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Communism at my school

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akowalsk posted on Mon, Nov 9 2009 10:26 AM

So this Raymond Lotta guy, of the Revolutionary Communist Party of America, is coming to my school this week to give a speech ( http://thisiscommunism.org/ ).  I need some help preparing some questions/comments that will prevent anyone from buying into his nonsense.  I am somewhat familiar with cost accounting argument put forth by Mises in the 20s, but I'm worried that won't be enough.

For example, yes it's true a central planner will not be able to achieve efficient allocation of resources without prices, but what if he says that's not his goal?  People in the world are starving, and a central planner could figure out how many calories are required to keep people alive and produce that much.  People in the world are homeless, a central planner could figure out how many houses to build based on how many people exist (and how many components of the houses based on how many houses, etc.).  People are clamoring for healthcare, a central planner could set a reasonable (let say, defined by the average of a survey of the population) doctor-patient ratio, and force that many people to become doctors.  Of course these won't be the best doctors, or the best houses, using the correct materials, or the tastiest bread, but that's not the goal.  And of course innovation will never occur, but who cares as long as everyone is being fed.  I need to be able to prove that communism won't achieve a goal that he actually has, rather than one that he might not have.  I realize that communism was originally claimed to be more productive/efficient than capitalism, but we all know how easily these words get redefined in politics.

The other angle of argument is about the human nature piece and the implementation piece (you know, the millions butchered by stalin and mao, power corrupts, moral hazard, etc.), but 1. I think debunking the theory is much more powerful of an argument than saying that no one has gotten it right yet, and 2. based on looking at his website, it sounds like he considers himself a bit of an historian, and I barely know anything about history (I'm a computer engineer/MBA student).

Any help here would be appreciated.

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Answered (Verified) Sieben replied on Mon, Nov 9 2009 10:44 AM
Verified by akowalsk

IMO you shouldn't try the calculation problem either. While I do believe it to be sound logic, you dont want to get tied down in a debate about pragmatism. Libertarianism is completely consistent with central planning so long as it is not coerced: I.e. you could form a commune where everyone pays into a pot and the leader decides what to produce.

So, obviously, the point to hit him on is free and voluntary association. Do I own myself? If so, don't I own my labor? What if i don't own myself then who owns me? How can I be sure they will not abuse their power over me? What kind of check can I have over someone who is the judge in their own case?

If he is an anarchist communist, how will he prevent the rise of a voluntary free market and private property?

 

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1. What will prevent total destruction in the socialist state? Marx made it very clear that he wanted his "Dictatorship of the proletariat". When the very foundation of a system is based upon theft and violence precisely what is it that will keep the state in check and stop the deaths of innocents? Right now very few people in this country are very bad off, and if you want to improve the lives of people how can you do that when your very philosophy is based off of theft, murder, and killing.

2. I like having land and owning whatever I currently have. If you want to ask me for it and I have the right to refuse then that is perfectly ok but if you force it from me by confiscating my property then what right do you have to do this? What will I gain in communism over the current system?

If he says "oh the money and land confiscated from others will improve your lifestyle and nothing will need to be taken from you.

But then what of those from whom it was stolen? What right do you have to take from them? Why does anyone have a right to anyone else's property? You sir, provide me nothing but slavery with the masses.

3. If property rights don't exist then why do you have the right to distribute things with the government? Inevitably it is owned by someone.... So what logic is there here?

4. How do you account for the fact that the two founders of your philosophy were both upper middle class for both of their lives

5. How can you say that your philosophy is better than that of free market capitalism, doesn't capitalism rely upon consensual behavior? Whereas doesn't your system rely soley on coercion? If a system of uncoersed choices are evil, then aren't your current actions equally evil? Are you not working of your own free will?

After the whole moral arguments are blown to kingdom come and he's backed down to the utilitarian viewpoints then just hit him with these

6. Hasn't capitalism provided us with a huge increase in our standards of living? In the two centuries or so since the death of mercantilism haven't the nations which employ the policies of free trade and free action experienced huge increase in how long and just plain how well they live? According to the Marxian philosophy shouldn't our whole financial system have collapsed a long time ago? If you pull the whole "oh well it currently is" argument then say "but hasn't this only happened since America has become more and more mixed economy?

7. Hit him with the calculation argument

8. Don't the failed states of the Soviet Union and Communist china in which millions die show that not only is communism a moral evil, but that it is impossible and can only lead to a river of blood?

