Capitalism and Socialism: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Joe

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Moderator note: This topic has been split off from the Behe/intelligent design thread, specifically this post: Darwin's Black Box - Michael J. Behe and Intelligent Design

3. Once the foundation stands, bring in electricity/the petrol engine and all that follows, which makes enlightenment arguments irresistible to this day ("look at what science brought us, therefore materialism/enlightenment/no God/high priests of science!")

4. Also, socialist systems are completely unsustainable and destructive. UNLESS you pump in huge amount of external energy to keep the illusion going. This energy suddenly was available thanks to the petrol engine, electricity and the growth this provided (not to mention imperialism and plunder).

5. End result: we live in a nihilistic, valueless, materialistic nightmare of a society, AND we are hopelessly addicted to the welfare state (we lost self-sufficiency etc.) AND it's just all-round spiritual death.
I'm not sure we can come down on socialism in this way. Then again, you'd have to define what you mean by socialism quite clearly. If we assume that the USA is further from socialism than any country in the world, or that it is the center of 'capitalism', then you could argue that the country leading the field as a "nihilistic, valueless, materialistic nightmare of a society" is the USA itself.
 
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Approaching Infinity

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I'm not sure we can come down on socialism in this way. Then again, you'd have to define what you mean by socialism quite clearly. If we assume that the USA is further from socialism than any country in the world, or that it is the center of 'capitalism', then you could argue that the country leading the field as a "nihilistic, valueless, materialistic nightmare of a society" is the USA itself.
Don't know if Luc would agree or not, but on socialism:

"The academic debates about socialism's 'meaning' are huge and arcane and rife with disagreements, but what all definitions have in common is either the elimination of the market or its strict containment," Frances Fox Piven, a political scientist at the City University of New York and a former DSA board member, told Vox.
One of the problems of definition is that countries can have socialist policies without self-identifying as socialist, and some can self-identify as socialist without having typically socialist economic systems (like many democratic socialist countries, e.g. Iceland and a lot of the Nordic countries, for instance, which are very "free market"). From Wiki:

The majority of self-declared Socialist countries have been Marxist–Leninist states, following the model of the Soviet Union or a variant of people's democracy. They share a common definition of "socialism" and they refer to themselves as Socialist states on the road to communism with a leading vanguard party structure.
I don't think we can assume that the US is furthest away from socialism. It doesn't even rank in the top countries considered most capitalist (the list of which usually includes Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, UK, Iceland, Canada, UAE...)

As for whether or not the US can be considered to be leading the field as 'nihilistic, valueless, materialistic', if we judge by its government, then for sure (along with Israel, the UK, and all their best friends). But I'm not convinced judging a nation by its government is the best way to go about measuring such a thing. Then again, I'm not sure how to go about determining such a thing without just going on subjective feelings one way or the other. Which countries have the least nihilistic, valueless, materialistic people, overall? What kind of things can we look for, for which evidence might exist? Murder/crime rates? Amounts given to charity? Prevalence of spiritual/religious beliefs and practice? Will whatever measure we come up with be correlated with economic system? Or will other factors play a more decisive role? Dunno yet!
 

Joe

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I don't think we can assume that the US is furthest away from socialism. It doesn't even rank in the top countries considered most capitalist (the list of which usually includes Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, UK, Iceland, Canada, UAE...)

As for whether or not the US can be considered to be leading the field as 'nihilistic, valueless, materialistic', if we judge by its government, then for sure (along with Israel, the UK, and all their best friends). But I'm not convinced judging a nation by its government is the best way to go about measuring such a thing. Then again, I'm not sure how to go about determining such a thing without just going on subjective feelings one way or the other. Which countries have the least nihilistic, valueless, materialistic people, overall? What kind of things can we look for, for which evidence might exist? Murder/crime rates? Amounts given to charity? Prevalence of spiritual/religious beliefs and practice? Will whatever measure we come up with be correlated with economic system? Or will other factors play a more decisive role? Dunno yet!
Yeah, it's not at all clear, which is why I questioned the idea of socialism being inherently evil. It all depends, I suppose, on through whom these supposed policies are being filtered. For example, the 3 key indices for being the most "capitalist" are, income per capita, social progress and democratic governance. America is pretty high on income per capita, but apparently other factors like restrictions on trade push it down the list. Of course, that drop down the list by the US has occurred over the last 2 years because of Trump's isolationist trade policies. As for "social progress", if that's one of the factors that puts Ireland near the top of the list, then for me that is correlated with nihilism and materialism, and is NOT positive social progress. So like I said, where a country sits on the "capitalism" list (at least by the The Heritage Foundation's criteria) really comes down to a person's own values.
 

