Communism vs Socialism (and all the Little Bastard-isms…)

It is often asserted that Communism “isn’t Socialism” or that Socialism “isn’t Communism”; and just as often asserted they are just the same beast in trivially different wrappers.

So what is it?

My POV

So first off, my degree is in Economics and as part of that we had to be educated in ALL forms of economies. So I’ve had formal education in Socialism, Communism, Mixed Economics, Capitalism, and more. That means I come to this topic with an established POV (Point Of View) and with some preconceptions. It is my belief that, being as these were taught by Ph.D.s in the field, they have some decent foundation and are in touch with reality.

Up front, my “thumbnail sketch” would just be that Communism is the final stage of Socialism, or alternatively, that there are things best called Communism-Light that are in various stages of steps away from full on Communism, that are typically called Socialism. Under Communism, in the end stage, all means of production are owned by the State ( in the Utopian Communist POV even the State ceases to be needed… in the real world that stage can not be reached due to human nature ). As one backs out to different degrees of ownership of property outside of the State, you get various levels of Socialism; eventually landing in Lange Type Socialism that is essentially the last stop before you arrive back at Regulated Market Capitalism (a.k.a. the Mixed Economy).

Yet there are many (with much merit) who assert that Communism is just the starting point for Socialism and that all the little wanna-be Socialism-Lites are just bastardizations of the idea to try to save it or make it palatable. I can see their point. (In general, bold bits bolded by me.)

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Socialism.html


Socialism—defined as a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production—was the tragic failure of the twentieth century.
Born of a commitment to remedy the economic and moral defects of capitalism, it has far surpassed capitalism in both economic malfunction and moral cruelty. Yet the idea and the ideal of socialism linger on. Whether socialism in some form will eventually return as a major organizing force in human affairs is unknown, but no one can accurately appraise its prospects who has not taken into account the dramatic story of its rise and fall.
The Birth of Socialist Planning

It is often thought that the idea of socialism derives from the work of Karl Marx. In fact, Marx wrote only a few pages about socialism, as either a moral or a practical blueprint for society. The true architect of a socialist order was Lenin,
who first faced the practical difficulties of organizing an economic system without the driving incentives of profit seeking or the self-generating constraints of competition. Lenin began from the long-standing delusion that economic organization would become less complex once the profit drive and the market mechanism had been dispensed with—“as self-evident,” he wrote, as “the extraordinarily simple operations of watching, recording, and issuing receipts, within the reach of anybody who can read and write and knows the first four rules of arithmetic.”

They then reverted to some market forces, in a move prescient of Lange Type Socialism. (Bolding mine) Then devolved back into a Central Strong Man Tyranny under Stalin.

In fact, economic life pursued under these first four rules rapidly became so disorganized that within four years of the 1917 revolution, Soviet production had fallen to 14 percent of its prerevolutionary level. By 1921 Lenin was forced to institute the New Economic Policy (NEP), a partial return to the market incentives of capitalism. This brief mixture of socialism and capitalism came to an end in 1927 after Stalin instituted the process of forced collectivization that was to mobilize Russian resources for its leap into industrial power.

The system that evolved under Stalin and his successors took the form of a pyramid of command. At its apex was Gosplan, the highest state planning agency, which established such general directives for the economy as the target rate of growth and the allocation of effort between military and civilian outputs, between heavy and light industry, and among various regions. Gosplan transmitted the general directives to successive ministries of industrial and regional planning, whose technical advisers broke down the overall national plan into directives assigned to particular factories, industrial power centers, collective farms, and so on. These thousands of individual subplans were finally scrutinized by the factory managers and engineers who would eventually have to implement them. Thereafter, the blueprint for production reascended the pyramid, together with the suggestions, emendations, and pleas of those who had seen it. Ultimately, a completed plan would be reached by negotiation, voted on by the Supreme Soviet, and passed into law.

This resulted in the “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work” society…

Just to be balanced, I’m including some bits of the Wiki on Types Of Socialism. Can’t be accused of citing only Right Wing Conservative references that way…

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

The word socialism was coined in the 1830s, and it was first used to refer to philosophical or moral beliefs rather than any specific political views. For example, Alexandre Vinet, who claimed to have been the first person to use the term, defined socialism simply as “the opposite of individualism”.
[…]
Other early socialist thinkers, such as Thomas Hodgkin and Charles Hall, based their ideas on David Ricardo’s economic theories. They reasoned that the equilibrium value of commodities approximated to prices charged by the producer when those commodities were in elastic supply, and that these producer prices corresponded to the embodied labor — the cost of the labor (essentially the wages paid) that was required to produce the commodities. The Ricardian socialists viewed profit, interest and rent as deductions from this exchange-value. These ideas embodied early conceptions of market socialism.

Ricardo’s “Labor Theory of Value” has been shown to be quite wrong by many standards and many authors. Those wishing to explore it are advised to set aside a year or two of their life for it… But it was that error that lead to the basic flaw in Communism, Socialism, and all the little-social-isms. There is, in fact, large value in the location and time of arrival of products (“logistics”), in land and natural resources, and in the organizational value of management and markets. There is also much value in the “known-how” or technological base of understanding how to make products.

After the advent of Karl Marx’s theory of capitalism and Scientific socialism, socialism came to refer to ownership and administration of the means of production by the working class, either through the state apparatus or through independent cooperatives. In Marxist theory, socialism refers to a specific stage of social and economic development that will displace capitalism, characterized by coordinated production, public or cooperative ownership of capital, diminishing class conflict and inequalities that spawn from such, and the end of wage-labor with a method of compensation based on the principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution”

So here we see that even Karl Marx considers his ideas Socialism. Just “Scientific Socialism”. I presume those advocating that Communism isn’t Socialism realize Karl Marx is the founder of their Communism ideas…

Some are in favour of a socialist revolution (e.g. Marxism-Leninism, Trotskyism, Maoism, revolutionary Marxism, Social Anarchism), whilst others tend to support reform instead (e.g. Fabianism, social democracy, Individualist Anarchism). Others believe both are possible (e.g. Syndicalism, various Marxisms). The first utopian socialists even failed to address the question of how a socialist society would be achieved

One also hopes that the “Communism isn’t Socialism” folks recognize their Communist Dear Leader names in that list. Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao.

But, OK, it’s “just the wiki”. It isn’t like the Communist Party says it is advocating “socialism”… or is it?

http://www.cpusa.org/party_info/cpusa-constitution/

CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Adopted at 30th National Convention, June 15, 2014
[…]
Our basic principles are rooted in today’s struggles, informed by our history and experience, and guided by our scientific outlook and vision of socialism. Our bedrock principles include the leading role of the working class in the struggle for social change; that working class unity is essential, and the fight against racism and for immigrant rights are essential to build that unity.
[…]
Our vision is one of “Bill-of-Rights socialism” in the USA, where working people – those who produce all the riches of society – will have political power and will collectively decide priorities for investment and distribution of our nation’s wealth – for education, health care, housing, nutrition, recreation, arts, culture and science in a clean, non-polluting economy.
[…]
Members shall strive to attend meetings of their Party club or other collective and to improve their understanding of scientific socialism, to work for the aims and policies of the Party, and to seek to win new members to its ranks. They shall also support and circulate online and printed Party materials.
[…]
The club is a place where grassroots conditions help formulate district and national policy, and where district and national programs and policies are adapted to local conditions and implemented. The club should be a center for local organizing. It should also be a warm, supportive and open community for all those fighting for social justice and socialism. Clubs are a primary center for fund raising, including collection of dues, for political education, for organization, and for discussion and promotion of the Party’s online and printed publications. 


[…]
For democracy. For equality. For socialism. For a sustainable future and a world that puts people before profits. Join the Communist Party USA today.
Join Now

Well, I see. Even the Communists think they are Socialists and are actively touting promoting Socialism as their core values and actions. All the major Communist leaders are listed as Socialist thinkers and their works as the foundation of Communism.

Frankly, looks pretty slam-dunk to me.

Back at the Wiki:

Socialists are also divided on which rights and liberties are desirable, such as the “bourgeois liberties” (such as those guaranteed by the U.S. First Amendment or the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union). Some hold that they are to be preserved (or even enhanced) in a socialist society (e.g. social anarchy, Left-Communism), whilst others believe them to be undesirable (e.g. Marxism-Leninism Maoism). Marx and Engels even held different opinions at different times, and some schools are divided on this issue (e.g. different strains of Trotskyism).

So if the main founders, the advocates, the organizers, and the Constitution Of The Communist party all say they are Socialists, I think they are Socialists. Even if of a particular sort. (Or several particular sorts.)

There have been several attempts to move away from Cental Planned Economies of the Stalinist sort, with increasing success the less Central Planned you get. (Eventually reaching market capitalism at that end).

De-centralized planned economy

A de-centralized planned economy is one where ownership of enterprises is accomplished through various forms of worker cooperatives, autogestion and planning of production and distribution is done from the bottom-up by local worker councils in a democratic manner. This form of socialist economy is related to the political philosophies of Libertarian Socialism, Syndicalism and various forms of communal Utopian socialism.

Examples of de-centralized democratic planning include: participatory economics, industrial democracy, classic Soviet democracy, syndicalism, council communism and individualist anarchism.

Further down, the Wiki looks at types of Socialist Ideologies:

Socialist ideologies

Utopian socialism

Utopian socialism is a term used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen, which inspired Karl Marx and other early socialists. However, visions of imaginary ideal societies, which competed with revolutionary social-democratic movements, were viewed as not being grounded in the material conditions of society and as reactionary. Although it is technically possible for any set of ideas or any person living at any time in history to be a utopian socialist, the term is most often applied to those socialists who lived in the first quarter of the 19th century who were ascribed the label “utopian” by later socialists as a negative term, in order to imply naivete and dismiss their ideas as fanciful or unrealistic. Forms of socialism which existed in traditional societies are referred to as primitive communism by Marxists.

Now not just the roots of Communism and Marx, but an entire category of Socialism is tagged with the name Marxist; as a type of Socialism.

Marxist communism
Karl Marx (1818–1883)

Marxist communism refers to classless, stateless social organization based upon common ownership of the means of production and to a variety of movements acting in the name of this goal which are influenced by the thought of Karl Marx. In general, the classless forms of social organisation are not capitalised, while movements associated with official Communist parties and Communist states usually are. A communist economy, in the classic Marxist definition (Pure communism), refers to a system that has achieved a superabundance of goods and services due to an increase in technological capability and advances in the productive forces and therefore has transcended socialism. (See post-scarcity.) This is a hypothetical stage of social and economic development with few speculative details known about it.

The actual goal of communism has never been attained in practice from a Marxist position, though anarchist societies have provided a glimpse of what a communist world would look like. The real idea behind it is to abolish all leadership, and govern with a commune. That is, the people themselves make all decisions, and everyone contributing to the wellbeing of the state. In practice, most governments that have claimed to be communist have been totalitarian dictatorships.

