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Free Minds & Free Markets

The Never Ending Battle of Ideas Between Capitalism and Socialism

The U.S. may have won the cold war, but the ideological struggle never ended.

Today marks 100 years since the Bolshevik coup d'état in Russia overthrew the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky and replaced it with a communist dictatorship that lasted until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Throughout this year, I have written a number of columns devoted to communism as a system of government and socialism as a system of economic organization, throughout the former Soviet bloc. It would, therefore, serve limited purpose to revisit the many social and economic ills that the events of November 7, 1917 unleashed upon the world. Suffice it to say that dictatorship of the proletariat and central planning have resulted in mass murder and relative immiseration wherever they have been tried.

Instead, I would like to use today's column as a call to action. Put plainly, we (i.e., libertarians, classical liberals and other promoters of free markets and small government) are at risk of losing the battle of ideas, especially when it comes to young people. According to a new poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, "nearly 45 percent of millennials polled said that they would prefer to live in a socialist country compared to the 42 percent who said they preferred a capitalist one. Another 7 percent said that the preferred living in a communist country above all. The findings show that the percentage of millennials who prefer socialism over capitalism is a full 10 points higher than that of the general population."

Of course, I realize that all people, as they grow older, worry about the young, and it is not my intention to disparage anyone. Both Millennials and Generation Z have the potential to provide the world with astonishing technological and medical breakthroughs. They will not make the world a perfect place, but they can make it much better than it already is. But, improving the state of humanity requires institutions and policies conducive to openness and experimentation. Neither communism, nor socialism, can provide such an environment. I wonder how many young people realize how dependent the fulfillment of their dreams is on liberal democracy and a free market economy—the social and economic underpinnings of our society.

The reasons for widespread ignorance about the crimes and failures of communism are, by and large, embarrassingly banal. America's economic vitality broke the spirit of communist leaders and won the Cold War. In spite of economic setbacks like the Great Recession we have succeeded in creating material abundance that would have been unimaginable to previous generations. Even developing countries benefited, as globalization raised billions of people from absolute poverty. Yet, we have neglected the war of ideas by assuming that the results of the greatest social experiment ever conducted—the conflict between communism and capitalism—spoke for themselves.

Aside from economics departments, capitalism is treated with disdain by the rest of the social sciences. Much of the humanities have degenerated into post-modern mumbo-jumbo. Newspapers, television, and Hollywood are often run by people who cannot tell the difference between McCarthyism and the Gulag. Also, spare a thought for students in primary and secondary schools, whose education, such as it is, focuses on the real (as well as imagined) sins of America, while largely ignoring the bestial nature of America's Cold War opponent. How else can we explain that "one-third of Millennials believe… [that] more people were killed under George W. Bush than under Joseph Stalin"?

Learning about slavery and Jim Crow has its place. So does learning about Nazism and the Holocaust. How many people, however, know that the word "Nazi" is merely shorthand for the National Socialist German Workers' Party? How many people know that Adolf Hitler massively increased corporate taxes in order to expand the welfare state and took state control of the economy very seriously? How many people who have heard of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini know that he started off as a socialist and edited that country's main socialist newspaper, Avanti?

But, perhaps, we were always expecting too much. Perhaps the war of ideas cannot be won and we are destined to run in circles forever. Perhaps, as Milton Friedman put it in his 1995 Reason interview with Brian Doherty, "You just have to keep on trying to do it. There's no short cut. There's no way in which you're going to end the discussion, because new generations arise; every group has the same crazy ideas." If so, then allons! Let's get back to work and win the next round of our never-ending combat with socialism. We have done so before and we can do so again!

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  • damikesc||

    I'd hesitate to label it as a "battle of ideas" because we have decent evidence on what either path leads to. Socialism leads to oppression, scarcity, and misery. This has been shown every single time it's been tried in every single country it's been tried in --- and it has been tried by numerous different ethnic groups, so we can eliminate that as a mitigating factor.

    Venezuela is where socialism leads to 100% of the time. There isn't one state where Socialism worked out. Those kids that think they'd prefer Socialism have been taught so poorly by their teachers it belies the need for public education. If THIS is what public education churns out, home schooling would be hard-pressed to be worse.

    Universities should be no more tolerant of faculty that are Marxists than they'd be of faculty that are Nazis. Education should NEVER be a degree-level program but, instead, a minor or cognate to an actual field of knowledge.

  • Microaggressor||

    Public education is designed to serve the interest of the state, and teacher's unions who hold sway and like having a jobs program. So it's not surprising at all. What's surprising is there are still people who think public education is beneficial for children.

  • jogibew||

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  • ||

    'Classical liberalism' may be a set of actual ideas, but 'socialism' and 'communism', as used in this article, and probably by its targets as well, are very nearly empty signifiers which people fill with a variety of caricatures. Therefore, it is incorrect to say there is a battle of ideas. There are no ideas. If you were to ask the 45% what they meant by 'socialism' you would get a great variety of contradictory answers. What they're trying to do is vote No, but they have little or no concept of what to replace capitalism-as-they-know-it with. (Meanwhile classical liberalism shadow-boxes with itself off in the 5% corner.) The more you deprecate the No of 'socialism' and 'communism', the stronger it will become. God knows what it will finally be translated into, but it probably will be at least as nasty as our present mode of domination and exploitation through the control of capital. Muddying the language as you do will do nothing to help the situation.

  • Sevo||

    "God knows what it will finally be translated into, but it probably will be at least as nasty as our present mode of domination and exploitation through the control of capital."

    Cites missing, but you knew that.

  • SIV||

    How many people know that Adolf Hitler massively increased corporate taxes in order to expand the welfare state and took state control of the economy very seriously? How many people who have heard of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini know that he started off as a socialist and edited that country's main socialist newspaper, Avanti?

    Howard Zinn beat Jonah Goldberg in the civics textbook war.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    German Jews were on welfare? To the extent that the Reich was "socialist" was to feed the military machine with Aryan babies and liberals like Hayek opposed such. Jonah Goldberg calling Hayek a "fascist" is just plain stupid.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    I always get butthurt when someone says that National Socialists were Socialists! It pisses me off so much I can't stop vomiting! Stop being stupid! It just doesn't make sense, because socialists are always good!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    You should read about Marx and a classless society in order to educate yourself.

    There is a precise tern for 30s/40s Germany/Italy - fascism. It has a unique meaning. Words are like that.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    True socialism is classless! There's never been True Socialism!

    Nazis were Absolut 100% Pure Fascist, though. And that means 0% Socialism. Look it up!

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""True socialism is classless! There's never been True Socialism!""

    And there never will be.

    The ruling class always thinks they are the smarter subset of the citizens. They know better than you about everything. They get to make the laws YOU to live under. They do not think the rules apply the same way to them. Every ruling class is corruptible. The question is how much power do you want these type of people to have over you day to day activities. Communism and Socialism require handing these very corruptible people great authority which will inevitably be used to oppress.

  • ||

    On the contrary, you can't possibly have communism without anarchy. If there is a government, then some will rule others, and therefore there will be at least two classes, those who rule, and those who are ruled. The former class will then arrogate wealth and power unto itself, ending communism and instituting some form of class and property. Thus far the largest successful modern anarchies have not gotten much bigger than several hundred people.

    Socialism, though -- the ownership and control of the means of production by the workers or the community in which the m.o.p. are embedded -- is not only possible in a state, but there are many, many examples of it working today. They're usually called 'cooperatives'. It's state power which is problematical.

  • Sevo||

    "...there are many, many examples of it working today. They're usually called 'cooperatives'."

    So it works as an independent grocery until a Safeway moves in?

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    You can't have communism without everyone submitting to it, whether out of free will (everyone willing gets cooped up in co-ops) or by force (ie "the state" or "the mob"). The only classes that matter are the people with authority and all the other people who have to submit to it.

  • DarrenM||

    Wow. Ignorant as well as Incomprehensible.

  • Microaggressor||

    It's kind of amazing that you think we don't know what Marxian socialism is.
    Hitler distanced his ideology from it by saying the Nazis weren't "anti-property". All this meant is a promise not to confiscate capital on a whim, but the high tax burden is still a significant hindrance on property. It's pretty much the Nordic model that Bernie loves so much.

    Let me break it down for you.

    AnCapistan = 0% taxation
    Minarchy = less than 10% taxation
    Mixed Capitalism = less than 50% taxation
    Nordic model = more than 50% taxation
    Marxian socialism = 100% taxation (you don't get any of what you produce)

    Socialism is a spectrum. It's how much of your private property the state is entitled to.

  • John||

    Actually, the Nazis taxed the German people very little. The Nazi state was a kleptocracy as much as anything. The Nazis provided all kinds of welfare and social services to the German people. They paid for this by confiscating property from Jews and political enemies. When they ran out of that money, they moved on to Austria and did the same there and then to Czechoslovakia and so on. The Nazi attempt to conquer Europe was a case of running out of other people's money as much as anything.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Fascism is a POLITICAL system - not an economic one. Its purpose is to preserve a race/nation above others.

    Conservatives cannot understand this but readily use the term Islamo-Fascist (which is a valid term). Not everything is about taxes.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Socialism is an economic system, and fascism is a political system.

    And you can't have a political system that doesn't match your economic system! That's why Fascist Socialists is an oxymoron, and National Socialists are never socialists! QED!

  • zazoo||

    How about Socialism being the goal and Fascism being the means to get there?

  • JFree||

    Well that sounds like governments just need to keep taxes low. And keep spending - since deficits don't matter.

  • John||

    So if the money the state steals goes to the military, it is not socialism? Good God you are an idiot.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    It's not Socialism becasue Socialism can't be evil!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Socialism is evil, you dumb shit.

    But so is fascism. They are not the same thing except to idiot conservatives who don't like being tarred with their kinship to fascism.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    For example, Hitler never talked about Socialism.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Except when he trashed talked it! And that's all you need to know that National Soclialism is totes not Socialism!

  • Bra Ket||

    Plenty people considered them essentially the same thing in their time. It was the "totalitarianism" concept.

    Interestingly, the insanely popular slurs of "fascist" and "nazi" imply strictness/oppressiveness (not racist nationalism, the narrow and convenient left wing definition), but people have completely forgot about the freedoms the fascists took away.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Socialism can't be evil!""

    Socialism is a construct, has no soul and cannot be evil. Evil is in the rulers. The problem with socialism is that it demands the citizenry to surrender much freedom to the ruler, which becomes corrupt with power and evil.

    All forms of government is corruptible. The smartest form is the one where you are not surrendering your freedoms.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Welfare? What are you...oh! welfare state--you're deliberately misunderstanding so you can claim something stupid.

    The welfare state IS the socialist state. It is all for the state, and nothing outside the state--workers, businesses, entertainment, education--everything.

    And yes, the welfare state feeds the needs of the state. That's why it's so horrible.

    Everyone and everything is fodder for the ever hungrier maw of the Party.

  • Rhywun||

    How many people know that Hitler was a Communist for awhile?

  • DarrenM||

    And Mussolini was a socialist who became impatient. He was impressed by his experiences in WW1 and what a military-style organization could accomplish.

  • Eric||

    Not to defend socialism, but you have to take into account historical context when looking at the National Socialists or Fascists in Italy or Spain. In the early part of the 20th century Socialism was a new idea and spreading in popularity in amongst the former peasant classes. In order to build a populist movement every tin pot dictator embraced the term socialism and claimed to offer its benefits. For context, the German Democratic Republic, and Democratic Republic of Vietnam used the same tactics. But people are smarter enough (or honest enough) today not to conflate democracy with totalitarian police states.

  • Eric||

    I'll preempt the usual suspects with a familiar rebuttal: "Nice try lefty. Socialism (and every leftist in the world) is responsible for every atrocity in the past 100 years). It's my narrative and I'm sticking with it".

  • John||

    If that is what you think the rebuttal to your point is, then it is no wonder you don't seem to know much.

  • Eric||

    It's pretty standard here to start flinging poop at anyone who questions the collective group-think. You should know that better than most.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    But it's totally cool when you whine like you're a gunfighter, just moments away from battling the evil foes who will take you away in the boxcars.

    Because you're so reasonable and intelligent.

  • Eric||

    Reverse concern trolling is the epitome of the enlightened mind.

  • zazoo||

    Flinging poop? It doesn't seem to bad here to me.

    Have you tried Breitbart? Try questioning the status quo there.

  • John||

    Fascism was always anti-capitalist. Fascism is just the romantic version of communism. If you didn't believe in borders and thought that socialism had to be implemented on a worldwide scale, you were a communist. If you believed in borders and in nationality and thought that a socialist state could only be achieved by a racially based people's state, you were a fascist. The Nazis were just capitalists who thought the Germans should rule the world. All fascists rejected capitalism and embraced the total state just like the communists. The difference was fascists saw race as the defining aspect of humanity and the elimination of undesirable races as the key to achieving Utopia and communists saw economic class as the defining aspect of humanity and elimination of undesirable classes as the key for achieving Utopia. Both movements embraced the total state and socialism. They just disagreed on how it was to be achieved and what designated evil stood in the way.

  • Eric||

    Well said. Thank you for the thoughtful response John.

  • John||

    You are welcome. Sorry to be snarky above.

  • BigT||

    All Nazis were fascists, but not all Fascists were Nazis. Mussolini did not push racial identity until he needed Hitler, same with Franco. Fascism is an economic system, Nazism added militarism and racism.

  • Azathoth!!||

    John, he's being pleasant because you made an error.

    You wrote this--

    "The Nazis were just capitalists who thought the Germans should rule the world"

    When you meant this--

    "The Nazis were just communists who thought the Germans should rule the world"

    The former is fully in line with the idea the leftists put forth that Nazis were right-wing, while the latter is more in line with the point you've made is quite a few posts--that fascists and Nazis are just another face of leftism.

  • John||

    I forgot the NOT. The Nazis were NOT just capitalists who thought Germans should rule the world. My mistake. But it is clear from the context what I meant.

  • Azathoth!!||

    It's probably clear to Eric, too--he's just being facetious.

  • John||

    No;. He is just an ass who had no real response to my points. So instead he fixated on a typo and used that as an excuse to avoid the debate.

  • Eric||

    FFS. Or perhaps I simply appreciated being engaged earnestly by someone with an intelligent perspective. This board has become so full of shit that you guys have lost all perspective.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    There's never been True Socialism because dictatorships don't count!

    And that's all you need to know that True Socialism has no track record! No judging without evidence, retards!

  • zazoo||

    Right, because everytime it goes wrong they say, "ah that's because it's not true socialism you see"

    What a great escape clause.

    Imagine if it was applied in Civil Engineering.

    Oh, the bridge fell down. Well you see that's because its not a real bridge. It's got no track record you see, a real bridge. We tried to build a real bridge but it got subverted by fake bridgedom.

  • Azathoth!!||

    It is interesting to me how often you all resort to this stance--

    "It wasn't really 'socialism' they just called it that to attract a popular movement"

    And who, pray, would you attract by calling your movement 'socialist'? Right wing people? No.

    The secondary fallback is to show how other authoritarian socialist movements use deceptive names.

    At no time though, do any of those names, deceptive or not, appear to be crafted to attract people from the right. They all seem designed to attract socialists of one stripe or another, or to put a prettier face forward for peoples who have already been burned by socialism.

  • sarcasmic||

    In the early part of the 20th century Socialism was a new idea...

    "Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs..."
    Bastiat - 1848

    Socialism is not a new idea. Perhaps that specific definition was new, but the concept is as old as civilization.

  • John||

    Bingo. Socialism goes all the way back to Sir Thomas Moore at least and Plato before that. Marxism was a new interpretation of socialism but socialism is as old as mankind itself. Really, socialism is just a fancy way of describing tribalism, which is the oldest form of human social organization.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It takes a village!

  • e.h. behr||

    Aye, there's the rub. Socialism as a philisophical stance says "Your needs are as important as mine. My flourishing depends on your flourishing and vice versa." The problem is one of scale. As the sociologist Robin Dunbar has demonstrated, we Sapiens just aren't evolved to do that with greater than 150 individuals. Our capacity to care plummets rapidly above that number and so Socialism can't scale. Put another way, it can't take anything but a village.

    Capitalism, conversely, scales indefinitely because, as Yuval Harari points out, it is not dependent on peer to peer transactions but rather on intersubjective realities. If we all agree to believe that these pieces of paper and chunks of metal (or the numbers that represent them) have value then we will all act as if they do. They don't have actual value (except to the extent that the pieces if paper might be burned for fuel); they have symbolic value. Hence there is no limit to the number of people who can coordinate their actions as long as they all hold the same belief.

    So, socialism is inherently ethical but can't operate on any usable scale. Capitalism scales indefinitely, but is inherently amoral and thus provides no protections against greed.

  • Sevo||

    "Capitalism scales indefinitely, but is inherently amoral and thus provides no protections against greed."

    Greed is irrelevant.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Eric|11.7.17 @ 9:12AM|#
    In the early part of the 20th century Socialism was a new idea and spreading in popularity in amongst the former peasant classes.


    Socialist ideas have been around at least since 1820s. Some could even say that Christianity is socialist.

  • Jerryskids||

    Ask them to define socialism and see how many get beyond "free shit". Then ask them to think about the incentives and disincentives involved in the "free shit" system.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Victims of gubmint "skooling" can't even define "government" itself. That definition has been around since 1908, and is fundamental to any understanding of what the function of that entity ought to be. "At whose expense?" is the question that annihilates free shitters.

  • creech||

    I think they mostly reply, "At the expense of the well to do (i.e. not me)."

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Socialism is "giving", while capitalism is "greed". And that's all you need to know, ever.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Socialism is "giving", ""

    Government can't give without taking. So socialism is also taking. Funny how people forget to mention that part.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Because not wanting to be forced to "give" via corrupt governments is "greed" to every lefty, ever.

  • eyeroller||

    nearly 45 percent of millennials polled said that they would prefer to live in a socialist country compared to the 42 percent who said they preferred a capitalist one.

    Of the 45 percent, zero percent actually moved to a socialist country.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yes, can't we PLEASE export them to North Korea?

  • DarrenM||

    I don't think North Korea would want them.

  • zazoo||

    Well one stupid millennial went there on a lark and they beat him to death. So I think we've got North Korea's position on the subject.

  • DesigNate||

    When places Sweden are held up as examples of socialism, even though they have more economic freedom than us AND the state doesn't actually own the means of production, can you really blame them?

  • Eric||

    The problem with defining socialism is that, depending upon your definition, it can occupy the entire space between unfettered capitalism and hard line communism. That's why certain people equate Barack Obama and Stalin with the lazy accusation of "Socialist".

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    It's really complicated. Socialism is on a spectrum. A spectrum of ideas, and thought, and economics, and politics. A spectrum of democracy and republics. What does it really mean? It's not a single point, it's a line. Really, a multi-dimensional surface.

    All we really know is that There's NEVER BEEN True Socialism, and National Socialists are 0% Socialist.

  • Eric||

    Agreed to a point, but I wouldn't say that Nazis weren't socialists at all. They definitely had control of a good portion of Germany's means of production. But to use Naziism (or Fascism) as a cudgel against socialism is wrong. Just as wrong as it is to use them as a cudgel against conservatism.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    And yet we all know how much Trump is a fascist. Because, you know, stuff.

    But there's 0% socialism in fascism, and that's all you need to know.

  • DarrenM||

    That's obviously all you know. It would help if it was at least true.

  • zazoo||

    "But there's 0% socialism in fascism, and that's all you need to know."

    However there is an awful lot of fascism in socialism. From being shouted down by 'protestors' all the way to the knock on the door in the night.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Socialism is not complicated. Its the government's ownership of the means of production.

    When are told that you must work, where you must work, how you must work, and what you must make- the government owns you.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    It's totally the mental effort of intellectual geniuses to label Trump a fascist.

  • Eric||

    My personal belief is that Trump would be very sympathetic to fascism if he studied it. He is an elitist from the upper-crust of society. He fully embraces and uses the machinations of government, embraces the police state, and thinks he knows best what is best for the rest of us. In my opinion he is a proto-fascist. The only difference between him and other protofascists is that he lacks the filter to hide it.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Pretty much: Trump is a fascist, but National Socialists weren't Socialists.

    Because Socialists never embrace government, police, or think they know what's best for us.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Your standards of thought are so consistent and wise. Teach me, master.

  • Eric||

    Incomprehensible Bitch would be a better name. Lesson complete.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    This is what I always get around here: name calling and pushing, even when I'm agreeing!

    And my victimhood tells you everything you need to know about their kind.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump is clearly not fascist. He's president and he is mostly using government power to limit government power. Fascists don't do that. They seize more power and tend to be oppressive toward the populace.

  • EscherEnigma||

    ... wait, so Obama wasn'ta communist and/or a socialist now?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    He was/is.

  • Ride 'Em||

    I think the problem is that they confuse a welfare country with a socialist country. For example, Sweden is a welfare country where in the 1990's they rejected the socialistic slide it was on as they saw it didn't work. But it still refers to itself in terms of democratic socialism. So, these students don't have a clear understanding of what socialism is.

    As an aside I've always thought the term "democratic socialist" made absolute zero sense as individually the two political philosophies are mutually opposed.

  • Rhywun||

    That's why they call themselves "social democrats" now.

  • BigT||

    Not quite. Democracy is about choosing leaders, socialism is about distributing goods.

  • Ride 'Em||

    Good point. Although I still think they are mutually exclusive as democracy implies a certain amount of freedom whereas socialism is about reducing freedom.

  • Ride 'Em||

    And at their core, socialists don't believe free choice of electing leaders.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Do you know that the government of Sweden controls companies? That makes Sweden socialist.

    Try not doing socialist things in Sweden and see what happens. The Swedish have been okay with a system that taxes the living crap out of them and redistributes that money.

  • Overt||

    So...Libertarian Moment?

    Millennials are really libertarians?

    Anyone?

  • SIV||

    The cosmotarian approach to education and outreach has clearly failed.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Not to socialists. To them, it's worked as designed.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Mislabeling. The battle Marian points up is between the 1848 ideas of international socialism versus the 1920 ideas of christian national socialism. After the Reichstag fire, Hitler appealed to "both" for congressional action. He rallied religious conservatives against individual rights and encouraged the other socialists to help crush economic freedom. Germany had no libertarian party in 1933, so aggression was the only game in town.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "we (i.e., libertarians, classical liberals and other promoters of free markets and small government) are at risk of losing the battle of ideas"

    Did The Jacket really do that poorly at the Jacobin debate?

  • Mickey Rat||

    He nearly lost his head.

  • Just Say'n||

    Well, Gillespie's closing argument could have been stronger.

    "Guys, socialism isn't cool. And if I know anything, it's being cool. I wear a leather jacket for God's sake (does Fonzi thumbs-up pose)"

  • JFree||

    I don't know. But given that the author himself seems to conflate capitalism and free markets and can't seem to distinguish them, my guess is yes.

    Free market is an easy sell because it is mostly about the conditions of exchange - which is something you and I can control for ourselves. Capitalism is not an easy sell because it is mostly about ownership - and the only people who give a crap about owners are owners.

  • JFree||

    To expand

    Free market is selling the idea of liberty to a slave.
    Capitalism is selling the idea of liberty to a slaveowner.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Put plainly, we (i.e., libertarians, classical liberals and other promoters of free markets and small government) are at risk of losing the battle of ideas,

    At risk? You've got to be kidding.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    nearly 45 percent of millennials polled said that they would prefer to live in a socialist country compared to the 42 percent who said they preferred a capitalist one. Another 7 percent said that the preferred living in a communist country above all. The findings show that the percentage of millennials who prefer socialism over capitalism is a full 10 points higher than that of the general population.
    One reason for this is that Socialists are good at changing definitions to mask the true intentions of their ideology. Socialism is feel good socialism and more like welfare capitalism, says socialist propagandists. They try and disavow the actual policy of mass murder because they cannot tolerate dissenters.

    The main reason why socialism outside of North Korea and Cuba is welfare-capitalism is because that is all people will tolerate of socialism. If the socialists could get away with it, they would absolutely institute another band of Socialist Republics, like the USSR.

    Another reason is that Libertarians and non-socialists tend to be too nice about throwing the history of socialism's mass murders, racism, sexism, and genocide right into the conversation. Make sure all the young people know that Nazis were socialists. Make sure that every person knows that all the gadgets that they enjoy and the internet as we know it was because of Capitalism.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    (contd) Make sure every kids knows that these great things are being limited by socialist governments in China, the EU, and North Korea.

    So, the reality is that Millennials and Gen Zers are dumb about a great many things and hopefully that changes. I know that saying two generations are dumb might make them defensive but if they need a hard lesson in opening their eyes and opening real books that accurately detail socialist history.

    Lastly, Capitalism has never....ever.... been an economic and government system which needs government agents to kick in doors and take people away to gulags, to bring everyone great wealth.

    Socialism is an economic and government system which absolutely needs government agents to kick in doors and take people away to gulags, to bring everyone equal poverty.

  • John||

    Capitalism is not a system of government. It is the natural order of things when people are free to pursue their own ends. Capitalism is just another way of describing a free society.

  • sarcasmic||

    Capitalism is what happens when government enforces property rights and contracts.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yes John.

    Capitalism: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

  • JFree||

    Capitalism doesn't require a free market. And in most places, it works to undermine a free market - using crony control of government in most cases.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Libertarians [...] tend to be too nice [...]


    [citation needed].

    You folks have never hesitated to insult anyone or anything for any number of reasons.

  • Just Say'n||

    Oh my God, but North Korea and the Soviet Union are not real socialism. Real socialism is found in Scandinavia where corporate taxes and regulation are less than capitalist warmonger states like the US and offshore drilling is allowed.

    Wait, what were we talking about again?

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    I can scarcely begin to count the times I have heard and read that the "standard of living" and various "happiness" factors are so much better in the "Scandinavian countries" and of course this is due to socialism where everything is fair, corporate greed is largely eliminated by the beneficent State, and it's all share and share alike. Anything beyond this is not necessary to know, it just is, and we should be more like that. That perception is widely shared beyond the millennial and gen Z generations.

  • John||

    The problem is that people don't understand that socialism and communism are at heart the same thing. They are both based on the assumption that people can be made to work for the collective good instead of their own good. The difference between the two is a matter of degree not kind. "Socialism" is just communism where the state hasn't come to the conclusion that full-on state ownership and total slavery to the state is necessary to achieve the desired ends. Socialism is just communism sold on the basis that universal equality and justice can be achieved without resorting to a total state. When this turns out to be untrue, and it always does, socialist politicians are either removed from office in disgrace or if they already control the levers of power, the socialist state devolves into a communist total state as one draconian measure after another fails to achieve the desired socialist ends. This is why socialists forever claim "socialism has never been tried". There is always one more draconian measure that wasn't tried but could have been that can explain the failure. When a socialist says real socialism has never been tried, they are just admitting that socialism is just an insufficiently totalitarian form of communism.

  • Ladyhawk||

    Correct. We can see this happening in the health care system -- it isn't working out well for the (fill in the sub-population of your choice) so we have to tweak it again. When this fails to cover everyone well enough at a cheap enough cost, they tweak it again, and again, until finally the SJWs exclaim that the only way to get it right is to give the government total control over the entire system --- by of course applying to the whole system the mechanisms used in the segments currently under government control , and which are the most costly, least effective, most riddled by fraud, and least responsive to a consumer's actual needs.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    I don't see why Socialism is so bad. Listen: private property should be abolished, so you don't really own yourself, because that's greed.

    Why can't you people just grow up and get over that?

  • DarrenM||

    And since you don't own yourself, the government has every right to force you to have babies or, if the government determines it's best, to have you sterilized.

  • Rhywun||

    The real question is are today's youth more ignorant than yesterday's - given that the young are pretty ignorant overall. I certainly was at that age.

  • BigT||

    If people were angels socialism could work. But inevitably human nature makes people grab more than their 'fair share' with no corrective force. Capitalism pits interest against interest, but also encourages cooperation to increase efficiency, so it uses human nature to its benefit. Free trade helps align competing interests to peaceful behavior.

    But you knew that.

  • Rebel Scum||

    nearly 45 percent of millennials polled said that they would prefer to live in a socialist country compared to the 42 percent who said they preferred a capitalist one

    That's because they don't know what either of these things are. They think socialism is just more welfare (as opposed to state ownership/operation of the means of production) and they think that capitalism is the corporatism that we currently labor under. This is why you get bs terms like "ride-sharing", when no sharing is involved. It is one person contracting a service from another person in a voluntary manner. That is business. That is capitalism.

  • John||

    Pretty much that. Like I explained above, they don't understand what socialism is and why it is really just communism with training wheels.

  • BigT||

    And fascism is socialism light - govts don't own production but favor some companies over others. Think Obamacare.

  • Rebel Scum||

    They also don't know what fascism is. That is why they believe Trump is some kind of fascist, even though he has been rolling back the regulatory state. That is the opposite of fascism.

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but Trump is a big meany-pants! That makes him a fascist!

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Socialism is a fantasy. Capitalism is a recognition of existing forces, not all of them nice. Socialism presumes that people can be taught to ignore their own interests for the common good, and that 'experts' can direct an economy better than the individual choices of the populace. There isn't a hell of a lot of evidence to support either assumption, and the 20th Century's record on socialistic governments, mass murder, and misery runs Socialism out of any benefit of the doubt it might once have been entitled to.

    A Capitalist society presumes that most people are greedy, and that working on that greed is ethically and morally superior to trying to scare them out of acting against it. In short, that a society based on greed is superior to one based on fear.

    Socialists always TRY to make their system sound like it runs on altruism and fire thoughts, and in theory it might. In practice it runs, when it runs at all, on the fear of the secret police.

  • John||

    Socialism can never function unless you create a new sort of man and change human nature such that they will work for the common good instead of their own and not game the system. Marxists were for all of their evil and insanity, honest about this. Socialists are not and pretend that such a transformation is not necessary.

    Beyond that, you point out the information problem associated with central planning. That there is or could be such a thing as a "common good" and that man could know what it was sufficient to run a society based on it, is the other lie upon which socialism is based.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Socialism can never function unless you create a new sort of man and change human nature such that they will work for the common good instead of their own and not game the system.""

    Yeah. Even if that person was in power today, it might not be that kind of person in power tomorrow. Power corrupts, and socialism requires giving the ruler a lot of it.

  • DarrenM||

    I think Fascists were correct in believing you really needed a more homogeneous population for socialism to really work. However, to get there requires actions most civilized people will (hopefully) reject.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    As God as my witness, we WILL parse the Crytonomicon off Assholiness and figure out just exactly what kind of Asshole you are!

  • Eric Bana||

    I was in a conversation at work with someone I speak to relatively regularly. She is in her late twenties. I don't know how the topic came up, but I mentioned the civil war in Syria, particularly ISIS. She replied she had never heard of them. Really.

    It's astonishing how some people can be so willfully uninterested in even the most basic facts about the world.

  • zazoo||

    True but I sometimes want to challenge myself to take a year where I completely ignore the news. Would I really feel any different at the end?

    I wonder if I really need to know about ISIS and Syria.

  • Magnitogorsk||

    We had 8 years of conservative talking heads frothing at the mouth about milquetoast capitalist Obama being a socialist, of course liberal millennials don't think socialism is a bad word anymore.

    These kids just want to live in Norway because the nice old man Bernie told them how great it is there (and it IS a very nice place to live, but so is here), therefore they answer that they'd rather live in a socialist country.

  • Lester224||

    This ^^

  • timbo||

    The three systems should be looked at in the lens of economics to show their lock-step similarity.

    Fascism leads to socialism which leads to communism. Communism is actually never achieved because the ruling elite eventually are dominated by a dictator who certainly has no room for communal ownership of his stuff. (stalin, mao, castro, hitler, moduro)

    The German fascists were markedly cronyists and the german government had a very heavy hand in/and government collusion with most big business. They were most notably involved in the military industrial machine which they used to "grow" out of the depression by borrowing. Sound familiar?
    Of course, when the heavy hand of government mixed with the massive police state and the bloated bureaucracy became too powerful, it simply devolves into socialism. Perhaps in Germany the government did not own the means of production but they certainly controlled all of it.
    Communism is just the next step in the progression towards tyranny and repression of liberty.

    They are all basically the same. They just use different tag phrases and strategies of eventual force. Then they fail.

  • John||

    They were most notably involved in the military industrial machine which they used to "grow" out of the depression by borrowing.

    That is Keynsian claptrap. Yes, the Nazi's rearmed Germany. But that is not what got Germany out of the Depression. To the extent the Nazis got Germany out of the depression, they got some Germans out of the Depression and did that by confiscating the property of the Jews and political dissidents to pay for social welfare programs.

  • timbo||

    Borrowing and building a war machine never gets any economy out of depression. That is why is emphasized it. It is classic bullshit.

    Borrowing to invest capital in something just to blow it up is not growth nor is it productive.

    like you said, it is simply Keynesian misallocation of capital and mal-investment. leads to further economic malaise.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    It's been argued that the battle of ideas will be won or lost by influencing the youth. This notion seems rather obvious. The left has been in the business or educating our youth for decades, while those opposing the left have given them free rein.

    So, not really all that surprising. The left has a stranglehold on education. How can anyone expect a different outcome?

  • EscherEnigma||

    To the extent that "the left has a stranglehold on education", it's because "the right" isn't interested in education (broadly) or public education (specifically).

    That said, in this particular case of "socialism" being seen more favorably, it's probably 95% because conservative, Republicans and libertarians have been calling Obama a "socialist" and "communist" for the past eight years.

  • NoVaNick||

    it's probably 95% because conservative, Republicans and libertarians have been calling Obama a "socialist" and "communist" for the past eight years.

    That could be, or more likely, when you don't have an opportunity to move out of your parents' house, earn money, and own things, while being saddled with college debt for a degree in philosophy or cultural studies, having the government take care of you for the rest of your life at the expense of the evil rich people who are holding you back sounds pretty darn good.

  • timbo||

    Obama is a card carrying marxist. He made no secrets about that.

    He was the worst kind of Marxist. Like Clinton, he knew damn well marxism is a scam. He also knew that selling it to the zombie horde is the best way to get into power and make himself fantastically rich.
    He, like all other socialist power drunks, went straight for the corrupt angle while the getting was good.

    He was incredibly shrewd and conniving but like all marxists, too stupid to understand how very destructive Marxist socialism is to the world. Basically he used his power for bad and not good. That makes him dumb.

    He only made it more funny and ironic by espousing race riots and division between the masses while making life more miserable for poor people. Another awesome trait of Marxists.

  • mtrueman||

    "He was the worst kind of Marxist. Like Clinton, he knew damn well marxism is a scam."

    Unlike Clinton, he was a Kenyan born secret Muslim Marxist. They don't get any worse than that. Stalin, for all his faults, knew how to deal with his empire's muslims.

  • zazoo||

    "he was a Kenyan born secret Muslim Marxist. They don't get any worse than that. Stalin, for all his faults, knew how to deal with his empire's muslims."

    A Muslim AND a Marxist. A double baddie.

    "Stalin for all his faults".......

    You mean like killing 40 million people? But its Obama whom they don't get any worse than?

    Okay. You don't like Obama. We get it....

  • mtrueman||

    " You don't like Obama."

    We all hate Obama. Come on!

  • zazoo||

    You described Obama as shrewd and stupid in the same sentence.

    Can you make up your mind ?

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    I hate those Nazis.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    National Socialist German Workers Party.

  • GILMORE™||

    I don't think its a 'battle of ideas' at all, because that pretends there is some Apples-Apples comparison between the two...

    ...that both are somehow equivilent 'theories' which are respectively superimposed on a blank-slate society.

    that's not how it actually works.

    - Capitalism is simply the name we give to the natural self-organizing effects when property rights (*which already exist, and would exist regardless of govt granting them) are well-protected by law.

    - Socialism is an attempt at stripping people's natural rights and using government force to change people's natural and voluntary behaviors.

    Capitalism "just happens" as a society evolves. Its not an "ism" at all really. Its like a force of nature and a constant thread running through all of human civilization. There were many perversions of the basic idea throughout history; particularly where societies provided different levels of property rights to different classes... but it was always a variation on a theme.

    Socialism is an attempt at imposing an arbitrary, artificial order on top of this pre-existing state. 'capitalism' doesn't just go away when this happens; it still exists underneath - its simply being repressed. You still have black markets, you still have barter systems, you still have hoarding and arbitrage.

    Capitalism is simply a basket of ideas describing pre-existing human behavior. Socialism is a stupid attempt at re-shaping human behavior at the point of a gun.

  • John||

    Socialism robs people of their humanity by making them nothing other than means to be used to achieve some greater end.

  • mtrueman||

    "Capitalism "just happens" as a society evolves. Its not an "ism" at all really. Its like a force of nature and a constant thread running through all of human civilization."

    It is an ism, as the last three letters of the word show about as clearly as possible. It's also fairly recent in history, dating back to the days of Adam Smith. Beware of those who would have you believe otherwise.

    "Socialism is a stupid attempt at re-shaping human behavior at the point of a gun."

    So is capitalism, as anyone familiar with how the West was won will tell you.

  • GILMORE™||

    "BUT IT HAS "ISM" IN THE WORD"

    this is your best argument. congrats.

  • mtrueman||

    "this is your best argument"

    It's not an argument. I'm only pointing out to you what should be obvious.

  • GILMORE™||

    How wonderfully insightful. I suppose you could now claim that "alcoholism" should be treated as categorically similar, because "letters".

    i know its your shtick to be obstinately stupid, but please do it elsewhere.

  • mtrueman||

    Ism is just a suffix applied to many words in English. There is no need to fear it and it doesn't necessary imply badness.

  • John||

    Capitalism is the rejection of tribalism and the idea that man's value is only that which he contributes to the collective good. Capitalism arises when societies embrace the unique value and dignity of the individual and reject tribalism. So in that sense, it is an "ism". And since tribalism was the natural state of man for much of his history, capitalism can fairly be called an unnatural, although better, way of being.

  • GILMORE™||

    . It's also fairly recent in history, dating back to the days of Adam Smith.

    as i said, all capitalism is doing is *describing* behaviors which go back to ancient times. everyone has had private property since the dawn of time, and the degree to which ancient societies protected these existing patterns of behavior, the more prosperous they were.

    All Smith did was document this. Just as Darwin didn't *invent* evolution, he just described how it worked.

    Capitalism happens by itself and is observable. Socialism had to be theorized, and remains a theory because it simply doesn't work in practice.

  • John||

    Most behaviors in ancient times were tribal. Capitalism rests on the assumption that an individual's pursuit of their own interests as they see them is the best state of society. Tribalism rejects that. Tribalism says that a person's primary duty is to the tribe and the common good of the tribe. In tribalism, the individual agrees to work for the common good of the tribe and in return gets the security of the tribe taking care of him. That is nothing but socialism.

    In some situations, tribalism is the only alternative. Warfare is a good example of this. There is no more socialistic and tribalistic organization than an army. If every member of an army just acts in their own interests and doesn't sacrifice and work for the greater whole, everyone ends up dead or captured. You cannot have capitalism without some measure of security and stability.

  • GILMORE™||

    that's very nice john but isn't anything to do with my point.

  • John||

    It has everything to do with your post. You claim that capitalism just naturally occurs and socialism had to be theorized. No. Socialism is just tribalism. It wasn't theorized at all. Socialism is just a restatement of the principles of tribalism. And one could argue tribalism is the more "natural" state of man.

  • GILMORE™||

    no, because you're conflating cultural units with economic behavior.

    tribes claimed property. tribes traded with other tribes/3rd parties. tribes tried to acquire more `property through voluntary contractual agreements.

    the economic behavior is still observable despite different levels of social-organization and different level of individual property-rights protections.

    i don't think your 'tribal' fixation matters to what i'm saying. I'm not talking about pre-civilization anyway when i refer to 'ancient'. im talking about greeks, persians, chinese, etc. Civilizations.

    if anyone wants to talk about your tribal theory, i'm sure they'll take you up on it somewhere else here.

  • John||

    tribes claimed property. tribes traded with other tribes/3rd parties. tribes tried to acquire more `property through voluntary contractual agreements.

    Sure they do. Just like socialist and communist governments do. The difference between them and capitalist societies is that the fruits of those trades belong to everyone, not the person who made them.

    the economic behavior is still observable despite different levels of social-organization and different level of individual property-rights protections.

    You assume that economic activity doesn't occur in even an ideal socialist society. It does. The difference is who manages that activity and who gets the benefit from it. Socialism doesn't reject trade and economic activity. It just claims to manage that activity and ensure that the benefits are shared equally. Just because the state owns the widgets I am in charge of, doesn't mean I don't give them to you so you can use them to make something. What it means is, the benefits of that trade goes to the state and by extension everyone equally and not to the individual.

    And I don't have a "tribal fixation". Calling something what it is is not a fixation. And you claiming it is, just is you saying you don't like the facts as they are.

  • Azathoth!!||

    You are making the same mistake as the socialists.

    You are seeing something that only appears to be there if one does not look too closely.

    This is not applicable to all tribes--it may not be applicable to any, depending on how close one can get

    The difference between them(tribes, communist and socialist societies) and capitalist societies is that the fruits of those trades belong to everyone, not the person who made them

    When one gets past the perceptions of leftist anthropologists, one quickly discovers that the makers of the 'fruits' tend to get more status, better portions, better housing--all the things that would accrue to someone being paid more. They are not relegated to non-status positions and portions.

    Because the market exists everywhere--and even if a chief decrees this and such--he will not stay chief long if he starts taking rewards from those who earned them.

    Socialism fails because it refuses to see that the market exists and is intrinsically fair. Socialists think they can do better--so their societies always die.

  • John||

    Because the market exists everywhere--and even if a chief decrees this and such--he will not stay chief long if he starts taking rewards from those who earned them.

    No they don't actually or they exist to a very small degree in some circumstances. Markets really don't exist in a small military unit. Everyone gets issued the same crap. So there is nothing to trade. To the extent that markets do exist, that just shows how no one ever really is totally committed to the collective. And that, of course, is why socialism fails.

    Socialism fails because it refuses to see that the market exists and is intrinsically fair. Socialists think they can do better--so their societies always die.

    Socialism fails because it refuses to see that absent extreme circumstance people are always going to act in their interests and not the collective's. That is human nature. The existence of black markets is an expression of that. Understand, it is not the markets that will always exist, it is human nature that will never change.

  • mtrueman||

    "that the market exists and is intrinsically fair."

    It's fair if both parties have equal access to all pertinent information. Otherwise, buyer beware.

  • John||

    Gilmore,

    You really don't understand socialism or Marxism very well. And it makes your points against them less compelling than they should be.

  • GILMORE™||

    thats nice john.

  • John||

    And judging from your statement below about the English aristocracy, you don't know much about capitalism either. But you make up for it by not wanting to learn. So there is that I guess.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Tribes are extended families.

    The entire tribal system grew out of primate troop behavior. It has, at it's base, the ideas of private property, of territory and the primacy of the individuals in the troop/tribe.

    The 'socialism' of in-groups is the place where the entire fallacy that became Marxism was born.

    Because tribes and troops are based on the very close ties between the members, socialists saw it as people sacrificing for some obscure 'greater good' when in reality, it was members of a family acting in the best interests of the people IN the family.

    There is a gigantic difference that doesn't translate out to strangers--for strangers, there's the market.

  • John||

    here is a gigantic difference that doesn't translate out to strangers--for strangers, there's the market.

    Yes and that is why socialism always ends in a nightmare. But understand that the underlying principles are the same. All socialism is doing is trying to make man into one giant tribe where everyone sacrifices for the greater good like they would for their family. Of course, people won't do that. And this is why Marxists said you had to create the new man whose nature was such that he would.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Families DON'T run on socialistic principles--but it can LOOK like they do as long as you don't actually talk to anyone.

    That is the mistake the left makes to this day--they don't want anyone to tell them what they're looking at.

  • John||

    Families DON'T run on socialistic principles--but it can LOOK like they do as long as you don't actually talk to anyone.

    Oh really? Do you give your kids and your parents you are taking care of food based on what they earn and bring to the family? Do you tell junior to get his ass out there and earn some money into the family coffers if he expects to eat tonight? If not, then you damn well do run your family on socialistic principles.

  • Azathoth!!||

    No, John, I run my family based on the dynamics of families that predate socialism and even humanity. I run my family on principles that most mammals use.

    As does pretty much everyone.

    Socialists looked at those principles and thought that they could expand them to include larger groups--because here was one member not eating all that they'd caught, but instead feeding their offspring--they were sacrificing for a 'greater good'.

    But that's not what the member was thinking. The member was feeding it's child so that one day, that child would help feed it when it was old--it was buying insurance for it's retirement. And it fed it's parents for the same reason.

    It may LOOK like a socialist's 'greater good'--it might even turn out to BE some kind of greater good--but the motivation was individualistic at heart--securing the peace and prosperity it needed.

    Socialism fails because this cannot be extended beyond the family by force. People have to WANT to include others--and then it's not socialism.

  • mtrueman||

    "The entire tribal system grew out of primate troop behavior."

    No, the tribal system grew out of the band system. Which is a smaller and less hierarchical and formal social organization than the tribal system. Monkeys and apes don't enter into it.

  • Azathoth!!||

    The 'band' grew from the 'troop'

    The entire thing tribe, troop, band--grew from the family.

    And it predates monkeys and apes.

  • mtrueman||

    Human societies are immensely complex things. They do not predate monkeys. City states only stretch back some 5000 years or so.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Can an IQ be measured in negative numbers?

    Families, and family dynamics predate humans. They predate primates.

  • mtrueman||

    "Families, and family dynamics predate humans. They predate primates."

    Yes, and it's one institution where market mechanisms don't work, and aren't expected to work. Isn't that contrary to whatever point you are struggling to make?

  • Azathoth!!||

    There is only one 'market mechanism'.

    Everyone strives to get the best value from every interaction.

    It may even be

    Everything strives to get the best value from every interaction, but, unless something can tell us this, we have no way to know with absolute certainty.

    Everything else about the market stems from this single 'mechanism'.

    And it is the very basis of the family.

  • mtrueman||

    "Everyone strives to get the best value from every interaction."

    That's a theory. If you can prove it, there's a Nobel prize waiting for you.

  • mtrueman||

    "Capitalism happens by itself and is observable. "

    The great aristocratic estates were handed down from father to eldest son and kept from the clutches of the market from generation to generation. This is not capitalism and Smith was against this kind of monopolistic system. Smith was a theorist of the first order, and your attempts to trivialize his contributions are noted.

  • GILMORE™||

    kept from the clutches of the market

    if they had any market value whatsoever, that's impossible.

    fuck off you twit.

  • John||

    No it is not. Those estates had huge market value. And they stayed together, in some cases to this day, because of the commitment of the families involved to keep them together. The Spencer's still own Blenheim Palace and go to great lengths to keep it as it is when they could absolutely sell it for a fortune.

    There is more to life and human behavior than money you fucking twit.

  • GILMORE™||

    that's nice john

  • John||

    It is nice Gilmore. I took the time and effort to try and teach you something. This despite the fact that most people would conclude that you are unteachable. Just consider that post me saying, despite what everyone else says, I believe you can do better.

  • GILMORE™||

    your generosity is boundless

  • mtrueman||

    You may not have heard of primogeniture, the system whereby property is not given over to the market where everyone had a chance to acquire it, but passed down from father to eldest son. This was the system that Smith railed against in his famous book, "On the Wealth of Nations."

  • GILMORE™||

    ""There were many perversions of the basic idea throughout history""

    you may not have readunderstood my original post

  • Azathoth!!||

    Smith was against profiting from the fruits of one's labors? Against providing a better life to one's children?

    I suspect you're thinking of a different Smith.

  • mtrueman||

    "Against providing a better life to one's children?"

    He wasn't against that at all. He thought that the children's father would be better motivated to provide for them than a wealthy land owner.

  • Qsl||

    Smith was a proponent of the land value tax, which beyond its other benefits, tends to discourage land speculation and increase utilization. That's a fancy way of saying those grand estates would most likely be curbed under the tax burden.

    I suspect you're thinking of the comicbook version of Adam Smith. He had about as much in common with the leftist as the right.

  • mtrueman||

    "He had about as much in common with the leftist as the right."

    He was a theorist, not a political partisan.

  • Qsl||

    And lo and behold much of his prescriptions fall in line with the standard bearers of the left (progressive taxation, land reform, and a welfare state).

    You don't get to abridge his ideas to claim as your own, and then cast him out to the weeds as a theorist. That is intellectually weak.

    Bear the full measure of what he had to say.

  • mtrueman||

    "Bear the full measure of what he had to say."

    I'll have to finish his book first. Easier going than Marx's tome, but still quite a challenge.

  • Azathoth!!||

    They weren't 'kept from the clutches of the market'.

    They were--and in some cases are--what's known as 'property'. And property can be wealth.

    Just because something is not being traded does not mean that it is invisible to the market.

  • mtrueman||

    "Just because something is not being traded does not mean that it is invisible to the market."

    The aristocrats didn't have to go to the market to transfer their wealth to their oldest son.

  • Azathoth!!||

    You can't 'go' to the market.

    The market just is.

    The transfer of wealth is something that happens IN the market--no matter how it happens.

    You really understand none of this.

  • mtrueman||

    "The transfer of wealth is something that happens IN the market--no matter how it happens."

    Inheritance doesn't take place in a market place. The children didn't bid for the estates. It was handed down to the eldest son as matter of law and custom.

  • Qsl||

    The market just is.

    Yeah, no.

    All systems suffer from coordination problems, which is the great insight of Hayek; that a formalized system such as capitalism has innovated through. Without coordination, there are no markets, and the invisible hand of "no matter how it happens" doesn't. You are mischaracterizing THE crowning achievement of capitalism- sufficient coordination of time, labor, information, and money so that markets can not only appear but prosper.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say socialism could work, but it hasn't solved its coordination problems like capitalism has.

  • Azathoth!!||

    You are overcomplicating something that is simple--as those who call themselves 'economists' do. They refuse to understand that they are historians and seek to be prognosticators.

    It is the reason that the idea of 'socialism' exists at all--because there are people who mistake the various patterns they see in the past for duplicable mechanisms they can use to generate profit for themselves.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Marx invented capitalism.

    Always mistrust people who can't attribute ideas to their rightful place. They are typically dispicable, evil people who are out to get you.

  • John||

    To the extent that what Marx called "capitalism" was a figment of his imagination and in no way reflected reality, he did. Every single observation and prediction Marx ever made was proven completely false by the turn of the 20th Century. Indeed, "Leninism" was nothing but Lenin making up excuses for why Marx had been proven so wrong. You see, the capitalists bought off the proletariat in Western Countries by robbing the rest of the world through colonialism and imperialism. That is why the proletariat didn't rise up and revolt as Marx had predicted. So it is left to a revolutionary elite to rise up and overthrow capitalism and bring a socialist society since the proletariat won't do it. That is Leninism in a nutshell. And it is thoroughly stupid and insane.

    There is some idiot on Twitter known as Freddie DeBoer. Nearly all of the Reason staff follow him. He is some journalist and educator in Brooklyn New York. The asshole openly calls himself a Marxist and makes profound statements like "in my mind no one should ever 'get what they deserve'". That evil idiots like DeBoer are taken seriously by anyone says really awful things about the state of things today or really the state of man in general.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Libertarianism is a callous ideology that is diametrically opposed to some of the things that I hold most dearly. "- What is Aleppo? article
    Freddie DeBoer articles

  • Azathoth!!||

    'Capitalism' isn't an 'ism', and it isn't recent. It predates humanity and is still used, on this planet, by non-humans.

    What was named 'capitalism' by the people trying to subvert it, is the natural economic activity all life takes part in.

    It has thousands of names--'tit for tat', 'give and take', 'barter', 'trade'

    Animals did it long before humans ever existed--with some, the trade became so ingrained that symbiosis occurred.

    It is the market, and it will always exist.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's one obnoxious thing about the socialism/capitalism debate is they are both extremely nebulous terms. People will argue over them with both people having different definitions of the terms. This makes every shit. Not to go all Wittgensteinian on things, but I fear that's a core issue plaguing this entire debate.

    It's why you end up with certain people who's defintion of socialism is pragmatic freedom to do things you want. A la Tony.

  • GILMORE™||

    yeah, this is basically my point.

    one resident idiot is trying to reduce capitalism to "what Adam Smith said". As though it didn't exist until someone gave it a name.

    all he did was categorize and describe processes that had always existed, and theorized a specific optimal model which he called 'capitalism'. its no different than Darwin describing evolution as 'natural selection'. it existed before the theory, and his theory is a useful set of descriptors, but they shouldn't be confused as one and the same.

    people get into a semantic tizzy because you use the term 'capitalism' to describe 'various kinds of human activity following basic market-principles'. its stupid and waste of time.

  • mtrueman||

    "all he did was categorize and describe processes that had always existed"

    He argued for the breaking up of the great aristocratic monopolies by putting them up for sale on the market where everyone had a chance to buy them. The system where one can buy land on the market has not always existed. It's a liberal innovation.

  • GILMORE™||

    . The system where one can buy land on the market has not always existed.

    I never said it did. I said that all Smith did was categorize and describe processes for doing so that had always existed. no one said they were implemented universally, consistently, or that his idealized model existed in nature before he articulated it. and it hasn't since, fwiw, so your insistence on the primacy of smith's writing is characteristically obtuse.

    if you weren't a complete idiot, you might have grasped this from my original post.

