The One About Socialism

Well, this is a first for this fully operational podcast: we tackle Socialism, the newly hip, but always old school form of government. To cover both sides of the argument, we call on Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig and longtime Ricochet member (and Professor of Political Science at Skidmore) Flagg Taylor. Also, Manfort, Cohen, and all that jazz, and finally, what’s the most accurate gauge of a robust economy? Easy, it’s the state of Lileks Oil in Fargo, North Dakota. Spoiler alert: business is great.

Music from this week’s episode: Talkin’ bout A Revolution by Tracy Chapman

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There are 100 comments.

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  1. Member

    The first problem I noticed with Elizabeth Bruenig’s rhetoric came pretty early. She says that the political campaigns that don’t get supported by big donors, fade away so the choices to vote from are already made in advance.

    But, if the campaigns that don’t get big donor support, fade away, doesn’t that mean if there were no big donors, there would be NO CANDIDATES AT ALL?

    • #1
    • August 22, 2018, at 3:44 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. Coolidge

    It’s Wednesday, right? I’m confused…

    • #2
    • August 22, 2018, at 3:51 PM PDT
    • Like
  3. Member

    kedavis (View Comment): The first problem I noticed with Elizabeth Bruenig’s rhetoric came pretty early. She says that the political campaigns that don’t get supported by big donors, fade away so the choices to vote from are already made in advance.

    But, if the campaigns that don’t get big donor support, fade away, doesn’t that mean if there were no big donors, there would be NO CANDIDATES AT ALL?

    Ha! I suppose.

    Like it or not, candidates — particularly candidates running for national offices — will necessarily be powerful, wealthy, or famous. In politics, name recognition is key. Discouraging massive campaign donations won’t change this fact.

    Unless Elizabeth wants voters to select from book-length lists of candidates, or unless she favors resurrecting Athens’s lottery system, there is no good way of limiting the candidate pool without also ceding it to powerful people.

    • #3
    • August 22, 2018, at 4:31 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Admin

    TallCon (View Comment):

    It’s Wednesday, right? I’m confused…

    Summer schedule. 

    • #4
    • August 22, 2018, at 4:58 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. Listener

    Very nice conversation with someone I agree with on pretty much nothing. She was a really good sport though for being on a podcast outnumbered 3 to 1. I’m always amused that the folks that believe in a more direct democracy are also arguing how gullible and stupid citizens are they can’t elect a candidate that hasn’t been hand picked by a billionaire. If this is actually a problem how is “compressing” the wealth gap going to solve this? Unless you’re arguing for an insane level of authoritarian wealth redistribution. Say goodbye to Bezo’s backed Washington Post if that’s the case. Great response bringing up Jeb Bush who had the backing, personal wealth, power and still failed horribly. Not to mention plenty of other candidates. Then she’s in favor of bigger public sector unions because somehow all that money in politics isn’t a problem.

    • #5
    • August 22, 2018, at 5:00 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Member

    Elizabeth is thoughtful, honest, and articulate. Kudos to her for that.

    But try as she might, she’ll never convince me to support socialism. Why? Because socialism is as much a code of ethics as it is an economic or political system, and I reject the values embedded within it.

    Elizabeth’s vision is a moral vision, but it’s not a universal moral vision. It can’t be brought into existence, then, without some entity — government or otherwise — forcing a great many people to make real, tangible sacrifices in service of an ideal they don’t accept. I think this sort of imposition is wrong, and I’ll always fight against it.

    • #6
    • August 22, 2018, at 5:13 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Member

    Ms. Bruenig’s picture must have been taken when she was twelve years old. I do hope you have her back, maybe you could ask the Ricochetti to submit some questions for her.

    • #7
    • August 22, 2018, at 5:13 PM PDT
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  8. Coolidge

    Anyone can jump into the conversation by paying the modest fee to join Ricochet. No one has to wait seven years.

    • #8
    • August 22, 2018, at 7:11 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Coolidge

    Petty (View Comment):

    Ms. Bruenig’s picture must have been taken when she was twelve years old. I do hope you have her back, maybe you could ask the Ricochetti to submit some questions for her.

    As long as there is no math involved.

    • #9
    • August 22, 2018, at 7:57 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Member

    Well, OK, let’s give socialism a try. But take it slow and easy.

    How about we start by nationalizing continental passenger rail and see how it goes? 

    • #10
    • August 22, 2018, at 8:03 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. Coolidge

    More Flagg Taylor, please.

    • #11
    • August 22, 2018, at 8:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Podcaster

    Blue Yeti:

    TallCon:

    It’s Wednesday, right? I’m confused…

    Summer schedule.

    Doesn’t Lileks have an annual date with a cow sculpture made of butter at the Minnesota State Fair?

    • #12
    • August 22, 2018, at 8:59 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Contributor

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Blue Yeti:

    TallCon:

    It’s Wednesday, right? I’m confused…

    Summer schedule.

    Doesn’t Lileks have an annual date with a cow sculpture made of butter at the Minnesota State Fair?

    We don’t call it a date. Too many expectations.

    • #13
    • August 22, 2018, at 9:01 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  14. Member

    Ms. Bruenig is obviously smart and exceedingly pleasant but the system she is advocating for is neither. 

    • #14
    • August 22, 2018, at 9:10 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Member

    @roblong credits the Algore campaign with not using the Bush campaign book that was sent to them, and says that shows they were honorable. But that was actually a case of misbegotten property. They didn’t seem to have any problem using other “dirt” such as the DUI, just days before the election. How honorable was that?

    • #15
    • August 23, 2018, at 12:07 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Coolidge

    kedavis (View Comment):

    @roblong credits the Algore campaign with not using the Bush campaign book that was sent to them, and says that shows they were honorable. But that was actually a case of misbegotten property. They didn’t seem to have any problem using other “dirt” such as the DUI, just days before the election. How honorable was that?

    Actually, it was FoxNews that broke the story on its 6pm newscast on Nov 2. The AP and other news outlets quickly jumped on it, and also produced stories about Bush’s 1976 arrest. I dont the Gore campaign had anything to do with the story.

    • #16
    • August 23, 2018, at 12:57 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Member

    Sorry, I keep thinking of Col. Flagg from MASH.

    • #17
    • August 23, 2018, at 2:05 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Member

    DonG (View Comment):

    More Flagg Taylor, please.

    Thanks DonG. I hope I don’t make you regret this statement somehow!

    • #18
    • August 23, 2018, at 5:58 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Member

    FredGoodhue (View Comment):

    Anyone can jump into the conversation by paying the modest fee to join Ricochet. No one has to wait seven years.

    I know. I’ve been a member since 2011. I was just trying to joke around a little bit.

    • #19
    • August 23, 2018, at 5:59 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Member

    Blue Yeti (View Comment):

    TallCon (View Comment):

    It’s Wednesday, right? I’m confused…

    Summer schedule.

    It’s end of August, and you’re just starting the summer schedule?

     

    • #20
    • August 23, 2018, at 6:16 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Member

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    @roblong credits the Algore campaign with not using the Bush campaign book that was sent to them, and says that shows they were honorable. But that was actually a case of misbegotten property. They didn’t seem to have any problem using other “dirt” such as the DUI, just days before the election. How honorable was that?

    Actually, it was FoxNews that broke the story on its 6pm newscast on Nov 2. The AP and other news outlets quickly jumped on it, and also produced stories about Bush’s 1976 arrest. I dont the Gore campaign had anything to do with the story.

    And you don’t think someone was sitting on it and leaked it at the last minute? Fox just happened to stumble on it?

     

    • #21
    • August 23, 2018, at 6:18 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. Member

    Coming in 2020:

    MAGA

    vs.

    TAFA

    (Transform America Fundamentally Again)

    • #22
    • August 23, 2018, at 6:18 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. Member

    I found Elizabeth Bruenig’s breezy certainty more disturbing than the content of her remarks. In particular, the notion that inequality allows a wealthy elite to suppress labor unions was pure Narrative. The fact that unions increasingly get rejected in workplace organization elections cannot have anything to do with the perception that unionization puts the economic viability and adaptability of the employer at risk. Nor can it be because unions simply don’t offer any value as they once did before workplace safety, the 40-hour week, workmen’s comp etc. became law. It must be because the Koch brothers spent money.

    If we happen to choose outcomes not consonant with the Narrative, we must have been fooled or manipulated by powerful forces. Because the Narrative requires an indifference or outright hostility to notions like incentive, economic utility and markets, reality is invariably a great disappointment requiring constant rationalization.

    The performance record of “Democratic Socialism Lite” in the US is the utter destruction of the lives of the urban poor, incredibly large outlays of transfer payments with minimal effect and the perverse political influence of ever-expanding public employees unions–the one segment in our society most hostile to the notion of rule by democratically elected government.

    We no longer have to march to factories at dawn or till the soil by hand. The ills that Karl Marx purported to solve were drawn from an industrial era that for Americans, ended more than three generations ago. Moreover, we have the technology and wealth to create new institutions, organizations and methods to deliver health care, social insurance and the daily needs of life in ways that respect our choices and the realities of cost and make use of the efficiencies and innovations only possible in free markets. That bright young people like Elizabeth Bruenig would rather dust off a very stale socialist narrative that wasn’t a good choice even in its own time rather than explore creative new possibilities is very disturbing.

    • #23
    • August 23, 2018, at 8:09 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  24. Member

    Thank you! Thank you for bringing a guest with a different opinion. I would love to see more of that.

    • #24
    • August 23, 2018, at 9:05 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. Coolidge

    Otterton (View Comment):

     Unless you’re arguing for an insane level of authoritarian wealth redistribution. Say goodbye to Bezo’s backed Washington Post if that’s the case. Great response bringing up Jeb Bush who had the backing, personal wealth, power and still failed horribly. Not to mention plenty of other candidates. Then she’s in favor of bigger public sector unions because somehow all that money in politics isn’t a problem.

    I just assume like ACA, there will be waivers for wealth: Hollywood, media, government work, unions etc. Basically, if you’ve pledged fealty to Democrats, you’ll be okay or your pain will be symbolic.

     

     

    • #25
    • August 23, 2018, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • Like
  26. Admin

    Haha, pretty funny to hear Rob Long talk about the “delusional anti-Trump media.” 🤣

     

    • #26
    • August 23, 2018, at 9:22 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. Member

    (Haven’t listened all the way through the podcast yet, but I have to say…)

    It’s great to have a socialist as a guest on the podcast. It’s a wonderful opportunity to understand their positions and sort things out.

    My very first question would be, “The dictionary definition of socialism, and it comes from Karl Marx, is a system where the government manages the means of production. The socialist movement in the US doesn’t mention the means of production at all, and instead promotes reducing something called income inequality through government redistribution. I don’t see anything in common between these two platforms. Which is it? If it’s not Marx’s socialism, can you guys not come up with an original name? Or is socialism naturally susceptible to mission creep?”

     

    • #27
    • August 23, 2018, at 10:19 AM PDT
    • Like
  28. Member

    [cont’d]

    She starts describing socialism’s popularity with millennials, Bernie Sanders, and the Democratic Socialists of America.

    Okay, good. The DSA’s web site is here: http://www.dsausa.org Check it out.

    The DSA is, literally, a Marxist organization. Olde school.

    They even sponsor the Marxism Today Podcast, which I listen to for entertainment value.

    So that muddies things up even more. And then she relates that to the Nordic countries, which doesn’t make sense.

     

    • #28
    • August 23, 2018, at 10:31 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Inactive

    I’m not sure whether to be grateful that you guys got Ms. Bruening to admit that her socialism is as much if not more about tearing down the rich as it is about helping the poor, or frightened that she didn’t seem to have any shame about admitting it.

    • #29
    • August 23, 2018, at 10:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Member

    Next question I’d have…

    Elizabeth Bruenig states that the wealthy can have an undue influence on an election. For the moment, let’s take her at her word.

    And seconds later, she praises and promotes unions.

    There’s a serious contradiction here. Unions contribute substantially more money to political campaigns than individuals do. And it’s other people’s money, so there’s little in the way of limitations.

    Open Secrets: Top Contributors to Federal Candidates, Parties, and Outside Groups, 2016

    When an individual contributes to a political campaign, it’s their own money, their own voice, with an incentive to spend as little as possible to get the job done.

    How does one square this up?

    • #30
    • August 23, 2018, at 11:38 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
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