Triangulation is dead: what does "socialism" mean in the 21st century?


OTOH…don’t think of socialism as “regulated” and capitalism as “unregulated”.

As Chomsky argues in the video upthread, all economies are regulated. The difference lies in who controls the regulation and who benefits from it.

In capitalism, the state is controlled by and managed for the benefit of those with money. In socialism, the state is controlled by and managed for the benefit of the majority.

From my perspective, anyway.


Women have never had the physical or economic power or the weaponry to challenge men. While the suffragettes were violent to some extent, they were more of a danger to themselves than anyone else (and in many ways, their actions were seen as counter-productive within the suffrage movement). In the end though, men voted to allow their enfranchisement, very soon after universal male suffrage. I think there’s a big difference between ‘reasoned argument’ and ‘persuasion’, and guns are not necessarily the biggest factor in the second. People often miss the nuance of debate and are not persuaded by it, and are often turned away by violence.

Many liberal advances have come through sharing information as much as through force and the threat of force. Often mass media has had a significant effect in coalescing ideas – I recently completed my masters on the translation of comics, and it’s interesting to see the way that comics and cartoons have been used throughout history (particularly as you don’t need to be literate to understand them).

In Britain, many democratic changes like the end to slavery and imperialism, universal suffrage and other civil rights took place without armed uprisings (within the UK, at least). In fact, there seems to have been considerably less civil unrest and more civil progress than before liberalism. Non-violent resistance was a major factor, and changes often happened in spite of a power differential. A big factor was the idea that you can’t call for moral equality and exclude black people, or women, or any other group. The US has far more guns in the hands of normal people, and that doesn’t seem to have helped civil rights much, or influenced policy much. Violent resistance did not help the Ruhr Red Army and may even have helped the Nazis. I don’t think it’s helping Antifa now either – the right just uses it to support their narrative and it turns moderates away. Something like this just makes them look silly and isolated:

This is not helpful when the left has been so good at alienating the working class over the last few decades.

Why I am not a socialist:

Through liberalism, the power gradually spread from the landed gentry to the people in general, but socialist systems keep promising power to the people and an end to oppression, then ending up with extreme inequality. Both capitalism and socialism seem to tend toward oligarchy in the long term, but capitalism is better at avoiding it as socialism keeps ending up with an unelected ruling elite who call themselves ‘the people’. This gap between socialist rhetoric and reality has caused serious problems in places like Zimbabwe, and the ANC in South Africa has many signs of corruption and failure to address critical societal problems. In theory, it should work well, and the principles seem to do better in small communities and families. But even there, the rule of law works better.

This is always the pretext, yes. Woe betide anyone who doesn’t agree with ‘the majority’ though, and good luck finding explicitly socialist governments that actually have effective popular rule. Even under the pseudo-capitalist system in China, a huge amount of the economic and political power is held by dynasties. Having lived there, I think Akila’s idea that its rise to power will be better for human rights and bad for imperialism is a dangerous error. While it’s a comfortable place to be a white man, it’s probably the place where I’ve seen the most open racism and nationalism. Their civil rights record is terrible. Their economy is precarious, and their expansionism in the South China Sea is dangerous. Their control of information is legendary. I think it’s cute that he thinks teaching his kids Mandarin will help, because I’ve seen how black people are treated over there.

One problem is that the left often lionises groups that have traditionally been marginalised, without criticising the way they use the agency they do have. Islam is one example – right wing extremism is only a threat of a similar level in the US due to conflating many kinds of white extremism together, while ignoring the huge population differential and also the extremism in other parts of the world. The functional similarity between Islamism and fascism is something that both Hitler and Islamic leaders at his time recognised, which is why a number of them sought alliances with him. There are many Islamists who say much stronger words advocating genocide and cultural dominance than white nationalists do, and are more willing to act on them. The misogyny and sexual violence are often far more extreme, and this shows up in studies of crime rates in Europe. This threatens gender relations in Europe – leftists are often happy to blame men in general for women-only swimming pool sessions or concerts and talk about gender segregation as if it were a progressive thing, to hide the fact that these measures are often in direct response to recent public sex attacks by immigrants (which have happened against children in a number of swimming pools in the city, including the one I visit with my family, as well as against nurses in several hospitals in Hamburg).

