Still Lit wrote:Hey Zeke,
The issue is what socialism is in the first place. I said that a socialist regime must own the means of production. I was then labelled with various sobriquets for sticking to that.
My next attempt was to point out that liberal policy is not necessarily socialist. I did this by pointing out that that things like social security, medicare are social welfare programs supported by tax dollars generated from private enterprise.
Kodiak's retort is that there are ways to control how businesses are run without controlling operations and the means of production, for example, taxes, regulations, etc.
That brings us to my present line of inquiry: we can't be saying that regulation and oversight of business is socialism since that would include every viable regime on the planet. It is too broad a definition accurately to capture what socialism is if it is anything.
We need a definition that does not let in spurious cases and does not exclude genuine cases. But it may be that socialism is not really a natural kind and does not admit of a coherent definition.
I don't think there is a textbook definition of socailism that is appropriate in practice. Or stated differently, the real question is what does "ownership" mean? One can imagine where sufficient regulation is imposed on property that heavily curtails usage and onerous taxes such that the benefit from owning the property is largely expropriated that in practice the nominal owner is not the actual owner of the property.
I'd agree with you then that it is possible to argue that any regulation or any tax is socialist, as it is socializing the ownership of the good (to a point).
However, similar to our discussion of good and bad, I think socialism is meant to convey a situation where there is significant and material socialized ownership of the means of production. Thus, while I can't tell you the dividing line between why, e.g., a 10% tax on capital is not socialist but a 90% tax is, I think everyone has the same intuition that there is a categorical difference betwixt the two. Hate to fall back on Potter's aphorism of "I know it when I see it," but fee things in life are Platonic forms.