Social Question

jangles's avatar

How far into Socialism will America go?

Asked by jangles (405points) January 14th, 2010
41 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

Is it as Karl Marx said, that “Democracy is the road to socialism?”
If that is the case, then is it also as Vladimir Lenin said “The goal of socialism is communism?”

Today the question is arising, as to where the line is drawn between Socialism and a Democratic Republic, true to its Capitalistic ideals.

At present, we have a blend of all of them, but there has since The Great Depression, been a growing part of government overturned to Socialism, how far do you think this will continue?

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Blackberry's avatar

How is anyone supposed to predict the future? All I can say is my opinion though, and that is: These things are obviously happening for a reason, there are people out there that need help, plain and simple.

Qingu's avatar

I think a lot will depend on the economic culture of the internet.

Furthermore, I think the “socialist/capitalist” spectrum’s categories might break down in the digital world, where scarcity does not function the same way.

AstroChuck's avatar

Not far enough for me.

jangles's avatar

I was not saying whether or not socialism is bad or good or why socialism has been expanding in the US government.
And everyone has an idea of what the future will be.
Thus why I said “At present, we have a blend of all of them, but there has since The Great Depression, been a growing part of government overturned to Socialism, how far do you think this will continue?”

lilikoi's avatar

I don’t know, but I feel like we get the worst of all worlds the way things currently are. Take for example the recent bailouts.

I agree with @Qingu about the internet.

AstroChuck's avatar

@jangles- ”...socialism has been expanding in the US government.”

This country has been moving towards fascism for the last couple of decades, and by leaps and bounds during the Bush years. I don’t see this expanse of socialism you are talking about.

Blackberry's avatar

Oh I see, I’m sorry. I don’t think we’ll turn into China, but I have a feeling that we’ll explore the democracy/socialism a bit more : )

jangles's avatar

Then I guess you have your eyes closed. (Poor response, i know but there are far too many obvious examples of socialism in our government and I feel that I don’t need to give them.)

lilikoi's avatar

@AstroChuck : Good point. I’m glad Bush is out, but Obama seems to be just as fascist just not as dumb.

Examples of socialism: Bailouts, foodstamps, medicaid, Pell grants, low-income housing, social security, public-private partnerships, mandated automobile insurance, every law that has been passed to protect people from themselves (e.g. seat belts, banning smoking in bars, etc.)

mass_pike4's avatar

it depends how long obama is in office and who will eventually take his place

kheredia's avatar

All I have to say is this: When something is not working out there has to be some changes, and obviously some things are not working out right now.

lilikoi's avatar

@Blackberry : It is interesting that you mention China. I think China could become a major world power in the future, even eventually ousting the U.S. We have become very dependent on them for so many manufactured or agricultural goods. Also, I think Americans will have an increasingly hard time competing with foreign students. This means, foreigners will be smarter than us. I already see this happening at my local university’s engineer school where a large percentage of graduate students are from China and abroad.

jangles's avatar

So this country’s fate lies only in the hands of (the/its) president(s)?

lilikoi's avatar

@jangles – no, the president is mostly a mouthpiece, but i’m guessing you know that.

AstroChuck's avatar

Socialism is the cry that conservatives love to yell out when there are government programs they dislike. Fact is a socialist government owns the banks, as well as the railroads, farmlands, factories, and stores, and is the only employer. The US is not a socialist nation. In fact, if many would open their eyes they’d see that meta-national corporations are gaining more and more control over the government.

mass_pike4's avatar

@jangles: With this focus on more govt. control in the works and taking away small businesses and certain “freedom” yes it does

Blackberry's avatar

@lilkoi I was thinking something along those lines, but I didn’t want to appear a rabid commie lol.

jangles's avatar

That undermines the whole idea of a three branch government.