Anti-Semitism is particularly bad among the Islamic population in Europe, and it is often winked at by leftists (who are happy to blame the far right – which the extremist elements basically are, just in beards and with a different book). There are direct calls for anti-blasphemy laws and other violently anti-secular and anti-liberal ideas. The left has often been completely impotent here, and even complicit in covering up or deflecting the reality. When Europeans then support tighter controls on immigration, the left blames them for being racist – but they only have themselves and their double standards to blame.

This is why I’m liberal, not socialist – moral equality is essential, and socialists fail badly at this practically every time. They accept government control and identitarianism too easily, as long as it has a patina of social justice. I agree with the left’s defence of Muslims and others from racist attacks, but not their protection from criticism of what is the clearest example of fascist, patriarchal and misogynistic ideology in the 21st century. Treat them as equals, with the same rights and obligations as anyone else.

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As opposed to capitalism’s unelected ruling elite called ‘the rich’?

This gap between capitalist rhetoric and reality has caused serious problems in places like the United States and the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom has many signs of corruption and failure to address critical societal problems.

A simple switch and not invalid I think you’d agree?

I don’t generally disagree with most of the rest of what you said although I would point out that stating that right wing extremism is only a comparable level of threat if you add all the various kinds of white extremism together is just stating what happens with Islamic extremism. That is not monolithic either and there are numerous different strands and groupings that get lumped together as ‘Islamic extremists’.

The main problem with that is the idea that leftists (whoever they are) somehow control the reaction of the rest of the population or prevent the rest of the population from making whatever laws they like or enforcing the laws that already exist.

If racists choose to make more racist laws, they can. And have done. And are doing.

Mostly based on complete codswallop. If an immigrant gropes your daughter, he should be prosecuted obviously. As you say, just the same as if he were a Schwabe.

But Germany doesn’t say that Schwaben aren’t allowed to travel nor does Britain say that people from Yorkshire can’t come to London.


I’ve always referred to it as being mixed economics. Part socialist, part capitalist, with neither side dominating much


I certainly agree – when I wrote:

I should have added that I’m only with capitalism if it doesn’t see itself as antithetical to socialism, which I think Neoliberalism does. I think government regulation and social services are important in a market economy, and I would tend toward a social liberal position. The rich are unelected in a political sense, but where their wealth comes from providing useful services that support society as a whole, this is not undemocratic. I think some inequality must be accepted; it fuels development and often benefits the whole of society. I don’t think the relationship between employers and employees is inherently oppressive – it can be a mutually beneficial one if there is a true meritocracy. However, this requires a level of social mobility and a strong middle class. For this reason, basic services must ensure that everyone has the opportunity to use their skills and improve themselves. Universal access to education and healthcare, safe housing and so on help a capitalist and liberal society to function well.

On the other hand, where a lot of wealth is based on collecting different forms of rent (including patents, interest etc.), there is significant debt and interest groups can use money to gain political influence, this is directly harmful to a liberal democracy. I think unchained capitalism quickly leads in this direction.

One interesting idea that you see over here is that the classes are not as segregated as elsewhere. There are many refugee centres around the city, and they aren’t just built near poorer communities. The same goes for the population in general; the idea is to avoid creating ghettos, and I suppose to encourage empathy between different groups. Also, if rich people want to improve their own living conditions, they can’t ignore the lower classes. This article is in German, but there’s a brief overview here:

They don’t control it, but they do influence it. I think in many ways, the working class is the left’s to lose. In theory they offer them more rights and better conditions. But often ignoring real issues hurts the working class first and most severely, and eventually they will reject the left’s codswallop and look to the right. For example (and this is not to paint the left with one brush, but these are all reactions from the left that I have heard on many occasions):

  • Immigration, globalisation and the EU often hurt the working class more than they help them. I have benefited significantly from EU membership, and am able to use my skills to find work and a better life. Many people are not in a position to do this, and their experience is often of a brain drain and cheap foreign labour. Identity is often very important, and the loss of industries that have employed their communities for generations as well as often a shared community history is traumatic. The working class fought hard for their rights and for good working conditions, and they are not privileged – but often relative privilege is used to shame those who are losing their livelihoods. I’ve heard some suggest that if you can’t compete with someone who doesn’t speak English, you must not be that good a worker – this is extreme classism disguised as social justice. Elitist capitalists and socialists can both act like the rich guy this gif, but the socialists just tell the working class to be grateful for what they have, because others have it worse:

  • Further on this point, the male suicide rate is not just a bullshit MRA talking point. Suicide and other deaths of despair are a very serious problem among the working class, and that has a lot to do with real issues – the more I learn about it, the less I think it has anything at all to do with toxic masculinity. In fact, it’s often the opposite, since the correlation with divorce and parental alienation shows how important family is to men. There is a growing and serious education gap, and many lower class men lose their families, livelihoods, health and freedom. They don’t have the safety net that women do, and this should be fixed before blaming them for not seeking help. Pointing to the fact that others have it worse often wilfully ignores the collapse of their way of life, and shows a lack of empathy and solidarity. Many of the people at the top of society are white men, but this does not make class disappear.

  • Pakistani rape gangs do exist in the UK – not just in Rotherham, but in many cities. This has often been covered up. Police in Germany have also complained that their hands have been tied and they haven’t been able to address this issue because of political sensitivity. The media avoided reporting it, and even came out with nonsense like the idea that immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than Germans. This creates a situation where people stop believing the press or the government – and we shouldn’t expect that they will replace them with reasoned arguments. Just like with the church though, political correctness is often used to defend those with political power, and it doesn’t help communities if abuse is being ignored. If people lose faith that threats to their security are being addressed, they will reject the system as a whole.
    Some responses included the fact that Germany’s sexual assault rate is much lower than in the US. Yeah, we like it that way. Most crime is committed against other immigrants. We don’t care. The lower crime rate among Germans means that this hasn’t increased the crime rate significantly. This isn’t some cap and trade scheme. Most migrant crime is petty theft. This is true, but we’re also getting some pretty horrific violent sex crimes against children. After Cologne, Ana Kasparian basically declared that she no longer believes in the concept of rape culture:

But, look, the point that I’m trying to make, and I want to reiterate it so people understand very clearly what I’m trying to say: if poll numbers indicate that a certain culture believes that women need to be subservient to men, that doesn’t mean that there is a direct correlation, or any causation, indicating that they are advocates of rape, or favour rape, or even people who excuse rape. That’s the point that I’m trying to make; those are two completely different things. Do some men who believe women should be subservient end up sexually assaulting women? I’m sure there’s some percentage, right? But I don’t think there’s any type of correlation there. And I think that type of correlation is being made online by bigots and fear-mongers so we don’t allow refugees into our country, and it’s enraging me right now.

  • Most immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa are not refugees, and most are not children or women. In general, they will not find employment quickly or go back to their countries after a few years. They won’t just integrate seamlessly into European society, either. This is a problem that has been going on for years, and it won’t end with Syria.

None of these issues should mean that we close our borders and adopt conservatism. But basing policy on noble lies is not democratic, and eventually people find out.

People from Swabia are Germans. People from Yorkshire are British. A government is responsible for representing its own citizens rather than the rest of the world, and it has no obligation to open its borders to everyone. The world’s problems will not be solved by immigration into the west anyway – that would be a drop in the bucket.

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From my perspective, that argument is rather severely ahistorical.

The key event in ending the trans-Atlantic slave trade was not the advocacy of liberal abolitionists [1]. It was the Haitian Revolution.

…which also involved large numbers of fighting women. The idea of women as non-combatants was never true, but it became even less so after the development of modern firearms.

Those are WWI, but I could draw on many examples from just about any modern conflict.

British imperialism did not end due to peaceful activism. It ended because the cost of maintaining the empire exceeded the profits to be extracted from it. The empire was not finally killed off until Britain could no longer afford to keep it, after paying America a fortune for support in both World Wars.

Even then, forceful resistance from colonised Indians played a key role. In much the same way as the threat of Malcolm X supported the argument of MLK, the Indian militants bolstered the authority of Gandhi.

Even the suffragettes are problematic. Yes, they achieved some of their goals with relatively little violence, but there should be more acknowledgement of the role that racism and classism played in the movement. The extension of the franchise to women was at least in part motivated by a desire to shore up the voting numbers of the white middle class.

