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Predicting the economy's rate of recovery - Input Junkie
August 17th, 2012
11:00 am

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Predicting the economy's rate of recovery

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From:nancylebov
Date:August 17th, 2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
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I used to believe that calling Obama a socialist had an element of conservative bafflegab because they were conflating socialism with state communism.

More recently, I've met some far left people (including a Stalinist), and they're willing to use "socialist" as a term which includes them. To be fair, I can't remember whether the Stalinist considered herself a socialist.

So it's a mess. The only thing I can think of is to ask people what they mean if you have a chance to do so.
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From:whswhs
Date:August 17th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
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I've only had extended discussion with one person who embraces the label, and I have never yet been able to get him to define socialism as referring to any specific set of economic institutions. The one thing that he is sure of is that the Soviet Union was not by any means a socialist society. That sounds really strange to me, given the history, from the 1930s when leftists in most of the West held up the Soviet Union as factual evidence that a socialist society was both possible and desirable, to the 1970s when economists in the USSR started writing about what they had as "actually existing socialism" (a phrase I used to see in critical Marxist journals).
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From:andrewducker
Date:August 17th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC)
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Well, they were the Union of Soviety Socialist Republics, so Socialism was part of the sales-pitch.

But as Wikipedia makes clear, there are numerous approaches under the socialism brand, and they can vary dramatically from each other. So long as you have some communal ownership going on, you've got some variety of socialism.
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From:anton_p_nym
Date:August 17th, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
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Well, they were the Union of Soviety Socialist Republics, so Socialism was part of the sales-pitch.

Alas, nations aren't held to any form of "truth in labelling" laws. (*cough* Democratic People's Republic of Korea *cough*)

-- Steve does think that the USSR was a socialist state; it's just that the Soviet model, with its requiring a command economy, proved not to be a very good one to use.
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From:whswhs
Date:August 17th, 2012 06:39 pm (UTC)
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As I think my mention of the two non-Leninist traditions should make clear, I'm aware of other interpretations of socialism than the Soviet Union's. There is, for example, the European model that Obama seems to favor, though of course an American politician can't call themself a "socialist," for reasons that have nothing to do with the serious analysis of comparative economic systems.
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From:andrewducker
Date:August 17th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
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Oh yes - in the US "Socialist" is a dog-whistle term. Here in the UK I hear people talking about how awesome our socialised medicine is on a semi-regular basis, although that seems to have happened as a backlash from the ludicrous fuss that the USA has made.
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From:whswhs
Date:August 18th, 2012 01:11 am (UTC)
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But the effect of that emotional reaction seems to me to be that Obama is not going to call himself a "socialist," even if in fact he is; it doesn't mean that calling Obama a socialist is inaccurate necessarily. Given the political aspects, what Obama calls himself is not evidential. As to whether he is, that depends on how you define "socialist"; his health care plan isn't much like the British (or Canadian) plan that you unhesitatingly call socialist, but it's a substantial move in that direction from where the United States was previously. And I think if Obama could have just gone straight to single payer he would have been delighted. But that's an interpretation on my part.
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From:andrewducker
Date:August 18th, 2012 10:13 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I don't think that the USA is ready for a president who says "Yes, some of this is socialist, and that's a good thing.". Hopefully, some day they will be.
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From:whswhs
Date:August 18th, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
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We will just have to disagree on that last; I think the United States has gone much too far toward socialism already. I would prefer to see the movement reversed.
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