Niall

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Yeah, it's not at all clear, which is why I questioned the idea of socialism being inherently evil. It all depends, I suppose, on through whom these supposed policies are being filtered. For example, the 3 key indices for being the most "capitalist" are, income per capita, social progress and democratic governance. America is pretty high on income per capita, but apparently other factors like restrictions on trade push it down the list. Of course, that drop down the list by the US has occurred over the last 2 years because of Trump's isolationist trade policies. As for "social progress", if that's one of the factors that puts Ireland near the top of the list, then for me that is correlated with nihilism and materialism, and is NOT positive social progress. So like I said, where a country sits on the "capitalism" list (at least by the The Heritage Foundation's criteria) really comes down to a person's own values.
The US has the highest Gini co-efficient in the Western world. That's a measure of income inequality, which is most extreme in the US of A. Basically, 'the selfish gene' indeed has the upper hand there, producing a (relatively) mean society. I think that's what the Cs were getting at in the session about how the US wants everyone to do business (trade) on their terms, i.e. unfairly.

A: US wishes to destabilize EU similar to Syria so that they can come in and "fix" things. i.e. rule and control resources and trade the "American way". Everyone will speak English!
 

Approaching Infinity

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Yeah, it's not at all clear, which is why I questioned the idea of socialism being inherently evil. It all depends, I suppose, on through whom these supposed policies are being filtered.
I think it's more a matter of specific policies and actual results than people, who may have good intentions but ruin things by implementing policies that don't actually work in practice. Whether that means the ideology that suggests the policies is inherently evil is open to debate, I suppose. But I would say that I consider the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist versions of socialism to be pretty fairly evil (same with corporatism and more expansive ideologies like Salafism, Talmudism, Darwinism, ethnic nationalism, etc). And at the very least, many socialist policies (within democratic socialist countries) strike me as misguided and counterproductive, at the very least.

For example, the 3 key indices for being the most "capitalist" are, income per capita, social progress and democratic governance.
Where did you see that those are the 3 key indices? According to the Heritage data, it weights each of 12 factors equally, and they're mostly measures of economic freedom:
  1. Rule of Law (property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness)
  2. Government Size (government spending, tax burden, fiscal health)
  3. Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom)
  4. Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom)
And Hong Kong always tops the list, despite it not being 'democratic', at least according to Western standards.

America is pretty high on income per capita, but apparently other factors like restrictions on trade push it down the list. Of course, that drop down the list by the US has occurred over the last 2 years because of Trump's isolationist trade policies.
Don't know how much that has affected its ranking. At least according to the Heritage ranking, the U.S. actually increased slightly over the past few years (its lowest ratings are in government spending and fiscal health):


The ranking went down pretty consistently during Obama's 8 years (from 80.7 to 75.4), and has been rising slowly over Trump's 2+ (up to 76.8).

As for "social progress", if that's one of the factors that puts Ireland near the top of the list, then for me that is correlated with nihilism and materialism, and is NOT positive social progress. So like I said, where a country sits on the "capitalism" list (at least by the The Heritage Foundation's criteria) really comes down to a person's own values.
I agree. It would be interesting to come up with a number of criteria by which we could measure our own idea of what positive social progress is, and then look for correlations, if any.
 

luc

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I'm not sure we can come down on socialism in this way. Then again, you'd have to define what you mean by socialism quite clearly. If we assume that the USA is further from socialism than any country in the world, or that it is the center of 'capitalism', then you could argue that the country leading the field as a "nihilistic, valueless, materialistic nightmare of a society" is the USA itself.
I'm not sure this whole socialism vs. capitalism debate is really worth having... What I'm trying to understand is just what went wrong at the level of intellectual history, what lies at the root of this mess. Here are some thoughts, fwiw:

Both socialism and capitalism are essentially pathological ideas by schizoid minds. At the root of both of them lies materialism + utilitarianism. That is: there are no higher realities, no higher virtues, and therefore the right (and only possible good) thing to do is to maximize the happiness of the greatest number of people.

Socialism sayz: All humans are selfish. Therefore those who are privileged will always be oppressors.* Therefore we must rob them of their privileges and give their riches to the poor, and make everyone equal. This will maximize happiness.

* except when WE, the socialist elite, is privileged, because we're geniuses. Then we'll do good.

Capitalism sayz: All humans are selfish. Therefore we must create a system based on free markets and zero-sum games where everyone can compete selfishly but fairly.* This will generate wealth and prosperity for all, i.e. this will maximize happiness.

* except when WE, the great capitalists, have built mega-corporations, because we're geniuses. Then we'll just cheat the competition out of the game.


So both of these schizoidal ideologies lead to spiritual degradation. Capitalism promotes an abhorrent view of human nature, pure selfishness, consumerism, a fixation on money etc.

Socialism also promotes an abhorrent view of human nature, plus faux-empathy that destroys the economy and those who receive its "gifts".

I actually agree with the right-wingers: "muh socialism". But I also agree with the left-wingers: "muh capitalism".

Perhaps it's sometimes harder to see just why socialism is so bad. It is always cloaked in this "helping the poor" talk that it's hard to argue with. But what it does is that it replaces genuine, personal charity, that at its best is always connected to spiritual goals and that could be seen as a relationship of "spiritual guidance" or "spiritual reaching out", with a technocratic system that just throws money at the poor which actually rewards the worst spirits and punishes the best ones. It also maximizes the class of the welfare recipients and inevitably leads to a deadlock where there's no way out.

Interesting that Western countries, and perhaps first and foremost the USA, manage to actually combine those two pathological ideas to produce something completely horrible and dysfunctional (unless you pump in ever more energy to keep the illusion going). I mean, in the USA the official doctrine is pretty much, and weirdly enough, a combination of shameless egotism, "free market" consumerism AND communist hardcore-egalitarian SJWism. And at one point, if you have two such toxic "mind bugs", it's rather pointless to debate how "free" the economy is, how big "universal healthcare" is and the like. It's a spiritual wasteland.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Interesting that Western countries, and perhaps first and foremost the USA, manage to actually combine those two pathological ideas to produce something completely horrible and dysfunctional (unless you pump in ever more energy to keep the illusion going). I mean, in the USA the official doctrine is pretty much, and weirdly enough, a combination of shameless egotism, "free market" consumerism AND communist hardcore-egalitarian SJWism. And at one point, if you have two such toxic "mind bugs", it's rather pointless to debate how "free" the economy is, how big "universal healthcare" is and the like. It's a spiritual wasteland.
I think that pretty much covers it. The U.S. has the worst of both worlds, and has even combined them in the form of corporate socialism/welfare, which not only doesn't have any of the ostensibly good things about socialism (helping the disenfranchised, lowering inequality), it also has only the worst things about capitalism (monopolies, greed, corruption, etc.).

One thing to take into account is scale. Like Nassim Taleb writes:
  • politics is not scale-free. One can be "libertarian at the federal level, Republican at the state level, Democrat at the county level, socialist within the commune, and communist at the family level."
I think socialism and communism work best at smaller social units: family and small communities. Free markets work best in larger groups. And neither will ever be the full picture. They're only one aspect of a multidimensional problem. A communist family will not necessarily be ideal - there are countless other factors that go into making a good family. But communism will ALWAYS be a bad idea at the state level. It doesn't scale. And pure anarcho-capitalism will not make a state function perfectly - countless other factors will need to be taken into account and implemented well. But a pure capitalist family will have its children die before it even gets started. It doesn't scale either.
 

mkrnhr

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Not only both captialism and socialism/communism offer (and enforce, although through different means of contaminating the minds) a grimm picture of the human nature, they also end up in the same situation: an entitled elite with the wealth and power, a depressed middle class striving to survive, and a fanatic mob to enforce the top-down control that prevents any from the middle class to bother the elite.
 

genero81

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Yes it's a mess. But maybe that's what makes it such a great potential learning environment. Ultimately 3rd Density existence is futile. The cards are stacked against us. We have every reason to point the finger and blame. But a victim never recovers and in this very crucible are the necessary ingredients to forge something worthwhile, something uniquely personal because that was and is the only way it can really happen. There is no clear cut path to choose from, no truly good systems to emulate. We're deceived at every turn whether we turn to religion, or science, or philosophy. But in spite of it all we still learn that we must be the one's who decide for ourselves. Who will I be? What will I choose to believe? And what will I do?

I don't think we'll ever wrest this world from the hands of the powerful, the demigods of this realm nor should we try. Let them have it. It will eventually crumble to dust that slips through their fingers. And if we have chosen wisely our two realities will have long since diverged. OSIT
 

Beau

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The US has the highest Gini co-efficient in the Western world. That's a measure of income inequality, which is most extreme in the US of A.
OK, but are you saying that capitalism is at fault for income inequality? Also, taking off from that, does socialism as practiced in the Nordic countries account for why they have less income equality?
 

