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Sunday, August 30, 2020

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I'd take it further and say that with how Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc, own so many companies or are used behind the scenes by so many websites that your ability to use the internet is crippled. An experiment by someone who went so far as to block all traffic to/from Google IP addresses (can't find the article) discovered either slow access to websites or an inability to reach a lot of websites. They were not owned by Google, but they were relying on google to show content on their websites.

I'm staring at a Facebook link right above this text box as I type.

Is an enterprise like Amazon unthinkable under socialism? The actual USA is not really a "capitalist" society in any meaningful sense. There is massive government interference in the market. There is the federal reserve system. There are (in effect) monopolies. There is a giant bloated welfare state. Like most countries, the USA has elements of "capitalism" and elements of "socialism". (At least, under some definitions of these terms. How would you define them?)

Amazon depends on an infrastructure (including the postal service) that is publicly funded. I'd guess that many people who work for Amazon (and were "enriched" by it) maintain their standard of living in part because of publicly funded systems and institutions. So I'm not sure. Maybe something like Amazon--a morally dubious thing to begin with--is equally unthinkable under true capitalism?

It seems that traditionalist or cultural conservatism is intrinsically incompatible with capitalism. As Marx pointed out, the endpoint of capital is the dissolution of religion and culture, of all local and particular traditions and ways of life. That's correct. These are all obstacles to the free movement of labor and capital over the whole planet. This is why we now see "woke capital" pushing very hard for the destruction of the family and the sacred, demonizing the ethnic majority and its history. We have to be reduced to atomic worker-consumers.

Capitalism and communism are fundamentally similar in their values and objectives. They differ only about the means. Does a planned economy better maximize material utility, "freedom" and "equality"? Or is the free market a better instrument? That's one way to think about it anyway.

Good to hear from you, Jacques. As usual, you make good points.

I basically agree with your first paragraph. But I think it is consistent with what you say that Amazon as we know it, is, if not unthinkable, at least highly unlikely under anything that deserves to be called socialism. Essential to socialism is collective ownership of the means of production and distribution. Under such a system, Amazon as we know it -- with its incredible efficiency -- could not exist. Anything the government owns and controls could not come up to that level of efficiency. The economic system of the USA, although not pure capitalism as you rightly point out, does allow for individuals to show initiative and to profit personally from it.

As for your second paragraph, I meant "enrich' culturally, not monetarily. Amazon has allowed me to add to my personal library out-of -print books I would never have been able to acquire otherwise in any practical and cost-effective manner.

Does Amazon need the publically-funded postal service? Not so much. After the WuFlu pandemic and the resultant lock-down, I have been seeing Amazon delivery trucks on a daily basis -- and I live in a semi-rural area. Of course, their distribtion system still needs publicly funded roads. But drone delivery -- which I don't look forward to -- would eliminate that too.

Your third para is in line with what Caiati is maintaining above.

Free markets with some gov't regulation is best. Communism has proven to be disaster. Democratic socialism is a contradictio in adiecto.

Essential to socialism is collective ownership of the means of production. Democratic socialists will presumably want to distinguish socialism from statism, which may be defined as state control of the economy, where the state control is not in turn democratically controlled. Historically, however, the tendency is for supposedly collective, democratic control to transmogrify into control by an elite group of central planners who, exulting in their power, will use all the means at their disposal to hold on to it and expand it -- and 'the people' be damned.

The tendency, then, is for socialism to terminate in statism and totalitarianism. Power to the people? Hardly. 'The people' end up among the socially planned and not among the social planners. Either that or they end up in a gulag.

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