Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Data Show That Socialism Works — Nick Warino

The left, right, and center disagree on the merits of socialism. But these disagreements are often impenetrable, as they rarely even agree which countries are socialist. Socialist skeptics point to Venezuela as an example of socialism run amok, while socialists point to the Nordics as evidence of its virtues. To counter the obvious success of the Nordics, some will define them as actually capitalist. The capitalism-or-socialism binary gets further complicated as debaters introduce terms like “welfare state capitalism”, “social democracy”, “democratic socialism”, “state capitalism”, “state socialism”, and more. This debate doesn’t get any clearer among self-identified socialists, as many have their own pet definitions. With such barriers in the discourse, how can we possibly measure how people experience socialism?
Instead of cramming countries into discrete buckets of “socialism” or “capitalism”, it’s better to view countries as bundles of institutions. Those institutions can operate along a socialist-capitalist spectrum, and exist with other institutions that fall elsewhere. This approach forces us to consider which institutions are most relevant and how they can best be measured to capture the differences between socialism and capitalism. Once we have a pliable measurement, we can then see whether people in socialist societies can be happy – or destined to a life of misery....
As I have argued previously, for socialism a state doesn't need to own the means of production as the strict definition of "socialism" requires, but rather only to control the commanding heights. Nick Warino proposes a method for measuring this distribution between public and private sectors that is more nunanced than the current approaches.

The issue is basically this: "In the beginning" human shared the planet as a commons. Over time, the commons was enclosed and privatized. The premise is that this leads to greater socio-economic efficiency and effectiveness instead of the powerful simply expropriating the commons because they could. If the latter were the case, then warlordism would be the logical conclusion unless the public were able to established their rights to the commons with superior force.

Positing the premise of the superiority systems in terms of socio-economic efficiency and effective as a hypothesis, it should be possible to develop a method for measuring this. Nick Warino gives it a shot.

I would say that this is an interesting attempt, but that the issues are far more complex owing to the systems involved. Obviously, they need to be simplified in a model but what the degree for model-optimization may be is still to be determined. Until this is done, most of the arguments over capitalism versus socialism and democracy over other political systems are mostly gas or ideologically driven.

This is a problem for the combined social sciences and it must be based on analysis of social, political and economic systems as organic wholes. This is especially the case in an era of globalization with inequality and social unrest rising, and different systems pitted against each other, as well as factions within those systems.

Bill Totten's Weblog
The Data Show That Socialism Works
Nick Warino, Current Affairs, 7 Dec.

1 comment:

Bob said...

We live in mixed economies. There are plenty of measures to look at, which are more informative than the ever-expanding "socialist" brand label.

Read it and weep, Yankees: