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Thread: Communism and Capitalism: True Opposites?

  1. Top | #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    On a broader, philosophical level those who like capitalism are actually those who prefer to acquire wealth at the expense of others, those who like socialism are those who prefer to spread resources at the expense of the individual. Both of these philosophies are essential to human nature - on one hand acquiring resources to raise offspring is literally what it means to be a living thing. On the other hand, spreading resources among a community creates the conditions for individuals to excel.

    So there's a tension there and society works the best when both forces are balanced, which is actually what we see in most nations with a normal history.
    I think that what you're missing is that there are many die-hard capitalists scum (like myself) who actually do like to "spread resources around". I'm a big believer that we should be helping to lower barriers, help people up, larger safety net, and etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Bosch View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    On a broader, philosophical level those who like capitalism are actually those who prefer to acquire wealth at the expense of others, those who like socialism are those who prefer to spread resources at the expense of the individual. Both of these philosophies are essential to human nature - on one hand acquiring resources to raise offspring is literally what it means to be a living thing. On the other hand, spreading resources among a community creates the conditions for individuals to excel.

    So there's a tension there and society works the best when both forces are balanced, which is actually what we see in most nations with a normal history.
    I think that what you're missing is that there are many die-hard capitalists scum (like myself) who actually do like to "spread resources around". I'm a big believer that we should be helping to lower barriers, help people up, larger safety net, and etc.
    Ok, I'll address these two posts, but this one first,

    As usual I wrote the above post when I was at work and didn't have time to carefully craft my wording. I'm not anti-capitalist, nor do I think people who 'like' capitalism are scum, nor do I think there's anything wrong with capitalism. Bomb#20 presents a perfectly valid point - economics isn't a zero sum game, and these two ideals 'helping people' and 'helping the individual', as you say, aren't mutually exclusive.

    The broader point is that we have two competing philosophies - I'll try to word it better - helping the collective versus helping the individual. My argument is that a community of people works best when these two philosophies are balanced. When we do both, not one or the other.

    And in practice, this is actually the reality of most nation-states without a disruptive history.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Bosch View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    My qualm with the definitions: yes, these are the meanings of the the terms as usually used, but they're all simplistic, pseudo-scientific, and not representative of how our economies spring forth, what they are, or how they persist. So we shouldn't be debating what these terms mean, we should completely do away with them as meaningful to modern discourse.

    Unfortunately they're what's set the framework on how people normally understand economics, and it's nauseating.
    How so? His post is absolutely correct. How is it "pseudo-scientific"?
    This one is a bit more subtle.

    I don't think 'capitalist' economies were consciously chosen. There was no actor, or any point of time where people sat back and said - 'we're going to create a capitalist economy'. I don't know the specifics of how the regulatory systems of many capitalist economies arose, but the subtle point is that these regulations were and are just a logical choice given time / circumstances. They were what worked best at the time.

    IOW, we didn't choose capitalism, capitalism chose itself. It was just a natural result of communities of people organizing themselves.

    On the other hand, socialism and communism in the tradition of Marx is a fantasy, it's an ideal. A great ideal, but a pseudo-scientific one that's not based in reality.

    So what this means is that on one hand we have reality - capitalism - and on the other hand we have an intrusion on reality - Marx. So to say it's either or is a false dichotomy. By claiming that communism is a legitimate opposite of capitalism we're trying to shove a square peg into a round hole.

    So the definition of capitalism, sure, maybe, but when we prop it up against communism and socialism in the tradition of Marx the conversation is already broken. So my argument is that instead of normalizing communism as something meaningful, we should be doing a better job of understanding what capitalism is, and how to promote it's evolution to suit the needs of the collective. Ideally in a way that actually works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    Ok, I'll address these two posts, but this one first,

    As usual I wrote the above post when I was at work and didn't have time to carefully craft my wording. I'm not anti-capitalist, nor do I think people who 'like' capitalism are scum, nor do I think there's anything wrong with capitalism. Bomb#20 presents a perfectly valid point - economics isn't a zero sum game, and these two ideals 'helping people' and 'helping the individual', as you say, aren't mutually exclusive.

