On the definition of Socialism

Deutsche Version: Von der Definition des Sozialismus

 

Image

In the German-speaking and English-speaking worlds, Socialism has largely a bad press. It is all too often associated with the totalitarian countries of the former Soviet Union and the omnipresence of the state in every area of life.

But in France, Socialism has historically mainly meant the belief that the state ought to intervene as soon as the well-being of workers and employees is threatened by the unlimited free-market competition going on. It has nothing against free-market competition in and of itself, so long as the quality of life of people is not menaced.

There is of course also a striving towards social justice, in that taxes should take into account the personal wealth.

Biblical communism

A similar feeling seems to have been present in the Early Church among the first followers of Jesus of Nazareth after his resurrection:

All that believed were together, and had all things in common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
(Acts 2:44-45)

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of , Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
(Acts 4:34-37)

Image

About these ads

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

32 responses to “”

  1. Andrew Ryan says :

    And of course, Hitler was no socialist.

    • lotharson says :

      Tell that some of the bigots of Conservapedia ;-)

    • Crude says :

      And of course, Hitler was no socialist.

      Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.

      Any german speakers who could translate this one to english?

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.

        Any german speakers who could translate this one to english?

        National-Socialist German Workers Party.

        And those were the other parties in the Reichstag of 1933:
        - Deutsche Kommunistische Partei (German Communist Party)
        - Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social-Democrat Party of Germany)
        - Deutsche Zentrumspartei (has no meaningful english translation, in practice, this was the precursor of the CDU – socially conservative, economically right-wing, and Catholic through and through).
        - Kampffront Schwarz-Weiss-Rot (literally “Battlefront Black-White-Red” (it sounds exactly as ridiculous in the original german as it does in english). De facto, this was the new name of the “Deutschnationale Volkspartei” (German National People’s Party) – a hodgepodge of nationalists, monarchists, anti-semites and several other kinds of stupid people).

        The members of two of those parties were murdered or thrown into concentration camps as soon as Hitler had the power to do so. Guess which two.
        Two of those parties voted for the “Ermächtigungsgesetz” of 1933 together with the NSDAP – the first step to Hitler´s dictatorship. Guess which two.
        Two of those parties got zero support whatsoever from influential german industrialists, bankiers etc., while one of those parties was practically drowned in money from the german industry (as was the NSDAP btw). Guess which ones.
        While we are at it, care to guess which of those parties had the best relationships to and received the most support from the Catholic Church?

        Hitler is typically presented as being a liberal …

        …by people who have no idea what they are talking about and whose political thinking is perfectly binary – there are two and only two groups of people, “liberals” and “conservatives”, and one of those groups is by definition always right while the other is by definition always wrong, evil and stupid, and political “discourse” is all about finding out whether someone belongs to the good or bad group, nothing else matters.
        Btw, what europeans mean by “liberal” most closely corresponds to what americans would call “libertarian”.

      • lotharson says :

        In France, “liberal” means people supporting wild capitalism and it has a bad connotations in many circles.

        Es liegt auf der Hand, dass es fuer Missverstaendnisse zwischen Frankreich und Amerika sorgt :-)

      • Crude says :

        National-Socialist German Workers Party.

        Rather speaks against the whole ‘the nazis weren’t socialist, only crazy people say that!’ line of thinking.

        The members of two of those parties were murdered or thrown into concentration camps as soon as Hitler had the power to do so. Guess which two.

        How about you tell me which two, in each and every event?

        …by people who have no idea what they are talking about and whose political thinking is perfectly binary – there are two and only two groups of people, “liberals” and “conservatives”, and one of those groups is by definition always right while the other is by definition always wrong, evil and stupid, and political “discourse” is all about finding out whether someone belongs to the good or bad group, nothing else matters.

        As opposed to you, who takes a metered and careful response to Catholics, social conservatives, conservative thinkers and otherwise, no doubt.

        I haven’t advanced the ‘nazis are liberals and all liberals are bad!’ line of thinking here. I explained it, and pointed out how it was silly to think things could be reduced so.

        However, the nazis were socialists. People were laughing at the very idea of that here – and it’s trivial to show the socialism connections.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Rather speaks against the whole ‘the nazis weren’t socialist, only crazy people say that!’ line of thinking.

        To quote wikipedia:
        “The use of the name “National Socialism” arose out of earlier attempts by German right-wing figures to create a nationalist redefinition of “socialism”, as a reactionary alternative to both internationalist Marxist socialism and free market capitalism. This involved the idea of uniting rich and poor Germans for a common national project without eliminating class differences (a concept known as “Volksgemeinschaft”, or “people’s community”), and promoted the subordination of individuals and groups to the needs of the nation, state and leader. National Socialism rejected the Marxist concept of class struggle, opposed ideas of equality and international solidarity, and sought to defend private property.”

        How about you tell me which two, in each and every event?

        The Nazis persecuted democrats and communists at every opportunity and the Zentrumspartei and the Kampffront Schwarz-Weiss-Rot supported the Nazis in their rise to power (although both social democrats and communists fucked up colossally as well because infighting was more important to them than uniting against the Nazis). German industrialists and bankiers supported the Nazis both before and after the end of the Weimar republic (because forced labor + war = lots of profit and because the Nazis fought against marxistic ideas). And, as they reliably did every single time when they had to choose between supporting democrats or fascists, the Catholic Church made the wrong choice here as well.

      • Crude says :

        To quote wikipedia:

        Notice that the wikipedia quote at no point disputes that the national socialists were, in fact, socialists. They just had a different political emphasis than the Marxists.

        They were socialists – period. That’s not open to dispute.

        The Nazis persecuted democrats and communists

        A political party persecuted its opposition? This is shocking why, exactly?

        Or wait, am I supposed to find it evidence against their being socialists that they fought other socialists? If so, that’s not exactly logic and reason at its sharpest. You may as well point at Trotsky’s experience as evidence that either he or his opponents weren’t really communists.

        And, as they reliably did every single time when they had to choose between supporting democrats or fascists,

        Gosh, it’s almost as if when you threaten a religious group via multiple parties, they tend to try and make nice with whichever party offers to persecute them least.

        While your hilariously inaccurate explanation of Catholic politics is worth correcting, it’s a distraction from the point I was making: Nazis were socialists. Period, end of story. This isn’t up for debate – it’s a fact of history. They don’t become ‘non-socialists!’ just because they fought other socialists.

        This doesn’t mean ‘liberals are bad!’ or even ‘socialism is always bad!’ but it does mean that yes, nazis were socialists. Accept that much.

      • Andy Schueler says :

        Notice that the wikipedia quote at no point disputes that the national socialists were, in fact, socialists. They just had a different political emphasis than the Marxists.

        They were socialists – period. That’s not open to dispute.

        Because the word “socialism” is included in the word “National-socialism”. Impeccable logic. By the exact same reasoning, we can conclude that Hitler fought for Christian values. His redefinition of the central figure of Christianity from gentle Jesus meek and mild to Jesus the ass-kicking valiant warrior Lord still includes the name “Jesus” after all, and that is all that matters. Hitler fought for Christian values – period, that´s not open to dispute.

        Or wait, am I supposed to find it evidence against their being socialists that they fought other socialists? If so, that’s not exactly logic and reason at its sharpest. You may as well point at Trotsky’s experience as evidence that either he or his opponents weren’t really communists.

        You were referring to Hitler as a liberal, and I presume you mean the idiosyncratic US-american version of what “liberal” means. And in that case, this could not be more wrong, because everyone who remotely resembled what US-americans mean by “liberal” were persecuted by the Nazis while everyone else helped the Nazis in their rise to power.

        Gosh, it’s almost as if when you threaten a religious group via multiple parties, they tend to try and make nice with whichever party offers to persecute them least.

        Sure, because social democrats persecuted Catholics countless times as they did for example when… no wait.. my bad, that actually never happened.

      • Crude says :

        Because the word “socialism” is included in the word “National-socialism”. Impeccable logic. By the exact same reasoning, we can conclude that Hitler fought for Christian values.

        As if that doesn’t happen quite often.

        But no, not ‘because the word socialism is included’. That’s certainly a piece of evidence. The problem is, his policies also follow that pattern. Government intervention in business. Universal health care. Subsidization policies in general, the state preferring some businesses and even industries over otherwise.

        He was a socialist. I’m sorry, are you really trying to argue he was a freaking libertarian?

        And in that case, this could not be more wrong, because everyone who remotely resembled what US-americans mean by “liberal” were persecuted by the Nazis

        Oh yes, those pro-abortion people – the nazis could not STAND them. The people in favor of government control and guidance of business – Hitler hated those guys. The attempts to reduce the religiosity of the people because what was of central importance was the state – sounds like a conservative to me.

        Are you even reading what you’re writing?

        Sure, because social democrats persecuted Catholics countless times as they did for example when…

        The SDP had its origins in marxism – you could understand why Catholics would be spooked initially. And later on, post-WWII and after the Godesberg Program? We get this little gem from the wikipedia:

        The Godesberg Program divorced its conception of socialism from Marxism, declaring that democratic socialism in Europe was “rooted in Christian ethics, humanism, and classical philosophy”.

        Looks like they learned a lesson, if temporarily. ;)

      • Andy Schueler says :

        But no, not ‘because the word socialism is included’. That’s certainly a piece of evidence.

        Sure. Like the word “democratic” is evidence for the “German Democratic Republic” being a democracy (in reality, that was a country that had an actual “socialist” government, and it wasn´t a “democracy” in any way, shape or form).

        The problem is, his policies also follow that pattern. Government intervention in business. Universal health care. Subsidization policies in general, the state preferring some businesses and even industries over otherwise.

        Ah, so that´s what you think “socialism” means? Interesting, that means that the German Empire (the Kaiserreich), the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, and the Federal Republic of Germany were / are socialist states (as a german, that certainly does come as news to me) – together with pretty much every other european country. If we drop health care from that list, then we have just proven that literally every single country on this planet has a socialist government. Just for the fun of it, please list the countries you are aware of that were in existence at some point in time after 1900 or still exist and which don´t “intervene in businesses” at all and have no subsidization policies whatsoever (once you realize that such countries don´t exist, you can go on to try to show that Nazi Germany “intervened in businesses” and subsidized significantly more compared to other countries)

        He was a socialist. I’m sorry, are you really trying to argue he was a freaking libertarian?

        I would call him a fascist dictator.

        Oh yes, those pro-abortion people – the nazis could not STAND them.

        Abortion was one of the standard tools for the german “Rassenhygiene” program – but that program targeted people that the Nazis considered to be “subhuman” (= not Aryan). For people that the Nazis considered to be human, abortion was not only illegal (as it was in the Weimar republic) – they also changed the laws against abortion so that an abortion provider would have to be executed.

        The people in favor of government control and guidance of business – Hitler hated those guys.

        Nazi germany didn´t have a planned economy. The German Democratic Republic had one. That´s also the main reason for why historians and political scientists classify the latter as a socialist state but not the former.

        The attempts to reduce the religiosity of the people because what was of central importance was the state – sounds like a conservative to me.

        Erm. No. The Nazis had zero tolerance for unbelievers. What is true is that they wanted to co-opt the established religions for their purposes and persecuted clergy members that resisted those attempts. There is also some evidence that the Nazis had long-term plans to replace christian churches with “Adolf Hitler Weihestätten” (and essentially create a new religion which would have included elements of Nazi ideology, Christianity and nothern paganism) – but those were never put into practice.

        The SDP had its origins in marxism – you could understand why Catholics would be spooked initially.

        This was by far not the only opportunity for the church to learn that no matter how much they despise democracy, monarchies are not going to come back and fascism is actually quite bad.

      • lotharson says :

        Danke fuer die zahlreichen Erlaeuterungen!

        Ich habe gerade was ueber dein Lieblingsthema geschrieben :-)

  2. Andrew Ryan says :

    They argue he was also a liberal…

    • lotharson says :

      They are used to dealing with similar apparent contradictions in their own inerrant Bible :=)

    • Crude says :

      Hitler is typically presented as being a liberal owing to his socialism, his support for eugenics, his view of businesses being subservient to the state, etc.

      • lotharson says :

        He also was a vegetarian, and some would even say a Christian.

        Even if it were the case, this would do nothing to prove the harmfulness or falsity of such views.

        Likewise the fact that some real Christians have committed atrocities does not speak against our faith.

      • Crude says :

        He also was a vegetarian, and some would even say a Christian.

        Some would be wrong based on all the available data we have.

        I don’t mean wrong in the ‘well he didn’t follow Christianity’ sense, which would be true. But in the ‘attestations of those close to him’ sense.

        Even if it were the case, this would do nothing to prove the harmfulness or falsity of such views.

        I wasn’t implying as much. I don’t think such views can be discounted based on such simple reasoning.

        However, let’s face facts – Hitler is typically cast as conservative, and a logical result of conservatism. We even have people in this thread saying that the nazis weren’t socialist. But my question stands: what was the name of the nazi party?

  3. Justin L. Oliver says :

    The way I think of it, socialism is an economic system where the capital and labor structures are subject to a single will, whether that’s a central organizing committee or another planning body with the final decision-making authority.

    In social democracies, a semblance of private labor and capital markets remain, so some elements of capitalism are in tact. It seems most countries to try to strike a balance between socialism and capitalism, but those two means of organizing production are incompatible, according to market economists like von Mises. Do you see a way capitalism and socialism could co-exist together?

    • Andrew Ryan says :

      I believe the NHS in Britain uses the free market for contracts. It mixes socialism and capitalism. And even US conservatives don’t seem to have a problem with having a large army paid for out of taxes – isn’t that a socialist system?

      • Justin L. Oliver says :

        That’s a fair question.

        But consider that force is not a mode of production, like capitalism and socialism are, so I would consider it neither. Interpersonal force exercised by the military and police is inherently destructive, but coercion can be useful for destroying the coercion used by criminals and invaders.

      • Crude says :

        I believe the NHS in Britain uses the free market for contracts. It mixes socialism and capitalism.

        A mix of socialism and capitalism… is socialism.

  4. agnophilo says :

    All government is socialism, the bad sort of socialism is authoritarian socialism. But then what form of authoritarianism has generally worked out well?

    • zilch says :

      Yep. Socialism is a continuum, not some arbitrary degree of governmental messing in the economy. As soon as you invite your neighbor over for a leg of mammoth barbecue, you’re a socialist.

      • agnophilo says :

        Thought you might enjoy this.

      • lotharson says :

        I believe (on sound Biblical grounds) that universal healthcare is the first step towards a worldwide government and the coming of the anti-Christ.
        But I just realized this will also accelerate the return of Christ! I’m going to urge all my fellow Evangelicals to vote for “socialists” so that this glorious event will become imminent :=)

      • agnophilo says :

        Until I remembered who I was talking to and what conversation we had been having I thought you were serious, since this is not unlike many conversations I’ve had on the internet. How sad is that?

      • lotharson says :

        Yep!

        In an upcoming post, I will described a bad experience. I wrote a very silly Poe and thought quite a few people would think I was serious. Quite the contrary was true…

      • zilch says :

        thanks, agnophilo! Zimmerman is great! And yeah, it is sad that people seriously say that universal health care is a sign of the Antichrist.

    • Crude says :

      All government is socialism,

      No, it’s not. Via wikipedia: “Socialism is an economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy.”

  5. Anvil says :

    The parallel you make between “socialism” and “Biblical communism” is not a good one.
    The “Biblical communism” mentioned described a system of voluntary, grassroots action within a market framework. This has been described throughout history as a mutual aid society, mutualism, a commune, freed-market socialism, along with other names.
    On the other hand, “socialism” describes a framework in and of itself which involves coercive, centralized, involuntary action by the state. This has been described throughout history usually as state socialism, but state capitalism or simply statism would suffice as well.
    The fact that the two share a stated (and especially hollow on the latter’s part) impetus toward redistribution does not make them close ideological family. The former is actually far closer to both the radical 19th century communists and free marketeers (see Kropotkin and Spooner respectively) than to whatever the Germans and French regard as socialism today.
    God bless!

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Von der Definition des Sozialismus | lotharlorraine - February 6, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 225 other followers

%d bloggers like this: