Episode-11- Can Socialism and Liberty Coexist? — 14 Comments

  1. Do billions across the world really chose socialism, or have they had it forced on them?The only socialist countries I can think of that are democratic are in Western Europe and Canada and in those socialism only holds a slim majority. Socialism does seem to work best when it was chosen by the participants, like in communes and religious groups, but these are normally small groups. I think it is possible that socialism can work, but the participants have to really be committed to it or you end up with a bunch of people whose sole goal is to game the system. Enforcement of socialism leads to loss of freedom, loss of productivity and subversion of morale. Socialism is a fine ideal, but in reality I think human nature is more suited to capitalism. Call me a pessimist, I suppose.

  2. Well that is a great question but lets look at it and see if we can answer it.

    Do billions across the world really chose socialism, or have they had it forced on them?

    I would say that in China the people chose it, then when it rose as a totalitarian state they regretted that decision but it was too late. You also have to look at it this way, you can’t get a billion people to submit to anything with out at least some buy in.

    India on the other had is a very socialist government with a some free market preserved. India in fact as a government is structured almost exactly like Britain’s which means it is very much like our own. The population of India is about 1.13 billion and this society has chosen democratically to embrace a socialist economy from the very day they won their freedom.

    I would also point to the U.S. today and ask you are we not in many ways a socialist nation of our own making? Do not many live for generations on the state and therefore on the pockets of the producers in society? Does the graduated income tax not redistribute wealth? Is that not a perfect description of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”? Do we not have the same parasite society that you speak of right here, millions on government programs living on the “dole”?

    I would say today we have moved way to far toward socialism ourselves in the U.S. and it saddens me. Yet we have chosen to and I think in a few more months our nation is going to elect a president who is quite honestly a socialist calling himself a democrat.

    This is why I choose to examine the question. Can socialism and liberty coexist? I am seeking the root of why free people are often duped into trusting government with the most precious of all things, “freedom”. As I watch more freedom eroded and more willing given up I worry for my nation.

    Thanks for your comment,


  3. Well, let’s start out by saying that socialism is one of those words like “democracy” or “capitalism” or “depression” or “wealth”.

    It sounds like it has a neat, precise meaning, and sometimes it does. But sometimes, what I mean when I say “socialism” is not what you mean when you say “socialism”.

    When you say “socialism”, do you mean more like Sweden or more like Cuba?

    Lenin and Stalin had the goal of “supporting world socialism”, but their vision of “socialism” doesn’t look very much like Sweden or Finland.

    Even in the good ‘ol USA, it seems to me that road construction, police and firefighter services have all been “socialized”, and they work pretty well. Better than they would if you had private operators taking care of them. Sure, 911 may not be very good in some places, but it’d be worse if the 911 operator asked you for a credit card before sending a cop. And I wouldn’t want Countrywide or Dow Corning or Monsanto running my city water supply.

    Schools are socialized, and, of course, everybody will generally accept that private schools seem to have better outcomes in terms of academic performance than public schools. But schools are a a bad example, frequently cited by people who want to demonstrate for ideological reasons that socialism is always bad, for 2 reasons:
    1) Private schools can ‘cherry-pick’. Kid’s a troublemaker? Out. Kid is stupid? Don’t enroll them in the first place. Whereas public schools generally _have to_ take everybody.
    2) The single best predictor of academic performance is socio-economic level of a kid’s parents. So private schools are a sample made up of (for the most part, anyway) exclusively wealthy kids.

    I don’t think your average Swede feels that he’s lacking in liberty due to the oppressive effects of socialism. There’s a persistent belief in the USA that if you bring in single-payer health care, the next step is you’re being shipped off to work on a collective farm or something.

    Basically, it’s not a yes/no or good/bad sorta thing. The devil is in the details.

    (Disclaimer – I am Canadian.)

  4. Also, I’d like to say that, in the USA (and to a lesser extent, here in Canada) I’m more worried about my liberty being eroded by “crony capitalism” (i.e., fascism, by Mussolini’s definition) than I am about my liberty being eroded by the actions of the state.

    At least the Constitution is a check on the behavior of the government. There’s no such protection to keep AT & T or Verizon from bugging your phone.

  5. Jack, great podcast! I will clarify that when I identified myself as a Socialist, I am more a Socialist in the Scandanavian country model (social democracy) than in the Communist/Socialist model (think of USSR, China, former Warsaw pact). That said, I agree of it more on the community scale and less on the national level (the comparison to the Amish or similar groups would be the closest to what I would envision as a workable solution).

    To your question back at me about home defense, I agree that one person with a carbine could take it over. I would conjecture that few people (even in dire times) would likely do that, as most are not properly trained or know what to do or how to confront a “mob/group” without loosing their nerve or being overpowered (you might know how, not everyone does though).

    I will leave the topic of the US Constitution’s Second Amendment to others; simply put, I don’t feel it (in Canada) should be a right to bear arms. We should be able to deal with issues other ways and if we can’t the police should should be there to provide necessary controls. I feel that another way and the only outcome are one of two: either despotic or anarchic.

    That said, I do enjoy the podcast and hey, healthy debate and disagreement helps broaden our minds and points of view. Such has this podcast done for me.

  6. Socialism is maybe the wrong word. Like may words the right wing in the USA has brainwashed the public into voting against what is best for the individual and the nation. The fact is that the nations with the highest standard of living, education, health and happiness are all “socialist”. Affordable education, health care and child care benefit the whole. Sadly corporate socialism is considered fine in the US yet it is destroying our liberty. We need to wake up and stop being brainwashed by corporate media shills who have never even been to a social democracy.

  7. Sam,

    Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion here and I don’t mean to step on yours but I do have one question.

    How in the world can you blame the media for a negative view of socialism?

    The American media as a whole (except for talk radio) is so left of center it boggles the mind. Obama is a complete socialist in practice, deed and theory and the media is in love with him. There is nothing conservative about main stream media today.

    If you have listened to a few shows you know I am not making excuses for the conservatives/republicans at all. They have been just as bad about spending what we don’t have, taxing like crazy, etc as the liberals/democrats.

    That said I just scratch my head every time a liberal or socialist cries media bias. What channel are you watching? Where in the hell do you see this going on?

    Also did you listen to this podcast? If so what are you thoughts on small scale community socialism vs. government mandated and enforced socialism?

  8. Interesting podcast, I am from the UK and you are cementing my long held view that libertarianism is just anarchism by a socially acceptable name, since socialism seems to be a slur in the modern US.

    A few points –

    “To each according to their need” for sure, but “from each according to their ability” is just as important to the socialist ideal. Freeloaders are not socialists. Helping freeloaders is not socialism.

    As far as I can see the NHS in Britian seems to work pretty well. It doesn’t cost more than health insurance and it seems more just than a situation where a hardworking man who works at the 7/11 is so horribly under-paid that he can’t afford medical and so never visits the doctor.

    Socialism is intended for a post-industrial society. It was meant to be mass mechanisation that emancipated the workers. Machines would do the hard work, people would all get a fair share of the proceeds so that they had lots of spare time to pursue their own goals. I don’t think socialism works so well in an agricultural society since, as you point out, people need to put in so much effort to gain their “daily bread” (literally). Making socialism work when people are all having to work hard just to survive requires a lot of mutual trust. That can’t be enforced.

    Interestingly, Marx believed that the state dissolved in a true socialist society so maybe you are on to something…

    Regarding bias, I see a lot of right wing bias on FOX ‘news’ in particular, although the whole US media does seem pretty biased towards seeing free market capitalism as an inherant good. The idea that there are downsides to rampant capitalism seems to be a taboo subject, or even not to enter their heads.

  9. @Simon,

    You state, “”“To each according to their need” for sure, but “from each according to their ability” is just as important to the socialist ideal. Freeloaders are not socialists. Helping freeloaders is not socialism.””

    That is what one would refer to as complete idealism. The problem is it defies human nature. Humans placed in a system follow the same path as water, the path of least resistance. I have have quite a few Brits working with and for me here in the US, they all tell me part of why they left was the erosion of opportunity in the UK. They all also tell me that the UHC in England ain’t what its’ cracked up to be.