  • mtrueman||

    "I said that all Smith did was categorize and describe processes for doing so that had always existed. "

    Smith did much more than that. He advocated and promoted liberal ideas. Liberal ideas were an innovation of the Enlightenment, and the Scottish Enlightenment. Ideas which have not 'always existed,' any more than Newton's calculus always existed. Sometimes the world brings forth the new and the innovative, conservative opposition notwithstanding.

  • GILMORE™||

    Smith did much more than that. He advocated and promoted liberal ideas.

    which is all very nice, but still irrelevant to my original point, which isn't about Smith, but about the underlying mechanisms he described.

    capitalism 'exists' in non-liberal societies, just as it exists in socialist societies, just as it has always existed since one person has traded goods and services with another. which goes back to my very first point - that capitalist concepts merely describes a pre-existing and natural human order, while socialism tries to impose one entirely contrived out of thin air, and which always fails because it is antithetical to this natural state.

    The fact you are too dense to recognize this isn't other people's problem.

  • mtrueman||

    You are talking about trading being the same as capitalism. In that case, socialism = not trading?

    " that capitalist concepts merely describes a pre-existing and natural human order"

    I wouldn't be surprised if people shared before they traded. When I was a lad, my parents always shared their food with us kids. We were never asked to trade for it. I imagine you must have been raised under similar circumstances.

  • GILMORE™||

    No, im not equating trade with capitalism.

    I'm pointing out that everyone from the ancient greeks to the persians to the egyptians noticed that "letting people exchange goods and services with minimal interference" actually produced wildly better results than trying to "force people to do productive activities with top-down controls"

    the most successful civilizations were ones that were the most liberal with the trade policy, and the most observant of property rights. Everyone fucking knew this for centuries, it was just Smith who bothered to codify and organize pre-existing implicit human experience into some systematic analysis.

    no, socialism is not "Not trading". I already defined socialism in the very first fucking post i made which you still seem too fucking dense to digest. I also repeatedly explained that regardless of attempts to impose socialist models, capitalsm still exists regardless because its a natural product of human interaction.

  • mtrueman||

    " the egyptians noticed that "letting people exchange goods and services with minimal interference" actually produced wildly better results than trying to "force people to do productive activities with top-down controls"

    You don't think those pyramids got built as the result of letting people freely exchange goods and services with minimal interference, do you? That smells of the heavy foot of state control to me.

    "capitalsm still exists regardless because its a natural product of human interaction."

    I believe instead that capitalism results from Enlightenment figures who first started to talk of property rights.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    And that's how we know that children can't love and hate: "love" and "hate" are abstract concepts, and children struggle with understanding those. So they can't do it.

    They also live in a geocentric universe until they're old enough.

  • mtrueman||

    "And that's how we know that children can't love and hate:"

    Children can love and hate. It's abstract concepts they have trouble grasping. Early childhood education concentrates on numbers and letters, both abstractions, and little else.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    But how can children understand something they can't grasp? What is "love"? It's an abstract concept. If children could do it without understanding it, then, that just doesn't make sense.

  • mtrueman||

    "But how can children understand something they can't grasp? "

    Grasping is understanding. Oh, and I am not saying children are incapable of forming emotional attachments. I believe they are. My point is that abstract concepts like number, letter, human right are difficult for them and they are unlikely to be able to come up with them without help from older, more intellectually mature humans.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Right, so, for example, a child can probably love, but probably wouldn't invent a word "love" unless shown by adults, because they can have emotional attachments, but probably wouldn't come up with the abstract version of the concept.

    But that doesn't make sense, because a child could also form an attachment to an object, an desire to use it exclusively, without coming up with the abstract concept of "property rights". And we all know that's impossible.

    So, let's recap: children can't do property rights are an abstract concept, but they can love, even though love is an abstract concept.

    It just makes sense.

  • mtrueman||

    "It just makes sense."

    I don't see why it shouldn't. Forming emotional attachments is not an intellectual exercise. That's why children are able to do it with ease. Dealing with abstractions, letters, numbers, rights, is something children typically find difficult until they reach puberty. If you visit the classroom of young children you might be surprised to see just how much effort goes into teaching these things.

  • Brian||

    Clearly, restating part of what I just said explains why kids can love but not own.

  • Azathoth!!||

    I've tried to show people that 'capitalism' is simply how things happen with the example of children.

    Children trade--toys, food, favors. The better stuff you have to trade the 'richer' you are. Children even create money--by making written IOUs that are good for this or that. If you always honor your IOUs, you get even 'richer'

    And children do all this without anyone reading them anything at all about economics.

  • mtrueman||

    Trading doesn't make you a capitalist. Capitalism is more about who owns and controls wealth - private individuals. That was Adam Smith's vision, as I understand it.

  • Azathoth!!||

    All the things that make up what's called 'capitalism' are contained in the economics children devise for themselves, on their own, without Adam Smith's help.

    All of them.

    The point you're trying to make, that trading doesn't make one a capitalist, is why I pointed out that having good stuff to trade WITH and having 'capital'(IOUs) that always pay makes one rich.

    But I'm starting to suspect that one needs to actually have some understanding of economics to be able to grasp any of this and being a leftist means studiously avoiding understanding economics at all.

  • mtrueman||

    "All the things that make up what's called 'capitalism' are contained in the economics children devise for themselves, on their own, without Adam Smith's help."

    Not true because Capitalism is based on the concept of property rights, something that came out of the Enlightenment. This is an abstract notion and children have trouble with such things until they hit puberty.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Amoeba have 'property rights'. They claim and defend territory.

    Almost every living thing claims and defends territory.

    Property rights are built into life on Earth at the monocellular level.

    Civilization has created ever less violent ways to claim and defend one's territory, but it is the exact same process that is undertaken by single-celled organisms to this day.

  • mtrueman||

    "Property rights are built into life on Earth at the monocellular level."

    Some environmentalists claim that the non-living also have property rights. Things like oceans and mineral deposits.

    Personally, I think there's a difference between occupying, claiming and defending territory, as people and animals do, and 'owning' it.

    Some animal rights activists believe that animals can own property and sue humans in court where their rights are protected. These are rather new ideas though. They certainly haven't been around since the dawn of time.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Claiming and defending territory is what property rights are the codification of.

  • mtrueman||

    I agree. A codification is pretty much by definition, an abstraction. An abstraction is broader, more general, and more nebulous than that which it is abstracted from. These Enlightenment thinkers came up with the idea of property rights, and argued that the individual rights should take precedence over aristocratic traditions etc. That's where capitalism sprang from, to my way of thinking.

  • Azathoth!!||

    ^^^^THIS^^^^

  • John||

    The WSJ had a great essay today by David Satter on the evils of communism. He says

    The Bolshevik coup had two consequences. In countries where communism came to hold sway, it hollowed out society's moral core, degrading the individual and turning him into a cog in the machinery of the state. Communists committed murder on such a scale as to all but eliminate the value of life and to destroy the individual conscience in survivors.

    But the Bolsheviks' influence was not limited to these countries. In the West, communism inverted society's understanding of the source of its values, creating political confusion that persists to this day.

    Socialism is nothing but tribalism and slavery given fancy clothes. Socialism rests on the idea that man is a slave to some greater good and is as such just a cog in a bigger machine and without any inherent dignity of value beyond his usefulness to the greater good. This is why Socialism always ends in murder and depravity. Once human beings are only valued as means to some greater end, the logical implication is to exterminate those who stand in the way or don't pull their fair share.

  • esteve7||

    Socialism is just slavery and control, Capitalism is just another word for freedom and individualism.

  • Qsl||

    Geeze!

    Would it be too much to presuppose that maybe the youth don't have the strict lexicon to really tease out the subtleties between socialism and communism and whatever-ism, but have enough to draw upon to make a critique of capitalism with its nearest opposite?

    Would it also be too much to ask to leave a little space between the breathless defenses of capitalism and the repudiations of socialism to acknowledge that, if not a point, they have a point of view that maybe capitalism isn't living up to the advertisements, and maybe some adjustment is in order (I could really go for election reform and introducing citizen juries myself).

    Aaannnd could we quit with the absolutist positions that if there is even a speck of welfare on the books, the entire system is transformed into a socialist state (unless you want to begrudgingly admit that since nearly all countries have some measure of welfare, socialism has been the catalyst for the greatest reduction in poverty in history).

    Didn't think so.

    And if the past 50 years are any indication, libertarian-utopia probably isn't in the card for the near future, so you might as well get comfortable with charting the least destructive course out of the hodge-podge of "socialism" that is in vogue, instead of throwing up you hands in the air at the unfairness of it all.

    Much like the millennials you are criticizing.

  • Ladyhawk||

    "capitalism" as seen today is corporate welfare (the very rich ) and actual welfare for the very poor, so that the undeserving rich have their positions entrenched and the poor are unable to advance out of poverty . The economy is stagnant and the economic classes are unable to move , because all classes are held in place by govt interference with genuine productive work ( licensing and regulations protecting incumbents) and artificial economic benefits to the poor paid for by the diminishing few who work for their living. This is the end result of government meddling for public praise (giving to the poor) and hidden self interest ( cronyism). The youth of today see no way out for innovation or creativity, and no path into the coddled upper crust except to join their corrupt system. Its enough to make anyone hide in the false world of social media and stop trying.

