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VOLOKH CONSPIRACY

Mostly law professors, blogging on whatever we please since 2002 · Hosted by The Washington Post, 2014-2017 · Hosted by Reason 2017 · Sometimes contrarian · Often libertarian · Always independent

Victims of Communism Day 2018

May Day is a fitting time to commemorate the tens of millions of victims of this murderous ideology.

Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong - the three biggest Communist mass-murderers.Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong - the three biggest Communist mass-murderers.

Today is May Day. Since 2007, I have advocated using this date as an international Victims of Communism Day. I outlined the rationale for this proposal (which was not my original idea) in my very first post on the subject:

May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda tool to prop up their [authority]. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes' millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century's other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so….

Our comparative neglect of communist crimes has serious costs. Victims of Communism Day can serve the dual purpose of appropriately commemorating the millions of victims, and diminishing the likelihood that such atrocities will recur. Just as Holocaust Memorial Day and other similar events promote awareness of the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, and radical nationalism, so Victims of Communism Day can increase awareness of the dangers of left-wing forms of totalitarianism, and government domination of the economy and civil society.

While communism is most closely associated with Russia, where the first communist regime was established, it had equally horrendous effects in other nations around the world. The highest death toll for a communist regime was not in Russia, but in China. Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward was likely the biggest episode of mass murder in the entire history of the world. In terms of comprehensive state control over society and suppression of civil liberties, Soviet communism fell short of the even more thoroughgoing totalitarianism of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge and North Korea.

Last November marked the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia, which led to the establishment of the first-ever communist regime. On that day, I put up a post outlining some of the lessons to be learned from a century of experience with communism. Among other things, the post explains why most of the horrors perpetrated by communist regimes were intrinsic elements of the system. For the most part, they cannot be ascribed to circumstantial factors, such as bad leaders, peculiarities of Russian and Chinese political culture, or the absence of democracy. The latter probably did make the situation worse than it might have been otherwise. But, for reasons I explained in the same post, some form of dictatorship or oligarchy is probably inevitable in a socialist economic system in which the government controls all or nearly all of the economy.

While the influence of communist ideology has declined since its mid-twentieth century peak, it is far from dead. Largely unreformed communist regimes remain in power in Cuba and North Korea. In Venezuela, the Marxist government's socialist policies have resulted in political repression, the starvation of children, and a massive refugee crisis. In Russia, the authoritarian regime of ex-KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin has embarked on a wholesale whitewashing of communism's historical record. In China, the Communist Party remains in power (albeit after having abandoned many of its previous socialist economic poicies), and has recently become less tolerant of criticism of the mass murders of the Mao era (part of a more general turn towards greater repression). In the West, only a small minority advocates communism. But many more tend to downplay its evils, or are simply unaware of them.

In a 2012 post, I explained why May 1 is a better date for Victims of Communism Day than the available alternatives, such as November 7 (the anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia) and August 23 (the anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact). I also addressed various possible objections to using May Day, including claims that the date should be reserved for the celebration of labor unions.

But, as explained in my 2013 Victims of Communism Day post, I would be happy to support a different date if it turns out to be easier to build a consensus around it. If another date is chosen, I would prefer November 7 – not out of any desire to diminish the significance of communist atrocities in other nations, but because it marks the establishment of the very first communist regime. But I am more than willing to endorse almost any other date that could command broad support. Unless and until that happens, however, May 1 will continue to be Victims of Communism Day here at the Volokh Conspiracy.

NOTE: Parts of this post are adapted from last year's Victims of Communism Day post.

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    Communism: One of the worst plagues and sign of mental illness in human history.

  • Joe_dallas||

    "One of the worst plagues and sign of mental illness in human history"

    True - very much it is a mental illness

    Starting with the repudiation of the economic system that brought forth the largest improvement in worldwide living standards because it is evil, whereas the economic system that brought forth the greatest misery and drop in world wide living standards is good because it is pure and devoid of evil which is something to be emulated.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The tragedy is not that it's mental illness; that's a cop-out.

    All it takes is the right mix of idealism and nationalism.

  • Joe_dallas||

    Sarcastr0|5.1.18 @ 10:55AM|#

    "All it takes is the right mix of idealism and nationalism."

    An idealism that ignores the economic realities and the history -
    as stated above - Starting with the repudiation of capitalism which is the economic system that brought forth the largest improvement in worldwide living standards because it is evil it is considered by the progressives and socialists to be evil, whereas communism and socialism which are the economic systems that brought forth the greatest misery and drop in world wide living standards is good because it is pure and devoid of evil which is something to be emulated.

  • Rossami||

    Idealism ignores reality pretty much by definition. If the mindset could accommodate reality, it wouldn't need the word "ideal".

    Idealism is a powerful weapon. Many here would argue that idealism is good when the ideals are freedom or individual liberty. And it can be evil when it leads people to do evil things in the name of some other ideal (like equality, the nominal value behind communism and socialism).

    Idealism itself is neither good nor bad - nor a mental illness. But it is inherently dangerous and claims appealing to it should always be viewed with great skepticism.

  • Microaggressor||

    like equality, the nominal value behind communism and socialism

    The word you're looking for here is equity, or equality of outcomes such as material wealth. Equity at all costs was the driving motivation for communism, and it's becoming trendy in the academic/educational establishment, which should be cause for worry.

    Whenever you point out that the pursuit of equity has a cost that's being ignored, you're accused of justifying inequality. That would get you labeled a political dissident in a communist regime and bad things would happen to you. Thus, the pursuit of equity at all costs went on unopposed even as the cost of human life went spiraling out of control. Ideological conviction required them not to see it; a true believer cannot tolerate being a traitor to the cause.

    This is why equity doctrine needs some serious pushback before we suffer more of the costs that will continue to be ignored for ideological reasons. It's as relevant today as it was in the 20th century because it has significant policy implications.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Equity needs to take into account costs as well as benefits. Fair.

    Same thing but for markets as well; including loss of equity as a cost. Fair?

  • Microaggressor||

    Sure. But as with any economic question, you have to ask, compared to what?
    Markets are not equitable, but are the alternatives really any better?
    If the rich lose 50% but the poor lose 10% of everything, things are more equitable, but does that mean things are better? Is a reduction in equity a cost per se, even if it means everyone is richer?

  • Sarcastr0||

    I think you're excluding the middle. There is a continuum between laissez faire and Communism.
    The cost-benefit lies in where you draw the line. And I'd argue that cost-benefit turns up different in different industries, even.

  • Krayt||

    Economists use actual measurements of things like health and wealth and longevity, average calories per person, cost per calorie, nutrition per person.

    These are real measurements of progress, and they make capitalism stand out like a sore thumb.

    "I hate capitalism!" he thumbed into his iPhone.

  • Sarcastr0||

    By those metrics, America is not doing great compared to the somewhat less capitalistic Europe.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Not that I think what works there would work here. Or that Europe is doing peachy.
    But those metrics aren't the slam dunk for markets you think they are.

  • MarkLastname||

    US is actually doing far better than Europe. Compare median EU GDP to that of the US. Hell, the US is even growing faster despite being already wealthier.

  • Sarcastr0||

    We are working via Krayt's more generalized wellbeing metrics.

  • Krayt||

    That isn't the comparison. The comparison is vs. communism. All capitalist countries do great comparatively.

    If you want to look at minutia of differences, that's something else.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You're excluding the middle. I'm not arguing against the idea that Communism is bad. I am saying that there are lots of non-Communist policies that aren't free markets and also might be good.

  • Jerry B.||

    Greece? Italy? Spain? Or are you cherry-picking Europe?

  • Sarcastr0||

    I am cherry-picking and I can, since all I need is a counterexample to 'American-style capitalism is always the best.'

  • Lee Moore||

    "If the rich lose 50% but the poor lose 10% of everything, things are more equitable, but does that mean things are better? Is a reduction in equity a cost per se, even if it means everyone is richer?"

    There is a tendency among those on the right to assume that these are rhetorical questions, to which the answers are "Obviously Not" and "Ditto.'

    But they're real questions. Man does not live by bread alone, but craves dignity, status, a meaningful life, a family and children and so on. Your average Chinese - being poor - and having had people in the family starve to death in living memory, is likely to be an "Obviously Notter." But a lot of Trump voters would happily teleport back to the 1950s where a guy of distinctly average abilities could get a real job, a real wife and real family, even though the standard of living would be much lower than now. It's not very fulfilling sitting on the coach pacified by soma.

    Of course there's no way to teleport back to the 1950s, but it's easy to see why some people who may have a higher material standard of living (inc health care etc) in a free market might nevertheless prefer a reordered society in which they can (they hope) pursue mankind's eternal goals with better chances.

  • Lee Moore||

    The leftist idea that crime and violence are caused by deprivation turns out to be wrong. The correlation is between crime and inequality, and the criminals are the men who are low down on the totem pole, and so can't get a girl. The top guys are so far ahead that they can maintain harems. Meanwhile, No.5 concubine to Mr Big Shot wonders wistfully why there are so few men worth going for. If she doesn't accept the No.5 position with Mr Big Shot, she'll have to settle for a loser. But whether Mr Not That High on the Totem pole is actually a loser depends very much on the social structure and how unequal it is.

  • Fooseven||

    How does the Tarzan/Jane theory play out in, say, modern Japan, where there's not much interest in dating, let alone marriage?

  • Lee Moore||

    As virtual relationships. Which is really just another kind of soma.

  • Sarcastr0||

    What about how prohibition lead to a huge increase in crime without much change in inequality at all...?

  • Lee Moore||

    "What about how prohibition lead to a huge increase in crime without much change in inequality at all...?"

    I'm not suggesting that inequaity is the only driver of crime. It's obviously possible to increase the crime rate by making more things illegal. Kinda by definition :)

    I'm just saying that (violent) crime is mostly committed by young men of low social status and low agreeability. A social structure that deposits more young men in the "Loser" category - ie too low to give a reasonable chance of snagging a girl - will inevitably have a larger stock of men willing to be violent. But you don't need to rely on my explanations of why - the figures are straightforward. There's a high correlation between violent crime and inequality. There's not much correlation between violent crime and poverty.

  • David Nieporent||

    But a lot of Trump voters would happily teleport back to the 1950s where a guy of distinctly average abilities could get a real job, a real wife and real family, even though the standard of living would be much lower than now. It's not very fulfilling sitting on the coach pacified by soma.

    No. A lot of Trump voters would happily time travel to their rose-colored memories of the 1950s. Or even more likely, to their secondhand idea of what the 1950s were like. Don't forget that the 1950s were 60+ years ago. Anybody who was an adult in the 1950s is at least 80 years old now. An octogenarian wanting to return to his youth isn't exactly a reliable indicator.

    And a middle-aged person who never experienced the 1950s would probably last a week before he decided he had made a mistake.

  • Krayt||

    Until they had a heart attack in the 1950s, and their cardiologist puts them on a diet of cold hot dogs and milk, as with my grandfather.

  • Chili Dogg||

    Those Trump voters wouldn't be alone. I've noticed a number of people on the Left waxing nostalgic about the 1950's because of the power of labor unions, the economic status of the US (helped by the destruction of numerous competitors in WW2), and very high marginal tax rates (without acknowledging that few people paid those very high rates and the federal government spent a much lower percentage of GDP then than it does now). The Trump voters and left-wing union supporters could go back to the 1950's hand in hand.

  • Mark22||

    Same thing but for markets as well; including loss of equity as a cost. Fair?

    No, sorry. Classical liberals adopt free markets not because they have a better cost/benefit ratio than other ideologies, but because they are the only economic system that is compatible with a free society. The fact that they also work well is a nice bonus.

    That is, even if communism did make people richer than free markets, it would still be unacceptable.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You can say markets are amazing but have their place; that efficiency is not the be-all and end-all, and yet still not be a Commie.

    The definition of socialism and capitalism have gotten pretty fuzzy these days. To many FDR was (and is) a socialist. To most, though, he saved capitalism.

  • Joe_dallas||

    Yes - Roosevelt was a socialist and did have a hand in saving capitalism

    Roosevelt did accomplish 3 three things worthy of note -
    During the 20's and 30's there was a growing trend for communism in the US, Roosevelt encouraged unions which became the dominant "workers" force, thereby pushing the communist movement away from being the "workers party".

    Granted, the communist movement among the workers in the US wasnt as strong as other countries, Roosevelt's support of unions did have the effect of pushing the movement to the wayside.

    The second thing Roosevelt did was promote the US involvement in WWII, against the isolationist/republican party. He brought in high quality military brains with Marshall, Eisenhower, nimitz, etc.

    The rest of his economic policies were a disaster, primarily extending the length of the depression.

    His cop out a yalta against the better vision of churchill doomed eastern eurrope for decades

  • Sarcastr0||

    It sounds like supposed socialist FDR intentionally and knowingly did a lot of things to continue capitalisms' viability, which continues today to a greater or lesser extent.

    Almost as though your purity test isn't super viable here.

    The economic debate about the benefits of FDRs' policies is largely over, except for some Chicagoans. But why should we listen to a bunch of eggheads when we can listen to you?!

    Counterfactuals about how we could have ended the USSR are a dime a dozen.

  • MarkLastname||

    This is false. Even Keynesians largely admit FDR's economic policies were ineffectual; they just claim it's because there wasn't enough of a stimulus.

    And in fact there is consensus that his cartelization policies, price floors, and burning of crops and suppression of output were terrible policies. The only policy of FDR's that enjoys fairly broad support is his devaluation of the dollar.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Even Keynesians largely admit FDR's economic policies were ineffectual

    Source for this? Not that I think it isn't true, but because I'd be interested in hearing what they say.

    I certainly deny your consensus. In fact, I have seen a consensus the other way, except for committed Austrians, and of course partisan fair-weather Hayekians.

  • bernard11||

    I don't agree at all that Roosevelt "extended the Depression." I know that there are two economists who have made that argument, but there is plenty of disagreement with it as well. Probably the worst thing he did was try, under pressure from fiscal conservatives I might note, to balance the 1937 budget. That pretty much killed the recovery as GDP, which had grown at about a 9-10% rate from 1934-37 fell by 3.3% in 1938.

    Though why anyone thinks he was a socialist I don't understand.

  • Microaggressor||

    I'd put the loosest definition of a socialist as someone who thinks the public sector can get things done better than the private sector. Democratic socialists advocate tax hikes and government services, like FDR. If most people believe he saved capitalism, that doesn't speak well of the quality of our education; it takes serious historical revisionism to make socialism/fascism look good.

    Reminds me of back in the day when Noam Chomsky wrote letters casting doubt on the eyewitness accounts of Cambodian refugees. Can't let facts get in the way of creating a positive image of socialism. I highly recommend First They Killed My Father on Netflix if you want to see how that went down.

  • Sarcastr0||

    'Things' is still too tight - which things? Any things at all? Some things? A majority of things?

    It is hard to get any certainty about FDR's historical legacy, since we don't have counterfactuals. Certainly it's beyond my ken (though I'm pretty convinced fireside chats were pretty vital).
    I'm not an argument ad popularum guy, but given how the anti-FDR side is all Chicagoans or committed conservative partisans, and the other side is both liberals and apolitical wonks...I'm going to go with the majority on this one.

    The left has not covered itself in glory when it came to acknowledging the evils of the USSR. But what about the right and Chile? Since World War II, foreign issues have been shaded in service of domestic arguments.

  • Microaggressor||

    You seem to be falling into a false dichotomy. I don't know much about conservatives or Chicagoans; I've usually found the Austrians to be the most convincing. And the "apolitical wonks" are never truly as apolitical as you think they are, though I'm sure they think of themselves that way.

    I don't expect to convince you of anything, but I can point you to some of the things that convinced me.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QLoeehMw0w

  • Sarcastr0||

    Chicago is Austrian with better PR and willing to get into politics.

    But Austrians are a pretty small and extreme school in economics generally. As I understand it, it talks a lot about how True Capitalism has never been tried. Which sounds pretty familiar.

    I've gotten a bit into the back-and-forth about the New Deal, but once you get to the level of each side's answers to the other it quickly spirals into academic esoteria.

    I like Hayek's skepticism of humans' ability to understand markets. But I don't know that what follows is that we should trust markets. For one thing, what markets seek isn't necessarily what society wants. Maximum productivity and GDP growth are not a cure for all society's ills (though I allow that historically it has been). For another, Hayek's own humility undercuts his argument - his liquidity trap model sounds a lot like a human understanding markets.

    And, finally, I would note how outcome oriented conservatives get on this stuff. They all become Keynsians when it comes to tax cuts. And even a little when it comes to passing their own budgets. And certainly when it comes to opening factories in their district.

    Almost as though we're dealing more with idealism than reality...:-P

  • Lee Moore||

    Sarcastro : For one thing, what markets seek isn't necessarily what society wants.

    There is a multitude of sins in this sentence. Markets, obviously, don't seek anything. They deliver. And what they deliver is an aggregation of trades, each of which was preferred by each trader to the alternatives (a different trade or the absence of the trade.) Whether you, Mr Bystander, like the result of my trade with somebody else is not part of the market delivery claim. As to what "society wants" – well there are two giant, unsolved philosophical problems with that. First whether "society wants:" is a thing – ie how to aggregate what actual people want into what society wants. And second what "want" means in the first place. Markets distinguish clearly between what people want and what they demand. Demand involves an actual willingness to surrender X for Y, demonstrated by the real world action of surrendering X. I want to be able to fly to San Francisco for a dollar. But that's just a wish. It's not a thing of substance. But if someone offers to fly me to San Francisco for $150, and that's Ok with me, and I pay $150 and get flown to San Francisco, that's demand. That's real.

  • Sarcastr0||

    It's cop out to say 'who knows what's good for society, lets just throw it to the markets!'

    Society is about more than exchange.
    Do you disagree that there is something to be said for seeking more than macro-productivity growth?

  • Lee Moore||

    Sarcastro : t's cop out to say 'who knows what's good for society, lets just throw it to the markets!'

    Very possibly, but that's not what I said. What I said that what "society wants" is a poorly formed concept. And so before attempting an answer, one should try to formulate the concept better. I certainly wouldn't claim that markets deliver what society wants - unless your definition of what society wants happens to make the two things co-extensive.

    Society is about more than exchange.

    It's certainly more than commercial exchange. There are other kinds of exchange and association. Markets have to do with free association in the realm of commercial exchange, and are therefore a subset of the larger class of exchanges. Society might also be said to involve exchange and associaton across time, and markets again constitute a subset of those associations.

    Do you disagree that there is something to be said for seeking more than macro-productivity growth?

    Sure. Indeed I said so somewhere on this thread and underlined it by confirming that the quest for things other than macro-productivity growth is entirely consistent with free markets.

  • Sarcastr0||

    It is unclear what society wants. Formulating that concept is the job of (probably too many) policymakers across this great land.

    I do not for a moment think these policymakers have anything like all the answers. Nor do the people. Nor do market processes. But I do think that there is a place for all of them them to work in concert.
    Where that line should go depends on the area we're talking about. Hair care, clearly overregulated to the point of near market failure. Health care, maybe work on availability as well as efficiency.

    It is looking more and more like you and I agree on all but where to draw the lines.

  • Chili Dogg||

    "For one thing, what markets seek isn't necessarily what society wants."

    This statement makes no sense. Markets are made of individuals choosing what they want. Or do you have a concept of a "greater good" for "society" that tells you what all of these individuals should want?

  • Lee Moore||

    "The left has not covered itself in glory when it came to acknowledging the evils of the USSR. But what about the right and Chile? "

    This is not a reasonable comparison. The evils of Chile and Pinochet stack up roughly as high as the evils of Castro and Cuba in terms of murder, torture and refugees. Pinochet scores for, as Orwell would have put it, actually delivering an omelet in return for the broken eggs, and for quitting the stage without having to be shot first. But Chile and Cuba were (or in one case still is) in the same ballpark. But there have been scores of regimes roughly as unpleasant as these in the last hundred years. Remember Idi Amin ? Ol man Assad's Syria ? Young man Assad's Syria ? Tito ? South Africa ? Burma ? South Korea ? Suharto ? The Taleban ? Iran ? Guatemala ? Chavez ? Gaddaffi ? Enver Hoxha / Papa Doc ? Emperor Bokassa ? Colonel Mengistu ? Oh and that Iraqi guy. But all little leaguers.

    The evils of the Soviet Union are in the same ballpark as Mao's China and Nazi Germany. The big leagues. Not the same ballpark as Chile etc. Not even the same sport. But you'd have to scour the Earth to find someone who condemns the Soviet Union and Mao's China but doesn't condemn Nazi Germany. The contrary ? Not so much.

  • Sarcastr0||

    So you excuse Chile because the numbers are so small. Relatively.
    Way to prove my point.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    One can look at a single murder the same as 50 murders but people generally don't.

    A serial killer or a large terrorist death count gets far, far more attention than 1 or 2 murders unless the killer is a HOF running back. The serial/terorist killer is usually considered to be a greater monster than the singleton.

    The death count was 4000 in Chile versus 25 million at least in the Soviet Union.

    That is a 6,250 to 1 ratio.

    Bringing up Chile is purely a way to excuse the Soviet Union.

  • Lee Moore||

    Bob : "Bringing up Chile is purely a way to excuse the Soviet Union."

    I don't think he's trying to excuse the Soviet Union. I think he's trying to excuse lefty academics, politicians and journalists for their failure to condemn the Soviet Union over the years; by making a false comparison with righties who have failed to condemn Pinochet's Chile.

    And as you say, while every man's death diminishes me, there's a difference between killing one man and killing 6,250. After all 6,250 is more than 4,000, so Pinochet to the Bolsheviks is as an ordinary liquor store robber who kills the guy behind the counter is to Pinochet. And while the liquor store guy deserves condemnation, there are a lot of killers like him and we don't expect everyone to recite their condemnation of every murderer in the United States.

    But if you conspicuously gloss over Timothy McVeigh while discussing the USA's worst killers, we're going to wonder if you might not have a sneaking sympathy there.

  • Azathoth!!||


    The death count was 4000 in Chile versus 25 million at least in the Soviet Union.

    That is a 6,250 to 1 ratio.

    Bringing up Chile is purely a way to excuse the Soviet Union.

    And who were the dead in Chile?

    The vast majority of them are the people who would be twisting reality into knots trying to excuse that 25 million.

    Or, to be more realistic, the people killed were largely the people who would have killed far more had they survived.

    I don't weep for dead Nazis--or dead commies.

  • Lee Moore||

    Sarcastro : "So you excuse Chile because the numbers are so small. Relatively.
    Way to prove my point."

    What words in my comment did you take to involve excusing Chile ?

  • Sarcastr0||

    You certainly excused the right for excusing Chile.

  • Sarcastr0||

    And I ain't excusing leftist academics. That 'context excuses me' game is more the right's dealio these days.
    The liberal academia and media ideology blinded them shamefully in the 1970s and even the early 1980s. And not enough of them are ashamed or have learned, including Chomsky (who I find too dull to really take in well). Though the truth came out in the end.

    But the right has no shortage of people who should be ashamed and aren't. More, based upon my own anecdotal experience, are in denial about Chile than about the USSR. Both sides can have cause for shame at once.

  • Lee Moore||

    Sarcastro : Maximum productivity and GDP growth are not a cure for all society's ills (though I allow that historically it has been).

    This is a sophomoric misunderstanding of markets. They don't have a goal of maximising productivity or GDP growth, because they don't have a goal. Choosing to quit your rat race city job, to retire to some bucolic pasture to write your Great Novel (so Great that you accept that you will never profit from it, because you will be long dead before it's greatness is recognised) is 100.000% consistent with free markets. You value your bucolic pasture and your novel more highly that you value your city job. GDP has nothing to do with it.
    Obviously puffers of the economic outcomes of markets frequently trumpet about GDP growth, because frequently people who would like to be writing novels on their pasture actually choose to work in the city doing jobs they don't really enjoy, because they prefer what the extra money can buy. (Another good example of the distinction between want and demand.) The connection between GDP growth and markets is proof that lots of people want what GDP measures, not that markets can only deliver GDP growth. Indeed, growing prosperity (thanks Mr Market) has wrought a considerable increase in leisure time over the past couple of hundred years, which is hardly consistent with maximising GDP growth.

  • Lee Moore||

    Sarcastro : And, finally, I would note how outcome oriented conservatives get on this stuff. They all become Keynsians when it comes to tax cuts

    No, no, no and no. The economic case for tax cuts is MICROeconomic (incentives etc.) Keynesian nonsense is MACROeconomic (aggregate demand etc.) This is why "outcome oriented conservatives' approve of tax cuts and disapprove of spending increases. The two are equivalent macroeconomically, but are opposites microeconomically. Do not get your economics from the NYT. They have no clue what "outcome oriented conservatives" think or why they think it.

  • Kazinski||

    Well Suharto's death toll was between a half a million and a million, that's probably the largest anti-communist death toll of the 20th century, but there were also other sectarian issues, not to mention that Indonesia is Muslim and a big reason for such a violent reaction to the communists there was because of the atheism.century

  • bernard11||

    I'd put the loosest definition of a socialist as someone who thinks the public sector can get things done better than the private sector.

    So does it take a socialist to think that the police and the armed forces should be run by the public sector?

    Because I don't think it's socialism to say that the public sector can do some things better than the public sector, or that there is a role for government regulation of private firms.

    Is it really binary, and if so, what good is the definition?

    This is a sort of categorization game. "You like Social Security, therefore you share responsibility for Stalin's murders." Silly.

    This

  • Krayt||

    If you look at Julian Simon's work, you see the key benefit to rapid advancment and lack of want is economic freedom, the right of free people to respond to market demands without having to worry about getting government permission, especially via kickbacks.

    It is not pure capitalism per se.

  • Lee Moore||

    Say what ?

    rapid advancment and lack of want => economic freedom

    rather than

    economic freedom => rapid advancement and lack of want ?

    "It is not pure capitalism per se"

    It presumably being "economic freedom." So what's the difference between "economic freedom" and "pure capitalism per se" ?

  • DjDiverDan||

    The notion that Roosevelt "saved capitalism" is pure fantasy, said only by people who have no clue what capitalism is or what Roosevelt's policies were. Roosevelt was almost as big a fascist as Hitler or Mussolini, with a kindler, gentler face. But his brand of fascism was just as destructive on economic terms. For those of you determined to defend Roosevelt, defend his actual policies; for example, the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935, in which Roosevelt tried to "save" the farmers by paying them NOT to grow crops on their land, and to drive up the prices of certain agricultural products by imposing ceilings on how much of some commodities could be brought to market. What Roosevelt and his economic advisors (including John Kenneth Galbraith, widely acclaimed as a genius, but appalling ignorant of economics) ignored was that a great many farms in the South and Southwest were farmed by tenant farmers and sharecroppers. When the Government started paying landowners NOT to grow crops, those tenant farmers and sharecroppers were not only unnecessary, they were a burden; landowners could make more money by kicking them off the land, bulldozing their homes, and counting that extra land as crop land for which they could get paid NOT to grow crops. Roosevelt single-handedly created mass homelessness and desperate poverty among the rural poor of the South. AND he drove up the prices of food, making starvation just a bit closer. Some hero.

  • MarkLastname||

    This.

    Roosevelt's economic policies were abysmal, and only helped forestall the recovery.

    He did one thing right: allow the devaluation of the dollar to mitigate deflation, which was the big reason for the initial recovery after his election, but even on that he later reversed course.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Not everything FDR tried worked, but if he hadn't tried it things would not have gone well for capitalism in America.

    And as I recall mass homelessness and agricultural job loss was already a thing in America before FDR.

  • Mark22||

    You can say markets are amazing but have their place; that efficiency is not the be-all and end-all, and yet still not be a Commie

    Well, lucky then that free markets are not about maximizing efficiency, they are about maximizing freedom. The fact that they also maximize efficiency is a nice bonus.

    The definition of socialism and capitalism have gotten pretty fuzzy these days.

    What classical liberals and libertarians want isn't "capitalism" but free markets. The term "capitalism" is a term created by Marxists for propagandistic purposes, and they usually equivocate about it. That is, usually they say something that amounts to "capitalism [in the sense of free markets] are bad because capitalism [in the sense of proto-fascist regimes/government managed market economies] are corrupt and hurt workers".

    The definition of free markets is unambiguous: voluntary transactions between individuals, free from government interference or prohibitions.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You're making a completely different argument than the people above - others are arguing markets are the best thing when it comes to social outcomes. You're arguing they are the best moral outcome.

    But I'll take you on there - the liberty of the market is theoretical. All sorts of people can do whatever they want with their money, except they need it to live and eat and don't really have any operational choices at all. If you want to provide actual freedom of choice, you need to take care of substance needs first.

    Neat 'True Free Markets have never been tried!' You realize you sound like the mirror of dunderheaded Commies in the 1970s, yes?

  • Lee Moore||

    the liberty of the market is theoretical. All sorts of people can do whatever they want with their money, except they need it to live and eat and don't really have any operational choices at all. If you want to provide actual freedom of choice, you need to take care of substance needs first

    "Liberty" is obviously a different concept from "operational choices." See "me" and "ballerina". In order to have "actual freedom of choice" in the sense you mean, you have to have both the right and the ability to choose. If acquiring the ability to choose is achieved by someone taking away your right to choose, you still haven't got "actual" freedom of choice. So this business of "provid[ing] actual freedom of choice" is limited to rich uncles voluntarily subbing their nephews and nieces. It can't be done on a population wide basis, because the act of providing Paul the ability to choose requires taking away the right of Peter to choose.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, people actually dragging themselves up out of subsistence level existence into materailly better conditions is a free market thing. There are no examples of subsistence economies bootstrapping themselves to prosperty by any of this "providing" business. Already rich free market countries can afford to pay their losers out of the fruits of prosperity. But paying losers is not how prosperity is achieved in the first place.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Reason ate my longer comment.

    Suffice to say that you profess an axiomatic moral benefit to economic liberty. Fair enough - we all have our moral precepts. Except that is belied by your final paragraph.

    And your final paragraph also seems to conflate the adulterated and nonfree markets of history with the pure free unregulated market you are advocating for.

    I love markets - harnessing a vice like greed into an engine of innovation is awesomesauce. But as you seem to at least somewhat realize, you cannot stop your moral calculous at 'always more markets.' You need to channel that engine if you want to maximize the benefits for society.

  • Lee Moore||

    Not clear whether this (your "Suffice to say" comment) is a reply to me or to Mark 22. The bit about axiomatic moral benefits seems to map to Mark 22 rather than me. But the bit about final paragraphs and history seems to be aimed at more at me, albeit not very accurately. If aimed at me, I'll simpy say that I m not a communist. I do not require a tabula rasa for my experiment. Free markets can work even outside utopia. More free has in the real world tended to work better, at delivering prosperity, than less free. Perfectly free has not yet been attempted, nor do I expect it to be.

    Anyway I assume your Reason-eaten longer version made more sense. My sympathies.

    My scheme is to tap out longer replies on Word and then paste them into Reason, so that if I hit the word cap I can break em up into separate comments.

  • Lee Moore||

    "More free has in the real world tended to work better, at delivering prosperity, than less free. Perfectly free has not yet been attempted, nor do I expect it to be."

    Incidentally, since Austrian economics was mentioned earlier, I'll say that you could certainly make an argument against von Mises for unpragmatical absolutism about free markets, at least at the level of rhetoric. On occasion he writes as if any deviation from perfect freedom is catastrophic.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I was speaking to you, since your appeal to 'liberty' looks like it's not a functional appeal but a moral one.

    Neither of us are Communists. Got that out of the way.

    'More free tends to work better' is so couched and general it doesn't mean anything for any given policy.
    As for free markets working, where does a free market become unfree?

    I should do the Word thing. Though to reason's credit, this is the first time this has happened to me since the switchover.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Sounds like maybe we're just in a line-drawing debate, not a first-principles one.

  • Lee Moore||

    I was speaking to you, since your appeal to 'liberty' looks like it's not a functional appeal but a moral one.

    Well my usual appeal to liberty is moral one (though I also make a practical one; but that's a different appeal.) But in the paragraph to which you referred I wasn't making an appeal to liberty, I was making a logical argument. Actual freedom to choose, in the sense you were using it, requires both A (liberty, ie right / authority / permission) and B (ability, ie capacity, power, resources etc.) Removing A to provide B doesn't give you A + B.

    Neither of us are Communists. Got that out of the way.

    I know. I was referring to the earlier references to it-hasn't-been-tried-properlyism.

  • Lee Moore||

    'More free tends to work better' is so couched and general it doesn't mean anything for any given policy.

    It works pretty well as a rule of thumb. Look at a policy area – should we increase liberty (ie reduce regulations) or decrease liberty (ie increase regulations) ? My default position is that if the policy seems to be working OK, we should probably leave it alone. But if it isn't working, we should probably increase liberty. But on a case by case basis, I'm open to persuasion. However I also think M. Bastiat was a wise old bird, so if you want to persuade me that less liberty is a good plan, then you better get your best persuadin' boots on.

    As for free markets working, where does a free market become unfree?

    At roughly the same point as a man gets fat.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I like that math formulation.

    And I agree that it's not addition; it's more like a product (maybe a vector product but lets not get dumb and kill the analogy by overquantizing things)

    A scenario where decreasing A vastly increases B can still result in a larger net product.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I don't think the rule of thumb should be looking only at A and not at B as well.

    I'm all for the status quo, but 'seems to be working OK' seems a complacency trap to me. Look for incremental changes, on both sides of the regulate/deregulate divide (and I realize that's a very reductive continuum since there are creative ways to do both/neither).

    Though sadly for me and I think for you, the current tenor of the country is a hunger for sweeping change. There are some good examples of radical changes being for the better, but IMO there are vastly more examples of that way leading to disaster.

  • Lee Moore||

    It wasn't a math formulation, it was a logical conjunction. In logic, A is not "tradeable" for B, "actual freedom of choice" as defined, requires both A and B.

    However, lots of political questions do involve trading A for B. The consequences are, in principle :

    (a) more actual freedom of choice (ie A and B) for some - those who have had not had their A taken away but who have had their B enhanced
    (b) less actual freedom of choice for others - those who have had their A taken away

    But in a system of laws, (a) is almost always going to be a null set, because it's unusual to take away somebody's A without taking away everybody's A. Thus if you introduce a minimum wage you take away everybody's liberty to contract for a job at below the set minimum price (ie A), even though it only has a B effect on some people.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The analogy holds. You have an 'opportunity space' defined as A and B. You can indeed decrease A while increasing B and get a larger space than you started with.

    In other words, there are unoperative or minimally operative parts of liberty that you can sacrifice that have no practical impact.

    My favorite counterexample to your 'A must apply equally to all' is taxes. An extra 100K from a multi millionaire. Not exactly going to change his range of choices much.

    The history of the Lochner era show quite well how economic coercion and market forces can conspire to make 'freedom of contract' a straightjacket.

  • Lee Moore||

    Your "opportunity space" is a will-o-the-wisp. You might increase Mr P's "opportunity space" by giving him some B without restricting the parts of his A that he's using. But only by restricting the parts of Ms Q's A that she is using. If Ms Q wasn't using her bit of A, there would be a mutually profitable trade to be done between Mr P and Ms Q along the lines of "You agree not to start using that bit of your A, Ms Q, and I'll pay you a dollar. Love Mr P." The fact that they haven't done that trade shows that Ms Q values that bit of her A at more than a dollar. So whether the aggregate "opportunity space" has increased or not depends entirely on your value metric for aggregating one person's opportunity space with another's. The GDP value metric says that your shuffle between Mr P and Ms Q destroys opportunity space net-net. But, as we have both agreed, the GDP metric may not be the most justifiable. But whatever other value metric we come up with is going to be arbitrary.

  • Lee Moore||

    Your 100K multi-millionaire example is a delightful illustration of (a) money illusion and (b) the central flaw in Keynesian economics. By thinking of the 100K as a pile of banknotes sitting in a safe somewhere, gathering dust, you've managed to persuade yourself that it isn't being used, and that if only we transfer it to some poor guy to let him take a course in something, we've expanded the "opportunity space" net-net. (Keynes thought the same sort of thing.) But in reality the 100K isn't a pile of banknotes, it's just a figure of speech. What it is in reality is some scarce economic resource, valued by the market at 100K, that is already doing something. It may be financing a factory, or it may have been lent to Elon Musk to build space rockets, or it may be being spent on dancing girls and cocaine. Take it away and those things are going to stop being done. And if it really is sitting in a safe somewhere, because our multi-millionaire wants a rainy day fund, then if you take it off him, he's going to restock his rainy day fund by selling one of his productive investments, and that's going to stop being done. The best general reader book I've read about the "idle money" fallacy is Unintended Consequences by Edward Conard.

    Again you can have a value metric that says John Smith's course in marketing is more important than Elon Musk's investment in fuel from beetles, but Elon Musk has every right to disagree with your (arbitrary) value metric.

  • Mark22||

    You're making a completely different argument than the people above - others are arguing markets are the best thing when it comes to social outcomes.

    Libertarians often get drawn into utilitarian arguments by progressives and socialists; it's an attempt to convince people like you on your own terms.

    But I'll take you on there - the liberty of the market is theoretical.

    No, it's not theoretical at all. In a free market, transactions are voluntary. That also includes the possibility that you can make no transactions in the market and face starvation unless people support you voluntarily through charity (as they usually will).

    All sorts of people can do whatever they want with their money, except they need it to live and eat and don't really have any operational choices at all. If you want to provide actual freedom of choice, you need to take care of substance needs first.

    Well, yes, you yourself need to take care of your basic needs first. What you are proposing instead is that you extract the resources you claim you need for your survival from others at gunpoint; that is never acceptable.

    It's also not necessary: overwhelmingly, anybody can avoid creating that situation. through saving, insurance, sexual abstinence, and community. And for the miniscule number of cases where it is truly unavoidable, there is charity.

  • Ariel||

    Capitalism: "The Oxford English Dictionary (Vol II, p 863) locates its first usage in English in 1854 by William Makepeace Thackeray in his novel, The Newcomes." Thirteen years before Das Kapital.

    Capitalist: "First used in English in 1792, by Arthur Young (Travels in France) and it was used by Turgot (in French) in his 'Reflections on the Formation and the Distribution of Riches' LXIII-IV, 1770." Seventy-five and ninety-seven years before Das Kapital, respectively.

    "The definition of free markets is unambiguous: voluntary transactions between individuals, free from government interference or prohibitions." Which means we have had nothing but capitalism as it is defined today, which has been about maximizing efficiency and profit, and no free-market has ever existed.

    I hate to do this but Sacastr0 is exactly right: you should realize "you sound like the mirror of dunderheaded Commies in the 1970s, yes?"

  • Jakester||

    Communists were inter-nationalists

  • Elias Fakaname||

    This is all part of why communists should be killed where they are found. Don't ever let it spread.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Have more faith in the American spirit, my man. We can handle wrongheaded speech just fine these days.

  • DjDiverDan||

    "We can handle wrongheaded speech just fine these days."

    And yet you just keep talking.

  • Joe_dallas||

    "While the influence of communist ideology has declined since its mid-twentieth century peak, it is far from dead. Largely unreformed communist regimes remain in power in Cuba and North Korea. In Venezuela, the Marxist government's socialist policies have resulted in political repression,"

    Granted the communist dictatorships have declined, yet the progressives (the dominant sect of the current democrat party), still yearn for the socialist ideals of communism and socialism along with a world government to solve the worlds problems.

  • Don't look at me.||

    We just need the right people in charge.

  • ||

    ...And the correct height of the lunette and precise sharpness of the guillotine blade

  • Sarcastr0||

    Anything with more government than you want is Communism, anything with less is anarchy!

