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clyde

Socialism

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clyde   

So I joined the D.S.A. because it seemed like something I should do and then I panicked a bit because I don't actually know what socialism is. For the last couple of days, I've been watching a bunch of Youtube videos and reading documentation on the D.S.A. website. It has been a good use of my time, but it's harder to find concise and clear info on socialism than I expected. Y'all know how I am with this type of thing; I like to document the process of learning on small, public forums and crowd-source critique/reference-suggestions. Here is a nice audio thing that gives you an idea of what the D.S.A. is.

Here is a video I found helpful. If y'all know of ones that helped you understand socialism, please share them here.

 

 

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clyde   
6 hours ago, ewokskick said:

I don't want to sound snarky, but I am curious.  Why did you join the DSA without knowing what socialism is?

 

You are fine, you don't sound snarky; it is an obvious question. Every time I look at where they are positioned on an issue such as Medicare for All, Feminism, Anti-racism, Palestine/Israel, Campaign-Finance reform, Wealth-Inequality, Mass-Incarceration... I'm already in agreement with them. So at some point I feel like it's absurd to apply a purity-test to myself just because I don't know what "Socialism" is; I figure joining might be a good way to find out.

I'm also kinda frustrated by the limits of my efforts as an individual and this group seems to be consistently taking positions that I agree with so I feel more comfortable allowing myself to follow their lead more than I have ever been able to do with another organization. That dependency is already helping me deal with feelings of futility and frustration when approaching the many facets of injustice in the United States of America.

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clyde   
Quote

Chief among the factors drawing new members to the DSA is the ecosystem of collective DIY activism, from mass marches on the national level to small local committees and chapter-specific working groups focused on mobilizing action on issues such as anti-racism and feminism.

Whereas the Tea Party was a GOP movement masquerading as populism, one intended to gum up the works of the Obama administration, the new breed of lefties joining the DSA wants to fight the worst excesses of the Trump agenda while also raging against the Democratic Party machine. They view the Democrats as stuck in passive #Resistance mode, a weak-kneed party trading Russian conspiracy theories while failing to offer a compelling alternative vision to the hellish Trumpian present.

 

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/socialism-democratic-socialists-of-america-convention-millennials-carlos-ramirez-rosa/Content?oid=29358708

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clyde   

So I'm still on this kick and digging deeper by just filling my social media feeds with socialism-oriented accounts and browsing like normal. I've come to learn that "socialism" is largely defined as a critique of (and development of an alternative to) "capitalism". This allows for a lot of wiggle room and wider involvement.

The reason I'm posting at the moment though is that I just listened to the DSA's official podcast called "Rose Radio" and I found the first episode to be very helpful. It's possible that the helpfulness of tbis particular episode is completely reliant on the jist of what I've been vaccuuming up in the last month (or possibly years really). 

http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:313105177/sounds.rss

 

Also the got more t-shirts in the swag area of their website and the "feminist socialism" tshirt is totally my thang and I am not an XL. So I just bought a print subscription to Jacobin instead.

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clyde   
6 hours ago, Badfinger said:

Might I suggest Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto.

 

I don't have anything remotely close to the attention-span required for reading Das Kapital. Every once in a while I look for YouTube videos that are good explainers for things like the "Theory of Value" or ... I don't know other Marxist concepts I could look up ("Capital accumulation"?). I'm interested but I prefer more digestable summaries to listen to while I play Trackmania. If anyone comes across some please post them here.

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I'm just saying, you started a thread where you didn't know what socialism was so you joined the socialist party, and then reported back two weeks later that socialism is a movement in response to capitalism. I think maybe you need to dig a little deeper than youtube summaries.

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6 hours ago, Badfinger said:

I think maybe you need to dig a little deeper than youtube summaries.

 

well, he's not saying he doesn't want to "dig deeper," just that he'd like it in a more digestible format. audio is good for me too. i learned a lot about rhetoric and Christian apologetics by listening to tapes and playing N64 as a kid.

 

i like the Discourse Collective podcast because they do shows by themes, tackling leftist theory, news, and then analyzing culture. are there any topics that you're specifically interested in @clyde ?

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clyde   
1 hour ago, SgtWhistlebotom said:

 

i like the Discourse Collective podcast because they do shows by themes, tackling leftist theory, news, and then analyzing culture. are there any topics that you're specifically interested in @clyde ?

 

I'll check it out.
I'm watching Mine Wars right now, I'm about half-way through.

 

 

 

When They talk about the economics of the company town (housing for workers, company stores that take the company's currency, that type of set-up) it sounds like a good idea to me in a way, but I can also see how it creates a reliance on the company and how the companies then began to not only take away rights, but took away Constitutional Rights. And when they talk about how the mine owners were all trying to under-sell each other and how that created a low profit-margin, it sounds like an argument that continues to have a lot of relevance today (immigrant labor and foreign factories). I'd say what I'm most interested in right now regarding theory is something that can supply me with the imaginative capacity see those two arguments and not default to Capitalist Realism.

I'd also like to find more sources talking about the supposed economic war in Venezuela. I've seen three things on the internet that claim the manufacturers for specific items such as toilet-paper, corn-flour, and cooking oil are intentionally sabotaging either production or distribution in order to put more public pressure on the leftist government. But it all seems to come from Telesur and it doesn't compute for me; why can't the government apply state-capitalism to start a factory for corn-flour and cooking oil?

 

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Whenever socialist governments implode its always capitalism's fault somehow

Also constantly talk as if the end of capitalism is superduper nigh, as if the two ideas are compatible in any way.

The socialists I read on reddit and tumblr are every bit as fact-averse as the libertopians

Avoid rigorous ideologues if you want to maintain your sanity.

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29 minutes ago, electricblue said:

Whenever socialist governments implode its always capitalism's fault somehow

I think it's worth at least reflecting on the degree to which capitalist countries do actively undermine socialist countries. For instance, the United States fought wars in Korea and Vietnam in an attempt to stop socialism from spreading. It toppled or attempted to topple socialist governments (including democratically elected socialist governments) in places like Guatemala, Brazil, and Chile. And those are just the most egregious examples of a single capitalist country.

 

33 minutes ago, electricblue said:

Also constantly talk as if the end of capitalism is superduper nigh, as if the two ideas are compatible in any way.

I think there's a wide variation in what socialists think and say - it seems a little overhasty to attribute this view to every single socialist or something like that.

 

33 minutes ago, electricblue said:

The socialists I read on reddit and tumblr are every bit as fact-averse as the libertopians

I have bad news for you if you think that you'll find a group of people on reddit or tumblr who are not fact-averse.

 

34 minutes ago, electricblue said:

Avoid rigorous ideologues if you want to maintain your sanity.

I'm pretty certain it is possible to retain one's sanity without losing all conviction whatsoever.

 

 

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clyde   
1 hour ago, electricblue said:

Avoid rigorous ideologues if you want to maintain your sanity.

 

I will say that I've tried this and it stopped working for me. That is if you define "rigorous" as organizing behind any named ideology besides centralism

.

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Twig   

It's convenient to ignore when socialism or socialistic methods succeed to make a point about socialism never working.

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1 hour ago, clyde said:

 

I will say that I've tried this and it stopped working for me. That is if you define "rigorous" as organizing behind any named ideology besides centralism

.

 

I think realizing that no policy is perfect and there will always be winners and losers will set your expectations at an appropriate level. There's a wide difference between believing a policy like single payer or all-payer rate setting will be the best thing for the country despite its drawbacks and believing that your panacea would fix everything if only the powerful would listen. Having a humble attitude about how your pet agenda will work with real people is not the same thing as 'having no conviction' it's being realistic about how much change you can (and should) affect on other people's lives.

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clyde   
34 minutes ago, electricblue said:

 

I think realizing that no policy is perfect and there will always be winners and losers will set your expectations at an appropriate level. There's a wide difference between believing a policy like single payer or all-payer rate setting will be the best thing for the country despite its drawbacks and believing that your panacea would fix everything if only the powerful would listen. Having a humble attitude about how your pet agenda will work with real people is not the same thing as 'having no conviction' it's being realistic about how much change you can (and should) affect on other people's lives.

 

I feel you and I appreciate you putting this sentiment into words. It helps explain how I can be excited about becoming a member of the Democratic Socialists of America without feeling confident that I understand what "Socialism" is. I like the policies the DSA supports and the ways that they support them.

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54 minutes ago, electricblue said:

 

I think realizing that no policy is perfect and there will always be winners and losers will set your expectations at an appropriate level. There's a wide difference between believing a policy like single payer or all-payer rate setting will be the best thing for the country despite its drawbacks and believing that your panacea would fix everything if only the powerful would listen. Having a humble attitude about how your pet agenda will work with real people is not the same thing as 'having no conviction' it's being realistic about how much change you can (and should) affect on other people's lives.

I don't think all socialists claim that socialism is perfect or that there won't be winners or losers or that socialism would fix everything if only the powerful would listen. In fact it's hard to imagine how you could even conceivably attribute these sorts of views to socialists in general if you were even slightly informed about socialism, which if nothing is extremely up front about how the bourgeoisie will be the losers and the proletariat will be the winners, to the point where "you'll be up against the wall when the revolution comes" is a common enough joke.

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On 9/10/2017 at 2:27 PM, TychoCelchuuu said:

I don't think all socialists claim that socialism is perfect or that there won't be winners or losers or that socialism would fix everything if only the powerful would listen. In fact it's hard to imagine how you could even conceivably attribute these sorts of views to socialists in general if you were even slightly informed about socialism, which if nothing is extremely up front about how the bourgeoisie will be the losers and the proletariat will be the winners, to the point where "you'll be up against the wall when the revolution comes" is a common enough joke.

 

I mean the type of winners and losers you don't intend to create. All public policy is rife with unintended consequences, even if you start with competent legislators. Then (if you're fortunate) you have programs you like with aspects you don't that you can't change for the better because doing so would be incredibly unpopular (see: doing anything to medicare).

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I guess I'm having trouble seeing how, when, or why anyone might have claimed that any public policy of any complexity whatsoever won't inevitably have consequences that were unforeseen.

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I've spent the last few weeks reading into the democratic socialist viewpoint (for lack of a better word) and to be honest, almost none of what they advocate is really socialism.  Most of their advocacy and ideas come in the form of social programs, safety nets public works and the like, and in many ways I see the same sorts of personalities advocating for democratic socialism as I do for libertarian ideology.  Mostly I see these movements as a response to crony capitalism, lobbying, private prisons, military contractors, and other things of this nature where nepotism and culturally adverse economic incentives exist.  The two main points of socialism, to take a pragmatic view, is to criminalize profit and outlaw private property, neither of which seem to be objectives of the democratic socialists.  There seems to be some general sense that a socialist system will take over gradually, but so far I can't find any proposals of how they intend to achieve this, or how they intend to defend against having the sort of outcomes that, to be perfectly frank, every single socialist government in the world has had.  I suppose the one distinction I've noticed is the idea that economic and governmental systems should be decentralized, but I've yet to encounter any compelling arguments as to why this would create better outcomes.  The argument tends to go that dictatorial power drives society in a negative way, but this seems to me just a possible for a bunch of people acting selfishly in the way democratic socialists content wouldn't create different but equally negative results.  I suppose I'll keep an open mind, but so far I'm not finding much of the argumentation or pragmatic concerns of the philosophy all that satisfying.

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America's political climate is so right-wing that a lot of their so-called socialists are social democrats (ie. the 'capitalism but with some cushions' that in Europe is mostly center to right-wing). It's one of those things that causes extreme confusions in these discussions

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Cordeos   
8 hours ago, itsamoose said:

I've spent the last few weeks reading into the democratic socialist viewpoint (for lack of a better word) and to be honest, almost none of what they advocate is really socialism.  Most of their advocacy and ideas come in the form of social programs, safety nets public works and the like, and in many ways I see the same sorts of personalities advocating for democratic socialism as I do for libertarian ideology.  Mostly I see these movements as a response to crony capitalism, lobbying, private prisons, military contractors, and other things of this nature where nepotism and culturally adverse economic incentives exist.  The two main points of socialism, to take a pragmatic view, is to criminalize profit and outlaw private property, neither of which seem to be objectives of the democratic socialists.  There seems to be some general sense that a socialist system will take over gradually, but so far I can't find any proposals of how they intend to achieve this, or how they intend to defend against having the sort of outcomes that, to be perfectly frank, every single socialist government in the world has had.  I suppose the one distinction I've noticed is the idea that economic and governmental systems should be decentralized, but I've yet to encounter any compelling arguments as to why this would create better outcomes.  The argument tends to go that dictatorial power drives society in a negative way, but this seems to me just a possible for a bunch of people acting selfishly in the way democratic socialists content wouldn't create different but equally negative results.  I suppose I'll keep an open mind, but so far I'm not finding much of the argumentation or pragmatic concerns of the philosophy all that satisfying.

Democratic socialism as represented by Sanders or most of the center left European parties is more of a band aid to try and fix the problems created by capitalism than a fix for many of deeper problems. Part of the concept of permanent revolution as I understand it is that you always need to be pushing for more reform, for tweaks for new programs for granting of more rights and protections. The ACA was a mediocre first step towards fixing our healthcare system but failed to solve the deep issues with our healthcare system. Even a universal healthcare system in the US wouldn't solve the problem caused by rampant profit seeking by pharmaceutical and medical device companies. In the same way that stronger unions, bigger unions and even union representation on corporate boards will not solve all issues with wages and worker protections.

The party I am a member of, Socialist Alternative, has worked in multiple cities on issues like the minimum wage, housing protection, unionization of workers and getting party members elected to local positions. We see none of this as an end in its self but a means to chip away at corporate power, expose the center leftism of many democrats and a way to empower the working class. We also see none of these fights as ever truly won. A $15 minimum wage has been passed in several cities and states but its not really enough for many larger cities and without tying it to inflation it will soon enough not be enough anywhere, so we must be ready to fight for higher wages again. Our goals are revolutionary, but you cannot just sit around and wait for the revolutionary situation to happen and then swoop in to lead it. We must destroy the destructive and exploitative systems that run our country and our world, but the more we are able to show the possible better way the easier that is going to be. The more you expose how capitalism doesn't care about those at the bottom the more willing people will be to fight it.

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clyde   

@itsamoose  I think the idea is basically that capital accumulation has created a situation in which the two political parties in power (in the U.S.) both side far more with the interests of capitalists than with labor. So their plan is to find ways to give labor more influence. The DSA seems to actively avoid any details of what a socialist system will look like while aiming for one. The reasoning for this is that to come up with a socialist design for a system would lessen the power that those who inhabit that system would have to design the socialist system once it comes. I can understand why that will be an unsatisfactory answer for many, but I kinda like the idea. Capitalist interests have slowly created a circumstance where labor doesn't have the ability to organize and influence the public sphere. At this point, we can see where capitalists interests tend towards in U.S. politics (and I don't think it is a good direction). So I think increasing the influence of labor, learning about a socialist perspective on things like race, gender, and class, and promoting more active citizenship has some hope to it.

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