What is Socialism, Communism, etc?

Discussion in 'World News, Current Events & Politics' started by TerribleTy27, Aug 27, 2018.

  1. TerribleTy27
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    TerribleTy27 GBAtemp Regular

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    I'm working on an article about what Socialism, Communism, And Capitalism actually are. I would really appreciate it if some of you could give your opinions on what you think said systems are; their definition. With sources, if you're basing your definition off a book or something. However, your opinion is fine if you can't find any cites.
     
    Last edited by TerribleTy27, Aug 27, 2018
  2. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Is it an opinion based question? There are occasionally books codifying such things, historical implementations (though some question this -- see "there has never been true communism" type lines) and dictionaries (I will leave aside the prescriptive vs descriptive debate for now). You also almost immediately run into either a definitions debate or splintering of ideals; for communism then marxist, maoist, stalinist, leninist, all the smaller twists on the concept as well as the equivalent of non denominational..., for capitalism then the obvious first place to start is laissez-faire capitalism but top-down and bottom-up are also things to note, socialism again varies somewhat (never mind things like national socialism).

    I guess you could ask for someone's understanding which might be interesting as such things seem to get a bit warped (presently news seems to love it but the story of the various red scares in the US, or the continuum as it mainly only had a brief hiatus for the US' involvement in world war 2) -- I have had people tell me that government provided healthcare free to all at point of service is communism, though they probably meant socialism if they were using words as they are typically defined and what I found their underlying point to be.

    Or if you are asking for sources are you seeking me produce something like "this is what communism is, here is a daily stormer article on the matter"/"everybody is a nazi, the huffington post told me so"?
     
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  3. TerribleTy27
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    TerribleTy27 GBAtemp Regular

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    Looks like I misworded my post. I wanted y'all to give your opinion on what you think they (socialism, communism) are. If your basing your opinion off a definition or book, then cite it.
     
  4. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I am still at a loss.

    I can give you my opinion on what a good person is, a smart person, a lazy person and my reasoning which underpins those, and there are a few hazier concepts that will bring in linguistics. This however seems fairly straightforward if there are nice dictionaries I can look at. There are fuzzy edges of some things and others might be a bit of a spectrum at times if we are looking at real world* rather than theoretical definitions and ideals. I could possibly drill down into some of those and figure out the core tenets of belief that underpin those (for communism for instance it would probably involve pondering the phrase "the means of production" which is so often trotted out, possibly before contemplating the idea of class) to give a more expansive answer than the typical/classical dictionary affords. I could come the other way and do conversation shut down style "social healthcare is communism" type lines but that would not be very productive, nor representative of myself and preferred approach to the world.

    *I would probably say there never has been true large scale communism as envisioned by Mr Marx, mainly as the biology and pyschology of humans renders it an impossibility and instead you inevitably end up with an authoritarian dictatorship under a strongman. If however you ask "under communism what were the population growth rates of these countries" I am not going to say there has never been one so can't be answered, instead I will know what you mean and go look up census records and other population measurement techniques for the relevant time periods.
     
  5. Spoda

    Spoda Advanced Member

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    Communism = hate rich people

    Capitalism = hate poor people
     
  6. TerribleTy27
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    TerribleTy27 GBAtemp Regular

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    First of all: I'm not asking this because I don't know what socialism is, I'm asking this because I'm curious about the common misconceptions people have about socialism communism etc.

    Second of all: it's a lot fuzzier then just looking the word up in a dictionary. There are lots of different forms of socialism; Socialism as an ideology, Socialism as a governing system etc. And that doesn't even touch upon the weird thing people have for calling literally everything socialist when it's really capitalist policies with a dash of socialism.

    — Posts automatically merged - Please don't double post! —

    Basically, I'm just curious about what the assumptions are when it comes to socialism. I'm asking what you think it is.
     
    Last edited by TerribleTy27, Aug 27, 2018
  7. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    So you are asking my opinion on the merits and downsides of those concepts, possibly with examples of policies that they would enact or give rise to (including within systems not explicitly one of those). Preferably from the top of my head rather than anything particularly considered. That is a different question to "opinions on what you think said systems are; their definition". Similarly I never thought you were trying to get us to do your homework, just that you were asking a question clumsily (or perhaps not and were trying to cast a net to catch the frothing at the mouth types).

    People or US people? I tend to observe that kind of behaviour in US based/raised peeps. Goes back quite far as well (I have a lovely book from the 30s/40s featuring it extensively, and it goes back basically to the Russian revolution) whereas I get the impression most people outside it view the 1950s style anti communist stuff as almost a parody or fit for a caricature.

    Dictionary works for me here. A classical large book of words and 2 lines/maybe a paragraph is rather limiting if you go solely based on that but modern electronic affairs that are almost closer to encyclopaedias do far better.
     
  8. TerribleTy27
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    TerribleTy27 GBAtemp Regular

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    I'm genuinely confused here. I'm asking you what you think it is. That's it.

    Jeff: hey Bob wats socialism?

    Bob: Socialism is the name given to a group of economic policies that are designed to give power to the worker blah blah blah
     
  9. CallmeBerto

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    socialism - pure 100% utopian BS that can never work and will never work. The reason it fails is because it fails at both basic economics and human nature.

    communism - basically the same as socialism, and yes I know technically communism hasn't been tried. Doesn't matter since it still fails at both basic economics and human nature which is why it would end the same way.

    Capitalism - The greatest form of economics ever. The ONLY system that has ever brought so much wealth and prosperity to everyone. oh and the USA hasn't been free market capitalist since the 50's. You know it is funny how many people shit on Capitalism when if they looked at it is Government screwing everything up.
     
  10. Taleweaver

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    Hmm...I can undoubtedly quote wikipedia or some other sources on what the terms REALLY mean, but you can obviously do so as well. So with the risk of being totally off (I really hope not :shy: ) , I'll go from the top of my head...

    In any case, I'm presenting the main view behind the ideology. I'm unsure to what degree countries truly were ever able to implement these (assuming they wanted to in the first place), so it might sound a bit caricatural.


    Communism is where the country owns everything. You can't have personal possessions other than what's been granted to you by the state. At least in theory, said state treats everyone as equals and distributes wealth among its citizens, regardless of their worth. While this effectively prevents the rich from getting a stranglehold upon the rest of society, it also removes any motivation people have to excel at anything.

    Capitalism is the direct opposite: the individual owns everything and the government is practically non-existent. Taxes are low and only really serve for the most basic of basics. As such, talented individuals have the most to gain by working hard. The main problem with it is that it's like playing a sports match where the referee's vote is worth less than the player's. In other words: companies can grow to such sizes that they effectively hinder competition to grow to the levels they've grown to.

    Socialism is somewhere in the middle ground between the two. It has a strong government, but one that is in service to the general public. Services that are deemed a necessity are facilitated or sponsored by the government (medics, schools, ...) but only partially owned by them. They also meddle in the business world in the sense that the benefit of the many outweigh those of the few. In other words: environmental restrictions, anti-monopoly laws, ethical laws and things like that. The main problem would be that it's hard to define. Is internet deemed a necessity in today's world, or is it a luxury? If culture and religion should be preserved, should that also go for the Flying Spaghetti monster? And so on...

    My vision is most likely blurred by my own preference (the latter). Nevertheless, I feel that this gives at least a broad overview of the differences between 'em.
     
  11. TerribleTy27
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    TerribleTy27 GBAtemp Regular

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    This is an interesting answer, but it kinda jumps the shark on certain areas.

    Here's the real definition, if you're curious:
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
     
    Last edited by TerribleTy27, Aug 27, 2018
  12. FAST6191

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    I would still maintain the earlier stuff about opinions on what something with a broadly accepted definition is a strange question. At best you would get essentially quoted talking points rather than anything particularly salient or considered.

    Still

    Communism. While there were some works than undoubtedly influenced him, to say nothing of European politics and empiricism at the time, then one Mr Karl Marx in the mid 1800s wrote some things called The Communist Manifesto, and another called Das Kapital. These would form the underlying framework for the overwhelming majority of takes on communism but there are also an awful lot of later works. In the idealised form it describes a system of government in which there are no classes, no real need for money/currency and everything is created and distributed according to need. Practically as there are free riders, human brains say "get what you can as there might be starvation coming up", human brains that say "me then my family then my tribe then my town then my country are how the list of important groups go", and unless everybody operates under the system you are going to be ridden roughshod over by others unless you are isolated (which does not work) then that gets tricky to implement. To that end in places it was attempted to be implemented then serious social controls were put in place to try to break the former and policies to spread things with a goal of worldwide communism were also enacted.
    Unlike what Marx predicted it was first attempted to be enacted by the Russians in their revolution as the communist forces were the victorious party (of several) in that, they then also got to be a driving force in such things (nowhere else of suitable wealth independently became communist it would seem). It would be tempting to discuss world war 2, world war 1, China, the Sino-Soviet split, the fall of the Berlin wall and more at this point but I shall spare us that.

    This loss of individual property, individual rights and such was pretty antithetical to the approaches favoured by the rest of the world, and fundamental animal biology, made all the worse by the conditions endured by those under the nominally communist systems. This would be most exemplified in the USA, which by the 1950s was one of the two superpowers at play (World War 2 having finished off the British Empire, the other European empires having more or less crumbled as a result of world war 1 and other things), and positioned itself as something of the complete opposite to the communist USSR. The legacy of this policy lasted a very long time and still influences at least rhetoric today (many politicians having been created then still serving today and people don't tend to change too much after they reach typical politician age), far far more so than the parts of Europe that were not under the control of communist forces and even a fair few of those as well. To that end I do occasionally have to try to discern if the person I am speaking to has a USA type mindset about such things as we might be operating with rather different definitions for similar terms and possibly even being very similar in moral philosophy.

    Socialism. One Mr Marx is again a major early player but serious tweaks have happened since then and we then get to play define hundreds of terms and cover even more history if we want to start there. A broad/common unifying theme would involve the collectivisation of various things, be it from a central authority (aka government) or more local groupings. Some would view it as a watered down version of communism (many envisioning it as a stepping stone), others would view takes on it as necessary if we are reasonably going to say we value general human health, wellbeing and happiness but explicitly not have the goal of ending up under communism. As those are somewhat opposing in core philosophy we get the first of the term debates, and that can sometimes generate entirely different terms (various Nordic countries right now exclaiming they are not socialist when various US politicians attempt to refer to them as such). Other debates would include anarchism (another semi-related system that I would say human nature does not permit), the extent of states permissible under various takes (some are quite happy to have states, others would abolish them) and a whole load of other things. Said tweaks also often manifest themselves in the form of words prepended or appended to the base term, confusingly so at times (there being notable differences between democratic socialism and social democracy).

    Capitalism. A process in which people seek to create wealth by means of trade, manufacture and production. While groupings within it are possible, and possibly even necessary given human biology, the individual, as opposed to the collective, is held in incredibly high regard within it. Much like there never being pure communism implemented you tend to also find there is no pure capitalism either. Pure capitalism is typically viewed as incredibly harsh (do or die/law of the jungle sort of thing) so most places will implement some kind of safety net to allow individuals that can't, or won't, do to that extent to still thrive to some degree (thrive might be too strong a goal for some). The reasoning for this varies (for some it is purely selfish, and it is nice to be reasonably sure essentially everybody you meet has been taught things enough to allow meaningful interactions, and for others it would stem from some form of ethics -- humans don't like to see other humans, much less members of their tribe, suffer). The extent of these policies then being debated endlessly in political circles, mainly as funding such things can't be done for nothing and that necessarily means forcefully taking things away from people, something many would say you want to limit doing if you can.
    For me an interesting crack is the extent of automation and aspects of technology. For most or recorded history then maximum profit ratios to employee numbers were about the same, whereas looking at major companies today and extrapolating out to the future of others then it represents something of a shift here.
    Some would want to view capitalism as the opposite of communism, I would probably say that is a simplification too far (simplification being a perennial problem in such discussions). A good contrast might be to compare Islam to one of the Christian religions -- the former has shifted but started out as a manual on how to run a society, the latter was a collection of cool stories and the means of running a society was built up around that in some cases or at least with the aid of it.

    All three are but aspects of governing systems. Some prefer models using spectrums, others circles ("do as we say" being a feature commonly seen in nominally communist countries and those following the opposite philosophies), others graphs, some would look at fundamental notions, some would look at results, some would look to various models of ethics, some would ponder the extent of government permissible or desirable, some would look at religions (they are not yet a historical concept) and the list goes on. Different places usually have different talking points as well, often mirroring pressing local concerns or some form of historical concern that took on a larger than life element.
     
  13. Taleweaver

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    Okay, I'll bite: what makes your definition the "real" definition? :)

    I'll admit that I've read that definition of capitalism somewhere, but really...that's at best an ideological definition. That 'free market' capitalism is what rules the world these days. Even more so than the actual countries in a lot of ways.
     
    Last edited by Taleweaver, Aug 27, 2018
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  14. TotalInsanity4

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    Your "real" definition of socialism is still closer to communism than anything else. The defining trait of socialism that the other economic systems don't have is that under socialism, citizens pay a tax that is then used to fund programs that said citizens can take advantage of and are owned by the public as a whole. I suppose you could argue that under true socialism, EVERYTHING is owned by the public, but your answer (as I see it) is a weird bastardization of true communism (people own means of production and labor, not any one person) and capitalism (individual industries under separate ownership).
     
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  15. TerribleTy27
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    It's real cuz I make it real ;)

    In all seriousness, I've worked in the political and economic fields for years, so I know the academic definitions at least. But I'll admit, calling it real was probably just ego-blowing on my side

    Anyway heres some sources if you still need it.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!

    I did oversimplify, but you did too. Nearly all forms of socialism focus on either public ownership of some kind, or they focus on, as I said, workers owning the places they work at. I tend to encounter the latter far more often so I didn't mention the former.

    But besides that, socialism is a massive school of thought, with hundreds of variations across the world. There really is no right definition.

    Totalinsanity, I am curious as to why you honed in on the taxing bit. Did you live in a socialist country and that's how they described themselves?
     
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  16. KingVamp

    KingVamp Haaah-hahahaha!

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    There's also resource-based economy.

    Now I'm wondering what you think socialism is.
     
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  17. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    I live in the US, so like

    I guess?
     
  18. Spoda

    Spoda Advanced Member

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    Socialism = hate powerful people
     
  19. Hanafuda

    Hanafuda GBAtemp Addict

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    Nice folks.



     
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  20. CallmeBerto

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    Ummmm ok?

    Yeah I would agree those people are garbage but what does that have to do with this topic?

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    ech more like

    Socialism = hate the winners in life.
     
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