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socialism | shannonymous's Blog


I don't get this. For some reason when I brought up my idea of the ideal moneyless society to my grandparents today, they were more than just disinterested, they said it was socialism.  I suppose every monetary-less society or group of people who have ever lived must then be called socialists?  Amazonians are socialists?  The barter system was socialism? Pilgrims? Neanderthals? They said that this system must be better than those.  I would have loved to know why, but they were getting pissed off...just sounds like the typical ethnocentrism to me.

I think it's more socialist to have a society where a job is something you receive (if you are good enough), rather than something you do and something you care about.  A job in most Americans' point of view is the daily grind that is the tradeoff for monetary compensation, and indirectly  food, shelter, water, clothes, transportation, electricity, internet, cell phone, service for all this stuff...oh, and speaking of service, that is what the vast majority of 'jobs' today are. Service for the stuff we buy in order to work in order to survive and succeed. 

Why is it socialist to see that this cycle is not even productive?  Why is it socialist to have the desire for community support and for people to do what they love (or what they know is needed) in order to help solve problems/sustain life?  Why is it socialist to question why we base our entire lives on a system which disconnects us from the real value of our work and from the real value of what we want?  Why is it socialist to question the value of money (including gold/silver)?  Why is it socialist to question the society that we've created? Why is it socialist to want better? Why is it socialist not to buy into the consumerist mindset? Why is it socialist to want to understand what the world really needs instead of what I want at any given moment? 

Why is it socialist to understand that this system is not what I want in the least? I don't care about shopping or keeping up with the joneses.  I don't care about companies or corporations or business in the least. I do not want or lack anything right now, except ironically a job.  In fact, I hate that we have, everywhere we go, everywhere we look, people trying to sell us stuff.  Businesses everywhere.  Advertising everywhere.  People who want my money and they spend 1/3 or more of their lives doing something they wouldn't otherwise do in a million years in order to get it (1/3 of their lives!!!).  Sure, maybe it is a fine product, but no one needs it...no one. And if we did, isn't it kind of cruel to sell it to us???  What if we aren't as good at this system as you and cannot afford it? Then we deserve to die?  Of course, this may sound far fetched, but if you think about it...this is the way the world works...this is the very basis of our way of life.  And if I am not as enthusiastic as many would like me to be about it and that makes me a socialist, then I'd be proud, not ashamed of that fact.

This is also why I would not make a good salesperson.

This Blog Entry's Comment Board (19 comments)
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thwya
Posted on 08:09PM on Dec 4th, 2011
Great blog entry and very thought provoking. What is better? Please lay out your idea in detail; I am intrigued.
shannonymous
Posted on 09:05PM on Dec 4th, 2011
this is a pretty good explanation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gKX9TWRyfs

from 1:00:00 to 1:13:13 especially, but the whole video is great imo.

This also, is a great article if you have time to read it:
http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate

any specific questions or concerns?
geetar39
Posted on 09:10PM on Dec 4th, 2011
Step one. Buy local. Support the people who are making things and growing things in your own community.

Problems can't be solved unless people put forward ideas like yours.
wannashareit
Posted on 09:15PM on Dec 4th, 2011
Socialism isn't monetary-less. Nowadays anyway, The US is as capitalistic or socialistic as the EU is. There is just a difference in the way people look at it.
When you want to know more take a look at the history of the "WIR" in Switzerland. It exists next to the Swiss Franc. The most wanted currency this moment. Read and think and ask me when you feel you have to. You are welcome.
xWanna
thwya
Posted on 09:41PM on Dec 4th, 2011
The article from The Nation is interesting and brings up some good points . I disagree with some of its fundamental points, though. First- we don't exist in either a true capitalist system or in a free market economy. At least in the USA. Government regulation and subsidies don't create a level playing field. Subsidies to the petroleum and coal industries prevent opportunities foralternative energes to gain a foothold. And the government knows it and likes it. Why? LOTS of tax revenue is raised in taxes on these items. Regulations which were supposed to protect people from companies don't, in most cases. The
regulations end up "nudging" consumers and market participants to act in certain ways that are inefficient from an economic perspective. The other thing that concerns me is that socialism is intended as a way to adress the needs of the many. That in itself is fine but by doing so you eliminate the reward for individual initiative and improvement. I'll leave the discussion around individual liberties for another day.
shannonymous
Posted on 10:00PM on Dec 4th, 2011
thanks for the support geetar! I think there is a paradigm shift that is occurring and that may be past its due date as well. I think the times, they are a-changin'. I actually would even go further back and say the first step is a change in attitude, a change in priorities, and i absolutely believe that that is coming.
shannonymous
Posted on 10:08PM on Dec 4th, 2011
@ wanna:

I didn't say socialism was monetary-less...that's just what's going on in America right now...callin people and ideas socialist...meaning un-american really. I don't see how the WIR has anything to do with anything i am interested in, it is money...we have the same thing in America, some places print their own currency (even here)...it is still currency though.
shannonymous
Posted on 10:22PM on Dec 4th, 2011
THWYA...hope you read all six pages, not just the first one. And um...i hope you read my blog...because i wasn't really advocating socialism...i was just called socialist.

