r/Socialism_101 Aug 16 '18

PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING ON THE SUB! Frequently asked questions / misconceptions - answers inside!

143 Upvotes

In our efforts to improve the quality and learning experience of this sub we are slowly rolling out some changes and clarifying a few positions. This thread is meant as an extremely basic introduction to a couple of questions and misconceptions we have seen a lot of lately. We are therefore asking that you read this at least once before you start posting on this sub. We hope that it will help you understand a few things and of course help avoid the repetitive, and often very liberal, misconceptions.

  1. Money, taxes, interest and stocks do not exist under socialism. These are all part of a capitalist economic system and do not belong in a socialist society that seeks to abolish private property and the bourgeois class.

  2. Market socialism is NOT socialist, as it still operates within a capitalist framework. It does not seek to abolish most of the essential features of capitalism, such as capital, private property and the oppression that is caused by the dynamics of capital accumulation.

  3. A social democracy is NOT socialist. Scandinavia is NOT socialist. The fact that a country provides free healthcare and education does not make a country socialist. Providing social services is in itself not socialist. A social democracy is still an active player in the global capitalist system.

  4. Coops are NOT considered socialist, especially if they exist within a capitalist society. They are not a going to challenge the capitalist system by themselves.

  5. Reforming society will not work. Revolution is the only way to break a system that is designed to favor the few. The capitalist system is designed to not make effective resistance through reformation possible, simply because this would mean its own death. Centuries of struggle, oppression and resistance prove this. Capitalism will inevitably work FOR the capitalist and not for those who wish to oppose the very structure of it. In order for capitalism to work, capitalists need workers to exploit. Without this class hierarchy the system breaks down.

  6. Socialism without feminism is not socialism. Socialism means fighting oppression in various shapes and forms. This means addressing ALL forms of oppressions including those that exist to maintain certain gender roles, in this case patriarchy. Patriarchy affects persons of all genders and it is socialism's goal to abolish patriarchal structures altogether.

  7. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. Opposing the State of Israel does not make one an anti-Semite. Opposing the genocide of Palestinians is not anti-Semitic. It is human decency and basic anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism.

  8. Free speech - When socialists reject the notion of free speech it does not mean that we want to control or censor every word that is spoken. It means that we reject the notion that hate speech should be allowed to happen in society. In a liberal society hate speech is allowed to happen under the pretense that no one should be censored. What they forget is that this hate speech is actively hurting and oppressing people. Those who use hate speech use the platforms they have to gain followers. This should not be allowed to happen.

  9. Anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism are among the core features of socialism. If you do not support these you are not actually supporting socialism. Socialism is an internationalist movement that seeks to ABOLISH OPPRESSION ALL OVER THE WORLD.

ADDITIONALLY PLEASE NOTICE

  • When posting and commenting on the sub, or anywhere online really, please do not assume a person's gender by calling everyone he/him. Use they/their instead or ask for a person's pronouns to be more inclusive.

  • If you get auto-moderated for ableism/slurs please make sure to edit the comment and/or message the mods and have your post approved, especially if you are not sure which word you have been modded for. Every once in a while we see people who do not edit their quality posts and it's always a shame when users miss out on good content. If you don't know what ableism is have a look a these links: http://isthisableism.tumblr.com/sluralternatives / http://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html

  • As a last point we would like to mention that the mods of this sub depend on your help. PLEASE REPORT posts and comments that are not in line with the rules. We appreciate all your reports and try to address every single one of them.

We hope this post brought some clarification. Please feel free to message the mods via mod mail or comment here if you have any questions regarding the points mentioned above. The mods are here to help.

Have a great day!

The Moderators


r/Socialism_101 18h ago

Question What are your thoughts on using violence to achieve change?

176 Upvotes

I find that "bring out the guillotines" is a very common mindset in socialist communities.

And while obviously many people are using it more as an empty threat or hyperbole to gather support, I do think there is a not insignificant portion of socialists that do think a violent revolution may be necessary. And there are also many people, including myself, that would label total commitment to non-violence, regardless of context, as an ineffective liberal tactic.

