TED Conversations

Paul van Zoggel

edupreneur, 35 KM

This conversation is closed.

Can we just take the best of socialism and capitalism?

Designing the society for the children born now... now.. and now.. is thinking about society 2020-2120

There are various topics talking about the perfect dream society, beautiful, though what will it be build on? Which elements of previous systems should we take as we can't design from scratch?

Who are the designers?

There is one generation which can make up the balance between socialism (WeFirst) and capitalism (MeFirst);

The ones grown up in socialism, puberty in the crisis and turnaround, now living in capitalism. For Europe this is Eastern European countries, people between 20-40.

Some I know feel lost as they know both systems and both have good and ugly things they realize. Pitty the good parts of socialism are run over by western trains. It's not too late though...

What is good about capitalism?
What is good about socialism?

Are the best parts of both complimentary to be the basics of the next system taking care of the interests of individuals and corporations/collaborations?

Share:

Closing Statement from Paul van Zoggel

Thinking about the future, I set out this question to 'find' like minded who actually lived in a socialist and capitalist system, being able to put best ingredients in a nice new homemade soup.

I forgot one thing; legacy of 'words'. Everybody grew up with the words 'capitalism and socialism, and all have an idea what these words imply. People with experience, people reading books.

So this topic started in looking for 'meaning' of the systems. And so we get trapped in discussing old discussions. Which can be fine, but I could have avoided it if there would be system semantics as obvious and common sense as 1+1=2.

I realized closed history chapters are written pages and adding new semantics has the effect of spending a lot of time describing the past while actually that energy should be ut in discovering the future.

So probably my mistake to set out the question like I did :) At the same time, and I hope you agree reading a bit through the comments, I get some great insights in perceptions of 'systems' that work(ed).

In short pessimism and optimism to 'design' the future. These contradictions in thought and words asks from us to think deeper and write clearer to get in the end something worth living/fighting for. Conversation makes clearance, without conversation we start to believe to much in our own perfect mental dream constructs.

Thanks again all for your contributions and see you on other topics!

  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jun 20 2011: i would advise against listening to chomsky on economic-political issues. the guy strongly believes that division of labor is a bad thing.
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Jun 20 2011: if he means that, why he does not say that? if i think people eat too much pork, i say it, and i don't say meet is poison. if i say the former, it is an opinion. the latter is lunacy.

          inequity=problem is not a well known fact, but a wide spread opinion. if you try to find any supporting arguments, you will be surprised that nobody even attempts to back it up. we just "know" that.
        • Jun 21 2011: It is a problem because people don't like the government to just give money away for free to whoever needs it as it would encourage people not to work, so the government must hire people to do relatively nonproductive tasks.

          The government needs to do this because inequality leads to unemployment, and employed people feel bad when unemployed people starve on the streets. Inequality leading to unemployment is not a fundamental condition or result of inequality, but rather is the result of assumptions which predispose people to make economic choices which lead to a rise in unemployment:
          http://pastebin.com/Q86Zhgs9

          In that sense there is no logical argument that inequality is a problem, only strong and consistent observational evidence.
        • thumb
          Jun 22 2011: misaki, tl;dr. this article took off with a bunch of hazy to wrong statements, and i'm not willing to read to the end.

          can you briefly summarize why would inequality lead to unemployment?
  • thumb
    Jun 29 2011: Both capitalism and socialism are materialistic approaches to economics. Economics is a mechanism that rewards certain aspects of human behavior more than others. Putting materialism at the center of our lives does little to improve the quality of life (in terms of happiness) or the health of our planet.

    Both capitalism and socialism are top-down systems that concentrate power in the hands of a relative few. Each is an abstraction that has the potential to diminish the value and potential of some people in order to increase the wealth and/or power of others.

    Jacques Maritain distinguishes between the individual and the person and describes capitalism and communism as extremes that deal with “individuals” rather than “persons.” He makes the argument that the common good is best served by focusing on the development of the potential of each person. An economic system that rewards developing the potential of every person and focuses on improving/maintaining the health of our planet would likely look very different than either socialism or capitalism.
    • thumb
      Jun 29 2011: capitalism is not a top-down approach. how would it be?
      • thumb
        Jun 29 2011: Owners and managers make all of the decisions. They are on top. Bankers make decisions that limit what the owners and managers can do. They are above most of the owners and managers. Consumers have little helpful information with which to make intelligent decisions, few vehicles for feedback, and virtually no input in corporate decisions. They are heavily influenced by advertising which is designed by owners and managers. A very small percentage of people control decisions that have wide ranging consequences. They own most of the world's resources. They are on top.
        • thumb
          Jun 30 2011: no, the real decisions are made by the customer, simply by buying or not buying. the decisions the managers make are about the company's property only, nothing and nobody else. these decisions are not that much of "control" like, but instead a "discovery process". similarly when you decide which tool will work better for you. you don't really decide it, you just try to guess it. businessmen try to guess the right strategy to satisfy customers, and if they succeed, they profit.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jun 29 2011: let me remind you that we don't use wood today as energy source, and not because we ran out of wood. the stone age ended not because we ran out of stone. the oil age will end much sooner than we run out of oil.

      "capitalists" (whoever they are) calculate risks wonderfully. for example if something is free, they use a LOT of it. logical? yes. it is our job, as a society, to put a price tag on oceans and air. if it is free to pollute the ocean, it is perfectly logical for a company to do that.

      endless growth is perfectly possible. since 1800, income in the US increased twenty fold. it does not mean people have twenty times as much horses, cows, oil lanterns since. it means we have *different* stuff. in the last 50 years, food production tripled, while the land usage did not change, or actually, shrank. forever increase in terms of oil use is not possible. but in wealth, it is.
      • thumb
        Jun 30 2011: Hi Krisztián,

        I feel like I am picking on you a bit. Perhaps it's your zealous support of capitalism that is motivating me to play "devil's advocate."

        The impression I get is you think capitalism (perfectly practiced or not) is the ONLY viable means of economic progress. As I say, you may well be right, however, if we step out of our academic discussion and look at the "real world," I think even you will have to admit that those who advocate and practice socialism (perfectly or not) are quite clearly outperforming those who advocate and practice capitalism (perfectly or not.)

        If (for example) you would like to call what China is doing "capitalism" because it conforms to your ideal that capitalism is the ONLY means to achieve economic progress, I have no problem with that.

        However, there are about 1.3 billion people who might disagree with you. Really, what does it matter what we call something that works?

        If it works, and 1.3 billion people choose to call it socialism, I suggest we go along with their terms. It's just a word.

        Also, on a more pedantic level, I believe your understanding of socialism is somewhat distorted. It does not, for example, mean command economy or centralized control (although it is not uncommon for socialist systems to employ both.) China (where I live, by the way) is socialist and very, very "decentralized." It is common for different provinces to "try things out" - on their own - to see if they work. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. If they do, others are apt to copy them.

        It is part of what the Chinese refer to it as balancing Top Down and Bottom Up controls.

        Regarding "wood as fuel" and similar points: the lifestyles you and I live are far from common - they only appear common to you and me because most of the people we associate with or see live similar lifestyles. Perhaps we do not use wood for fuel but much of the world's population still does - in both "socialist" and "capitalist" countries, I might add
        • thumb
          Jun 30 2011: how we call something is up to us. but actually what it it, is not. it is fact.

          to be precise, i'm not saying that capitalism is the only way to progress. i say economic freedom and private enterprise is. capitalism is the pure form of free private enterprise. the half-capitalism in china is limited, but enables some growth. i call that "partly capitalist" method, whatever the intent was.

          but there is another factor to it. it has an advantage that more capitalist systems exists in the world, and china can benefit from trading with the capitalistic part. in that way, china has access to the valuable economic information such as demand for different products, prices of means of production, etc. in this regard, the western horse is pulling the chinese cart.

          for exactly the same reason the soviet union was able to survive for so many decades. they simply took price information and production methods from the west.

          wood: those who still use it, will stop use it before they run out of it. just like we did. and just like we will with oil. unless G8, imf, wto and other monster organizations manage to stop economic progress, these issues soon become non-issues.
        • thumb
          Jun 30 2011: one more thing: it is not advisable to call your opponent "zealous". this time i pretended that i didn't notice.
      • thumb
        Jun 30 2011: QUOTE: in this regard, the western horse is pulling the chinese cart.

        China's foreign reserve is over three trillion dollars. How is it you see the Western horse pulling the Chinese cart? If anything, the Chinese "cart" is being used as a make-shift ambulance for a near terminal Western horse.

        Anyway, I understand your point: You believe capitalism is the best system available to us.

        I am not sure I agree with you. I am sure the evidence, not the theory, makes me question your assertions.


        QUOTE: wood: those who still use it, will stop use it before they run out of it. just like we did. and just like we will with oil. unless G8, imf, wto and other monster organizations manage to stop economic progress, these issues soon become non-issues.

        Forgive me, I suspect you are well educated but perhaps not well-travelled. In many places, they have already run out of wood and are burning manure, scrub, scrap, ... anything combustible.

        Ideals can appear to be wonderful things - we can envision them as we would like them to be. In our minds, we can apply the medicinal balm of capitalism, socialism, communism, humanism, or any "ism" to our ailing world and magically heal it. But the world rarely, if ever, conforms to our imaginations. No matter how "complete" we believe our imagination to be, the world does not hold still long enough for us to cover it with the cloak of our imagining.

        Do I have a better system - than, say, capitalism? No, I do not.

        I cannot think of any system that we could apply universally. I cannot think of any system - existing or not - that does not contain "fatal" flaws. Flaws not in its conception but in its execution.

        However, if you truly believe capitalism will make the world a better place, I encourage you to become the world's best capitalist.

        I operate within multiple systems - capitalist, socialist, Western, Eastern, etc, and, regardless of the system, I aspire to be the world's best "me."

        That, to me, is system enough.
      • thumb
        Jun 30 2011: QUOTE: one more thing: it is not advisable to call your opponent "zealous". this time i pretended that i didn't notice.

        I'll make a note of it - do not refer to Krisztián as zealous.

        However, I do not think of you as an opponent and, interestingly, the word zealous is neutral - it means having or showing zeal or enthusiasm. The word zealot - which means fanatic - can be considered pejorative.

        There was no slight intended.
    • thumb
      Jun 29 2011: I like your point that the accounting system is broken, Roy. One of the consequences is that capitalism creates a frame of the world that does not take into the account the effects of one's actions on others. When the world is viewed through this limited frame, it is easy to justify all kinds of injustices so that the owners and managers really believe they are doing good. The are literally blind to the destruction and suffering they cause.

      Capitalism assumes the market has a balancing effect while ignoring a number of weighty issues. It reinforces greed and short-term thinking because the market simply cannot process significant information about the effects of decisions.
      • thumb
        Jun 29 2011: what balancing effect? i never heard of any "balancing effect" of capitalism. balancing what?
        • thumb
          Jun 29 2011: Sorry, that's my term, not one from economics. The market is supposed to balance the needs of the consumer with the desire of the producer for profit. It is supposed to maintain balance by weeding out incompetent and greedy sellers. I think that the market ignores too much information to maintain this balance.
      • thumb
        Jun 30 2011: it does not make too much sense. profit exactly follows from satisfying the needs of the customer. these are not on the opposite side.
    • thumb
      Jun 29 2011: Funny.

