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Which countries are socialist.

(70 Posts)
GracesGranMK2 Thu 28-Sep-17 23:31:21

I have just listed Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway in answer to this question only to be told these countries would be horrified to be considered socialist. Have I really got it that wrong?

whitewave Fri 29-Sep-17 10:35:52

mary I absolutely agree with you, with regard to neither socialism or free market capitalism working in practice.

Interestingly the nearest the U.K. has got to the socialist model was during WW11 as the government understood that without large intervention, ration books etc, the rich would have grabbed the resources in short supply through the power of their wealth and the poor would have suffered terribly. The government of course also took part in a high degree if propaganda, so beloved by both dictatorships and socialist economies. It is also questionable whether we would have won the war given that the poor were also expected to fight alongside the wealthy.

maryeliza54 Fri 29-Sep-17 10:46:45

Well in wartime, or faced with the possibility of war, the role of the state always expands. In the early 1900s for example, free school meals and the school health service were introduced when the poor health of the working class recruits for the Boer War was revealed. It seems sad now that we fattened up these young boys to become canon fodder for the next war.

whitewave Fri 29-Sep-17 10:51:28

Yes absolutely.

So I wonder then given the experience of the Second World War the greater equality in nutrition for the population, etc did this underpin the Labour governments policies in 1945?

I have been thinking about it as I have been pottering about and trying without success to find out if civilians had to pay to get their injuries treated as a result of bombs etc before the NHS?

This is really going off the subject I think. So ignore it if you wantgrin

maryeliza54 Fri 29-Sep-17 11:27:06

No I don't think it's going off subject - when discussing the role of the state, part of that discussion is what happens if the state don't provide. The link between the growth of the welfare state and war is fascinating - apart from the examples I gave earlier, free VD clinics were introduced as a result of the troops behaviour in WW1. During WW2 the Emergency Medical Service was introduced - a precursor or the NHS but before that there was NI ( introduced in 1911) which gave access to GP services - at first only for workers but later expanded to dependents.Hospitals were not included in the NI scheme and the poor relied on the voluntary hospitals or what had been the workhouse infirmaries whose coverage and quality varied enormously. It's a fascinating subject imo

whitewave Fri 29-Sep-17 11:32:57

So presumably the Emergency Medical Service was used by the poor -well everyone - if they were injured? But the poor carried on as usual for other problems?

I suppose the post war government/consensus was the type of economy which arguably was the most social democratic government we have ever had.

This consensus ceased with Thatcher - there is no such thing as society - and her push to free market and individualism.

whitewave Fri 29-Sep-17 11:35:28

Unfortunately I have to go out soon -mum duties - so will pick this up when I get back in the hope this discussion has been nicely developed and there will be stuff to learngrin

Learn something new every day to keep young!!

maryeliza54 Fri 29-Sep-17 11:45:40

This is a good summary. Many academics believe that the formation of the EMS with consultants drafted into poor quality hospitals made the medical establishment aware for the first time really of how dreadful much if not most hospital care was in the UK. Once the EMS existed I think politically there was never going to be any going back to the previous-war situation hence the nationalisation of the hospitals in 1948

trisher Fri 29-Sep-17 12:16:22

Don't know if it is of any help but my mum (aged 95) says that she was sometimes asked by her mum to take her sister to the doctors during WW2 because my dad was in the army and the families of servicemen were not charged for health care. It might just have been an individual doctor's choice though as GPs were businesses.

We don't have a true capitalist economy as the state owned businesses sold off like the railways, receive government support and are effectively monopolies.

MaizieD Fri 29-Sep-17 13:02:28

I suppose for 'peak' capitalism in the UK in recentish history we have to look at the Victorian era when state regulation of anything at all barely existed.

Yes, we were a very rich nation but at what a social cost.

Surely no-one can read Dickens' accounts (and other Victorian novelists) of urban poverty, or Engels 'Condition of the Working Class', or evidence given to inquiries into the condition of workers in various industries, or into sanitary conditions, or into anything at all, really, without realising that this incredibly wealthy and nominally Christian country had a huge population of people who lived short and unhealthy lives in the most appalling conditions. I suspect that people who have studied this era and have read contemporary texts will be more inclined to see Democratic Socialism in a positive light.

The railways are an interesting indication that capitalism is a no more efficient way to organise infrastructure than any other alternative. Railways were built all over the place by hundreds of Railway companies purely in the hope of making a huge profit for the investors. Many of them failed completely because greed for profit outweighed practical market considerations; like 'demand'. The consequences of this random approach has lived with us ever since.

Capitalists aren't particularly logical; ' dotcom' bubble, anyone?

TriciaF Fri 29-Sep-17 13:15:50

I think France is a Socialist country, although there's still a small(?) influential element of the old aristocracy.
Communism still has a lot of support:
"The French Communist Party is a communist party in France. Although its electoral support has declined in recent decades, the PCF retains a strong influence in French politics, especially at the local level" (Wiki).
The Unions, especially the agricultural unions, are much more influential than in the UK.
I would say that the majority of French people are very traditional compared other european countries.

yggdrasil Fri 29-Sep-17 13:48:21

Primrose65 Fri 29-Sep-17 14:49:53

I think it's an interesting topic. My uneducated view is that the Nordic model may be good for small and homogeneous countries and could be a challenge to implement in the UK. Not sure how well we'd accept private health companies in direct competition with the NHS for example.
I'm going to have a read up on the details so I get an understanding of how they work.

maryeliza54 Fri 29-Sep-17 14:53:30

That's a good point Primrose about the size and homogeneity of the Nordic countries.

railman Fri 29-Sep-17 15:23:20

Love your comment on the railways MaizieD - as I suspect you'd expect.

It started me thinking about other aspects of our community (sorry country) we think of as essential services that support its existence:
Rail transport
Social care
Waste disposal

If we consider a system or service essential to the community - should it be left to market forces to survive or fail, or should we as part of the community share in its ownership and operation?

We have mostly sold off many of the essential to life services - water supply, energy generation and distribution, and many aspects of health and social care. Waste management is now another area that has been picked up by the markets - and yet our electronic waste finds its way to a slum and waste dump in Ghana - why don't we deal with the consequences of our own social activity in the UK.

On the rail front, it has, naturally seemed incongruous to me that we complained about funding British Rail, and yet are happy to support a failing train operating company with heavy subsidies. We pay out a lot, but get nothing back, not even a say in how it operates in the best interests of the community.

I doubt that they UK could be described as a "mixed economy" as easily today, since on the whole, it seems "market forces" dominate.

Cold Fri 29-Sep-17 15:34:19

I think a lot depends on what you mean by socialist? Many of these countries have had Conservative/Right wing coalition governments in recent decades.

For example take Sweden
- There is a tradition of the welfare activities and strong safety net
# universal healthcare
# universal education
# social security system
# 16 months of paid parental leave/right to paid leave for sick children
# heavily subsidised nursery, pre-school & after school care
# free university and universal access to grants/loans
# strong trade unions - with collective agreements (no minimum wage)
# good access to adult education/free language lessons for immigrants
# fairly good access to social housing (problem in big cities though)

- however there are many aspects that would not be considered socialist
# strong private sector
# in recent decades high levels of privatisation of previously nationalised industries
# privatised welfare services (healthcare, nurseries, free schools, care homes, housing etc). No regulation of profits made.
# Copayments for healthcare: £20 for GP visit/£35-40 for A&E or hospital appointments. £10 per day inpatient fee
# 2-tier system for unemployment benefits depending on work history

whitewave Fri 29-Sep-17 16:02:49

When we say socialist I assume we are meaning social democracy and not socialist in the Marxist term?

whitewave Fri 29-Sep-17 16:05:01

primrose yes I think I agree regarding to the size of the economy, although I have nothing really to base that assumption on, like you I need to read up.

whitewave Fri 29-Sep-17 16:10:31

Just off the top of my head though, couldn't you argue that the UK was close to the Nordic model after the Second World War? So presumably size may not matter.

durhamjen Fri 29-Sep-17 16:11:07

Is there a difference between social democracy and democratic socialism?

I like your list, railman.
weownit uses such a list to show that we should own such monopolies. We, the many, get no benefit from the private ownership of such utilities.

durhamjen Fri 29-Sep-17 16:12:04

I don't think size matters - it's more the willingness of the population to go along with the ideal.

whitewave Fri 29-Sep-17 16:17:57

Yes dj I think you are right with regard to size.

Not sure there is a difference between one or other is there?

durhamjen Fri 29-Sep-17 16:39:58

If you look at a list of purely socialist countries, the most socialist country is China.
Definitely size doesn't matter as far as that form of socialism is concerned.

TriciaF Fri 29-Sep-17 16:59:17

I was thinking of China too, DJ, but don't know anything about the origins, so can't comment.

GracesGranMK2 Fri 29-Sep-17 17:40:11

I just love all your posts, although burst out laughing as the first one I caught sight of when I logged back in was Jen's "I don't think size matters" I did wonder where this had gonegrin.

I love the idea of peak capitalism and peak socialism. Cold's list is particularly interesting and a suppose begs the question whether there can be such a thing as a pure socialist country. If it leans one way we call it capitalist and the other it is probably moving into the communist area.

It's all so fascinating.

maryeliza54 Fri 29-Sep-17 17:40:14

Yes I think there is a difference between social democracy and democratic socialism - its to do with whether you have capitalism in whatever form isn't it? Both would involve an fully franchised population wouldn't they?