Written in the perspective of
I consider myself an expert on the topic of socialism because I actually studied and lived through it. When I was in school, everyone was required to take many courses in socialism, my grades on the subject were great. Since Addy was created in Seattle and has the ability to learn quickly about almost anything, I challenged Addy to see if she can generate better insights to write a piece about socialism that would be better than my knowledge on the topic. Addy came back with a report that is based on what was discovered from “experts” on Reddit. Addy found an interesting point, people often bring up “Scandinavian-model” as a successful example of socialism and blame corruption when socialism failed. Addy quoted some comments:
“Scandinavians also have more millionaires per capita than the US. If you want to make it from dirt poor to the top, a socialist country is also the way to go. It’s affordable to study and to hone in on your business ideas and crafts, it gives you that extra space for success. Of course we are capitalist just as most of the worlds countries. But that ”socialist-web” takes your mind off of things that often are in the way of making your way in the world. Especially the less fortunate ones. So if you want to preach freedom of the individual, Scandinavians are more free than many other countries like the US of A where you are tied to your company in so many ways. The ”Scandinavian-model” doesn’t work if you have a corrupt country though so that is something you have to keep in mind of course.”
“Even though massive incompetence and corruption is the number one reason Socialism fails. Take Venezuela. Their oil production before the communists took over was one of the tops in the world, and they were efficient. They are now less efficient then they were in the 70s and one of the least efficient oil producers in the world.”
Addy also discovered that people try very hard to put the word “democracy” with “socialism” because that sounds more benign. Addy provided these quotes:
“The main issue here is that what socialism actually is and what western countries--not just America--*call* socialism are two wildly different things. Go look at just about any western democracy's self-proclaimed 'socialist' party, and you'll find that what they're actually advocating for is social democracy.”
“Social democracy is not socialism. No matter how high taxes and how many welfare programs you have, if the capitalist mode of production still exists it is not socialism. It’s not uncommon to confuse it with democratic socialism though, which is socialism."
"“**Socialism** is when the working class collectively owns and democratically operates the Means of Production (stores, factories, etc.) In order to fulfill the needs of the community. This is opposed to **Capitalism** which is when the Means of Production are privately owned and operated to accumulate profits. **Social Democracy** is a term that describes a form of welfare state Capitalism. **Democratic Socialism** is a fairly vague, term, and can encompass a lot of socialist ideologies. But at its core, seeks to build Socialism alongside a Democratic political system, and avoid the ossification of bureaucracy (like what happened in the USSR, especially in its later years). **Communism** is the end goal of Socialism. It is a society that is stateless and classless.”
I was very impressed by Addy’s findings, however, I do believe that I can still offer some points that Reddit “experts” seemed to be uneducated about. My point of view is quite simple, Socialism, as Karl Marx stated is an argument for productivity. Marx’s point is that socialism will result in higher productivity than capitalism.
Socialism means that when productivity is high, the cost of living approaches to just about zero for everyone. So basically you get what you need, I see it almost like a mathematical problem. For instance, when productivity in the healthcare industry is very high, the same number of medical professionals can treat twice as many patients as they do when productivity is low, this would make it much easier to care for everyone. Similarly, for education, high productivity may mean a university can educate more students. If a virtual public university can admit an unlimited number of students and provide quality education, then good education could be free for everyone who is willing to learn. In my opinion, the only viable way to reach this level of productivity is through technology and innovation.
While the theory of socialism is insightful and suggests productivity is a driving force of human society, Karl Max assumed that in order to achieve very high productivity, the communists running the government not only should know how to allocate resources (for all production) optimally, but they also should not bet corruptible (i.e. act in self-interest). Neither assumption turned out to be true for human societies that tried to practice good socialism. As a result, productivity was very low and there was a shortage of goods to distribute. Typical examples are Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.
China is the notable exception, they drastically altered the practice by quickly adopting capitalism to drive productivity. As a result, it created a capitalistic and productive society with an authoritative government. China is not unlike the U.S. in that China also created the elite class of the wealthiest and a political system with deep corruption. This is understandable, a large size economy plus high leverage in both countries means the collusion of political and business elites can produce the most to satisfy greed.
Since those systems are still being practiced today, we could say the practice is ‘working’, there are certainly worse systems than the U.S. or China at the moment. The downside is that when those systems become unstable, the collapse will be at an extinction level risk because of the advancements in weaponry & artificial intelligence, as well as because of the severely-damaged natural environments.
Perhaps we are at a crossroads, we can either evolve or become extinct as a race. Is history determined to be the characters of those who shape it?