Larry Quotes me:
"Free Socialism: The free will cooperation of individuals to create and maintain an organization wherein assets are shared for the benefit of all. By this standard a corporation that is employee owned is socialistic as well as the Molecular Business model I present."
There is a superficial resemblance, but the analogy is not quite accurate.
Corporations are owned by the shareholders. This is true regardless of whether the shareholders are investors, or the actual employees of the company. To say "assets are shared for the benefit of all" is misleading.
It's not misleading at all. Many of the assets are socialized and shared by all. Here are some examples.
(1) The sharing of assets. Employees have equal access to health insurance. This is a very important social benefit within a company in the eyes of many.
(2) Many companies provide day care - another social benefit created through there sharing of assets.
(3) Vacation time. This is another paid for through the sharing of assets and is applied fairly equally.
(4) Company parties. Many companies will pay for parties available through all.
(5) Recreation and free lunch. Some companies actually buy employees lunch and provide them with recreation facilities.
(6) Stock. If company stock is purchased this would be an entirely private matter but many companies actually give stock to employees making it a social and shared benefit in this case.
All this is a part of what I call "free socialism" as it is not forced on anyone and all are free to quit the company and move on to another if they do not like the way the shared assets are given out.
The idea of employee ownership is an idea that has a good chance of becoming more and more predominant in the future and companies that practice it should gain a significant competitive advantage. However there is nothing that is "socialistic" about this idea. It is very clearly an application of free enterprise principles.
If all employees own shares gifted by the company then the assets are shared and we have an ingredient of socialism. Even if they are not gifted one could argue for a social ingredient if ownership applies to all. It does not have to be equally shared to be socialistic. It is true that this may be a stereotype view of socialism, but even in admitted socialists states there is no equality. Castro, for instance, flies in Big Macs for himself whereas the peasants eat rats.
What characterizes true "free enterprise"? It is the fact that all participants act with free will and for their own perceived self-interest. However by its very nature when people act for their own self-interest in this case they also act for the interest of others.
Why do you assume that free enterprise cannot co-exist with social programs?
I think you would agree that an insurance company is about as free enterprise as you can get yet the very concept of insurance is socialistic. If one has life insurance and then dies the assets of the whole are shared. This is about as social of an idea as one can have.
You are restricting your definition of socialism to communistic style forced participation, but free will participation accomplishes the goal better, yet it is still social in concept. In other words, there are many social examples of free will sharing within private enterprise.
The social ideal is to make benefits available to all. Forced socialism wants to do this by force. Free socialism seeks to do this through free will.
Why is it nonsense when all socialism has social programs? Both words come from the same source.
There is an important principle here. It illustrates the clear need to define one's terms so as to build a solid foundation for one's thinking. To correctly define a term one must focus on the essential characteristics. To fail to focus on the essentials is to commit the fallacy of defining by non-essentials. If one defines, describes, or equates terms based on non-essentials then one is building a foundation on sand, and not a solid foundation.
I didn't want to bore everyone with a whole treatise defining my terms. I think I defined them well enough though so readers received the correct general idea of what I was presenting.
I would suspect that most here do not want a much more elaborate definition from me. If I hear more feedback like yours then I will elaborate more. I don't think that what I am saying here is that complicated though.
This whole thing was meant to be a standard reply to an issue raised, not a treatise.
"Social programs" is not an essential defining characteristic of "socialism." A lot of things involve social programs, but are not socialism. Churches have social programs but are not socialism. The Boy Scouts have social programs but are not socialism. The Better Business Bureau has programs that could be described as "social programs" but is definitely not socialism.
In truth the word "socialism" has been used by many people and with divergent definitions. However by the end of the 20th century the word "socialism" has pretty much by consensus come to mean one of two things.
In "classical" Marxian socialism it means:
1. The abolition of private ownership of the means of production.
2. State management or control of the means of production on behalf of the "owners."
That is what popular socialists have been advocating which is a different thing than what socialism is. In the simplest terns socialism could be defined as "shared social activities."
I realize that when "socialism" is currently spoken that this is the image you speak of is conjured up. I think this is a massacre and defamation of a good word. It's a little like what happened to the swastika. It was a benevolent symbol that was even used by our military in World War I, but was so corrupted by Hitler than no one dares use it now.
I don't think we should allow the same thing to happen to the word "socialism." We should allow it to stand for what it is, not what it is not. Socialism is share social activities and that is not always bad or in violation of free enterprise.
If we allow the dark ones to swallow up the word so it can no longer be used then I have no word with which to define I am saying here. I would be prohibited from calling it "free socialism' and have to call it something else. Let's see, what would that be? Frompbotics, perhaps? This would e reverse political correctness.
I don't think making up a new word is the way to go here.
Now you talk of "free socialism" as:
"The free will cooperation of individuals to create and maintain an organization wherein assets are shared for the benefit of all."
From a political standpoint what is significant is that in such a system the government would respect free will. Therefore any such cooperation to "maintain an organization wherein assets are shared" would be a "free will" and ethical choice of the participants.
Politically such a system is a FREE ENTERPRISE system because there is no component of force by the government.
Why do you insist that socialism must be through force and cannot function within free enterprise?
Choosing to share or cooperate is purely an ethical or practical decision and not in the realm of politics. Politics force, and socialism IS a political theory.
Who says that socialism is only political? Here's the definition from my dictionary again: "A theory of social reform, the main feature of which is to secure the reconstruction of society, with a more equal division of property and the fruits of labor, through common ownership."
This says nothing about politics.
Therefore your choice of the term "free socialism" is at best misleading, and sloppy thinking at worst. I think the model of the employee owned free enterprise corporation is most likely the model of the future.
So then what could be a rational definition of freedom, and to what does it apply? The Libertarians have I think answered this question correctly.
I just spent a whole chapter of my book defining freedom. Does anyone here think they need more elaboration?
So the danger is not that your advocacy of a "free socialism" will offend Libertarians. The danger is that it will offend and turn off millions of conservatives who have been strongly influenced by Libertarianism ideas.
I don't think it will. This list is probably about half and half as far as political views go and I would doubt if anyone beside yourself is offended and I don't think you would be offended if you allow me the liberty of defining my terms.
If I decide to write this for a book or mass distribution then I will give a more sensitive elaboration.
Even the believers in standard socialism think they support freedom. By differentiating between free and forced socialism we are leading them to ask themselves: "Have I really accepted a forced socialism? What does he mean by free socialism?"
I have noticed that you have had a lot of success with Johan using this strategy! :)
You've got to be kidding if you think Johan will be a typical reader of my teachings. He would never consider even buying one of my books. Many of those who do will see what I am getting at.
This approach will gain far more than it will lose in my opinion.
I think you are mistaken.
That's where freedom of thought enters in. We can disagree and still be friends.
As far as disagreement goes, the only thing I can see that we disagree on is on how socialism should be defined BY ME. There is no disagreement on how it is defined by you or anyone else, just by me. As I said, I see this as reverse political correctness and I really rebel against such things.
All the rest of your post is great, well written and I agree with it.
I've always tried to go a step past wherever people expected me to end up. Beverly Sills
Copyright © 2005 by J J Dewey, All Rights Reserved