Left, Right, or Middle?

How do you feel about the following excerpt from this CNN article? Are you one of the “many Americans?” Or do you lean more heavily in one direction or the other?

Despite the tribal and situational nature of modern American politics, many Americans seem to fall somewhere between the center-left to center-right of the political spectrum.

If a viable third alternative fails to emerge, these people may cast protest votes for people not actually running, or will simply refuse to vote for anyone at the top of the ticket — and they may do so in record numbers.

These voters want a candidate who believes in capitalism, reasonably regulated market-based solutions to problems, social tolerance and acceptance, and constructive international engagement that embraces America’s global leadership role while supporting allies and stiff-arming adversaries. Most of all they’ll want someone who conducts himself or herself in a thoughtful, deliberate and measured way. They want stability, not chaos and recklessness. Stated another way, they don’t want a demagogue or fanatic, just a reasonably normal human being. The political center of the country desperately wants to vote for a candidate who can reassure them that America is not descending into an unrecognizable political and constitutional abyss.

I find the second paragraph distressing, albeit highly possible.

The final paragraph pretty much lays out my personal political perspective.

Where do you stand?

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

48 thoughts on “Left, Right, or Middle?

  1. These voters want a candidate who believes in capitalism, reasonably regulated market-based solutions to problems, social tolerance and acceptance, and constructive international engagement that embraces America’s global leadership role while supporting allies and stiff-arming adversaries. Most of all they’ll want someone who conducts himself or herself in a thoughtful, deliberate and measured way. They want stability, not chaos and recklessness

    That may be what they want, but if any moderate voted for Trump over Clinton (or vote for him come November) then they voted for exactly the opposite of their goal. Frankly, how and why there are any moderates left in the Republican party, since the rise of Trump, is beyond me.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It depends on the issue. I consider myself a left-leaning (more or less) moderate Democrat. I do not vote for other options. I am a “yellow dog” Dem, so that BS in paragraph two does not apply. I am also an old white guy with a career military background. Things change over time and so do I, but I think you (Nan) and I probably share much of the same page. I have very little hair left, but it stands straight up some fool stereotypes me into some right wing pigeon hole. I am not a pacifist, but I like to say I’m anti war, unless we need to :-).

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  3. It seems to me (an outsider looking in) that the ‘centre’ in the US has been dragged so far to the right that what you now call the centre is what the rest of the industrialised world would call the right. Our Liberals in Australia (the conservative party) is pretty much left of your Democrats.

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    • So, John, that last paragraph in my post … is that a “right-leaning” perspective in your definition?

      BTW, do you live in Australia or Brazil … or both?


      • It is, because there’s actually no mention of healthcare, education, the arts, the environment. Presently, Americans seem to think paid maternity leave, for example, is a radical “left” idea when it’s been a reality in the rest of the world for decades and decades. Using that one example, the Liberals Party in Australia (our ‘conservatives’) might push some policy that limits an employers financial role in this, like the worker paying into some form of insurance, but on a whole, as a standard benefit, the Liberals would never even dream of removing it. The thought wouldn’t even cross their minds.

        Does that make sense?

        I’m in Brazil, but live with a foot on both shores.


        • Perhaps this description could be considered more of a summation rather than a complete statement … because I hardly think of myself as “right-leaning.”

          In any case, it’s no wonder “politics” is such a button-pushing topic. The various and sundry “positions” never seem to cover all the bases, so a person has to sorta’ pick and choose what “feels good” to them. Except, of course, when it comes to the Trump puppets since they all know where they stand!

          Another question … are the politics of Brazil and Australia similar? Or do you lean more towards one than the other?


          • I think Newt Gingrich, and especially Fox News, has a lot to answer for regarding the politics of polarisation.

            And I’m not calling you “right-leaning,” rather that the entire political landscape in the US has been dragged so far to the right that the centre is no-longer what the rest of the world would call the centre.