The modern political marxist communist movement was created when the social democratic parties of Europe split between their rightist and leftist tendencies during World War I. The leftists, led internationally by Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, to distinguish their brand of socialism from the “reformist” social democrats, were called “Communists”. However, after Luxemburg’s and Liebknecht’s murders, the term Communist became generally associated solely with the parties and organisations following Lenin, along with their various derivations, such as Stalinism or Maoism.

There is a considerable variety of views among self-identified Communists. However, Marxism and Leninism, schools of communism associated with Karl Marx and of Vladimir Lenin respectively, have the distinction of having been a major force in world politics since the early 20th century. Class struggle plays a central role in Marxism. This theory views the formation of communism as the culmination of the class struggle between the capitalist class, the owners of most of the capital, and the working class. Marx held that society could not be transformed from the capitalist mode of production to the communist mode of production all at once, but required a transitional state which Marx described as the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

Some forms of the communist society that Marx envisioned, as emerging from capitalism, have been claimed to be achieved for limited periods, during certain historical moments, and under certain circumstances. For example, the Paris Commune in fact let Marx reinforce and implement his theories, by adapting them to a real experience he could draw from. Another similar case, though disputed by anarcho-syndicalism or even anarchism, was the Spanish Revolution of 1936 (often missed or unmentioned by official historiography), during which much of Spain’s economy, in most of Republican areas, some of which enjoyed a practical absence of state, was put under workers’ direct collective control.

SO, Ok, if you want to assert that ALL Communism is entirely hypothetical and has never actually existed in the Real World ™, then I suppose you could fabricate a corner case where “communism is not socialism” as it has never existed… but I think that stretches things waaaay beyond reason. It is an end stage Socialism in a world of surpluses such that nobody wants for anything. Yet the Communists of the world ARE pushing the Socialist model, philosophy, roots, and goals. They just haven’t got enough of it yet… So IMHO that says the view of Communism as just the most remote end stage of Socialism is, in fact, accurate.

Back at Lange:

Lange Type Socialism tries to adopt all the Free Market mechanisms it can, while still having a Socialist core philosophy and pushing for Socialism. In general, Market Socialisms ae the most successful of the Socialisms in the Real World as they are the ones least Socialist.

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

The Lange model (or Lange–Lerner theorem) is a neoclassical economic model for a hypothetical socialist economy based on public ownership of the means of production and a trial-and-error approach to determining output targets and achieving economic equilibrium and Pareto efficiency. In this model, the state owns non-labor factors of production, and markets allocate final goods and consumer goods. The Lange model states that if all production is performed by a public body such as the state, and there is a functioning price mechanism, this economy will be Pareto-efficient, like a hypothetical market economy under perfect competition. Unlike models of capitalism, the Lange model is based on direct allocation, by directing enterprise managers to set price equal to marginal cost in order to achieve Pareto efficiency. By contrast, in a capitalist economy managers are instructed to maximize profits for private owners, while competitive pressures are relied on to indirectly lower the price to equal marginal cost.

This model was first proposed by Oskar R. Lange in 1936 during the socialist calculation debate, and was expanded by economists like H. D. Dickinson, Abba P. Lerner and Fred M. Taylor. Although Lange and Lerner called it “market socialism”, the Lange model is a form of planned economy where a central planning board allocates investment and capital goods, while markets allocate labor and consumer goods. The planning board simulates a market in capital goods by a trial-and-error process first elaborated by Vilfredo Pareto and Léon Walras.[1]

The Lange model has never been implemented anywhere, not even in Oskar Lange’s home country, Poland, where Soviet-type economic planning was imposed after World War II, precluding experimentation with Lange-style economy. Some parallels might be drawn with the New Economic Mechanism or so-called Goulash Communism in Hungary under Kádár, although this was not a pure Lange-model system.

Despite saying it was never implemented anywhere, in various countries at various times The State has had a nationalized industry and decided how much of what to make and sell at what prices. For a time under Obama, the US Government owned General Motors. That’s pretty darned close to Lange Type. But we’ve now backed away.

There have been many attempts to “glue on” market forces to the Socialist Ideal, with various degrees of failure and success (when compared with Central Authority control).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_socialism#Market_socialism

Market socialism
Main article: Market socialism

Market socialism refers to various economic systems that involve either public ownership and management or worker cooperative ownership over the means of production, or a combination of both, and the market mechanism for allocating economic output, deciding what to produce and in what quantity. In state-oriented forms of market socialism where state enterprises attempt to maximize profit, the profits can fund government programs and services eliminating or greatly diminishing the need for various forms of taxation that exist in capitalist systems.

Some forms of market socialism are based on neoclassical economic theory, with the aim of attaining pareto efficiency by setting price to equal marginal cost in public enterprises. This form of socialism was promoted by Oskar Lange, Abba Lerner and Fredrick Taylor. Other forms of market socialism are based on classical economics, such as those advocated by Thomas Hodgskin, who viewed interest accumulation, rent and profit as deductions from exchange-value, so that eliminating the capitalist element from the economy would lead to a free-market and socialism. The term market socialism has also been applied to planned economic systems that try to organize themselves partially along market-lines while retaining centralized state ownership of capital.

Other types of market socialist systems, such as Mutualism, are related to the political philosophy of Libertarian socialism.

Examples of market socialism include: economic democracy, the Lange Model, the New Economic Mechanism, Ricardian socialism, Liberal socialism and Mutualism.

