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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #80)

Mon Mar 11, 2019, 06:09 PM

106. Thanks for the reply. Some clarification:

I do not disagree that the Nordic countries are fundamentally capitalist - they are capitalist at the root, so to speak. But there are notably socialist elements to their economy. Apart from the obvious things like their state owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds, there are the welfare state and labor components you mentioned. There were socialists behind both strong labor organizations and much of the legislation that constitutes a "welfare state," as they were seen as ways to empower workers and make society more democratic and egalitarian. Quite a large number of people who were pro-capitalist also supported the same batch of polices, for what I'd call practical reasons. The New Deal and Europe's social democracies wouldn't have happened without that kind of broad support. Ironically, the resulting arrangements ended up functioning as a near-consensus about how best to "do" capitalism. But that started unwinding sometime around the late 70s and early 80s. I'm sure you've noticed the kinds of policies many of today's socialists are promoting: higher marginal tax rates, higher minimum wages, single-payer health care, etc. As a batch, it's mostly an extension or reanimation of the institutions characteristic of "social democracy. Karl Polanyi wrote "Socialism is, essentially, the tendency inherent in an industrial civilization to transcend the self-regulating market by consciously subordinating it to a democratic society." If majorities support these policies and they come to pass, that would represent a small amount of democratic control over questions fundamental to production and distribution. Would it make the country socialist? No, of course not. And among socialists there isn't even agreement that it represents a path forward. But these kinds of policies do have a genuine socialist pedigree.

True, no democracy has gone (entirely) socialist. No democracy has failed to implement some degree of socialist policy, either. Honestly, I don't know of any nation past of present where all large scale production and distribution issues are managed by collective decision making - that's what socialism is supposed to be. Maybe it isn't possible to run a complex industrial society that way (iron law of oligarchy?). But at least some of the policies socialists are pushing right now don't seem to be particularly risky (and they poll well). Whether or not people agree on what term they represent matters a lot less than whether or not anything is actually done.

Sorry to be so long-winded, but you strike me as honest, friendly, and open-minded, so I thought I'd try to explain a point of view that doesn't seem to be well understood.

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LineLineLineLineLineLineLineLineReply Thanks for the reply. Some clarification:
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