Friday, October 21, 2011

Why Socialism?

By Albert Einstein

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has -- as is well known -- been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called "the predatory phase" of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed toward a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and -- if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous -- are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half-unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supranational organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: "Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?"

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept "society" means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society -- in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence -- that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is "society" which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word "society."

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished -- just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human beings which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time -- which, looking back, seems so idyllic -- is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor -- not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production -- that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods -- may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call "workers" all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production -- although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. In so far as the labor contract is "free," what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists' requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the "free labor contract" for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present-day economy does not differ much from "pure" capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an "army of unemployed" almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers' goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Monday, October 17, 2011

America the Ironic

So Libertarians in America are apparently anti-authoritarian and pro-free market. But why be against publicly elected authority figures rather than those who reached such a position through cutthroat individuality. At least in America the government is chosen by majority vote (including the electoral college), but the capitalist elite represent nobody but themselves. The fact that they have so much political sway through their lobbying and campaign donating is the subject of much ire from the citizenry.

True libertarians are wary of autocracy from the private sector and include Anarchists, Social Democrats, and a few of the more self-aware right wingers. There is also such a belief as libertarian communism, but since it has never been properly implemented it has less credence than other theories.

TL;DR: If you think you're anti-authoritarian then you'd also better be against individualistic capitalists' power.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Boycott Newscorp

So it was revealed recently that Rupert Murdoch and the gang of douchebags he employs were hacking into peoples' cellphone messages and emails, including politicians, murder victims, and 9/11 survivors. The Prime Minister of the UK is believed to have been in on the scheme, and several high-ranking scotland yard policemen have resigned their posts following the revelation of the scandal. To make matters even worse, the man who informed the public about the actions of Murdoch's douches was found dead a few days ago, while the Murdoch-bought UK police call it "not suspicious".

If you're like me, you believe that the person who is a big enough douchebag to hire people to hack the phone messages of murder victims is also a big enough douchebag to hire someone to kill the man who is costing his international corporation millions of dollars. That's why I believe we should all boycott newscorp and its shady and illegal practices. Here's a link to a Firefox add-on that warn you when you visit a Murdoch-owned website:

Here's a list of websites to avoid:

Hopefully together we can effect some change in the world.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


It is a clear and obvious fact that all people desire power, and that those in power will desire to remain there. It was the driving force behind every empire ever created, every ruler ever to hold the throne, and every dollar ever made in a capitalist system because money is power. Pure and simple. It therefore follows that wealthy people will have more power than their less-well-off counterparts, and not just in a plutocratic system.
Is this injustice? Do wealthy people deserve to have their wants and needs fulfilled more than those who perhaps own less currency and possessions? Even when the wealthy elite are comprised of a much smaller amount of the population than the proletariat? Mind you, we no longer live in a society wherein a person's wealth is a reflection of his contribution to the general public. Not with all the scheming and dirty dealing that Wall Street has been engaged in since well before the bailouts or even Enron. I am personally of the opinion that a single elementary school teacher has more value to society than all of Goldman Sachs' employees put together.
If you're of the opinion that wealth automatically reflects value to society than you're even further right-wing than one who believes in meritocracy, and my writings will only further anger you.
Unfortunately this seems to be the case in most capitalist western countries. Those with the most political clout are the wealthy individuals and corporations, especially since the historically infamous Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. Politicians in the United States have even stopped concealing their pandering to the interests of the wealthy elite. Karl Rove's organization American Crossroads' sole purpose in the 2010 midterm election was to accept donation money from corporations and distribute it to republican candidates who Rove decided would represent their interests in congress. Say what you want about Karl Rove but the plan worked beautifully. Along with a revival of the politically-illiterate-but-still-active (tea party), American Crossroads allowed the furthest right wing fringes of American politics to be the majority party in the lower house of congress.
And what was the result? A major push back against some of the most beneficial legislation that this country has ever seen. The EPA, NPR, and Planned Parenthood all were threatened with the chopping block since the 2010 midterm election. All were public social programs put in place to benefit the average middle class American. Yet their existence hindered the amount of profit that Wall Street speculators would get away with. One cannot invest in a public institution.
Not to mention the doings of various republican governors, namely those of Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, and Florida, who have actively pursued an agenda of lowering the standards of living for all unionized workers in their states in favor of giving state tax breaks to companies and millionaires in hopes of receiving a favorable jobs report for their term, as well as for ideological purposes.

So this is where were are left. Only those with an annual income of several million dollars and above can have their opinions heard in politics. This is the group of people that make up 2% of the United States population, yet have more wealth than almost 50% of the poorest members of that same population. So if you're like me, you'd like to hear a way to have that poor half of the population have their opinions represented in the government as well. And there is an answer.

I don't mean the watered-down, pansy definition that basically refers to anyone who steps a toe out of line with the corporate fascists. I mean real, actual, redistribution of the wealth, public control of the means of production, Socialism. It is the only conceivable means, in my opinion, of assuring that every single human being in the country receives a modicum of power.

Now this wouldn't be communism. There would be no forced equality beyond assured equality of opportunity. There would be no proletariat base rules by an authoritarian elite just as oppressive as the bourgeoisie.

If anyone has any criticisms of what I've written, I'd simply love to hear them.

P.S. If you're among those who use the terms Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism, and/or Liberalism interchangeably, just don't even bother with this blog since you are politically illiterate to the point where I'm surprised you remember how to breathe.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Walker's Base

Over the past few days, Governor Scott Walker has been imposing his will over the obviously unwilling state of Wisconsin. He has been busy cutting education and workers' rights
This, predictably has caused a huge backlash from the citizens of the state, who value their progressive stances on almost every social issue. They prefer educating the youth of the nation over giving tax breaks to the people who need it least.

So why is it that so few supporters of Governor Walker have spoken out since the debate started? Perhaps because less than 20% of the state's population physically voted for the Governor.

Wisconsin's census measured population was measured to be 5.6 million in 2010, the year the election took place. As you can see, less than half the population even participated in the election, and of those who did, just over 50% voted for Walker.
What's more, the Sunlight Foundation, an organization dedicated to exposing campaign funding in state and federal elections reports that Scott Walker was the highest receiver of Koch money on the state level during the 2010 election.
The Koch brothers are multi-billionaires who have donated huge amounts of money to the tea party movement and other Astroturf (fake grassroots) conservative causes. And though the Sunlight Foundation only covers $43,000 in donations to Walker's campaign, they don't record secondary contributions. The Koch brothers are reported to have bought several political ads during Walker's campaign, with costs numbering in the millions.

So the lesson to take form this is that Scott Walker was only elected through the use of millions of corporate dollars, with votes from a very small segment of the population, and that he is now imposing his will on an obviously unwilling people.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Soros vs Murdoch

In the news, two billionaires have been feuding over exactly who controls more of the mindless drones (middle class) in America. If you're the type who thinks with their Glen Beck, you'll immediately take sides. If you're the "Obama is the best president ever" type, you'll immediately pick the other side. So let's prove them both wrong by looking at the facts.

The two billionaires are George Soros and Rupert Murdoch. Obviously the two both have inordinate control over the political processes in the developed world, highlighting the more obvious flaws in our political systems. Personally, I believe we should implement a separation of corporation and state in a similar fashion that the US has a separation of church and state.

Net worth:
Soros- ~$14.2 billion
Murdoch- ~$6.2 billion

Soros is the obvious winner. If he put his mind to it, the man could probably buy half of Europe. But where does he spend his money? What does he influence?

Relevant Political contributions:
Soros- $23 million Soros made it his personal mission during the 2004 election to defeat incumbent President Bush, which obviously failed. he has also donated over $7 billion to non-partisan causes such as donations to universities.
Murdoch- Though Murdoch was a citizen of Australia until 1987 and was thus unable to contribute to American political campaigns, he is widely regarded as a king maker. He owns NewsCorp which has employed numerous prominent public figures, including Olliver North, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and the political clown Glen Beck.

Winner: Murdoch. Twenty three million dollars towards a failed presidential campaign is insubstantial compared to owning an entire conglomerate of media and biased news outlets.

"Spreading the Message":
Soros: List of journalism provided by Soros (click for link)

Winner: Obviously Murdoch. Here's an info graphic of all his holdings.

Overall winner? It's up to you. Do you believe that Soros' $7 billion contributions over the years solidifies his status as the ultimate evil overlord? Or do you believe Murdoch's ownership of one of the four major broadcast companies still left in the US, as well as fox news, makes his mindless followers more prevalent and potent? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Inequality in the United States

Not many people know, realize, or acknowledge that the gap between the rich and the poor in the US has been growing alarmingly fast over the past 50 or so years. Sure, we've all heard the news about the sorry state of the job market while Wall Street CEOs give each other hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, but most of us never surmised exactly how dark the future looked for us and our children.

Here's a graph showing exactly how big that gap has grown:

And here's how that compares to how Americans want it to be:

Don't get me wrong, an essential part of capitalism involves the rich being insanely wealthy while the rest remain destitute, but the degree to which America is now experiencing that is now nearly unprecedented.
Back in 2008, the US passed a .45 on the Gini Ratio, the ratio which measures the concentration of wealth. If a nation were to reach a Gini ratio of exactly 1, the wealth of that nation would lie solely in the hands of a single individual. As it stands, America's coefficient is surpassed only by third-world countries.

Now, one in five Americans shows an inability to afford food:

So what can you do with this knowledge? Simply have it, and know it, and act upon it as you see fit. For a brighter future.