A Debate About Communism and Capitalism

Steve wrote:

‘The system is already killing at least 4 million and probably a lot more anyway.’ [citation needed] ???
‘Communist countries have done great things as far as feeding and housing people, giving them basic education and health care and putting in essential sanitation. India has failed at all of these things, mostly because they haven’t even tried.’
North Korea- questionable on health care and food sufficiency.
Cuba- I don’t know much about Cuba, but the life expectancy is slightly higher than the US and people are well fed, so it must be doing something right.
U.S.S.R.- sure it achieved those things but it was poor, and they only managed the basics. Compare it to the western half of Europe.
China- I might address that on the other post.
In any case, supposing you have a generally good point, I’d still say so what? Capitalist countries have achieved those things too. Europeans achieved all those things on both sides of the divide. The question is would a Communist government achieve them in India? India is not Europe or North East Asia. It is a tropical, caste ridden country with rampant corruption.
Oh…watch the bodies pile up as they try to stamp out caste.
‘As they became more capitalist, they became much more corrupt.’
Really? I don’t know how you would measure it or prove that but I don’t think it is controversial to say that there was plenty of corruption in Soviet Union. And do you think Indian officials/politicians/police will stop being corrupt because they are communist? Really?
“There won’t be any “economic development that will eventually lift millions of out poverty.” It’s not going to happen under neoliberalism.
Don’t you ever get tired of neoliberals telling us to wait around for the “economic development that will eventually lift millions of out poverty?” Don’t you realize that under neoliberal capitalism reduction of poverty is a goal that has zero value, and I do mean zero value.”
Economic growth is already happening in India. The economy will keep growing, as long as there isn’t a big war or global financial collapse or something. As the economy grows, the small middle class will grow and per capita incomes will rise generally.
Incomes are already higher than in sub Saharan Africa. (The malnutrition is a separate problem related to Indian culture.) Income inequality is less in India than in China or America. Why won’t the economy keep growing?
Maybe poverty reduction has no intrinsic value in capitalism but it happens anyway. It can anyway. If you are practical, the question is what will work?
Compare North Korea to South Korea, Eastern Europe to Western Europe. And look at the Chinese economic growth in the past 30 years. It has been meteoric. The fastest industrial revolution in history.
I only have to look at my own country and think of it 100 or 200 years ago. There was widespread poverty and squalor. People lived with terrible hardship. How did it get from that to this? This being high levels of development and widespread material wealth and comfort, probably unimaginable to my great great grand parents. Capitalism.
Capitalism is better for economic development, or at least a strong element of capitalism. I’m not advocating libertarianism or neoliberalism. The public sector (in health care and education for example) and government regulations (like minimum wage, working hours etc) are important and have been important to my country.
Capitalism must be harnessed. And poor countries must not be forced into structural adjustment policies. When capitalism is harnessed, it is more effective at providing economic growth and development than Communism, as it was in the 20th century. Let people get on with enterprising and they will produce growth. How big the public sector should be and what it should encompass is open for debate.

