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On the inevitability of socialist failure

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Duvniask
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On the inevitability of socialist failure

Postby Duvniask » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:15 pm

A common objection raised against proponents of communism/socialism is one that points towards the failure, historically, of the various left-wing movements and countries in establishing lasting socialist societies. It is usually something along the lines of "it has failed everywhere and every time it has been tried." The implicit conclusion here, of course, being that it will thus always fail. So the argument has a form akin to "X has not happened, therefore X cannot happen".

It is an easy rebuke. Too easy, in fact. People who raise this objection tend to, in my experience, neglect to provide any further reasoning for it. I daresay, of course something can still happen just because it has not yet transpired. So this strikes me as somewhat fallacious reasoning, although I'm unsure if there's an exact term for it. In any case, it is not particularly sound, especially when it is sometimes presented to be a kind of law. I could, for example, just as easily point to the many failed instances of establishing democracy, "popular rule" and so on. But, you may argue, we have seen instances of its success. You may say so, but that is because we all have the benefit of hindsight (hindsight bias, if you will). If I were living in the past and unaware of the later predominance of liberal democratic systems of government in the Western World, the argument would appear just as convincing.

What then would be a more convincing argument? One that puts forth the causal mechanism(s) behind failure. Even more so, one that locates, within historical events, key factors and turning points (i.e. "this is where it went wrong"). Because then it would actually be possible to have a discussion about the supposed inevitability of socialist failure. It would be possible to discuss whether such "turning points" are caused by certain laws of human behavior, deeply ingrained parts of human nature or if they were the product of the specific historical circumstances and therefore can’t be generalized to all humanity past, present and future.


tl;dr: People claim socialism (and communism, by extension) will inevitably fail. They often point to the failure of past socialist states as confirmation. But I have serious doubts about why this should necessarily be the case. My questions are as follows:
  • Is the failure of socialism inevitable as anti-socialists like to claim?
  • What, then, would be the casual explanations for its inevitable failure?
  • Can you identify the precise points in time (the "turning points") where things go sour?


As a side note, I did not wish to simply post this in the LWDT, because I feel the general and wide scope of that thread is not conducive to more in-depth discussion on certain subjects. That is why I felt this topic merited its own thread.



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Postby Lord Dominator » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:19 pm

Duvniask wrote:Is the failure of socialism inevitable as anti-socialists like to claim?

It is not.
What, then, would be the casual explanations for its inevitable failure?

When it does however, humanity in general is to blame.
Can you identify the precise points in time (the "turning points") where things go sour?

The point at which it impacts reality, as with most ideologies (the others are sour even when theoretical)
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Postby LiberNovusAmericae » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:29 pm

Socialism is contrary to human nature.
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Postby New Cottingham » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:40 pm

What do we mean by socialism though? Is the UK a socialist country because of its NHS? Are Scandinavian countries because of their welfare system? I've never seen socialism and capitalism as opposing systems, I see them as flip sides of the same coin.

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Duvniask
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Postby Duvniask » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:51 pm

LiberNovusAmericae wrote:Socialism is contrary to human nature.

This is kind of what I mean. It's easy to make these sweeping generalizations. Appealing to our "human nature" is rather vague and non-specific. It's just as easy to claim capitalism will fail because of human nature.

It lacks substance as an argument, to say the least.
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Postby Telconi » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:57 pm

Duvniask wrote:A common objection raised against proponents of communism/socialism is one that points towards the failure, historically, of the various left-wing movements and countries in establishing lasting socialist societies. It is usually something along the lines of "it has failed everywhere and every time it has been tried." The implicit conclusion here, of course, being that it will thus always fail. So the argument has a form akin to "X has not happened, therefore X cannot happen".

It is an easy rebuke. Too easy, in fact. People who raise this objection tend to, in my experience, neglect to provide any further reasoning for it. I daresay, of course something can still happen just because it has not yet transpired. So this strikes me as somewhat fallacious reasoning, although I'm unsure if there's an exact term for it. In any case, it is not particularly sound, especially when it is sometimes presented to be a kind of law. I could, for example, just as easily point to the many failed instances of establishing democracy, "popular rule" and so on. But, you may argue, we have seen instances of its success. You may say so, but that is because we all have the benefit of hindsight (hindsight bias, if you will). If I were living in the past and unaware of the later predominance of liberal democratic systems of government in the Western World, the argument would appear just as convincing.

What then would be a more convincing argument? One that puts forth the causal mechanism(s) behind failure. Even more so, one that locates, within historical events, key factors and turning points (i.e. "this is where it went wrong"). Because then it would actually be possible to have a discussion about the supposed inevitability of socialist failure. It would be possible to discuss whether such "turning points" are caused by certain laws of human behavior, deeply ingrained parts of human nature or if they were the product of the specific historical circumstances and therefore can’t be generalized to all humanity past, present and future.


tl;dr: People claim socialism (and communism, by extension) will inevitably fail. They often point to the failure of past socialist states as confirmation. But I have serious doubts about why this should necessarily be the case. My questions are as follows:
  • Is the failure of socialism inevitable as anti-socialists like to claim?
  • What, then, would be the casual explanations for its inevitable failure?
  • Can you identify the precise points in time (the "turning points") where things go sour?


As a side note, I did not wish to simply post this in the LWDT, because I feel the general and wide scope of that thread is not conducive to more in-depth discussion on certain subjects. That is why I felt this topic merited its own thread.



What say ye, NSG?



  • Is the failure of socialism inevitable as anti-socialists like to claim?

    Yes, socialism is subject to one of two primary failure mechanisms. Either A) it collapses due to low participation. Or B) it resorts to authoritarian oppression to counteract this low participation, and begins to degrade due to government resentment.
  • What, then, would be the casual explanations for its inevitable failure?

    Functionally, human diversity, not all people are socialists.
  • Can you identify the precise points in time (the "turning points") where things go sour?

    Immediately, a socialist system on it's outset results in a sophie's choice situation in which the state must accept dwindling productivity or implement heavily authoritarian practices.
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Postby The United Provinces of North America » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:01 pm

Socialism only leads to debt, if you want to see failed Socialism go to a Native American Reservation. Why put your Nation on a welfare type system? That taxes the living hell out of you? Which the Scandinavian system does! Yang: "A $1000.00 a month", what happens when society is solely dependent on that and it's taken away? It's like a drug addict trying to go cold turkey on his/her drug of choice, without rehab and the proper treatment. https://youtu.be/PRgz-YRWfK0
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Postby Washington Resistance Army » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:12 pm

Duvniask wrote:
LiberNovusAmericae wrote:Socialism is contrary to human nature.

This is kind of what I mean. It's easy to make these sweeping generalizations. Appealing to our "human nature" is rather vague and non-specific. It's just as easy to claim capitalism will fail because of human nature.

It lacks substance as an argument, to say the least.


I think it's fair to say capitalism will fail because of human nature, it enables our greed far too much.

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Postby The United Provinces of North America » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:15 pm

Washington Resistance Army wrote:
Duvniask wrote:This is kind of what I mean. It's easy to make these sweeping generalizations. Appealing to our "human nature" is rather vague and non-specific. It's just as easy to claim capitalism will fail because of human nature.

It lacks substance as an argument, to say the least.


I think it's fair to say capitalism will fail because of human nature, it enables our greed far too much.


It's fair to say Capitalism is the way. With all it's flaws, it's still the best form of government.

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Postby Vassenor » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:16 pm

The United Provinces of North America wrote:
Washington Resistance Army wrote:
I think it's fair to say capitalism will fail because of human nature, it enables our greed far too much.


It's fair to say Capitalism is the way. With all it's flaws, it's still the best form of government.


Based on what actual logic?
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Postby Risastorstein » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:17 pm

The United Provinces of North America wrote:Socialism only leads to debt, if you want to see failed Socialism go to a Native American Reservation. Why put your Nation on a welfare type system? That taxes the living hell out of you? Which the Scandinavian system does! Yang: "A $1000.00 a month", what happens when society is solely dependent on that and it's taken away? It's like a drug addict trying to go cold turkey on his/her drug of choice, without rehab and the proper treatment. https://youtu.be/PRgz-YRWfK0


Again, big misconceptions about what socialism and capitalism are. Nordic countries aren't socialist. Indian reservations aren't socialist. Taxes aren't socialist per se. Basic welfare isn't socialist. Socialism and capitalism are mainly about who owns the means of production (factories, corporations etc). Is it private or public/common ownership?
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Postby Vivolkha » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:17 pm

Duvniask wrote:
  • Is the failure of socialism inevitable as anti-socialists like to claim?

As with everything, it depends on the specific policies followed. Which is the (inevitably arbitrary) dividing line between a "socialist" country and a "non-socialist" country? Some "socialist" policies actually work (universal healthcare/education), some do not (see below).
  • What, then, would be the casual explanations for its inevitable failure?

  • Usually, direct opposition to capitalism (tying with the above, it depends on if such opposition exists and to which degree) and the subsequent failure to create anything resembling an alternative, efficient economic model.
  • Can you identify the precise points in time (the "turning points") where things go sour?

  • Tying with the above, inflation is a good indicative, in my opinion. Either just plain runaway or the inflation is repressed through pricing controls which leads to a grossly overvalued currency, import encouragement and monetary overhang, among other problems.
    The precise point where things go wrong depends, again, on the country and its specific policies. For example, in a Soviet-style command economy, the whole system falls apart the second the economy is switched from an "extensive" model to an "intensive" one (something that is bound to happen eventually). At this point, the system can only survive through repression, if that is dismantled the whole model collapses for good. Venezuela went wrong from the very beginning of the so-called "revolution". Bolivia doesn't seem to have reached a turning point yet.
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    Postby Telconi » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:21 pm

    The United Provinces of North America wrote:
    Washington Resistance Army wrote:
    I think it's fair to say capitalism will fail because of human nature, it enables our greed far too much.


    It's fair to say Capitalism is the way. With all it's flaws, it's still the best form of government.


    Capitalism isn't a form of government tho...
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    Postby Risastorstein » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:21 pm

    The United Provinces of North America wrote:It's fair to say Capitalism is the way. With all it's flaws, it's still the best form of government.

    It's not a form of government. Republics and monarchies are. Capitalism is an economic system.

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    Postby Czechostan » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:22 pm

    Duvniask wrote:So the argument has a form akin to "X has not happened, therefore X cannot happen".

    This is a bit of a straw argument, as you yourself acknowledge anti-socialist arguments are more nuanced than this. It's more so something like "X failed in A, B, and C and failed, therefore X cannot happen" or "X goes against human nature, therefore X cannot happen."

    New Cottingham wrote:What do we mean by socialism though? Is the UK a socialist country because of its NHS? Are Scandinavian countries because of their welfare system?

    Also, this ^
    You should define some terms first.

    LiberNovusAmericae wrote:Socialism is contrary to human nature.

    Considering how recent the concepts of "private property" and "private enterprise," and considering the fact that most of human existence has been spent under gift economies, I don't think that's fair to say.

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    The United Provinces of North America
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    Postby The United Provinces of North America » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:22 pm

    Risastorstein wrote:
    The United Provinces of North America wrote:Socialism only leads to debt, if you want to see failed Socialism go to a Native American Reservation. Why put your Nation on a welfare type system? That taxes the living hell out of you? Which the Scandinavian system does! Yang: "A $1000.00 a month", what happens when society is solely dependent on that and it's taken away? It's like a drug addict trying to go cold turkey on his/her drug of choice, without rehab and the proper treatment. https://youtu.be/PRgz-YRWfK0


    Again, big misconceptions about what socialism and capitalism are. Nordic countries aren't socialist. Indian reservations aren't socialist. Taxes aren't socialist per se. Basic welfare isn't socialist. Socialism and capitalism are mainly about who owns the means of production (factories, corporations etc). Is it private or public/common ownership?


    On Native American reservation's you can't own private property, and did I say the Scandinavian countries are "Socialist"? No, but they tax the hell out of their people. In Socialist countries you can't own private property, it wouldn't work in the United States.

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    Postby Repubblica Fascista Sociale Italiana » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:24 pm

    Don’t say, “Socialism, and by extension communism” because those two are very different things. Socialism can be achieved and has been achieved at many points in history, the turning point is when the population itself can’t pay the taxes involved, or when the government tries to restructure its economy to make it “even more equal”
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    The United Provinces of North America
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    Postby The United Provinces of North America » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:24 pm

    Telconi wrote:
    The United Provinces of North America wrote:
    It's fair to say Capitalism is the way. With all it's flaws, it's still the best form of government.


    Capitalism isn't a form of government tho...


    Then what is it? Socialism is a way of life and form of government! Have you studied government?

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    Postby Pacomia » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:26 pm

    The United Provinces of North America wrote:
    Telconi wrote:
    Capitalism isn't a form of government tho...


    Then what is it? Socialism is a way of life and form of government! Have you studied government?

    It’s... an economic system.
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    Postby Duvniask » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:26 pm

    New Cottingham wrote:What do we mean by socialism though? Is the UK a socialist country because of its NHS? Are Scandinavian countries because of their welfare system? I've never seen socialism and capitalism as opposing systems, I see them as flip sides of the same coin.

    No, you'd be wrong to consign these to categorically mean "socialism".

    Socialism is a post-capitalist socio-economic system. The capitalist mode of production is characterized by generalized commodity production, goods produced for their exchange value, wage labor, all following the logic of capital accumulation. Socialism is the negation of such; it abolishes production for profit in favor of socially-planned production for use (utility). It brings the means of production under the common ownership and management of all society. In short, it is not driven by capital.

    To consider the features of the welfare state "socialist" is to dilute the meaning of the word to such a degree that it no longer describes a separate state of affairs, but just another form of capitalism ("taming the market" or "correcting its worst defects") with no difference in the core features of the economic system. It obscures the possibility of any true alternative and renders the term quite meaningless. It turns "socialism" into a watered-down buzzword that's synonymous with state action.

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    Postby The United Provinces of North America » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:26 pm

    Vassenor wrote:
    The United Provinces of North America wrote:
    It's fair to say Capitalism is the way. With all it's flaws, it's still the best form of government.


    Based on what actual logic?


    Based on not being dependent on the government's "tit".

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    Postby Repubblica Fascista Sociale Italiana » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:27 pm

    The United Provinces of North America wrote:
    Telconi wrote:
    Capitalism isn't a form of government tho...


    Then what is it? Socialism is a way of life and form of government! Have you studied government?

    Socialism is not a government, a democracy can have socialism as well as an autocracy or oligarchy or any government that doesn’t inherently imply capitalism
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    Postby Gredda » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:29 pm

    I like socialism. I think capitalism is dehumanizing and contrary to human nature.I understand the right has a different viewpoint on such things,even if I strongly disagree with them.

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    Postby Repubblica Fascista Sociale Italiana » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:31 pm

    Gredda wrote:I like socialism. I think capitalism is dehumanizing and contrary to human nature.I understand the right has a different viewpoint on such things,even if I strongly disagree with them.

    Of all the arguments against capitalism, dehumanizing isn’t one of them (although ironically that is what ends up happening in a laissez faire system)

    If anything, the only system that would go with human nature is feudalism, since humans have a natural instinct of superiority over other humans
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