socialism is democratic control over society or it’s nothing.

Well, it’s nothing then, because socialism requires authoritarian government control.

But I want to write a longer rebuttal than that, so let’s put that aside for the moment. :-)

However, anywhere people see that their rulers are running the system in their own interests, rather than that of the people, and take the power back, that’s socialism.

No, that’s democracy.

Any time there’s a movement that collectively runs things, that’s socialism.

Correct. But due to the fact that people who are not business professionals will inevitably run production into the ground, strikers, communities, and movements which try to “run things” quickly fail.

Which leaves…….the government to try and do it. (Queue up ominous organ sound from a Peter Cushing horror movie.)

All of a sudden conversations that were limited to backrooms of libraries and pubs — why do the rich pay so little tax?

They don’t. They pay TONS of tax, when you add in income, property, and sales taxes into the equation.

Why can’t we seem to do anything about climate change? — are on the national agenda.

This is more a function of our system of government than anything else. You need strong consensus to move forward on major issues. Parliamentary systems are more flexible.

What do you think of this definition?

The textbook definition of socialism is “government control over the means of production.” You’ve broadened it to “collective control over means of production” rather than the corporation/shareholder model, I suppose. I have no quarrel with that definition, as long as everyone who uses it acknowledges that there are huge problems with believing that anyone other than the business people are capable of productive success.

And why do you socialism is in the public eye again, after languishing as an undercurrent for so many decades?

Poor education. The US is the most successful nation on earth in terms of bringing a high standard of living to the most people. The reason for this is capitalism. However, our capitalism has its warts, mostly due to corporatists masquerading as capitalists. Because so many are uneducated on economic theory, they’re easily persuaded that it’s the entire system that is failing, not just in need of some reform.

Enter Socialism. Socialism has always had the ability to make itself sound like life will be all unicorns and rainbows if only it were implemented “properly”. However, “properly” is not humanly possible, but the socialists gloss over that point until they gain power, after which the guns come out and the gulags get set up.

and the lack of a bad example in the USSR definitely helped produce fertile ground for it.

Hm. Lenin and Stalin killed people who didn’t sign on to the program; as soon as the Politburo stopped killing people and sending dissidents to gulags, the system fell apart.

How much more of a “bad example” do you want?

It also helped that Sanders is clear and succinct in his arguments. When we consider young voters — even stretching that to voters under 35 — we are talking about people who have no memory of the Soviet Union

Precisely. He makes clear and succinct arguments who persuade those who are naive and ignorant of history.

Not to make it too watery, but it might be defined by a priority on public investment in public benefits for the betterment of all.

You can’t water it down any farther. You just defined every nation on earth as already socialist. Even Somalia has some investment in shared services, which is what you’re actually calling “socialism”.

Of course, in actually existing capitalism we know that there is a lot of socialization of risk and public financing of profit.

See references above to “corporatism” and “warts”.

The way we idealize and fund first responders, finance the military, NASA and the Smithsonian museums all seem pretty socialist at times.

Not in the least. None of these items you mention could survive as going concerns without public investments. Ergo, they do not replace a private means of production, which is the core definition of socialism.

(snips long diatribes where each party incorrectly cites examples of shared services as “socialism”.)

First, the the denaturalization of capitalism is vital to any socialist perspective.

Exactly. Socialism requires that the masses reject the existing paradigm (and in the case of the US, requires overturning over two centuries of business case law).

Although capitalist ideology wants to reduce or eliminate active state involvement in the economy, in practice it demands it.

No. This is one of the warts that occurs when you infuse your capitalism with corporatism. Small, nimble, innovative companies detest regulation, because they increase the cost of innovation; their large, established competitors welcome that regulation, because it prevents innovative competitors from nipping at their heels.

You’re taking the position that the baby (capitalism) should be thrown out with the bathwater (corporatism). That’s a failure of imagination. You can drain the swamp and keep the baby.

I would even push this further and argue that even the most basic, minimal capitalist state — a “nightwatchman state” — would require an active, interventionist state.

That’s kind of where all socialist dictators started. None of them set out to create an authoritarian nightmare; they all wanted to create fairer economic environment for the common folk.

The foundational elements of capitalist property, from the legal recognition, to police protection, to court meditation and contract enforcement, all require public finance for public goods. Furthermore, basic regulations necessary for business, like weights and measure and stable currency, require the state to step in since private actors cannot or will not provide those public goods.

This is all economic infrastructure. No capitalist argues that the government doesn’t play a role in creating and maintaining that infrastructure. It’s basic to capitalist theory.

The result is that the state will always intervene in economics

Of course. An economy has three primary actors: the business, the citizen (who is also an employee), and the government. The government has the responsibility of maintaining infrastructure and insuring that a level playing field exists between the business and the citizen (which usually takes the form of a minimalist regulatory environment).

None of that is socialism. The “warts” which I previously referred to exist because the politicians are tipping the scales towards the businesses.

This, I think, was your second point: how do we make these decisions so that we get the necessary outcomes?

Lenin used 5 year plans. They were disastrous failures. Highly suggest you don’t focus on outcomes. It never ends well.

For me the aspects that are unspoken are what show the basic principles of socialism to be already guiding the values and decisions of political agents.

Exactly. If you look at the GND as merely a set of problem statements, the proposed solution for each problem is one that appeals to an authoritarian socialistic mindset.

One aspects is that the basis for the plan is that capitalism is killing us.

Right; which is nothing more than leftist hysteria.

I wish Sanders was more vocal about this: economic justice in America can only mean some form of redistribution for the oppressed.

Problem with that is that there is scant evidence that anyone is oppressed than other by their own decisions. In fact, in the US, the “oppressed” generally have advantages given to them by means-tested welfare and educational programs, and affirmative action.

Written by

Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store