Interesting Video

  1. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7955669901632007410

    Edit:
    Apologies (and I won't let it happen again). Essentially it is just a short video of a Hungarian woman explaining her experience with socialism. I just think it gives one a look into what life life might be like in such a system.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. chroot

    chroot 10,426
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    Gold Member

    Please don't post links by themselves with no introduction or discussion. It looks too much like spam, and doesn't really begin a discussion.

    - Warren
     
  4. It looks like a lecture on the economic short comings of the communist system. The lecturer is outlining how full of holes the socialist government Hungary was as she reflects on her youth.
     
  5. Agreed.. and looks too more like an attempt of indoctrination rather than discussion, as if there was nothing argumentative and the video was simply a 'fact'.
     
  6. It looks like it is a fact to me. A woman is describing the differences between communism and capitalism from first hand experience.
     
  7. I was not referring to the video content (haven't watched it yet) but posting any link as if it required no discussion (i.e. a "fact").

    EDIT: after watching the video, I agree with her description. I'm going argue again though, that the USSR is not socialism, it was a collectivist oligarchy. In socialism, the people decide their future, not Moscow politicians deciding what to do, who to do what, etc. that this women describes. Most socialists also agree that that the "necessary" things need to be placed under state control. Obviously, what is "necessary" is always a contention. Capitalists believe believe few things are "necessary" under the state; socialists believe the opposite. Capitalists will criticize extreme socialists for needing to have government to decide how many brands of tampons there will be, whereas socialists criticize extreme capitalists on the need to have HD-DVD and Blu-ray.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
  8. But, what's nice about capitalism is that the consumer has a choice as to whether he get's HD-DVD or Blu-ray, or both. In the USSR, you probably got VHS for another 10yrs.
     
  9. mheslep

    mheslep 3,466
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    Surely the definition of socialism does not depend on the various opinions of this or that group. Can we not simply say that socialism is the control of "the means of production" and distribution, of capital and land, etc, by the state, i.e. the dictionary definition? Then, to the extent then that any government controls the "means", it implements socialism to the same extent. The extent to which people exercise control over the actions of the state via elections would be the process of representative democracy.
     
  10. You can't because socialism is much too broad an ideology. It could be anarchist, democratic, communist, Christian, etc.. Some variants believe that that the state should not control "the means of production" at all, like anarcho-socialism. Instead, if we look at what all the types of socialism agree on, then it is clear that all socialists agree that people (or their representatives) should control the means of production and not a select few. Whether this be through individuals under communism, the state, etc. depends on the school of thought. Many socialists generally believe that they have the right to decide their economic future the same way they decide their political future through voting. The thing is that you can have the ideas from the Keynesians to the Marxists.
    Touché, because that's exactly why they collapsed - they couldn't keep up with capitalism. That doesn't mean socialism has failed, it means that a Soviet model has failed. People don't go screaming capitalism is ending when the Japanese model ends up in recession, but American discourse has emphasized a "victory" for capitalism over the "defeat" since the Reagan years. I highly doubt most people can differentiate between socialism and communism, because it's essentially to many people "capitalism" and "not-capitalism".
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
  11. Great points!

    Socialism can't hold a candle to capitalism, even in the case mentioned above. Japan may be in a recession, but they still have a standard of living that is pretty good. Capitalism isn't perfect, but the truth of the matter is that even with it's problems it's still a great system. I agree though that we are always talking about mixed systems, as nothing is completely capitalistic or socialistic. But one must still compare relatively capitalistic societies with relatively socialist societies.

    For a true analysis of why socialism is flawed, I recommend F.A. Hayek (who interestingly began his intellectual career as a socialist).
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
  12. mheslep

    mheslep 3,466
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    That definition appears circular, 'socialism is' ... what 'all socialists agree' on. So stated it would indeed make it difficult to distinguish it from something else. But anyway, fair enough, you've provided something to work from

    Does this mean no private property?
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
  13. Yep. Socialists tend not to believe in private property. They tend to think that everybody
     
  14. mheslep

    mheslep 3,466
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    Eco: Have you seen Jeffrey D. Sachs' '06 article in SciAmer (provided by Opus)

    There's little detailed data in there to see what he's basing this upon, and there is a ton of criticism of the piece. Nonetheless Sachs is a highly noted economist, and a (used to be?) free market economist at that. So I was surprised given the author. As you probably know Sachs was the man in the 90's, Mr Market Economics, in the role as an on the scene adviser to many of the former Warsaw block and Latin American countries after the Berlin wall fell; Sachs interviews about his role in these changes are sprinkled in Friedman's PBS series Free To Choose (90's updates). I noticed in the last interview there he emphasized the pain incurred by the market transitions, perhaps hinting at the future of this article.

    I'm wondering if you have any perspective on this from Eco academia?
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
  15. Not yet. But I will definitely read it. I am familiar with Sach, but not in the way you mentioned below (in the 90s), I guess because I was only a child during the 90s.

    I am aware that Sachs and William Easterly have had some debate back and forth about foreign aid. Specifically, Sachs thinks it works while Easterly doesn't. But that's mostly where I have seen Sachs.

    I would also like to point out that I am not claiming that F.A. Hayek's opinion is the be-all-end-all. With matters like these, which are generally less scientific in nature (in comparison to things like the effects of a tax on consumption) you're going to have more debate. I do however think that what F.A. Hayek has to say, is still very applicable, and anyone who reads it will come away more informed (even if you totally disagree with what he has to say).

    This is one of his most classic works (it's just an article):
    http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/hykKnw1.html

    I'm not exactly sure what you're asking here, so if I don't seem to answer your question feel free to ask again.

    Are you asking about most Economists ideas regarding Hayek? If so, I would imagine that you'll definitely see a good deal of variation. Most modern academic economists probably agree with him that socialism is doomed to fail (although some won't) and that capitalsim does a great good as a feedback mechanism of information, etc. However, on issues such as what is the proper role for government, you'll find much more variation.
     
  16. I just read it. I imagine there are many economists critiquing that article. I recommend that you check out some of what they have to say, because they can analyze the validity of his claims much better than I can.
     
  17. mheslep

    mheslep 3,466
    Gold Member

    The Commanding Heights

    Ok I was mistaken about the Sachs video source. Its the 2002 PBS (Frontline?) series the "Commanding Heights" (not Free to Choose). The production quality is good and the entire thing is online. It starts off with the formulation of Hayek's and Keynes's economic theories pre WWII and then follows the market economics changes in E. Europe/Russia/Latin America from from the 70's up to now. The interviews are great, featuring every player you can think of, including a tale of Hayek and Keynes pulling air warden duty together on a roof in WWII. Uncle Milton of course appears numerous times.

    The entire thing is well worth the time, IMO, but I've noted the episodes where Sachs is featured. Transcript of all Sachs' Commanding Heights interviews

    Links to quicktime videos by chapter.
    Episode II
    Chapter 10 Bolivia at the Brink - Sachs advises Bolivia in '85
    chapter 12 Miracle Year - Sachs advises Poland
    Chapter 15 Soviet Free Fall - Sachs advises Russia
    Chapter 18 - same
    Chapter 21 Decade of Radical Change - Sachs commenting on pain/shortcomings of market economies.
    Episode III
    Chap 18 Global Divide - Sachs on the poverty gap in developing world.
    Chap 20 Bottom End of Globalism -same



    Hayek and Friedman first appear in Episode I.
    Chapter 8 - Pilgrim Mountain. -Hayek's '40s conference where, with people like Friedman and Hayek there, one of the attendees stormed out saying "you are all a bunch of damned socialists'
    Episode II
    Chapter 7 Chicago Boys and Pinochet - Friedman advises Chile in the 70's.

    Perhaps my greatest takeaway: Its absolutely amazing how much direct influence the theories of a couple economists, both Hayek and Keynes have had on the history of the 20th century.
     
  18. No, only communists believe in the abolishment of private property and money. Most socialists, I think, want private property distributed evenly first to the public. This is often what historical "land reforms" were all about, because private property used to be disproportionately in the hands of a few. In the example of many countries in Africa, it was white farmers that owned a majority of the land (with Africans working it) despite the Africans being a large majority.

    EDIT: In the developed world though, many socialists see property as a "contract" in addition to just being a "commodity" like capitalists see it. It's along the lines of a "good neighbour" clause.
    Yes, that is true, because mixed systems work best. However, comparative economics is much more complicated than that - that is, you can't simply compare a system "leaning more" towards capitalism against a system "learning more" towards socialism.

    This book is a good read on the subject as it conveys the diversity of economic systems - and why you can't just say, "capitalism is better than socialism". The models all used throughout history are each complex and different from each other that to believe that the outcome of USA vs USSR means the end of a "capitalism vs socialism" debate is narrow-sighted and narrow-minded. Societies can be successful with many types of models, it depends on a whole lot more than just "market fundamentalism" vs "statism". Unfortunately there are not too many "socialist" models left, aside from the remnants of Europe, Cuba, and arguably Venezuela. (After all, socialism cannot compete with capitalism's inherent globalization)
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2007
  19. But can you sell your property in socialism? There is a difference between living in a place actually owning it. In Economics, this distinction is very important, and if I am not mistaken we define it as legally being able to sell it.

    For example, in some countries an individuals may kind of own the land, such as his family has lived there for centuries. However, he doesn't own the land in a legal sense (the law does not recognize the land as his property). This is a very important distinction when it comes to the economic implications.
     
  20. Of course you can sell property in socialism. The socialism you're thinking of is where the state owns everything, like Stalinist Russia or something. Get with the times, man.

    EDIT: On an interesting, note, if socialism is lack of "private property", then China could be considered quite socialist. I mean, it only passed "private property laws" after it displaced millions for the Three Gorges and the Olympics. But alas, I digress. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2007
  21. Aren't socialism and capitalism ideals? Ideals are inherently unreachable, they are merely points of reference. One can say entity A leans towards socialism more than entity B, without having to classify one or the other as "truely" socialist. In that sense, it's quite clear the more capitalist nations have outcompeted the more socialist ones.
     
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