I don't know about where you live, but here politicians are quite often ordinary people, in no way wealthy enough to live off capital gains (i.e. the surplus value created by the working class, exploited by the capitalist class), especially on the left.
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You can use any definition you want to, but when I speak of capitalists, I have stated what I mean, if you have another definition that is your right, but we might have a difficult time communicating. The difference definition of the word does not change the meaning of what someone is trying to convey.
If you can live off the work of others, then yes, you are by definition a capitalist.
BTW marx was mind boggelingly wrong on all of his historic predictions. Why do you bother? His work belongs in the dust bin of history along with the dunces.
This coming from someone who doesn't understand a concept as basic as the means of production? Tell me, why exactly does "Capital" belong in teh dust bin of history? Or any of the more modern works based on the same ideas for that matter? And for that matter, who do you believe to be "right"?
A capitalist is someone who owns the means of production and can live off the returns, i.e. the surplus from the work performed by the working class. Simply owning a tool is in no way sufficient to be a capitalist, it is not the same as owning the means of production. If it was, anyone in history who owned a hammer would have been a "capitalist", which is in no way the case.
I'm currently reading Capital btw, I suggest you do the same if you want to find out where terms like "means of production" comes from and their meaning, so that in the future you can avoid abusing them.
I'm certain some politicians are capitalists, but that's not really the point, they are nominally elected by the people to do the peoples bidding. A capitalist, btw, is not someone who favors the capitalist mode of production, but rather someone who controls capital and can live off capital returns (i.e. the work of others, the working class) without having to him/herself produce something of actual value.
I hold no illusions that we live in a democracy, democracy is an impossibility under capitalism, in practice we live in a semi-plutocracy with limited influence (mostly minor issues, not system-critical issues) of the people. But that limited influence is still infinitely more than that which we have over capitalists.
I'd rather trust an elected government than corporate leaders I can do nothing about. Politicians are far from perfect, but they are one step up from capitalists, and unlike capitalists, the people have the power to kick them out every four or so years.
And who decides the kind of legitimacy they deserve or don't deserve? You? Western media? Western governments? The same people, I suppose, who decide that "we" are saints and "they" are demons. The sort of black-and-white worldview many here seem to be advocating is exactly what leads to war. Try putting yourself in the shoes of "the other side", try to find reason for their actions, because I promise you that everyone has a reason, very few people would put their lives on the limb on a whim.
You do realize you're depending on a "confession" put out by the very government that stands to benefit from the confession? How can you so blindly accept it as truth?
Not really true, milk is a common drink in many countries around the world.
It seems American milk is quite often Ultra-High-temperature processed, the only place I've seen that here is tiny milk cartons intended for use in coffee where there is no refrigeration. Interesting, I knew American (and some other countries) milk lasted longer and I never quite liked the taste of it, now I know why. It's not restricted to the US though, it's quite common in many countries.
Because everyone should be granted the oppurtunity of higher studies, regardless of background and parents ability to pay. I don't come from a wealthy family by any means, if it wasn't for higher education being free, I would most likely have ended my education after high school, now I'm working on my PhD. A well educated populace is not only beneficial to the individuals who get the degrees, but to society as a whole.
I pay about 22% income tax on my PhD student salary of about $48000, my studies were paid by taxpayers from 1st grade all the way up to my masters degree and we get student grants which cover part of the living costs, student loans (from the state at low interest rate, not a bank) for the rest.. Tax is not high enough in my opinion, recent cuts by the current (but not for long now) right wing government have been catastrophic for our general welfare system.
I agree that Russia is an oligarchy (and so is the US, and Europe, btw, we simply don't call our plutocrats "oligarchs"), but you have to get some things straight. Like the IMF, the Ukraine had the alternative of *either* cooperating with Russia, and continuing to get money from Moscow, or cooperate with the EU and get money from the IMF (with the usual strings of privatization, deregulation, and generally screwing the people over attached, see Greece, et al). Yanukovich in the end decided that it would be in the interests of the Ukraine to continue trade with Russia rather than go along with EU demands of "us or them" (and the opinion polls I have seen seem to indicate that the Ukranian people were not too keen on the EU agreement either in the end, I guess the example of Greece must have scared them). This is when the "Euromaidan" protests started, supported by both US and EU politicians who enthusiastically came in person and egged the protests on, the fact that they were sharing stage and shaking hands with Svoboda and the Right Sector did not seem to bother them. Once the coup was fully realized, the new government (surprise surprise) signed the deal with the EU as well as the IMF, despite not being an elected government. It bans political parties which are seen as being too "pro-russia" (such as the communist party), includes representatives of both Svoboda and Right Sector, but none from the eastern part of the country where the majority of the population lives. Western media calls it "democracy"...
I kept getting "lameness filter" so I had to split my post into multiple posts. Slashdot: FIX BUG!
Continued from below:
If and when workers gain control of the state, then and only then may it be called a socialist state in any way shape or form. Note however that neither socialism nor a "communist" society requires that the means of production be in the ownership of the state. A society where the means of production is controlled by cooperatives for instance is as much socialism as is ownership by a worker-controlled state, as is the syndicalist ideal of local union organizations taking control of the means of production, or the collectivist ideal of abandoning both state and private ownership of the means of production. There are as many variations of socialism as there are forms where the working class can take control of the means of production, as well as combinations thereof.
Despite what Americans (and all of us who consume US media) have been told all their lives, capitalism and democracy are in no way compatible, and you see it every day in your own country, I see it every day in my country, we see it all over the world, yet this myth seems to persist. Capital is power, when a few control that capital, they have disproportionate economic power, and thus political power, no matter how many campaign financing laws or similar you adopt. The simple act of owning the means of production means that capitalists can, if they wish, force society to adopt certain policies under threat of loosing the essential goods which their factories produce. This is why economic democracy is required for political democracy to ever be realized.
The whole point of socialism, and certainly of a communist society (which is a bit of a utopian goal) is that the means of production should be controlled by the working class. If a state owns the means of production, but the working class is not in control of that state, it is simply another form of capitalism called "state capitalism", there is as much of a disconnect between workers and traditional capitalists as there is between workers and a large state capitalist. Instead of traditional capitalists exploiting the labour of the working class, the people at the top of the state bueracracy is. There is a common misconception, especially among those who have been exposed to too much of American mass media, that "capitalism" simply means free markets. Rather, it is a description of a society where a minority owns the majority of the means of production, if this is achieved through free markets, state controlled markets, privately (monopoly) controlled markets, or what have you does not really matter, it's still capitalism because of the ownership and thereby power-structure.