More than words

re: the rehabilitation of the term “socialism”: obviously the root problem is the state.  We all agree on that, right?

The way I’ve seen these kinds of arguments is as a proxy of the question of what, without central government, an economy would naturally look like.  On one level, because I realize the root problem, I don’t particularly care, because that realization leads me to comfortably view the result as more just anyway.  However, I know what result would fail that test (re-centralization), and believe the task between now and then is to prevent that result.  I don’t think EVERYTHING would be collectivized, and don’t think everything should be.  Virtually no one does, not even the furthest left of anarchists.  Nor do I think everything will be based on competition, or should be, because some things people just tend to not want to compete on.

As for the terms themselves:

To me, “capitalism” invokes the status-quo, or at least the power relations that define it — such that I’d argue libertarianism by definition is anti-capitalist.  Socialism doesn’t invoke the status-quo, but from my interpretation it seems to be a value judgment of collectivism as a good in itself.

Hence, the problem with language.  If what you mean by a word isn’t what most people mean by it, then you constantly have to explain it when you speak.  If the agenda Kevin Carson lists at bottom here is your definition of Socialism, then I am a Socialist; if your definition of socialism is somehow opposed to that kind of agenda, or it holds the collective-as-unalloyed-good view I described above (and by definition thinks anything that isn’t collectively held is bad) then I am not.  Confusing, isn’t it?

Regardless of ones argument, you have to be careful not to slip from arguing a different society to claiming a path to a different man.  I’ve come to the point I have about society precisely because of noting our fallability & inconsistency: centralized power assumes, incorrectly, that an elite can exist that is immune to human nature.  We can discuss terms all we want, but to me, once we get past the theoretical there won’t be a reason to call the result anything.


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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2 Responses to More than words

  1. Clint says:

    This is a great, thoughtful post.

    “On one level, because I realize the root problem, I don’t particularly care”

    Absolutely. Sometimes I don’t even know if it’s even worth imagining what the outcomes would look like, beyond general details, because the more important point is what principles will drive it.

    And, if it’s a truly free/equal society, then it’s outcome won’t be predetermined. It will be determined by the will of the people it serves.

  2. Pingback: Psychopolitik 2.0 » Interested Parties are Interested

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