      Let's see if the money can be dropped on the gun between the two puppets. At least for survival.

      "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." Churchil on that page is also a relevant quote to enjoy
  • Jun 28 2011: By the way there is no such thing as a Corporation 'being'. That is a legal concept from which contracts and taxes are paid. The employees, customers, vendors and shareholders are all People.
    Big government is exactly like a big corporation, people. So don't be silly and think human faults go away in either, but at least a corporation cannot tax or arrest people who CHOOSE not to buy their program.
    Also, I'm happy for Apple to 'take away from my quality of life' with a profit on my iPad...my choice to buy it.
  • thumb
    Jun 27 2011: Hi Krisztián Pintér.

    I responded to one of your comments and then read further along in the thread that you are not reading all of the posts because they got "hazy" (I think that was the word you used.)

    So that you might have a better chance of reading my comment, I have copied it here for you:


    QUOTE: "history proved that more economic freedom leads to fast progress. socialism proved to be the opposite."

    This is not accurate. Recent history has "proven" the opposite. A socialist system (China) has orchestrated the largest (and fastest) emergence from poverty in history; and "economic freedom" (capitalism) has been responsible for one of the largest (and perhaps fastest) economic declines in history.

    Our models may need to be adjusted.

    EDIT:

    Personally, I am not attached to any model or economic theory. My interest lies most with the individual. Regardless of the systems we operate within, their efficacy will be determined by the integrity of those who practice them.

    It is much easier to think about "a system" that functions optimally than it is to think about 6 billion people operating with integrity. I think that is why we tend to get emotional about "systems;" we see them as a solution to an otherwise insurmountable challenge, namely, managing or governing 6 billion individuals.

    I like making things simple so rather than focus on 6 billion people, I focus on one. One at a time - starting with me.
    • thumb
      Jun 27 2011: china's great economic development coincided with the creation of the special economic zones.
      • thumb
        Jun 27 2011: More accurately, China's recent economic developments coincide with Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms (改革开放) of 1978. The special economic zones are, in effect, trial runs - laboratory experiments, if you like.

        I'm afraid I may have missed your point.
        • thumb
          Jun 27 2011: my point is: china develops because it is NOT socialist economically. china created a mixture in which the capitalist part is the horse the pulls the cart.

          this is the same model as the west has, except they came from the opposite direction. they are adding more and more weight to the cart, making the poor horse more and more exhausted.

          but the picture is clear. capitalism is the only system that can generate progress.
        • thumb
          Jun 27 2011: Krisztian, I think I understand what you say, but isn't there a contradiction;

          "Capitalism is the only system that can generate progress." and "the poor horse getting more and more exhausted". The last doesn't sound like progress in capitalism, or you only refer to the Chinees horse?
        • thumb
          Jun 27 2011: i'm referring all the heavy carts and poor horses of any mixed economies. here, in hungary, tax rate is 50%. in the US it is around 20% i think. the poor horse has to pull 50% of his own weight. this is not capitalism. only to 50% (80 in the US).

          (edit: bad math above. poor horse pulls 100% of his own weight, not 50%.)

          chinese development is possible because they finally got a horse. earlier, they had a cart only, and hoped it will move on its own.

          the west is adding more and more weight to the cart. earlier, the horse pulled just a light two wheeled cart. but today they attached multiple wagons full with stuff and people. and they blame the horse for being too slow.
        • thumb
          Jun 28 2011: I see, thank you for clarification, interesting analogy, I understand your viewpoint.

          In Dutch we have a saying for this phenomenon; De Wet van de remmende voorsprong. In English; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_the_handicap_of_a_head_start

          We have to say ' whhhhoooooh horsy, stop a bit, how old are you and what in heavens name do you have on your wagon. Have any foals and more suitable wagons?'
      • thumb
        Jun 27 2011: QUOTE: "but the picture is clear. capitalism is the only system that can generate progress."

        Oh, I see: What you're saying is, a socialists system is only successful, it only "works" insofar as it integrates capitalism and, I suppose by extension, capitalism is only a failure, it doesn't work, when it embraces socialism.

        That may be true and I have no problem with how individuals choose to define things (capitalist, socialist, etc.) but these facts remain: A country, that refers to itself as socialist, has orchestrated the largest, positive economic transformation in history; and countries, and in particular one country - the USA, that are champions of free market capitalism have instigated one of the largest, if not the largest financial meltdowns of all time.

        QUOTE: "but the picture is clear. capitalism is the only system that can generate progress."

        Krisztián, we see what we want to see. If you want to see capitalism as "the only system that can generate progress," then that is all you will see. Perhaps you are right; perhaps "capitalism is the only system that can generate progress." But if you would like to strengthen your position, I recommend looking at other possibilities.

        For much of history, the dominant empires have not been capitalist. In recent history, they have been. It's a strong argument for capitalism. But there might be other explanations for the recent "wealth of nations:" technology, access to fossil fuels, access to "captive" markets (colonies), and so on.

        Personally, I am a fan of "what works" and I don't really care what we call it. So far, there are not many systems that I would champion. Actually, there are none. For me, "what works" would mean a world were everyone has access to food, clothing, and shelter, everyone is respected, and we never use force to impose our worldview on the environment or on others (not even to protect "our rights.")

        To my knowledge, no such system has ever existed. Perhaps it never will.
        • thumb
          Jun 28 2011: it is yet to be demonstrated that strong kings actually made the life of the people better. surely, some great kings extended the boundaries of their empires. they made the life in the occupied territories worse, and better for their minions. however, i greatly doubt that their activities resulted in any rise of the total wealth of mankind.

          there were other kings who maintained peace for extended periods, and their kingdom thrived, obviously. however, without the kings, peace would be the normal state of affairs.

          the situation is this simple: economic progress requires massive employment of trial and error, and immediate customer feedback. these are necessary to distribute resources in the most efficient way to serve the customer needs most. the more centralized the economy is, the less likely this process works properly.

          so in that regard, kingdom, dictatorship, socialism or the supercomputer of the venus project are all the same.
        • thumb
          Jun 28 2011: Kristian, you say 'immediate customer feedback, massive employment of trial and error.'

          Pure transparency in economic freedom in supply and demand will drive prices to cost of making, meaning no enterprise space (paid employees/material investments) for innovation. If it is on massive supply and demand, prices will go below cost of creation to have some return with hope for better times, which often do not come.

          Integrity, the heart, real bindings between people and resources need to be designed as 6 billion people can't go for survival of the fittest.

          It is not that there should be no economic freedom, our brain needs our whole life challenges to grow and so to stay healthy. Something else than capitalism - in your meaning - is needed for that.
        • thumb
          Jun 29 2011: similarly, biological organisms can choose between short term perfectness and ability to adopt. by this logic, evolution is not possible because adaptive animals die out in the short run, and then we are left with all non-adaptive animals. this logic sounds solid, but obviously wrong, since evolution happily goes on for billions of years.

          i don't think that definitive answer exists. more like things are just not that perfect. economy never reaches equilibrium, and all successful companies do make profits, and extend their business. actually, growth has became idolized. and governments has nothing to do with it.

          another way of looking at it is this. innovation is investment. you need to put down some cash today in order to reap profits tomorrow. the free market is known to be very good at investing. free market principles can be used to allocate savings (capital). even if the economy reaches an equilibrium point in which companies have no profit, they still can issue for example an innovation bond, and some people will buy it. a company known to be smart with its innovations will get capital cheaper (lower interest rate bonds can still be sold), and thus can innovate even more. capital finds its way to where it can multiplicate.

          no, we don't need the government (socialist or other) to foster innovation.
      • thumb
        Jun 29 2011: QUOTE: "it is yet to be demonstrated that strong kings actually made the life of the people better."

        I may have missed a step. How did we get to "kings?"


        QUOTE: the situation is this simple: economic progress requires massive employment of trial and error, and immediate customer feedback. these are necessary to distribute resources in the most efficient way to serve the customer needs most. the more centralized the economy is, the less likely this process works properly.

        When we invent "systems" (say, capitalism, socialism, democracy, or management) we get to define our terms - "economic progress" for instance. So, depending on the model or system we hold dear, it would be easy for us to say things like, "economic progress requires _________ [fill in the blank.]

        As envisioned, each system would lead to a better, if not perfect, world.

        We could say, capitalism - perfectly applied - would, no doubt, lead to a "perfect world."

        We could say the same thing for socialism - perfectly applied. Or anarchy - perfectly applied. Etcetera.

        QUOTE: so in that regard, kingdom, dictatorship, socialism or the supercomputer of the venus project are all the same.

        In other words, anything that is not capitalism is "all the same?"

        That would be the view of someone who is very sure of him or her self.

        PS You may be mistaking socialism (or something else) with centralized economy. They are not synonymous.

        QUOTE: "the more centralized the economy is, the less likely this process works properly."
        • thumb
          Jun 29 2011: kings is a misdirection. i read your post not enough carefully.

          no, i'm not talking about a perfect capitalism. it never existed. but the progress capitalism offers is still happening, even with the corporatist, interventionist, protectionist, socialist drag. though it happens in a slower pace.

          however, i argue that even the perfectly carried out socialism is unworkable. actually, the more perfect a socialist system is, the less able to progress.

          it is because in a less than perfect capitalism, trial and error happens in some degree, which allows development. but in a socialist system, personal creativities are choked. progress is doomed to fall to a near zero level. any change in the circumstances causes a total collapse as the economy is not adaptive.
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Jun 29 2011: neither wages are a good measure of doing well, nor such a correlation means anything. as they taught me in school: one measurement is no measurement.
    • thumb
      Jun 27 2011: Great view Mr. Jones, thank you for your contribution to the question.

      It's true, am also looking for the 'right' elements' for the 'right' system, and actually it's just as much about integrity of the individual. During this thread I realized by comments it is no use to wonder about 'the best of socialism and capitalism' as everybody has a stigmatized view on them, including me, no use to use these two words.

      Now I figured out a 3 axis view to understand what is/should be going on; I would like to be aware on what is going on like 1+1=2, the little Plato in me I guess. Because all these emotions and fear related to politics only get us in downward spirals without anything to hang on too, no basic grounds to stand on.

      So here I go;
      1 person viewpoint : In essence we see 'me and 'we'. We balance on the line in between.
      6 billion persons view : '6 billion people survival', if that is fixed we can think about luxury for 6 billion people.
      Than I saw http://www.ted.com/talks/jacqueline_novogratz_on_patient_capitalism.html and Jacqueline talks about "Public Health" and "Enterprise". I realized this must be the missing piece!

      In essence, 6 universal words, everybody understands and has the same basic feeling/idea about.

      So it are 3 Axis we need to let money and spare time dance on;

      x ; me to we
      y ; survival to luxury
      z : public health to enterprise

      At least these are my thoughts now on following Plato's idea to find the essence of essence where no discussion is possible, like 1+1=2 is understood and accepted as true by almost 6 billion people.

      I guess I am coming slowly to the conclusion of the main question. Thanks already for everybody contributing!!! Naively said, I understand more, and I also understand communication and online dialogue better.
  • Jun 21 2011: The problem with socialism as traditionally practiced is that allocation of resources and planning decisions are made by people with insufficient information about the economic deficiencies those decisions are meant to address. The people doing work, therefore, lose the awareness of how important it is that their tasks be completed or done well.

    The problem with capitalism is the misunderstanding about how individual choices impact the overall economic health of the society, causing systemic distortions in the provision and distribution of resources.

    The flaws in both systems historically prevented either from becoming dominant, which is why (for example) capitalist countries tax the rich (or just maintain a budget deficit) in order to support the poor and those without jobs.

    Since the cultural assumptions of capitalism are what lead to its problems, changing these assumptions would allow a more efficient society, which will especially become more important as the cost of energy increases from the depletion of natural resources. One possible end state for society which would address the incorrect assumptions that cause problems: http://pastebin.com/Q86Zhgs9
    • thumb
      Jun 22 2011: capitalism is based in personal freedom, and not on any conception about "economic health of the society", what would that mean.

      history proved that more economic freedom leads to fast progress. socialism proved to be the opposite.
      • thumb
        Jun 22 2011: @Krisztian,

        True, history proved these two extremes, what is the middle way? As we need it very soon;

        The fast progress is fed by territorial expansion of the system towards more resources, more workers, more buyers. Socialism the opposite as the personal gain is not there and is literally an island which does not expand.

        History has shown fast progress on one part of the world is paid by another part of the world. This has been Europe and US, we invented 'economic freedom' so we are the best in playing the game globally.

        Though China/India also play the game, and are bigger so in the end the progress will be there. As oil is the basic denominator in economic freedom, China and India will surf well on economic freedom as they will get volume discount.

        As the oil/energy supply can't keep up, prices will go up, creating a very stressful world economy as there is no alternative to economic freedom, supply and demand driven prices.
        • thumb
          Jun 22 2011: we already have the middle way. the western economy constantly drifts from free capitalism toward socialism. does it work? judge for yourself.

          and this experiment was not run once, west vs east. it was tried many times. see the two korea's. see taiwan and china, see china before and after the limited economic freedom, and so on.

          central planning simply hinders economic progress. through that, it hinders everything else as well.
        • thumb
          Jun 22 2011: I think we are beginning to see another wave of thinking economics. It's not centered on immediate equality or progress, but on intergenerational equality. That is, we need to preserve what we have now for the future generations.

          Sustainable Development was a ethereal concept that is taking form nowadays. I like the tag on Sustainable Development to be a "Social-Productive-Keynesianism", which objective is to offer people education, health, political enlightenment (true wealths) against gold or money.

          This isn't communism or pure socialism, this is based on actual democracies and political freedom and we can see how people's mind is changing.

          Take Japan's example. They are regreting their option for nuclear energy and are going to close the plants, cause it hurts their resources and their hope for sustainable development.

          I think this discourse is here to stay, but for how long is a good question.

          We have the recent example of the failure of the Third Way of organizing the welfare state and public services. Combining a incredible value of liberal view, the individual engagement, and the notion of social equality.

          This was rather a discourse engine. Do you guys think that Sustainable Development is rhetoric discourse too?
      • thumb
        Jun 26 2011: Hi Mario, thanks for dropping by.

        I also believe we are seeing a new wave of thinking economics, I just hope it moves fast enough to catch up with the chaos unfolding. I am optimist, I believe the 'new' can be born while the old is dying.

        Sustainable Development is rhetoric discourse if you mean to say it is used as a third argument in decision making (next to the social and economic). In a way these 3 together are the pillars for ensuring the basis to grow for (7) generations ahead. If you mean something else, enlighten me :)

        I learned every big change starts in real estate, roman to gothic etc etc Sustainable development started there and people grown up with it start to see this sustainable decision making as part of their culture. So probably Michael Schwarz is right Sustainism is the movement turned into culture.
        • thumb
          Jun 30 2011: Hi Paul,

          I just found the post where you ask: "... what are China's pitfalls? Where is their peak and do you think they will try to keep on climbing?"

          Yes, I think China will keep climbing. There are people who make predictions about China's future vis a vis "The West" - for example, Martin Jacques in his book "When China Rules the World," [he is also a TED speaker] and Henry Kissinger's recent comments that China would not rule the world (although he did not use that terminology.)

          The human mind appears to be quite simple in its functional capabilities; it is essentially a pattern generating and pattern recognition system.

          A very simple and easy to understand pattern is "this versus that." Because "this versus that" is simple, easy to understand, and easy to "debate," creating artificial dichotomies is a favourite pastime of human beings when we use the default mode of our brain's wetware.

          So we get China versus The World (or capitalism versus socialism) and so on.

          Will China continue to climb? Absolutely. Will it climb in a "straight line?" No. Will it look like the China of Today in twenty year's time? No.

          China will change the world and the world will change China.

          How?

          That depends on us (and future generations.)

          Personally, I think "The World" has a lot to learn from China. The notion that "The Western Way" is superior is a parochial conceit.

          Can China learn from the West? They can and they are.

          What are the "pitfalls?"

          I would say the challenge they face is integrating disparate systems. China has a long history that is embodied in practices such as "guan xi" (reciprocal relationships); the relationship between the population and the state, and so on. They are now going through a steep learning curve as they embrace and integrate "other practices" - balancing "mianzi" (face) and accountability, for example.