9. How can you account for the fact that Marx's whole idea of class analysis was based upon the idea that throughout history different classes have used the government to exploit other classes and that you are the only one suggesting the total state.

I've found these are arguments that will bring even the most determined Marxist away with their tail between their legs.

Piece of advice: DO NOT focus most of your efforts on asking him these questions! Hit him with as many of these as you can but what is much more important is that your classmates are not converted. Please afterwards circulate around your friends, ask questions, provide skepticism towards this fool in casual conversation with others. Our cause is weak enough as it is, we can't afford more converts to the other side.

Places you should do reaserch to prepare for this because this is probably where he is going to try to gain ground

Increase in wages and working conditions without government intervention in the 18 and early 19 hundreds

How currently the world (and especially America) isn't a free market

The effects of more socialist economies on nations

The effect on socialist economic systems once they become less controlling

Why wages don't stagnate

Why cartels and monopolies are impossible without the state

Brush up on Mises' calculation, and Hayek's knowledge arguments

Brush up on the rights of the individual. Focus especially on Rand.

Woooh.

Do all this and you should be fine....

Good Luck!

"Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that hath gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it." -Thus Spake Zarathustra
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If you know several others who are against communism and for free markets, get them to ask questions as well - but sit seperately in a diamond formation.

It is called the delphi technique. http://www.freedom-force.org/pdf/diamond_tactic.pdf  - G. Edward Griffin

"In the 1960s, I came across a small training manual distributed by the Communist Party that
showed how a small group of people – as few as four – could dominate a much larger group
and sway the outcome of any action taken by that group. It was called the Diamond
Technique. The principle is based on the fact that people in groups tend to be effected by
mass psychology. They derive comfort and security from being aligned with the majority,
especially if controversy or conflict is involved. Even if they do not like what the majority is
doing, if they believe they are in the minority, they tend to remain silent and resigned to the
fact that the majority should rule. This being the case, the Diamond Techniques is designed
to convince the group that as few as four people represent the majority. Here is the strategy:

1. Plan ahead of time what action you want the group to take: nominate or oppose a
candidate, support or oppose an issue, heckle a speaker, or whatever. Everyone on
your team must know exactly what they are going to do, including contingency plans.

2. Team members should arrive at the meeting separately and never congregate together.

3. Team players should arrive early enough to take seats around the outside of the
assembly area, roughly in the shape of a diamond. They must not sit together.

4. The object of the tactic is place your people around the perimeter of the audience so
that, when they begin to take action, those in the center will have to do a lot of head
turning to see them – to the right, then the left, then the rear of the room, then the
front, etc. The more they turn their heads, the greater the illusion of being surrounded
by people in agreement with each other, and the more they will be convinced that
these people represent the majority opinion.

I have seen this tactic used by collectivists at numerous public meetings over the years, and I
have participated in it myself on several occasions when confronting collectivists in their
own tightly held organizations. It works." Cont...

Post this up around the school before the talk as well... Big Smile

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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A few things to trip him up:

what is the will of the people? If persons disagree as to what it is, how can it be realized in the total state? Would it not lead to infighting?

why does the state have the right to decide what i need and want? don't persons have their own needs and wants, and why can't we respect them if they are at odds with "the will of the people"?

who decides who gets what, and why do they get to decide it? who granted them that authority?

....

but you probably don't want to hang around for the answers. It'll just be psycho-babble and sidestepping. Spare your brain from the brain-crippling toxic sludge of marxism.

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Saan replied on Mon, Nov 9 2009 10:31 AM

Have you read Socialism? It's in digital form on this website in the literature section.

 Criminals, there ought to be a law.

Criminals there ought to be a whole lot more.   Bon Scott.

 

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Answered (Verified) Sieben replied on Mon, Nov 9 2009 10:44 AM
Verified by akowalsk

IMO you shouldn't try the calculation problem either. While I do believe it to be sound logic, you dont want to get tied down in a debate about pragmatism. Libertarianism is completely consistent with central planning so long as it is not coerced: I.e. you could form a commune where everyone pays into a pot and the leader decides what to produce.

So, obviously, the point to hit him on is free and voluntary association. Do I own myself? If so, don't I own my labor? What if i don't own myself then who owns me? How can I be sure they will not abuse their power over me? What kind of check can I have over someone who is the judge in their own case?

If he is an anarchist communist, how will he prevent the rise of a voluntary free market and private property?

 

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Snowflake:

IMO you shouldn't try the calculation problem either. While I do believe it to be sound logic, you dont want to get tied down in a debate about pragmatism. Libertarianism is completely consistent with central planning so long as it is not coerced: I.e. you could form a commune where everyone pays into a pot and the leader decides what to produce.

