Democracy and Socialism

This goes out to my homie, Zack. I asked him "why you think I despise social democrats"?, and he replied:

You use socialism as a slur for any government program you don’t like regardless of whether that can be classified as socialist or not.

For another, witness your case for colonialism in India. You seem to believe that Indians would have had more liberty under British rule because there would have been less socialism. It sure sounds like you don’t consider the right to decide your own government to be part of liberty.

Let's define some terms, shall we? M-W has Socialism: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. Now, it is a given that essentially all real world socialism involves a state as the "government". Saying "government" is thus obfuscatory; all societies imaginable will "govern" at least some people (criminals, insane, incompetent). Saying "the state" makes it clear what is meant: that people will not be allowed to opt out of the communal ownership scheme. Thus, socialism is "the state ownership of the means of production".

I reserve the word "communism" for non-state collective ownership theories. Note that in the real world, another meaning of "communism" is: a form of socialism where only one political party is permitted (along with the ramifications of that, such as mass murder).

Also note that I class as "means of production" people. In pure socialism, everyone is owned by the state; if the state decides to sacrifice you for the greater good, so be it, you die. To the extent that the state can determine how you are used, they are asserting ownership of you. Thus, state invasions of personal liberty are a form of socialism.

Note that again I am talking about how *I* use the term, not necessarily how you do. I once got a conservative very mad going in these lines, since I lumped all sorts of his sacred cows (i.e., the draft) in with "socialism". He took very poorly to the idea that drafted soldiers are a species of slave. I offered to use "l-socialism" for the things we didn't agree on, but that didn't mollify him. He virtually stomped off in a rage.

Now, let's return to your statement:

You use socialism as a slur for any government program you don’t like regardless of whether that can be classified as socialist or not.
I don't like all state programs - I am an anarchist; the state should be abolished. And yes, they are all socialist, in the sense that they are being paid for by a defacto state ownership of my income. With no taxation, I would not object to many things the US government does. However, with no taxation, it would not be doing them.

We can imagine, though, a government that is completely voluntary. Not a state, then. It runs on money it is freely given, and provides various services using that money. For instance, it might give out money to poor people. This is just fine with me.

So, it is certainly possible to distinguish between various things a state does, in terms of are they necessarily rights-violating (hence, socialist), or are they 'only' rights-violating in the sense of paying for them? Clearly the latter things are "better" in some sense than the former. For example, rent controls are necessarily rights violating. They are, prima facie, an expropriation of the landlord. Doesn't matter how you pay for their enforcement. By contrast, welfare (handing out money that you happen to have) violates no right necessarily.

As for a being slur - yes, indeed. I view violating people's rights negatively. Therefore, a political theory that holds that people have no rights, I view as wrong, and put into practice, hurtful. Stalin's millions of victims cry out. Yes, it is definitely a slur to call something socialism. Socialism has earned it. Not only that, the rights violations continue to this day, and may yet destroy us all.

Now, regarding "the right to decide your own government"...

Sure, the right to determine your own government is a part of liberty. However I mean that "your" as individual, not collective. You, personally, have the right to determine how you, personally, are governed. So do I. So does every individual who has not aggressed against another.

But this is unrelated to elections. Collectives have no right to rule anyone who has not explicitly agreed to be ruled by them. Democracy and liberty are two entirely different things. What is "democracy"? again: "government by the people; especially: rule of the majority". Liberty? Well, it's not well defined at m-w for what we're talking about here (here's the link anyway). But I am taking liberty to mean, the state of being uncoerced by other people.

Now, what does it mean to be ruled "by the majority"? Well, the details of that vary with the voting system. What is clear, though, is that unless the majority never votes to violate any individual's rights, democracy will necessarily violate liberty. In fact, democracy in a state is a specific form of socialism wherein it is theorized that voters collectively own everything, via the state, and should vote on the uses of said property.

To the extent that democracy does effectively withhold people's rights from the voting mechanism, it is undemocratic. For example, the Bill of Rights is an undemocratic limitation on the Congress.