          They'll manage just fine. They are expert at "unifying opposites." Something "The West" is not so good at ... yet.
      • thumb
        Jun 27 2011: QUOTE: "history proved that more economic freedom leads to fast progress. socialism proved to be the opposite."

        This is not accurate. Recent history has "proven" the opposite. A socialist system (China) has orchestrated the largest (and fastest) emergence from poverty in history; and "economic freedom" (capitalism) has been responsible for one of the largest (and perhaps fastest) economic declines in history.

        Our models may need to be adjusted.
        • thumb
          Jun 27 2011: Yes! It's amazing what is going on in China. That's why I think - and the reason I start this thread - is we have thrown socialist principles to fast over the hedge in Europe.

          economic freedom works - as you mentioned - when there is integrity. all systems.

          And all systems start with emotion, with integrity, and they reach a peak. The thing of a system is we do not see it organic. Reaching the peak, we try to keep on climbing.

          Another analogy; the old man is dying but doesn't have any "grand" children.

          Mr. Jones, if you still read this within 2 days of this thread;

          You seem a wisdom-keeper on China, what are China's pitfalls? Where is their peak and do you think they will try to keep on climbing?
    • thumb
      Jun 22 2011: That is well said Misaki. So let's change assumptions - and - use more essential terminology which can't be misunderstood. I will read the article in the weekend..
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jun 22 2011: Thank you Vineet Roy, you are right that the question limits us, but with a well intended reason; most conversations are "let's get rid of the old, and dream of something brand new". Though we need to summarize the useful of the old, not to fall in the same traps.


      Both systems have been useful for societies until a certain tipping point. The problem is we tried to keep on climbing when we were already at the top of the mountain.

      What is the top? What do we put in our backpack on our way down, experience for the next mountain to climb.

      I agree on your points with government and corporations. We are with many who can't find the earth to root ourselves. In history this has led to panic, stress, becoming narrow-minded and follow narrow-minded world views.

      So where to start..
  • thumb
    Jun 17 2011: Yes, we can, but the powers that be, that is to say, those who have the economic control over the populace simply would never allow for that. Capitalism is actually antithetical to democracy, but so is centralized socialism.

    If by socialism, you mean a welfare state, yes we can have that with a capitalistic system. But, "freedom" will be an afterthought. As I see it, universal "freedom" is also antithetical to democracy, as the majority in a democracy will always limit the freedom of the individual.

    The "tea party" movement, aka libertarianism, aka laissez faire capitalism, aka anarcho-capitalism values economic liberty over the well-being of individuals from a collectivist perspective. They see social darwinism as the pure form of human social structure, and it is those who possess (for whatever reason) better ideas, more ambition, more resources, what-have-you, as being unduly held back by regulation and the burden of coerced social contribution (i.e. taxes).

    In fact, no pure political system ever devised has seen the light of day, because nowhere is there a universally benevolent and socially-oriented population, just like there is no place where pure antisociality prevails. All systems end up as a balance, even in monarchies, oligarchies, dictatorships, etc. People are both selfish and bound by our social ties. There has to be a balance. But, it also all a big fat illusion, because we all know that the world is run by four men; one Japanese, one Jewish, one Scottish and and one Inuit. Just kidding.
    • thumb
      Jun 18 2011: I agree with you on every part.

      The economic control is a tough one, though in the end it is about number crunching with these corporations. It should be possible, like Gunther Pauli does with the Blue Economy, he offers the economic powers better and even more profitable alternatives.

      If we do not call it 'socialism', but welfare, we will not be prejudged. The Netherlands is a welfare state, though it is currently limited to the sick, the poor and elderly. This can and should be broadened, and in a way has too as there will be more and more people asking for support.

      We are dual, we want to prosper individually but don't want to see others suffer. It's pulling the rope at both sides. So this remains and there will always be the balancing going on between me & we.

      At the same time there is hope, China is trying to combine central planning and free market economy. Again, there are many downsides in personal freedom and collective good, but the challenges for survival of everybody this was not a bad choice for now.

      To look simplistic; Politics/governement started because they were paid to take care of the interest of the 'investors'/corporations by force (with guns/law). It was in the interest of these 'investors' to also spend some money on the welfare of workers; so they stay healthy and don't complain too much, all for the sake off productivity. It became the rich vs the poor. For all systems.

      What if we can look at politics in another angle : Survival and Luxury. Globally we can create the basics all together to have basic housing/food/energy/mobility. This can be done together with the economic powers. Once our mind is free on that, the natural need for luxury kicks in: exotic fruits, softer couch, greater entertainment, bigger house, nicer car. I didn't do the SWOT analyses on it, but am wondering if 'survival system' and 'luxury system' as a new duality, is taking the best of capitalism and socialism.

      Thank you Brian for contributing your thoughts.
  • thumb
    Jun 17 2011: We have already taken the best of Socialism and the best of Capitalism, it's called Capitalism.
    • thumb
      Jun 17 2011: Show me where the software update is for the 22nd century millenium bug; 'whooops, we ran out of territory on earth for expansion", and I believe you.
      • thumb
        Jun 17 2011: hans rosling (ted speaker) says the population will likely reach 9bn in 2050, and then level out.

        matt ridley (ted speaker) says we have tripled crop yields on the same area in the last 50 years. also argues in his book, blog and other talks that the global warming is slow, and the effects of it are greatly exaggerated and mystified in the media. should we repeat the progress of the last 50 years, we'll be just fine.
        • thumb
          Jun 17 2011: Thank you Krisztian, these are great insights and interesting developments. Though are you convinced it is enough? ;)

          - leveling out of population means slowly more old people than young people, the system is not designed for that.
          - tripling crop yields through CO2 is cool ofcourse, though we know already we can feed 15 bln people today with what is daily available according to UN. The problem is market dynamics based on scarcity of food.
          - global warming ok
          - the progress of the last 50 years in capitalism is phase 1: rebuilding western europe, 2: investing in Africa 3: Investing in Eastern Europe and South America. 4:Investing in China. Where do we go with our system with phase 5

          I am an optimist though; a good crisis never goes to waste, and the globe is wired up to see far ahead to prevent serious trouble for generations to come!
      • thumb
        Jun 17 2011: Paul
        Not sure what your point is? All markets clear.
        • thumb
          Jun 17 2011: Capitalism the way it functions today is about having perspective on "Emerging Markets". If these statistics can be no longer made, the system is in trouble. (Some people think, maybe they are wrong?)
      • thumb
        Jun 17 2011: paul, what does that mean?:
        "The problem is market dynamics based on scarcity of food."
        • thumb
          Jun 17 2011: There is plenty of food in the world, even more and more due to innovations. Still people are hungry and food only is getting more and more expensive on every continent. Somehow the idea of supply and demand is not working?

          Larry Page said once something like this; "In the past we only had to work really hard on the field in the summer, and relax in the winter. We invented machines to do this work... And today a person has to work 30-50 hours a week, 45 weeks a year to make a living. What happened?"

          I don't have the answer on the problem, but this is part of the problem if you are interested; Artificial scarcity; Food available for consumers in the world is controlled. There is a certain amount of tomatoes available which keeps the price at a certain level. Though the supply is much higher. Two things are done; the farmer get a minimal price not to get bankrupted, 'more luck next time on the market'. These leftover tomatoes are being processed or dumped for very low prices in far away countries, destroying the local markets there, etc, etc. Who is paying for this? The higher price of tomatoes for consumers and the state pay these farmers and exports.

          So there is something wrong with our basic survival/food system, that's all.
  • thumb
    Jun 17 2011: Paul, by your definition I think we can, in a working democracy. By design, democracy is a wefirst system but when the people don't participate in their government (elections and clear mandates), capitalism leans more towards mefirst mentality.

    I think that with the digital world that we now have, it should be easier to enforce transparency, accountability, and clear on-time political mandates. Where are we in these efforts? http://bit.ly/SolutionStrategies
    • thumb
      Jun 17 2011: Thank you Joe for stopping by. That's an interesting statement you make.

      So we have a global WeFirst System already, though because we are all too busy focussing on ourselves, MeFirst prevails.

      Personal MeFirst : I spend all the time for my good, and so not participating in the 'common good'.
      Corporate MeFirst : The corporations also just think about themselves, though do 'collaborate' with government because they see a corporate gain/profit.

      So incentives to be involved as a person in collaboration are missing. There is no view on "if I do this with you and you" than me as a person and we as a community have profit.

      On your website; I see you also look for basic language and understanding to get balance back in societies! Great!

      I read though mostly great philosophy on understanding the problem and where it should go too. It seems you spend more time on the issue than I… You have any idea on how to 'trick ourselves' into this change? As idealistically we all probably want, but we are stuck in our routines and rituals as well.
      • thumb
        Jun 17 2011: Paul, to make a breakthrough from our routines and rituals, we ignite our hearts and minds. (http://Bit.Ly/KeyPower)

        There are many ways to do it but what I would generally suggest is this. We clear our mind of our current concerns and worries, we go to a secluded location (a quiet room or place) or a very comforting sight (looking at our sleeping loved ones, the ocean, the meadows etc.) then we summon, recall or feel empowered, or as a believer ask God's tremendous enlightenment of the true essence of our existence;

        Or read the autobiographies of great people or their TED talks; and for some people from the mundane or tragic events of our lives.

        We look at the problems around us and around the world and this can ignite our purpose and our vision that will enable us to focus on single avenue of interest that we want to contribute to our world. This is exactly one of the key premise of TED and you being a Tedster. (http://bit.ly/SolutionStrategies)

        It's a total transforming paradigm. We will see our families and the world around us in a new perspective that can literally transform ourselves, our family, our community and the our world.

        The only limit of our potential is the limiting belief we have of ourselves or the opinion of others that we may be unknowingly consenting to. There is a great dynamic of our true inner worth, our struggles, our failures and our success and the achievement of our greatest potential that makes our lives a great adventure and can carve our names as a true legacy to our world and our children.
        • thumb
          Jun 17 2011: Yes, to ground and contemplate! I have the idea more and more people are trying, I don't have the peace yet to do it everyday for 20 minutes... A challenge.

          I am an optimist, and it will all work out.
          Ervin Laszlo; "Ofcourse it will continue, it would be such a waste elsewise of these mln years off progress". Oren Lyons I also enjoy; "the earth has all the time in the world, but we don't."

          Your last three phrases make me think about the Mayan calendar, the 9th wave, we are in the night after sprouting so we can go with the flow of change... Though we need to be aware, have a clear conscious to make the wise decisions for ourselves, our loved ones and community at large.

          It's a great adventure! thank you Joe
  • thumb
    Jun 26 2011: QUOTE:

    What is good about capitalism?
    What is good about socialism?

    ---------------------

    If we look at the idealized versions of both, they are both excellent. The problem is we do not live in an "idealized" world; we live in a real world. Humans (it would seem) are not very good at living up to to (other human being's) idealized versions of utopian societies. Hmmmm...who would have thought it?

    Personally, I like the Chinese approach (not Mao so much as Deng Xiaoping and his successors.) They are pragmatic - "crossing the river by feeling the stones" they call it. They also call what they do "socialism with Chinese characteristics."

    I call it "capitalism with Chinese characteristics" but it's the same thing.

    Let's see ... what do I think would be effective: Put compassion first and then keep messing around until, collectively, we come up with something that works.

    We're doing the second part anyway. The fist part - compassion - I think we still have a ways to go there.
  • Jun 20 2011: I thought the United States as well as some of the western European countries have already tried mixing the two systems?
  • thumb
    Jun 17 2011: That would be good idea.
    Very simplistic way I feel the strength of Capitalism is driving innovation through competition , while strength of Socialism is in it's commitment to meet at least basic needs of society at large.
    Combining these two sounds great !

    Would love to hear & learn more from the experinces of people who have exposure to both system.
    • thumb
      Jun 17 2011: Thanks Salim! So I am not alone ;)

      Yes, the idea of competition get's us from our lazy butts. This was the main hurdle in socialism, there was no gain, no pain, so the common people took it the easy way, resulting in stricter state control, system in crisis and even more control / less freedoms.

      At the same time competition has gone too far in capitalism; competition should be a means to an end, and for the sake of competition ( highest numbers on a bankaccount vs the competition).

      On your last point "commitment to meet at least basic needs", we will not have a 'socialist' government, hell has to break loose for that... So who or which institution will take the responsibility to meet at least the basic needs for a region?
      • thumb
        Jun 18 2011: Yes I am with you Paul:)
        In current concept of state , country the responsibility goes to goverment. Well with present face of democracy don't now whether that kind of benevolent government could be in power ever.......

        to add more about strength of capitalism with innovation I would say it's productivity as well
  • thumb
    Jun 16 2011: i would strongly oppose the notion of capitalism = mefirst and socialism = wefirst.

    first, wefirst kind of thinking is various. religions, nationalism, and all sort of collectivism comes here.

    second, capitalism is not mefirst. the essence of capitalism is cooperation. it is based on the thought that mutually beneficial social exchange on individual level drives the society and the economy forward. maybe we can say capitalism is also wefirst, but not as weallfirst, but youandmefirst, and the you varies from time to time.
    • thumb
      Jun 16 2011: Thank you for wondering about the definitions of both systems in relation to MeFirst/WeFirst. I appreciate your input very much.

      The idea of "capitalism is cooperation sounds good", but this is lost I think, like the idea of socialism has been long lost.

      All systems are based on moving stuff around, for this we invented money. In this basic notion, capitalism is, I think, = Me First ; "I am the boss off the company so my main decision making is primary for my personal financial profit and if the company gets bigger the financial profit of the company. The ideology of cooperation comes in second, as a means to get financial profit.

      When I read and hear about socialism, the good parts, I have to come to the conclusion socialism = We First. ; The basic moving around of stuff for survival is arranged for us by us. As a community we take care of ourselves, there is not much choice, though in the good socialist times looking at the good parts everybody had a job and food/housing security. And what I hear from many people the quality of food was better, quality above quantity.

      This is the starting point of my search, the essence of capitalism and socialism is lost. Socialism had a peak where power corrupted the good parts of the system, Capitalism is in the middle of realizing power corrupts the system. The capitalist system is still running because it is still possible to expand on new territories/nations. Though we are running out of space to expand, and what will we do then...
      • thumb
        Jun 17 2011: by capitalism i meant capitalism and not this ... thing ... we have today. big sharks and interest groups fighting for bigger slice of the humongous central budget. i don't want to take the best parts of it.
        • thumb
          Jun 18 2011: :) true.. so maybe we don't have good parts currently.. didn't think of that yet.
  • thumb
    Jun 16 2011: Good question Paul. I think the focus should be on determining the right balance between government spending and non-government spending. And this balance should be determined through the democratic process (representative government).

    Not sure how things are in Europe now, but in the US the government has been captured by corporations. Recent Supreme Court decisions have given corporations the right to spend as they please on elections and thus control the decision making. This upsets the balance.

    How much influence do corporations have in Europe?
    • thumb
      Jun 16 2011: Thanks Tim! On your question; Corporations have quite an influence in Europe, though sponsoring political parties is in most countries forbidden as far as I know.

      Corporations need to be involved, as in essence they are simply collaborations between people to achieve something of use. The thing is their motivations to needing a certain policy needs to be balanced on long term (7 generations ahead) effect vs short term gain. Also the moral question if we need the products/service for survival of communities or luxury because we are able to do create something.
  • thumb
    Jun 16 2011: You've changed the name three times now!
    • thumb
      Jun 16 2011: Now it is final. It was too complicated... How did you notice?! ;) Any other input?
      • thumb
        Jun 16 2011: I can't go to in depth out of fear of caricaturization of both systems.

        Well in the future I hope corporation and people are motivated by more than money, whether socialists or capitalists.
  • thumb
    Jun 16 2011: Why we should talk?

    a. In the past there has always been a 'better alternative' for any society/political system. The last one is communism, for the people who wanted to get rid off communism they just had to open the borders for capitalism. And now what? What is the better alternative for the 21th century?

    b. We complain about politics, borders, tax, corporations. We would like to fire all off them sometimes. But who will take seat? Which experience/educational background? Can computers deal with corruption so we can function without political parties and leaders? I think we need something not?

    c. Corporations are collaborations, and these mega groups are running the world. They function fine as long a there is a lot of money and possible profit. Besides the profit is taken from the peoples quality of life, when the money stops, the corporations stop. There is no alternative survival/food system I am aware off... You?