NEWS AND VIEWS
Posted at 11/07/12 - 12:25 PM Capitalism is often seen as the fountainhead of political liberty - freedom of speech and association, and freedom from persecution.
Socialism and Liberty
According to Margaret Thatcher "There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty." (Here "economic liberty" is used to mean capitalism. That would have been fine in the 18th century however now the term should be used to refer to socialism where workers get to break the shackles of capitalism.)
In Chapter 1 of Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom we read:
"Viewed as a means to the end of political freedom, economic arrangements are important because of their effect on the concentration or dispersion of power. The kind of economic organization that provides economic freedom directly, namely, competitive capitalism, also promotes political freedom because it separates economic power from political power and in this way enables the one to offset the other."
One way this works is through patronage. Friedman mentions among others Engels who gave Marx financial support.
There has certainly been an historical connection to capitalism. It is impossible to imagine the emergence of any sort of freedom under feudalism.
Capitalism in the West is certainly allowing a fair degree of political freedom at the moment. Although those with money and political power can still play "dirty tricks" on occasions.
The real test will come when things begin to go a bit crazy, when a lot of people start talking about socialist revolution or at least start to get a bit rowdy. You could have death squads and fascist gangs crawling out of the wood work. Emergency powers may be introduced "to defend freedom from its enemies".
What about freedom under socialism?
Things will be somewhat less free for the old ruling class. Those who have engaged in counter-revolutionary rebellion may face legal sanctions, in some cases quite severe. The former capitalists will be left with limited funds for organizing opposition. Functionaries obstructing government policy would be removed from their positions and left with reduced career prospects.
What about free speech? Restricting It is generally counterproductive and a sign of serious weakness. There should be access to foreign based counter-revolutionary material (assuming they still exists) and to the published reactionary canon. Individuals should be able to publish their opinions with their own resources, possibly with contributions from subscribers. A reasonably well entrenched socialist regime should be able to tolerate all kinds of tripe. And the average rank and file socialist should be familiar with the views and arguments of opponents.
The government should fund media organizations that support the revolutionary cause but is not under government direction. This would be comparable to the BBC which supports capitalism but is not beholden to the government which funds it.
At the same time the government would certainly be entitled to direct resources to the job of explaining, defending and implementing its policies. This would have to include a lot of material directed at a mass audience.
It is critical that people are free to associate with whoever they want to and to form asasociations and clubs that are not under official auspices or requiring official approval. This would apply whether it is a political group or a touch football competition.
I assume there would be one major revolutionary party that is in government. (I can't imagine it being a coalition of left groups given the disunity that would entail.) It might also have some junior partners representing small business. The latter will need to be kept on side as far as possible in the the initial stage.
There would be other smaller radical groups that may get some political representation if there is proportional representation. I am not sure what the main differences would be over. Divergences to the right and left no doubt but on the specifics I have no idea.
If there had been a rebellion against a popular movement for socialist revolution, a lot of the bourgeoisie would be heavily compromised. Those not dead or imprisoned would be excluded from political life. .
Socialism needs lots of free speech with people challenging or questioning how things operate around them. This is particularly important in resisting those in positions of authority taking the capitalist road.
Historical experience is not as helpful as we might like. Socialism, albeit of a rudimentary kind, was pretty much imposed rather than the result of mass support. The regimes would not have survived if they had been democratic. But this is not a very good basis for existence. Socialism cannot thrive without overwhelming support nor without extensive freedom of speech and action. Under these conditions the capitalist roaders snuck in without much effort and 'socialism' ceased to be something worth supporting.
Title Date Seen God on Socialism (1) 10/22/12 - 10:03 PM 573 Re-Opening the Debates on Economic Calculation and Motivation under Socialism 10/13/12 - 06:19 PM 636 Wealth Tax Remedy for Future Depression 09/12/12 - 12:09 AM 1453 Union Corruption 08/03/12 - 04:50 PM 731 A Tidy Up 07/25/12 - 05:17 PM 470 First Post 07/25/12 - 03:51 PM 415
Posted at 11/07/12 - 12:25 PM
Capitalism is often seen as the fountainhead of political liberty - freedom of speech and association, and freedom from persecution.