Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

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nezumi
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Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by nezumi » Wed Dec 16, 2020 7:40 pm

Serious question which probably demands lots of loser length posts. Good. I like a good long read.

It seems to be pretty much a consensus that unfettered capitalism is awful, obviously. The kind of socialism of the post-war consensus was apparently OK-good but clearly is not stable long term. Communism is bad-awful, depending on your preferred regime and their interpretation of what is now a badly defined idea anyway. So is there an alternative that is reasonably palatable? I see a ton of debate about what's worse but I can't say I've seen any realistic-ish alternatives. Anyone got one, or are we building a new -ism from the ground up here? I have some ideas myself but an entire -ism seems like a really big job.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by jdc » Wed Dec 16, 2020 8:08 pm

I like the sound of social democracy. Capitalism, but marginally less evil.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Dec 16, 2020 8:30 pm

Horses for courses, innit.

I often find myself seemingly on the left here, but I'm not a communist (and certainly not a tankie/revisionist type) but equally I think the current status quo is sorely lacking in, for want of a better term, basic decency.

Capitalism solves certain kinds of problems very well. Looms, for instance. I have no problem with a marketplace existing, and a greedy algorithm whereby investing in risky enterprises and being rewarded by the market if that risk pays off is fine, up to a point. It ceases to optimise, for example, if the capital accumulated via that system is hereditary, because then people are rewarded for coming out of the right balls/womb at the right time rather than for doing anything useful. It's therefore odd that you never see rationalist free-marketeers advocating for higher inheritance taxes. It makes a lot more sense to tax inheritance than gambling winnings, for instance, because only the former has the potential to create societal distortions.

Other things are natural commons, and would therefore be better managed communally. There are, for example, fairly hard limits on the extent of environmental transformation humanity can bring about before it impacts future way of life: you can only emit so much greenhouse gas, harvest so many cod, or provide the conditions for emerging zoonoses before you have a large-scale problem. Treating environmental commons as commodities under capitalism is disastrous, and I think the solution is to draw the line as to what we include in the marketplace.

We already draw lines. You can't buy and sell humans, or recreational drugs (apart from those from the west European cultural tradition). We need to draw some more lines, so that other things are also managed appropriately, according to their nature.

I'd also like to live in a world where people can live comfortably. We're not so short of resources any more that some individuals need massive hoards while others go without. Just as human liberty isn't for sale, I genuinely believe people should be comfortably housed, well fed and able to participate in society without the need for wage labour. There's various pathways to achieving that, and some places are close already.

A bit like the EU's approach of subsidiarity - tackling issues at the smallest geographical scale that's appropriate to the matter at hand - I think we need an approach whereby human problems are tackled with the minimum appropriate level of capitalism, or economic involvement generally.
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Herainestold » Wed Dec 16, 2020 9:16 pm

I think a less militaristic style of socialism, like Cuba or Nicaragua.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by bjn » Wed Dec 16, 2020 10:01 pm

Free markets and capitalism are not the same thing. Most capitalists hate free markets, it means you have to take bigger risks and get smaller returns. There is that quote from Adam Smith about business owners getting together always conspiring. Capitalists will get away with whatever they can.

One of the great bate and switch tactics from libertarian f.cktards is making folks think they are the same, so unfettered capitalism is the same as a functioning market. Which is b.llsh.t, markets need a fuckton of regulation to work.

That said both capitalism and markets are useful tools to both drive investment and keep the bastards honest. But it involves regulation and lots of it.

Also, somethings just should not be capital or market based, like policing, defence, health provision, education and more.

Markets and capital can play roles in those things (providing donuts to cops, exercise books to schools etc).

Intelligently regulated mixed economies seem to work well at providing goods and services, all run by democratic governments using sane tax and spend policies to help drive societies in sensible directions that markets can’t, along with a bit of liberal redistribution.

But there will always be c.nts in any society. And they need guarding against.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:11 am

There is no alternative to a system which incorporates a lot of (free market style) capitalism. This is because people are really really bad at economics and capitalism is what you get when you let things self-organise instead of getting people to do it deliberately. Capitalism is also a lot less susceptible to greed. Capitalism works because parties who bear the consequences of their economic actions. So, for example, if the person who decides what crop to plant in a field is the person who will profit from harvesting it, then that works; while a system in which the person deciding what to plant is someone else, then that is an unstable situation which will fail.

Once you have a society with sufficient capitalism, it generates wealth and some of that can be extracted to provide benefits that capitalism cannot (such as social welfare). A significant proportion of such taxes are liable to be wasted, due to people being really really bad at planning society, but that's as good as it gets. If you happen to live in a place and time where there is something good which is not capitalist (such as the NHS) you should be extremely careful to preserve it as, unlike things like convenient supermarkets, it is not a natural outcome and liable to disappear. It's a bit like aeroplanes. Gravity says they shouldn't fly, but with sufficient care and fuel, they can stay in the air for a while. For some reason, there are some crazy people that seek to blindly apply market forces to everything without understanding how they work. These people are quite dangerous and should be ignored. If you let them control flying they'd ban it as unnatural.
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Vertigowooyay » Thu Dec 17, 2020 12:10 pm

One of the striking problems in late 20th Century capitalism is they myth of supply side economics - the trickle down effect simply isn't there, and the result of clinging to it is a widening of income inequality. Just yesterday a study about this came out of the LSE.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... study-says

And the study itself:

http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/107919/1/Hope_ ... lished.pdf
Overall, our analysis finds strong evidence that cutting taxes on the rich increases income inequality but has no effect on growth or unemployment. We do not directly test mechanisms in our analysis, but using a measure of top 1% share of pre-tax national income that includes both labour and capital income makes it less likely that tax shifting and avoidance are driving the results. Our results are in line with those in Piketty et al. (2014), which suggest that lower taxes on the rich encourage high earners to bargain more forcefully to increase their own compensation, at the direct expense of those lower down the income distribution.
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Dec 17, 2020 12:52 pm

bjn wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 10:01 pm
Free markets and capitalism are not the same thing. Most capitalists hate free markets, it means you have to take bigger risks and get smaller returns. There is that quote from Adam Smith about business owners getting together always conspiring. Capitalists will get away with whatever they can.

One of the great bate and switch tactics from libertarian f.cktards is making folks think they are the same, so unfettered capitalism is the same as a functioning market. Which is b.llsh.t, markets need a fuckton of regulation to work.

That said both capitalism and markets are useful tools to both drive investment and keep the bastards honest. But it involves regulation and lots of it.

Also, somethings just should not be capital or market based, like policing, defence, health provision, education and more.

Markets and capital can play roles in those things (providing donuts to cops, exercise books to schools etc).

Intelligently regulated mixed economies seem to work well at providing goods and services, all run by democratic governments using sane tax and spend policies to help drive societies in sensible directions that markets can’t, along with a bit of liberal redistribution.

But there will always be c.nts in any society. And they need guarding against.
Certainly, one reason why Denmark and Sweden are in the top ten in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking. Both economies have high levels of tax and regulation. But they also have a highly skilled and educated workforce, effective government and good infrastructure.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Dec 17, 2020 1:03 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 8:30 pm
Other things are natural commons, and would therefore be better managed communally. There are, for example, fairly hard limits on the extent of environmental transformation humanity can bring about before it impacts future way of life: you can only emit so much greenhouse gas, harvest so many cod, or provide the conditions for emerging zoonoses before you have a large-scale problem. Treating environmental commons as commodities under capitalism is disastrous, and I think the solution is to draw the line as to what we include in the marketplace.
True, though in practice the Soviet states probably had a worse record at managing the the commons than did the capitalist ones (eg their impact upon the whale population).

