Any Leftists?
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13-09-2010, 08:40 PM
Any Leftists?
Any lefties on the board? Socialists, communists, liberals, progressives, anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, marxists, libertarian socialists, etc...?

I for one would consider myself to be influenced by marxist, anarcho-syndicalist and libertarian socialist thought.
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14-09-2010, 12:10 AM
RE: Any Leftists?
I don't think that I fit any of those descriptions. I try to be a realist, which means that I belive in taking what is right and good from those philosophies and leaving what is wrong and bad. Each of those philosophies falls far short of ideal, but most have something good to offer.
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14-09-2010, 06:41 AM
RE: Any Leftists?
Absolutely not. I don't think it's a stretch to say that leftist philosophies have proven out to do nothing to improve peoples lives and communist and socialist countries have traditionally had some of the highest levels of poverty.

I'm not thrilled with the bastardization of capitalism by modern corporations and think there needs to be some intelligent regulation to offset the complete separation of risk and reward in modern capitalism but I'd rather deal with the problems we have with corporate capitalism then sink into the abyss of communism or true socialism (which, despite the rhetoric, is not what I think is happening in the US right now, or at least no more than we've seen over the past 20+ years).

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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14-09-2010, 08:23 AM
RE: Any Leftists?
I'm definitely a socialist, and if it can be executed properly, a communist. However, thanks to the botched jobs of leaders in Russia, China, and North Korea, the word "communism" is pretty much taboo. (The "red under the bed" scare of McCarthy in the States didn't help the image much either.)

That being said, Canada is actually much more socialist than the States (though less so than some European countries) and we're a lot better off here than there. There is nothing wrong with health care or social programs. They help people who would not be able to afford to go see a doctor, or pay for prescriptions for a chronic condition (such as type-1 diabetes). Mothers don't have to pay to get pre- and post-natal checkups, which ensures a healthier mother and child. Social programs help students like myself who can barely afford (or can't afford) to pay the exuberant prices of tuition and living expenses while obtaining a degree.

On the other hand, laissez-faire capitalism is defined by the boom and bust of good economic times and depressions. And in those times of depressions, what do the leaders of capitalist countries do? They employ social programs to get people working, and give a boost to the economy. Take Roosevelt's New Deal for example. Socialist countries don't need to do that because the governments have a fairly good hold on their nations' economies. While people in the states were losing their homes, we were still doing pretty good up here in Canada, and that is because of socialism.

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
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14-09-2010, 08:25 AM
RE: Any Leftists?
(14-09-2010 06:41 AM)BnW Wrote:  Absolutely not. I don't think it's a stretch to say that leftist philosophies have proven out to do nothing to improve peoples lives and communist and socialist countries have traditionally had some of the highest levels of poverty.

I'm not thrilled with the bastardization of capitalism by modern corporations and think there needs to be some intelligent regulation to offset the complete separation of risk and reward in modern capitalism but I'd rather deal with the problems we have with corporate capitalism then sink into the abyss of communism or true socialism (which, despite the rhetoric, is not what I think is happening in the US right now, or at least no more than we've seen over the past 20+ years).

Completely disagree with that. will post explanation later
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14-09-2010, 08:29 AM
 
RE: Any Leftists?
According to the diagrams on the "constitutionalist" thread, many of us are left of center, if you place any faith in such things. In case you missed it in some other post, I dislike labels.
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14-09-2010, 08:34 AM
RE: Any Leftists?
(14-09-2010 08:29 AM)2buckchuck Wrote:  According to the diagrams on the "constitutionalist" thread, many of us are left of center, if you place any faith in such things. In case you missed it in some other post, I dislike labels.

I don't put much stock into those tests. I don't like labels myself either, but I acknowledge political theories or philosophies that influence my world view. I wouldn't label myself any one thing, but I can say that certain "isms" do influence my thinking
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14-09-2010, 01:37 PM
 
RE: Any Leftists?
Stalin, Mao, etc...

They were all authoritarian communists (just look at the constitutionalist thread). We all here to seem to lean to the libertarian side. True socialism/communism is incompatible with human nature, but tempered socialist reforms into a democratic society are what Western Europe has. In Newsweek's list of the best countries in the world, you'll find that almost all of the ones in the top 10 (The US is not here) apply at least some leftists ideas and have an active socialist party.

Besides, at one point, democracy was a leftist idea. We have to remember that political designations such as conservative and leftist are relative. Society will always progress. You can't fight change. Eventually the paradigm will shift towards the left. Ideas that used to be leftist are now considered moderate or conservative, and even more radical ideas emerge on the left. Obviously there are a finite number of practical ways humans can organize themselves in, so this shifting will probably stop soon.

Also, are liberal and leftist the same thing? Or is a leftist an extreme liberal? I'd like to point out that democracy, as I have already mentioned, civil rights, the library, unions, the secularization of the state, and many other things are products of movement towards liberalization throughout history. Ironically though, communist states almost always ban unions, so I don't know if it is even fair to associate them with leftists/liberalism. Like all things, it is probably such a wide genre of ideas that you can't really neatly categorize it. We are all individuals after all (at least the few of us who can think for ourselves).
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14-09-2010, 08:33 PM
RE: Any Leftists?
I apologize for the length of this response, but I did not know how to be more succinct. Anyway....

Communism did not fail because it was taken over by authoritarian regimes. Communism failed because it requires an authoritarian regime for it to be implemented. A system that requires government to determine what goods are demanded and how much to supply is destined to stagnate. It crushes creativity and has little incentive to provide advances in technology or to raise living standards. I don't think it's any coincidence that the biggest advances to come out of communist countries has been in the form of military advances. Even China has opened up its markets.

