Cornel West & company explain why they are socialists..
Last edited Tue Aug 7, 2012, 11:31 PM - Edit history (2)
This video seems pretty cool. I agree with most of the stuff in this video. The audio is kind of lousy but still I like it. Thanks to the person whoever posted it on Youtube for making it available.
So it's ok to be a socialist and a member of DU?
They have a "Welcome Comrades" thread pinned at the top with some rules. And there is an "About This Group" page also.
There's a little more about us in this thread, which limpyhobbler mentioned: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1024881 As long as we support the TOS of DU, socialists can be members of DU.
Well if nothing else, I bet we beat the Gungeon xD
I'm glad we have so many subscribers! I think there's a lot of interest in Socialism on DU. Sometimes the "antis" can take up a lot of space, but I think they are more loud than numerous.
We're now at 156. Last time I checked the Gun forum, they had more (somewhere in the 180s as I recall), but there were a lot more trashing them.
That's a lot! I know it's nosy, but I sometimes wish we could see who they are...who are the quietly socialist-curious among us at DU?
I am a newbie and not well versed in the Socialist/Progressive agenda.
I was sitting at a bar last week talking to several of my buddies. Two of them are very , very left and they were trying to explain the benefits of collectivism, socialism etc. to the rest of the bar. Things became a bit heated with some of the other patrons, so I decided to investigate for myself.
Could someone breifly explain the facts?
by Albert Einstein
For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call workers all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of productionalthough this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is free, what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.
Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.
The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the free labor contract for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from pure capitalism.
Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an army of unemployed almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.
This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.
"the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion"
1. Who exactly determines the social goals?
2. I'm not sure what "society itself" means.
Does that mean no one owns the production, or that
everybody owns the production?
lol, I told you I was new to this.
There are various schools of thought on what that looks like. Historically it has taken the form of working people's organizations being the bulk of a congress, etc.
"Society itself" would then be the public governing body and all those represented by it. Largely it would mainly mean not having concentrated corporate control of major resources and production centers. Smaller commerce would probably be co-ops, small business, or whatever seems to work best to benefit people.
So our elected officials would set the social agenda, right?
I don't understand this though. Let's say that we put a company like Halliburton (lol) into the hands of the people.
How many people would be involved in the steering of the company? How would we select them?
Not entirely no. They'd voice the viewpoints collected from the organization/district they represent. If you've ever been in a union (a good one, anyway), there is a similar set-up. Goals and needs are discussed and collected, and then representatives can present them in a body in a collective to discuss how to implement them. That's one scenario.
Hopefully we wouldn't need many Halliburtons, but they'd probably run much the way they do now, without the large executive class and (hopefully) Wall Street directing the goals. I don't know why the other people involved in any given organization couldn't stay where they were already working.
There are many public systems in the US that are "in the hands of the people"--they are public. They are run just like companies are, but not private. We already do those things.
There could be different pay depending on position, or years in a position, etc. Just not the 325-1 or whatever it is scenario we have now with executive CEO pay.
and this is what started all of the turmoil in the bar that I mentioned. I always thought that one of the main
planks of Socialism was that all would receive equally. Am I wrong?
Basic human rights could be established for a minimum survival support-expanding what we have now into national health care, national housing as needed for shelter, power, water, cheap food, etc. That would be the "equal" part of Socialism--no one would dip down below a certain level needed for quality of life. But there can be higher wages for certain jobs.
How do you stand on the elimination of private property?
That doesn't sound very good to me.
But if you are a large corporation that owns half a state for mining, etc. you don't. Are you a corporation?
Is it Marxism that I'm thinking of with the elimination of private property?
Things that we all use and drive the economy--petroleum, steel, telecommunications, chemicals, heavy industries, electronics, food processing, lumber, mining. Those would be publicly owned. Not your iPod, house or car. And smaller businesses would probably not change much.
aim the nationalization and expropriation cannons at large businesses. Even the group that I belong to (which is pretty fundamental Bolshevik), only calls for this.
As Starry said, most small businesses wouldn't have to change very much. They would be held to a standard of fair play for their employees though, along with consumer protections for the public that they sell goods to.
Yesterday after I finished posting, I did some research on exactly WHAT was said in the Comm Man. If you could help me here. If indeed a company was run by, I'll say "the people" for lack of a better term, wouldn't that make the actual "decision
making" for a company very "unwieldy" The reason I ask is because let's say, a crucial decision for this business had to be made in a big hurry, how would you caucus that many different opinions into a timely decision. Thanks in advance.
The need for a central organization. Some think it is needed, some feel otherwise. I don't want to derail the thread, but I just thought it was something to keep in mind as you study socialism. Now, as to your actual question. I would call up everyone involved with the company and tell them we need to make a major decision by this afternoon. Come down to the office in an hour so we can discuss it and vote on the path forward. Democracy is key in socialism, without democracy socialism dies.
I guess I was thinking more of a company with thousands of employees, all wanting to have a say in the decision.
That could become problematic.
I will continue to do my research, thanks again.
There is probably quite a bit of accumulated wisdom on this topic. Mondragon might be one place to look. They are a democratically organized federation of worker co-operatives engaged in all kinds of business, ranging from manufacturing to finance; they employ over 80,000 people and generate annual revenues nearing 15 billion euros.
I do not know much about them beyond what I just wrote, nor do I know if the people in this group would consider their model one to applaud or criticize. But I imagine their experience is pertinent to your question.
You might have a federation of companies that operate in a general area. Power would be diffused so the odds of needing to make a decision that would have an effect on the whole group would be small. However, if that were to come up and a major policy change was needed, I could see two ways. 1. Have a secure website set up where each person could nominate solutions, then after the options have been narrowed down to a handful have each person vote for which course to take. 2. Have each member company send a representative to a national meeting to vote. The delegates would have to be bound to represent the wishes of the people who sent them, though and not their own.
Which is what we have under capitalism. An economic dictatorship. Chomsky once said something along the lines that there is no institution more totalitarian than a modern corporation and he was right.
For emergencies it's tough to go around to everyone and canvas for opinions. I'd like to think there'd be some game plan in place that others had talked about collectively and agreed on that would then be a "go" for when the situation came up.
That being said, there aren't really any "rule books" about how everything would run in advance. It would be kind of odd to try to just overlay a single idea over every situation and condition that comes up. Things can change really rapidly and it would be cumbersome. No one wants to have something happen like in Albania: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunkers_in_Albania There should be an element of common sense.
Lord knows we have plenty of infrastructure that needs mending, just for starters.
Thanks to all for your informative posts. I especially like the lack of "spin". That was all I was finding on other websites. I can't say that I agree with all of the premises (being sort of
an individualist). But I think that there are some interesting ideas
and I always like to learn about others thoughts.
I've argued before that socialism is the only way for true individualism to be achieved. Under our current society individualism is actually frowned upon a lot, or at least individual expression is. Express something your boss doesn't like and if you're late the next day maybe he'll decide you should't come back. Try and publish something too controversial in a major publication? You'll probably have to post in a blog.
Rights at work help protect and expand personal liberty. In that sense I'd say socialists are the true libertarians. While what (big L) Libertarians advocate really leads to a kind of corporate tyranny.
"Socialism will be free, or it will not be at all!" ~ Rudolf Rocker
"The most perfect socialism is possible only on the condition of the most perfect individualism." ~ Benjamin Tucker
I've always been under the impression that socialism implies some collectivism. I'm not sure if maybe there is some tension between collectivist tendencies of socialism compared with some of the more very individualist or very anti-statist strains of anarchism.
... they all consider themselves socialists.
It's based on the Labor Theory of Value, with labor in control of the means of production, and in control of its product. Now, the different variants have differences on how to achieve a classless and stateless society, but that is the end goal.
The quote in my previous post comes from the individualist anarchist, Benjamin Tucker.
Another quote that comes to mind to express the fact that anarchism is a tradition within the socialist movement follows:
"Every anarchist is a socialist, though not every socialist is necessarily an anarchist." ~ Adolf Fischer
Adolf Fischer was a member of the anarchist martyrs from the Haymarket Affair. Immediately before he was hanged, unjustly, he proclaimed, "Hoorah for anarchy! Today is the happiest day of my life!"
That takes some conviction there.
It was the anarchists of Haymarket and other protests that brought about the 8 hour workday, better labor rights, and an end to child labor.
Anarchists are just as much a part of the socialist movement as their Marxist brothers.
especially in the case of emergencies. Start with the principle of democracy, and give individuals authority only when there is some valid justification. And those individuals should then be held accountable for their decisions.
Consider a government run school. You've got administrators there. But they are accountable to a school board, who are elected by the people of the town. The administrators are empowered to make some decisions within limits. But they are accountable to a democracy. As long as the elections themselves can be trusted, that's democratic control. The people who work there should also have influence over decisions to the extent that decisions will affect them. Workers typical exert that influence via labor unions.
A similar principle of accountability via government could apply in the case of larger state run industries like the UK National Health Service, or any government operated public utility. Administrators are authorized to make decisions within limits, and are held accountable by whichever means is in place to hold government accountable. I think elections are a fine way to do that.
In the case of non-governmental companies there are various ideas for workplace democracy. My personal opinion is that it will take quite a bit of experimentation to find out what works best, and there may not be a single solution that works in all cases. I think many of us like the idea of worker owned and managed corporations or co-operatives. And those co-operatives may also delegate limited decision-making authority to designated people.
Democracy doesn't require people have to vote or reach consensus on everything under the sun. It's fine to give people limited authority to make decisions on behalf of a company. But there does need to be a valid justification for giving people authority. And then authority should be held accountable and subject to recall.
this is all just our opinions on these matters. We all believe in "economic democracy" (another term for socialism), but as to how the nuts and bolts of decision making will come about, that's going to have to be determined over a period of time. And it will probably be different for different industries and companies of different sizes. IOW, don't expect to have a fully formed socialist system described in an internet post. That said, here's MY opinion:
At the bottom level, very little would change for the "owner-operator" type businesses. They would probably get more tax breaks if wealth were distributed more equally in a socialist system and I'm sure that health care for all would open up the floodgates for these types of enterprises. The owner would make the decisions.
