To those who say socialism doesn’t work

I am sick and tired of reading ignorant people who’ve never read anything Marx or Engels wrote (except possibly the Communist Manifesto) baselessly claim that ‘socialism doesn’t work’.

My simple response to people who spout this empty rhetoric is to ask: how do you know?

Ever since the West witnessed the horror that was the Soviet Union and red China, the dream of socialism has been inexorably married in our literature, politics, rhetoric and culture to these perverse manifestations of totalitarianism.  The impact of these horrors has struck all sides of the political spectrum from the left to the right.  On left, we have seen them seemingly no longer willing to call themselves ‘socialists’ so they go by monkiers like “anarco-socialists” which, at least under the original definition of the term, is as redundant a phrase as PIN number, ATM machine, or NDP party. 

On the other end of the spectrum, when he really wants to insult the New Democrats, Conservative cabinet Minister Monte Solberg calls them ‘socialists’.  In the US, when a word dirtier than the ‘n’ word or the ‘c’ word is needed, usually ‘socialist’ suffices.

The problem with all of this verbosity on both the left and the right, of course, is that what happened in the Soviet Union, China and elsewhere bears little if any resemblance to anything that was ever uttered by either Marx or Engels.  To say that these countries were socialist is a bit akin to taking a beautifully romantic ballad and then, having never witnessed romantic intercourse, witnessing a horrible rape and claiming that one naturally derives from the other. 

In short, the Soviet Union was not the failure of socialism so much as it was the rape of humanity and of socialism itself in equal measure.

So, to those of you on the right wing:  okay, fine, keep hating socialism, that’s alright.  But if you’re going to be honest and actually read what Marx wrote and then read any history of the Soviet Union, you should all realize that we cannot know that socialism doesn’t work since it’s never been tried in the industrialized world. 

And to those of you on the left wing:  quit being such cowards and reclaim something that once stood for something just and bold and pure and quit thinking that socialism is a dirty word!

249 Responses to “To those who say socialism doesn’t work”

  1. 1 olaf 8 January, 2007 at 12:56 am

    Well Paul,

    you should all realize that we cannot know that socialism doesn’t work since it’s never been tried in the industrialized world.

    I suppose one would have to ask, Why? Why hasn’t it been tried, as Marx predicted? If it is so just, so ultimately rational and equal and fair, why hasn’t it been tried?

    • 2 adam 30 May, 2009 at 12:57 am

      It’s too difficult for the bourgeois masses. They’re lazy.

    • 3 S 28 February, 2010 at 8:31 am

      This article is bullshit.

      Socialism have certainly been tried.

      This is socialism: State-owned enterprises, huge welfare system, and high taxes.

      SOUNDS LIKE NORWAY!!!!!!!!! The most sustainable country in the world! State-owned bank, huge welfare system, and high taxes…that’s Norway!

      Norway and America is considered “mixed economies” but that’s utter bullshit. Norway LEANS to socialism. America LEANS to capitalism. Rhetorically too.

      Every nation that leans towards socialism are sustainable, high GDPs, low unemployment, low poverty, and they all have (what Americans love to call) BIG GOVERNMENT!!!!

      • 4 America 30 March, 2010 at 8:31 am

        Which is why I get 5 kroners for 1 dollar.. better than pesos.. hmm

      • 5 Marxist Hypocrisy 101 23 November, 2011 at 4:40 am

        “Every nation that leans towards socialism are sustainable, high GDPs, low unemployment, low poverty, and they all have (what Americans love to call) BIG GOVERNMENT!!!!”

        Not outside of the fantasy that exists solely inside your head.

      • 6 POeter 1 March, 2015 at 2:19 pm

        Does Norway have private ownership of businesses? If so they are not considered socialist by the hard core socialist community (which I am NOT a part of). I think a blend of state owned and private owned enterprises is best for society as long as the government doesn;t let the private run business become a fucking Wal-Mart of something equivalent.

      • 7 Frida 23 October, 2016 at 2:45 pm

        HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA OMFG HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA XDDDD Socialists, we dont want money, we wont the community to own the means of production, just becouse Norway is more to the left to america does not mean it is socialist. I as a socialist HATE big goverment, If anything I want big..cities or other decentrlized structures. and you know the key of Norways success is Oil, just like the Arab emirates and all other fucking disgusting capitalist rich countries. It is Left wing Capitalism, nothing else, the same shit, the same explotation, the same unjustice only the workers don’t feel as exploited. once again, “Liberals” in america, we don’t got socialism in scandinavia, we got leftist capitalism, smfh

    • 8 DrTallTimber 16 March, 2011 at 2:24 am

      “Why hasn’t it been tried?”

      The wealthy and powerful 2% don’t like having to deal with systems that are rational, equal, or fair. This is why they ship their jobs to places with fewer labor and environmental laws.

      • 9 Joe p 19 September, 2011 at 4:56 am

        No, its because it has never worked. If you dont belive me look at greece. They tried it,and now they are on the verge of collapse.

    • 10 Damon Mason 8 June, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      To much money has poured into corporate greed,to actually give us a level playing field?

    • 11 Chippeddiamonds 9 May, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      Sweden/Norway, it’s been tried, it does work in industrialised society.

      • 12 Flash7575 15 April, 2016 at 7:36 am

        Really? Your going to compare Norway and Sweden, which has a total population of 15million +/- (which is less than than half the total population of all of California) to that of the U.S. and say it could work here? It’s alot easier for something like Socialism tobwork in a small country than it is in a large country like the U.S.

        The question should be can or has Socialism ever worked in a largly populated country like the U.S.

      • 13 Luke B 16 January, 2017 at 10:32 am

        well, 15 mill use there taxes to benefit society for…15 million people.

        But, in your head, 300 mill people couldn’t provide benefit for…300 million people?

    • 14 Bob S 19 September, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      Exelent point. true socialism has not been tried because of greed! Greed makes a capitalistic system work, but greed prevents or destroys an atempt to make a socialistic system work. That is why socialists always tries to demonize greed. Greed is not always bad just like anger is not always bad.

  2. 16 Anonymous 8 January, 2007 at 8:33 am

    I have read Marx (other than the Manifesto) though little else of Engles’ work. Marx’s theories are slightly more credible than the pseudo-socialists who misinterpet his work today. I think Marx’s real contribution is not his almost absurd utopian dream but rather his theory of history, the idea that we cannot predict the future, and the fact that we are affected by the values and institutions around us to the point that no one can go outside the box.

    In terms of socialism, however, I am thoroughly unconvinced of the possibility of success and am quite skeptical of the so-called freedom Marx says we will all have. Socialism is necessarily contradictory to freedom because it limits how we can engage with ourselves economically and also, in the end, how we can think and which ideas we can have. It necessarily needs people to be of one mind for the system to work or else humanity could very well move back to the system we all had before (which I would argue is much more ideal anyhow). I think that Isiah Berlin’s criticism of the Marxist school of thought is quite accurate; any system that does not place fundamental human rights (and by this I mean negative rights or freedom from interference) lends itself to potential abuse.

    Socialism is not possible because to be honest, I do not believe it is feasible. In addition, the industrial conditions Marx talked about have largely disappeared and I don’t see a revolution being led by the service industry. There were once excessive abuses in industrialized society but those abuses have fortunately been remedied. No we are not all equal in terms of circumstances but such equality is neither possible nor is it fair as Aristotle recognized 2500 years ago when he said numerical equality was unjust.

    I could provide you with a very long and detailed critique (I have vigorously criticized Marxism before) but I am not going to fill your comment area with an essay.

    • 17 Steve 25 May, 2009 at 2:00 pm

      “Socialism is not possible because to be honest, I do not believe it is feasible.”

      Um… what? I don’t think using a synonym as evidence to support your case is typically accepted as legitimate. Certainly if I attempted to argue that “dinosaurs were big because they were huge” or “that man is brave because he is courageous” it would be considered a joke. If you truly wish to support your point, you must present evidence, not just repetition.

      • 18 Kristin 12 December, 2009 at 9:21 am

        That’s the best response you have to his comments? To correct his grammar?

      • 19 Potentate 13 October, 2013 at 10:32 am

        “Feasible” and “possible” are clearly not synonymous in this context. If you cannot understand that, you are an idiot. Something possible is something that under any set of circumstances could happen. Feasible is “given a set of circumstances this might happen”.

        Socialism and all other utopian ideological socio-political systems are not “feasible” within the context of humanity. We are humans with all associated human traits and behaviors. As such we will never achieve utopia.

    • 20 adam 21 July, 2010 at 10:16 am

      The freedoms marxism takes away are the freedoms of the bourgeoisie to exploit the worker or the freedom to concentrate power for one person. We don’t allow people the freedom to kill or rob so I don’t understand the normal dislike from marxist critics for taking away of freedoms such as those. I don’t know what planet you live in where excessive abuses no longer exist in industrialized society but they most certianly do back here in the real world.

      • 21 Marxist Hypocrisy 101 23 November, 2011 at 4:43 am

        “We don’t allow people the freedom to kill or rob”

        . . . or the freedom to own property, speak freely, disagree with the government, leave the country at will . . .

  3. 22 Michael 8 January, 2007 at 8:33 am

    Oops when I was altering the default profile in the comments I forgot to get rid of the anonymous.

  4. 23 paulitics 8 January, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    olaf – while I recognize that your question is intended to be rhetorical, I do think it’s nonetheless a good question. This is basically the subject of a huge corpus of literature by, most famously, Althusser, Gramsci, and closely related to, although distinct from the work of the so-called “Frankfurt School”.

    In short, while I understand that you intended your question to somehow assail me, your question is more or less exactly the question I have posed to myself which animates much of my current academic research. Sadly, however, I have no quick, short answer for you which would satisfy you or which can be delivered here (as this is basically the subject of my dissertation, so I highly doubt you or anybody else would be willing to read 150 pages on this subject).

    • 24 laura 11 February, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      I have read Marx and while his ideas are idealistic, I don’t think they are rational given the human condition. humans have a selfish streak. It isn’t all bad though. Many great accomplishments have been in the name of fame or glory and not the overall good. When the govt’ has too much power it never turns out good. Do you really think that gov’t would really make everything equal?? another human characteristic is greed. it is unfortunate. People in power have more greed than anyone. I think the only one who could make socialism work is God. Sorry, not gonna happen.

      • 25 janet smith 6 March, 2012 at 5:28 pm

        You have given the very reason why socialism has never worked or will ever work. In order for socialism to work, all people must be of one mind, rather like bees in a bee hive. Socialism would be possible if everyone were born “equal” but that’s not reality. Some are born with intellegence, talent, creativity. Some are not.

    • 26 Sandra Furno 5 December, 2014 at 2:21 am

      People who write succinctly should never apologize for their choice to do so. Verbal diarrhea does not equate with strong intellect or depth of understanding. It is sometimes the habit or “method” of those seeking to intimidate others to use excessive examples of their familiarity with certain topics. The intention being to convince the more succinct that they can’t possibly know what they are talking about. This bullshit works most effectively when taylored toward younger audiences who tend to be more pliable and more easily indoctrinated. I hope that any idealistic young people or any people for that matter, will consider this when having a dialogue with those “well read in marxism”.

  5. 27 paulitics 8 January, 2007 at 12:40 pm


    I thank you for your contribution to this discussion. I just wanted to address a couple of items in your comment.

    When you say:

    “Marx’s theories are slightly more credible than the pseudo-socialists who misinterpret his work today.”

    Are you referring to what I call the “pop-culture” Marxists who claim to be hard-core left wing but really haven’t read any of his work or are you referring to the various schools of Neo-Marxism discussed above (Althusser, Gransci et cetera)? If you’re referring to the former, I couldn’t agree more with you. If you’re referring to the latter, I’d be interested to hear why you feel these thinkers are “pseudo-socialists”.

    As for your comment that, “I think Marx’s real contribution is not his almost absurd utopian dream but rather his theory of history”, I think there are a couple of items which might be worthy of your consideration. Both Marx and Engels abhorred utopian socialism. In fact, Engel’s most famous work was Anti-Dühring which, while written after Marx’s death, was the most complete formulation of Marx and Engel’s disdain for socialist utopianism. Moreover, there is a rather preeminent section of the Communist Manifesto wherein Marx and Engels attack utopian socialism.

    As for the “the so-called freedom Marx says we will all have.”, I do not know to which you refer. Marx’s conception of freedom was merely Hegel’s conception of freedom which plainly states that freedom is not necessarily the removal of all oppressions (although that would be a form of freedom) but rather the realization of the constraints upon your person. Do you disagree with Hegel’s concept of freedom?

    As for your contention that “Socialism… [limits] how we can think and which ideas we can have.” Actually the whole purpose behind Marxism (and Historical Materialism) is the notion that UNDER CAPITALISM the vast majority of the people do not have the ability to full freedom of ideas because, as Engels noted,

    “Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion etc.” (Anti-Dühring)

    Since the proletariat do not have the economic means to be idle like the bourgeois, it is impossible to say that they can engage in free thought such as idle philosophizing since they must work hard to eat and cloth themselves first before anything else. If, in short, Socialism truly did limit how people could think, I would cease calling myself a socialist. But a fair argument can be made that capitalism restricts thought to a greater extent and I think you’ve ignored that critical segment of Marx’s thought.

    Finally, as for your contention that “Socialism is necessarily contradictory to freedom because it limits how we can engage with ourselves economically” You’re right, Socialism does limit how we can engage each other economically. I’ll refer you to one of Marx’s earlier work, On the Jewish Question, wherein he writes:

    “The right of property is, therefore, the right to enjoy one’s fortune and to dispose of it as one will; without regard for other men and independently of society. It is the right of self-interest. This individual liberty, and its application, form the basis of civil society. It leads every man to see in other men, not the realization but rather the limitation of his own liberty.”

    If we accept that Marxism is undesirable because it doesn’t allow people to economically exploit other people, the we must accept that freedom, as you have presented it, would necessarily allow the exploitation of one person by another. This isn’t the case even under capitalism. We limit pedophiles from abusing children. Their freedom is, rightly, limited. We limit convicted criminals’ freedom of motion. We limit husbands from treating their wives as property.

    So socialism doesn’t limit freedom, it changes the definition of what is and is not exploitation. If you want to have a debate on that, then I’m more than happy to address your points, however it is academically dishonest to say that Marxism is diametrically opposed to freedom.

  6. 28 paulitics 8 January, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    In addition to the comments posted here, there was one comment posted on I’m going to copy and paste it here:

    Walkswithcoffee wrote:

    Have you read the example of the commons: fields shared by everyone where all are allowed to graze their horses? The fields were laid waste because everyone, no mater the impact on the environment, were always motivated to send their horses to graze there.

    The same happens to an environment left to unbridled capitalism…

    The moral of the story: good management is, like science, experienced based and not founded on the ramblings of the ideological beliefs of a few dead writers.