  • Microaggressor||

    Marxism/Leninism is essentially just abolishing the private sector and replacing it with the public sector to encompass 100% of the legal economy. Moving in that direction even a little bit is still a bad idea, 97% of the time, every time.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Worldwide there are lots of examples that belie the evils departing from a pure market economy. More than 3%, for sure.

    Heck, America has lots of examples of why regulated markets manage to combine the efficiency-engine of capitalism with some guardrails. And then there are the things not as amenable to markets. Space Race, military, etc.

    And though the right paints some antidiscrimination regulation narrative, the much easier throughline is that the housing market is a great example of why unregulated markets provide problems.

  • ||

    The housing market is anything BUT "unregulated". The US got into the mess by coercisively forcing lenders to lower their standards below their standards, and below regulatory standards.
    Never mind everything from needing permits to build on your own land to zoning laws. Are you seriously this daft or do you just vomit talking points involuntarily?

  • Sarcastr0||

    Partisans say that it was because of forcing banks to accept subprime loans. As if the banks needed to be coerced. Not even the banks say that - it was a free-for-all out there before the crash.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You don't know what you're talking about. Investment bakers may have set up various bad subprime loan products, but they had nothing on HUD, and their horrible FHA standards. That was all government baby. And the biggest offender.

  • MarkLastname||

    Ignorance is bliss apparently. The government subsidizing/underwriting MBSs on a massive scale is not 'laissez faire.' If the government agrees to pay anyone willing to start a fire, it's rather preposterous to blame capitalism for the resultant increase in building burning down.

    Note that the single biggest factor driving institutional investors to buy up MBSs (at more than 3x the rate of other investors) was the recourse rule and how it inflated demand for some securities by weighting them higher in capital reserve ratios. IOW it was a regulation, not its lack, that was the problem.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Citing dogma does not make it more valid. The housing bubble wasn't forced on anyone. Compare HUD's segment of the market to privately secured morgages and you'll see which area was taking off.

    Housing was not a free market, but it deregulation of financial markets was a but-for cause of banks bundling these things into complicated toxicity-hiding instruments.

    My source is Alan Greenspan, not exactly a liberal lion. What is yours? Cato? AEI?

  • Chili Dogg||

    The government made it possible for banks to make profits on sub-prime loans, then pass the loans along to "government-sponsored entities" (GSEs), such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Those GSEs were aggressively buying sub-prime mortgages (while led by a former Clinton official, Franklin Raines [sp?]). It's not surprising that mortgage lenders took advantage of this situation, instead of just sitting around and watching all the other mortgage lenders take advantage of it.

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were such an insolvent mess that Congress considered shutting them down. Of course, getting rid of a federal agency or bureaucracy is damn near impossible, so Congress didn't pull the plug on them after all (ditto for the Export-Import Bank). Lordy (to quote Comey), what do they have to do for Congress to close them?

  • Mark22||

    Partisans say that it was because of forcing banks to accept subprime loans

    That is minor compared to the massive problems rent control, zoning, codes, and anti-discrimination laws have caused in the housing market.

  • Mark22||

    Worldwide there are lots of examples that belie the evils departing from a pure market economy. More than 3%, for sure.

    Well, then you certainly won't have any problems giving such examples.

    The examples you have given so far (Somalia, robber barons, Great Depression, colonialism, etc.) were all examples of the bad effects of government interference in markets.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    Cue the apologists for Communism to re-hash last years comments.

  • Hank Phillips||

    These things were all in furtherance of the work of Altruism. Altrurian socialism was what Bellamy, Howells, London et alii distilled from the writings of Marx. Only after Lenin rejected the Sermon on the Mount and Hitler embraced it did coercive altruists begin flinging each other's genocide in voters' faces as though there were some substantive difference between them. The message is now watered down, so Leninists today are called Democrats and NSDAP planks survive in the Republican platform, but both Kleprtocracy parties today represent the failed shards of the collectivist schism that began in 1917 and dominates Europe entirely. Today is simply Coercive Collectivism Day.

  • Eidde||

    "Only after Lenin rejected the Sermon on the Mount and Hitler embraced it"

    Hitler certainly believed in doing unto others what his paranoid fantasies said they wanted to do to him.

  • M.L.||

    What is Hank talking about? I missed the part where Hitler embraced "love your enemies" and learned that hate was tantamount to murder.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Hank is a deranged idiot who pathologically hates religion but loves murdering babies more than anything else.

  • Mark22||

    These things were all in furtherance of the work of Altruism.

    Altruism is a voluntary choice I make to help others.

    Altruism is not you voting for government to hold a gun to my head in order to help others.

  • Mark22||

    NSDAP planks survive in the Republican platform

    Have you ever looked at the NSDAP platform? The NSDAP platform called for universal healthcare, environmental protection, free higher education, government-guaranteed retirement plans, high taxes on investment income, redistributing money from wealthy bankers and businessmen to the population, government regulation of industry and banks for the public good, government regulation to prevent the dissemination of fake news, and the breaking up of big corporations. Does that sound Republican or Democrat to you?

  • Lee Moore||

    Don't forget banning homeschooling - a ban which still persists in Germany.

  • Alcibiades||

    But, but, the sex was better...

  • Sarcastr0||

  • Mark22||

    Young angry blue collar workers are hot, aren't they?

  • Sarcastr0||

    But I've been reliably informed by the commenters here that now You are the Communists.

  • loki13||

    " I also addressed various possible objections to using May Day, including claims that the date should be reserved for the celebration of labor unions."

    Not very well.

    May 1 is both the traditional May Day as well as "Labour Day" (Worker's Day) though out most of the world. If you want your suggestion to be taken seriously, make a serious suggestion.

  • Eidde||

    Yes, we shouldn't be honoring the victims of Communism on this day, since all the victims were rich exploiters, kulaks, and social parasites, not members of the working class.

  • Eidde||

    Also, May Day is a perfectly legitimate holiday, it simply got hijacked by the Communists, like the Nazis hijacked a perfectly innocent Indian symbol.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Unions and labor != Communists.

  • Eidde||

    re-examine my analogy.

  • Microaggressor||

    Yet they spring from the same ideological beliefs such as labor theory of value and the worker exploitation theory. There's a reason why socialist groups use the words "worker" and "labor" in their movement, they operate under the myth that socialism is inherently the interest of workers. Always whining about austerity and the like. Pay attention to union rhetoric and you will see the same patterns.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You seem to be taking something of a momentum-based view of socialism, where motion is all that matters, not where you start or where you end.
    To me, whining about austerity doesn't seem to be the same as arguing for socialism generally, unless you think we're somehow exactly on the edge of socialism right now.

    Marx went well beyond labor theory of value. Recognizing that work as well as things have value is pretty well-accepted on all fronts these days.

    Your argument seems to be that unions are culturaly socialist, not inherently so?

  • MarkLastname||

    Most labor unions do support much greater government control over their industries.

  • Mark22||

    Recognizing that work as well as things have value is pretty well-accepted on all fronts these days.

    Are you really so economically illiterate that you think Marx was the first to recognize that labor has value? People have known that for as long as there has been money.

    Marx's "labor theory of value" says something much more specific, namely that the value of labor should determine the value of the final product, as opposed to factors like scarcity and demand. It's that misconception that has caused people to starve by the millions in communist countries.

    Marx went well beyond labor theory of value.

    Yes, though pretty much everything he wrote has turned out to be false.

  • loki13||

    Seriously? Are you this stupid, or are you deliberately missing the point?

    More holidays? Awesome! I love taking a day off, although I doubt I'll get one. I honestly doubt this will amount to much, since we rarely get observed holidays for, you know, lots of deaths. War deaths? Sure. But I don't see America (for one) having a holiday for random dead people in other countries ... no matter how many. I mean, maybe like "Chocolate Lovers' Day" or something.

    But if he does want it to be taken seriously (which I doubt), he'd need to suggest a day that wasn't already a major holiday in most of the world. Why not suggest Christmas? Good?

  • Eidde||

    "he'd need to suggest a day that wasn't already a major holiday in most of the world"

    From the post:

    "But, as explained in my 2013 Victims of Communism Day post, I would be happy to support a different date if it turns out to be easier to build a consensus around it. If another date is chosen, I would prefer November 7 – not out of any desire to diminish the significance of communist atrocities in other nations, but because it marks the establishment of the very first communist regime."

    "a holiday for random dead people in other countries"

    Then I hate to ask what you'd think of a museum commemorating foreign victims of a totalitarian atrocity.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Pointing out 5 years ago he's willing to change the date of his hypothetical holiday, but still hasn't makes one wonder how willing he truly is.

  • Eidde||

    So he'd be willing to give up the idea of a Victims of Communism Day rather than give up the May 1 date?

  • Sarcastr0||

    He's not willing to give up either. Which is a little silly, but we all have our windmills.

  • Eidde||

    You're suggesting that he's dishonest?

  • loki13||

    "You're suggesting that he's dishonest?"

    No. Just you.

    Prof. Somin is an idealist, and not very practical, but at least he's not a craven and lying idiot.

  • Eidde||

    Another thing about the founders of the blog is that they allow commenters to insult them by saying that they don't mean the things they say (but you're not calling them dishonest!).

  • loki13||

    You can't stop lying.

    I pointed out that his prior post didn't handle the objection very well, and that if he wanted his annual post to be taken more seriously, he should probably move if from May 1.

  • Eidde||

    By your own admission, you're not making a substantive comment, since you promised not to answer me with substantive comments.

    You originally said

    "...if he does want it to be taken seriously (which I doubt), he'd need to suggest a day that wasn't already a major holiday in most of the world. Why not suggest Christmas? Good?"

    Even though he said he'd be open to Nov. 7.

    But you're not calling him dishonest!

  • loki13||

    "You originally said"

    That's not what I originally said, dumbass.

    You couldn't spell cat if I spotted you the C and the A.

  • Eidde||

    loki13|5.1.18 @ 12:03PM|#

    Seriously? Are you this stupid, or are you deliberately missing the point?

    More holidays? Awesome! I love taking a day off, although I doubt I'll get one. I honestly doubt this will amount to much, since we rarely get observed holidays for, you know, lots of deaths. War deaths? Sure. But I don't see America (for one) having a holiday for random dead people in other countries ... no matter how many. I mean, maybe like "Chocolate Lovers' Day" or something.

    But if he does want it to be taken seriously (which I doubt), he'd need to suggest a day that wasn't already a major holiday in most of the world. Why not suggest Christmas? Good?

  • loki13||

    5.1.18 @ 11:15AM|#

    " I also addressed various possible objections to using May Day, including claims that the date should be reserved for the celebration of labor unions."

    Not very well.

    May 1 is both the traditional May Day as well as "Labour Day" (Worker's Day) though out most of the world. If you want your suggestion to be taken seriously, make a serious suggestion.

    Note to stupid person- 11:15am is EARLIER than 12:03pm.

    Thanks for playing everyone's favorite gameshow- HOW STUPID IS EIDDE???? AND CAN WE GET HIM TO SHOW US?

  • Eidde||

    Ooh, now you've moved up to ALL CAPS.

    Anyway, there's no doubt you said what you said, and that you questioned the poster's honesty.

  • loki13||

    "Anyway, there's no doubt you said what you said, and that you questioned the poster's honesty."

    You're so stupid, you don't even understand what you don't understand!

    Of course, it's almost like animal abuse at this point- making fun of you has diminishing returns, like mocking the mentally disadvantaged.

  • Eidde||

    You doubted Prof. Somin's proposal was meant to be taken seriously. Though he proposed an alternate date - November 7 - you saw fit to say:

    "But if he does want it to be taken seriously (which I doubt), he'd need to suggest a day that wasn't already a major holiday in most of the world. Why not suggest Christmas? Good?"

    You were doing more than calling him an idealist.

  • Eidde||

    Specifically, the good prof said this:

    he "would be happy to support a different date if it turns out to be easier to build a consensus around it. If another date is chosen, I would prefer November 7"

  • Krayt||

    Given Jesus manufactured thousands of fishes and loaves from a handful of templates by magic, Christmas might not be the worst suggestion for a Victims of Communism day.

  • loki13||

    "Then I hate to ask what you'd think of a museum commemorating foreign victims of a totalitarian atrocity."

    I'm all for it, dumbass. I was talking about a HOLIDAY. If he's looking for something similar (that would be January 27, internationally) he would probably do best to have it on a day THAT ISN'T ALREADY A HOLIDAY.

    Kind of like I just stated. So yeah, dumb and stupid is no way to go through life, son. Confusing museums with holidays?

  • Eidde||

    I thought you were done with me.

    But you just can't quit me, can you?

    So, you like the idea of museums for random dead people in other countries. Where do you think the Museum for the Victims of Communism should be set up?

  • loki13||

    "But you just can't quit me, can you?"

    If you mean, "Will I ever get a substantive response from Loki again," the answer is no.

    Bye Felicia!

  • Eidde||

    No, don't leave, that will make it so obvious that you've won!

  • loki13||

    "No, don't leave, that will make it so obvious that you've won!"

    Aw, you're so cute when you're desperate!

  • gormadoc||

    And nobody could tell the difference.

  • Microaggressor||

    I don't think you get it. Yes, this day is another holiday, and that's the point. This is the day you get to look out the window and see actual communists parading in the streets. Try to count the hammer and sickle flags. These are the people who are ignorant of the history of communism, and that's why awareness needs to be raised.

  • loki13||

    "I don't think you get it."

    No, I do get it ... unlike the resident idiot in the comments.

