"Socialism" as a word

If Bernie keeps winning you're going to see more pieces like this:

No, Bernie Sanders, most voters aren't comfortable with socialism

Right, so we can't have Medicare for All or College for All or the Green New Deal because omigod Bernie Sanders used that word "socialism." So there ought to be an explanation -- not merely of what the word socialism means (Sanders can do that just fine, although not everyone agrees with his explanation) but also of the historical background that gives the term meaning.

Sure, the word "socialism" has a lot of baggage, and that baggage has become the basis for a lot of concern trolling of Bernie Sanders' campaign. "Sanders is unelectable because he uses that socialism word." Well, "socialism" has had baggage for quite some time now. Here's the British author George Orwell (1903-1950), in a book titled The Road to Wigan Pier, written in 1937, before the Cold War:

there is the horrible—the really disquieting—prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words “Socialism” and “Communism” draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, “Nature Cure” quack, pacifist, and feminist in England. (174)

Orwell goes over this social connotation of "socialism" in detail, since he was himself a convinced socialist. He argued that the ideas of socialism and of being a socialist can get completely lost in the vast quantity of associations anyone can make between socialism and the actual socialists, who turn out to be a bunch of rather marginal people. Or, as Orwell argued, "As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents" (ibid.).

And then you have Chris Matthews, voicing the historic panic on MSNBC, which is that socialism equals the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, which equals the Gulag and the death camps. Of course, what appeared natural in April of 1961 looks silly in February of 2020, and so few people take Chris Matthews seriously today. I suppose the lesson to be learned from Chris Matthews is that there are still a few individuals around who are not ready to discuss the word "socialism" with any degree of reasonableness.

So far we've looked at ridiculous word games people can play with the word "socialism." So what of "socialism"? What's in a name? Written pieces too numerous to mention will tell you that what Bernie Sanders means by "socialism" is actually social democracy. To argue thusly is to say that social democracy is not socialism, but instead a system in which the government provides social benefits to a public while the means of production remain in private hands. Socialism, these same people insist, is PUBLIC control/ ownership of the means of production. It's not what Bernie Sanders is proposing. So at least these critics of Bernie Sanders, most of them friendly critics, are trying to be precise about what they think "socialism" means. (Social democracy, it should be pointed out, is better than what we've got now. Who cares what it's called?)

However, such critics point out, quite validly, one problem with defining "socialism." Another problem with defining "socialism" is that, even when one tries to be precise about "socialism," one's argument can only go so far. How is the public to control/ own the means of production? Some folks just can't conceive of a public -- yeah, they just don't see it AT ALL --and so they think the public is the government. But, no, the public is not the government, not at all. But how does the government become the public? There was this concept of the "withering away of the state," back in the 19th century, but, big problem, the state appears to have cemented itself in place in the 20th century through its possession of nuclear weapons. So we're clearly going to need something more ideal than the Cold War balance of terror if we are to imagine a "socialism" that fits that precise definition.

One recalls that, before and during the Cold War, there was a married couple, Will and Ariel Durant, who put forth these breezy and biographically-minded volumes of ancient, Medieval, and early Modern history -- The Story of Civilization. There were eleven volumes in all, and I used to own all of them but water damage destroyed my copies. Some anonymous author in Wikipedia posted that "The Story of Civilization is the most successful historiographical series in history. It has been said that the series 'put Simon & Schuster on the map' as a publishing house."

Anyway, the Durants argue their definition of "socialism" in a separate book titled "The Lessons of History," in which they use the term "socialism" to describe any sort of government-sponsored shaping of the economy, even if it happened a long, long time ago. So, for instance, we are told in this book that

Rome had its socialist interlude under Diocletian. Faced with increasing poverty and restlessness among the masses, and with imminent danger of barbarian invasion, he issued in AD 301 an Edictum de pretiis, which denounced monopolists for keeping goods from the market to raise prices, and set maximum prices and wages for all important articles and services. Extensive public works were undertaken to put the unemployed to work, and food was distributed gratis, or at reduced prices, to the poor. The government, which already owned most mines, quarries, and salt deposits -- brought nearly all major industries and guilds under detailed control. (60)

Only if you accept a definition of socialism as government control over the economy does the Will and Ariel Durant idea of Diocletian as a socialist make sense. Diocletian was an autocrat, ruling the later Roman Empire from the year 284 to the year 305 of our calendar, and so there was no sense that he represented any sort of public. He wore a purple cloak and so you kissed his feet and did what he said if you valued your life. So yeah the Will and Ariel Durant version of "socialism" is a bit over-broad. But you can see when you read them that we are back to the problem of "we can define socialism in a lot of different ways."

The catch, then, if we are to accept the definition of socialism as public ownership and control over the means of production, is to suggest a sense in which "the public," organized however we please, can own the means of production. In truth this remains an ideal, approximated in various ways, but only approximated. But there have nonetheless been attempts to name and describe the real thing. So for instance you have Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel's idea of participatory economics, so named because at Albert and Hahnel's level of reasoning the term "socialism" just looks too vague. The Wikipedia entry characterizes participatory economics as follows:

The underlying values that parecon seeks to implement are equity, solidarity, diversity, workers' self-management, efficiency (defined as accomplishing goals without wasting valued assets) and sustainability. The institutions of parecon include workers' and consumers' councils utilizing self-managerial methods for decision-making, balanced job complexes, remuneration based on individual effort, and wide participatory planning.

Sounds good to me!

To conclude:

What it looks like, at this point, is that actual socialism is quite possible, though the term "socialism" is probably doomed. The socialism term is probably doomed because invoking socialism prompts endless discussions of what socialism is, of who supports it, of how we can do it, and of why we need it. Not to worry -- we'll find another term. Today it looks like the primary positive function of the term "socialism" is to argue that the fire departments, the Post Office, the libraries, and the public schools count as "socialism" and that fools who hate socialism also hate the fire department, the Post Office, the libraries, and the public schools. I don't see that argument staying cogent forever. Anyone who isn't maliciously greedy wants to see those services in public hands.

Share
up
27 users have voted.

Comments

Pricknick's picture

the only ones afraid of Sanders because of the "socialism" moniker are the 65+ aged voters.
To them, the red scare is still strong. Yet I know many in that group that understand it's a scare tactic.
It wont work with the youth and those who understand that we have socialism now. It's just primarily used by the 1% and folks are getting tired of it.

up
15 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

Steven D's picture

@Pricknick Socialism is only common sense in a world that is rapidly becoming unsustainable.

up
12 users have voted.

"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

Cassiodorus's picture

@Pricknick folks who like their "socialist" Medicare and Social Security just fine, but who don't like "socialism."

up
12 users have voted.

"Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

Pricknick's picture

@Cassiodorus
than what I gave.
I live to learn.

up
4 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

snoopydawg's picture

@Cassiodorus

Morans. The only thing that changes is how it's paid for. No more middlemen skimming off profits for no reason.

up
8 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

PriceRip's picture

@Pricknick

the only ones afraid of Sanders because of the "socialism" moniker are the 65+ aged voters.

          are the same individuals I knew in the 1960s that didn't like those of us that are not afraid of Sanders today. Saying you know many who (fill in the blank), is way too condescending.

          Reality Check: did what I just write make sense to anyone ?! Damn, my head is about to explode.

          Somehow - someway we need to distinguish the "shit head" contingent of the 65+ from the rest of us, AND we are not just some of them! I don't care which demographic you pick there are plenty of individuals in that demographic that will cheerfully stab you in the back if they think it will get them closer to being rich, powerful, or whatever.

RIP

up
14 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

@PriceRip
all us medicare eligible individuals
(that I know) are full on Bernie or
Tulsi. This is why I don't trust polls
or generalizations. It just does not
add up. Question memes. Get a
convince before spreading p'ganders

up
12 users have voted.

May we be united and strong -- laurel

Pricknick's picture

@PriceRip
My choice of words may have been wrong but I still believe the 65+ will be the hardest nut for Bernie to crack even though he is one of them.

up
6 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

PriceRip's picture

@Pricknick

          crowd are the same people that were a problem in the 50s and 60s and they will be difficult if not impossible to convince. Far too many were able to get through the social upheaval without dealing with the social upheaval. I know these people, they are in my family, they are my colleagues, they are in all walks of life … but most important … they do not, in any real way, define the "boomer" generation.

