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Why is socialism such a scary word?

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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited September 24
    A quick Google search of "Chavez economic miracle site:slate.com" doesn't produce anything that suggests that anybody writing for Slate admired Chavez.

    The legend that Sanders admired Chavez comes from the right-wing circulation of a single out of context quote buried at the end of an op-ed Sanders wrote in 2011.

    "the American left loves Venezuela" is a form of conservative echo chamber bullshit that doesn't really hold water.

    But I'll revise that opinion if somebody can link some mainstream left-wing sources clearly admiring Chavez Venezuela.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    Styrofoam SammichShortyMegaMekchrishallett83shrykeMrVyngaardMartini_PhilosopherLord_AsmodeusCambiataHacksawJohn C. Turbine
  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited September 24
    The Venezuela argument is a bit infuriating for a lot of reasons but the big one for me is that even if we assume "yes, this is a socialist country having problems because of socialism" we'd have to be huge hypocrites to base our condemnations on it.

    Capitalism, even when its working as intended, grinds along on top of a million human ball bearings of misery and it crashes to routinely that its cyclical failure is just regarded as a natural force. And even after all that capitalist countries can and have collapsed and descended into near barbarism. So even assuming all the worst of what is said about socialism and Venezuela, so what?

    Generally something needs to produce better overall results to be preferred. Tu quouque isn't an argument for something.

    I think it is a problem for large portions of various groups to support something that proved to be a failure when the reasons it would be a failure should have been clear at the time. By 2013, Corbyn should have known enough to not call Chavez a "inspiration to all of us fighting back against austerity and neoliberal economics in Europe." It isn't an argument that it is impossible for it to work, but it is a reason to question their judgment in general. People attack groups all the time for past mistakes they should have known were mistakes. I think it is perfectly legitimate to criticize people who used to support austerity measures for that, for example.

    Couscous on
    Harry Dresden
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    And extremes on both sides of the coin are damaging.

    I don't think many people are proposing taking things to those extremes. Even left leaning as this site is, there likely aren't a lot of people here who suggest the government should run everything and own everything. So most people are looking at ranges in the middle.

  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    A quick Google search of "Chavez economic miracle site:slate.com" doesn't produce anything that suggests that anybody writing for Slate admired Chavez.

    The legend that Sanders admired Chavez comes from the right-wing circulation of a single out of context quote buried at the end of an op-ed Sanders wrote in 2011.

    "the American left loves Venezuela" is a form of conservative echo chamber bullshit that doesn't really hold water.

    But I'll revise that opinion if somebody can link some mainstream left-wing sources clearly admiring Chavez Venezuela.

    https://www.salon.com/2013/03/06/hugo_chavezs_economic_miracle/
    No, Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism at once represented a fundamental critique of neoliberal economics, and also delivered some indisputably positive results. Indeed, as shown by some of the most significant indicators, Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving.

    For instance, according to data compiled by the UK Guardian, Chavez's first decade in office saw Venezuelan GDP more than double and both infant mortality and unemployment almost halved. Then there is a remarkable graph from the World Bank that shows that under Chavez's brand of socialism, poverty in Venezuela plummeted (the Guardian reports that its "extreme poverty" rate fell from 23.4 percent in 1999 to 8.5 percent just a decade later). In all, that left the country with the third lowest poverty rate in Latin America. Additionally, as Weisbrot points out, "college enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled."

    When a country goes socialist and it craters, it is laughed off as a harmless and forgettable cautionary tale about the perils of command economics. When, by contrast, a country goes socialist and its economy does what Venezuela's did, it is not perceived to be a laughing matter - and it is not so easy to write off or to ignore. It suddenly looks like a threat to the corporate capitalism, especially when said country has valuable oil resources that global powerhouses like the United States rely on.

    For a flamboyant ideologue like Chavez, that meant him being seen by the transnational elite as much more than an insignificant rogue leader of a relatively small country. He came to be seen as a serious threat to the global system of corporate capitalism.

    That, of course, is considered a high crime by the American political illuminati - a high crime prompting a special punishment.

    As evidenced by the treatment of everyone from Martin Luther King to Michael Moore to Oliver Stone to anyone else who dares question neoliberalism and economic imperialism, that punishment is all about marginalization - the kind that avoids engaging on substance for fear of allowing the notion of socialism to even enter the conversation in the first place. Instead, the non-conformist is attacked and discredited with vapid invective and caricature, becoming a cartoon villain whose ideas, performance and record are ignored before they can be considered on the merits. He becomes, in other words, the Hugo Chavez we so often saw in American political ads.

  • MazzyxMazzyx I can dig it. Registered User regular
    Thought I recgonized that name. David Sirota, use to be on the radio in Denver. Ultra-lefty. Tended to focus really heavily on local politics.

    Also Venezuela for a while under Chavez did very well do to lavish oil spending that did end up drying up to low oil prices.

    Again, resource curse not socialism.

    03x29di.png
    Styrofoam SammichJuliusLord_Asmodeus
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    Heh, one of my first posts in D&D was getting yelled at by Chavistas (I think they were Canadian though) for talking about whatever problem they were having in 2009 or whatever. There was definitely a strain of it in the Radical Left before he went full dictator.

    PantsB
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    A lot of complaints lump cautious praise for Chavez with theoretical praise for Maduro as well

  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    Ah, Salon. I misread that as Slate. Sorry about that.

    Okay, I stand corrected.

    That said, fuck Salon.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    Styrofoam SammichCambiataHacksaw
  • RT800RT800 Registered User regular
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    edited September 24
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Its hard to narrow it down to A Thing like that, but as a starting point you can view it as a society that orients itself heavily around labor instead of capital.

    In a capitalist society its good and normal that the owner of a business might take 90 cents out of every dollar in value a worker produces, because after all its his business and his machines, but in a socialist value set this is abhorrent.

    Where you go from there in addressing that can vary heavily though.

    Styrofoam Sammich on
  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited September 24
    A lot of complaints lump cautious praise for Chavez with theoretical praise for Maduro as well
    Maduro was handpicked by Chavez and nearly every major problem Maduro has was a direct result of failures of Chavez.

    Unsustainable spending that would be unsustainable even if the oil prices remained high, the rest of Venezuela's economy becoming even more decrepit as reliance on oil money became even stronger, ineptness in administration of much of the government programs that were supposed to be socialist during Chavez's time in office meant it didn't take a genius to see what would happen when oil prices inevitably dropped or even if they didn't drop. It would have happened in a self avowed capitalist country doing those things, but the lesson writers in publications like Jacobin have learned mostly amounts to "there wasn't enough socialism" instead of "don't do those things and being socialist doesn't stop the fallout from those things."

    Couscous on
  • KaputaKaputa Registered User regular
    edited September 24
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?
    I would say the core idea is collective control of economy, whether that collectivization is conceived of as through the state or through workers' unions/cooperatives etc., as opposed to private control of economy as in capitalism.

    Kaputa on
    Giggles_FunsworthMegaMek
  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    Kaputa wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?
    I would say the core idea is collective control of the economy, whether that collectivization is conceived of as through the state or through workers' unions/cooperatives etc.

    I would say workers' ownership of the means of production is central rather than collective control, but in practice the ownership is going to happen through something like the state or unions or whatever.

  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    Styrofoam SammichTofystedethPhillishereIncenjucarHefflingMegaMekchrishallett83shrykeMrVyngaardLord_AsmodeusHacksaw
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    Couscous wrote: »
    A lot of complaints lump cautious praise for Chavez with theoretical praise for Maduro as well
    Maduro was handpicked by Chavez and nearly every major problem Maduro has was a direct result of failures of Chavez.

    Unsustainable spending that would be unsustainable even if the oil prices remained high, the rest of Venezuela's economy becoming even more decrepit as reliance on oil money became even stronger, ineptness in administration of much of the government programs that were supposed to be socialist during Chavez's time in office meant it didn't take a genius to see what would happen when oil prices inevitably dropped. It would have happened in a self avowed capitalist country doing those things, but the lesson writers in publications like Jacobin have learned mostly amounts to "there wasn't enough socialism" instead of "don't do those things and being socialist doesn't stop the fallout from those things."

    I don't know that that characterization of the leftist take away from the situation there is at all accurate. The pretty common line from Jacobin for instance is that Chavez was right to have invested that oil wealth so heavily back into the country but didn't make sufficient efforts at the same time to invest for a future that didn't rely on it. With additional notes on the rampant corruption and graft under the Chavez government.

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    Its kind of funny the degree to which Republican's pulling a Chicken Little over everything left of Thunderdome has contributed to an increasing interest in socialism.

    DoodmannPhillishereFeralHefflingGiggles_FunsworthMegaMekshrykeMrVyngaardLord_AsmodeusHarry Dresden
  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited September 24
    Feral wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    This fully includes Republican plans that Democrats adopt to appear moderate.

    Phillishere on
    Feralchrishallett83
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    Erm, it has to count for something if a country has the word 'socialist' in their preamble.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    Erm, it has to count for something if a country has the word 'socialist' in their preamble.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

    The threas is about socialism in America.

  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    whoa whoa whoa.

    isn't "the US meddled in politics, that's why the country failed" the standard conspiracy theory line that Chavez / Maduro supporters use to justify the disaster they made of the country?

    It's not entirely a conspiracy theory- we did sanction the fuck out of them a d that's probably not helping. Would it have happened anyway? Eh probably.
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    Erm, it has to count for something if a country has the word 'socialist' in their preamble.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

    Is North Korea democratic?

    In any case that's sort of adjacent to the point being made.

    shryke
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    North Korea does hold elections. The symbolic kind, not the real kind, of course. A Kim is always the only name on the ballot.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    Erm, it has to count for something if a country has the word 'socialist' in their preamble.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

    The threas is about socialism in America.

    That's what scares typical Americans away from the word 'socialism' - they're repulsed by the economic failure or oppression the three-quarters of that list suffered through.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    A quick Google search of "Chavez economic miracle site:slate.com" doesn't produce anything that suggests that anybody writing for Slate admired Chavez.

    The legend that Sanders admired Chavez comes from the right-wing circulation of a single out of context quote buried at the end of an op-ed Sanders wrote in 2011.

    "the American left loves Venezuela" is a form of conservative echo chamber bullshit that doesn't really hold water.

    But I'll revise that opinion if somebody can link some mainstream left-wing sources clearly admiring Chavez Venezuela.

    All the admiration I've heard has been from Chavez apologists or pro-Maduro types who want to externalize their problems by pointing at the USA, which is why I called it out from the OP. So casual a brush-by in the original, it needed to be challenged.

    Feral
  • R-demR-dem Registered User regular
    Socialism is such a scary word in the U.S. because the political right has made it that way through both historical revisionism (Roosevelt's socialist policies didn't get us out of the Depression! Only WW2 did! Go war!) and an ongoing campaign to incorrectly conflate socialism with Soviet communism. It's hypocritical, because Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare are enormous, popular, and not seriously considered for elimination except by super Randian crazies.

    The problem is that you have the Limbaugh types who argue that capitalism is a God-given system that the Pilgrims were gifted when their original collectivist charter failed and that's why Thanksgiving was started by the Founding Fathers and has nothing to do with Indians.*

    Fast forward to Obamacare, and you have "Keep the change, I'll keep THE CONSTITUTION" because so many people have been successfully convinced that we, as a nation, from the beginning, have been pure, unadulterated, beautiful clean capitalism, and anything otherwise is SORCERY and THE DEVIL.

    *Yes, that was a serious argument he made last November on the air. Yes, I screamed.

    MegaMek
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    emnmnme wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    Erm, it has to count for something if a country has the word 'socialist' in their preamble.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

    The threas is about socialism in America.

    That's what scares typical Americans away from the word 'socialism' - they're repulsed by the economic failure or oppression the three-quarters of that list suffered through.

    I think you may be conflating the 30+ years of propaganda on this issue with the excuses that the propaganda uses but I'm not sure their is much difference between the two.

    Even that 30+ year figure is light if you consider the Communism scare as part of the same thing.

    VishNubFeralLord_Asmodeus
  • KaputaKaputa Registered User regular
    edited September 24
    R-dem wrote: »
    Socialism is such a scary word in the U.S. because the political right has made it that way through both historical revisionism (Roosevelt's socialist policies didn't get us out of the Depression! Only WW2 did! Go war!) and an ongoing campaign to incorrectly conflate socialism with Soviet communism.
    It's not even incorrect! They were the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Lenin, leader of the Bolsheviks, was a Marxist whose own theories were largely based on or related to Marxism. Karl Marx is one of the major contributors to socialist ideology.

    It is incorrect to limit ones conception of socialism to the USSR, but in my opinion it is also incorrect No True Socialist the USSR into something totally different despite their name and constant references to socialism in their official statements.

    Kaputa on
    CouscousFeralEvil MultifariousNSDFRand
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    A quick Google search of "Chavez economic miracle site:slate.com" doesn't produce anything that suggests that anybody writing for Slate admired Chavez.

    The legend that Sanders admired Chavez comes from the right-wing circulation of a single out of context quote buried at the end of an op-ed Sanders wrote in 2011.

    "the American left loves Venezuela" is a form of conservative echo chamber bullshit that doesn't really hold water.

    But I'll revise that opinion if somebody can link some mainstream left-wing sources clearly admiring Chavez Venezuela.

    All the admiration I've heard has been from Chavez apologists or pro-Maduro types who want to externalize their problems by pointing at the USA, which is why I called it out from the OP. So casual a brush-by in the original, it needed to be challenged.

    I totally agree with you here. I think Mazzyx's post above is pretty good: the US fucked things up, but that doesn't excuse Chavez or Maduro's egregious mismanagement.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    Cambiata
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    Erm, it has to count for something if a country has the word 'socialist' in their preamble.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

    The question was "what do all these various systems have in common?"

    If the question is interpreted broadly, as "what do all the different systems commonly labeled 'socialism' have in common?" then we have to include both failed socialist states and capitalism-friendly policies often derided as 'socialism' in the US like the ACA.

    The only common element that includes the latter is that they're forms of government involvement in markets that the right-wing doesn't like.

    If you want to restrict our operating definition of "socialism" to something more textbook, then I'm all for that! But I think it's still worthwhile to acknowledge that the definition has been perverted in the US, and there's as much difference between the academic definition of "socialism" and the popular one as there is for the word "theory" as applied to evolution.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    Kaputa wrote: »
    R-dem wrote: »
    Socialism is such a scary word in the U.S. because the political right has made it that way through both historical revisionism (Roosevelt's socialist policies didn't get us out of the Depression! Only WW2 did! Go war!) and an ongoing campaign to incorrectly conflate socialism with Soviet communism.
    It's not even incorrect! They were the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Lenin, leader of the Bolsheviks, was a Marxist whose own theories were largely based on or related to Marxism. Karl Marx is one of the major contributors to socialist ideology.

    It is incorrect to limit ones conception of socialism to the USSR, but in my opinion it is also incorrect No True Socialist the USSR into something totally different despite their name and constant references to socialism in their official statements.

    Communism is one interpretation of socialism.

    I would argue that socialism opposes individualism, not capitalism.

    Socialism suggests that the greatest benefits for the greatest number of people can be achieved by working together towards a consensus goal, sharing effort and rewards. Individualism suggests that the greatest benefits for the greatest number can be achieved by each person deciding what they view is best and working towards that.

    "That is cool" - Abraham Lincoln
    Harry Dresden
  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    Socialism was explicitly the precursor to a communist society in the USSR rather than communism being a form of socialism. The same is true with China.

    JuliusHarry Dresden
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    emnmnme wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?

    Socialism is any government spending that the US right-wing doesn't like.

    Seriously, the definition of "socialism" is so warped by what passes for "political discourse" in the United States that we're not going to find any common element except "Republicans hate it."

    Erm, it has to count for something if a country has the word 'socialist' in their preamble.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

    The threas is about socialism in America.

    That's what scares typical Americans away from the word 'socialism' - they're repulsed by the economic failure or oppression the three-quarters of that list suffered through.

    Theyre repulsed because they have only known hyper capitalism and a steady torrent of propaganda supporting it

    MegaMekchrishallett83SolarLord_Asmodeus
  • PantsBPantsB Registered User regular
    edited September 24
    People are afraid of socialism because they believe that, even if a socialist system is better at distributing wealth, it's far worse at generating wealth to be distributed. They see capitalism as better because it generates so much more wealth that even imprecise or unfair distribution ends up with people living better than they would in a low-wealth socialist system. There is a perception of distributive efforts as a kind of hubris--who are we to think we can fully understand and control an economy, etc. There's also a cynicism about the possibility of genuinely ensuring fairness and shrinking the wealth gap, a view that sees eliminating poverty as a naive pipe dream, a dangerously idealistic and unrealistic goal.

    This is generally because we have many examples of failed socialist systems and it's easy to point at the core ideology but very difficult to examine each case and its particulars, especially if you don't have a strong grasp of economics (I don't!). If you saw the bread lines and economic disaster that was Soviet communism, that's hard to forget. If you were around when millions were starving to death, or if your parents were around, it's hard to ignore. It doesn't matter that there are enormous differences between centralized Soviet-style communism and other forms of socialism, because those differences are technical and challenging to understand; the vast majority of people won't understand those distinctions. I don't feel comfortable trying to define them, personally.

    On top of that, the line between the welfare state (the idea that a government is responsible for taking care of its citizens with social programs) and socialism has been very blurred. Welfare state policies are now considered "socialist," but there was a time when socialists genuinely thought the welfare state was a dangerous opiate offered to undermine socialist efforts with half-measures, because the people in power saw that there was an alternative to capitalism and became afraid.

    The thing is, those worries are correct. Socialism has been bad at generating prosperity every time it has been tried. Plus its largest scale implementations have resulted in some of the few modern atrocities in modern history that can't be overstated(Holodomor, and the Great Chinese Famine). Venezuela and Cuba are small potatoes relatively.

    The problem is when people conflate social programs with socialism. Universal, state backed health systems for instance have almost nothing to do with socialism except as a boogeyman. The right wing equated the two to reduce support of social safety nets and spending for so long that people stopped forgetting it was a false comparison. Its essentially buying into their negative narrative.

    The best systems in the world are those that harness and restrain capitalism for growth, innovation, activity, while regulating it to minimize its excesses and using its proceeds to fund large scale social programs. These "mixed economies" are the norm, ie privately directed economies with a capitalistic framework with certain industries controlled by the government and economic activity taxed and regulated to provide for the common good.

    Socialism is a coherent economic and political philosophy that turns out to be wrong in how it predicted and modeled human behavior. Capitalism is an economic framework that does a pretty good job predicting and modeling human behavior, but does nothing by itself to control the evils of unchecked human behavior.

    Usually when Americans on the left say "socialist" they mean Nordic countries. And the Nordic model isn't socialist, its capitalist with strong labor protections and a stronger social safety net. The underlying paradigm of how the economy should work doesn't differ that much from the American system, its just a question of where the limits are.

    PantsB on
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  • I N V I C T U SI N V I C T U S Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    A quick Google search of "Chavez economic miracle site:slate.com" doesn't produce anything that suggests that anybody writing for Slate admired Chavez.

    The legend that Sanders admired Chavez comes from the right-wing circulation of a single out of context quote buried at the end of an op-ed Sanders wrote in 2011.

    "the American left loves Venezuela" is a form of conservative echo chamber bullshit that doesn't really hold water.

    But I'll revise that opinion if somebody can link some mainstream left-wing sources clearly admiring Chavez Venezuela.

    All the admiration I've heard has been from Chavez apologists or pro-Maduro types who want to externalize their problems by pointing at the USA, which is why I called it out from the OP. So casual a brush-by in the original, it needed to be challenged.

    I totally agree with you here. I think Mazzyx's post above is pretty good: the US fucked things up, but that doesn't excuse Chavez or Maduro's egregious mismanagement.