But as for despising social democrats... no, I just think they are wrong. But they are not obviously wrong (or else there would be few or none of them). Nazis and "communists" (both of them, species of socialists who believe only a single political party should be permitted) -- they are despicable. History, well attested and well accepted, shows they are wrong.

History has not spoken clearly on "social democracy", so it is unfair to despise its advocates. Yet.

Evil in the Welfare State

"Theodore Dalrymple" in an
interesting article from last fall:
My patient already had had three children by three different men, by no means unusual among my patients...

The father of her first child had, of course, recognized her vulnerability. A girl of 16 living on her own is easy prey. He beat her from the first, being drunken, possessive, and jealous, as well as flagrantly unfaithful. She thought that a child would make him more responsible—sober him up and calm him down. It had the reverse effect. She left him.

The father of her second child was a career criminal, already imprisoned several times. A drug addict who took whatever drugs he could get, he died under the influence. She had known all about his past before she had his child.

The father of her third child was much older than she. It was he who suggested that they have a child—in fact he demanded it as a condition of staying with her. He had five children already by three different women, none of whom he supported in any way whatever.

... she had knowingly borne children of men of whom no good could be expected. She knew perfectly well the consequences and the meaning of what she was doing, as her reaction to something that I said to her — and say to hundreds of women patients in a similar situation — proved: next time you are thinking of going out with a man, bring him to me for my inspection, and I'll tell you if you can go out with him.

This never fails to make the most wretched, the most "depressed" of women smile broadly or laugh heartily. They know exactly what I mean, and I need not spell it out further. They know that I mean that most of the men they have chosen have their evil written all over them, sometimes quite literally in the form of tattoos, saying "FUCK OFF" or "MAD DOG." And they understand that if I can spot the evil instantly, because they know what I would look for, so can they—and therefore they are in large part responsible for their own downfall at the hands of evil men.

Definitely worth returning to.


Clublife is a blog by an elite bouncer, "Rob", in NYC. His writing reminds me a bit of Tim Green, being essentially a jock but still an astute observer of humanity. Fascinating stuff and the guy can write. Example:
Big "Stan" is a bouncer at the club. Stan is a very large and very dark black man. At the beginning of the night, when greeting Stan, I feel as if I'm shaking hands with a catcher's mitt. Everything about the guy is just really, really big and really, really black.

Stan has taken a liking to me over the past few months, most likely because I provide him with a steady stream of Altoids throughout the night -- far be it for him to purchase his own fucking tin once in a while -- but additionally because we share a level of disdain for the customership which, quite possibly, surpasses that of any bouncer on the staff. Theoretically, it could be the intensity of my hatred for the patrons that has fueled my semi-consistent maintenance of this blog over the past year, with most of the posts contained within pertaining to their inexplicably asinine behavior on a nightly basis, but I digress. I wonder if Stan has a blog.

Simply put, Stan wants to be left alone. So do I, but as a big, blockheaded white-guy bouncer, it's easy for me, because I can blend into the woodwork with the twenty other big, blockheaded white guys on the staff. A six-foot-seven, three hundred twenty pound black man isn't going to fly under anyone's radar anywhere, and Stan, therefore, becomes a magnet for every misfit Guido customer who walks past. On Saturday night, I stood nearby as he engaged in an animated conversation with one of these, the customer continually shaking Stan's hand and embracing him as if he'd been reunited with a long-lost relative.

"Who's that?" I asked. "Your retarded stepbrother?"


The same thing happens every night. If I'm standing next to Stan, I'll watch as a steady stream of well-wishers forms a line to come up and pay their respects, tangling him in their elaborate 'soul brother' handshakes and hugs, ignoring my existence all the while. If their attention does eventually turn to me, and they offer a handshake, I give them the standard, straightforward white man's grip, pulling my hand away, on principle, before they attempt any sort of digital masturbation.

I'll have more to say about this whole thing some other time. Suffice to say, that the interior of a nightclub is a largely anarchic environment, so, I'm interested.