Part 1 – The Elusive Definition of Socialism

The funny thing about socialism is that when you ask a socialist what it is, he always seems to stumble over definitions or operational applications (How would socialism work exactly?); like the idea was just in his head and sounded great, but now he’s just not explaining it right. And when you come up with a definition of socialism from a socialist thinker like Karl Marx, you’re always met with a quick “no, no that’s not socialism” or the accusation that you’re just “presenting it negatively, biased”. Even the Socialist Labor Party cannot seem to put the idea down quite right, as is shown by their vague pamphlets and seemingly paradoxical notions of life under socialism. Let’s try and cut to the core of this Socialism, and see if we can’t capture a glimpse of this elusive ideology.

The socialist will quickly tell you what Socialism is not- it is not “government ownership”, nor is it a closed system devoid of democratic rights. 

On a side note- even if Socialism has these so-called “Democratic Rights”, I would argue that the most dangerous society in existence is one with “Democratic Rights”; we’ll examine why later. Older Socialists (circa 1960’s) have long ago admitted to themselves that Socialism is precisely these things- they see the writing on the wall and they understand the direction this ideology flows. Nowadays their worry isn’t about what Socialism may actually be, they worry about being on top (through crony-Capitalism: George Soros, Bill Gates, Verizon CEO, Google CEO, Steve Jobs,etc.) when the society crumbles into Socialism. Funny too how a large percentage of rich bankers, CEO, and stock market guru’s are all “socialists”… I can assure you they’re not socialist because they think their money will be taken away.

In general, young Socialists would agree with what I said above in what Socialism is not (though I believe it is both those things), however, when you begin to ask what Socialism is– moods change rapidly. Some will use words like “class-warfare”, others “communal living”, and others still “collective ownership”. Let’s see what some “down-on-paper” definitions of socialism are:

Socialism is the collective ownership by all the people of the factories, mills, mines, railroads, land and all other instruments of production.

Socialist Labor Union (April 26, 2011) – http://slp.org/what_is.htm

 

Now, remember, when a Socialist says “collective ownership” they don’t mean you can just pee in the corner of the factory if you want- no, by “collectively owned” they mean a large committee that you are part of electing is placed in charge of the facility, it’s policies, procedures and operations, hiring and firing, occupational assignment, etc. So yunno, it’s nothing like a controlling government- it’s just a committee with governing power by elected officials, who democratically decide what you’re allowed to do and then on a national level decide what human rights you are democratically allowed to have. (As opposed to the current oppressive system where you get to open your own shop and decide the damn rules. Sickening!) But I digress:

  • a political theory advocating state ownership of industry
  • an economic system based on state ownership of capital

wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

  • refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which the ownership of industry and the distribution of wealth are determined by the state or by agents of the state or the collective. …
    www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Socialism
  • Socialism refers to the various theories of economic organization which advocate either public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources.Newman, Michael. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism
  • Any of various political philosophies that support social and economic equality, collective decision-making, and public control of productive capital and natural resources, as advocated by socialists; The socialist political philosophies as a group, including Marxism, libertarian socialism …
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/socialism

As we see, definitions vary based on the source- even amongst Socialist thinkers. So we agree that Socialists can’t agree on exactly what Socialism is. Well, this obviously means it is up to us to fill in the gaps and follow Socialism to its logical human conclusion.

Socialism thrives on this idea that with the right economic situation, people will naturally do what is right by others- the success of the system depends on this. However, even the most die-hard socialist knows that humans are also selfish, and so they understand that there must be a system of checks, an authority- a governing body, if you will. Note the “who run’s things” includes “government” and “unions”; which we already have by the way…  elected government and unions- but the socialist ones will be better, right?

( http://slp.org/what_is.htm)

Socialism means direct control and management of the industries and social services by the workers through a democratic government based on their nationwide economic organization.

