Monday, January 18, 2016

What is socialism?

On our Facebook page, someone commented:

I can’t buy into this model. This sounds like communism, and that’s a flawed system. As Orwell pointed out in “Animal Farm,” there will always be a hierarchy. There will also always be a need for creators to conceive and develop businesses and industries and the monetary incentive for them to create. Those creators deserve their due, just not at the expense of the workers who help to bring their ideas to fruition and provide the intellect and labor for its continuation. Ideally there is a partnership that benefits both – capitalism at its best. But people being people, exploitation is inevitable, which is why we need government regulation, minimum wage, unemployment insurance and unions - a blending of capitalism and socialism.

Our response:

Well, we're socialists and communists so don't be surprised if something here "sounds like communism" because it is or probably is. "Always" is a long time and we don't want to predict the future or use Orwell as some kind of bible or guide to human nature. We can't buy into saying that anything is inevitable, and particularly exploitation. And of all the incentives to do well, money must surely be among the worst. Hierarchies come and go. It's one thing to elect or appoint hierarchies, hold them to criticism/self-criticism and put them aside when they have served their purpose. It's another thing entirely to have a hierarchy imposed on you, as capitalism does. Besides, most human activity can take place without hierarchy and bureaucracy. Since capitalism is at its essence a system of institutionalized theft I don't think that it can be blended with anything and have good results. It's labor that creates wealth and not the other way around. The problem is that capitalism itself functions inevitably at the expense of the workers because profit derives fundamentally from not paying the workers for the full value of what they produce; if capitalism did that it would not exist. Can you show us where such a blending as you want has taken place and where partnership works on equal terms on a long period of time or where there have not been either crises of overproduction or under-consumption in any capitalist country?

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