  • Ladyhawk||

    And as for socialism being "the catalyst for the greatest reduction in poverty in history", keeping the poor on the dole forever is not a reduction in poverty. Work is the only tested reliable path out of poverty, and the unemployment rate only records how few people are still even looking for work. Poverty was slowly declining for decades after the Civil War, but since the welfare state was introduced, the poverty rate has remained the same, about 15% give or take. Keeping the poor from starving is not remotely the same as reducing poverty.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    National Socialism isn't Socialism.

    Why can't you stupid Nazis get that?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "The sin of Marxism was to degrade socialism into a question of wages and the stomach, putting it in conflict with the state and its national existence. An understanding of both these facts leads us to a new sense of socialism, which sees its nature as nationalistic, state-building, liberating and constructive."-Joseph Goebbels

    National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP/ Nazi) Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei

  • Ladyhawk||

    Honey you really just don't get it, so stop blabbing, you just look dumber each time.

  • John B. Egan||

    Can I be the only one who thinks that Socialism has won out... Not for the citizenry, but as the real effort by so-called Capitalists... That's why we presently live under a Corporate Welfare system. Pick the pockets of the citizens, restrict their free-market options, pass laws to benefit corporations, use the power of the government to work for them... Corporate Welfare.. The real Socialism! And with the GOP Congress and Trump, you get to watch it blossom! 'Murica!

  • mtrueman||

    "And with the GOP Congress and Trump, you get to watch it blossom! 'Murica!"

    You left out a mention of the third branch, the courts. Is it because they are blameless, or you just forgot?

  • Rockabilly||

    If socialism is go great, why am I forced to be a socialist?

    I don't want to be a socialist but the socialists say I must comply.

    What was Henry David Thoreau's social security number?
    Of course, he didn't have one.

    Once we had a right to be left alone, but FDR, the socialist god, took that away.

    It was FDR, the socialist god, who packed with Supreme Court with socialist yes men, who in turn reinterpreted the US Constitution as if it was written by the demented Karl Marx, who then passed a law which mandated all Americans to have a government issued ID number for controlling and tracking purposes.

    Socialism = an immoral ideology which as led to the murder of over 100,000,000 innocent people.

    Karl Marx = I shit on your grave then I burned the communist flag and the communist manifesto and then took a big stinking shit on the ashes.

  • mtrueman||

    "Karl Marx = I shit on your grave "

    Unless you're in Engeland, you need a passport to do that. You know, a government issued ID.

  • mtrueman||

    Hands come in pairs. Even the invisible ones. The hand that Adam Smith didn't see, and who can blame him, it's invisible! is the hand that favours wealth for no other reason than it is wealth. This leads to the imbalance in distribution evident today.

  • Qsl||

    Even Smith had commented on the problems of wealth inequality, and some of his observations on the division of labor mirror ...gasp!... Marx.

    Most of the icons for free markets, from Smith to Friedman to Hayek, have attempted to mitigate this without destroying the house that capitalism built, but the secret sauce has been pretty elusive, not to mention the very one-sided treatment of capitalism. Most will cheerlead the Three Horsemen of Markets, but fall amazingly silent that all three also advocated for the land value tax. Funny that.

    My suspicion is that the problems have less to do with capitalism, but outright corruption within the system, which is beyond the scope of economics entirely.

    There is also Ha-Joon Chang's take that the strict distinction between capitalism and socialist-eque thinking is overinflated and artificial, and the representing inhibits thinking of better systems all the way around.

  • Azathoth!!||

    There is no such thing as 'wealth inequality'.

    If you successfully do the right work to acquire the wealth you want you can get it.

    If you don't, you can't.

    The thing people are calling 'wealth inequality' is best called by it's real name--'Envy', and it is still a very powerful green eyed monster.

  • mtrueman||

    "If you successfully do the right work to acquire the wealth you want you can get it."

    If you want to be really successful, forget about 'doing work.' Let your money work for you. Better yet, let other people's money work for you. This is the magic of finance.

  • hello.||

    Money isn't wealth. It's so fundamental a distinction I'm not surprised you were more than stupid enough to ignore it.

    Also, finance only seems like magic when you operate under the belief that money multiplies itself with no effort and without being put to productive use. The same way ignorant children think it's magic when a quarter appears behind their ear.

  • mtrueman||

    "My suspicion is that the problems have less to do with capitalism, but outright corruption within the system,"

    You could be right about corruption but I think capitalism's growth imperative is also a source of problems. Isn't it for the sake of a few % in economic growth that the country is plunged into vast public and private debt? This strikes me as a very unsatisfactory outcome.

  • Qsl||

    the country is plunged into vast public and private debt?

    If this isn't prima facie of corruption, nothing is (cue Smith's reprimand of limited liability).

    There is nothing inherent to capitalism and endless growth (unless you are keeping inflation at bay, which is another can of worms altogether). Diversification is probably more apt, and even then it is more a concern with wealth concentrations.

    For all the gnashing of teeth about capitalism, it has been THE economic engine of prosperity. The wariness comes from it feeling more like a straitjacket than a wellspring of potential.

  • hello.||

    The wariness comes from it feeling more like a straitjacket than a wellspring of potential.

    Which is possible only by debasing language to meaninglessness and frolicking in your historical illiteracy like a pig in a pile of shit.

  • hello.||

    You can't differentiate between government and private borrowing, and you think that government borrowing is somehow in the service of private markets? Your stupidity would be fucking hilarious if you didn't fancy yourself a serious intellectual. Have you ever considered suicide?

  • hello.||

    some of his observations on the division of labor mirror ...gasp!... Marx.

    You've got it exactly backwards you illiterate fucking retard. Wealth of Nations was published 42 years before Marx was born. Smith died 28 years before Marx was born. It would have been pretty tough for Smith's writing to "mirror" a man who wouldn't live until nearly half a fucking century later. On the other hand, it's not too surprising that Marx would have based his economic critique, such as it was, on the half century old text that informed most of the then-current economic thinking. If you read even further into the wikipedia summaries upon which you've gotten your education on Marxism and capitalism, you'll find out that the now-discredited labor theory of value is also shared between Smith and Marx for the same reason.

  • vek||

    I'm pretty sure both Hitler and Stalin figured out how to end the "Never Ending Battle of Ideas."

    Hitler called the method "concentration camps" and Stalin called it "gulags." Very similar methods, just different names. But they both definitely won the war of ideas. I think this is the same way the current progs are going to try for, their problem being the 300 million or so privately owned firearms in America.

  • mtrueman||

    " I think this is the same way the current progs are going to try for, their problem being the 300 million or so privately owned firearms in America."

    USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world today. Even greater than that of communist China. These millions of privately owned guns have done nothing to reverse this.

  • hello.||

    USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world today. Even greater than that of communist China.

    If we just ignore the political prisoners that totalitarian societies don't acknowledge or the tens of millions they murdered instead of jailing.

  • Braaainz||

    I think the best way to resolve such a battle is too actually engage in a war of ideas.

    Many high schools have civics courses.
    Perhaps a Grant offered to educators to encourage unbiased simulations regarding those economic plans?

    Example: set up a scenario with measurable goals/outcomes. Split class into different groups and have them compete using different economic models. Rewards can be given for group that "wins".

    This hands on approach combined with discussion is far more effective (IMHO) than just spouting rhetoric.

  • Mike Masino||

    Marxism has been harmless for everyone except villagers, landowners, homosexuals, cossacks, native Americans, political prisoners, union members, and the religious. And of these, only 85 million or so were killed. PEACETIME. ( "Communism at 'Peace'" ). I don't see what all the fuss is about.

  • mtrueman||

    Hollywood=Jews=Communism.

  • Lester224||

    Good troll..

  • Nuwanda||

    The article's analysis is off the mark. Communism did lose, and nobody wants any part of it.

    What won the battle--or inherited the victory--wasn't laissez faire, but the Third Way.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Way

    This isn't a war against the black hat of communism, or absolutist dictatorship, it's a battle against the heavily-managed and heavily-taxed mixed economy, and the politically-correct society.

    Clinton, Obama and most leaders of Western countries are all globalist supporters of "free trade" and open borders. For them, the debate is over. That's the way to go. That's the proven way to get wealthy. Their strategy is to manage the whole process with a heavy hand, and skim off the top to pay for their vote-getting policies. They don't want to destroy the market because they worked out 25 years ago that the market works. Let the greedy capitalists work. Let them keep enough to provide an incentive, but regulate and tax them in the name of the people. Why bother with trying to run it yourself? You know that doesn't work, but you can take the power and the glory for yourself, and have the capitalists come to you cap in hand for special deals. You'll be as powerful as them without having to actually do anything productive. You can dole out largess using the wealth of others.

    Forget socialism and communism; it's the fascism of the Third Way that's the real enemy.

  • Lester224||

    The "socialism" that millenials are thinking about when they say they are in favor of socialism, is that of Scandinavia. High taxes but higher education is free and there is socialized medicine. They are worried about their huge college loans and concerned that they'll end up Uber drivers with no affordable insurance. They aren't really looking at the Soviet Union with nostalgia.

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