PhilO

Is America a Socialist Country?

59 posts in this topic

There are so many non-objective laws that everyone is "technically guilty" of something all the time while everything the government does is "legal". Ayn Rand used the common sense of juries invoking jury nullification as a fictional device in her plots to support her heroes in defiance of legalized injustice -- why go along with the government's premises and ruin the theme of a good novel?

Amen. Imagine trying to write Atlas Shrugged from the perspective of "honoring" arbitrary law!

Anybody in America who does not realize that they already live in a socialist country needs massive premise checking.

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Anybody in America who does not realize that they already live in a socialist country needs massive premise checking.
I disagree. Perhaps you should check your premises; America is not socialist, if the definition of socialism is "a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole," since most production is done privately and is not controlled by the "whole community." While there are too many regulations and socialism holds far more sway than it should, America is decidedly not a socialist country. Hence why America has more than ten times the number of billionares of any other country in the world (even one billionare would be impossible under strict socialism).

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There are so many non-objective laws that everyone is "technically guilty" of something all the time while everything the government does is "legal". Ayn Rand used the common sense of juries invoking jury nullification as a fictional device in her plots to support her heroes in defiance of legalized injustice -- why go along with the government's premises and ruin the theme of a good novel?

Amen. Imagine trying to write Atlas Shrugged from the perspective of "honoring" arbitrary law!

Anybody in America who does not realize that they already live in a socialist country needs massive premise checking.

Amen again.

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I disagree.

There are billionaires and millionaires in China, hence it does not have, not just a socialist, but a communist government?

The U.S. government now *owns* huge chunks of AIG, GM, various banks.

A large chunk of your earnings is confiscated by force by the government.

The above is certainly not capitalism, and "mixed economy" is too weak of a description. What then is it?

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I disagree. Perhaps you should check your premises; America is not socialist, if the definition of socialism is "a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole," since most production is done privately and is not controlled by the "whole community." While there are too many regulations and socialism holds far more sway than it should, America is decidedly not a socialist country. Hence why America has more than ten times the number of billionares of any other country in the world (even one billionare would be impossible under strict socialism).

There are billionaires and millionaires in China, hence it does not have, not just a socialist, but a communist government?

The U.S. government now *owns* huge chunks of AIG, GM, various banks.

A large chunk of your earnings is confiscated by force by the government.

The above is certainly not capitalism, and "mixed economy" is too weak of a description. What then is it?

Fascism is the form of socialism in which the government nominally allows some private property but in fact controls it. When they leave you with the deed and the tax bill and otherwise keep the control you don't have the right of private property. A government does not have to honestly acknowledge it has taken ownership in order for it to be socialist. Quibling over what "percentage" of the banks is acknowledged as "owned" by government is besides the point.

As Ayn Rand wrote in "'Extremism,' Or The Art Of Smearing" in Capitalism the Unknown Ideal:

...[F]ascism and communism are not two opposites, but two rival gangs fighting over the same territory—that both are variants of statism, based on the collectivist principle that man is the rightless slave of the state—that both are socialistic, in theory, in practice, and in the explicit statements of their leaders—that under both systems, the poor are enslaved and the rich are expropriated in favor of a ruling clique—that fascism is not the product of the political "right," but of the "left"— that the basic issue is not "rich versus poor," but man versus the state, or: individual rights versus totalitarian government—which means: capitalism versus socialism.

Reread Ayn Rand's 1965 Ford Hall Forum lecture, "The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus", in Capitalism the Unknown Ideal. Replace a few words like "consensus" with "bipartisan" to update the rhetoric they use and she is talking exactly about what we have and the mentality behind it today. Almost 50 years later the legal precedents and entrenched powers of government are much worse now than what she was living in, but the mentality and mode of operation she describes are astonishingly the same as what we are seeing in politics right now.

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Anybody in America who does not realize that they already live in a socialist country needs massive premise checking.
I disagree. Perhaps you should check your premises; America is not socialist, if the definition of socialism is "a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole," since most production is done privately and is not controlled by the "whole community." While there are too many regulations and socialism holds far more sway than it should, America is decidedly not a socialist country. Hence why America has more than ten times the number of billionares of any other country in the world (even one billionare would be impossible under strict socialism).

That's one form of socialism -- the "more honest" version. There is another: fascism (see EWV's excellent differentiation). I would say in response to PhilO: America has become a fascist county. Let's call a spade a spade, shall we?!

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That's one form of socialism -- the "more honest" version. There is another: fascism (see EWV's excellent differentiation). I would say in response to PhilO: America has become a fascist county. Let's call a spade a spade, shall we?!

I wouldn't have said this six months ago, but seeing where Obama and Congress are taking us there is little doubt you are right. All of the alarmism over Obama is turning out to be right. America is being destroyed right before our eyes.

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That's one form of socialism -- the "more honest" version. There is another: fascism (see EWV's excellent differentiation). I would say in response to PhilO: America has become a fascist county. Let's call a spade a spade, shall we?!

I wouldn't have said this six months ago, but seeing where Obama and Congress are taking us there is little doubt you are right. All of the alarmism over Obama is turning out to be right. America is being destroyed right before our eyes.

I would say that should Obama spend two terms in office, America will have officially moved from being a welfare state to being a fascist one. Even with this $5 trillion spending bill and new financial regulations, America will have to first become like Canada (no private universities; socialized healthcare; an entrenched governing clique) before she becomes like any member of the already fascist European Union.

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That's one form of socialism -- the "more honest" version. There is another: fascism (see EWV's excellent differentiation). I would say in response to PhilO: America has become a fascist county. Let's call a spade a spade, shall we?!

That's probably the better term, though I think that fascism with its "nominal private ownership" will logically move towards "full socialism" as the remnants of private ownership are removed and replaced by government bureaucrats entirely. In that respect the percentage ownership by the government seems important in making the distinction, and note that the government now owns a staggering 80% of AIG.

Some might say "Well, that's only AIG and some banks and GM and blah blah blah but the rest of the businesses are untouched." It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see the government buying S&P 500 mutual funds as a next step to propping up the market; then it will start to own fractions of most of the largest companies in the country.

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And incidentally, I haven't seen anybody bring up an obvious side-effect (one of a countless number) of government ownership of banks. Before, banks only had to report certain transactions to the government. Now, if the government owns the majority of a bank, it will certainly insist on getting complete database dumps from the banks to "protect its interests" - i.e., *daily* and *complete* financial data on many millions of Americans being quietly imported into government databases.

Free country eh.

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I would call America socialist now too. Especially considering that 60% of Americans *approve* of the job that Obama is doing, according to opinion polls. So it is not just a socialist government, but a socialist people supporting it.

The stats I have seen are that the federal government now controls over a third of the US economy now, due to the massive accelerating expansion of it in the past year. Add in the states and the local governments and it can easily become more than the 50% tipping point to say "Mixed economy, mostly socialist" like Europe, instead of "Mixed economy, mostly capitalist" like Australia or America used to be.

The thing I have observed is that Americans are accepting full socialism, of the education, healthcare, the class warfare that Obama spews out, and still approve as long as nobody calls it socialism.

I remember when I visited Seattle in early 2001. People were so positive, and supportive of entrepreneurs, and their right to make a profit. Almost every person, even if they supported some leftist policies, would still support Entrepreneurs. America was the land of the free businessman, a can do nation who believed in the power of hard work and smart thinking to improve the individual. I remember that sense of life so vividly and the memory of it still encourages me, that there was a place on this Earth were those values were enshrined.

I remember a scene from the end of the end of the Iraqi war in which a statue of Saddam was torn down by ropes.

Not even a decade later from my visit to Seattle, I watch from horror from afar as I see the spiritual equivalent of that scene play out in America in which the entrepreneurs and businessman are pulled down in the same way Saddam was, and in their place, Obama with big government is erected everywhere.

I got to ask what sort of people live in America, when even after the economic collapse, they are still one of the most prosperous, highest earning nations in the entire world yet they claim that capitalism has failed them and that they now support socialist measures?

All I can say to your country, is get some damn perspective, stop this insanity and throw off the government slave collar that is currently being put around your neck before it gets sealed by a padlock and chain permanently. Don't let that spirit I once saw in your nation go.

America has so much to offer its citizens, still has so much promise to offer, simply by leaving its citizens free to achieve, but that will never happen unless they remain free to think, act, and achieve.

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And something else for perspective. According to this New York Times site:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/02...ls-graphic.html

Through Feb. 19, the government has made commitments of nearly $8.8 trillion and spent $2 trillion.

From the official Standard & Poor's site to get the S&P 500 total market capitalization (which represents the large majority of total stock market capitalization) for today (link will presumably be for current day), the figure is $6.555 trillion.

In other words: the government has already spent 30.5% of the market cap of the S&P 500 and has made commitments which exceed that capitalization by about $1.5 trillion.

Capitalism? No.

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The above is certainly not capitalism, and "mixed economy" is too weak of a description. What then is it?

Phil, I think you've been working too hard. Perhaps you should take a vacation in North Korea--I hear it's a socialist country too, so it shouldn't be really different from the United States, but the forms of recreation they offer--things like torture chambers, gulags, and so on--should give you a break from the monotony of life under the American variant of socialism. I think you'd emerge from there with a clearer head and might find the answer to your question yourself...

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The above is certainly not capitalism, and "mixed economy" is too weak of a description. What then is it?

Phil, I think you've been working too hard. Perhaps you should take a vacation in North Korea--I hear it's a socialist country too, [...]

It's a communist country, not a socialist country.

Planning to IPO a company in free America sometime soon? Wonder why nobody is doing it anymore? Look up Sarbanes-Oxley, another part of free America.

Planning on the value of your American dollars to hold up?

Want to develop biomedical devices, a new drug? On the first day of a biomedical engineering class, the professor spends most of the time discussing his conversation with a former high level pharma. company executive about his view that in the next 10 years, it is likely that a combination of regulations and lawsuits will make it unprofitable to develop even the sort of "blockbuster" drugs that are the only things they currently can find profitable even with massive losses from such factors. Conclusion: they will go out of business.

America no doubt still looks great from the perspective of many countries in the world. For now. The kids that Dagny saw eating ice cream from the train no doubt thought that everything was Just Great too.

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It's worth adding that the fact that America is a socialist (or fascist) country does not thereby make the achievement of a large range of values impossible. It is foolish to literally go on strike at the present time. I certainly am not. Nobody should stop trying to maximize their creation of values including starting a family.

But evading the nature of what is, and what is likely to be, will do you as much good as any other evasion. There is a great virtue to identifying the truth, whether it be something nice or great, or something bad. For years many evaded the obvious nature of Alan Greenspan (and some are incredibly *still* doing it, apparently trying to compete with James Taggart.) That had *disastrous* results for the country and bruised the reputation of Objectivism by association, simply because he was not vocally disavowed for years by those who should have known better and acted on it.

In other words, there is no impetus for positive change if you go around pretending that everything is Just Great when it's heading straight over the waterfall and want to focus on how pretty the rainbow is from the approaching mist.

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We should be careful saying what America IS now with where it's currently headed. Having lived in an ACTUAL socialist country, I can say with authority that the US is not that - yet. Whether it falls *completely* into some form of statism - and I chose the word completely for a reason - still remains to be seen. A lot depends on who fights to reverse the course of the country. Nothing in history is inevitable.

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If socialism is essentially state ownership of the economy, what is the implication of over $8 trillion in *recent* government spending commitments when that number is about $2 trillion more than the market capitalization value of the S&P 500 which represents a large majority of the value of businesses in America?

The government as we all know is not a productive entity. Its sole ultimate backing for that spending are the assets of America and one cannot spend what one does not own, so clearly the government believes - and will act on with force - that it does own them.

And it just committed to spending more than the entire market cap of the S&P 500.

Being an abstraction, there will be countless variants of socialism and various degrees of it. A category 1 and a category 5 hurricane are both hurricanes but the destructive potential of the latter is vastly larger. Both however are not mere thunderstorms, and this particular hurricane is hardly getting weaker.

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If socialism is essentially state ownership of the economy,

When the American sense of life is irreversibly affected by this insane spending, then I would say the USA has become a socialist country. Until then, it's a mixed entity that has walked right up to the disaster line, stared into the abyss and wavered due to vertigo.

The government as we all know is not a productive entity. Its sole ultimate backing for that spending are the assets of America and one cannot spend what one does not own,

This presumes adherence to 6th grade accounting, something we rarely see in government.

so clearly the government believes - and will act on with force - that it does own them.

Please! There is such a thing as absurdly irresponsible spending without the assumption that either Gov or the People own everything. (Note that they still need the facade of a dire emergency to justify this level of spending, and that they have to bury their intent in 1300 pages worth of a no-time-to-debate-it stimulus bill(s))

Being an abstraction, there will be countless variants of socialism and various degrees of it.

But the US would still need to go past a certain degree of socialism to be a socialist country. Until then, it's a mixed nation that has spent absurdly, recklessly risking the permanent loss of its greatest attributes.

The story is far from over, folks.

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So, it seems we all know where we stand. One of the next questions should be what are you willing to do about it. I offer, to win we will need to seek out the lion in his den and destroy him. If anyone thinks that you can win a war by staying on comfortable turf, I offer that they study war from years ago.

When Julius Caesar was informed that a tribe of Gallic territories had accosted his Roman emmissaries and killed them he immediately sent his troops into Gaul to battle those that had killed the emmissaries. Julius Caesar's troops defeated the enemy and then slaughtered all the males reamaining alive and sold all of the women and children into slavery. From that time on, Julius Caesar's emmissaries went untouched.

We need to seek out and destroy our enemies ideas and let them know that they are in an intellectual war with an unrelenting warrior.

Or we could sit around in our own dens and wait for them to come.

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Planning to IPO a company in free America sometime soon?
I never called America free. In fact, I wrote an essay arguing that it should be officially acknowledged that America is no longer the free country it once was. I wouldn't even agree with AdamM's statement that "America is not socialist" ; the current American administration definitely is socialist (and so was the previous one, to a lesser extent), and if they got their way, they would turn America into a 100% socialist economy.

But to say that America is a 100% socialist economy right now is simply inaccurate. That would mean that it couldn't get any worse than this; that Obama has already achieved all he wants and now he can just lean back in his chair and smoke cigars. You know this isn't true; there is a lot more freedom left in America, and Obama is working hard to destroy it.

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The economics of Fascism is technically referred to as "corporatism". This article from the September 13, 2002 edition of FrontPage Magazine is, in my view, an excellent summary of what corporatism is, its particular manifestation on the American scene, and the peculiar difficulties to be faced in attempts to dislodge it from the American mind. I found the brief discussion of the initial failure of HillaryCare as well as his inclusion of Affirmative Action in his list of examples to be quite interesting. One wonders what the writer would have had to say had he composed the article in September of 2008.

A point of disclosure: the author of this piece of Robert Locke. I do not know much about Mr. Locke, although I am aware that his views have made him something of a persona non grata in both conservative and Libertarian circles (he and David Horowitz had a very public falling out), and a non-person in Liberal ones. I find his piece here, however, to be very much on-point.

What Is American Corporatism?

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Some excellent insights, including the fact that the Left and Right are fighting over two halves of the same system. Of course it benefits the Left that the Right believes it is fighting for Capitalism, because that makes for a great scapegoat when anything goes wrong. And it also benefits the corrupt on the Right, because then they can "compromise" by becoming even bigger power lusters. It isn't necessarily that the players haven't identified the game (as Locke suggests); it's the fact that they refuse to identify it that they get to keep playing.

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I would call America socialist now too. Especially considering that 60% of Americans *approve* of the job that Obama is doing, according to opinion polls. So it is not just a socialist government, but a socialist people supporting it.

You have to be careful interpreting this polling data. Newly elected presidents typically have high ratings at the very beginning of their terms and Obama's numbers have already started falling (hopefully forever). But the poll numbers are not a referendum on socialism. Most people are "non-ideological" Pragmatists and that is how the Obama takeover is being pushed even while some, such as Glenn Beck, have been identifying it as socialist.

Obama will not advocate "socialism" now any more than he would in the campaign when he denied affiliation with the likes of socialist terrorist Bill Ayres. His agenda is constantly being pushed as "necessary" "bold" "action" "required" for the "crisis" caused by "ideological" "deregulation" as a political principle. The power grab in the name of pragmatism and presented as somehow beyond political ideology, even while the progressive left knows very well itself that it is socialist, is being promoted in the name of anti-ideology, not socialism.

What Ayn Rand wrote in "The New Fascisim: Rule by Consensus" almost 45 years ago is still true today:

The disgraceful and terrifying answer is: there is no ideological trend today. There is no ideology. There are no political principles, theories, ideals, or philosophy. There is no direction, no goal, no compass, no vision of the future, no intellectual element of leadership. Are there any emotional elements dominating today's culture? Yes. One. Fear.

This power grab exploiting and fanning fear is exactly what the socialist Obama and the Democrats are doing. Remember Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's slip when he got carried away and publically admittted "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste". Obama is an unadmitted socialist, but even he will do whatever "works" to increase statism in order to "mainstream" socialism in the name of the non-ideological, i.e., identify what he is doing by any means possible to increase the power of government in any way he can. Why should Obama identify what he is and risk narrowing his support by appealing to political principle -- any principle -- when he can claim to embrace everything in the name of the non-ideological "practical"?

The problem is not that a majority of people endorse "socialism", but that they don't know enough to care when it is pointed out to them, and that they accept it -- in its fascist form -- in the name of the "non-ideological practical". Most of them are not just oblivious to the implications of socialism as a political system, they are oblivious to the necessety of political principles at all.

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It isn't necessarily that the players haven't identified the game (as Locke suggests); it's the fact that they refuse to identify it that they get to keep playing.

I agree.

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There are so many non-objective laws that everyone is "technically guilty" of something all the time while everything the government does is "legal". Ayn Rand used the common sense of juries invoking jury nullification as a fictional device in her plots to support her heroes in defiance of legalized injustice -- why go along with the government's premises and ruin the theme of a good novel?

Amen. Imagine trying to write Atlas Shrugged from the perspective of "honoring" arbitrary law!

Anybody in America who does not realize that they already live in a socialist country needs massive premise checking.

General comment on the overall thread rather than a reply to this post.

First, the question misses the point and is a distraction. Arcane debates about what word you may use to describe a political system simply won't engage people. For politics to be relevant and understood in most peoples lives you need to ask simple questions which get to the heart of the matter, and ones that can easily be remembered, viz:

1. Is it sensible to pass a multi-trillion dollar spending bill that no-one has read?

2. Should we look at each one of the 9,000 earmarks to see if every single one is vital, or should we just trust the senators?

3. When you are deep, deep in debt, is the way out to borrow money?

4. If a company goes bust, it closes, isn't this the American way? What examples of successful state-subsidised companies are there?

5. How can we increase spending, increase borrowing, cut taxes for 95% of American families and cut the deficit by 2013? Aren't these mutualy exclusive objectives that you could work out with third grade maths?

6. Ever feel you are being conned on a gigantic scale and are now allowing not only yourselves but your children to be sold into de facto debt-induced bonded slavery?

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