Thursday, 11 December 2014

Weasel Words of the Week (1)

"Democratic Socialism"
The implication of the phrase 'democratic socialism' is that the demos can have democracy as long as it has socialism.
Democracy is a process.
Socialism is predominantly an economic philosophy.
In a true democracy the demos could vote 'not socialism'.
Democracy is entirely incompatible with socialism.


Rich Tee said...

Indeed. A core belief of socialism is that people suffer from "false consciousness", in other words, they don't actually know what's best for them, ergo it is justified that the government must overrule their wishes. If a government can overrule the wishes of the people then this is indeed the opposite of democracy.

This belief was refined during the 20th century after Gramsci to the belief that the people are basically spoiled by the riches of capitalism and will never willingly accept communism, therefore they must be tricked into it, which is when socialists started becoming really devious.

DBC Reed said...

Oh dear .More right-wing bollox.Democratic socialism is what we have occasionally in this country:some socialist institutions that people have voted for plus a beleaguered bunch of politicians to fend off attack.You'd think that the announcement by the OBR that we're heading for the smallest public sector since the 1930's while real wages have fallen in a straight line off the bottom of the graph would give some pause for thought.

Lola said...

@DBCR Hah! I knew that's wake you up...

Still wrong though. :-)

paulc156 said...

Funnily enough, what is frequently referred to as the golden age of capitalism in the west is the post WW2 era that most characterised the time when so called democratic socialism was in the ascendancy. Inequality fell dramatically from pre war levels, state led investment became respectable and the modern welfare state was born. The vast majority of working people benefited greatly from the more evenly spread gains from production.

Compared to today, democratic socialism is at it's lowest ebb and is probably incapable of providing solutions to today's problems [see Miliband & Balls] yet with it's demise we see growing inequality since the 80's, far greater insecurity, hardening of attitudes to the poor and disadvantaged and most pernicious of all, heavy indebtedness through mortgage and credit card loans etc. And the projection from the OBR that we should expect that personal debt to return to pre Lehman levels within the next parliament.
P.S Democracy is also incompatible with capitalism. Hence the totalitarian nature of most large companies. Top down hierarchies.

Lola said...


My analysis of post WW2 is slightly different. That was the heyday of the welfare state - applied to corporations as well as people. Welfarism is unaffordable, as the catastrophes at the end of the 70's early 80's showed. (And 2008 come to that).
You second para I would generally not disagree with, but with different reasons. On here we all know that the reforms for liberty brought in from about 1980 would only be successful if combined with tax and especially land tax reform. That didn't happen. So what you now have is massive state sanctioned rent seeking and cronyism.
You last para is a bit (IMHO) inaccurate, in that what we have now is not 'capitalism'. It's cronyism and corporatism. Capitalism only exists as an ism in the heads of anti-capitalists. There is no one word that I know of that properly captures the combination of liberty, rule of law, private property rights, representative democracy, sound money and prices with no special favours to anyone, which is what 'capitalism' actually is.

paulc156 said...

Lola. This "Welfarism is unaffordable, as the catastrophes at the end of the 70's early 80's showed. (And 2008 come to that)." is a bit of a myth/urban legend put out by the smaller [and smaller still] state folks.
There was a mantra about this and that welfare state being unaffordable after the crash. The welfare state never broke the state finances. Big finance did that.
Spain, Italy, Ireland and to a lesser extent Portugal were running balanced budgets until the financial markets did it's worst. The deficits only came after the crash. Since when the folks at Heritage,WSJ, Telegraph et al tell us Europe's welfare model is broke. In any case, the Nordics are managing quite well with their welfare states still largely intact.

Look, I get what you're saying about the true meaning of 'capitalism' but this applies equally well to other ideas like 'free market' and 'free trade' and of course democracy AND socialism. eg; don't you know the Sov.Union were never socialist, but state capitalist. It's a kinda word game all sides can play...;)

Lola said...

Para 1. Well, sort of. The 2008 bank crisis was precipitated by utterly failed mis-regulation on an industrial scale and, here, Brown's over-expansion of the money supply. The latter being 'inflation'. This inflation was used to fund more welfarism. Look, it would take more space than is possible in small post to discuss that and my phrase that you quoted was shorthand.

Last para. This is preciseley what I am driving at with 'weasel words'. Everybody is doing it ('sharing the proceeds of growth' arsehole words by the twerp Osborne). This is my Humpty Dumpty moment.

DBC Reed said...

"First Labour did not leave behind an economic mess: the bankers did .Labour was not profligate :the biggest Labour deficit in the pre-crash years was 3.3 % of GDP; the Thatcher- Major governments racked up deficits bigger than that in 10 of 18 years ." Michael Meacher

Lola said...

Your middle para. Did you read my earlier post about Brown modelling his approach to 'running the economy' on the drug business?
Basically, the 'financial markets' have been screwed by layer upon layer of interventions by state bureaucrats. Finance is the most heavily regulated commercial sector on the planet. The post crash deficits are the product of the necessary inflation to sustain the various welfare states, not the cause of their unaffordability.

I freely admit that I am of the settled opinion that government is fundamentally untrustworthy but, unfortunately, to some degree essential. So the AFAIAC, the smaller the better.

Lola said...

Brown set about expanding the money supply, he didn't need a deficit. And, since I have read it and worked under it, Brown's risible FSMA 2000 and it's social engineering agenda was deliberately used to make the banks Brown's (very well paid) accomplices to his profligacy.

But this is tangential to my 'weasel words' post.

DBC Reed said...

The private sector banks expand the money supply by creating money and passing it off as loans so they can charge interest on it.(See BoE bulletin "Money Creation in the Modern Economy" or Martin Wolf "Strip banks of the power to create money " FT) The only way Brown could expand the money supply would be to borrow off the banks (but why borrow when the Gov could just spend money into existence?)If he did the latter he might possibly create inflation (unlikely because all the money would be "covered" by new goods and services)
but not leave a deficit.
Face it: the Tories lucked out twice: first when the Argentinians attacked us (Thatcher had them fighting in the Liverpool streets beforehand
with her Aspergerish monetarist policies) then when the Americans overcooked British-style Homeownerist house price inflation and the Collateralised Debt Obligations secured on no-recourse mortgage loans blew back into the banking sector worldwide.

Lola said...

DBCR. One, I hold no candle for Thatcher.
Two, as I was saying the FSMA 2000 was Brown's tool to get the banks to expand money and credit. It tripled under his watch. The FSMA 2000 effectively nationalised the banks by regulation. (The FSA successor, the FCA, staffed by all the same people is busily carrying on on that path).

DBC Reed said...

@L You're havin' a laff aint you? The FSMA is 400+ schedules long.
However using the skim reading skills that left me teetering on the edge of expulsion from several reputable universities I would conclude : it is mainly a scheme for stopping cowboys unloading dodgy investment vehicles onto mug punters; it appears to have no statutory monetary control remit or even capacity; anybody working with it
would believe they were working in a police state.
Please explain how Gordon Brown, who had handed the Chancellor's power to set interest rates and hence regulate the money supply to the MPC could flood the country with money as in the good old days of yore when Tony "Giveaway" Barber etc would arrange for a quick credit surge (just before an election).

paulc156 said...

Lola "... Finance is the most heavily regulated commercial sector on the planet."

So when you say "The 2008 bank crisis was precipitated by utterly failed mis-regulation on an industrial scale"...I'm left wondering what's a poor chancellor supposed to do. What's for sure, we've had cycles of regulation and deregulation. The last big bit of regulation pre 2008 was just after the last great depression.Coincidence? The last big cycle of deregulation came in the 80's since when all has been sweetness and light [ahem!].

Bottom line, finance is feral [see one mis-selling scandal after another, senior exec looting of institutions [otherwise known as non returnable bonuses, industrial scale money laundering and price fixing as routine behaviour and plenty of that occurring with the worlds eyes watching, post crash]. If you think less regulation is the answer you don't get the question.

Lola said...

DBCR and P156

All valid points for discussion, but a bit off topic in regards to me original post.

Tell you what, I am working on a piece about the FCA etc which I will post here first to get it 'vetted'.

Meanwhile, back to the impossibility of 'democratic socialism'..

DBC Reed said...

In this country it is more like the impossibility of democratic anything.I have just been watching a discussion on the telly when members of our trained performing elite all parroted the line that the Credit Crunch was started by Gordon Brown.This is a flat out lie and is repeated by the BBC (supposedly lefty) with the brutal faces of North Korean television. Arseface Osborne kicked off his Budget Speech with it.They go on about Putin!

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, Brown followed Thatcher and Blair in pursuing radical Home-Owner-Ist policies, so Brown is to blame for the Credit Boom so hence he must also be to blame for the Credit Crunch.

He did not "start" it, obviously, but he went along with it with gusto.

The Big Lie is that

a) The Tories are less reckless government borrowers than Gordon Brown (they are worse)

b) The Tories are doing something about reducing credit bubbles (they are doing everything they can to stoke them).

In other words, Labour and the Tories are as bad as each other and pretty much identical.

Lola said...

DBCR - What MW ses. Plus one of Browns key tools to do all this was the egregious FSMA2000.
I have run a business under its thrall and that Act has given licence to bureaucrats to interfere in stuff they have no clue about. You will also observe that there is a revolving door between the senior management of the Banks / the FCA / the various 'Consultancies'.

DBC Reed said...

Just because New Labour took part in some kind of credit boom in the Uk,it doesn't follow that they caused the worldwide Credit Crunch which came about because the American banks and loan companies overplayed the Thatcherite Homeownerist gambit but based on American no recourse loans that saw people who couldn't really afford mortgages drop their house keys off as "jingle mail" and all their Collateralised Debt Obligations, marked as atomic bomb proof turn to nothing making world banks effectively insolvent. New Labour got caught holding the parcel when the (American) music stopped.
Compare the section on homeownership in George Bush's Thatcherite "America's Ownership Society" (2004?) with the Little Willy Hague's 1977 honestly puerile " I want to be free speech" which promises everybody a wodge of capital and homeownership.
@L Wot Paul sez: you cannot complain about misregulation and regulation simultaneously, especially when you have not shown how the FSMA increased the money supply .

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, for sure, Thatcher-Blair-Brown were just doing their local variant of a global scam. The Americans, Spanish, Irish and Australians are all as bad as each other. New Labour is just as bad as the Tories are just as bad as New Labour (honourable exception = John Major, obviously).

Cameron just continued where Brown left off etc. They are all the same.

I'm not sure what banking 'regulation' has to do with this, that was just all sticking plasters and fig leaves for Credit Booms and Home-Owner-Ism.

Bayard said...

"Democracy is entirely incompatible with socialism."

AFAICS, democracy, true democracy that is, not "Westminster democracy", which is an elective oligarchy, is entirely incompatible with any "-ism". Yes, you can have "Democratic Socialism", but all that means is that it is a form of Socialism that is more democratic than other forms of Socialism, not that it is a democracy in any way, shape or form.

DBC Reed said...

@L Agreed.
But if Brown had been a manic credit boomer he would have signed up for the joining the Euro because he knew it would send money pouring into housing by lowering interest rates (That's why he set the Five Tests; No I is all about common interest rates apparently because he knew the UK would go the way of Ireland if we weren't careful.)
I suspect a lot of his decisions were compromises with the moronic Blair.