Authoritarian vs. Libertarian Socialism



Even if a fully livable UBI were implemented, the wealth disparity will continue to widen aggressively, and the working class will continue to lose any semblance of political or economic representation they had before. Previous form of welfare haven’t ceased the stagnation and the beginning of decline of the quality of life for the lowest income earners, it hasn’t stopped a growing gap between the very wealthy and the rest of society, and it hasn’t corrected the evaporating bargaining power of labor and labor unions, and hasn’t given political power to the poor. Under capitalism, automation creates problems because of its hierarchical and unequal nature, and the replacement of wage labor with automated labor. Under socialism, automation can fulfill its true purpose of fulfilling human needs, not corporate profits. Under socialism, the power of automation can be used in harmonious conjunction with the well-being of the working class, as a community or country, the productivity generated by automation is distributed more equally to the community, whereas under capitalism, the majority of this added productivity is siphoned to the boss and management, and meager scraps are given to the workers. Welfare and UBI are concessions to the working class, essentially bandages to cover up systematic problems and issues that continue to grow and worsen despite these “efforts.” Socialism changes the system to directly suit human need.



Please, unions can be just as corrupt as corporations or government. Rule by unions is just another form of bureaucratic domination, just like corporations or govt. Power needs to be spread out, and as much needs to be given to the people as a whole, not just the working class. Socialism has been tried and every single time it has turned into state capitalism. Perhaps the reason for that is due to the inevitability of the way governments are structured, and western society is structured as a whole. Social democracy and capitalism have been successful in the past, socialism hasn’t. Trying the same thing over and over again after it doesn’t work is the definition of insanity.


That’s just empirically not true though. The supposed systemic problems caused by the capitalist economic system have gotten better, not worse, by nearly every metric you can think of; extreme poverty, working hours, happiness, life satisfaction, dedication to human rights, the list goes on… And these are mainly a result of the “efforts” you are disparaging.


Unions are a democratizing force that allow the laborers to voice their opinions in the workplace and to bargain for better wages and conditions for the workers. This isn’t bureaucratic domination. While it is hierarchical, it is fundamentally more democratic than hierarchies that work to serve profit for those at the top, not the needs of those at all levels.

What do you think giving power to the working class would do? Do you think that a capitalist mode of production makes power more spread out than a socialist one? That’s ludicrous. If you want power to be spread out for all people, why support capitalism? Workplace democracy is not oppressive and it is significantly less exploitative than a highly hierarchical workplace. Both power and wealth would be given from the owners of private capital producing property to the rest of society. You’re essentially arguing that socialism isn’t equal enough, and because it isn’t equal enough, then we should go with a more unequal system, with that system being capitalism.

Sure, if you blatantly ignore the instances of successful libertarian socialism like Revolutionary Catalonia and the Paris Commune, the former being the better example.

Hierarchy corrupts, and state socialism turns into state capitalism. I don’t want state socialism, I want workplace democracy.

This is because socialist forces like welfare and labor unions have preserved quality of life for a good portion of society and helped stop complete capitalist domination. I don’t know how you’re going to argue for hierarchy and inequality on the grounds that authoritarian socialist societies create hierarchy and inequality. While I understand that you believe a mixture of socialism and capitalism to be the best, I strongly urge you to look at the progress towards more egalitarian and optimal outcomes for all, these efforts have been championed in large part because of socialist ideals and institutions. We can mend the systematic issues of our society, at least in part, by transitioning towards socialism. Social democracy is one of if not the most successful iteration of capitalism we have seen in recent history: among the reasons why this is, is because it has the most socialism.

How about we try the forms of socialism that have worked then?


The wealth disparity in society continues to grow, as does the proportion on average bosses take from the value created by their workers. While we have improved our ways of dealing with the side effects of result of this inequality, the inequality itself persists.

Not to mention that in the US, labor union participation has decreased substantially from the mid 1900s, and also constitutes a systematic problem of lack, and perhaps even diminishing workplace democracy.

Essentially, these socialist institutions do help, but they largely don’t address the power structures and causes behind the issues they do serve to better. Growth has happened as well, and that has made things better, but growth is not exclusive to capitalism or socialism.


This is only true in the context of certain countries, in certain time periods. Take the UK for example, it’s true that in the last 40~ years wealth inequality has increased, but in the long run it has not (this inequality in the last ~40 years also coincides with rapid decrease of poverty and other bad things)

Also, inequality on it’s own is a questionable measure of how well a system is doing.


At least among OECD countries, inequality has peaked in recent years. While equality has decreased globally since 2000, this is largely the result of basic technological diffusion and industrialization. However, when we look at the developed countries of the world where this is not as a larger if a factor, we see that capitalism is in fact furthering inequality.
“Income inequality in OECD countries is at its highest level for the past half century. The average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from seven times 25 years ago.”

Inequality is a systematic effect of capitalist systems though, and while progress can be made, it is hindered because of said systems. Equality generally means that utility extracted from the resources is being used more optimally.


The issue with Revolutionary Catalonia is that it only lasted for around 3 years. As such we haven’t gotten to see if or how it would work in the long term, and when scaled up. Personally, I think that a system similar to Democratic Athens works best. Humanized and regulated capitalism, with workers, employers, and the govt all working towards the same goal. Socialism can become corrupted as well when you concentrate all of the wealth and power in the party and unions. By diffusing power through different bodies you effectively prevent any one power from rising up and oppressing the people. The issue with unions is that they seek only to improve the lives of their members, often at the consumer’s expense. Just read that article.

Regulatory capitalism/mixed economies are also MUCH easier to implement thru democratic means in western society and are likely to receive much more traction, so there’s always that. For me its optimal, and for you it might be the necessary compromise. The bedrock of society is contracts and mutual agreements. Regulatory capitalism not only recognizes that, but it exemplifies it. So long as workers can be ensured good conditions I have no problem with working for a boss. Hierarchy is simply unavoidable in societies, so it is best to ensure that power is diffused to prevent the hierarchy from dominating those below it.


While this is a fair point, in the time that it did exist, it was able to improved production and public services, but nonetheless, it is disingenuous to say that socialism never worked per se.

Their goals are contradictory though. Democratic government and the workers often work towards the same goal, but employers seek to maximize profit, which entails the minimization of costs, which is achieved through worker exploitation and an un-democratic workplace. Regulation of capitalism is progress, but by unequally distributing power, placing disproportionately much in the hands of private-property owners whose goals are inherently contradictory the the people whose labor they profit from. If you want to unify people towards a purpose, socialism is superior to capitalism. While unions may represent the differing interests of different groups, they are still more democratic and more egalitarian than economic control by private-property owners. The basic structure of a union is that of collective participation and benefit, not exclusive participation and benefit. It is a more inclusive institution: it does not discriminate by the criteria of property ownership. While there may be instances of union corruption, there are vastly more so of business and corporate corruption. Any human institution is going to be fallible, but we have to look at our options and choose what is going to be best for most people.
The same issues you bring up with unions, they only care about their own members, they are corruptible, they are hierarchical, etc., are the same critiques of bosses I frequently bring up, yet it is the private property owners and business men, the proprietors of authoritarian institutions, that are the greatest and most frequent offenders. In looking to increase democracy, equality, and trying to diminish unjust exercises of authoritarian strength, you look at unions and say they are fallible, therefore we should not work to dismantle the institutions of employer owned business which exemplify hubris and greed. The bottom line is that worker control of the workplace is democratic and more equal, boss control of the workplace is authoritarian and less equal. Until you can demonstrate that boss control of the workplace is more democratic, equal, and beneficial to those involved, I really don’t see your case.
On the issue of higher consumer cost: while I do think this is a relevant concern, I think that we must make it clear that “consumer” and “worker” are not mutually exclusive, and that by increasing the quality of life for our workers, we simultaneously do so for our consumers. It is justifiable that commodities may be more expensive if it means that the income for most or all people is increased, as they will be more readily able to procure necessities for a basic, stable, and decent quality of life. While union corruption does exist, and can make things more expensive in certain instances, business is also corrupt, yet more unequal, and you’ll end up with even greater corruption and even worse outcomes.

It really doesn’t though. Severe wealth disparity and people being forced to accept exploitation (receiving 15-30% of the value of their labor) with little to no control over the workplace, all to fund the greed and profit-motive of a private property owner because you don’t or can’t come in possession of capital-producing property (A system of collective property would be preferable so that all those who desire to work may have a stake in the workplace) itself is by no means a paragon of “mutual agreement.” Capitalism is a coercive, exploitative, and authoritarian structure.
Workers aren’t guaranteed good conditions under capitalism, they are guaranteed exploitation: if they weren’t profitable via extraction of surplus labor value, they wouldn’t be hired. They are neither guaranteed the value of their labor or influence over the place in which they labor. That isn’t just, that isn’t mutually agreeable, that is renting your labor to someone you know will exploit you because if you don’t, you will suffer, you will either starve or be confined to an existence off public welfare funds. Sure, you can choose to an extent your workplace, but you will be accepting exploitation regardless. Picking your poison isn’t liberty.
While I do agree some hierarchy is necessary, it, along with inequality, can be drastically reduced through socialism.


I think I know how to fix that. It’s simple: when a worker is hired they are given a share in the company either in addition to, or as a replacement for their wage. This directly ties the interests of the worker and the interests of the company together. The worker knows they will make more money when the company does better because they have a fixed percentage of the company shares, not just an amount. That can be diffused slowly over time in order to prevent growth from stunting, but it should remain relatively consistent. This also partially fixes the issue of automation, as even if the workers lose their jobs they still profit from the company’s success. It has some flaws, definitely, but I think this is a good way to balance the influence of the workers and business owners. Likewise, if the workers as a whole disagree with a decision, their collective power will give them some influence in the decisions of the company, roughly equal to that of other top-majority shareholders.

This was tried in Russia after the USSR fell, and it failed due to the lack of understanding of how stocks and investments work. But by better educating people on investment and financial management, that problem should be avoided. Ultimately, if shares in a company replace wages I’d see it as a general positive, though it also brings up issues with competition so shares should supplement, rather than replace wages IMO.


While I do think this could be a beneficial practice in addition to a capitalist economy, this really doesn’t go far enough, largely because of two primary factors: employees still must accept exploitation, and very wealthy people will continue to hold many shares of stock and their overwhelming dominance of corporate decisions will persist. Additionally, this doesn’t deal with exploration in smaller business.

While I am not necessarily opposed to this practice when adding it on to an employees wage, given the oligarchical nature of corporate decision-making and shareholders, I am not convinced it would have a susbabtial effect. You mentioned it providing an added incentive, but receiving a larger portion of the value you create would also provide an incentive, possibly a larger one at that. I don’t see any valid reason as to why the workers should not directly own businesses themselves, as this directly and to a greater extent tackles worker exploitation, subpar wages, and workplace democracy. If the workers owned the means of production, then they could collectively and democratically decide upon how much of the business’s income would go to paying the workers and how much would be reinvested. All in all, worker control ensures that the workers have a much more equal vote on how the business is run, and receive a more equitable share of the business’s income. Essnetially, cooperatives are preferable to corporations, even if the latter disoriented some shares of the company to its workers.
Something also worth mentioning is that cooperatives have been demonstrated to be more productive than traditional businesses, so under libertarian socialism it is likely we may see an increase in production in certain areas as well.


If you found the business or invest resources into it you deserve to get something out of it. Work is not the only thing that creates a business. The workers are one of the most important bits, sure, but there’s also management (who get everything to run smoothly, making sure departments cooperate), the person who came up with the business in the first place (the business started out as his/her labor and he/she deserves to bear at least some of its fruits), investors (who provided the resources to get the damn thing off the ground in the first place), etc. The laborers aren’t the only ones working. Do they deserve to get paid more? Yes. But then you have to also factor in skill requirement. Managing a business is usually harder than working a simple machine, which is itself harder than just throwing cash at something. Lets break it down in terms of effort by skill

Business founder and head > management (especially finance and logistics) = R&D > high-skill workers (electricians, engineers, etc.) > Lower management (non-labor jobs. Basically desk jobs) > mid-skill workers (most factory workers, repairmen, etc.) > Low-skill workers (janitors, minimum-wage workers, etc.) > investors.