If the USSR is so poor and capitalism is so much better for Russia, why have only two republics recently surpassed the USSR in per capita income. Agricultural production is still far below the USSR. If capitalism is so much better for Russia, then why did the USSR produce more crops than Russia does now?
The problem is you are comparing socialism to socialism. They haven’t had pure capitalism is Western Europe for many decades. You are comparing state socialism of the USSR with social democracy in Europe. They are both socialism – just different kinds.
One would think that if a tropical country like China or Cuba could do great things, why wouldn’t India? India can’t even provide the basics for its people. I don’t give a flying fuck about “economic growth.” The capitalists have been saying sit back and watch the economic growth as the rising tide lifts all boats in trickle down, supply side economics forever now.
The 3rd World has always been pure capitalist or colonialist, which was a form of mercantilism. When is it supposed to start working? When is capitalism in the 3rd World supposed to start working so this rising tide can lift all boats and raise everyone out of poverty? It hasn’t happened, and a lot of us are getting tired of waiting around. Poverty in the capitalist 3rd World is horrific, and capitalism has utterly failed to alleviate the problem in any way, shape or form.
Yes, corruption skyrocketed as China, the CIS and Eastern Europe went to capitalism, and no, there was not a lot of corruption in the USSR or Eastern Europe compared to now. There is always vastly more corruption in a capitalist society than in a Communist one, and always far more crime too. Capitalism causes incredible amounts of crime and corruption.
Neoliberalism only benefits the top 20% of society and it actually harms the bottom 80%. This has been proven the world over in neoliberal experiments for the past 30 years. It worked the same way in the US. It’s just class war and all neoliberalism ever does is cause mass wealth redistribution from the bottom 80% to the top 20%.
Why is this economic growth acceptable in China? Millions of people are dying every year in China from lack of health care. That wasn’t happening under Mao. Why is this ok? Why was it ok to shut down hundreds of thousands of schools. You realize that the privatization of health care and mass shutdown of schools all over China was part of Deng’s project that you are now cheering on? Why is that ok? Was it ok to do that just to get some “economic growth?”
You know what? Fuck economic growth. If you have to kill millions every year and shut down hundreds of thousands of schools so tens of millions of children don’t even get a primary school education, why is that worth it? I say it’s not worth it!
That so many live so well in the UK now is testament to social democracy. And keep in mind that the UK was a very socialist place until recently. The state even ran mines and all sorts of “commanding heights of the economy” type things.
You argue for capitalism, but all over the world, the capitalists are all 100% behind forcing poor countries (and even rich countries like Ireland and Greece) into structural adjustment policies. Who are the only people opposing structural adjustment? Only us socialists! And increasingly, it is only us on the Hard Left, and so many social democrats in Europe now are pushing structural adjustment.
The problem is that the only people who are advocating that capitalism should be harnessed in any whatsoever area us socialists. Almost all capitalists agree that capitalism should not be harnessed in any way whatsoever. Capitalists are all radical neoliberal, neoclassical Libertarians. Almost all of them are. They all oppose regulation in any way, shape or form, and they always will. That’s why capitalism is unreformable.
Anyway, hardly anyone on the Left is advocating USSR style Communism anymore anyway.

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0 thoughts on “A Debate About Communism and Capitalism”