That depends on who you are thinking of as “the working class” and “the left”.

Firstly: you didn’t say this, but it is very common for liberal pundits to use “working class” as a synonym for “white working class”. This is a massive distortion of reality.

The working class is the least-white and most left-wing section of American society. They are the only economic group that did not support Trump.

Fascism is a middle-class pathology, based upon the defence of fading privilege and the suppression of the working class. The working class are not the Trumpist base; they are its primary victims.

Secondly, the Democrats are not “the left”. They are a centre-right party, whose access to power is just as reliant on working-class disenfranchisement as is the GOP.

The actual left begins with the Berniecrats, and continues leftwards through the DSA and BLM. Bernie is the most popular politician in the country, and Berniecrat policies have broad majority support.

Why do you think Zimbabwe and South Africa are a better model for the USA than the Nordic countries?

Yes, Zimbabwe and South Africa are a mess. But that mess was not created by socialism; it was created by white supremacy, imperialism, capitalist exploitation and mass murder.

The legacy of those crimes does not disappear overnight, and socialism is not a magically impenetrable defence against corruption. People are people, no matter what their ideology.

To my eyes, the claim that capitalist societies are less exploitative and oligarchic than socialist systems is strongly counterfactual. Colonialism, imperialism, slavery, genocide, hegemonic exploitation and dominance. It all still counts, even if it’s happening to brown people on the other side of the world.


[1] Many of whom were not actually liberals. The radical roots of abolitionism have been substantially whitewashed.


I agree with the first half of your post (up to and including the Welt article although I would say Germany is just as segregated in terms of rich/poor as anywhere else - notwithstanding their desire to claim otherwise - you may live next door but you don’t move in the same circles or have the same lifestyles any more than anywhere else - possibly less so in my experience).

As far as the rest goes, you lost me entirely. I’m not quite clear what you are trying to say other than foreigners are bad, leftists say you shouldn’t say all foreigners are bad, therefore the working class prefers right-wing parties that support their racism.

Whereas all any sensible person can say is that clearly not all foreigners are rabid child rapists. Deal with the ones who are accordingly, don’t treat those who aren’t any differently than you would your own citizens.

Is that so hard?

And as regards this:

The point I was trying to make is that you and many others justify not allowing people in on the basis that they supposedly have a ‘rape culture’ or commit other crimes, especially against children.

Yet the Rotherham cases you refer to were committed by people who are as you point out British. As were Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith, etc., etc.

Yet no one claims that all people from Yorkshire or Lancashire are child-molesters. But somehow everyone from Afghanistan or Syria or Morocco is?

All getting rather off the question of what ‘socialism’ means in the 21st century, since apart from you no one seems to think that it means 'Tell the working class off for trying to protect their women".


A quick intro to how the British working class got the vote:

That eventually led to this, which fulfilled most of the demands of the original protest:

That still only gave the vote to about one in five men, though. Near-universal male suffrage (and some women’s suffrage) had to wait for 1918.

Did rhetoric and public opinion play a role in making that happen? Yes.

But also important was the fact that the Russian Revolution was scaring the crap out of the British ruling class, and large numbers of working class people with substantial recent combat experience would have been very annoyed if the act had not passed.


It’s certainly a key event and Haiti was very valuable to the French, but the independence movement was strongly influenced by the principles of the Enlightenment. The American Revolution had already happened, and the French Revolution started in 1789 (which had a big effect on the French ability to respond to the crisis). The “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” was written in 1789, and there were already calls against slavery by French Enlightenment thinkers like Guillaume Raynal. While there were slave revolts before Haiti in 1791 and this one certainly wasn’t just because of the Enlightenment, there is a complicated causal relationship here and liberal ideas played a major role.