    It's Prof. Somin who seems unclear. Of course, we don't have a lot of "hammers and sickles" in this country, and in other countries, they really do view it as their Labour Day (and/or May Day).

    If he is seriously looking to adopt this holiday, he needs a different day. Because your personal views on May 1 are not shared by the remainder of the world. Pretty simple.

  • Chili Dogg||

    Your comment is sarcasm, right? I know it's probably even silly to ask.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Communism killed 100M people last century and still kills them today.

    Nazis killed 10M and haven't killed any to speak of since 1945.

    Yet Marxism is still respectable in academia. There's a movie out now about Marx's youth. I wonder how well a similar movie about Hitler or Mussolini would fare.

    And all the while, free(ish) markets lifted billions out of poverty.

  • Number 2||

    I was about to ask the rhetorical question why pro-Marxist speech is not considered "hate speech," insofar as whereas Naziism calls for the elimination of human beings based on perceived race, Marxism calls for the elimination of human beings based on perceived social class. Either way, human beings are being, well, "invalidated."

    And actually, there was an Italian movie about young Mussolini that was on Netflix about a year ago. It was surprisingly sympathetic to him, likely because it covered the period in his life when he was a Socialist.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Marxists would argue capitalists are the ones that call for eliminating people based on class.
    When you need to become consequentialist, you need to be careful you've not crossed over into arguing ideology.

  • Microaggressor||

    Marxists would argue capitalists are the ones that call for eliminating people based on class.

    That's right, and they're wrong. Which makes their movement against it illegitimate.

    Nazis would argue that Jews are the ones calling for the elimination of the Aryan race. Does that justify their actions? After all, it's just self defense, isn't it?

  • Lee Moore||

    Sarcastro : "Marxists would argue capitalists are the ones that call for eliminating people based on class."

    But would you ?

  • Sarcastr0||

    Less so than Communists, surely. Eat the rich is a bit too literal for a lot of those Commies. And I'll spot you Pinochet as an aberration.

    But while I'm not one to argue that every poor person who dies in America is death by capitalism, to be a pure capitalist, one needs to have some callousness to death and misery, or at least a blind acceptance that the market is the best of all possible worlds.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    My blind acceptance of free markets does believe that free markets are better for the poor often enough to far outweigh the other times, and I also believe that enough people like to help each other that charity can take care of almost all the rest. Yes, some will fall through the cracks, and some people ar so damaged that they either won't accept help or are simply rabid animals to lock up; but there are far fewer of them under free markets than any system where the government interferes.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Confirmation bias is not the way to great policy. Your facile knee-jerk would get rid of the FDA, the Clean Air and Water Acts, have never stood up NASA, would have passed on the Hoover Dam, the national highway system, the old unlucky enough to be without family would still be eating cat food and dying in hovels.

    You need to check the cost-benefit every time. And you need to check against policies other than 'full Communism now.' You need to check it for more things than 'how's the GDP doing?'

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I have seen far too many studies showing government incompetence, waste, fraud, and corruption to give them teh benefit of the doubt. Government is incompetent, so are many businesses, but the difference is businesses can go out of business. Absent revolution, government can;t, so has no accountability.

    You are a damned knee-jerk blind fool if you think private industry can't build dams, roads, and airports, or that the FDA has actually done anything that private industry can't do better and more efficiently. NASA got to the moon reasonably well, but at tremendous cost, and then looked around for something to do and came up with the shuttle. A billion bucks a launch -- expendables would have been a tenth the cost and more reliable with fewer fatalities.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Government has it's excesses, no doubt. But so do markets. Any waste is offset by the faulty incentives markets have. Greed is good, until you're trying for something other than growth for growth's sake.
    As for government not going out of business, we live in a Republic that mitigates some of that issue (though I allow not all of it). If you don't think there can be radical shifts in governmental institutions, look at the last year or so.

    Private industry can build dams and roads, but not the Hoover Dam, and the National Highway System. It's a matter of timescale, coordination, and incentives. No coalition is going to get together that's big enough with enough resources and solved free rider problems to get something that's going to pay off slowly and society-wide in the timeline of generations.

    The failure of the Space Shuttle is a great example of government failure. Partially because it screwed up it's long term planning and let operational cost balloon in order to keep development costs down. It's actually an amazing story of institutional failure.
    And government still does a better job than commercial space launch in terms of reliability.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Government has it's excesses, no doubt. But so do markets.

    Precisely, but incomplete. The difference is that markets recognize failure and businesses got out of businesses. Governments only recognize failure when it reaches the desperation of revolution.

    This is a vital difference. Markets breed efficiency and accountability and results. Governments breed corruption and inefficiency and expansion. Results are not actually useful, because that would make that little piece of the bureaucracy useless and available for recycling; creative destruction, it's called in markets, but to governments, it's just another excuse to find new useless missions which are even less likely to ever be creatively destroyed from success.

  • Sarcastr0||

    In a republic governments are incentivised to correct their failures as well. The issue is that neither the corrective incentives of governments nor markets are always completely aligned with the goals of society or even the consumer.

    You seem well versed in the failures of government. Or some of them - note that the space shuttle sucked not because of corruption but because of incentives to shrink budgets beyond what was good policy.
    Market issues abound as well. Utilities have been a public good for a long time and for good reason. And, as I pointed out above, free rider problems are another common issue if you try to do everything privately. So is scaling. And accountability has become an issue - how many recent stories have you had with CEOs looting their company and taking a golden parachute. Monopoly, information and access assymetries...
    And, of course, what if you don't want efficiency, but some other metric? Like a market based healthcare system would distribute healthcare efficiently to whoever has the resources to pay for it. Great for those of us who are well off, but that rationing kinda leaves the poor SOL, no?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The shuttle's budget was bloated, not shrunk. The proof is the $1B per launch cost, far more than any expandable.

    In a republic governments are incentivised to correct their failures as well.

    Then you are very unlearned in government. Government accountability is limited to one election every few years, where no voter has any say over anything remotely connected to government. Businesses are internally incentivized by markets; if the executives screw up, it goes out of business. They can be clumsy, incompetent, drunks, or simply misread what consumers want. Governments have no such internal accountability, and the external accountability you mention is a joke. To think otherwise -- well, it's so lame a concept that it only shows how little you know of real life.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Development budget != operational budget.

    You're the knee-jerk 'corruption means government always bad' accusing me of being unlearned in government.

    Accountability every few years is a sufficient incentive to not screw things up in view of the coming election. Just talk to your average politician about how much they think about elections.

  • Chili Dogg||

    "Like a market based healthcare system would distribute healthcare efficiently to whoever has the resources to pay for it. Great for those of us who are well off, but that rationing kinda leaves the poor SOL, no?"

    What BS. You have zero understanding of economics. In the free market, companies try to expand market share; i.e. get more and more people to use their products. Competition results in new products and lower prices. By your logic, there must be millions of Americans dying of starvation in the streets every year because food costs money. (There aren't.) You aren't aware of the amount of free medicine provided to those who cannot afford it. Your image of your fellow humans is that they are "greedy", don't care if others around them are suffering, and won't raise a finger to help them. They actually do this voluntarily, but you think they have to be forced at gunpoint to help other people. Your disdain for other people is evident and disgusting.

  • Mark22||

    Private industry can build dams and roads, but not the Hoover Dam, and the National Highway System.

    Quite right. Why do you believe that those Nazi-inspired monstrosities are a good thing?

    The failure of the Space Shuttle is a great example of government failure

    It's an example of government failure, but a minor one. The good examples of government failure are the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the public education system, and affirmative action, all of which have utterly failed to deliver their predicted results despite ever escalating funding.

    And government still does a better job than commercial space launch in terms of reliability.

    And that is precisely why the government space program has been such a failure: it wastes massive amounts of money on reliability we don't need. If government had not killed a private space program, there would be thousands of space-related fatalities, and there would be colonies on Mars by now.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Why do you believe that those Nazi-inspired monstrosities are a good thing?

    Hitler loved his dog, do you now hate all dogs?

    The good examples of government failure are the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the public education system, and affirmative action, all of which have utterly failed to deliver their predicted results

    All of which require you to point to some rosy counterfactual.

    If government had not killed a private space program, there would be thousands of space-related fatalities, and there would be colonies on Mars by now.
    When I posted about these pure market people being pretty callous...

    Also the private space market will never work properly so long as you have Department of Defense in there screwing up the demand curve with their deep pockets and nigh-infinite demand. That creates a market failure where decreasing supply increases prices.

  • Mark22||

    Hitler loved his dog, do you now hate all dogs?

    Your analogy doesn't work. Love of dogs in the US is unrelated to Hitler's love of dogs. But the US highway system and the Hoover Dam were due to a shared ideology and shared objectives between US progressives and European fascists.

    All of which require you to point to some rosy counterfactual.

    No, not at all. These programs made specific promises as to what they were going to achieve and they failed according to their internal measures of success.

  • Mark22||

    But while I'm not one to argue that every poor person who dies in America is death by capitalism, to be a pure capitalist, one needs to have some callousness to death and misery

    What gives you that idea? Saying that government shouldn't help people by forcibly redistributing money isn't the same as saying that people shouldn't be helped.

    People who embrace free markets ("capitalism") don't do so out of callousness, they do so because they want to help people. You can argue about whether they are right or wrong in terms of their economics, but it is utterly inappropriate to accuse them of callousness just because you (erroneously, as I would argue) believe that their choices produce suffering.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I agree that many believe free markets help people. I am in no way arguing bad faith.

    But I find when pressed, there is always a cold utilitarianism to their (idealistic) predictions - that they are cool with neglecting thousands to improve millions in the future.

    People, BTW, neglecting people. And when you neglect people in the market, they don't do great.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    That's what philanthropy is for.

  • Mark22||

    I agree that many believe free markets help people.

    When it comes to private mechanisms for helping people in need, I am talking about charity, not markets.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Marxists don't leave people alone. Free markets do. When people don't leave me alone, I figure they need to learn a lesson so they do. Usually by visiting some form of pain upon them.

    The progressives in the US are largely smug, soulless, weasels like Tony, PB. AmSoc, etc.. I consider it likely that those sort of people will not learn to back down, and will force the hand of normal Americans who are desperate to be left alone. The end result will be that progressives will be put down, hard.

    All because they think they can run everyone else's lives for them.

  • Brian||

    Because Marxism is loving people to death.

  • ||

    "Communism killed 100M people last century and still kills them today."

    Well, you are 50% correct.

    Try 200M. Give them the credit they deserve.

    Refer to:
    https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Eh, it's hard to come up with an accurate figure. 100M is accepted by all bt the intentionally blind. 200M is debatable.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "Nazis killed 10M and haven't killed any to speak of since 1945."

    The Occult Wars killed several thousand until it ended with Hitler's death in '58.

  • TheAmazingEmu||

    Can we have a victims of capitalism day? Maybe we could set it on a date in honor of the Haymarket Affair.

  • Smooth Like a Rhapsody||

    Aren't you adorable.
    The 100M killed by communism were intentionally killed by communists to advance communism.
    If you count the analogous number killed by capitalism (which would then leave out incidents like the Euros who brought smallpox and measles to the Indians and the Haymarket Riot), then, you are talking, proportionally, about a "Victims of Capitalism Millisecond".

  • Sarcastr0||

    1. I'm not sure that is the case. Being dumb about agricultural science doesn't sound to me like it's intentional. A foreseeable outcome of centralized power, perhaps...
    2. Even if you are correct, why would intent matter when we're dealing with deaths in these numbers?

    These comments show why this would be a bad holiday - it's turned into a partisan bashfest (though notably not yet as heated as some years).
    Fun for me, but I don't think good if writ large.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    "partisan bashfest"

    "partisan

    noun
    1.
    a strong supporter of a party, cause, or person."

    A bashfest between Communist and anti-Communists I guess.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Not as I read it - I see it as between people calling Democrats Communists and those saying that's claptrap.

  • Nardz||

    ^faux intellectuals
    The most pointless of all life forms

  • Mark22||

    Democrats favor private ownership of the means of production under strict government control. That's not communist. In fact, that economic system is called "fascism".

  • Sarcastr0||

    A fascist multicultural Republic?

  • Chili Dogg||

    What would be a good slogan for a Leftist fascist multi-cultural Republic?

    "Many colors, one thought"

  • Mark22||

    A fascist multicultural Republic?

    Racism isn't an essential component of fascism. Italy was fascist but not racist.

    Furthermore, Democrats are "multicultural" only in the sense that they tolerate a narrow range of cultures with a narrow range of views that happen to be compatible with the party line. That's about as multicultural as Nazi Germany tolerating Swedes, Norwegians, and Danish in addition to Germans.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "Not as I read it - I see it as between people calling Democrats Communists and those saying that's claptrap."

    Can you point to a demonstrable deviation between the DNC platform, amd the ten pillars of communism? I doubt it. Plus, the democrats will be swinging much further left over the next ten years.

    Face it, the democrats are basically just a slightly different flavor of communism anymore.

  • TheAmazingEmu||

    I actually have no problem with a victims of Communism day. I just have a problem with taking over a day intended to memorialize the Haymarket Affair. Why not pick the day the Soviet Union was founded or some other significant moment of Communist violence.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Given the ongoing atrocities visited by marxists over many decades, is it possible to find a day where we're NOT any atrocities?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    You should read this book to learn more about the Haymarket Massacre. It was not death by capitalist pigs, it was a real bomb thrown by real terrorists. The trial was incredibly fair and correctly the standards of the day, including actual forensic comparison of the metal scraps and other bombs, and carefully selecting jurors from a pool of several hundred. Unless you have read this book, your opinions of the Haymarket Massacre are just so much claptrap filtered through a hundred years of Marxist propaganda.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Tim Messer-Kruse is someone I recall from radio interviews about how liberals are trying to silence him.