  1. The most crime free places in the world are developed capitalist countries. Japan has extremely low crime rates and one of the lowest murder rates ever achieved in history. There are European countries with similar crime rates to Japan and none of them were ever touched by Stalinism or Maoism.
    In Stuttgart, Germany, I was told by a local that I could walk through the park in the centre of town, at 4am, alone, with all my luggage, because muggings are so rare that there is no need to worry about them.
    Crime was an ideological embarrassment to the Soviet Union and statistics were not published or discussed. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, murder rates have been much much higher in eastern Europe than western Europe. Did they suddenly spike to such high levels in the nineties (its possible) or were they already quite high in the seventies and eighties?
    When I said that eastern Europe was poor, I meant in comparison to western Europe. In the Soviet Union, the basics of life were well provided and wages were okay but there wasn’t much to buy and people had little more than the basic necessities because of chronic shortages of consumer goods. The consumer goods that existed were standardized and of relatively poor quality. The west, by comparison, was prosperous, advanced and colourful.
    Where would you rather have lived in the 20th century: in west or east Berlin? Even if the west was not more vibrant and prosperous, which it was, it was also far more free. I would choose the west if only to avoid the evil and paranoid stasi, who would bug your house and could go on to break up your marriage, get you fired, have your reputation destroyed and even torture or imprison you for anything resembling activism or criticism of the state.
    The economic and government model of western Europe was far superior to that of the Soviet Union. Perhaps Russia and the whole of eastern Europe would have been better off if they had adopted democracy and capitalism from the start. That is the problem with talking about whether Russia is better off under capitalism or communism. It has only had capitalism for 20 years, after 70 years of communism! If it has problems, perhaps they are something to do with the 70 years of communism, which ended in economic failure and the dissolution of an egregiously oppressive state, followed by ten bad years in the 90’s. It might be more instructive to compare eastern to western Europe.
    Why say that I am comparing socialism to socialism and downplay the vital role of capitalism in achieving the wealth, development and standard of living of Britain and western Europe? If Britain was a totally socialist country, it would have probably looked more like the Soviet Union. But the public sector has been funded by tax money, raised from the private sector. The private, capitalist sector is massive and has been a vital part of our development, from the industrial revolution to today. Private enterprise and the material wealth it has produced are ubiquitous in Britain. There is no point denying it, any more than we should deny the role played by the government and public sector in providing housing, health care and education.
    Yes, neo-liberal, radical free market capitalism is detrimental to society, transfers wealth to the top and absolutely screws the poor who have no safety net. It sucks for ‘developing’ countries and it would suck for developed countries. But a society with a large private sector and a government that provides regulation and a safety net is much better than a society with no private sector and a planned economy.
    The capitalist and the socialist extremes are both bad in different ways. That’s why there needs to be a mix and a balance. Again, the desirable extent of the public and private sectors and what the right balance is, is very much open for debate and consideration. I am, also, as you know, interested in cooperatives.
    Whether or not North Korea has legitimate excuses for its horrible state of scarcity and economic under-performance (and for being a place where only a madman would want to live), South Korea, Taiwan and Japan are positive examples in the region of how to achieve high levels of development. And they are certainly places where one would be lucky to live.
    Deng’s reforms and the prodigious economic development of the past 30 years have put China on the road to becoming a developed country. That’s the significance of this. China was a country of poor farmers and it will be a country of city dwellers with western standards of living. China obviously did the right thing by becoming more capitalist. Just like it worked for the other (now advanced) NE nations, it will work for China.
    All Chinese citizens must attend school for 9 years. . The standards of education are possibly superior to the education in Britain. A GCSE A grade in Britain (school leaving exams at age 16) is equivalent to a C grade in China. There is 99% attendance for primary education and there was a fivefold increase in undergraduates and those holding doctorates from 1995 to 2005. China is about to become number 1 in the world for most published scientific papers.
    China is only in the tropics in the far south. A lot of China is at the same longitude as a lot of the United States.
    The decollectivisation of agriculture began at the grassroots level, initiated by farmers who had low yields and were discontented with the collectivized system, and began to experiment with new forms of production and tenure. This was a brave, almost revolutionary act as it went against the official policy and orders of the state but when Deng found out about it, he went with it. The reforms didn’t privatize land- it remained collective property. Look into it if you want but I think the reforms improved agricultural production and made it more conducive to the economic development of China.
    I don’t know if it was necessary to decollectivise in every part of China. In some parts, the people were not displeased with the system.
    I’ve had enough of writing now so I’ll try to be concise with the rest of what I want to say…. As you probably know, the decollectivisation of agriculture undermined the cooperative healthcare provision that was based on people’s communes and a big part of the healthcare system was privatised. I think things should have been done differently and more priority should have been placed on ensuring healthcare for farmers. Couldn’t they have implemented a different form of socialised healthcare that could coincide with the agricultural changes? Just because I’m broadly in favour of the reforms, doesn’t mean I think everything was done perfectly.
    In any case, healthcare is on the national agenda in China now and they are moving back towards socialised healthcare I believe. I think they plan to achieve good quality universal healthcare it by 2020, which will probably be before America does!

    1. I actually read all of that and my ass hurts. Anyhow one more critique of communism/socialism is control. Take Singapore’s public housing program for instance. More than 80% of Singaporeans live in these and the government has certainly brought affordable housing to the masses. While this appears to be a laudable achievement on the surface, I’ve also read that the Peaple’s Action Party denies housing to political dissidents. You’re a slave to the system. In Capitalist America, you might appear to be more politically free, but you’re enslaved through debt. This is the reason why I despise left wing and right wing economics equally.

      1. Hi Dota,
        I live in Singapore. The public housing you are talking about is managed by the Housing Development Board (HDB). While HDB was started to provide cheap housing, it hasn’t been doing its proper job recently.
        Nowadays median resale price is already around 8-9 times annual median salary. I get the median resale price data from here http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10321p.nsf/w/BuyResaleFlatMedianResalePrices?OpenDocument I get the median monthly salary from here http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_761694.html
        Median monthly salary is around $3000 so annual median salary is around $36000. However even resale/2nd hand public housing apartments are priced between 300,000 to 350,000 (3-bedroom). This is around 8.3 to 9.7 times annual median salary.
        Now according to this website http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2012/3/32629/hdbs-more-unaffordable-than-private-homes anything above 5.1 annual median salary is considered severely unaffordable by international standard.
        This situation results in young couple unable to buy even resale apartment unless their family helps them. This creates resentment against the PAP which has been ruling Singapore since independence (1965). In the last general election (2011) for the first time in a long time PAP did not win 100% seats in parliament. One opposition party won some seats. This opposition is the Workers Party of Singapore.
        Now what is the cause of this incredible rise in HDB price? Many Singaporeans think it is caused by large-scale immigration. Singaporean population today is 5 millions, but it was only around 4 millions 10 years ago. Imagine adding 25% in just 10 years! American complains about Mexican immigration, but it is nothing compared to immigration policy in Singapore.
        In addition to causing property price increase, immigration caused increased competition for jobs, for school admission for singaporean kids, etc.
        So Singaporean middle class is squeezed by white collar expatriate workers from China, India, Indonesia, Phillippines, Malaysia. Singaporean lower class is squeezed by blue collar workers from those same countries. Singaporean upper class can always escape to Australia. Unfortunately Australians have begun to complain about the amount of immigration as well!
        Large scale immigration is another policy from the PAP. Their philosophy is free movement of capital and labor to attract foreign investment. I notice that US Companies and Government also push for this policy. Free movement of capital may cause increased property speculation, quite a few rich foreginers buy property in singapore just to become absentee landlord or to sell it again after the price has risen. Free movement of labor increased house prices, increased competition for jobs, school admissions, etc.
        If you want to know how the opposition voters feel about immigrants, check this website http://www.tremeritus.com/ The comment section is full of racism against Mainland Indians, Mainland Chinese, Filipinos. I have not detect racism against Indonesians there, so I consider myself lucky. However as an immigrant I am part of the problem so I keep a low profile in Singapore.

      2. ‘While this appears to be a laudable achievement on the surface, I’ve also read that the Peaple’s Action Party denies housing to political dissidents. You’re a slave to the system.’
        Excellent point. Its called totalitarianism, isn’t it?

      3. communism marxism socialism are all evil and wont suceed in any societies oinly capitalism will benefit the society.. Developed countries were developed only because of capitalism and you guys are using computers to churn out your gibberish only because of capitalism .,., if not for capitalism you guys would have still been scribbling in some stones relize it ultra moonbat shit crazy morons

        1. All right jerkoff, you’re banned.
          Every society on Earth that uses computers is socialist to one degree or another. And computers were originally developed by the state as a socialist project BTW. After the state developed computers, they turned the research over to the capitalist sector to make money off of it.

    2. Capitalism causes crime. The more capitalism, the more crime. Crime has deep roots in capitalism. Germany is a socialist country (social democracy). Japan is also a pretty socialist country (social democracy). There was little crime in the USSR, and it exploded after 1991.
      What is it you are arguing for here. You’re apparently a socialist, a social democrat. You’re arguing for social democracy and against state socialism or Communism, is that correct? Why don’t you come right out and say it then? Why won’t you call yourself a socialist? Are you afraid?
      The clinics in the village communes were probably funded by funds generated by the sales of produce from the communes, but I am not sure.

      1. How does capitalism cause crime? Maybe you could write a post about this. I’m interested in crime. Is it something to do with inequality, lack of opportunity and the emphasis on private gain and individualism?
        I don’t know if I can agree that Germany is a socialist country. Its got a government and a public sector and a welfare system but its got a large private sector. I don’t know what percentage of the workforce work in the private sector for capitalist employers but its a lot. I might look it up. The means of production aren’t socially owned, right?
        (Is America a socialist country by your definition?)
        It seems like you are crediting whatever elements of socialism it has with its low crime rate but it’s an affluent country, which surely has at least as much or more to do with its capitalism, and affluent places seem to have little crime.
        I’m also inclined to think that Japanese culture and probably its policing and justice system have a lot to do with its low crime. And we’ve got the issue of genetics that might be explored.
        As for what I’m arguing for, if you go back to the start of this discussion, I guess I’m arguing for not turning India into a communist dictatorship. That’s what started all of this off.
        More generally, I have at least told you what I’m not and that’s a Maoist. As for what I am, that’s a little but more difficult, and its late. Thanks for making me reflect on it though. Perhaps I will report back.

  2. Monster post. You can have the last word if you want. I can’t really be bothered getting into one of those debates that goes on for days. I’m so easily drawn in.

  3. Steve-
    ‘China obviously did the right thing by becoming more capitalist.’
    Ummm.. that’s the point, China efficiently uses capitalism as a tool not political system.

    1. Good for China :-). Note that I said ‘by becoming more capitalist’, not ‘by becoming capitalist’.

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