On the socialism comments, the first thing to point out is that the word "socialism" is currently the most incorrectly used word in the English language within the US. To the points made above all I can say is the world is not a text book and no system exists perfectly. As societies advance and mature there will be some recognition of the need to help those left behind in the march of progress. However, I would point out that government as a way of life is a proven failure.

Consider welfare in the US. In the 1960s President Johnson launched his "War on Poverty" and one of the things that came out of it was the idea of welfare that provided a certain amount of money to people who did not have enough money to take care of themselves. What it ultimately did was create a permanent underclass in the US. The people who were on welfare in the 1960s and 1970s are now the parents and grandparents of new generations of welfare recipients. Sure, there are always great stories of people who beat the odds and rose to prominence, like Colin Powell, but what makes those stories so celebrated is that they are so very rare. Generally, people who grow up in welfare homes will become welfare recipients themselves. There are a lot of reasons for that and I don't believe included on that list is those people are somehow less able to fend for themselves.

Some may argue that government run programs for things like health care are superior to market based solutions. I think the jury is still out out on that one. The US system is not, by any definition, a free market system and it has some serious flaws, but for all the rhetoric about how we are freezing people out, the evidence shows that we are providing care for far more people than is given credit for by the left. That does not mean we don't have things that need to be fixed and it does not mean there are people who are not getting the care they need. But, I think there have been some massive exaggerations on both sides of the issue. What I will say is I think the solution Obama came up with sucks big balls and serves no one but the Health insurance companies themselves. And, the stock market agreed with me.

A final illustration on health care before I move to markets. The big example thrown around in the US was the UK's NHS system. Well, per this article, as of 2007 the US had the lowest cancer survival rates in Europe. Guess who had the highest survival rates of all the countries surveyed? That's right, the USA, who does not cover everyone. Again, the US needs reform, but I'm not sure the UK system is the way to go.

Anyway, this brings me to good old free market capitalism. In that test a number of us took on where we fell on the political spectrum, one of the questions asked was something like "the freer the market, the freer the people". My guess is many here who took that test either disagreed or strongly disagreed. And, I think those of you who said that misunderstood the question. More on this in a minutes.

"On the Wealth of Nations" is a bit like the bible: people refer to it all the time but very few have actually read that. It's not all their fault, though, as it is an impenetrable, roughly 900 page morass of 18th century prose that saps the desire to live. 18th century Scotland must have been a hideously boring place for Smith to right on and on the way he did. I've tried to get through it but have had to settle mostly on the interpretations of others.

Now, Smith wrote two books and he saw them as 2 sides of a coin. The first book was "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" with "Wealth of Nations" following after. What Smith believed was that in a free market people trading with each other will advance their own interests and act in their own behalf and they will further themselves. However, he did not believe they needed to do this at the expense of anyone else. In trade both parties should win. And, the risk and reward was born by the individual. The freedom to push yourself, create something, and sell it to someone who values it in exchange for something that you value is how societies thrive. The reason I said people misunderstood the question above was because people automatically assume that the "free market" is the modern one, not the one Smith envisioned. That is the type of free market that the US came of age in and thrived on.

Unfortunately, life is still not a text book and it didn't take long for people to forget the moral sentiment part of the equation. Free markets require competition, but then came the monopolies and TR had to break them up. The big problem today is corporations, who completely separate reward from risk. Reward is given to executives and risk is taken by the nameless schmucks who have the company stock in their 401k or pension fund. That's why companies like BP take such risks; not because they are evil but because the system is flawed. Another great example is AIG. At the time they imploded their financial services group accounted for ~10% of their revenue and ~85% of their risk. You think that if the executives of that company were personally on the hook that would have happened? Not a chance in hell.

So, obviously with corporations you need to have some regulation and oversight to keep things level. And, that also gets corrupted by money.

It's not a perfect system, but no system is perfect. However, I think that it can be a lot better than it has been the past 10 years and there is a reason that the standards of living in western capitalized countries have been getting higher and higher the past 100 years. Yes, we need to be responsible about the environment, etc. but that does not mean we turn over everything to governments as if they have some magic insight.

Crazy talk in my view.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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15-09-2010, 02:22 AM
 
RE: Any Leftists?
Capitalism and socialism are abstractions. In the real world, run by real people, a "pure" version of either abstract economic system is going to fail. We here in the US are quite far from true "free market" capitalism; we have federal subsidies for various markets, tariffs, tax laws that clearly favor corporations, corporations being "bailed out" despite their grotesque mismanagment, etc. Corporations always come to dominated by greed, which is why they need to be controlled - they claim that federal regulation hurts them, and the nation, but they're not ashamed to ask for (and get) hugefederal bailouts when the practices they followed after de-regulation were precisely why they failed! It's welfare for the rich, and it's absorbing vast infusions of funds without producing more jobs and a real economic recovery.

I've never subscribed to a socialist form - even in the abstract, it requires perfect human beings. It's a system ripe for conversion to a personality cult (such as Stalin, Mao, Kim Il-Sung, etc.) because it requires a very strong government to enforce its dictates regarding the economy. An economy entirely managed from above will always be a disaster.

In the real world, you need some sort of hybrid system, and there are various experiments ongoing around the world regarding where along the economic spectrum that nation will be best served. I think the current system for the US is proving to be disastrous, lurching toward total collapse, with potentially catastrophic consequences ... See:

http://kunstler.com/blog/
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