This rough breakdown divides the value of each employee by how essential they are and by how hard they work. From this we should get an idea of how the shares should be split. around 50% of shares should stay in the business (may vary depending on number of employees, etc.) while the rest can become public stock to be bought by investors, stock brokers, and anyone else who wishes to reap the benefits of a business.

The “workers” aren’t the only ones actually working. There are tons of other personel moving around in the background. Is the spread fair as of right now? No, the top has too much, but dispersing it evenly amongst all employees without taking into account skill, work time, difficulty of work, etc. isn’t just either.


slow clapping


There is organization and managerial positions in socialist workplace. Those who are qualified are voted into positions of oversight. It’s apparent that the “workers” are not the only ones contributing labor value to the business, yet the property owners still extract surplus value from them as well. Socialism means means lack of hierarchy based on wealth and power in the workplace, socialist workplaces can however have positions of varying importance and various pay. The key difference between a socialist and capitalist workplace is the level of democracy. The socialist workplace ressmebels the capitalist one, except with democratic decision making, a more equitable distribution of pay, and lack of exploitation. The same positions exist, except the workers are the ones who put those with greater skill in those positions, as opposed to a capitalist workplace in which those who own the property are the ones who undemocratcially place those people in such positions. Once more, is it not so much a organizational difference, but a hierarchical difference.

I never claimed that all pay and work would be equal, but would more equitable, as the porifits they would otherwise go to the private property owners would go to the other workers, but there would still be some difference is position and pay.


Okay, true. And what about the market as a whole? Do you believe in a free market where competition and cooperation between different democratically-run businesses takes place? Or do you want a single entity?


I believe in separate cooperative entities, although there should probably be a state-sponsored general labor organization that protects and serves worker interests as a whole, although most of these rights should be secured through democracy in most work places. I think the format of a social democracy but with worker control for non-state industry would be pretty alright. So around 20-30% state employment, with around 50% of GDP being spent by the state, namely on universal welfare and public services and programs.

Although perhaps the state should be a bit smaller, as cooperatives are better at controlling externalities than capitalist markets.


Free association>“Free market”.


Look at Germany. The trade union leaders have an equal position on the board to the CEOs. They come to really good deals because of that.


While labor leaders possessing positions in which they can negotiate with corporations definetly does lead to superior outcomes when compared to nations in which labor leaders don’t have said position, a structure of oppression still persists. Having someone who fights said oppression does alleviate some of the oppression, but a balance between liberty and oppression is not the optimal scenario nonetheless.


While I disagree with you, it seems like the only realistic option currently available. Also a balance of powers is required. In a system where unions and employers both share majority influence the power is balanced.

Unions can become corrupt and oppressive too, just like any other organization. They may bribe politicians to spend more taxpayer money on projects that aren’t needed or assign far more people to jobs than are needed. If that’s not corruption then IDK what is.

I think you’re taking the cartoon version of bosses too far. Some are cruel, true, but most employers tend to be quite good people from my experience. The real corrupting force in capitalism is investors, who often force companies to do whatever makes them the most money, regardless of the long-term consequences or lack of ethics. This is what causes things like big layoffs. Not a lot of it is actually the bosses, who have a labor and emotional connection to their company and usually work just as hard as their employees. Instead, if investors don’t see massive profits they’ll simply sell out and go off to someone else regardless of ethical concerns.

The CEOs may sometimes be scumbags (Donald Trump, for example) but I’d say that the investors are worse. They do very little actual work but get huge influence. If we can find a way to cull the influence of investors and give that power back to the companies themselves (regardless of where they are on the ladder) then I think we’ll see a much more balanced and ethical business world