Medium level businesses would also benefit from a more equal distribution of wealth. I personally would give big time tax breaks for medium level businesses that were run as co-ops. If you wanted to be the "owner" of a medium level business, you could still do it, but you would forgo these tax breaks for co-ops. As I said above, there would be strong regulations for the treatment of your workers. The co-ops would probably elect a board that would run the day to day operations, along with, maybe elected "bosses" or supervisory personnel for individual departments. Not that much different from today, but I would make immediate recall of these officers a Constitutional provision. You couldn't amass power without the consent of the workers. If you abused your power, you'd be out on your ass.
The big businesses (interstate) would be run by the workers through an elected representative system like in medium level businesses complete with the immediate recallablilty provision, BUT there would also have to be SOME sort of central authority representation too. After all, if the business is big enough to affect the entire country, then ALL of the people would have to have some sort of say. The ALL of the people would be represented by these reps in addition to the actual worker's reps. The reason for this would be because there would have to be some sort of strategic central "plan" in order to get the basics for life out to ALL of the people. The workers would actually run the company, but the people's representatives would need to help set the strategic goals for production and distribution of the materials produced by these workers.
Finally, IMO, the most important part of this whole system would be the immediate recallability provision. IF you don't represent the workers who elected you, no matter what the level, you're out.
The decision making would be made by the group or the representatives of the group if it were too big and unweildy for an immediate vote. These reps, since they would be subject to immediate recall, would pay the consequences for screw ups in the decision making. More simply, decisions would be made by as large a group of interested parties as possible given the constraints of circumstances.
but needs vary from individual from individual, as does individual contribution to larger whole. A monetary system is not absolute necessity as economy can be based also on gifts and/or barter. But if a monetary system is considered useful, any case it should be organized democratically so that it benefits the society as whole instead of being a vehicle of class exploitation.
Most consumerist needs are artificially created through mass hypnotizing capitalistic media, for our basic needs Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a good starting point of discussion.
Negotiating about needs and how to best satisfy them can happen through centralized processes (e.g. representative democracy) or decentralized processes ("horizontal democracy" and informal decision making, as happens with a group of friends. Perhaps there is a consensus building, that a socialist good society should be based on decentralized horizontal democracy ("all power to councils" as was the original slogan of Russian Revolution), but centralized system can be often useful for getting projects done (e.g. architect centrally leading a construction project).
"There are various schools of thought on what that looks like. Historically it has taken the form of "WORKING PEOPLES" organizations"
What about people who for one reason or another, can't or won't work. They would still be included in the decision making process right?
I don't see why they couldn't be. I don't know many people who won't work, if there are a few, probably not be included. Most humans prefer to work though.
others carry the load. I wish that weren't the case
We evolved as a species because of our shortcomings as primates-we had to form working bands to survive. Here's a study you might like:
ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2011) Recent studies have shown that chimpanzees possess many of the cognitive prerequisites necessary for humanlike collaboration. Cognitive abilities, however, might not be all that differs between chimpanzees and humans when it comes to cooperation. Researchers from the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the MPI for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen have now discovered that when all else is equal, human children prefer to work together in solving a problem, rather than solve it on their own. Chimpanzees, on the other hand, show no such preference according to a study of 3-year-old German kindergarteners and semi-free ranging chimpanzees, in which the children and chimps could choose between a collaborative and a non-collaboration problem-solving approach.
The research team presented 3-year-old German children and chimpanzees living in a Congo Republic sanctuary with a task that they could perform on their own or with a partner. Specifically, they could either pull two ends of a rope themselves in order to get a food reward or they could pull one end while a companion pulled the other. The task was carefully controlled to ensure there were no obvious incentives for the children or chimpanzees to choose one strategy over the other. "In such a highly controlled situation, children showed a preference to cooperate; chimpanzees did not," Haun points out.
The children cooperated more than 78 percent of the time compared to about 58 percent for the chimpanzees. These statistics show that the children actively chose to work together, while chimps appeared to choose between their two options randomly. "Our findings suggest that behavioral differences between humans and other species might be rooted in apparently small motivational differences," says Haun.
It is rare to find a human out of work who wishes to stay that way. Unless he's a Prince or some other scion.
You are the most polite, civil person I've met in my short time here.
I wasn't sure who Cornell West was so I looked him up.
I need to pay more attention to him. Anyone who makes
$30,000 - $50,000 per speaking engagement has my undivided attention. He's probably worth every penny too !
You actaully think he's worth $50000 per talk, or are you trying to make some other point?
But for that kind of money, he obviously has a platform that many agree with.
Celebrities get paid a lot.
He also speaks for free on picket lines, at Occupy Wall Street stuff, civil rights street protests and other political demonstrations. Including putting his body on the line to particpate in civil disobedience. And getting arrested at protests to help draw attention to causes.
That video looks like it was made on a 99 cent VHS tape.