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Source: (consider it) Thread: Environmentalism and Socialism
Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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OK, I have started reading Naomi Klein and "This Changes Everything". This was one book that (just from the introduction) prompted my "Do we deserve to survive" thread, a question which she actually asks early on.

I am sure there will be more threads on this, as I continue. It is a heavy book, but very good - 460 pages of small font, makes it a massive and challenging read, which is why I wanted to raise one point early.

She raises the point that environmental concerns - saving the earth - is fundamentally socialist (more specifically, anti-capitalist). What is more, and interestingly, most of the climate change deniers are well aware of this, and have to reject accusations of climate change, otherwise their fundamental beliefs in the capitalist dream will collapse. The deniers - possibly even more than the environmentalists - know that the only way to save the planet is to dismantle the capitalist model.

Now I actually arrived at environmentalist and socialism distinctly, but I do see that they are connected, and they both come from my faith position.

But this is, to me, an interesting insight. Not that they are both right, but that they are fundamentally connected. The only chance we have to save our planet is to break the current world economic model, something that is extremely difficult, not least because all of the money is in opposition to this.

With the rise of the right across the world - something that may well be related to the increasing climate problems - it seems that we are lost. The trade agreements across the world are fundamentally anti-environmental, and they are more powerful than world governments, because they allow multi-national corporations to sue governments.

So do we need a socialist revolution? Is that the only way to save the world?

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Ricardus
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I'm not sure that socialism and anti-capitalism are the same thing.

An obvious comment is that the countries of the former Eastern Bloc had an atrocious environmental record. And while it is unfair to judge socialism by the Warsaw Pact, the justification for the environmental destruction was that the triumph of the proletariat needed a prosperous society, and a prosperous society needed heavy industry. You can't all have a Trabant and a flat in a Plattenbau without factories making Trabants and concrete.

Round here we have a perpetual battle with the Labour mayor wanting to sell off or develop green spaces. His justification is that the money is needed to provide vital services to poor people, and the protesters are largely from the middle classes who don't need to depend on council services.

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's Cat
So do we need a socialist revolution? Is that the only way to save the world?

A socialist revolution would not necessarily solve the problem. I have a book called Ecocide, which details what happened to the environment in the Soviet Union during the years that the communists were in power. (Most of the sources cited in this book are official Soviet government reports.)

Here are two examples of the kind of problems the book discusses.

The government decided to grow cotton in the region south of the Aral Sea. At first the crop yields were excellent, but cotton depletes the soil very quickly. The farmers were instructed to use more and more fertilizer and irrigate more. Here is the testimony of someone who saw the deterioration of the Aral Sea at first hand.
quote:
*On the Aral's southern shores, just north of Turkmenistan, said Tulepbergen Kaipbergenov, "our earth no longer smells like soil, but like chemicals." In the waters of the Amu Darya "the level of chemical residues washed back from irrigated lands is so high that the fish die," and "incomplete data" show that "two our of every three people examined in public health dispensaries are ill--mainly with typhoid, cancer, of the esophagus and hepatitis....Worst of all, most of the sick are children" and some "doctors recommend against breast-feeding because the mothers' milk is toxic.[p.73]
In the highly industrialized cities such as Magnetigorsk and Novolipetsk the rate of stillbirths and serious congenital defects was horrendous.

The problem is not who runs things but whether people who are opposed can make their objections heard, and, if reasonable, acted upon.

The farmers and fishermen near the Aral Sea protested bitterly, but the authorities in Moscow, who never went near the area, were sure their decisions were right.

The problem was that all the power was concentrated in one place. ISTM the structure of socialism lends itself to this kind of concentration.

Moo

Murray Feshbach and Alfred Friendly, jr: Ecocide in the USSR 1992 Basic Books

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:

The problem was that all the power was concentrated in one place. ISTM the structure of socialism lends itself to this kind of concentration.

Not really. There is no reason why socialism has to involve centralisation any more than capitalism. There are centralised capitalist states (the UK is a clear example) and de-centralised ones (like the US), and it's not clear that there is a close link between the centralisation and environmental degradation. The main issue seems to be the level of democratic accountability and the quality of public discourse. Both were severely lacking in the Soviet Union, and are the major left criticism of it.
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Penny S
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Quote Ricardus:
quote:
His justification is that the money is needed to provide vital services to poor people, and the protesters are largely from the middle classes who don't need to depend on council services.

Well, well, well,just like the arguments in Lambeth about library closures, almost word for word. Apart from the tweeted cat pictures showing absolute contempt for protestors of all ages, colours and classes. I wouldn't call them socialists at all, not in any way. They call themselves Progress. I believe it may have been Puddleglum who said progress could be seen in an egg - going bad.
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Enoch
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Not only have socialist states a very bad record on the environment. All the evidence leads to the inescapable conclusion that socialist revolutions do not save the world - neither in any secular nor in the Christian sense.

And in the latter sense, if the world could have been saved that way, Jesus would have seized power in Jerusalem and set up his regime with the 12 disciples as his cabinet. After all that is what the mother of the sons of Zebedee tried to get him to do.

This is an inconvenient point and one that all those who over the centuries have tried to rebuild society or to construe the gospel as a political message have ignored.

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Arethosemyfeet
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Really? I think the anti-slavery movement and the civil rights movement very much, and with some accuracy, found a political message in the Gospel.
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Doc Tor
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I am very much of the watermelon variety - green on the outside, red on the inside, so the idea that environmentalism and socialism go hand in hand has a great deal of resonance for me.

Where, I think, some Shippies are having problems in reconciling the two are because 20th century socialist revolutions were very much Marxist Materialist in their concept and execution. And it's materialism, both neo-liberal capitalism and Marxism, that is the enemy of environmentalism - the environment is on an ever-tightening death spiral in an economy dominated by materialism.

Obviously, a socialist economy is better than a neo-liberal one, because the benefits are more widely distributed, but if non-renewable resources are being consumed at a faster rate, all we're doing is choosing which hand-cart to go to Hell in.

The modern socialism which I want isn't based on consumption, but on freedom from consumption. An economic system that isn't reliant on buying crap (which pretty much sums up most of the western world, which consumes the lion's share of planetary resources) will be radically different to the one we have now.

Assuming we haven't managed to immanentise our eschaton and entered a post-scarcity society (which will, almost inevitably, be not just socialist but communist), then environmental resources will need to be shepherded carefully, for the use of the many, not the few. Private ownership of land, as we currently understand it, will have to cease, and industries (including agriculture) will to be allowed to pollute only to the extent that the environment can absorb the impact.

With the increase in the world's population slowing, and likely to go into reverse, and huge advances in renewable energy creation and automation, things could swing either way, to catastrophism or utopia. Continued materialism of whichever stripe will consign us to the former. Environmentalism is pretty much the only game in town for the latter.

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mr cheesy
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I think cooperatives and cooperation are far closer to environmentalism than socialism, because the former is interested in long term improvement whereas socialism very often is interested in short-term chaos for longer term political goals. Environmental chaos can and is used for socialist ends, such as in South America. I thinj there is a subtle but important difference.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I think cooperatives and cooperation are far closer to environmentalism than socialism, because the former is interested in long term improvement whereas socialism very often is interested in short-term chaos for longer term political goals.

If you would explain yourself further, I might be able produce a coherent argument against. As it stands, all I can say is 'I disagree'.

AFAIC, socialism is pretty much all about long term political goals - terms far longer than my own, or anyone's, life.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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The criticisms of socialism are really criticisms of one-party states and totalitarian governments. What you criticise isn't socialism. Socialism is about levelling societies re opportunity, income, sharing resources.

Captilism could be environmental if it was regulated properly.

Example: Embodied costs. Which is an economic idea that factors in the true and total costs of human activities. Such as the cost of oil to a consumer has to factor in the cost to the environment and oil well clean up post production. Thus, you pay for the production costs + the carbon + water + air. Maybe add in the costs of wars and compensation for killing of people too. If this was done, oil might be so costly, we would immediately turn to other things.

As for cooperatives, yes they do operate culturally differently. Community pastures, retail groceries, credit unions etc abound here. But we are still very hard on the environment. Coops exist for the benefit of members. Even gov't own companies (Crown Corporations) despoil. Our power utility, a Crown, burns coal for 70% of its production. We all own it as provincial residents.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
If you would explain yourself further, I might be able produce a coherent argument against. As it stands, all I can say is 'I disagree'.

AFAIC, socialism is pretty much all about long term political goals - terms far longer than my own, or anyone's, life.

Take for example Venezuela. By most estimations that is a Socialist, rather than a Marxost, country.

Petroleum is highly subsidised for various reasons. And the end result is environmental damage.

It is hard to know how a cooperative society could operate, because there has never been a potent political forced based on the ideals of Robert Owen, but it is a bit unlikely that it would allow short term benefits of a petrol subsidy to come ahead of massive long term pollution.

[ 11. March 2017, 14:53: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
Really? I think the anti-slavery movement and the civil rights movement very much, and with some accuracy, found a political message in the Gospel.

Anti-slavery and civil rights campaigners do not, as a rule, claim to have saved the world. They have a goal. They are motivated to go for it. They then do or don't achieve it.
quote:
Originally posted by DocTor
... a post-scarcity society (which will, almost inevitably, be not just socialist but communist) ...

What is your basis for saying that? Pre-abundance societies were neither. Almost without exception they were made up of a small clique of belligerent aristocrats who lived by fighting each other for resources and exploiting pauper peons.

The same applies to extra-abundance societies today.
quote:
Originally posted by No prophet is set so ...
The criticisms of socialism are really criticisms of one-party states and totalitarian governments. What you criticise isn't socialism. Socialism is about levelling societies re opportunity, income, sharing resources.

For most of us who don't believe in socialism, it is because we lack the starry-eyed idealism to believe in the face of the all the evidence of the last 100 years that you can have the one without the other. So far every attempt at any so-called 'true' socialism has got stuck in the dictatorship of the proletariat phase.

Dictators, whether of the socialist, capitalist, fascist, militarist or whatever variety, don't give up their power once they've got it.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Anti-slavery and civil rights campaigners do not, as a rule, claim to have saved the world. They have a goal. They are motivated to go for it. They then do or don't achieve it.

That's a very odd statement, Enoch. For socialism, the objective is a fairer world where the majority share in profits made from their labour rather than a minority.

For the anti-slavery movement the objective was to prevent a wealthy class abusing a powerless class. For the American civil rights movement, the objective was to empower people of one skin colour to stop people of another skin colour abusing them.

There is clearly a very significant overlap there, and it is pretty clear to anyone who has ever been in a shitty job, who is a woman or is from a skin-colour minority that these overlapping movements have made their lives better.

So, yes, very clearly socialism and these other movements are claiming to have made, and continue making, the world better.


quote:
Originally posted by No prophet is set so ...
The criticisms of socialism are really criticisms of one-party states and totalitarian governments. What you criticise isn't socialism. Socialism is about levelling societies re opportunity, income, sharing resources.

For most of us who don't believe in socialism, it is because we lack the starry-eyed idealism to believe in the face of the all the evidence of the last 100 years that you can have the one without the other. So far every attempt at any so-called 'true' socialism has got stuck in the dictatorship of the proletariat phase. [/quote]

I think you may need to distinguish between socialism and Marxism.

A poor working person who is not a socialist is, moreorless, a contradiction in terms and is in fact working against their own interests.

The solution is not less socialism, but more socialism. And for me, the most radical, most extreme version of socialism is the one where it merges into Co-operation - and becomes as much about sharing in practical solutions as in a political platform.

quote:
Dictators, whether of the socialist, capitalist, fascist, militarist or whatever variety, don't give up their power once they've got it.
That's true, but that's saying that we need to build socialist and co-operative societies which arseholes are not able to subvert rather than that socialist and co-operative societies are somehow not a goal to want.

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Schroedinger's cat

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I would accept that it is less socialism per se, more anti-(materialistic-capitalism). This doesn't mean Marxist, because Marxism is focussed on one group of participants within the capitalist system.

It is about a political system that is prepared to live without the growth so fundamental to capitalism. Prepared to use the resources available for all, so all can have what they need, and the structure of the society is self-sustaining.

The communist countries were not particularly good in environmental terms, because their focus was on providing for all (but mainly those in charge). It is the problem I have always had with basic left-right wing politics, in that they tend to be focussed on different parts of a broken system. Whereas the point that Klein makes is that it is capitalism itself that needs to die.

The communist leaders all claiming "yields are up! Production is growing!" are claiming capitalist aims for a communist government. Where growth and profit are the driving forces, we are doomed.

An interesting example is the green capitalism - where we are encouraged to buy new things, more things, to make sure we are green and environmentally friendly. Buying a new, more efficient car, out of green motives, is wrong, because the environmental cost of making the car is huge, and it promotes and supports a growth system. Sometimes, it is better - even if more expensive - to keep an older car.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:

An interesting example is the green capitalism - where we are encouraged to buy new things, more things, to make sure we are green and environmentally friendly. Buying a new, more efficient car, out of green motives, is wrong, because the environmental cost of making the car is huge, and it promotes and supports a growth system. Sometimes, it is better - even if more expensive - to keep an older car.

Lifecycle analyses are complex, but I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting that it is better to keep an older car, period.

It is clearly true that a huge amount of wasted materials are produced from new cars. But a massive part of the impact of a car is from running it - so having a more efficient newer car may well be better than an older, much less efficient, car.

The thing we should be looking for, I think, is more modular concepts, where we repair older components of old cars with newer/better components without needing to completely change the whole car. Most of the time that's hard to do because the car hasn't been specifically designed to (for example) easily have an engine replaced.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Take for example Venezuela. By most estimations that is a Socialist, rather than a Marxost, country.

Petroleum is highly subsidised for various reasons. And the end result is environmental damage.

Yes, because the model is still materialist. Petroleum is, by definition, a non-renewable resource that when burnt releases a large amount of pollutants.

There was long term planning in Chavez' initial programme, and certainly nationalising the oil industry was part of that, in order to keep Venezuelan wealth under Venezuelan control. The problem was that becoming overly reliant on a single resource to pay day-to-day expenses can only ever end one way. (The UK can also have a finger pointed at it for the way it pissed its billions in oil revenue up the wall. Compare that with Norway, who now have a sovereign wealth fund worth a cool $1trillion.)

Long term planning environmental planning would have foreseen the volatile oil price, the conversion to non-fossil fuels and the necessity to make sustainable investments across the whole country to wean the country off of oil money.

It is, of course, extraordinarily difficult to do this on a country-by-country basis - pollution and people respect no borders.

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:

Where, I think, some Shippies are having problems in reconciling the two are because 20th century socialist revolutions were very much Marxist Materialist in their concept and execution.

If that's addressed to me, what I was trying to say wasn't that socialism and environmentalism are incompatible but that they are orthogonal - that is, it is possible to take socialist premises and end up destroying the environment, but of course, as you say, it is possible to end up at the opposite conclusion as well. I accept I didn't say it very well though.

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Doc Tor
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I have no idea now who I was talking to... [Biased]

But yes, I concur. Socialism can be environmentally destructive.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that Capitalism can't not be. The concept of calculating environmental cost and adding to the price of a service or product isn't really capitalism. It's a massive market intervention based on socialist principles, acknowledging that the product isn't solely a private peer-to-peer transaction, but something that affects us all and in which we all have an interest.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Petroleum is, by definition, a non-renewable resource that when burnt releases a large amount of pollutants.

I think socialism is, almost by definition, materialistic. It is certainly a challenge to the economic orthdoxy that says "wealth creators" who skim a majority of the profits from the labour of the masses are needed by a society - and yet the focus on pay and political rights of workers too often becomes a battle over who is paid what.

A society that isn't interested in materialism is the one which is unconcerned about the physical things but which seeks to meet the needs of the current and future generations; and for me that can only be a co-operative rather than a socialist society.

I think the history of labour in South-wales valleys illustrates this quite well. Since the 1840s to the 1980s, the story was about the exploitation of poor working people - who organised themselves and fought for better conditions. Socialism meant something - it meant something to miners, to their wives and to their communities.

But alongside that from quite early one was a fairly strong notion of Co-operation. Whilst the NUM might call out the miners to strike against exploitation, Co-operatives worked to ensure that families could buy things outwith of the normal exploitation from factory shops seen elsewhere. It was the mutuals who helped miners and others buy homes so that they were not forced to live in company houses.

Socialism organised people and gave them something to fight for - self-worth, freedom, better lives. But it was the (often Methodist/Non-conformist inspired) co-operatives who gave them a vision of a future that they wanted to live in. One where children were educated, one where health needs were met out of a shared insurance pot, one where shared purchasing gave shared cost savings, one where the long term gain of all was prioritised over the possible gains from this strike or that protest.

Socialism without mutualism slips into short term gains without long term planning.

quote:
There was long term planning in Chavez' initial programme, and certainly nationalising the oil industry was part of that, in order to keep Venezuelan wealth under Venezuelan control. The problem was that becoming overly reliant on a single resource to pay day-to-day expenses can only ever end one way. (The UK can also have a finger pointed at it for the way it pissed its billions in oil revenue up the wall. Compare that with Norway, who now have a sovereign wealth fund worth a cool $1trillion.)
Well yes, although there is a pretty major difference between supporting Venezuelan oil and in subsidising it so heavily that it became cheaper to buy than water. Once the population became so reliant on very cheap oil, it was very hard to change even though the environmental impacts became increasingly obvious.

I believe a mutual, co-operative society would carefully balance the benefits of a subsidy against the environmental costs and would be very unlikely to choose to do something which would mean that the society would find it hard to function into the future.

So, for example, if the UK had been a mutual, co-operative society when North Sea oil was discovered rather than a capitalist one then the best use of a limited resource would have been to invest it in producing longer term energy. To put it in simple terms to burn oil to produce solar panels.

Norway's sovereign wealth fund looks better than the British only because the results are being measured in a materialistic way. OK, yes, Scandinavia has generally produced "socialist" societies which spent a lot on social security - but it has done that by investing oil revenues in high yielding investments and is now sitting on a huge pile of cash. The British history of spending the (far lower) monies raised from North Sea oil on infrastructure rather than investing it like Norway was not wrong, the problem was that it was spent too often on the wrong things. And then when the Tories got their hands on it, it was easy to subvert it further to gain profits for their dirty little plutocratic chums.


quote:
Long term planning environmental planning would have foreseen the volatile oil price, the conversion to non-fossil fuels and the necessity to make sustainable investments across the whole country to wean the country off of oil money.

It is, of course, extraordinarily difficult to do this on a country-by-country basis - pollution and people respect no borders.

I think if one imagines that (a) there is no value in cash in-and-of-itself and (b) that we're here for life rather than just for the weekend, we might begin to invest in things that actually matter rather than things that really don't and we might begin to see beyond the idea that all value can be measured in £ and p.

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mr cheesy
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I'd also say that anyone who thinks that Norway's North Sea oil wealth has led to a fair, socialist society hasn't tried living there. The problems are different to the UK's, but they are still loom large.

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Doc Tor
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I think you're making a category error trying to separate socialism from mutualism. The two are so thoroughly intertwined that even now we have Co-operative Party MPs who sit under the Labour whip.

The cooperative movement was, and is, an expression of socialism.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I think you're making a category error trying to separate socialism from mutualism. The two are so thoroughly intertwined that even now we have Co-operative Party MPs who sit under the Labour whip.

Please assume that I know that. Thanks.

quote:
The cooperative movement was, and is, an expression of socialism.
I disagree. Mutualism is the ultimate form of socialism which the majority of socialists never seem to grasp.

It is not so much "an expression" as the pure, highest form of socialism.

[ 11. March 2017, 17:19: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
The cooperative movement was, and is, an expression of socialism.

I disagree. Mutualism is the ultimate form of socialism which the majority of socialists never seem to grasp.

It is not so much "an expression" as the pure, highest form of socialism.

You brought up the co-op movement in the Welsh valleys. I - accurately I think - stated that that co-op movement was an expression of the burgeoning socialist awakening.

And no, I don't see mutualism as the pure, highest form of socialism. Mutualism serves socialism.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
You brought up the co-op movement in the Welsh valleys. I - accurately I think - stated that that co-op movement was an expression of the burgeoning socialist awakening.

And no, I don't see mutualism as the pure, highest form of socialism. Mutualism serves socialism.

You ask for a more developed argument, I attempt to supply one and you not only insult my intelligence but also respond in a way that suggests you have no idea what you are talking about.

Excuse me if I refuse to contribute further.

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Moo

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# 107

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
There was long term planning in Chavez' initial programme, and certainly nationalising the oil industry was part of that, in order to keep Venezuelan wealth under Venezuelan control. The problem was that becoming overly reliant on a single resource to pay day-to-day expenses can only ever end one way.

Another problem was that the people at the top skimmed off a great deal of money for themselves. Hugo Chavez's daughter is the wealthiest person in Venezuela.

Moo

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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In the province of Saskatchewan, after the Depression and the Dust Bowl, the decision was made that we wouldn't have outside people and big corps profit from our resources. So insurance (auto, home, commercial), health care, telephones, electricity, water, natural gas, bus transportation, all came under a socialist banner as provincially owned with profits to fund the commonwealth. We also forced the sale of potash mines to the Crown and some other resource extraction. Later cellular telephone network and internet, cable TV. The socialist premier Tommy Douglas headed the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) started it off, it became a social democratic political party, the NDP. Social democracy is where socialism is now. Moderate, pragmatic, restraint of profiteering. "The Co-op" is the largest grocer in the province.

Our experience suggest that a balanced social approach works much better than private. Conservatives get elected in boom times in Sask, they have repeated what the Conservatives did the last time. Spent all the money and created a huge deficit. Mostly by low taxation on resources and encouraging their fat cat friends.

I think the opposition to socialism usually comes from those who never had it. And they put up a false version to oppose. Socialism is associated with small business here as the largest employment sector.

But business is business, and still doesn't focus on the environment, without being forced.

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Doc Tor
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# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
There was long term planning in Chavez' initial programme, and certainly nationalising the oil industry was part of that, in order to keep Venezuelan wealth under Venezuelan control. The problem was that becoming overly reliant on a single resource to pay day-to-day expenses can only ever end one way.

Another problem was that the people at the top skimmed off a great deal of money for themselves. Hugo Chavez's daughter is the wealthiest person in Venezuela.
Well, quite. But there was an awful lot of money around, most of which did end up in social programs. Even if they were, in the end, doomed, because they supported an unsustainable economic system.

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simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
# 18096

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Just get rid of the limited liability of corporations. It was a reform instituted to allow for the conglomeration of capital to exploit economic opportunities at home and in the colonies. The need for the conglomeration of capital has now past. So, everyone involved in a particular economic activity, from the Chairman of the Board to the superannuant can now be sued and all their personal assets are available to satisfy a judgement debt.

Any activity that might require a large reserve of capital is carried out by the Government, stepping in where private capital is too gutless to do the job.

There is still a place for Private Enterprise of course. It can run dress shops and take-away pizzas, insured by the Government Insurance Office.

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wabale
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# 18715

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:


So do we need a socialist revolution? Is that the only way to save the world?

My annual shot of history talks took the form last week of a seminar on the subject of ‘Revolutionaries and Revolutions’, with three academics giving talks. It was mainly about what happened in Russia in 1917. The most poignant illustration we heard was the comment of a diarist, Alexander Berkman, reflecting on Trotsky's military operation on the Kronstadt sailors in March 1921. He commented that Trotsky and other leaders celebrated the anniversary of the Paris Commune of March 1871 by shelling and then slaughtering 'sailors and workers'.

The point was made, not least by a Labour Party historian who contributed to the seminar, that people generally don't distinguish between communism and socialism, even more so now as politics generally has moved to the Right - so that poor Mr Corbyn is widely perceived as a Trotskyist. This does seem to be the fate of 'socialist revolutions' – both the Paris Commune and the Kronstadt sailors actually had very mild demands.

In other words too many people fear socialist revolution for it to be a uniting philosophy or movement, which is presumably what we are looking for to save the world.

Some of us may have come to both socialism and environmentalism and see them as complementary. But puzzling to those of us who think that way, some conservatives are environmentally-minded too. One thing is for sure – we do need green policies if we are to halt global warming before temperatures reach catastrophic levels. Climate change has already had the effect of promoting new political parties which focus on 'dealing with' the consequences climate change. So rather than looking to Red as our rallying flag would it not make much more sense to focus on Green policies, whatever our political leanings may be? Morever, now christians are beginning to find more connections between their faith and environmental issues, shouldn't christians be influencing public opinion on this, and in the right direction for a change?

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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I do agree that company directors should be held responsible for company losses especially where there is negligence involved.

One thing that Klein points out is that the reason the west has been able to meet our emissions targets is because we have put our dirty industry to poorer countries. And the targets do not include the environmental cost of shipping. So another approach is to tax everything based on its environmental impact. Scrap VAT and suchlike, charge based on total environmental cost.

Of nothing else, this would mean production locally would be cheaper. However, that is still pandering to the capitalist mindset.

the real answer, Klein argues, is to break the capitalist dogma of growth. Which means actively targetting those who get rich from other peoples misery. It means closing the tax havens, where so much of our money is stashed away. It means rejecting the profit motive.

Which, of course, is why the deniers are so scared. They are wealthy because of the capitalist system, and want to see that continue.

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cliffdweller
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# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Not only have socialist states a very bad record on the environment. All the evidence leads to the inescapable conclusion that socialist revolutions do not save the world - neither in any secular nor in the Christian sense.

And in the latter sense, if the world could have been saved that way, Jesus would have seized power in Jerusalem and set up his regime with the 12 disciples as his cabinet. After all that is what the mother of the sons of Zebedee tried to get him to do.

This is an inconvenient point and one that all those who over the centuries have tried to rebuild society or to construe the gospel as a political message have ignored.

quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
Really? I think the anti-slavery movement and the civil rights movement very much, and with some accuracy, found a political message in the Gospel.

Further, Ceasar certainly seemed to interpret "Jesus is Lord" as a highly political statement.

It wasn't that Jesus was not political. It's that his conception of power was quite a bit different than what the brother's mom thought-- or many others at that time-- and now.

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cliffdweller
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# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I have no idea now who I was talking to... [Biased]

But yes, I concur. Socialism can be environmentally destructive.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that Capitalism can't not be. The concept of calculating environmental cost and adding to the price of a service or product isn't really capitalism. It's a massive market intervention based on socialist principles, acknowledging that the product isn't solely a private peer-to-peer transaction, but something that affects us all and in which we all have an interest.

Similarly, related to capitalism is simply our heavy dose of Western (particularly American) individualism. Making sacrifices for the sake of the environment is never beneficial to me
individually. My small sacrifice is but a drop in the bucket of the larger social impact-- so it costs me a lot personally but has little impact on my overall quality of life. Environmentalism only makes sense for us as a community. Where we make sacrifices together and reap the benefits together.

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Gee D
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# 13815

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I do agree that company directors should be held responsible for company losses especially where there is negligence involved.

Quite what do you mean by "responsible" and then "negligence" please? Both are fairly loose terms that are bandied round. And responsible to whom? If you're using that in a criminal sense, the answer to that's easy, but not if you're talking of civilly liable.

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
There was long term planning in Chavez' initial programme, and certainly nationalising the oil industry was part of that, in order to keep Venezuelan wealth under Venezuelan control. The problem was that becoming overly reliant on a single resource to pay day-to-day expenses can only ever end one way.

Another problem was that the people at the top skimmed off a great deal of money for themselves. Hugo Chavez's daughter is the wealthiest person in Venezuela.
Well, quite. But there was an awful lot of money around, most of which did end up in social programs. Even if they were, in the end, doomed, because they supported an unsustainable economic system.
The problem is that there is now an acute shortage of items needed by the population. Babies are dying because hospitals can't afford to replace their worn-out incubators. Other patients are dying for lack of necessary medicines. There are serious food shortages.

Chavez's daughter should be forced to cough up some of that money.

Moo

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
The modern socialism which I want isn't based on consumption, but on freedom from consumption. An economic system that isn't reliant on buying crap (which pretty much sums up most of the western world, which consumes the lion's share of planetary resources) will be radically different to the one we have now.

I can't help but wonder what life would actually be like in the sort of environmentalist/socialist society you advocate. Without industry or the profit motive, what would we do all day? How would we be provided for? Which of the luxuries that currently make life worth living would remain, and which would be deemed "crap"?

Would transport that's fast enough to get more than a few dozen miles in a day still be possible if pollutants were banned, or would we be back to the days of horse-drawn carriages and sailing ships? Without factories, power stations and intensive farming methods (all of which are hideous for the environment) would we even be able to support such a high population?

I've read plenty about what wouldn't happen in the environmento-socialist paradise, but I'd like to hear about what would happen on a day-to-day basis.

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betjemaniac
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# 17618

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For my money Edward Bellamy had the best go at articulating that - he did do it in 1888 though so it's a little out of date. Looking Backward: 2000-1887.

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
]I can't help but wonder what life would actually be like in the sort of environmentalist/socialist society you advocate.

It would be like Star Trek and it would be fucking awesome. [Big Grin]

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deano
princess
# 12063

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
The modern socialism which I want isn't based on consumption, but on freedom from consumption. An economic system that isn't reliant on buying crap (which pretty much sums up most of the western world, which consumes the lion's share of planetary resources) will be radically different to the one we have now.

I can't help but wonder what life would actually be like in the sort of environmentalist/socialist society you advocate. Without industry or the profit motive, what would we do all day? How would we be provided for? Which of the luxuries that currently make life worth living would remain, and which would be deemed "crap"?

Would transport that's fast enough to get more than a few dozen miles in a day still be possible if pollutants were banned, or would we be back to the days of horse-drawn carriages and sailing ships? Without factories, power stations and intensive farming methods (all of which are hideous for the environment) would we even be able to support such a high population?

I've read plenty about what wouldn't happen in the environmento-socialist paradise, but I'd like to hear about what would happen on a day-to-day basis.

The two questions that communists (socialists, Marxists, Maoist etc) need to answer are...

1) Who gets the job of cleaning the public toilets in this utopia we are all waiting for?

2) In the wonderful planned economy who decides on the distribution of games consoles? This is important because if the communists annoy the gamers by taking the position that such things won't be produced as they are trivial, then they will have lost 80%+ of their potential vote. Kiddies like gaming and communism so they need to be reasured that communism doesn't treat their pleasures as trivial. But if they can have their trivia then I get to keep my trivia - a nice camo humvee.

Or are we talking about not having a vote but having a genuine revolution with guns and hangings from lamposts? Because if we are then bring it on. Me, I love the military-industrial complex and I would grass up the local subversives to it without losing any sleep.

Also, we have all the guns, tanks and ground attack aircraft. This socialist revolution seems like a good way of thinning the heard.

So between the gamers and the tanks, I'm pretty sure any socialist revolution would last about half as long as the Turkish one of last year, and with about the same result; nothing changes except the lifespan of the revlutionaries.

The OP has put up a nice strawman - that environmentalists and socialists have to be the same, no conservative can be concerned about the environment - and quite a few have agreed with it and become quite excited about doing all sorts of revolutionary things, but I just wanted to explore the endpoint of actually trying them out in the real world.

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by deano:
1) Who gets the job of cleaning the public toilets in this utopia we are all waiting for

You do. Get your marigolds on.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by deano:
The two questions that communists (socialists, Marxists, Maoist etc) need to answer are...

1) Who gets the job of cleaning the public toilets in this utopia we are all waiting for?

We have some examples of a "socialist utopia" in worker co-operatives. And the answer to who is responsible for cleaning the toilets is "everyone".

Unlike in a capitalist system where the most important jobs (like cleaning the toilets, nursing, etc) are the least valued, in a worker co-operative the roles are shared and valued.

quote:

2) In the wonderful planned economy who decides on the distribution of games consoles? This is important because if the communists annoy the gamers by taking the position that such things won't be produced as they are trivial, then they will have lost 80%+ of their potential vote. Kiddies like gaming and communism so they need to be reasured that communism doesn't treat their pleasures as trivial. But if they can have their trivia then I get to keep my trivia - a nice camo humvee.

I am not sure things are as bland in a socialist utopia as you are suggesting. The point is not that pleasures are trivial so unwanted, but that they should not be enjoyed by a minority at the expense of everyone else.

I don't think it is beyond the imagination to have shared video games available to everyone.

quote:
Or are we talking about not having a vote but having a genuine revolution with guns and hangings from lamposts? Because if we are then bring it on. Me, I love the military-industrial complex and I would grass up the local subversives to it without losing any sleep.
Yeah, it figures.

quote:
Also, we have all the guns, tanks and ground attack aircraft. This socialist revolution seems like a good way of thinning the heard.
Nice.

quote:
So between the gamers and the tanks, I'm pretty sure any socialist revolution would last about half as long as the Turkish one of last year, and with about the same result; nothing changes except the lifespan of the revlutionaries.
OK, yeah, whatever.

quote:
The OP has put up a nice strawman - that environmentalists and socialists have to be the same, no conservative can be concerned about the environment - and quite a few have agreed with it and become quite excited about doing all sorts of revolutionary things, but I just wanted to explore the endpoint of actually trying them out in the real world.
I have yet to see anything in what you've said ever that suggests the conservatism you espouse has any care whatsoever for the environment.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I can't help but wonder what life would actually be like in the sort of environmentalist/socialist society you advocate.

It would be like Star Trek and it would be fucking awesome. [Big Grin]
Riiiiiight.

I'm sure you're not being serious, because obviously. I'm also assuming you mean TNG-era Star Trek, because the TOS-era has plenty of references to free markets and the profit motive. And we neither have nor are likely to have the replicators or faster-than-light transportation that would be necessary to sustain such a society, so that's one more reason to take you less than seriously.

But maybe you refer to the society/societal attitudes that are shown in Star Trek. In which case there are still numerous problems that arise:

  • No money, and no accumulation of wealth, and yet most people still work. Why? In any population there will be greedy or lazy people who will only work for personal gain, and yet none are seen in ST. Have they been "re-educated"? Or are children brainwashed from birth to be good little worker ants in the name of the greater good?
  • No luxuries. Even the highest-ranking starship officers have a private lifestyle that would make the Spartans look extravagant. There are plenty of societies (e.g. the Ferengi) around the Federation that have luxuries, so I'd expect at least some people to decide they like the idea, but they are never seen. Why?
  • No freedom. Everyone is under surveillance, all the time. Security officers know exactly where any given individual has been. Private transportation doesn't exist - it's government-owned ships/shuttles, government-controlled transporters or nothing. Which means if you want to go somewhere, the government has to let you.
  • The government controls all means of communication. Even supposedly private video calls display the Federation logo at the start and finish. There is no independent media, and no public criticism of Federation policy even when such policy is clearly wrong (e.g. the attempted forced relocation of the Baku in Star Trek: Insurrection, which was only stopped because the Enterprise crew mutinied against their commanding officer).
  • The government controls all industry. Within the Federation, you never see private logos or advertisements, never hear of private companies, and never see any variety of products on offer.
  • The military (Starfleet) is clearly in control of the whole society. Admirals have the power to make decisions about the population of entire planets (ST:I again). Even in civilian trials, the judges wear Starfleet uniforms. Any time there's a political summit, diplomatic mission or trade dispute the people having the conversations are Starfleet officers.
  • Can you imagine the backlash if America decided to put hundreds of civilians - including children - onto their aircraft carriers? And yet in Star Trek the military is so ingrained into society that they don't bat an eyelid at the idea, even when ships get destroyed with alarming regularity. I can't believe this is because everyone loves the idea of their children constantly risking death by Borg/Romulan/mysterious energy field/crystalline entity/random cloud in space, so what does that say about the society itself?

I don't think Star Trek would be a fucking awesome place to live at all.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
We have some examples of a "socialist utopia" in worker co-operatives. And the answer to who is responsible for cleaning the toilets is "everyone".

I don't want to. Hell, I don't even clean my own toilet - I pay someone else to do it for me.

Just one more reason for me to oppose your so-called "socialist utopia".

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I don't think Star Trek would be a fucking awesome place to live at all.

I didn't think you'd think that Star Trek would be a fucking awesome place to live, and I was right. You appear to base your self-worth on the accumulation of crap and being able to consider yourself better than other people, so I imagine life in the United Federation of Planets would be terrible for you, and people like you. But as you say, there's always the Ferengi.

However, I wasn't seeking your endorsement or approval. I did manage to answer all your questions from this post, but rather than acknowledging that, you immediately Gish-galloped onto another set of questions/problems rather than acknowledge that a socialist-environmental future didn't need to be something resembling Wyndham's _The Chrysalids_.

I don't think you're debating in any more good faith than deano is.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I don't want to. Hell, I don't even clean my own toilet - I pay someone else to do it for me.

Just one more reason for me to oppose your so-called "socialist utopia".

Well there is obviously a pretty big difference between "taking responsibility for" and "valuing" people doing different roles on the one hand and "having to do things you don't want to do" on the other.

I think in a utopian socialist society it is not so much that people are assigned roles which they cannot deviate from - as much that there is much more equality and value placed on a much wider variety of roles.

I don't want to be a surgeon, and rightly in a our society that role has a lot of respect. I don't want to clean toilets either, and yet there is very little value put on that role in our society.

I don't know how much you pay your toilet cleaner, but I suspect it is probably less than the amount you'd pay a car mechanic, which is less than the cost of a solicitor.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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Circling back to this point about pollution; if the objective of the society is not about wealth creators, not about corporations making big profits and not about wealth/status of individuals, then the attitude to pollution would be very different.

I'd agree that a socialist ideal that I'm describing would likely not eliminate pollution. But a society which focused on people rather than profits would surely make more sensible choices about the extent to which pollution was allowed, the way that resources were used, the likely losers in society from any given pollution. In a capitalist society, these are simply externalities, things which are unavoidable and which the corporation try to avoid paying for (or, if that doesn't work, try to avoid affecting the bottom line).

But a co-operative socialist society where citizens didn't simply throw others under the bus because of narrow self-interest would surely be more efficient, more able to contain/control wasteful forms of production (such as overproduction of food), more able to make sensible choices about investments in public transportation.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I didn't think you'd think that Star Trek would be a fucking awesome place to live, and I was right.

To be fair, the spaceships, replicators and holodecks are awesome.

quote:
I did manage to answer all your questions from this post,
Wait, am I actually supposed to assume that "It would be like Star Trek, and it would be awesome" is a genuine and serious answer to the questions I asked in that post?

quote:
but rather than acknowledging that, you immediately Gish-galloped onto another set of questions/problems rather than acknowledge that a socialist-environmental future didn't need to be something resembling Wyndham's _The Chrysalids_.
I addressed your answer by pointing out the problems with the societal example you had (jokingly, I thought) put forward.

quote:
I don't think you're debating in any more good faith than deano is.
Says the man using a sci-fi TV show as his example of how society should function? [Confused]

That's like answering a question about how to feed the hungry with "just send them a replicator".

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Posts: 29705 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Crœsos
Shipmate
# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I'd agree that a socialist ideal that I'm describing would likely not eliminate pollution. But a society which focused on people rather than profits would surely make more sensible choices about the extent to which pollution was allowed, the way that resources were used, the likely losers in society from any given pollution. In a capitalist society, these are simply externalities, things which are unavoidable and which the corporation try to avoid paying for (or, if that doesn't work, try to avoid affecting the bottom line).

It should be noted that most industrialized societies aren't really "capitalist" per se, they're what economists refer to as "mixed economies". In other words, a combination of market economics with a certain amount of socialized central control over the kinds of collective action problems associated with well known market failures. (e.g. health care provision, pollution control, old age poverty, etc.) Given that, the question seems to be more along the lines of what the right ratio of the "mix" in "mixed economy" needs to be to deal with climate change.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

Posts: 10175 | From: Sardis, Lydia | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I do agree that company directors should be held responsible for company losses especially where there is negligence involved.

Quite what do you mean by "responsible" and then "negligence" please? Both are fairly loose terms that are bandied round. And responsible to whom? If you're using that in a criminal sense, the answer to that's easy, but not if you're talking of civilly liable.
I am not trying to articulate a very clear, defined, legal position. Just a general principle.


Who should clean the toilets? Well, someone for whom that is an acceptable job. I don't think my dream of a socialist utopia involves no jobs - it involves many of the same jobs we have today. Someone would do it, because there would be some motivation to do it. I don't know how it might work.

And the problem is that, while I - and others - can't define exactly how a new society might work, it assumes that things are fine as they are, and they are not. The current capitalist society doesn't work. My socialist ideal might not work, but that doesn't mean we just continue as we are.

Because if we carry on as we are, we are fucked. In the end, that is the problem. We cannot just ignore the problem because we cannot answer every last issue.

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Posts: 18309 | From: At the bottom of a deep dark well. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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The "mixed economy" comment and a Monday morning at -29°C has me philosophical. I need to pollute today because it is cold.

Isn't the problem with capitalism its insistence on liberty before unity? Liberty enough to do what I want, including pollute how I want. Unless someone else enforces a law or regulation against my liberty?

Isn't the problem with socialism the opposite, insisting on unity at the expense of liberty. Not allowing independence, but polluting because we're doing it equally and together.

Thus, we'd have to reconcile the liberty of individuals, companies and nations, with the common good of other individuals, companies, nations, the whole world. We'd have to add individual rights and liberty to collective action, together in government and regulation. Our current mechanisms don't work very well because it is all done without ethics. A pollution or climate change agreement and regulations backed by monitoring and controls are an invitation to cheat, as Volkswagen showed us.

Posts: 10501 | From: Treaty 6 territory in the nonexistant Province of Buffalo, Canada ↄ⃝' | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged



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