or at least is not anywhere near as necessarily competitive as the private sector) or it does things terribly (e.g. it has the right to do "whatever it wants" by law, ergo it doesn't need to be legally held to account in many ways other than a political representation rotation whereby the same offices of the state can commit the same crimes against the individual all over again, e.g. corruption/misuse of money, bribery, ruination of said land/natural resources in a manner worse than a non-monopolistic actor, etc.


    No, but freedom is included in it. As freedom is more than just freedom to do what you wish with arbitrarily gained property.
    included in "it"? what are you meaning by "it"? property rights? only for the person who actually owns it in the first place, not the people who make use of it for a wage; if I said to a person "I'll give you £x if you give my y to person z", that person doesn't have any rights over that object other than those that I've granted them; they can't suddenly throw their arms up and say something like "actually, I'm keeping this, **** you" - that is totally illegitimate; if you work for somebody for a wage, for example, and you agree to it and sign the contract, then that's your own fault and you can't expect to manipulate the person on the other side just because a) jealousy, or b) the lust for power in a parasitic fashion

    Freedom for the majority is better than freedom for the minority. But better yet, is freedom for all. Holding a gun to someones head and saying "you can take a step, but I will shoot you" is not freedom. It is freedom by choice, but not by situation.
    "freedom" isn't something that depends on another group. freedom is about independence *from* other groups or people. security? maybe, but security isn't freedom. freedom isn't something that is based on piggyback riding on someone else's work for your own gain. and if you're talking about strict philosophical free will, they do have the freedom to take a step if they want to be shot - that's totally up to them if that is the situation before them (not that I would ever endorse violent or threatening behaviour, though). but capitalism isn't about that. capitalism isn't a moral system, capitalism is simply a state of natural (with obvious exceptions, e.g. the state's existence to enforce civil rights of property, as opposed to having individuals have the right to defend their property via lethal force) whereby people aren't dictated to or pushed around, or robbed - at least by the government. it gives the individual (each individual) the absolute power to determine their economic life; if they don't become as rich as someone else. the state did absolutely nothing in capitalism (not crony capitalism or corporatism, mind you) that causes the government to directly/literally stop you from achieving your natural/true potential.

    Neither socialism nor capitalism make comments about the manner of government, only the economy. However, Socialism does give freedom from potential dictatorships within their workplace.
    people have the right to form work-place dictatorships" of sorts provided they (the owner(s)) don't inflict harm or literally rob people while they do it; if people sign up to a contract to work under it, then that is their choice to be relatively abused, but who are we to stop them just because we think they don't deserve poor treatment? freedom of contract isn't based on giving everybody everything, it's about allowing people to make their own choices and not to make those choices for them as if they are mere children or something.

    Going back to the analogy of a state owning something, claiming ownership of something does not give the "owner" the right to place unneeded restrictions on those that must use what they have claimed ownership to. Like the dictatorship, the non-owners are forced-
    it's not "forced" if it is contractually consensual. if you sign up to lend your labour and time to somebody in return for a determined (or possibly variable) wage, that isn't a matter of coercion, that is simply your promise for someone else's promise. nobody is physically forcing another person to work. that is against the law; that is slavery. if you promise in a binding contract, that can be freely made, to work for a certain amount of time or else you will be charged in private law, then that's a totally different matter altogether.

    to sell their labour as the owners have already claimed ownership to everything, leaving them no choice but to abide by the rules they set. So thus, the freedom of the owners comes into conflcit with the freedom of the non-owners. No matter how high you elevate the freedom of the non-owners against the owners, the level of freedom of the non-owners will never exceed that of the owners.
    again, there is no "freedom of the workers" (in that sense) when talking about a work place. the workers don't own anything they work with other than themselves, and therefore they have no literal right to claim anything from it other than a contractual wage that they have signed up for. if they thought they were worth more than what they are given, they should have bargained harder when they formed the contract. you aren't realising that "freedom" is different to "convenience"; what might be convenience (e.g. housing, health care, education, etc) is not freedom - freedom isn't being given something, it is one's potential to perform and to act without something forcing them to do something else through physical force. so just because you don't have health care or education, that isn't a lack of liberty, that is a lack of property; education and health care are material/value-based things, and liberty isn't. liberty doesn't cost any money - it only costs money in a capitalist/limited state system after it has been taken away (e.g. so I'm referring to a police system there, which is based on the assumption that human beings *will* commit crimes and therefore they are going to be necessary and inevitable, but that doesn't stop freedom being natural and without a price without coercion being used beforehand)
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    (Original post by The Socktor)
    Not socialism.
    what socialism is in a statist system, requires those things in its application.
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    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    what socialism is in a statist system, requires those things in its application.
    No it doesn't. All it requires is common ownership of the means of production. It's unlikely that things like high taxes and minimum wages would even be needed within socialism.
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    (Original post by The Socktor)
    No it doesn't. All it requires is common ownership of the means of production. It's unlikely that things like high taxes and minimum wages would even be needed within socialism.
    do you believe in the presence of a government? you do realise there's a distinction between socialism and communism, or anarcho-collectivism, right? karl marx, for example, said in order to have communism (absolute economic equality), you needed "socialism" - and by that he meant a government ownership of the means of production - so are you a socialist or an anarcho communist? because "socialism" requires taxation/violation of liberty, while anarcho collectivism is merely, if practised, a social understanding (which doesn't exist in humans in this case-) that without a government the means of production either shouldn't exist (some interpretations) or shouldn't be owned (which obviously has its major practical flaws)
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    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    you really need to understand the fact that the state doesn't have any money on its own
    Yes it does, it can print new money any time it wants.


    it's not "forced" if it is contractually consensual.
    Are people allowed to change their minds, or will they be forced to go along with the terms of the contract after agreeing to it in the past?

    if you sign up to lend your labour and time to somebody in return for a determined (or possibly variable) wage, that isn't a matter of coercion, that is simply your promise for someone else's promise. nobody is physically forcing another person to work. that is against the law; that is slavery. if you promise in a binding contract, that can be freely made, to work for a certain amount of time or else you will be charged in private law, then that's a totally different matter altogether.
    Forgetting the aforementioned issue of contract enforcement for the moment, while it is indeed true that people are not literally coerced into working, they are coerced into a situation which makes wage labour the only viable option for most people.


    again, there is no "freedom of the workers" (in that sense) when talking about a work place. the workers don't own anything they work with other than themselves, and therefore they have no literal right to claim anything from it other than a contractual wage that they have signed up for. if they thought they were worth more than what they are given, they should have bargained harder when they formed the contract.
    You're begging the question - you're asserting the legitimacy of private property in the means of production in a debate over private property in the means of production.
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    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    karl marx, for example, said in order to have communism (absolute economic equality), you needed "socialism" - and by that he meant a government ownership of the means of production
    Where did he say he meant that?
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    I wrote a much more detailed reply, but unfortionately the system logged me out before I could post it, and was deleted. So I'm going to be far more brief than I intended.

    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    you really need to understand the fact that the state doesn't have any money on its own - it gets its money by the violation of property rights/liberty through taxation .
    It makes money the same way any Capitalist instituion does: by reaping profits from others using it's services.



    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    included in "it"? what are you meaning by "it"? .
    I was refering to Utilitarianism.

    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    if I said to a person "I'll give you £x if you give my y to person z", that person doesn't have any rights over that object other than those that I've granted them
    Because you provided the raw materials? This idea that the owners of the materials, rather than the creator of the product, have more right to a product is central to the idea of capitalism. Which isn't suprising as it evolved from a society of owners with no actual means of production.

    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    at least by the government. it gives the individual (each individual) the absolute power to determine their economic life
    A fantastical and idealistic freedom that has no place in the real world. While it provides them a theoretical freedom to have power over their economic future, it only provides the means for stopping them from doing so. While you can say that anyone has the freedom in a capitalist society to determine their future, it is about as useful as saying they have the freedom to fly.

    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    but who are we to stop them just because we think they don't deserve poor treatment? freedom of contract isn't based on giving everybody everything, it's about allowing people to make their own choices and not to make those choices for them as if they are mere children or something.
    Because part of freedom is being in a position to excerise that freedom. If a labourer is not free to utilize his labour, but a capitalist is free to abuse that labour, it's only freedom for the capitalist. It is only through socialism that we have avoided effective slavery and total monopolies.
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    (Original post by zippity.doodah)
    do you believe in the presence of a government? you do realise there's a distinction between socialism and communism, or anarcho-collectivism, right? karl marx, for example, said in order to have communism (absolute economic equality), you needed "socialism" - and by that he meant a government ownership of the means of production - so are you a socialist or an anarcho communist? because "socialism" requires taxation/violation of liberty, while anarcho collectivism is merely, if practised, a social understanding (which doesn't exist in humans in this case-) that without a government the means of production either shouldn't exist (some interpretations) or shouldn't be owned (which obviously has its major practical flaws)
    Marx felt that socialsm was a stepping point towards communism. Socialism is older than Marx though, and the only real point that combines all forms of socialism together is ownership of the means of production, by the people (or state representing the people).

    The biggest key point though, is that the state functions very differently depending on system. In capitalism, the state functions essentially as another capitalist. This is not true in socialism.
 
 
 
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