    He has a bit of a point of view at work. Not that he's wrong, but he maybe shouldn't be one's sole source on this issue.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    He was the first one who had a chance to review the original court transcripts. Every one else was working off what the trouble makers and their supporters said. That alone gives him far more credibility than any of them.

  • Sarcastr0||

    OK, but I'll be looking for scholarship responding to him then.

    A point of view doesn't mean you're wrong; it does mean I want to see your legitimate opposition.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Read the book. That's the only reasonable starting place.

  • Sarcastr0||

    It's on my list, right after I finish Chernow's Grant.

  • peacewish||

    I've also seen, but been unable to conclusively prove, that Mao's 100 Flowers campaign began on a May 1st. Maybe someone here can confirm or deny?

  • ||

    And yet, Professor Somin wants to fill America with tens of millions of third worlders who are likely to bring this evil to America.

  • Mark22||

    Not only that, his open borders b.s. is classic Marxism.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    That is an astute observation.

  • William_Zanzinger||

    I'll support this, as long as we also have a "Victims of Capitalism" day too.

  • William_Zanzinger||

    And "Victims of Christianity" while we're at it.

  • MonitorsMost||

    Christianity has the benefit of having most of its atrocities in a time when the earth's population wasn't nearly as high. And relatively geographically confined. As a result, it's not even close.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    And human culture was vastly more barbaric at the time Christianity's horrors were committed. Unlike the horrors of Islam and Marxism we see today. Of course there are so many bitter atheists and communism it's always ready to attack Christianity anyway.

  • Chili Dogg||

    How about a day to commemorate victims of your inane comments?

  • Smooth Like a Rhapsody||

    How many people have been murdered by capitalists in order to eliminate enemies of capitalism?: note that simply refusing to provide social welfare does not count as murder.

  • Sarcastr0||

    note that simply refusing to provide social welfare does not count as murder.

    Tell that to the dead people. Not that Communism isn't a proven horrorshow and clearly worse than capitalism, but
    1) It is sufficient but not necessary,
    2) If you're counting the famines, you need to count capitalism's as well.
    3) If you're going to be claiming any attempts to move from maximum capitalism means you're flirting with mass deaths, you're going to need to include other deaths 'as consequence of' to make a fair comparison.

  • sparkstable||

    Capitalism is a system of voluntary exchange. Any failure to acquire something you want/need is a failure to convince someone else to freely exchange with you or a failure of your own production. In both cases neither the other person or the system itself has made any action or dictate towards or upon you that would otherwise inhibit your success nor force your failure. As such, capitalism is incapable of killing anyone. That doesn't mean people do not die. But they are not KILLED BY capitalism. They died within a capitalist system. They are akin to people who died in communist states from illness but lived too far from a hospital that possessed the means to save them. That person was not KILLED by communism. Therefore, definitionally (made that word up I think), capitalism killed 0 while communism killed at least 100M. If a factory owner commits murder or defrauds a worker, that would be a personal injustice, not a systemic one. Just as if one commie killed their neighbor or cheated him in a game of "chance."

    The Great Leap Forward was dictates by the system that impeded people's ability to eat. It KILLED them.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Spark, you make many good points. And thank you for dispelling the notion that there is the slightest bit of equivalence between Marxism and capitalism.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You can draw a causal line between capitalism's distribution of resources and no shortage of deaths due to lack of those resources. Just as you can between Communism's and the Holodomor.

    Does that mean Full Communism Now? Obviously not. But let us not worship markets as some optimal solution to all ills.

  • Mark22||

    You can draw a causal line between capitalism's distribution of resources and no shortage of deaths due to lack of those resources.

    I certainly can't. I don't know of any example where free markets have done anything other than reduce shortages of goods.

    But if you can do that, please give examples.

    Obviously not. But let us not worship markets as some optimal solution to all ills.

    Free markets are about freedom, not about delivering optimal solutions. The fact that they deliver better economic solutions than all other known systems is simply a nice bonus.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I don't know of any example where free markets have done anything other than reduce shortages of goods.

    Ever heard of monopolies? Robber barons? The Great Depression?
    People died there, and they didn't need to.

    Free markets are about freedom, not about delivering optimal solutions
    Because who cares about food and water when you've maximized Freedom?

  • Chili Dogg||

    Monopolies: creations of government

    Robber barons: political propaganda

    Great Depression: a bad recession turned into the Great Depression by the government

    Next!

  • Mark22||

    Ever heard of monopolies? Robber barons? The Great Depression?
    People died there, and they didn't need to.

    The robber barons and the Great Depression were the result of government interference in markets. I don't know of any important monopolies that were not created by the government; monopolies are not stable in free markets.

    Because who cares about food and water when you've maximized Freedom?

    Well, fortunately, in the real world, there is no contradiction: free markets produce and distribute food and water far more efficiently and fairly than any other system.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Markets aren't perfect. Just efficient. Unlike Marxism. Which is inherently inefficient and corrupt. It will kill people off by design.

  • Mark22||

    2) If you're counting the famines, you need to count capitalism's as well.

    Like which ones? Which famines did free markets actually ever cause?

  • Sarcastr0||

    Somalia. Great Depression. Philippines at the turn of the century.

    Check out colonialism for some bang-up examples. Even (especially) soft colonialism like Ireland.

  • Mark22||

    Somalia.

    Somalia was a colony, then a communist dictatorship, then a tribal anarchy; not an example of a free market.

    Great Depression.

    Not due to free markets, but bad regulations.

    Philippines at the turn of the century.

    A war-torn occupied territory, not a free market.

    Check out colonialism for some bang-up examples. Even (especially) soft colonialism like Ireland.

    By definition, colonialism involves massive government interference in markets, and usually involves war and military occupation.

    Now, free markets can't do wonders. If you have a country of uneducated peasants and it comes out of some monarchy or dictatorship, it may take a century for the country to lift itself out of poverty with free markets. But in the long term, free markets are always the best economic system.

  • Brightly||

    "heck out colonialism for some bang-up examples. Even (especially) soft colonialism like Ireland."

    the problem with this argument is that you have to pretend that Capitalism was the prevailing economics dating back far before it was widely utilized. If you want to lay blame for the damage of the colonial age on an economic ideal, you ought to look at Mercantilism, not capitalism.

  • Azathoth!!||

    We already celebrate Victims of Capitalism Day.

    It's February 31st. That way we have as many celebrations as there are victims of capitalism.

  • MarkLastname||

    How about we make monuments sized proportionally to the net impact of each ideology on quality of life. The one for capitalism would be big. The one for communism would be a deep hole in the ground.

  • captcrisis||

    1. Their brutal dictatorships . . . were really no worse than the ones we were supporting in opposition. In some ways they were better. At least they provided literacy and health care. And American opposition to Communism sprang not from concern about civil liberties but from wealth being distributed away from Western corporate interests. Sugar plantations operated in near-slavery conditions were perfectly fine with us, so long as the overlords were United Brands and Domino rather than Castro and Mao.

    2. The happiest and most successful countries today practice a form of modified Communism in the context of parliamentary democracy.

  • Eidde||

    It is true that, say, the Guatemalan govt. and the Indonesian govt. committed atrocities in the name of anticommunism. And I'm learning about some South Korean atrocities too.

    Perhaps a World Democide Day, or a Government Killings Day, putting "left-wing" and "right-wing" atrocities under the same umbrella?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Communism is so horrible that sometimes it's necessary to cauterize the wound than let the Marxist infection spread. Which is the fault of communism it's. Not the O'Neil,e forced to do bad things to stop them.

  • Mark22||

    2. The happiest and most successful countries today practice a form of modified Communism in the context of parliamentary democracy.

    If you are referring to European social welfare states, they are not "the most successful countries" and they became wealthy before they became social welfare states; since then, they have been gradually failing.

    And there is nothing "communist" about those social welfare states either; their form of government is based on the Bismarck model.

  • captcrisis||

    Government ownership of the means of production is the "sine qua non" of Communism. In Norway and Denmark, for example, it is quite extensive. They got into this to recover from WW II and it worked. They aren't failing.

    It is also true that some of this owes to Bismarck. But he was in large part "stealing the socialists' thunder". He would be shocked today to see how far Germany has gone down that road.

    It's really a continuum and nobody these days argues for one end or the other. The only question is where on the continuum is the best place.

    Capital-c Communism was dictatorial because it was put into place in a country with no democratic tradition and was in post-war chaos. This was the Russian model and they spent the next 50 years spreading it by filling power vaccums. It also (at least in the U.S.) poisoned the notion of socialism, to our detriment.

  • Mark22||

    Government ownership of the means of production is the "sine qua non" of Communism. In Norway and Denmark, for example, it is quite extensive.

    Publicly owned companies are still a small fraction of the total economy even in those countries.

    They got into this to recover from WW II and it worked.

    The Nordic countries became social welfare states decades after the end of WWII.

    They aren't failing.

    Actually, most of Europe has been electing conservative governments and they have been scaling back their social welfare model.

    It's really a continuum and nobody these days argues for one end or the other. The only question is where on the continuum is the best place.

    As close to the free market as possible. The Nordic and German models suck. I can tell you that from first experience.

  • bernard11||

    And there is nothing "communist" about those social welfare states either; their form of government is based on the Bismarck model.

    I don't know about the Bismarck model, but it is true that the social welfare states of Europe are not communist.

    Tell your friends. They don't seem to understand that. They imagine that if you put in a government run retirement scheme the next thing you know peasants are starving to death everywhere.

  • Mark22||

    They imagine that if you put in a government run retirement scheme the next thing you know peasants are starving to death everywhere.

    I'm not sure what you think that has to do with Germany. You, like many Americans, seem to live under the misconception that retirement and healthcare are just paid for by the government via massive redistribution schemes. They are not.

  • CJColucci||

    Most national holidays, in most nations, either celebrate that nation's achievements or memorialize that nation's tragedies. I do not expect to see France adopt a Victims of Germany Day or Ireland to adopt an England Sucks Day.

  • Sam Gompers||

    It's part of the human condition to want to dictate and control others.

    Those people tend to gravitate around Communism, Socialism, and their modern incarnation, Progressivism.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Corporate executives don't enjoy dictating to others? Rich douches don't like dictating to others?
    Capitalism concentrates power just as much as Communism does and attract the same type.

    But nice job assuming the evil motives of progressives, as always.

  • M.L.||

    Lmao, no, capitalism does not concentrate power just as much as communism.

    And, unless you have some corporate executives and rich douches dictating to others under threat of murder and imprisonment, your attempt at comparing these categorically different things is really embarrassing.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Got me there, ML, that's fair.

    Though if you like dictating to others, the rich still seem to have that ability in America just fine.

    And if you think America doesn't have a concentration of economic power...

  • gormadoc||

    Nothing obligates anybody to follow the dictations of the rich beyond their employment. When it happens that people are forced into following the whims of the rich we try to stamp it out. See #MeToo for examples.

    It certainly isn't comparable to the power Party members in Communist regimes enjoy. If Kim Jong Un and his favored were just rich dudes in the West the Kippumjo would not be tolerated. The NXIVM group can attest to that.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Not valuing employment is a helluva thing.

    MeToo is a great example. How long did that last? How long were the rich free to do awful things without consequence?

  • gormadoc||

    So out of the thousands of super-rich in the US only one can potentially claim to be any one person's employer. That doesn't figure the large number of people not employed by these rich. So out of the millions of people in the US, even if you believe that employment grants somebody full control over another, it's only one person. And it's not being rich that grants them this undemonstrated power but being an employer.

    MeToo is still happening and has caught on in foreign places as traditional as Spain and as capitalist as SK.

    And they weren't free before this. Bill Clinton was nearly removed from the Presidency, Berlusconi's reputation is in tatters, the Catholic Church was embroiled in scandal, Heffner was scrutinized for decades, and MJ had extensive legal troubles.

    It's not like MeToo has changed people's morals; it's encouraged women to speak out. Cosby would have been trashed for what he did as long as those woman spoke up, whether or not there was a movement behind it.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Small business owners can't by tyrants? Or are you talking about those working for benevolent governments?

    My thesis is not a relative one or an extreme one. As usual I'm arguing a counterexample.
    I'm not saying that we are all slaves, or serfs, or no better off than the average USSR citizen back in the day. It is only that Sam Gompers facile comment ignores that capitalism is stranger to abuses of power.

  • Sam Gompers||

    That's a great example of Democrat Privilege.

  • M.L.||

    In America, you can tell any rich person including your boss to go pound salt. Or you can choose to take their money in exchange for services. Your choice.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Some choice, ML.

    One of the main areas I part ways with conservatives is their idea of freedom in name only without viable choice.

  • sparkstable||

    Bad choices are still choices that are far superior to being enslaved by the state elites (or serve for their target practice).

    And as for the corruption of modern business... every example is one that involves business sleeping with government. It is a product of a mixed economy that grants coercive power, to whatever extent it exists, to businesses. Such an arrangement is not permissible nor possible in a free market system.

  • Jerry B.||

    "And as for the corruption of modern business... every example is one that involves business sleeping with government."

    We have a winner!!

