Economics

Reason.tv: The Meaning of Socialism

Interview with National Review's Kevin Williamson

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What's the real definition of socialism? How is it distinct from regulation and a social welfare state? Why are intellectuals still enamored of a system that brought us Stalin, Hitler, and more recently Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong-Il? And what can the United States learn from Sweden about free enterprise and capitalism?

Reason.tv's Nick Gillespie sat down with Kevin Williamson, who is deputy managing editor of National Review and author of a new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, to discuss the meaning of socialism in history and the current moment.

About 5.30 minutes.

Camera by Jim Epstein and Anthony Fisher; edited by Epstein.

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  1. “…but a true socialist government has never been attempted…””

    1. But REAL libertarianism isn’t being followed anywhere…

      1. WTF?!?!?

  2. The public providing of a non-public good, no value judgments built into that at all!

    1. Care to provide a definition with absolutely no value judgments built into it?

      Seems like a partial definition of what socialism is.

      1. There’s a pretty good economic definite of “public good,” which is a good that is non-excludable and non-rivalrous in consumption. It’s not really a question of whether we think something is good, or something that the public might like.

  3. That’s not socialism, that’s just socialistic tendencies…

    Jesus could there be a less careful thought process.

    The first mistake was thinking anyone associated with National Review was going to give a careful, thoughtful discussion of socialism.

    1. Do you aprove of the traditional definition. “State ownership of the means of production.”?

      1. I think that is a good one, and it entails central planning I would think.

        1. It would have to.

          1. I totally want to try state ownership without centralized planning.

            Just to fuck with people.

        2. I was thinking Socialism had more to do with swanky $3,000/night NY hotels and forced intercourse with the help.

          1. It takes a village to rape a maid.

            1. and it’s okay as long as the right people are doing the rape.

              1. Top.Men.

            2. From each according to his ability to rape–to each according to her need to get raped.

      2. How about: “political control of resources”?

        1. Fascism is “State control of the means of production”. Your definition sounds closer to fascism to me. But it is a good point that these traditional definitions don’t say anything about the ownership of resources.

          1. Ownership implies control.

            Fascism is political direction of privately owned means of production, while socialism implies collective ownership of the means of production.

            In either case of fascism, ownership doesn’t mean much except maybe those who are private owners are better off than workers.

            But why should we have to waste energy over arguing the fine details?

    2. There’s a thoughtful discussion of a collectivist ideology? Collectivism is inherently atavistic. Nothing thoughtful about it.

    3. Western European socialism is $3000 a night hotels, glamorous lifestyle and hot and cold running maids.

      Well, running maids. I don’t know why they run. Sacrebleu! Why did she have to run!

  4. The true meaning of socialism, Obamacare edition.

  5. “Professional adolescence” is as good an explanation as any for the appeal of Socialism, I suppose. Extending into adulthood that period when your needs were provided for you, giving you time for selfish pursuits. I think also the idea of the State as an all-knowing god is comforting to many. Additionally, the power for those actually in control of central planning would be appealing. So many factors.

    But I will never forgive this author for Dawson’s Creek.

    1. I don’t think you need all the psycho-babble, it’s intuitive to think that if something is carefully planned it will be better than if it is not. This is why Smith et al.’s ideas are so powerful, because they are counterintuitive but largely true.

      1. I suppose that comes down to whether a person defines himself primarily as an individual or as part of a group. In this debate, “planning” isn’t the key word in “central planning”.

        1. That brings up an interesting point. It kind of makes sense to phrase it the way MNG did when you hold “the group” as the standard of value. The interesting part is that Adam Smith didn’t hold “the individual” as the political standard of value either. He though about it just like MNG said. He believed free markets to be the best way to provide for the group. That’s why you always hear talk of the “market failing” us. If you justify your freedom by explaining how your freedom will always benefit the group and stabilize prices, then the abolition of your freedom is always just one high priced grocery item away.

          1. I think its better to say that Smith had this nutty idea that things should be judged by how they impact actual human welfare rather than some quasi-cosmic standard that exists apart from that.

            1. Individuals are cosmic and not human?

      2. This is why Smith et al.’s ideas are so powerful

        Fuck even the atheist libs are marginalizing me.

        et al.?!?!?!

        Natural selection invented the fucking eyeball!!! and all i get is et al.?!?!??!

    2. Nah! All you need to explain the appeal of socialism is to explain the appeal of getting someone to bonk your neighbor on the head so you can take his stuff.

  6. It’s also pretty inherent in humans to be skeptical of inequality. We all know people who seem to have more than others who don’t seem to deserve it and that rankles most people, it seems to be inherently human. Irving Howe once said that is the beginning of any socialist.

    1. Is this due to our tribal nature? By that I mean that for 95% of human existence we lived in small, family-oriented tribes, so it was easier to be “fair” and “spread the wealth.” Also accountability was much easier (maybe). People may still unconsciously think like that, but try to extend the tribal impulses onto millions of people occupying whole continents.

      1. I would put this up to our tribal beginings. Imagine you’re in a band of hunters, you have a bad day of hunting but someone has a good day of hunting. If he doesn’t share some of the food then you go hungry and this weakens the tribe as a whole and survival chances decreases for everyone. Sure the better hunter gets the better cuts, status and yes women but everyone shares in the success.
        This domestic virtue of sharing may not scale up but the emotional impluses still exist.

        1. On a small, tribal level, in the wild, the “it takes a village” mentality makes sense, to a degree, as a matter of self-preservation. When you’re talking about a small group, trying to survive in the wild, each person needs the others to assure their mutual survival. I can’t protect the wimmens and chilluns myself and also prepare the shelter and also hunt and procure the food and also prepare the food and also fight off predators or enemy tribes. So if I get a good hunt, I share it with you and next time if you get a good hunt, you share it with me, and we both benefit and the tribe benefits.

          But in modern American society, when we’re talking about General Motors or Boeing, that concept is not scalable.

          1. “When you’re talking about a small group”

            There is no group, only persons.

            1. That’s what just said and you acted like I was spewing Deepak Chopra.

            2. There is no group, only persons.

              I’ll keep that in mind when we’re shipwrecked or plane crashed on a small, deserted island in the middle of the ocean. You can be on your own.

            3. i am a ROCK. I am an ISSSSSSSSSSSSSSLAND!

              1. Red House Painters did a great version of that song.

                1. looking it up on youtube as we speak…

          2. What enables scaling up is money and prices.

          3. I agree, Rage, and in that small group one can spot “cheaters” and avoid reciprocal behavior in the future.

    2. Don’t ascribe to everyone what you feel yourself. You are not representative of all people just as much as I am not.

      1. I think jealousy is a universal human emotion. But that doesn’t me we have to build a public policy around it.

        1. Envy/jealousy are only as universal as those who allow themselves to be plagued by it. You don’t have to, and there’s a reason they are some of the ugliest emotions there are.

          1. Oh, so you are free of envy and jealousy? Where can I buy MY robot replacement?

            1. It’s easy, unless you’re too stupid to understand why you do things. Are you too stupid?

              1. yes, i’m too stupid.

              2. …taken

            2. It’s possible to feel envious or jealous, but also to be self-aware enough to realize it and not allow it to dominate and control your thoughts, beliefs and actions. It’s known as being a mature adult and not an adolescent controlled by emotions.

              1. Its also possible to channel just envy towards productive pursuits. Instead of tearing down the person you are jealous of, there is the concept of building yourself up and above them.

                Of course, the fundamental socialist conceit is that for as much as they rail about the greed of capitalists, their ultimate drive is only materialistic. They see wealth/income inequality as wrong, ipso facto, without consideration that the success/happiness correlation may be inverse. They lack the asceticism that I think a lot of more free-market types have. I know I’m not gonna make a fortune making the next revolutionary toilet seat, and I’m fine with that, because I’ll be happier and smarter (at least in areas of import and relevence for me) than the dude that makes the shitter seat.

              2. “not to allow (envy and jealousy) to dominate your thoughts. It’s known as being a mature adult.”
                Yes, of course, but that’s not what Episiarch is claiming. He’s claiming to be “free of” envy and jealousy. Just like my robot.

                1. Other posters make a good point that maturity and self-awareness should make the effect of envy and jealousy negligible. I take Episiarch at his word since the quality of his posts demonstrate an exceptionally high level of maturity and self-awareness (not to mention that he’s demonstrated no defensiveness here at all, which would give his game away).

          2. I couldn’t agree more. This comes down to determinism vs. free will. I know the anthropological explanation for why people tend to be jealous of wealth. I know that I used to be jealous. But now my reaction is respect rather than jealousy. What happened? I learned what goes into creating enormous wealth and how someone like Bill Gates benefits me even if I don’t own stock in Microsoft. I read books and changed my mind. That’s all.

          3. George Will once said that envy is the only of the seven deadly sins from which the sinner derives no pleasure, hence I avoid such a sin.

            I’m much better with lust, gluttony, and pride myself. Stick with what you’re good at I guess.

        2. Maybe you don’t…

          Did I just say that out loud?

    3. It’s also pretty inherent in humans to be skeptical of inequality. We all know people who seem to have more than others who don’t seem to deserve it and that rankles most people, it seems to be inherently human.

      Except for those who have grown up and live in reality, and realize that life presents different opportunities to different people and that different people do different things with the opportunities presented to them. Grown-ups also learn to live with the reality that life is not “fair.” Puppies die; good, honest, hard-working people lose their jobs; good, ethical, god-fearing church-goers get hit by buses or die of colon cancer in their 30s; and Donald Trump is a billionaire.

      There is no way that any one individual can be the arbiter of who “deserves” what. That is not inherently human; it’s inherently immature thinking.

      1. “Grown-ups also learn to live with the reality that life is not “fair.” ”

        This is an unimpressive argument. I imagine you think it is not “fair” that the government takes half of every dollar you make and you advocate we stop that. Likewise Humane societies realize that puppies die every day but they work to combat it. So yes, people realize that people have different opportunities and such, but we can still find that unfair and work to alleviate it.

        1. Yes, you absolutely can work to combat what you perceive to be unfair situations. And you can contribute to or volunteer for the ASPCA or your local animal shelter. All highly commendable. But that does not translate into legitimate use of the power of government to assure fairness by forcible redistribution of wealth. It is not a legitimate function of government to take wealth from those who have it and decide who “deserves” it and distribute it. It is not government’s job to make sure life is “fair”. Just because you don’t like a certain situation or set of circumstances and you believe it’s unfair does not mean the government should do something about it.

          And yes, it most certainly is not fair that the government takes as much of my hard-earned income as it does and taxes every fucking thing I purchase, own or do, when half of the American public pays no income tax and a hell of a lot of them spend their days sitting around on their asses, giving each other tips on how to game more government benefits out of the system. And don’t tell me they don’t do that; I know for a fact they do – I’m not saying every single person who is “the working poor” is a thieving crook, or that every single welfare recipient is, but I have seen it first hand and heard it from many others – there are generations of people living on welfare, disability, SSI, food stamps, Section 8 housing, yadda yadda, etc., and they sit around and tell each other how to go to the appropriate gubmint office and get even more, rather than getting off their lazy asses and trying to actually EARN it themselves.

          But I also don’t sit around being bitter about how so many people make even more money than I do, or have nicer cars, houses or boats than I do, or that they don’t “deserve” it because I work harder than they do. And I certainly don’t advocate that the government should take more of their wealth away because someone else “deserves” it more.

          Because I’m not a thieving, statist fuck.

          1. My goodness, did you just argue that it is not fair to base government on considerations of fairness?

            Why, yes you did!

            1. Uh… no, not really. At least not as you seem to be positing.

              Government is not based on “fairness”. Government is created by the consent of the governed, and has only as much power as the governed have given it. The federal government that we have created does not have among its charter any power to assure that life is fair and that everyone, everywhere has the same stuff, wealth, comfort, etc., as everyone else.

              The government we have created was chartered to assure “fairness” only to the extent that it asssures a stable society based on a system of laws, protected from outside aggression and internal turmoil, in which individuals are at liberty to freely engage in their desired pursuits. It has been referred to as a “well-ordered liberty,” and it is why so many people from the rest of the world have desired so long to come here – so that they can be left alone by their government, rather than controlled by it, and can freely pursue whatever it is they desire, craft the kind of life for themselves they envision, engage in commerce with others, all without the oppression of an overbearing government imposing itself in those day-to-day transactions or otherwise controlling what the individual can or can’t do.

              To that extent, the government assures “fairness” by creating an environment in which OPPORTUNITY exists for all. Many people evidently cannot distinguish between the concept of equal opportunity and a guarantee of equal RESULTS.

              1. Not even the leftiest of left-wingers in this country want equality of outcomes. A social safety net is about equality of opportunity. The libertarian position is to remove equality of opportunity and give all the opportunity to those already positioned to do well.

                1. I never had the opportunity to run a big bank. Shouldn’t I be given that opportunity? Other people are already well positioned as CEOs of big banks and I don’t have the capital to start my own. Aren’t I owed a big successful bank to run?

                2. You keep using this word “opportunity”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

                3. Not even the leftiest of left-wingers in this country want equality of outcomes.

                  I think about one minute of googling would suffice to give you several million counterexamples refuting that statement.

                  1. Here’s one (“Defending equality of outcome. Journal of political philosophy”):

                    http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/533/

                4. There is nothing in the Constitution about the federal government being charged with attempting to engineer an equality of opportunity any more than it has been charged with attempting to engineer an equality of outcome.

                  1. I submit that the historical context reveals that it’s essentially the general sentiment that what was desired was a “well-ordered liberty”, where the order and liberty were established and protected by the government.

                    I know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but the sentiment that “all men are created equal” and endowed with, at least, the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is largely what motivated the Framers in structuring the government as one of very limited powers – specifically, only those powers they viewed as necessary to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty (for everyone)”.

                    Seems to me they felt they were creating a country in which any man with the gumption to do so, no matter how lowly his beginnings, could apply himself and become wealthy, if he so desired – regardless of lineage, heritage, family connections, etc.

                    That’s all I mean by equal opportunity.

                    1. I’m going to say Rage wins the day.

          2. A big flaw in your assumptions is that, while you may allow for nuance in defining the moral rectitude of the poor, you tend to assume that the wealthy all earned it legitimately. Even if that’s not the case, you aren’t for policies that rectify that injustice.

            We’re still stuck on the absurd Reagan-era notion that the poor have it way too good and the rich are oppressed. What goes unacknowledged is that the looting has taken place mostly at the top–that class warfare is waged from both sides, and the rich and powerful (obviously) have been winning.

            1. If the wealthy engage in legalized plunder the solution is NOT to allow the poor wretched masses to do the same from the bottom. YOU JUST ELIMINATE LEGALIZED PLUNDER ALL TOGETHER!

            2. Define “earned” and define “legitimately”. I’m sure you have your own pet concept of what constitutes “legitimately earned” wealth.

              And let’s posit that there are some who gained their wealth through fortunate circumstances. Let’s say, for example, the factory line worker who wins a $100 million Powerball lottery. What did that person do to “legitimately earn” his or her wealth? Should we take 95% of it away and hand it out down at the homeless shelter?

              I know you hate inherited wealth. But why is it not equally illegitimate and un-earned to take that wealth away from the heir who inherited it and give it to others who did nothing whatsoever to earn it themselves?

              The fact that you perceive that a particular person might not have “legitimately earned” his wealth in you estimation is no basis for determining how much or under what circumstances he has to give that wealth up.

            3. Also, your position, and the position of the progressive left, requires buying into the falsehood that a “rich” person earns his or her wealth by “stealing” it from the poor. It is not a zero-sum game. There is no fixed pool of “wealth” in the U.S. that gets divvied up among society. You don’t have enough wealth? Go out and generate more. That’s known as the American way – the OPPORTUNITY to make more of yourself than you are now, and make more money than you have now, and make your life better and more than it is now. There is nobody stopping you, so stop blaming “the rich” or “the government” or “Republicans” or anyone else for your own failure to take action to change your own life.

              I’m using “you” in the general sense here, not directed at Tony or anyone else.

            4. Define “legitimately”. There’s all kinds of nuance. But, to the extent that all transactions were voluntary, the participants are innocent and taking money from innocent people against their will is robbery.

              Yes, tons of looting takes place at the top and you’re silly to accuse libertarians of not acknowledging that. Libertarians don’t think the government should have the power to grant those favors in the first place. The government brings the guns to the class war. Maoists think that’s a good thing, libertarians think it’s bad.

        2. And yes, I completely missed the point.

          1. Oh how yummy your lil’ rage is!

    4. Tell me you recognize the irony in that reasoning though. Please. The entire visceral reaction of a socialist looking at a well-off capitalist is to rail against their “greed,” but the philosophy, at its very base, is one of material envy.

      I have far more respect for the hardcore commune-ists (I make that spelling deliberately) that have an aspect of asceticism inherent in who they are. One’s happiness, success, and value are not measured in merely financial terms, but for the true-believing socialist, vast income inequalities (even if there is no abject, lack of basic human needs poverty resulting from it) is a demon in and of itself. It is an ideology of greed.

    5. We all know people who seem to have more than others who don’t seem to deserve it and that rankles most people, it seems to be inherently human. Irving Howe once said that is the beginning of any socialist.

      Some person, probably much smarter than myself, said something to the effect of “the only successful socialist organization is the family.”

      1. I’ll tell you this.

        My fucking family ain’t socialist.I buy shit using an amount of money that I would absolutely not allow my children to spend. I decide how money gets distributed in my house (well, the wife and I decide anyways), and I can say with absolute truthfulness that it isn’t an equitable distribution.

        1. I decide how money gets distributed in my house (well, the wife and I decide anyways), and I can say with absolute truthfulness that it isn’t an equitable distribution.

          So, would you say that you are the “central planner” for the distribution of goods and resources in your household?

    6. It’s also pretty inherent in humans to be skeptical of inequality.

      you mean skeptical about their own perceived inequality.

      The facts are no one gives a shit about starving children in Africa…

      ….besides Christians anyway.

  7. What’s the real definition of socialism?

    Leaders stay in $3,000 hotel suites and get to rape maids, while the rest rot.

    1. can we get that on a t-shirt or bumper sticker??

      1. Easily enough if you have a printer.

  8. So, is the NLRB’s latest shenanigans w/r/t Boeing in South Carolina a socialist move, or is it just government regulation? Or, perhaps, just a labor union that has bought the White House, and a White House that feels beholden to the labor orgs?

    1. We have a law intended to lessen the kind of labor strife that was rampant in the early part of the last century and it requires certain standards of dealings between management and labor. The plan by Boeing was found to be in direct retaliation to the union engaging in legal practices under that law, and that was found to be in violation of the law.

      1. Or, we could say that the unions wanted Boeing kicked in the nuts for building a plant where the unions couldn’t get to it, and the NLRB found a pretext.

      2. And r-t-w states got one more weapon in their arsenal to persuade companies to relocate or locate their before they have any union troubles. I work for a non-union company in a non-r-t-w state and all our growth in last 20 years has been in r-t-w states so we can avoid potential labor troubles.

      3. Wealth and technology alleviates labor strife. Those laws just restrict voluntary action.

      4. What’s this “was found” bullshit? Where was this “found” and who found it?

        What, exactly, does the law prohibit, and how, exactly, did Boeing’s decision to build a manufacturing plant in South Carolina violate that law? Be specific.

        How the fuck is Boeing deciding to build a new plant in South Carolina violative of the prohibition on unfair work practices? The result is that government now gets to tell companies where they have to keep their manufacturing plants and where they are and are not allowed to move their operations?

        1. This is ridicuilous even by rent-seeking union standards: apparently the CEO of Boeing was recorded as saying that one of the reasons for opening the plant in SC was to avoid dealing with labor strikes every five years, which naturally jack up labor costs.
          It’s essentially this type of bullshit:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki6u2wcqt6A

      5. We have a law intended to lessen the kind of labor strife that was rampant in the early part of the last century

        Well, no, the law was intended to benefit labor unions at the expense of everyone else.

        Much of the “strife” was caused by labor unions instigating violations of rights.

        If you think that what the NLRB does is prevent “labor strife”, perhaps you ought to read the underlying law and explain how each and every one of those provisions does that.

        Preventing an employer from firing everyone in a labor union and hiring replacements doesn’t prevent “strife”, it creates conflict.

        1. I am looking for the quote, but basically it goes that the greatest salesman that foreign steel companies ever had was the president of the united steel workers.

    2. It’s a mercantilist move.

  9. Irving Howe once said that is the beginning of any socialist.

    Socialism is envy.

    No kidding.

    1. Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner, folks!

    2. Is this really the best you got? A defense of capitalism premised on the most vulgar form of snobbery possible? (The unwashed masses are just jealous of us!)

      1. So the socialist = unwashed masses?

        1. In fact, no.

    3. Is that the same as envy? I don’t think so, and here is how it can be shown. In Howe’s example the person is outraged that X has more than Y for no good reason, it’s not that he wants what X has.

      1. Haha, yeah, right. Just google the phrase “income inequality”. When poverty is eliminated the goalposts shift.

      2. Riiiiight. Person Y is outraged that X has more money than them, but does not want to seize some of that money for themself.

        Funny reading of human psychology.

      3. In Howe’s example the person is outraged that X has more than Y for no good reason…

        What qualifies as a “good” reason?

    4. Socialism =/= Envy

      Socialism = Materialism

      There is no threshold in the socialistic mindset for envy of leisure time, success in family rearing, or intellectual pursuit. You will not find an ascetic socialist. They are crude materialists, they rail against the “greed” of capitalists as a projection of their own greed (hence, $3,000/night hotels, you won’t catch many self-made millionaires do that on all but the most special anniversary vacations). They value only money, and envy those with more of it, without noting the sacrifices and required disciplined asceticism that most of those who made shittons of loot have had to endure in order to get to the shittons of loot stage.

    5. Socialism is envy.

      Nah Socialism is jealousy…very different creature jealousy then envy.

      I can envy a rich guy and his big house then set out to get my own money and my own big house.

      Jealousy is wanting to take his house and his money and make them mine….and if i can’t do that then the house and his wealth should be destroyed.

      Oh fuck i think i mixed this up.

      Jealousy and envy are the same thing…it is greed that does not require taking or destroying other peoples shit.

      My bad.

  10. It makes perfect sense to go to a right-wing magazine for a definition of socialism. Hey, let’s ask Noam Chomsky for a definition of capitalism. Fuck, I can see why you hacks appear of Fox news all the time.

    1. MOROM

    2. Max, we like your style. We need some assistance murdering the Romanov family. Are you up to the task of shooting children?

      1. I’m sure he is, as long as they’re Republitard, Libertoid children.

        1. you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette

      2. Do you ever pull your head out of your ass?

        1. So, that’s a “Yes”, I suppose?

  11. Socialism doesn’t lead to brutal dictators. Socialism is popular–the most popular economic regime ever invented–so brutal dictators use it to rise to and maintain power. You don’t fend off brutal dictators with an economic system, but with a political one. Capitalism doesn’t preclude brutal dictators, though the more extreme forms of it can make their hold on power tenuous, since it lacks the mollifying effect of socialism. People don’t long tolerate being at the mercy of a brutal dictatorship and the brutal darwinian forces of extreme capitalism.

    1. I am Che Guevara, and I have failed.

    2. Geez, Tony, saying that here is like walking into a catechism class and suggesting that Jesus fucked Mary Magdalene. The nuns are gonna get you.

      1. MOROM

    3. Wrong, the mixed economy is the most popular economic system.

      1. yup +1

      2. Tony’s too much of a child to understand the nuance between socialist and mixed economies.

      3. It really does not matter which is more popular.

        The one that wins and the others that fail is what matters.

    4. May 17, 1922

      Comrade Kursky,

      Further to our conversation, I herewith enclose the draft of an article supplementary to the Criminal Code.[1] It is a rough draft and, of course, needs altering and polishing up. The main idea will be clear, I hope, in spite of the faulty drafting-to put forward publicly a thesis that is correct in principle and politically (not only strictly juridical), which explains the substance of terror, its necessity and limits, and provides justification for it.

      The courts must not ban terror?to promise that would be deception or self-deception?but must formulate the motives underlying it, legalise it as a principle, plainly, without any make-believe or embellishment. It must be formulated in the broadest possible manner, for only revolutionary law and revolutionary conscience can more or less widely determine the limits within which it should be applied.

      With communist greetings,

      Lenin

    5. I beg to differ.

  12. I think it is important not to let words have too broad of a definition. It is easy to use “socialism” to describe any situation where the government gets more involved than we might like. I would be inclined to define socialism as a situation where the government owns or controls significant industrial capacity and directly controls significant parts of the economy. I wouldn’t say that the US is socialist now, but we seem to be moving more and more in that direction.

    1. I think it is important not to let words have too broad of a definition.

      Go fuck yourself.

  13. I’d be interested to see an honest discussion about this w/o all the nastiness. I consider myself a former conservative, now mostly libertarian- somewhat liberal, person.

    I can’t help believe that the right thing to do in our country would be to have a bottom-line base that no individual can go under. Every American should have at least minimal basic housing, food, medical care, and personal essentials like clothing and hygene care. Possibly even transportation and education so they may have the opportunity to elevate their position is society. Heck even in my uber-conservative years this made sense.

    I view America as a single unit and given our extensive wealth and abilities, we should be able to take care of all the members. Yes we should still allow those who can exceed to exceed, but perhaps the goal of our country should be its entire well-being.

    I know, unicorns, etc.

    However it would be nice to get some intelligent replies opposing my thoughts.

    (I’m at work right now so my own responses may be delayed)

    1. I view America as a single unit

      It’s not. Collectivism is a fantasy and is the root of some of the worst crimes in history. Grow up.

      1. Rugged individualism is the fantasy. We are less social animals than, say, bees, but we are still, genetically, social animals, which is why no society based on rugged individualism has ever existed.

        1. There can be no individual without society just like there can be no society without individuals.

          1. “A society that robs an individual of the product of his effort, or enslaves him, or attempts to limit the freedom of his mind, or compels him to act against his own rational judgment-a society that sets up a conflict between its edicts and the requirements of man’s nature?is not, strictly speaking, a society, but a mob held together by institutionalized gang-rule. Such a society destroys all the values of human coexistence, has no possible justification and represents, not a source of benefits, but the deadliest threat to man’s survival. Life on a desert island is safer than and incomparably preferable to existence in Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany.” –Ayn Rand, former Soviet citizen

          2. No, not “…just like…”. There can be no society without individuals because the individual is the basic unit of society. It’s really hard to exist as an individual outside of society but that doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as an individual without society. That’s much different. Society is an innovation that makes life better for individuals. The individual is not an innovation designed to make society better.

          3. Nice tautology you got there, but did you get it approved by the People’s Redundant Department of the People’s Redundancies?

          4. MNG|5.17.11 @ 12:24PM|#
            “There can be no individual without society just like there can be no society without individuals.”

            Oh, oh, look!
            New lefty bumpersticker totally devoid of meaning!
            Way to go MNG!

        2. Why do you assume the purpose of a political system is to emulate our genetic tendencies. If I say that we are genetically violent, does that mean we should develop a system called violentism where everyone is legally obligated to fight to the death any time there is a conflict of interests?

          1. “Two men enter, one man leaves.”

          2. Well, certainly a national or global community has nothing to do with the situation humans evolved in. But there’s a difference between adapting our evolved tendencies to modern reality and completely rejecting them in favor of something that has no basis at all. Like many species we are social by nature. Initially this is because it enhances survivability. But pooling resources and dividing labor and the like still make sense–rugged individualism does not. Even without formal governments, collectives would spontaneously emerge. But surely what’s “natural” is something more akin to a feudal system. A survey of all governments throughout time suggests that top-down leadership is the norm. So it’s not that a more democratic form of collectivism conforms to human nature. In some ways it is a counter to it. But not so much as to completely deny a fundamental aspect of being a human animal, like rugged individualism would do. A single bee doesn’t really make sense as an organism, but in the context of a hive it does.

            1. Bees don’t have a rational faculty and they don’t have governments. They have instincts that lead them to do things which humans observed and drew comparisons to governments which humans had set up. A bee is not sacrificing his desires and goals for the big-picture well-being of the hive. He survives by instincts alone and has no idea what’s going on and has no sense of “social spirit” or community. Humans would die if they tried to live by only instincts. It’s strange that reason isn’t at the top of your list of fundamental aspects of being a human animal since this is the one aspect of humans that isn’t shared by any other animal. Reason is man’s fundamental means of survival and force undermines his ability to use reason. The purpose of government should be to extract force from society. If you stop thinking of humans as instinctual robots with a few exceptional “queen bees” that have a rare capacity to plan and think and that they should send the robot bees out on cooperative missions to help eachother, you would understand that it is wrong to co-opt someone else’s life just because you think the idea of bees is pretty.

            2. Also that’s just rationalism. “humans benefit from cooperating with other human therefor humans are social animals-bees are social animals and bees serve the interests of the hive instead of their own interests therefor humans, being social animals, should be forced to serve the interests of the community/race/nation/ tribe/class/guild rather his own. ”

              It would make as much sense to say “humans require sunlight and water and plants require sunlight and water therefor humans should be forced to find a sunny spot to bury their feet in the soil to absorb water and wait for their bodies to turn the sunlight into nutrition.

            3. Tony|5.17.11 @ 3:49PM|#
              …”But pooling resources and dividing labor and the like still make sense–rugged individualism does not….”

              False dichotomy and pejorative all in one sentence! Thank you Dr. Goebbels, a bravura performance!

        3. That’s true, but the “rugged individual” meme is a straw man argument against libertarianism.

          Libertarianism is not about individuals going it alone as little economic islands, but rather is about the relationships between individuals.

          Shall these relationships be voluntary and cooperative, or shall they be regulated by an agency the purports to represent some non-existent collective?

        4. Rugged individualism

          Whose scuffy lookin’?

      2. It’s interesting that libertarians often get offended when you tease them about not loving their family. They see it as a strawman, of course a good libertarian can love their family, just not other abstract groupings like countrymen or communities. The former is real and a good basis for moral action, the latter are fantasies.

        1. Offended? You aren’t my family, and you never will be, unless you fuck my mom, which, given her prices, is a distinct possibility.

          Keep telling yourself that we’re all one big family. It’s funny in its way.

          1. But why in the world would sharing DNA with someone be so morally relevant while sharing common citizneship or shared goegraphical location not be?

            1. Think about it: my brother is less likely to rob me than some dude on the street. Hence I’ll trust him before I presume to trust the dude on the street. Every person is like that, we place blood over moral values.

            2. Hmmmmm…voluntary relationships>blood>proximity relationships (?)

            3. It’s not about sharing DNA. A group of very close friends can be family just as much as your actual relations for this purpose (and you may well want nothing to do with your genetic relations). The people that you actually form society with are people who you actually have real connections with, not some arbitrary collection of people who happen to be under the same government.

              The major problem with collectivism (in my view) is that there is no “we”. Collective action is not possible with large, nation sized, groups of people. Decisions are not made collectively, they are made by one group of people and imposed by force on anyone who disagrees. It tends to be a better situation when the group in charge is elected, but it doesn’t change the essential nature of the situation.

              1. I share my DNA with my close friends.

                1. It got me a job eventhough I can’t act!!

                  Acting is hard!

        2. a good libertarian can love their family, just not other abstract groupings like countrymen or communities.

          Ah, an interesting variant of the True Scotsman. Actually a libertarian can quite easily love any grouping he/she choses, be it countrymen, family, community, circus freaks, trannies, christians, satanists, etc.

          What libertarian philosophy rails against doing, is using the coercive power of gov’t to favor those groups with collective money, or to force others to love them as much as the libertarian in question might.

          1. You are correct, sir. And what Sam Grove said.
            All this talk about individualism vs. collectivism or the community is beside the point. You can be a rugged individualist libertarian and live like a mountain man (or self-employed, not so rugged, computer geek) or you can expand your involvement in multifarious community associations. The only thing that matters among libertarians is whether you engage in force in those choices or not.

        3. They see it as a strawman, of course a good libertarian can love their family, just not other abstract groupings like countrymen or communities. The former is real and a good basis for moral action, the latter are fantasies.

          Have you still not gained an appreciation for the difference between a choice made solely by an individual to take action, and a command to take action by a member of the Central Planning Committee under penalty of law/regulation?

        4. just not other abstract groupings like countrymen or communities.

          My brother can ask for $50 and i can tell him to go to hell.

          When the government asks for it and i refuse to pay i go to jail.

    2. I view America as a single unit

      America doesn’t exist. Only people do.

      given our extensive wealth and abilities, we should be able to take care of all the members

      Then set an example and take in some foster kids or something. But don’t pretend you’re morally superior by wanting a strong man to steal from people and provide (shitty) services to the poor.

      1. People don’t exist, only molecules do.

        1. There are no molecules!

        2. As long as we’re trying to gain knowledge from absurd comparisons, I’m not stupid enough to try to centrally plan myself at a molecular level.

      2. Easy fella, no need to bring the attack dogs…any idea how to have a civil conversation? Somebody poses a question which you don’t agree with the basic premise and all of sudden they think they are morally superior?

        You remind me of the Christians that make you hate Christianity.

        And I do my best to help others with the limited resources I have- and God I love myself so much for doing so.

        1. For once I wasn’t trying to offend some random fuckknuckle, and for my efforts I offend him. Fuck it. Eat a diseased cock and die, shitweasel. And take your fucking concern with you.

          1. A nasty one aren’t you? And such a vocabulary…love the internet badasses.

            Ironically I’ve been visiting this site for many years and probably agree with most of your opinions. Perhaps you should learn to engage in decent exchanges of ideas so that one day you can actually have friends outside of your Reason buddies.

            1. You should see Warty when he’s offensive; not gentle like before.

            2. If you were such a Reason regular, you would commend Warty for his restrained use of relatively soft language.

        2. Easy fella, no need to bring the attack dogs…any idea how to have a civil conversation?

          You’re new around here, aren’t you.

        3. And I do my best to help others with the limited resources I have- and God I love myself so much for doing so.

          Masturbation is a cheaper path to smug self-satisfaction, concern troll.

          1. He’s getting there. Sometimes you gotta say “I love you” to seal the deal. Even when you’re just trying to get yourself in bed.

    3. “Every American should have at least minimal basic housing, food, medical care, and personal essentials like clothing and hygene care.”

      You have three problems here:
      1) You can’t define “minimal” in any objective way.
      2) Once “minimal” free stuff is available, there will be no end to the demand for it.
      3) Someone has to pay for all the free stuff.
      That “someone” will become a smaller and smaller percentage of the population as more and more decide they’d rather get free stuff than be the sucker paying for it.
      Suffice to say it’s been tried; it doesn’t work.

      1. I love the “at least”. Admitting right up front that there will never be enough “free” stuff given to The Deserving.

      2. You certainly can define “minimal” at least somewhat objectively. It’s not a mystery what constitutes basic human needs (even though the standard can and should rise with technological and political advancement).

        But, importantly, you can’t defend capitalism minus these minimum standards, since the only reason capitalism is supposed to be appealing is its democratic nature–it allegedly allows people to make their own success. How can that be the case if whole classes of people are hobbled by the bad luck of being born to poor parents? How do you expect the fruits of capitalism to be available to everyone if you can’t even guarantee an education and other means of achieving a somewhat level playing field?

        You guys are just defending feudalism (minus noblesse oblige–hence the crass snobbery in the concept of “wealth envy.”)

        1. Tony|5.17.11 @ 12:40PM|#
          “…You guys are just defending feudalism (minus noblesse oblige–hence the crass snobbery in the concept of “wealth envy.”)”

          Spoof or ignoramus? You decide.

          1. Same difference.

        2. You certainly can define “minimal” at least somewhat objectively. It’s not a mystery what constitutes basic human needs

          IMMEDIATELY contradicted by:

          (even though the standard can and should rise with technological and political advancement).

          So, objective basic human needs change when new technology comes out?

          1. Just because some standard can’t necessarily be pinpointed doesn’t mean there is no rational method of arriving at something that makes sense, with plenty of room for debate at the edges. You don’t get bonus points for not even trying to define the boundary.

            1. Yea, because that’s totally what happens with the democratic process, right Tony?

            2. Tony|5.17.11 @ 3:52PM|#
              “Just because some standard can’t necessarily be pinpointed doesn’t mean there is no rational method of arriving at something that makes sense, with plenty of room for debate at the edges.”

              How kind of you. Just take all the money you please for things you really can’t define and we’ll worry about the pennies later.
              Dipshit.

            3. do you realize that it’s because of capitalism that the average poor person (for the sake of argument, let’s say the very middle of the lowest income quintile) in the USA lives better, on a material basis (access to life sustaining food, water, medicine, shelter, etc.) than the MAJORITY of people that have lived throughout human civilization…

              see: Nasty, brutish and short.

              whatever the metric – life expectancy, etc. we are WAY WAY better off. thank capitalism NOT socialism. the huge USSR even with scores of millions enslaved didn’t manage to invent/forward civilization quality of life nearly ot the extent that we did (and other capitalist industrialized nations) through innovation, etc.

              capitalism CREATES wealth and improves quality of life overall.

              1. oh, and for fuck’s sake, the poor used to routinely DIE of starvation. that was not uncommon. now, the poor are renowned for having fucking OBESITY as one of the most common health problems.

                oh, the irony

        3. A lifetime supply of Ramen noodles?

          1. or “3 chords, a guitar and the truth”… and Ramen, too. what the hell

        4. You guys are just defending feudalism (minus noblesse oblige–hence the crass snobbery in the concept of “wealth envy.”)

          No. Speaking strictly for myself, I prefer to attack the centrally controlled intragovernmental fiefdoms who are empowered to slam the doors to wealth and happiness in people’s faces by fiat.

          Unless you want to offer a spirited defense of rent-seeking.

        5. You guys are just defending feudalism

          Socialism is collective feudalism.
          We don’t want any feudalism.

        6. since the only reason capitalism is supposed to be appealing is its democratic nature

          Clinton liked it because of its ability to generate wealth…but whatever you are on a roll of epic stupidity. Keep going it is fun to watch.

      3. 29InNet, I hear you. It would be nice to have something like Milton Friedman’s negative income tax or a basic guaranteed income. But sevo is right in identifying the problems and I would add one more. How do you encourage people not to do the things that keep them poor without making a large number of rules for them on what to do with the minimum income, which as pointed out is hard to define anyway?

        1. H- I don’t think we can ever encourage all people to want to be sucessful in life and hence, in my opinion, they should have just the basics. If they want more, allow them the means to do so.

          Likewise I think if the individual hates living under so many rules because he/she is poor, then that would be one motivator to elevate their position.

          As for definitions of each term, that’d probably take some time- but like porn, you know it when you see it.

          I’m not saying I have all the solutions which is why I thought I’d present this to a group I usually respect intellectually and get some thoughts.

          1. 29InNet|5.17.11 @ 1:11PM|#
            “…As for definitions of each term, that’d probably take some time- but like porn, you know it when you see it.”

            Exactly! Why, “minimal” to me is, oh, 3,500 sq. ft, two and a half baths, and what the hell, a three-year-old Benz.
            I’ll look forward to your check, but make it a cashiers check, please.

            1. And “porn” to me is old men in leotards getting whacked in the nuts with rolled up newspapers.

          2. If I recall correctly both the Germans and the Russians had a few research camps going on the “minimum” required to live.

          3. Well taking off my minarchist hat and putting on my social engineering hat I would have a basic guaranteed income of $100.00/week for each adult over 18 and $50.00/week for each child and eliminate all rules and other programs including public education. If you need anymore help go to private charity. Guesstimate around $1.5 trillion.
            Let’s see how quickly that gets demagogued.

    4. Every American should have at least minimal basic housing, food, medical care, and personal essentials like clothing and hygene care. Possibly even transportation and education so they may have the opportunity to elevate their position is society.

      Everyone already has the *opportunity* to elevate their position in society. It’s called staying in school and educating yourself, working hard, being honest, staying out of jail (ain’t too hard) and taking responsibility for yourself, your decisions and the consequences of your actions.

      You propose that those of us who have done all that should legally be obligated to provide food, clothing, shelter and transportation for those who don’t?

      Do you have any idea how many government and private programs already are out there specifically to do exactly what you’re talking about?

      1. Government programs can balm all society’s wounds. Society’s wounds still exist, therefore there are no government programs.

      2. BSR, you make some excellent points, none of which I would disagree with directly. But in the name of human decency, I can see the validity in a country providing for even those who don’t want to provide for themselves.

        I have no issue being taxed to help others, even “lazy” people, as long as the taxes are being used efficiently.

        Really, we are not all created equal.

        1. 29InNet|5.17.11 @ 1:21PM|#
          “…as long as the taxes are being used efficiently.”

          OK, I thought you were serious. I got spoofed.

          1. Angels in the form of kings to govern man? Always a popular choice.

        2. I can see the validity in a country providing for even seizing assets from those who have worked to provide for themselves and giving the proceeds to those who don’t want to provide for themselves.

          Its all in how you frame it.

        3. I can see the validity in a country providing for even those who don’t want to provide for themselves.

          Well I guess that’s where we differ. If Fred “doesn’t want to provide for himself,” them I guess he’s fucked, isn’t he. Or, put in a much more traditional way, “the Lord helps those who help themselves.”

          If you (again, I use the term generally) don’t like your situation, then do something about it. If a person just sits around waiting for “someone” to make his life better, most likely he’ll be waiting a long time. Most people find it very difficult to care about someone and try to help him if he doesn’t care enough about himself to “want to provide for” himself. Barring mental illness or some other type of significant handicap that renders him unable to do so, of course.

          If someone makes the decision to check out of society and live in a gutter or in the woods under a rock or whatever, I say let him. I have no obligation to go out there and give him food, clothing, a car, an education, whatever, if he makes no effort whatsoever to improve his own situation despite being capable of doing so.

    5. I think that it would be good to at least see if all of what you believe should be provided to the poor would be provided by private charity and voluntary action. Having people starving in the streets is certainly an undesirable thing. But the transfers of wealth required for a comprehensive welfare program are very morally problematic to a libertarian sort of person. I say cut all welfare and give people a chance to voluntarily do the right thing. If we end up with people starving in the streets, then perhaps some basic safety net should be provided through taxation. And by basic I mean only what is necessary to keep people from starving or dying of exposure.

    6. I can’t help believe that the right thing to do in our country would be to have a bottom-line base that no individual can go under. Every American should have at least minimal basic housing, food, medical care, and personal essentials like clothing and hygene care. Possibly even transportation and education so they may have the opportunity to elevate their position is society.

      You left out the right to enslave others to provide those people with flat-screen TVs and cable. You left out how all those things you did mention are premised upon enslaving someone else to provide these free goodies.

    7. Every American should have at least minimal basic housing, food, medical care, and personal essentials like clothing and hygene care. Possibly even transportation and education so they may have the opportunity to elevate their position is society.

      What the fuck is “basic” housing? A single-wide trailer? Double-wide trailer? One bedroom house? Two bedroom house? Insulated housing? Uninsulated housing? A housing stipend per capita or per family unit? A house with a foundation or without? With a finished basement or without a finished basement?

      Food? How much food? Shall we measure the food by mass, weight, or volume? What kind of food? Meats? Beef, poultry, chicken, fish? Grains? How about we measure the food by calories?

      Medical care? How many hours should people be alloted with the good doctor? What if their issue doesn’t require a doctor and nurse practitioner can handle their issue? Would a visit with a nurse count against their doctor-hours? Would a general practitioners time be worth the same amount and a surgeon’s? Will medical supplies and equipment be costed differently? Will ambulance service also be included in the cost alloted to each person?

      Clothing? What brand of clothing? What material or fabric? What cut? Will linen cost the same as denim or satin? Will business wear be the same as casual? Will a Dolce & Gabbana suit be considered an essential (for job interviews, weddings, funerals, graduations, state functions, etc.)?

      Please, teach us and guide us, you asshat wannabe philosoper-king.

      1. “Please, teach us and guide us, you asshat wannabe philosoper-king.”

        Wow, you girls are touchy…at what point in any of my posts have a expressed even the slightest indication I was preaching a new way of life?

        I was asking a question to invite discussion.

        Some of you Reason-vets needs to get your panties out of your ass-cracks when anyone questions The Belief System.

        Surprising that more people aren’t won over to libertarianism by the intellect on this site. I don’t always agree with Tony and MNG but they sure as hell are more civil than some of you Cocksuckerbitchassholefagdicks.

        That was for those who need it in a post to comprehend.

        1. 29InNet|5.17.11 @ 3:52PM|#
          “…at what point in any of my posts have a expressed even the slightest indication I was preaching a new way of life?”

          You’re right. It’s certainly not new; it’s old and has failed every time it’s been tried.
          And yet you think *you* are the one to make it work, this time, and at the expense of others.
          It that doesn’t qualify for ignorant self-righteousness, I don’t know what would.

        2. Every American should have at least minimal basic housing, food, medical care, and personal essentials like clothing and hygene care.

          This is not a question, smart guy. It is, however, begging the question, which gets little mileage in this corner of the TUBES.

        3. Some commenters here, while intellectually strong, have a low e.q.

  14. What’s the real definition of socialism?

    You got, I want

    1. And I guess the definition of libertarianism is

      Hey, don’t touch my stuff!

      1. Bullshit. That’s just a conservative meme.

        1. It started at a tractor pull…But nice attempt to backpedal.

          1. How on earth do you read backpedaling into that? You are dumber than a box of drowned kittens.

            1. Is a box of drowned kittens more, or less dumb than a sack of doorknobs?

              1. More dumb, because it’s much harder to beat someone unconscious with a sack of kittens. Plus, the sadness makes me sad.

      2. No, the definition of libertarianism is:

        Mind your own fucking business, slaver.

      3. I guess the definition of socialism is

        there is no “my”.

        1. Close. The definition of socialism is:

          There is no “yours”, there is only “ours” and, of course, “mine”.

      4. And I guess the definition of libertarianism is

        Hey, don’t touch my stuff!

        Actually, you know, I pretty much don’t have a problem with that. And I don’t see why anyone else would either.

        You have your stuff – I recognize it’s yours, not mine. I have my stuff; I similarly expect that you will recognize it’s mine, not yours.

        I mean this is shit they teach to pre-schoolers and expect them to pretty much have down pat by kindergarten.

        1. Kindergarten is a dictatorship.

  15. Every American should have at least minimal basic housing, food, medical care, and personal essentials like clothing and hygene care.

    Definitions, plz.

    1. I can appreciate the need for a “definition” of terms but really you know what the answers are. When you say each term/phrase to yourself, you have an image that pops in your head.

      Basic housing- a four-walled room w/ heat/air, a means to store/cook food,toilet facilities and a bed to sleep on. Yeah, it sounds like prison, but it’s better than a box in the alleyway.

      Basic medical- this is much tougher, but people smarter than I am could conceive of a way to provide help to those in need.

      Food- perhaps a pre-detrmined list of foods that would provide nutrition to the needy, maybe from a goverment run store designed specifically for that purpose.

      Clothes- you can get $1.00 shirts and $5.00 pants at the Dollar General now- surely we can clothe our needy. That should be the easiest to accomplish.

      That’s the best I can do without this becoming a research paper.

      1. No fucking way. By your definition there are probably at least a billion people on this planet right now who don’t have what you propose some mythical force should provide for them – and yet they seem to be surviving fine.

        I’m not talking about the afflicted who are suffering in the filthy, disease-ridden slums of Brazil or anything like that. But there certainly are people whose normal, daily life does not include everything you list. Shelter can be more minimal than that. Life can be considerably less “comfy” than we soft Americans have become accustomed to, and yet still be a not horrible life.

        And I have not seen any naked poor people running around anywhere recently.

      2. 29InNet|5.17.11 @ 1:37PM|#
        “I can appreciate the need for a “definition” of terms but really you know what the answers are.”

        No, we don’t and neither do you. Nor does anyone; claims of “need” are all you got.

      3. I don’t know how any of this would work, but it makes me feel good to say it, so we should do it!

        Yay team!

        1. Reading comprehension, how’s it work?

          1. Please! Stop being mean! Someone, anyone, come and dry my tears of unfathomable sadness!

  16. Socialism is popular

    Assume a can opener.

  17. Please don’t spoof MNG. When you spoof him, it allows him to claim later that the retarded things he says were not actually said by him. Don’t provide him cover.

    1. I’m not spoofing him but I can hardly see it making a bit of difference considering his normal MO is to slink off in silence to comment another day whenever his points are eviscerated.

  18. I can’t WTFV at work, but it must be noted that socialism is not necessarily statist. Left-anarchists consider themselves “libertarian socialists.” From their perspective, if one doesn’t believe in private property, stealing from the privileged is justified, even without government as the middle man.

    1. “Left-anarchists consider themselves “libertarian socialists.” From their perspective, if one doesn’t believe in private property, stealing from the privileged is justified, even without government as the middle man.”

      Problem here is that the well-off can afford better armament.
      ‘Nasty, short and brutish’ comes to mind.

      1. The Pinkertons will outgun the Pinkos every time.

  19. Socialism has a complicated intellectual history and covers a lot of ground: anarchist, syndicalist, libertarian, and communist. Lysander Spooner described himself as a socialist. So did Stalin. The word obviously covers a lot. I doubt a 5:38 video does it much justice, especially when you’re talking with National Review guys.

    By comparison, “capitalism” also covers a lot of ground. Libertarians would describe a free market of small landholders and craftsmen trading their wares as capitalism. But capitalism also describes massive businesses with extensive worldwide holdings that receive significant government support and enjoy the benefits of illiberal/undemocratic governments. I imagine The Meaning of Capitalism, as produced by The Nation, would probably not cover the complicated history of capitalism.

  20. Your unmutualness has been noted, Warty.

    Representatives from the Ministry of Truth will be in contact shortly.

  21. “One can judge a man by the company he keeps.”

  22. You certainly can define “minimal” at least somewhat objectively.

    Of course you can; and the more “objective” your definition, the more controls you may impose on the feckless yet nobly deserving recipients of your communal largesse.

    1. I am interested in hearing the definition of “at least”.

      1. Or “somewhat”.

        The presence of weasel words preceding “objective” is the sign of imminent fail.

  23. @29InNet w/ reference to brutal smackdown of Warty Bliggens

    Listen up fiddlehead. I am sick and tired of your smutty, no-good, pickle-brained, politeness. Frankly, try to raise the level of discourse around here just makes you a big stinkyhead jerkface.

    My view is that the psuedo morality of aruging for common wellfare is dishonest, smacked of envy and avarice, and worst of all, lazy. It is lazy because people want the collective to help the collective people so they and collect their collectivized warm fuzzies. People want none of that icky personal responsibility, that’s like doodoo, on a stick. Poopstick.

    1. I can’t figure out whose side you’re on, but I like your style, brah.

  24. FASCIST MODE ON
    I don’t think we can ever encourage all people to want to be sucessful in life and hence, in my opinion, they should be shot.
    END FASCIST MODE

  25. Whose up for a game of tiddlywinks. Be right sporting so chap.

  26. Heller (many posts up) is right. The mixed economy has been the great success. The command economy failed, and the unfettered fre-market economy has never been tried. So why don’t you fucking libertoid assholes fold up your tents and give it a rest until your utopian little dream comes true somewhere.

    1. Max|5.17.11 @ 3:23PM|#
      …”the unfettered fre-market economy has never been tried.”

      Got pretty close once and it was a resounding success: Hong Kong.

  27. The real definition of socialism is easy:

    Somewhere, at some point, a libertarian is losing an argument.

    1. Ha! Ha! Ha! Human history is your losing argument, fool.

  28. OK, I’ll take the bait: what kind of knot is that tie in?

    1. A “half-Buckley”.

      Just kidding. It’s an “Atlantic”.

  29. Socialism means living by a council of bureaucrats who decide who gets what and often, who does what.

    To enforce socialism, socialists destroy property.

    Property means the absolute, entire, exclusive right of ownership whereby someone does as he or she pleases with what he or she has.

    Property comprehends all of these legal concepts: jus possidendi, jus utendi, jus fruendi, jus abutendi, jus vindicandi.

    Property is not a material thing in itself. No proper jurist ever would say so.

    The concept of property arose from Roman Jurisprudence with relaxation of the dominus dominium of the the Patria Potestas to proprietas for lessers of a household that came with the Castrense Peculium of Emperors Augustus, Nero and Trajan. Proprietas meant the absolute and exclusive right that a person had to anything independently of anyone else.

    Socialists have waged a legal war over time against property, which is the absolute, exclusive right of ownership.

    When the indirect speculator sells money capital to the direct speculator, who converts such money into material capital, the money capitalist buys a right of action to the share of profits.

    Yet, when government taxes profits, such as when government levies a capital gains tax or an income tax, government grabs a share of profits without having paid in to buy capital.

    This is the essence of socialism. Steal profits by force and threat of punishment and then dole out the absconded profits to those who keep socialists in power, the greedy welfare seeker.

  30. Wrong, the mixed economy is the most popular economic system.

    Mixed economies generally tend to veer more towards socialism. Seeing as a purely capitalistic system has never been enacted in our human history, it’s difficult to judge what that life would be. Countries whose economies are more capitalistic generally have more inequality and social problems.

  31. Nick- I love these interviews , but bro, they are wayyyyyyy to short.

  32. rove you’re a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file o

  33. Mr. Williamson said Sweden is not a socialist state, but a welfare state with high taxes. Yet when I look up healthcare in Sweden (literally that phrase in Wikipedia) I find that ‘Sweden’s health care system is organized and managed on three levels: national, regional and local. At the national level, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs establishes principles and guidelines for care and sets the political agenda for health and medical care. The ministry along with other government bodies supervises activities at the lower levels, allocates grants and periodically evaluates services to ensure correspondence to national goals.’

    It seems by Mr. Williamson’s definition that Swedish healthcare is socialist. Yes he seems to imply it is not. But national involvement in healthcare in the US is socialist.

    Also, when does regulation, which is OK by KW, become socialist planning?

    Socialism seems like pornography – KW will know it when he sees it.

    I’m also disturbed by the fact that public education is not a public good – indeed is considered socialist. I believe that public education has been considered desirable historically in the US because it encourages citizenship.

    The market is important but everything can’t be provided by the market. And many markets require regulation.

    1. Mike McC:

      There are pretty good criteria for defining a “public good” — nonrivalry in consumption, nonexcludability in consumption; I tried to explain those. (There’s more in the book.) “Public good” is not synonymous with “something that I think is good for the public.”

      As for Sweden and socialism, at some point you’re making a judgment call, of course. But Canada has a socialized health-care system and a more free economy than that of the United States (as ranked by Heritage, anyway), so, in spite of its health-care system, it’s hard for me to think of Canada as “socialist.” Just as I would not call the United States “socialist” in spite of its socialist K-12 education system.

  34. This is rather impressive stuff.

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