Let’s Simplify This Thing Called Socialism

I used to belong to a health care website group. However, the site seemed to lose focus. Much time was wasted debating the merits of various political candidates, trying to figure out the lesser evil legislation regarding universal single-payer health care, and various other non-inspiring activities with no real strategy. I posted three times the premiere showing of !Salud!, the magnificent new documentary about Cuban’s international health care system. Only one person from the group showed. I should not have been surprised that only one person from this health care group showed, as that is the way activists in the US are. They waste so much time trying to figure out where we have gone wrong with health care (or other issues), but are so afraid to look at solutions, especially if the solutions originated from a socialist country. At one point, one of the participants who had studied Marxism and socialism as a doctoral candidate in political science got caught-up with the very dogmatic way of interpreting socialism. He complicated the concept of what socialism is and what socialist medicine is and is not. The following was my response to the academic and overcomplicated explanation given by the “expert.”

Let’s simplify this thing called “socialism.” Very basically, capitalism is a way of thinking based on individualism, while socialism is a way of thinking based on society/community. Economics is always present in any system of government. It is the distribution of the money and the profits that significantly differs. The implementation of both capitalism and socialism changes based on various conditions of the times. When socialism’s basic foundation falls to capitalism, its social programs are weakened and/or collapse. When socialism merely adjusts its programs, as Cuba has done, it can not only survive but thrive. When capitalism advances to its highest degree, which is imperialism, it begins its own destruction. It turns into a monster that gobbles up the dignity of human beings by turning them into machines that might make a lot of noise but produce no human rights. Social programs become an undesirable expenditure. The focus is profit. And, it is more profitable to purchase a new healthy human being (perceived as a part of machinery) than it is to support a human being who has been worn down to the bone.

In capitalist thinking society, there is the erroneous belief that all people have equal opportunity (a level playing field) to succeed, and success is mostly based on obtaining money/owning property. Obviously, there is NOT a level playing field when some children grow up in poverty and are not afforded equal and free education, nor nutritious food to keep them healthy, nor housing to make them feel safe and protect them from predators, nor decent medical care. These children are not afforded the social benefits that give them an equal chance to “compete” for “success” as they become adults. Of course, there are some poor who are so bright or so driven or so athletic that they are able to overcome the economic and social obstacles. But, these are few and far between. And, of course, no matter what “class” to which a group of people belong, some are simply not academically inclined; and, cannot compete for the “master” jobs that yield “success” in terms of financial wealth. This does not mean that they are lower creatures nor does it mean that they cannot be useful to society. It simply means that there is not a level playing field in terms of ability to earn money to become a consumer of even basic human rights, such as health care. Last, throughout history race (color) has played a significant role in determining the economic possibilities of the masses of minorities in capitalist-driven countries. (Again, there are always individual exceptions.)

In a socialist thinking society, the goal is equal opportunity for all. That goal, arguably, has never been fully reached by any society. But, some societies are close; and, the important thing is that these societies strive to obtain and maintain the egalitarian objective, while adjusting to various economic circumstances. Cuba is the best example, as it is the ONLY Latin American country that has survived for over 45 years the attacks of imperialism’s economic and military terrorism. William Blum’s Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since WW II discusses US imperialism. Each chapter is a country. Blum discusses about 50 counties in which the US has “intervened” with military, economic, media and other very non-democratic forms of terrorism. The US moneyed interest government hates Cuba because of the example it has set for the rest of Latin America, and now for the world. Blum’s chapter on Cuba is titled “The Unforgivable Revolution.”

Both Fidel and Chavez have stated that each country will develop its own form of socialism, and the method each country chooses will be significantly based on the current economic situation of each country. The important thing is to move away from imperialism (which is the highest degree of capitalism). Neither Cuba nor Venezuela nor other socialist-inclined countries demand that the US implement their way of societal-political organization, but they do demand that the US allow them to continue their way of thinking, acting, and serving humanity. It is the supreme irony that the US, a master of human rights (HR) violations here and around the world, has the audacity to condemn other countries (almost always countries that refuse to be puppets to the US) of HR violations. This irony is deepened even further when the US, UK and other EU countries (puppet countries) do most of the funding for the HR organizations. Following the money is normally the best method to use to explain why people and organizations act as they do.

I agree that the label “socialism” and “socialist medicine” is used as a scare tactic. The question is WHY are the majority of US residents so afraid of this label? Why do the politicians and moneyed interests know that they can put fear into the hearts of the US public by just dropping the word “socialism” and/or “socialist medicine”? The answer is quite simple: The day we enter the corporate influenced “public” educational system our “way of thinking” is formed to think of “liberty,” “freedom” and “democracy” as being only possible in a society that allegedly allows one to seek “individual” success. Never is the concept of “dictatorship of the capitalist” discussed, though the fear term of “dictator” is always present. Eventually, the fear of not being able to “consume” is embedded in the way of thinking. The drive is for individual rights, while concern for human rights for all is driven out of the way of thinking. People think about THEIR individual right to afford health care, their individual right to survive, but seldom think it is just as important for the next person to have the same rights. They rationalize that if those “other” people worked as hard as they did, they would have the same ability to purchase their human rights. Of course, that way of thinking is not based on truth and reality.

Now that more and more of the “middle” class are not able to purchase health-care (and other human-social rights benefits), there is a more massive awareness of the negative effects of capitalism’s profit-seeking way of thinking. The public, however, has been so brainwashed with the fear-mongering word “socialism” that many people would almost rather die than consider a system other than the capitalist/consumerist system which has been embedded in their minds.

The writer of a message posted on a health-care list discussed England and Canada’s universal health care systems. He noted that in the Canadian system, “medical services are, in the main, delivered by private providers and entities” and that the Minnesota proposal is based on the Canadian model. I have no objections to that. However, I do find it interesting that Canadians are now going to Cuba for health care, as they do not have to wait as long for services in Cuba. Also, Canada and the UK are both “investing” so much money right now in the “war against terror” that they may soon find that they do not have the money to fund both the “war” and their form of universal health-care system (whether it be single-payer, “socialist”–with or without private providers). As long as the elite still have access to doctors, the concern for the government to provide universal single-payer care for all lessens and lessens.

Last, the fact that there seems to be so much concern about the US public having the human right of universal single-payer health care, while there is so little concern about those in other countries that the US and its appendages (IMF/WB/Military) have destroyed, reflects the capitalist way of thinking and is disturbing. Iraq, for example, had a very good universal health-care system before we bombed it in 1991. After much struggle, Iraq was just beginning to rebuild its universal health-care system. Then, in 2003, the new war against Iraq began and has totally decimated Iraq’s health-care. Essentially, Iraq has NO health-care system now. The US (and other Western countries–but mostly the US) controlled IMF has carried out its “structural adjustment plans” (SAPs) on dozens of countries. One of the first things to go is the support for health care services, then educational services, then living-wage jobs. Those needing social services increase, while the services decrease.

Yet, again, the US public that is now crying for universal single-payer health-care for themselves still shows so little concern for this human right for others–others whom they don’t see or know or touch. This comes back to the “way of thinking” on which our society is based. Now that we realize that the majority of people (including that “middle” class) are losing their health care, we seem to understand that we must have health-care for all–universal single-payer–if we are to receive this benefit for our individual selves. We are still a long way from understanding that we must be concerned about the human right of health care for all in those countries that the US has destroyed with its physical and its economic wars. And, therein, lies a huge difference between Cuba and the US and even those other countries that have universal single-payer health care. It is Cuba’s concern for the poor of the world that guides them to send 30,000 doctors and other medical professionals to poor countries, especially in times of natural disasters. (This is in addition to teaching millions around the world to read) It is Cuba’s socialist thinking that established the Latin American School of Medicine, where all medical school training is free (including food, dorms, textbooks) but with one moral commitment from the participants–that they return to their home country and serve the underserved. (Eight US students graduated from the LASM August of 2007.)

