The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points
The Contender
Ragnar_Rahl
Con (against)
Losing
20 Points

90% of the British public should back my plans for a socialist revolution

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/28/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,073 times Debate No: 6671
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (7)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

Look out all you aristocrats, members of the landed gentry and mega-rich tycoons, sitting there in your stately homes, manor houses and palatial penthouses – your days of lording it over the proletariat are numbered. The oppressed masses from the working classes will soon unite with the lower and upper-middle classes and, under my leadership, rise up and overthrow your feudalistic reign of patronage and privilege.

But don't press the panic button MI5, this transition of power will be a peaceful one becuase it will be supported by the 90% of the population that will benefit from it. You see, in the UK:

93% of the nation's personal wealth is owner by the richest 50% of the population;
72% of the nation's personal wealth is owner by the richest 25% of the population;
53% of the nation's personal wealth is owner by the richest 10% of the population;
40% of the nation's personal wealth is owner by the richest 5% of the population and
21% of the nation's personal wealth is owner by the richest 1% of the population.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk...

So, come the Revolution when I am duly installed as the rightful dictator of the new United Republic of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; I will immediately institute a mass redistribution of wealth.

Let's make the math(s) easy and say the total population of the UK is 1,000,000 and the total personal wealth is �100,000,000,000 (the actual figures are: a population of 60,975,000 with a total personal wealth of �6,998,000,000,000; so the model fits the actual to within 5%).

http://www.statistics.gov.uk...
http://www.statistics.gov.uk...

At the moment the average net worth per person across the whole of the population is �100,000, although the richest half is worth an average of �186,000 while the poorest half is worth an average of just �14,000.

However, once in power, I would redistribute the pot so that 90% of the population are better off as follows:

53% of the wealth is owned by 10% of the people. They represent 10% of the population, so I will let them keep 10% of the wealth. They will then each be worth �100,000.

The remaining 43% of the wealth will be divided between the remaining 90% of the population so that they each get �47,000. Then the poorest 50% will be worth an average �61,000 and the richest 40% will be worth an average of �233,000 – the richest half of the population will thus become approximately 4 times wealthier than the poor half - as opposed to 14 times wealthier, as they are today.

So we can see that 90% of the population benefit from a one-off lump sum payment with the poorest half of the population being the biggest percentage gainers.

Of course the 10% of the population that were formerly the richest in society might object to this plan, as their wealth would be reduced to the net worth of the average person. However, democratic principles apply even in a socialist state and it is only fair that the many benefit from the sacrifice of the over-privileged few.

Support the Revolution! Vote Pro.

Thank you.

http://polizeros.com...
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

The problem with this plan is that it has no sense of consequences beyond the range of the moment.

You can loot all you like right now, but in doing so, you send a signal to the market: "There shall be no rewards for working."

Working is costly, without benefits proportional to the cost, it disappears.

And then what? You'll force people to work? The mind cannot be forced, though the body can. You can, perhaps, turn the UK into an agricultural nation where there is enough food to keep perhaps half the people from starving, on a model similar to the agriculture of the American South antebellum, except with less land to work with and no way to reward your overseers. With luck and a lot more skill than you've probably got. But it will be hell once the loot from your revolution disappears, for the modern economy will be impossible, can you imagine a modern engineer or programmer or factory planner working on the threat of force with no reward? It's not even possible, the mind functions worse the more force is placed upon it, this is why people don't typically invent great things in prison :) The medieval economy-- that is the limit of the fully consistent socialist economy, things beyond it are only possible to the extent you deviate from that model.
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

I extend my thanks to my opponent for accepting this challenge.

Many people make the mistake of associating socialism with oppressed, unhappy, impoverished people living in bleak grey cities - but that is to confuse socialism with communism.

Plenty of prosperous European countries have socialists in government. For example, Denmark is governed by a liberal / socialist coalition. As a result of the government's economic policies this country has the most equal distribution of income of any country in the world, and as a result of this, Denmark is also the happiest country in the world.

https://www.cia.gov...
http://www.nationmaster.com...
http://www.cnn.com...