  • Sarcastr0||

    It's not like the only choices are dictatorship or deregulated everything.

    The dogma that regulations lead to all bad things that look like they're cause by capitalism is unsupported by evidence or logic.

  • Mark22||

    It's not like the only choices are dictatorship or deregulated everything.

    No, there is a wide range of dysfunctional governments in between.

    The dogma that regulations lead to all bad things that look like they're cause by capitalism is unsupported by evidence or logic.

    That's only because you keep equivocating, using the term "capitalism" sometimes to refer to crony capitalism, sometimes to corporatism, and sometimes to free markets. That's not an accident: Marx wanted that kind of equivocation.

    And you're right: not all regulations are bad. But the more power you give to government to regulate things, the more it will abuse it to harm people. On balance, people lose. That's why we need to minimize the power we give to government, striving to replace more and more government functions with private solutions.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    "Capitalism concentrates power just as much as Communism does"

    Name the Stalin or Mao of capitalism please?

  • Sarcastr0||

    Yeah, I overstepped. The power of the state over life and death is at least partially out of bounds to the very rich in America.

    Though if they take a notion, you can sure as heck be bankrupted and left destitute. And if they are careful, they can even get you killed and get away with it.

    I'm not quite one of those to go caterwauling about some coal baron poisoning the air and killing with subtle cancers and respiratory illnesses, but the power $$ has over our political processes is a problem.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    "they can even get you killed and get away with it."

    Really? Seems pretty paranoid.

    Anyone can get away with murder if you are careful enough not to get caught.

  • Sam Gompers||

    but the power $$ has over our political processes is a problem.

    Clearly then the solution would be to give the people in government more power and control to sell!

    Not less! That would be crazy speak. It would be crazy to think the people in government should have the least amount of power and control over the society and the economy as possible. How could they make us do what you want people to do if that were the case!

  • Mark22||

    I'm not quite one of those to go caterwauling about some coal baron poisoning the air and killing with subtle cancers and respiratory illnesses, but the power $$ has over our political processes is a problem.

    And you're going to fix that... by giving politicians even more power to sell to the highest bidder!

    Brilliant plan! It's like the proverbial pouring gasoline on a fire!

  • Sam Gompers||

    No company can force me to do anything without the power of the progressive people in government behind them.

    Take for example forcing me to buy contraception insurance. No company could do that without Progressives.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Haha, it's only the progressive people in government.

    Read less 1984, more Brave New World.

  • Sam Gompers||

    It think it was normal people who tried to force nuns to buy abortions and contracptives for others, or Progressives?

  • Sarcastr0||

    It was the voters. What kind of janky framing are you trying to pull here with your 'normal people?' You know what they say about people who can't stop insisting they're normal...

    Anyhow, if you don't think people are coerced into doing all sorts of crap they don't want to do by their job. And a lot worse than paying for something they don't want. That's part of society. Like, say a war in Iraq, or a cruel immigration policy.

  • Sam Gompers||

    Voters didn't vote that requirement. In fact, with Scott in MA they seemed to vote against it. But that didn't stop the Progressives and their march towards regress.

    I know you can't seem to accept this, but you are free to find another job if you are unhappy at your current one.

  • Sarcastr0||

    What kind of pampered upbringing did you have where not only you have the resources to just job hop whenever, but you cannot understand anyone else not having that luxury?

  • Mark22||

    Anyhow, if you don't think people are coerced into doing all sorts of crap they don't want to do by their job. And a lot worse than paying for something they don't want. That's part of society.

    And it's part of society because people like you support violence and oppression.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    You are equating some company trying to convince me to buy what they are selling with a Communist regime forcing me to do something by pointing a gun at my head? The mask slipped right there, you fucking imbecile.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Yes, I want to shoot you, you caught me.

  • Jerry B.||

    I expect that you want the government to do the shooting for you.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Haha - not everyone who disagrees with you about economics on the Internet is secretly a Stalin wannabe.

  • Jerry B.||

    I don't think you want to be a Stalin, just a mid/high-level apparatchik making and enforcing the rules for some sector of the State, with a nice little dacha in the country and access to the special stores.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Well, you're telepathy must be on the fritz.

    Thanks for thinking I'm a murderer-by-proxy though!

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I tend to doubt you are right about that. My leftist cousin told me yesterday she thinks we should have unlimited ballroom on demand. No matter what. And that lif a baby is in the wrong side of the uterus that it doesn't have any right to live. Even in a pregnancy that is 40 plus weeks along. This is a 56 year old woman who has been practicing law for over 30 years.

    I consider her typical of progressives in most areas. When they are being honest, this is the kind of shit they believe in. They don't be,I've in the constitution, they don't believe in rights they don't agree with, and will even murder healthy babies.

    That is all a progressive will ever have to offer most people; murder, slavery, and subjugationon every level. Anything else they claim to the contrary is just bullshit.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "But nice job assuming the evil motives of progressives, as always."

    Of course, as progressivism is evil. You do understand that progressivism is another of marxism's Bastard children right? Along with socialism, and fascism. Yet you act as if it is somehow good in any way.

    It isn't, and stop trying to push your bullshit notion that capitalism is somehow equivalent to communism. It is not.

  • Gene Poole||

    You're right. When you see "ism" at the end of a word, you can be sure some huckster is trying to sell you some soap that'll get your clothes cleaner... or wash all your sins away

  • Elias Fakaname||

    No man can wash away your sins.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I don't think capitalism is evil, or any of the commenters on this thread are evil.

    You, on the other hand, are quite willing to call those you disagree with evil.

    That's not a great way to be in a Republic.

  • MarkLastname||

    No, capitalism does not. Wal-mart cannot do to you what Stalin did.

    That you have the nerve to accuse others of burning straw men is pretty rich.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I've walked that back pretty hard; that was my bad.

  • Mark22||

    Corporate executives don't enjoy dictating to others? Rich douches don't like dictating to others?

    They like to, but free markets constrain their ability to do so, because people can vote with their feet. Under communism or socialism, the very same people get into government, and then they can exercise their power without restraint because people can't vote with their feet anymore.

    But nice job assuming the evil motives of progressives, as always.

    "A Person Has Two Reasons for Doing Anything: A Good Reason and the Real Reason"

  • Sarcastr0||

    Do you live in reality? Rich people throwing their weight around is kind of a thing in America. Has been for a long time.
    And, amazingly, they stay rich!

  • Chili Dogg||

    Which of the following has the power to raid people's homes at night with guns drawn?

    A. McDonald's

    B. The government

    Hint: I've never heard of one of these two organizations busting down people's doors to make people buy their hamburgers and french fries.

  • M.L.||

    I'm always a bit surprised how the victims of communism day comment threats get so lengthy and riled up every time.

    But I shouldn't be. There are a surprising number of communists in the US, and their thinking remains influential. Heck, BHO installed a guy who voted for the Communist Party as head of the CIA.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    The New York Times just published a "Marx was right" article. On top of the sex was better under Communism article.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I blame the capitalist need for outrage-clicks.

  • tzx4||

    Seems I remember Lenin quoted as saying that the capitalists would sell to rope with they would hang by.
    I believe this to be a true statement. Profit is a perfect god to some among us.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "I blame the capitalist need for outrage-clicks."

    Of course you do. Always blaming the good guys. And the victims of your evil Marxist friends. It's pretty apparent from your comments that you are just a passive aggressive prooonent for Marxism when you get down to it.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Thanks for telling me what I really think.

    I think some regulation is good. I also think this isn't quite the same as being a Communist.

  • Eidde||

    To be fair, the article is only an op-ed from a philosophy professor.

    Balancing out the raging right-wing wing-nuttery of David Brooks?

  • Mark22||

    On top of the sex was better under Communism article.

    From personal experience, I can assure you sex isn't better under communism.

    However, I do have to admit that there is something sexy about young, angry, powerful blue collar workers.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Yeah, why would we get riled up when you're just talking about how a lot of Democrats are commies.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I blame the capitalist need for outrage-clicks.

  • MarkLastname||

    Well, guilt by association is routinely applied to Republicans within six degrees of association with someone disreputable; since Democrats never 'disavow' the communist party's endorsements of them, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You want to argue something you know isn't correct, so you point to some partisans on the other side that do it.

    Enjoy your rationalization of intentional wrongness, ya propagandist.

  • Mark22||

    Yeah, why would we get riled up when you're just talking about how a lot of Democrats are commies.

    True, you have a right to be riled up over that. After all, a quick look at the history of the Democrats and their party program shows that they are actually fascists (though not Nazis).

  • Sarcastr0||

    What a way to go through life.

  • Sarcastr0||

    What a way to go through life.

  • Mark22||

    Yes, indeed, what a way to go through life supporting Democrats and not seeing the obvious.

    Mind you, I used to be a Democrat until I actually figured out their reprehensible history and their disturbing proximity to Nazi ideology.

  • Chili Dogg||

    Don't forget communist Van Jones who was part of the BO administration. I think he's on a left-wing TV channel now. Is that right?

  • Arthur I Kirkland||

    It's pretty funny to see Bull Cow post this, when the ideology that he spews today would do nothing more than advance Socialism/Globalism/Communism in the United States.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Hello again, Bigoted Right-Wing (But Volokh-Approved) Mini Me.

    Which element of Prof. Somin's libertarianism promotes, in your judgment, socialism, globalism, and/or communism in the United States?

  • Rev. Arthur Ꮮ. Kirkland||

    Arthur I Kirkland?

    Seriously, man, you couldn't put a little effort in?

    I mean, really, there's a whole Unicode of homographs out there. Rеv. Arthur L. Kirkland, Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland, Rеv. Arthur L. Kirkland, Reν. Arthur L. Kirkland, Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland, Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland, Rev. Αrthur L. Kirkland, Rev. Ꭺrthur L. Kirkland, Rev. Artһur L. Kirkland, Rev. Arthur L. Κirkland, Rev. Arthur L. Ꮶirkland, Rev. Arthur L. Kіrkland, Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland, Rev. Arthur L. Kirklаnd, Rev. Arthur L. Kirklanԁ . . . there could be a whole army of us distinguishable only by accidents of local computer-dependent font presentations.

  • Eidde||

    The federal government has already designated May 1 as Law Day, celebrating the rule of law, so that's already bad news for Communists.

    But of course the original May Day was all about law-abiding behavior, so the original purpose of May Day has been fully preserved.

  • loki13||

    "While I don't flatter myself that I will convince you, this idea is an absurdly unnecessary provocation. May 1 was a day to advocate for the rights of workers and free trade unions before Soviet Communism, and it remains one after Soviet Communism. I understand that you generally do not approve of the types of workers rights people fought and died for, and that you generally do not approve of free trade unions (or at least not their currently existing legal rights and their typical goals). But many millions of people, in this country and around the world, do. Insisting that we co-opt the day on which many/most of those people celebrate the struggles and victories of labor and instead equate the day with the horrors of Soviet communism is hard to interpret as a genuine attempt to bring folks of differing beliefs together to protest those horrors. Instead, it comes across basically as trolling. Hey, that 8-hour day movement, the thousands of folks killed here (and many more abroad) trying to organize unions to get better conditions, pay, and more voice at their work, the continuing fight against alarming and increasing inequalities of wealth, concern for worker safety on the job (its been in the news lately) -- let's just say that was really all about communisim and the gulags."

  • loki13||

    "Plus, if it makes you any happier, we already have a cold war, anti-communist "holiday" in the U.S. on May 1: "Law Day."

    Beyond that, happy May 1 to everyone. As they said in the late-19th/early 20th century (pre-Russian Revolution): 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours for what we will.

    That was from Prof. Jospeh Slater, back in 2013. Don't think it can be said any better.

    Man, going through the old threads and comments .... I miss some of those people.

  • Ariel||

    One breath of fresh air, among a few others, in this stale "Capitalism is pure and holy" and anything that would regulate it or put workers in any way on an equal footing with the Capitalists is an evil machination of those murderous socialists, or would that be Communism the murderous political ideology?

    The 888 movement, pulling from memory, started around 1810-1820 (it may not have had that name) in Great Britain. It predates Marxism by that many years. I remember a kiwi named Parnell or Purnell around 1842, give or take a couple years, in Wellington that realized: 1) there was a shortage of carpenters/shipwrights; 2) therefore the shipowners had no power to dictate to skilled labor; and 3) they could take or leave his skills, like a Capitalist will say you can take or leave what I offer, but at a high cost for them (the same a worker faces. He won his 888 at the same cost to the shipowner as if he worked the 12 or 16 hours they demanded. Funny thing, if he owned the tools he would use to repair their ships, then he actually owned the 'tools of production'. Anyway, this spread through New Zealand rather quickly...

    Capitalism is an economic system. It is not a political ideology. It's resillient because it can adapt to the light chains necessary to take it away from being an abusive system like it was in the 19th and early to mid 20th century. And when did Capitalists never go to government to secure an advantage?

  • Chili Dogg||

    "And when did Capitalists never go to government to secure an advantage?"

    Check with Bill Gates. He didn't pay much attention to the federal government until Sen. Orrin Hatch et al taught him the hard way that he has to play ball with the feds and Congress, meaning donate lots of money to them and spend money on lobbyists to beg from them.

  • Ariel||

    In other words, you're certain that Microsoft never once sought any advantage from either local, state, or federal government. I wrote 'government' not 'federal government'.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Today is Beltaine.

    A far more joyous occasion than the blood drenched horror of May Day--or the blood drenched horror that is the mountain range of corpses celebrated by those who brought us May Day.

