07. The twin births of capitalism and socialism, and where that’s left us

07. The twin births of capitalism and socialism, and where that’s left us

00:00 / 00:58:17

So from 1929 on through the end of the Second World War, we can see very clearly how seeds planted a little bit earlier blossomed into alternative ways of organizing society. And I want to briefly look at that ‘cause I think that’s, we live the consequences of that to this day.

-big mike

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In this episode:

00:00 A brief recap: we know by now why it’s important to study history. How did socialism arise concurrently with, ‘as the twin of’, capitalism? Why was the concurrent shift in material conditions—the discovery of electricity—and ideology—that nature could be extracted from—necessary for the birth of capitalism? What are the major successes of capitalism?

11:07 What are the major failures of capitalism? How are these failures exacerbated by other material conditions, such as urbanization? What do these failures have to do with capitalism’s fundamental instability? What does that instability have to do with our day-to-day experience of living in capitalism?

18:08 How do we deal with some of capitalism’s failures? Is it by limiting or stopping growth—if that’s impossible, what do we really have to accomplish?

22:11 If capitalism did cause many enormous improvements for human life, was it necessary as a stage of history preceding a better system, as Marx thought it was?

27:33 What were the attempts to make a better system than capitalism even at the beginning of capitalist history? What can we learn from the fact that even before capitalism was in full swing, people were worried about it?

31:31 Jumping forward, what can we learn from the Great Depression about the fundamental instability of capitalism in its full force? How did the Great Depression lead to the three very different responses—ameliorated capitalism, fascism, and communism—that defined world history in the 20th century?

34:09 What are the workings and ideology behind what Mike calls ‘ameliorated’ capitalism, exemplified by the New Deal in the U.S.? How does it function as a response to the issues of capitalism?

39:54 What about fascism—how can it be considered a response to the issues of capitalism, particularly as it manifested in Italy and Germany in the 20th century? What were the massive cultural shifts that ensued?

44:30 How was communism—which often went by the name socialism, but we’ll call communism to differentiate it more clearly from ‘democratic socialism’—a response to the issues of capitalism? What were the cultural changes necessary there?

48:35 How can we view the massive, world-historical events of the 20th century as a manifestation of the conflicts between these three responses to capitalism? Why did ameliorated capitalism and communism band together to defeat fascism in the Second World War?

52:12 Why, particularly, is ‘ameliorated capitalism’ not enough; why does it fail as a solution? What does this have to do with the cultural changes it does (or doesn’t) provoke?

57:22 Looking ahead: what makes a society like Scandinavia a democratic socialist one, as opposed to a social democracy? What are the cultural changes democratic socialism entails?

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