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The Beginning of Socialism

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posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 11:24 AM
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a reply to: Semicollegiate

Great thread! S&F

I have been trying to summarize this passage from Mises to no avail.

It's a long quote but, I can't seem to convey the whole idea he was communicating so, I present it in its entirety as it is the best assessment of the origin of the socialist idea that I have found.

The Historical Origin of the Socialist Idea


When the social philosophers of the eighteenth century laid the foundations of praxeology and economics, they were confronted with an almost universally accepted and uncontested distinction between the petty selfish individuals and the state, the representative of the interests of the whole society. However, at that time the deification process which finally elevated the men managing the social apparatus of coercion and compulsion into the ranks of the gods was not yet completed. What people had in mind when speaking of government was not yet the quasi-theological notion of an omnipotent and omniscient deity, the perfect embodiment of all virtues; it was the concrete governments as they acted on the political scene. It was the various sovereign entities whose territorial size was the outcome of bloody wars, diplomatic intrigues, and dynastic intermarriage and succession. It was the princes whose private domain and revenue were in many countries not yet separated from the public treasury, and oligarchic republics, like Venice and some of the Swiss cantons, in which the ultimate objective of the conduct of public affairs was to enrich the ruling aristocracy. The interests of these rulers were in opposition to those of their "selfish" subjects exclusively committed to the pursuit of their own happiness on the one hand, and to those of foreign governments longing for booty and territorial aggrandizement on the other hand. In dealing with these antagonisms, the authors of books on public affairs were ready to espouse the cause of their own country's government. They assumed quite candidly that the rulers are the champions of the interests of the whole society, irreconcilably conflicting with those of the individuals. In checking the selfishness of their subjects, governments were promoting the welfare of the whole of society as against the mean concerns of individuals.

The liberal philosophy discarded these notions. From its point of view there are within the unhampered market society no conflicts of the rightly understood interests. The interests of the citizens are not opposed to those of the nation, the interests of each nation are not opposed to those of other nations.

Yet in demonstrating this thesis the liberal philosophers themselves contributed an essential element to the notion of the godlike state. They substituted in their inquiries the image of an ideal state for the real states of their age. They constructed the vague image of a government whose only objective is to make its citizens happy. This ideal had certainly no counterpart in the Europe of the ancien régime. In this Europe there were German princelings who sold their subjects like cattle to fight the wars of foreign nations; there were kings who seized every opportunity to rush upon the weaker neighbors; there was the shocking experience of the partitions of Poland; there was France successively governed by the century's most profligate men, the Regent Orleans and Louis XV; and there was Spain, ruled by the ill-bred paramour of an adulterous queen. However, the liberal philosophers deal only with a state which has nothing in common with these governments of corrupt courts and aristocracies. The state, as it appears in their writings, is governed by a perfect superhuman being, a king whose only aim is to promote the welfare of his subjects. Starting from this assumption, they raise the question of whether the actions of the individual citizens when left free from any authoritarian control would not develop along lines of which this good and wise king would disapprove. The liberal philosopher answers this question in the negative. It is true, he admits, that the entrepreneurs are selfish and seek their own profit. However, in the market economy they can earn profits only by satisfying in the best possible way the most urgent needs of the consumers. The objectives of entrepreneurship do not differ from those of the perfect king. For this benevolent king too aims at nothing else than such an employment of the means of production that the maximum of consumer satisfaction can be reached.

It is obvious that this reasoning introduces value judgments and political bias into the treatment of the problems. This paternal ruler is merely an alias for the economist who by means of this trick elevates his personal value judgments to the dignity of a universally valid standard of absolute eternal values. The author identifies himself with the perfect king and calls the ends he himself would choose if he were equipped with this king's power, welfare, commonweal, and volkswirtschaftliche productivity as distinct from the ends toward which the selfish individuals are striving. He is so naive as not to see that this hypothetical chief of state is merely a hypostatization of his own arbitrary value judgments, and blithely assumes that he has discovered an incontestable standard of good and evil. Masked as the benevolent paternal autocrat, the author's own Ego is enshrined as the voice of the absolute moral law.

The essential characteristic of the imaginary construction of this king's ideal regime is that all its citizens are unconditionally subject to authoritarian control. The king issues orders and all obey. This is not a market economy; there is no longer private ownership of the means of production. The terminology of the market economy is retained, but in fact there is no longer any private ownership of the means of production, no real buying and selling, and no market prices. Production is not directed by the conduct of the consumers displayed on the market, but by authoritarian decrees. The authority assigns to everybody his station in the system of the social division of labor, determines what should be produced, and how and what each individual is allowed to consume. This is what nowadays can properly be called the German variety of socialist management.
edit on 17-12-2015 by greencmp because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 11:25 AM
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a reply to: Semicollegiate
(continued)



Now the economists compare this hypothetical system, which in their eyes embodies the moral law itself, with the market economy. The best they can say of the market economy is that it does not bring about a state of affairs different from that produced by the supremacy of the perfect autocrat. They approve of the market economy only because its operation, as they see it, ultimately attains the same results the perfect king would aim at. Thus the simple identification of what is morally good and economically expedient with the plans of the totalitarian dictator that characterizes all champions of planning and socialism was not contested by many of the old liberals. One must even assert that they originated this confusion when they substituted the ideal image of the perfect state for the wicked and unscrupulous despots and politicians of the real world. Of course, for the liberal thinker this perfect state was merely an auxiliary tool of reasoning, a model with which he compared the operation of the market economy. But it was not amazing that people finally raised the question as to why one should not transfer this ideal state from the realm of thought into the realm of reality.

All older social reformers wanted to realize the good society by a confiscation of all private property and its subsequent redistribution; each man's share should be equal to that of every other, and continuous vigilance by the authorities should safeguard the preservation of this equalitarian system. These plans became unrealizable when the large-scale enterprises in manufacturing, mining, and transportation appeared. There cannot be any question of splitting up large-scale business units and distributing the fragments in equal shares. The age-old program of redistribution was superseded by the idea of socialization. The means of production were to be expropriated, but no redistribution was to be resorted to. The state itself was to run all the plants and farms.

This inference became logically inescapable as soon as people began to ascribe to the state not only moral but also intellectual perfection. The liberal philosophers had described their imaginary state as an unselfish entity, exclusively committed to the best possible improvement of its subjects' welfare. They had discovered that in the frame of a market society the citizens' selfishness must bring about the same results that this unselfish state would seek to realize; it was precisely this fact that justified the preservation of the market economy in their eyes. but things became different as soon as people began to ascribe to the state not only the best intentions but also omniscience. Then one could not help concluding that the infallible state was in a position to succeed in the conduct of production activities better than erring individuals. It would avoid all those errors that often frustrate the actions of entrepreneurs and capitalists. There would no longer be malinvestment or squandering of scarce factors of production; wealth would multiply. The "anarchy" of production appears wasteful when contrasted with the planning of the omniscient state. The socialist mode of production then appears to be the only reasonable system, and the market economy seems the incarnation of unreason. In the eyes of the rationalist advocates of socialism, the market economy is simply an incomprehensible aberration of mankind. In the eyes of those influenced by historicism, the market economy is the social order of an inferior stage of human evolution which the inescapable process of progressive perfection will eliminate in order to establish the more adequate system of socialism. Both lines of thought agree that reason itself postulates the transition to socialism.

What the naive mind calls reason is nothing but the absolutization of its own value judgments. The individual simply identifies the products of his own reasoning with the shaky notion of an absolute reason. No socialist author ever gave a thought to the possibility that the abstract entity which he wants to vest with unlimited power--whether it is called humanity, society, nation, state, or government--could act in a way of which he himself disapproves. A socialist advocates socialism because he is fully convinced that the supreme dictator of the socialist commonwealth will be reasonable from his--the individual socialist's--point of view, that he will aim at those ends of which he--the individual socialist--fully approves, and that he will try to attain these ends by choosing means which he--the individual socialist--would also choose. Every socialist calls only that system a genuinely socialist system in which these conditions are completely fulfilled; all other brands claiming the name of socialism are counterfeit systems entirely different from true socialism. Every socialist is a disguised dictator. Woe to all dissenters! They have forfeited their right to live and must be "liquidated."

The market economy makes peaceful cooperation among people possible in spite of the fact that they disagree with regard to their value judgments. In the plans of the socialists there is no room left for dissenting views. Their principle is Gleichschaltung, perfect uniformity enforced by the police.

People frequently call socialism a religion. It is indeed the religion of self-deification. The State and Government of which the planners speak, the People of the nationalists, the Society of the Marxians and the Humanity of Comte's positivism are name for the God of the new religions. But all these idols are merely aliases for the individual reformer's own will. In ascribing to his idol all those attributes which the theologians ascribe to God. the inflated Ego glorifies itself. It is infinitely good, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, eternal. It is the only perfect being in this imperfect world.

Economics is not called to examine blind faith and bigotry. The faithful are proof against every criticism. In their eyes criticism is scandalous, a blasphemous revolt of wicked men against the imperishable splendor of their idol. Economics deals merely with the socialist plans, not with the psychological factors that impel people to espouse the religion of statolatry.
edit on 17-12-2015 by greencmp because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 12:09 PM
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a reply to: greencmp

Pot meet kettle.

All praise the free market, can I get an amen?



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 12:28 PM
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a reply to: daskakik

Did you read that or is this just an autonomic reaction?



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 12:39 PM
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originally posted by: greencmp
Did you read that or is this just an autonomic reaction?

I read it.

I'm not saying that it is wrong. I'm just saying that the Church of Free Market is not much different.


edit on 17-12-2015 by daskakik because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 01:51 PM
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originally posted by: daskakik

originally posted by: greencmp
Did you read that or is this just an autonomic reaction?

I read it.

I'm not saying that it is wrong. I'm just saying that the Church of Free Market is not much different.



Gee I bet you heard this before

"The free market made the Industrial Revolution. Socialism made WW1, WW2, the Great Depression and the Bankster Bailout"

They must be the same though. /sarcasm.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 01:53 PM
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originally posted by: Semicollegiate

originally posted by: daskakik

originally posted by: greencmp
Did you read that or is this just an autonomic reaction?

I read it.

I'm not saying that it is wrong. I'm just saying that the Church of Free Market is not much different.



Gee I bet you heard this before

"The free market made the Industrial Revolution. Socialism made WW1, WW2, the Great Depression and the Bankster Bailout"

They must be the same though. /sarcasm.


I hope that "/sarcasm" applied to the whole post because neither of those statements is true.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 01:59 PM
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The free market is an emergent property, like human intelligence.

Socialism is a mutation, a mindless obedient Homolaborus.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 02:02 PM
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originally posted by: Krazysh0t

originally posted by: Semicollegiate

originally posted by: daskakik

originally posted by: greencmp
Did you read that or is this just an autonomic reaction?

I read it.

I'm not saying that it is wrong. I'm just saying that the Church of Free Market is not much different.



Gee I bet you heard this before

"The free market made the Industrial Revolution. Socialism made WW1, WW2, the Great Depression and the Bankster Bailout"

They must be the same though. /sarcasm.


I hope that "/sarcasm" applied to the whole post because neither of those statements is true.


Both of those statements are true. No parts of the State made the industrial Revolution.

Only the State can engage in World Wars or simultaneous economy wide monetary mistakes.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 02:07 PM
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originally posted by: Semicollegiate

originally posted by: Krazysh0t

originally posted by: Semicollegiate

originally posted by: daskakik

originally posted by: greencmp
Did you read that or is this just an autonomic reaction?

I read it.

I'm not saying that it is wrong. I'm just saying that the Church of Free Market is not much different.



Gee I bet you heard this before

"The free market made the Industrial Revolution. Socialism made WW1, WW2, the Great Depression and the Bankster Bailout"

They must be the same though. /sarcasm.


I hope that "/sarcasm" applied to the whole post because neither of those statements is true.


Both of those statements are true. No parts of the State made the industrial Revolution.


Crony captialism has existed all the way back to the beginning of our country and has been a part of both the rises and falls of all of our economics. We've never had a free market in this country and pretending otherwise is a laughable notion.


Only the State can engage in World Wars or simultaneous economy wide monetary mistakes.


This is by far the most absurd reasoning I've ever heard for what you just said. Are you sure you understand what Socialism is? Socialism isn't the government. Socialism is a political idea. It is an idea meant to better all people under the government. Waging war is the exact opposite of what Socialists want. Also, the great recession jump started America's strong Socialist net.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 02:28 PM
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a reply to: Krazysh0t


Crony captialism has existed all the way back to the beginning of our country and has been a part of both the rises and falls of all of our economics. We've never had a free market in this country and pretending otherwise is a laughable notion.


"been a part of" lacks any relevance. Crony capitalism uses politics. The free market is devoid of politics. Crony capitalism uses Socialism better than socialists do.

There has been, is essence, a free market in newly invented goods. Can't make regulations about them until they take shape and performance characteristics.

During the Industrial Revolution in America, Bakunin said "America already has Anarchism" That means the Industrial Revolution in America happened in a very close to free market.


This is by far the most absurd reasoning I've ever heard for what you just said. Are you sure you understand what Socialism is? Socialism isn't the government. Socialism is a political idea. It is an idea meant to better all people under the government. Waging war is the exact opposite of what Socialists want. Also, the great recession jump started America's strong Socialist net.


Wanting is not proving that socialism is more than a dream.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 02:33 PM
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originally posted by: Semicollegiate
Gee I bet you heard this before

Have heard a lot of things but I don't always believe them.


The free market is an emergent property, like human intelligence.

Sure it is.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 02:35 PM
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originally posted by: Krazysh0t

originally posted by: Semicollegiate

originally posted by: Krazysh0t

originally posted by: Semicollegiate

originally posted by: daskakik

originally posted by: greencmp
Did you read that or is this just an autonomic reaction?

I read it.

I'm not saying that it is wrong. I'm just saying that the Church of Free Market is not much different.



Gee I bet you heard this before

"The free market made the Industrial Revolution. Socialism made WW1, WW2, the Great Depression and the Bankster Bailout"

They must be the same though. /sarcasm.


I hope that "/sarcasm" applied to the whole post because neither of those statements is true.


Both of those statements are true. No parts of the State made the industrial Revolution.


Crony captialism has existed all the way back to the beginning of our country and has been a part of both the rises and falls of all of our economics. We've never had a free market in this country and pretending otherwise is a laughable notion.


Only the State can engage in World Wars or simultaneous economy wide monetary mistakes.


This is by far the most absurd reasoning I've ever heard for what you just said. Are you sure you understand what Socialism is? Socialism isn't the government. Socialism is a political idea. It is an idea meant to better all people under the government. Waging war is the exact opposite of what Socialists want. Also, the great recession jump started America's strong Socialist net.


Socialism is an economic system which is entirely dependent upon the beneficent guidance of omniscient rulers and omnipotent enforcement.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 02:35 PM
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originally posted by: Semicollegiate
The free market is devoid of politics.

Well, the industrial revolution did not happen in an environment devoid of politics so, your statement must be false.
edit on 17-12-2015 by daskakik because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 02:46 PM
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originally posted by: daskakik

originally posted by: Semicollegiate
The free market is devoid of politics.

Well, the industrial revolution did not happen in an environment devoid of politics so, your statement must be false.


The free market is not the Industrial Revolution.

Your statement is false.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 02:51 PM
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originally posted by: Semicollegiate
The free market is not the Industrial Revolution.

I never said they were the same.

Your statement was "That means the Industrial Revolution in America happened in a very close to free market."

Which, of course, is Bakunin telling the congregation what they want to hear.
edit on 17-12-2015 by daskakik because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 04:40 PM
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originally posted by: Vector99

originally posted by: nwtrucker

originally posted by: Vector99
I'm not extremely familiar with socialism, but wasn't Napoleon's France a socialist government?


Actually, France attempted a representative republic. It was quashed by the rest of Europe, iirc.

Much of our Constitution and Bill of Rights originated in France...

Is this accurate? I'm genuinely asking. It does sound more like socialism to me


As First Consul, Napoleon moved rapidly to institute order in France. He put down rebellions in the French provinces. He created a secret police, led by Fouche. He centralized the government of the various French departments under a system of prefects.


Napoleon also set about improving and modernizing French government. He wanted government power to apply to everyone equally, legal class differences and hereditary government offices to be abolished, and salaries to be given to his bureaucrats, who were to be selected based on talent, not birth.


In 1802, having brought prestige, power, and a sense of patriotism to France, Napoleon was elected "Consul for Life". Monarchy was returning to France. In 1804, Napoleon did away with niceties and started calling himself what he had already been in reality for some time: the French Emperor.


After the various governments of the Revolution, French law was a complete mess. Lawyers, not to mention the people, hardly knew what was legal and illegal anymore, since there were so many confusing and conflicting laws on the books. The Napoleonic Code created a single, streamlined system of law, which enshrined the basic tenants of the Revolution, such as the legal equality of all citizens.

source


I said "France". Not Nappy....



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 05:00 PM
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originally posted by: Semicollegiate

originally posted by: ScepticScot
a reply to: Semicollegiate
The late 1800's was a time of plenty? The long depression just didn't happen then?



Depression is a reduction in the dollar amount of goods produced. When a dollar buys more goods from year to year, as in deflation, then the dollar amount of total production goods is reduced -- which looks like a depression. But the consumers are getting as much or more than ever because prices are falling.

The 1893 Panic was a real economic dislocation. The rest of the long depression is Fed central banker and gov collectivist regulator propaganda.

Ah so economic facts that don't agree with you preformed opinions are just "collectivist regulator propaganda".
This my basic problem with so much of the libertarian posts on ATS. Rather than argue based on genuine points both positive and negative there is an overwhelming need to try and prove libertarian philosophical thought and Austrian economics right in every case.
It is more like a religion than any serious consideration of benefits or costs where there is only one correct answer.
Your entire OP is based round a fundamentally flawed premise that there was a golden age of freedom and wealth prior to the big bad government getting involved. This however requires ignoring the mass poverty, depravation, squalor and early death that where reality for a huge portion of the population.
If you want to argue for libertarianism then argue it on its real merits and accept it's real flaws. Fantasy land economics of a golden age do your position no favours.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 05:08 PM
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a reply to: Azureblue


At the end of the 19th Century, also known as the 1800's, the individual in every country possessed the money and intellect to be become the master of his own fate.


Jim Crow. Child labor. Tenement life. No Irish Need Apply. Triangle fire. Let's not even look at what life was like in China or Africa. Oh, and passports would come in and out of style depending on the state of international relations. After WWI they became permanent and universal. About the only thing you got right was that Germany was the first state to look after its workers. They still have some of the most progressive non-socialist labor policies.



posted on Dec, 17 2015 @ 07:16 PM
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originally posted by: ScepticScot

originally posted by: Semicollegiate

originally posted by: ScepticScot
a reply to: Semicollegiate
The late 1800's was a time of plenty? The long depression just didn't happen then?



Depression is a reduction in the dollar amount of goods produced. When a dollar buys more goods from year to year, as in deflation, then the dollar amount of total production goods is reduced -- which looks like a depression. But the consumers are getting as much or more than ever because prices are falling.

The 1893 Panic was a real economic dislocation. The rest of the long depression is Fed central banker and gov collectivist regulator propaganda.

Ah so economic facts that don't agree with you preformed opinions are just "collectivist regulator propaganda".
This my basic problem with so much of the libertarian posts on ATS. Rather than argue based on genuine points both positive and negative there is an overwhelming need to try and prove libertarian philosophical thought and Austrian economics right in every case.
It is more like a religion than any serious consideration of benefits or costs where there is only one correct answer.
Your entire OP is based round a fundamentally flawed premise that there was a golden age of freedom and wealth prior to the big bad government getting involved. This however requires ignoring the mass poverty, depravation, squalor and early death that where reality for a huge portion of the population.
If you want to argue for libertarianism then argue it on its real merits and accept it's real flaws. Fantasy land economics of a golden age do your position no favours.


Think about more stuff made at a lower total, i.e. aggregate cost. That would be a depression. Lower GDP. The prices offered to consumers towards the end of the 19th century were as much as 90% lower than the prices for the same goods at mid century. The Fed says deflation is the same as depression.

By the way, there is no easy way to tax an increase in buying power caused by lower prices. Hence inflation, which allows additional taxes to be assigned to all increases in buying power.



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