Open Socialism a compelling alternative to democratic capitalism

There are great DC countries

‘You are referencing the USA a lot when looking at issues with DC, however there are much better DC countries such as the Nordic ones. Those countries show that DC is a good system and that great wealth inequality and a corrupted democracy are not inherent issues. Isn’t this assessment specious and shouldn’t the next step for DC be to take ideas from the best examples of DC and apply them all over the world?’

There is value in considering improvements to a system AND alternatives

Regardless of the quality of DC as a system or what the best iteration is there is always value in considering what the evolutionary improvements to a system are and alternative new systems. Utopia for realists is a great example of what are the next evolutionary improvements for DC.

OS however, is striving to be an alternative, compelling and superior system.

DC countries cannot be analyzed in isolation

Due to globalization DC countries have relationships with each other. Foreign business owners can seize portions of markets in a country which serves to decrease the wealth in those countries as that profit is going offshore. Countries with weak currencies and cheap cost of living have a large proportion of their people working for global corporations.

This all results in the countries of origin of the corporations becoming richer, but the money is going to select few so the wealth inequality increases.

In short, DC is in control of the world and a global system. Successful DC countries are only possible with a large number of poor people around the world making the goods. A system that is doing pretty well but is parasitic is ultimately not a good system when all the effected people are considered.

Wealth inequality / corruption of democracy is a snowballing process

Wealth inequality leads to increased political influence by the rich which leads to greater wealth inequality and so on.

For whatever reason, countries that have largely avoided great corruption or wealth inequality, have not yet snowballed out of control like the USA. However, most if not all DC countries are moving towards greater wealth inequality and increased systemic corruption.

Anyway, let’s look at the most democratic country in the world, Norway

Norway is often rated the best democracy in the world.

Interestingly, Norway does seem to be remarkably good in comparison to most other DC countries and apparently not stuck in the cycle of wealth inequality leading to political power leading to more wealth inequality and so on.

Lobbying exists, but corruption is minimal and has not snowballed

The Norway state government is large and excises a lot of control over capitalism conducted within its borders. It has restricted the scope of lobbying that occurs that can rig the free market for the rich. Lobbying still exists, but it seems only able to influence regulation, but not fundamentally undermine the democracy such as tax breaks for the rich or increasing the scope of possible lobbying.

A large state government with significant holdings

The government also owns shares in many companies and in total owns 32% of shares on the Oslo stock exchange. In particular the government has strong holdings in the petroleum and hydro-electric energy sectors. This ownership influences these companies to not be greatly corrupt and also means the profit they generate is redistributed amongst the people.

A lot of natural resources

Norway has a lot of natural resources which buffers it against recessions. Additionally the government has large stakes in the exploitation of their natural resources which is steady income that is going to the people and not private individuals.

There is still moderate wealth inequality

Households in the highest 10 percent for net wealth own roughly 53 per cent of total net wealth, the richest 1 per cent control 21 per cent, while the top 0.1 per cent own 10 per cent of total net wealth.

However, thanks to the strong welfare available this wealth inequality is much less segregating and promoting of divides in class.

Norway is still dependent on the global economy

Norway may have great welfare and regulation, but it still buys cheap goods made by poor people in other countries. These goods are made with a lot of pollution and the workers are not fairly redeemed for their work. The balance for Norway is still based on a form of exploitation.

Conclusion of Norway

Norway is a great example of DC. However, it’s strengths come from it’s more socialistic tendencies, a large government, lots of benefits for citizens and a strong regulation of industry.

Norway shows other DC countries that emancipating the government and moving towards socialism results in greater benefit for more of its citizens than minimal government, reduced welfare and deregulation.

Norway if anything is a vote of confidence for OS as it shows the value in socialism and the state with holdings in industry (in Norway it is 32%, in OS it is 100%).

It will be interesting to see if Norway can maintain itself as such a good example of DC as it’s natural resources become depleted.

Overall Conclusion

Even when the best DC countries are considered and show there is such a thing as quite equitable and productive DC societies, it still isn’t enough to endorse DC wholesale. The further consideration is that countries like Norway are only feasible by being parasitic globally on cheap labor which allows the trickle down economics math to work out for the common people.

A truly great system doesn’t require a class of external precariat (those poor people in precarious situations forced to work for unfair pay or conditions). Also a country like Norway may be quite environmentally friendly within it’s borders, but with Norwegians buying goods from a global market that may not be produced in environmentally friendly ways (eg. lots of carbon going into the atmosphere) it is still ultimately being destructive to long term human survival.

Finally, as good as Norway is, there isn’t much doubt that at least on paper a completely cooperative and state owned society, with everyone working towards the common good, would be more effective. As such it is worth exploring whether such a system is feasible IE. Open Socialism (or other alternatives) regardless of how good we get at mitigating the issues with DC.