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Thread: Democratic socialism [split from: 2008 election thread]

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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Democratic socialism [split from: 2008 election thread]

    I wasn't sure where this fit best: The economic thread or this presidential one. In the end, it probably suits both because of the philosophical connections.

    Anyone else notice that we are heading towards democratic socialism on a worldwide scale? –At least in an economic sense.


    The dreaded "S" word is becoming very acceptable to many who swore to never utter the word.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Let me try to put this optimistically

    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    The dreaded "S" word is becoming very acceptable to many who swore to never utter the word.
    Broadly speaking, globalization of the world's economy has made this situation inevitable. The more the nations of the world capital, labor, and markets become interdependent and intertwined, the more we are forced to realize that we are all Truly In This Together. The evidence is manifest, and we can clearly see that the impact of instability of the banking industry in one part of the world sends enormous repercussions everywhere else (every bit as much as the presence of cheap labor in economically undeveloped parts of the world has impacts everywhere). The idea of 'winning' economically (a cornerstone of militant nationalism/capitalism dating back to the mercantile era is probably (hopefully?) on its way out. Good riddance I say.

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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    Anyone else notice that we are heading towards democratic socialism on a worldwide scale? –At least in an economic sense.

    The dreaded "S" word is becoming very acceptable to many who swore to never utter the word.
    I've noticed. The United States, even with the bailout packages, has so far avoided the philosophical transition. Something like this is to be expected, though. People are quite reactionary, and this is accentuated in economic issues, and many people have a populist distrust of market capitalism because of the change the market espouses in its correctional processes. The easiest solution to ease this mistrust is to turn to some form of democratic socialism or economic fascism. Such transitions were widespread in the 1930's, and from the looks of it many nations seem poised for similar actions presently.

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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    I've noticed. The United States, even with the bailout packages, has so far avoided the philosophical transition. Something like this is to be expected, though. People are quite reactionary, and this is accentuated in economic issues, and many people have a populist distrust of market capitalism because of the change the market espouses in its correctional processes. The easiest solution to ease this mistrust is to turn to some form of democratic socialism or economic fascism. Such transitions were widespread in the 1930's, and from the looks of it many nations seem poised for similar actions presently.
    With this weekends meetings and the US announcing a plan to purchase shares of banks, the socialism...errr nationalism of our finance industry is begining. I've seen rogue articles on non tin-foil hat sites that suggests the American auto industry is heading towards partial nationalism. I'm trying to put my head around all this and my first thoughts are with nationalised economies and private society when are becoming a government serving and supporting capitalism first and the people...maybe. How much direct change has the government provided it's citizens in an effort to protect them. All of the very recent policy is top-down "change" with hopes that it trickles through. I'm wary of this kind of policy and unfortunately don't know of a decent alternative solution.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    The dreaded "S" word is becoming very acceptable to many who swore to never utter the word.
    I assume you just mean "acceptable" to many Americans who swore to never utter the word? Besides the US, and to a lesser extent the UK, Australia, and a few other former British colonies, every other first world country has been moving further towards democratic socialism for a long time.

    The only danger in my mind is the possible move by many of the countries with weaker democratic institutions (former Soviet Republics, a few countries in South America and Asia) towards fascist economies (as TO mentioned). This problem will be very tough to avoid in commodity-dependent countries as the rich countries try to fix their own economies (a dictator is easier to deal with than a weak democratic government). It will be very important for the rich countries to keep an eye on one another.

    I worry there will be an increase in "ends justify the means" talks inside of intelligence agencies - hopefully not to the extent we saw many times during the Cold War, but we'll see.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    With this weekends meetings and the US announcing a plan to purchase shares of banks, the socialism...errr nationalism of our finance industry is begining. I've seen rogue articles on non tin-foil hat sites that suggests the American auto industry is heading towards partial nationalism. I'm trying to put my head around all this and my first thoughts are with nationalised economies and private society when are becoming a government serving and supporting capitalism first and the people...maybe. How much direct change has the government provided it's citizens in an effort to protect them. All of the very recent policy is top-down "change" with hopes that it trickles through. I'm wary of this kind of policy and unfortunately don't know of a decent alternative solution.
    The U.S. has not acted on a proposal from Paulson yet on the partial ownership of banks. Democratic leadership in Congress has been trying to push the idea, but the President hasn't spoken toward it yet. While it appears to be picking up steam, we haven't bridged that gap yet. The auto industry is not nearly as nationalized as our agricultural industry, even with the latest federal assistance. What did you mean by "I'm trying to put my head around all this and my first thoughts are with nationalised economies and private society when are becoming a government serving and supporting capitalism first and the people...maybe"? It's hard to understand the wording. Are you saying that nationalized economies with private societies look toward supporting capitalism first and then, maybe, the people, or vice versa?

    What is the government trying to protect it's citizens from? Market cycles? Socialism has it's own "market" cycles (only, historically, it generally goes in a downward slope direction rather than upward like capitalism has, again historically-speaking).

    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Broadly speaking, globalization of the world's economy has made this situation inevitable. The more the nations of the world capital, labor, and markets become interdependent and intertwined, the more we are forced to realize that we are all Truly In This Together. The evidence is manifest, and we can clearly see that the impact of instability of the banking industry in one part of the world sends enormous repercussions everywhere else (every bit as much as the presence of cheap labor in economically undeveloped parts of the world has impacts everywhere). The idea of 'winning' economically (a cornerstone of militant nationalism/capitalism dating back to the mercantile era is probably (hopefully?) on its way out. Good riddance I say.
    Why does an increasing marketplace automatically result in socialist economies, in your view?
    Last edited by Maister; 13 Oct 2008 at 1:34 PM.

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    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    This discussion is interesting, but I know must say this:

    I voted this morning in my kitchen along side my raisin bran and coffee.

    Have fun standing in line on Nov. 4, Chumps.
    I mailed my ballot in last Wednesday! I agree ZMan
    Satellite City Enabler

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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Why does an increasing marketplace automatically result in socialist economies, in your view?
    It's not so much an increasing marketplace that does it, but the trend of capitalism to find the most productive place to produce, consume, etc - without due regard to political lines in the sand. Politics are still local, for the most part, and political problems (ie regulations) in one area can have dramatic effects on the other side of the globe (in contrast to the past, where products were more locally produced and consumed). This isn't a problem with items that can quickly move from one area to another (production and consumption), but that isn't the case when too much emphasis is pushed to one country or another.

    A simple example is the relationship between the US and China. China is too dependent on the US for consumption and the US is too dependent on China for production. This could maybe be fixed by fewer regulations on both sides, but there are many things that we are unwilling to bend on with almost every country (sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not so much).
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    The U.S. has not acted on a proposal from Paulson yet on the partial ownership of banks. Democratic leadership in Congress has been trying to push the idea, but the President hasn't spoken toward it yet. While it appears to be picking up steam, we haven't bridged that gap yet. The auto industry is not nearly as nationalized as our agricultural industry, even with the latest federal assistance. What did you mean by "I'm trying to put my head around all this and my first thoughts are with nationalised economies and private society when are becoming a government serving and supporting capitalism first and the people...maybe"? It's hard to understand the wording. Are you saying that nationalized economies with private societies look toward supporting capitalism first and then, maybe, the people, or vice versa?

    What is the government trying to protect it's citizens from? Market cycles? Socialism has it's own "market" cycles (only, historically, it generally goes in a downward slope direction rather than upward like capitalism has, again historically-speaking).
    My personal philosophy is that the governmnet should exist to serve and protect the people directly, not indirectly. It's probably flawed, but I'd rather see welfare or bailouts go to the populace rather than constructs like corporations.

    I don't like the idea of the government getting their fingers into the economy even if it results in catastrophic collapse. I want the economic system to work in a mildly regulated and completely governmental incentive free environment. Tax breaks, federal loans/grants, and other financial mechanisms distort the market and, I feel, cause the amplitude of the boom-bust cycle to be exaggerated. I think that with a moderate to heavy hand of government in the economy, new innovation is hampered and protection of the significant players becomes the rule even if it results in substandard service, products, and profitability.

    Re: Nationalism of Banks. http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081013/wall_street.html. The mere announcement of an unapproved plan to have a government stake in private business has caused the markets to jump. This stop-gap is a big problem. It'll probably slow the fall (as you suggested with socialism), but the fall will still occur as the government slowly takes over more of the private business in an effort to keep it from completely crashing. By the time the government can do no more, the crash has already happened-- only over an extended period rather than 1 week.

    And lastly, it just feels like the government is completely bought into the concept of "whatever is good for business, is good for America (i.e. the people)". I disagree with this philosphy. I take the route that what is good for the people, will be good for business. If you put/keep economic power in the hands of the people, we will determine what we want our course to be. I trust the middle class to look out for my(our) interests more than I trust a bunch of oligarchs. Right now, I don't feel my government is working for me as much as it is working for failed or failing businesses.

    My theories have holes, point them out. They are my current philosophies. Whomever we elect, I feel, will not cause "change" to the well-intentioned but ultimately destructive relationship the government has with business.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    My personal philosophy is that the governmnet should exist to serve and protect the people directly, not indirectly. It's probably flawed, but I'd rather see welfare or bailouts go to the populace rather than constructs like corporations.

    I don't like the idea of the government getting their fingers into the economy even if it results in catastrophic collapse. I want the economic system to work in a mildly regulated and completely governmental incentive free environment. Tax breaks, federal loans/grants, and other financial mechanisms distort the market and, I feel, cause the amplitude of the boom-bust cycle to be exaggerated. I think that with a moderate to heavy hand of government in the economy, new innovation is hampered and protection of the significant players becomes the rule even if it results in substandard service, products, and profitability.

    Re: Nationalism of Banks. http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081013/wall_street.html. The mere announcement of an unapproved plan to have a government stake in private business has caused the markets to jump. This stop-gap is a big problem. It'll probably slow the fall (as you suggested with socialism), but the fall will still occur as the government slowly takes over more of the private business in an effort to keep it from completely crashing. By the time the government can do no more, the crash has already happened-- only over an extended period rather than 1 week.

    And lastly, it just feels like the government is completely bought into the concept of "whatever is good for business, is good for America (i.e. the people)". I disagree with this philosphy. I take the route that what is good for the people, will be good for business. If you put/keep economic power in the hands of the people, we will determine what we want our course to be. I trust the middle class to look out for my(our) interests more than I trust a bunch of oligarchs. Right now, I don't feel my government is working for me as much as it is working for failed or failing businesses.

    My theories have holes, point them out. They are my current philosophies. Whomever we elect, I feel, will not cause "change" to the well-intentioned but ultimately destructive relationship the government has with business.
    I do not intend to point out a bunch of holes in your theories. A lot of it was well-put and I think your logic is an honest representation of a majority of Americans (myself included for the most part). However, I just want to ask two follow-up questions: (1) What is the government supposed to be protecting us from, and (2) how to contrast business and government to deduce which is more oligarchical?

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Why does an increasing marketplace automatically result in socialist economies, in your view?
    'inevitable' was perhaps a poor choice of word. I guess the the current banking crisis wouldn't automatically (which the term 'inevitable' implies) result in countries adopting socialist (and and in this context I mean govt. interventionist) economic practices, I simply meant that as the world's economy becomes more interconnected so too our fates also become more intertwined. And that it's incredibly unlikely that any elected government on earth would stand by idly and attempt to do nothing while the world's economy goes down the tubes.

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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    I'm getting way off topic, can this (and prior related posts) be moved to the appropriate thread.

    Off-topic:

    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    I do not intend to point out a bunch of holes in your theories. A lot of it was well-put and I think your logic is an honest representation of a majority of Americans (myself included for the most part). However, I just want to ask two follow-up questions: (1) What is the government supposed to be protecting us from, and (2) how to contrast business and government to deduce which is more oligarchical?
    1) Well, government has a duel and related purpose of serving the populace and protecting us. The extent to which we are served and protected is up for debate. Personally, I expect the government to enact laws and programs that the populace demands and allow for the fulfillment of the tenants of the Constitution. This is where many interpretations are made and are dependent upon personal philosophy. All philosophies have the same end-goal; the debate is how to best get there.

    2) Oligarchy not just in a political sense, but also corporate (plutocracy, I guess). Whenever the interests of the few economically and politically powerful are compelled to take precedence over the contrasted interests of the majority a government is no longer serving its public purpose and has been re-appropriated to be self serving to those in power. I certainly don't expect that the majority is always right nor do I expect that our elected will always make the correct decisions. With the current issues, our elected have completely overlooked the underlying issues or have chosen to ignore them. Less regulation isn't necessarily bad, but a follow-up seemingly consequence free bailout is.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    This has become quite an interesting discussion!

    I think there is a distinction between the kind of large scale national interventions we are seeing around the world now and what we typically mean by Socialism as a form of government. From what I have heard about the US deal to purchase equity in banks, they are not talking about having the government run the bank, install their own CEO or anything like that. The most I have heard in meddling at the administrative level has been limiting executive pay. What this means is that the US Government will serve as the majority shareholder. This of course means we COULD intervene in a more intensive way in the future, But from what I understand, that is not the immediate intent and there may be language introduced to limit just that. I would say this is different from the government acquiring AND running these institutions.

    I had not heard about the auto industry. But I think what I take from all of this is the US realizing the challenges of stimulating and maintaining large scale monetary investments in an uncertain economy, For a long time, the US has been encouraging countries not to intervene in ways just like this. The IMF has encouraged governments to seek private contractors for large scale investments like infrastructure only to find, in some cases, that the projects fail or never come to fruition, or that costs soar as the projects begin.

    To a certain degree, I see this as a wake-up call for the US about the kinds of economic realities that other, less stable national economies face. I hope that it can help shift the discussions on how best to promote effective economic reforms abroad. Our markets, after all, are not really “free.’ There exists a heck of a lot of regulation, subsidies, tariffs and other strategies such as those that protect national industries from going under if they competed directly (steel, cotton, etc.). It may be that economies at different stages of development and dealing with different socio-political realities benefit from different styles of “management.” I do not believe there is a one-size-ftis-all or universal strategy that will work in all situations. Seems we’re learning that the hard way now…
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    I'm getting way off topic, can this (and prior related posts) be moved to the appropriate thread.
    Moderator note:
    Split from 2008 Presidential Election Thread. Carry on!
    Je suis Charlie

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    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    To a certain degree, I see this as a wake-up call for the US about the kinds of economic realities that other, less stable national economies face. I hope that it can help shift the discussions on how best to promote effective economic reforms abroad. Our markets, after all, are not really “free.’ There exists a heck of a lot of regulation, subsidies, tariffs and other strategies such as those that protect national industries from going under if they competed directly (steel, cotton, etc.). It may be that economies at different stages of development and dealing with different socio-political realities benefit from different styles of “management.” I do not believe there is a one-size-ftis-all or universal strategy that will work in all situations. Seems we’re learning that the hard way now…
    I agree with everything you've said here.

    I've long thought that the views of many in the US singing the unqualified praises for "free" markets were simply the result of history - the US was able to remain insular in many ways for much longer than every other developed country because of geography and access to resources (we are easily the most resource rich country on the planet). We simply didn't need the rest of the world like other countries did. For the most part we didn't have colonies like most of the Europeans or vast trading enterprises like the Japanese. Free markets are much easier to maintain when all operations occur under the same flag and rules, but nearly impossible when the rules are different in areas within the same market (and the globe is one market now in many ways).

    Over the last 100 years, we've put many restrictions on the free market (ignoring the direct interferences like subsidies and tariffs) like minimum wage laws, child labor laws, anti-discrimination laws, OSHA, etc, etc, etc. These worked fine in the 40's, 50's, and 60's, when the vast majority of our trade was with countries with similar values and laws (and the same level of development). Over the past 30 years, we've opened up our markets to overseas markets that do not have the same social values. The free market isn't the largest force pushing manufacturing to China and other countries - government intervention (and lack thereof) is the major force. For the most part, we've prioritized freer trade above spreading our values around the globe. (We're not alone in this, of course - the Europeans and Japanese haven't done much better). We've also used our military might to uphold regimes in many places to support our domestic interests, even though the regime was clearly not upholding the values that we hold dear at home.

    I don't have an answer to this problem. I am a proponent of free trade, in many cases. However, I also feel that tariffs and trade agreements are powerful ways to spread our values to the rest of the world - again, if used correctly. I don't know what the best balance is. The policies that we've had have clearly helped hundreds of millions escape poverty - but have increased instability in many other ways and given a vast amount of power to some not-so-great leaders.
    Last edited by CJC; 13 Oct 2008 at 6:28 PM.
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