    I think it's worth noting that there isn't a state in the western hemisphere that has had a socialist-oriented government take control (whether through elections or revolution) that the USA hasn't interfered with, whether through official sanctions or funding/training opposition forces. Any anti-government forces in Venezuela (or Nicaragua for that matter) will, assuredly, have material US support. Any socialist government in Latin America will undoubtedly face resistance from the most well-funded and powerful nation in the world, and that's not to be dismissed either.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    edited September 24
    Only Maoist restructuring or Ukrainian oppression is real socialism and not that system where the government pays for all medical care through a series of progressive taxes is a hell of a take.

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  • Giggles_FunsworthGiggles_Funsworth Paranoiac Bay Area SprawlRegistered User regular
    edited September 24
    Kaputa wrote: »
    RT800 wrote: »
    I really don't know much at all about socialism, but I figure all these various systems that use the word must have something in common.

    What is the thing they have in common?
    I would say the core idea is collective control of economy, whether that collectivization is conceived of as through the state or through workers' unions/cooperatives etc., as opposed to private control of economy as in capitalism.

    Yeah, and that's a pretty huge distinction by my measure. Worker's collectives are great, avoid a lot of the pitfalls of modern capitalism. Government owning all productive seems like the primary mechanism by which socialist countries go bad though, as soon as you have a non-benevolent (or even just a foolish) government things go sideways; for everyone.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    I'd posit that if within a sizable greater political framework everyone, both opponents and supporters, view ideology X as Y-ism and Y-ism has a reasonably coherent set of tenets it is, in fact, Y-ism. Doesn't matter if its socialism we're talking about or paleo-neo-mercantalismariansm.

  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    A quick Google search of "Chavez economic miracle site:slate.com" doesn't produce anything that suggests that anybody writing for Slate admired Chavez.

    The legend that Sanders admired Chavez comes from the right-wing circulation of a single out of context quote buried at the end of an op-ed Sanders wrote in 2011.

    "the American left loves Venezuela" is a form of conservative echo chamber bullshit that doesn't really hold water.

    But I'll revise that opinion if somebody can link some mainstream left-wing sources clearly admiring Chavez Venezuela.

    All the admiration I've heard has been from Chavez apologists or pro-Maduro types who want to externalize their problems by pointing at the USA, which is why I called it out from the OP. So casual a brush-by in the original, it needed to be challenged.

    I totally agree with you here. I think Mazzyx's post above is pretty good: the US fucked things up, but that doesn't excuse Chavez or Maduro's egregious mismanagement.

    I think it's worth noting that there isn't a state in the western hemisphere that has had a socialist-oriented government take control (whether through elections or revolution) that the USA hasn't interfered with, whether through official sanctions or funding/training opposition forces. Any anti-government forces in Venezuela (or Nicaragua for that matter) will, assuredly, have material US support. Any socialist government in Latin America will undoubtedly face resistance from the most well-funded and powerful nation in the world, and that's not to be dismissed either.

    Yup. And compare and magnify that with the destablizing effect on the Western world order of one rich dude with a few hundred followers had on Sept. 11.

  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    Only Maoist restructuring or Ukrainian oppression is real socialism and not that system where the government pays for all medical care through a series of progressive taxes is a hell of a take.

    I had no idea you were such a tankie Pants.

    The high percentage of capitalists that are extremely OK with the government paying for medical care through a series of progressive taxes suggests to me it isn't socialism.

  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    Back on topic, because any sort of social net and the concept of it (however much you want to define that as 'socialism') got mixed up with old timey American racism.

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    Yes, yes, I know communism and socialism aren't the same thing, but they are in the minds of the people we're talking about, and again, that got all mixed up with racism. As it turns out, white Americans are just fine with socialism until that racism kicks in; if a single black person would be helped by it too, they would rather their own children starve in the streets too. Hatred of the other is far, far more important to a significant portion of the population (and was the basis of a large chunk of the country's society for over a century) than their own self interest or their love of their children.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    In other words, the West has a common political ideology running through much of it that believes in heavy market regulation, generous social benefits, aggressive taxation, and in opposition to the accrual of substantial wealth. They call it socialism, so what's the point to arguing it should actually be called anything else?

    tbloxhamNought
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