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What is Socialism? [counterpunch.org]

Krish55 7 Nov 30
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Democratic control & ownership of the major means of production, by the people/workers, for what people need, not for profit. This is pure socialism, it's original intent. To create a just & equal society. The contradictions of capitalism would create the means AND need to move to socialism. But what we have are countries with various degrees of socialism. In the East & some developing nations more state forms of socialism, in the West more democratic reforms of capitalism through taxes, social spending and regulations to protect workers.

grich2011 Level 3 Jan 6, 2019

I consider democratic socialism (melded with well regulated capitalism) the natural extension of civilization.

AgnoBill Level 6 Dec 19, 2018

Clearly nobody knows from a quick glance over some of the comments. Who was it that said a word means what I want it to mean in Alice in Wonderland?

ToolGuy Level 8 Dec 2, 2018

Socialism is a political system that equalize social disparities within a society through regulation, taxation, policy and/or enforced constitutional rights.


"Most contemporary representative democracies have a "mixed" economy with the state playing a key role in at least some of the sectors of the economy, but to a lesser extent than was envisioned by advocates for a full social democracy. The main differences today between "capitalist" democracies such as the US and "social" democracies such as in Sweden lie in the degree to which the government is involved in economic redistribution, the generosity of the government's "safety net," and ownership of key economic actors."

SageDave Level 7 Dec 1, 2018

Socialism is when government controls Big Business. Fascism is when Big Business controls government.

davknight Level 7 Dec 1, 2018

Prior to 1913, the federal government was fully funded by the tariff system. After 1913, it took the bankers 15 years to completely collapse the economy. From this arose the need to use the given power and enforce an income tax. Once the individual loses income off the top, goods became too expensive. The tariff system slowly came down. Creating the need for government to increase taxes on income. Democratic socialism is a form of socioeconomic control. It puts forth the illusion of society having control of money. The reality is the bankers still control it. Socialism only exists because the system has been mettled with for over 100 years.There would be no need for it. It cannot exist without the bankers as middlemen, taking their cut first. One cannot logically be upset about the banking system and promote socialism at the same time.

Edit: The secondary recourse of losing the tariff system is 1) the patent office has little to no power. We are no longer or near no longer the top consuming nation in the world. 2) With the strive to make goods cheaper quality has been thrown to the wayside. The Maytag man is dead. No longer do people repair things, its too costly. They just discard it and purchase another. 3) A discard society leads to increased waste management for pollution controls. As well as creation of replacement full object takes more energy/pollution than a part to maintain.

Every "fix" that has been applied to fix the economy, has made it worse. There are 2 groups that are being punished. People are being denied wealth accrual. And the environment is suffering, which is going to lead to the people losing even more wealth.

Due to inflationary practices started in 1913, the dollar today is worth $0.01 compared to 1913. The dollars buying power is drastically reduced. The printing press steals wealth without taxation.

Sorry for the nerdgasm. 😀


If you're a conservative, socialism means spending money and reallocating resources on anything of direct benefit to the community -- education, social-economic safety net, health, essential infrastructure, employment, etc -- is wasteful and cannot be afforded, while reallocating resources on unjustifiable military spending, unnecessary or even illegal wars, domestic surveillance, huge tax cuts for the obscene rich, subsidies, lerks, perks, and benefits to the wealthy and huge corporations, is just fine and utterly consistent with a "free market" private enterprise economy.

I've often thought that Right Wingers are the biggest socialists of all. They just don't realize it.

Oh and I forgot trillion dollar bail outs when capitalism almost destroys itself due to corruption, greed and stupidity. No problem with that if you're a RW.

David1955 Level 8 Nov 30, 2018

Dude, you've been reading my mail! I've been bitching about exactly these same points. Conservatives love the military, law enforcement, fire fighters, libraries, public schools and a host of other similar things that are not sort of socialism, they are PURE socialism. Then they want to make the point that they hate anything resembling socialism. Dumb asses.



Amisja Level 8 Nov 30, 2018

"Socialism is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society, that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good." -- Ayn Rand

sfvpool Level 7 Nov 30, 2018


@Amisja ditto

Quoting Ayn Rand is patently stupid. Try quite a lot harder or I’ll quote Paddington Bear or the slug in my garden or something.

That is NOT socialism but something over which Ayn Rand has superimposed her own Russian preference. It goes well beyond the basic premise of socialism and feeds into what is now the current conservative interpretation to meet a specific political agenda.

She was an ignorant cunt. I mean that in the nicest way. 🙂

@OCJoe Thanks for not using an ad hominem attack.

Actually, the socialist principles mentioned in the article from counterpunch.org provides evidence of Ayn Rand's statement above. The article states, "...the social and economic rights of the people, including employment, health care, education, housing, transportation,.." Who will pay for those so called "rights?" And, what if the ones forced to pay for them don't want to pay for them? As Ayn Rand stated about man under socialism, "his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society..."

@sfvpool As I stated above, she was an ignorant cunt.


For my understanding socialism is a system that bring about a more equal distribution of wealth in a nation.
and some of the basic advantages as, free education and a free health for all is available..
North European nations are a good example of that! Its just the basic system for a civilized society.

Eldovis Level 7 Nov 30, 2018

it has a few meanings, i am a democratic socialist.


Acts that are social. I would direct people to read Auguste Compte, Marx & Engels, Durkheim, Weber and the wonderful Charles Wright Mills. See Liberal Socialism.
Do not confuse Socialism with Stalinist oppression. That came from Revolutionary Socialism.
I don't have the time to write a few thousand words on the subject right now, but once my assessments are marked, maybe I'll add bits of them here.
In the USA, the military is the best example of Socialism at work.

Sofabeast Level 7 Nov 30, 2018

In the USA, which is proudly capitalist, the biggest socialist act perhaps in history was done. The bail out of Wall St in 2008.

Capitalism states competition is king, that inefficient business be allowed to fail and more efficient business will replace them. Competition is good for the consumer and entrepreneurs, innovation.
So why did capitalist America bail out inefficient business? What American's fail to realise is the money given to Wall St, tax payer money, could have been given to Americans to pay of personal debt, mortgages and the like. And let the inefficient and fraudulent businesses fail. This is how capitalism is meant to work.
Instead the many bailed out the few who caused the crash through fraudulent practices.
Socialism is not a new idea for American govt, however socialist policy should benefit the many, not the extremely wealthy few.
I do love irony.

@powder your point seems to be that we already have socialism here, just not the right kind. This seems to be a common theme with socialist proselytizers: neither Mao nor Stalin nor Pol Pot instituted socialism. The good ol’ USA has adopted it, and the proof is the bailout of Wall Street in 2009. I imagine that if you can conjure up such an idea you would go on to argue that New Deal was also a socialist program. Socialism’s track record, however, is proof that it only empowers a corrupt few and propels everyone else to a mislerable existence under their yoke. No one is allowed to dissent on the basis that since the powerful leadership works for the benefit of the people, dissent “isn’t good “ for the people. The purge and the GULAG and the killing field and the pro-government paramilitary rapid repose brigades and the hanging judges and firing squads come along soon. Bernie falsely claimed that Denmark is socialist, proving that even some of the leaders of the socialist movement have no idea what they’re talking about. And you imply that fraud, a blight of capitalism, would not exist in socialism. Really?

Where has it ever taken root? And what guarantee is there that it won’t be uprooted? The charter of this nation, its constitution, created an enduring form of government. It was based on the most afavaced political theory of the day, and it has withstood the test of time. The refugees of Maduro’s policies and of the Cuban economic disaster are a strong refutation of the viability of socialism as a freedom-promoting, productive, popular, or desirable form of government.

@ArturoS I'm very glad Australia is socialist in unemployment benefits, medical care and primary/ secondary education.
Used to be socialist in transport (roads, rail, ports incl airports), banking (CBA was govt owned), power, communication and potable water. Unfortunately, our govt decided the capitalist way was better and privatised them all, austerity, to our detriment. Tax payers built these things, we sold the family jewels.
As for nationalising natural resources, very good idea and crazy if you don't. A nation exploits it's own resources, not foreign corporations. Capitalise national natural resources, no thanks.
Socialism is for groups, only as strong as your weakest link.
Capitalism is for individuals, survival of the fittest.
There is a happy mix.

@powder The Counterpunch piece contradicts your claim that Australia is or was socialist in areas: the writer of the piece wastes no time to explain that the goal of socialists is to grab power and then to keep it. Once they have the power, common sense and history prove to us that they hold on to it, and their claimed goals are used to label their opponents as traitors, enemies of the people, kulaks, bourgeois, etc., and to justify wiping them out. Neither Denmark nor Australia is socialist in the sense proposed by the Counterpunch piece, or in any other intellectually persuasive way. The proof is that if they were socialists wouldn’t have to work to persuade anyone to make those countries into socialist countries.

@ArturoS and the goal of capitalists?

@powder Any goal is acceptable as long at it doesn’t result in the destruction of others. Can you imagine the fate of a group like the Amish community in the socialist USSR or in Venezuela or in Cuba? They would destroyed because one of the immediate effects of socialist empowerment is that conformity is enforced. Individual rights cease to exist and in their place “collective rights” take over.
This is nothing more than a trick to force everyone to accept a set of values and a number of prescribed practices designed to buttress those in power against any potential challenges.

In a capitalist society, people are free to do what they want precisely because the government is less powerful. In a capitalist society, the government is not the end all and be all. You want to build a socialist commune? You can do it in any garden variety capitalist country.

@ArturoS USSR and Cuba was and are communist. Now I understand, you associate socialism with communism which is wrong. Today's communist countries are Cuba, Laos PDR, Viet Nam and China. Nth Korea also supposedly but more a dictatorship. Russia is now a Federation of states, like Australia. America is the same but replaces federation with united or union. Communist Russia, the USSR, ceased to exist in the 90's.Communism is left, capitalism is right. Oligarchs extreme left, fascists extreme right.

Hitler was head of the socialist party in Germany, but he wasn't socialist, he was fascist which is the end game of capitalism (when private corporations control all. Communism is when govt controls all). Hitler was fascist. Socialist is a combination, the middle ground between communism and capitalism. Saying Nazi Germany was socialist is like saying Nth Korea is democratic because they have Peoples Democratic Republic, PDR, in their name.

@powder I appreciate the distinction that you’re trying to make, but it seems forced and out of place in light of the Counterpunch story that led to this exchange. The writer of the Counterpunch story speaks glowingly of Castro’s Cuba and of Chavez’ Venezuela. While both Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are dead, their successors run Cuba and Venezuela. And the degree of destruction, mismanagement, incompetence, and out of control hubris that they’ve brought to the task is something to behold. People in these two countries have been voting with their feet, leaving behind everything they hold dear for one shot at freedom even if it’s in a place where no one knows them or they don’t even know the language. That’s what true socialism does when it takes over.

Powder 3 / Arturo 0.....Powder is our winner. YEA!!


I don’t aspire to be an atheist, I use the term because the description of an atheist describes me as well. I don’t define myself as being a member of any party, not because they are all equally bad, that’s just what frustrated conservatives say when they can’t deny the hypocrisy of the republicans any more.
Frankly all parties endorse good and bad policies and there’s a scale of how urgently problems have to be implemented. If a policy is good, and timely, and appropriate I’ll back it regardless of the party label other people put on it.
The American people have been trying to use the same old conservative policies that have failed over and over for the greater part of my long painful life.
We know what doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is.
So yea, the parties aren’t equally bad or good, but I can say objectively that if you want the country to fail financially economically morally academically scientifically then just continue to choose Republicans because they own the patent on failure.

Novelty Level 8 Nov 30, 2018
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