Socialism

I feel like talking about Socialism, because I can't think of something to blog about, so why not try getting a troll thread started in the comments?

Wiktionary defines socialism as:

1. Any of various economic and political philosophies that support social equality, collective decision-making, distribution of income based on contribution and public ownership of productive capital and natural resources, as advocated by socialists.

2. The socialist political philosophies as a group, including Marxism, libertarian socialism, democratic socialism, and social democracy.

3. (Leninism) The intermediate phase of social development between capitalism and full communism. This is a strategy whereby the state has control of all key resource-producing industries and manages most aspects of the economy, in contrast to laissez faire capitalism.

That first one is the one I'd like to talk about.

The phrase "Any of various [...] philosophies"  makes things complicated, because saying "I'm a socialist" very rarely means the same thing to both people in the conversation.

That said, there are some pretty low-level socialist principles that I think are hard to argue with, if you make certain presuppositions:

  • that the role of government is to protect and provide for its citizens,
  • that the needs for which the government provides extend as far as it is possible for them to pragmatically manage,
  • that the free market can't be relied upon to behave with perfect moral purity in all capacities, and
  • that we live in a less-than-perfect world.

Those principles:

Food and shelter.

As a society, as a species, we've overcome ludicrous amounts of our basic limitations as fleshy things.  We communicate across continents (telecommunications), we extend our survival range in a variety of temperatures and types of weather (clothing), and we even warp the ambient circumstances to suit our preference (fire).  By now it's unrealistic that we expect people to lose that if they fail enough.  We provide food and shelter to our prisoners.  Why can't we manage that for our homeless?

Medical care.

I concede that it's fair in a society for people to compete, and for people to reap the benefits of that competition.  But health is not even across the board.  People get sick, or injured, without anywhere near sufficient control to hold them responsible.  Apart from that, time after time, it's clear that countries with healthcare keep their citizens healthier in the first place, to save money.

Phone and internet.

Comparative studies in the UK show that, in otherwise similar low-income families in every way, where one has internet and the other doesn't, the family with internet access is, over time, better off in every measured way.

So, there are some of my initial thoughts on socialism.  Fun, family friendly, and not the same thing as communism.

Talk to you tomorrow.