Beau

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For example, the 3 key indices for being the most "capitalist" are, income per capita, social progress and democratic governance.
I've never seen those 3 indices being related to being "most capitalist" by anyone.
 

Laura

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I've never seen those 3 indices being related to being "most capitalist" by anyone.
I haven't either. I've always seen Capitalism as pretty much "dog-eat-dog" free-wheeling dealing and trying to make the most money with the least effort, materials, and overhead, i.e. paying other people for anything including work.

High or even reasonably comfortable per capita income can only come about if there are restrictions on Capitalism of some kind.
 

Beau

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I haven't either. I've always seen Capitalism as pretty much "dog-eat-dog" free-wheeling dealing and trying to make the most money with the least effort, materials, and overhead, i.e. paying other people for anything including work.

High or even reasonably comfortable per capita income can only come about if there are restrictions on Capitalism of some kind.
I think part of the problem with people's views on capitalism is that they equate corporate oligarchy with capitalism. In today's America, corporations are in bed with the gov't and so it is an easy, but ultimately incorrect, deduction to make that capitalism is evil because of the current state of affairs.

But in fact the current milieu (corporate welfare) is the opposite of capitalism since what we have are companies who have monopolies in certain markets (Big Pharma, Big Weapons, etc.) and then getting the gov't to pay for their production. Lockheed Martin goes to the gov't, tells them "give us $35 billion to build this awesome weapon" and the gov't does it without any kind of free market or open competition.

So you've got the state subsidizing monopolistic corporations through corporate welfare AND giving out no-bid contracts AND engaging in questionable ethics through the revolving door of politicians leaving office and going straight to the board of directors (Nikki Haley just did that for Boeing). This is not at all how capitalism in its purest form is intended to function. It's obviously corrupted.
 

Approaching Infinity

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I haven't either. I've always seen Capitalism as pretty much "dog-eat-dog" free-wheeling dealing and trying to make the most money with the least effort, materials, and overhead, i.e. paying other people for anything including work.
I think that accounts for a lot of what people call capitalism, but not necessarily all. Because some people work really hard to get to the point where they have to put in the least effort, materials and overhead. And some keep working really hard after that too. I'm interested in knowing how that breaks down. I'll be doing some research in the coming months (books!). I think one of the most resentment-inducing types of wealth is 'old money'. Those people didn't have to do any work to become successful, and people who work hard without becoming wealthy naturally resent that. Which is why I found the following interesting:

According to one study the share of the richest Swedes who inherited their wealth is around, 2/3 with 1/3 being entrepreneurs, while in the United States it was the opposite, with 1/3 of the wealthiest inherited their wealth while around 2/3 are entrepreneurs.
High or even reasonably comfortable per capita income can only come about if there are restrictions on Capitalism of some kind.
Yep. There need to be some restrictions. At this point, I'm not yet sure which kind of restrictions are the best and most effective. But I think one thing that absolutely needs to be enforced is a ban on collusion between government and businesses. A lot of mega corporations (e.g. the defense industry and pharmaceutical giants) would not be in the positions they are without their cozy relationship with politicians.

As for per capita income, I think that's part of the picture. But the U.S. for instance has a high per capita income, relative to the vast majority of other countries (i.e., U.S. 'poor' are richer than the global poor, despite inequality being relatively high within the U.S.). One of the big problems is prices: medicine, education, housing. And again, a lot of those pricing problems can be tracked back to poor government policies and corruption, from what I can tell.
 

Neil

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So you've got the state subsidizing monopolistic corporations through corporate welfare AND giving out no-bid contracts AND engaging in questionable ethics through the revolving door of politicians leaving office and going straight to the board of directors (Nikki Haley just did that for Boeing). This is not at all how capitalism in its purest form is intended to function. It's obviously corrupted.
Pure capitalism is laissez-faire. Markets are self-regulating; the "invisible hand" of the market is an all-knowing God. Whenever government regulates a market it disrupts the functioning of this invisible hand. In a pure capitalist system there is no need for government because the concept of government is anathema to the idea of a free market. Taxes merely distort the equilibrium price for a good by raising its cost and lowering consumption. Corporations, or whoever the largest property owners happen to be, are the greatest sovereigns and should be free to make their own laws and maintain their own armies (some already do). The corporations might decide that some kind of world trade organization that would function as a sort of supreme court over property transfers and trade disputes would be better for business than total anarchy, but that would be about it as far as government goes. Minimum wages, social security, environmental regulations, consumer protection laws, these are all taxes on the productivity of firms, and reduce consumption by raising the cost of production, thereby reducing profits by creating an artificially inflated equilibrium price. Many capitalists would argue that when environmental degradation becomes severe enough, the market will dictate that the opportunity cost for preserving it is less than the consequences from its continued destruction, and thus firms will adjust their behavior to reduce profits now in order to make greater profits later. To that I say: "Yeah, right." Maybe if psychopaths didn't exist it might work...maybe, but then you've got to go through all of that work and suffering to remediate an environment you never should've destroyed in the first place, just because you are a greedy bastard that wanted to suck as much monetary value out of it as possible. Most likely, the environment would never be restored, but made just "good enough" to perpetuate maximal wealth extraction. I actually took some economics in school and could go on and on with this drivel, but I'm going to stop there.

