Why Socialism According To Einstein

Discussion in 'Politics' started by serenesam, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. Psyche Registered Senior Member

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    That's why I've opted for wholesale rejection of all the denominations of economic creationists. Social organization doesn't require an intelligent designer any more than the universe does. The mistake socialists make is in turning "capitalism" into an all inclusive propaganda term that encompasses whatever aspects of modernity they find distasteful. Thus their critique in crucial respects is overly sentimental in contrast to consistent application of rational principles, and these fantasy projections gloss over the actual mechanisms of oppression. Moreover, there is no solution to the economic calculation problem in a centrally managed economy. An unmolested pricing system is the only way to objectively quantify subjective value judgments of heterogeneous products so that productive output can be rationally allocated for the requirements of a sustainable market. Though I sympathize with what socialism attempts to accomplish, its solution to the crisis of modernity is nothing more than another WMD. I think it has to do with socialists refusal to subject their own premises to as much scrutiny as they do others'.

    On this issue Einstein let his heart get in the way of his head.
     
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  3. birch Valued Senior Member

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    well, of course it wouldn't work right now because people don't want it to. and if they don't want it to collectively, it's because they don't want to operate that way. it's lack of cooperation on whatever matter. you can't get anything off the ground if people don't want to do something. of course it will fail.

    in the distant past, they would never have wanted to change some of what has been done today until they become ready for it.

    it's really no different in that regard.
     
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  5. quinnsong Valued Senior Member

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    I do not consider it overly sentimental to believe that an economic system (American market)that allows one person to make gazillions while there are ghettos is fair or progressive! Capitalism does create great wealth(for some) but it also helps creates poverty and waste. Capitalism (free market) should be regulated and social programs implemented where it fails if Americans want it for their economic system! I personally believe a mix of a regulated free market and socialist programs (healthcare and education) are better than our current system.
     
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  7. Psyche Registered Senior Member

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    The sentimentality is revealed in the absurd notion that the problems of modernity persists because there is too much freedom, even though the consolidation of power amassed by the United States Government is greater now than any other state at any other point in the history of civilization, and that this institution claims for itself the ability to lord over the lives of 300 million people not including it's catastrophic involvement in overseas affairs. The reason modernity is such a mess is not because of the free and peaceful exchange of value for value by individuals (capitalism), it is the fact that the only service the government has to provide is violence and everyone is in complete denial of it. The most powerful and unscrupulous elements in society exist by and for the state and work to screw everyone else over. But that isn't capitalism. In a truly capitalist society no easily corruptible organization would have a monopoly on such things as regulation or the (mis)education of children. It is often said that power corrupts but I believe this equation to be backwards. Corruption CREATES power. Power is the whole point of corruption. We free ourselves by ending our addiction to it.

    But socialists don't have any trouble with an organization having a coercive monopoly on force through which the social engineering of the lives of every man woman and child in a given geographical area is executed. They are just miffed because the gun isn't in their hands. Though of course, as I already pointed out... A socialist economy will not sustain itself because it doesn't receive the market signals necessary for efficient resource allocation.
     
  8. quinnsong Valued Senior Member

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    Well hello, Ayn Rand! We free ourselves by not buying every fucking thing that the marketplace wants to sell us, period!
     
  9. quinnsong Valued Senior Member

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    Do you really think that Wall Street and most corporations are going to solve or even care to solve our social problems? Big fat No!
     
  10. birch Valued Senior Member

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    we all know it wouldn't work except what is now, that's why it is how it is. basically you just said with political rhetoric that people determine the type of government and economy they sustain. why? because they are the ones choosing it. this is the way and only way because that is the way it's always worked. of course because that is a self-fulfilling prophecy when that is what people want.

    as for 'efficient resource allocation', that's funny. as if there is efficient resource allocation in capitalism.

    but i've noticed that there is a very narrow black/white type of thinking when it comes to issues of different types of governments or economies. as if nothing from the other can be combined or recombined in a new way. it has to be one or the other. lol
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  11. Psyche Registered Senior Member

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    135
    Calling some guy president and giving him a bunch of power doesn't solve the problem of human social organization any more than calling some guy pope and getting him to tell everyone how to behave solves the problem of ethics. It is the definition of a non-answer though it also is the illusion of one. Take the education system for example. It sounds like a great idea, but in reality it is absolutely the greatest tool at the disposal of the corporate elites program of exploitation. The imposition of the behaviorist theory of knowledge acquisition on children is so catastrophically destructive that it boggles the mind how any thinking person, regardless of their political beliefs, cannot see it for the glorified slave management indoctrination that it is. It convinces people that they are tiny and only our noble leaders or beautiful celebrities are destined for meaningful lives. I hate to sound like the guy raving on the street corner, but I guess I'm in the mood for it right now, and I will just say that what we are as human beings is more infinitely beautiful than we think, and that spark, that potential for unimaginable greatness is crushed out of the vast majority of children. They don't need to be incarcerated in giant cement Skinnerian boxes during the most crucial developmental years of their lives, only to be operantly conditioned to be nothing more than average, boring people slaved to the wage and obsessed with trivia.