It seems to me that one thing which is necessary to preserve the commons (which include the climate) is the ability of people to mobilize and call for change. Of course outcomes might be similar under a benevolent authoritarian system, but they seem to be few and often short lived. For the OP, one issue is whether it would be possible to have a communist system which also allowed people to independently organize and criticize the government.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Herainestold » Fri Dec 18, 2020 5:47 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 1:03 pm

It seems to me that one thing which is necessary to preserve the commons (which include the climate) is the ability of people to mobilize and call for change. Of course outcomes might be similar under a benevolent authoritarian system, but they seem to be few and often short lived. For the OP, one issue is whether it would be possible to have a communist system which also allowed people to independently organize and criticize the government.
To protect and preserve the environment, policies cannot be changed on a whim every four or five years,and they need to be protected from the rich and corporations. Some kind of benign authoritarian system is required, yet it needs to be flexible enough to be changed where necessary.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by JQH » Fri Dec 18, 2020 3:12 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 5:47 am

To protect and preserve the environment, policies cannot be changed on a whim every four or five years,and they need to be protected from the rich and corporations. Some kind of benign authoritarian system is required, yet it needs to be flexible enough to be changed where necessary.
Has there ever been a "benign authoritarian system"?


What is needed to protect the environment is enforcable regulation.
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by EACLucifer » Fri Dec 18, 2020 6:25 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 5:47 am
Woodchopper wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 1:03 pm

It seems to me that one thing which is necessary to preserve the commons (which include the climate) is the ability of people to mobilize and call for change. Of course outcomes might be similar under a benevolent authoritarian system, but they seem to be few and often short lived. For the OP, one issue is whether it would be possible to have a communist system which also allowed people to independently organize and criticize the government.
To protect and preserve the environment, policies cannot be changed on a whim every four or five years,and they need to be protected from the rich and corporations. Some kind of benign authoritarian system is required, yet it needs to be flexible enough to be changed where necessary.
There's no such thing as benign authoritarianism you bootlicking imbecile, and this is especially evident with the system you shill for and its campaign of ethnic cleansing and racist forced labour - Uighurs are being forced to pick cotton by hand just as African-Americans were in the antebellum south.

Nor is there any tradeoff between competence and freedom - authoritarianism naturally leads to corruption and failure of government due to lack of scrutiny.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by EACLucifer » Fri Dec 18, 2020 6:27 pm

bjn wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 10:01 pm
Free markets and capitalism are not the same thing. Most capitalists hate free markets, it means you have to take bigger risks and get smaller returns. There is that quote from Adam Smith about business owners getting together always conspiring. Capitalists will get away with whatever they can.

One of the great bate and switch tactics from libertarian f.cktards is making folks think they are the same, so unfettered capitalism is the same as a functioning market. Which is b.llsh.t, markets need a fuckton of regulation to work.

That said both capitalism and markets are useful tools to both drive investment and keep the bastards honest. But it involves regulation and lots of it.

Also, somethings just should not be capital or market based, like policing, defence, health provision, education and more.

Markets and capital can play roles in those things (providing donuts to cops, exercise books to schools etc).

Intelligently regulated mixed economies seem to work well at providing goods and services, all run by democratic governments using sane tax and spend policies to help drive societies in sensible directions that markets can’t, along with a bit of liberal redistribution.

But there will always be c.nts in any society. And they need guarding against.
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Herainestold » Fri Dec 18, 2020 8:55 pm

JQH wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 3:12 pm
Herainestold wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 5:47 am

To protect and preserve the environment, policies cannot be changed on a whim every four or five years,and they need to be protected from the rich and corporations. Some kind of benign authoritarian system is required, yet it needs to be flexible enough to be changed where necessary.
Has there ever been a "benign authoritarian system"?


What is needed to protect the environment is enforcable regulation.
Enforceable environmental regulation depends upon some kind of benign authoritarianism otherwise it is corrupted by "democratic capitalism".

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by bjn » Fri Dec 18, 2020 9:22 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 8:55 pm
JQH wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 3:12 pm
Herainestold wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 5:47 am

To protect and preserve the environment, policies cannot be changed on a whim every four or five years,and they need to be protected from the rich and corporations. Some kind of benign authoritarian system is required, yet it needs to be flexible enough to be changed where necessary.
Has there ever been a "benign authoritarian system"?


What is needed to protect the environment is enforcable regulation.
Enforceable environmental regulation depends upon some kind of benign authoritarianism otherwise it is corrupted by "democratic capitalism".
How the f.ck does an authoritarian regime not become subject to corruption?

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Dec 18, 2020 9:31 pm

Yes, there is a difference between "authority" and "authoritarianism".

And market mechanisms, like pricing in carbon externalities, would be a really useful part of the solution if any democratic institutions took climate change seriously.
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Herainestold » Fri Dec 18, 2020 9:32 pm

bjn wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 9:22 pm

How the f.ck does an authoritarian regime not become subject to corruption?
How does a so-called "democratic" regime not become subject to corruption? Democracy always becomes captured by moneyed elites.
It is a defining chaacteristic of democracy. Effective environmental stewardship requires strong regulations that cannot be overturned every four or five or six years.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Dec 18, 2020 9:44 pm

Regulations from a sufficiently byzantine democracy can't be overturned so easily - for instance, the EU's environmental regs have been reasonably stable for decades, with major changes in interpretation owing more to case law.

Or, you can have intergovernmental bodies making environmental law (via democracies' delegations) with a longer time frame. The Convention on Biological Diversity sets targets every 10 years (though none were met in the past decade, so perhaps that's not the best example).

A benign dictatorship of ecological technocrats could be fine in theory, if you found the right team, but I'd still be uneasy about removing individuals' agency. I'd far rather environmental protections were enforced by bodies that are ultimately accountable to the people.
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by bjn » Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:32 pm

Dictatorships don't stay benign, they become nasty and can do so quite rapidly.

Democracy sucks, it is imperfect and can be corrupted, but the alternatives are worst and gives you Stalins, Beria's and Xis.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:33 pm

To some extent you're just spreading out people's suckiness and hoping that different people sucking in different directions will balance things out. The same can also be said for harnessing people's strengths, of course.
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by bjn » Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:43 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:33 pm
To some extent you're just spreading out people's suckiness and hoping that different people sucking in different directions will balance things out. The same can also be said for harnessing people's strengths, of course.
Democracy at least gives you a chance of throwing the f.ckers out, authoritarian societies don't, not without lots of pain and suffering.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by secret squirrel » Sat Dec 19, 2020 2:45 am

Wouldn't Singapore be an example of a fairly benign authoritarian regime?

More generally, on the subject of democracy vs dictatorship, something that democracies usually do effectively is separate the idea of the 'Government' from the idea of the 'State'. So you can criticize or change the Government without really criticizing or changing the State. This contrasts with totalitarian regimes such as the USSR and China where the State and the Government are effectively synonymous from the outside, though of course on the inside the 'government' will change as different factions rise and fall in power. So any attack on the government by the people is essentially an attack on the State as a whole, and is dealt with accordingly.

The fail state for democracy is when changing the government doesn't make much difference to the state. Obviously not no difference, but just that the social and economic hierarchies are firmly established and no electable government is going to do anything to seriously change them, except possibly for the benefit of the already powerful. In Capital in the 21st Century, for example, Thomas Piketty argues at length that the reduction in wealth inequality that took place over the 20th century in the democratic West had much more to do with the economic shocks caused by the wars and the Depression than with the democratic capitalist system itself. He also argues that the trajectory of these democracies is back towards pre-WW1 levels of inequality.

Now, in theory, any one of these countries could elect an old school Marxist, or anyone else for that matter, promising to upend the system, for better or for worse, but in reality this is impossible, because the State (not identified with the Government here) to a large extent controls the conversation. Not in the heavy handed ways that totalitarian states do, but effectively nevertheless. The point is that, if you believe Piketty, even in democracies, historically a huge amount of suffering has been necessary to shift the balance of power back towards ordinary people, even though the people have always, in theory, had the power to elect governments to their liking. Piketty outlines some policies he argues would arrest the regressive trend. These could in theory be implemented by democratically elected governments with sufficient international collaboration, but it remains to be seen whether these kinds of significant reforms will be made without motivation from shocks similar to those of the 20th century, or even at all.

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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by Millennie Al » Sat Dec 19, 2020 5:38 am

Vertigowooyay wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 12:10 pm
One of the striking problems in late 20th Century capitalism is they myth of supply side economics - the trickle down effect simply isn't there, and the result of clinging to it is a widening of income inequality. Just yesterday a study about this came out of the LSE.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... study-says

And the study itself:

http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/107919/1/Hope_ ... lished.pdf
Overall, our analysis finds strong evidence that cutting taxes on the rich increases income inequality but has no effect on growth or unemployment. We do not directly test mechanisms in our analysis, but using a measure of top 1% share of pre-tax national income that includes both labour and capital income makes it less likely that tax shifting and avoidance are driving the results. Our results are in line with those in Piketty et al. (2014), which suggest that lower taxes on the rich encourage high earners to bargain more forcefully to increase their own compensation, at the direct expense of those lower down the income distribution.
That's quite an interesting paper. It defines "taxes on the rich" based on a measure invented by the same authors and cited as being from:
Hope, D., Limberg, J., 2020. The Knowledge Economy and Taxes on the Rich. Prepared for
a special issue of Journal of European Public Policy (JEPP) on ‘The Politics of Taxing the
Rich: Declining Tax Rates in Times of Rising Inequality.’
That paper is quite difficult to find, but is linked from https://www.davidhope.info/research where we find that it is a "working paper" which is not yet published. However, the link points to a copy on Google Drive. In it we find at the end of section 2 a paragraph which begins:
In sum, there is no consensus on how to measure taxes on the rich.
and it then goes on to describe the new measure that the authors have invented. It takes seven indicators, listed on page 9 and computes a new measure from them. This is what I can find to describe how it is done:
To generate our indicator for taxes on the rich, we estimate our latent variable using a
Bayesian Markov-Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) approach (Hanson & Sigman, 2019; Lee, 2007).
We calculated the models using a single dimension as we expect taxes on the rich to be a one-
dimensional variable. Models with more than one dimension failed to converge, in line with
our assumption that taxing the rich consists of one major theoretical and empirical dimension.
Models were run with diffuse normal priors, three MCMC chains and 1000 burnin iterations.
For all estimations of the MCMC, we used the blavaan package in R (Merkle & Rosseel, 2018).
The paper then describes properties of the measure, and then uses the measure. I cannot find anywhere in the paper where it actually tells you how to compute the measure.

So, moving back to the originally cited paper which gets reported on in Bloomberg, what it is really reporting is that "tax cuts for the rich" when defined by this measure that only appears in an unpublished paper and applied to 18 OECD countries has some correlations with "income inequality" and not growth or unemployment. At which point I wonder why 18 countries? There were 20 founding members, and the paper uses data from 1965, at which point Italy and Japan had also joined. The paper also uses data from Finland (1969), Australia (1971), and New Zealand (1973). Why choose that particular 18 countries and omit others? This is not explained in the paper.
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by lpm » Sat Dec 19, 2020 8:26 am

This should be a video about trickle down economics that's worth a watch:

https://t.co/OE5Hlz8tlH
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Re: Capitalism bad. Communism bad. What else?

Post by plodder » Sat Dec 19, 2020 12:37 pm

break up monopolies like big banks, the big four accounting firms, google, facebook, youtube etc. There’s a well understood tipping point between business being helpful and problematic and it’s when they can use their size to stifle innovative rivals.

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