Monday, September 08, 2008

Comparing Politics

I took a Comparative Political Systems class in college but that was years ago so I went out on Wiki and did a little refresher.  I decided to post some major highlights and what I was looking at.  

Communism

Promotes a classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the means of production in general.
Generally considered to be a branch of socialism however...see below.
A theory of communism is the only way to solve the problems that come from capitalism, imperialism and nationalism is for the working class to replace the wealthy class (the ruling class) and establish a peaceful, free society, without class or government.

Okay, in theory.  Communism sounds like a great socioeconomic system.  In theory.  In practice, it has not worked.  I really don't understand why this political theory has gotten so much flak that it does other than that fact that most of the people that oppose are such gung-ho capitalist they can't fathom a world where there is no separation between wealthy and poverty.

Socialism

Economic theory of social organization that advocates state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.   
From what I can remember, I always thought that socialism was the system of government in which the government itself owned and administered the means of production (while in a community system, in theory, the people collectively owned it).

It seems to me that socialism is a very broad term and I'm not really sure I can really nail it down to one specific set of rules or theory.

Capitalism

The economic system where all the means of production are owned privately and operated for profit.  There is a term used quite often when talking about capitalism and that term is free market.  Free market basically refers to a market where property rights are voluntarily exchanged at a price arranged completely between buyers and sellers.

Okay, this is what I have to say about this.  First of all, that last part about free market.  Apparently we do not live in a free market system even though a lot of people may think we do.  The reason I think this is because we do not live in a society where the price of goods are arranged between buyers and sellers.  What have you ever bought anywhere that you have already agreed to a pre-arranged price with the seller?  Next time someone tells you we live in a free market system ask them when the last time was that they had a part in the decision making process of how much they would have to pay for gas, or groceries, etc.

Furthermore, I can't really see anything good about a system where the entire economy is determined by profit.  The only people that benefit from this type of system are the people that have all of the money.  There are those who might say that in this sort of system, the hope of a better financial system forces (for lack of a better term) people to work harder in order to achieve that goal.  I personally think that this theory is a load of crap.

I think in a system like this there are always going to be super wealthy people that could give a crap less about anyone else (there are a few minor exceptions) and there are going to be people starving and begging for their next meal.

Anarchism

This isn't really a system of government.  It is quite the opposite.  It is actually a political philosophy that supports the idea of completely eliminating compulsory government (or abolishing the state).

To me, this is similar to the idea of communism in that both believe that all there should be no private property. That is, all goods and services should be collectively owned by the people, not by any private company or individual or by the government itself. 


 

6 comments:

  1. I'd like to point out that these terms, "communism," "socialism," "capitalism," and "anarchism," are very often misunderstood by most people. With that in mind, I'm going to offer a few comments.

    On Communism:

    "Okay, in theory. Communism sounds like a great socioeconomic system. In theory. In practice, it has not worked."

    It's never been tried, at least not on any large scale within the past couple of hundred years. Every Communist regime one can name were not really communists. Most of them were state capitalists. They were all totalitarian. This issue is always particularly thorny to people who advocate libertarian, or free communism, as I do, because when I say "communism" most people can think only of Russia's state capitalist totalitarianism. And it's almost impossible to get them to understand what "libertarian communism" means. This becomes very frustrating very quickly.

    On Socialism:

    "It seems to me that socialism is a very broad term and I'm not really sure I can really nail it down to one specific set of rules or theory."

    Good answer! Seriously. Socialism is another thing people like to claim doesn't work, when in reality, it too has only been tried in bastardized form, at least in recent history. The idea behind socialism is that society runs their own life, which is the reason libertarian socialists will tell you that "authoritarian socialism" is an oxymoron. It can't be social-ism if it's dictated from above. Still, for lack of a better term, we run with it, differentiating, as with communism, between the libertarian and authoritarian strands.

    On Capitalism:

    The main reason our system can't be described as "free market" is because their is government intervention. A truly free market has no government intervention. But free markets are not exclusive to capitalism. The original form of anarchism, "mutualism," has a free market economy as well. The difference is that under mutualism, people do not employ others at wages. In other words, things are bought and sold, but no one is exploited in the process.

    "I think in a system like this there are always going to be super wealthy people that could give a crap less about anyone else (there are a few minor exceptions) and there are going to be people starving and begging for their next meal."

    I agree, but for me the main problem is simple injustice. It's just not right for one person to work eight hours, no matter what his job is, and earn ten thousand times as much as some other person working eight hours. The only way this happens is through sheer robbery: many people do the work, some other person collects. We've got all the food, housing, and clothing we need, yet there are homeless people in rags starving in our streets. It's disgusting.

    On Anarchism:

    "This isn't really a system of government. It is quite the opposite. It is actually a political philosophy that supports the idea of completely eliminating compulsory government (or abolishing the state)."

    I have a bit of a semantic quibble here. Government simply means that something is governed. And anarchists certainly want a governed society. They do not want chaos. However, they don't want government from above. They want self-government.

    "To me, this is similar to the idea of communism in that both believe that all there should be no private property. That is, all goods and services should be collectively owned by the people, not by any private company or individual or by the government itself."

    And that's why the vast majority of anarchists have been communists as well.

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  2. You are right Danny. Communism in its actual form has never actually been tried although there are several governments out there that claim to be communists.

    To me, all the people that come down so hard on communism are one of two groups: the first, people who actually know what it is and would rather make a profit and the idea of sharing things with the community leave a bad taste in their mouth, that is, people that are happy with the fact that 10% of the people have 90% of the wealth. The second group, however, are people that are just flat out ignorant and don't know what communism really is. They basically just think of communism as the big red menace and don't know why they think that other than the fact that their leaders have told them that it is bad.

    As far as your comments on socialism go, I apparently really need to do some more reading on it because I am totally wrong about what I thought it was. I honestly thought that socialism just meant that everything is owned and controlled by the government. How wrong that seems now.

    Not much to respond to on the capitalism thing other than....yup.

    In regards to your thoughts on my bit about anarchism.......I feel I need to rephrase myself. In each instance I was speaking about anarchism attitude toward government, I was actually using the wrong word. When I say government, I really mean the state. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression with what I was trying to say.

    Thanks for responding Danny.

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  3. No need for apologies!

    As for state vs. government, yeah, there is definitely a distinction. But anarchists are the only people I know of who are sticklers on that. I conflate the two, generally, because I'm usually talking to people who do the same.

    Socialism simply means that production is not private. So it can belong to the state or the people. This is kind of confusing, because most states claim to be "of the people," which is utterly false, impossible even.

    When most people say "socialism," they are talking about those nations in Europe with high taxes, free health care, and sometimes even college educations, and terrific welfare systems.

    We're indoctrinated to hate those systems, simply because the more you can pump that so-called "rugged individualism" bullshit into people, the more you can cut all their programs, so that the rich people can keep more of their tax money. Also, a people divided won't unionize.

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  4. Okay, so anytime I am talking about the government, you'll know what I mean. :)

    Okay, so socialism is much more broad than I always thought. Wow, learn something new every day. And to think that my college professor could have been *shivers* wrong?!? LOL!

    So if the term socialism so broad as to just mean non-private..uhm...well two things. Everything not being privatized sounds okay with me. And also, our government consistently talks about not wanting to be socialist while at the same time tries to make things controlled by the government instead of private?!? WTH? Double talk much?

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  5. Yeah, anytime someone from the U.S. talks bad about socialism, I point out that they don't seem to have a problem with free schools, subsidized universities, public roads, fire departments, social security, MEDICARE, and the subsidies that make much of our food so cheap. Those are all socialist programs.

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  6. Very good point. That shows how ignorant of the situation people really are.

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