  • Peter Dordal||

    I followed this article's link to http://volokh.com/2009/11/08/w.....-matters/, at which you state that "Castro's government has executed some 1.5% of Cuba's population for "political" dissent"; following another link, the number is given as 100,000 victims. But I'm not able to find a lot of evidence for this number. Is it still considered accurate, and, if so, what is a good source for further details?

  • ||

    "It wasn't REAL communism."

  • Brian Whittle||

    Absolute power always corrupts regardless of the regime.

  • Gene Poole||

    Agreed. Thank God money doesn't have absolute power!

  • Chili Dogg||

    Well, that explains some things that God does.

  • Enemy of the State||

    Labor unions already have their day - Labor Day.

    May 1 sounds like exactly the correct day to use...

  • Sevo||

    "Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong - the three biggest Communist mass-murderers."

    Not fair! Kim Jung Il didn't have as large a population to kill.

  • California Dreamer||

    My grandparents were socialists who initially supported the Soviet government, until Stalin's nonaggression pact with Hitler taught them the error of their ways. Like my parents, I am a liberal Democrat, and I sometimes disagree with the views expressed by the authors of this blog, although those views are well-reasoned and I like reading them because they force me to carefully consider whether my ideas are correct. When it comes to the evils of Communism, however, I agree 100% with Professor Somin. Communism has good goals, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • M.L.||

    Are you a socialist?

    I like reading well-reasoned opposing views, too. *hat tip*

  • MarkLastname||

    I don't think communism has any nobler intentions than fascism. The language one uses to justify one's atrocities does not accurately reflect one's true intentions.

  • Ariel||

    No offense to you or your grandparents, but really they should have bailed during the Show Trials of the mid-30s. A lot of Communists, and sympathizers, did.

    The Non-Aggression Pact was a way of buying time. That Stalin divided Poland with Hitler was a buffer for the USSR. It was two dictatorships dividing territory for two different purposes.

    What Stalin did to the Baltic States and Finland made the Nazis liberators, just as they were in a number of other slavic states. Funny thing about people, the new enslaver throwing off your past enslaver is a liberator.

    To keep this on thread, history just isn't this caricature of Capitalism all good and Communism all bad. For the people that turn economic systems into political ideologies, yeah it's the other that is all bad. For me, it's the people that make economic systems into political ideologies that are bad. They make caricature.

    Having said that, of course the totalitarian version is the worst, the other just wants you to return to the halcyon days when absolutely-free-markets reigned supreme and every human being had their greatest freedom. Oddly, it's as fictional as the New Communist Man. I say oddly, because one is a fiction of the future while the other is a fiction with no past and no future.

  • Jerry B.||

    Isn't May day when we tie communists to a pole with ribbons?

  • M.L.||

  • Mark22||

    Ah, such lovely traditions. /sarc

  • Elias Fakaname||

    It's a good day for the cops to shoot into the crowd.

  • tzx4||

    Anybody here care to name an ideology that isn't someway or other, sooner or later, ultimately not murderous?

  • Gene Poole||

    Congratulations for this article. It's probably the most hilarious thing I've ever read, and you managed to pull it off with a straight face. Admittedly, the irony does poke through at times despite the deadpan style, but that's not your fault. I'm thinking in particular of lines like "... some form of dictatorship or oligarchy is probably inevitable in a socialist economic system in which the government controls all or nearly all of the economy." I was literally rolling on the floor LMAO, as the young folks say, when I read that! In this period when condemning "communism" and "socialism" is seeing a rebirth as professional defenders of the status quo scramble to cover up the evils done by the other great unrealistic dream that has been responsible for countless deaths and suffering and is still killing innocent people every day - call it "capitalism" or "the free market" just to put a convenient label on it -, those young folks need to learn the history behind all the booshwah.
    The obvious irony of the article's appearing on such a slick, professional Web site telegraphed the fact that this was a put-on. But humor may be our final weapon in the struggle against creeping totalitarianism, to which the corporate media and all their formidable power seem intent on serving as handmaiden. My fist is raised and my hat is off to you... comrade ;-)

  • MarkLastname||

    I'm sure the unprecedented improvement in standard of living and decline of deaths by violence the world over as capitalism ascended and socialism collapsed was all part of some conspiracy of data fabrication?

  • Ariel||

    1) Capitalism ascended before socialism existed. The far greatest improvement in the standard of living happened after capitalism was balanced by labor. Or would you like to go back to 12 to 16 hour work days, and forgo about every last thing that came from the labor movement? Almost everything you take for granted today? Capitalism is an economic system not a hidebound political ideology, so there's no purity. It changes as needed or forced.
    2) What do you mean by socialism? Americans tend to confuse socialism with Communism. And then Communism with one region: the USSR and it's Eastern bloc. The 1st or 2nd largest economy in the world is Communist. It isn't collapsing just yet. In fact, it's still growing. And becoming stronger militarily.
    3) Social democratic countries, the bulk of western democracies, are doing just fine. One reason Norwegians don't move to the USA, not as much as Trump would want, is that moving from Norway to the USA would be moving down not up. Or as one or more Norwegians put it in response to Trump: Compared to Norway, the USA is a shithole.
    4) I agree with you that capitalism has been the cause of that unprecedented improvement in both. But before 'socialism' (do you mean Communism?) capitalism sucked resources from other countries through colonialism, and the countries that were vacuumed got way less in return than was taken. It's just not so black-and-white.

  • M.L.||

    There are far more people seeking to move from Norway to the U.S. than the U.S. allows in under its immigration policies.

  • Ariel||

    About 1100 Norwegians moved to the USA in 2016, while 1600 Americans moved to Norway. Norway has a gdp per capita in that year of about 63,000 USD while the USA was at about 53,000 USD. Norwegians live longer, are wealthier, have less crime, have a national health care system that is quite effective, education is free from primary through tertiary, etc. etc. That is why, in comparison to Norway, the USA is a shithole. Just as other countries are shitholes compared to the USA.

    "There are far more people seeking to move from Norway to the U.S. than the U.S. allows in under its immigration policies." is a non-response to what I wrote.

  • M.L.||

    "Labor" should focus on reducing immigration in order to create a favorable labor market, and on private collective bargaining, rather than all of the over-regulation, bloat of useless bureaucracies and public sector unions that leech the lifeblood out of the economy, and the rest of the socialist and communist nonsense.

  • Ariel||

    By favorable labor market, you mean one made of an ever-aging labor pool where wages have to go up for even the least skilled jobs just for those aging workers to fill them and make a living wage.
    Last I checked, the free-market types aren't for your idea either.

    Pretty much all of your empty phrases are not from socialist or communist nonsense. For one example, you forget that regulation comes from the demands of groups within our country, one group focusing on this subject, another on that subject.

  • Sevo||

    Ariel|5.4.18 @ 6:30AM|#
    "By favorable labor market, you mean one made of an ever-aging labor pool where wages have to go up for even the least skilled jobs just for those aging workers to fill them and make a living wage.
    Last I checked, the free-market types aren't for your idea either."
    Did someone tell you that pile of BS had a point?

    "Pretty much all of your empty phrases are not from socialist or communist nonsense. For one example, you forget that regulation comes from the demands of groups within our country, one group focusing on this subject, another on that subject."
    Did someone tell you that pile of BS had a point?

    I see arm-waving and misdirection; try again. Or not.

  • Ariel||

    Did someone tell you it didn't? Someone must have.

    Obviously, it was about 'focus on reducing immigration' in order to make a 'favorable labor market'. Here's the problem: https://tinyurl.com/y9s7jnhs and https://tinyurl.com/z4d8jef. Understand what the two graphs mean together, then explain how we wouldn't have an even faster aging population and how an aging population makes a good economy. You might add in how and why older workers neither need nor expect higher wages.

    Second, because from 'rather' to 'and the rest of the socialist and communist nonsense' made all between 'socialist and communist nonsense'. All he gave can exist without socialism or communism, my point in 'groups'. Purnell (or Parnell) in Wellington, NZ, c. 1840-42, like a very good capitalist, saw a market advantage and got 888 from shipowners at the price for 12-16 hours per day. Capitalism as an economic system is about both owners and workers. Some people that think they are capitalists believe it should be as one-sided as the Communists think it is.

    Finally, I see someone that thinks BS is an argument. Try harder.

  • Sevo||

    "The 1st or 2nd largest economy in the world is Communist."

    How long did it take you to come up with that bit of mendacity?

  • Ariel||

    Not my mendacity, but certainly your ignorance. The CIA World Book estimated China to exceed both the European Union and the USA in GDP in 2017. Other sources have put China right behind the USA steadily for a number of years. Other sources seeing the EU as a single economy have put China 3rd. So I guess it was my mendacity by not including 3rd. And your ignorance not knowing the rest.

    Why did I know this? Because I started researching GDP and PPP when I started looking at the economies of New Zealand and Australia back in 2014. I look at it every year.

    Really, don't accuse me of mendacity through your ignorance. There's a reason some economists, military experts, and others have said the mid-to-end 21st century may well be the time China is ascendant. Did you miss that? Couldn't bother to find out why? Can't fathom that the remaining Communist countries, especially China, actually saw the mistake of the USSR of too many guns and too little butter? And, hey, just in case you missed it, India has been around 6th or 7th for years.

  • Mark22||

    hose young folks need to learn the history behind all the booshwah.

    Yes, they do. They need to see you for the f*cking liar you are.

    My parents grew up with fascism, I grew up with communism. Never again!

  • M.L.||

    Exactly. And he said all of that with a straight face.

  • Ariel||

    Take a breath, guys. Yes, Fascism, Nazism, and Communism were murderous, totalitarian regimes. But...

    Capitalism hasn't been an exemplary player either. The 18th, 19th, even into the 20th century, has shown capitalism willing to work people to death, willing to ignore even minimal safety, willing to put the health and lives of it's employees after profit, very willing to get government to help it do just that, and government very willing to do just that. Capitalism through short-sighted capitalists has fought against everything you enjoy today as a given in the workplace. A capitalist in 1900 would think you a Marxist by what you enjoy and most certainly by what you expect today. That's a segue...

    If Marx and Engles got one thing right, it's that when people think their ideas, their ideology, are universal and eternal they have their heads up their asses. Okay, M&E made it something about a transitory ideology belonging to a class that thought it was universal and eternal.

    Capitalism is an economic system, not a political ideology. When it's made into a political, ideological fetish, especially as a utopian ideal like Marxism was, one should head for the nearest exit.

  • Ariel||

    Besides the deaths that the political system called 'Communism' did to maintain it's political power, it also killed people through the same mechanism that capitalism killed people such as unsafe working conditions and massive pollution (even worse than capitalism because it had nowhere near the brake of even a semi-free political system). All the excesses of capitalism have been practiced by the Communist countries in spades.

    While you're ROTFLMAO, you're being just as humorous. Corporate media? Do you mean William Randolph Hearst? Do you mean the media that supported stopping any form of labor movement because they either supported social darwinism as a socio-political ideology, were 'owned' by their biggest advertisers, 'owned' by their Board of Directors, or were trying to stop Bolshevism? History didn't start when you were born.

    If anything, the corporate media has less power today than anytime ever before in its existence. It's that device in front of you with all it's sites where you can find anything you need to confirm your beliefs.

    Now I do agree with you in one slight way: oligarchy. I think the author was speaking to the singular political oligarchy that is communism, rather than the two political oligarchies in the USA. I hope he wasn't confusing social democracies with communism.

  • Trainer||

    Unions are communist in nature so I don't care if we use May 1 st.

  • AndrewJJ||

    Yep
    I think November 7 is a better day to have commie democide Day

    May Day you can argue for some vaguely honoring of workers-at least in the west that is what it really is

  • Sarcastr0||

    Speaking strictly for myself, this has been one of the better back-and-forths these posts engender this year.

    Some great discussions of policy, and of wide-ranging philosophy, as well as a few folks calling me a Commie who wants them dead for spice.

    I admit to enjoying the uneven quality of heat vs light in both posts and comments on this blog more than I should. But I'm glad to see which side this one turned out.

    At least for me...

  • Rip Murdock||

    While late to the party, I have a co-worker who says (with a straight face) that there are no unjustly incarcerated persons in North Korea (for example), only "violaters of local laws" (I kid you not, he is a serious). I presume the argument extends to the USSR, Nazi Germany, and China. He also sees Iran as more democratic than the US (because they have more women in the legislature, and he has family there), and equates the Soviet, Chinese, and NK gulags with the US prison system (his favorite example is Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana). Like many on the left (the Jill Stein/Bernie Sanders wing) and on the alt-right, he also sees the police as equal to the Gestapo.

    Ah, the failures of public education.

  • Ariel||

    Unfortunately, too many people in the US believe there are no unjustly imprisoned people in the USA either.

    If Louisiana were separated from the USA, we'd likely put sanctions on it. There are states in this union that aren't much better than some authoritarian, second-world nations, and Louisiana is one of them. Their legal system is so damn corrupt.

    Granted your friend needs to develop some real perspective so he can actually discriminate between totalitarian systems, whack-job systems, and flawed democracies but I wouldn't place the failure on public education, I'd place it on him.

  • BrotherMovesOn||

    My humble advice is to stick to Poland Springs.
    https://youtu.be/Qr2bSL5VQgm

  • BrotherMovesOn||

    Whoops.
    https://youtu.be/Qr2bSL5VQgM
    Fun thread.

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