Free Capitalist Network - Community Archive
Mises Community Archive
An online community for fans of Austrian economics and libertarianism, featuring forums, user blogs, and more.

Help me defeat/debate socialism!

rated by 0 users
This post has 22 Replies | 6 Followers

Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,189
Points 22,990
Libertyandlife Posted: Wed, Nov 30 2011 8:13 AM

Hey everybody!

The libertarians on my school campus are debating SDS members soon. The topic will be the "Role Of Corporations and Government In Economics and Society.". There are socialists, marxists, and progressives on the SDS side. Help me prepare!

Inform me on their arguments, libertarian arguments, etc etc, in your own words, sections of books, or in articles.

Freedom has always been the only route to progress.

Post Neo-Left Libertarian Manifesto (PNL lib)
  • | Post Points: 95
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 8:26 AM

I'm guessing the most important point of strategy will be to clarify what corporations are, and how they are given special privilege by the government. That ought to shut down the leftists, who'll probably come prepared to argue "corporations vs. government" or "corporations vs. society." The crucial reframe the libertarians have to pull off is to make it about "society vs. government."

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 6,953
Points 118,135

AJ's got the main point.  The biggest asset of leftists in debate is ambiguity of terms.  (This is why they get so hostile and defensive the minute you ask them to define the terms they're using.)  If you make it a point to have clear definitions of what you're talking about, (and how corporations are really nothing more than associations of people that are government-recognized) you'll have a much easier time.

I'll add more as I think of it, but for now you might check out the Argumentation category on the Mises Wiki.

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,945
Points 36,550

Gun in your face, gun in your face, gun in your face.  It's hard for professed social liberals (most lefties I've met) to skirt the fact that the system they are advocating relies on violence at its core.

"What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is no word, no thought, no concept. What he says is not what is meant, and what he means is unsayable." - Max Stirner, Stirner's Critics
  • | Post Points: 35
Top 200 Contributor
Male
Posts 508
Points 8,570

I highly recommend reading Marx, Method, and Mercantalism by David Osterfield.  You can find it in Requiem for Marx, here:
http://mises.org/resources/3579

The reason being, when debating the marxists/socialists, they're sure to fall back on the arguement that Capitalism requires, and is in bed with, the State.  Osterfield give a pretty damn good summary of Marx's various modes of production, and clearly shows how he repeatedly conflates Mercantalism (or more contemporarily, Corporatism/Fascism) with a free-market of exchange and voluntary association.

If you really want to blow them out of the water, read up on your Marx and socialist theory.  Understand the labor theory of value, and why it fails.  They'll be caught completely off guard.  Here's two Daily articles from Bob Murphy that'll put you on the right track:

http://mises.org/daily/1263/Why-Do-Capitalists-Earn-Interest-Income

http://mises.org/daily/1680/B246hmBawerks-Critique-of-the-Exploitation-Theory-of-Interest

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 198
Points 3,100
jay replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 12:46 PM

The gun analogy is a great way to frame the sides. Stefan Molyneaux has a video where he prods "gun or no gun?" to determine the morality of a transaction.

But be warned: people will bust themselves up into a Mobius strip of logic to justify state violence for anything: i.e., children will die of cancer and gunshot wounds on the street...some preposterous, emotional hypothetical. Good luck.

 

 

"The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -C.S. Lewis
  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 99
Points 3,540
aervew replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 3:38 PM

 

 
Look, dont fall into the misesian extremist trap. Stay reasonable, and open. Misesians blindly try to battle against all state activity, alienating debate partners and being a self testimonial of awkward implicit anti-sociality common within the movement. Embrace humanity and the virtues of the public sector, regulatory authorities and oversight policies.
 
The state is good, all you need is to show the problems when you have only state, ie lack of price mechanism.
  • | Post Points: 50
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 220
Points 4,980
tunk replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 5:12 PM

Socialism
Omnipotent Government
Collectivist Economic Planning
Economic Calculation in the Socialist Society
The Socialist Tradition: From Moses to Lenin
Karl Marx And The Close Of His System
Requiem for Marx
Marxism: Philosophy and Economics
Revisiting Marxism: A Bourgeois Reassessment

Marxism: a materials list

I would really advise against getting up there and defending corporations. Everyone will hate you, and there's no reason to do it anyway. Instead, critique the current distribution of wealth from a libertarian perspective. (The Center for a Stateless Society has a lot of good resources.) Real exploitation is being robbed by the government at the point of a gun. You should probably also be well-read on current issues: inequality, the financial crisis, etc. Go to the Cato Institute for ammunition.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 6,953
Points 118,135

aervew:
virtues of the public sector, regulatory authorities and oversight policies.

 

The state is good

Okay now you're just trying to poke a hornet's nest

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 226
Points 3,270

"Look, dont fall into the misesian extremist trap. Stay reasonable, and open. Misesians blindly try to battle against all state activity"

Lol, Mises wasn't an anarchist. 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 254
Points 6,065
Coase replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 7:31 PM

Don't bring up guns, or else they'll point out property depends on guns, and then you're struggling to explain why people should accept a really, really old form of aggression as morally superior to new forms of aggression. Or they'll say, no guns. Seriously, what guns, guys? Most people are OK with most things the government does. Pointing out that the government will ostensibly arrest them if they disobey doesn' t matter much, because they're usually happy to obey.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,389
Points 21,840
Moderator

 


 

Don't bring up guns, or else they'll point out property depends on guns, and then you're struggling to explain why people should accept a really, really old form of aggression as morally superior to new forms of aggression. Or they'll say, no guns. Seriously, what guns, guys? Most people are OK with most things the government does. Pointing out that the government will ostensibly arrest them if they disobey doesn' t matter much, because they're usually happy to obey.

Correct.  I would say throw out all "buzz words" like capitalism, socialism, freedom, peace, non violence, individualism, altruism, etc.  Admit that  all relevant beings, are social beings by nature, definition basic observation, etc; and we don't go apeshit until the shit really hits the fan, and all expectations (key word) worth calculating are thrown out the window en mass (hence why most of the time, massive amounts of people are relatively content in most situations).  Also note how there is no need to talk about ideal govts, "what's right", and what ought to be.

After that just start talking about the structure of things and the way things work.  I think no matter what, the outcome will look like a fairly liberal setting that any relevant person can thrive in.  It should also expose a lot of grammatical errors in any type of far leftism.  I don't mean this as a joke, correcting bad grammar is more important than voodoo concepts like freedom any day of the week.

 

 

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 6,953
Points 118,135

Coase:
Don't bring up guns, or else they'll point out property depends on guns, and then you're struggling to explain why people should accept a really, really old form of aggression as morally superior to new forms of aggression.

You're going to have to explain that.  "property depends on guns?"  wtf

 

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,490
Wheylous replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 8:24 PM

I've heard Saturday evening strides in the park depend on guns too...

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 75 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,008
Points 19,520
Eric080 replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 8:27 PM

Maintaining property also depends on "guns" in the sense that if someone is on our property, we will ask them to get off.  If they refuse, we will have to resort to violence.  If they resist the violence, they may end up dead.

 

It's the same thing as the libertarian argument against the state, except it misses the crucial point that libertarians are against the initiation of aggression.  There is nothing about private property that lends itself to violence (as Hoppe has pointed out multiple times before).  It's similar to saying you're "forcing" freedom on someone.

"And it may be said with strict accuracy, that the taste a man may show for absolute government bears an exact ratio to the contempt he may profess for his countrymen." - de Tocqueville
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 659
Points 13,305
Gero replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 8:39 PM

What you say depends on how much time you have to speak.

If I had enough time, I would say this: Government is a usually tax-funded violence monopoly in a certain area. Even if government enforced no taxes, its maintenance of a violence monopoly in a certain area meant it forcibly prohibited competition in that area, so any money that it obtained was illegitimate, since it likely would have obtained less, if any money, if there was the possibility of competition. Government is unneeded for law and security. Human evolution, language development, money creation, labor division and trade, originated without government. I am a free market anarcho-capitalist. A free market is an economic system where all economic activities are voluntary. Anarchism, which has been slanderously defined as violence for a long time, is the absence of government. Violence is a strategy, not an ideology. Capitalism is an economic system where most of the means of production and distribution are privately owned and operated for profit. Some people will disagree with my free market definition. The alleged free markets they can cite which are freer than other markets are not the freest. Capitalism and free market are usually considered identical, but they are not. Capitalism can occur in a closed market, a country that does not trade with other countries. When revenue exceeds costs the difference is profit. When costs exceed revenue the difference is loss. Profit is proof of consumer approval. Loss is proof of consumer disapproval. Profits, earned by satisfying consumer demand, shows what should be produced, in what quantity, and in what quality. Profits pressure producers to improve their efficiency. Profits are usually achieved, not by raising prices, but by reducing production costs, by improving product quality, by, in other words, better satisfying consumer demand. The employee obeys the employer. The employer obeys the consumer. International trade is an extension of the division of labor. One nation exports some stuff it is relatively better at producing in exchange for other stuff that other nations are relatively better at producing. Trade expansion may lead to job loss for workers and businesses failure. Simultaneously, trade expansion will allow other businesses to expand their operations and create new jobs. The consumer benefits are due to economic liberty which consists of free trade and private property protection. The free price system is an information system that shows product availability (supply) and product desirability (demand). The profit-and-loss system, free market anarcho-capitalism’s trial-and-error mechanism, optimally coordinates production, distribution, and consumption to benefit consumers. Socialism’s trial-and-error mechanism is shortage-and-surplus. Economic calculation is hard to impossible without the free price system. Which entertainment is more valuable? That is determined by consumers. One book publisher after another may reject a book proposal. Later the book can become a bestseller. Imagine the bad results if those decisions were made by an economic central planning committee. Even if the economic central planning committee members sought to help the whole population, not only themselves and their friends, they would not know consumer desires. They could poll people to learn their wants, but wants change, the priorities of wants change, and there are many ways to advertise and create products, each with different costs. The frequently changing wants would necessitate numerous polls to remain up-to-date on consumer wants. Even if this was done, people’s stated preferences may not match their real preferences. People may want to use recreational drugs, to engage in flag desecration, to have sex, gamble, and/or eat unhealthy foods, but social consequences for expressing those preferences means the preferences are hidden and consumer demand remains unsatisfied. Even if the polling preferences could be determined to be real, what if, for example, one of my wants is a white Lexus LFA? Will others be forced to make that for me or will my want remained unfulfilled? What are the criteria for approving or denying fulfillment of wants? If the criteria are tied to worker productivity, then that is close to the capitalist solution meaning workers are paid according to their productivity. What about entrepreneurship? For example, often consumers will browse products in the local indoor shopping mall and learn of products they want, but did not know they wanted until they saw them. Polling people about the desirability of hypothetical items is not easy. Even if the polls indicate overwhelming approval that is no guarantee. Consider a bank that makes a loan to a new business because it is convinced the business plan is profitable, but, unfortunately, consumers do not like the business’s products despite prior polling indicating the business products would be popular. That happens. Business failure occurs due to bad anticipation of consumer wants. Based on what serves consumer wants better, capitalism will always beat socialism. A private firm depends on consumers ensuring a tie between consumer satisfaction and firm profitability. A government depends on tax revenue, not consumer satisfaction, lessening the incentive to provide good service. For private firms, the importance of consumer satisfaction is expressed in the phrase, ‘the customer is always right.’ For governments, the importance of consumer satisfaction is not expressed in phrases like ‘the citizen is always right,’ or ‘the taxpayer is always right’ or ‘the voter is always right.’ Economists James M. Buchanan and Richard E. Wagner said, ‘Market competition is continuous; at each purchase, a buyer is able to select among competing sellers. Political competition is intermittent; a decision is binding generally for a fixed number of years. Market competition allows several competitors to survive simultaneously . . . Political competition leads to an all-or-nothing outcome . . . In market competition the buyer can be reasonably certain as to just what it is that he will receive from his purchase. In political competition, the buyer is in effect purchasing the services of an agent, whom he cannot bind . . . Moreover, because a politician needs to secure the cooperation of a majority of politicians, the meaning of a vote for a politician is less clean than that of a “vote” for a private firm.’ Cost overruns, money that disappears, and fraud are common reoccurrences in government. These problems happen in the private sector, but they are punished by competition. Some people think a greed-based or profit-based economy is bad. Consider the local supermarket. It has over 50,000 items. Consider packaged eggs. How did the eggs go from a chicken to the supermarket? Chickens laid the eggs. The eggs were packaged and put into trucks which drove them to different stores. How were the packages and trucks made? The gas stations which provide fuel for the trucks, how were they made? The answer is hundreds, maybe thousands of people, cooperated to get the eggs to the supermarket. What causes all these people to cooperate to fill the supermarket with over 50,000 items? Most of them do not know you, me, or the other consumers. They are greedy. If consumers had to depend on compassion for food service, there would be shortages, maybe starvation. However, greed does not always adequately explain economic phenomenon. If gasoline prices rise, people can blame greedy oil companies. If gasoline prices fall, people usually do not say oil companies became less greedy. How many people decline wage raises because they do not want to be greedy? How many consumers complain prices are too low because they do not want to be greedy? When John Fitzgerald ‘Jack’ Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, said in his 1961 inaugural address, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country,’ no one seemed shocked. What if a local company said that? The statement would be rejected. The company exists to serve people, not the reverse. A common anarchist counterargument is to list important government actions: a legal system, a military defense, and/or helping the disadvantaged. I agree those things are important. I deny they must be government provided. Some people believe nonconsensual initiatory aggression is justified. A thief may justify theft with greed. No one I know approves of that. If a thief justifies theft by spending the stolen property on the poor, then there is less disapproval. This justification is based on the premise that one’s needs are a mandatory moral debt to be paid by someone else. If I give almost everything I own to the poor, I can become a needy person making others morally indebted to me. By having less, I make others responsible for me. This is slavery (tyranny). If I need an organ transplant, that does not mean I have the moral right to involuntarily remove one of your organs. Tyranny can be supported by a minority or a majority. Tyrants often coerce others into their notion of goodness and/or normalcy. To deny someone liberty, excluding for punishment for property infringement, is to proceed toward a gradual tyranny that can tell others what to read, what to watch, what to eat, what to wear, and who to have sex with. Novelist C. S. Lewis said, ‘Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive . . . those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.’ The idea government is necessary is the primary obstacle to liberty. People have not experienced liberty, only lesser degrees of slavery. German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said ‘None are more enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.’ Limited liberty is limited slavery. Slavery exists in a disguised form today. The slaves are better treated: given the illusion their votes matter and given better living standards. Every pro-slavery argument has and is still used to defend the disguised slavery that currently exists. Slavery was said to be natural. So is disguised slavery. Slavery was said to have always existed. So is disguised slavery. Slaves could not care for themselves. The same applies to disguised slaves. Without slavery, former slaves would murder, steal, rape, and commit other evils. The same applies to disguised slaves. People are unaccustomed to thinking outside the politically acceptable range of opinion. The widespread acceptance of government has led to the double standard that free society advocates are expected by critics to guarantee excellent results in education, employment, healthcare, anything, but good intentions and unfulfilled government promises achieved by violence and/or the threat of it are acceptable.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,389
Points 21,840
Moderator

Gero:

It looks like you put a lot of though and time in that post.  I suggest you space it out and break it into digestable paragraphs if you want people to read it and make any sense of it.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 659
Points 13,305
Gero replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 8:54 PM

“Gero:

It looks like you put a lot of though and time in that post.  I suggest you space it out and break it into digestable paragraphs if you want people to read it and make any sense of it.”

It’s a quote in original form. It can be made into paragraphs, but the listening audience won’t notice if there are paragraphs or not.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,439
Points 44,650
Neodoxy replied on Wed, Nov 30 2011 9:00 PM

"Look, dont fall into the misesian extremist trap." 

Something of a misnomer, but something to keep in mind, even rational positions have radical and dogmatic motives/arguments

"Misesians blindly try to battle against all state activity,"

Very few real Misesians do this, to do this one must realistically disregard the actual spirit of Mises, this is much more of a Rothbardian technique.

"alienating debate partners"

Depends on the debate partners and the actual arguments which are made.

"and being a self testimonial of awkward implicit anti-sociality common within the movement"

The libertarian movement is exceedingly social, far more so than liberalism or conservatism

"Embrace humanity and the virtues of the public sector, regulatory authorities and oversight policies."

*Takes meanings boxed up in fancy terminology and unboxes them*:

'advocate, with rhetoric that is synonymous with what is commonly percieved as benevolent and good, an entity which yields extensive force over non-agressing people and has very vague consumer checks, no specific goals, and incredibly fallible/ incompetent individuals in charge but is sometimes guided by people with 'good' intentions. Some of these good things include the agression against others in trade and production based upon what they want to do with their own property which will decrease reliance of nonagressing people on nonagression and harms price signals as well as people being more content no matter what is really going on.'

"The state is good,"

No it's not.

"all you need is to show the problems when you have only state, ie lack of price mechanism."

The government has no price mechanism.

 

 

 

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 6,953
Points 118,135

It bugs me I can't find it, but somewhere on here (it may be in one of the low content threads, but I might remember it being in a relevant topical thread) is a video that goes through various arguments and juxtaposes them with "no good or service should be provided at the barrel of a gun".  Does anyone know where this is?  The title has something to do with "how to win a debate/argument in one sentence" or something like that.

Also, for the OP, this older post and this new thread might be helpful

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,490
Wheylous replied on Thu, Dec 1 2011 10:13 AM

And Wheylous delivers:

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 6,953
Points 118,135

sonofabitch.  I even found Marc Stevens site in my search.  One would think that video wouldn't be too far behind.

Where the hell was it?

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,490
Wheylous replied on Thu, Dec 1 2011 10:42 AM

I just searched "how to win any political argument" on google (no quotes :P )

  • | Post Points: 5
Page 1 of 1 (23 items) | RSS