I was taught that capitalist countries had "market economies," (just described) communist countries had "command economies," and socialist countries had "mixed economies;" a sort of compromise between capitalism and communism. Due to the presence of the social safety net, my professor told me that the US is not truly capitalist, but mostly capitalist with some socialist tendencies. No countries are purely capitalist because it's truly the law of the jungle; maybe trade entrepots like Singapore and Dubai would be closest, but even they don't quite make the cut. My teacher conceded that some programs which help to smooth volatility in the markets might be better for their continuity in the long run, but government intervention in any market was very dangerous (he was a dyed-in-the-wool conservative capitalist). This whole thing is reminiscent of the sex vs. gender issue where the PTB are changing the definitions of the words in order to pull the rug out from everyone and surreptitiously institute some egregiously dystopian ideology. What the left is now toting as socialism is more like fascism disguised as communism, where the government interferes in the market to support a privileged group of corporations and then essentially merges with them. In my opinion, Marx hijacked socialism and supplanted it with his extreme communist interpretation, because socialist ideas existed before communism.

In the market-mixed-command continuum, I could say that I'm a socialist, but socialism occupies such a huge grey area between the two extremes that it is a term with only a vague meaning. In the context of this thread, the fundamental axioms of the laissez-faire system are quite interesting. From Wikipedia:
  1. The individual is the basic unit in society.
  2. The individual has a natural right to freedom.
  3. The physical order of nature is a harmonious and self-regulating system.
  4. Corporations are creatures of the State and therefore the citizenry must watch them closely due to their propensity to disrupt the Smithian spontaneous order.
And what is this spontaneous order?
Wikipedia said:
Spontaneous order, also named self-organization in the hard sciences, is the spontaneous emergence of order out of seeming chaos. It is a process in social networks including economics, though the term "self-organization" is more often used for physical changes and biological processes, while "spontaneous order" is typically used to describe the emergence of various kinds of social orders from a combination of self-interested individuals who are not intentionally trying to create order through planning. The evolution of life on Earth, language, crystal structure, the Internet and a free market economy have all been proposed as examples of systems which evolved through spontaneous order.
Oh, so we're supposed to be using our natural right to freedom to ensure that Darwinian evolution proceeds smoothly and without restraint, how nice. I wonder what happens to this whole philosophy if we change #3 to "The physical order of nature reflects the supreme intelligence and infinite wisdom of the consciousness that creates it from moment to moment." Betcha it invalidates the whole dang thing. I'm sorry, but anyone who espouses "pure capitalism" is simply ensnared in another facet of this nihilistic 4D STS mind rape which has been the subject of this whole thread.

I think that by applying the principal of relativity and scale, 3D laws should to some extent reflect the laws of higher densities. Human laws that do not recognize their fundamental divine derivation are not laws at all but delusions; like a district court that does not recognize the authority of the supreme court, they will not stand. In a sense, communism represents complete order and capitalism represents complete chaos. We are told that the 7D consciousness did not desire an idealized, unchanging creation where everything is frozen in a moment of perfection, like a painting on a wall which eventually fades. Indeed there seems to be a Law of Freewill and a Law of Equilibrium, with the Cassiopaeans describing themselves as the frontline for the universe's system of balance. Apparently, without the chaos, the order is meaningless, and this cosmic truth becomes evident in our attempts to create perfect economic realities. So this brings us back to some sort of middle path between capitalism and communism, and I suspect it begins with restoring consciousness to it's rightful place as the fundamental creator of all realities and necessary designer of all systems; not this spontaneous Smithian BS.

I apologize for the somewhat ranty post, but this capitalism vs. socialism thing, and the way conservatives are so enamored with their capitalist, antisocialist identity is something that really, really irritates me. Both capitalism and the new neoliberal interpretation of socialism drink deeply from the 4D STS trough of nihilism.
 
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