    It is just so terribly sad.

    John Holt, Alfie Kohn (a socialist, but also an excellent sociologist), and John Taylor Gatto have all written excellent books on this subject.

    I don't claim to have any knowledge of how society should optimally function. I merely reject on principle those who assume that force and centralized planning are necessary. The state is an effect of the lives of individuals and the choices and evaluations they make. In taking an inventory over what has been successful in my life and what has brought crushing dissapointment, I find that all of my voluntary relationships have been what has kept me alive, inspired me, and driven me forward. It has been the involuntary relationships that have profoundly impacted me negatively. It doesn't make sense to me that there needs to be two diametrically valued theories of ethics, one for private life, and another for public affairs. Obviously what we currently have is crap. I just strongly caution would be change agents to really make sure they know what they are doing. Because I see no evidence that they do.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  12. Psyche Registered Senior Member

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    135
    I'm not so sure that what we have is capitalism or ever was. I just know that the arguments I've read about the economic calculation problem are profoundly convincing.
     
  13. elte Valued Senior Member

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    Centralized planning and force don't need to go together. :scratchin: It is power disparity that results in force in many cases. It can be in a marriage like with spouse abuse or in businesses like with slave trade or drug cartels. Force can be in any social interaction, basically, in many things besides government.
     
  14. quinnsong Valued Senior Member

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    Psyche, exactly what kind of sub-structure( economic base) would you propose to support your super structures (ideologies or institutions) ?

    What superstructures do you propose and how would this be more progressive than what Americans have?
     
  15. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

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    They do if they want to implement their central plan. Otherwise the people will tell them to shove their plan up their ass and do what they want.
     
  16. HeartlessCapitalist Ravager of Biotopes Registered Senior Member

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    Back to the OP. Most of it is just regurgitated Marxist tripe, but this bit is interesting, and IMHO forms the crux of his mini-essay:

    Basically, what he does is, like all Socialists, he sets up the unrealistically unattainable goals of True Socialism (TM) and looks up to this while dismissing all real-life socialist experiments, which inevitably turn out as failed states, as Not Really Socialism (TM) per the No True Scotsman fallacy. He compares the IDEAL of Socialism with the PRACTICE of capitalism. Which, of course, comes off making capitalism look bad. At the same time, he offers no clue to how that ideal could actually be made to WORK. These arguments are older than dirt, as are the obvious counters.

    Guess that goes to prove Einstein wasn't that much smarter than us ordinary Joes. Either that, or like so many intelligent people who endorse socialism, he was just dishonest. Though at least, he's commendably open with his double standards.
     
  17. serenesam Registered Senior Member

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    Can you honestly say that you are able to "prove" whether or not someone is "smarter"?????

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  18. elte Valued Senior Member

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    I see Randian survival of the fittest, every man for himself, I got mine screw you idealogy is strong right now. I hope Einstein's vision wins out, otherwise humanity's future is bleak or socially primitive, at best.
     
  19. HeartlessCapitalist Ravager of Biotopes Registered Senior Member

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    Of course, by IQ testing.

    Here, though, I was merely using a turn of phrase.
     
  20. serenesam Registered Senior Member

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    I think you mention a good point. We tend to forget the fundamental principle that correlation does not equal causation.
     
  21. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

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    DO you really think some elected officials can do the same?
     
  22. serenesam Registered Senior Member

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    "Perhaps, the highest pleasure in art is identical with the highest pleasure in scientific theory. The emotion which accompanies the clear recognition of unity in a complex seems so similar in art and in science that it is difficult not to suppose that they are psychologically the same. It is, as it were, the final stage of both processes. This unity-emotion in science supervenes upon a process of pure mechanical reasoning; in art it supervenes upon a process of which emotion has all along been an essential concomitant." - Roger Fry
     
  23. serenesam Registered Senior Member

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    Here's the complete essay by Albert Einstein -

    Why Socialism?
    Albert Einstein

    Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

    Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has -- as is well known -- been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

    But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called "the predatory phase" of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

    Second, socialism is directed toward a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and -- if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous -- are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half-unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

    For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

    Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supranational organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: "Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?"

    I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

    It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

    Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept "society" means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society -- in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence -- that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is "society" which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word "society."

    It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished -- just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human beings which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

    Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

    If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time -- which, looking back, seems so idyllic -- is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

    I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

    The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor -- not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production -- that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods -- may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

    For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call "workers" all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production -- although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. In so far as the labor contract is "free," what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists' requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

    Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

    The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the "free labor contract" for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present-day economy does not differ much from "pure" capitalism.

    Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an "army of unemployed" almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers' goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

    This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

    I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

    Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

    http://www.bigissueground.com/politics/einstein-socialism.shtml
     

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