The "champagne effect" that capitalists use to describe the notion that some of the fortunes of the richest in society will eventually trickle down to the masses doesn't hold water (or bubbly) as the gap between rich and poor in countries with capitalist governments is ever growing. Even after over 10 years of a Labour government, wealth inequality in the UK remains one of the highest in the world.

http://news.bbc.co.uk...

It is no use tinkering at the edges of British society in order to crate a fairer society – the archaic political and social structures that favour the Establishment are too entrenched. What is required is root and branch reform. The Socialist Worker Party's stance is:

"The present system cannot be patched up — it has to be completely transformed. The structures of the parliament, army, police and judiciary cannot be taken over and used by the working people. Elections can be used to agitate for real improvements in people's lives and to expose the system we live under, but only the mass action of workers themselves can change the system.

Workers create all the wealth under capitalism. A new society can only be constructed when they collectively seize control of that wealth and plan its production and distribution according to need."

http://www.swp.org.uk...

Now that those pillars of capitalism - the financial institutions - have been exposed to be corrupt, fraudulent and incompetent, it is time to sweep away the inequality of the past and move on to create a brighter, fairer future where the whole of society has the opportunity to thrive.

Thank you.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

"
Many people make the mistake of associating socialism with oppressed, unhappy, impoverished people living in bleak grey cities"
In other words, the "mistake" of associating socialism with everything it's ever created.

"- but that is to confuse socialism with communism.
"
And the communists would say the opposite. And both cooperate to make sure that they can't be distinguished from one another, because whenever one comes up with a definition for socialism, a socialist says "No, that's communism," and a communist returns the favor when you define communism, the only exception being when the definitions are self-contradictory.

"
Plenty of prosperous European countries have socialists in government."
Of the most inconsistent variety, and NOTHING like you're advocating.

And yes, btw, your "Socialist" revolution has more in common with the "Communist" countries than the "Socialists" presently in Europe. So playing word tricks won't help ya here :)

"As a result of the government's economic policies this country has the most equal distribution of income of any country in the world, and as a result of this, Denmark is also the happiest country in the world.
"
Happiness is impossible to study externally, any attempts at it can only come about through false reporting or biased proxies. So, utter nonsense there. Furthermore, as one of your sources mentioned, "A long term issue is the drop in the ratio of workers to retirees." This is shorthand for incoming systemic collapse, which is a DIRECT RESULT of redistributive policies-- there are more incentives to retire, less to work, so less people work.

And your plan, unlike Denmark's, removes ALL incentives.

"
The "champagne effect" that capitalists use to describe the notion that some of the fortunes of the richest in society will eventually trickle down to the masses doesn't hold water"
Bill Gates created Microsoft, Jobs created Apple. As a result, the masses now have quality operating systems, whereas before they had crap for operating systems.

The problem with the statement is the "Eventually" part. The flood down, not a trickle, happens WHILE THE FORTUNE IS BEING MADE. It is only when the rich STOP working, because they no longer have incentives to, that the trickling down stops :).

"as the gap between rich and poor in countries with capitalist governments is ever growing. "
There is no country in the world with a capitalist government. Perhaps you ought to try one if you're planning on a revolution, especially since a lot of that gap, though not all of it, comes from anti-capitalist devices such as state-sponsored banks which use the mechanism of inflation to directly redistribute from poor to rich :).
Also, this is ignoratio elenchi. The statement that the gap grows does not contradict the statement that those on the bottom grow with it in a free market-- which, as operating system markets demonstrate, they do.

Income inequality was historically at it's lowest in various tribes in the primitive world. It was only as such inequality ROSE that standards of living rose in the long run.

"

It is no use tinkering at the edges of British society in order to crate a fairer society – the archaic political and social structures that favour the Establishment are too entrenched. What is required is root and branch reform."

I just gave you an option for complete reform-- capitalism, which has never been tried. The establishment in Britain got that way as a leftover from the aristocracy... a STATE mechanism :).

And yes, btw, your "Socialist" revolution has more in common with the "Communist" countries than the "Socialists" presently in Europe. So playing word tricks won't help ya here :)

"Workers create all the wealth under capitalism."
Only if you include the work of planning production, done by the owners. Otherwise, this is COMPLETELY nonsensical. The standard of living, the productivity, of a modern steel worker is much higher than that of a medieval blacksmith. The difference is the factory setting. The ideas and the risk of the entrepreneur create that difference. Which, by the way, is, unlike in a market system, impossible to rationally calculate to create under consistent socialism, since there is no means (price mechanism) of calculating it.

"Now that those pillars of capitalism - the financial institutions - have been exposed to be corrupt, fraudulent and incompetent,"
No one intellectually honest can declare the STATE SUBSIDIZED financial institutions of the modern world to be "pillars of capitalism." A pillar of capitalism would be one that sought to FREE itself from the state, not to beg for scraps from it. The closest thing is perhaps BB&T bank, but even that accepted bailout money in order to not be forced out of business by the subsidies granted to its competitors, so that's at best only an aspiring pillar of capitalism, while remaining an actual part of the state-controlled (socialist) system :)

"A new society can only be constructed when they collectively seize control of that wealth and plan its production and distribution according to need."

And here you reveal the deepest weakness of your system. ACCORDING TO NEED. And, implicitly, from each according to ability. That old slogan eh? Guess what-- When you take something out of someone's hide according to ability, and hand it out according to need, what you have is a system that punishes ability and rewards need. What happens in such a system? People, consciously or otherwise, often the former, become progressively less able and more needy, because they have incentive to do so, and because you kill off all the able ones on the sacrificial pyre of need. When you run out of the "Able," you have to go with a new "able," that's less able, and so on and so forth, until at last there is only need-- only the neediest-- only those on the edge of death. And, since no one is around to take care of them, they die.

Death is the purpose, standard, and ultimate result of the slogan "From each according to ability, to each according to need."
Debate Round No. 2
brian_eggleston

Pro

I consider it my privilege to respond to my opponent's arguments as he is recognised as a seasoned debater and his strongly-held views are widely respected. Notwithstanding his forceful (and seemingly convincing) statements, however, I should like to remind the voters that he is more than capable of distorting the facts to suit his own ends - not that there is anything wrong with that, this is a debating competition after all! My point is only this: please don't be persuaded by his stereotypical characterisation of socialism because the reality is, in fact, much different to the myth.

Even communism, which I do not advocate, is not as desperate and oppressive as Hollywood would make you believe. As it happens, I visited and Russia and East Germany when I was a lad and, while the architecture was undeniably dour, the people seemed happy. Also, my wife grew up in the former Czechoslovak Republic which was a satellite state of the USSR at that time. Her father was the chief designer and director of a tank factory that employed 60,000 people. He could have worked on the production line but he studied (at the state's expense) and was promoted to the top in recognition of his ability and hard work. He is still there now, by the way, although the factory now makes Volkswagen cars.

As a result of his endeavours, when my wife was a kid, the family were able to take foreign holidays (vacations) and buy Western goods. They lived (and still live) in a fantastic apartment overlooking the river and the mountains and also had a brand new Skoda (okay, not the most respected marque internationally at the time, but still). In addition, my father-in-law also had 24-hour use of a chauffeured limousine. You see, there were incentives to do well, even under communism (and my mother in law, like most of the older generations, much regret its demise because they were better off under that system).

But my concept of a socialist state is one of a meritocracy, whereby one is rewarded for hard work, within a liberal (i.e. non-conformist) framework which can interact competitively in an global marketplace. That, essentially, is the key difference between socialism and communism.

Not only does it allow people the freedom to innovate, be creative and entrepreneurial, but it also nurtures future winners by giving the opportunity to succeed to all children, not just those of the privileged few.

This is what is actually meant by distribution of wealth according to need. It has nothing to do, as my opponent suggests, with encouraging the workshy to rely on state benefits for an income, but rather giving all in society the opportunity to progress and allowing them to reap the rewards of their efforts when they succeed.

Thank you.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

"
Even communism, which I do not advocate, is not as desperate and oppressive as Hollywood would make you believe."

Hollywood, in fact, has historically wanted to make it look better than it is for most of its history.

"As it happens, I visited and Russia and East Germany when I was a lad and, while the architecture was undeniably dour, the people seemed happy."
When it was under communism?
You realize that anyone caught NOT seeming happy in a communist country when foreign visitors are around gets the notice of the local Party and all it's various control measures?

You know what happens when you get too much negative notice? That's what the labor camps in Siberia are for... and that's assuming they don't just take a shortcut and execute you.

"Also, my wife grew up in the former Czechoslovak Republic which was a satellite state of the USSR at that time. Her father was the chief designer and director of a tank factory that employed 60,000 people. He could have worked on the production line but he studied (at the state's expense) and was promoted to the top in recognition of his ability and hard work."
Anecdotes are the least useful sort of evidence, especially ones you can't prove.

Besides, the USSR was inconsistent :). It had to be or it would have collapsed sooner.

"
As a result of his endeavours, when my wife was a kid, the family were able to take foreign holidays (vacations) and buy Western goods. They lived (and still live) in a fantastic apartment overlooking the river and the mountains and also had a brand new Skoda (okay, not the most respected marque internationally at the time, but still)."
Sounds like he was a Party official :).

"You see, there were incentives to do well, even under communism"
Under inconsistent communism, and mostly for "doing well" by a bureaucrat's standards rather than the standards of someone who knows what they are doing.
And even then, those incentives aren't enough, see also, the country collapsing :).

Your first round, however, detailed your proposal. Your proposal removes all incentives in the name of equalizing incomes. Your proposal is more radical than the Soviet Union's, more consistent... and it would pay the price.

"
But my concept of a socialist state is one of a meritocracy, whereby one is rewarded for hard work"
You have officially scrapped your resolution, by admitting the revolution you described in round 1 is not fitting with your concept of a socialist state, and therefore should not be supported as a socialist revolution. I accept your forfeit. :). Furthermore, we already HAVE a word for a country where one is rewarded for hard work (or, at the least, competent work, the hardness is a secondary matter), it's called laissez-faire capitalism.

"
Not only does it allow people the freedom to innovate, be creative and entrepreneurial,"
How can you do that if the state seizes all capital and redistribuites it without mind to the needs of entrepreneurialism, as you described in round one?

"but it also nurtures future winners by giving the opportunity to succeed to all children, not just those of the privileged few."
Except, of course, that it refuses the oppurtunity to succeed to anyone, as described in round one.

Furthermore, under laissez-faire capitalism, there would be an incentive for a business model I've described many times for educating those among poor children with potential. A school can provide an education in exchange for a small percentage of future income. This gives the school an incentive, unlike any school ever before, to ensure the highest quality education available.
Do you know what is in the way of it?
The state wouldn't presently recognize such a contract.
State control of the economy (socialism) is the only thing in the way of educating all capable children.

"
This is what is actually meant by distribution of wealth according to need. It has nothing to do, as my opponent suggests, with encouraging the workshy to rely on state benefits for an income"
Your round one contradicts this, as it distributes the money to everyone. Again, you forfeit by conceding that your planned revolution is not socialist at all :).

"but rather giving all in society the opportunity to progress and allowing them to reap the rewards of their efforts when they succeed.
"
Flatly contradicts Round One. It is not possible to simultaneously advocate stealing all of someone's income, which you've already advocated, and "allowing someone to reap the rewards of their efforts." You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

My opponent has conceded that his debating has been incoherent, as the revolution he described is not in the least bit socialist per his definition, and therefore the resolution is nonsensical :).
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
Sources to PRO, arguments to CON.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
"So we can see that 90% of the population benefit from a one-off lump sum payment with the poorest half of the population being the biggest percentage gainers."

Gaining money (a bribe) is not a reason to support a socailist revolution or contradict your values (90% of Brits are socialist = false).
Posted by Maya9 8 years ago
Maya9
Pro's argument isn't argument so much as it is a poorly conceived rant.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Denmark is not a socialist country, it is heavily taxed capitalism. Happiness results from a society of lowered expectations. Even so, it helps a great deal to have no defense burden and a homogeneous society. All of the 20th century experiments in democratic socialism (India, emerging nations in Africa, etc.) failed clearly and decisively. Con argues the reasons for socialism's failures correctly.
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
"Death is the purpose, standard, and ultimate result of the slogan "From each according to ability, to each according to need."

I think the appropriate reaction to this is, "Boo Yah!"
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