Ron_C's avatar

There was a statement by one of the authors of the constitution that said something like “democracy will last until the citizens discover that they can write there own benefits into law”. Well that time has come but it is not citizens that do that, it is corporations. Every major law that affects or may affect business has a “consultant” present to help write it. Credit card companies, oil companies, auto companies, banking corporations did that during the Clinton and Bush administrations. Health care companies, insurance companies, drug companies, and banking interests are doing that now. Of course they crowd out the citizens, we don’t have the millions to support congressional excesses.

borderline_blonde's avatar

I think that socialism will fail to make itself a prominent feature for as long as capitalists are able to thrive in this country. How long will that be? I don’t know. But corporations are still keeping themselves afloat (and, by the average American’s standards, living like kings on yachts). Until then, the guys in charge aren’t going to do anything more than necessary to benefit the many when they themselves “win” when the many “lose”.

lilikoi's avatar

@Ron_C – so true. Every major corporation and industry has lobbyists. I think “rich people” in general have been able to make the law work for them at the expense of everyone else.

jangles's avatar

I believe you are right, “Socialism” is used as a kind of panic word. But I did not mean it in this way at all, and I did not say that we are a Socialist Government. I was asking whether or not we would slowly turn into one.

Ron_C's avatar

@AstroChuck what’s wrong with a social democratic government. My state Pennsylvania calls it self a Commonwealth. I’m pretty sure that means that the citizens of the state are supposed to be able to share some of the State’s wealth and common interests. In fact many states, especially the original colonies are supposed to be commonwealth states.

What is social democracy but a country run for the benefit of its citizens, I think that is what our founding fathers expected.

marco_esquandolis's avatar

“There is no guaranteed recipe for success, but you’re guaranteed to fail if you try to please everybody.”

ETpro's avatar

While we are busy quoting famous communists, Nikita Khrushchev said, “We will bury you.” Not only is he dead and buried, the USSR he led is dead and buried as well, and the free enterprise he so hated is still here and making inroads in Russia and China. So the fact that Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin said something doesn’t make it true. I would suggest that their authorship alone calls the accuracy of those quotes into serious question.

Communism has proven to be an abysmal failure in every modern nation that has tried it. The Western powers know that, and are in no rush to adopt that failed political theory.

Socialism is not communism, and is not a road to communism. All the Western Democracies have some socialist principles in their method of government, some to a greater and some to a lesser degree. In the USA, Public Education, the Veterans Administration, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the FDIC, Unemployment Insurance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are all programs that could be called socialist in nature. While they are lovingly used as whipping boys by the right, they are all effective and popular programs. If none of them were in place and no government action had been taken to shore up failing banks, the recent recession would have been a second Great Depression and we would be nowhere near the bottom of it yet.

I don’t see the US adopting a whole lot more socialist government. We could improve healthcare significantly by switching to a single-payer system, but selling that over the FUD factor the Insurance cartel would mount seems unlikely. But I think we are likely to keep what we already have in place.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Obama isn’t even as close to socialism as Clinton was, and Clinton is considered one of the best presidents in our history/best economists/capitalists of our time.

Quit listening to these psycho’s on the radio. We are to socialism as I am to a pick up truck.

Factotum's avatar

If there is a continuum between whatever the US was and Socialism then we are definitely more socialist than we were in the beginning – still we’re a long way from being socialist.

While I hate slippery slope arguments in general I would note that once a large government program starts it becomes entrenched. It is very difficult to move away from Socialism. Consider the various subsidies handed out during war years. Wool farmers are still payed a subsidy for production despite the military no longer having a need for wool for fifty years.

The Federal government was never supposed to have money to toss around like this but now that it does, many interest groups are dependent on it (and why not, since money they used to have now gets payed out in taxes). Dependence on government is the stuff of Socialism regardless of who or what is dependent.

mammal's avatar

@ETpro Capitalism is a success for you my friend, but get out of your cosseted high tech world, of ordering takeout food on the Internet, and you may appreciate that a good deal of the worlds population are struggling to agree with your narrow minded platitudes. America and Western Europe, banned Communism, they collectively conspired to outlaw it on pain of death. The capitalists resolved to make it a capital offence and allocated enough of their considerable resources to scupper it’s development, it became a maniacal witch hunt. Communists were massacred by Americans and their allies, or routed out of public life by more covert methods. People who had the remotest potential toward communists were likewise targeted, Even children with no political capacity. The Nazi party set the agenda, in fact it was they who decided to solve the so called Jewish question with the gas chamber on the assumption that within every Jew however young their lies a potential Bolshevik. Now then America’s policy is no less, no better, no worse. And you say Communism failed. There was a horrible price to ensure it failed.

Nullo's avatar

No farther, I hope.

oratio's avatar

The political spectrum is broad and there are many implementations of socialist practice. It’s not all or nothing. Socialism, democracy and a thriving market works well together. It has worked in several countries in Europe for a long time.

A country doesn’t walk the road to communism just because of the implementation of socialist ideas. Something has to be done about the poverty, hungry children and the lack of health coverage in the US.

The government is there to work for the people, to support and protect health, education and safety. The US is great, but it could be greater.

mattbrowne's avatar

The US is headed toward

which is a good thing. This model has been very successful in Germany for the past 50 years. Don’t confuse it with socialism.

Ron_C's avatar

To all of you that say capitalism or socialism is the only way. In truth, too much of anything is harmful. Unrestrained capitalism is just as harmful and dangerous as unrestrained socialism. We have had unrestrained capitalism in the 19th century and it brought us robber barons, and depressions more severe than the one in the 20’s.

The Soviet Union started with unrestrained socialism that turned into a repressive society where only party members enjoyed the benefits and the rest of the population provided the labor. Like one Soviet subject said, “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us”.

The best choice is somewhere in the middle. You have to regulate capitalism to avoid accumulations of wealth by deceptive and counterproductive methods while keeping a level playing field for competition.

Socialism must be restrained to prevent people from benefiting from social services without contributing to that society. You also have to recognize that certain aspects of society should never be placed in the hands of private owner, for example police, military, and medical services. They all protect the communities but cannot be run for profit without severely limiting their availability or putting excess power in the hands of individuals.

Both aspects of the society must be open and transparent, all folly and mischief happens during secret meetings, there should be no privacy laws protecting government meetings (except for military planning and weapons research) or major corporate decisions. We should regulate interlocking corporate boards of directors as well as congressional lobbying.

The trouble with American law is that it is either not followed or it does not address real problems. I don’t see any way out of this unless we start with a clean slate in congress and the senate. I would say for the next three election cycles, do not vote for an incumbant and only vote for new people that are willing to work for the good of their constituents and don’t have a national agenda.

ETpro's avatar

@mammal You don’t know me from Adam and claiming I live in a cosseted world is blatant proof of that. You are flat wrong when you claim that America and the West imposes the death penalty on communists. We have an active communist party here, and while they don;t win many votes, they are not persecuted or jailed. If you are a communist, fine, but tell the truth. People in communist countries were routinely jailed, sent to reeducation camps and killed for political dissent. Don’t project communist values on those who don’t share them.

Factotum's avatar

@mammal Wow. That is a remarkable history of Communism you have there but it doesn’t account for the Soviet Union, one of the largest land masses anywhere, and their inability to feed their own people even after murdering millions of them in purges (and our selling them food at cut rates to alleviate the starving).

America did indeed try to prevent nations from being swallowed up by the USSR, one of the most corrupt governments ever to exist.

I don’t know where you went to school but Nazi’s killed Jews because they thought they were non-Aryan sub-humans, and because Jew abuse is a European sport that goes back centuries. Also why they killed the Gypsies who don’t get much mention because of the sheer scale of the Jewish Holocaust.

Redefining the Holocaust as an anti-Communist effort and then trying to claim the Western countries followed along is as dishonest as it is vile.

As for ‘massacres’ of Communists I believe you are referring to wars were said Communists also had guns.

It has never been a capital offense to be a Communist although it was certainly unpopular and unwelcome. Boo hoo.

Communism failed fair and square. Sure Nato et. al. helped it along, but the USSR rotted from the inside out from corruption in the system and the obvious-to-most fact that people don’t do their best work for a fixed reward that their neighbor gets for doing almost no work at all.

All that. But even if a person were to adopt your altered history there is no way to rationally compare Nazi and US policies and find them ‘no less, no better, no worse’.

jangles's avatar

Perhaps my question was unclear.
I did not say that America was a socialist country, nor do i believe that.
I was referring to “socialism” as the stage in the Marxist theory, “the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.”

It is impossible to over look that since The Great Depression, we have obviously implicated socialist government programs and that they have been taking over where capitalist free market once had control.

So again the question is; are these trends going to stop? Or will we continue down a long road to socialism? And where then, will that lead?

Again there is no need to debate whether we are a socialist country or whether socialism or capitalism is better for an economic system.

And those of you who dismiss the ideas of Karl Marx based on the collapse of the USSR, you must surely know that Russia’s idea and practice of communism was hardly the way Karl Marx had intended.

Ron_C's avatar

@jangles social programs are instituted when capitalism drops the ball. The reason capitalism drops the ball is because it is not properly restrained. In fact, capitalism is bound to cycle through boom and bust cycles because money will always, always accumulate toward those who already have it. Eventually more and more goes out of circulation. The banks and stock market stopped being engines for growth and began trading slips of paper among themselves. These papers are similar to the ones your bookie uses. Ordinary people saw this and wanted a piece of the action. Retirement fund bought in, people used these betting slips to buy houses they could not afford and BOOM. The betting parlor closed and all the slips were called in.

It turns out that we learned several things. 1.) Stock certificates are worth much more on paper than they are in real life. 2.) Money really does trickle up and we have been lied to since at least the Reagen years. 3.) You can depend on law makers to care more about covering their asses than the people that voted them into office.

Now the real test will come in the next election. Will we vote to bring the people in office back or replace them with people with the same philosophy. Or will we finally elect people that want to help the country and protect it’s citizens from corrupt institutions. I’m betting that Americans haven’t learned a thing and will return the majority back into office and elect more trickle down Republicans. I’m glad I’m old and won’t live lone enough to see our country turn into Northern Mexico. If I was a Canadian, I would be putting up fences to prevent illegal American immigrants from ruining their country too.

Factotum's avatar

@jangles Yes, I do realize that what Marx intended was never seen in Communist Russia and its ‘clients’.

That said, communism is for angels, not men. People don’t work for free and they don’t do their best for inadequate remuneration. The few instances where communism has worked involve small amounts of people who have no need of the central administration that creates people who are more equal than others.

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. – Winston Churchill

jangles's avatar

Again, im not fighting for Marx but im not discrediting him either. Im not convinced whether or not global communism in practice would work or not. (Depending on what the future brings of course) Such an idea could work better, if technological advancements in robotics worked up to the point where we would no longer require hard physical labor.

That is only one example but I highly doubt we will be capitalists for even the next 200 years. (Given that technology changes economics, government and most social interactions, quite significantly) So I dont believe that Communism is for angels, but I feel at present, that it would not work given the current restraints of our time.

Factotum's avatar

@jangles Thank you for your considered answer. Robotics could indeed make Communism more palatable. It makes me wonder though what people will do with themselves freed largely from the plow.

ETpro's avatar

@jangles Thanks for the clarification. Yes, I did misinterpret the question. Now that I more fully understand where you were going with it, I find it quite intriguing.

I do not believe that there is any single ISM worth fighting for. All of them contain kernels of truth and abundant errors of thinking. It will indeed be interesting to see what emerges as a method of government is we humans can constrain our violent impulses long enough to let science mature to the point that physical labor is no longer a requisite of human survival. I would hope that study, exploration, space, the arts and such would still provide a system where some can reap rewards for their labors. But I would also hope we could agree that if machines are willing to provide enough to ensure that all have their basic needs met, then having those needs met would be seen as a fundamental human right.

oratio's avatar

@jangles Absolutely. My position as well. Communism might be feasible when the world is ready. I also believe that money will cease to exist as we know it today and that production will meet exact demand. Not in our lifetimes or our children’s but soon or later. As a side note, in the latest election for the EU parliament 2009, people in Estonia could vote on the net from home. I think it’s great. More of that.

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