"The other thing that concerns me is that socialism is intended as a way to adress the needs of the many. That in itself is fine but by doing so you eliminate the reward for individual initiative and improvement."

By meeting everyone's needs you eliminate the reward for individual initiative and improvement? I see no sense in your statement and i'm sorry you feel that way. :)

(btw...did you just come on my blog to post that? cuz it sure seems like it to me)
hlpflwthat
Posted on 06:25AM on Dec 5th, 2011
Your G-parents are faced with the all-too-real likelihood of leavin this place in far poorer condition than was handed to em. I bet that's ANOTHER phrase they like to use ... 'hand-out.'

I can' imagine what it mus be like for today's seniors, when faced with that revelation or reckonin: On THEIR watch, one of the more equal societies in history has morphed to one of the mos unequal.

As they live on their pensions, once a 'given' - necessary to procure talented labor - they might see what the dissolution of organized labor over the past 30 years has wrought. Spin, in this case, provides solace. Rupert Murdoch has become one of the richest & mos powerful men in the world, by simply holdin the hand of today's older generation ... tellin em it ain' really THEIR fault ... cooin words like 'socialism' ... 'communism' ... 'entitlement' ... an 'welfare' into their ears, while strokin their hair(and egos). Makin em feel jus enough better - an distracted - to pick their children an grandchildren's futures away from em.

When did the words social, socialist or socialism obtain negative connotation? Welfare? Activist? Organized?

I think I know when, but I could be wrong. I think it happened as 'news' became a 24/7 'for profit' preoccupation, instead of a reporting of events important or unusual enough to warrant our attention an study.

Is Murdoch alone in this perversion of an entire industry? Certainly not. He is simply the mos identifiable culprit, as other multi-media giants hide behind the anonymity and socialist shareholding of behemoths like GE, Westinghouse, Viacom or Universal.

I hope to be round a long time yet, an to help your generation right the wrongs of mine an other generations. If you are able to 'see' a money-less society, perhaps you can also see that there will be steps between now an then. There will be no overnight declaration that money is no longer used.

As you've heard from me before, an as geetar has mentioned above, one of the first an mos important steps is to buy local an buy from those you know - you're own mini-society. We ARE social creatures, like it or not. Megacorps like GE are now payin no tax to society, while socializing their expenses. We are now witnessin the blatantly public creation of corporate law via ALEC.

Privatize profit, socialize cost. Brilliant.

It has been the very socialist nature of the corporation has brought us to this point, an it will be the corporation fights hardest to prevent us returnin to a more equal society.

Wanna drive your Gparents complete batshit? Ask em to splain 'e pluribus unum'.
shannonymous
Posted on 06:29AM on Dec 5th, 2011
thanks for the interesting comment hlp! I'll have to read back over it again later :)
thwya
Posted on 09:09AM on Dec 5th, 2011
Shannonymous- Let's go back to your original point about a moneyless society. We can look at bartering or a true "moneyless" society as examples of what I think you are talking about.
For bartering I think one challenge you run into is that specialization of labor and resources is such that it is wildly inefficient from a trading perspective. Say you write books and want to buy some milk from a farmer. You offer a book for two gallons of milk. He doesn't care to read and would prefer a chicken instead. You don't have a chicken. You then have to either pay MORE ( such as 2 books because he doesn't value your book and will only trade them away to someone else) or you trade the book for a chicken (best case) and then take the chicken to the farmer and receive the milk. That's a lot of work for some milk. But it works if everyone is an individual contributor. How do you have companies that do manufacturing of different component pieces that fit together to make one complete product? Like a car or a PC or a toaster? What do those companies pay people in? Chickens? Milk? They are not a store of value (no ability to save) since they expire. And that means there are a lot of chickens floating around. They have basically become the unit of exchange. What if someone doesn't want a chicken because they are vegetarian and want caulifllower instead? Is one cauliflower worth a chicken? 2 chickens? Different people think cauliflower has different values? Who is right?
And how does a company pay a supplier for raw materials? More chickens? The chicken farmer is the richest man around because everyone pays in chickens. Chickens have become money.
Money is that interesting thing whose only intrinsic value is to allow you to purchase other things (goods and services). It helps set comparable values for dissimilar items in the support of trade. Bartering is a great idea but you end up haggling on how much each item is worth in comparison to every other item. There is a lot of room for price arbitrage if you know what you are doing.

As to a true moneyless society... what happens if someone doesn't pull their weight? Do they get "ejected" from the tribe? Maybe if they are disabled then you don't (an elder or a child). What if they are lazy? What if they are lazy but popular and everyone likes them? What if they are lazy and nobody likes them? Should they get just as much as the person who works hard every day to support their family and the collective community? And then if the person who works hard gets more- how much more is "fair"? Then, let's say- the person who works hard is not a very good communicator and the lazy person with friends is. One day the lazy person with friends complains that he/she doesn't get enough and their kids are deprived because they don't have the same amount of food as the person who works hard. And they convince the majority that they should get just as much as the person who works hard all day. Where is the motivation for the hard worker to work hard and produce? Maybe they decide to work for the community the bare minimum and then work on their own off on the side to make more for themselves. Is that right and allowed? Or is it truly a communal system where everything is everybody's no matter what?

And if you have an inefficient system where a worker only gets a portion of what they produce (The rest is allocated to others) then where is the incentive to be more efficient and productive? Jethro Tull wouldn't have made the seed drill. Eli Whitney wouldn't have invented the cotton gin.
shannonymous
Posted on 11:02AM on Dec 5th, 2011
THWYA: it's funny you bring up laziness, science tells us something interesting if you care to hear it:
http://pogpog.com/v/lots-of-money-doesnt-motivate-smart-people/

I think we need to redefine 'wealth'...why is it that the richest people in the world get rich by *destroying* the world? Why is it that this destruction of natural wealth that is **costing** the health and well-being of everyone on the planet is being rewarded in our current system? It's just the way our system works, and so I am called a socialist for realizing that some change is needed? I am called socialist because I realize that the inequality around the world is directly caused by this system of reward (and punishment)? Who is rewarding them? We are. But do we have any other option at the moment? no. So why is it that we are for all intents being manipulated to reward people who we may not believe deserve to be rewarded for the harm they are doing? It's like holding a gun to someone's head and demanding what little they have, because it's about need...and its about lack of alternative means of procuring the things we need.
thwya
Posted on 05:41PM on Dec 5th, 2011
Shannonymous-
That is a fantastic video and I want to show it around the office. But I don't know that it applies in my example. In the examples in the video there was no penalty for low effort/poor performance; just a "small reward." At the same time, it says the model worked so long as there was no additional difficulty in completing the task. It is the more challenging efforts (more critical thinking and problem solving) where the reward model breaks down. This is a great video but I don't see it as a good analogy to a moneyless society. I look at it more like the fable of the ant and the grasshopper where if the grasshopper doesn't work and earn his keep he starves. If you have a choice of working or starving (or not being able to feed your family) you would think that you would be motivated to perform at some level instead of losing interest.

I also grant that there is a level of diminishing return in terms of perceived vaolue for the hard working member of the community. If they work twice as long as everyone else and possibly get 2x more benefit (whatever that is defined to be) will they do it? It depends on the individual and the bonus. Money is only one motivator. Leisure time, food, and the quality of your surroundings are others (quality of shelter, for example).

And the really interesting part of the video- the part where the narrator talks about autonomy, mastery, and purpose. In each of the illustrations people already have their basic needs met. In simple terms- they are already above lowest rungs in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. They are enriching themselves in a non-monetary way: esteem and self actualization (the pinnacles of the hierarchy).

Perhaps lazy is the wrong term. How about "otherwise engaged," instead? If someone is otherwise engaged and does not add value to the collective good of the community is there a reciprocal obligation of the community to support the person whom did not participate in the work? There is always charity, I guess.

I am not "Pro money!" or against a moneyless society because I love the stuff. I just haven't found anything better which supports specialization of labor, efficient pricing of goods and services in trade, or as a means to ensure that everybody adds value to the overall economy.

Now as to why we reward those destroying the environment: I can't answer that one but I think a part of it is because it is not in our nature to accept that someone else can change our environment to the point that it becomes unable to support us. Why? Before this century nobody could. There is a lot of ingrained behavior from our ancestors in our heads that needs to be overwritten pretty quickly.
shannonymous
Posted on 07:18PM on Dec 5th, 2011
"But I don't know that it applies in my example."

Well I just wanted to show it to you, wasn't a reply to your example specifically.

"It is the more challenging efforts (more critical thinking and problem solving) where the reward model breaks down. "

the extrinsic reward model, yes.

"I look at it more like the fable of the ant and the grasshopper where if the grasshopper doesn't work and earn his keep he starves. If you have a choice of working or starving (or not being able to feed your family) you would think that you would be motivated to perform at some level instead of losing interest."

you would think, ants though, they're funny things...always rebelling against the system LOL :D

But really...I don't see it like that at all. Since when is being a millionaire/billionaire/whatever taking care of your *needs*??? A: it's not...and yet, that is the ideal of our society, to become rich...it makes me sick.

"Perhaps lazy is the wrong term. How about "otherwise engaged," instead? If someone is otherwise engaged and does not add value to the collective good of the community is there a reciprocal obligation of the community to support the person whom did not participate in the work?"

well...imo, everyone is valuable. How exactly do you measure someone's productivity in society? Companies don't...they pay you based on the amount of hours you put in. Who is it that decides which person's work is valuable and which is not? The product may be valued, but not everyone who put in their hours contributed the same amount of value. Likewise, who is that decides in a society that one person's contribution to that society is more or less than another's? In our world, the 'work' that needs to be done, is not getting done. How about I phrase your question another way, if one person comes up with a solution for all the world's problems does that mean that is right for him/her to withhold the solution because it would benefit people who did not contribute to the work put into it?

Here's another scenario...there are a LOT of people who are not particularly productive in society, these include children, elderly, disabled, mentally ill, and just people who are really bad at their jobs...you could say they are 'otherwise engaged'. Is there any societal obligation to provide for them when they have not participate equally in the 'work'? Is it called charity when children are allowed to be children? Is it charity that we don't just deny medical care to the elderly? Is it charity to have mental institutions to take care of mentally ill people?

"I just haven't found anything better which supports specialization of labor, efficient pricing of goods and services in trade, or as a means to ensure that everybody adds value to the overall economy."

i am not a fan of specialized labor either. You've already heard my opinion on STUFF and the service sector (a never-ending cycle). That last point is very interesting, because i don't believe it adds any REAL value. It certainly doesn't meet the world's needs, though we DO have the resources if we used them correctly that we COULD meet the world's needs.

"I think a part of it is because it is not in our nature to accept that someone else can change our environment to the point that it becomes unable to support us. "

I don't believe it's "our nature" (or anything is "our nature") for that matter. If it was, then why have we in the past three years seen one of the largest flip flops in public opinion over any issue?? Just look at the statistics. Is it our nature to for the most part believe in man-made global warming one year and then three years later it is our nature NOT to believe??? confusing to say the least.
thwya
Posted on 08:12AM on Dec 6th, 2011
(This is fun. I hope you're enjoying it, too)
In my mind, when I wrote about the moneyless society I was thinking more of a communal environment where each works and contributed what they do to the community. I wasn't thinking in terms of wealth (at least monetary wealth). If someone is a farmer then they work the fields and provide grain, milk, etc. to the community. Someone else is a school teacher. Someone else is the judge. Each provides a service to the community and each gets a benefit from someone else accordingly. I was modeling a simple village, though I didn't tell you that so I can see where your line of thought went and where we diverged. Given the specialization of labor where each produce and consume in their own way (don't ask a judge to till the fields or raise a barn but do expect them to eat and need clothing) it becomes very hard to measure the value of the service provided.
People who cannot provide for themselves or whom are labelled as special (Children, mentally ill, elderly, disabled, etc) can probably be considered like wards of the community or those whom the community chooses to value and support even though they cannot provide the same units of work as others. In my mind (in a hypothetical village) there is an implicit social contract that we see where we nurture children because they are our future (and will someday nurture us in our old age). We support the elderly because they supported us and it is the other side of the coin. I don't call it "Charity." I call it a social contract. But it extends only to those whom cannot work, not those whom choose not to.

The question about "lazy" people is what do you do with them when they are able to work but refuse to do so? That is the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant works all summer to prepare for the winter. The grasshopper plays and sings and dances away the summer days. When it is time for winter the grasshopper comes to the ant begging for food (Wikipedia has a fascinating write up of the fable and how it has changed through history).

As to the human nature bit... we have thousands of generations of habit brought which is taught to us by our parents, family, and members of the community. My grandfather lived without electricity or automobiles so his teachings are based on that world. I'll inadvertently pass on some of those teaching to my kids even though they no longer apply in the ways we think about today. That was what I meant by human nature. I couldn't think of a better term.

The argument on man made global warming and how it flip flopped on the public eye is because the left lost the ideological high ground and couldn't communicate it to everybody at an individual level where people needed to care about it. Saying the world is going to end is one thing. Saying your house will be under water and you won't have a job is something else. The right explained the global warming debate in terms of jobs and individual choices- things that people identify with. People feel bad for the polar bears drowning and realize it is bad but it isn't as bad as being unemployed today, tomorrow, and next year. I think that was one of the key take aways from the article in "The Nation." They said "Guys, we blew it on the PR front. Let's fix it."

And I think you would be a good salesperson: the ability to communicate well is what makes a salesperson effective. Nobody can sell what they don't believe in.
shannonymous
Posted on 09:53AM on Dec 6th, 2011
"(This is fun. I hope you're enjoying it, too)"

ha ha, sure

"In my mind, when I wrote about the moneyless society I was thinking more of a communal environment where each works and contributed what they do to the community. I wasn't thinking in terms of wealth (at least monetary wealth). If someone is a farmer then they work the fields and provide grain, milk, etc. to the community. Someone else is a school teacher. Someone else is the judge. Each provides a service to the community and each gets a benefit from someone else accordingly. "

i see. I am not 100% sure EXACTLY what i envision or how it would be...I just realize that there are changes that should be made. Perhaps these jobs that everyone specializes in could be performed as a group effort rather than one person's specialty. Of course, if people WANT to specialize that is absolutely great, i don't think they should have to though. I think working together is good...and teaching others the value and importance of the tasks which are being performed.

I got the ants and grasshoppers mixed up lol. but anyways...I believe that if work was communal and voluntary, I think everyone will be productive basically...in SOME way. And I think LOTS of people would be MORE productive because they would get to choose what they spend their time doing, what problem they work to solve...and so they would choose problems that are important to them.

I am not actually against stuff either. I love art and beauty. So if everyone was working on a problem or toward a vision which was important to them, then it is kinda like democracy, whoever wants to can contribute to that goal, and those who don't simply won't. People will realize that they want good food and thus pitch in (like we do with volunteer work, charity, recycling, and even simply our hobbies today...even though there is no monetary reward). If there IS a labor intensive product that people really do want, it wouldn't be produced and then advertized, it would be communally agreed upon as beneficial (and it doesn't have to be to everyone, just those involved) and if they REALLY want it then they will work to produce it. Today, we work and then have all this money that we really don't know what to do with, we go shopping and see stuff for sell that we want and buy it...we don't think about the actual COST that went into its production...the amount of labor, the working conditions, the environmental impact. Every time you buy something...you are making a vote...a vote that says that you believe everything that went into this product is worth your money. You worked hard for your money (hopefully), so why do we allow this scam to keep taking place...or do we actually feel that what goes into making our products is worth our labor? Do we actually feel that it is better for people to be worked like machines in order that WE can pay the lowest price possible, but then those who are not as competitive here lose out on getting a job at all...do we really feel that it is better to have this consumer society now at the cost of lives and a future that will be nowhere near as easy as it is now? Do we really feel that it is better for big corporations, those most competitive, by whatever means, if they can get a monopoly on the market then they deserve it? Because that is what we are saying that we support when we buy stuff that contributes to those problems whether people realize it or not.

"And I think you would be a good salesperson: the ability to communicate well is what makes a salesperson effective. Nobody can sell what they don't believe in."

well thank you :) And so i have learned from my very short experience selling "the best knives in the world". They were still just knives...verrrrry expensive ones. And they said, "the only way you can fail at this is if you are lazy."
wannashareit
Posted on 07:13PM on Jan 5th, 2012
There is only one answer; this what you write about has nothing to do with socialism; maybe you should write a blog about what socialism really is. For one it ain't communism. But how to explain selfish American what socialism is? With which I do NOT suggest all Americans are selfish! xW
wannashareit
Posted on 07:15PM on Jan 5th, 2012
About the remark of being a salesperson; why couldn't you? I think you could be a remarkable salesperson; the thing is you do not want to sell stuff people do not need. I guess you would sell solar-cells like McD sells Burgers. Would you not?
shannonymous
Posted on 07:17PM on Jan 5th, 2012
LOL...good points wanna :) i agree
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