The History and Future of Social Democracy

Social democracy traces its roots back to the General German Workers' Association, founded by Ferdinand Lassalle, and the International Workingmen's Association, with which Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Louis Auguste Blanqui, Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin, and their respective followers were associated. Social democracy traces back to the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany, founded in 1869. "Social democracy" was originally a catch-all term for a broad range of socialist ideologies and movements, but Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels convinced the Social Democratic Workers' Party to embrace Marxism as its official ideology. The Social Democratic Workers' Party joined the International Workingmen's Association.

FALC, RICH, & LSD: The Stride Towards Freedom

The acronyms in the title stand for Fully-Automated Luxury Communism (FALC), Rising Income through Cybernetic Homeostasis (RICH), and Libertarian Social Democracy (LSD).

Fully-Automated Luxury Communism (FALC)

The FALC philosophy is something that I learned about through Aaron Bastani, although I am not sure who exactly coined the term. Bastani advocates "full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated." FALC theorists offer us a Utopian vision of the future.

Basic Income Under Libertarian Social Democracy Leads to Fully-Automated Luxury Communism

The idea of a job guarantee is nothing new. As far as I can tell, the idea was first put forth by Louis Blanc in The Organization of Work in 1839. When unemployment increases, some people have suggested that it would be proper for the government to step in and create more jobs. Personally, I don't support the idea. As a left-libertarian, I see liberation from work as being of extremely high importance.

Under capitalism, the majority of the wealth tends to accumulate into the hands of a few privileged people at the top, and the rest of us get left behind. The wealthiest people in our society usually either enjoy the privilege of some sort of monopoly or else inherited a great deal of wealth and privilege from someone who enjoyed such a monopoly. All private property over land is a monopoly privilege. The property owner is allowed to monopolize his land and the natural resources found therein. If there happens to be gold or oil on that land, the property owner will become rich beyond compare. Bankers and descendants of bankers enjoy the benefits of wealth accumulated through a money monopoly, since the bankers were/are the only ones allowed to create money. Similarly, certain people have become wealthy because of the artificial privilege of owning a patent or copyright. If I build a machine and patent the idea, I can prevent a person on the other side of the country, who doesn't even know about my invention, from selling his own similar invention which he came up with independently entirely through his own ingenuity. I can allow him to sell his machines and demand a share of his profits or I can keep him from selling his product at all and enjoy a monopoly for myself. These artificial property relations, created by legislation and maintained by adjudication and law-enforcement, create inequality. It is such legal privileges and artificial property arrangements that allow some people to accumulate large amounts of wealth while others go without.

The Corbyn Delusion

Just as night will always follow day, so too is any political event immediately followed by the spin. This is a crucial moment, as spin’s architects and mouthpieces try to shape the messiness of reality into a clear line of narrative, sometimes predetermined, other times improvised, before facts can ossify in undesirable ways. Nowhere is this more important than after an indecisive election such as the 2017 United Kingdom one. In the absence of an emphatic result that speaks for itself the opportunity exists to craft a version of reality that will hopefully resonate in the collective public mind. Sometimes this special pleading is laughably obvious, such as the Liberal Democrats’ forlorn attempt to suggest that the night had been anything other than a harsh reminder of their ongoing slide into irrelevance. And here is another feeble argument posturing as a profound statistic: Labour under Jeremy Corbyn won their highest percentage of seats since 2001! Yes, but remember the Liberal Democrats? They used to be a viable party, seriously, and in that same 2001 election got 18.3% of the vote. Of course after 2010 they entered into a Coalition with the Conservatives which didn’t work out so well for them as they betrayed almost everything they stood for thereby making inevitable their eventual decline. And speaking of once relevant minor parties, that’s right, The United Kingdom Independence Party. In the 2015 general election UKIP garnered 12.7% of the vote, however after the result of the independence referendum the year after, their raison d'être was no more, and their support likewise crash-dived. So should we credit the rapid demise of these once third forces in British politics for the return of votes to the major parties, or should instead we just decide it’s because Jeremy Corbyn is totes amazeballs and everyone now adores him? For those keeping score at home there was also a 5.5% swing to the Tories for this same reason, but somehow that isn’t being interpreted as “Everyone loves Theresa” in the way the corresponding boost to Labour’s numbers are. The Conservatives registered their highest percentage of the vote, 42.4%, since Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 landslide but, apparently, this figure can be dismissed with an airy wave.

The Green Revolution and the Rockefellers

Although conspiracy theorists mostly talk rubbish, there is substance related to the Rockefellers on this topic, from the 2nd generation onwards, but to avoid the direction of conspiratorial paranoia, I'll start by giving credit where it is due. John D. Rockefeller, the founder of what became Exxon-Mobil and Chevron was green and practising recycling a century before those two words became the in-thing, even before he established the The Rockefeller Foundation, motivated by efficiency and social responsibility. Standard Oil used gasoline to fuel their machines while other companies dumped it into rivers or heaped it up as waste products. Rockefeller bought the Chesebrough Manufacturing Co. to create Vaseline. SO invested heavily in the gas and electric lighting businesses, as well as the Corn Products Refining Co., to connect the topic at hand.

In practice, he not only confirmed both the Agorist and Kropotkinite fear that horizontal collectivist integration and cooperative governance under a single influence, can result in vertical integration and monopoly formation (whether privately or worker-owned), but also showed why non-interfering states must integrate local and provincial legislation to evolve into huge nation-state level interference through trust-busting, when struggling competitors complain about entrepreneurial cunning in Cowboy Capitalism, as happened with Standard Oil, or violence and intimidation, as it did with the Cochise County Cowboys. Stronger competitors copy the monopolistic formula to the point of upsetting complaining competitors, the way Texaco, Shell and others did. With the status quo in place, there cannot be a free market, because the ruling class will dominate it as their resources dictate, not only by logical consequence, but as history has repeatedly shown.

ALP Platform Committee Report

In December 2016 the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party established a ALP Platform Committee and called for members to make a contribution. The Isocracy Network, although non-party political, has members who are also members of the ALP and thus presented the following submission on the first four topics chosen by the committee. A summary version of our contribution includes: (a) removal of taxes on productive activities and a shift to resource rents, (b) public expenditure and employment on new infrastructure, especially renewable energy and communications, (c) public expenditure on skills and training in such new infrastructure, especially renewable energy, and information and communications technology, and transport, (d) objective harm minimisation policies in substance abuse and decriminalisation of person drug offenses, (e) extending public transport infrastructure and resocialisation of the network.

Proportional Representation and Land Tax: Fairness and Justice

Vacant lot
There is a relationship, almost invariably overlooked, between the proposals of land-value tax as an economic policy, and proportional representation as a political policy. Both policies have, across the world, a diverse range of small and independent groups of advocates. These groups tend to be populated by didactic boffins, people with great expertise on matters of tax policy and electoral systems, two topics which traditionally bore normal people senseless. Yet the wisest among them understand their deep importance. For whilst the advocates of these policies have had difficulties in inspiring the public at large, they are founded in two-deeply seated principles that are widely shared; fairness and justice. These idea are worth exploring.

The Four Horsemen of the 21st Century Apocalypse

Over the past four decades the world has been plunged into an economic dark age. While the rich get richer and tighten their grip on power, the poor find it increasingly difficult to survive and more importantly find themselves excluded from the institutions that make the laws. It is no accident after forty years of this failed experiment the level of disillusionment with the political and economic process is rapidly increasing.

During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the Age of Revolution dramatically changed the role of the state. The state was primarily the mechanism by which those with power and wealth maintained that power and wealth in the most brutal fashion. The Age of Revolution loosened the grip the ruling class held on the state and forced the state to take an active interest in the welfare of its citizens. The state was transformed from an instrument whose primary purpose was to ensure those who exercised power continued to exercise power into an instrument by which the basic human needs of its citizens were met. The provision of public education, public health, the building of public infrastructure, the growth of a dual economy where the public sector competed with the private sector, the introduction of laws and regulations to protect working people and the introduction of social security benefits for the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed and single parents occurred as a direct result of mass upheavals. The deaths and imprisonment of millions of people around the globe was the price that was paid by those who demanded the inalienable rights and liberties they believed they were born with.

Argumentum ad temperantiam

Okay, so I have a bone to pick with this popular image.

I know everyone likes it, but it is deeply troubling. My main problem with this is that it presents us with a Balance Fallacy or an inverse false dilemma wherein the truth is only to be found between two extremes. From Rational wiki, which does a nice job explaining why this is a problem:

"While the rational position on a topic is often between two extremes, this cannot be assumed without actually considering the evidence. Sometimes the extreme position is actually the correct one, and sometimes the entire spectrum of belief is wrong, and truth exists in an orthogonal direction that hasn't yet been considered."

Philosophically speaking this is where the problem of finding a true source on political matters is problematic.

Towards a 2019 Labor-Green Alliance

Did the lack of even an alliance of convenience between Labor and the Greens result in the re-election of the Liberal-National Coalition in the last Federal election? If the result had been different, what would Australia look like now? How would Australia's political parties respond to such a change? Is there sufficient justification for such an alliance to exist in the future? These are questions that can only be answered with a very careful consideration of the facts at hand, and with equal diligence in the more predictive and prescriptive aspects.

The 2016 Federal Election

The last Australian Federal election was held in July 2016, after a lengthy eight-week campaign and a double-dissolution. All major newspapers, with the exception of the Sunday Age, recommended a return of the LNP government under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, who had taken the leadership from the deeply unpopular Abbott government from September the year prior, and was a first term government. The major issues of the campaign were Labor's policies on negative gearing, concerns over the privitisation of Medicare, and debates over the political and economic management of the last Labor government. The election resulted in a two-party preferred swing against the government of 3.13% and a marginal victory on TPP overall (50.36% vs 49.64%), with the loss of 14 seats (LNP 76 seats, ALP 69 seats, GRN 1, XEN 1, KAT 1, Ind 2). On primary vote, the LNP lost 3.51% (42.04%), the ALP gained 1.35% (34.73%), the GRN gained 1.58% (10.23%), and XEN (new party) gained 1.85%.


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