            Australian politics, like Canadian and NZ politics I think, is thankfully benign. There are hints of silly polarisation, but it’s generally frowned upon. (I’ll post a video below of a NZ politician which I think you’ll like.)

            Brazil… well, Brazil has an absolute fuckwit as president right now. A true idiot. And he’s there because the opposition is utterly hopeless.

            Now, enjoy the video, and remember politics can be funny, and humane, and smart, and work for the common good.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Two problems … can’t understand him (!) and no closed caption — which I need on pretty much all videos. Do you have another link that might offer it?


            • Hi Nan, There’s a transcription

              Mr Speaker, I too will be taking a split call with my colleague Jami-Lee Ross. It is sort of the young and the vibrant versus the old and the boring. And so I knew, yeah and members of the House will be forced to choose which one is which, sir.

              Sir, I want to first of all congratulate Louisa Wall for this bill, and I want to say sir that the good news about the years in this Parliament is you learn to deflect all of the dreadful sort of fire and brimstone accusations that are going to happen, sir. I’ve had a reverend in my local electorate call, the gay onslaught will start the day after this bill is passed. Sir, we are really struggling to know what the gay onslaught will look like.

              We don’t know if it will come down the Pakuranga Highway as a series of troops, or whether it will be a gas that flows in over the electorate and blocks us all in. I also say I had a Catholic priest tell me that I was supporting an unnatural act. I found that quite interesting coming from someone who has taken an oath of celibacy for his whole life.

              I always say celibacy, okay, we will go with celibacy. Okay, I haven’t done it, so I don’t know what it is about. I also had a letter telling me I would burn in the fires of hell for eternity. And that was a bad mistake, because I’ve got a degree in physics. I used the thermodynamic laws of physics. I put in my body weight and my humidity and so on. I assumed the furnace to be at 5,000 degrees and I will last for just on 2.1 seconds. It’s hardly eternity, what do you think?

              And some more disgusting claims about what adoption would be? Well, sir, I’ve got three fantastic adopted kids. I know how good adoption is, and I’ve found some of it just disgraceful. I found some of the bullying tactics really evil. And sir, I gave up being scared of bullies when I was at primary school.

              However, a huge amount of the opposition was from moderates, from people who were concerned, who were seriously worried, what this might do to the fabric of our society. I respect their concern. I respect their worry. They were worried about what it might to do to their families and so on.

              Let me repeat to them now sir, all we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognized by way of marriage. That is all we are doing.

              We are not declaring nuclear war on a foreign State. We are not bringing a virus in that could wipe out our agricultural sector for ever. We are allowing two people who love each other to have that recognized, and I can’t see what’s wrong with that for love nor money. So I just cannot, I cannot understand why someone would be opposed. I understand why people don’t like what it is that others do, that’s fine. We are all in that category. But I give a promise to those people who are opposed to this bill right now. I give you a watertight guaranteed promise. The sun will still rise tomorrow.

              Your teenage daughter will still argue back with you as if she knows everything. Your mortgage will not grow. You will not have skin diseases or rashes, or toads in your bed, sir. The world will just carry on. So don’t make this into a big deal. This is fantastic for the people it affects, but for the rest of us, life will go on.

              And finally, can I say sir, one of the messages I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought. This bill was the cause of our drought. Well, if any of you follow my Twitter account, you will see that in the Pakuranga electorate this morning it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate. It has to be a sign, sir. It has to be a sign. If you are a believer, it’s certainly a sign. And can I finish, for all those who are concerned about this, with a quote from the Bible. It’s Deuteronomy. I thought Deuteronomy was a cat out of catch, but never mind. It’s Deuteronomy Chapter 1 Verse 29 “Be ye not afraid.”

              I don’t think there are too many Kiwi-isms in there to cause any issues. An electorate is what I think Americans call a voting district. Maurice Williamson represented the Pakuranga electorate at that time (2013)

              I’ve posted that or a similar video clip somewhere on my blog, but I don’t recall if the sound quality was as bad. Besides, I live and breath the Kiwi accent, and while it’s not the same as the Australian one, it’s close enough for the average Aussie to get the gist of. On my first visit to the US I found to my dismay that most of what I said was unintelligible to Americans

              Such speeches are not uncommon in Parliament here, and mostly politicians stick to criticising policies, not other politicians.

              John’s absolutely right about when he says the centre in America is way out on the right compared to much of the rest of the world. Our National Party, which is our largest right of centre political party is way left of any Democrat chasing the presidential ticket.

              Politics here changed for the better since the introduction of the MMP voting system in 1996. Since then no party has had a majority in Parliament, and the practice of having very loose coalitions, means that sometimes the major party in a governing coalition requires the assistance of their major opponents to pass some legislation into law. That requires negotiating in good faith, which isn’t going to happen if attacks get personal.

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            • Thank you for taking the time to do this, Barry. An interesting speech. One phrase stood out to me–This bill was the cause of our drought–because it sounded so much like something our retarded leader would say.

              I guess I have to admit I’m an ignoramus when it comes to separating the left, right, and middle in politics. All I know are the conditions I would like to live under. Putting a “label” on my preferences seems artificial, but then who am I to argue with the rest of the world?

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            • You are as well qualified as any, Nan, and more so than many. What I comprehend in your position is that there isn’t a readily identifiable centrist candidate you could gladly endorse, a candidate that upholds and champions classical liberal values shared by MOST citizens. You are being told the central position has shifted far to the right (as if these liberal values were way more conservative in nature than today’s liberalism, which they are not). I see this as a tactic to try to place you by identity further out on the Left than you feel you actually are. Again, I think strong principles matter and holding firm to these will keep you squarely planted in the political center no matter which strong winds of opinion to push you into identifying with this side or that.

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            • Labels are relative. Left and right are relative to centrist, and what is centrist will vary by location and era. Thinking in absolutes is a mistake.

              I have the same issue when people discuss Christianity, especially some of the criticism leveled at it. I suspect my understanding of what Christianity is all about will be totally different to yours. I personally don’t think the label Christian fits me, but some Christians and atheists think the label fits. On the other hand some Christians and atheists think I’m atheist because of my beliefs, while some Christians consider I’m a heretic, or even worse, an agent of the Devil. As I said, it’s all relative.

              Liked by 1 person

            • We can blame the French for dividing the National Assembly into the binary factions by diving where the representatives sat on the left or right.

              But there’s an interesting argument to be made that the legal respect for individual rights is the core principle that defines the Right. Ideologies and perspectives that violate individual rights can be placed on the Left. Between the two positions lies that difficult balancing act to try to support both when appropriate.


  4. I don’t see why Americans insist on staying capitalist when capitalism is what led to the huge income inequality that separates the wealthy 1% from the not-so-wealthy 99%. Capitalism is an elitist political/economic system. It is time to get rid of it.
    What to replace it with? A kind of social capitalism, where wages are decided as a percentage of the income, including all management positions, and profits are capped at something like 10% of income (or some such government regulated numbers so the highest salary is less than 5% higher than that the lowest monthly wage). Prices too are regulated, so that everyone can afford quality goods.
    This is what should be a centrist political system, IMO.

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  5. As an outsider, I see this article in a totally different light. First, the 40% or so people who are decidedly Trump voters are not looking for a moderate. This article looks like a way to convince the majority that this is what they want and not a Sanders presidency or Warren. What I do not know is whether those who oppose Sanders or Warren so muck know how hard it would be to make the country purely socialist?

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    • Yes, getting Trump out of office is the imperative because it is a symptom that is killing the host. But it’s not the solution to the disease that is populism – a disease that is unquestionably growing throughout the Western world and not just the US. When over 60% of the population insists that a far Left candidate is even worse and they can never vote for such a candidate, then it’s insane to think such a candidate will succeed in doing what you and I know is imperative. Doing the same thing – voting for anyone but Trump – and expecting a different result is what is truly insane.


      • I’m not sure what relevance a “far left candidate” has in this context, since there are none running.

