Arguing about Socialism, Part one: The Free-Marketeer

Posted: July 26, 2012 in politics
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The fascist coup in Chile, 1973- the bloody birth of the neo-liberal, free-market era.

1.     You want to take people’s hard-earned money off them.

Capitalism doesn’t reward genius or hard work a fraction as much as it rewards simply having rich parents, so that’s really a non-issue.

Mathematically, it’s crazy to think that someone could actually work hard or long enough to earn millions or billions of euros in a single lifetime.

2.     The profit motive encourages people to come up with new ideas, products and services that are of benefit to society.

Nobody should be any richer than they need to be to live a comfortable life with their family and friends. And in fact, beyond that point, it’s been proven that pay rises DO NOT improve performance at work.

People come up with new ideas and work harder when they’re given more freedom at work and more control over their workplace- when they identify with their work instead of just clocking in and clocking out.

In fact, the profit motive encourages middle-of-the-road thinking and safe, unoriginal ideas rather than innovation.

3.     The profit motive encourages the rich to invest.

The profit motive encourages investment only on the basis of greed, not social need.

So we have massive speculative bubbles and little capital investment.

We have incredible amounts of money spent on guns and bombs which could be educating and employing billions of people.

And right now, there’s mass unemployment while trillions of euros sit idle in bank vaults across the world.

The profit motive means trivial or harmful things will be provided as long as there’s a market for them. Things people need to survive don’t get a look-in.

4.     Why should everyone earn the same amount of money, regardless of how hard they work?

Many high-earning professional and managerial jobs are in fact easier and more fulfilling than manual labour.

Anyway in a Socialist society the key thing is not wage equality but workers’ control of wealth and democratic planning in the economy.

The key thing will be the “social wage” allowed by workers’ control of the wealth of society- vastly improved schools, hospitals and transport; massive economic development, full employment and the transfer to sustainable energy.

5. Centralized economic planning is clumsy because economies are too complex. The market, on the other hand, provides constant feedback to businesses and ensures supply meets demand.

We can see all around us that big companies and banks manage their internal economies on a vast scale. They gamble on the stock market using staggeringly complex financial instruments.

If all our IT geniuses and our finest mathematical brains worked on a plan of production and distribution rather than in financial institutions that gamble to make greedy rich old men even richer then, absolutely, we could manage an economy.

6.  Capitalism guarantees the individual freedom from the power of the state. 

Most of the world’s Capitalist countries today are in fact oppressive and tyrannical regimes. China, the world’s most successful Capitalist state, brutally attacks, monitors and oppresses its people.

In many countries workers have fought hard and managed to achieve limited democratic rights- the right to vote once every few years. This did not come as a gift from Capitalism but as a concession.

7. State control over the economy means state control over every aspect of life. Socialism means dictatorship.

Socialism means the massive extension of democracy far beyond the bounds of a parliament. People will have the power of direct democracy through councils controlling every major business and service, every community, town, city and region.

Democracy is the lifeblood of a Socialist economy- without it you’d get the massive inefficiencies and horrible crimes of Stalinism.

8. That’s all great in theory, but who’d have the time to go to all those meetings and committees and votes?

Socialism will guarantee those freedoms not only on paper but through shorter working hours and a comfortable income for everyone, and therefore the ability, and not just the formal right, to participate in the running of society at any level.

9. It’s the State that creates monopolies, corruption and unaccountable corporate power. With a much smaller State there would be free competition and less corruption. 

Yes, a Capitalist state is always in the pocket of big finance and big business.

And no, a smaller state within Capitalism means the pure, unaccountable power of those with the most money, elected by nobody and responsible to nobody.

10. Nationalised companies and public services are unaccountable, lazy and inefficient. 

That’s an enormous myth- in fact such services and companies are the foundation-stones of most economies.

There’s an element of truth in it though because nationalised companies are often run by government-appointed bureaucrats.

Socialist nationalisation on the other hand means that everyone in authority is elected by those under them, subject to instant recall and on no more than the average wage.

11. Tax breaks and hand-outs for the rich are good for the rest of us- we should create a good environment for the rich to invest. 

The most obvious problem with that idea is that we give the rich whatever they want but we are guaranteed absolutely nothing in return.

Before you know it they’ll relocate the local factory to a dictatorship where people have to work for chicken feed.

They’ll drive down your wages and hike up their bonuses. They’ll destroy the planet, they’ll buy off politicians, they’ll start wars for oil.

They’ll invest in finance capital and create massive bubbles and rack up huge debts for the rest of us to pay off.

12. The crisis didn’t happen because of Capitalism!! It happened because of the cronyism in the banks, ie. the opposite of the free market! The banks got bailed out by the government, which is against the rules of Capitalism! 

Capitalism isn’t a rulebook- it’s a way of organizing society where a small privileged class control most of the wealth and the supply of money.

The government ripping off society in a doomed attempt to bail out a failed financial system- that’s Capitalism.

Capitalists spending 30 years gambling on the stock market while investing less and less in actual wealth creation- that’s Capitalism.

Kids dying of malaria, diarrhea and starvation while Capitalists invest in a hundred identical hair-care products with different labels and a thousand identical movies, and ads to create a market for products nobody would otherwise want- that’s Capitalism.

Please tune in for Arguing about Socialism, Part 2: The Social Democrat, coming soon

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