« "Man dead after attacking immigration detention facility in Washington state ..." Reuters | Main | Follow Up on the Flynn Plot by Larry C Johnson »

15 July 2019

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lars

In the 70's, there was quite a bit of radicalization of many youths and several got enamored with Marxist-Leninism. The Viet Nam war was a focus point for that.

In the meantime, Sweden encouraged immigration from the south to fill jobs. That started in the 50's and continued into the 90's. The xenophobic backlash came much later and has poisoned politics.

Fred

Rho,

I think the other factor is how the government expects all the medical care providers to accept the Medicare reimbursement rates.

Fred

Pirate, where is that statement true? It is usually the anti-Wal-Mart talking point.

srw

Socialism = Communism? Both espouse government control of production. What should not be equated is socialism to the welfare state. All modern governments to some degree have social safety nets put in place after the industrial revolution transformed society from a largely agricultural one with church/gentry based welfare to a city based/industrial worker society with local governments (and churches) picking up welfare for those in need. Conservatives have equated FDR and Social Security, LBJ and Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), farm support programs, etc. etc. with socialism. I don't think too many people want to go to a total libertarian government that gets rid of these programs. My conservative Marine LTC son-in-law spent three years in Stuttgart Germany. He was impressed with the benefits Germans get from their taxes and I have never heard/read of any German going bankrupt paying for medical care. We should get off the "socialist demagoguing" and just have a conversation on how much of a social safety net we want and how to pay for it.

Nancy K

Socialism is to Communism as Feudalism is to Capitalism. Most US citizens enjoy the benefits of some degree of socialism, ex. Medicare, Social Security, in some sense the military. Whereas most of us agree that Capitalism when not in the extreme is also very good for society. I believe when everything becomes owned by all or everything is owned by only a few than society as a whole suffers.
I realize this is all stated in a very simplistic way but it makes my point.

Eric Newhill

Eliot,
I can understand true serfs in a hard core feudal system being attracted to socialism. I think it's the wrong answer, but I can understand the attraction to it.

But in our society? We have 1st generation immigrants becoming techie $millionaires and congress people. Same people want to be socialists. Seems like it's all about looking over your neighbor's fence, envy and some other mean spirited attitudes. Everyone who has more than you do got it through cheating, exploiting, stealing. Therefore, you're justified in taking from the subhuman anti-social beasts.

IMO, many self-unaware people are driven by their demons (and too few by their angels). Then they build up complex intellectual systems to disguise what's really motivating them. That is what socialism looks like to me. Communism is just a more starry eyed version of the same. These people deny their own nature and seek to implement a system that makes everyone else deny their nature's too.

rho

Be careful what you wish for. That's not a quote by Confucius, it's out of the 20th century book "Da Tong shu" by Kang Youwei, some kind of eugenicist proto-communist, even according to the generally left-wing Wikipedia:

Kang proposed a utopian future world free of political boundaries and democratically ruled by one central government. In his scheme, the world would be split into rectangular administrative districts, which would be self-governing under a direct democracy but loyal to a central world government.

There would also be the dissolution of racial boundaries. Kang outlines an immensely ambitious eugenics program that would eliminate the "brown and black" racial phenotype after a millennia and lead to the emergence of a fair-skinned homogeneous human race whose members would "be the same color, the same appearance, the same size, and the same intelligence".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kang_Youwei

No wonder Mao loved to quote that guy.

Ed Walsh

Why do the heathen rage? Why bring up this vacuous non-issue as though it is worthy of discussion? (BTW many of the comments thus far submitted and thoughtful and worthwhile. But why allow ourselves to get sucked into a fatuous discussion?)

As always the terminology serves mostly to confuse and misdirect us. Let's drop the economic theory.

If there is any evolving reality here, it concerns the proper area of personal sovereignty versus what should be voluntary concern for our fellow: (citizen, human, family member). Those of us in the personal sovereignty club stand crowded into the tiniest corner of a massive playing field. We have been losing ground and defending smaller and smaller areas for at least my entire life.

Right now, all our defensive positions have been captured, all our flags are in enemy hands. Anyone urging us to take our place on the battle line are just inviting us to fight in someone else's war, for someone else's objectives.

The greatest treachery we have suffered is the substitution of someone else's idea of who is my neighbor, or my brother. They surely don't want me to make a free decision in this area.

This is a non-issue until everything falls apart. Then some players will want to take the field for another go round. Until then, what's the point?

Why do they bring this up? Why do the heathen rage?

Lesly

Socialism and communism mean nothing thanks to the American rightwing generously employing them as interchangeable slurs to score political points. I didn’t bother reading Marx in high school but I remember discussing NAFTA (a treaty I opposed then and now) in a college economics classroom with a farmer’s son who refused to acknowledge that agricultural subsidies is welfare for business because... his father fed people. Food stamps used to buy his father’s food were another matter.

The last time we spoke w/our money manager he told us medical care inflation was higher than the overall rate and was expected to continue climbing. We’re not millionaires but we’re hardly poor. Still I feel we’re not prepared for retirement and I don’t believe people less fortunate or skilled than us should have to work until they drop dead in a first world country.

So yes I’ll support socialist policies like expanding Medicare for all. Anyone can call me a communist for it if they like. My father does because I support Bernie. He didn’t plan his life like I did but feels entitled to schedule “free” health care appointments and receive “free” surgery/rehabilitation because he supports Trump. Cognitive dissonance is a helluva drug.

The Twisted Genius

Andrei, one thing that impressed me about the Soviet Union was their treatment of traditional indigenous cultures of northern Siberia. These usually nomadic people, organized as bands and tribes, were probably the closest thing to communist society that ever existed under the CPSU. These circumpolar peoples were allowed to continue their political and economic structures while being more or less integrated into the Soviet Union. Whether this was a case of benign neglect or a conscious acknowledgement that these people were close to the ideal of communist society, I don't know. As an anthropologist, I see these band and tribal societies as close to a pure form of socialist society, predating capitalism and big C Communism by thousands of years.

Barbara Ann

Eric

The key to understanding what drives these people lies in the fact that their world view is fundamentally utopian and therefore at odds with reality. They see inequality as anathema - an unnatural wrong to be rectified wherever it is found. Rather than striving to make the best of the world as it is, socialists seek to configure a world where striving itself ultimately becomes unnecessary.

Socialism is also a profoundly anti-individualist outlook requiring a very significant role for the state in our lives. It is hence at odds with traditional American values which require a non-invasive state. Trump tweeted something along these lines earlier today in fact. And as for socialism's proponents, it is natural that people from comfortable backgrounds, well insulated from the harsh realities of life, are most susceptible to a belief system which willfully ignores those realities.

Barbara Ann

Patrick Lee Fermor - very good.

Envy yes, but I think this in turn often stems from rootless insecurity, fear caused by feelings of inadequate self-sufficiency (of all kinds) and a resentment of those more at home in their culture and the world.

GeneO

Fred -

Even Tucker C on Fox supports Bernie Sanders's proposed "Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act".

The benefits you claim are for 40 hour/week full-timers. Most of their warehouse workers are part timers. And they are scamming employees by dumping them into a "self-employed independent contractor" role. I've been a contractor myself (construction) and it worked out well for me. But for a warehouse worker or a delivery person who are bound by Amazon's control of the details of how the work is to be performed? That is BS and patently illegal. If I had done that with my workers I'd have faced huge tax penalties. But Bezos has the bucks to get lawyers to weasel-word and blur the reality.

It is why Bezos bought the Washington Post, so he could stop their investigative reporting on his buccaneer employment practices.

And by the way, Amazon pays no income tax yet gets millions in State and Local subsidies - about 2.4 Billion dollars worth.

ambrit

At least in the socialized medical systems, one gets a good chance of obtaining care. In a purely 'private' system, the poor and disadvantaged are left to their own devices, ie. they get to go die when they could have lived. If you prefer to live in such a "red in fang and claw" system, go to it. I prefer the other.
At it's root, this subject is related to the question of the distribution of resources. To that end, I'll ask; "How much is enough?"
About the 'paying' for an American National Health scheme; have you never heard of the MMT? Taxes do not pay for anything at the national level. They are basically a means of carrying out social policy.

ambrit

Sorry Fred, but Amazon is reinventing the sweatshop.
Something pertinent: https://www.newsweek.com/amazon-drivers-warehouse-conditions-workers-complains-jeff-bezos-bernie-1118849

ambrit

Sir;
A quibble if I may.
There is a distinct difference between "full time" employees and "part time" employees. Having done a stint on the retail floor and back rooms of a 'modern' retail company, I can attest to the local management being admonished by 'corporate' to keep as many employees below the 'full time' employment status threshold as possible. Where I worked, the only 'full time' employees were upper and middle management. They were all on salary and required to work at least fifty five and more hours a week for that salary. (This was laid out in black and white in their 'Employee Manual' which I got to read one afternoon.) Stress related 'burn out' was a constant with them. The rest of us had to settle for between fifteen and twenty five hours of work a week. Our schedules were changed every week, so, very few could schedule a second job, unless it was an overnight shift position.
The company of which I speak had been 'acquired' by a consortium of investors and the company management turned over to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
Anyway, the days of Mom and Pop businesses are passing. The New Robber Barons are taking over.

semiconscious

i'd guess that 'corporate socialism' ranks at least at #3 on mainstream media's top 10 'subjects never to be mentioned' list...

Error404

I guess you haven't read the Fed's 2018 survey of household economic well-being which, among other conclusions, determined that 40% of Americans would struggle to cover an unexpected $400 expense?

Error404

The comments here are on the whole erudite and well-argued by people who have thought about the issue, but I think many get lost in the intellectual quagmire surrounding the definition and application of doctrinal labels. After all, one man's social democrat is another man's communist, just as surely as one man's terrorist is.....etc., etc.

By arguing theory and labels we risk overlooking the key question: What type of society do we want to live in? I'm a centre-right European boomer, and these are my high-level preferences:

1/ I want to see a social safety net beneath those who, for whatever reason, need help to meet the basic requirements of life in today's economy.

I do not want to live in the type of winner-takes-all society that appeals to so many in the US. Regretably, the postwar welfare state in Europe has been hijacked in many countries and become a benefits boondoggle. The balance I personally prefer is rarely found.

2/ I want equality of opportunity, and to help on the way to securing this I believe in free healthcare and education (up to tertiary level).

Regretably, the right insists on forcing the 'market' (rarely a true free market) into health and education where it does not belong, whilst the left falsely equates equality of opportunity with equality of outcome.

3/ Other than in sectors basic to human well-being (such as health and education) and sectors where market failure is likely (such as many aspects of basic infrastructure provision), I want free-market capitalism to be allowed to work its magic.

Regretably, the right perverts price discovery with neoliberal crony-ism and too many on the left still hanker after state control over the 'commanding heights'.


So, two final questions:

1/ Am I communist, socialist, social-democrat, capitalist...or what? And does it matter? To many of my ex-university friends I'm well to the right, but quite a few reading this in the US will be thinking something along the lines of 'commie b*****d'.

2/ Given that I'm dissatisfied with what both the traditional right and left have to offer, is it any wonder that I'm among the "surprising number" of regular readers of this excellent site who hanker for change?

AOC and her crew are surely anathema to many, I understand, but perhaps their current profile should be seized as an opportunity to question just what sort of society you guys want your children to live in - without worrying too much about labels such as 'socialist', 'communist', et al. After all, if you risk ending up with a President Bezos or Zuckerburg, it might be worth considering a few alternative approaches now while you still have the chance.

turcopolier

Error 404

The 40% do not lack money. they simply do not save at all. They have a higher life style than is justified by their income. I know many such.

turcopolier

Error 404

You exagerate the "winner take all" character of American society. Your statement ignores such things as Social Security, Medicaid and the state equivalents, federal law that requires hospitals to treat the indigent starting at the emergency room, Food Stamps, etc. Perhaps you should contemplate this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_programs_in_the_United_States

Walrus

There is much confusion here and elsewhere in the media about “socialism” - a catch all term to which most Americans (but not the discerning members of SST) have been trained to growl at like Pavlovs dogs.


There are a number of issues, all deliberately confused by interested parties; Economic reform, including free markets; Social reform, including education and health; and political reform including the power of money in politics. AOC and her well meaning colleagues conflate all of these issues and the resulting mess is seized upon by the usual suspects who then brand any and every effort to reform as “Socialism” and predict that doing anything other than the status quo puts us on the slippery slope to communism.

A few comments:

when Big Capital is threatened with tax increases, that’s “socialism”. Yet when Big Capital goes cap in hand to the Federal Government for a bail out, like the financial sector did, well, that’s not really socialism for reasons that escape me.

Big Capital also screams “free markets”, while doing everything in its power to destroy the same - as we were all taught in business school so to do. In this, they are aided and abetted by their paid for friends in congress.

Health care, apart from some boob jobs and cosmetic dentistry is NOT a free market, therefore Government regulation of the same, including single payer universal healthcare is perfectly reasonable, and works just fine in many countries. The American healthcare lobbies, including the AMA, have done a magnificent job of convincing the average american that anything other than the disgrace they now put up with is not only impossible, but it’s Communism even to think otherwise.

I could go on. The best way to look at it is that there are tremendous opportunities to improve Americas quality of life, and economy, and international reputation if the country doesn’t implode first.



Fred

Charlie Gard would disagree.

Fred

Lars,

After the communist North conquest of the Republic of Vietnam Sweden allow less than 5,000 refugee families into the country. You left out the current leftist government's immigration policy as the cause of what you label "xenophobia".

Eric Newhill

Define "struggle". I don't like to shell out $400 for an unpleasant surprise either. Polls are deceptive. Denotation and connotation are important.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28            
Blog powered by Typepad