Marxism discussion thread

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by will_shred, Aug 15, 2017.

  1. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    @Drew:

    Check out this site: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/OUTMS

    It has some of the official statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on manufacturing output. Note the gradual increase since the last recession in the graph.

    And then: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MANEMP

    Manufacturing jobs have been going up gradually since the last recession.

    The big boom in automation happened a while ago in manufacturing, safe to say.
     
  2. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    It's interesting to read so many utopian claims.

    "If only everyone agreed to 'X,' things would be wonderful!"

    This whole topic is a Gish Gallop of claims regarding the theoretical good outcomes of Marxism, all of which ignore the historical facts, and the outcomes, of when Marxism has been put into action.

    The framers of the US Constitution knew that people can be corrupt, and put in safeguards against such corruption. The disingenuous claim in this topic from @AngstRiddenDreams, as one example, that there is no "government" authority enforcing the transfer of ownership capital to the workers is just silly, given that point being a big one in the conversation.

    What safeguards are being proposed to protect liberty in the ways Marxism has failed to historically?

    Or, is more hand waving to come?
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  3. AngstRiddenDreams

    AngstRiddenDreams Filthy Casual

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    I understanding what you're saying entirely. I have comments on a few points.

    First, this is the Marxism thread. It's to discuss Marxism, which in many ways is completely theoretical as he never oversaw it's attempts to be enacted. Talking about historical governments that have drawn ideas from him is separate from talking about "Marxism". However, this thread has so much going on from Marxism to Social Democracies so it's fair to bring history up. I suppose I could have done a better job at separating my statements from his view versus what I actually find feasible.

    On that point though, please quote what you think I said that was disingenuous. I don't believe anything I said was such.

    When I talk about no government I'm referring to what Marx calls Full Communism. The arbiter of government still exists in Socialism, which is a step to reaching that. Hell Marx even says Capitalism is a step there. I think the idea is that Socialism instills the framework of order at the local level (workplace) and once that is functioning it steps out. So yes, it is "big government" in a sense but the goal is for it to cease involvement over time. Of course this is wishful thinking and history tells us otherwise which is exactly why I understand what you're saying!
    I honestly don't know exactly if Marx addresses safe guards to corruption, but I'm certain that it's not something he would overlook as it seems glaring.

    Also, it should be noted I think past Communist societies were destined to fail. Not because of flaws in Communism, but because of how they attempted to reach it. Society was not and still is not capable of full automation today. Therefore it can't happen at this time. Marx even says Capitalism is necessary to help create the things to reach that point. Until then the only thing I believe is feasible is Socialism, transitioning over time from a semi socialist/capitalist society.
    Historical societies weren't ready to transition to Communism but the opportunity to grab power by telling people it is leads to people like Stalin.

    Safeguards certainly need to be put into place, I don't know exactly what they are. I'm not advocating too that if Marx has outlined what safeguards should exist that we follow those exactly either.

    It should be something that is discussed thoroughly and democratically. The way I see it, Capitalism is failing us. I don't believe at all in the mindset that a purely free market will solve our problems. Looking at what caused past Socialist/Communist societies is incredibly important if it is to be attempted, as well as the general public being educated on it so they can participate in the discussion. Please don't think that everything I say I am advocating for, I enjoy discussion/playing the devils advocate and think I have more background with Marx than most.


    Asides from this and to the point I'm making though, are there any aspects of Socialism that you yourself agree with @Explorer?
    I would love to discuss those, if there are any, as well as what myself and others believe are practical changes to things as they are today. Like I talked about democratizing the workplace and through discussion it has made me question that deeper but reach common ground with others.

    So cheers, look forward to your reply man
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
  4. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    Which, of course, hasn't stopped a corrupt businessman from becoming president, nor has it stopped there from being 27 amendments to that constitution.

    For that matter, wasn't the electoral college supposed to be a safeguard against electing a known corrupt individual to the presidency, or someone who hadn't won the popular vote? Yet Trump is both and the college failed to stop him.

    I think it's misguided to pretend that the US Constitution is an ideal model. It certainly isn't flawless (And in fact, it isn't even followed - try and invoke the 7th Amendment sometime and tell me how that goes for you).
     
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  5. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    There are safeguards against corruption, but nothing is entirely corruption-proof. Once corruption takes hold, it will take over quickly if you don't shake it out. We never shook it out here. :(

    A communist or socialist society where everyone agrees to behave as equals needs the same sorts of safeguards, otherwise, like we saw in the USSR and other nations, one individual will assert that he is more equal than anyone else, and then things start to unravel pretty quickly.

    But there is nothing within Marxism, as I understand it, that forbids such safeguards. Just don't get naive or cocky, and keep in mind that no safeguard is 100% effective.
     
  6. Randy

    Randy Ooh, Degrasse Tyson-son Super Moderator

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    I know the OPs original intent was to post this 'tongue in cheek' but it is kinda silly and hypocritical for the far right to dust off long dead and debunked ideologies and the left to crow about them (rightly) but then respond "well you know, socialism/communism/marxism isn't all bad!"

    And I know there's substantive differences between all those things but, idk, it's the 21st century and there's better ways forward. I don't think we should be giving audience to any of those old world philosophies by name. Waters down the message.
     
  7. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Late to the party, but lets' look at the numbers.

    Manufacturing employment looks like it bottomed out at 11,453 in Feb 2010, and has risen to 12,425 in July 2017, an increase of 8.5% in those ~7 years. Output started recovering after 2Q2009, but if we ignore the increase in production while headcount was falling, in 1Q2010 was 105.000 and in 2Q17 was 129.710, a 23.5% increase. In other words, since the head count low, output increased 15 percentage points faster than employment. Going a step further, when output bottomed out in 2Q2009, in June 2009 employment was 11,726, meaning employment has increased 6% since the trough in output, while output has increased from 97.556, an increase of just shy of 33%.

    So, since the output started recovering, there was nearly a year where output was increasing while employment was decreasing, and since that low point for output, output has increased by 1/3, while employment has increased by slightly more than 1/20th. This is absolutely a recovery in output driven by automation and further investment in technology, rather than by hiring.
     
  8. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    The difference is that the old ideology being revived on the right is entirely the same as it's always been. Most of the left are putting across either dramatically modified, modernised versions of the old paradigm, or they're pointing out that the present-day march of automation as a mechanism that permanently kills jobs, allows the old ideologies to work in a different way.
     
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  9. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    As long as there is an authority to enforce the transfer of property, that authority is government. It seems to be Marx attempting to be disingenuous in redefining things, rather than you directly, but there is clearly that governmental power in play, and quoting Marx doesn't change that.

    Regarding my opinions on socialism, I don't see my views as relevant to a discussion of Marxism.
     
  10. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    You seem to be unaware of this, but there is currently an investigation of potential crimes and of potential attempts to interfere in the election.

    You also seem unaware that on this side of the pond, evidence is collected before proceeding with trials. Is that no longer done in the UK? Things have apparently changed since I was last there.
     
  11. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    And you seem unaware of Trump's extensive and well documented history of corruption, racism, sexism, etc.

    The current investigations are a drop in the bucket. He has been corrupt for a very long time.
     
  12. marcwormjim

    marcwormjim SS.org Regular

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    If you ask me, at 71, he's starting to go a little thin on top.
     
  13. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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  14. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    There is a wide margin of error with picking specific dates for start and stop points. For example, choosing Q1 2012 and Q1 2016, both after the recession, as mentioned, the manufacturing output growth is +3.7% and the manufacturing jobs growth is +4.6%.

    Going out before the start of the recession, both output and jobs were at higher levels before the recession than have ever been since. With output dropping 7% since 2008Q1 and 2016Q1 and job dropping off about 10% over the same time span.

    I'm not sure how a year of increasing output during decreasing employment is much of a smoking gun, since the more gradual trending is a slow manufacturing recovery in both output and in jobs. Job growth is indeed slightly lower, but within expected margins for a slow recovery.

    Back in the mid-2000's there were lots of articles predicting huge boosts in automation by the mid 2010's. I believe I recalled seeing numbers like 400% and 500% increases in automation. While it is difficult to translate that into lost jobs, I really don;t see the evidence of that.

    One anecdotal example is the factory where I work. Most of our automation happened here in the early 1990's, and departments went from a dozen employees per shift to one or two, and then they had to add an extra maintenance guy for the new automated machine. So 12 to 3 is a -75% change in employment. Since then, every new machine we've bought has either added a job or kept the number of jobs the same, although we have been getting rid of support jobs, like accounting and IT, as those employees have been leaving and not being replaced with new ones. We now only have one IT guy on campus, where there used to be six of them in 2010. 6 to 1 is an 80% decrease. But it's not seen that way by the company, because we still have a bunch of off-campus IT guys overseas. I believe a lot of companies are doing the same thing. You can't really get down to the point where you have zero people on the clock at a manufacturing site while it's operating. Most processes have already been down to one or two employees for nearly 20 years now. Just to back up my anecdote with some corresponding statistics from the source I mentioned:

    Q1 1996: 17208 jobs 89.662 AQO
    Q1 2006: 14210 jobs 117.412 AQO
    Change: -17.4% jobs +30.9% AQO
    That's what the influence of automation looks like
    Q1 2016: 12387 jobs 128.108 AQO
    Change 2006-2016: -12.8% jobs +9.1% AQO
    Less of the effect, but still shows evidence of automation.

    It has not been ten years since the recession, so we cannot compare on the same time scale what's happened since the recession, but let's take the past 5 years and just keep in mind that there should be half as much activity:

    Q2 2017: 12397 jobs 129.71 AQO
    Q2 2012: 11927 jobs 124.148 AQO
    Change: +3.9% jobs +4.5% AQO
    That's what a slowly recovering manufacturing economy should look like. :shrug: It doesn't look like automation is a factor that offers any explanation as to what is happening since the recession.
    You could say the trend is slowing down, but the counter argument is that both trends appear on the graph to be slowing down at roughly the same rate.

    TL;DR - No evidence of automation playing a major role here since the recovery from the recession, as shown on the graph, if you play with the numbers a particular way, you can muddle that fact a little bit one way or the other, but it all averages out.

    Yet he still won the nomination of the political party that supposedly upholds the higher moral standard, and then won the election. It just goes to show how incredibly inconsistent and confused people get when it comes to politics. All of the debates with family and coworkers about his corruption, his unapologetic sexism, his staunch racism, etc., and the rebuttal was always, "well, at least he's not Hilary." ... I was no HRC fan, and I found her lack of honesty highly annoying and moderately troubling. I found her unwillingness to take responsibility for her own words after being caught out in a lie much more troubling, but I still could never follow the logic of voting for the guy who flat out tells you he's going to fuck things up rather than vote for his opponent who lies all of the time.

    ...but we already have a thread for Trump-bashing, and this is not it.
     
  15. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Only quoting in part for brevity - double check your numbers. 1@12 manufacturing output is 123.576, 1Q16 output is 127.816, so +3.4%, Employment in March '12 is 11,898 while March '16 is 12,355, +3.8%. Now, yes, 3.8% is 0.4% higher than 3.4% so we saw a slightly larger increase in employment than output in that four-year window... But, if you look at the trend, that was also during a period of flat to declining output for several quarters prior, and exceptionally weak GDP growth. More to the point, this period is NOT the norm. Bigger picture, we're at an all-time peak in american manufacturing output, on the index scale 129.710 in 2Q. The previous high point before the last two quarters' all time highs was 129.022 in 2Q2008. During this period manufacturing in this country has increased 0.53%, while total employment has declined from 13,504 in June 2008 to 12,409 in June 2017, -8.1%. Since we're looking at this from peak output to peak output factors such as factory underutilization are not likely to impact comparability, so it's pretty safe to say that the primary source of output increases from peak to peak were due to technology, automation, and utilization of capital, and not utilization of labor.

    Of course, even THAT isn't the full picture. Manufacturing employment in this country peaked in 2Q79, at 19,553. In 2Q17, employment has declined to 12,409. a fall of -36.5%. During that time, manufacturing output has increased from, well, the index only goes back as far as 1Q87, at 69.79 to today's 129.71, an increase of 85.9%. I suppose it isn't technically fair not compare labor change directly in this period, so 1Q87 employment was 17,507, 10.5% below peak. It then proceeded to fall 29.1%, while output increased 85.9%.

    If the decline in manufacturing jobs was due to outsourcing, then we'd expect to see output fall in sync as employment declined. It didn't. Employment dropped by almost a third, while output nearly doubled. If we're producing almost twice the output with a third less employees, then yeah, I think you can attribute it to automation.

    This isn't some nonconsensus call, either, in economics circles - while in pop culture it's popular to argue that globalization is costing American jobs, the academic opinion is that the vast majority of sector job losses can be attributed to automation. It's hard to come to any other conclusion when you have two charts, employment trending from top right to lower left, and output trending from lower right to upper left. For the first time in 30 years we've seen some recovery in employment from around 2010 onwards, but it has trailed far behind the recovery in output.
     
  16. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    But that's not what the graph shows at all since the recession ended.

    As far as my maths, I posted all appropriate numbers, if I was a month or two off pulling the numbers, I don't think it'd make any substantial difference. If you pulled a different month than I did from the same quarter and got a half a percent different result, it just reinforces my point that these numbers are going to fluctuate a little one way or the other anyway.

    I mean, you can say that academics say that the job losses since the last recession are attributed to automation, but that's just not accurate, since there has been job growth in manufacturing over that time period, not job loss. 12.4k >11.4k jobs.

    Did automated processes take jobs away from Americans over that time period? Sure, but the numbers simply say that it's not that big of a factor.

    And it's not going to take an economist to make a statement as obvious as "making less stuff in the USA and making more stuff overseas will mean fewer manufacturing jobs in the USA." The question is whether we are making less stuff here or not. While we are making more stuff, relative to the rest of the world, we are not making as much more stuff as everyone else is. As we make less stuff per capita, we earn less per capita income from manufacturing. That's fine if another sector takes up the slack, but that's not really the case, is it?

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    ...but that's not the argument I'm making at all:

    I don't know how we've gotten this far afield, but while we're quibbling over the changes in manufacturing sector employment over the past ten years - and I still say you're wrong, if employment is up ~6% since it's all time low when production is up 33%, then there's a pretty compelling case to be made that most of the output gains are attributable to the utilization of automation, but whatever - if you scale back and look at the big picture, even YOU admit automation has had a massive impact on employment in manufacturing sectors.

    I mean, yes, manufacturing headcount is up. When you think about it, that's a pretty compelling argument that prior losses had nothing to do with globalization, or those increases wouldn't be happening here. But, more to the point, output is up significantly more than employment, by a factor of 5.

    And, the bigger point of all of this, is worrying about job losses from automation isn't the pipe dream you imply it is, since it's already happened.
     
  18. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Well, yeah, "whatever" is right. The point is that businesses respond to taxation as one would expect them to respond.

    Capitalism generally provides a higher incentive for businesses, which attracts more business activity. The idea that more business activity, when there is no incentive for businesses to pass their material wealth down to commoners, provides a higher average quality of life, it probably technically true. The issue is that an big gain at the top boosts the average without making any gain for the median.

    Socialism generally provides a higher incentive for private individuals by providing more for them. It does have a cost, though, because it doesn't improve the average quality of life, but instead just spreads it around.

    They are certainly very different systems, but I think that the sweet spot is not 100% one or the other, but some sort of combination of those that provides businesses with enough incentive to remain highly productive whilst still providing for the general welfare of the common people.

    ...but that's really what we already have in the USA. :shrug:

    So, we have become this weird polarized bifracted culture of red versus blue. It's pushing our country right out of the butthole of history, and we will soon be splashing down in the toilet, unless people (like me) stop bickering about all of this shit and get back to any more constructive tasks.
     
  19. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    We're far closer to being in agreement here, I think, though with one very major caveat:

    Tax code concerns doesn't prompt companies to move jobs. A company has zero interest in trying to game the tax code to minimize the tax rate their employees pay, they're not going to move jobs overseas to lower that rate. They will, however, do what they can to manage what jurisdictions they declare corporate earnings in. So, we're not seeing them move jobs overseas to lower their corporate tax rate - instead, we're seeing them increasingly declare earnings as attributable to overseas subsidiaries and then take advantage of the repatriation clause to declare they intend to reinvest these earnings overseas, thereby avoiding the need to pay income taxes on these "overseas" earnings.

    I mean, look at the flip side - Toyota isn't an American company, is incorporated in Japan, and taxed by the Japanese government. Yet, they employ more than 30 thousand Americans. The rate those American workers pay income taxes at is totally immaterial to Toyota's tax management.

    Unless I'm totally misunderstanding what you're saying. :lol:
     
  20. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Several companies left Detroit after Detroit began levying additional income taxes. As it turned out, employees started leaving the city and started taking jobs outside of the city where they could earn less before-tax income and end up with more in their pockets. Without the talent necessary to compete with other businesses, the dynamics shifted geographically away from the city.

    Tax code very much does have effects on where businesses situate their workers, on multiple levels with varying amounts of subtlety involved.
     

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