Interesting Video

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  • #1
Economist
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7955669901632007410 [Broken]

Edit:
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
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.
 
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  • #2
chroot
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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
 
  • #3
devil-fire
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.
 
  • #4
opus
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
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'.
 
  • #5
drankin
It looks like it is a fact to me. A woman is describing the differences between communism and capitalism from first hand experience.
 
  • #6
opus
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.
 
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  • #7
drankin
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.
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.
 
  • #8
mheslep
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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.
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.
 
  • #9
opus
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.
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.
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".
 
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  • #10
Economist
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.
Great points!

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".
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).
 
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  • #11
mheslep
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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

people (or their representatives) should control the means of production and not a select few
Does this mean no private property?
 
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  • #12
Economist
Does this mean no private property?
Yep. Socialists tend not to believe in private property. They tend to think that everybody
 
  • #13
mheslep
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...For a true analysis of why socialism is flawed, I recommend F.A. Hayek (who interestingly began his intellectual career as a socialist).
Eco: Have you seen Jeffrey D. Sachs' '06 article in http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?SI...F3D5-6DC9-152E-A9F183414B7F0000&chanID=sa006" (provided by Opus)

Von Hayek was wrong. In strong and vibrant democracies, a generous social-welfare state is not a road to serfdom but rather to fairness, economic equality and international competitiveness.
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?
 
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  • #14
Economist
Eco: Have you seen Jeffrey D. Sachs' '06 article in http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?SI...F3D5-6DC9-152E-A9F183414B7F0000&chanID=sa006" (provided by Opus)?
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.

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 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 wondering if you have any perspective on this from Eco academia?
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.
 
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  • #16
mheslep
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The Commanding Heights

Ok I was mistaken about the Sachs video source. Its the 2002 PBS (Frontline?) series the http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/lo/index.html" [Broken] (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. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/minitextlo/int_jeffreysachs.html" [Broken]of all Sachs' Commanding Heights interviews

Links to quicktime videos by chapter.
Episode II
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p02_10_300.html" [Broken] - Sachs advises Bolivia in '85
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p02_12_300.html" [Broken] - Sachs advises Poland
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p02_15_300.html" [Broken]- Sachs advises Russia
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p02_18_300.html" [Broken] - same
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p02_21_300.html" [Broken] - Sachs commenting on pain/shortcomings of market economies.
Episode III
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p02_18_300.html" [Broken] - Sachs on the poverty gap in developing world.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p02_20_300.html" [Broken] -same



Hayek and Friedman first appear in Episode I.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p01_08_300.html" [Broken]. -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
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p02_07_300.html" [Broken]- 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.
 
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  • #17
opus
Does this mean no private property?
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.
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.
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)
 
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  • #18
Economist
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.
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.
 
  • #19
opus
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.
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. :)
 
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  • #20
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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.
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.
 
  • #21
mheslep
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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.
Im not clear on what's meant here:
-I assume the state would do the distributing? If not then who?
- ''..distributed evenly first ...' Does this mean only one 'first distribution is done, N shares among N people, and then the state does no more distribution ever again?
-Does the state (or whatever) continue to redistribute over time, taking property away from where its grown and giving to where it has not, or even diminished?
-Any examples of where you think this has been done ~correctly, in Africa as you suggested?
 
  • #22
opus
Im not clear on what's meant here:
-I assume the state would do the distributing? If not then who?
- ''..distributed evenly first ...' Does this mean only one 'first distribution is done, N shares among N people, and then the state does no more distribution ever again?
-Does the state (or whatever) continue to redistribute over time, taking property away from where its grown and giving to where it has not, or even diminished?
-Any examples of where you think this has been done ~correctly, in Africa as you suggested?
There's an extensive list on wikipedia of land reform attempts.

Distribution is done by the state, yes, in most cases. You may have communists and anarcho-socialists who normatively disagree with this.

And whether the distribution is "perpetual" really depends on the flavour of socialism. If it's a socialism that does not favour private property, then no, "private property" (or rather, property accumulation) would be illegal. But I personally believe that private property is legal, except in extenuating circumstances where it is used as a tool of racial oppression, as it was done in Africa. I think many socialists see private property as "class" oppression (especially in the works on gentrification and urban studies), but I don't believe this is the case.

Most success stories are from land reform dealing with agriculture (ie farmers who worked on but did not own the land). Hugo Chavez had a land reform package that was quite successful, one part of his strong success and appeal in Venezuela.
 

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