By “socialism or nothing,” I mean that unless we turn to socialist thinking in terms of social programs that provide basic human rights for ALL, there will be almost nothing left in this world. The capitalist countries with their consumer mentality (way of thinking) will continue to destroy the environment. Only youth who are wealthy will be able to afford the capitalist educational system (especially higher education) that serves to continue to create capitalist thinking individuals. Those in debt due to educational loans will have no other option than to serve the capitalists (which is similar to the 3rd world countries debt to the IMF and World Bank). Only the wealthy will be able to afford health care. More and more will be left homeless and hungry. The gross national product (GNP) might well remain high, but it will not be distributed to the People and thereby will render a very low and inhuman gross social product. As long as the moneyed interests influence who can and cannot be candidates for offices, the “thinking” of our government (the system) will not change. Those “elected” will kept their individual political survival as their focus. They will continue to throw the public breadcrumbs, similar to the breadcrumbs the middle-class has historically thrown to the poor with their “individual” charities. But, their “reform” breadcrumbs will never create a meal that has a universal single-payer health care sitting on the table, ready to be served and eaten.

Joan Malerich is an anti-Imperialism activist, radical (going to the root) rather than progressive, daily advocate for Cuba and especially the Cuban Five heroes who are political prisoners in the US and advocate for all left-leaning Latin American countries. She is also a strong advocate for Mumia Abu Jamal. She can be reached at: joanmdm@iphouse.com. Read other articles by Joan, or visit Joan's website.

18 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Max Shields said on April 2nd, 2008 at 5:19am #

    Joan: ” Only one person from the group showed. I should not have been surprised that only one person from this health care group showed, as that is the way activists in the US are. They waste so much time trying to figure out where we have gone wrong with health care (or other issues), but are so afraid to look at solutions, especially if the solutions originated from a socialist country. ”

    You are right. Solutions are a plenty but activists prefer to piss and moan and let the corporatists and warmongers rule.

    This is why I think it is a thorough waste of time to try to deal head on with these issues – health care, environment, etc etc at a national level. Instead keep it local and human scale. Even than it’s tough going, but it does go and you can see where/who the obstacle is and strategize from there. If you simply take where you’re at and say, we should have universal single payer healthcare RIGHT HERE in my community, city, town, village. Make it happen!!

    Trying to change the US Titantic is like shifting the tides of the Red Sea. That’s futile and a complete waste.

  2. Max Shields said on April 2nd, 2008 at 5:53am #

    As to the dilemma of wanting to label the economics for what they are (socialist), I think we miss so much when we focus on top down (or offered) acceptance and implementation. Does it really matter if we are able to implement a full universal coverage single payer for your community OR that you fight to have Socialized medicene accepted by the Federal Governament, 50 states some still arguming over the Confederate flag and Jim Crow? Is calling it SOCIALISM really that imporant? If it barks like a dog, it’s a dog…no need to demand that every body go around saying “nice doggy”.

    Look, the US has been defeated in two wars of horrific attrition – Southeast Asia and Iraq. These are/were wars and occupations which were not fought by the “enemy” using sophisticated weapons. Those indigenous people won not because of some ideology, but because they were INDIGENOUS. Such is the value of local approaches.

    Fight your battles – however unglamourous – under the radar whenever you can. Why get your head shot off and die a martyr AND still not have achieved what people need – universally available, single-payer health care?

  3. Michael Kenny said on April 2nd, 2008 at 8:20am #

    I’m always amused by the fact that Americans know nothing about socialism. What is slowly coming to an end in Cuba is not socialism, but communism, which I would regard as the most “successful” and longest-lived of the many forms of fascism that emerged in Europe in the post-WWI chaos. It would be very nice for the Cubans if they got socialism when Castro dies. Socialism has been a great success in Europe throughout the 20th century and is only now starting to run out of fresh ideas. Just as the socialists built their success on 19th century liberalism, a new ideology, probably some form of ecology, will build its success on the successes of liberalism and socialism. A third floor on the democratic house, so to speak.

    The failure of fascism, including communism, is that it tried to efface the gains of liberalism and go back to 18th century ologarchy, just as the neo-liberals of today want to efface the gains of socialism and go back to the 19th century. The neo-liberals are failing for exactly the same reason that the fascists failed: the world doesn’t go backwards! You can build upon the past but you can’t make it go away. When, like William F. Buckley or, indeed, the communists, you stand athwart history and shout stop, the same thing always happens: history rolls over you!

    Cuba was a Soviet propaganda stunt, paid for by taking the bread from working people’s mouths in the Soviet Union. (One of the most surprising things that has emerged since the overthrow of the communist dictatorships is how utterly corrupt they were!) If any large Latin American country had followed its example, the whole house of cards would have collapsed. Cuba has survived the fall of the Soviet Union only because it is a convenient bogey man for US interests and, as an island, very difficult to invade.

    As for Canadians going to Cuba, common sense would suggest that since Cuba desperately needs hard currency, foreigners are being given the privileged treatment normally reserved for the middle class party fat cats, while ordinary Cubans have to do without.

    The dictatorship will not survive Castro and maybe then, the ordinary people will have a democratically-elected leader like Chavez or Morales or Lula or some of the others. Maybe then they will get a taste of the socialism that has been so successful in Europe.

  4. hp said on April 2nd, 2008 at 10:04am #

    “Socialism is nothing but the capitalism of the lower classes.”
    Oswald Spengler

  5. Max Shields said on April 2nd, 2008 at 10:09am #

    The problem with embracing capitalism or socialism is thateach creates not the best solutions but a warring of camps. Perhaps that is inevitable to some extent, but the mere right/wrong of these isms has not been helpful to anyone.

    Whether Chavez, for instance, wants to refer to workers’ cooperatives as socialism is neither here nor there, EXCEPT that it creates a schism which is separate from the inherent value of such hierarchically-free work environments. Workers’ cooperatives transform the relationship between employer/employee or management/employee in ways that have significant social as well as economic implications.

    I think crediting Marx (or Adam Smith) with all things economic is a red herring. If Chavez had called his form of economics green-capitalism (as opposed to gray capitalism which is destrpoying the planet), would it really matter to anyone other than ardent ideologues?

  6. dan e said on April 2nd, 2008 at 6:35pm #

    Well, Kim, if all this Comment feature attracts is these idiot-boy rightwing trolls, like this Zionist stooge Max and this reactionary bastard Kenny, it might be better to just drop it. With trolls like this pair, who needs Jaime?

    Ms Malerich has contributed an article worth some discussion, but after encountering the garbage appended to it, I’m just going to close the page and never visit the article again.

  7. Max Shields said on April 3rd, 2008 at 4:58am #

    dan e
    Marx was not a zionist stooge. but you since you found the article so worthy of discussion…why not try…

  8. ajohnstone said on April 3rd, 2008 at 8:41am #

    Let’s simplify this thing called “socialism.” Joan said and utterly fails to .
    Throughout the article , nationalization or as some describe it , state – capitalism , is confused with socialism

    As Martin Luther King Jr. once said ” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

    Socialism is the establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

    What is meant by “a system of society”?

    The world is a “global village”. Each region may have its own particular and distinct customs, but they are part of a greater system of society that is world-wide. This system of society is capitalism and every region and nation operates within this system of society in one way or another. Socialism is not a cooperative island in the middle of capitalism, but a global system of society that will replace capitalism.

    “The means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth”?

    This includes the forests, mines, and oceans from which natural wealth is extracted, the factories in which this natural wealth is processed, and the distribution of that wealth via transportation networks (such as roads and truck lines) and distribution centres (such as grocery and department stores). It does not include your personal belongings such as your toothbrush or clothing, or the family heirloom.

    “Common Ownership”?

    Common ownership means that society as a whole owns the means and instruments for distributing wealth. It also implies the democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, for if everyone owns, then everyone must have equal right to control the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth.

    Common ownership is not state ownership. State ownership is merely the ownership by the capitalist class as a whole, instead of by individual capitalists, and the government then runs the state enterprises to serve the capitalist class. In the self-proclaimed “communist” states the state enterprises serve those who control the party/state apparatus. The working class does not own or control. It produces for a privileged minority.
    see here for another description

  9. Max Shields said on April 3rd, 2008 at 6:29pm #


    Henry George “Progress and Poverty”. George observed the dilemma of ownership and through an incredible ability to synthesize his observations and reading gave us a deep understanding of our common wealth.

    George was neither a socialist nor a capitalist. In the late 19th Century he was considered one of the greatest writers, thinkers, and speakers by such thinkers as Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, John Dewey, Winston Churchill, leading early 20th Century progressives. Second best selling author after the Bible, 2nd to Mark Twaine in fame and popularity, world-traveler, beat T. Roosevelt in run for Mayor of NYC, lost to City boss candidate.

    George is clearly one this country’s greatest economic minds. A classical economist, provided one of the most far reaching answers to poverty and wealth distribution. His voice was silenced by the likes of the neo-classical economists (think Milton Friedman, and Keynes) who took over the academic thinking, turned it into disconnected mathematical models, and almost erased George for any mention.

    Yet, he persists throughout the world where his land value tax has taken hold as well as towns and cities in the US who have flourished, stablized their local economies and where commonwealth is returned back to the People.

    You don’t need to call this stuff socialism. Marx, at first, claimed George was trying to save capitalism (George had not even read Marx which had yet to be translated). Later Marx gave George his due and realized he had provided a critical piece to economic and social justice.

    Learn about Henry George.

  10. James B Storer said on April 3rd, 2008 at 6:51pm #

    The initial complex society is fascism. The other “isms” differ in how, and to what extent, they rise above fascism. Free-wheeling capitalism is based on individual greed, and when it chews itself up, as it historically and inevitably must do, it returns to fascism. Socialism is based on the attempt to furnish social equality, and could survive with honest group effort. Otherwise it, too, returns to fascism, and this has generally been the case so far.

  11. ajohnstone said on April 4th, 2008 at 8:41am #

    Max Shield states “Marx, at first, claimed George was trying to save capitalism ” Max then says “Later Marx gave George his due and realized he had provided a critical piece to economic and social justice.”

    I guess it is this article where Marx describes Henry George “Theoretically the man is utterly backward!…He also has the repulsive presumption and arrogance which is displayed by all panacea-mongers without exception.”- letter written to Friedrich Sorge, 30 June 1881

    Of course George never held much store by Marx describing him as “a most superficial thinker, entangled in an inexact and vicious terminology,” and as “the prince of muddleheads.”

    Daniel De Leon of the Socialist Labor Party certainly at an early stage of his political development supported Henry George , or rather , the United Labor Party , for New York mayor.

    Engels , however , describes the differences between their theories and Henry George in the preface of the American edition of The Condition of the Working-Class in England, New York, 1887.

    “If Henry George declares land-monopolization to be the sole cause of poverty and misery, he naturally finds the remedy in the resumption of the land by society at large. Now, the Socialists of the school of Marx, too, demand the resumption, by society, of the land, and not only of the land but of all other means of production likewise. But even if we leave these out of the question, there is another difference. What is to be done with the land? Modern Socialists, as represented by Marx, demand that it should be held and worked in common and for common account, and the same with all other means of social production, mines, railways, factories, etc.; Henry George would confine himself to letting it out to individuals as at present, merely regulating its distribution and applying the rents for public, instead of, as at present, for private purposes. What the Socialists demand, implies a total revolution of the whole system of social production; what Henry George demands, leaves the present mode of social production untouched, and has, in fact, been anticipated by the extreme section of Ricardian bourgeois economists who, too, demanded the confiscation of the rent of land by the State. It would of course be unfair to suppose that Henry George has said his last word once for all. But I am bound to take his theory as I find it.”

