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129 points by SQL2219 on Nov 3, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 55 comments




I actually think GitHub is a competitor. More and more often I find myself getting answers by reviewing discussion about issues on GH. Also, places like Discord I've ended up in commmunities where I can get answers to my programming questions. It's anecdotal, but it has caused my usage of SO to drop over the last year and a half or so.


> “I don’t see HackerNews or GitHub as competing against us directly for the same dollars or even the same attention,” CEO and co-founder Joel Spolsky said at the time.

Does Hacker News make "dollars"?


It promotes YCombinator startups, which in turn makes them money.


This entire thread has devolved into capitalism vs communism!


Cool!


[flagged]


We've banned this account for repeatedly violating the guidelines.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


This isn't constructive and simply served to derail the toptic at hand into a bikeshedding session where the shed is the economic system.


I'd say it's Utopia (even though I see what happened in 1917 with good eyes), it would mean the obliteration of a system already too stablished to let it happen (Capitalism), both cannot coexist (or whoever tries it would be casted out just like Cuba was with its socialism).

What we need is having companies aim for more than profit by the end of their fiscal year. As already pointed out here on HN many times, whenever you get VC money, where your business leads is where the money set you to. Product oriented initiatives instead of project oriented ones were a good start, having people own part of it gives them a sense or purpose and let them mature it while maturing themselves. What I really hate about Capitalism is the fact about BigCo or BigVC acquiring SmallCO or pushing it out of business being the standard.


> This is why we still need communism

It is evil to make this comment, whether in earnest or as a joke, for many of the same reasons as if you had said “this is why we still need nazism.”

Communism is an ideology responsible for the death of over one hundred million people in the 20th century.


You're conflating communism and authoritarianism. Nothing about Communism as a concept requires massacring people. It's just that in the 20th century those who were murderous autocrats used Communism to convince their (often poor) countrymen to give them power and they killed people in service of that power.

Communist and Socialist governments were a popular vehicle for getting poor people to join an uprising in the 20th century and despots took advantage of that.

Maybe that's a distinction without a difference given that we've never really seen a non-authoritarian communist government. But communism has only been around for a century, so it's not out of the realm of reason that there'll be a Communist government that isn't brutal at some point. We certainly have somewhat Socialist governments that treat their people well right now.


> Nothing about Communism as a concept requires massacring people.

Elimination of exploiting classes and abolition of family are two things that certainly require massacring people. If you see any other realistic means of achieving these two points of Communist Manifesto, am all ears.


> Elimination of exploiting classes and abolition of family are two things that certainly require massacring people. If you see any other realistic means of achieving these two points of Communist Manifesto, am all ears.

I mean if you want to strictly adhere to the Communist Manifesto then you're probably going to end up with strike and violence in some form. That still doesn't mean you have to massacre people to evenly distribute property and wealth. That could be done through a judicial system if a government was so inclined. It just so happens that autocrats prefer massacring people. That has been true of capitalist dictatorships as well as communist ones. Communist dictatorships killed far more people to be sure.

If you want to look at Communism as a very strict system that can only exist in the way that Marx conceived then yeah you'll probably end up with bloodshed. But every sort of political system has a number of different interpretations and modes of implementation. The Communist governments we've seen thus far have taken a few different forms so it's entirely possible that a more benevolent form of Communist government will take root somewhere. I just don't think mass killings is a key component of Communism as a system. Mass killings were how Communist autocrats seized power and maintained power.


> That still doesn't mean you have to massacre people to evenly distribute property and wealth.

The point of Communism isn't to evenly distribute property and wealth. It's to eliminate property ownership completely, and prevent further accumulation of wealth by individuals. The commune part of Communism.

> I just don't think mass killings is a key component of Communism as a system.

It's not an end goal, but an unavoidable instrument if you want to rob people of their property or destroy their families. Historically, there was not much voluntary cooperation.


> The point of Communism isn't to evenly distribute property and wealth. It's to eliminate property ownership completely

No, just non-public ownership of the means of production (at least in Marxism and those forms of Communism whose approach on this point follows Marxism, which is not all of Communism); this is a frequent point of confusion in criticism of Communism because Communist literature and theory uses a different definition of “private property” than non-Communists are used to, which both leads to both accidental confusion of people not familiar with this fact, and intentional misrepresentation by dishonest critics who are fully familiar with the difference but expect that their audience is not.


I need some really substantial Marx citation on that, because in the Communist Manifesto, chapter II, he says:

> In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.

Marxist view of property is that as a manifestation of capital, which can be converted between freely. If you allow private property, you allow its inevitable emergent concentration (e.g. via bourgeois family), and hence amassing of capital and means to exploit other people.


Private property and personal property are distinct in socialist and communist thought.


I would still insist on a Marx quote where he draws the distinction. Not a late 20th century interpretation with benefit of hindsight.


The distinction between property generally and bourgeois property, and the statement that Communism aims for the elimination of the latter and not the former is in the paragraph of the Communist Manifesto immediately preceding the one your quote is drawn from.

“The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property.”

Again, “private property” in Communist theory is narrower than the usual capitalist understanding; particularly, neither consumer goods nor money insofar as it cannot be exchanged for a proprietary interest in the means of production in a society which has progressed to the socialism stage as envisioned by Communism are necessarily included in “private property”. (And, even personally held means of production that cannot be converted to bourgeois property because of controls on engaging wage labor are frequently not sought to be banned in practice—which may be contrary to Marx’s statement on private property, but is consistent with the focus on borgeois property which is explicitly it's underlying motivation.)


From the Communist Manifesto:

>The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.

If one were dead-set on following he original principles of communism, which I don’t necessarily recommend, as the world has changed a bit since they were published and new ideas have sprung up since then, I think the best method would be as follows:

1. Support workers’ rights without settting up separate political entities or telling people what to do.

2. Make and support great free software so that the most valuable things in the world are free from private control.


But that's not communism.

Socialism is about workers rights, sure. Communism is about abolition of property, the proprietor class and abolition of family (since it's a wealth accumulation instrument).

> The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties.

Notice how it is very specific about "working-class". It's not coincidental.


Of course I’m not promoting orthodox Marxism here, but it was generally his view that capitalism’s purpose was to catalyze the development of the means of production in preparation for socialism. If that’s the case, we can argue about when they are sufficiently developed to warrant a socialist revolution, but I could argue that conditions are not yet right for it and we first have to reach the point where resources are much more available than they are today. At some point in the future, when we have a healthy asteroid mining industry, fully automated industry, and human genetic engineering, social classes and traditional families will likely no longer be as relevant, so let’s try to reach for that before we implement full communism.


Marx' view was that communism is the next stage of social-historical development after capitalism and as such is unavoidable due to build up of internal contradictions in the latter. He did envision the transition to be revolutionary and violent, however, and ensuring class struggle wasn't meant to be bloodless.

Socialism was viewed by communists as "fake news" if you will, a fad to distract oppressed working class from building a communist society. FWIW I personally don't find socialism objectionable across much of the continuum of bilateral social compromise it represents. It also seem to have defused most of the tension present in late 1800s-early 1900s.

My reply above was to the common "No True Scotsman" retort to criticisms of Communism. We have at least two societies that did sincere attempts at following tenets of Manifesto, i.e. including both elimination of proprietors and family: early Bolshevik Russia and Khmer Rouge. Internet Communists find the appalling outcome hard to advocate and instead focus on criticising the implementation.


Those are perspectives grounded in history, but I think you’d have to qualify socialism in that case as “market socialism” or “democratic socialism” as it’s understood today.

Marx did lay out socialism as the next stage to follow capitalism but didn’t provide detail about how it was to work, which led to the various types of socialism we have today. Still, many argue that these are all essentially vanguard movements for the communist ideals you laid out: the abolition of private property, social classes, and even the family. This is still the source of a lot of skepticism about the effects of these types of systems. Even without the revolutionary ideology, socialism as it’s implemented today seems to be breaking dependence on traditional social structures.


It's been a while since my Marxism-Leninism class so caveat emptor, but I believe the role of socialism was limited. There supposed to be transitional phase from coercive proletarian state to truly classless society aided by "socialist mode of production", but not much after that.

The socialist and social-democratic (as you correctly put it) movements promoted socialism as end-game within bourgeois/capitalist social framework and were viewed as adversarial.

And clearly there are ongoing changes in social fabric but it's hard to attribute them to socialist movements alone more than to e.g. technological, agricultural or medical advances.


Socialism and communism are often used interchangeably, but communism almost always refers to the end state, while socialism tends to encompass both the transition and the end state. It’s a little hazy even to Marxists. This might help clear it up:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/fromm/works/1961/man/ch06.h...

Anyway, the type of socialism you’re referring to is associated with the cooperative movement which led to things like mutual insurance and credit unions. I fully support these types of systems in which people with common interests and a common communitry create structures to support themselves. I think this is the best way to create structures with community-based values that compete with for-profit industries which don’t always represent their customers.


Let's not forget Mao, he sure killed quite a few people as well.


Sure. Am just not certain he ever tried abolition of family, having only a cursory knowledge of Maoism. Given that he was disciple of Stalin (who assumed power long after USSR ceded on these attempts), suspected he did not.


>Nothing about Communism as a concept requires massacring people.

It requires either jailing or massacring people who own any property and don't want to give it up, and any people who choose to exchange goods and services with each other.


The difference between jailing people and massacring people is HUGE though.

I do think it's very difficult to get around the problem of people not wanting to give up private property when a society shifts into Communism. But in the future when/if automation can provide a very high standard of living with far less labor inputs, maybe it will become something viable in some form without massive heavy-handed coercion.

I think varying forms of somewhat Socialist democracies will probably win out in the next century or so, but it's very hard to predict given that some potential advances in technology could dramatically reshape economies and governments.


Communism isn't real Communism


Ok, thought experiment, what is the death-toll of Capitalism in the last century?


This surely is comparing apples and oranges.

When communist death tolls are discussed the meaning are those who are killed when communism is implemented or re-enforced (e.g. The Great Leap). When capitalism is implemented there is no need to shoot communists.

Death tolls from capitalism are due to other factors which may also exist in one form or another in a communist regime (e.g. war).


I'd say it's in negative billions from all the innovation and economic growth.


If so, then we shall deduct from USSR & China a calculated ammount that came from decades and decades of economic growth they had then, no? It's funny how when praising the status quo some people don't see how they get to ideological mumbling REALLY VERY FAST, yet are the same ones who want to accuse others of 'ideology'(as in "I don't have that, my point of view is objective"). I don't judge tho, getting to understand these matters take a lot of time, 'boring knowledge' like history, investigation and reflecting, I think people should spend more time honestly looking into and trying to understand what this is all about, I bet if you did you'd surprise yourself many times over and see how deep this stuff goes. Facebook-facts based stuff just doesn't do it.


Zero.

Capitalism is the system of protecting the rights of the individual to engage in the free exchange of goods and services.

The extent of human flourishing is the extent to which human societies adopt capitalism. Even when it is adopted in small degrees, the result is a dramatic uplifting of billions of people out of poverty.

Capitalism is good and we would all be better off if we had more of it.

All of the mass death and destruction of the world is caused by collectivism, from the killing fields of Cambodia to the mixed economy of the United States. Collectivism is the ideology that’s holds that your moral sanction for living comes from the group; only the leaders of that group, whether through a connection to god or the tribe, have access to the true nature of the world, and so are justified in any brutality they see fit.


>All of the mass death and destruction of the world is caused by collectivism,... the mixed economy of the United States.

The mixed economy is currently the main system preventing mass starvation due to poverty in the US. Capitalism, from the start of the Dustbowl and the Great Depression until the intervention of the government with the New Deal, failed to prevent death and displacement for hundreds of thousands of people despite a severe overproduction of basically every kind of foodstuff, because it simply didn't make anyone any money to do so.

The free exchange of goods produced under holdover ownership from mercantile and colonial times, including the ability to withhold that exchange of necessities, is a moral evil. It is inadmissible to let people starve because it is not profitable to give them food, but that is what capitalist thought mandates.


I can't work out if you're trollling or not.

You realise, that "100 million" figure is just taken from the deaths that occurred under Communist regimes, not as a deliberate consequence of their actions.

Also, you're equivocating on Capitalism and Communism with the idea in the former case, and one particular implementation in the latter.

By "Communism" you mean "regimes that called themselves communist". If, more honestly by capitalism you meant, "regimes that called themselves capitalist" then we would start including Vietnam, Iraq, etc. etc. etc.

And you're equivocating on "collectivism" by which you mean the both, say, Mao's agricultural policies and there being groups that have leaders.

Businesses are collectives. Capitalism, as trade between businesses, is a mostly collectivised system.

Humans goals are foundationally composed of all those which follow from their identity: as they conceive themselves as being part of a group, and as they conceive of their identity free of any membership.

This gives rise to nations, businesses, universities, football teams, etc. AND to personal projects, individual enterprise, and so on.

The difference between communism-in-practice and capitalism-in-practice has nothing to do with the existence of groups, but rather the political power structures which surround those groups: all communist regimes were dictatorships.

The difference between capitalism-in-theory and communism-in-theory has, again, nothing to do with the existence of groups -- but what (economic) rights you take to be fundamental.


> Capitalism is the system of protecting the rights of the individual to engage in the free exchange of goods and services.

If they can afford it. Capitalism is actually the system of stealing value from your labour in order to make a profit.

> The extent of human flourishing is the extent to which human societies adopt capitalism.

I guess that explains why two of the world superpowers in recent times are/were communist (USSR, China)

> Even when it is adopted in small degrees, the result is a dramatic uplifting of billions of people out of poverty.

That must explain why China is lifting more people out of poverty than any other country.

> Capitalism is good and we would all be better off if we had more of it.

It's better than fuedalism, but I'd rather live in a society focused on helping each other, than in one focused on exploiting others as much as I can to maximize my capital.

> Collectivism is the ideology that’s holds that your moral sanction for living comes from the group; only the leaders of that group, whether through a connection to god or the tribe, have access to the true nature of the world, and so are justified in any brutality they see fit.

If that's what you think it is, then yeah. That's pretty shitty. But don't you think it's better when people work together and help each other, rather than thinking only of themselves? You sound like someone who drank way to much of the Ayn Rand Cool Aid.


> If they can afford it. Capitalism is actually the system of stealing value from your labour in order to make a profit.

And yet, freelancers or one-employee businesses are also engaging in capitalism. Are those the ones being stolen from or the ones stealing? Socialist ideas are so confusing that I can no longer tell.

> I guess that explains why two of the world superpowers in recent times are/were communist (USSR, China)

And half of them dropped it while the other is not precisely the best place to live in the world, even if it might be the only communist experiment that isn't a complete nightmare.

> That must explain why China is lifting more people out of poverty than any other country.

Wasn't China the place were only five years ago there were thousands starving in sweatshops? And that's assuming that isn't happening anymore, I haven't kept up to date on that.

> It's better than fuedalism, but I'd rather live in a society focused on helping each other, than in one focused on exploiting others as much as I can to maximize my capital.

It's not like you can't live in such a place today, where are you writing this from? I'm assuming China, given that it's the only example of communism you're using.

> But don't you think it's better when people work together and help each other, rather than thinking only of themselves?

Capitalism prevents this how? For that matter, this you're describing here isn't what socialism or communism are about, as history shows.

> You sound like someone who drank way to much of the Ayn Rand Cool Aid.

And you sound like someone who'd greatly regret his/her life choices once you see yourself in a gulag (or a gulag by any other name). Wait, did you think you'd be spared?


Sorry I'm only replying now. The last couple of days were rather busy.

> And yet, freelancers or one-employee businesses are also engaging in capitalism. Are those the ones being stolen from or the ones stealing? Socialist ideas are so confusing that I can no longer tell.

Well since they are not exploiting their own (or anyone else's) laybour for a profit, there isn't a problem with people doing this. I don't understand what you find confusing about this.

> Wasn't China the place were only five years ago there were thousands starving in sweatshops? And that's assuming that isn't happening anymore, I haven't kept up to date on that.

Yeah, that's messed up and needs to be fixed. Remind me how communist ideology is the direct cause of this.

> where are you writing this from? I'm assuming China, given that it's the only example of communism you're using.

I'm from South Africa.

> Capitalism prevents this how?

Because the entire economy is built upon exploiting the working class. Sure capitalism doesn't stop you from giving a hobo some change, but how does that help him in the long run?

> For that matter, this you're describing here isn't what socialism or communism are about, as history shows.

What do you think socialism or communism are about?

> And you sound like someone who'd greatly regret his/her life choices once you see yourself in a gulag (or a gulag by any other name). Wait, did you think you'd be spared?

Why would I be thrown in a gulag? Do you think communism means throwing everyone in a gulag? How would the nation even function? And I find this amusing considering how the USA has the highest percentage of it's population imprisoned, compared to any other nation.


> > Capitalism is actually the system of stealing value from your labour in order to make a profit.

> And yet, freelancers or one-employee businesses are also engaging in capitalism.

Those are essentially two different words that happen to be spelled and pronounced the same. The first is a politico-economic system, the second is the act of of entrepreneurship independent of what politico-economic context it occurs in.

That they are both called “capitalism” doesn't actually make them the same thing.


> the second is the act of of entrepreneurship independent of what politico-economic context it occurs in

On the contrary, entrepreneurship is very much dependent on the context it occurs in.

In a socialist/communist context, my small sewing machine for customized garments is a "means of production" that is subject to seizure by the "The People". In a capitalist context, I am actively encouraged (subject to market conditions) to expand and build up my own small factory/business to meet demand.


> the second is the act of of entrepreneurship independent of what politico-economic context it occurs in.

Given that it can't occur under socialism or communism, I don't think it is independent of the socio-economic system.

But, that aside, you have a point. However, that aside, I see no reason to believe the other person wasn't talking about both.


> Given that it can't occur under socialism or communism

While the domain may be limited, it has been permitted in some degree in most real-world implementations of socialism or communism (and it was also widely practiced in pre-capitalist systems, like feudalism.)

There's a relationship between the two terms (capitalism-the-economic-system was named “capitalism” by it's critics because it organizes the structure of society around the interests of those who have been most successful in in capitalism in the sense of private endeavors to acquire capital, after all.)


I don't see how you'd equate communism and nazism. But whether they are the same or not how did you come with 100 million deaths for which the communism is responsible?

It sounds plain ridiculous.


Here's 55m to get you started https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward

You can research the rest yourself... won't take long


Or maybe 18 million to get me started according to the the same article.

Which one? Let's take something in between. 37 million. Now I have to find 63 million instead of 45. But that's only part of the problem. The other part is how exactly do you know all of these deaths are result of communism directly. Because you see, no matter communism or capitalism people are generally violent creatures. They like killing other people so maybe if the capitalism prevailed after the WW2 maybe there would have been 46 million deaths.

There is correlation between communism and increased number of deaths in a state. There is also correlation between capitalism and increased number of deaths in foreign states (especially if population is brown). But as we all know correlation is not causality.


The other part is how exactly do you know all of these deaths are result of communism directly

Because they were directly attributed to the Great Leap Forward. Same as the millions killed by the Khmer Rouge in Year Zero.


>I don't see how you'd equate communism and nazism.

They are both abject totalitarian ideologies that produced obscene levels of human suffering.

>how did you come with 100 million deaths for which the communism is responsible

Just add the deaths caused by communist policies (mass-executions, purges, labor camps, collectivization, famine etc).


As a person living in a former communist country I find it quite amusing that after the communism was replaced by capitalism population increase went from a steady increase to steady decrease.

But you know while we talk about how many people has communism killed, we never talk how much child labour and slavery has capitalism produced.. Anyway you get the point.

And by the way it's not that I care about communism. I don't. Never liked it although during these years I was a kid so I didn't have adult Experience. But I don't like capitalism any better.


> As a person living in a former communist country I find it quite amusing that after the communism was replaced by capitalism population increase went from a steady increase to steady decrease.

I live in a former communist country too, one that suffered under a North Korean inspired regime in the last decades before communism collapsed in a bloody revolution. And population was increasing at the fastest rate in Europe at the time, despite the miserable living conditions only because abortion and contraception were forbidden because the communist leadership wanted to increase the number of state slaves as fast as possible. Hundreds of thousands of children were abandoned by parents unable to care for them due to lack of food, lack of money and lack of space in the cramped apartment blocks. Countless children ended up in secretive state run orphanages that looked more like concentration camps. Here's a clip of one of those happy places

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOS3jBy3bl4

Anyway, yay population increase!

> But you know while we talk about how many people has communism killed, we never talk how much child labour and slavery has capitalism produced.. Anyway you get the point.

How did capitalism produce child labor and slavery? You must be pretty historically illiterate to not know that it was capitalism that made child and slave labor obsolete through technology advancements and automation. The very concept of childhood as we understand it today is the product of capitalist societies during the industrial revolution. And it was the capitalist societies that birthed the abolitionist movement and also exported it all over the world through various means more or less peaceful. Blaming capitalism for those things is like blaming the cure for the illness it removes.

> And by the way it's not that I care about communism. I don't. Never liked it although during these years I was a kid so I didn't have adult Experience. But I don't like capitalism any better.

Of course you don't like "capitalism", who the hell would like "capitalism" if it would mean what you think it means (that whole slavery and child labor bullshit).


65 million in China. Another 30 million in the Soviet Union. A number of other areas with a couple million each.


Oh :) now it's 65 million. I thought it's 55 :) I really thought the more like 25 million on Soviet Union side were during the WW2. While you can attribute some of the to communism most of them you should be the Germans fault.




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