Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Overcoming bias is one of the best blogs out there, reading it makes think about bias all the time. Bias everywhere!

One bias that seems to especially common and outrageous to me is the way people talk about capitalism and socialism (or Marxism).

So many people fall over themselves to say that “true socialism” hasn’t been tried yet and that Marx would be horrified by the distortion of his message etc.

When the same people talk about capitalism they explain that, in theory, the invisible hand does such and such but then emphasize the theory bit, "because it doesn’t quite work out that way in practice."

Doesn't the whole defense of Marx rest on theory rather than practice? Does comparing real world socialist experiments with capitalist experiments really giver heart to socialists? What am I missing?

This little rant was triggered by browsing this book by Jeremy Stangroom who I have always thought very highly of.

Dan Dennett says that weakness often resides in rhetorical questions, I finish off with two.


Tracy Leigh said...

It's true and I don't suppose most people realise it. I think that there are some things about the current society that people don't like and associate (rightly or wrongly) with capitalism. Then socialism in itself, can sound like a nice idea. Since we haven't experienced it gone wrong, it's easier to idealise it.

Ayn Rand coming from the opposite perspective seemed to idealise capitalism and the individual. She eems a bit extreme.

stuart said...

"Then socialism in itself, can sound like a nice idea."

this is my point, it's only the theory they like.

People wouldn’t try to explain away how badly thing went wrong if they didn’t understand the connection to what Marx wrote.