    The broader point is that we have two competing philosophies - I'll try to word it better - helping the collective versus helping the individual. My argument is that a community of people works best when these two philosophies are balanced. When we do both, not one or the other.

    And in practice, this is actually the reality of most nation-states without a disruptive history.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Bosch View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    My qualm with the definitions: yes, these are the meanings of the the terms as usually used, but they're all simplistic, pseudo-scientific, and not representative of how our economies spring forth, what they are, or how they persist. So we shouldn't be debating what these terms mean, we should completely do away with them as meaningful to modern discourse.

    Unfortunately they're what's set the framework on how people normally understand economics, and it's nauseating.
    How so? His post is absolutely correct. How is it "pseudo-scientific"?
    This one is a bit more subtle.

    I don't think 'capitalist' economies were consciously chosen. There was no actor, or any point of time where people sat back and said - 'we're going to create a capitalist economy'. I don't know the specifics of how the regulatory systems of many capitalist economies arose, but the subtle point is that these regulations were and are just a logical choice given time / circumstances. They were what worked best at the time.

    IOW, we didn't choose capitalism, capitalism chose itself. It was just a natural result of communities of people organizing themselves.

    On the other hand, socialism and communism in the tradition of Marx is a fantasy, it's an ideal. A great ideal, but a pseudo-scientific one that's not based in reality.

    So what this means is that on one hand we have reality - capitalism - and on the other hand we have an intrusion on reality - Marx. So to say it's either or is a false dichotomy. By claiming that communism is a legitimate opposite of capitalism we're trying to shove a square peg into a round hole.

    So the definition of capitalism, sure, maybe, but when we prop it up against communism and socialism in the tradition of Marx the conversation is already broken. So my argument is that instead of normalizing communism as something meaningful, we should be doing a better job of understanding what capitalism is, and how to promote it's evolution to suit the needs of the collective. Ideally in a way that actually works.
    Good post. I didn't mean to imply that you are calling capitalists "scum". It's pretty common for capitalists to self deprecatingly call themselves scum or capitalist pigs. I agree that capitalism is a natural feature of human systems. It's extremely contrived to give personal/business assets to the government. Incredibly obscenely contrived to further give them to the "collective". We can mold an economies natural capitalist system by determining the right level of regulation, taxation, and safety net to suit the "collective". The key issue here that I was trying to address is that regulation, taxation and safety net work well and are necessary to a strong capitalistic system. Conversely, healthy and productive private enterprises and individual freedom's are not allowed in a socialist system.

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    ^ ^ ^

    It is true that Marx's idea of a communist state is an absurd delusion and why I called it Marx's wet dream. However socialism as an economic system has been tried several times. A socialist state only needs a strong central government to confiscate 'the means of production'. Cambodia under Pol Pot is the most extreme example I can think of but then there is the USSR under Stalin, China under Mao, North Korea under the Kims, Cuba under Fidel, and lately there is Venezuela.

    Ironically, even Marx thought socialism was a bad system but he saw it as a necessary step to reach his ideal of a communist state.
    Last edited by skepticalbip; 08-31-2019 at 06:12 PM.

