Rhetorical Socialism

[Pulls pin on rhetorical grenade]

Where has socialism succeeded, outside of ant colonies? Capitalism is the worst economic system… except for everything else.



Anarcho-syndicalist Catalonia had more efficient businesses than under capitalism, at least before the Stalinists decided to start purging them and the Trotskyists. Also the growth of the middle classes in the West during the 20th century happened under social democracy, which is a mixed economic theory and therefore mildly socialist.

If you want to say Marxism-Leninism failed, I will agree with you, but that is not what you are typing.

[backhand strokes the grenade back]


What’s your source on the idea that the anarchist model was more efficient? Their own propaganda? Any actual peer-reviewed economic analyses support it?

As for “social democracy” being a mixed-model, not really, except in the sense that no capitalist society really is completely without government regulation and taxation. You can certainly argue that the greater degree of regulation and higher taxes common (even in the US) in the mid 20th century, and still in Scandinavia today was a good thing, but calling it “socialism” as either praise or criticism as people do is to purposely confuse it with actual non-market-based societies.

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Just to be provocative. What about Singapore? The government own the housing for 80% of the population and a share in most of the major companies.

Neither “pure” capitalism or socialism work, or has really been tried, its just a mater of how you mix them.


Yeah, that’s fair. There must be some checks in place to curb the worst of human nature and take the sting out of natural monopolies (ie last mile, utilities, etc). But I’d argue for quite a while that in general, societies that tend toward greater human liberty are more prosperous.

Successful systems embrace human nature – competition, self interest – rather than try to legislate against it.

Parts of Homage to Catalonia. I admit it is not a peer reviewed analysis, but it isn’t anarchist propaganda either.

You don’t remember the fights about New Labour changing Clause IV of the Labour Party constitution in the 1990s then? The move from social democracy to social liberalism? Now things are moving back towards social democracy again and the social liberals don’t like it any more than the social democrats liked it 25 years ago.

Just a reminder, while state communists are socialist, socialism isn’t just state communism.


::picks up rhetorical grenade and throws it back::

There is no liberation in a society that makes wage slaves of its poorest half.

I recognized at once that we had never understood the meaning of these words, so common and yet so sacred: Justice, equity, liberty; that concerning each of these principles our ideas have been utterly obscure…


Liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.


If we’re on the subject of evidence, what evidence do we have that self-interest is human nature other than some guy saying so in the 18th century?

As far as I can tell psychological studies show we are inclined to cooperate and help one another, and evolutionary models show that cooperation and altruism should be expected in social animals.

I agree that generally letting people do what they want rather than telling them what they have to do is the best way to run things, but that’s because it allows us to maximize diversity. To the extent that we make everyone conform to a certain standard (which includes a standard of expecting everyone to be financially-motivated, self-interested entrepreneurs) we limit the ingenuity that people can actually bring to the table.


By what metric?

High GDP doesn’t necessarily mean that the average citizen is doing great.


Only in small groups, cooperation and altruism tend to drop off significantly once you expand beyond your immediate social circle.

We need to privatize the fire departments.

I want their trucks covered like a NASCAR fender set while offering negotiable fees for letting my a-hole neighbors house just f-ing burn to the ground if I can afford that level of service.

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Murray Bookchin thought the same thing, except he used it in his political theory of Communalism instead of saying that socialism was impossible.


…also, yes they show that cooperation and altruism are expected to occur, but not for them to always be the default option, there’s a constant struggle between traits like that and freeloading and bullying.




I push back hard against the statement that self-interest is “human nature” but I recognize that there are lots very self-interested people and I think it’s fair to guess that for nearly everyone self-interest is pulling some weight in the majority of decisions they make. I wouldn’t call altruism “human nature” either.


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