Under socialism, all authority will originate from the workers, integrally united in Socialist Industrial Unions. In each workplace, the rank and file will elect whatever committees or representatives are needed to facilitate production. Within each shop or office division of a plant, the rank and file will participate directly in formulating and implementing all plans necessary for efficient operations.

 

(Gee golly, sounds a lot like how a government is run… electing officials, so on…almost like a Representative Democracy… But not really.)

So when you ask, “well what if someone doesn’t want to go with the flow in Socialism? How are decisions made?” They’ll tell you- well a committee would be formed to vote on it. So, the idea being that when Frank from finance decides he no longer wants to do finances, he wants to work at the car body shop, what’s the system to do?

Well, we’d establish a committee! According to the Socialist Labor Party, you’re represented by a democratically elected Labor Rep- this guy is a part of the committee that heads the local operations for the specific Shop that Frank works at. If Frank wants to change occupations, Frank will have to notify the committee of his desire so that they can see if the production operations of the current shop will be negatively disrupted by Frank’s desire to leave and head out to work at the Local 191 Ye Olde’ Car Body Shoppe. Woah, but wait now- our democratically elected Shop Officers look at the numbers and see that Frank’s production value at his current job and skill-level far outweigh his productiveness at the Local 191, where there’s already a surplus of workers. Our democratically elected committee will democratically decide that Frank isn’t allowed to change occupations due to his current productivity level at this Shop. Ah, Democracy in action! The best part is that Frank’s “freedom” isn’t infringed on in this Socialist Society- because the authority is “democratically elected” and Frank’s rights are “democratically” decided on!

But wait, there is a job at the Local 301 Body Shop, 500 miles away. However, Frank will have to submit his job application request through the proper democratically elected production officers’ channels so that they can assess whether another finance- er, we mean Car Body Shop guy is needed in that location (maybe Franks Societal Value Ratio is high enough to earn him a little movement freedom). Frank also needs to notify the local government- er, we mean, the committee in charge of the Local 405 Real Estate Guild of his request to move to another location- we’ll just wait to see what the committee in charge of the population distribution democratically decides for old Frank. Got the idea?

So let’s review again what socialism is not:

Socialism does not mean government or state ownership. It does not mean a closed party-run system without democratic rights. Those things are the very opposite of socialism.

Socialist Labor Union (April 26, 2011) – http://slp.org/what_is.htm

 

So let’s see… a government… comprised of committees… will run everything… but it’s not… government owned… Oh… They must mean it’s not a “[Republic form of] Government Owned”. Makes perfect sense.

The Socialist Labor Party ferociously fights to let you know that socialism is not government control over the means of production or your life! It is, however, committee ownership of the means for production and committee ownership over your decisions. The SLP doesn’t seem to understand that our currently elected officials are already fighting the war for a Bureaucratically-run nation!

Now, socialists will argue that I’m being unfair and life won’t be as I described- in, fact, they claim that there won’t be any need for bureaucracies at all! Sorry guys- what do you think a committee is? I’m not saying committee’s are the greatest of evils- just don’t pretend like committee’s don’t form bureaucracies and democratic governments. I would think that at least the smarter Socialists would understand what a “committee-run” society actually turns into.

This leads me to another point- Human nature doesn’t like Socialism. When socialism is put into pretty words with fun sounding terms like “labor empowerment”, “owned by the people”, “production to satisfy human needs- not filthy profits” it’s no wonder that many workers don’t look beyond what their Union Bosses tell them! These are some hard-working guys and gals who don’t have all that extra time for thinking and such. Unfortunately for Socialists- not everyone likes to be herded like cattle with the next ideological wave sweeping through the countryside. Some people like the ability to do as they please with the fruits of their labor! However, the Socialists love to claim that Capitalism sustains itself by viewing workers as tools, profits as the ideal at the cost of human well-being, and that any earnings made in Capitalism are at the cost of others and are therefore immoral. What the Socialist can’t seem to cope with is that Capitalism is only those things if some people make those decisions. The socialist can’t grasp that anyone would attempt those types of abuses in their socialist society! But really, it’s not all their fault- no one likes to include the Human Factor into their societal calculations. The truth is that the same evil people who abused capitalism will be right there at the top in a socialist society, abusing it’s now nearly-infinite power, because after all, your rights are only democratically given. What do you think those greedy Capitalists-turned-socialists will do now? Pick up a drum and start singing with you?