          I have recently completed 60 years in the classroom and defining "each generation" as fundamentally unique is futile and a tremendous waste of time.

          Another case in point: AOC and the squad do not define their particular generation. I wish they did, but I know better. They will face some of the same challenges over the next few years as we all faced in our time. The process never stops, the only hope is for us to shift the landscape to make it as easy as possible to "get the ball rolling" in the right direction.

RIP

up
10 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Raggedy Ann's picture

@Pricknick
I am 67 and have been a Bernie supporter for more years than you have been on the earth. Now doesn't that sound stupid? So does saying that those 65+ don't want Sanders. Stop generalizing. If you want to say which 65+, get the statistic and be factual.

up
8 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

Pricknick's picture

@Raggedy Ann @Raggedy Ann
I said that many of our generation fear the word socialism as much as communism.
It's a fear that was ingrained in many at an early age and many have never outgrown it. Or as PriceRip put it:

the "shit head" contingent of the 65+

No offense was intended.

up
8 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

Raggedy Ann's picture

@Pricknick
thrown around here and on other sites and this is the only place I comment. I've generalized, too - and know it is not fair because there are always exceptions. I don't know you, so I don't know how old you are, nor the intent of your comment. The internet is like that and many people hide behind their keyboards.

People have had enough - even the 65+ group. Just want that acknowledged by the site as a whole.

up
6 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

Pricknick's picture

@Raggedy Ann
you hate as much as me being classified as a "Boomer". Eh. Maybe not.
Thanks for understanding that no degradation of any generational class was meant.
I love all ages.

up
5 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

k9disc's picture

care anyway?

If you were a decent human being you would have enough money to feed and house yourself and pay for overpriced medical care and mortgage your future for an education.

Screw the 50% of Americans who can't compete with Jeff Bezos in accruing wealth. If there is one thing I know it is that American Citizens are worthless and deserve no help. We have to reserve the help for the people who matter. You know, those people who hire an army of accountants to escape their taxes.

Nobody should pay their fair share. You need to earn the right to cheat on your taxes.

We have to reserve socialism for the TAX CHEATS.
Accept FRAUD because the oligarchs are better than you.
Wealthy people have earned the right to ABUSE you.

up
14 users have voted.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

Cassiodorus's picture

@k9disc how they've managed to confuse people into not expecting anything meaningful in return for their tax dollars.

up
17 users have voted.

"Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

k9disc's picture

escape your taxes, but only if you're wealthy. I mean, that's the wealthy's job...

I do think there is some legs to that angle, it's installed, might as well use it.

The job of the wealthy is to screw the poor. To find creative new ways of taking our money and to steal from the State is just good business. It's just the way of things.
@Cassiodorus

up
12 users have voted.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

Lily O Lady's picture

@k9disc

antisocial-ist.

up
7 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Socialism happens when a country is run for the good of the people, not the rich and powerful, and may use tools like the free market and private capital, but always regulates them to guarantee that the outcome produces economic and social justice and preserves a truly democratic form of government.

Likewise:

Fascism happens when there exists a close partnership between rich and powerful interests and the government. (Mussolini's definition) The prime goal of the government is to assist the interests of the corporations and to favor them exclusively over the economic and social interests of the people, to provide resources and labor at the cheapest prices and to protect their markets by whatever means necessary.

Where is the US on this scale? And where do you think the people would like the country to be? That's why Bernie is getting such a resoundingly positive response and why the establishment is running scared.

up
22 users have voted.

Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

PriceRip's picture

@The Wizard

up
7 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

@The Wizard for Dems, for the Bernie campaign going into the fall: if Trump and his goons start tossing around the S word and especially the C word, throw the F word right back at them.

Yes, briefly explain what socialism really is, how it already operates in our country although we don't call it by socialism, then pivot from defense to going on the attack about Trump and his fascist tendencies. America's Wannabe Mussolini.

Dems won't win by always playing defense, though they prefer to do just that. Make the other guy pay, let him feel the sting and be forced to play defense.

up
8 users have voted.

