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- I'm gonna stick my arm into this piranah tank, go to bat, and say I am a marxian socialist.
- The author of the article is right in that many, if not most, of these self-defined "socialists" do not use the word in the way it is traditionally understood. Rather, because the cry of "socialism" has been used for so long as a term of abuse against even a very moderate, and still thoroughly capitalist, government-run welfare state, that they have adopted the term with that meaning. But for most students of politics, and for us "old bolsheviks", that is purely an abuse of notation, to borrow some math-speak.
- Classical socialism, like classical liberalism and modern libertarianism, also begins from the quest for individual liberty and happiness, but it attempts to reconcile that with our biological requirements as a social species. If the thought experiments of the classical economists begin with John Robinson, those of the socialists begin with a small tribal village.
- Every society has collectively enforced rules. Libertarians believe that liberty and efficency come most readily from a ruleset which focuses on ownership — the assignment of transferrable, absolute domain and control over various things to specific individuals. Socialists traditionally believe that those ends would be better secured by collective agreements that specify how resources are to be used and maintained, and that this deliberate coordination would be more productive, efficent, and conducive to individual freedom and self-actualization.
- These are both hypotheses in the scientific sense. They make concrete about the nature of human beings, the ability to efficently coordinate action, and the relative disadvantages of each mode of production. The question of which theory is correct is not subjective. Under the right conditions, they might even be numerically compared.
- The postmodernists, who rose from the breakdown of social norms and conventions in the wake of WWI, discard the entire scientific foundations of this debate, and indeed the very notion of truth itself. They picked up socialism as a replacement for the religions they lost in a swiftly changing world, and turned science into spiritualism. As the article's author and a commentator pointed out, they were no longer concerned with defeating want by raising industrial civilization to a level of superabundance (indeed many of them now though that was not possible), but instead of exorcising the "hungry ghost" by some metaphysical transformation of human nature. They really speak of bringing about the Messianic Age of perfect human beings by turning society into some kind of altar on which to perform the alchemical ceremony.
- Most young, modern "socialists" are of this latter root. They believe that if they can talk to enough people and recruit enough people to their faith, that great historical evil known as the state will suddenly turn benevolent, that people will no longer have to work for their sustenance, and we'll all get along together like trees in the forest, or whatever.
- Classical marxists, the sort I consider myself a part of, understand that swords will be turned to ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks, not because the revolution will unleash some magical capacity for goodwill and desire for peace among the human race, but because after the revolution is when our real work starts, and we'll need every bit of metal we have to till the fields that will now be ours. If we ever reach that longed-for Cockaigne of total automation and leisure, then it will only be because we were harder on ourselves than our former masters ever were to us, allowing us to materially pave the way to prosperity.
- This is the basic, scientifically-informed program which Marx laid out, and which I personally subscribe to. As for anyone else, if you wish to debate them, I suggest starting with the question of whether they believe in reason, logic, and objective truth. If they do not, then follow the words of Thomas Paine, who said, "Arguing with those who have renounced the use of reason, is like administering medicine to the dead."
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