We can agree now that socialism does in fact mean government ownership of the means of production. Socialists somehow believe that their democratically formed governing committees will not be a part of the same corruption as the capitalist democratically elected governing bodies. Human nature is the same across all ages- Corrupt individuals seek out power. Power is found in Capitalist societies through money-mongering and governmental corruption; power will be found in greater capacity through the nearly-infinite power of the “governing committees” of Socialist societies! Where do you think the corrupt and power-hungry people will flock? My bet is a socialist committee- maybe the one in charge of financial redistribution, or the committee on organizing committees, I don’t really know for sure.

On top of all of this, Socialists have some pretty hefty promises to fulfill- they promise economic security for all (especially the lazy), they promise entitlements and jobs, freedom and peace. With such wonderful phrases for campaigning, it’s no wonder politicians already use the Socialist language to win elections! Vote for me and you’ll get more money, for less! Let’s tax those greedy rich and give you the dough, after all, they [don’t] owe it to you! And so, the corrupt and power hungry play off the socialist mantra to get into power and establish their reign, using the labor unions who are already susceptible to the socialist brainwashing, and other people who have been told to feel disenfranchised. That’s a winning combination! Breed a new generation of disenfranchised individuals who don’t have jobs, who had education stolen from them by liberals who support continually falling standards, and now give them a union job that has quite a disproportionate pay scale and creates market inefficiencies- and you’ve got yourself a socialist supporter.

                Let’s recap- we’ve established Socialism leads to government control over pretty much everything. We also see the natural progression of socialism to an entitlement promise- I say promise, because anyone with half a brain knows you can’t pay people for doing nothing forever. We also see that socialism implies a sort of class warfare (“the cause of political and economic despotism having been abolished, class rule is at end” American Socialist Daniel De Leon), thereby pitting the worker against the business owner who risked everything to establish the company.

When socialists say, “Socialism has never been tried”, they’re not kidding! Paper Socialism is such a Utopic ideal, so unrealistic in its demands, that every nation that tried to establish socialism immediately crumbled into the Socialist States we now see clawing their way back to some kind of a free market system (China, Russia, Canada, etc).

But I suppose, where would we be without all these wonderful ideologies?

Our final definition and description of Socialism will then be something along the lines of:

A Utopic concept where humanity magically overcomes human nature, becomes perfect, and agrees to work in harmony with one another; but in reality leads to a committee-controlled society which creates bureaucracy upon bureaucracy finding that in order to operate effectively as an economic central-planner, the committees (referred to hereafter as government) find that they must have ever-increasing control over the citizens due to the nature of humans not perfectly following the rules. The government must control all the means of production on a mass scale and depend upon the numbers from lower local governments (which will be audited by a committee) in order to somewhat effectively determine production needs and goals to supply “human need”. Everyone capable will be required to work and must be assigned an occupation by a governmental agency based on their skillset and national need. The “undesirables” in the nation would be the lazy or disabled who leech off the system; through various democratic votes, abortion will be mandated for excessive children or for those found to be disabled by the current definition of disabled. Religious observances would be discouraged because they would degrade the authority of the Committee-Government, and school curriculums would be closely controlled. Boy this is starting to sound a lot like Russia… Germany… and China…

We could keep going to list the eventual requirements that would be necessitated, but we’ll end here for another time.  These methods are pretty much the only way a Socialist state can operate effectively.

If you believe in Capitalism supply side economics, demand and “human need” are pretty much the same thing- you don’t think you’re going to actually get something for free in that Socialist society, do you? One you have to work for it, the other you have to work for it.

Next Week: Part 2- How to get a Culture Primed for Socialism

And,

 So is Capitalism really Better? Not by much…