Socialist market economy

A socialist market economy refers to the economic systems adopted by the People’s Republic of China and Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Although there is dispute as to whether or not these models actually constitute state capitalism, the decisive means of production remain under state-ownership. State enterprises are organized into corporations (corporatization) and operate like private capitalist enterprises. A substantial private sector exists alongside the state sector of the economy, but plays a secondary role usually relegated to the service sector and production of consumer goods.

Examples of socialist market economies include: Socialist market economy with Chinese Characteristics and Socialist-oriented market economy.

Here they’ve split an astounding number of hairs. It’s socialism. It has central ownership or control of the means of production. It has limited markets glued on. All sorts of folks have tried this. One of the first was Italy under Mussolini and the Fascists. Contrary to the image pushed by those wanting to hide the Horrible History Of Socialism (i.e.every Socialist and Communist), Fascism is a Left Wing Socialism. Also called a “3rd Way Economy” or “3rd Way Socialism”. (The term was invented by Mussolini. He began his career translating Marxist / Socialist documents for his parents. At his death, he asked ~”Have I not been a good Socialist”?)

Similarly, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (i.e. Nazi Party) attempted to apply Socialism as a National enterprise while Soviet Communism was pushing Socialism as an INTER-national enterprise. (Thus the Internationale as their anthem and why Stalin proclaimed them “right wing” as they were a tiny bit to the right of international-socialism, being National Socialists.)

All of them ever finer slices of Socialism.

The Fascists distinguished by their use of Government Control, even without ownership, and using Labor Councils to help direct management. The common themes of Socialism. Government and Worker control of the means of production. The Nazis did the same, and added in a rabid racism and fervent ultra-nationalism. Yet the core of both was firmly Socialism.

You now find all sorts of Socialists trying to re-write history and cast their trash onto the Libertarian Free Market side of things. They are rabid in their rejection of anything National as they want to paint the picture of the Evil being Nationalism, not Socialism, in those two failed Socialisms of W.W.II – Fascists and Nazis. Yet somehow don’t connect the Socialism part with the failure of the USSR later or the move away from Maoism to “market socialism”.

Folks wanting to debate that point on Fascism and the Nazis are invited to review the prior posts here first. It has been well and completely thrashed to death and nothing changed.

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/some-quotes-on-socialism-and-fascism/

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/socialism-utopia-workers-paradise/

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/liberal-fascism/

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/social-justice-and-fascism/

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/isms-ocracies-and-ologie/

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/hollywoods-love-of-fascism/

In Conclusion

Sprung from the same source. Grown in the same soil. Espousing the same goals and ideologies. Built on the same ideas. The differences between Communism and Socialism are functionally nill. In minor points of implementation, they have differences. These are mostly issues of degree, not of kind. Over the years the definition of “what is a Socialism?” has been constantly expanded to include ever more Market Forces.

All sorts of creative ways have been found to trim off ever more of the original Pure Scientific Socialism and make it ever more like Free Markets and thus claim that “Socialism Works!” “Socialism is Good!” and even “Socialism is NOT Communism, we’re different!!” in some minor detail or other.

Yet in the end, both are Central Planning systems with strong Social Control, removal of personal property rights (though to various degrees as they try marching closer to Free Markets to try to get it to work for the Little Bastard-isms) and the elimination of personal freedom.

Do realize that the oppression of property rights and personal freedom are essential for Socialism and it’s end case Communism, for a free people, with real property rights, will create a free market economy all on their own, and then the Socialism can’t compete and dies. On the other end, as Socialism (communism) have poor productivity and people suffer from lack of freedoms, the urge to Central Control expands and more State Ownership follows. This eventually stifles the economy and it collapses (see the USSR) at that end, too.

All forms of Central Authority tend to the urge to Empire and Tyranny. Thus those not otherwise failed tend to end up as Tyranny and Wars and then they collapse. (Nazi, Fascist and other Socialisms like Maoism and Pol Pot)

So in the end the Hypothetical Communism has never been reached as their is NO case where Socialism and World Of Abundance end up stable. It can work well as a 3rd Way Economy for a few decades, but inevitably it fails. Though, in fact, the 3rd Way Economics is fairly good. The major problems with it are low innovation, limited choices, and the eventual slide into stagnation or tyranny. Meaning that to the extent Communism is ONLY that unobtainable hypothetical, yeah, it’s different… as the most impossible to succeed form of Socialism.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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28 Responses to Communism vs Socialism (and all the Little Bastard-isms…)

  1. Lionell Griffith says:

    When defined by essentials, socialism and communism are the same. The individual is owned by a sacred other and not himself to be used, abused, consumed, and disposed for the good of the the sacred other. What he thinks, chooses, and does is to be determined by the sacred other and not by himself.

    Enter the Evil Bastards as the spokesmen for the sacred other who presume to do all the thinking, choosing. If an individual objects, he is merely disposed of as an irrelevant cog in the machine that is in service to the sacred other Brute force is presumed to be the magic dust that makes all things possible.

    The primary reason that socialism and communism ultimately fail, is that they are attempts to rewrite reality but reality remains exactly what it is. If individuals don’t or can’t think, choose, and act according to what is, they WILL fail no matter how much brute force is applied. All brute force can do is keep things from happening, break things, and kill people. The bottom line is you can’t do socialism or communism and get away with it in the long run.

  2. Eilert says:

    All socialist systems are inherently autocratic. They all require the power (force) of the state to have some form of control over the means of production (which basically is what capital is), which is what they need to actually control individual citizens in a country. It is really only about gaining and expanding power.
    Socialist try to hide this autocracy by claiming that they are not communist or fascists/Nazis, both of which were exposed as murderess ideology’s. They further try to hide this by adding “Democratic” or “Liberal” before or after “Socialism”. It is to hoodwink the “rubes” into believing that all they want is to fight for the downtrodden and vulnerable. When in fact they want to control them. All the screeds by academics, reporters, Hollywood starlets and other propagandists are in fact only designed to put lipstick on the pig of socialism.
    They also try to hide that capital is needed in any economic system, i.e every economic system is in fact “Capitalistic”. If socialist actually have to acknowledge that they need capital, it would become a question of why they need to control and/or own it, instead of allowing free private individuals to own it as part of their right to persue it and make their life better, as well as the lives of others as a consequence of voluntary trade.
    Individuals do not have the right, and generally not the power, to cohere others in order to control them. It can only be done through force (Mafia style) or rules enforced by Government and Government is the only institution powerful enough to do it “legally”. Which is why Governments is the source of most tyranny and is the reason why in free societies the power of Government needs to be (severely) restricted and diluted, instead of expanded, which is a requirement in socialism.

  3. Lionell Griffith says:

    “They all require the power (force) of the state to have some form of control over the means of production (which basically is what capital is),”

    More identification by non essentials. Simply because you use the same words to describe them (force and power), does not mean they are the same things in operation. It is the difference between respecting the individual’s right to choose freely and compelling the individual to stand and deliver on pain of loosing freedom, property, or life. Two very different things.

    You conflate the means of production (capital) with the means of physical coercion (the government gun). Capital has the power to persuade but not the power to compel. There still exists the freedom to choose to use or not with the only consequence of obtaining the benefit of the capital or not. The owner of the capital can only offer but cannot compel. Physical force (the power of the state or of the thug) does not take individual choice into account. When it is used, it is used against the individual’s choice and is used to force what the individual would not otherwise do.

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    The most revolutionary thing of the American experiment was that, People had the Right to Person and Property. Government is NOT sovereign.
    In our Constitutional Republic the minority was protected from the demands of the mob. Unfortunately the drive of bureaucratic demands has been to erase these protections and install a sovereign police state. Democracy is mob rule, the protection the minority from the demands of the mob leaders is erased. The mob leaders and their bureaucrats become Sovereign. We don’t need them. Constitutional control must be preserved. The founders made one error in the creation of our constitution, they believed that politicians were honorable people so they neglected an enforcement arm to prosecute unconstitutional activities. Today bureaucrats and politicians not only ignore the provisions of the Constitution but also the laws that are supposed to control their activities. There seems to be no controlling authority…pg

  5. Lionell Griffith says:

    “There seems to be no controlling authority…pg”

    The controlling authority was supposed to be We the People. That has failed because so many of us are on the take and sold their vote much too cheaply. It has become much worse than simply trading a little bit of liberty for security. We have sold ourselves on a one way trip into the abyss. The selling was based upon the premise that after us, the deluge, so take what you can while you can. That is a bet you win only if you die before the end. I, for one, don’t call that winning.

  6. Not sure what they are teaching the kids nowadays. But, my old college prof escaped the western bloc and made sure we all understood that both communism and fascism are subcategories of socialism (and fascism preempts communism). I remember him saying that communists park their tanks in the flowerbeds where the fascists hid the bodies.

  7. pouncer says:

    “You conflate the means of production (capital) with the means of physical coercion (the government gun). Capital has the power to persuade but not the power to compel.”

    The term “capital” is a pet peeve of mine. For me it’s like “dragon” — everybody knows what the word means but there is no real world example nor even much of a consensus about the details that distinguish the concept behind the word from other similar concepts.

    Socialists tend to divide all the factors of production into two categories: labor, and EVERYTHING ELSE. The tools and machines; the building that houses them; the land the building stands on, the location of that land; the roads and bridges, the natural rivers and the manmade canals’ the electric lights in the factory and the panes of glass in the windows letting in daylight; the government patents protecting a production method and the trade secrets of the guild or owner; the brand reputation and the customer loyalty to “blue sky” identity; the access to fair dispute resolution in honest neutral court systems …. on and one. The production value of Monday’s labor is only valuable on Monday, but anything that is just as valuable Tuesday, whether a product is made or not — that’s (according to socialists) capital. And the negotiating imbalance between the perishable product of labor versus the persistent products of capital compel AND coerce, it is argued, the laborer to consent to mis-appropriation of the fruits of his own labor to those who control the capital.

    And those who disagree with this theory are asked to defend “capitalism”.

    Imagine an economic hypothesis that divides all the factors of production between human mortals and dragons. The undying dragons, of course, have a negotiating advantage over the mortals. And so they accumulate hoards of gold and herd of sheep and take over castles, etc etc, all undeserving, unless and until a mortal knight or ninja can slay the dragon and re-distribute the wealth.

    If I would reject the mortal/dragon hypothesis, would I be “defending dragon-ism” somehow?

    The whole idea that “capital” is some monolithic monopolistic monster in conflict with “labor” and in collusive harmony with itself is just wrong. Those who control the durable means of production compete with others who control OTHER durable means, AND with labor. The capitalist who owns a barge is in competition with the “robber baron” who controls the narrow passage on the Rhine River. The cost of a factory (land, site) is cheaper where farther from the market, but then the cost of transport is higher. The windows are cheaper than electric lights, but the lights work more hours per day and aren’t dark when it rains… A laborer who owns his own “tools” — a trucker, a plumber, a coder, an artist, … the worker with a credential or a state-sponsored license to sell real estate, practice medicine, or drive a taxi cab has durable capital that took time, effort and money to acquire, is just as valuable Tuesday as Monday, and, unlike cash, is inalienable.

    Capital, so understood, is so big and magical it can’t really exist in any meaningful, defensible, fashion.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    Lionell Griffith says:
    28 September 2017 at 3:34 pm (Edit)

    “There seems to be no controlling authority…pg”

    The controlling authority was supposed to be We the People.

    Um, I’m not sure but I think you two are using “controlling authority” in two different ways. I’d paraphrase my reading of them as:

    “There seems to be no way to control (government) authority and it ends up runny amok.” vs

    “The Authority that is supposed to be in Control is We The People” ( As in “The Controlling Authority during Katrina was The Governor” or “The Constitution is the Controlling Authority in US National Law cases.”)

    One being a lament about how to restrict Authority. The other being a statement about which Authority has formal Control….

  9. Lionell Griffith says:

    “Capital, so understood, is so big and magical it can’t really exist in any meaningful, defensible, fashion.”

    Unresponsive to my explication of the different kinds of power represented by capital and the government gun. The owner of the particular capital good can offer its use to produce value to be sheared. That offer can be accepted or rejected. The party doing the choosing can choose a different path. The owner of the capital does not get the labor and he who refused finds more satisfactory uses for his time and effort. They both lose out on the sharing of the offered shared value production. However, the owner of the capital good is still able to and is free to make another offer.

    The government gun does not offer with provision to accept or reject the offer, it compels behavior with implied loss of liberty, property, or life if not accepted. It is either obey or else. That is not a choice. It is the elimination of choice.

    Perhaps you are complaining about the ownership of a capital good. However, if it were earned and not taken by whatever forceful means, is it not the right of the owner to set the terms and conditions of the use of his property? Further, is it not wrong for the supplicant to use the capital good by forceful means without the consent of the owner? Is this not simply an instance of respect for each individual owning his own life and its productive result?

    Is not the use of the government gun to compel another to stand and deliver what he would not otherwise do a violation of the rights of the compelled? Isn’t it not in the same way and for the same reason that one individual’s initiation of force against another is a violation of rights?

    There is a very fundamental difference between the two kinds of force that makes all the difference in the world.

  10. Lionell Griffith says:

    EM: “Um, I’m not sure but I think you two are using “controlling authority” in two different ways.”

    I am not so sure you have a point. PG’s point that there is no higher authority to bring the government back in line with the original contract with We the People. The problem with having such is how do you bring it back in line without having another higher authority to bring it back into line. This presents a problem with infinite regression.

    It is not an inconsiderable issue that such higher authority, however many layers deep, will itself be part of government with all the problems and possibilities of unchecked initiation of coercive force. Thus making it as corruptible and dangerous as the current complained about government. As in “who will protect us from our protectors.”

    The founders solution was that higher authority will be We the People. The notion was that the government gains its just powers from the consent of the government. As long as we were vigilant, jealously defended our body of rights, and constrained the government to its proper function all went better than ever before. They were a bit sloppy on the notion of consent but did specify certain things into which government may not properly intrude. Which did slow things down a bit.

    Unfortunately, We the People discovered we could give consent to robbing Peter to pay Paul with free lunches being provided to an ever growing number of people. That the consent violated the fundamental rights of every individual citizine was glossed over. Thus the endless party started resulting in a national debt and unfunded liabilities that can never be paid down.

    So I am fundamentally agreeing that there is no controlling authority. It is a free for all feeding frenzy with the devil catching the hindmost. The only one losing is everyone in the long run. The only way to win is to die before the bar runs out of drinks. That is not what I call winning.

    The answer is not better people in government. The best chance is better ideas in the people. At least to the extent they know what is really in their best interests rather than it feels good and it is thought easier than working for a living and becoming actually successful at living.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    When Al Gore was braced about his illegal use of government resources for political purposes he stated “there is no controlling authority, therefor no crime.
    When James Comey laid out Hillary Clinton’s violation of security laws, he said that no DOJ
    prosecutor would pursue it therefor no crime took place.
    Several times in my life I have tried to deal with activities of bureaucrats and politicians that were proved criminal and the officials that should have moved said No! We will not prosecute elected or appointed officials. Bureaucrats are considered honorable due to their positions even if proved and admit to be lie-ers.
    At one time officials were considered to be liable for their actions as any private citizen but now they are protected.
    In a very real condition they are, by law, mentally incompetent! That is neither they nor the agency they work for can be held responsible for their actions. .
    If a local or state official violates your constitutional civil rights they can be pursued by their victims and prosecuted under Federal law BUT! Federal officials are exempt from that law!.
    Modern legal thought is the Government is sovereign, you can not bring action against your Sovereign. There is no controlling authority over these people because THEY recognize no authority over their actions, therefor no crime committed, No Intent!..pg

  12. Lionell Griffith says:

    “THEY recognize no authority over their actions, therefor no crime committed, No Intent!..pg”

    If that is the situation, it largely is, and there is nothing we can do about it, it is a self limiting feature of the society thus governed. It is simply a matter of time for economic, political, and social collapse to occur. Then anarchy followed by some form of totalitarian government in which the governed are mere property to be use, abused, and disposed at the whim of any random government thug. Followed by still more economic, political, and social collapse. I agree that was the pattern since the first government was formed.

    Man lurched from dark ages, to ascendancy, to despotism, to collapse and another dark ages repeatedly over all of recorded history and likely well before. Is there nothing to be done about it? Are humans simply another failed self destructive specie doomed to extinction by their own natural behavior? You appear to have so little hope, so little trust in the possibilities of the mind of man, and such a conviction that man is either a rapacious thug, a docile slave, or dead.

    Question: where did our modern high technology civilization come from? Was it by accident or did it happen on purpose? Are there not important lessons to be drawn from its existence and how we got to where we are? I think so.

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    to say I have little hope is incorrect. I search for the solution.There must be a solution that curbs the drive towards bureaucratic strangulation. One thing I have learned is the more you pay bureaucrats the less they work for you. The more power over others you give them the more they want to rule over you. But even more they fear the loss of benefits and retirement. So there are possible handles. It really is a matter of us or them and we don’t need them…pg

  14. Lionell Griffith says:

    “It really is a matter of us or them and we don’t need them…pg”

    Ah! There you have it. We don’t need them but they need us. Without us they are nothing but petty thieves scrambling to find something to eat in a garbage dump.

    How about stopping feeding them?

    If you don’t have it, they can’t steal it.
    If you don’t make it, they can’t tax it.
    If you aren’t there, they can’t find you.

    If enough of us were to do that and make it stick, they wouldn’t last more than a month and likely less.

    The power really is in the hands of the productive innovative few. All the beuracrats can do is use brute force. All brute force can do is keep things from happening, breaking things, and killing people. They cannot build. They cannot create values that gives and sustain life. They cannot make life worth living. They cannot create the wealth they so desire to take and to transfer to those who can’t create wealth either.

    It is live and let live. Associate with the willing. Trade your produced value for the produced value of others. Keep your word and demand others keep their word also. Neither demand nor give the unearned. All we need government for is to protect us from those who would use force or the threat of force to deny us the freedom to do these things and to provide a path of non violent redress of grievances among us. All of this is not automatic. There is no magic that will make it so. It requires a commitment to liberty and respect of individual rights. If we can achieve this, we will be able to live and thrive. THIS is the better idea we need to have in the people. If done, government won’t be a problem.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    I believe that the “stop feeding them” approach is called “Going Galt”…

    Per not having a point about “Controlling Authority”:

    That is correct. I was pointing out two folks potentially “talking past each other” via different uses of the phrase.and just wasn’t sure if you’all had noticed it; so on the off chance it was not noticed, tossed the observation out there. An observation does not have a point, it simply is.

  16. jim2 says:

    Good points all around on the government discussion. Not as lofty, but civil forfeiture is an affront to the Constitution. Then there is the mass spying on the general populace. If Rule of Law existed, Billary would be in jail along with a lot more bureaucrats. Prosecutions are frequently executed on a political basis, as you guys have discussed above. More and more it seems the Constitution is becoming nothing more than a wall decoration. And half the population doesn’t care.

  17. Lionell Griffith says:

    One last point. There is a controlling authority that is in full control 100% of the time. It’s called reality. What is, is. It is built in and cannot be avoided. Success or failure is a consequence of how closely we actually do adhere to what is.

    Far too many in our current government and we the People do not recognize reality’s authority over them and behave as if they can rewrite it more to their liking. Whim and malevolence covered with a facade of good intentions is all that appears to matter. With sufficient human sacrifice being the magic to make it possible to pretend that it’s working. The pretense stops when they run out of willing sacrificial victims. Unfortunately that which follows is rather tough for every one involved and not just the guilty.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    I would prefer to fix the problem rather then see the once in 300 year reset as society “Go’s Galt” Generally strongman rule is the result. Our experiment in Constitutional Republic was the best attempt so far but politicians have gutted much of the built in checks on Greedy Powermad Bastards through packing the Supreme Court with the Liberal concept of the “living Constitution” that could be bent to “modern needs”. Since when is a contract allowed to be reinterpreted as needed by the controlled entity’s lawyers. The latest Liberal legal concept is that our Constitution must be bent to match the rest of the worlds legal concepts! Crap to that! I want our Constitution enforced as written and agreed to.
    A valid CONTRACT between the people and their government.
    Bottom line Fix the Supreme Court and enforce the Contract…pg

  19. jim2 says:

    One other thing I intended to say, but forgot. It’s a travesty that a single judge can stay a law passed by elected representatives or an executive action executed by the President. There should be a requirement that more than one judge is required for something as serious as that.

  20. Lionell Griffith says:

    “Bottom line Fix the Supreme Court and enforce the Contract…pg”

    Question: Who is going to do that and how will it be accomplished?

    Simply wanting it to be so is not nearly enough. Adding another government body empowered to fix things will rapidly become part of the problem. They become corrupted by the power they were given to fix things. As things stand today, fixing the Supreme Court does not seem to be a lasting solution. If the current gang fixes it, the next gang breaks it. Bad law becomes the “law of the land” to be used as a one way precedent for still more bad law.

    Perhaps we need better people in government. Understand that there is a tendency for the better people in the government to lose sight of what they were put there to do. It takes monumental courage and an iron willed conviction to both know and do the right thing at all times. The ideas are not yet in place to sustain what is necessary.

    Name one politician who has the necessary grit and you will find the politician who won’t last very long in office. To a significant degree they all became compromised and will accept a little bit more political poison as the way to proceed. Mostly on the premise that they must DO SOMETHING! All without having more than a foggy feeling about what that something must be.

    Hence, politicians soon learn to go along to get along. The result is a totally spineless republican party who become better democrats than the democrats. All simply because they want the democrats to love them and stop saying bad things about them. The democratic party soon vanishes to be replaced by a bunch of nihilistic opportunists bent on total destruction of values and enslavement. With long range planning consisting of organizing the next violence filled riot.

    The net result is what we have today.

    Like I said, we don’t need better people in government. We need better ideas in the people. Until we make that happen, our path is set in stone. Reality will have its way and the collapse of the Republic will occur. Followed by a strong man dictatorship and eventual total ruin. Rinse and repeat as it has done so over the history of man.

    With few exceptions what has been left out of the equation is that what men think, choose, and do follow from the ideas they hold to be fundamentally true. That is both the point of weakness and strength humans have. All they have to do is hold the correct ideas and act accordingly. Yet that seems to be very difficult thing to do. Staying alive and thriving is hard work and depends upon being coherent with reality. To die is easy. All you have to do is nothing. This is why throughout human history we have had mostly poverty, despair, destruction, and death with a few brief intervals where a life worth living, achievement, success, and thriving was evident.

  21. Larry Ledwick says:

    There is only one way to fix the Supreme court and the Appeals Court system. Put leaders in office who will appoint judges who are not crazy or agenda driven but adhere to traditional legal processes where the original intent of the law and established precedence still matter.

    Wait for the idiot judges to retire, die or get impeached.

    Toward that end a very good move would be to retake control of the educational system and start teaching Civics and government classes that actually deal with why our Government was set up the way it was, and how it is supposed to work.

  22. jim2 says:

    I’d like to see a more active effort to impeach judges who deviate from their legal role.

  23. cdquarles says:

    It has been, what, a decade or two since Congress impeached and convicted a Federal judge? What’s up with that? /rhetorical.

    Indeed, having enough people who know, understand and want to run the Federal government the way it is supposed to be run, would go a long way. As soon as enough of these folk get removed from office, the others will get the message (that’s partly why Roy Moore was chosen in the recent special election here).

    There are two flaws that I think were exploited by the ‘progressives’ 120 years ago. 1. Acts of Congress or any of the other branches are presumed to be done as the Constitution prescribes, and 2. We the People are supposed to be the final check, where We the People know what the Constitution’s words meant and mean when they were written and hold the officials to them. Number one is the lesser flaw. Way too many people don’t know how much power they have ceded to governments at all levels. We are way to quick to say “There ought to be a law!” when we should be saying “Why is that a law?”, instead.

  24. Lionell Griffith says:

    “Put leaders in office who will appoint judges who are not crazy or agenda driven but adhere to traditional legal processes where the original intent of the law and established precedence still matter.”

    We have been trying to do this for well over a century. It has gotten us to where we are today. ALL politicians and ALL Judges are mixed bags with squishy principles that can morph without bounds. Why? Because of the fundamental ideas they hold to be true. For the most part, they do what they do for the expediency of the moment or it feels like they can get away with it without taking into account their long range consequences. In effect, they kick the can down the road for the next person to deal with. Who, in turn, kicks the can further down the road. The net result is we have a funded and unfunded liability more than 100 trillion dollars which is being further kicked down the road.

    “I’d like to see a more active effort to impeach judges who deviate from their legal role.”

    Consider the people responsible for doing that are as I have describe above. It won’t change a thing and they will continue to deviate from their legal role based upon the expediency of the moment or whatever they think they can get away with.

    This is why I say we don’t need better people in government, we need better ideas in the people. With the ideas generally held to be true in the people we have, the best we can hope for is nibbling on the edges of the problem and perhaps slow the decline. All the while the real problems are not dealt with and the government monster grows ever larger until it ultimately consumes everything.

    This situation will get a reset. The only question is how much pain it will cause and how long it will take to recover from the reset. Building more government and giving it more power and authority is simply doing more of the same and won’t change anything but irrelevant details.

  25. Lionell Griffith says:

    “There are two flaws that I think were exploited by the ‘progressives’ 120 years ago. ”

    No disagreement here. Those are the two major flaws that must be corrected Unless corrected, the situation will continue until there is nothing left. It specifies the places were better ideas in the people is the only possible way out. There are two challenges. What are the better ideas and how to get them into the people who are the kinds who get things done?

    We had a fantastic start on the better ideas from our founders. They were not complete and not perfect but vastly superior to anything that had gone before. It would be a fantastic restart if all we could do is get them to be operative again. Their method was use reason and keep your powder dry. Clearly, that was in the right direction but we must get more specific if we are going to try do a better job.

    I think it is much too soon for political action. The effort is best likely to be on discovery of the specifics and education of each of ourselves and others. This will take a lot of study and discussion.

  26. llanfar says:

    Sargon of Akkad does a good job defining socialism. Almost 29 minutes, but he’s still quite understandable at 1.25x speed.

    The Right Wing Scapegoat

  27. philjourdan says:

    Your statement of the left trying to shift their flavors to the right is well put. I have argued (successfully as the opponent always slinks away as they have nothing to back up their contention) that with many folks.

    But what PG said is, while not surprising, the most troubling. What Algore and Comey are saying is that government is above the law. Socialism lite. Once you get that government is immune from human laws, there is no end to the abuses that can be (and are) done in their name.

    We avoided that for a long time. What the past 25 years have shown – is that we finally came around to it.

  28. Your article here will be a resource to me in the future, thanx!

    Do you know the Tocqueville, French Revolution, III.4, etc? Marx is fundamentally an inverted Hegelian, and the idea that some groovy final stage of history can be achieved by bringing “torrents of blood ” and “death to the bourgeoisie” is the perverse banner that flew over the deaths of 70 Million + and that is Marx, not Owen or any other of the early socialists. The plane of free market/ common concerns is not the whole of politics, nor can the first principle of Marx that all causes are economic, and all history that of class struggle, be assumed.

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