The Instigator
Ben_Carlile
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
likespeace
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

Socialism ultimately fails for modern societies.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
likespeace
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,449 times Debate No: 28661
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

Ben_Carlile

Pro

Statement: Socialism ultimately fails for modern societies

I will be presenting arguments to support this statement during the duration of this debate.

The first round will be acceptance.

The second round will be opening arguments.

The third round will be rebutting opposing arguments and introducing limited new arguments.

The fourth round will be closing arguments and any last rebuttals you wish to give.
likespeace

Con

Pro contends that Socialism ultimately fails for modern societies. This is a tall order, given how many nations employ a mixed economy, wherein both Capitalism and Socialism thrive. I thank him for opening this debate, and look forward to hearing his arguments. In anticipation, I will provide a University-level working definition of Socialism:

Socialism
Most generally, socialism refers to state ownership of common property, or state ownership of the means of production. A purely socialist state would be one in which the state owns and operates the means of production. However, nearly all modern capitalist countries combine socialism and capitalism.

The University of Idaho, and any other public school or university, is a "socialist" institutions, and those who attend it or work for it are partaking in socialism, because it is owned and operated by the state of Idaho. The same is true of federal and state highways, federal and state parks, harbors etc.

source: http://www.class.uidaho.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
Ben_Carlile

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting challenge and for providing a definition for Socialism. I look forward to this debate.

Now, to begin I will admit that Socialism can work, but only if those running the state are perfect, selfless humans, however, no such humans exist. The very nature of humans being in control with such absolute power is to be corrupted and greedy.

Looking at Socialism from a historical stand point gives us a number of examples of Socialistic societies that ended in ruin, two such examples are Soviet Russian, and West and East Germany after WWII. Both of these countries explored Socialism and payed the price. Russia began by converting to Socialism. Now, Socialism is known as the gap between Marxism and Communism, it is inevitable that pursuing one of those will lead to the others. After a time, Russia followed this pattern, and the type of leaders this society attracted were mass murderers, tyrants who oppressed their people. In the case of West and East Germany it paints of very revealing comparison of Socialism versus democratic governments. The difference was West Germany having a flourishing economy and society, while East Germany being in a state of poverty.
likespeace

Con

I disagree that Socialism must ultimately fail in modern societies.

1. Positive, Long-lived Socialism in America

First, I call attention to federal and state parks, federal and state highways, and the public library system. Each of these institutions fit the definition of Socialism set forth in round one of our debate.

88% of Americans say it's extremely or quite important for the federal government to protect and support national parks such as Yellowstone. Only 4% believe we spend too little on them[1].

84% of Americans are opposed to the privatization of public roads and highways [2].

81% of Americans are satisfied with their local public library [3].

While there's always room for improvement, it's self-evident that these systems are in fact functioning (non-failing) after many, many years of existence. With these facts alone I have demonstrated that Socialism doesn't ultimately fail for modern societies. I look forward to Pro attempting to prove his case.

2. Socialism Can Promote Stability

Second, if a country's populace becomes too poor and disempowered, you face the prospect of revolution. This contributed to the French, Russian, and other revolutions. There is no direct profit in opening cold weather homeless shelters, providing free basic medical services, or providing pro bono legal assistance.. and yet the fact that Americans do it, helps to ensure their country doesn't wind up like those other countries.

3. Socialism Thinks Longer-Term Than Capitalism

Third, capitalism tends to fail us when no profit will be seen in the near-term, but society has a good reason to proceed. Examples where Socialism helped here include space exploration and the Internet.

4. Socialism Succeeds Where Capitalism Fails

Finally, I will provide a clear example in America where, historically, Capitalism failed and Socialism succeeded. That is in the realm of Firefighting. I will direct you to a wonderful article on the subject from the Huffington Post [4], but if you prefer a visual demonstration, I encourage you to rent Gangs of New York.

[1] http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com...

[2] http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org...

Debate Round No. 2
Ben_Carlile

Pro

First off, I will mention that the percentages offered in the opening section of Con's statement are both fallacious and irrelevant. The percentages fall under the Appeal to the People fallacy, just because those people think these programs are doing alright, doesn't mean they are. They are also irrelevant seeing as these are just the approval ratings Americans have for these programs, nothing that can actually alter the truth of the matter.

I can't deny that these programs fall under the definition of Socialism, but are they really doing that well? Public libraries are down to only 50% usage between 1991 to 2004, with most books and other media being obtained through privately owned businesses. The National Highway System instituted by the United States cost over 5.4 billion dollars just when the act was initially signed, not to mention all the money spent in upkeep. And in the case of National Parks, that is an additional 2.9 billion a year in government spending for some aesthetically pleasing scenery to be kept alive.

But why stop there with state-run programs that fail? There's still public schools and Obamacare. Public schools cost 600 billion dollars in 2009 alone. While private schools have shown to perform better on critical thinking tests. [1] Obamacare is projected to add between 500 billion and 700 billion to the national debt over the next decade by economists.

None of these are sounding like successful programs when the facts are layed out, they reveal themselves to be debt increasing activities that collectively contribute to the present debt of the United States. Now, I recognize that these programs have had their benefits, but the very nature of how they're run is wasteful and harmful to a nation.

Second, countries won't become poor as long as the inhabitants are free to develop their economy. Neither will they become disempowered unless the government oppresses them, and in that case a revolution is in order anyway. There is no shortage of homeless shelters and such that are opened by private citizens, there's no need to the federal government to do it.

Third, investing money on a project with no immediate payoff, but huge long term rewards isn't Socialism, it's good business.

Finally, in this case it is not Socialism that should be given any credit in this situation, as it is not state-ownership of common property (last I checked, there are innumerable places where you can be a volunteer fireman.) Or state-regulated production, it is a government doing what they're designed to do, protect the people.

[1] http://www.time.com...
likespeace

Con

In this round, I refute both of my opponent's round two arguments, leaving them with no arguments to support their claims. If you are new to this debate, please review our definition of Socialism from round one.


Refuting the "Absolute Power" argument

My opponent's first argument is that Socialism requires granting the state absolute power--

> Now, to begin I will admit that Socialism can work, but only if those running the state are
> perfect, selfless humans, however, no such humans exist. The very nature of humans being in
> control with such absolute power is to be corrupted and greedy.

"The president is not an 'elected king,' no matter how many bombs he can drop. Because the 'crude' Constitution doesn't trust him. He's just a bum, okay Mr. Pitkannan? He's just a bum." -- Simon Wilder in With Honors

The United States of America does not rely on state administrators to be selfless; in fact, many provisions of the constitution are there to limit the power of the state. When presidents or other elected officials overstep their bounds, they resign, are arrested, or are impeached. When they fail to live up to expectations they are voted our of office or sometimes recalled. To help ensure the populace is well-informed there are freedom of information acts, a free press, and free speech. The US is hardly the only country that both practices Socialism and has limited the power of their government. Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, and the UK provide more examples.

As a reminder--

"For a point of reference, the United States is a Constitutional Democratic Republic that has long embraced both capitalism (free markets) and socialism (public schools and universities, and public works " parks, roads and highways, sewer and water, dams, harbors, as well as social welfare, such as worker"s comp, unemployment insurance, social security etc.)." [1]

Clearly, nations can reap the benefits of Socialism long-term, without granting their leaders absolute power.


Refuting the "Slippery Slope" argument

My opponent's second argument is that adopting Socialiam inevitably leads to adopting Communism.

> Now, Socialism is known as the gap between Marxism and Communism, it is inevitable that pursuing one of those will lead to the others

My opponent is referring to Marxist theory. Marx believed that Feudalism, Capitalism, and Socialism were all stages of economic development that would ultimately lead to Communism. Specifically--
  • Primitive Communism
  • Slave Society
  • Feudalism
  • Capitalism
  • Socialism
  • Communism

I do not agree with my opponent that Feudalism, Capitalism, or Socialism inevitably lead to Communism, so if my opponent wishes to use that as a cornerstone of their argument, the burden of proof is upon them to prove that claim.

As counter-examples, America has been practicing both Capitalism and Socialism since long before the Russian revolution and hasn't turned to Communism yet. The last member of the US Communist Party to run for president garnered only 0.04% of the popular vote[5]. Additionally, all the modern nations listed in my last argument are counter-examples.

> After a time, Russia followed this pattern

The leader of the Russian revolution was a Marxist long before the Russian revolution; they named themselves the Russian Communist Party and adopted War Communism within a year of taking power.

Pro's example provides little if any support that choosing some Socialist economic policies (such as public libraries) will "inevitably" lead a nation to Communism and failure.. especially in light of my many counter-examples.


Sources

[1] http://www.class.uidaho.edu...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 3
Ben_Carlile

Pro

Ben_Carlile forfeited this round.
likespeace

Con

Nature of this Debate

Pro has the burden of proof to demonstrate "Socialism ultimately fails for modern societies."

"For a point of reference, the United States is a Constitutional Democratic Republic that has long embraced both capitalism (free markets) and socialism (public schools and universities, and public works – parks, roads and highways, sewer and water, dams, harbors, as well as social welfare, such as worker’s comp, unemployment insurance, social security etc.)."[1]


My Opponent's Argument

Pro's argument consisted of two parts--

1. State run programs require selfless administrators to succeed
2. Any socialist policies ultimately lead to communism and ruin

In round two I provided comprehensive arguments refuting this points. I pointed out the ways America and many other nations limit the power of the state. I also showed serious flaws in his "slippery slope" argument and re-asserted the burden was upon him to prove it. My opponent has not defended his position, and thus we should consider his arguments dashed. with this alone, my opponent has not met the burden of proof, and I should win.

In round three Con touted Public Education and Universal Health Care as failures. First, I am not arguing "Socialism always prevails". Rather, he is arguing "Socialism ultimately fails". Thus, my three counter-examples below are sufficient. Second, I assert that merely stating an unsourced cost projection of $300 per citizen per year doesn't prove Universal Health Care will ultimately fail.


My Argument

For my part, I gave three counterexamples of long-standing programs that my opponent agrees meet the definition of Socialism that have not failed--public libraries, highways, and national parks. These counterexamples demonstrate the opposite of what my opponent claims.

88% of Americans say it's extremely or quite important for the federal government to protect and support national parks such as Yellowstone. Only 4% believe we spend too little on them[1].

84% of Americans are opposed to the privatization of public roads and highways [2].

81% of Americans are satisfied with their local public library [3].


Defending My Argument

> The percentages fall under the Appeal to the People fallacy, just because those people think these programs are doing alright, doesn't mean they are.

It would only be a fallacy if I claimed that proved those programs were successful. Rather, I claim high customer satisfaction ratings are strong evidence those programs are not failures and again remind that you have the burden of proof in this debate.

I. The Library System

> ? Public libraries are down to only 50% usage between 1991 to 2004, with most books and other media being obtained through privately owned businesses.

Your statistics are unsourced and false.

First, as evidence public libraries are not failing--

+ 81% of Americans are satisfied with their local public library [3].
+ 73% of libraries in major cities have seen an increase in circulation in recent years.[5]
+ 62% of libraries are the only free source of Internet access in their community[5]
+ 76% of libraries are staying modern by offering access to eBooks[5]

Second, your unsourced statistics apparently relate to the "Association of College and Research Libraries" and not the general public library system. The articles that I found that note the decrease in the one also note the increase in the other.

It's up to you to demonstrate that this policy, which you agreed is Socialist, will "ultimately fail" and I point out you have not done so. The library system was, long ago, run by private institutions. Those failed precisely when they were needed the most--

"In prosperous times, the libraries expanded their collections, increased staff, and extended hours. In hard economic times, contributions dried up, and social libraries often were dissolved. "[6]

We can thank Andrew Carnegie and Franklin Roosevelt for our modern public library system.

II. The Highway System

> "The National Highway System instituted by the United States cost over 5.4 billion dollars just when the act was initially signed, not to mention all the money spent in upkeep."

Stating the cost of the system does not demonstrate that it will ultimately fail. You have not made your case, and against I point out most people prefer highways run by the state--

84% of Americans are opposed to the privatization of public roads and highways [2].

III. The National Park System

> "And in the case of National Parks, that is an additional 2.9 billion a year in government spending for some aesthetically pleasing scenery to be kept alive."

I again point out popular support for this program--

"88% of Americans say it's extremely or quite important for the federal government to protect and support national parks such as Yellowstone. Only 4% believe we spend too little on them."

Your unsubstantiated cost estimates, even if true, do not prove it's a failure.


Conclusion

Pro has the burden of proof in this argument.

In round two, I provided three solid counter-examples that Socialism isn't failing. In round three, I dismantled Pro's arguments. In round four, I successfully defended my counter-examples.

Note, Pro also forfeited.

Please vote Con. :)


Sources

[1] http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com......

[2] http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org......

Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by MacGruber 4 years ago
MacGruber
Pro: You should write more in depth arguments. You have 8,000 characters.
Posted by Grantmac18 4 years ago
Grantmac18
Yes, as expressed by Mr. Franklin; definition of socialism as well as a geographical parameter of applicable "modern societies".
Posted by Cody_Franklin 4 years ago
Cody_Franklin
What does "socialism" entail? Is it just the colloquial definition in which we give people generous welfare payments? Is it state-sponsored "market socialism", as in the Scandinavian states? Is it genuine common ownership of the means of production?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 4 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
Ben_CarlilelikespeaceTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by 1Devilsadvocate 4 years ago
1Devilsadvocate
Ben_CarlilelikespeaceTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: F.F.