Ben Shapiro on Socialism

This is a very crisp, clear, and effective explanation of the problems with Democratic 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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7 Responses to Ben Shapiro on Socialism

  1. Pouncer says:

    Socialism doesn’t work well even among voluntary societies, and produces terrible outcomes in groups where membership is coerced.

    But to use the term “capitalism” — coined by the socialists — as the catch-all phrase representing anti-socialism is misleading at best. Marx and others distinguish labor (which they considered perishable) from EVERY OTHER FACTOR of industrial production. Land, buildings, patents, trade secrets, roads, bridges, machinery, raw materials, tools, safety uniforms, work-in-progress, inventory-of-finished-good, toilet paper in the ladies’ room and the snacks in the laborer’s break room vending machines are all considered “durable” factors — essentially of identical value on Tuesday as Monday. If the factory shuts down for Monday, all the “capital” is still valuable — but the laborers’ labor is irretrievably lost. So, according to the labor speculation on value (dignifying this notion as a “theory” is just as wrong), owners of durable capital production factors exploit the laboring providers of the uniquely perishable factor, capture the excess value all to themselves, and exploit the accumulation of such excesses to gain control and ownership of more and more durable factors — more roads, more land, more raw materials.

    But labor is not uniquely perishable. Solar energy, to name a contemporary factor, is comparably so. Either Monday’s sunshine is used, or lost. We have no reasonable way to store it up for use Tuesday. The day’s newspapers in the rack are valuable for the day, and line birdcages hours later. An internet meme is funny and valuable for a very short while. A trade secret is perishable, though not from time, and entire competitive industries and nations (like China) work to murder the “capital value” / advantage represented in the methods, techniques, patents, and internal knowledge of industrial leaders. The distinction between labor and all else falls at the first fence. It’s not even worth discussing how the snacks in the break room vending machine and the raw materials in the factory stock room differ — and so should not be indifferently labeled “capital”.

    It’s a bogus dialectic from start to finish. It’s no more valid than an economic speculation on production depending upon the magical wars among fairies versus gnomes. That the eco-Gnome-ic world calls those who reject and deny their ideas “fairy-ist” is no reason to for anyone else to call themselves a “fairy”. Nor is it useful to attribute success among the several/many types of systems that are NOT based on being on the historically correct side of the Gnome war to being on the opposite or reactionary pro-Fairy side. Reject the Gnomes — that’s enough.

    I’m no doubt repeating myself here but apologetics for Western-style open markets that embrace the terminology of “capitalism” irritate me no end.

  2. Eilert says:

    I also avoid the use of “Capitalism”.
    It is a Free Market economy what people are talking about.
    Any economy needs capital, even Marxism.
    The difference is that in a Free Market the Ownership of the Capital is very broad. This broad availability is actually necessary for the free market to function properly.
    The more an economy is socialized the less broad the ownership becomes. The owners are the most powerful and political connect.

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    The reason “capitalism” caught on, IMHO, is that nobody can spell or pronounce the former (and more correct) term Laissez-faire except the French. Then the more modern form with some government regulation is properly called the “Mixed Economy” and the name doesn’t mean anything (or anything accurate) to anyone other than Economists.

    Capitalism has the advantage of being widely understood to be a free market system. Only the Marxists think it is a pejorative at all. Most of the rest of us think it is a positive term as it is what the Marxists hate so it must be good ;-)

    BTW, other things that are of limited lifetime / decaying value:

    Milk, fresh vegetables, live video (yes, you can record it, but what use is yesterdays weather report or stock action?), gasoline is seasonal and makes varnish after a year, even frozen food loses most quality in a few months, tires are hard and prone to fracture after 10 years much like all rubber goods with various lifetimes, lots of chemicals are unstable over time or photo degrade, beer is pretty rough after a year in storage, meat is limited to months unless processed into something else, Fashion causes clothes inventory to be limited in life, often one season. On and on it goes. Even concrete buildings have a limited lifetime as the rebar rusts and cement crumbles – it may be 50 years to 100 years, but it is limited.

    Yes, the labor theory of value (and it is a theory, just a wrong one ;-) is pretty much bogus, and yes the volatility argument is weak. There are other things wrong too. See the follow on video about the Pareto Principle and Marxism.

  4. philjourdan says:

    Pouncer and Eilert – Make that 3. I understand why it is used, but that does not make it accurate. It is like the American expression “I could care less”. Which supposedly means you cannot care less. But the idiom has stuck and so people ignorantly use it when they mean the opposite. Capitalism is like that as well.

    But I was very impressed with Shapiro’s talk. Nothing he said was new. But he said it very eloquently,

  5. cdquarles says:

    The idiom “I could care less” must be rather recent. Idioms, like language in general, changes; and not always for the better. As one who loves human languages, whether spoken, written or code, idioms are problematic. They don’t translate. English, to its credit, simply ingests them whole and, maybe now only in the past, keep the original pronunciation as the correct one in English.

    I don’t like the Marxist term “capitalist” either, for it is clearly meant to be pejorative. Laissez-faire isn’t hard. Taken from French, in English, it means leave us alone to make what we need, at least, to me. That idiom has been dropped for the now older, more natural English “free market”, though if the pejorative part gets dropped, I don’t mind “capitalist”. One of my old CB handles was, after all, “capitalist pig”, which I wore as a badge of honor. :)

    Labor has no more inherent value than any other thing, which is the use value that is held as an opinion and only as an opinion in the mind of each, individual, economic actor. That’s where ‘wealth’ comes from, and that gets reflected in the results of the decisions made voluntarily. Thus, I have no more right to a pay raise than I have to steal something from another. Demonstrate the usefulness, I might agree to pay it. Don’t, and I won’t. Do not fall for the illusion that holding a gun to my head will change my mind. You can only hurt or kill my body. Only I can hurt that which is me.

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    Well said.

  7. Larry Ledwick says:

    The idiom “I could care less” must be rather recent. Idioms, like language in general, changes; and not always for the better.

    When I was growing up 1950’s to early 1970’s everyone I knew properly said “I couldn’t care less”, it gradually got contracted to I could care less by de-emphasizing the n’t sound ending on couldn’t.

    Just a case of people being lazy I think. At first it was an understood missing sound but starting in about the 1980’s and early 1990’s (about the time the internet became useful) folks just forgot or did not know of the proper phrase and the contraction became the common idiom. It was my impression that it was an idiom that started mostly in eastern cities and gradually became common, because I first started seeing it on web forums from people that lived or grew up in the eastern half of the country but that is just my personal impression, could just as easily started in valley girl vocabulary in California.

    In linguistics studies they find that the more common a word or phrase is the more it tends to be shortened, That is why words like Yes No Mom Dad Hi Stop Go tend to be short words and be very stable where longer less used words tend to transform over time (sulphur – > sulfur).

    That is why very short common words are used to map linguistic links between languages as the short words tend to carry over to both language forks.

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