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  #51  
Old 11-20-2018, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
China has a mixed economic system, and after the reforms of 1978 their economic growth rates started skyrocketing compared to before.

China is communist in name only from what I know of it. A mixed economic system is not the same thing as a centrally planned economic system. Then again pure capitalism doesn't work well either.
Many Chinese businesses, even the supposed private ones, are controlled to varying degrees directly or indirectly through the CCP. The state controls most of the banks and the banking system. The CCP manipulates their stock market and currency. The domestic media is completely controlled by the state, as is their internal intranet, and they use that both to keep an eye on their people (politically, the CCP is as communist as ever) but also to manipulate their internal markets. Most of their stock bubble as well as their real estate bubble was directly controlled and manipulated by the CCP.

This doesn't get into all of the other authoritarian communist stuff the CCP still engages in...just touches on the economic side. You are correct that they have a 'mixed economy', but saying they are communist in name only is seriously misleading and just wrong. The CCP uses capitalism to enrich itself, true enough, but it's something THEY control. Yeah, the communist party doesn't openly and fully control the means of production...but that doesn't mean they don't have control of them. Sure, not everything is owned by the state, so if that's your definition of communism I guess you could say in that respect they have given up on communism (though, of course, many private businesses ARE controlled or owned by members of the CCP...and then there are all those direct state owned ones).

The US and most of the rest of the world does, indeed, use a mixture of capitalism and government control, as well as social democracy to soften pure capitalism. And China does embrace some of the worst aspects of pure capitalism on one had with heavy handed CCP controls on the other. One has but to look at the bike-pocolyps in China to see how it 'works', or the ghost cities or the stock market bubble. But at it's core, the CCP picks the winners and losers in their market, and control (often VERY badly) the direction their economy goes and what it does. Like I said, on the surface it looks one way, but digging even superficially down you see the hand of the CCP in everything.
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  #52  
Old 11-21-2018, 01:05 AM
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Here are 2 main theories. 1. Communism grew in countries without a democratic tradition.
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Originally Posted by Martin Hyde View Post
In Russia and China those governments were instituted as the result of extremely violent wars against strong enemies. Communist or not, the winners of those wars won control of states with essentially no history of democracy as a means of making decisions. It would have been seen as very difficult/impossible to keep control if you let all the people you just beat in a very difficult war have the same political rights and freedoms as the "good guys." From this line of thinking it's very easy to then fall into permanent authoritarianism.
To that add: the path out of Communism is difficult.

2. Communism doesn't work: in a democratic context, it soon mutates into something else.
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Survival of the fittest, sort of. People in a complex society won't willingly live in a communist system for very long, so any state that tries democratic communism isn't going to last more than a few years-- maybe just a few months. The ones that do last are the ones where the system is imposed on the population without the choice of voting it out, so those are the ones of note.

Communism works well at the smallest of social levels-- family group or maybe a little larger. Parents will often sacrifice almost anything for the children. Once you have large, complex societies, the bonds that bind humans to each other like a family group break down.

Extreme political systems like Communism or Libertarianism just don't last through many election cycles. And that's because they are not suited to the way people actually want to live in complex societies. They don't want to share everything but they don't want to be completely on their own, either.
I disagree with the middle paragraph. Both the Soviet Union and most militaries run along the lines of central planning. It is viable in a Darwin sense: it can persist indefinitely. The problem arises when the elite in Communist societies see a faster growing alternative abroad and lose confidence in their own system.

But yes, while socialism is democratic friendly, communism runs straight into powerful interest groups that democracy tends to favor. The sorts of economic crises that seizure of the means of production sets off doesn't enhance communism's electoral credibility either. So leaders face a choice of losing elections or cracking down on dissent.
  #53  
Old 11-21-2018, 02:02 AM
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Perhaps I'm just color blind, but I see 4 shades of green, and it looks, to me, as if the US, France, Portugal (7-7.99) ect is lighter than German, Spain, the UK (8-8.99), etc, while Ireland and most of Scandinavia is the darkest green (9-10). So, two shades for 'full democracy', two shades for 'flawed democracy', and assuming I'm seeing the colors correctly that means Spain, Germany etc is lowest level of 'full democracy', while the US, Portugal, India etc is the highest level of 'flawed democracy'...same as Israel and South Korea.
Which almost matches what I said but does not match what you'd initially said. Almost because ALL of Scandinavia is in the highest bracket, is there a reason you're having a problem there? Do you believe that "most" and "all" are alternative spellings of the same word?


Quote:
I do admit I didn't read the explanations, as just looking at things as depicted it seems a bit leading to say Israel and South Korea are 'flawed democracies' without putting that into the context of the whole map there.
Oh, so you CAN read! You just couldn't be arsed!
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Last edited by Nava; 11-21-2018 at 02:04 AM.
  #54  
Old 11-21-2018, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
I disagree with the middle paragraph. Both the Soviet Union and most militaries run along the lines of central planning.
Communism is an economic system, so saying the military is "communist" doesn't really make sense. It's not democratic in the way it's run, but neither are most corporations and that doesn't make corporations "communist".
  #55  
Old 11-21-2018, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
Which almost matches what I said but does not match what you'd initially said. Almost because ALL of Scandinavia is in the highest bracket, is there a reason you're having a problem there? Do you believe that "most" and "all" are alternative spellings of the same word?




Oh, so you CAN read! You just couldn't be arsed!
No, I simply didn't see what your objection was. Nor what seemingly said, but perhaps I'm missing something there. Yes, ALL Scandinavian countries are in the highest bracket. Sorry I wasn't as precise there as you wanted. Do I have an issue with that? Not really. My issue was, I thought, pretty clear...which is that if someone is going to point out that South Korea and Israel are flawed Democracy that some context was needed to put that in perspective.

And no, I couldn't be arsed to read the rest...it didn't seem worth my time or effort.
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  #56  
Old 11-21-2018, 02:35 PM
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I think you got it. Or as one of my professors noted, Marx identified the problem correctly, it was his solution that was fucked up.
** nods ** I agree completely with your professor's assessment.

And reciprocally, the tendency of people on the political right to disparage Marxist analysis because of its lack of viable solutions ignores the fact that it has a spot-on description of a real and genuine problem with capitalism.
  #57  
Old 11-21-2018, 07:29 PM
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My opinion is that, at least in the case of The USSR and People's Republic, that the leaders were attempting to go directly from a feudal system to an industrial one inside a culture that was not ready for the change.

There was also considerable internal and external resistance to this change.

Lenin and Mao, in addition to being opportunists who got lucky, were poor leaders and were more or less incompetent in managing a majestically hugh project. Both were surrounded by aides (I am thinking of Felix Dzerzhinsky and Lavrentiy Beria here, I do not know about Mao's security apparatus) who were seriously fanatic about security.

Combining these factors it is not surprising that a totalitarian regime would develop. Attempting to build an industrial state from basically nothing with no clear idea of how to accomplish this, combined with constant threats (real and perceived) and a paranoid security apparatus, a totalitarian state seems to be inevitable

I cannot speak about other communist states because of a lack of knowledge, but I suspect that those states may have similar histories.

Once you have power it is hard to let it go, and easy to become draconian, especially if you are literally surrounded by opponents.

Thanks for the interesting OP. I haven't gotten to discuss this stuff since college.
  #58  
Old 11-21-2018, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Communism is an economic system, so saying the military is "communist" doesn't really make sense. It's not democratic in the way it's run, but neither are most corporations and that doesn't make corporations "communist".
China has an interesting (and perhaps unique) military system. The People's Liberation Army doesn't work for the government of the People's Republic of China. It's actually a branch of the Chinese Communist Party.
  #59  
Old 11-21-2018, 11:57 PM
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Its that way by design. Marx clearly set out that Communist societies should be totalitarian dictatorships.
  #60  
Old 11-23-2018, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Communism is an economic system, so saying the military is "communist" doesn't really make sense. It's not democratic in the way it's run, but neither are most corporations and that doesn't make corporations "communist".
During WWII the military was an economic system. Corporate heads that wouldn't cooperate were summarily dismissed. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-...ontgomery-ward


Walmart isn't an economic system insofar as it doesn't provide free meals, clothing, and shelter for its employees as part of their employment contract. So I maintain my claim: there are close similarities between the US military (and other militaries) and command/control economic systems such as communism.
  #61  
Old 11-23-2018, 05:54 PM
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And reciprocally, the tendency of people on the political right to disparage Marxist analysis because of its lack of viable solutions ignores the fact that it has a spot-on description of a real and genuine problem with capitalism.
It's not describing a problem with capitalism; it's describing a problem with every system everywhere. All systems contain hierarchies, all hierarchies are unequal by definition. Marxism simply replaces, or attempts to replace, hierarchies of competence with a hierarchy of power.

Marxism addresses the problem of inequality by being economically inefficient. There is therefore less to possess, and overall people are poorer but closer together in terms of economic equality.

Treating economic inequality by replacing it with the equal distribution of poverty* is kind of a silly solution, but it is a solution.

Regards,
Shodan

*Of course the nomenklatura grab whatever is available in Marxism, which is why the muckymucks in the Communist party got the dachas and the imported goods from the West. But officially, that gets stuffed into the memory hole.
  #62  
Old 11-23-2018, 07:12 PM
MichaelEmouse MichaelEmouse is offline
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The concluding paragraph of On Liberty is pretty relevant to Communism even if it was published in 1859:

"a State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments
in its hands even for beneficial purposes—will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished; and that the perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything will in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power which, in order that the machine might work more smoothly, it has preferred to banish"

Contrast this with Rousseau's ideas about citizens being free when made to obey the general will, the question of how to determine the general will and the practical problems of large-scale direct democracy. When combined you, can easily end up with: "The party secretary has decided that you will be collectivized for the good of the People, tovarisch".

