Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
mpiedrav 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite

This is the sort of ideological flamebait that leads to ideological flamewar, which makes it off topic here. Please don't post like this.


One surreal aspect of the modern system, when viewed from the perspective of 1800s leftism, is that there are many programmers (laborers, technically) who have more money than the average landlord. How do you draw the pyramid then?

I would be very surprised if that were to be true when comparing like-for-like e.g. not comparing an SF-based programmer to a landlord in a fairly empty state.

There have always been labourers in wealthy countries that are better off in pure "numbers" terms than landlords in poor countries.

The average landlord in London or SF is likely wealthier than the average programmer in London or SF.

Only in the USA bubble.

Even software engineers are barely middle/upper-middle class in most of the world. A landlord, lawyer, doctor can easily gather more wealth.

Here in Dublin you can make good money (for Europe). All the tech US companies are based here now.

That makes it even weirder, because Europe is a lot more leftist than the USA.

AFAIK nowhere in the world software engineering is as appreciated and treated seriously as in the US.

I assume maybe Canada and Australia are very close. But in some countries (not gonna name names), it's not even worth to put yourself through all these years of hard education. You'd be better off becoming an accountant.

Its worth it. Accountant/software engineer is similar amount of study in Australia at least. Similar pay as employee too. Just the work thats different

I assumed Australia can be quite good in this regard. I had a bit less developed countries in my mind (we even have those in EU).

Is true when normalized for localization? Is the average landlord in SF wealthier or poorer than the average programmer in SF? Is the average landlord in NYC wealthier or poorer than the average programmer in NYC? I don't have figures, so I honestly don't know, but I wouldn't bet on the programmer.

Of course if you work remote with an SF salary, that's a different story...

In fairness, the programmers you are talking about are not (laborers). They would own non trivial amounts of stock making them members of the capital class. Yes, they do work, but so do lots of members of the capital class.

A programmer who is not also a landlord, nor a member of the capital class, is very unlikely to have more, or even as much, wealth as a typical landlord in their area. A pure laborer is pretty much at the bottom of the wealth pyramid. That can change if you pay the laborer enough to start buying real estate in their area for example. But that would turn those laborers into landlords.

Owning non-trivial amounts of stock doesn't make one into a capitalist, if that income is supplementary to wages - i.e. if one must still work to earn a living. That is the case for the vast majority of programmers.

I think there are just multiple pyramids, each different in size. And there's pyramid mobility, so a laborer in a large pyramid can move to the top of a smaller pyramid.

Software dev, and many if most jobs these days, are not labourers.

A labourer is someone with no special skill or trade. Stacking shelves is a labourer job: the only requirement is physical strength.

Software devs are generally highly skilled professionals like perhaps lawyers.


A labourer is "a person doing unskilled manual work for wages." Obviously, software development isn't a "labourer" job, 'technically' or otherwise, and isn't labour in the standard meaning of the term, either, although it is of course work.

Seriously, why is this flagged? I think it's very interesting and something definitely worthy of discussion. Is this just that anything that remotely appears to dis capitalism gets the flag because 'socialism is scary'?

OP here. HN moderators are right in flagging the post. Not because of the content of the Wikipedia article, but because of the plenty of vitriolic comments it caused. Their posting policy probably has to do with such situations.

The idea was to consider the historical criticism of capitalism in a modern setting (e.g., how effective is the market in addressing economic inequality?). The discussion got out of control, though.

Yes. Hackernews must be PMC friendly to court VC ideasmen.

For modern day US, the structure of the pyramid is upside-down. The folks at the top get the big plate and the folks at the bottom are all reaching to foist up the small plate, which keeps the whole thing afloat. How long can our current structure last before it collapses?

The size of the plate here isn't the amount of wealth, it's the number of people on that level.

The concept you mention of the working class keeping the pyramid stable is the intent of the image.

> The basic message of the image is the critique of the capitalist system, with its hierarchy of power and wealth. It also illustrates that the working class is supporting all others, and if it would withdraw their support from the system it could, literally, topple the existing social order.

The illustrator could have made more of a point about quite how exponentially wider each lower layer of the pyramid is compared to the layers above.

Except the same is true for non capitalist systems so it would not have been relevant. In socialism the poor are even more numerous compared to the favored few from the party in power.

Inequality is not a capitalism only issue.

I love how people who support capitalism always draw it in opposition to dictatorial socialism, implying that the democratic socialism we see in many European countries is impossible to achieve or non-existent.

It's one of the most simple logical fallacies -- the strawman. Everyone should have learned about this in high school at the latest, yet there are plenty of very smart people on HN touting this viewpoint. It's sad, really, how people lie to themselves in an attempt to convince themselves they are morally superior.

European countries don't have democratic socialism. They have social democracy, which is still a capitalist economy, just with more of its output redirected into welfare.