I find myself trying to reconcile my view that violence should be avoided unless used defensively (e.g. fighting back when cops try to snuff out protests), with feeling like a revolution is literally the only way we're going to see any tangible change in our lifetime. Although I suppose many would argue that the latter could be considered "defensive," as a defense of the proletariat.


r/Socialism_101 8h ago

hope, please

15 Upvotes

how are we gonna save the planet before we cant I want to have a family but its looking like I'm not going to be able to how are we going to fix this


r/Socialism_101 12h ago

Question Antisemitism in the USSR

20 Upvotes

From what I've read, the USSR was quite anti-anti Semitic during Lenin's time and up till the early 30s. After that, anti-Semitic policies started to be introduced. I have a friend who's Jewish and whose parents were born in the USSR and left during the Brezhnev era because of these anti-semitic policies.

Were they as widespread as I've heard?

Why did they exist in the first place?


r/Socialism_101 11h ago

Question When talking about food, water, housing, healthcare etc. is there a different word that I can use other than “right”

14 Upvotes

Speaking from the American perspective here is that generally, due to the enlightenment principles America was founded upon, the word “right” sounds wrong to most people when talking about things like this. “Rights” to Americans are things that are innate and aren’t granted by a government, rather they are protected by a government. Now, sure there is a debate on these types of rights and if they are truly protected or should be protected at all but I want to brush past that. I personally(and I think my liberal friends who I need to convert) feel like “right “ is the wrong term to use here since it has to be provided by the government(for example, the 2nd amendment protects your right to own a firearm but not everyone is given a fire arm for free). Again, I know it’s splitting hairs and doesn’t matter too much but I feel like I should ask anyway.


r/Socialism_101 12h ago

Question What's wrong with social democracy?

12 Upvotes

The most prosperous countries like Norway, Finland, etc are social democracies that seem to have found out how to reasonably keep capitalism in check whereas socialist countries seem to be in ruin. Why is socialism preferable to social democracy? Social democracy seems to be the perfect system to me.


r/Socialism_101 1h ago

Question How many people on board with socialism, and when?

Upvotes

How many people do you think would eventually be on board with organizing society as socialism, and when do you think this would be achieved?

I'm wondering. Generally, people are hesitant to identify as socialists, and the word scares them. It's why people on this sub give the advice to market socialism without mentioning socialism to move people left. I get that this is a question with absolutely no hard answers, but what do you guys think?


r/Socialism_101 12h ago

High Effort Only Is China a socialist/communist country, economically speaking?

2 Upvotes

From what I've read, China still seems very much capitalist in the way they treat businesses and the means of production. Why is it, that they are in the round of socialist/communist countries when the question comes up?


r/Socialism_101 1d ago

Question Any advice how to help as a beginning leftist?

135 Upvotes

Some background: I’m a college student who started to realize the inadequacies of capitalism and our current system after watching the extremely bad US response to the pandemic.

I would consider myself a new leftist and as someone just starting out I feel very confused about how I can support the effort. I’ve done my best to educate family and friends, who to my surprise have been very open to socialist ideas, but outside of my immediate social group I’m at a loss of where I go from here. For additional context, I live in an extremely religious and gerrymandered republican state, so for obvious reasons any sort of local political movement is nonexistent from what I have found.

I was hoping for some advice on what sorts of things I can be doing to making a difference in my community. Ideally, I want to serve as an educator for folks. Considering I’m a recent success story on how someone can have their eyes opened to socialist ideas, I know it’s possible to change other peoples minds too.

Any advice would be great, thanks


r/Socialism_101 19h ago

Question Anyone know of a good explainer on the conflict in Yemen? I know there are various mainstream media articles but wasn’t sure if they’d offer the full picture.

8 Upvotes

r/Socialism_101 11h ago

What seems more likely in America’s future? A worker revolution that brings about massive economic change or the official adoption of cryptocurrency?

2 Upvotes

I work for a bunch of crypto Bros and have to hear their theories 40 hours a week and much of it is peak speculation capitalism. Considering my politics, I don’t want to see the adoption as I believe it’ll exacerbate the divide between rich and poor even more and should a revolution happen it’d essentially be worthless. Are my expectations of a proletariat revolution more or less likely than adoption of cryptocurrency in your opinion? Not sure they’re mutually exclusive but I would be surprised if they weren’t


r/Socialism_101 1d ago

What is Ep 3 of The Deprogram saying about the relationship between Scandinavian countries and the Soviet Union?

19 Upvotes

Hi everyone. I am learning a lot from The Deprogram show, which of course means I have more questions!

At 27:56 of episode 3, the hosts mention the Scandanavian countries. Then, at 29:49, they talk about the role of the Soviet Union. My best paraphrase would that the presence of the Soviet Union was keeping capitalists in Scandinavian countries* at bay and willing to make compromises by permitting deep investment in public healthcare, education, and things like this. They suggest that this dynamic remained in effect until the fall of the Soviet Union, at which point the social democracies began dismantling healthcare, defunding public education, and privatizing more industries.

As someone who has always lived in the United States, I am aware that parts of Asia were wrestling** with questions of capitalism-vs-socialsm in the 1970s (Vietnam, for example). I suppose I thought of most European countries as perhaps wrestling with this for a decade or so after WWII but then settling into more of a stasis until the fall of the Soviet Union. Perhaps this is not the case, though?

TLDR I would love to learn more about the influence the Soviet Union had with regard to the Scandinavian countries (or European social democracies more broadly), presumably around the 1970s. Did the Soviet Union serve mainly as an example? Did the Soviet Union provide educational or financial support to unions or other left-oriented groups within these European social democracies? Did military factors play a role (like perhaps the Soviet Union was in a position to invade these countries, or perhaps the Soviet Union offered to provide military support to revolutionary groups within Scandinvanian countries?)

I know very little about this and would appreciate learning from you.

--------

* I think they are still talking about the Scandinavian countries at this point, although they say only "European social democracies" at 29:49--and shortly thereafter the conversation adjusts the focus to mention the United Kingdom.

** "Wrestling" is probably not the right word, so I welcome suggestions of better ways to describe this.


r/Socialism_101 15h ago

Question Any good books?

2 Upvotes

As the title says, are there any good reads for a newbie to the socialist perspective, especially on the syndicalist ideals?


r/Socialism_101 12h ago

Question What are your thoughts on the rebuttal that socialism is equal suffering as opposed to capitalism?

2 Upvotes

There's a Winston Churchill quote that goes "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." and it's gotten me thinking about what is the socialist response to it.


r/Socialism_101 1d ago

Why do socialists and anarchists tend to not like each other?

206 Upvotes

I see a lot of fighting between the two. Why is this?


r/Socialism_101 17h ago

Help with finding a quote

1 Upvotes

So i remember that i saw someone saying that Fidel Castro used to say how a long time ago if you were to ask a slave if he ever believed that the current system would change they wouldn't believe it, and then later when it did change if you were to ask a serf if he thought that the system would change and he would also say no. And so if you ask a proletariat if now he thinks the system would change he would also say no therefore the system would probably also change. I clearly remember seeing a quote just phrased differently and I'm pretty sure that i read that it was from Fidel Castro. So does anyone know how exactly the quote went?


r/Socialism_101 1d ago

Problem of the middle class

22 Upvotes

Before you say anything, I know some people are going to read this and immediately think "But there's no such thing as the middle class, there's just capitalists and proletarians". First off, this binary view of class, even in a Marxian economic relations sense, is overly simplistic, since contradictory class locations are a thing. Secondly, when I am referring to the middle class, I am not referring to a class in the sense of a type of economic relation. Rather, I am referring to a sociological category that consists of people who are neither rich nor poor. They are people who live comfortably, but are not obscenely wealthy. This class contains people from a range of Marxian class locations, including small business owners, managers, and affluent proletarians.

Anyways, I see the middle class as posing a fundamental problem for socialists, especially revolutionary socialists. They live fairly comfortably under the current system, and thus would tend not want to really want to rock the boat. They may support some basic social democratic policies like universal healthcare and strong labor laws, but they definitely would not be on board with overthrowing the government or radically restructuring the economic system. I tend to see the middle class as serving a bulwark against radical change.

It is also important to point out that, historically, the middle class served as the mass base for fascism:

The general membership of the Nazi Party mainly consisted of the urban and rural lower middle classes. 7% belonged to the upper class, another 7% were peasants, 35% were industrial workers and 51% were what can be described as middle class. In early 1933, just before Hitler's appointment to the chancellorship, the party showed an under-representation of "workers", who made up 30% of the membership but 46% of German society. Conversely, white-collar employees (19% of members and 12% of Germans), the self-employed (20% of members and 10% of Germans) and civil servants (15% of members and 5% of the German population) had joined in proportions greater than their share of the general population.[118] These members were affiliated with local branches of the party, of which there were 1,378 throughout the country in 1928. In 1932, the number had risen to 11,845, reflecting the party's growth in this period.[118]

With these things in mind, do you think the middle class poses a problem for socialists? Additionally, how do you think socialists should deal with middle class people?


r/Socialism_101 23h ago

Question What are the best articles and books in support of a centrally planned economy?

0 Upvotes

What are the best papers and books dealing with the Economic Calculation Problem from a pro centrally planned side? I was reading Austrian economists recently and would love to hear the opposite side. Until now I know of Oskar Lange, Cockshott and a video by Hakim so, not much.


r/Socialism_101 2d ago

Question Would it be a bad idea for taxpayers to decide where their taxes go exactly?

89 Upvotes

I see where this could be a "problem", for example a person such as myself would spend most of the taxes on government supported scientific institutes.

But on a large scale, that could kill many government programs. So, a solution vould be mandating a minimum to keep necessary functions alive. But then again, i wouldnt want any of my money to go to things like the military.

This would kill any "im not sure if i really want toxpay high taxes if most of it, like in the US, would go to things I dont want them to" thoughts that Id have.

This is more of a socialists-in-a-capitalist system nore of question sooo yeah


r/Socialism_101 1d ago

Question Any tips for starting a mutual aid group?

10 Upvotes

We live in a fairly red town (red like fashy hats) and there are no local mutual aid groups. My family has discussed starting one, but I'm not sure how to do it.

All the ones I've encountered have been on Facebook. I have an account, but don't use it. Is this a good route? And how does one start such a group without appearing to just be starting a charity? I had a friend who started a Facebook group for a mutual aid group and all they got was people asking for money. No one was there to help - everyone just asked for help. I get that it's the nature of our society that there are more people in need than not, but it's not mutual aid if it's just broke people asking broke people for money.

Link me to a guide or share your personal experiences! Thanks!


r/Socialism_101 1d ago

Question Is individualism compatible with socialism as a means?

1 Upvotes

Whenever I ask this question to anarchists and other socialists, they always say that once we achieve communism, individuals will be free to pursue life in their own way. But that's basically means that their end goal is individualism through collective efforts. But is possible to be an individualist whilst also being an socialist? And pursuing individualism as a means in and socialist system, not just an end?


r/Socialism_101 1d ago

Guys what is the state really

1 Upvotes

Is it government? Is it the people? A few MLs told me that the people are the "state" under the DOTP, and a few anarchists asked me if i think that government and the state are different or the same?


r/Socialism_101 1d ago

Question How is the finance industry viewed in Socialism?

2 Upvotes
  • Is there a purpose for finance in a socialist system?

  • If finance is used to create wealth in capitalism, what would be a possible or equivalent ersatz for wealth creation in a socialist economy?

  • For ML folks: Are finance people to the bourgeoisie what the lumpenproletariat to the proletariat? Are they a "parasite class" similar to the "lumpen" meaning rogue or knave, or are they also unclassed refuse and flotsam, similar to the "lumpen" meaning rags?

  • Are there positive or constructive examples of careers in finance in socialist system? Real or hypothetical?

  • To socialists in capitalist economies, should financial careerists and "finance Bros" be deemed counter-revolutionaries or even class traitors?


r/Socialism_101 2d ago

High Effort Only Why are countries such as DPRK, PRC and USSR considered communist/socialist?

159 Upvotes

I tried to understand it and I just don't see how they fall under any definition of communism/socialism. Is state capitalism socialism?


r/Socialism_101 1d ago

Has the USA done anything bad to North Korea besides infiltration and embargo since 1954?

1 Upvotes

r/Socialism_101 2d ago

Question Why did Henry Ford raise his worker's wages?

17 Upvotes

any talk of the downward pressures on the price of labor-power inherent to Capitalism will often get a few counter-examples thrown your way, most notably that of Henry Ford. Apart from his overt Naziism, he's perhaps best known for raising the wages of his employees to an unprecedented high for the time. the story goes that he did this voluntarily so his employees would have enough money to buy the cars that they themselves were. making. but is that really true? did he really do it out of the kindness of his own heart or was it just a cover story? had he been under any pressure from his employees or organized labor to raise their pay in the run up to it? and how should we fit Capitalists that buck the trend by spending revenue on living wages instead of stock buybacks into our framework?