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 11-23-2018 at 07:14 PM.
  #63  
Old 11-23-2018, 09:29 PM
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...it's describing a problem with every system everywhere. All systems contain hierarchies, all hierarchies are unequal by definition.
I tend to agree. I'm an anarchist. If there's a point of departure between us, it is that I dont' think all systems have to contain hierarchies, or at least not of people ranked over other people. Even then, I confess I may be wrong about that: when all else is made non-hierchically equal, I suspect there tends to emerge a hierarchy of how well one communicates. And communication becomes power. (It already is, in fact).
  #64  
Old 11-23-2018, 10:54 PM
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I tend to agree. I'm an anarchist. If there's a point of departure between us, it is that I dont' think all systems have to contain hierarchies, or at least not of people ranked over other people. Even then, I confess I may be wrong about that: when all else is made non-hierchically equal, I suspect there tends to emerge a hierarchy of how well one communicates. And communication becomes power. (It already is, in fact).
There are very natural reasons for the existence of hierarchies:
-Children need parents to raise them to be adults
-Students need teachers to educate them
-Junior employees need to learn from more experienced and knowledgeable employees
-Rank and file employees need more senior leadership to see the "big picture" and set overall direction.

I think one of the challenges is that these hierarchical relationships do confer power to individuals as they rise up the hierarchy. And as power can corrupt, those relationships can become corrupted to the point where they are merely the exercise of power.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan
It's not describing a problem with capitalism; it's describing a problem with every system everywhere. All systems contain hierarchies, all hierarchies are unequal by definition. Marxism simply replaces, or attempts to replace, hierarchies of competence with a hierarchy of power.
Let's not pretend that capitalism is strictly a "hierarchy of competence". Capitalism has an advantage over communism in terms of efficiently allocating capital for production of goods and services for the purpose of generating more capital. But doesn't necessarily ensure that critical goods and services go to everyone who needs them. And in my observation, capitalism often breeds a great deal of arrogance, entitlement and callousness from those who are better off. Presumably because of the "meritocracy" of capitalism, they tend to assume that they have achieved their affluence completely through their own merit.
  #65  
Old 11-24-2018, 01:12 AM
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Nm

Last edited by Sitnam; 11-24-2018 at 01:14 AM.
  #66  
Old 11-25-2018, 06:36 PM
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It arose from the doctrine of revolution: that true communism (as opposed to democratic socialism or some such) could only come about by the annihilation of the entire preceding socio-economic-political system. And that any half-hearted compromise was counter-revolutionary. This was totalitarian enough to begin with; it was only reinforced by the brutally pragmatic necessities of starting as an underground guerrilla movement and winning a civil war. For a dedicated revolutionary, the only morality is to win.

Then once you've won? Well as Robespierre discovered well before modern Marxism, in a revolutionary nation ideology is power. Discrediting your political rivals as counter-revolutionaries or even traitors is the fastest and surest way of removing them.

From there, unless limited by hard external reality such as the need to repel an invasion, political reality supersedes all others. The effective reality, the one that determines whether or not you are tortured into confessing and then shot. Success is measured not by what you actually accomplish but by how satisfied your superiors are with you. Think Dilbert's Pointy-Headed Boss, only a bit less stupid and far more brutal.

But, you might ask, where are the "real" communists while all this is happening? Many were winnowed by the civil war that preceded the revolution, with only the most ruthless surviving. Some of them swallow their doubts and support the regime certain that in the long run it'll be for the greater good. The rest are purged.
  #67  
Old 11-25-2018, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
I tend to agree. I'm an anarchist. If there's a point of departure between us, it is that I dont' think all systems have to contain hierarchies, or at least not of people ranked over other people. Even then, I confess I may be wrong about that: when all else is made non-hierchically equal, I suspect there tends to emerge a hierarchy of how well one communicates. And communication becomes power. (It already is, in fact).
See the Iron Law of Oligarchy
  #68  
Old 11-26-2018, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
I tend to agree. I'm an anarchist. If there's a point of departure between us, it is that I dont' think all systems have to contain hierarchies, or at least not of people ranked over other people. Even then, I confess I may be wrong about that: when all else is made non-hierchically equal, I suspect there tends to emerge a hierarchy of how well one communicates. And communication becomes power. (It already is, in fact).
Another organizational/political system that's based on personal relationships between individuals tends to strong hierarchies (not necessarily as rigid and structured as those who don't live in one tend to think, though): feudalism.
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Last edited by Nava; 11-26-2018 at 01:08 AM.
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