Socialists Question Time AKA 'Ask a Socialist' Watch

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Axiomasher
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#5541
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#5541
(Original post by Melancholy)
What response to the question of what is "fair" isn't normative (assuming you're using the term in the correct sense)?...
Your question is normative in the sense it assumes, or appears to assume, the legitimacy of the social and economic arrangements which lead to tax-payers and 'chavs'. If I'm using the term 'normative' wrongly in some technical sense then meh, you surely know what I mean.
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Melancholy
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#5542
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#5542
I don't think my question needs to assume that - but I take the point.
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SciFiRory
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#5543
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#5543
(Original post by Observatory)
Therefore, the West should have continued to support him?! That's like saying we shouldn't have fought Hitler because if we had taken a firmer stance on the Rhineland he never would have been able to invade Poland.
no...we should never have supported him to begin with was my point...if we hadn't he wouldn't have become so powerful...
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Observatory
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#5544
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#5544
(Original post by SciFiRory)
no...we should never have supported him to begin with was my point...if we hadn't he wouldn't have become so powerful...
The West supported Hussein against Iran, but Western support isn't the basis of his power. So your proposal would leave Hussein in complete control of his own population, with the only possible change being Iranian annexation of Iraqi territory after the Iran-Iraq War.
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SciFiRory
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#5545
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#5545
(Original post by Observatory)
The West supported Hussein against Iran, but Western support isn't the basis of his power. So your proposal would leave Hussein in complete control of his own population, with the only possible change being Iranian annexation of Iraqi territory after the Iran-Iraq War.
it certainly helped him significantly and gave him more power/resources than he would otherwise have had...he was in complete control either way...sorry but I don't regard replacing one tyrant with another in the form of useless puppet regime to be "progress" or "mission accomplished", and Iraq has probably turned out only slightly better than Afghanistan will do as well.
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Axiomasher
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#5546
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#5546
(Original post by Melancholy)
I don't think my question needs to assume that - but I take the point.
Imagine that you are playing a game of Monopoly only it's not a 'game' because you are required to participate. Now imagine that not everyone gets to enter the game with the same resources and opportunities at their disposal. Now imagine that the rules of the game actually favour some groups over others and some individuals over others. Now consider how you might have had no significant hand, if any at all, in a) the fact that you're required to play the game and b) the way the game rules work and the way game-entry resources/opportunities are unequally distributed (sometimes highly unequally distributed).

This is why I'm referring to your question as 'normative' because it is treating the arrangements under capitalism as normal and not up for debate.

I would turn your question on its head and ask why should those who find themselves in a less favourable condition within capitalism play by the rules?
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Observatory
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#5547
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#5547
(Original post by SciFiRory)
it certainly helped him significantly and gave him more power/resources than he would otherwise have had...he was in complete control either way...sorry but I don't regard replacing one tyrant with another in the form of useless puppet regime to be "progress" or "mission accomplished", and Iraq has probably turned out only slightly better than Afghanistan will do as well.
Iraq has an elected government. Do you think that Shinzo Abe is a useless puppet regime - there are more US troops in Japan than in Iraq?
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Melancholy
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#5548
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#5548
(Original post by Axiomasher)
Imagine that you are playing a game of Monopoly only it's not a 'game' because you are required to participate. Now imagine that not everyone gets to enter the game with the same resources and opportunities at their disposal. Now imagine that the rules of the game actually favour some groups over others and some individuals over others. Now consider how you might have had no significant hand, if any at all, in a) the fact that you're required to play the game and b) the way the game rules work and the way game-entry resources/opportunities are unequally distributed (sometimes highly unequally distributed).

This is why I'm referring to your question as 'normative' because it is treating the arrangements under capitalism as normal and not up for debate.

I would turn your question on its head and ask why should those who find themselves in a less favourable condition within capitalism play by the rules?
I don't treat the rules of capitalism as "not up for debate"; and, indeed, I support reasonably progressive taxation on the basis that the wealthiest benefit disproportionately from man-made property entitlement laws. However, the worst-off are best served by a capitalist economy. Heck, the NHS received a huge amount from the taxed labour of hard-working people in the city of London. The richest 1% contribute 30% of income tax (in Britain). If you want the richest to pay more, then you have to build a vibrant economy and a one which encourages wealth-creation.

I work hard for what I earn - and if I'm going to be taxed to help out those don't earn as much, then I sure as hell have reason to feel aggrieved that the fruits of labour are being given to people whose work ethic, morals and attitudes are rotten - people who don't try as hard as me, who couldn't care less at school, that spend money unwisely, who don't plan for their futures, who make life a misery for others, and so forth.

My question does not assume the legitimacy of capitalism. I argue explicitly for a capitalist system as a way of lifting people out of poverty and giving them more free time compared to other economic systems. I also recognise the compensation owed to the less fortunate under a capitalist system. But the question of whether taxation should go towards chavs is not really about obligations towards the worst-off. It's more fundamentally about whether it's right for the state to coerce you to pay towards those who make the active choice to behave like degenerate thugs. It's unhealthy to think that being poor determines you to be a person who will forever remain poor and actively choose to engage in disgusting behaviour.
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Axiomasher
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#5549
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#5549
(Original post by Melancholy)
I don't treat the rules of capitalism as "not up for debate"; and, indeed, I support reasonably progressive taxation on the basis that the wealthiest benefit disproportionately from man-made property entitlement laws. However, the worst-off are best served by a capitalist economy...
As far as I'm concerned the worst-off are not best served by a system which structurally disadvantages them from the moment they are born. But that doesn't really matter in our debate because either way there's no moral obligation on the disadvantaged to play by the rules of the system, none whatsoever. You want the poor to play by the rules which primarily serve the interests of the privileged and rich? You can't really defend such a thing. As far as I'm concerned the poor should do their best to manipulate the system as they can, that's exactly what the rich do after all.
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Melancholy
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#5550
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#5550
But I can defend such a thing - the moral obligation to obey lies in the force of my argument. You might disagree, in which we case there lies a brute clash of fundamental ethical principles.

Firstly, everybody is born into disadvantages. I'm disadvantaged relative to somebody who was born to a footballer (and, likewise, I suspect they'll be disadvantaged in various other respects compared to me - they might not have as loving a family as me, and such like). A person born unhealthy, depressed, ugly or otherwise might be disadvantaged. Intelligence, good-lucks, and so forth, are dispersed unequally through the lottery of birth. It is foolish and mistaken to pretend that a few humans operating from a capital city have legal levers and institutions that they can use to make all these things disappear. They can't. And, indeed, central planning often makes the situation much worse (and this has been the spirit of much economic through since the likes of Hayek and the fall of the Soviet Union). But, you know, so what? I have the liberty to plan to overcome the hurdles I face in the way of my dreams and aspirations. And liberty is the best gift a government can give a person to solve their problems. Life is unfair, but why do we assume it's the government's job to make it fairer? There's more of us than there is of government. Be the change you want to see. We plan for ourselves better than the government can co-ordinate our lives.

Secondly, I'm a Rawlsian. I have fairly commonly-accepted moral axioms supporting my political position - based on formal equality and the golden rule. By asking: "what socio-legal-political system would I wish to exist if I did not know to what position I would be born - poor, health, rich, unhealthy, smart, ugly, dumb, beautiful... etc?" I take everybody's preferences into account. I would wish to have a political system that makes the worst-off the best-off they could have been. I would not want to risk being born poor into a system that punishes the poor. So I support whatever makes the worst-off the best-off. That, empirically/historically-speaking, is a mixed economy, which has a flourishing private sector, a healthcare system free-at-the-point-of-use, and a liberal economic system. I don't think it would justify using state force to make the wealthiest pay taxes for those who disrupt that sort of society. Our obligation to obey our society's rules is rooted in the fact that they're fair.
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Axiomasher
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#5551
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#5551
(Original post by Melancholy)
But I can defend such a thing - the moral obligation to obey lies in the force of my argument...
But there's no force in an argument that says group A must be satisfied with system Y even though system Y is very much arranged for the primary benefit of group B and group A are structurally disadvantaged in their capacity to succeed in that system. It's right back to my Monopoly example; why should I play by the rules of a game which I have no choice but to play in and where the rules of that game are distinctly arranged to my disadvantage from the start. The answer is simple - I shouldn't.
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Melancholy
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#5552
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#5552
As is clear from my writings, I disagree with the premise that system Y (our system) is "arranged for the benefit of" group B (i.e. the richer group).

The reason the poorest should obey the rules of system Y is because it's the only system which will protect their asses from harm, worse poverty and tyranny. If you kill the City of London, for instance, then you do damage to worst-off in society, because it's their taxes that have been funding a lot of benefits that allow the less capable to continue their more dignified 21st century lifestyles.

The poorest in society have just as much opportunity and freedoms to earn a living like me. Sure, some people aren't so lucky, or perhaps might not be very talented in some respects; but my questions deals with those who don't try, for which, I feel, there is no excuse. There is free education at the point of use, free healthcare at the point of use, and the wealthiest and most talented are compelled (at threat of state violence) to use the fruits of their talents (earnings) help the less fortunate through taxes. Hardly a system geared too much towards "the rich" (which is a flexible financial state, not a static group of people).
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Axiomasher
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#5553
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#5553
(Original post by Melancholy)
As is clear from my writings, I disagree with the premise that system Y (our system) is "arranged for the benefit of" group B (i.e. the richer group).

The reason the poorest should obey the rules of system Y is because it's the only system which will protect their asses from harm, worse poverty and tyranny. If you kill the City of London, for instance, then you do damage to worst-off in society, because it's their taxes that have been funding a lot of benefits that allow the less capable to continue their more dignified 21st century lifestyles.
Nope. There's no moral obligation on any party to obey the rules of a system which is not theirs and which primarily benefits some other party. To suggest, as you seem to be doing, that capitalist society does not primarily benefit the capitalist class above the working class or the poor is absurd. As an aside you also seem to be conflating poverty with lack of ability when it is poverty that generates a lack of opportunity wherein ability could otherwise flourish.

Like I say, the poor should take every opportunity to milk a system which is not of their making and is not arranged for their benefit but their control.
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Melancholy
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#5554
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#5554
"There's no moral obligation on any party to obey the rules of a system which is not theirs and which primarily benefits some other party."

I've already tackled this. No further work deemed necessary, except to say that you'd find it difficult to justify obedience to any set of rules if that is your moral condition. It is "their" system (in some sense), and the system is designed to benefit the worst-off (which capitalist societies have historically done). A lot of poverty is caused by lack of ability or will; rather than opportunity. It is usually lack of will caused by inherited family attitudes (or ability) and the choice to hang out with certain groups of people with similar mentalities. We have access to the internet, to free education, to free healthcare, and such like. There are poorer people who have had a lot less help in life than me, but self-pity is a corrosive poison on young minds which will eat away at their dreams and aspirations.
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demx9
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#5555
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#5555
(Original post by Alasdair)
This thread is for anybody to ask questions of any members of the socialist party. We will aim to get you a response as quickly as possible.

Socialists posting in this thread should indicate how 'official' their view is. While as a party we have no official platform, you should indicate if you think your view is outside the norm for other Socialist Party members.

Let the questioning commence!
What are your views on immigration ?
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Republic1
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#5556
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#5556
(Original post by demx9)
What are your views on immigration ?
Hi there, as usual this is my personal opinion, and not one of the party.

I think immigration is a fantastic thing. I'm an internationalist at heart and the free movement of people is one of many fundamental human rights. The idea that there should be controls placed on people crossing from one bit of land to another, based on an arbitrarily drawn line in the sand, is crazy. That's my philosophical viewpoint - from an economic argument I am of the view that immigration is hugely beneficial to all countries.
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Axiomasher
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#5557
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#5557
(Original post by Melancholy)
"There's no moral obligation on any party to obey the rules of a system which is not theirs and which primarily benefits some other party."

I've already tackled this...
No, you haven't. Capitalism is a social and economic system structured to benefit the capitalist class first and foremost, those who remain have no obligation to such a system regardless of whether or not it claims to 'help' them.
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demx9
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#5558
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#5558
(Original post by Republic1)
Hi there, as usual this is my personal opinion, and not one of the party.

I think immigration is a fantastic thing. I'm an internationalist at heart and the free movement of people is one of many fundamental human rights. The idea that there should be controls placed on people crossing from one bit of land to another, based on an arbitrarily drawn line in the sand, is crazy. That's my philosophical viewpoint - from an economic argument I am of the view that immigration is hugely beneficial to all countries.
Would you consider a problem the increasing tension between ethnic groups in countries like the UK where immigration is so rampant ? What about issues relating to muslims imposing their views on what should be a secular state ? ( like the case of halal meat in elementary schools ).
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Republic1
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#5559
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#5559
(Original post by demx9)
Would you consider a problem the increasing tension between ethnic groups in countries like the UK where immigration is so rampant ? What about issues relating to muslims imposing their views on what should be a secular state ? ( like the case of halal meat in elementary schools ).
Anyone who believes that any of that is the case needs to stop reading the Daily Mail. Papers like the Mail and the Express preach that codswallop to scare people. Ethnic tensions, if they even exist, exist where the 'British' population, likely Mail readers, refuse to welcome immigrants.

Religion plays no part in it as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately this isn't a secular state, we have a political system where someone with magic blood, appointed by divine intervention, is the head of state. People who are worried about Islam or any other religion "imposing" values on the state need to look at the state itself - we still haven't disestablished the CoE yet for heaven's sake, let alone deposed that magic blood clan.
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Observatory
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#5560
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#5560
(Original post by Republic1)
Anyone who believes that any of that is the case needs to stop reading the Daily Mail. Papers like the Mail and the Express preach that codswallop to scare people. Ethnic tensions, if they even exist, exist where the 'British' population, likely Mail readers, refuse to welcome immigrants.

Religion plays no part in it as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately this isn't a secular state, we have a political system where someone with magic blood, appointed by divine intervention, is the head of state. People who are worried about Islam or any other religion "imposing" values on the state need to look at the state itself - we still haven't disestablished the CoE yet for heaven's sake, let alone deposed that magic blood clan.
You say that religion does not play a part and then you say that the established Church of England is a malign influence. So which is it - is religion irrelevant, or is religion relevant and the problem is the Church of England?

Both of your criticisms of opponents of immigration contain apparent contradictions - on the one hand you believe there is equivalence between natives and immigrants, and on the other that natives exclusively are causing problems. If human nature is basically the same, and natives are not willing to fully accept the cultures of immigrants, does it not stand to reason that immigrants are not willing to fully accept the culture of natives?
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