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> Does "More Socialized= Less Freedom"
Bikerdad
post Nov 4 2008, 06:23 AM
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One of the major concerns of most conservatives is that an Obama victory will result in a sharp move towards greater socialism, which of appears to be one of the major attractions of Obama for those on the Left.

At the heart of the conservative's concern is the contention that "more socialism = less freedom".
The question for debate is

Does more socialism equal less freedom?

To be clear, the question for debate is not whether or not Obama is a socialist, so please don't go there.
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nighttimer
post Nov 4 2008, 07:13 AM
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QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Nov 4 2008, 01:23 AM) *
One of the major concerns of most conservatives is that an Obama victory will result in a sharp move towards greater socialism, which of appears to be one of the major attractions of Obama for those on the Left.

Does more socialism equal less freedom?

To be clear, the question for debate is not whether or not Obama is a socialist, so please don't go there.


Sure. You're only suggesting that Barack Obama's appeal is in part based upon the assumption he will move the country toward greater socialist, but HE isn't a socialist. He'd just push the country in that direction.

If Joe the Unlicensed Plumber thought Obama pulled off a nifty bit of tap-dancing, he should check out your fancy footwork,Bikerdad.

To answer the question though, America isn't a socialist country and I don't live in one that is, so the answer to the question is: Don't know. Don't care. Most conservatives are talking out the side of their neck.
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CruisingRam
post Nov 4 2008, 07:49 AM
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Well, other than trying to scare folks with a boogeyman type fear mongering running in circles crying "OMG it's socialism"

Okay- is Obama going to start siezing businesses and nationalizing industries and controlling the means of production Bikerdad?

Or, if not, what the hell are you talking about?

So far, the most goverment spending and increase in goverment has come under YOUR faves, Reagan and GW. War on Drugs. Runaway spending on propping up defense industry for the sole reason of supporting the defense industry.

Homeland security would be a whole 'nother beaurocracy- created by a so-called conservative. Massive goverment programs under Reagan and GW.

So, do I anticipate the runaway spending and crazy policies of GW or Reagan? No

I don't think Obama will be opening entire new branches of goverment just to watch over it's own citizens? NOpe, don't think so.

Do I think he is going to go into spending trillions on OTHER countries schools, hospitals and roads? NOt as much, at least

Hey Bikerdad- why is it "socialism" when we take care of our own population, but "exporting freedom" when we take care of another country, by bombing it then rebuilding it?

So, unless you are thinking Obama is planning nationalizing industries in the US, it is an asinine question
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moif
post Nov 4 2008, 10:03 AM
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Does more socialism equal less freedom?

This seems like a fairly straight forward question to me. The answer is, it depends entirely on how it is implemented. Socialism is a broad term, despite having a rather specific meaning. In modern European politics, socialism has been subdivided into myriad different interpretations and I suspect that what you are refering to is classical socialism as opposed to social democracy.

The latter is far more benign, and if Barack Obama has any real socialist tendency's (Danish observors deny that he does, describing him more as a liberal conservative by our standards) then I think this is where he'll find himself. Classical socialism, which is what most Americans tend to confuse with social democracy, is far more malign and can be down right oppressive.

The biggest problem with classical socialism, is it fosters resentment, bitterness and hatred, and to a degree it actually requires these things in order to function. Without something tangible to struggle against, the revolution tends to falter. Furthermore, classical socialism promotes mediocrity as it tends towards solutions which favour the masses as opposed to the elite. This manifests itself in social democracies by virtue of massive social spending and in classic socialism by oppressive forced labour programmes where the state dictates what the individual must do. Poets and artists are sent to work on farms and individual creativity is suppressed.

Classical socialism is flawed because it is an ideology, born of thought, words and ideas as opposed to the actual living conditions of real life, this is why most sensiblee socialists gravitate towards social democracy which is a compromise between the goals of socialism, and real life. Plenty of people liked classic socialism because it made the sort of promises people like to hear. Strength. Safety. Security. The problem is, none of these things are free, and labour must pay taxes. Thus the work ethic was evoked by intellectuals like Karl Marx, who was a journalist, writer and political activist, who was supported by his wife when he wrote the Das Kapital and who seemingly had never done a days manual labour in his life. He'd written a lot of words though and had a talent for trumpetting the workers rights, but this didn't help feed his children, three of whom died young because Marx and his wife were living in abject poverty in Soho. Marx undestood his own hypocrisy only too well. He wrote the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point is to change it" but he never did anything to change his own situation by becoming a worker rather than a writer.