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    How so? His post is absolutely correct. How is it "pseudo-scientific"?
    That one seems obvious to me; the definitions in question are derived from cultural ideals rather than from empirical observation of any particular really esxisting community. This much is just the basics of the social sciences. It would only, though, become pseudo-science if someone actually claims that these are scientific terms, which no one (I think) has done here.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Apparently people gather together to support one another and to share labor for personal and community benefit, be socialists, without having a 'government' control and regulate it. On the other hand freedom to exploit resources, one of our glorious government's cherished ideals, harms others in the act of such as mining, harvesting timber, controlling water, making money by not serving outliers, etc. We were formed under a social compact. We are free socialists if you like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    How so? His post is absolutely correct. How is it "pseudo-scientific"?
    That one seems obvious to me; the definitions in question are derived from cultural ideals rather than from empirical observation of any particular really esxisting community. This much is just the basics of the social sciences. It would only, though, become pseudo-science if someone actually claims that these are scientific terms, which no one (I think) has done here.
    Huh? It seems to me that his post pretty much described reality. Most countries are capitalistic, the individuals mostly own the means of production. There many examples of when the government owns the means of production and we generally call these types of countries socialist. And then when socialist countries voluntarily give all means of production to the collective and the government melts away (ergo communism) is a wet dream because it has never happened (and probably never will.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Apparently people gather together to support one another and to share labor for personal and community benefit, be socialists, without having a 'government' control and regulate it. On the other hand freedom to exploit resources, one of our glorious government's cherished ideals, harms others in the act of such as mining, harvesting timber, controlling water, making money by not serving outliers, etc. We were formed under a social compact. We are free socialists if you like.
    I don't understand your post completely. Are you saying that there are examples of communist countries? If so, what were they? Or are you describing free socialists? And if so, could you give concrete examples of free socialism?

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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    ^ ^ ^

    It is true that Marx's idea of a communist state is an absurd delusion and why I called it Marx's wet dream. However socialism as an economic system has been tried several times. A socialist state only needs a strong central government to confiscate 'the means of production'. Cambodia under Pol Pot is the most extreme example I can think of but then there is the USSR under Stalin, China under Mao, North Korea under the Kims, Cuba under Fidel, and lately there is Venezuela.

    Ironically, even Marx thought socialism was a bad system but he saw it as a necessary step to reach his ideal of a communist state.
    Agreed. The problem is that socialists must install a brutal force in order to steal everyone's stuff. Brutal people never voluntarily give up power. Hence the transition period to communism never happens. Even if it did, there would be a long period of uncertainty and a large power vacuum, that some group would exploit. Indeed, communism is a wet dream...
    Last edited by Harry Bosch; 08-31-2019 at 09:57 PM.

  10. Top | #20
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    All three are both an economic system and a social/political philosophy as to the purpose of govt.

    Anarchists oppose any govt, libertarians may accept some govt such as police, capitalists may accept forms of state assistance like unemployment support, communists want cradle to grave support, a utopia of sorts.

    Economics is an expression of social philosophy.

    People rail ageist the system, but do not shy away from benefitting. Technocrats who make a lot more than the average worker doing easy comfortable software. Hollywood 'progressives' who get obscene rich acting yet are anti capitalists. Bob Dylan got rich as an anti system counter culture icon.

    If you accept we all have to work then it is a matter of compensation. In Soviet and Chinese communism a skilled surgeon might not make much more that a taxi driver. That forced equality led to stagnation and a dull authoterian society.

    I have seen it first hand, people who start companies. They mortgage homes. Work 24/7 for years.

    Only under our free market system could Jobs and Wozniak have started in a gorge and create a global company. The original HP stared in a SF garage.

    Capitalism today is not 19th century capitalism. Owners ruled like aristocrats. Henry Ford.

    The idea most anyone can have a retirement IRA is historically new. Money is invested in business to support retirement.

    In a broad sense you can say someone at the median income today is far better off than a wealthy person in the early 20th century. House, multiple cars, computers, jet travel, plenty of food and clothing.

    You have to look at positives and negatives, Business is comprised of people.

    The communist experiments failed miserably. China restructured itself and divested govt of inefficient business. Europe divested a large part of socialism in the Thatcher era.

    In terms of standard of living modern free market capitalism is wildly successful. Western investment recued China but they will never acknowledge it. When you say 'busyness makes money at the expense of others' you have to explain.


    Up until global warming a UN report said that the global economy was steadily reducing global poverty. A competitive economy is shown to be the best results. The question in the USA today is how far towards socialism we need to go.

    We do not want a rigid system where people are not free to choose a path, and we do not want unrestricted capitalism that disregards the betterment of all and the environment. A balance between risk-reward and social stability.

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