> the critique of the capitalist system, with its hierarchy of power and wealth

As soviet experience becomes a non-threat and an ancient memory, I hope fair criticism of current economic system will be done by clever people.

k33n 11 days ago [flagged]

Capitalism has raised more people out of poverty worldwide than any other system. Thank goodness for capitalism.

The people at the bottom of the capitalist pyramid are still better off than the people at the second-tier of the communist pyramid.

For how long?

Longer than the viable lifetime of a communist country.

It'd be nice to see an example of a socialist county that hadn't been constantly attacked and sabotaged by capitalist countries and allowed to go its own way. Then at least we'd be able to do a fairer comparison.

France, Denmark, Finland and Sweden all qualify for most American definitions of the term "Socialist".

Good point. Update: "social democracy" is probably a better term here.

Those are all market economies. You're are factually incorrect and trying to cover it using "American definitions". None of those places are socialist and will actively tell you so if asked.

None of those places are capitalist either, and they will actively tell you so if asked.

This is nonsense. In fact last election the pm or Norway actively had to say that they were not socialist because Bernie kept repeating it.

Bernie never said that, only people like you. Norway follows a system of democratic socialism, which is colloquially referred to as "socialism" by some. They're definitely not capitalistic. You're just presenting the exact same strawman in a different way!

It's clear you're arguing in bad faith, so I'm just gonna leave it at that.

No, they do not. All of those countries have market economies.

Even Lenin, of all people, argued in favor of a (regulated) market economy.

It's a weird of inverse no-true-scotsman argument. I haven't met many socialists who argue in favor of a fully centralized economy. The big discussion, I suppose, is how much should be regulated, and which parts of our society should be 'markets'.

Don't bother, the rose emoji socialists in this country don't know the difference between socialism and social democracy.

Not the real definition, but the definition in most americans' heads. Many probably also conflate those with communism.

growlist 11 days ago [flagged]

'Damn those dastardly Capitalists, underhandedly delivering superior living standards!'

jefurii 11 days ago [flagged]

You mean like what the U.S. did to Central American countries during the 80s? OR Vietnam, where we overthrew a democratically elected socialist government and installed a puppet, then dropped napalm on them when the didn't like that?

growlist 11 days ago [flagged]

Where this falls down is that there were other capitalist countries that didn't do the bad things you describe. I challenge you to name a single experiment in communism that didn't lead to worse outcomes.

viklove 11 days ago [flagged]

Communism isn't the only alternative to capitalism, you know that right?

lbrooks 11 days ago [flagged]

If you don't like capitalism go to a socialist country.

iron0013 11 days ago [flagged]

Personally, I’m voting to make the USA a socialist country, like nearly every other first-world country on Earth is. I hope a lot of other folks will join me.

SO maybe there's no agreement on what that word means. Because 'true Socialist' countries collapsed years ago. And look at Venezuela today. Not something to be emulated.

TOGoS 11 days ago [flagged]

Great idea. Unfortunately every time people elect a socialist government the US backs a right-wing coup. So we gotta do it here, I guess.

Nice meme, but doesn't exactly jive with the facts.


TOGoS 11 days ago [flagged]

Socialism, noun, "a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole."

In how many of those states is that actually true? Maybe Cuba (which the US has been trying to overthrow for decades), and Kurdistan (oops guess who was completely abandoned by the US even though they were instrumental in defeating ISIS?), which that page doesn't even mention. The rest are some form of state capitalism. Certainly China is. Unless you think the workers democratically decided that being paid starvation wages to work in electronics factories to make cheap stuff for Americans was a good idea.


TOGoS 11 days ago [flagged]

Cool bro. Please explain how Pinchochet's coup was the inevitable result of 'socialism' as opposed to that of imperialist aggresion.

Look, I used to work on political causes with the national chairman of one of the largest socialist parties in the US.

At some point in my early 20s, I mentally outgrew that childish, ill-considered ideology and I'm glad that I did. I've heard every argument under the sun for why Socialism will work if only you "put me in power" and I don't buy any of them.

Anyone arguing for it fundamentally does not understand human activity (behavior and history).

_jal 11 days ago [flagged]

Please take your nonsense somewhere else.

ekianjo 11 days ago [flagged]

This is definitely from the pre-Communist Era where Communism was the new idea in town and was thought to be the brilliant way for society to go.

If you were to do a "pyramid" with Communism, you could remove all intermediates (since intellectuals, the middle-class and religious people are systematically killed in the process of bringing Communism), the (un-elected) despotic elites at the top feast while the rest is living in utter misery, starving, or spending time in gulag(s) working for free as slaves for the Greater Good.

Please don't take HN threads further into ideological flamewar. It's tedious, repetitive, and not what this site is for. It also inevitably turns nasty.


The "Pyramid of the Marxist System" would be a giant mountain of human skulls.

Please don't take HN threads further into ideological flamewar. It's tedious, repetitive, and not what this site is for. It also inevitably turns nasty.


danmg 11 days ago [flagged]

Colonialism and imperialism's tower of human skulls for Leopold II is 50 million skulls alone.

ekianjo 11 days ago [flagged]

Was anyone celebrating Colonialism anywhere in this thread?

The sad thing is that with a few changes (swap the top tier for politburo, next tier for the communist party, etc.) a similar pyramid applies to communism.

If you mean USSR, then no, not really. While it was stratified, the privileges that those at the top enjoyed were not as far divorced from the life of an average citizen as the lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthy Western elites. The major factor was that all those benefits were formally perks of one's job and position, not something you could just buy for private use. And so, while nepotism was very much a thing, and ensured that children of the elites would inherit those positions, even well-connected families were limited in their ability to accumulate generational wealth.

A Pyramid of (Russian,Chinese) Communist System would be fairly similar, but with government officials taking the place of the capitalists and Communist Party officials taking the place of priests, and with those two reversed. Russia never actually implemented socialism, meaning that they never put power in the hands.of workers. A real socialist system would be something like a giant worker cooperative, like Mondragon.

«In capitalism, man exploits man. In communism, the opposite is true.»

Solidarity forever.

Capitalism with a marginality of equity.

I don't know if any of you know history, but pissed off peasants with nothing to live for is a recipe for disaster...every single time.

Let them play stadia.

Haha well I think today surely is a weird incidence because we can have bread and games right in our homes!

In the recent months I've been thinking more and more about the capitalist system and it's flaws. In case of doubt it's about profit and not about humans (ridiculous pharma patents, boeing 737 max; there are countless examples everywhere).

It seems to me that the whole world can't live peacefully side by side by design when everyone is always striving for more money, power and growth. I don't know how to fix this but it's an interesting problem.

I'm a fan of Hayek on this - I believe the market is one of the most incredible things every created by humanity, phenomenally complex and information rich, and it stands to reason that there is no way a group of people can ever hope to come close to the market's capability of communicating information about desires from people to producers.

And the best practical evidence we have is that every significant attempt at communism has produced dreadful outcomes, up to and including actual genocide. Communism can only work when every country in the world is Communist, because otherwise people will always want to leave for the Capitalist country where things are better. Draw your own conclusions about where highly visible activists really want to take the world.

>and it stands to reason that there is no way a group of people can ever hope to come close to the market's capability of communicating information about desires from people to producers.

So you're saying the market is separate from the components that make it up? The Market is by definition a group of people engaging in the act of producing and consuming services.

If your comment is to be taken at face value, you've just stated that the Market can't exist, because a group of people can't do that, which is to put it mildly ludicrous.

Furthermore, the market is not only well within the realm of doing by a group of people, it can in fact be regulated by the same people who through their collective activity create that thing we call the Market.

It's an outcome. Not a cause. People are the cause, and are therefore the ultimate shapers of the resulting market. A market that implicitly and enforcibly disincludes a thing is no less real and tangible a system than the unregulated idealized market boogeyman everyone assumes will just work.

It just amazes me that economic die-hards dismiss the freedom of market participants to organize and reshape the market through the utilization of organized government policy, yet accept the freedom for private individuals to do the same thing through laissez-faire and non-interference in their business affairs.

A movement in a more socialistic direction is a Market phenomena. Much as many may wish it weren't so.

> closely based on a Russian flyer

I'd be really surprised if this were not Russian propaganda.

From the article:

> The work is based on Nicolas Lokhoff's 1901 caricature of the Russian Empire hierarchy by the Union of Russian Socialists.

A pie-based version, for those who remember Bush declaring his intent to make the pie higher:


HN is removing things that are 'libertarian' but not things that are 'socialist.' If socialist content is on the table, then libertarian content should be as well.

When an article about a Libertarian movie reviewer on LetterBoxd was flagged and removed from Hn yesterday within minutes...


Every ideological side feels like the site and the moderators are biased against it. This a consequence of ideological passion, not an objective perception. I can give you a long list of links where people complain that HN is biased the other way. Here are just a few:







I'll stop there.

Why is this even so high on HN? This isn't interesting news -- it's both a wikipedia page and propaganda. We're told to eschew flamebait in comments, but not for submissions?

Flag this.

    Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic.

is it propaganda because you don't like the message?

It's propaganda because it's trying to advance a political or ideological agenda by influencing the audience through an emotional argument. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with that - any successful political ideology does this, because that's how you organize mass movements.

Is it considered kosher here to post a link in a comment after it was flagged and made dead? Seems like you’re trying to circumvent HN’s system.


Yes, that’s how obeying the rules and operating within the system works.

Agreed. I thought hn was about staying away from stuff like this. Nobody learned anything valuable from a Wikipedia entry on a socialist cartoon.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact