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October 16, 2008


With all due respect, Hilzoy, you don't understand what the word "socialism" means. Socialism refers to policies put in place by Democrats, nothing more, nothing less. Concern that America will become a socialist state is legitimate, because a President Obama with a Democratic Congress will be able to implement several policies that are, by definition, socialist.

Of course, Karl Marx did not think one had to do ANYTHING to achieve socialism . . . it was inevitable. This even though he did advocate actions to make it happen sooner.

Does the current economic meltdown and reaction by free market advocates to nationalize BANKS mean he was correct: within its own actions capitalism held the seeds of its own destruction? Hmmm. . . .

>>With all due respect, Hilzoy, you don't understand what the word "socialism" means.

Oh, dear. Oh my. Hilzoy doesn't know what "socialism" means?

I am laughing so hard I may have awakened the neighbors.

Somebody enlighten me: Keith -- troll? Or merely newcomer?

It's really not fair to characterize what's going on with the banks as socialism.

A socialist would at least be smart enough to get voting shares when he gave the capitalists 250 billion dollars. He could then use those voting shares to RULE TEH WORLD!!1! Ahem. Oops. Excuse that.

As it stands, it's just the government giving away a bunch of money and hoping really earnestly that the banks do something positive with it because if they don't the government will...will...what exactly?

Somebody enlighten me: Keith -- troll? Or merely newcomer?

I dunno'. I read it as decent snark. He's got a point that whatever Obama does is read as a step towards Soviet Russia to the nuts like K-Lo.

"Somebody enlighten me: Keith -- troll? Or merely newcomer?"

The comment was clearly a joke.

AndyK, you could also consider the possibility that Keith is joking. "Socialism refers to policies put in place by Democrats, nothing more, nothing less" is the kind of thing people sometimes write here with ironic intent, or so I've heard.

The Corner has been very enjoyable to me these past few weeks. I just love to watch them thrash and jerk.

I think the word "socialism" is pretty useless nowadays, it being an overly broad term referring in most cases to more specific concepts like "social democracy", "mixed economy", "social market economy", "dirigisme", "welfare state" and so on.

There was a point where McCain kept saying "share the wealth" in an ominous sense, and I noticed one of the Corner bloggers noted that line should be particularly effective. I was trying to imagine how I was supposed to feel sorry for this hypothetical "Joe the Plumber" who somehow made more money than most doctors, lawyers and executives, and would therefore have his taxes raised by Obama. The conservative movement continues to come up with these staggeringly inept applications of their ideology, which they somehow think make perfect sense.

I saw one article that suggested we might be nearing an "Atlas Shrugged" moment. Like, the Kenneth Lays have been supporting us all with the sheer strength of their beneficent genius, but have reached their breaking point with our excessive taxation. Right! Somehow I think even Ayn Rand is rolling over in her grave.

I just love to watch them thrash and jerk.

'Pithed' is the term that comes to mind.

It is quite possible that Keith is a master ironist. I often misread deadpan online.

http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2008/10/joe-plumber-wait-wait-wait-that-sounds.html>Joe the Plumber (by way of The Rude One).

A useful corrective to Hartmut's comment.

Socialism IOKIYAR was Keith's point I believe and it's very true. Similarly, a Keynesian fiscal stimulus to the economy is appropriate if it results from a munitions-hungry war accompanied by tax cuts. But spending government money on education or healthcare is the road to serfdom.

Our government bought 49% of the shares or one of our banks but it doesn't want to own the bank - it wants to solve the current credit problems. Since our State doesn't have liability problems it might well be a good investment too (State obligations are very secure, so they can lend at a low intrest - and the ROI is expected to be higher) but the main issue is that they have a longer view than most share holders. They are more interested in a stable situation with a long periods of normal profits, whilst non-state investors (often banks themselves) are more interested in a quick profit. So as a big shareholder they have influence, but the other shareholders have to agree and (together) can stop them.

They don't take over, they 'transfer' their credibility to prevent that bank from losing it's assets (people wanting their money back and shareholders selling their shares to control the damage) and to prevent the bank from having to lend money at high intrest rates if it is seen as a high risc investment.

The global financial market is getting more and more complicated and appearantly the credit ratings system doesn't function as it should anymore. The idea behind the ratings is to establish an idea about the riscs of letting them control your money versus the gains they promis. If that system does not work properly, it should be changed and adapted. Investing is riscy, but taking your savings to the bank shouldn't be.

Our finance minister is rather unhappy with the haphazard reactions in the US. Though he is from the Dutch equivalent of Labour, and thus a socialist, I'm convinced he doesn't think one of the roads to socialism is to govern so disastrously that drastic steps like nationalizing banks look like the least bad option. He doesn't *want* to nationalize the commercial banks and has every intention of selling the state-owned shares again, at a profit. Problem is that there has to be damage-control through some kind of assistence from the government since there is no other entity capable of doing it. At the same time one should learn from the mistakes made and aim at change to try to make sure this does not happen again.

In context, what people like the K-Lo commentor mean by socialism is that taxes on the upper brackets will be raised, and businesses will be regulated for the public good. Teddy Roosevelt socialism, in other words.

Right K-Lo, because there's just no way investors could have predicted before Wednesday morning that the debate wouldn't go well for McCain.

Socialism is the orientation of production to human needs.

As it stands, it's just the government giving away a bunch of money and hoping really earnestly that the banks do something positive with it because if they don't the government will...will...what exactly?

...give them some more, I should think, going by past performance.

I didn't realize at first that Joe the Plumber was a real guy. I thought he was an archetype and ot seemed rude and elitist to me to be chattering about an archetype.

But he is a real guy, just one who can't distinguish the difference between earning 250,000 a year in taxable income and owing 250,000 more or less on a loan to buy a business. At least that's the impression I got from rerading an intervfiew with him.

But, bottom line, I'm cool with conservatives whining about the hardship of taxation on people with incomes over 250.000. It shows how out of touch they are with most Americans, including most plumbers.

Doesn't anyone study the classics any more?

Marx and Engels, if my recollection of The Communist Manifesto is correct, expected capitalist-run governments to rescue large industries from crises by taking them over, so that when The Revolution came, the working class would seize control of a state that was already running the economy.

Seth Gordon,

Your personal recollection may be better than mine, but as far asI understand, the whole point of the classic Marxist thought was twofold: in capitalism, the wealth is little by little concentrated into very few hands, destroying the middle class and proletarizing the working class in the process. At the same time, the trade cycles become more and more aggressive, finally creating a revolutionary situation.

In the turn of the 20th century, it became clear to the marxists that the capitalist world does not work like this. The crises recurred with steady intervals, but they did not become ever worse. The middle classes of the industrialized nations thrived, instead of vanishing. The large corporations proved unable to extinguish the small businesses. Both Leonard Bernstein and Vladimir Lenin noted that the revolution was not going to come by itself.

Lenin chose the way of bolshevism: a small group of professional revolutionaries must create a revolution which would not happen on its own. Bernstein founded (with Kautsky et al) the social democracy: working in the capitalist politics to make a better, a more rightful society. It might lead to socialism, or not. "The direction was important, not the goal", as Lenin ironized the social democratic thought.

In Russia, the bolshevism lead to uncounted deaths and incredible suffering. In Continental Europe and Nordic countries, different brands of social democracy, ever interacting with other ideologies, have created the many models of European welfare state.

Lurker, Leonard Bernstein? West Side Story? Surely not.

Eduard Bernstein maybe?

Please don't take people who say that we're heading for socialism seriously. By responding, it encourages them in their belief that Democrats are frightened of being tagged by certain buzzwords, and lets them believe that they're actually engaging in fallacy free discourse, which they are not. I'm for a smaller and less intrusive government in the U.S., which might be a tall order, but I don't fear socialism.

If there are any fans of the old comedy scetch program, 'SCTV" you may remember a take off on Grapes of Wrath they called 'Grapes of Mud' Can't help thinking of the scene where Tom Joad says he just wants to 'help a fella' and this screwy guy called Muley (Harold Ramis) scowels at him and says 'That's socialist talk Tom"

I laughed till I cried....

The best hope American business has now is a victory by calm, methodical, centrist Barack Pbama.

Yes, it was a joke. Seems like the word only has meaning in a historical sense, these days it's just an empty epithet.

Which doesn't mean I'm not a newcomer or a troll. ;-)

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