@The Wizard . This is what Bernie should be saying right now. He needs to head off the red-scare crappadoodle before it gets any thicker.

How can this excellent, very clear, statement of fact be brought to Bernie's attention? Email won't reach him, Twitter may be a bit better ... probably the best bet is seeing that it gets to those who are close to him, or spreading it around so that people are talking about it, or bringing it to the attention of popular talking heads in the media, maybe starting with our crowd -- Kyle, Jimmy D., Tim Black, Niko House, Aaron Mate & Max Blumenthal, Krystal & Saagar, TYT (maybe although I don't fully trust tyt), etc.

I think you stated it perfectly, Wizard, and we should not let your words scroll down and fade away into this or any website.

Anyone have other ideas for sharing Wizard's definition?

up
2 users have voted.

Lurking in the wings is Hillary, like some terrifying bat hanging by her feet in a cavern below the DNC. A bat with theropod instincts. -- Fred Reed https://tinyurl.com/vgvuhcl

@laurel
If anyone here knows how to get this to Bernie, or his team please go ahead and do it. I will try emailing it to Bernie. I was able to get a response from his staff about 5 months ago and I got real answers to my questions. Now it might be much more difficult. I'll try some other names, too. Thanks.

up
3 users have voted.

Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

@The Wizard to his speechwriter David Sirota on Twitter. He did excellent work a few weeks ago laying out Biden's sorry past record on SS/Medicare, and what he tweeted got picked up, by Bernie and in the media.

Similar for Bernie's press sec'y, Briahna Joy Gray, on Twitter..

Also try Twitter with Krystal Ball, a major Bernie backer in the media. If you tweet your comments a time or two, likely she will see it and maybe go with it on her Rising show, where it will get further exposure.

My best suggestions at this hour on how to get the candidate's attention in a fairly timely fashion. Emails just get lost in the shuffle.

up
2 users have voted.
earthling1's picture

@wokkamile
Tell him to STFU with the Russia Russia shit too.

up
2 users have voted.

After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

PriceRip's picture

          What sort of idiot thinks taxes pay for anything. How many years have you been living under a rock to actually such a STUPID thing.

          The 1% know very well what taxes are for, and they are very happy the 99% are so very caught up in screwing each other as the regulators, managers, and yes the 1% keep adjusting the rules to make it all so very nice at the top.

          They (the 1%) are terrified we (the 99%) will suddenly "get it" and re-install the regulatory subroutine in the program. They know, and most of the great unwashed just keep on being ignorant.

RIP

up
8 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Creosote.'s picture

@PriceRip resides in the same electronic hardware first used to create the results the unaccountable, secure corporate front offices use on their employees.

This goes back at least to the '80s, when I saw the firm I worked for change from allowing a reaistic length of time to do a project like the (never before available in book form) Los Angeles City and County Code to an arbitrary number of pages per hour.

Or to the smiling, nicely dressed pairs of youngish IBM guys I saw in the New York neighborhood where I worked.

up
2 users have voted.

@PriceRip

https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/statistics/historical-highest-marginal-i...

The best years for the middle class of this country were when the top marginal income tax rate was 70% or above. Reagan, with his "trickle down economics," took it below and it has never risen as high since. Within a few years, the homeless rate rose significantly enough to appear on the streets, unions died, single-job supported middle and lower class households disappeared, and the middle class itself started shrinking.

Now the mass media has people fooled into thinking that "taxes" are the primary cause of their economic problems.

up
4 users have voted.

Lurking in the wings is Hillary, like some terrifying bat hanging by her feet in a cavern below the DNC. A bat with theropod instincts. -- Fred Reed https://tinyurl.com/vgvuhcl

Cassiodorus's picture

@laurel allowed for an economic expansion that will probably never be duplicated in the history of capitalism. You had the expansion of the Green Revolution, air travel, the Interstate system, the college and university systems, television, computers, chemicals, and the economic expansion of California as the masses moved westward. Also, money was pegged to gold (the "gold standard") in such a way that growth had to occur in order to validate the expanding money supply (while confiscated Nazi gold allowed the US to be the primary economic hegemon within such a scheme). A lot of this development was unable to contribute to the corporate profit rate by the Seventies, simply because productive capitalism could only be milked by profit-seekers so far.

With excessive spending on Vietnam, it was already clear that the scheme had to change. In 1968 the US declared that it would not be able to meet its gold standard commitments, and in 1971 Nixon declared the gold standard null and void. In 1973, with the founding of the Trilateral Commission, the new economic order was put in place, loosely imagined as "dollar hegemony" and "neoliberalism." The US government was to be the guarantor of the corporate profit rate by printing lots of dollars (which were to find their way into assets of vastly inflated value and gamed by speculators), while the well-being of the non-investing masses was to be slowly thrown overboard. This was the economic order still in place today.

Reagan was the President deemed most appropriate for the transition to neoliberalism; Carter merely the Johnny-Come-Lately to the neoliberal party. The "incubator regime" for the new order was the dictatorship of the junta headed by Augusto Pinochet in Chile, begun on the original September 11th -- September 11th, 1973.

Two important references: Michael Hudson's Super Imperialism and Philip Mirowski's Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste.

The "income tax rates" thing appears as a sort of side effect of all that other activity. Of course the tax rates went down under Reagan; that was his role.

up
3 users have voted.

"Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

PriceRip's picture

@laurel

          This is the core of the historical (evidentiary) component of my discussion. My approach to the topic follows a very different "walk in the woods" path.

          The sad truth is that most people refuse to actually ever understand that economic systems are social constructs, and as such: Economic Systems are value free until decisions during and following implementation embodying Society's values define the values of the economic system.

          People that de facto label "Capitalism" as bad, good, or … are not people that have any meaningful thing to say to me. Oh, be aware, I lived in abject poverty during the 1950s and 1960s, so I learned how economics really functioned from the bottom of the abyss. This is not a perspective I would wish upon anyone. Unfortunately too many are incapable of learning regardless of their life experiences, I have met those types and they will never learn.

          As usual, Your mileage my vary.

RIP

up
1 user has voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

PriceRip's picture

@laurel

          It took me a bit to find the graph I had been using.

          As you point out context really drives the point home. I like the fact that the red and green curves are nearly "flat lined". That bit drives home the reality of how we (the lumpenproletariat) have been victimized. The real sad part is that so few understand even when they are told the truth.

          I was very aware of the situation in the 1960s from personal experience, and then later as I watched the situation deteriorate for my younger colleagues. But, as I keep pointing out, various individuals with other points of view made it quite clear that I didn't know anything, so I should shut up and sit down.

          Now maybe after all those years people will start addressing the real issues. I hope to live so long as to see that.

RIP

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Shahryar's picture

That's the place where Joe Lockhart has a column pleading with Bloomberg to "take Bernie down".

up
8 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@Shahryar

No you don't get to say these words on national television. How many people's minds went to JFK or Bobby or Paul Wellstone?

Then there is this ex FBI agent telling us what his job used to be.

Come on you effing media goons people are tired of struggling while asshats like you guys protect the status quo evil bastards.

up
13 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

RantingRooster's picture

What is Socialism? Simple, two or more "socialists" trying to define socialism...

Or a more serious note, Chris Hedges and Prof. Wolff on "Socialism"

I truly love the Professor's explanation, in the first 50 seconds... YMMV

But if we dig deeper, according to Jacobin Mag., and Marx himself apparently...

“While Marx didn’t engage much with the works of Paine himself, the American revolutionary’s followers on both sides of the Atlantic played an enormous role in forging the nineteenth century’s workers movement that supplied Marx with the empirical politics that he provided a rich philosophical justification for.

It’s no coincidence that he would write, “Socialism and communism did not emanate from Germany but from England, France and North America” — the same places where Paine had done so much to foment democratic revolution.”

When I was at KOS, I made an attempt to sell the idea, that in fact, it was Thomas Paine, who was the originator of "Democratic Socialism", and it's a totally American Idea. (Of course I'm not a "writer"...)

To me, and just mho, the four cornerstones of Democratic Socialism are found in the works of Thomas Paine.

  • Common Sense - People can govern themselves
  • The Age of Reason - We don't need some angry GOD to guide us
  • The Rights of Man - The Origin of our Rights
  • Agrarian Justice - How to pay for the Social Welfare of the people

    "A long habit of not thinking something wrong, gives it the superficial appearance of being right." - Thomas Paine

    Any of these resonate?
    - Party over principals
    - charging money for healthcare
    - campaign contributions
    - corporations
    - billionaires
    - capitalism with out including / acknowledging the externalities of it's production (air/water/soil pollution)
    - wars of aggression / regime change
    - Profit over people
    - Lifetime appointments to the supreme court

    I think y'all can see where I'm going with this...we need more Paine!

    Drinks

  • up
    16 users have voted.

    "Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance;" - Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    Cassiodorus's picture

    @RantingRooster The first one, the one that everyone thinks of, is the system wherein the government is overthrown and replaced by a government which enacts, well, here's Marx's friend Friedrich Engels with a twelve-point program:

    (i) Limitation of private property through progressive taxation, heavy inheritance taxes, abolition of inheritance through collateral lines (brothers, nephews, etc.) forced loans, etc.

    (ii) Gradual expropriation of landowners, industrialists, railroad magnates and shipowners, partly through competition by state industry, partly directly through compensation in the form of bonds.

    (iii) Confiscation of the possessions of all emigrants and rebels against the majority of the people.

    (iv) Organization of labor or employment of proletarians on publicly owned land, in factories and workshops, with competition among the workers being abolished and with the factory owners, in so far as they still exist, being obliged to pay the same high wages as those paid by the state.

    (v) An equal obligation on all members of society to work until such time as private property has been completely abolished. Formation of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

    (vi) Centralization of money and credit in the hands of the state through a national bank with state capital, and the suppression of all private banks and bankers.

    (vii) Increase in the number of national factories, workshops, railroads, ships; bringing new lands into cultivation and improvement of land already under cultivation – all in proportion to the growth of the capital and labor force at the disposal of the nation.

    (viii) Education of all children, from the moment they can leave their mother’s care, in national establishments at national cost. Education and production together.

    (ix) Construction, on public lands, of great palaces as communal dwellings for associated groups of citizens engaged in both industry and agriculture and combining in their way of life the advantages of urban and rural conditions while avoiding the one-sidedness and drawbacks of each.

    (x) Destruction of all unhealthy and jerry-built dwellings in urban districts.

    (xi) Equal inheritance rights for children born in and out of wedlock.

    (xii) Concentration of all means of transportation in the hands of the nation.

    I'm choosing Engels, here, because I want to make the point that Marx and Engels had a utopia in mind and that they thought that the way of getting to here from there was commonsensical -- well, commonsensical for 1847 or 1848 (when the Communist Manifesto was written). Engels' Q and A expresses that point best. This sort of document was written as a sort of propaganda gesture, egging on the revolutionaries of that time. It's a platform, like Bernie or any of his opponents has a platform. But it's a very old platform, adapted to a very old time.

    The second definition can be inferred from certain passages in the Grundrisse (which translates loosely as "foundation," though if you use Google's translator it comes off as "floorplans"), Capital, and the Critique of the Gotha Program. This is the "union of free producers," envisioning a society in which everyone produces something useful and everyone shares in the benefits.

    In Capital Marx gets into an involved and sometimes quite convoluted discussion of "value" (and yeah they wrote that way back then -- just YOU try reading David Ricardo some time). The upshot of Marx's presentation was that, under capitalism, "value" becomes something that rules people, rather than people being able to choose and enact their own values. This was his analysis of capitalism.

    We see this in the CV, the curriculum vitae, the "course of one's life" (in Latin). This is the document that gets you a job, and you need a job. The CV is a document illustrating how you've spent your entire life chasing value, and becoming value. Your shape is determined by value, in a form you only marginally get to choose. What Marx wanted to do, in Capital and elsewhere, is suggest that history was headed toward a form of society in which you got to control value, rather than it controlling you. This is the utopian vision which remains relevant to this day.

    up
    7 users have voted.

    "Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

    Cassiodorus's picture

    @Cassiodorus I highlighted the Grundrisse in my post above because, arguably, it's Marx's most authentic document even though for the most part it is a pain in the butt to read. Written in 1857-1858, it details Marx's whole plan for the critique of capitalism, of which only a portion was finished in Capital, and only a portion of Capital was finished enough for Marx to publish (the other two volumes coming out after his death courtesy of Engels).

    up
    4 users have voted.

    "Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

    Cassiodorus's picture

    @RantingRooster Wolff has it right.

    up
    0 users have voted.

    "Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

    Socialism is when the WORKERS control the means of production.
    Ready for brain to explode?
    Socialism is a form of capitalism.
    Workers owning the grocery store are still operating within a capitalist market.

    up
    4 users have voted.
    Cassiodorus's picture

    @Battle of Blair Mountain He worked hard for his billions. I guess he's a socialist, then, because he's into worker control of the means of production.

    (Hint: the reason I chose the word PUBLIC was because the opposite of public is PRIVATE, which is definitely Bloomberg's domain.)

    up
    6 users have voted.

    "Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

    @Cassiodorus Especially in America.

    up
    1 user has voted.
    mimi's picture

    @Cassiodorus @ranting rooster
    anything about socialism and communism and capitalism, but the sentence of Bloomberg saying he has worked hard for his billsions gives away the resulting racism and arrogance vis a vis those, who work hard and are still poor. It is really not hard to understand and see.

    I am the dummy now, because at least in today's usage of the words, "Grundriss" is equal to a 'floorplan', which is not the same as 'Fundament'='Foundation'. You can have a floorplan which says nothing about the quality of the 'Fundament'='Foundation' of a building, house, or political theory.

    What makes me laugh inside when reading through this thread is the fact that I ran around with a little red book about the fundamental ideas of 'Engels' in my backpack during the 1968 years without ever having read it. I guess I am not the only 99percenter dummy who was too lazy to read him.

    The discussion between Heges and Wolff is excellent. If there were a transcript I would print it out and read it. Smile

    May be I should read up about Paine. Thanks for pointing me to it. I am not quite sure I directed this comment to ranting rooster or not, but it was meant also to him.

    up
    4 users have voted.
    RantingRooster's picture

    @Cassiodorus @mimi I grew up spending a lot of time with my grand father who was into Thomas Paine. He would always quote TP. Obviously TP is not "perfect", but the root of his idea's are all heart (humane) and always attracted my mind by his simple use of observational reason.

    I wrote in that diary at KOS

    Poverty, hunger, and mass human suffering are all constructs of man (human kind), to which America's original Democratic Socialist laid out the principals with which human kind could effectively, responsibly and respecting the rights of private ownership and capitalism as commerce, address the poverty, hunger, and mass human suffering at the root of the concentrations of wealth and power through monarchy, aristocracy, religion and heredity.

    It was Thomas Paine who galvanized the British colonies to commit to revolution, and gave us the term "United States". He's also damn near been erased from American history, especially because of his pamphlet, Age of Reason. A scathing rebuke of Christianity.

    Check out the following video from, Common Sense - Thomas Paine - Left Forum: Chris Hedges, Cornel West & Richard Wolff (2014) 2014

    I especially enjoy Dr. West's comments on Thomas Paine. (Heck I just love Dr West...)

    up
    2 users have voted.

    "Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance;" - Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    Socialism was certainly used as a dirty word and was basically an synoymn for communism. Establishment gopers and dems say the word will destroy Bernie. Hasn't so far. I thought AOC did one of the best cases for it when first elected. If Bernie and her keep doing that, they will take the word off the proverbial table as an attack against Sanders. Sanders may need create some political ads to counter act the theme of socialism=communism.

    up
    5 users have voted.

    There are endless examples online of outrageous "socialism" for the rich and for corporations.
    https://thinkbynumbers.org/government-spending/corporate-welfare/corpora...

    up
    5 users have voted.
    Daenerys's picture

    already hate public schools (but many of them for the wrong reasons), so maybe that isn't a very good example.

    up
    1 user has voted.

    This shit is bananas.

    earthling1's picture

    The complete freedom to use our enormous military machine to conquer, pillage, and plunder sovereign countries around the globe for the benefit of American corporations. About 3/4 trillion dollars a year.

    up
    2 users have voted.

    After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
    They're like herpes.