    But for all my searches of internet sources i cannot find anywhere Marx gives George his due exept ,perhaps , where Engels argues that for the sake of the unity of the budding American labor movement , i was best not to dwell on the weaknesses of Henry George since organisations such as the Knights of Labor “…That the first programme of this party is still confused and highly deficient, that it has set up the banner of Henry George, these are inevitable evils but also only transitory ones. The masses must have time and opportunity to develop and they can only have the opportunity when they have their own movement–no matter in what form so long as it is only their own movement–in which they are driven further by their own mistakes and learn wisdom by hurting themselves. ”

    You have to enlighten me to the actual works where Marx and Engels extol Henry George .

  12. evie said on April 4th, 2008 at 9:33am #

    Just curious – how will “socialists” convince the global millionaire/billionaire club members to relinquish their stake in the system so that those receiving “crumbs” will have a whole loaf?

    As for “universal health care” – you’re gonna get that free healthcare, good and hard. Mandatory payments, through payroll or tax refund, or any means the government can find to extract payment.

    Also, not only are some folk “not academically inclined” and cannot compete – many simply do not want to, prefering instead to loll leisurely in front of a tube or “have fun” 24/7. What does socialism do about the willful slackards?

    The more dependent one becomes on the ruling “ism” the less motivated folks are to change that system. “Social welfare” has done much to create a dumbed down populace without dignity, who over the last 40 or so years seem more content than ever to want “free” stuff but with little, if any, effort on their part.

    I’d rather have heavy-handed regulation of the corporatocracy to benefit the masses than all the warm fuzzy social programs the “left” portrays as our “right.” I’ve seen the destruction from those warm entitlement programs here in the ‘hood. Pretty slick of capitalism to use socialism so destructively.

  13. Max Shields said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:38pm #

    Quoting Marx does not show that you have any understanding of (or have read) Henry George.

    The quote from Marx shows a man who is upset with an alternative solution to the problem of ownership. Quoting Marx because he was disgruntled does not undermine the brilliance of George’s analysis.

    But if you think a strong soviet style government is the way to go (which is how Marx resolved the issue of ownership), then so be it. But using the words of an angry theortician because he was confronted with a powerful alternative argument does not make the case for your Mr. Marx.

    Here is the issue:
    “Henry George was a journalist, economist, and social reformer who lived 1839 to 1897. He is best known for his 1879 book Progress and Poverty in which he raised the question: Why is there so much poverty in the midst of so much economic progress? George’s over-whelming concern was the vast and growing disparity in wealth between rich and poor. His goal in writing Progress and Poverty was to seek an explanation for this enigma, and to propose a remedy that he felt would bring greater equality and fairness.

    Writing just a few years ahead of Henry George was Karl Marx. George and Marx both looked at the three same factors of production: land, labor, and capital. And they both looked at the same problem of poverty and the vast disparity in wealth between rich and poor. But they came to a different conclusion as to the cause of the problem of poverty, and to a different solution on how to remedy the problem.

    Marx determined that the problem was that the capitalist was taking too large a share, leaving too little for the worker. His solution was to have government own the means of production, reducing the power of the capitalist.

    Henry George, on the other hand, felt that the problem was the private ownership of land. The landowner did not create the land, and he contributed nothing to production, but yet he could force others to pay him for the privilege of working on or living on the land, causing an increase in the disparity in wealth between those with land and those without.

    Most of the increases in productivity will go not to the laborer or even to the capitalist, but to the landlords.”

  14. ajohnstone said on April 4th, 2008 at 10:31pm #

    I’m afraid that you completely misunderstand Marx if you believe that his solution was to have GOVERNMENT -OWNERSHIP of the means of production and his object was to simply just to REDUCE the power of the capitalist because he wished a mere re-distribution of wealth between capitalists and the working class.

    He stood for the the ABOLITION OF THE STATE and he stood for the ABOLITION OF CAPITALISM [not its replacement by capitalism in another form ] .
    What is capitalism can be read here

    Throughout his political life Marx and Engels had to confront all manner of thinkers who presented their solutions to capitalism’s problems and each they had to dissect . Henry George was simply another on that list and to lay the differences between them upon Marx’s psychology and personality , is rather weak , to say the least .

    Nevertheless , i deduce from the fact that you failed to answer my request that you were unable to find any proof where Marx ” gave George his due and realized he had provided a critical piece to economic and social justice.” , as you have asserted he did .

    I know you distain my use of Marx quotes but his position is made quite clear when he says “The existence of the state is inseparable from the existence of slavery…”

  15. John Wilkinson said on April 5th, 2008 at 12:07pm #

    “Well, Kim, if all this Comment feature attracts is these idiot-boy rightwing trolls, like this Zionist stooge Max and this reactionary bastard Kenny, it might be better to just drop it. With trolls like this pair, who needs Jaime?”

    That’s right, we cannot have differences of opinion in the Reichstag. That’s what the left is all about (and the right, too BTW), thrusting your all-knowingness down our throats. We cannot criticise the fuehrer. Heil Fuehrer!

    And that pretty much explains why socialism is not that benign, either. (I lived in it). Elitism gets in the way. There is only one way gets in the way. All knowingness and hubris gets in the way. Good life for the leaders, shortages for the masses, gets in the way. It starts out OK, when everyone is idealistic, then human nature, selfishness, corruption, the physical (mathematical) laws of entropy set in and the system disintegrates.

    Cuba sending those doctors to foreign countries from the goodness of their hearts — you are really naive. They have their interests, just like everyone else. Of course, it’s far better to do that than send bombs, etc.

    And the AMA monopoly, competition killing and price setting powers, the greed in the med system, the obscene prices are not considered in the Cuban model being applied here. That’s where 90% of the problem is. This whole one-payer thing is simplistic American BS, (and left BS), so typical of considering the facts only on the surface.

    As for the local action, in theory yes, but am not sure how you take the AMA locally. They have the power to deny you health care, the power of life and death. They’ll whack the doctors who step out of line (livelihoodwise, not literally). That’s a pretty significant power to go up against.

  16. John Wilkinson said on April 5th, 2008 at 12:28pm #

    “Common ownership means that society as a whole owns the means and instruments for distributing wealth.”

    Yes, they do, but in practice that means that NOONE bothers to take care of these means or maintain them. Then they rot and shortages ensue (and for other related reasons, also).

    When everyone owns it, then it means that noone in particular owns it. (The people on top are corrupt and only interested in their own self-interest). That has been the practical effect, the way I’ve seen and experienced it. I am not saying there’s not a better way than incredibly wealthy individuals ownership of the means, I’m just saying this is what happened in practice.

  17. John Wilkinson said on April 5th, 2008 at 12:31pm #

    And with agglomeration of power and creation of monopolies in the private sector, we are really moving in the direction of a form of socialism, without calling it that, with all its negative effects listed above, right here in the USA!

  18. Max Shields said on April 5th, 2008 at 1:54pm #


    It’s not a disdain for Marx’s quotes. It’s the important point that I made earlier that you ignore which is: Henry George had NOT read Marx. Marx’s works had yet to be translated. So, when Marx rants about George he is not doing so because George tried to make a case against him.

    To understand Henry George you need to know how he went about solving a deep social injustice that had its roots in what he saw as progress and the ownership of land (today land means much more than just terra firma, the universe minus what humans make). He was NOT trying to SAVE capitalism nor was he trying to argue against Marx.

    Once you get that than you’ll see that it was Marx that was reacting to an analysis and masterful synthesis by a singular thinker who had no clue about Marx’s isms. George was not an ideologue. He was a self-taught political economist who turned out to be a genius! He’s recognized as such by some of the greatest minds of his time. He was also an incredible writer who put together 4 amazing volumes on this thinking. Leo Tolstoy’s last work was dedicated to George.

    Again, Marx’s complaint is asymmetrical.

    And that my friend, is the difference – and in the case of George VS Marx is a big one. Please read George and keep an open kind.

    (BTW, I realize that Marx’s ultimate aim was a statelessness, but it was not his immediate one).