So, obviously, the point to hit him on is free and voluntary association. Do I own myself? If so, don't I own my labor? What if i don't own myself then who owns me? How can I be sure they will not abuse their power over me? What kind of check can I have over someone who is the judge in their own case?

If he is an anarchist communist, how will he prevent the rise of a voluntary free market and private property?

 

+1

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One of the biggest criticisms of communism is that you cannot have accurate price information.

And without accurate prices, resources are misguided and wasted.  It will ultimately fail because of inaccurate price information.

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Ask him about the transformation problem; if profit comes from exploiting labor, why is it that capital intense industries (low levels of labor) have the highest profits? Ask him about the time preference theory of interest. I would attack Marx's central driving agent of change, namely the so-called "social tensions" between the forces of production (factors of production) and relations of production (exploitation). If the capitalists prevent the progression of society, why is it that the nations with the most capital, the most entrepreneurs, have the highest real wages and standard of living? Ask him about Marx's call for the extermination of the Serbian race in an article he published in Rheinische Zeitung (I believe 1842).

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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1. What will prevent total destruction in the socialist state? Marx made it very clear that he wanted his "Dictatorship of the proletariat". When the very foundation of a system is based upon theft and violence precisely what is it that will keep the state in check and stop the deaths of innocents? Right now very few people in this country are very bad off, and if you want to improve the lives of people how can you do that when your very philosophy is based off of theft, murder, and killing.

2. I like having land and owning whatever I currently have. If you want to ask me for it and I have the right to refuse then that is perfectly ok but if you force it from me by confiscating my property then what right do you have to do this? What will I gain in communism over the current system?

If he says "oh the money and land confiscated from others will improve your lifestyle and nothing will need to be taken from you.

But then what of those from whom it was stolen? What right do you have to take from them? Why does anyone have a right to anyone else's property? You sir, provide me nothing but slavery with the masses.

3. If property rights don't exist then why do you have the right to distribute things with the government? Inevitably it is owned by someone.... So what logic is there here?

4. How do you account for the fact that the two founders of your philosophy were both upper middle class for both of their lives

5. How can you say that your philosophy is better than that of free market capitalism, doesn't capitalism rely upon consensual behavior? Whereas doesn't your system rely soley on coercion? If a system of uncoersed choices are evil, then aren't your current actions equally evil? Are you not working of your own free will?

After the whole moral arguments are blown to kingdom come and he's backed down to the utilitarian viewpoints then just hit him with these

6. Hasn't capitalism provided us with a huge increase in our standards of living? In the two centuries or so since the death of mercantilism haven't the nations which employ the policies of free trade and free action experienced huge increase in how long and just plain how well they live? According to the Marxian philosophy shouldn't our whole financial system have collapsed a long time ago? If you pull the whole "oh well it currently is" argument then say "but hasn't this only happened since America has become more and more mixed economy?

7. Hit him with the calculation argument

8. Don't the failed states of the Soviet Union and Communist china in which millions die show that not only is communism a moral evil, but that it is impossible and can only lead to a river of blood?

9. How can you account for the fact that Marx's whole idea of class analysis was based upon the idea that throughout history different classes have used the government to exploit other classes and that you are the only one suggesting the total state.

I've found these are arguments that will bring even the most determined Marxist away with their tail between their legs.

Piece of advice: DO NOT focus most of your efforts on asking him these questions! Hit him with as many of these as you can but what is much more important is that your classmates are not converted. Please afterwards circulate around your friends, ask questions, provide skepticism towards this fool in casual conversation with others. Our cause is weak enough as it is, we can't afford more converts to the other side.

Places you should do reaserch to prepare for this because this is probably where he is going to try to gain ground

Increase in wages and working conditions without government intervention in the 18 and early 19 hundreds

How currently the world (and especially America) isn't a free market

The effects of more socialist economies on nations

The effect on socialist economic systems once they become less controlling

Why wages don't stagnate

Why cartels and monopolies are impossible without the state

Brush up on Mises' calculation, and Hayek's knowledge arguments

Brush up on the rights of the individual. Focus especially on Rand.

Woooh.

Do all this and you should be fine....

Good Luck!

"Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that hath gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it." -Thus Spake Zarathustra
  • | Post Points: 25
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Verified by akowalsk

If you know several others who are against communism and for free markets, get them to ask questions as well - but sit seperately in a diamond formation.

It is called the delphi technique. http://www.freedom-force.org/pdf/diamond_tactic.pdf  - G. Edward Griffin

"In the 1960s, I came across a small training manual distributed by the Communist Party that
showed how a small group of people – as few as four – could dominate a much larger group
and sway the outcome of any action taken by that group. It was called the Diamond
Technique. The principle is based on the fact that people in groups tend to be effected by
mass psychology. They derive comfort and security from being aligned with the majority,
especially if controversy or conflict is involved. Even if they do not like what the majority is
doing, if they believe they are in the minority, they tend to remain silent and resigned to the
fact that the majority should rule. This being the case, the Diamond Techniques is designed
to convince the group that as few as four people represent the majority. Here is the strategy:

1. Plan ahead of time what action you want the group to take: nominate or oppose a
candidate, support or oppose an issue, heckle a speaker, or whatever. Everyone on
your team must know exactly what they are going to do, including contingency plans.

2. Team members should arrive at the meeting separately and never congregate together.

3. Team players should arrive early enough to take seats around the outside of the
assembly area, roughly in the shape of a diamond. They must not sit together.

4. The object of the tactic is place your people around the perimeter of the audience so
that, when they begin to take action, those in the center will have to do a lot of head
turning to see them – to the right, then the left, then the rear of the room, then the
front, etc. The more they turn their heads, the greater the illusion of being surrounded
by people in agreement with each other, and the more they will be convinced that
these people represent the majority opinion.

I have seen this tactic used by collectivists at numerous public meetings over the years, and I
have participated in it myself on several occasions when confronting collectivists in their
own tightly held organizations. It works." Cont...

Post this up around the school before the talk as well... Big Smile

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
  • | Post Points: 25
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I will bestow upon you perhaps one of the greatest non-economic critiques of Marxism.

Alexander Gray's -The Socialist Tradition

Chapter XII Scientific Socialism

A critique of historical materialism [ which he probably supports ] and other things as Marx's theory of value and his supposed inevitable revolution. Let it be known to the audience that what separated Marx from what he deemed 'utopian socialists' is that they were not inline with his pseudo-Hegelian theory of history. The revolution was inevitable and that was what was scientific, if you take that away from Marx then he is merely another utopian thinker according to even his own definition.

There are other works which I can recommend to you. I would not use the calculation argument unless you are comfortable with economics itself because I have recently been running into socialists who state 'Well you are right, but it is an argument against central planning, not decentralized socialism' which obviously doesn't make sense but best not to make it look like he one-uped you in the audience. I can give you some other works which should help give a basic critique of Marxism.

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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I would ask him two questions

 

1.  How does he expect a system of trade to work in a communist society?  If there were no free market prices trade couldn't happen and everything would be controlled by a state.  Wouldn't that be contrary to anarchism?

 

2.  Ask him how he expects to ever get past real socialism (with the dictator of the proletariate) without an organized force leading to right wing state communism.  I remember learning in my political ideology class how they want a dictator before they get to true communism and I want to know how he expects the people to rebel.

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Answered (Not Verified) bbnet replied on Mon, Nov 9 2009 7:35 PM
Suggested by ama gi

Ask him what he plans on doing with his paycheck for speaking at your university.

We are the soldiers for righteousness
And we are not sent here by the politicians you drink with - L. Dube, rip

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Like snowflake said, but simpler.

Ask a question along the lines of:

"Would you support the use of physical force to stop people trading?"

Point out the stupidity of the communist argument, and the evil and violence that underpins it. 

The difference between libertarianism and socialism is that libertarians will tolerate the existence of a socialist community, but socialists can't tolerate a libertarian community.

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AJ replied on Mon, Nov 9 2009 9:34 PM

Thedesolateone:
"Would you support the use of physical force to stop people trading?"

Seconded. If you get into "who owns who" or "who owns what," he'll just say there is no ownership. Even if you have a chance to respond you'll be locked in a semantics debate. Just ask who is going to enforce the rules against trading (a monopoly on force? if not, then how??) and if the association he's talking about would be voluntary or involuntary.

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The title of the thread should have been "My Communist School".  It must be run by communists to invite some fringe loony like that.

My suggestion is just make him look like an idiot in any way available.  If you make someone look like an idiot, even in irrelevent topics, people will shut off listening to that person as a whole.  For example, you could ask him what grades he had in school and whether they indicate a likely mental ability to deal with matters half as complicated as these.  In short, forget about authenticity, which he lacks anyway, and just play mind games with him and bring out the worst in him.

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