Theres nothing wrong with writing for a living, but one must be honest about ones ability to lecture othe people on work ethics if your own children are dying because you can't afford their upkeep. This is classical socialism in a nutshell. It is an ideology born of intellectuals lecturing working people on the benefits of working and the evils of wealth.

Social democracy on the other does not contain the hypocrisy of classical socialism because it is an ideology born of experience and because it repsects the democratic principle which allows for compromise with other contrasting political perspectives. Social democracy therefore does not force people to work, nor dictate what people must do, though it does raise taxes quite a lot. Social democracy does not limit one's freedom any more than the basic requirements of modern living do.


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Julian
post Nov 4 2008, 12:17 PM
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Does more socialism equal less freedom?

No, it doesn't.

I agree with almost all of what moif said, though my emphasis would be slightly different in two ways:

1. As a critic of capitalism, Marx was almost supernaturally on the button. Re-read Das Kapital (or the "for Dummies" version, as I did recently) and you get the impression that his understanding and analysis of capitalism and it's flaws is as acute as anyone's ever has been. Like most armchair activists (and most writers), critics of the situation have a much easier time in their criticism than in suggesting ways to change it, and almost laughably easy compared to putting anything workable into practice. Marx himself left all that heavy lifting to Lenin and Trotsky and the like, and we all know how that worked out. Even then, Soviet Socialism only really jumped the shark when Stalin got in, but that was more because he was a homicidal authoritarian tyrant than what his tax policies were.

2. On the main topic, I think the Political Compass approach is the best one I've seen at describing left and right in meaningful ways with respect to levels of freedom. As many ad.gif readers and members will already be aware, it deals with this by treating "Left vs Right" and "Authoritarian vs Libertarian" as two entirely different parameters.

Swedes clearly live in a much more socialist society than Americans (and most other Europeans, for that matter), yet their society is not dramatically more authoritarian than the USA, so the perceived levels of freedom are not dramatically different either. And in terms of quality of life, rates of crime, etc, it's probably a somewhat nicer place to live for most people. If you're poor in America, many of your freedoms are no more than theoretical - "If I had the money I could do x, y and z".

Modern, New Labour Britain is, if anything, slightly more free-market capitalist in some areas (certainly with regard to working rights/labour flexibility, and financial/corporate regulation) than modern Sarbanes/Oxley-era America, yet more leftwing in others (a free-to-access tax-funded health service that - from my own recent experience e.g. a close friend whose womb ruptured during childbirth, a new friend who has just got over Hodgkin's lymphoma, a stepfather who has had a double heart by-pass and aortic valve replacement - is really very good, especially compared to the % of GDP we spend on it).

The main reason why we are noticeably less free than Americans, however (and this is a relatively recent thing) is our government's tendency towards authoritarianism. This has been true under all the governments I am old enough to remember - I think it's more a function of our creaky, first-past-the-post Parliamentary system and highly centralised government than anything party political; while NuLabour have passed some sweeping authoritarian powers in response to terrorism and in the name of crime prevention, the Tories did some similar things in the name of their own bugbears (Section 28, for example).

So I think that how free a society has very little to do with how capitalist or socialist the government or society is, and everything to do with how authoritarian or libertarian such things are.

This post has been edited by Julian: Nov 4 2008, 12:26 PM
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moif
post Nov 4 2008, 01:16 PM
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Julian.

The thing about Sweden, and to some degree Denmark and Norway (not sure about Finland), is that the socialists here (and we have the full spectrum in parliament in all three countries) go to some lengths to try and prohibit conservative and/or nationlist groups from getting any influence, especially at the grass roots level, even to the inclusion of using, accepting and justifying violence as a political tool. And Sweden, furthest to the left is by far the worst of the three with regards to political violence.

