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Modern Democratic Capitalism - is it sustainable?

 
 
Reply Tue 26 Apr, 2005 01:04 am
I just thought I'd share this and see what the groupmind thought.

In last week's Guardian Weekly Timothy Garton Ash expounded an idea that I agree with, even though it wasn't the central point of his comment I thought it deserved to be highlighted.

Quote:

In this post-ideological age, mainstream politics is not about systemic alternatives. It is about minor variations in the management of democratic capitalism - a system that, for the time being at least, faces no ideological challenge in Europe...

The voters' choice is now more like that of shareholders ... deciding which of two or three competing management teams seems more competent to run the company. Or, to adjust the metaphor slightly, it is about management teams pragmatically and opportunistically assembling rainbow coalitions of voters, by calculated appeals to specific interest groups, generations and so on.

Unquote.

Then I tied that thought to a George Monbiot observation in this week's Guardian Weekly

Quote:

The shareholder will reward the managers for looking after their capital in a responsible fashion. But in truth, because of the opportunity costs of capital, shareholders and executives have a common interest in securing jam today rather than jam tomorrow. The owners reward the executives for profit rather than investment, so the managers sacrifice the future to the present.

Unquote

So swap 'electorate' for shareholders and 'politicians' for managers.

And that pretty much sums up how I see Western Democracy at the moment.

Is it heading for a fall because of the politicians' focus on re-election? - I'm a Darwinian when it comes to political systems, and Garton Ash pointed at falling participation in elections. Does a democracy have a point at which the lack of participation means it no longer deserves the name democracy?

What do you think?
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profhig
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 03:15 pm
western democracy? there is no such thing. where are the real alternatives? why do governments get elected when 60-65% of the electorate vote otherwise? we have the choice of several capitalist parties, to a greater or lesser extent. Who do i, as a socialist, vote for? democracy is a scam, designed to keep the higher echelons (the rich and the landowners.) of society in power. karl marx once said 'religion is the opium of the people'. with the greatest of respect to the great man, i would say 'democracy is the opium of the people'. come the revolution, brother/sister.
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2005 11:20 pm
Hi Prof

If democracy is the opium of the people why are less and less smoking it? Do they subconciously realise it is a 'scam' or are the things they want in their lives beyond the ken of politicians to deliver.

People in poorer countries die to get democracy, increasingly we in richer countries can't even be bothered to participate in it.

PS Your hair is longer than mine. Just. More power to you.
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2005 11:33 pm
profhig wrote:
western democracy? there is no such thing. where are the real alternatives? why do governments get elected when 60-65% of the electorate vote otherwise? we have the choice of several capitalist parties, to a greater or lesser extent. Who do i, as a socialist, vote for? democracy is a scam, designed to keep the higher echelons (the rich and the landowners.) of society in power. karl marx once said 'religion is the opium of the people'. with the greatest of respect to the great man, i would say 'democracy is the opium of the people'. come the revolution, brother/sister.


How does socialism benifit society? The ability for everyone to be equal doesn't inspire invention and doesn't advance society as a whole. Please explain.
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2005 11:43 pm
How does much does 'invention' benefit society? Things like nuclear bombs, degradation of the environment, terrorism and mass extinctions all seem products of 'invention'.

Besides, it seems to me our economy is not based on invention so much as infinite variation in products. Why do we need so many brands of mp3 players? So that stacks of industrial designers can keep their jobs?

I'm not defending socialism as a viable alternative, I guess I'm just not clear on what an 'advance' is.

And I'm fundamentally uncertain of what we should be doing or where we should be going as a society or a species. That makes it hard to figure out whether we're getting there, let alone whether what we're moving toward is actually desirable.

If we could answer the big questions then maybe the little ones would be easier.
0 Replies
 
Instigate
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 May, 2005 12:55 am
profhig wrote:
western democracy? there is no such thing. where are the real alternatives? why do governments get elected when 60-65% of the electorate vote otherwise? we have the choice of several capitalist parties, to a greater or lesser extent. Who do i, as a socialist, vote for? democracy is a scam, designed to keep the higher echelons (the rich and the landowners.) of society in power. karl marx once said 'religion is the opium of the people'. with the greatest of respect to the great man, i would say 'democracy is the opium of the people'. come the revolution, brother/sister.


You can have your revolution, just as long as you dont inflict your self righteous socialistic crap upon the rest of us. :wink: I will not be your cash cow, that is not my role. You can sit on the sidelines and advocate the seizure of anothers property, you probably have nothing to lose in doing so, but you should leave me out of your equation. I will fight it tooth and nail.
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 May, 2005 01:09 am
Hiya Instigate

What if you ended up with more after the 'redistribution' would you still fight tooth and nail?

I guess I'm asking if you're supporting a system or just your place in it.

If you lined up the havemores versus the havelesses fairly obviously the havelesses are in the majority (aagh - democracy) somehow in stable societies most people sense that just taking what you don't have doesn't work out holistically.

However some groups do manage to take a fair bit of what's not theirs - organised crime springs to mind - and somehow become part of the system without destabilising it much, in fact they sort of get absorbed into it gradually becoming legit.
0 Replies
 
profhig
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 May, 2005 02:43 am
Instigate wrote:
profhig wrote:
western democracy? there is no such thing. where are the real alternatives? why do governments get elected when 60-65% of the electorate vote otherwise? we have the choice of several capitalist parties, to a greater or lesser extent. Who do i, as a socialist, vote for? democracy is a scam, designed to keep the higher echelons (the rich and the landowners.) of society in power. karl marx once said 'religion is the opium of the people'. with the greatest of respect to the great man, i would say 'democracy is the opium of the people'. come the revolution, brother/sister.


You can have your revolution, just as long as you dont inflict your self righteous socialistic crap upon the rest of us. :wink: I will not be your cash cow, that is not my role. You can sit on the sidelines and advocate the seizure of anothers property, you probably have nothing to lose in doing so, but you should leave me out of your equation. I will fight it tooth and nail.




Will you leave me out of your right wing capitalist 'war is good' 'might is right' crap? British Governments are elected on swaying a few marginal seats, not on the votes of the people. In the USA money decides the outcome. We are all chained by the belief that we are free. And what do you know about me or my circumstances? I have not been rude to anybody and expect to be able to express my views like everybody else, without personal attacks. Or is that the democracy you believe in? 'You are free to say what we want to hear?'
0 Replies
 
profhig
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 May, 2005 02:48 am
Baldimo wrote:
profhig wrote:
western democracy? there is no such thing. where are the real alternatives? why do governments get elected when 60-65% of the electorate vote otherwise? we have the choice of several capitalist parties, to a greater or lesser extent. Who do i, as a socialist, vote for? democracy is a scam, designed to keep the higher echelons (the rich and the landowners.) of society in power. karl marx once said 'religion is the opium of the people'. with the greatest of respect to the great man, i would say 'democracy is the opium of the people'. come the revolution, brother/sister.


How does socialism benifit society? The ability for everyone to be equal doesn't inspire invention and doesn't advance society as a whole. Please explain.


Well, who said everyone should be equal? The quote you are, i think looking for which has often been misrepresented is 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs' which isn't quite 'everybody's equal'.
0 Replies
 
profhig
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 May, 2005 02:57 am
hingehead wrote:
Hi Prof

If democracy is the opium of the people why are less and less smoking it? Do they subconciously realise it is a 'scam' or are the things they want in their lives beyond the ken of politicians to deliver.

People in poorer countries die to get democracy, increasingly we in richer countries can't even be bothered to participate in it.

PS Your hair is longer than mine. Just. More power to you.


I think politicians today are more interested in saying what we want to hear, rather than what they actually believe. Which is why they so rarely deliver. And, yes, people are dying for democracy. But do they ever actually achieve this? I personally believe that we are being dictated to, whatever we believe or are told about freedom of choice.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 May, 2005 03:42 am
Re: Modern Democratic Capitalism - is it sustainable?
oops!
Deleted.
0 Replies
 
Instigate
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 May, 2005 02:29 pm
Quote:
Hiya Instigate

What if you ended up with more after the 'redistribution' would you still fight tooth and nail?

I guess I'm asking if you're supporting a system or just your place in it.


Hey there Hingehead. I support a system. Im 22, by no means weathy, and the socialist redistribution scheme probably would benefit me as I have no health insurance. But I can take care of myself. My feeling is that socialism creates dependants by subsidizing failure and laziness and thus reinforcing them. If you pay for something, more of it happens; conversely, if you tax something, less of it happens. I think that the Left of this country uses tax dollars and social welfare programs to secure and grow their voting base; this seems a very shady and threatening prospect to me.

I think that independant, self sufficient people are more free than those who are dependant upon the government

Quote:
If you lined up the havemores versus the havelesses fairly obviously the havelesses are in the majority (aagh - democracy) somehow in stable societies most people sense that just taking what you don't have doesn't work out holistically.


This seems a strange way of thinking. Bill Gates is The Havemore and the rest of us are Havelesses. What about the middle class? Are we havemores or have lesses? There will always be someone with more than you, snd there isnt much you can do about it short of tyranny

Quote:
However some groups do manage to take a fair bit of what's not theirs - organised crime springs to mind - and somehow become part of the system without destabilising it much, in fact they sort of get absorbed into it gradually becoming legit.


Yup, criminals is what they are. Thats kind of how I view socialists. The key phrase in your post is in bold above.
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 May, 2005 02:45 pm
Quote:
In this post-ideological age, mainstream politics is not about systemic alternatives. It is about minor variations in the management of democratic capitalism - a system that, for the time being at least, faces no ideological challenge in Europe...

The voters' choice is now more like that of shareholders ... deciding which of two or three competing management teams seems more competent to run the company. Or, to adjust the metaphor slightly, it is about management teams pragmatically and opportunistically assembling rainbow coalitions of voters, by calculated appeals to specific interest groups, generations and so on.



No, I don't think so.

Quote:
"Government doesn't create wealth," Mr. Bush said. "The role of government is to create the kind of conditions where risk-takers and entrepreneurs can invest and grow and hire new workers."
0 Replies
 
Instigate
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 May, 2005 02:52 pm
Quote:
Will you leave me out of your right wing capitalist 'war is good' 'might is right' crap? British Governments are elected on swaying a few marginal seats, not on the votes of the people. In the USA money decides the outcome. We are all chained by the belief that we are free. And what do you know about me or my circumstances? I have not been rude to anybody and expect to be able to express my views like everybody else, without personal attacks. Or is that the democracy you believe in? 'You are free to say what we want to hear?'


I beg your pardon profhig, I did not notice that you were British.

I am not sure how you associate capitalism with war. The communist/socialist countries of this world have certainly had their fair share of wars and aggresion. War is not exclusive of any particular governing system.

I dont understand how anyone could support a socialist system. It seems contrary to human nature to me, and in the end, it is just a glorified system of slavery. Maybe you think that the owner/worker dynamic of capitalism is anologous to slavery but the difference between Capitalist and Socialist "slavery" is that one is voluntary, and the other is done with the power of governemnt and the threat of imprisonment.
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 May, 2005 11:10 pm
profhig wrote:
Baldimo wrote:
profhig wrote:
western democracy? there is no such thing. where are the real alternatives? why do governments get elected when 60-65% of the electorate vote otherwise? we have the choice of several capitalist parties, to a greater or lesser extent. Who do i, as a socialist, vote for? democracy is a scam, designed to keep the higher echelons (the rich and the landowners.) of society in power. karl marx once said 'religion is the opium of the people'. with the greatest of respect to the great man, i would say 'democracy is the opium of the people'. come the revolution, brother/sister.


How does socialism benifit society? The ability for everyone to be equal doesn't inspire invention and doesn't advance society as a whole. Please explain.


Well, who said everyone should be equal? The quote you are, i think looking for which has often been misrepresented is 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs' which isn't quite 'everybody's equal'.


What is your meaning of the above phrase?
0 Replies
 
profhig
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 May, 2005 05:22 pm
Baldimo wrote:
profhig wrote:
Baldimo wrote:
profhig wrote:
western democracy? there is no such thing. where are the real alternatives? why do governments get elected when 60-65% of the electorate vote otherwise? we have the choice of several capitalist parties, to a greater or lesser extent. Who do i, as a socialist, vote for? democracy is a scam, designed to keep the higher echelons (the rich and the landowners.) of society in power. karl marx once said 'religion is the opium of the people'. with the greatest of respect to the great man, i would say 'democracy is the opium of the people'. come the revolution, brother/sister.


How does socialism benifit society? The ability for everyone to be equal doesn't inspire invention and doesn't advance society as a whole. Please explain.


Well, who said everyone should be equal? The quote you are, i think looking for which has often been misrepresented is 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs' which isn't quite 'everybody's equal'.


What is your meaning of the above phrase?




What I interpret the above quote to mean is that if you are able and capable of producing wealth for the common good, then you should do so. ''From each according to his ability.' if circumstance means you are unable to produce toward the common good, then your needs will be supplied from the common good. 'To each according to his needs'. This, as far as I am concerned doesn't mean sitting back and reaping the fruits of somebody elses labours, if you are able to contribute.
0 Replies
 
profhig
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 May, 2005 05:47 pm
Instigate wrote:
Quote:
Will you leave me out of your right wing capitalist 'war is good' 'might is right' crap? British Governments are elected on swaying a few marginal seats, not on the votes of the people. In the USA money decides the outcome. We are all chained by the belief that we are free. And what do you know about me or my circumstances? I have not been rude to anybody and expect to be able to express my views like everybody else, without personal attacks. Or is that the democracy you believe in? 'You are free to say what we want to hear?'


I beg your pardon profhig, I did not notice that you were British.

I am not sure how you associate capitalism with war. The communist/socialist countries of this world have certainly had their fair share of wars and aggresion. War is not exclusive of any particular governing system.



I dont understand how anyone could support a socialist system. It seems contrary to human nature to me, and in the end, it is just a glorified system of slavery. Maybe you think that the owner/worker dynamic of capitalism is anologous to slavery but the difference between Capitalist and Socialist "slavery" is that one is voluntary, and the other is done with the power of governemnt and the threat of imprisonment.


I do not necessarily equate capitalism with war. My apologies. It was a 'knee-jerk' reaction to your earlier comments. i should have thought harder and not responded with the first thing that came into my head. It is not my wish to see this discussion degenerate into personal attacks. I also withdraw my 'come the revolution' remark. It was not meant to indicate a leaning to violence. Social and peaceful revolutions are possible and preferable. I support a socialist system because I would prefer the fruits of my labour to benefit the whole, not a small percentage of society. And it may seem contrary to human nature, which is why many socialist systems have used extreme measures to maintain control. I think we should achieve it through education and persuasion. As for it being a glorified form of slavery, I can see why you might feel that way. But I feel that capitalist systems are a form of glorified slavey. Arguing that capitalist 'slavery' is voluntary doesn't support the facts. If I decide i do not wish to be a capitalist 'slave' in a capitalist country, where are my choices? I don't work, therefore I don't eat. You may argue this is a choice, but then I will say that if you don't work, you go to prison is a choice. I think, except for a large minority that capitalists and socialists, and, dare I say it? communists want the same thing. A comfortable life, happiness and to live without fear. We differ as to the best and fairest way to achieve this.
0 Replies
 
tony2481
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 May, 2005 08:51 pm
I cannot think of one socialist/communist country that was successful. I suppose if you believe that socialism the "best" or "most fair" economic policy then your standard of "success" may be different of mine.

Capitalism gets people to do the things they are good at, by rewarding people who do things well with stuff like money. Good ideas, products and services reward their producers, while inferior ideas, products and services generally go unrewarded. The free market determines the value of these and everyone benefits by having the best of everthing possible at the time (the "best" can also be an individuals choice or opinion).

Someone who is a good doctor is likely to remain a doctor because a good doctor will earn well. If that doctor got paid the same as everyone else, he/she may choose to do something else that may not benefit "the people" in the same way. I know if I could be a doctor or a pro bass fisherman for the same amount of money, I would choose the latter. It is simply more enjoyable, even if I am not so good at it.
0 Replies
 
Eorl
 
  2  
Reply Sun 8 May, 2005 11:46 pm
I think all socialist concepts have at their core a belief that humanity is on the whole good, generous and hardworking - and that is the flaw.

The truth I suspect is much more Darwinian. I think you can see capitalism and "survival of the fittest" as very similar systems, which explains the "success" of capitalism worldwide - it is the system that most closely resembles human nature.

Unfortunately, as is the case in "nature", the weak don't do very well as a result.
0 Replies
 
profhig
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 May, 2005 01:42 am
tony2481 wrote:
I cannot think of one socialist/communist country that was successful. I suppose if you believe that socialism the "best" or "most fair" economic policy then your standard of "success" may be different of mine.

Capitalism gets people to do the things they are good at, by rewarding people who do things well with stuff like money. Good ideas, products and services reward their producers, while inferior ideas, products and services generally go unrewarded. The free market determines the value of these and everyone benefits by having the best of everthing possible at the time (the "best" can also be an individuals choice or opinion).

Someone who is a good doctor is likely to remain a doctor because a good doctor will earn well. If that doctor got paid the same as everyone else, he/she may choose to do something else that may not benefit "the people" in the same way. I know if I could be a doctor or a pro bass fisherman for the same amount of money, I would choose the latter. It is simply more enjoyable, even if I am not so good at it.


The possible reason you cannot name one socialist country that has 'done well' may be because there has not yet been a truly socialist regime. Just because a country calls itself socialist soesn't make it so. We cannot blame socialism for what is done in its name any more than we should blame christianity for the things that have been done in its name. And to be honest, Cuba doesn't seem to be doing so badly. One of the best education and health care systems in the world.

Nobody is saying a doctor should be paid the same as a fisherman. It is another misquoted myth perpetuated by the rich ruling classes. I refer you once again to 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.' If you were an unsuccesful fisherman, but a good doctor that is what would be expected of you. The equality that is often quoted as being unworkable is better interpreted as people should be treated with equal fairness, irrespective of wealth or status. What I find offensive is a doctor treating a rich man for a discomfort, while a poor man dies because of his inability to pay.
0 Replies
 
 

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