The subject title says it all. To listen to some GOP'ers talk, you'd think socialism was Communism.

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@Unseen: I can easily gather from this thread that Americans (among many others) don't really have any idea what socialism actually is. You cannot have socialism without the abolition of private property, anything less than that is obfuscating. If people wish to argue in favor if i.e. the Nordic model I have much less objection, but that is very far away from what socialism is.  

@Unseen: I can easily gather from this thread that Americans (among many others) don't really have any idea what socialism actually is. You cannot have socialism without the abolition of private property, anything less than that is obfuscating.

@Arcus: Technically, you're right. However, "socialistic," as a term, implies a tendency toward that position, and people here view things like the Post Office, publicly operated police, fire, and rescue departments, parks, etc., as socialistic in nature.

*sigh* But then we aren't discussing socialism. Which I'm fine with doing, seeing as I'm not a big fan, but since you know the difference you probably shouldn't aid the confusion. Discussing socialism while allowing for private property is a bit like discussing atheism while allowing for the existence of gods.

I looked at that list and, for example, Germany and all of the Scandinavian countries, save Denmark, were ahead of the United States, as were Vietnam, Cuba, and El Salvador, socialist countries not listed in the blog post. 

Interestingly, on Arcus's resource the Scandinavian countries along with the Netherlands all appear near the top.  Aren't these the recently highlighted atheistic based cultures mentioned in another thread?

I absolutely can't criticise Arcus's link because it comes from my favourite UK newspaper, so I shall have to sit on my hands.

However, a lot of the differences of opinion posted on what actually constitutes socialism could explain why there is such a variety and passion on this subject.


"You cannot have socialism without the abolition of private property, anything less than that is obfuscating."

You're saying the New Oxford American Dictionary is obfuscating the issue.

Dictionaries can describe or prescribe, but NOAD says nothing about the abolition of private property. It says that in socialism the means of production, distribution and exchange are owned or regulated by the community.

NOAD goes on to say people use the word in a variety of ways, but none of the ways it identifies require the abolition you require.

Actually, I didn't say "You cannot have socialism without the abolition of private property, anything less than that is obfuscating," Arcus did.

Uhm? The prescriptive part of the OED is exactly what I said it was, everything is owned by the government (community), which necessitates the abolition of private property. If you are talking about socialized sectors then regulation bit is used, i.e. after the war housing was built by cooperations and distributed to the members here based on their number in the queue. The descriptive part deals with the confusion I pointed out.

Two other relevant definitions that are even less unambiguous. Merriam-Webster's definition:

1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state


a political theory advocating state ownership of industry

an economic system based on state ownership of capital

Now we are splitting hairs, but property in relation to socialism refers to the ownership of capital goods. You are right that I should definitely have made the distinction clearer seeing as it doesn't seem I'm clearing up the confusion. I guess I should also add that when it comes to land, most (all?) proponents of socialism have pushed for redistribution. Additionally, when it comes to housing it is usually assigned by the state by some certain criteria and/or through the queue system (as opposed to through the price mechanism in a market economy). When it comes to consumer goods the whole theory of socialism tends to go a bit iffy when exposed to the range of products in the modern society, with suggestions ranging from a ration-card system to an outright money economy. 

I think I've covered it a few times before in the thread here, but socialized institutions is a different topic from socialism. The former can often be a good idea - in fact, always in a market failure situation - but the latter doesn't seem to work.

"I believe that any national list has probably the desire to reflect it's own country high on such criteria."

I don't think so. The political polarization in America has meant anyone who disagrees is the enemy. So everyone lives in a country filled with enemies. Not so happy.

I like that comment, MikeLong.  I take from it that all the flag waving in the world doesn't make people genuinely happy. 

However, these unhappy people do seem to take great comfort that at least their country is better than anyone elses, or so it appears to me. 

This is the first year I have lived in America during an election campaign, and I have to admit that I am rather incredulous at some of the things that come out of the various party spokespersons.  Perhaps in time I will get used to the amount of Godness that gets injected into the proceedings, but right now I find it, not to put too fine a word on it... insane.

I genuinely thought that separation of Church and State meant exactly that.  Now I find myself wondering, what was I thinking?

Tony Blair, the previous UK Prime Minister (and probably a total twat in so many ways) waited until his terms were over before publicly converting to Roman Catholicism (proving his twattedness), because those serving in public office are strongly encouraged to keep their religions to themselves.

It doesn't stop us electing total arses, but at least they don't get elected based on their religious beliefs.  In fact, when Blair did announce his conversion, the public reaction was mostly "aha!  see?  that's why he was such a twat".

Re countries run by dictators.

Consider this restatement: countries (economies) run by sociopaths or near-sociopaths.

For an education, Google sociopaths, workplace psychopaths or related terms, or Robert Hare, a long-time researcher in the field.

Of people who are not in prison, about one percent of men and half that many women qualify as sociopaths. Of people in prison, more than twenty percent qualify. Prisons thus perform a valuable public service. To the above numbers, add an unknown number of near-sociopaths.

In my opinion, Romney's track record of emotionless lying qualifies him as a near-sociopath.



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