Sweden's reputation is maintained by a schitzophrenic denial of internal problems. Real freedom guarantees that opposing political views are tolerated, even respected for as long as they stay within the parameters of the law. This doesn't happen in Sweden, or Denmark, in this day and age, and the much vaunted freedoms guaranteed by our social and health care spending are just as much a product of our conservative and nationalist as our socialist parties (of which Denmark has three or four depending on where you draw the line). At the same time, if you have an opinion which runs counter to the socialists, you are much more likely to be physically assaulted or even killed than if your opinions run counter to the conservatives or nationalists. The difference in how each group acts is profound. Denmark and Sweden have been witness to a long series of violent demonstrations and riots in recent years, and these have almost exclusively been the responsibility of socialists, anarchists and Muslims.

Immigration, especially Muslim immigration is a major problem and sits right at the heart of the current debate (and this is reflected in my own political observations as a consequence). The Scandinavian socialist parties have long used immigration as a banner issue, arguing for ever greater immigration with each concurrent year. Critics (myself amongst them) see this as a blatent attempt to gain more influence and power as the demographics have shown socialism is losing ground in Sweden (about time too) and is not growing at all in Denmark either. We have had a 40%40%20% balance for a long time now with the Nationalist maintaining the ballance of power in favour of the conservatives.

Muslim immigrants, almost all vote for the socialist parties because as new comers to Scandinavia, they are much in favour of social spending. This also means the socialists are much in favour of an influx of potential socialist voters. The problem with massive Muslim immigration though is the introduction of Muslim values, laws and customs and the violence these bring with them. The last ten years have seen a frightening increase in social violence, quite unparraelled in modern Scandinavian history. The problems are now so great and are escalating so rapidly that yesterday our police force, facing with insurmountable crime and an ever growing burden of policing left wing riots and demonstrations, threatened to go on strike if the politicians don't rapidly increase the size of the national police force immediately.

The socialist need for revolution is the core problem. Each generation of socialists has found a need to demonstrate against an ever diminishing violent opposition. The nationalists of today are not the facists of yesteryear, nor anything like them and the conservatives have no grass roots organisations staging demonsrations at all. By contrast the left wing has tens of thousands of hooded and black clad 'storm troopers', ready to take to the streets at a moments notice and brn any symbol of contradiction which takes their fancy. This usually means parked cars, McDonalds, and the police, but it has also meant arson attacks against sleeping politicians and their families and legal gatherings of opposition grass roots groups.

That such attacks happen is only due to the socialists need to react against perceived injustice. Rather than accept the rule of the majority, when faced with minority status in the parliament, frustration has led to the sort of political violence that preceded Adolf Hitler. The irony is, these socialists acting like 'brown shirts' call themselves anti nazi's.

If the mainstream socialist parties distanced themselves from this street violence I would be inclined to extent to them the benefit of the doubt and accept that they are not responsible for the violence being carried out by their ideological bretheren. But when faced with the sight of burning police cars, bleeding old people who happen to be nationalists and mobs assaulting refugee processing centres (centres they themselves helped to create) our mainsrean socialist parties have been unable to let go of their revolutionary rhetoric and have as often as not defended, or even justified the mob. In some notable cases, they have even turned up and held speeches, as if they were Lenin or Trotsky facing the working masses and not colour blind Scandinavians facing a crowd of Hizb'Allah supporters calling for the destruction of Israel.

Socialism, when it is used to justify violence, as is the case in todays Sweden, Denmark and Norway does equal less freedom.


edited for spelling (I'm not used to this i-Mac keyboard)

This post has been edited by moif: Nov 4 2008, 01:26 PM
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Gray Seal
post Nov 4 2008, 03:50 PM
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I am astounded!

Does more socialism equal less freedom?

Seems like a fairly straight forward question to me. Freedom is the quality or state of being free which is absence of constraint in choice or action. Socialism is where government makes decisions for individuals...decisions are being made by the group not the individual. So, of course socialism is equal to less freedom. Duh.

But, wait. There seems to be some who are saying, "No." How can that be? What definition of freedom or socialism are being used to reach the opposite conclusion? Moif has stated that socialism does have a specific meaning which is too broad to specific? Huh? Can we not agree on what freedom or socialism means?
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Ted
post Nov 4 2008, 04:03 PM
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QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Nov 4 2008, 01:23 AM) *
One of the major concerns of most conservatives is that an Obama victory will result in a sharp move towards greater socialism, which of appears to be one of the major attractions of Obama for those on the Left.

At the heart of the conservative's concern is the contention that "more socialism = less freedom".
The question for debate is

Does more socialism equal less freedom?

To be clear, the question for debate is not whether or not Obama is a socialist, so please don't go there.



Yes in that government will play a larger role in providing services – such as healthcare. The limiting of competitive alternatives will be a loss of freedom.

And “socialized” medicine will be a cost and quality of service nightmare – as it has been in other countries and as it is in Medicare today.


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moif
post Nov 4 2008, 04:19 PM
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QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Nov 4 2008, 04:50 PM) *
I am astounded!

Does more socialism equal less freedom?

Seems like a fairly straight forward question to me. Freedom is the quality or state of being free which is absence of constraint in choice or action. Socialism is where government makes decisions for individuals...decisions are being made by the group not the individual. So, of course socialism is equal to less freedom. Duh.

But, wait. There seems to be some who are saying, "No." How can that be? What definition of freedom or socialism are being used to reach the opposite conclusion? Moif has stated that socialism does have a specific meaning which is too broad to specific? Huh? Can we not agree on what freedom or socialism means?
Obviously not, because socialism does not mean 'government makes decisions for individuals'. Thats only one interpretation of what socialism means.

To most socialists, socialism means collective ownership of resources and to others its means government by the people for the people. For some it means no government at all and for others it means the government is everything.

What Bikerdad appears to be talking about is an American perception of socialism where the goverment is a bogeyman out to rob you. Some socialists would do this, whilst others would only seek to have state ownership (which to them means ownership by the people) of key resources and services.

This actually does work when its balanced and moderated by democratic means.

This post has been edited by moif: Nov 4 2008, 04:20 PM
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Gray Seal
post Nov 4 2008, 04:49 PM
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Changing the definition of a word is a ploy to order to prevent any discussion of a subject. If someone does not like an idea, change the term for that idea to the opposite so no one can disagree. If the idea means both things, who can disagree? Redefining socialism to not have any specific meaning hinders any discussion of the idea of government enforcement of group decision making having preemptive over the freedom of the individual.

If words have no meaning how can they be discussed? What a convenient means to derail debate or dissent.
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quick
post Nov 4 2008, 05:05 PM
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QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Nov 4 2008, 01:23 AM) *
One of the major concerns of most conservatives is that an Obama victory will result in a sharp move towards greater socialism, which of appears to be one of the major attractions of Obama for those on the Left.

At the heart of the conservative's concern is the contention that "more socialism = less freedom".
The question for debate is

Does more socialism equal less freedom?

To be clear, the question for debate is not whether or not Obama is a socialist, so please don't go there.


Some good discussions above.

I think the real issue here does not revolve around defining "socialism," but rather around defining "freedom".

To an American of years gone by, freedom meant that all rights were given to the individual by God, including property rights; certain of those rights were ceded by contract to a government, and the rest were retained; and the government's behavior was so limited by this contract. Freedom, therefore, was defined as the intrinsic natural right of a person to control his person and property without interference from others, including the government, except in specific, limited ways, and among those rights retained was the right freely to contract with others as a means for economic intercourse. When American colonists decided to remove themselves from British rule, the theory under which many justified the revolt was the breach of this social contract by the British crown in a number of ways.

"Freedom" did not contemplate having enough property to enjoy this, or to travel here or there, or to have health care to save you from thus-and-such; no, freedom meant the freedom TO do what one chose to do, and live with the consequences, not freedom FROM want, or need, or poor health care, etc. Freedom FROM has displaced freedom TO for many Americans today, and to our chagrin.

Freedom TO conveys great opporunities but great risks; Freedom FROM trades those opportunities and risks for the percpetion of security from the govt, and the govt, once it has acquired such a status, becomes a much more dangerous animal. Our govt today is very, very dangerous, which is why the elections have become so heated; today, a president can really mess with your life; under our Const as originally written, the govt could do much, much less. And, both Rep and Dems have extended govt's reach in a big, big way.

We have seend the triumph of the expedient over the principled.

