Onkel Willie wrote:
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Give even a (theoretically) democratic government too much power and you get insane happenings like armed SWAT raids on Amish families for selling raw milk and TSA sexually molesting children and old ladies in the name of security on a daily basis.
Governments are run by people, and most people are self-centered and greedy. The more money they have, the more they must have. The same goes with power. The power over who eats and who doesn't is too much for any human to have. Case in point, the hundreds of millions of people that starved to death in communist countries in the 20th century, while the party elite partied like the 1%. Sure there are a few people in government that aren't like that, but they encounter nothing but resistance from the corrupt majority and when they do try to reign them in get labeled kooks and conspiracy theorists.
I have no qualms with the ideals of socialism, but it will NEVER EVER turn into anything good if you let government administer it.
Voluntary community initiatives and coops are the only way to make it work.
(Voluntary means you can opt out, in case it still doesn't work.)
Seriously, you and oncebitten55 need to live in Western Europe for at least a year. The extreme government-related stuff you and others talk about is almost completely limited to the US (because its SOCIETY is fucked up - nothing, at least directly, to do with the choice of economic system).
I can't argue about us having a fucked up society... I'm no fan of capitalism either, but if we are going to have it (every form of socialism I've ever seen is just government-managed capitalism), then the freer the market, the better for everyone.
Monopolies and cronyism are anathema to free-market capitalism, but are the root of most of the economic problems in the US.
The only difference between fascism and socialism is the chain of command, does the government run the corporations or do the corporations run the government? And even those lines are blurred considerably because in both cases, it is usually the same core group running both. It's not the 99%.
By saying this your basically treating all the various currents within socialist thought as if they are the same, which they are not. Social Democracy is vastly different from, say, Maoism or something like that.
The freer the market, the better for everyone? Can I have some of what you've been smoking? The excesses of the free market like poverty, child labour, long work hours, dangerous working conditions pollution, economic exploitation of poorer countries, the looting of our planet's precious and limited natural resources are visible for all to see if you just open your eyes for once. 99% of the population has paid enough. It's time for the rich to pay for the economic crisis they put us in due to speculation, risky financial gambles etcetera.
Since the peak of the housing bubble in 2007 the median household has lost 36.1% of its wealth while the top 1% of richest people have lost only 11.1% which may seem a lot, but in absolute terms it means nothing to them. They still have millions if not billions of dollars left. The top 1% as of 2007 owned 38.3% of all stocks and 88.4% of all stocks worth more than $10.000,-.
As you can see below, the top 1% has never owned less than 20% of all the wealth in the entire United States in the 20th century which is absurd.
This is what it's come to in this world:
The freer the market, the better? Ha, don't make me laugh. Capitalism, as we've seen in the US, in the ends leads to plutocracy if left unchecked. It's the stock owners and CEOs who rule the US and by extension the world. Nationalisation of key sectors (energy production, transportation infrastructure, education, health care, telecommunications, banking petroleum, mining) and a progressive taxation system to redistribute the wealth caused by the excesses of the free market is the only way.
I'm sorry, but the way the current system is rigged against the little man is absurd. We need more regulation, not less.http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html
I said IF WE ARE GOING TO HAVE CAPITALISM, we are better off with as free a market as possible. An even playing field. Once those with more money use their wealth as power to buy government favors, it ceases being a free market. Most regulations help the big corps by creating a hurdle for their smaller competition and a deterrent for start ups. It doesn't have to be that way, but it is because of the influence they have. A true free market would have checks to prevent this. The best check is a government so limited that it would do no good to buy it, because it can't give them what they want. So left to the market's regulation, if a company screws people over too much, the people boycott them and someone starts up a more people-friendly competition that everyone flocks to.
Wal-mart and Monsanto would not last long in a real free market.
That being said, I know there are wide variations in socialist thought, but past a certain point they have less in common with socialist/communist governments in place and more in common with anarchists. I have no qualms with those schools of thought. It's not the economic differences I object to, it's the heavy-handed top-down approach to government. I'm what you call a left libertarian, and truth be told I would prefer to get rid of money entirely. All it does is create an artificial imaginary resource that has no real value toward preserving human life, or accomplishing anything of value. It is the biggest weakness in the free market concept. As long as you allow one resource to be monopolized, in this case the medium of exchange, it is going to be doomed to failure. This will be true regardless of how much or how little central economic planning you do. Central banks are the greatest engine of crony capitalism... yet for some reason Marx loved them.
A weak or no state, no corporations or hierarchical institutions, no money or commerce in the current sense, and everything is done through voluntary cooperative groups.
The community-driven free/open source software development model is the ideal working real world example to follow. This would be how I would remake the world.
These guys have the right idea: http://www.freeworldcharter.org/
Are you thinking in the direction of Israeli kibbutzes here, at least as they were in the traditional sense before most converted to market economics? I quite like the idea of voluntary cooperative communal groups, but it isn't going to happen any time soon on a societal scale.