Saturday, March 5, 2011

American Ignorance of Comparative Socio-Economic Systems

One thing you can always tell about a person with minimal education is the range and egregiousness of their conflations. This is especially in certain areas such as comparative religion (trying to conflate one religion with another), and also in comparative socio-economics, where the culprit often conflates Marxism with communism, or worse, communism with socialism (also, never mind there are differing forms of socialism).

Let's try again to see, even after we've beaten their fulsome behinds to blisters (over the fact atheist do NOT invoke "lack of belief" but withholding of belief in claims already given) how and why these comparisons are wrong, and not economically or historically cogent or accurate.

This same blogger who has probably amassed more consecutive errors across the board than any other in history (even the likes of Andrew Breitbart or his ilk) writes in all seriousness:

"Now , I'd also like to say that the militant atheists parrot that Communism is NOT linked to Socialism . Well , I'm here to tell you - DON'T YOU BELIEVE IT !! Here are the FACTS : YOU DECIDE !!- Communism is based upon Marxism, a philosophy which uses materialism to explain all physical and social phenomena. "

This, of course, is his first error, since: a) he doesn't distinguish WHICH Materialism he means in context (since there are dozens of forms as I already noted, e.g.

and b) deliberately conflates the form he omits (dialectical materialism) with scientific Materialism (the basis for physics, and all modern science).

Since I always have sympathy for those who are slow or tend to congenitally get their facts wrong, I want to help him out so, hopefully, he doesn't repeat the same errors next time.

Dialectical Materialism, which is the orthodox philosophy of Communist countries, is foremost a theory of how changes arise in human history. In this sense, it is NOT the same as scientific Materialism (which posits the existence of both material and immaterial physical objects and interactions) but rather a general metaphysical theory. Dialectical Materialists contrast their view with what they call "vulgar" Materialism, while they insist that their version is not an extreme Materialism, whether mechanical or physicalist. This latter alone ought to alert the careful person that there's a risk of mixing up materialisms!

Hence, to attack "Materialism" in toto as a basis of communism, is nothing short of displaying monumental ignorance. The problem arises because dialectical materialists argue that mental processes are dependent on or have evolved from material ones. Though these dialecticians might be akin to emergent Materialists (see my blog link above), it's hard to be sure since their assertion rests on assumptions of higher levels of organization which they never specify. If they'd at least provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for emergence, it would be of enormous help. But like certain hardcore fundies, they never do.

The distinctive features of dialectical Materialism thus lie as much being dialectical as in being putatively "Materialist". The dialectical side may be epitomized in three laws: (1) the transformation of quality into quantity, (2) the interpenetration of opposites, and (3) that of the negation of the negation. Nondialectical Materialists (such as quantum physicalists as well as Mechanists) therefore find it hard to interpret these laws in a way that doesn't convert them into either platitudes or falsehoods.

Most Materialists I know don't even regard dialectical Materialism as a Materialism at all, any more than we regard "National Socialism" as a genuine form of Socialism. The problem is that the less well educated will always be entranced by the words or terms used, and not take the time for serious or academic discrimination.

He goes on

"The theory of evolution influenced the thinking of the Communists, including Marx, Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin. Marx wrote, "Darwin's book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history." Marx offered to dedicate the second German edition of his polemic "Das Kapital" to Charles Darwin, but Darwin declined the "honour."

But again, he gets it wrong because he never seriously distinguished dialectical Materialism from actual Physicalism or Scientific Materialism in the first place. Hence, while Marx may well have written those sentences, it isn't correct to say that the theory of evolution (by natural selection) truly influenced Marxist-Leninist thinking because their (dialectical Materialism) was not a true Materialism based on science. In this respect, it isn't at all surprising that a TRUE Marxist-Leninist evolution was developed INDEPENDENT of Darwin's theory, based on a specious genetics, and this was called (after Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, its originator), "Lysenkoism".

But that variant has now been discredited. Thus, it isn't surprising Darwin would have declined Marx' offer of a book dedication! Why associate your good name with a pseudo-science?

The blogger goes on with compounding errors:

"Economically, communism advocates a socialist economy in which the government owns the means of production. In countries where communism has been imposed, the government has taken ownership of farms, factories, stores and so on in the name of the people."

This has so many basic conceptual errors as well as of fundamental understanding it's hard to know where to begin. But the central error is conflating communist economies with socialist ones. First, let’s understand that socialism generally differs from communism in the extent of control of the means of production, and services. Thus, Socialist countries refrain from TOTAL control (defined by Communism), preferring instead a limited control (though true, the degree of limitation may vary). In the Communist USSR, 1960's Maoist China and Cambodia this was total, to the extent nearly all jobs were created by the state, wages set by the state and pseudo-markets created where there were no genuine needs to fulfill and others (especially for growing food) left under-developed. Hence, the chronic food and other shortages.

Meanwhile, in true Democratic socialist states (e.g. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Barbados – where I lived 20 years) this was not so. For example, in Barbados, while a major American Oil refinery (Texaco) was nationalized while I lived there, and the state owned the national broadcasting system (Caribbean Broadcasting Company), and the island’s main hospital – this did not exhaust all goods and services. Indeed, Barbados’ tourism sector is its largest business with hundreds of competing private hotels. In recent years, legitimate offshore banking has also increasingly helped the island’s balance of payments position.

If the blogger's claims were the least bit true, no independent banking or tourist sectors would be permitted. In that case, one would have a Marxist-Socialist state like Castro's Cuba, with nearly 90% of production state-controlled, or very close to communist (small entrepeneurs are allowed to sell their wares on the streets). Hence, this blogger is not even capable of distinguishing a Marxist-Socialist state from a Democratic Socialist one, far less a Democratic Socialist from a Communist one. This I actually attribute to a failure of American education, probably at the secondary level.

My point is that the democratic socialist nations are precisely the ones that have survived and not “failed”. Meanwhile, those Marxist-Socialist states like Cuba, which went overboard seizing the means of production, are barely surviving.

Meanwhile, one of the best critiques of capitalism was given by Albert Einstein, in his marvelous essay, Why Socialism:

"Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an "army of unemployed" almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers' goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career. "

Again, the innominate blogger continues his run of errors and malapropisms:

"Even more important, one party controls every organization from the local labor union to the the army to the national government. The party is not elected. Its top officials (the "Politburo") select replacements when there is a vacancy. usually a dictator (like Stalin, Mao or Castro) controls the Politburo, but sometimes power is shared among five or six people. No dissent is allowed--all news media are controlled, and the Internet is heavily censored !!"

Again, this may well apply to the Communist nations, like China, but not to Democratic Socialist nations, like Denmark, Norway, Barbados etc. ALL those nations have totally free access to the Internet, and their newspapers are privately owned. For example, the two Barabados papers (The Nation, and Advocate) are respectively owned by The Nation CO. Ltd, and The Advocate, Ltd. More over, the country has no fewer than three major parties, the NDP, the DLP and the BLP. In addition there are dozens of minor parties like the PPM, People's Pressure Movement.

Once again, he shows he can't be trusted to write anything intelligent about democratic socialism!

Once more into the breach:

"Karl Marx established atheism as a key part of communism. He said, "Religion ... is the opium of the masses." He believed it was part of the "superstructure," a false culture built to maintain the status quo. Thus he denigrated Christianity as a fictional religion. Instead, Marx was an avowed atheist, as he wrote, "Communism begins from the outset with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction." ( emphasis mine ) . "

While it's intriguing how he tees off on communism and atheism, it's incredible the blind spot he has regarding how arch-capitalists feel about Christianity and religious faith in general. Selective attention anyone? Don't take my word! Look at what capitalist-libertarian icon Ayn Rand wrote about religion in her book, “The Virtue of Selfishness”, p. 38):

There is no greater delusion than to imagine one can render unto reason what is reason’s and unto Faith what is Faith’s…..Either reason is an absolute to a mind, or it is not- and if it is not, there is no place to draw the line, no principle by which to draw it, no barrier faith cannot cross, no part of one’s life faith cannot invade.

Faith is a malignancy that NO system can tolerate with impunity, and the man who succumbs to it will call on it in precisely those issues where he needs reason the most. "

Get that?? Faith is a "malignancy"! Not even Lenin or Marx could have put it as well! It would seem that our persistent blogger needs to train his sights as much on capitalists like Rand, as communists like Marx, IF he is to be fair. But mayhap fairness isn't a word in is lexicon.

He continues:

"Vladimir Lenin similarly wrote: "A Marxist must be a materialist, i. e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i. e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching,"

But again, I already pointed out the errors here. In particular that a dialectical Materialist is not really a true materialist at all but more a metaphysical dilettante. So we take Lenin's words with a grain of salt.

And further from our tea-bagger blogger:

"In 1955, Chinese communist leader Chou En-lai declared, "We Communists are atheists" ( emphasis mine ) . "

But again, we don't use such quotations to form conclusions, at least the reasonable person doesn't - lest he fall into a logical trap or fallacy.

While it may be true that all communists are atheists, the converse is not true. Any more than to say that while "all known pedophiles have been Christians" not all Christians are pedophiles. Thus, not all atheists are communists, in fact a survey from 2005 showed nearly 82% were libertarians (like Ayn Rand).

But, as usual, he saves his biggest, blindest howler for last:

"Now , what about Capitalism? From a Christian perspective, the basis of private property rests in our being created in God's image. We can make choices over property that we can exchange in a market system."

Seeming to forget, or maybe never processing, that CHINA (yes, RED, Communist China) is now the second largest MARKET Economy on the face of the Earth (according to The Financial Times) having just passed Japan! Chinese-produced goods now dominate even the typical U.S. household, as the recent ABC News series "Made in America" found out. (Having to carry out nearly all a Dallas family's furniture since it was found made in China. Note: the family agreed to allow all foreign-made furniture to be removed, to be replaced by American-made if it could be found).

The blogger then goes on in his lame, clueless way, to praise market competitiveness, and for sure China - yes COMMIE China- has that down pat! Their competition and lower prices is killing us, and causing an enormous trade imbalance while making the Chinese bankers the lenders of choice, even as they use the money they get from sales or loans to buy more weapons systems.

Ah yes, capitalism, a gift from good old God and Christianity! Just ask the Chinese! Seems to me that it takes a more powerful brain than this blogger's to grasp that communism and capitalism - promotion of market economies, may not be necessarily mutually exclusive at all. Maybe he will eventually get it when he stops calling Obama a "democratic Socialist".

But again, going by what he's churned out before (even after being corrected), maybe he never will!

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