So, under a socialist model (whatever definition of socialism you chose to use), Freedom FROM has triumphed over Freedom TO, at least to some degree, and therefor freedom TO has, of necessity, been reduced.

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Lesly
post Nov 4 2008, 05:12 PM
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QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Nov 4 2008, 11:49 AM) *
Changing the definition of a word is a ploy to order to prevent any discussion of a subject.

Maybe Moif isn't avoiding discussion. Maybe he's speaking from a Western European experience? It's like the labeling swap that occurred here between the 40s and 60s in the U.S. Economically speaking, liberal became conservative and vice-versa. Oh hell, can you define American socialism with everyone supporting the bailout? Per Britannica:

The word, however, is used with a great variety of meaning, ... even by economists and learned critics. The general tendency is to regard as socialistic any interference undertaken by society on behalf of the poor, ... radical social reform which disturbs the present system of private property ... The tendency of the present socialism is more and more to ally itself with the most advanced democracy.

I'm firmly in the socialist tax-the-rich camp. wink.gif I think in America some bastardization of the word should be credited to conservatives who've used it loosely for years as a derogatory term implying someone supports Communism/totalitarianism and viola, liberals and progressive are all socialists today.
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Julian
post Nov 4 2008, 05:57 PM
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QUOTE(moif @ Nov 4 2008, 01:16 PM) *
Socialism, when it is used to justify violence, as is the case in todays Sweden, Denmark and Norway does equal less freedom.


Maybe so. My intention was not to get bogged down in a discussion of how Islam threatens to undermine the whole of Europe (again).

It was more to make the broad point that European coutries routinely branded in America as "socialist" such as Sweden (but not limited to Sweden or even to Scandinavia) generally have approximately the same levels of meaningful freedom even with a higher tax "burden" and greater levels of state involvement in things like healthcare provision, etc.

But, on your point, I would argue that Scandinavian socialists that are restricting freedom in this way are not doing so purely by nature of their socialism, but because they are applying it in an authoritarian fashion. It would not be impossible to imagine other socialists taking a more libertarian view on these issues and not hurting anyone's freedom. It's the authoritarianism that's the key, not the colour of the rosette worn by the politicians that indulge in it.

Grayseal
QUOTE(Dictionary.com)
link
socialism
noun
1. 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.
2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

QUOTE(Wikipedia, emphasis mine)
Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society.
<snip>
All socialists advocate the creation of an egalitarian society, in which wealth and power are distributed more evenly, although there is considerable disagreement among socialists over how, and to what extent this could be achieved


QUOTE(Oxford English Dictionary)
1. A theory or policy of social organization which aims at or advocates the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, property, etc., by the community as a whole, and their administration or distribution in the interests of all.

2. A state of society in which things are held or used in common.


The history of socialism does not all flow from Marx through to Soviet/Chinese communism, and where practices of government and economics that could loosely be termed "socialist" do take place (most of Europe, if most American commentators are to be believed) are more of the social democrat mould than the Marxist/Leninist one. (With some exceptions e.g. the relative success of the Italian communist party). The British Labour party, for instance, has its roots more in Protestant Christian thought than Marxism.

If you're going to be picky about how Socialism is defined, perhaps you'd care to provide a definition of it that is both widely accepted AND specifically conradicts moif (quite correct) assertion that there is no single thing called "Socialism" and that the American right's characterisation of it is specific to a single, largely imaginary, type. Just finding a definition that doesn't add "or collectively" after "by the state" would be a good start.

I doubt very much whether you will find any (dictionary, not blog) definition that say that any and all state intervention in economics or business is automatically socialist (if it is, where are your demands to sell off national parks and privatise the military?) or that any suggestion that taxes might sometimes need to go up to pay for "necessary" state provisions (such as the huge and ongoing cost of the Iraq War that forms a large part of the defecit) is automatically socialist in nature. Even though state economic activity of any kind and the suggestion that taxation should be set at a level above zero are what usually passes for "socialism" among many conservative commentators, including here on ad.gif
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post Nov 4 2008, 06:14 PM
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Does more socialism equal less freedom?

In part it depends on who's freedom? Were I to fall on the lower end of the socioeconomic continuum (SEC) then in all likelihood my "freedoms" would increase accordingly under a more socialist-leaning government. That is not to validate the socialist effort nor does it necessarily excuse the freedoms that could have been had by the few who fall at the higher ends of the SEC. It only serves to illustrate the reality of said system.

To put it another way, IMO the biggest 'freedom' marker for me is how much more can I do with my own money that I couldn't do with less? Of course, should my purchases reflect a life of selfish acquisition at the obvious expense of others around me, another may be prompted to argue for a more collective stewardship over my fellow citizen. By the same token, if my life's effort more reflected one of service to my fellowman, it would be apparent I am hindered under a more socialist orientation.

The issue ulitmately revolves around which extreme I can tolerate. On the one hand, a classic capitalist will argue of the voracious appetite created within the masses by progessively giving them more than is needed at the expense of those who make more money. This reality taken to it's extreme will render the working class impotent at some point with more and more reflexively jumping to the public dole as a way to survive. Eventually the system will falter as there will no longer be enough folks on the other end of the ledger able to support those on the receiving end.

The other extreme would have a classic socialist arguing that pure capitalism will leave those less fortunate literally dying a slow death on the streets of every American community. This socialist will argue that these same capitalists left to their own devices would drive the life-blood out of millions who, had they been born under different circumstances, would have had a chance at the American dream.

I remember conversations at grad school addressing this issue of the government doing more for everyone. I argued that the more my tax dollars are used to support those without the more I would be inclined to refer another seeking a handout to the nearest social serviced agency. This somehow misses the beauty of a truely charitable expression - an expression that may well have come to fruition had the government not taken so much of what I earned and had I had a few more cents in my pocket to give.
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Gray Seal
post Nov 4 2008, 06:24 PM
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Julian

Words may have various meanings. Context is the means to decipher which version of the word is being used. If a word is to have different meanings when used in a context, it no longer is a word which communicates.

Perhaps the goal of removing the meaning of socialism when used in the context of its effect upon freedom has been won. I do not claim that moif nor yourself are the originators of that goal though I sense an attempt to further it. It could be that it is not done consciously but environmentally. As Lesly has suggested, perhaps being under European governance has dulled the importance of the word. With socialism being the norm, you see all of it variants and believe they are the variety instead of the one thing. I do not think it to be an exclusive European phenomena. I watched the Canadian Prime Minister debates. All five candidates were preaching their differences which were all within the narrow field of statism. Freedom was not discussed but cast aside. In the United States we are closing in on such a mindset. Obama and McCain are both statist with a combination of corporatism and socialism. Liberty is off the table in debates. Collectivism rules here. Words like socialism will lose their meaning as there is nothing else.


To steer back towards the original simple question, the discussion should be about (formally know as socialism) government, community decision making, control of decisions and its effect upon freedom. I do think that freedom, someone's freedom, is lost whenever government or community decision making is enforced. If you think not, has freedom lost its meaning? Do people need to be taught what it is?


Sorry to be testy. I am a grouch exacerbated by the election day. I do not mean to dissent the intent nor honor of moif or Julian or others. I do mean to dissent the evolution of society which is headed in a bad direction.





This post has been edited by Gray Seal: Nov 4 2008, 06:55 PM
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Zack
post Nov 4 2008, 06:41 PM
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QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Nov 4 2008, 02:23 AM) *
One of the major concerns of most conservatives is that an Obama victory will result in a sharp move towards greater socialism, which of appears to be one of the major attractions of Obama for those on the Left.
I don't see much to worry about, I think there will be mostly confussion or maybe even implosion as congressional leadership tries to meet demands. Think about the debts, each congress person owes someone and a lot of it comes from money in Washington, Obama owes Super Delegates, Environmental groups, George Soros, Unions, oh the list is so long I almost forgot the folks that voted for him. House reps will be running for reelection from day one and many are from very conservative backgrounds so the in-fighting could be bloody.


QUOTE
At the heart of the conservative's concern is the contention that "more socialism = less freedom".
The question for debate is

Does more socialism equal less freedom?

To be clear, the question for debate is not whether or not Obama is a socialist, so please don't go there.
Not so scary, like social security, medicare, medicaid, PELL grants, FEMA, damn the list is too long and the money too short. Maybe the folks will get a $500 stimulus check next year but after that the debt is to the ones who helped pay for the election.
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JohnfrmCleveland
post Nov 4 2008, 07:38 PM
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Does more socialism equal less freedom?

I don't see America heading down any true Socialist path. I think the conservatives on this board are thinking about a very few things, and it all boils down to taking more of their tax dollars and spending it on things they don't agree with (the poor, basically). That's not Socialism.

I do think that the government should have a hand in certain things that the free market does not do well - healthcare, agriculture and food, drugs, education, etc. I'm all for free markets, where they work, with oversight and regulation, and that covers most things (sorry, Detroit, I wouldn't be bailing out the car companies). But I am certainly not for Bush-style deregulation of anything and everything. That kind of "free market" thinking invariably leads to greater disparities in wealth, which is simply not healthy for a country. There are other yardsticks by which to measure a country than total wealth. Is the population happy? Healthy? Safe? Is crime high? Racially divided? Divided by class? Lots of homeless? Lots of unemployed? Lots of poor/working poor? Educated? The Bush years have not yielded happy answers to these questions, largely because they have been catering to the (already) rich. Forget about them - they are always happy, secure, healthy, etc. because they are rich. And they will still be rich, even after their taxes are raised a little bit to help pay for repairing our country. If you consider slightly higher taxes to be a loss of freedom, that is just silly.

On the other hand, there is real freedom to be gained by, for instance, universal healthcare run by the government. Cruising Ram is the best example of what can be gained - he is tied to a job that offers healthcare when he could do far better on his own, except for the high cost of healthcare. That is a very common story. People are tied down to jobs just for health plans. And businesses are burdened with the high costs of insurance. Why not set both workers and businesses free by letting the government handle the health care? Wouldn't that make the business/worker relationship more "free market"? Wouldn't that increase the freedom of both workers and businesses?




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moif
post Nov 4 2008, 08:04 PM
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QUOTE(Julian)
Maybe so. My intention was not to get bogged down in a discussion of how Islam threatens to undermine the whole of Europe (again).
It is the dominant political issue in Europe today and impossible to avoid if we are to dabate modern European socialism... unless we've decided to ignore the elephant in the room?


QUOTE(Julian)
It was more to make the broad point that European coutries routinely branded in America as "socialist" such as Sweden (but not limited to Sweden or even to Scandinavia) generally have approximately the same levels of meaningful freedom even with a higher tax "burden" and greater levels of state involvement in things like healthcare provision, etc.
That depends on what you consider meaningful. We're heavily taxed (beyond all other human beings), have no way to defend ourselves and have the highest prices on Earth. We Scandinavians are told our countries have the highest standards of living but my daughters kindergarten can't afford to give her a warm meal, I can't find a job despite my extensive education, various skills and talents, food prices have doubled in the last seven years, there have been shootings in Copenhagen every day for a month, our police force is going on strike for the first time ever and our politicians are spending hundreds of millions on aid to Arabian countries which are actively engaged in sponsoring terrorism against us.

Certainly I'm free to voice an opinion, but if I say something bad about Islam, I'm liable to be murdered by some one who claimed to have come to Denmark because he needed protection and my politicians will not defend my right to free expression because they are busy doing everything they can to prohibt free speech and catering to our masters in Bruxelles who frown upon such things as 'hatred'.

Likewise I'm free to vote for any party I should choose, but if I should happen to vote for the nationalists, then I may find myself being kicked to death in the gutter by hooded, jack booted 'youths' dressed all in black and on the off chance that the police are actually able to turn up (no longer guaranteed in Denmark) and should they chance to catch the hooded scum who murder me, then if the courts can actually manage to find them guilty at all, these will be given what is considered a harsh sentence for murder these days. Eight years (and thats after a re-trial because the first trial gives them two and a half years).

We have people being slaughtered in their homes and in the streets by gangs of 'foreigners', and yet no one is brought to justice. When the police arrest them, the courts find reasonable doubt to let them go again, confession being the only apparent way to convict murders in Denmark.

So I'm free from what exactly? I live in a sountry which has a strong socialist tradition and has had numerous socialist governments. Real socialists, not Labour light weights, or American liberal conservatives branded as socialists, but red flag waving, Lenin quoting fire brands who speak of revolution and the dissolution of Denmark, sing 'the international' and want to turn Europe into a new soviet. I'm taxed heavier than any one else here, I pay higher prices than the rest of you, I live in a country where the rule of law is being eroded into insignificance and where foreigners murder without fear of the consequences, and against all this I have armies of neo-socialist youths marching down my street calling me and every one else that doesn't agree with their political agenda, a racist.


QUOTE(Julian)
But, on your point, I would argue that Scandinavian socialists that are restricting freedom in this way are not doing so purely by nature of their socialism, but because they are applying it in an authoritarian fashion. It would not be impossible to imagine other socialists taking a more libertarian view on these issues and not hurting anyone's freedom. It's the authoritarianism that's the key, not the colour of the rosette worn by the politicians that indulge in it.
Innocent until proven red?

Certainly some of the mainstream socialists seem relatively harmless, but when these turn a blind eye to the rioting storm troopers then I have had to question their agenda too. The bottom line is, I used to be a social democrat, but I won't support political violence.

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Grey seal.

No worries. Your exacerberation is understandable.
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Gray Seal
post Nov 5 2008, 04:30 PM
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JohnfrmCleveland, I have a question about this statement:
QUOTE
I don't see America heading down any true Socialist path.
If the word "true" is taken out of the sentence does it change what you are saying?

Next question..

You state,
QUOTE
I'm all for free markets, where they work, with oversight and regulation, and that covers most things.
Oversight and regulation are words which have lost specific meaning. Can you use words which still have a specific meaning?

You state,
QUOTE
But I am certainly not for Bush-style deregulation of anything and everything. That kind of "free market" thinking invariably leads to greater disparities in wealth, which is simply not healthy for a country.
I conclude that you have free market is in quotes because you recognize we do not have a free market. Is my conclusion correct?

------------------------

Is freedom losing its meaning? Will liberty be the next to fall? Redefinition of terms which exemplify ones political opposition is a propaganda tool used most effectively in the United States. JohnfrmCleveland, you have provided evidence that freedom has been redefined to mean the opposite of what it used to mean.

QUOTE
On the other hand, there is real freedom to be gained by, for instance, universal healthcare run by the government. .... Why not set both workers and businesses free by letting the government handle the health care? Wouldn't that make the business/worker relationship more "free market"? Wouldn't that increase the freedom of both workers and businesses?
Freedom used to mean absence of coercion or restraint in choice. Now free and freedom are being defined as government management of groups. No coercion nor restraint there. *scoff*

You again use "free market" in quotes. Have you given up on there being such a thing? Is that

I would suggest that freedom nor free not be used in in the context you have used them. Words like convenience or facilitation would work. But please to not help to destroy the value of the word freedom. The convenience you are supporting may sound good to you but the cost is high. That cost is freedom and liberty.
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Wertz
post Nov 5 2008, 07:06 PM
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Does more socialism equal less freedom?

Not necessarily, no. The debate about "socialized medicine" and so on in the US basically centers around tax disbursement. If one argues that taxation at all means less freedom, then obviously "socialism" equals less freedom. But tax revenue used to subsidize health care is no more "socialist" than tax revenue used to subsidize roads, weapons, or prisons. If the argument is against taxes, fine. If the argument is against a highly personal and inaccurate definition of socialism, that dog don't hunt.

The problem here is that "socialism" is being used to describe phenomena that are not socialist. To many, especially on the right, "socialism" means "anything that I don't like" - such as universal health care. It doesn't matter that health care can be made available to all comers without limiting choice or access or or quality and without restricting private health care options. Inconvenient facts such as those just don't figure because they don't fit the "socialist" characterization, with visions of uniformed workers marched in lockstep into soviet health centers for substandard treatment they may not even want. The specter of Islamic radicals torching Buicks outside the windows of such clinics is a new twist on Nightmare Socialism, but I won't be at all surprised if it catches on with hysterics in the US as well as Scandinavia.

This limits our options in seeking a solution to the health care crisis and does nothing to provide a way forward. It just gives some people a bit of scary ammunition for attacking something which they don't understand (or which they dislike for reasons more related to classism or racism than sound economic policy).

It is the opponents to things like universal health care who are changing definitions here.
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