    BTW, I’m a centrist… because I believe that is where experience (formed via observation) can be applied to the benefit of the most people with the least risk of harm… the same cannot be said of ideologies, such as socialism or communism… as the 20th century showed us.

  7. 29 Paul Vincent 8 January, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    Original Reply from PB:

    Okay, communism is not socialism, don’t make that mistake. The Communist Manifesto was written to differentiate communism with socialism.

    I too am a centrist, and thus come bringing evidence that socialism does not work:
    North American Phalanx in New Jersey – 1843-1854
    New Harmony Icarians in Indiann – 1854-1859
    The Rappites – 1849-1852
    Mormons in Salt Lake City – 1860-1870
    Warren Experiment in Long Island – 1860
    Oneida Community in New York – 1849-1881

    These were all utopian socialist communities established in the indutrial era testing out various socialist theories on collective property, cooperative work, and common goals. They failed for a number of reasons. The most important was thatthey were all self-sufficient, however a leader held them together with either money or authority. As soon as the money or authority is gone… there goes the community.

    Free-rider problem is a problem in everything. Today it is most identified with the environment. Canada has a small share in the environmental problem and if China, India, Russia, and America do not do their share Canada’s share is meaningless. Thus Canada could get away with doing nothing or very little.

    Now take this into a socialist system. We all work 10 hours a week everything we need is provided to us by the state, however we have no reason to work hard. Socialism breaks down when competitive capitalist markets compete against it. Socialism seeks to provde only what is needed, capitalism seks to provide surplus. People in socialist systems are rather unnatural in this sense. They’re sitting next to all of the larg industrial worlds who are pumping out vaste wealth while your socalist society pumps out very litle. If war breaks out the socialist country loses unless it has a strong sene of nationalism to drive up massive recruitments. If not war then it is the constant threat of it. Sweden would not have lasted if it had prepared for a Soviet invasion.

    Having given my political theoretical jibberish, socialism has one strong front, cooperatives. Cooperatives have generally been very powerful and useful for building strong communities and raising the standard of living.

    New Additions:

    I’d like to add a few things. First, socialist always say the “true socialism” has not yet come whenever socialism fails. This is akin to saying God exists, he just has not shown himself yet.

    As for claims on Marx. Marx was anti-utopian and you’re giving a utopian vision of socialism. Marx felt that with the proper circumstances communism would happen. For this he created a criteria of things that have to happen in society, including the destruction of property. Marx constantly called socialists hacks because they lacked the same sort of understanding he had of class conflict and material history. These socialists did not understand that we are using the material of capitalism right now and so our society necessarily moves in that pattern. When socialism happens it will be due to a contradiction in capitalism that makes it change.

    Thats great and all…. but where is the evidence of that sort of theory? He gives briefs of history and shows them as supporting his theory, without ever answering things that would contradict his theory. Marx regarded religion as being designed by what sort of society you were in. If you are industrial you have one god. If you are agricutural you have many gods. However, the opposite is true of India. He thought everything was broken down into two classes for all of history, yet there are all these classes like the middle class and the clergy that he just shrugged at.

    Is Marxism anti-freedom? Marx probably didn’t even know. As a member of The International he cheered on the Paris Commune which was a hodge podge of free market, collective property, collective ownership, cooperative factories, and citizen militias. However after the whole fiasco he talked down most of the actions carried out freely by the people of the Paris Commune.

    Has socialism happened? Tones of times. As well I could list the Owens’ Project which saw Owens buying up an entire community (factory community) and transforming it into a socialist paradise. It worked until he died, it had no continuity without the original director. Socialism has a tyranical character because it requires a constant charismatic leader to be in charge to give direction and maintain social order.

    Stalinist Communism failed, you can’t force people to work hard.

    Marxist Communism cannot be tested because its said to be powered by “natural forces” (naturalistic fallacy). Marxism is much alive. I think the statism elements of Marx is quite dead and won’t be coming back. Marx’s theories have mostly been thrown in the garbage. What people pay attention to now are his criticisms of capitalism, society, socialists, and religion. I do think its valuable to read Marx, if not for the sake of disagreeing with him.

  8. 30 paulitics 8 January, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Paul Vincent – just to address some of your comments:

    I, like Marx and Engles, use the terms socialism and communism interchangeably. It’s only in the 20th Century that we’ve come to give the distinction that socialism is “bad” and communism is “very bad”. Clearly you haven’t read “the Communist Manifesto” carefully, although you pass yourself off as somebody who has, since any person who’d read it would know that the terms don’t mean anything different and that Marx NEVER differentiated communism from socialism.

    Moreover, if you had read ANYTHING by Marx (even the Communist Manifesto), you would also know that the “free-rider” problem as you phrase it isn’t a problem under socialism because, as is explicitly stated in s.2 of the Manifesto, under socialism if you’re capable of working and you don’t, you starve.

    Lastly, all of the examples of societies you mentioned have absolutely nothing to do with Marxism or socialism or communism. You seem to be confusing communitarianism with communism. This is a significant mistake as some of these societies you listed, such as the New Harmony Icarians, had some extremely weird ideas on the male orgasm and semen as well as toyed with the notion of raising children communally. Marx of course, thought both were stupid beyond belief. In short, you explain yourself in your post why these examples don’t pertain to Marxism when you (correctly) note that these are examples of UTOPIAN socialism (although they’re not really socialism, but I’ll grant you that one). Since utopian socialism has absolutely nothing to do with Marxism, this contention is a little bit like saying that the failure of Hippie communes in the 70s portends to the failure of Marxism.

    • 31 ben 21 July, 2010 at 4:32 am

      I unfortunately have not read into Marx’s works, and I am wondering how, as you said, someone would starve if the didn’t work when capable.

      • 32 ben 21 July, 2010 at 4:36 am

        Also, I am looking at a long list of works by Karl Marx on wikipedia, is there a good book summarizing these, or is one of these a more complete statement of Marx’s beliefs than the others? Basically, which should I read?

  9. 33 paulitics 8 January, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Paul Vincent – when you write, “Marx regarded religion as being designed by what sort of society you were in. If you are industrial you have one god. If you are agricutural you have many gods. However, the opposite is true of India.”

    You’re right that India has many gods, however you seem to be confusing Marx’s conception of religion. Marx never said that religion is “designed” or constructed. Marx said that religion was a natural “sigh” resulting from the class exploitation. And as for monotheism versus polytheism, if he ever wrote anything of the sort, then I’ve never read about it.

    As for your contention that “He thought everything was broken down into two classes for all of history, yet there are all these classes like the middle class and the clergy that he just shrugged at.” You also seem to be confusing the fact that Marx uses the term “class” in a different sense than you are using it. For Marx, “class” pertains to one’s relation to the relations of production. Marx DID talk about other classes than the Bourgeois and the Proletariat (such as the petit Bourgeois), however the “clergy” in the Marxist sense wouldn’t be a class at all.

    As for your statement: “Has socialism happened? Tones of times.” See my comment that I posted before this one.

  10. 34 Paul Vincent 14 January, 2007 at 4:28 am

    Well, one thing that has to be accepted is that there are different brands of socialism. Marx rejected all of the socialists of his time referring to them as “utopian.” Communism and socialism do have a difference under Marx, communism is socialism but socialism is not communism, its a brand like others.

    That’s why I’m a little in shock that you seem to be saying that Marxism, socialism, and communism are all interchangable here. The communities I labeled were examples of socialism, not communis. The topic at hand was “to those who say socialism doesn’t work” so we are talking about socialism and not communism. Just so we’re on the same page, socialism is any doctrine indicating wealth is subject to social control. Owen, Fourier, St-Simon, Blanc, and Proudhon just happen to be early socialists and most consider to be “Pre-Marxian.” So you have Marxian socialism called “communism” and then you have all these other socialists.

    Now socialism doesn’t work in a capitalist society because every time it has tried it failed. Is it possible for socialism to work some day? Sure, but thats only as true as to say that anything can work with the right circumstances… not the strongestargument.

  11. 35 paulitics 14 January, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Paul Vincent – you’re absolutely right that Marx rejected utopian socialism because, I think we both agree, utopian socialist systems will inevitably collapse. However, I can tell you as a student of Marx who is fairly heavily read in him, I have NEVER found any passage in any of his works, in any translation of his works, which would validate your statement “Communism and socialism do have a difference under Marx, communism is socialism but socialism is not communism, its a brand like others.”

    If you can find me a primary quote from Marx which validates your above statement, then I’ll admit defeat on this front, but I highly doubt that such a quote exists.

    As for your statement that I “seem to be saying that Marxism, socialism, and communism are all interchangable.” I should clarify my position. Marxism, by definition, is scientific socialism or scientific communism. So there is a difference between Marxism and the pre-Marxian socialists or communists such as the Diggers of the Glorious Revolution in England or many of the more famous figures you mentioned in your post. Therefore, my position could not possibly be that Marxism, as a term, is interchangeable with these pre-Marxian socialisms. Rather, I merely stated that contrary to modern convention, but in accordance with Marx’s uses of the terms, I use the specific terms socialism and communism interchangeably. Thus, there could be scientific forms of socialism/communism inspired by Marx, or there could be utopian forms of socialism/communism. But the practice of placing ‘socialism’ under the utopian category and communism under some sort of broader category in modern parlance has no basis in Marx or Engels or Lenin’s writings.

    That said, I do feel that you have touched on something meaningful that perhaps I have not clarified satisfactorally. When I said that socialism has never been tried in the industrialized world, I was referring to scientific socialism. I should have made that clear in my opening post and you can legitimately fault me for not specifying that. Thus, while some of the examples you cited cannot be considered even utopian socialism, but rather would more aptly would be characterized as communitarianism (or even extreme communitarianism to Platonic levels), there are examples of bonna fide utopian socialism which failed. The biggest example which comes to mind was the Paris Commune, however since this was so short-lived and was quashed through violence, it is difficult to judge the extent to which even it falls under this category.

    So, having clarified that point, it’s difficult to see how your contention that “socialism doesn’t work in a capitalist society because every time it has tried it failed.” is tenable. Find me an example of scientific socialism which has been attempted in the industrialized world, and I’ll admit defeat on this front.

    Lastly, as I was replying to this post, I read over my last comment and I realized that in it I wrote: “For Marx, ‘class’ pertains to one’s relation to the relations of production” I meant to say “MEANS of production” not relations of production. I just wanted to clarify that.

  12. 36 BigguyinTB 18 January, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Wow!! My head is spinning from all the theory here. Indeed, I have not read Marx and others works mentioned here, and so I am likely to be considered by some as “ignorant” – so be it, everyone is entitled to their opinion – but here is my simple take on all of this.

    If socialism has truly been successful anywhere in the world, I would think that other countries / societies might consider embracing such a notion. But that has yet to happen. It is reality – wealth is needed to drive everything in society, including socialism. Countries cannot and will not provide for everyone’s needs in a practical and uniform manner without the creation and continuing generation of wealth. And where does the wealth come from to support a socialist society? They cannot just start the money printing presses up to fund their needs. Too much theory and academic thought here without a sufficent dose of practicality and reality.

    I suppose the writers here in this piece could go on and on and on about socialism and the benefits (and hopefully recognize and accept some of the pitfalls as well), because it is a theory or notion, not throughly and successfully tested, implemented and widely accepted in the real world today. And consider this……… an even higher mountain to climb might be how a society might transition from capitalism (the real world today) to socialism even if it had the will to do so. It cannot possibly fathom how this might happen. Can you?

    Pushing water uphill would surely be easier.

  13. 37 paulitics 18 January, 2007 at 12:26 pm


    The purpose of this post wasn’t to go into a lengthy discussion on Marxist theory, however Michael and Paul Vincent’s comments started me along that path. The purpose of this post was merely to prove that it’s foolish to say that “socialism doesn’t work”. The reasons I gave for this (and I think I’ve been pretty thorough here) is that since scientific socialism has never been tried, it is difficult to argue that it doesn’t work.

    Now you’re right, there are HUGE issues with how exactly a transition from capitalism to communism is to happen. But, I wasn’t trying to engage in a discussion on how this would come about. I was merely attempting to show that if somebody’s going to use an argument against socialism (and there are strong arguments out there) it’s academically dishonest to use an argument based on the premise that socialism doesn’t work in practice.

    Lastly, although this is off topic, you wrote that “And where does the wealth come from to support a socialist society?” In socialist societies, wealth would be created in exactly the same manner as in capitalistic societies. The only difference is that in the latter, the labourers do not accumulate the surpluses of society equally with the capitalists whereas in the former, the surplus generated by society (which the definition of wealth that I believe you’re using) is shared equally.

    • 38 Alex 20 August, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      I follow the argument that scientific socialism has not been tried and I believe you. My initial thoughts to this then spark the question, “Are there natural forces that make the construction/possibility of the scientific socialist system to be properly implemented? Or is there perhaps some other reason why people have trouble uniting and contributing to such a cause or are unwilling to try this system?”

      • 39 Alex 20 August, 2012 at 4:43 pm

        Also closely related but not quite on point with your initial post but would it be fair to say that any form of government, capitalism, socialism communism etc. all face major hurdles in being practiced as purely as their philosophical and economical theorists explain on paper?

  14. 40 Kurbla 25 April, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Well, socialism works – because I’ve seen it works.

    I am the citizen of Croatia, ex Yugoslavia. Hence, I’ve seen how both systems work. Each of the systems had its stronger and weaker points. In my opinon, advantages of the socialism prevail. Socialism was better in economical (idnustry, agriculture, foreign debt, employement, export etc) and social issues (crime, social differences, easier to solve existental problems, culture.) On the other side, socialism had worse political organization and reduced freedoms of political expression. So, I believe future belongs to socialism, just it needs to be improved in some areas.

  15. 41 Yaroslav Bulatov 5 May, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    paulitics — the word “communism” can mean different things, and when people say that USSR shows that communism doesn’t work, which I agree with, I think they refer to communism in an economic sense, ie the idea of forming a system with common ownership of the means of production

    Red China/USSR are good examples of why communism in this sense doesn’t work, because they show how inefficient the economy “owned by the people” tends to be

    • 42 S 6 April, 2010 at 9:44 pm

      Karl Marx’s “communism” has a definite meaning: classless, stateless and OPPRESSION-free society where decisions on what to produce and what policies to pursue are made democratically. Read his book…I dare you.

      Is Soviet Union under the communist dictator Joseph Stalin considered “OPPRESSION-free”? Is using the state police to terrorize critics considered “OPPRESSION-free”?

      Now you may ask: Can communism even exist? State-ownership is a communist principle. The government of Norway controls 31.6% of publicly-listed companies. Norway has lower unemployment levels than America. More sustainability and higher GDP (nominal) per capita than America.

  16. 43 Anonymous 5 May, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Anarcho-syndiclism is the best form of future government. Read/Listen to Chomsky.

  17. 44 Sid 6 May, 2007 at 2:07 am

    You conflate Socialism with Communism.
    Bad bad bad! ;-)

    That we don’t know Communism doesn’t work because it hasn’t been truly tried is roughly analogous to saying we don’t know if making a boat of cement with a hole in it will work because we haven’t tried.

    A key premise of Communism (which again is not socialism), the Labor Theory of Value, is false. Communist theory is a house of cards because of this foundation.

    Socialism has indeed been tried and works quite well, on the other hand. It’s called Norway and they have one of the highest standards of living on the planet.

  18. 45 Sid 6 May, 2007 at 2:17 am

    It occurs to me that you might be a philosopher rather than an economist. If you’re unfamiliar with the LToV, it’s essentially an idea positing that for any good, additional labor (best considered in this example as human capital) in whatever form will raise the intrinsic value of that good. It’s an absurd assumption in same way that unregulated capitalism is a great idea because of resource depletion (tragedy of the commons). On paper they’re both stupid. But no one ever tries the on-paper version. Capitalism (unregulated, laissez faire style) was tried and failed as miserably as (protectionist, centrally-controlled markets) Communism did.

    To attempt the dated “it hasn’t been tried” argument begs the question in the classic sense: it assumes true a very faulty premise, namely that an implementation will match the academic version appearing in print (whether Marx or Smith).

  19. 46 paulitics 6 May, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Yaroslav – I take Communism to mean more or less what Marx took it to mean. In that case, one can objectively and truthfully claim that yes, the USSR didn’t work, but that it was far removed from what what Communism actually is, ergo this can’t be used as an argument.


    Anonymous – I’m a huge fan of Chomsky and I’ve posted many posts with discussions centering around Chomsky on this blog which you may be interested in.

    For instance:

    I don’t think Anarco-syndicalism is inherently diametrically opposed to Marx (or at least my reading of him).


    Sid – I do not conflate socialism and communism. I, like Marx and Engels, use the terms interchangeably because I believe that it draws out the fact that they have the same intellectual history. However, that said, I recognize that since Marx’s time, the two terms have come to mean different things, the fact remains that this distinction has no basis in Marx or Engel’s writings and is a purely conventional distinction.

    As for your points about the Labour Theory of Value. First, there are economists who call themselves “Marxian” (as opposed to ‘Marxist’) economists who have updated and refined the Labour Theory of Value and hold that it has merits. Thus, I believe your presumptive rejection of Marx’s theory of value is a bit rash.

    Second, I consider myself a student of Marx and I would say that historical materialism and a respect for a Heglian-inspired dialectic are the two fundamental sine qua non aspects of Marx’s writing, not the LToV. I would suggest the first chapter of Lukács’s “History and Class consciousness”, wherein Lukács discusses exactly this point.

    As for your final point that I am in error in assuming that an implementation of Marx’s writings would have to occur as outline by Marx, I think this would be a somewhat fair argument, however it assumes something about my position which ultimately isn’t true.

    I draw on Lukács who says explicitly in the first chapter of History and Class Consciousness that one can reject every single solid premise and still consider oneself a Marxist. The progression from Capitalism to something better doesn’t have to follow Marx’s description of how this will occur because Marx was not a prophet but a philosopher and an economist. Indeed it would be foolish to hold that the rise of something better than capitalism (regardless of what one might call it) will exactly follow Marx’s version because it’s already patently obvious that Marx’s version posits that Capitalism is much more unstable than it is in actuality and as a consequence it also posits that the transition to Communism, was very near.

    Rather, I hold, like Lukács did, that an end must come to capitalism and out of its ashes shall arise something better due to the facts of the dialectic that everything which has a beginning also must have an end. And capitalism had a beginning.

  20. 47 Cam 27 May, 2007 at 5:44 am

    “wealth is needed to drive everything in society, including socialism” – yes, that is true but why should it drive me to hand you “profit” I produced for you while I have to keep being “driven” just so I can barely stay in place? No one is arguing about “wealth”, only the practice of hording it to the detriment of those who actually make society work.
    No, perhaps the Socialism we have been shown hasn’t worked (then again, in a sea of Capitalism, it’s pretty damned hard to get an honest foothold) but Capitalism is constantly dancing through its own mine fields. Just because something worked for hundreds, even thousands of years in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t eventually die (or kill itself).
    Humanity lived under various forms of monarchy and common folks, generation after generation, saw this as part of nature or “God’s will”, until this belief slowly eroded until these walking gods lost their aura of authority and in some cases, their heads.

  21. 48 thejist 5 June, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    You are an idiot.

    “it’s never been tried in the industrialized world.”

    I am not even touching that.

  22. 49 Cam 9 June, 2007 at 1:46 am

    Yes, isn’t that interesting? I guess “The New Deal” had no Socialist overtones either, or unions don’t count, or the struggle for the eight hour work week, women’s rights, civil rights, etc., I guess this all comes out of the generosity of free market Capitalism because we know Socialism has “never been tried in the industrialized world”.
    News flash, “Industrialism” has been steadily dying for at least thirty years now and Capitalism is trying to reinvent itself within it’s out of touch “political” sham as it slips and slides toward oblivion, why, because it works?
    If Socialism was premature in the industrial age, it may be ripe for the information age. I love these people who are so threatened by progress, that they have to keep trying to convince us “it will never work” because, apparently, they have crystal balls or something and know what the rest of the world wants.

  23. 50 Cam 9 June, 2007 at 2:22 am

    ANNOUNCEMENT:To those interested in discussing Socialism in-depth and meeting with others, such as Amy Goodman, John Pilger, Iraq Veterans against the war, etc.If you will be in the Chicago area: there will be a four-day conference at The Crowne Plaza. Look up for further info.

  24. 51 paulitics 9 June, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Cam – I never said that “socialism will never work.” In fact, I hold that it can work — and will work when the time is right and people are ready for it. I merely stated that full-scale socialism as Marx saw it in its most mature form has never been tried yet.

    Thanks for the announcement though. I really do wish I could be there. But sadly, Chicago’s just a bit too far for me to travel right now. :(

  25. 52 Cam 9 June, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    No Paul, I am responding to the same post “thejist” responded to (at first, I thought “thejist” was responding to me). “Olaf”, I believe is his site name.

  26. 53 Publius Poplicola 19 June, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    Indians (hindus) have NO gods or ONE god, if they are monothesistic they believe in the manifestation of their god in many FORMS, it is NOT a polytheistic religion

  27. 54 Publius Poplicola 19 June, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    actually like Buddhism its a “way of life” and a philsophy not a religion at all, ill get on topic in a few

  28. 55 Paul 15 July, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    I know the secret of a successful socialist type government, which is an endless supply of money, hence a money tree or forest.
    I know this because every socialist that has failed, which is all of them, has said we didn’t have enough resources (money) because everyone wanted the free services and not the free jobs.


  29. 56 paulitics 15 July, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Paul – Those are some pretty bold blanket statements you put forward. Do you care to back any of them up with some facts or examples?

    Did you read my post? My whole contention is that there has never been any truly socialist government ever in history (which in and of itself negates your comment). Rather, all that there’s been is state capitalist states who have usurped the title ‘socialist’.

  30. 57 Edward J. Meisse 28 September, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    I am looking for a quotation from probably the late 1800s up to maybe the early 1920’s. I had thought it was from Marx. But now I’m thinking maybe Bakunin. The person said of Lenin’s plans for the Soviet Union, “It’s not Socialism. And it won’t work.” Can you tell me who? Or can you tell me where I might find out?
    I too doubt that socialism will triumph. But I think its spirit is very important. I think that some application of its basic principles will be the only way we will be able to live together in the long run. But I think that application will be part of a mish mosh of several philosophies of political philosophy. The end result may or may not be called socialism. But I’m sure it won’t be what anyone thinks of a socialism today.

  31. 58 paulitics 29 September, 2007 at 10:09 am


    Well, I’m pretty sure it’s not Marx who said that. I have no idea where you could find out who said that, but if I were to guess who it was that said it, my first two guesses would be Bakunin and Emma Goldman.

    Let me know if you’re able to find anything out.



    P.S. Do be weary of quotes attributed to Goldman. She was a very quotable woman, but there are several quotations floating around out there that are often attributed to her, but were never actually said by her.

  32. 59 Jamie 18 October, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    The success of democracy and capitalism in today’s world has made Marxist thought obsolete. 124 years after his death, Marx himself would agree. Marx said that “The rise of the working class is inevitable”. He was right! It happened. That is why we have labour unions. The Industrial Revolution is
    over. Marxism is over. Communism is over. Time to move on to new ideas. Marx would agree.

  33. 60 paulitics 19 October, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Jamie, you make three basic contentions, some of which I agree with and some of which I disagree with. I would like to briefly discuss each in turn.

    First, you write that democracy has been a success.

    On this front, I do agree that democracy, as an idea, is indeed a success. The only problem I have with democracy is that it is not more expansive and ubiquitous in our western lives (i.e., While I’m happy to have the democracy we’ve got, I’d be happier to see democracy expand even further than it is now, and expand into the economic realm to allow for democratic control of the economy).

    Is there something specific which has caused you to believe that Marx was anti-democratic or have you just not read him and have uncritically taken the default trope that you’ve been fed by other equally ignorant people on this matter?

    Second, you write that capitalism has been a success.

    Allow me to ask you, Jamie,

    -If you learned that in the European Union, every cow received $2.50 every day in government subsidies all the while 75% of Africans live on less than that — would you say the system is working alright?

    -If you learned that over 1 billion people lived on less than $1 per day and over 2 billion people lived on less than $2 per day all the while the richest 1% owned more than all of these 2 billion people combined — and that this inequality was INCREASING not decreasing — would you say the system is working alright?

    -If you learned that more than 70% of the world’s population has never heard the dial tone on a telephone all the while Canadians were bitching because their income trusts just got taxed at rates comparable to other businesses — would you say the system is working alright?

    -If you learned that over 30,000,000 people in Africa alone are living with AIDS, and that there ARE pills which can help them, but that there is more money for pharmaceutical companies to give a North American an erection than there is to save an African life — would you say the system is working alright?

    -quoted from a previous post on the Paulitics blog:

    I think it’s clear that capitalism ISN’T a success.

    Thirdly, and most importantly, you write that “today’s world has made Marxist thought obsolete… Marxism is over. Communism is over. Time to move on to new ideas. Marx would agree.”

    On this front, you are certainly not as ignorant as your contention that somehow Marxism stands in opposition to democracy when it actually seeks to radically expand it.

    On this front, you do have some good — and reputable — academic company. For instance, I imagine that you’d agree with this quotation:

    “Marx is definitely dead for humankind.”

    This quotation wasn’t made by you, obviously. Nor was it made in your lifetime. Nor was it likely made in your parents’ lifetime. This quotation was made by the famous Itallian thinker Croce in the year 1907 – ten years BEFORE the Russian Revolution. And Croce wasn’t even the first to prematurely dig a grave for Marxism either.

    Alan Maass sums this up far better than I could, so I’ll conclude with him:

    “Croce was declaring that Marx and Marxism were irrelevant in the new century—the 20th century, that is. As Daniel Singer, the socialist journalist and writer who sadly died a year and a half ago, put it (citing Croce’s words during a 1997 talk that was reprinted in Monthly Review): ‘I have quoted it to remind you that gravediggers of Marx—the new philosophers, the Fukuyamas—have plenty of ancestors and will have plenty of successors, and it’s not worthwhile spending much time refuting their paid or unpaid funeral orations.'”

  34. 61 Jamie 19 October, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Marxism is a “thought”; it is a “theory”.

    It cannot be tested. The only way to find out if it works is to put it into practice which requires a revolution by the working class.

    The working class will not revolt in democratic / capitalist countries because the working class is satisfied with the status quo which already includes protection of the working class through labour unions PLUS democracy / capitalism also provides redistribution of wealth through taxation.

    Time for some new thinking. Marx would agree.

  35. 62 Jamie 26 October, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    So, Paul, what are some of your new thoughts?

  36. 63 paulitics 26 October, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Jamie, you merely restated your original asinine comment using different words. If you’re interested in asking something else, I’d be happy to entertain you, but since you haven’t brought up anything new, I’m just going to direct you to my comment above.

    I noticed that you had no rebuttal to any of my points. Am I to take that to mean that you agree? (Or should I merely take that to mean that you’re way out of your league and have never read any serious amount of Marx?)

  37. 64 eimaJ 2 November, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    comment deleted

  38. 65 paulitics 3 November, 2007 at 8:58 am

    eimaJ – just to let you know that I’ve set your IP for moderation for a period of one month. This is essay season for me as a university student and, while you’ve demonstrated that you can waste an inordinate amount of your time (and while I will be happy to allow you to waste an inordinate amount of my time once essay season is finished), I simply do not have time in the month of November to go around refuting the most ignorant of claims.

    I especially liked your claim that “Africa does not have a Capitalist system.” That one was by far the best. It made me chuckle. Thanks for that. I see that when you can once again continue commenting, we’ll have to backtrack a bit to basics and and go over the fact that capitalism, by definition, is a system of production wherein the means of production are owned primarily by private/non-governmental interests.

    I should emphasize that I’m not being disingenuous here. I AM truly more than happy to let you troll my blog all you want and I’ll patiently respond to all your comments as of December 1st when my last essay is due.

    As evidence for this, you can search through my LENGTHY discussion with the troller known as “the-antisocailist” on this blog.

    I’ll see you in one month.

  39. 66 Tenche 9 November, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Give a Man a fish he will eat for a day.
    Teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime.

    Socialism. Does. Not. Work.
    It is a theory.
    Looks good until you actually do it.

  40. 67 paulitics 9 November, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    I. Guess. Merely. Forcefully. Stating. Something. Makes. It. True.

  41. 68 jIMINY cRICKET 9 November, 2007 at 11:01 pm


  42. 69 professorchris1 27 November, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Socialism cannot work because economic calculation is impossible. The great economist Ludwig von Mises proved this in 1922 with his great work entitled: Socialism. Without prices, there is no way to figure out what to make, how many to make, what color, etc. That’s why all socialist states, where the govt. owns the means of production, have shortages in basic needs and surpluses in stugg nobody wants. Read the book. End of discussion.

  43. 70 paulitics 28 November, 2007 at 3:44 am

    Professorchris1 – you raise a very important concern about state-managed economic calculations. Indeed, I agree with much of what you wrote, the only problem is that what you were criticizing was not socialism but rather state capitalism (i.e. what they had in the Soviet Union what with all the shortages and 5 year plans, was state capitalism).

    So, you’re quite right to point out, as you so succinctly do, that that’s the “End of discussion.”

  44. 71 Bill Koehler 8 December, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Socialism never works because socialism is slavery.
    You can not impose a system on others without making them slaves to whatever it is you impose.

    Socialism has been tried and every trial has ended in failure because too many people refuse to be slaves. Go back thousands of years to the Spartans, who got the works done? The Helots who were their slaves. This is the reality of socialism.

  45. 72 paulitics 8 December, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Wow, I’m truly speachless. I must say I’m used to getting ignorant comments here and there from people who think the USSR was socialist or what not. But this takes the cake. I don’t even know where to begin.

    “Socialism never works because socialism is slavery.”

    Care to elaborate on that argument at all in order to enlighten us ‘slavery supporting types’ over here?

  46. 73 Mike 19 January, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Quite frankly, the statement “Socialism has never been tried in a western society”, is a fallacy. In fact, in 1945 the British voted out Mr. Winston Churchill and replaced him with Clement Attlee (Labour Party). Mr. Attlee WAS a socialist. He installed many nationalized services, including health care, coal mining (which was hugely important to Britons), as well as creating an economy which was, to a fair extent, centralized. Socialism was the prevalent train of thought in Britain pretty much up until Thatcher took over during the Reagan/Thatcher/Pope John Paul II era, in which the world saw the free market and capitalism defeat communism and the notion that a centralized economy was stronger. In conclusion my friend, socialism and policies which tend to lean towards the welfare state have in fact been tried, and they failed. During the period which socialism was accepted in Britain, living standards decreased. Inflation rose, creating some serious economic troubles for the “West” in general (the U.K.’s downturn impacted the U.S. just the same).

    Anyways, to sum it up, Adam Smith and David Ricardo’s theories on the free market work. Simple as that. It works better than socialism, as proved by the enhanced trend of globalism we are now seeing worldwide. Globalism and the theory of “comparative advantage” and all that, simply put, works and increases living standards more so than socialism and welfare states ever have.

  47. 74 Mike 19 January, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Ah, sorry about my paraphrasing there: “Socialism has never been tried in an industrialized society”. In any case, the point still stands =]

  48. 75 greenpagan 25 February, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    “socialism doesn’t work in real life”

    Especially when it’s been undermined by crapitalist imperialist scumbags, their agents and camp-following ignoramuses!

    Any other dominant ideas of the Masterclass the little brainwashed parrots want to expectorate?

    GOP Mess Americon

    — GP


  49. 76 atp 5 March, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Norway is not a good example of socialism at work. Less than half of the industry is state owned, so there is free market competition for goods and jobs, not controlled by the state. The natural resource sector is the predominant part of the Norwegian industry controlled by the state, which in turn ends up competing on the world market anyhow (demand and supply with no price controls). Even socialist can make money selling energy (oil,gas, etc.), and even a socialist scheme can pay good wages under these circumstances.

  50. 77 Ryan 26 March, 2008 at 11:18 am

    “How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”
    — Ronald Reagan

  51. 78 RPJ 27 March, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Yeah, like the rest of the world cares what Bonzo Goes to Washington thought.

  52. 79 vigya walia 3 April, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    it was great reading all this… though i have not read as much but i think socialism will work when everybody works together towards it.

  53. 80 Thor 10 April, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I would suggest that Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Tories, Communists, Socialists, Conservatives and Labourites are concerned with preserving the institutions they created to manage an industrial mass society. They defend the giant corporation, the mass trade union and the centralized nation state. The concern about workers is reminiscent of the agricultural age when the establishment was concerned about the serf. Without the serf the aristocracy found itself without a role. In a post industrial age the worker becomes redundant and the industrialists and related institutions find themselves with a limited role. Rather than clinging to victorian age principals its time to free ourselves from wage slavery.

    Our industrial economic model and supporting government systems are unable to cope with either the demassification of markets or the collapse of consensus. The government debt being accumulated to maintain consumption for the benefit of an economic system that supports government, capitalists or unions as intermediaries is no longer affordable but more importantly is inefficient.

    It is the recognition that we are changing into a Knowledge based economy that prompts me to suggest something that couldn’t work before is now feasible. The explosions in Self Serve and DIY are only the beginnings of a trend toward an economy where the consumer and means of production are directly linked. We bank, order and design items, assemble goods and collaborate on projects while the intermediaries that performed these roles have been displaced due to information and automated manufacturing systems being directly linked to the consumer.

    Historical and current examples of self-sufficiency do not differentiate tasks into work and leisure. They term what they do as living. The term “economy” is defined to exclude all work or production not intended for the market. Perhaps a new system will on a collective basis provide the infrastructure and support to be largely self-sufficient. Think of the explosion of DIY (Do It yourself), which is only constrained due to the demands of the exchange network that requires that most of our time, is spent at work. Is the decline in the protestant work ethic simply a shift in production for others to production for self? Are we not working when doing renovations, planting gardens, attending courses, volunteering, writing stories and politically active on the Internet? Some of us can’t afford to work full time and others just need to be shown the way. The profit-based capitalist market only became necessary when the task of consumption was separated from that of production. This elaborate money based system could mostly be replaced by new forms of barter in a DIY society. This will minimize the demands on the state; shrink government and most importantly reduce the role of the economy in our lives. This was the system that we lived by before Industrialization. It didn’t work because we didn’t have the science, technology and lessons gained from industrialization. Now we only need the political will to make it happen.

    It is no longer about the political left or right.

    The technical community that built today’s digital infrastructure did so around a certain set of cultural values, among them openness, sharing, personal expression, and innovation. These were core values of the early digital pioneers (the hackers), embodied in what we proudly call the “hacker ethic.”

    Todays revolutionaries recognize the issue today is about ……

    Open or Closed.

  54. 81 Alex 16 August, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Have any of you guys read “the socialism of the XXI century” by Heinz Dieterich Steffan? Its really interesting and explains perfectly what the New Historical Project is about, as well as the dynamics of global politics in the XXI century. Im reading it in Spanish , because Im not sure if it has ever been traslated to english. I got the book on a Adobe file, ( its short its about 80 pages or so) ,so if any of you is interested just let me know, I ll send it to you free.


  55. 82 Seth Consoliver 10 October, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Oh, you little democrat kids are so entertaining – praising socialism – teeheehee…

  56. 83 suzi 17 October, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    People surviving with the wealth they earned in a society whose government allowed them to do so, can get an education and work where they want. My democratic parents taught me this. They also taught me to give to others. Our family lives on less so that we can do this. The government does not need to get involved in our personal lives in order for us to start sharing our time and our money. You all put forth lofty academic thought and argue about the depth and content of what you’ve read and therefore somehow believe you’re experts. ( I would have a field day with your spelling and grammar if I had the time.) I went to this site to increase my understanding of current social and ecclesiastical tensions. What I see is the problem itself. Everyone wants to be heard in regard to what they feel is unfair and unjust, fewer people actually go and do something about it, of their own volition, without waiting and hoping the government will intervene. The wealth of the world is unbalanced because people are selfish and like to argue and point fingers. Model that to society and see what you get.

  57. 84 Nancy Jones 18 October, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Isn’t the reason why there has never been any truly socialist society because human beings, being what we are, aren’t capable of true socialism? It would work I suppose, if those in charge of instituting the policies weren’t subject to corruption, but to think that’s possible is akin to believing in the utopian socialist dream! As far as I can tell, socialism would work if we were all God but, listen sweetheart, we ain’t. Your argument for socialism is the same old rhetoric I hear all the time…”It’ll work this time, we’ll do it better than those other guys!”. It doesn’t work, it never has, and until we become infallible, it never will.

  58. 85 socialism bad? whaaaa? 23 October, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    We have been slowly adding socialism for the last 100 years. “They are our failed policies.”
    I site the American education system as a prime example.

    Why is it that 1913 when we really started using national socialism our country started to decline steadily?
    The great depression was created by a centralized banking system not a free market.

    It is only because of complete ignorance about the economy would anyone support such a move,

    Our current financial crisis was created by a centralized banking system, again not the free market (we haven’t had a free market for decades)

    I guess all I could say to you would-be socialists and communists is, read history you are nothing more than followers and lemmings.

  59. 86 RPJ 23 October, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Gee with such a convincing argument from such a learned individual as you appear to be Socialism Bad, you’ve totally won me over. Wow, thanks for such insight. You must be an economy God. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Perhaps you could read a book or study something other than your own navel lint before you post again. Just sayin!!

  60. 87 socialism bad? whaaaa? 24 October, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    if you look at china they appear to be doing very well, but they also rely on a capitalist governments to generate a substantial revenue, by selling us many of our goods we take for granted.
    Before we started purchasing our cloths overseas, most people in America made their own cloths because the cost was so high. At the time we were more of an agricultural society and supply was for less than real demand making clothing far more expensive.

  61. 88 socialism bad? whaaaa? 24 October, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    What is decisive…. is the envious man’s conviction that the envied man’s prosperity, his success and his income are somehow to blame for the subject’s deprivation, for the lack that he feels…. A self-pitying inclination to contemplate another’s superiority or advantages, combined with a vague belief in his being the cause of one’s own deprivation, is also to be found among educated members of our modern societies who really ought to know better. The primitive people’s belief in black magic differs little from modern ideas. Whereas the socialist believes himself robbed by the employer, just as the politician in a developing country believes himself robbed by the industrial countries, so primitive man believes himself robbed by his neighbour, the latter having succeeded by black magic in spiriting away to his own fields part of the former’s harvest

  62. 89 socialism bad? whaaaa? 24 October, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    and may I remind you that America and it’s capitalist pigs brought this world out of barbarism, and all your fancy homes, medical advancement, iPods, cars (even environmental cars) and all other gadgets of vanity.
    Were brought into this world from our “evil” system.

    What has any socialist or communist country ever done to better the world? Nothing!
    people believe that socialism could work because it has never been tried in a modern society,
    that doesn’t make sense to me because if socialism cannot create a country how would it be possible to sustain one?

    National socialism or communism may not create
    Hitler’s, Stalin’s, and Lennon’s
    but the people in those societies were powerless to stop them. why you ask? the 1st thing all of those men did was disarm the masses.

    “The end of freedom will come with thunderous applause”

    sorry to Interrupt your red party
    i shall say goodnight,

  63. 90 cindy 3 November, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Go to Cuba and then you will see why socialism doesnt work ask them..ask the cubans, “spread the wealth” is the very definition of socialism.

  64. 91 RPJ 12 November, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Actually Canadians do go to Cuba quite regularly (as do most European nations). It is Americans that feel they are experts on a place that they never visit. By the way, what the hell are you afraid of anyway? The worlds last remaining super power, able to blow up the entire earth many times over and you live in fear of a tiny poverty stricken island off your southeastern coast. If you are so sure you are right and they are all wrong, why don’t you get your boot off their neck and resume relations with them so you can show them the error of their ways by your stellar example?

  65. 92 Mary 11 February, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    I’m sorry but you sound like an idiot. First of all, Marx was a Communist, not a Socialist, comrade. Maybe you should reread all of his works if you didn’t pick that up. Secondly, Socialism is used in most of Europe in countries that are considered industrialized. Today, ignorance regarding the horrors of communism and socialism (which both reside on the left of the political spectrum, but sorry to break it to you aren’t the same thing, Paul) prevails in the US and we are reversing evolution by slowly adopting a system that historically has been proven to be flawed, whereas the system that we have used in the United States for hundreds of years, capitalism, has been proven to be the most unique and poignant examples of success. We have had numerous examples of why socialism doesn’t work (the soviet bloc being one of them but there are many present examples in Europe and throughout the world as well ) but because our economy fell apart under a pseudo-conservative president (Bush adopted many socialist domestic programs, gave more foreign aid than any president in history, and spent more than any president in history-not exactly consertative economically) the American public elects a communist this time around. Smart. Ask any economics scholar why socialism is a bad idea. Anyone who knows anything about sound economic principles will tell you socialism sounds good on paper but is flawed when executed. Obama has even admitted he doesn’t know a thing about economics and his presidency is a learning experience for him. How scary is that?

    Of course, Marx didn’t intend for communism to be corrupt you idiot; corruption is just a product of this “ideal system”. (if you consider punishing success ideal, that is) When you give sooo much power to a single body ie government, it is bound to result in corruption. Marx thought we could all just live happily together, trading goods with no authority dictating that trade. This is naive at best. It is a utopian state, but highly unrealistic. With socialism and communism, it is necessary for us to adopt big government and to put it in terms you people can understand: government is just like any corporation, when it gets too big and money hungry, it often results in corrupt individuals high up. The only diffence between government and a big corrupt corporation like Enron is that big government much more frightening. No one is regulating it but itself, they’ve got the military and all the guns (if they take away our right to bear arms that is), they make all the rules, they don’t have any competition to destroy them, we don’t have a choice to boycott and put them out of business, lol, because we will be highly dependent on them in all aspects of our life and it is the government after all. Privatization is the only thing that truly works. Laissez-faire economics is the way of the future, if we fail in this we are doomed. Read the book “Atlas Shrugged” for some good philosophy. Sorry for any grammatical errors, this was a quick rebuttal.

  66. 93 Mary 11 February, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    And I understand laissez-faire captialism is the trading of goods without government regulation, as well, before you attack me on that. BUt obviously there is a difference in perspective between Marx’s philosophy and laissez-faire capitalism. Marxism is very dependent on the good of human nature. Also, I am sorry for calling you an idiot, you are obviously well-educated but it was in response to how condescending you have been to the folks on this message board. You may have a lot of obscure facts and nitpick everything anyone says on here but you fail to see the big picture. I think you look for facts that will support your preconceived notions and overlook a lot. And actually I am not a full believer in true laissez-faire economics, I do think there should be minor government regulation, but surely you don’t think true Marxism can exist in reality.

    • 94 S 6 April, 2010 at 9:34 pm

      No. Laissez-faire capitalism is very dependent on the good of human nature. So instead of supporting government interference, they believe the private sector can do better.

      1.5 million people died of starvation, because they argued that for the government to supply free food for the Irish would violate natural law.

  67. 95 Nieves Torres 23 February, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Would you say our current president Obama is a socialist? I know someone from who made such a statement but I want to gather information before I make my judgment. I’m fully aware that capitalism is not functioning properly and that socialism was compared with communism, which I found out was not necessarily true and that people have that thought so drilled into their heads. But would you say that if socialism was given a try in the western culture would there be any prosperity? The United States is in fact a young country in comparison to Europe but I don’t know the conditions of Europe either. I would like to know more before I make any judgments. I would rather think things through before I make any thoughts or decisions because as I’ve learned from experience to not know anything is the same as being a fish in a tank.

  68. 96 Birdie 27 February, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Sadly that is what happens when you have communism or socialism in place. It’s a pie in the sky goal. The reason it doesn’t work is because people are by nature greedy, self centered and power hungry. It’s more than wise to keep them in check. With socialism or communism (and yes I know they are different) you’ve handed over your rights, trusting in people to do the right thing when they can’t or don’t. You leave your country open to evil people while you are at their mercy. There will always be evil people and those who support them. To think otherwise is foolishness and unrealistic.

    Socialism and communism sounds like a fabulous idea – on paper like a lot of things do. In the real world it just will not work as well as capitalism where the people are not under the thumb or at the mercy of their leaders. You have to be realistic. When you are dealing with a world filled with power hungry evil people, you cannot afford to give your freedoms over to a system of government like that.
    Our system is not running properly as a capitalist system because socialism is continually bleeding it’s way into it. You are foolish to give your freedom and control over to government control or majority rule etc…America is by far the greatest nation on the planet and there are those who wish to transform it into something it was never intended to be. Perhaps you are one of them?

  69. 97 RPJ 10 March, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Yes by all means. It is much better to put your freedom and control into the hands of the corporate mega-giants instead of into an institution where you actually have a voice. After all, corporate America has always acted in YOUR best interests hasn’t it???

  70. 98 Ron 10 April, 2009 at 11:30 am

    If you Socialist/Communists all hate this Republic so much, and don’t agree with the Constitution, by all means please LEAVE NOW!!!!!!! Go somewhere and build your utopia and leave the rest of us alone! I am really amused that the argument for saying that Socialism has never worked, is always rebutted with, it has not been implemented enough. If Socialism was so great don’t you think once people got a taste of it, they would want more, not less of it? I don’t see the people here getting on raft and going to Cuba, do you? I think that just about sums up what people feel about Socialism!

    • 99 S 6 April, 2010 at 9:37 pm

      You think you’re living in a republic? LOL.


      And if you think your vote is more important than an endorsement by Goldman Sachs, then you are delusional.

  71. 100 Alex 23 April, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    So, I am doing a paper on whether socialism can work. You have anything you would like to say to defend socialism? If so, please drop me an email. Please cover economic aspects. I do not care for the nonsense history of the USSR, and so on, I want economic facts if possible.

    I hope to hear from you.

  72. 101 John Hoffman 25 May, 2009 at 6:19 am

    So then, a consensus here might be, socialism can work, but rules of co-operation must be enforced. Does this mean socialism is limited to small societies? Can people vote to change the rules? How does the society discipline members who cannot or will not obey the rules? Can non-conformity be tolerated? What about criminals? How bad is it for the society if a member steals or assaults? Can the society punish a member for breaking rules? What are the limits of punishment? How are new members assimilated? What is done with people who are kicked out> Can a former member, who was removed by the group, be reinstated?

  73. 102 Luke 25 May, 2009 at 6:41 am

    i like democracy and socialism.

    ive only read The Communist Manifesto
    and read/talked somewhat ABOUT Marx and Engels, their lives, theory and actions.
    but here’s what i understand (and i’m open to learning)…

    i see important distinctions between Communism/Marxism and socialism…

    one difference important to me, as an ex?-Christian familiar with the totalitarian abuses in China and Russia against minorities of various belief systems, is C/M is essentially atheist and anti-religious (“religion is the opiate of the masses” etc.), whilst socialism need not be (indeed some early forms of agrarian socialism were practised by Christian clergy – and, if the Bible is this far reliable, by the early Christian community.)

    also, the happiest places to live in the world for some time have been successful Northern European states with a blend of varying degress of capitalism (of which I am chary), democracy and socialism, and these are less extreme in their ideological, theoretical and practical demands of the Universe!

    last but not least Marx claimed to be setting up a scientific theory based on the evidence of human history. This is not true because this theory does not match the data in two ways…

    a) to me it seems some – and only some – of Marx’ assertions offer accurate and meaningful analyses of certain periods and places of history, particularly the Middle Ages, but do not pertain to other milieux.

    b) Marx claimed all states would evolve through a series of stages into Communist states. This has not happened, and is there really reliable empirical evidence to suggest it will? I lack data, but I suggest if Marx claimed the sequence of stages was fixed e.g. say feudal > capitalist > socialist, one would find states that broke this element of the theory by evolving in a different sequence. And yes I agree that perhaps there has never been a truly Communist state – only systems where individuals or groups lie Big Brother style that the system is of and for the proletariat. (Perhaps there have been truly anarchistic *socialist* states, even if only among small indigenous groups with grassroots self-governance and sharing of resources.)

    one of many ethical qualms I have with Communism/Marxism – even in their “pure” form – is that it is to a large degree a “gospel” of hate. Contrast the revolution supposedly preached and practised by say Buddha, Ghandhi, Jesus (rather than people who claimed to be of their “party” but violated their examples in evil or ignorance) with the sort of irrational mob revolution depicted movingly in Metropolis (before the reconciliation of “heart” and “hand”)…Consider: sweeping statements like “revolution by any means is justified” (if I am quoting correctly?) can and have been used to try to legitimise anything. ANYTHING.

    (As a sub-point, I do not want a world where any one party is supported over and against the other, but a fair distribution of all power and resources to all people as much as practically possible. This may mean a world where the distinction between “heart” vs. “hand” dissolves; so be it!)

    Having experienced some of the follies of purportedly religous or spiritual “faith”, I do not want to submit to or support ANY belief system that is out of line with the facts i.e. is not true…and promotes ethically undesirable extreme forces and actions – with predictable – and historically demonstrated – consequences.

    Communism/Marxism as represented in The Communist Manifesto – even when recognized as catalyst polemic – in many psychosocial aspects simply replaces religion as the so-called opiate of the people with simply another belief system demanding doublethink commitment to the sometimes patently untrue, essentially encouraging, indeed requiring the hateful opposition of large groups of people, and hence extreme unethical action.

    If I am in chains,
    I’m certainly not going to be manipulated
    by polemic and propaganda
    into getting fervid
    about exchanging them for another, period!

  74. 103 Former Canadian Socialist 25 May, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Defending socialism because it has not been properly applied while insulting capitalism for its faults is a double standard, y’know.
    Additionally, weighing your political options in a utilitarian manner will undoubtedly lead to a totalitarian government and lead to socialism or state capitalism.

    The purpose of government is not to regulate freedom or economy, create progress, or to make stand-up citizens; it is to create liberty and equality across every spectrum.

    Laissez-faire libertarianism, rather then state capitalism, is the future of nations. This pure brand of capitalism lacks the regulations that impede the drizzle-down effect of regulated capitalism, and it’s lacks of marriage with state results in less exploitation of other nations.

    I have seen communalism work in the doukhobour, hutterite and mennonite communities work to some extent around my city; but I wouldn’t necessarily call this socialism or communism. In a very small community, some aspects of various communalism work – but all governments fail when used at the provincial or federal level.

  75. 104 Arno 25 May, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    A better question is: why do we continue to laud capitalism as the superior approach to government, given the recent catastrophic failings of it?

    It is somewhat telling that when the extreme free-market capitalism of American conservatives led to a global meltdown of the economy, the response was for the government to support its citizens (albeit corporate citizens, but citizens nonetheless) by giving them money.

    The GOVERNMENT using taxpayers money to SUPPORT its citizens?! That sounds familiar…

  76. 105 Dave 25 May, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Socialism exists in every country in the world.

    Why doesn’t anyone protest about the bailout of the banks? Capitalism says we should let them fail. “Survival of the fittest,” anyone?

    I come from a Western European country and the US has socialist elements since day one. European countries believe that Capitalism should be the general mode of operation, but there should be collectivism for the things that need it, like health care.

  77. 106 James Thomson 25 May, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I agree 100%.

    Soviet Russia, China and any other ‘Communist/Socialist’ state have never been truly that. They used the words Socialism and Communism in order to label themselves as being different from the Capitalist West.

    Socialism has never been given a chance, and it’s about time we had some change.

  78. 107 Infogleaner 25 May, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    There are a lot of really insightful (for me) posts here. It is nice to see people presenting their (for the most part) arguments with reasoning. Not to nice to see others label people as idiots for having different views.

    The “tragedy of the commons” argument by Paulitics should be clarified. If anything, it would apply to a socialist system, where all the cows were allowed unlimited grazing. This rather describes a socialist system where all benefit, but the end result is the destruction of what supplied the benefits, leaving all far worse off. Contrast this with capitalism, where one person owns the field. That person wouldn’t dream of taking something which supplies a steady year to year income and try to maximize the output at the cost of destruction.

    I work for a privately owned two-family run business that employs about 160 people. They’ve run the business for more than 40 years and have about 30 million per year of revenue. They not only own the business, but the children of the families work there and help run the day to day functions of the company. These worker/owners are some of the hardest working people I have ever known. Do they get more than non- owners? You bet they do! And when we got slapped with a 3 million dollar lawsuit last year, did they hurt more than us? You bet they did!

    My point is these people have a vested interest in the company continuing to function, year after year. The wages they pay me make it in my best interest as well.

    Am I defending capitalism? Yes. Am I defending unbridled capitalism? Not only no, but hell no!

    If this company were made public, I have no doubt a predatory company would just love to rush in, pump it up, abuse it, and sell it as soon as they could LOOT every asset it has. THAT is unbridled capitalism.

    We see this so much in the mega-corporations today. You will see it in GM’s bankruptcy, where all the assets will be sold off at profit to meet the obligation of preferred stock holders (uh, I don’t think that’s you or me, folks). The common stock holders, like me and other people who own a small percentage by way of 401K (201K?) plans, will get the screw.

    The tragedy of the commons is that there is no responsibility for the individual, only the collective. The end result is all individuals eventually suffer because they ARE part of the collective.


    • 108 BobbytheMutualistAspie 30 March, 2014 at 3:53 am


      The “tragedy of the commons” is a strawman designed to keep the landlords and bosses in power and the workers either subjugated or as the Paultards would prefer dead.It`s become increasingly apparent to me that capitalism is not a socio-economic philosophy at all but rather a sickness of the human heart that erodes empathy,progress,equality,reason and philosophical enlightenment.It dehumanizes workers and bosses alike so that the workers become dollar signs and the bosses become pigs.Selfish,greedy,privileged pigs sociopathically apathetic to the pain they cause when they step on the workers to get ahead.Look at yourselves.Anti-government?I`m anti-government,what you pack of hypocritical vultures are is anti-worker.Bosses and landlords,hands off my labor! If a group of workers wanna voluntarily work together for the mutual benefit of all involved,who are you to stop us?This is the fundamental hypocrisy of capitalism.You cry “Liberty!Liberty!” but your “liberty” only truly benefits the ruling class.And you all tell me I`m endorsing mass murder?What do you call the Industrial Revolution,then?How many workers died?Women,children forced to work under substandard conditions for low wages.Pollution of the air and waters.

  79. 109 KDC 25 May, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    As population increases Socialism is an inevitability. It will be the only way that human civilization will be able to survive.

  80. 110 Ryan 27 May, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    I think the introduction to Geoffrey Hosking’s “The First Socialist Society” gives a pretty good argument against the idea of Paul’s original post. The first paragraph reads, ” ‘The philosophers have only explained the world; the point is to change it.’ This famous dictum of Marx invites us to judge his doctrine by its practical consequences, in other words by examining the kind of society which has resulted from its application. Yet, paradoxically, many Marxists themselves will deny the validity of such a judgement. They will dismiss the example of Soviet society as an unfortunate abberation, the outcome of a historical accident, by which the first socialist revolution took place in a country unsuited to socialism, in backward, autocratic Russia.” Whether or not Marxist theory was meant for Russia or China, that’s where it was used as the ideological base for revolution.

    By the by, I’m all for heavily regulated economies, but 100% state-ownership doesn’t work.

  81. 111 Adam 30 May, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    You want to be a socialist….go be a socialist. Get together with all your friends that want to be socialists. Provide 0% interest loans for each other. Pool your resources. Pay for each others’ houses. Buy group medical insurance policies. There is nothing stopping you from being a socialist.

    There is a model that has worked for several hundred years. The kibutzim of Israel. They work. The reason that they work is because:
    1. EVERYONE who joins, does so voluntarily.
    2. If someone isn’t pulling their weight (but is able to), they get kicked out

    However, you can’t do either of those two things on a national level. So, instead, what happens is there is a group of people who leeches off of “the system”. Initially this parasitical group is small. However, over time it grows and grows and grows until the parasite gets bigger and hungrier than the host.

    The bottom line is that socialism is a deadly parasite on capitalism and in the end, everyone ends up being poor.

  82. 112 Paula 5 June, 2009 at 7:27 am

    The nightmare scenario about socialism creating a state of parasites living off the hard workers is a mistake. That is not what socialism is. The industrial/capitalist society we have at present tends to disable people from being independent. Though the welfare state was a necessary antidote to the grueling inhumanity of 19th century capitalism; at the same time it often locks people into a cultural dead-end.
    Both morally and environmentally capitalism is no longer a feasible economic system. It doesn’t matter what you call it : communism, socialism, anarchism. We simply need a sustainable, respectful way for humans to live.
    It is not Utopian to have this philosophy . It is a plan as a guide for the future.

  83. 113 RPJ 6 June, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Wow Paula, nicely said.

  84. 114 Greg 23 September, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Next time you attempt to disprove a theory please make sure you actually attempt to disprove it. I began reading your post and was intrigued when I found out I may read a reason why the “parasite” theory is a mistake. Instead I read a sermon of names and titles concerning the subject but no definite answer to the argument at hand. You’re argument that capitalism provides no way for a society to lead a respectful life is nullified by the inarguable fact that capitalism has provided a better standard of living, increased the opportunities for financial stability(over the long term) and helped to shape a country over the past 200 years. If it’s disrespectful to strive to maintain stability and thrive then, yes, consider me a disrespectful person. No one will argue your point that the U.S. has had unfavorable moments in its history concerning our financial situations, but to argue that capitalism is at fault and nothing else is very rash and irresponsible. Over regulation (I.e. The Great Depression; The Mortgage Crisis), under regulation, government interference, and corruption are among the many other factors that play a part in downtrodden times. These factors do not stem from capitalism alone and so capitalism does not solely bear the burden. If you’re quick to jump ship on a theory that has stood a test for many years be my guest. I, on the other hand, will attempt to fix the leaks, patch the holes and deal with normal wear and tear accordingly. Smooth sailing is never a guarantee but we’ve been sailing for awhile now.

    • 115 Alex 20 August, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      I constantly wonder why most of the general public does not react to tremulant economic or political times with this mindset. Everyone is so quick to give up rather than consider…..maybe we just made a mistake? And we don’t have to totally revamp our system? All governments have leaks and fail from time to time but I hardly consider capitalism failing right now even with increased gaps in wages and standards of living. These things are bound to happen no matter what system we embrace. We live in a very imperfect world and to claim that capitalism is failing in our country right now is a very, very bold statement.

  85. 116 RPJ 23 September, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Greg, just because your country has been able to exist under capitalism for 200 years without the masses needing to rise up due to extreme poverty and hunger does not mean that capitalism is the reason for this success. Actually it is due to the fact that you had the great fortune to take over a land that was endowed with incredible quantities of natural wealth, good climate, good land and massive quantities of it, plentiful and clean water (reliably available) and because that land was originally pristine, you did not have to deal with the pollution and overcrowding issues already faced by many older countries. This allowed you a long term opportunity to continue to concentrate greater and greater wealth into the hands of the elite while still managing to meet at least the minimum standards required to keep the worst off poor souls alive. This excess abundance also allowed for a large segment of society in between (the great middle class). However, the snowball of unchecked capitalism is gathering more and more speed as you populate the greenest places in your land, poison the earth, air and water around you, interfere with natural weather patterns, ever accelerating the rate at which the wealth is increasingly concentrated in the few. and you are starting to see a hint of what the future holds. You have been keeping it at bay (propping up your capitalist system) for the last few decades by taking the wealth from other vulnerable countries but you are being increasingly met with retaliation and wars for your aggressions. That too is now taking its toll. It is said that humans don’t change their behaviour until all other alternatives are exhausted so perhaps you are doomed to ride this cart right into the pit. It would definitely be to your benefit, though, to wake up to the reality of the situation, and make the necessary changes before that happens (or worse). You’ve got homeless and dispossessed souls all across your nation, people lining up for minimum health care at events normally held in 3rd world countries, overflowing jails, young people dying more often from gunshots than accidents, people sick and dying from polution and addictions, and you insist on living as if the fantasy of the “American Dream” is anything other than an opiate to assist with the victimization of the many by the few. This is a lottery mentality and you need to counter it with a good dose of reality and truth. Good luck to you. Contrary to what you may think, most of the world does not wish you ill but is concerned for you but yes also getting wary of you. We all have challenges and struggles to face and need to help each other find the best solutions. Putting the breaks on cancerous capitalism in my own country is not easy but we have to get there. One thing I do know and that is that leaders will never BRING you socialism. This has to be fought for and demanded by the people. Your delusion that somebody will impose it on you is frankly ludicrous.
    PS: Your comment on “over regulation” causing the Great Depression and the mortgage crisis would be a good place for you to start your search for the truth.

    • 117 Alex 20 August, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      I think your statement about “the worst off poor souls alive” is a bit fallacious as very few people (even those at the bottom of the barrel $7.67 wage rate) struggle in our country. I know this because I am in the lower class here(earning a mere $12/hour and I am extremely grateful and have nothing to complain about.) Just because there is a huge gap in standards of living does not mean that our lowest standard of living is not much higher than the lowest standard of living in other countries. I think most people just see more privileged people and by nature say “I want that.” but the difference between a capitalist and socialist is the way they then act on that “I want that.” notion, do they bust their arse at work everyday and make sacrifices to improve their lives? Or do they complain and insist that somebody give it to them…

      • 118 Alex 20 August, 2012 at 5:26 pm

        No matter what system we embrace there is always going to be blatant natural and artifical(society-based) inequalities. Just a fact of life.

  86. 119 Teresa 22 October, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe I’m repeating something…

    But socialism presumes–no, requires– that everyone is in agreement about doing it. Since when has a nation of people ever agreed completely on anything? And a bit wacky of a thought since over 50% of Americans do not agree with it… Socialism also, by it’s nature, enacts a control for those who do not agree with it and buck the system–they really cannot buck the system because they don’t have the freedom to do so. (Yet, in our free society, a socialist does have the freedom to behave like a socialist–communes, some churches, some cults, etc.)

    Capitalism on the other hand promotes individual freedoms–freedom of thought, action, religion, etc. This drives inovation. Does anyone really believe that those who are lazy–and I have no idea of the percentage of Americans who are lazy–will suddenly, when offered something, or more of something for nothing, rise up and get creative and ambitious? When will they ever contribute? If they won’t jump up and take ahold of their own right to life when it is a right, when there is every incentive to do so, why would they do it when that incentive is suddenly withdrawn?

    And why would the hard working people of America continue to bust their asses when they aren’t even allowed to keep the rewards of their own hard work? How demoralizing to not give someone what they have rightfully earned. Even a child knows that that is unfair. As much as a socialist hates to hear it, regard for one’s self is what drives people forward. And why on earth is that a wrong motivation? It’s a means to survival. It is we as *individuals* who wake up each morning, decide to push ourselves forward and make a life that we find worth living. And the “life worth living” is defined uniquely by individuals. It should never be defined for us by the elite who tell us we must agree with them or we show that we have no regard for our fellow man.

    If every man and woman has the freedom to choose and the incentive to reach for their dreams and the confidence that they can choose those dreams, they will be more likely to work, more likely to be healthy emotionally, and more likely to reach out to those who truly are in need. And hopefully encourage those who think they are entitled to the rewards of another man’s labor to take the initiative and make a life for themselves that can truly make them proud and happy as well.

    While the picture of a nation that works in harmony, not for profit, but to make everyone “equal” looks lovely on the surface, what it truly is at the heart is a very demeaning form of dependency on government. Adults are not needy like children. They have experience, judgement, ability and rights. In a socialistic society, adults are treated as children who cannot provide for themselves, cannot make decisions for themselves, and who basically have very limited rights.

    While families, which constitute a sort of collective, are a beautiful picture of a group of people working together, a society cannot function like a family. Children are dependent by necessity and parents love and care for them out of love and not obligation. Make people responsible for adults who won’t pull their own weight and they will lose the will and drive to work as well.

    And a socialist might say, how selfish is that that someone only wants to work for their own profit! Are all capitalistic minded adults stingy and selfish? Don’t they provide willingly for their children? And don’t they quite often give willingly to the truly needy of our world? I know it’s true for myself and the majority of the people I know personally.

    Programs for the less fortunate or those who fall on hard times are useful. But are all American people really so hateful and selfish that they wouldn’t help a fellow citizen who is truly in need? Are we all really like that? Is that what a socialist is saying? Are they saying that those who are not for a socialist society just don’t care about anyone else’s needs? The truth is that most Americans (if the socialist is honest) do care for the suffering. But the capitalist doesn’t see a lazy person who won’t even do something good for themselves–like get out there and work the free market–as the kind of person who needs help. It is atrocious for an adult person to believe that someone else should provide for them. And, no, I am not talking about the truly needy here.

    Yet how many truly needy people want to make it on their own and work successfully to just that end? How often is it the individual who is most challenged that works the hardest and achieves the most sense of pride in self? I think it is for those people a matter of a very strong belief that a sense of entitlement–wanting what does not belong to them– is just simply wrong.

    Does a socialist really believe that a man who puts himself through school to become a Dr., works all those longs hours and makes all the necessary sacrifices doesn’t deserve what they then are able to earn? Does a socialist really believe that the farmer who just gets by, but is happy as can be because he isn’t fixated on having what belongs to someone else, ought to get some of the Dr.’s profits? There are so very many people who make a low income and are actually happy. They aren’t looking for happiness in having more and more AND, more importantly, they aren’t longing for what doesn’t belong to them.

    Check out Cuba. The Dr. gets the same amount of food as the janitor–and they both really need much more than what they get. Because…. a socialistic ideology is only that and will never work in practice–that is, until the socialists figure out how to get every single person on board and motivated to live their lives in servitude.

    Ignoring the fact that humans will not all suddenly decide to live the life of Mother Teresa or Jesus will not make socialism a real possibility. It is only idealism. It does not plan for reality. Theories are good, but then we must work back from the theory and see if it’s intelligent to pretend that we could all have it one day OR if there’s really no way in hell you can get 300 million people to willingly live a life of slavery.

    REALITY, not idealism. Maybe we should all be willing to live a life of servitude–maybe that’s the moral thing to do. But the FACTS are that we aren’t willing and we never will be.

  87. 120 NObama 3 November, 2009 at 11:54 am

    It really saddens me to think that so many people here are for Socialism. The fact that Socialism doesn’t work can be proved by hearing the old story of the college professor arguing with his students over the same issue. The professor was for Capitalism and the majority of the class was for Socialism, so he (the professor) said “for the remainder of the year we will conduct our grading based on the view of Socialism…..we will take an average of the class grades and keep everyone equal. The students were thrilled in the beginning……

    The first test came: about half the class studied and got A’s, the rest of the class slacked off and got D’s and F’s. Luckily, the amount of A’s from the students who studied were enough to pull up the lower grades and resulted in everyone in the class getting a “B”.

    Second test came: only a quarter of the class studied and got A’s, the rest of the class slacked off and got D’s and F’s. (most were upset students who studied hard on the first test and got an “A” only to have it lowered to a “B” based on class average) The result of the second test, based on the class average, was everyone was given a C-. Not enough students studied to bring up the average of the whole class.

    Final exam came: Upset about studying hard for two tests only to get low grades based on class average, no one studied for the final exam. The students capable of getting A’s didn’t study because they were angry over the other tests; those students who slacked off in the beginning lack the knowledge foundation to get a good grade on the final. The result was that everyone failed the course. Outraged, the students cried out “but that’s not fair, why should we suffer for the laziness of the other kids in the class!!!” The professor smiled and said “welcome back to Capitalism.”

    Although I’m sure that some idiot is going to quote some old novel to argue my point, one thing you cannot argue is this: do you honestly think that Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller, or any major entrepreneur would have worked hard to develop their companies if they were going to make the same salary as Joe Some who dropped out of school and contributes nothing to society? Of course not. Socialism is the bridge to Communism. Once the government gets a hold of something…they never let it go. The thrill of growing a business and ultimately making more money for themselves and their families is what makes Capitalism work. No one is going to work hard if they do not see any results….

    This is why Socialism does not work.

    • 121 Pablo V 12 November, 2009 at 6:19 pm

      That professor was obviously not an instructor of history, politics or economics. Otherwise he would have realized that this example is ridiculous and not tantamount to an analogy of social production.

  88. 122 NObama 24 November, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Actually, he was an Economics professors at Texas Tech University. The point is to show that no matter what class, or region of the country you are in, socialism does not work. Up to that point the professor had never failed one single student, but since the class argued that socialism worked, they decided to experiment with it. The result was the failure of the entire class. Socialism doesn’t work because eventually you run out of someone elses money/time.

  89. 123 Kristin 12 December, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I believe the largest reason that Socialism would never work in America is because our leaders are far to self serving to make it work. They don’t truly care about the people. They care about their own self interests and their own wallets. Do we believe that any of them would be willing to give up their private jets and big houses to live equally with us? No, but then, they believe that they are much more intelligent than us and perhaps that entitles them to more (in their minds, of course) Just look at Mr. Gore and how he preaches about Global warming, yet he jets around from one high priced speech to another, going home to his large and wasteful house. Obama preaches about how we have to sacrifice in this time of financial crisis and how we will have to pay higher energy costs to save our earth, but the man has had more parties and trips in his first year than some Presidents have had in their entire terms. Do you have any idea what is involved when the president goes on a trip? The weeks of pre planning and dozens of cargo planes that have to fly equipment and vehicles to the site ahead of time. His quaint little date night in NY cost the tax payers more than a hundred thousand dollars. They don’t walk the walk, what makes you think they will do it if and when we transition to socialism? They won’t. It will become another oppressive communist regime.

  90. 124 Darklady 29 December, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    It’s really very simple. Socialism hasn’t “worked” and won’t be realized because as soon as you put people into positions of authority over the hive/herd, suddenly they are entitled to more because they work so hard. The people who eventually run the experimental societies never lose the materialistic urges of humans, and they are positioned to gain what others have. “The Government” doesn’t take over private industry, the people in government do. The people in government take it all in, look it all over, and keep the shinies. Theocracy, democracy, republic, fascist state, socialist state, the people IN the government have gold toilet seats. So true socialism can’t work.

  91. 125 Just me 12 February, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Socialism has killed over 100 million people in the 20th century alone. It has never worked and it will never work.

  92. 126 A difference 2 March, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    For those who may be interested, is one of the better websites I’ve come across on the net.

  93. 127 America 30 March, 2010 at 8:45 am

    So basically if you are willing to give p your individual freedoms and liberties.. and work for the government.. who are the only one’s who prosper. then yes socialism will work.. Me for one I am an American .. and believe in the individual..

    • 128 S 6 April, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      Capitalism certainly provides more individual freedom than socialism. But socialism provides more economic equality than capitalism. Look at the Human Poverty Index. Sweden is the first country. Do you know how Sweden solve their banking crisis? They nationalized it. They turned a private company into a government entity. It’s socialism.

      Afterall, capitalism’s goal is not to make everyone equal but to maximize individual freedom. You’re not just an American. You are a product of a decades-in-the-making ideology that goes way back to John Randolph of Roanoke who once said, “I am an aristocrat. I love liberty, I hate equality.”

      Socialism tends to be associated with the totalitarian dictator of the Soviet Union who by the way couldn’t care less about worker’s rights or eliminating the class system. He was too busy making alliances with an antisemite, censoring the media, and using his secret police to terrorize people.

  94. 129 mogu4 1 May, 2010 at 9:30 am

    The failure of socialism always is self-reinforcing logic. The author states that socialism fails because its not implemented correctly in its ideal form, ergo necessitating another try. But the author obfiscates the fact that it will never be implemented in its ideal form becuase of human nature, which is always corrupted in these circumstances. Progressives always get this answer wrong because they always get human nature wrong, because they excise God and his relationship to our true nature, from their lives. Therefore, the author, like all progressives, believe wrongly that human nature can be perfected and improved, and if the socialist experiment didn’t work the first time, try again. Despite the feedback being 100’s of millions of deaths as the cost. We need God, and he is right to remind us that we need him, because we are prone every day in every way to being bad – that can’t be fixed without Him.

    This is the danger of secularist and humanistic thinking: that the human condition as spelled out by scripture isn’t true or doesn’t apply anymore. It takes root in those who deceive themselves into thinking that human nature can be improved upon and trusted. It blinds people by their own greed to attain godly heights. Icarus flew to high….to use a secular myth as an example.

    Capitalism and the free market for the most part is a context that reflects true human nature. The execesses of the market typified by undesirable but permanent markers of human weekness – greed, etc. – which can’t be improved on, is usually remedied by the market itself. Where it can’t be remedied it is still the best negotiated real position between the good and bad of human nature, without resorting to the socialist fantasies of eugenics, and utopian social orders.

  95. 130 adam 12 June, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Despite what the common leftist rejection is, the USSR was in fact a socialist system. Just because it was a totalitarian nightmare doesn’t mean you can deny that it had anything to do with marx. Any system that relies on a state to carry out it’s will, it being will of the people or capitalist class or whomever, can fall victim to corruption and careerism and bureaucracy the way the USSR did. That, however, is not a reason to give up on socialism. It would be correct to say that it hasn’t the way it “should” but, as any marxist will tell you, what does go the way it should? Try again. Fail again. Fail better. I suggest you, and the idiot who suggested ayn rand who should burn that garbage, read In Defense of Lost Causes by Slavoj Zizek

  96. 131 Christopher Thibeault 4 August, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said okay, we will have an experiment in this
    class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone
    would receive the same grade, so no one would fail and no one
    would receive an ‘A’.

    After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a ‘B’. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

    But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little. The second test average was a ‘D’!

    No one was happy.
    When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an ‘F’.
    The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name-calling all
    resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great;

    But when government takes all the reward away; no one will try or want to succeed.

    • 132 ben 10 August, 2010 at 2:38 am

      I love how Paul starts out this article with “I’m sick of hearing… people who haven’t read any Marx or Engels” because that category obviously holds you.

      Marx’s economic philosophy was based upon Hegelian philosophy. He states that when wage labour is taken out of a context of constant building and spending capital (he calls it slavery, to be blunt) it becomes different, and not seperate from ordinary life. Then, he argues, that labour becomes not something for capital, but something to fulfill the human need for it. This is defined slightly by Hegelian philosophy, yet Marx argues that Hegel ‘mystified’ his ideas with the ideas of the soul and spirit.

      A good book for such ideas is Robert C. Tuckers “The Marx Engels Reader, Second Edition”.

      This argument is a good one, but uncomparable to economic labour.

  97. 133 Justin 5 August, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    It is a wonderful thing to so brilliant and well read in the ideals of governmental systems. Positioning yourself as an administrator of your Socialist Nirvana by internalizing the hypothetical ideals of Marx and Engels will put you in the elite ruling class. There you can clean up your rhetoric as it pertains to your distain for the ignorant masses. I long to hear your calculated speeches read off teleprompters in your bid to garner the applause of the mindless adherents, that you privately snub and publicly placate. The largess of your mind fills you with euphoria that only you can do all the thinking for everyone. If only everyone could think like you, the world would be a better place. Unfortunately every man has a history and a collective purpose in his family, tribe, nationality and world view. What kind of a demagogue would you have to raise yourself to conjoin all these desperate lineages into a monolithic, manageable mass so you could direct it in your beneficent guidance? What would you do with us dullards and religious fanatics that can’t follow directions or will not subjugate themselves to your all knowing “what’s best for them” ideas?
    Ideas and ideals are a dime a dozen. Don’t you think for a second that the history is the confounded succession of great ideas implemented with high hopes and then destroyed by terror that lies within each individual? That terror being amplified when some individual is given unrestricted power to implement his “good” ideas by shear force and the unbridled demons of his soul?
    School boys like to pontificate because they know everything, and most academics know everything because they never grow up. You may not believe in God but He has been trying to bring mankind to the realization of his purpose, in this universe of his accommodation.
    Controlling and moving the visible chess pieces of society is to deny that in society every person is not what he appears to be. Each person is moved by blind forces that beyond our thought, our relation to these forces are as separated and distinct as the chess piece is to the chess master(not God). Though, as we cooperate with his moves, we begin to understand what and who is moving us and it is not always “good” if we are willing to journey past self delusion.
    Examine not how you can control others but how you can give of yourself and drill down inside yourself until you find unoffendable love. Then you are a true citizen of truth and reality where you intellect flounders but your heart understands.

  98. 135 Gus 19 July, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I find it amazing how many people will make the effort to comment on this post while so few have actually bothered to read it properly or gain the most basic understanding of its subject matter. Is Norway a worldwide, moneyless, stateless society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production by and in the interests of the whole population? No? Well then it’s not Socialism, is it? The fact that ‘socialism’ has other, more common uses these days can hardly be used as an excuse for this when the article clearly uses it in the Marxian sense.

  99. 136 Marxist Hypocrisy 101 23 November, 2011 at 4:46 am

    So, basically, your entiore argument is little more than the “No True Scotsman” bullshit socialists have hid behind ever since the Soviet Union collapsed, it’s dark secrets spilled out and it was no longer possible for socialists to go along pretending that all criticism of established Marxist regimes was the result of Evil Capitalist Propaganda (TM).

  100. 137 Veronica 18 January, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I have truly enjoyed reading all the comments hear. ( might be because I am a It has been enlightening.
    But, Paul, would you please elaborate more on the following?
    Paul Vincent
    “I too am a centrist, and thus come bringing evidence that socialism does not work”:Mormons in Salt Lake City – 1860-1870

  101. 138 Steve Winland 6 April, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    “You cannot legislate the poor
    into freedom by legislating the wealthy
    out of freedom. What one person
    receives without working for,
    another person must work for
    without receiving. The
    government cannot give to
    anybody anything that the
    government does not first take
    from somebody else. When half of
    the people get the idea that they do
    not have to work because the other
    half is going to take care of them,
    and when the other half gets the
    idea that it does no good to work
    because somebody else is going
    to get what they work for, that my
    dear friend, is about the end of
    any nation. You cannot
    multiply wealth by dividing it.”

  102. 139 Steve Winland 6 April, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    can you say, DAH?

  103. 140 Steve Winland 6 April, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Here’s another good question….. Would oprah be a Billionaire if us “whities” didnt bring “them” over?

  104. 141 Steve Winland 17 April, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I’m still waiting for a logical reply……..

  105. 142 dantheman 18 May, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Socialism most certainly does not work. Pointing to European countries that simply exist, do not contribute anything to the European economy (like say, Germany and France), do not even support their own national defense, and constantly increase their taxes while cutting back on the quantity and quality of the services they provide does not make much of a case for defending socialism. Socialism does not work because human nature is no different now than what it was since creation. Tell a lazy man that he does not have to compete for his share of the wealth being taken from the producers by the government, and he will be happy to take as much as the government will give him in exchange for his support of the government’s power to continue the taking.This is the essence of why socialism fails every time it’s tried. Most countries that pretend to be socialist retain their system through tyranny and intimidation. That is a fact that qwe see from the history of countries that tried it in the past as well as present day. And how do these countries overcome the human nature that prevents the ideal of sociialist utopia from realization? By force. And who gets to decide how much the common subject gets to keep of the fruits of his labors? Why the elites of course! What makes themn elites? Could it be the ones that are able to force the masses? How about the ones that can persuade the weak minded? In any case, people choose socialism at the cost of their own freedom, and that’s why America should never make that trade.

  106. 144 Gordon Day 24 July, 2012 at 12:10 am

    what a load of manure!!Greed will win, because we can control it!

  107. 145 Tim Eggert 1 August, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    You say you are tired of hearing socialism doesn’t work and you cant’ go by what happened in the Soviet Union, China and elsewhere because those don’t resemble anything Marx or Engels wrote. There is a big piece missing here, you haven’t shown one place it has worked.

    • 146 Gus 8 August, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      No-one had to give an example of global capitalism having worked somewhere else before the industrial revolution could take place.

      And if you ever hear a socialist talking about examples of where socialism has worked before, they’re not a socialist. We all agree that it has never existed before.

      • 147 Alex 20 August, 2012 at 6:07 pm

        That’s because the forces of capitalism more closely imitate the forces of nature than do most other forms of government. It had already shown so much promise prior to the industrial revolution. Socialism, however, does not show as much promise as Capitalism initially did.

  108. 148 Robert 8 August, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    One thing that people seem to ignore entirely is that under a Socialist form of government you would have few people deciding who gets what and how much for the many with absolutely no regard for the individual. How is that going to protect a person’s right to their individual sovereignty? This is slavery. That is why our founding fathers established a representative government rather than a government that Lords over its subjects.

    • 149 Gus 8 August, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      One thing you seem to ignore entirely is pretty much everything in the article and everything about what socialism actually means in this context. Your argument is so irrelevant that what it really amounts to is spam, except for the fact that it was posted manually.

      • 150 Alex 20 August, 2012 at 6:09 pm

        Why do you keep dodging every post that makes a valid point just because it is not pertinent to the original article? Even Paul admitted that the blog took a turn way off course and continued to contribute in the debate…

      • 151 Gus 30 August, 2012 at 7:41 pm

        None of them are valid points in relation to what the article is about, they are talking about completely different things. I’m not dodging these arguments, I’m pointing out the fact that whoever posted it is so confused about the subject matter that you would think they hadn’t even bothered to read the article properly. If we were talking about “socialist forms of government” there would be an argument there and I would acknowledge it as such, but as explained in the article, the article is using a completely different meaning of the word “socialism”. It’s like saying “one of the things all these arguments ignore about anarcho-capitalism is…” – it’s irrelevant here. The only thing the above commentor’s “socialist forms of government” and the article’s “socialism” have in common is the name.

      • 152 Gus 30 August, 2012 at 7:45 pm

        Even you keep using terms that suggest we are talking about different things when we say socialism. It just seems stupid to have multiple threads of debate going on where each person is probably talking about something completely different to everyone else, and no one is bothering to clarify what their definition is.

  109. 153 Steve Winland 21 September, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    wow, this guy is a union member and has NEVER run a business. He TAKES AND EXPECTS, and gives to his sad ass union bosses who DO NOTHING FOR A LIVING! BRAVO YOU DUMB FUCK. OBAMA HAS NEVER BEEN “MIDDLE CLASS” WAKE UP YOU STUPID F*CKS

  110. 154 Ky 5 October, 2012 at 11:04 am

    I have some simple questions about socialism
    If everyone is equal who determines where and how hard of jobs each of us has? Who determines if someone even works at all? Who lives in the big mansion and who gets the 2 bedroom ranch? Who drives the Pontiac and who gets the Cadillac? Simple questions that seem so hard to answer with just a theory.

    • 155 emptycalm 5 October, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Those who want more will work more to earn it. The whole point of socialism is that the playing field will be level. No longer will you be held back from opportunity because of race or class or where you were born or your sexual orientation. All will have access to education and healthcare without having to settle and work day and night somewhere they hate just to pay off brutal debt. It’s not about making everyone equal or the same it’s about expanding opportunity for all to make something meaningful of our lives instead of just being pawns of Capitalist exploitation.

      • 156 Ky 5 October, 2012 at 12:56 pm

        Obama said it himself that his grandmother worked her way up the chain at a local bank to become v.p. I don’t see where the big capitalist society held her back despite of sex or race. My grandfather started out sweeping floors for a company called kresges which became Kmart. With hard word he earned he moved up the ladder to become a manager of one of their distribution centers. My grandmother started out as a secretary of the city schools and worked her way up the ladder into administration. My father took only drafting in high school and worked his way up in the manufacturing industry to become a plant manager. I don’t see where capitalism hurt them in anyway. They earned their path to the top without college educations. Or equal opportunities given to them. Brink back the manufacturing jobs and you will see growth. Free trade is the tyrant. 20 years ago a kid that made some mistakes could still earn a great living working to support his family without depending on government tax paying programs. Some people just work harder than others and its not fair to share for those who are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, but choose to do nothing. I work hard and I’m not rich at all $42,000 a year. I just want to make my own decisions and be rich with love that I receive from my wife and kids. My wife also makes around the same as me as a nurse. We paid for her education ourselves without any government assistance. We are just doing fine and others can choose to do the same.

      • 157 emptycalm 5 October, 2012 at 1:34 pm

        For every example of someone “pulling themselves up by their boot straps” as it were there are hundreds and thousands of examples of the opposite. The notion that people who aren’t doing well for themselves are somehow lazy and “choose to doing nothing” is just pure propaganda and complete nonsense not to mention extremely offensive. I know many people like myself who have degrees even who have given up looking for work outside of the service industry or people who aren’t working at all or part time who would love to have a real job but need food stamps because they don’t make enough tips at work and can’t get any more hours. Some people are “doing fine” but the way the system is set up now there is no way that everyone, or even most people, can do what Obama’s grandmother did and that is getting worse and worse as time goes on. This is the inevitable result of a system that puts greed as the highest virtue. You are right that Free Trade is the tyrant but who in our system is even speaking out against that? No one. It would take a radical and militant workers movement(which does not even exist. we don’t even have credible unions anymore) like in the 30’s to even scare that notion into our leaders heads. The manufacturing jobs won’t come back and no one in business or government has any real intention of bringing them back. It’s just not profitable enough to pay american workers a living wage in this expensive economy when they can get it way cheaper overseas and unlike the 30’s there’s no strong socialist movement and no one in office offering any type of relief programs or even, at the very least, any intention of (my god)properly funding the programs that do exist. You may not need help but many people do and that number is only going to keep growing.

      • 158 Ky 5 October, 2012 at 2:00 pm

        I delivered pizzas and my wife worked at Taco Bell while she was in school to earn extra money with no help. We earned an extra 600 a week doing that instead of waiting around for an open hand to feed us. Socialism isn’t going to create a job for someone. If socialism shares the wealth to help others then the money people do make for themselves they will keep to themselves and not donate to charities in which they choose. Those charities help thousands of people and research and development in the medical fields for our advancement as a culture.

      • 159 emptycalm 5 October, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        Socialism isn’t just about “sharing the wealth” or just handing the money out to people. That is welfare-state social democracy which is not Socialism. Socialism is an entirely different economic structure separate and not a part of Capitalism which will have qualitative effects on all aspects of life. You don’t really believe that if everyone was given ownership of their own labor that no one would want to support things that advance our culture and society do you? Humanity isn’t that awful. This is the 21st century. Technology has grown leaps and bounds and is supposed to make our lives better. Why should people have to overwork themselves just to have only the possibility of getting by? Despite what you may think, Americans(the ones that aren’t apart of the millions who can’t find work but want to and are trying with no luck) work more often and longer hours then most and for what? Terrible infrastructure and stagnant wages with an increasingly expensive society whose consumerism is economically, ethically, and ecologically out of control? Why should real wages for working people flat line like they have since the 70’s while corporate profits and the number of billionaires skyrocket? Capitalism is now incapable of solving these contradictions especially when it is being run by the “Investor class” and there is no one in government who is making any real attempt to even challenge the ill logic of that class structure. There is also no way to reverse time and go back to some sort of “Capitalism with a human face”. The wealthy and those who profit from our exploitation would never let us vote away their true “gains”. Also, Capitalism is more than just you or I finding a job. Why should Americans be the only ones who reap the benefits from it? It is now a system that has shelved nations for multinational corporate entities and exploits workers and the environment all across the world and plunges it into constant economic and therefore social crisis. Imperialism, as Lenin put it, is the latest and an inevitable stage of Capitalism. It has taken on new forms under neo-liberalism but it’s Imperialism still exists as we see with western backed coups or “revolutions” all over the middle east and south america to have a stranglehold on resources and influence or even the existence of institutions such as the IMF.

      • 160 Ky 5 October, 2012 at 4:04 pm

        In which countries has socialism worked that we can model from? I read where communist countries do not count against socialism, therefore those countries can not be used as a good model for socialism either.

      • 161 emptycalm 5 October, 2012 at 7:49 pm

        Well it depends on what you count as “working” and your perspective on the matter. Capitalism has a “working” model in the sense that those it is trying to work for are doing quite well these days. The USSR “worked” in the sense that it’s unemployment was on par with the west if not better most of the time and despite not having all the consumerist goods that the west had, it still had many things and also was the first country in space and only collapsed because it simultaneously disregarded and created many nationalist movements that ran counter to the whole idea of Socialism. it had nothing to do with Reagan. China “works” in the sense that they(like Russia) turned a peasant country into the second largest economy in the world in 30 years where it took the US a couple hundred. they are productive but not working examples of Socialism. Marxists see real socialism as being post-capitalist, not a part of it. I myself don’t see the examples i made as working models mostly because they both still kept(or keep) within the Capitalist economic and social framework. The whole point about socialism is that it is picking up where Capitalism cannot go any further. Our current economic crisis is an example of the limits of a capitalist way of life. Socialism is the next phase in economic and social history if you look at it from a Marxist perspective. Socialism is, among many things, about opening the human potential and not limiting it to the bourgeois way of doing thing. To me, ihe internet and the whole music industry example is a good one because it shows how the old ways of doing things only dampen creativity and try to smother it out under the flag of Profit. There is no model to look to when it comes to Socialism in the US. The US is in a totally different situation than any other country or region has ever been in because of it’s wealth and technology. All we can do is read and study revolutionary thinkers as well as our past failures and successes, in the US and in other revolutionary situations, and see how they relate to our current situation. No one revolution is the same. What we know now is that Capitalism is not working. It is creating constant social and ecological crisis and that is damaging not just humanity and it’s potential but also the planet itself and we need a drastic change in how our lives work from a fundamental point or we’re in for even more trouble that Capitalism, the system of profit over everything else. cannot possibly do anything about.

      • 162 Ky 5 October, 2012 at 8:14 pm

        China has built its industry fast because they do not care about the environment who or what they destroy in its path. Do some research on the living conditions of the Chinese workers and poor. Socialism is not what helped china, it’s communism. The people there have no choice but to work for lower wages, poor working conditions, and educational choices. China had to shut down their factories for 2 weeks before the Olympics because the smog was so bad. That was right in front of the whole world and nobody days anything. Research the interment and you will find pictures of beautiful rivers and streams. That was 20years ago. Rhodes same waterways are full of so much waste and turned to sludge you can almost walk across them. If china is a good example I don’t want it. Cuba is one I hear about that is a great socialist country. Yeah right that’s why they swim a hundred miles to get to the United States. People flock to our country for a lot better chance to make it. The opportunities are here for everyone and immigrants flock here for z better life. There are not a lot of people leaving the states to live in other countries. Be proud the be American, we are here and have all of our opportunities because of our fore fathers who fought for a new constitution against socialism, overtaxing, and big government. I sit here and you do as well because of our freedoms to become something better. We grew big and powerful because of capitalism. And now people want to destroy the opportunities that every hard working American has. Incentives to become better are what drive people to do better. We are all equal in opportunity to do better and better. Socialism is just another scam. Like a pyramid company where it all works good in the beginning and everyone makes money and are living good because we all share the wealth. Then the bottom falls out and lower part of the pyramid is poor and broke and the top of the pyramid has all the money. People will not work work as hard if there isn’t a incentive anymore.

      • 163 emptycalm 6 October, 2012 at 10:23 am

        haha did you even read my posts? where did I say china was a good example? Do you even know what Communism is? It’s a stateless, classless society. Where has that ever existed? What you are thinking of is Stalinism or bureaucratic nationalist state-capitalism(some socialists consider them the same thing or similar). The reason china is how it is is because they are an extremely efficient CAPITALIST country who uses the rhetoric of socialism under the communist party. Where in china do the workers own their own factories? Nowhere. They are not socialist or communist. It’s called a lie and it is something that people use in order to not tell the truth. There is no communism in the world. Cuba is doing well despite an unnecessary blockade against it but is still a bourgeois nationalist country and still has many problems. People leave it because they think they will find opportunity in the US but when they get here all they find are a bunch of immigrant hating bigots. Many people also stay and do quite well. They put out better doctors than anyone on the planet save for maybe India. Socialism cannot work in one country though and is qualitatively different than capitalism which is why it will never be able to “compete” within the current paradigm. You can’t expect a country whose ideology is based on the emancipation of the working masses to possibly live up to the standards of a country or countries that hold greed and profit as the highest levels of success. Also, our founding fathers were NOT fighting against socialism. Where the hell did you get that notion? I agree that we got to where we are because of capitalism. No doubt. But you haven’t listened to a thing I have said. Capitalism has become economically, socially, and ecologically UNSUSTAINABLE. You also have no basis for the ridiculous claim that everyone would give up on life and their dreams just because we replace a failing system where a few wealthy people are making boat loads more than most of us. People work for things other than the potential of getting rich all the time my friend.

      • 164 Ky 6 October, 2012 at 12:30 pm

        You still have yet to give me a example where socialism is thriving. I hear a bunch of theories but I don’t see any results. I don’t want to hear theories I want to see statistics.

      • 165 emptycalm 6 October, 2012 at 12:54 pm

        Statistics of what? Have you read anything I said? I think you’re missing the point entirely. There are no socialist countries around. None. we live in a world wide capitalist system. You can’t have socialism in one country when the rest of the world lives in a completely different economic framework that is based on worker exploitation. Every attempt at a socialist state has taught us that. Revolution must be the worldwide emancipation of workers. Your obsession with positivism blinds you to the fact that the contradictions created or exacerbated by Capitalism cannot be solved by Capitalist means. If you want statistics look up those showing how much money and lives are wasted on war and expansion. look up the numbers on real wages in the US flatlining and the drastically widening wealth gap while corporations rake in record profits.

  111. 166 Kris 14 October, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Interesting. I notice this is written in 2007. Now, in 2012, we can see that Europe is a great example of Socialism failure in the industrialized world. And also interesting that the writer does not have an example of it working anywhere….ever. So far just misery & poverty to show for it. Common sense will tell you that if you have any insight into human nature.

    • 167 Gus 14 October, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Kris, you obviously haven’t read the article carefully enough to notice that it is not talking about socialism in the sense of “more state intervention/regulation of the market”. Europe may well be a great example of that failing, but that is a separate debate. The word “socialism” in this article means, briefly: a system of society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production by and in the interest of the whole community, where production is carried out for the purpose of meeting human need, and there is therefore no need for money, trade, barter, or currency of any kind. People would produce voluntarily and take what they needed for free. I don’t know if you’ve been to Europe recently, but I am here and I can tell you it matches none of the criteria in that definition. In fact you really only have to be on Earth to know whether socialism has happened, because by this definition it would very likely be a worldwide thing if it ever came about.

  112. 168 KT 11 December, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Much of the argument is: “True” socialism works, but has never been tried. The west where capitalism is rampant, is also very pragmatic. The question one would have to ask is “what does “work” actually mean?”. Shooting myself in the foot “works”… if I love pain. So again, the theory that socialism “works” rests upon another theory that the result which socialism produces would be desirable. It’s a theory stacked upon another theory, with variable along the way which are not constant. The best example given about variables was the element of human determination and talent. Human beings are by nature unique with individual talents that transcend a colony of honeybees. In the end, socialism, communisim, Marxism… all exist because of the fear of loss imbedded deep within the human conscience.

    • 169 Gus 13 December, 2012 at 9:26 am

      I don’t know about anyone else, but this doesn’t really clear anything up for me or add anything concrete to the discussion. What exactly is your standpoint? What do you mean by the West also being very pragmatic? The last two points (transcending a colony of honey bees/the fear of loss embedded in the human conscience) look like unintelligible ramblings because there is nothing there to back them up, and not enough explanation of how they relate to the topic.

  113. 170 Matt Berbee 29 December, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    How do you know it would work if it hasn’t been tried? I think it has been tried and keeps going astray. On paper a nice idea but in the real world it doesn’t work. Kind of like world peace. Just naive.

  114. 171 Shane 12 January, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    “Never been tried”


    Case closed.

    • 172 Gus 12 January, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      You have obviously either not read or not properly understood this article to think Sweden is relevant to what is being discussed here. It’s probably not entirely your fault – I think the use of “socialism” to refer to the subject of the article causes a lot of misunderstandings (most of the other comments here illustrate the point) and ideally there would be another word for it so we could more easily distinguish between the different things that are currently meant by socialism. There are at least two entirely different meanings. To confuse things further, there is a strong Marxist element to the idea of global capitalism being superseded by a society where the means of production are commonly owned (no money, no wages system etc) – this is the “socialism” referred to here – but there were also the so-called communist states like the USSR that claimed to be Marxist (Marx used the words communism and socialism interchangeably and he wouldn’t have used either to describe those states – he thought the state was largely there to protect and regulate the ownership of the means of production by a minority class, and indeed in those states the state actually was the owner of the means of production and the class structure was otherwise the same, with the state filling the role of the owning class). It seems to be common nowadays for socialism to mean simply “more government” as well. I would advise you to read up on what it actually means here though, you would probably disagree with it even more.

  115. 173 Patrick Bowes (@pbowes5) 3 February, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Interesting blog and comments, but I don’t see any examples of socialism working. At all. Ever. Socialism simplified means state control of the means of production – meaning the state decides how to allocate resources and who succeeds – and who doesn’t. Although on the surface many of the socialist arguments sound helpful, in reality they destroy the only vehicles that have ever shown demonstrably to increase prosperity – freedom of production and freedom of trade.

    Specialization and trade are the foundations for a prosperous and free society – any alteration of that formula – for whatever intent is doomed to destroy value and limit freedom.

    If you don’t believe me, look at the example of Germany and England after WWII. Remember, England won the war, but it wasn’t 10 years later that Germany overtook England in GDP – because it embraced free market principles. Look at the example of Hong Kong. Hong Kong was and is extremely prosperous and it got that way by adhering to free market principles – interestingly enough espoused by the UK in the 1800’s – back when it was an economic powerhouse. Look at the example of India following independence from Britain and its adoption of socialist principles. In India last century you had tens of millions of people die of starvation in famines – because free market principles were ignored. Fast forward to the last decades and free market principles are adopted and India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

    This isn’t rocket science and there is no government free lunch. The solution is people building things and trading them for stuff they want more – that is it! That is the formula!

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  116. 175 Dan 27 February, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Brilliant article. I personally identify as a Democrat, because although most Democrats won’t admit it, they are practically Socialist. I am deemed a ‘radical left winger’ because I am a supporter of Socialism. However, I find that what I believe is only slightly more ‘radical’ than most Democrats I know.

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  120. 179 JB 12 April, 2013 at 8:33 am

    There will always be haves and have nots. Keep trying to convince people that socialism/communism has nothing but the best intentions and how it hasn’t been given a chance. My guess is the tens of millions of citizens (individuals) that these caring governments killed were collateral damage which was necessary for the benefit of the collective. You should name this site “pollyana-tics” you douche.

    • 180 Gus 12 April, 2013 at 11:45 am

      Oh, you’ve assumed that the subject of the article is Stalinism or state capitalism, and have decided to post a comment about how communism is responsible for millions of deaths and would never work? What an original, thought-provoking standpoint you have brought to the table. Please, share with us more of your well-informed opinions with regard to the topic at hand.

  121. 181 JB 12 April, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Attempt to match wits with such great thinkers? I would never. Seriously, though, you guys (Gus?) are intellectual hacks. I see, poor socialism is the real victim here. It was abducted and disfigured beyond recognition by those no good *?!@s. If you keep uttering that crock long enough, you’ll convince yourself of it; an intellectual Stockholm Syndrome, if you will. But let’s focus on the faulty conclusion of the article: …”we cannot know that socialism doesn’t work since it’s never been tried in the industrialized world.” Someone tell this moron about that insignificant time in human history that came to be known as the Industrial Revolution. As my Russian friend is fond of saying: useful idiots. Keep donning your berets and sipping your expensive lattes at the local coffee shoppe, pining about the merits and virtues of socialism, you douche.

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  173. 233 huntington71 8 September, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    An economics professor at a top university made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
    The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).
    After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

    The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

    As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

    To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that.

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    4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing
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    Davis, Jonathan. Why Socialism Doesn’t Work. 7 November 2013. The Economic Voice. 7 September 2015. (Web)

  174. 235 Thatguy 21 October, 2015 at 8:41 am

    At the core of every system needs a motivation for said part of the whole to work. The core of socialism would be to think about everyone else, 24/7, making sure everyone was doing what needed to be done. However, that’s completely unfair to those with skillful work, socialism if what I understand is everyone working for each other and all reward and work is split then no one would try to do the harder work, simple as that. The core human nature for it to work is charity, diligence, and a near knightly code to work ethic. I mean what would you do to the guy that didn’t work? Fire him? He’d get another equal paying job, cut his income? Wouldn’t that be the exact opposite of what socialism is trying to accomplish?
    Now what about the guy that wants to be an equal paying brain surgeon and go to med school for 4 years just to find out he doesn’t want the stress and complexity of the work when he could just be a janitor. That wouldn’t be the only bad side effect, people would stop working towards discoveries in science or technology that could save millions, medicine business, a controversial topic, the people that produce it have to make money on it, even if you know what to do it doesn’t mean that it appears out of thin air, I could easily see socialism taking the newly discovered cure for cancer, mass producing it to cure most at the bare minimum of costs and paying the guy who did discover and work towards it his entire life only a janitors salary. What would be the point of doing something that glorious to not be justly rewarded?

    Now what if the system wasn’t like that, what if the guy that cured the world got a nice cut? Who decides that? The government which can easily be swayed or the entire nation? I mean the easiest way seems to be letting people fund themselves(or industries) for the discoveries they make, they fail, they don’t get a better life, they succeed then they get all the money they need. But then that money has to come from somewhere right?

    Unlike socialism, capitalism comes from humans simply wanting things, greed, power, advancement etc, call it what you will but I WANT to eat, so I will work for what I want, advancing in my experience to be better and get a better job, sure the government is once again in the way by being easily swayed but who puts the government in power to change things? The people need to actually be rising up to say no to changes, the people are the enforcers, not the government and too few realize that simply voting for another figure head is going to solve all the worlds problems.

    Long story short:
    Socialism hasn’t been tried because it is not profitable to anyone except those who plan on doing the least.
    It hasn’t been tried on industrialized nations because you cannot build anything up from it. You can only do an “equal” amount of work as everybody else. Funny thing is work and life is not fair.

  175. 236 Jim Campbell 18 May, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    I guess one of the takeaways = -Ya don’t have to work, cuz other people will take care of your wants and needs – it feels like good sex rather than rape …. Hmmmmm sounds too good to be true!

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