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Why hasn't communism or socialism worked?


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On 3/20/2024 at 2:04 AM, OverSword said:

Here let me make it easier for you:

No private enterprise in such a system.

That rules out the Soviets then and I think your definition fails. They were a "mixed economy" (like every other economy), though were largely state owned enterprises especially in the industrial sector. Similar to China. Even in certain periods of their history where they tried to stamp out private enterprise, they failed (there is some evidence it actually grew). The big difference is that China managed to open up to foreign investment and trade. The Soviets were limited partly by trying to be self sufficient (although they did trade internationally to some extent), and partly by the US who controlled the world's economy and made it their mission in life to cause the Soviets to fail.

Here's a good article on Chinese/Soviet systems from a Marxist Professor of economics/ economic history.

If I wanted to start up a small company with a few people based on the "worker cooperative" model (generally considered a socialist model), how would that not also be a "private enterprise"? These certainly existed in the Soviet Union (still exist in many western countries today).

Ever wonder who owns all of the big banks in China? The Chinese economy (domestic and international) is a very different thing to western economies. Like the Soviets before them, it's main point is to increase the power of the state.


China now has more companies on the Fortune Global 500 list than does the United States (124 versus 121), with nearly 75 percent of these being state-owned enterprises (SOEs).


State capitalism is when the state takes on the role of a mega corporation (think Blackrock only smaller lol) and also controls the economy. It makes no difference to workers as far as that goes whether they work in a dictatorship headed by Stalin, Larry Fink or Elon Musk (most corporations are dictatorships by definition). They are still exploited for profit (which is the antithesis of socialism), have no say in what to produce, how much and who to sell it to, the wages and conditions of employees, what to do with the profits and so on. It's still a pyramid scheme (a type of Feudalism by another name), and it's still capitalism.

The Soviets and the US (at the moment) represent the two extremes of capitalism.

Chomsky probably said it in the simplest way.


A state-capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts as a single huge corporation, extracting surplus value from the workforce in order to invest it in further production.

Here's a better definition of socialism...."Socialism is an economic system in which major industries are owned by the workers, rather than by private businesses or the state." That would certainly do away with the basic pyramid scheme and put an end to economic dictatorships ( private or state), but I can't think of any industrialised nation that has tried this..?

It gets far more complicated thanks largely to western "academics" who have a tendency to define socialism as anything they don't like.


The rest of what you quoted was me answering why I don't qualify repressive regimes that have committed systematic mass murder on their own population a successful version of communism or socialism.

I don't think they were either socialist or communist (a "communist state" is an oxymoron, like a "married bachelor"), but you might be forgetting about some of the so called "capitalist" highlights? Such as the genocide the US is founded on? The slavery that in any real sense continued well into the 20th century? The systemic racism codified into law (that the Nazis used as a basis for their own)? Or were these "not their own population"???

What about having 25% of the world's incarcerated, heavily weighted to black and brown people (that the UN should really send a rapporteur to look into)? The history of lynchings? Tuskegee? 

If you are prepared to overlook this (and much more, that's just small taste), what about the millions the US has killed that aren't "their own population"? Why should that distinction matter? The militarism and slaughters for land theft (half of Mexico, Hawaii)? The state sanctioned torture facilities where political prisoners are held on suspicion sometimes for decades without representation? The executions of foreign dignitaries and leaders? The US led sanctions responsible for the deaths of 500,000 <5 yr olds in Iraq (that the 9/11 terrorists mentioned as one of their motivations)? Again, this is only a snippet.

Though the US has been far from the worst...Apart from running around the world leaving colonial genocides in their wake, in one forty year period the Brits caused more deaths in India alone than Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and (one time capitalist poster boy) Hitler combined (many times more). The usual response to this amounts to "denial ain't just a river in Egypt". Here's an article, here's the paper.

You do realise the two large wars last century were capitalist wars? These were just Empires duking it out to gain (or try to keep re the Brits) economic control of various regions of the world. Or are you taken by the propaganda that the allies were fighting the good fight against fascism lol? To the people perhaps, certainly not to their economic and political elite. 

Again, I don't support any system in use at the moment. But I doubt democracy can ever be compatible with what passes for "capitalism" and the myths around this system are legion. Capitalism didn't raise our standard of living, that was fossil fuel use (the economic system was just whatever Empire of the day found beneficial). The most innovative discoveries seem to have been state funded, rather than entrepreneurial (polio vaccine, the transistor, discoveries during the "space race" for example).

Capitalism gave us 32 different brands of exactly the same tooth paste, inflation, inherent unemployment, enforced poverty for many while stronger countries steal their resources, massive inequality, fascism, constant wars over economics and a pyramid scheme that is really just another form of feudalism.

I think the best we have tried so far is the post WW2 social democracy model, yet history shows that will inevitably lead to us back to the corrupt mess we have today. I'm starting to have more interest in the model proposed by anarchists.



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3 hours ago, Hammerclaw said:


Oh, so it's not the coming "demographic collapse"...the "food and energy disaster" ...the "failing growth model"...or the "increased authoritarianism" this time then? This time it's a "housing crisis"?  

You do realise he has been predicting China's collapse "within a decade" since 2010 lol? There are rebuttals from real economists for most of his claims. He seems to have a similar batting average to the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Meanwhile China's economic growth continues to outstrip the US by 2-3x while the global south continues slowly but surely de-dollarising and the US itself is now racking up debts at the rate of 1 trillion dollars every one hundred days.....



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"Great idea; wrong species." –E. O. Wilson, ant expert

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  • 1 month later...

To respond to the OP question, I think it us because when the the revolutions came, the new orders tried very hard to destroy all religion.

Which was understandable considering that the previous religion(s) upheld the capitalist economics they had promised to overthrow.


But deleting religion leaves a social void to be filled with material greed and ambition for power over others.


what they should have done was replace the old religion with a carefully constructed religion supporting socialism.


Because making socialism work requires idealism among the populace, and lots of it.


It is not too hard to raise a generation where enough people value ideals, if you pay attention to give them ideals which are properly conceived.


To substitute an economy of something immaterial like fame or hero status in place of an economy of material substances.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/16/2024 at 3:51 AM, OverSword said:

It seems like the ideals of equality and security are the attraction toward a communist or socialist system, and that system should theoretically work best under a democratic government, in which the people play an active role and hold equal stakes in success.  But for some reason democracy does not ever flourish under these systems and the main equality is that most people are equally poor and afraid of authority and those systems are all seemingly eventually run by a strong man figure or dictator.  Any thoughts as to why this system has never made it past this flaw?

The answer is completely obvious if you think about it.  To get Communism you need a violent revolution, which is essentially a class based civil war.  If the Communist insurgents win, they are being led by a pretty creditable guerilla leader, who has taken a guerilla force and turned them into a regular Red Army and seized control of the country.  This leader is now in control of a loyal military, and simply becomes a military dictator "with communist pretentions".  That leader then sets about removing anybody who could be a threat to him, which means members of the Communist party who didn't sign on for what they are getting.  It happens over and over again.  Madness is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different outcomes ergo, Communism is madness.

If you want something sane, then you need to look at Scandinavia and their Social Democracy.  They aren't perfect, but they get a lot right.  They get a lot more right than most Anglophone countries do, in any case.

Edited by Alchopwn
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Love doesn't scale.

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In response to the question in the title. Communism is based on an earlier philosophy called Epicureanism. The followers of Epicurus created the first communes, it was ' a take what you need give what you're able 'way of life. The key difference is that these communes existed within functioning states. If the residents of the commune didn't wish to participate they were free to leave and return to life in the functioning state, likewise if someone wasn't pulling their weight the residents could eject them from the commune.  When the whole country is a commune then you end up with gulags and the like. 

Communism doesn't have a plan on how to deal with those who don't wish to participate. 


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I’m assuming the question from the OP refers to the basic meaning of Communism and Socialism.

Communism is about a system controlled by a central body that distributes and shares the resources (economic and property) it produces equally and the only function of the central body is to distribute, not to gain personally.  Democracy wouldn’t have much of a role under a Communist system and the main problem with this is that it would have to have enough resources to support its population and this, on a global market, was one of the main reasons the Soviet Union failed, strangled by western economies.  

Socialism is about distribution of goods to individuals equally (similar to Communism) but it does allow for Democracy as long as its charter or constitution protects an individual’s wealth, healthcare and interests in a closed global market.  Both strict Socialist and Communist systems deny privatisation and are the antithesis of Capitalism.  The PRC transformed itself into a mono party Capitalist dictatorship from a Communist country because it understood in 1978 it couldn’t compete on a global market without foreign investments.

The distinction in western political parties is that a Socialist Party may inherit some ideals from Socialism but always under a Liberal or Conservative Democratic Capitalist system.  The same for a Communist Party but probably their manifesto would have stricter ideals.  

The unlikely scenario that a western country turns into the Soviet Union through a simple vote towards a Socialist or Communist Party is close to zero and would probably require a revolution before that happens.

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On 4/9/2024 at 4:00 PM, man with breasts said:

"Great idea; wrong species." –E. O. Wilson, ant expert

Karl Marx spent most of his life in a library.  He had no understanding of the type of men who seize power.

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