Good essay. The only thing I would quibble about is the Americanisation of socialism. Just because the American right says something is socialist doesn't mean it is. There are two definitions which really hold true when discussing socialism. The first is the State running the economy or certain sectors.

To give an example. Let's look at the difference between the UK and Australia in terms of universal healthcare. The UK government actively funds and controls the NHS- but it's the last part that counts. We Brits love our NHS- it's practically a state religion- but I have known quite a few people over the years who have worked for NHS and not a single one had a good thing to say about the way it was run.

By contrast, Australian taxpayers funds pay for universal healthcare, but all of the healthcare is privately commissioned. It's efficient, well-run and provides an excellent service. Although it's paid for by the taxpayer the system used is free market capitalism.

The second form of socialism is the worker owning the means of production- or, in other words, their own labour- in modern parlance this is market socialism. Usually when people say they are in favour of market socialism they are being disingenuous, because not only do they set all forms of conditions to the market which favour worker owner enterprise over capitalist enterprise, but they also actually have the gall to suggest that the taxpayer should fund the start-ups. This is not market socialism, but the state control of the economy by other means.

There are good examples of successful worker owner co-operatives- the largest being the Basque worker owner co-operative in Spain, Mondragon. Economically, they would more properly be defined as community capitalism- but they also fulfil the conditions of the worker owning the means of production so technically they are also market socialism.

In theory, it might be possible to create a model for true market socialism, by asking investors to invest their money in helping owners own the means of production. But the condition would be they would have to value the psychic profit of helping workers achieve this aim more than any financial return on their investment, because any return on investment is simply capitalism by another name, however altruistically intended.

However, I did have a cunning thought the other day. Any losses made on investment because of risk and losses could be refunded from taxes paid by the individual taxpayer. After all, refunding someone's taxes isn't socialism, it's libertarianism. So, in other words a friendly government could slightly help a model of libertarian market socialism, but anything further would be socialism.

Socialism is not about the money, it's about the control- through government force and coercion. This may seem like quibbling over words and definitions, but ask any current Prime Minister of the Nordic states whether they are democratic socialists and they will splutter, protest and say no 'we are a free market capitalist society in which our citizens have chosen to pay higher taxes to fund larger social safety nets'.


Sweden is so friendly to capital, they don't have an inheritance tax (they worked out they could gain more revenue from corporation tax and CGT, if they didn't charge an inheritance tax). It was a huge gain in revenue over time- Swedish revenue from CT was 2.75% of total revenue a few years back, compared to 1.8% in the UK and 1.13% in the US, and this before one considers CGT.

Again, good essay. Nice way of breaking through the usual cognitive inflexibility.

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Jul 19, 2023Liked by Michael Woudenberg

Excellent! This essay gives insight that encourages engagement in political discussion (with all sorts of differing views) rather than polarisation. Loved it!

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