    However, thanks for contributing to the blog and podcast. The problem is every nation that embraces socialism ends up in decline. If you want to see the UK in 20 years, look at France today. My belief though is if you look at the UK today you see the US in 20 years.

    The media is very leftist in the US. Yes Fox News is right wing to a degree, the reality is they are actually quite balanced just when you look at balanced compared to leftism that has been accepted as normal it looks biased.

    The reality is socialism is something many Americans do not want. What most of us want is the government out of our face, out of our lives and to leave us all alone. That would be “fair”, taking from the producers to give to the consumers is not fair and please don’t tell me you aren’t overloaded with freeloaders on “the dole”, in the UK. I know otherwise. Either you are for socialism and accept that it will create apathy in society and see it as a fair trade or you are opposed to such a system. You really can’t have it both ways, at least in my opinion.

  10. I think ignorance is the cause of our problems. It seems we vote for what may appear to be right, but in reality we are supporting a system that is not what we really want. It just seems so complicated, I even give-up trying to understand it all.

  11. It seems that many are presenting a false choice between socialism and capitalism. The fact is that the most progressive countries have a COMBINATION of socialism and regulated capitalism. Some things, like the fire department, are better socialized, and some things function best under regulated capitalism. The false choice is just an attempt to scare people away from much-needed progress.

  12. @Phil, Why do I feel that all you did was read the notes and never actually LISTENED to the show. As for “progress”, that is what socialists always claim when they take the money out of the pockets of a producer and redistribute it to a non producer.

    You really should listen to today’s show though because I am going to respond to your comment on the air.

  13. Just stumbled upon this discussion. As someone who survived Soviet Socialism, who seen it from inside and who is podcasting now on this subject, I thought I could contribute here. Is a choice of socialism by deceived people still THEIR CHOICE, or something that was forced upon them by deception? Socialism is deeply spiritual deception, similar to what Adam & Eve had. Only they were truly free people, therefore they wrongly used their freedom of choice. Now, when majority of people are living (on different levels) in the state of deception, socialism they “choose” is not their choice anymore. From my experience, being tortured physically, mentally and spiritually, I know that socialism is a religion of Antichrist. I’m not trying to convert someone it’s mere statement of the fact. Socialists used there and still using here the spiritual means of deception, which uses subconsciousness. By the time people are trying to digest it with their minds, they already entrapped. Trying to answer the question without considering dark spiritual side of socialism will give you only a partial answer. Why old lady praying to God in the quietness of her home was such a big enemy of Soviet socialist regime? I questioned atheists, soviet communist propaganda commissars, why they took the laws and principles from the Word of God, removed God from it and called it “codex of Communism”? Well, the answer is, they lured people into their religion with a God-like bait, while they hate Christianity, Bible, God of the Bible (Truth that gives people Freedom, Liberty as in this discussion’s subject), people of the Bible. Because the Truth discloses their lies and opens people’s eyes on primary but hidden spiritual foundation of socialism/communism. Economic and other foundations of socialism are really secondary. Believe me, socialism never was and never will be “for the good of the people”, no matter how good it sounds. If it really was good, it wouldn’t need so many lies and hate towards those who have faith in God. I’ll finish writing here with this: the future of America’s Liberty is in her children who are currently brainwashed by socialist propaganda (so-called education), which means they are under spiritual attack as well. Unless the Truth sets them free, this country will soon be in another form of slavery, much terrible than ever before.

  14. Hello Modern Survival,

    I’m certainly no political expert, but found this article interesting and thought provoking.

    In my humble opinion (for what it’s worth)I think a centrist government with a social conscience is a pretty good compromise – Social Democratic, Social Liberal, ‘The Third Way’ and any others which I don’t know the name of!

    Surely a pragmatic approach is to take aspects from different political ‘ideals’ that suit the country at any particular time rather than to stick rigidly to any particular ideal.

    You said to Simon in a previous post about his positive impression of Socialism as being ‘….complete idealism’. Is this not true of most political ideals? Even Libertarianism? In theory every political ideal is great, but in reality this is not the case.

    As far as the USA heading towards Socialism, don’t worry, if ever there were a country on the planet that will NEVER embrace Socialism it’s the USA!

    Appologies for the ropey language used in places, like I say i’m no political expert!