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    (Original post by JPO92)
    Socialism, in theory, is a very good idea. The problem is not only that socialism is flawed, but also that human beings are flawed. We are seemingly incapable of looking past our own self-interest and focussing on the interest of our entire species.

    To become more than a smidgen philosophical here, how can we expect a peacable, equal society when we are incapable of even being peaceful, balanced individuals? There are too many variables, too many conflicting interests, and too much hatred and antipathy between us for a system like Socialism to survive.

    This is why Capitalism thrives. An imperfect system for an imperfect species. The system that has one grand 'slogan':

    Clamber and stumble blindly over your fellow human beings, jostle and fight to 'ascend'. Don't look back, your power, wealth, comfort and safety await you at the pinnacle of materialistic attainment. Then, and only then, can you be truly happy.
    Please tell me how capitalism will work in 25 to 50 years when most people will have lost their job to automation


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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    I don't see how one follows from the other. Rights being a legal construct doesn't mean that people don't have them.
    It means people only have rights because of the present legal/constitutional settlement and it would be entirely legitimate for any state to cease to recognise them.

    Like the Soviet Union, (the People's Republic of) China, and other wonderful places that are usually denounced as perversions of the noble principles of 'true' socialism? :rolleyes:
    History older than about 20 years is irrelevant to whether something works because technology has advanced enough. Certainly learning pre-WWII stuff would be obviously irrelevant to 21st century politics but so, I'd submit, would be most pre-millennial stuff. This is especially the case with socialism, which basically needs automated, observable centralisation of power to work.

    Also, we could do the same with capitalism. There are hundreds of versions of capitalism which wouldn't have 'worked'. It's a matter of pure chance that capitalism appears to work better at the moment.

    And this is why I'm not a consequentialist.
    Because you fail to accept logical results?
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    Because you fail to accept logical results?
    If torturing 100 children to death would lead to greater happiness for the current inmates of HM Prison Wakefield, should we do it? It seems *logical*.
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    It means people only have rights because of the present legal/constitutional settlement and it would be entirely legitimate for any state to cease to recognise them.
    So you presumably would have no problem with me infringing on your right to bodily integrity, taking all your organs, selling them on the black market, and donating the money to charity?
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    (Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
    It means people only have rights because of the present legal/constitutional settlement and it would be entirely legitimate for any state to cease to recognise them.
    Good to know where you stand on rogue states and international pariahs. :yy: You must have a hell of a time explaining your opposition to American foreign policy (or any other perceived injustice -- something of a hobby for most socialists that I've met), when your starting point is, 'it would be entirely legitimate for any state to cease to recognise' rights.

    History older than about 20 years is irrelevant to whether something works because technology has advanced enough.
    Irrelevant because it's inconvenient, not because you're the perfect judge of when technology has advanced 'enough.' Your predecessors thought the same in the early 1900s and they, too, pretended that they had the authority and wisdom to make this declaration. They weren't right then, and nor is there any reason to think that you're right on this occasion.

    Also, we could do the same with capitalism. There are hundreds of versions of capitalism which wouldn't have 'worked'. It's a matter of pure chance that capitalism appears to work better at the moment.
    The faults of capitalism don't vindicate or justify or mitigate the faults of socialism (or, rather, the versions hitherto attempted).

    Because you fail to accept logical results?
    No, because I fail to accept logical b------t. (e.g. 'An all-powerful state is the best judge and administrator of the public good and you should trust me on this because I said so, although I can only guarantee mediocre results for the first hundred years, after which (if you're still alive), everything will be flowers and rainbows. My prediction must be right because I said so.')
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    Capitalism is the best we have. Reward the ones that work hard.
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    I think pure socialism isn't the best idea, but close to pure capitalism isn't a great idea either, look at America and how much the american dream has worked...

    Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires...

    I don't know where the quote is from but it's painfully true.
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    (Original post by paul514)
    Please tell me how capitalism will work in 25 to 50 years when most people will have lost their job to automation


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    Intellectuals, alongside people from all sections of society, have argued this point since the dawn of the industrial age.

    http://www.hacer.org/pdf/Hazlitt00.pdf (pg. 41)

    'I think pure socialism isn't the best idea, but close to pure capitalism isn't a great idea either, look at America and how much the American dream has worked...

    Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires...

    I don't know where the quote is from but it's painfully true.'

    -The quote is from John Steinbeck*
    -The American Dream has worked wonders, nowhere has civilisation seen such a great rise in living standards and wealth than in 19th to early 20th century America. Of course, it can be argued that, this is due to industrialisation, but the largely laissez-faire attitude America had during that period cannot be underestimated.
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    Human nature is to act in your own self interest aside from cases where you have an emotional connection to an individual.

    Socialism is possible in small communities where people care but its hard to see why I'd ever make a sacrifice for an African I've never met. Hence, global capitalism rules.

    Not to mention that command economies are generally awful.
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    (Original post by Rakas21)
    Human nature is to act in your own self-interest aside from cases where you have an emotional connection to an individual.

    Socialism is possible in small communities where people care but its hard to see why I'd ever make a sacrifice for an African I've never met. Hence, global capitalism rules.

    Not to mention that command economies are generally awful.
    You're presenting a reasonable argument; I would, however, disagree with your proposition on human nature. Defining human nature is always tricky as for every proposed definition you can find numerous counter-examples that seemingly contradict that particular definition.

    It can be argued that socialism is possible, both in small communities AND in ones greater in size and complexity. The real question to ask is, why should anyone propose to have a system wherein a territorial monopolist on the use of force steals wealth and hinders the productive capacity of a free voluntary actor in a spontaneous organic market system. Not only do we have, throughout history, a great repository of failed socialist experiments, (with a few small-scale 'successful' ones), but also the painful statistics of how much socialism costs in human lives.

    In fact, we shouldn't even be discussing socialism; von Mises already took the pain in rebuking it over sixty years ago.
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    (Original post by Archdukes)
    Not only do we have, throughout history, a great repository of failed socialist experiments, (with a few small-scale 'successful' ones), but also the painful statistics of how much socialism costs in human lives.
    The consequentialist argument is that these are acceptable losses in striving for a future utopia which, advocates of socialism assure us, will come. And if it doesn't, then it obviously wasn't 'true' socialism and socialism cannot therefore have its record tainted. Socialists are nothing if not fair and accountable, after all.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    The consequentialist argument is that these are acceptable losses in striving for a future utopia which, advocates of socialism assure us, will come. And if it doesn't, then it obviously wasn't 'true' socialism and socialism cannot therefore have its record tainted. Socialists are nothing if not fair and accountable, after all.
    Quite correct, it's easy for the left to evade any intellectual responsibility for the sins of their ideology. I think, and you may correct me on this, it is because the socialist position is all smoke and mirrors; I mean consider this: What other definitions of socialism are there, apart from the 'collective/public ownership of the means of production'? If that is so, then in truth, even avowed socialists like Sanders/Corbyn are themselves not socialists!
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    (Original post by JPO92)
    Socialism, in theory, is a very good idea. The problem is not only that socialism is flawed, but also that human beings are flawed. We are seemingly incapable of looking past our own self-interest and focussing on the interest of our entire species.

    To become more than a smidgen philosophical here, how can we expect a peacable, equal society when we are incapable of even being peaceful, balanced individuals? There are too many variables, too many conflicting interests, and too much hatred and antipathy between us for a system like Socialism to survive.

    This is why Capitalism thrives. An imperfect system for an imperfect species. The system that has one grand 'slogan':

    Clamber and stumble blindly over your fellow human beings, jostle and fight to 'ascend'. Don't look back, your power, wealth, comfort and safety await you at the pinnacle of materialistic attainment. Then, and only then, can you be truly happy.
    Capitalism does not thrive, though. Almost every country in the world is a mixed-market economy, meaning that it is a mixture of socialism and capitalism (aside from the very few fully socialist states left). Much of the political discourse today is concerned with the ratio of socialism to capitalism in the economy, not whether we ought to be fully socialist or fully capitalist.

    A fully socialist, or a fully communist society (communism being a stateless, classless society without currency) is unlikely to ever be formed unless we achieve a post-scarcity world. It should be noted, however, that the Spanish anarchist regions of the 1930s and the Ukranian Free Territory around 1920 both put communism into practice.

    In a world with scarcity, it's true that a purely socialist society (whether it's a libertarian socialist society or a state socialist society) is unlikely to work. Humans have the capacity for empathy, but even today this empathy is not extended to many groups of sentient beings, and even human concern for others close to them has its limits. Humans are still highly self-interested beings, so communism, today, would only work if humans were purely logical, objective and impartial.

    Utilitarians and effective altruists, who donate large proportions of their incomes to the most effective charities fighting global poverty, promoting animal welfare or reducing the threat of existential risks, could probably make communism work on a small-scale given that they adopt this impartial, universal standpoint, and people committed to communism can and do join various communes scattered around the world, as Rakas mentioned,

    I suppose one could argue that most individual households are very small-scale communes, too.
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    (Original post by Archdukes)
    Quite correct, it's easy for the left to evade any intellectual responsibility for the sins of their ideology. I think, and you may correct me on this, it is because the socialist position is all smoke and mirrors; I mean consider this: What other definitions of socialism are there, apart from the 'collective/public ownership of the means of production'? If that is so, then in truth, even avowed socialists like Sanders/Corbyn are themselves not socialists!
    That's quite right -- they're social democrats, not socialists (although they call themselves democratic socialists, which they might take to mean the same thing as social democrats). I agree with Sanders on most issues and prefer him to any of the other candidates by a mile and this wouldn't be the case if he was a socialist in the traditional sense.

    I wouldn't say that the position is all smoke and mirrors. Rather, people just aren't careful with terminology -- just about every leftist I know fancies him or herself as a utilitarian, but I suspect that in most cases this is because they don't know what it entails and just take it to mean, 'compassionate individual who supports the empowerment of the vulnerable in society' or something to that effect.

    I think it's a similar case with socialism vs social democracy: people think that what they have in Nordic countries is socialism and, because what those countries have is good by most standards, socialism must therefore be good and something worth associating oneself with. I doubt that there's any way to correct this confusion, unfortunately.
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    (Original post by sweeneyrod)
    If torturing 100 children to death would lead to greater happiness for the current inmates of HM Prison Wakefield, should we do it? It seems *logical*.
    It doesn't seem logical because there is no net increase in human happiness. The negatives created through the torturing to death significantly outweigh the positives. Also, your question kind of seems to imply that prisoners are less valuable than other humans, and I'd challenge that premise.

    (Original post by sweeneyrod)
    So you presumably would have no problem with me infringing on your right to bodily integrity, taking all your organs, selling them on the black market, and donating the money to charity?
    First, I don't have a right to bodily integrity. Second, the problem is it's very difficult to establish reasonably that recipients of black market organs need them more than myself, and there's also a massive cluster**** surrounding consequences on third parties. Third, I would have a problem because I'm selfish, as is everyone else. That's why people cannot be allowed to make decisions for themselves - they will pursue self-interest at the cost of others.

    (Original post by Hydeman)
    Good to know where you stand on rogue states and international pariahs. :yy: You must have a hell of a time explaining your opposition to American foreign policy (or any other perceived injustice -- something of a hobby for most socialists that I've met), when your starting point is, 'it would be entirely legitimate for any state to cease to recognise' rights.
    I'm not like most other socialists. I'm not anti-interventionist on principle, I just believe that intervention rarely works and the costs created would be better spent elsewhere. As for the latter part of this, you seem to misunderstand me. I'm not saying that any abuse of so-called 'rights' is moral; far from it. Rather, I'm saying that the absolute moral imperatives that the notion of rights imply do not exist, but obviously on balance many states' interruptions of what many would perceive as civil rights are negative, and thus not justified.

    Irrelevant because it's inconvenient, not because you're the perfect judge of when technology has advanced 'enough.' Your predecessors thought the same in the early 1900s and they, too, pretended that they had the authority and wisdom to make this declaration. They weren't right then, and nor is there any reason to think that you're right on this occasion.
    There is as much evidence that socialism will work as there is that capitalism will continue to work. The thing is, the world changes exponentially - the last 10 years have seen more change than the previous 10 years, and the 10 years before that, and so on. Thus, while in the 1800s the 17th century was still relevant evidence, in the 1900s the start of the 19th century was not. The evidence is logical deduction, as is all that there can ever be for political ideas. Even if history were useful to draw conclusions, it would still be an irrelevant sample size and ought to be essentially ignored on those grounds.

    The faults of capitalism don't vindicate or justify or mitigate the faults of socialism (or, rather, the versions hitherto attempted).
    But they are relevant in considering whether we should continue the capitalist project or discard it for another system.

    No, because I fail to accept logical b------t. (e.g. 'An all-powerful state is the best judge and administrator of the public good and you should trust me on this because I said so, although I can only guarantee mediocre results for the first hundred years, after which (if you're still alive), everything will be flowers and rainbows. My prediction must be right because I said so.')
    People are irrational, and generally make decisions in their own interest rather than the social interest (the latter being the moral way to make decisions). Where there are multiple agents in the decision-making process, intensely selfish options are discarded because they only bring benefit to one person, and they are less irrational because different people are irrational in different ways and the group allows irrationality to be exposed; and thus one gets closer to a rational decision in the social interest. This effect only gets greater the more people who are part of the decision-making process. It follows that the state (a large collective of people) is better at making decisions than individuals, without the majority tyranny problems of direct democracy.

    That's the logic I'm talking about.
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    Also, I knew it wouldn't be long before people started throwing about Mises quotes as though his ideas weren't advocated solely by oddballs nowadays.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    I wouldn't say that the position is all smoke and mirrors. Rather, people just aren't careful with terminology -- just about every leftist I know fancies him or herself as a utilitarian, but I suspect that in most cases this is because they don't know what it entails and just take it to mean, 'compassionate individual who supports the empowerment of the vulnerable in society' or something to that effect.
    I find this incredibly hard to believe, given that the prior probability of anyone identifying as a utilitarian is incredibly slim. As someone who is a utilitarian, and who puts it into practice, and who is perfectly aware of the supposed things it entails, I've been criticised just as much from 'left-wing' people as I have from 'right-wing' people, and as someone who knows a lot of other utilitarians (online and in person), I can tell you that political positions can wildly differ between utilitarians. The only real point of agreement is that if everyone were a pure, logical utilitarian, a society very close or identical to communism would be created. In the real world, utilitarians may differ on which political set-up would lead to the greatest consequences overall.

    (Original post by Hydeman)
    I think it's a similar case with socialism vs social democracy: people think that what they have in Nordic countries is socialism and, because what those countries have is good by most standards, socialism must therefore be good and something worth associating oneself with. I doubt that there's any way to correct this confusion, unfortunately.
    You're correct about this. Many, if not most, socialists are actually social democrats. Most supporters of capitalism aren't pure capitalists either. The vast majority of countries in the world are mixed-market economies, and political debate mainly centres on what the right mix of socialism and capitalism is in an economy.
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    (Original post by viddy9)
    I find this incredibly hard to believe, given that the prior probability of anyone identifying as a utilitarian is incredibly slim. As someone who is a utilitarian, and who puts it into practice, and who is perfectly aware of the supposed things it entails, I've been criticised just as much from 'left-wing' people as I have from 'right-wing' people, and as someone who knows a lot of other utilitarians (online and in person), I can tell you that political positions can wildly differ between utilitarians.
    I haven't said anything that would require the probability of people identifying as utilitarians to be higher than 'incredibly slim.' My contention is that many leftists (at least the ones I've met) who do describe themselves as utilitarians also hold positions that are inconsistent with utilitarianism. This isn't simply internal political disagreement -- if somebody believes in inviolable rights for either humans or animals, for instance, then he is not a utilitarian, regardless of which way you look at it.

    The word has a meaning which isn't infinitely flexible, and many supposed utilitarians ought to bear the definition in mind before styling themselves as such. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find some of these 'utilitarians' cringing at your defence of infanticide on that abortion thread a few days ago, grounded as that is in 'logical' utilitarian thought.
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    (Original post by Archdukes)
    Intellectuals, alongside people from all sections of society, have argued this point since the dawn of the industrial age.

    http://www.hacer.org/pdf/Hazlitt00.pdf (pg. 41)

    'I think pure socialism isn't the best idea, but close to pure capitalism isn't a great idea either, look at America and how much the American dream has worked...

    Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires...

    I don't know where the quote is from but it's painfully true.'

    -The quote is from John Steinbeck*
    -The American Dream has worked wonders, nowhere has civilisation seen such a great rise in living standards and wealth than in 19th to early 20th century America. Of course, it can be argued that, this is due to industrialisation, but the largely laissez-faire attitude America had during that period cannot be underestimated.
    There is a huge difference between what started 300 years ago and now.




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    (Original post by JPO92)
    Socialism, in theory, is a very good idea. The problem is not only that socialism is flawed, but also that human beings are flawed. We are seemingly incapable of looking past our own self-interest and focussing on the interest of our entire species.

    To become more than a smidgen philosophical here, how can we expect a peacable, equal society when we are incapable of even being peaceful, balanced individuals? There are too many variables, too many conflicting interests, and too much hatred and antipathy between us for a system like Socialism to survive.

    This is why Capitalism thrives. An imperfect system for an imperfect species. The system that has one grand 'slogan':

    Clamber and stumble blindly over your fellow human beings, jostle and fight to 'ascend'. Don't look back, your power, wealth, comfort and safety await you at the pinnacle of materialistic attainment. Then, and only then, can you be truly happy.
    tory
 
 
 
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