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jeffolie

Very well written.

The transition in India and China have enhanced the standard of living greatly. The collapse of the evil communist empire has exposed the rotting Russian culture.

Russia is dying. The lifespan of men now stands at only 58. They are drunks. The population is shrinking quickly.

Russia is in decline. It often refuses to pay its retirees and military. It can not control little Chechnya which has vital resources.

Russia's government reflects a mob of thugs, theives and bigots. The environment is heavily polluted.

GK

Thanks.

It is true that Russia is in decline. Their population is already less than Pakistan's.

But they do control over half of the world's nuclear weapons, and have a massive oil reserve, so they still have a lot of importance.

The good news is, they are no longer our enemy. However, if they refuse to pay their military, that is a problem to put it mildly..

Kosha

Great point (unrealized by many) and very will written.

Dan S

Be interesting to see where the country if "great potential" fits into this going forward: Brasil. It's been slipping towards socialism (again) for a while. The last couple of times it went in that direction the military there stepped in and imposed a military government.

I agree with your thesis completely, but I still see lots of test cases for socialists to pin hopes on. Vain hopes, but if they weren't comfortable with those they would have given up long ago.

Most of "western" Europe remains socialistic too. And it's trending more so, despite the obvious failure of socialism to keep pace with more dynamic systems.

Dan S

err, make that "country of"

jeffolie

The poor decision making by Russian politicians will squander the remains of their resources, population and culture.

Putin and his cronies took control 6 years ago. Nothing good has come to the Russian population.

JohnM

Whilst the economic kernel Marxism has been comprehensively debunked, the rest of it seems to be remarkably resilient.

In fact this is more dangerous, because whilst they remain convinced of "what is wrong" but have no unity on "what is right", they will have no positive goal to head toward. This is what leads them to support bizarre causes. I mean who would have bet 20 years ago that the left, which claims to support minority, homosexual and women's rights would make common cause with Islamofacists, who would deny all of them. A remarkable illustration of the bankruptcy of the left.

Nevertheless I predict that the left driven by perceived injustice will continue to demand that the state intervene to solve all problems, using increasingly coercive measures. To take two examples, green and identity politics have taken deep roots within the mainstream. The truth is that in the many areas, the left is still in command of the debate.

GK

That is why the 'left' has devolved into a sordid coalition of self-loathing phonies, who are defined only by what they hate, which happen to be America, self-accomplished people, successful businesses, etc.

They are motivated by nothing more than envy of people who possess attributes they lack. Hence the intellectual level of their statements have declined sharply.

It only appears resilient because it has become a veneer for basic traits of envy and self-loathing.

Jake

A simple minded post by a simple minded poster.

Why is it that you and your readers are unable to see socialism and capitalism in anything but black and white shades?

A tiny minority of American leftists favor pure socialism. An even smaller minority of Americans really favor pure capitalism. The best market systems -- as China and India have learned -- are the ones that take ingredients from either extreme and form something like the US has right now: a system based primarily on capitalism with strong social economic underpinnings that provide a safety net and protections and rules for those unable to care for themselves.

Unadulterated capitalism failed during the Great Depression when Americans realized that 25% of Americans were not simply "lazy", and decided things like sweat shop and child labor were immoral.

Unadulterated communism has never really been tried except in unusual microcosms (like the Israeli Kibutzim), and the closest examples we have of unadulterated socialism have, too, failed.

Sadly, your simple minded post does not surprise me. Many modern economic "conservatives" utterly fail to grasp the idea that any both extremes have failed. Let me remind you: if you support anti-trust legislation or uninsurance employment, or anti-child labor laws, you do NOT support pure capitalism. You support a social capitalism: perhaps one to the right of what many American left wingers want, but it's all a question of your beliefs along a continuoum of possibilities.

Nice try, though.

GK

Jake,

For someone who says 'simple minded' 3 times in the same post, there can be only one explanation for your frustration - that the stunning decline of socialism and rise of US-style free-markets is something that bothers you greatly.

No one is talking about pure extremes of any system. The post merely observers how the US system replaced the Soviet system, and is also vastly outperforming the systems of continental Europe. That India and China have adopted systems closer to that of the US has improved their relations with the US, and has moved the center of gravity of world economic ideology strongly towards US-style free-market meritocracy.

Only people who were heavy supporters of the previous failed systems would be bothered by this.

Answer one simple question :

1) Do you believe America's system, for all its flaws, offers more opportunities for people than France's system?

Jake

"For someone who says 'simple minded' 3 times in the same post, there can be only one explanation for your frustration - that the stunning decline of socialism and rise of US-style free-markets is something that bothers you greatly."

It does not. I'm no socialist. What bothers me greatly is your attempt to conceal your ignorance about market systems -- some sort of rosy black and white system -- behind fancy words.

"That India and China have adopted systems closer to that of the US has improved their relations with the US, and has moved the center of gravity of world economic ideology strongly towards US-style free-market meritocracy."

You have it backwards: China, in function, it still very much a hybrid socialist/totalitarian regime domestically. Internationally they're not just using capitalism to get ahead -- they're beating the US at its own game. That's right -- a nation that functions primarily as a socialist organ domestically is outperforming the leading capitalist (domestically) nation.

And you have missed the point: extreme implementations of socialism HAVE failed. But so have extreme implementations of capitalism. What's left -- and predominant in the developed world -- is a hybrid. That's not a judgment as to whether that's a good or bad thing: that's simply the facts.

"1) Do you believe America's system, for all its flaws, offers more opportunities for people than France's system?"

That depends on what sort of opportunities one wants. Assuming you're referring to the opportunity to acquire vast wealth, no, it does not.

And?

GK

You actually think it is as easy to achieve wealth in France as in the US?

What about the fact that immigrant Muslims have an unemployment rate of 50% in France? Why do so many engineers from China and India come to the US, while almost none are interested in going to France?

Where is France's equivalent of Silicon Valley? What large high-tech companies has France produced in the last 25 years, like America has produced Google, eBay, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Cisco?

My god, I was almost treating you like a reasonable person, but you are so detached from reality that I am even more convinced that the stunning defeat of socialism has left its worshippers on the precipice of insanity.

Jake

"You actually think it is as easy to achieve wealth in France as in the US?"

No: I can see how that part of my answer confused you. I do not believe France offers the same opportunities for acquiring wealth as the US does. I also do not think that it's the only, or most important, measure of opportunity.

"My god, I was almost treating you like a reasonable person, but you are so detached from reality that I am even more convinced that the stunning defeat of socialism has left its worshippers on the precipice of insanity."

My "no" may have confused you, but please, enough with this broken-socialist-leftist strawman you've constructed. A tiny minority of the American left is truly socialist. They're just classic centrists who believe that capitalism is best tamed with some socialistic elements, like a safety net.

Dan

I'm late jumping in on this but I can't sit by, oh no.

Jake: You make many assumptions yourself. Nowhere in this article did I percieve a favor of pure capitalism (which I agree is stupid, it like pure socialism relies on the innate goodness and work ethic of man, none of which are significantly present in [modern] man).

And the same to GK in response to your posts. So many people get so entrenched in their sides they read into things and make assumptions based on how they THINK someone is. GK assumed that because you disagreed you're an aging hippie and YOU assumed that because the author didn't want to waste the time distinguishing the fact that he speaks in generalities that he is indeed speakign of the extremes in both cases. Using "capitalist" and "socialist" are easy ways of conveying his general idea. Using "capitalistic with socialistic underpinings" is not needed if one takes a deep breath and absorbs the idea, not the words.

Malvolio

"And you have missed the point: extreme implementations of socialism HAVE failed. But so have extreme implementations of capitalism."

Uh, failed how? Every society that I am aware of has prospered to the exact degree it embraces capitalism.

JP

Did it ever occur to you that--as you wrote the phrase "juvenile envy of the most productive and enterprising members of society"--that some people might find that working 19 hours a day to be as "productive and enterprising" as possible might NOT be the best way to spend one's life? Not arguing your entire thesis here, but it surprises me how blinded Americans are into the virtue of capitalism and the Protestant work ethic.

Italians, French, and many Europeans balance their market systems with an enjoyment of life that makes many Americans snicker, but which should truly be envied.

GK

JP,

er...If French and Italian society is so great, why do they have no interest in continuing their society by producing children? Why instead import angry unassimilated immigrants that demand their own laws?

AlanC

I find it interesting that the key point in this discussion has yet to be broached.

What is capitalism? It is a description of the economic activity by a group (nation) acting as individuals in their own interests.

Socialism is a prescriptive economic system predicated on a top down coercive model.

You see, if you implement individual rights and freedom you get capitalism. You only get socialism to the degree that individual choice is curtailed.

JP, you say
"...that some people might find that working 19 hours a day to be as "productive and enterprising" as possible might NOT be the best way to spend one's life? "

In a system of individual freedoms, those people don't have to work 19 hour days. That's the beauty of individual choice.

Now, if I don't choose to work those hours (and I don't) I can hardly expect to be compensated as though I do, no?

dougjnn

Jake said--
Unadulterated capitalism failed during the Great Depression

That’s a New Deal left liberal myth.

The Great Depression began as an asset bubble correction, albeit a severe one after an incredibly roaring fifteen or more years that began during WWI. The stock market crash was not of unprecedented severity however and there have been crashes since as bad or nearly so.

The reason the fallout from that were so bad, unemployment became so great, and recovery so slow is due to one fundamental reason – which is not inherent in capitalism.

Government at the time had no idea how to manage the money supply. It had vague notions about the dangers of too loose a currency but no concept that when assets have sharply contracted and credit is terrifically restricted, that you want to increase the money supply and reduce interest rates to increase demand and investment, rather than the reverse. Instead the Federal Reserve responded by steadily tightening money supply, believing that economic distress and previously excessive exuberance meant that only “strong medicine” would cure the patient. It was exactly the wrong thing to do.

Now it’s true that the whole thing could have been even further softened if the Feds had tightened money while the 20’s were roaring to help stem the asset inflation. In fact they did at the very end when they tightened margin rules (borrowing to buy stock) and this is blamed by some as the trigger point of the 29 crash. It may have contributed to the timing of the crash, but the whole thing at least as anything particularly severe could have been headed off by much earlier partial tightening. Such as in 1927 or so.

But the main thing is the Fed should have loosened money dramatically after there was no immediate bounce back from the steep market crash and credit contraction that resulted. Exuberance had turned into severe pessimism and hunkering down and the Fed’s actions only exacerbated both.

Even many left liberals (I’m net net a centrist overall) have conceded that New Deal programs, while of psychological benefit and some help to the worst effected, did little to lift the overall economy until the US began preparing for possible or actual entry into WWII and in helping Britain and then also Russia before we entered with massive military equipment aid under “lend lease” and other schemes (that were essentially masked giveaways). These finally put our underutilized industrial plant into full gear use.

Looser money would have done something similar, devoted to peaceful domestic consumption, if it had been instituted.

Brett

This debate will never be advanced as long as we cling to the Marxist terms "capitalism" and "socialism," which are mere rhetorical substitutes, intended to disparage the one and exalt the other, of "freedom" and "control."

Brian H

former;
You may want to reconsider throwing Shakespeare's lawyer quote around, if you bother to look up the context and speaker. It's a professional thug anticipating the overthrow of the state.

As for France vs. the US, the orientations are opposite. In one, capitalism is permitted to persist to fund the construction of a pervasive set of rules and a super-safety net. In the other, the rules and safety net are there to grease the gears of capitalism.

Mutant Pacifist

I fear that although antagonism to capitalism is on the run now, we must still expect to see a come-back of anti-capitalism in a new guise in the upcoming century.

There are still too many people in the world whose intuition tells them capitalism is wrong. It seems that our innate homo sapiens "folk economics" is still stuck in the Neolithic period of small clans and tribes. Things like the monetary value of time, of middle men, of charging interest (nevermind all the other complex issues in modern global economics) had no place on the veldt. Sharing your kill with your clan so they would share their kill with you in the future, on the other hand, had immediate survival value.

Thus, any theory, no matter how dumb, which appeals to the folk economics part of the brain is likely to be more appealing to a person who has not explicitly trained in modern economics. Expect to see more dumb theories proliferate.

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