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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More 619

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the roll-high-or-be-sent-to-siberia dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Economist reports, "'UNDER capitalism', ran the old Soviet-era joke, 'man exploits man. Under communism it is just the opposite.' In fact new research suggests that the Soviet system inspired not just sarcasm but cheating too: in East Germany, at least, communism appears to have inculcated moral laxity. Lars Hornuf of the University of Munich and Dan Ariely, Ximena García-Rada and Heather Mann of Duke University ran an experiment last year to test Germans' willingness to lie for personal gain. Some 250 Berliners were randomly selected to take part in a game where they could win up to €6 ($8). ... The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers ... when it comes to ethics, a capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one."
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

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  • by gyepi (891047) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:23AM (#47505847) Homepage
    From TFA:

    The study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East Germans, for example.

    Although the historically observed relative poverty may indeed be causally linked to choice of an economic-political system, even that would not be sufficient to appropriately identify the economic-political system as the cause of the alleged differences in moral aptitudes.
  • Re:Money (Score:5, Informative)

    by arglebargle_xiv (2212710) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:24AM (#47505853)

    Otherwise they might be just testing whether richer people give a lesser value to a small amount of money than poorer people.

    It's not money, it's access to goods (and pretty much everything else). If you wanted anything in East Germany (or Poland, Hungary, Romania, Russia, ...), you had to take shortcuts. My west German relatives used to visit their east German relatives with the car packed with luxury goods like tins of paint (for their roof), which were unavailable to most people in the east unless you knew how to game the system. All this study seems to be showing is that if you grow up in a society where you need to be able to game the system in order to get anywhere, you end up gaming the system in order to get somewhere.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @04:04AM (#47505979)

    Communism is State Socialism. It should be wrong to say that it is the only socialism out there, but it is definitely socialism.

    Nonsense. Read your Marx. Communism and Socialism don't even remotely resemble one another. The only reason people get them confused is that Communism, as defined by Marx, was the ideal human goal and has never actually existed.

    What you describe as "State Socialism" is what most people just call Socialism... because socialism requires a strong State.

    While some countries liked to CALL THEMSELVES communist, they were not. They were anything but. The best any of them ever managed to achieve were bad forms of socialism and fascism.

    The reason for that is simple: socialism (the real economic theory of socialism) requires a strong central authority. Whereas communism (genuine communism, according to social and economic theory) has no "authority" at all.

    The problem has been that once a relatively few people got all that authority, under a socialist or fascist regime, they then never wanted to give it up. So societies never "evolved" beyond that to true communism. Nor is it likely to ever happen. Marx was a loon.

  • by satuon (1822492) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:25AM (#47506487)

    While I understand what you mean, I prefer not to play with word definitions. For me, spoken language is a democratic process, and words mean what the majority of people believe them to mean. That's how language develops. It's called semantic shift. If the majority of people have the "wrong" definition, then it perhaps the word has simply shifted its meaning, and it's time to acknowledge that.

    That said, what is the colloquial meaning of socialism? How does the common man on the street define it? I'm from Eastern Europe, and here for example, anyone you ask will tell you that socialism mean the way things were in the Warsaw Pact - a one-party state, propaganda, jobs provided by the state, and all life organized by the state. Nobody here would call Norway socialist. In fact, most people here would simply call them a capitalist country, because to us, any country West of the Warsaw Pact, including Norway, was simply a capitalist country. Socialism meant Us, and capitalism meant Them, and Norway wasn't part of Us.

    Of course, that's what socialism means in Eastern Europe, perhaps it has a slightly different meaning in America.

  • by sageres (561626) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:45AM (#47506551)

    In order to fully understand how any society works, one must grow up under that system. As a person who grew up in the old Soviet Union, I am intimately aware of how and why the people were being cheated. My father pretty much gave me an introduction to the old Soviet system, and explained how it works.
    Story #1.
    My father used to work two jobs, as a house painter. First job was for the state, and the second job (In Russian "Khaltura") for himself. We lived OK, and could make ends meet. One time on a weekend, when I was ten years old, my father took me to his second job. I was carrying a bucket of paint (it was very heavy), and my father was carrying three. On the way he told me how it works. A state on the first job gives five buckets of paint to work on the apartment. By doing some Soviet Innovation chemical Magic with water, paint, iron powder and gasoline it is possible to make five buckets of paint out of two buckets (which what my dad used to do), and three of the buckets he would take to the second job. I recall being in shock, and my dad told me that the state hardly pays any money for survival, and only the second job can. He also told me that everyone steals, and in the Soviet System everyone steals because EVERYONE IS THE OWNER. I did not like the explanation, and was quite upset. However the person who we pained the apartment of (a local surgeon), interjected into our conversation. He told me that he does the same thing, except he and his nurses take (steal) antibiotics and other drugs, borrow medical instruments and once a week go to remote villages that lacks doctors to operate on the patients. That's how they make 70% of their living. This incident really opened my eyes. Everyone was stealing. A state store personnel would divert the goods from the store onto the black market, thus making a profit. A car mechanic would reuse old brakes (again, Soviet innovation magic) instead of replacing onto new ones, selling the new breaks. And everyone was doing this, not because they are dishonest, but because they needed to survive. To illustrate some quirks of Soviet Survival, here is a story #2.
    This happened when I was 11 years old. It was a middle of the night, and approximately 3 o'clock early morning. I suddenly saw a light coming from my parents' room, and heard my dad walking in his heavy shoes. