Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Socialism vs. Communism


Your comments on Socialism vs. Communism are accurate, from what I've been reading.

Basically, Socialism is the notion that the community should own and control the means of production and the distribution of wealth.

Communism takes that idea further, taking most (all?) private property away from the individual, turning it over to the state. Bad idea.

From my view, Communism goes too far, because who can trust the State to behave equitably?

Like Communism, Capitalism can go too far as well, and should be resisted at certain points. For example, there are multi-billion-dollar conglomerates that own many (most?) of the companies in the world. When this happens, you have too much power in the hands of too few.

For example, there is a company called Diageo that owns Tanqueray, Bailey's, Guinness, Smirnoff, and several other brands. This is not unusual (I read a book about these conglomerates several years ago...The bottom line is that it's hard to compete against these investment companies, so we don't see many new brands [except for wineries]).

Isn't it ironic? Competition is at the heart of Capitalism, but Capitalism, taken to its extreme, becomes Communism, where a few big companies take control, making decisions that effect everyone.

Personally, I like a blend of Socialism and Capitalism. It's good to have State Parks, for example, don't you think? And it's good to have the Allegheny National Forest as public lands (rather than some rich dude's 500,000 acre estate).

At the same time, it's important for average people to own their own homes and their own plots of land. Private ownership is critical to personal liberty. It is also critical for the economy.




Ralph said...

Capitalism taken too far turns into facism, which is kind of a cross-relative of communism. They seem like polar opposites, but really both result in a ruling elite and almost no rights for the common man. I think that's how it works at least.

As for the concept of private property, I still have a tough time coming to grips with that. I need to work on that though as it's a part of our society developed through years of traditions and laws. I guess in a perfect world everybody would respect and share everything, but, alas, the eternal bummer of not living in a perfect world.



DrD said...

Facism...yes, that's the term I was looking for. Good work.

The concept of private property was foreign to the Native Americans, as well. Chief Seattle, in particular, is famous for the line, "How can you own the sea, the sky? The idea is strange to us."

I share this view.

In a perfect world, we would share the wealth and look after the needs of others, but that's how it's done under Capitalism.

Plus, the US was founded on self-interest, so the private property thing isn't going away any time soon.


Ralph said...

I'm not sure the original purpose of founders was to create a land where people could pursue "self-interest." In fact, I think they were quite a bit more community-minded than that. However, I will say the country has unforuntately evolved toward the pursuit of self-interest...


DrD said...

Yes, you're right, the Founding Fathers were community-minded. That's the ideal they were striving for.

It's ironic because the Hard Right in this country today holds up the FFs as absolute free-market, social conservatives, but I don't think that's true.

They knew that the power to rule must derive from a mandate from the people, not from a king, or the military, or from who has the most money.

However, while the Founding Fathers were working on their excellent documents, European "entrepreneurs" were simultaneously taking land by force from Native Americans and Mexicans.

They were slaughtering humans and buffalo and anything else that got in their way--and they had the blessing of the US government to do so (in the name of "expansionism" and "Manifest Destiny").

In addition, the African slave trade was producing vast wealth for white landowners and nobody seemed to have a problem with it for many decades.

Owning another human being so that you can make money...Jeepers, talk about unbridled self-interest...

So, while our founding documents are filled with phrases like "we, the people," there is also the reality that this country, in many practical ways, was founded on relatively crooked self-interest.

After all, this is the place where you can get away with murder as long as you have a good lawyer.

Therefore, I won't argue that the FFs founded the country on self-interest; however, I will argue that it is not a new phenomenon and that "entrepreneurial self-interest" has been an ongoing European endeavor in these lands since the days of Cortez.


Ralph said...

Well, yes there is the whole issue of all me being created equal as long as you were white, European and Protestent. But,if you were part of that community, well, then you had the support of your brothers.


rhino said...

Ralph said:

Capitalism taken too far turns into facism [sic], which is kind of a cross-relative of communism. They seem like polar opposites, but really both result in a ruling elite and almost no rights for the common man. I think that's how it works at least.

I would say that, although this is an insightful observation, it ignores the fact that actual communism advocates the creation of a stateless, classless society--far from the ideals of fascism. The bit about private property that Marx speaks of only refers to property that relates to the means of production: communists are much less concerned about your personal car than they are about the factory that made it. And instead of turning that factory over to the state, some communists would argue that they want to turn it over to the workers that actually make the cars (ie, not the business-owner who owns the car company). However, this specific example is more characteristic of socialism.

With this in mind, there have never been any truly communist countries; the USSR, China, North Korea, Cuba, etc. have never espoused authentic communism, despite however they may refer to themselves, because if they were truly communist there wouldn't be a leader or government in the first place.

rhino said...

However, I do applaud you for taking on a subject that is often grossly misunderstood and avoided, particularly here in America.

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