Saturday, April 21, 2018

John Quiggin — We are all socialists now

Socialism is much more than public ownership of productive enterprises. Still, if there is one policy that clearly distinguishes socialists from their (or rather our) opponents, it is support for public enterprise as a way of organizing large-scale production, and, in particular, as the preferred model for industries characterized by natural monopoly or other major market failures. The opposite view, dominant since the 1970s, is the market liberal framework that favors comprehensive private ownership, with “light-handed” regulation as the response to market “imperfections”.
Now that I’ve explicitly adopted the term “socialist”, I’ve been struck by the fact that I seem to be pushing against an open door....
As a socialist, I support a mixed economy in which both public and private ownership play important roles. The evidence of the past century shows, in my view, that most large-scale infrastructure should be publicly owned, and operate on a statutory authority model, accountable to the public through governments, but with politicians kept at arms length from day-to-day decisions. On the other hand, small business should be left to private ownership. That leaves a large share of the economy to balance between large for-profit corporations and public enterprise. The design of a mixed economy involves getting that balance right.

In my view, feudalism is a socio-economic system that prioritizes land (control of territory) as a factor of production. Capitalism is a socio-economic system that prioritizes capital (ownership). Socialism is an socio-economic system that prioritizes workers (people).
John Quiggin's Blog
We are all socialists now
John Quiggin | Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government


Bob Roddis said...

It looks like some people just don't have the brain power to comprehend that pesky Socialist Calculation Problem.

Noah Way said...

Because money and market-determined prices for the means of production are essential in order to make rational decisions regarding their allocation and use.

Only in a system where money is the only measure of value and is by consequence the only thing valued.

Konrad said...

Mankind divides itself into two basic classes: owners and owned; or capitalists and workers.

Everybody in the working class is a socialist. No exceptions. Even workers who claim to oppose socialism are socialists.

Don't believe me? Suppose we ask a person from the working class this question…

“Do you think that all utilities, prisons, police and fire departments, banks, roads, highways, airports, harbors, and government itself should be privately owned?”

If he answers yes, then he is a liar (in which case he is a closet socialist) or else he is a moron (in which case he will change his tune when we explain reality to him). Either way, he is a socialist.

Unfortunately, many workers are liars. Even though all workers believe in socialism (or at least in a mixture of socialism and capitalism) many workers pretend that they don’t.

Their compulsive bullshitting is why they remain impoverished and enslaved.

Tom Hickey said...

False consciousness is a term used by sociologists and expounded by some Marxists for the way in which material, ideological, and institutional processes in capitalist society mislead members of the proletariat and other class actors. These processes are thought to hide the true relations between classes and the real state of affairs regarding the exploitation suffered by the proletariat.

False consciousness.

Konrad said...

JOHN QUIGGIN WRITES: “As a socialist, I support a mixed economy in which both public and private ownership play important roles.”

Exactly. The spirit of socialism is the spirit of sharing and mutual aid for maximum social benefit. Authentic sharing and mutual aid for maximum social benefit includes respect for some degree of private ownership.

It’s a question of balance. Too much private ownership results in feudalism, where wealthy oligarchs own everything and everyone. Too little private ownership becomes Communism, in which the party bosses rule all. Both extremes create nightmares.

Therefore, when we call ourselves socialists, we do not mean that we favor government ownership of all means of production. (That’s communism.) No, we mean that we favor a balance of public and private ownership. A mixture.

We can never achieve this balance perfectly, but it is a worthy goal for a nation to continually pursue. It is a worthy star to steer the ship of state by.

When workers reject socialism, it is because they erroneously equate socialism with communism.

As for politicians who call themselves “social democrats,” they are not socialists. They are neoliberals. They push feudalism. They do not seek a balance.

What does a nation look like when it pursues a balance between public and private ownership?


Because Cuba seeks a balance, Cuba is falsely called communist, and is sanctioned and blockaded by the neoliberal West.

Because Cuba seeks a balance, Cuba’s beaches and rural areas are unspoiled and unpolluted.

Because Cuba seeks a balance, Cuba is by far the most popular Caribbean destination for foreign tourists.

Cuban tourism sets new records each year, and it brings foreign currency, which Cuba uses to buy imports.

This is why Washington fabricated the absurd nonsense about “sonic attacks: in Cuba. This evidence-free farce is a desperate attempt to hurt Cuba’s tourist industry. The lie only works on American tourists. No one else believes it.