Also, the Haitians didn’t defeat the three major European empires; it was a clusterfuck involving those three countries trying to protect their interests, fighting against each other, making alliances with different groups on the island and supporting or opposing abolition as politically expedient. The initial British force was far too small to be effective and the reinforcements were mostly lost to yellow fever and incompetence. It’s interesting that William Pitt the Younger was fighting to maintain slavery at the time. From a scholarly source:

By 1792, slave rebels controlled a third of the island. The success of the slave rebellion caused the newly elected Legislative Assembly in France to realize it was facing an ominous situation. To protect France’s economic interests, the Assembly granted civil and political rights to free men of color in the colonies[citation needed] in March 1792. Countries throughout Europe as well as the United States were shocked by the decision, but the Assembly was determined to stop the revolt. Apart from granting rights to the free people of color, the Assembly dispatched 6,000 French soldiers to the island. The new governor sent by Paris, Léger-Félicité Sonthonax was a supporter of the French Revolution who abolished slavery in the Northern Province of Saint Domingue and had hostile relations with the planters, whom he saw as royalists.

Meanwhile, in 1793, France declared war on Great Britain. The white planters in Saint Domingue, unhappy with Sonthonax made agreements with Great Britain to declare British sovereignty over the colony, believing that the British would maintain slavery. The British Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger believed that the success of the slave revolt in Saint Domigue would inspire slave revolts in the British Caribbean colonies and that taking Saint Domingue, the richest of the French colonies would be a most useful bargaining chip to have when the peace negotiations began to end the war, and the interim, occupying Saint Domingue would mean bringing all of its great wealth into the British treasury. The American journalist James Perry noted that the great irony of the British campaign in Haiti was instead of being the great money-spinner as expected, the campaign ended in a complete debacle that cost the British treasury millions of pounds and the British military thousands upon thousands of dead, all for nothing. Spain, who controlled the rest of the island of Hispaniola, would also join the conflict and fight with Great Britain against France. The Spanish forces invaded Saint Domingue and were joined by the slave forces. For most of the conflict, the British and Spanish supplied the rebels with food, ammunition, arms, medicine, naval support, and military advisors. By August 1793, there were only 3,500 French soldiers on the island. On 20 September 1793, about 600 British soldiers from Jamaica landed at Jérémie to be greeted with shouts of “Vivent les Anglais!” from the French population. On 22 September 1793, Mole St. Nicolas, the main French naval base in Saint Domingue surrendered to the Royal Navy peacefully. Everywhere, the British went, they restored slavery, which made them especially hated by the Haitians. To prevent military disaster, and secure the colony for republican France as opposed to Britain, Spain, and French royalists, separately or in combination, the French commissioners Léger-Félicité Sonthonax and Étienne Polverel freed the slaves in St. Domingue.

The decision was confirmed and extended by the National Convention, the first elected Assembly of the First Republic (1792–1804), on the 4th of February 1794, under the leadership of Maximilien Robespierre. It abolished slavery by law in France and all its colonies and granted civil and political rights to all black men in the colonies. The French constitutions of 1793 and 1795 both included the abolition of slavery. The constitution of 1793 was never applied, but that of 1795 was implemented and lasted until replaced by the consular and imperial constitutions under Napoleon Bonaparte. Despite racial tensions in Saint Domingue, the French revolutionary government at the time welcomed abolition with a show of idealism and optimism. The emancipation of slaves was viewed as an example of liberty for other countries, much as the American Revolution was meant to serve as the first of many liberation movements. Danton, one of the Frenchmen present at the meeting of the National Convention, expressed this sentiment:

“Representatives of the French people, until now our decrees of liberty have been selfish, and only for ourselves. But today we proclaim it to the universe, and generations to come will glory in this decree; we are proclaiming universal liberty…We are working for future generations; let us launch liberty into the colonies; the English are dead, today.”

In nationalistic terms, the abolition of slavery also served as a moral triumph of France over England as seen in the latter half of the above quote. Yet the abolition of slavery did not allow for independence and did not persuade Toussaint Louverture until some time later to stop working with the Spanish army.

I stopped there, but the incompetence gets worse. The British historian Sir John Fortescue wrote “It is probably beneath the mark to say that twelve thousand Englishmen were buried in the West Indies in 1794”, and by 1798, the expedition to St. Domingue had cost the British treasury four million pounds and 100,000 men either dead or crippled from the effects of yellow fever. At least 3 out of every 5 British troops sent there in 1791–97 died of disease.

TBF, this does go some way to explain why Britain banned slavery, even though it has been estimated that the profits of the slave trade and of West Indian plantations created up to one-in-twenty of every pound circulating in the British economy at the time of the Industrial Revolution in the latter half of the 18th century. On the other hand, it doesn’t explain why the British then put slave trading on a par with piracy and the Royal Navy worked to stop other countries from doing it. Incidentally, slaves were already free upon entering the British Isles after the Mansfield declaration in 1772:

The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from a decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black [a slave who had escaped to England] must be discharged.

Under Thomas Jefferson, importing slaves for sale became illegal in Virginia in 1778. There was an English anti-slavery movement from the early 1780s and the “Am I not a man and a brother?” medallion was in use from 1787 (“promoting the cause of justice, humanity and freedom”).

While I’m sure the threat of revolt by slaves was very important in the swaying the opinion of different governments, this doesn’t seem to have been central in the abolitionist arguments at the time, to the extent that liberal principles were. You talk about the radical roots of abolitionism as if liberal principles weren’t radical (N.B.: I do recognise that ‘radicals’ were a particular grouping, but they were closely connected with liberalism and they contributed to the formation of the Liberal Party in 1859). Despite their best efforts, you have people trying and failing to argue that they can have a liberal ideology with exceptions for slaves, black people in general, women, the working class and others. They destroy their own argument when they try.

When I said that women didn’t have the weaponry to challenge men, I didn’t mean that they have never had weapons. I meant that if this were just about military or economic power, women never had enough to challenge those who had it.

As for the Peterloo Massacre, the fact that 15 deaths led to political change is significant, especially when you consider the response to the Luddites in the same decade (I mean, you have mill owners shooting and throwing large stones down at the workers). Incidentally, this article talks about the Luddites and has some relevance to the free market capitalist/socialist discussion (including in the 12st century). Personally, I think the context and response to the Luddites shows the folly of a capitalism that doesn’t follow liberal principles and that ignores workers in its promotion of self interest.

This is a fair point. On the other hand, what they replaced were not good examples of capitalism – particularly in the case of Apartheid. It’s certainly a terrible example of liberalism – individualism, individual liberty, moral equality and universalism; pluralism and free speech.

But this point is undermined by the political action supporting brown people on the other side of the world, and explicitly based on liberal ideology. Liberal ideology and the French and American revolutions also inspired Irish Rebellion of 1798, so not just brown people, and not just on the other side of the world.

That’s never been my claim – I think properly regulated capitalism works better for economies, but properly implemented social liberalism is necessary for the people in general. Free market capitalism alone is not a good protection against exploitation, at all.

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Of his text on “the only successful slave revolt in history”, James writes: “I made up my mind that I would write a book in which Africans or people of African descent instead of constantly being the object of other peoples’ exploitation and ferocity would themselves be taking action on a grand scale and shaping other people to their own needs”. He critiques some historians’ claims about the events, motivations, and people involved, for their exploitation of African peoples in both history and historiography, for serving European economic and ideological ends. For example, he writes skeptically of British efforts to suppress the slave trade by using William Wilberforce as a figurehead. James asserts that the actual concern of the British was strategic, and that their “humanitarian interest” in abolition was in actuality a pragmatic interest, in that it undermined rival France by crippling access to slave labour for France’s most lucrative colony.

This is a worthy aim, and the agency of black people in emancipation should not be ignored. On the other hand, Akala is a complete revisionist. He knows that the Haitian Revolution didn’t involve slaves vs. the combined forces of European powers, and that the abolitionist movement didn’t start at the Haitian Revolution, yet he blames others for actually doing less violence to the history. Interestingly enough, James is criticised for making the point I made – I can’t find the page itself with a justification for the claim though:

Thomas O. Ott also fixes on James’ association with a Marxist framework, suggesting that James’ “stumbling attempt to connect the Haitian and French revolutions through some sort of common mass movement is a good example of ‘fact trimming’ to fit a particular thesis or ideology.”


I agree that the Haitian revolution was influenced by the French. I’m reiterating that this was also massive slave revolt and that is also key to understanding it. There was certainly conflict between European powers during it, no Europeans wanted to see a black revolt against growing white supremacy. That’s why no one balked when France imposed a ridiculous reparations regime and then europe and the US summarily isolated Haiti, which at the time was one of the most wealthy colonies in the world, thanks to it’s exports.


I’ve never suggested European countries or people were noble in any way. It’s all very well calling yourself liberal if you only believe in freedom for white Europeans, or a capitalist if you think only rich people’s self-interest should count. One of the great things about liberalism is that nobody owns or controls the principle of equality, and social progress under liberalism has involved some decidedly bigoted people. It may have originated in the philosophies of privileged white men, but it isn’t a white or male philosophy - it is directly applicable to marginalised groups.



I never said you did. And I never also said I was a liberal.

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BTW: notice which women got the vote in 1918?

The “local government register” was a list of people who paid property taxes. The franchise was restricted to women of property, or those married to men of property.

It was aimed at shoring up the voting power of the middle and upper classes, to dilute the influence of the newly-enfranchised working class men. The use of white, middle-class liberal pseudofeminism as a disguised weapon against the poor and/or brown is not a new thing.


BTW: I’ve made several posts in this thread highlighting the role of both capitalist violence and working class resistance.

My intent there is not to promote the use of violence; my intent is to unmask the power relationships that always drive politics.

There is still a chance to get out of this mess with non-violent methods. Gandhi, Dr King, Naomi Klein: they aren’t wrong.

But don’t expect the capitalists to play nice just because the left is opting for non-violence. And don’t dismiss the deterrent value of working class self-defence.



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Alright, so here’s my take on it, an ML will tell you different from an MLM will tell you different from a left anarchist who will tell you different from an anarcho communist etc etc etc…

Some notes before I start: 1: Marx was pretty eurocentric he was a german writing in the 1800’s. You can probably read some Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Thomas Sankara, Castro, and friends for how these ideas would apply to what we’d call the developing world.

2: When I say communism I mean it as Marx meant it, sort of the endgame of a classless, moneyless society; when I’m talking about the transitionary state in which the working class seizes the means of production (factories, farms, etc.) and attempts to move towards communism I’ll say socialism; socialism does not mean “the government does stuff” here.

So the value of capitalism is transitionary: capitalism is necessary in the move from feudalism to communism. We can see it in terms of the power structures shifting downwards: the nobles hold the power, but the capitalist class seized it from them in the rise of capitalism. Then the working class oppressed by the capitalist class rises up and seizes the power for themselves in socialism.

So when does capitalism “go bad”? Instantly. Capitalism always contains what Marx calls its inherent contradiction, and capitalists over the years have recognized this contradiction: capitalism inherently requires an ever greater accumulation of money and capital for the capitalist class: the rich always get richer.

The wealth, however, is extracted from the lower classes, who must be paid by the capitalists and spend their money which enriches the capitalist class from this money. More profits requires less going to the lower classes which means the lower classes can’t spend as much which means fewer profits.

The best way to view capitalism here is a ball rolling towards an edge (revolution). Pretty much everything bad about capitalism can be traced to this fundamental contradiction: you exaggerate race and sex divisions to keep the working class focused on what divides them rather than what unites them (getting screwed by capitalists), you get into imperialism (called the highest stage of capitalism) because now the local working class isn’t going to do it so we need to extract resources (and labor) from places over there in Africa, in Latin America, etc in order to keep costs down and profits up. This isn’t a vast conspiracy or anything, just a natural outcome of capitalists attempting to protect their interests.

The ball tends to roll towards revolution, because capitalism inherently makes life worse for the workers as it goes along, however occasionally the capitalist class will recognize the existential threat which is posed by its inevitable rolling towards revolution and tip the ramp for a little while. This is why the capitalist system as at its most tolerable when it is faced with an existential threat, most notably in the 20th century while trying to outdo the USSR’s state capitalism. The New Deal, universal healthcare, banking regulation, most of that “the government does stuff” socialism falls under this banner. This brings the ball back from the edge for a while and are sometimes even supported by some of the rich (Henry Ford recognized this specifically, and lost a very important court case on this,) but these things cut into profits and therefore in the long term they’ll be disassembled.

Basically capitalism doesn’t “go bad”, it’s an improvement over feudalism but it’s never quite in-date, it’s just how far out of date it can get before it all falls apart.

Also for what it’s worth: that USSR thing you talked about is called state capitalism :wink: The state is run as a capitalist enterprise to enrich and empower itself.