        Most polls in the RCP average show Sanders beating Trump. Of course, by the standards of any normal country Sanders is a solidly centrist candidate, and most of what he advocates is already in place in most of the advanced world, so this is hardly surprising. I’m not sure a moderate-right candidate like Biden or Buttigieg would do any better. At least, that’s what the polling data says, and that’s the only hard data we have.

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        • Something that baffles me are the descriptive terms used for the various political stances.

          For example, the description of “centrist” is The political doctrine that supports the rights and powers of the common people in their struggle with the privileged elite. Yet so many seem to want to put the tag of “socialist” (one who advocates state ownership of industry) on candidates who, it seems to me anyway, actually support a centrist doctrine (e.g., Sanders, Warren)

          (BTW, these definitions are taken from an app on my computer called “WordWeb.”)

          Then of course, there are the various hues and shades that slightly color each definition.


          So, referring back to what I said in my post … I feel that last paragraph fits what I’d like to see in a political leader, so whatever “label” one wants to put on me is up to them.


          • State ownership of the means of production is communism.

            Communism is the old USSR or Cuba. Socialism is present-day Denmark or Sweden (at least, the wingnut/libertarian element always screams “socialism!” whenever anybody advocates policies similar to what those countries have).

            There’s an Orwellian move afoot to re-define socialism as being essentially the same thing as communism. Don’t fall for it. The intent is that whenever anybody advocates the kind of policies that Scandinavia (or pretty much all developed countries other than the US) have, the enemy can start yammering about Venezuela or the Gulag. It’s fundamentally intellectually dishonest.

            The policies Sanders advocates are mainstream in the rest of the developed world, not particularly rightist or leftist. That’s why I say he’s a centrist.

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            • It’s been said elsewhere … and I tend to agree … that “socialism” and “communism” are permanently linked in the minds of some people who were living in the 1950’s. And it is this group of people who tend to be more vocal about their political stance.

              Unfortunately, the anxiety and apprehension of those days has never completely dissipated so many of these people tend to see ghosts where there are none.

              I do hope within the next 20-30 years, when most of this segment of the population has “passed on,” that a more realistic view of “politics” becomes predominant. And that we will “catch up” with the more “sane” thinking countries.

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            • Indeed. Here in Finland, a country that is not so different from the Scandinavian countries, such politicians as Sanders would be seen as moderate centrists, perhaps even left leaning right-wing politicians. Far right from our current prime minister and not far left from our president. But he himself has made the claim, that he is a socialist and now he pays the prize.

              Looking at Russia today it is hard to understand what happened after the fall of Soviet Union. We all, who had been there and live nearby it, thought that the reason they wanted the communists out, was that the Russians were fed up with authoritarian leadership and a terrible lack of democracy. Perhaps the people who were were the ones at the center of the change. Obviously we were also wrong, because lack of democracy and authoritarian leadership are the very things the Russians specifically did not give up. They gave up on an absolute job certainty, free education, higher education if one was smart enough and free healthcare, in exchange for the freedom of a very few individuals to make enormous profits on the privatization of state owned and delveloped industry and some consumer goods, some of them now can afford. Everybody remembers the Soviet Union for prison camps for the political dissidents, but most of that had already dissolved after Stalin died. There were political prisoners in the late Soviet Union, but there are political prisoners in Russia today. Today many people have better access to a number of consumer goods, but many people are even poorer than they used to be under the Soviet regime.

              The prison camps were not the product of communism, or socialism, but they gave a bad taste and a bad reputation to the Soviet Union. They were the product of authoritarian culture. They existed in Russia long before the Soviet Union (Stalin himself was sent to one during his rebel years) and dissolved during it, but political prisoners still exist in this new modern capitalist Russia. (Heck, there are political prisoners in Finland and in the US today.) Nobody will remember Soviet Union as the phase of Russian history when the prison camps created by the tzars were torn down, because at first they extended them and because they did not tear them down right away.

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            • Here in Finland, a country that is not so different from the Scandinavian countries, such politicians as Sanders would be seen as moderate centrists, perhaps even left leaning right-wing politicians.

              That makes sense, and is what I would have expected. My perception of it is, Sanders and people with his policies want to make the US a normal Western country, which right now it is not. Again, most polls in the RCP average show him defeating Trump. So his positions are not fringe or extreme even for American voters, as they are often portrayed.

              We all, who had been there and live nearby it, thought that the reason they wanted the communists out, was that the Russians were fed up with authoritarian leadership and a terrible lack of democracy.

              That was probably the case, though I suspect economic decline was a big contributor to discontent as well. The problem is that what “the Russians”, in the sense of the broad mass of people, wanted was never the main factor shaping what happened. The fall of the Soviet state did not get rid of entrenched corruption. A bungled privatization process allowed a small elite to corner much of the country’s wealth. The economy didn’t improve. The situation was ripe for disillusionment and the rise of a demagogue like Putin. Once a dictator is entrenched, of course, mass support can be more or less manufactured by control of the media, though in fact it’s rather dubious how much real support the Putin regime has.

              The blather in this country that socialism = communism = gulag is just more of the same demagoguery designed to brainwash people to stop thinking. Fortunately we still have freedom of expression here, to debunk such nonsense.

              Liked by 2 people

    • It is at our own peril, if people don’t vote because their favorite democrat is not on the ticket or simply, they don’t like anyone and in this case, in particular, that is giving the vote to trump.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. well, if you don’t have a political cohort to belong to, I guess we just define one … by taking half of of the polity out of the middle and then telling us what half of the polity thinks. I remember way back when when “reporters” and “commentators” (actually commenters, a commentator is an ordinary potato) responded to “news” rather than tried to create it.

    This is why I do not watch CNN or MSNBC and certainly not Fox (sic) News. As the quantity of “coverage” went up, the quality went down … down … down … more than proportionately it appears. I have tried several newspapers, leading to finally the NY Times and then gave up on them altogether. I get most of my news from foreign sources as their news corporations don’t seem to have agendas as powerful as ours.


  7. One thing to consider: if by some miracle we do elect a Democratic president, no matter how old, how world weary, how doddery, even if he (or she or they) falls down dead three days after the inauguration, we still have a Democrat in the white house… and will have, for four years. Really.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m actually with you on this particular issue, Nan. This continuing trend of polarization and screaming demagoguery is precisely why I’m no longer that interested in politics. The problem seems to be that the reasonable moderates get shouted down on both sides. It’s too much “us against them” and no one listening to each other. I suspect that CNN is right about this, that this is where a lot of Americans are.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. never liked labels, it sometimes forces you into position and postures you don’t necessarily agree with: like being labeled “class clown” because you once made the teacher laugh, in third grade. Forever after, you are known as the class clown, for good or ill.
    It also means that whether you or someone else labels you, it’s a lot harder to change.

    And as Mel says, it’s really polarizing.


  10. “These voters want a candidate who believes in capitalism, reasonably regulated market-based solutions to problems, social tolerance and acceptance, and constructive international engagement that embraces America’s global leadership role while supporting allies and stiff-arming adversaries.”

    Looking at this from the outside of the USA, I would say, that the list of demands for the candidate sounds quite American. Amrican in the sense of the United States of America, not the majority of Americans. Maybe it represents what many of us think is good about the US.

    However, belief in capitalism is much like the belief in any other ideology. Belief is always based on the experiences and world view of the believer. It is not necessarily dependant on the actual facts. Capitalism in this is seen as a social method and a set of values that produces wealth. In reality that wealth is always extracted from somewhere and thus capitalism is only a method of income transference. Usually the income of the poor transferred to the rich, from whom some wealth “trickles down” to a some form of middle classes, that exist to safeguard the priviledges of the rich (and their own). Tribal moralism is the bane of any democratic nation.

    As to the “America’s global leadership role”, that is a concept highly exaggerated to the US voter. The US citizens and even journalists see no problem of addressing the US president as the “leader of the free world”, what ever that is. I can assure you, that is not as what that position looks like from the outside, nor has it ever. One could just as well address the queen of England by the very same title and it would hold just about as much plausibility, exept that perhaps today even the British would not believe that.


    • Raut, your definition of capitalism is only believed by those who know nothing about capitalism as it is in reality.

      For example, your local hospital was not ‘transferred’ into being from the working poor to suit the greed of the rich by some trickle down economic process. Yet there it is. What’s missing are the masses of people you believe whose wealth was transferred from them into the creation of this facility. So, too, are the rich people missing who now you believe have all this transferred wealth. Something is missing here. And it starts with you not understanding how capitalism works to create wealth.

      Your definition of the economic system in which prosperity and the welfare of humanity has consistently grown does not fit with with reality. That hospital is not an ideological criticism to your understanding but a factual one that reveals your understanding of how it has come into being is truly distorted.


      • Tildeb, I think I have a pretty clear picture of how capitalism works. What I do not understand is, how you think the local hospital here has anything at all to do with capitalism. What do you mean? How was capitalism required for the hospital to exist?


        • Capitalism, in nutshell, is private individuals working for themselves, spending their time and effort for gain. Everything about that hospital was built and staffed by individuals working in exchange for their personal gain… usually in the form of an exchange selling their labour/expertise/abilities for a common currency greater than doing so elsewhere. It’s that ‘greater than’ which is so vilified because the typical name is ‘profit’ but presented as ‘greed’. Without the profit motive of gaining a common currency greater in value than the investment of time and effort, say, in comparison for some number of tulips or weight in herring as the exchange, individuals would have to be forced to build and staff it… with the known result of shoddiness, inefficiencies, and poor accountability. Capitalism is what you do when you exchange your effort and time for money and you do not do this by transferring wealth from the poor into your pocket because you’re rich. That’s ideology talking. You receive money in fair compensation, in acceptable compensation, for your time and effort. If you do not receive this to your own satisfaction, you will change how you spend your time and effort.

          My criticism of your point is the ideological assumption that capitalism – capitalism that you yourself engage in every day – is not transferring wealth from the poor to the rich. It is all about an equitable and profitable exchange of value.

          That hospital is an example of how capitalism creates greater benefit to the individuals who use its services, has a greater created value than not having one. It was not built by transferring wealth from the poor to the rich but as one tiny example of capitalism at work creating greater prosperity for the community it serves
          as a significant source of employment and ongoing compensation that is transferred throughout the community it serves, but increases the welfare of those who live in the community in which it has been built… built by money that profited every individual who built it.

          Profit is a motivator for all kinds of social good. Without it, much of that public good is lost and everyone poorer for lacking it under a different economic system. Capitalism is the heart and soul of human transactions.


          • Tildeb, capitalism under your very, very broad definition could just as well be labelled as a monetary system. That definition of capitalism is pretty much useless. By your definition even the Soviet Union was a capitalist country simply because they paid various salaries as incentives to produce goods for the citizens to be able to buy by money. I doubt many US voters would agree with you there. That is simply not what they understand by the word capitalism. Is it? This post however, was about politics and in politics capitalism is defined in a lot more specific sense. Is it not? Especially when belief in capitalism is mentioned in reference to a US political candidate. Yes?

            The hospital nearby me, was built by the city I live in and by the Finnish state. It was paid by taxpayers and profits taken from city and government owned companies. Not to make profits for anybody, but to provide healthcare. It serves everybody, not just those who can afford the care. It is not owned by a capitalist and it is not dependant on the descision making of a capitalist owner. It existing has very little, if anything at all to do with capitalism and certainly no actual capitalism or the capitalist was necessary for it to exist (unless you want to make the claim, that everybody is a capitalist, wich would make the word just lose all meaning).

            Actually, we had an attempt to capitalize on the wellfare system here in Finland just a while ago. It was a scandal. Some communal carehouses for the elderly were privatized and then sold to international “healthcare” companies. Their capitalist shareholders thought this to be a good investment and wanted bigger profits. They demanded the carehouses are to be run with less workers and thus some of the elderly people got abandoned on the floors, if they woke up at night and could not get back to their beds, because there were not enough nurses there to take care of them. This is not the only example how capitalism fails the society again and again. Is it? It is, however, a perfect example of how capitalism is an incentive for income transference from the poor to the rich. Is it not?

            If capitalism was commonly understood as the neutral concept you refer to, then there would be no need for any US politician to make the claim that they “believe in capitalism”. That statement would make no sense at all, now would it? Or is this wider concept for capitalism, you refer to, becoming a more widely accepted meaning for the word in politics and by the general public? I would be surprized, but that would not be the first time I was…

            Social good is the motivator for all kinds of social goods, like hospitals that serve everybody. Profit is the motivator for personal gain and at worst may even mean, that the helpless position of sick people is abused to produce profits for the owners of a hospital, but only as long as the sick can pay for the treatment. So that the value of individual human lives are counted in monetary terms.


            • Do you believe you own your own means of production or do you believe someone else does? Again, my point to you is that that hospital was built by willing labour, labour used in the capitalism sense of the term that was offered in exchange for personal profit, and not by ‘transferring’ wealth from the poor to the rich as you said. That’s my central criticism of your original comment. Your mandated transfer of wealth is not capitalism but its antithesis. This is why I say you understand what capitalism is.

              If you believe you have the right to own your own means of production, choose how you will invest your own time, effort, and labour, you ‘believe’ in capitalism. You are a capitalist. Capitalism is the term used for the system of governance that legally recognizes that individuals have the right to own their own means of production.

              I found this underground capitalism was alive and commonplace in the old Soviet Union and Albania but far less so in China where family welfare and not individuals reigned the highest virtue. Even in non-capitalistic societies, however, individuals still worked around the State sanctions against such efforts whether for themselves or their family. Individual initiative in such places was heavily discouraged by both law and many ‘official’ social norms. In fact, many people died from committing this crime against the state. The state owned the means to production and not the individuals who populated it. We have good evidence what happens to an economy when this anti-capitalistic model is put into effect. It withers. Innovation dies. Efficiencies are disregarded. Economies tank. Fortunately for the involved civilian populations, these same governments are now learning to ease off the leash if they want prosperity so this means allowing restrained versions of capitalism. But that is a very real threat to the central communal value of these socialist states.

              What most people want in the West is regulated capitalism (which has worked remarkably well to give rise to the betterment of the human condition globally without altering the fundamental rights of the individual in law that has proven to be done only to the detriment of the host populations). Socialism, in stark contrast, is a direct attack on these individual rights – your rights, Rautakyy – not just regulating but inhibiting individual rights in law. That’s why a Bernie Sanders – who is not a Democratic but a clear cut unapologetic socialist – is such a fundamental threat to the country. The threat is to change the core value of what constitutes an American (hence, the elevated position of the Constitution in law) and alter the country into a socialist model that elevates the state’s rights, the communal rights as defined by a ruling directorate or politburo, over the individual.


  11. Tildeb, since you are closer to the American culture, than I, it is interresting to learn from you how the concept of capitalism is understood there. It should ease our discourse, that even if we do not agree on the meaning of words, we at very least know what the other party thinks the same words mean. I must admit I am surprized by the idea, that the American journalist who wrote the article as quoted in the topic post, would have meant by capitalism the idea of it in the most extremely broad utopian terms you refer to. I guess it is possible, even though to me it seems to render the entire word capitalism quite meaningless. Or perhaps it is just political rhetoric, in which sometimes such concepts are thrown to describe the politicians virtuous intentions in such a general way, that they are not really even meant to mean anything specific, rather provide a landscape of mind where the politician and the voter can agree on something without the politician actually telling what they are going to do in office after election. The main question about capitalism is wether the capitalist through their capital have more social and economic power, than the democratically elected politician and should they have that power?

    As to your questions. Most people in the world do not own their means of production. Most people around the globe are not paid enough “profit” for their work to accumulate any sort of capital. Most people exchange their work for just enough of money to survive on. Most people have not made a descion to sell their labour and skills to any particular employer, but have had to do so to the one employer who was willing to take their labour to make profit and more capital for themselves from what they can extract from the work done by the worker, while the workers get paid to survive, perhaps enjoy life just a little and provide for their loved ones. Almost everybody “owns” their hands and creative minds since the abolition of slavery, wich was a capitalist system that provided profit and capital to the slave owners (the slaves being part of their capital), but the means of production do not refer to hands or minds. The workers in a factory do not own their means of production if it is not owned by them. The company that runs the factory does. The company in turn is owned either by a private or public owner and to the owner goes the proceeds of the work done at the factory. This is so wether the country where the factory and the workers are is a socialist or capitalist country.

    I still do not think the grand populace of the US would think, that the Soviet Union was a capitalist country. Not because there was some sort of “underground capitalism” there (that used to be called called the black market or even profeteering), or the fact that the Soviet citizens got paid for their work and could buy consumer products and even accumlate a little personal ownership such as their own houses, cars and holiday cabins. Do you? The Soviet Union was hardly a dream state, on that almost anybody can agree, but the problems it faced were not due to it being an Atheist run country any more than it being a Socialist run country. Russia faces today the very same problems it had during the late soviet era, of lacking democracy, cultural authoritarianism and widespread corruption. Those are the very same problems Russia had before the Soviets took over. Infact, they were the very reasons the why the Soviets did take and were able to take over, and because they failed to solve those problems and rid the Russian society of them, are the reasons why the Soviet Union fell.

    As it happens we have no good evidence of innovation dying, or even efficiency becoming any poorer, as a result of “anti-capitalist” economic model being put to use. Or do you have any actual evidence as to the effect? I can provide examples of exactly the opposite. Soviet Union could match German tanks during world war 2, toe to toe and then by the innovation and efficiency outdo them and Nazi Germany was a prime example of a capitalist state, since they did not even enter actual war economy at any stage of the war. Cuba is a developing country, that has the highest survival infant rates in all of Latin America, despite it being under strict economic embargo for decades. In fact their infant moratlity rate has been equal and even better than that of the US. The Soviet Union rose from a backwater feodal agrarian country to compete with the western industrial powers on almost any level of technology. This was not due to some “underground capitalism”. Was it? India, Indonesia and China had their indipendence at approximately at the same time, none of them have any natural resources, that would have set one apart from the others, but in reality even long before China took to the road of restricted capitalism, it could provide better education and healthcare to it’s citizens. Hardly possible, if innovation and economy had been killed by their ideology. The idea that innovation or the economy needs the capitalist, is a propagandist lie, that gets repeated by people who have not thought it through, but one that serves the purpose of the capitalist to justify their leaching of the society. Here in Finland we had a state owned a significant company, that was developed by the state, supported by the state owned universities where all the innovation came from, and then it was sold to the private capitalists who capitalized it, took economical risks with it and finally lost it.

    As I understand it, capitalism refers to capital. A capitalist is not someone who has hands or a mind, but a person who has aquired enough capital to invest into the means of production and thust to own them. Such as tools or a factory. Are you such a person? I agree with you that the idea of private ownership restricted by the state is very popular at this point of history. I guess the question then becomes, how much restriction is justified in the public interrest. However, I do not think, that the common good achieved as some sort of byproduct of the strive for greater private profits is any better than the acceleration of technological innoventions during great wars. The speed may be staggering, but the human cost is almost inevitably too high. Common good is mostly motivated by the need for common good, not as some byproduct of strive for personal gain. Selfishness is often advertized and excused by the notion that everybody is selfihs, wich is a bit naive thought, because everybody is, but to up to what extent is a nother matter.


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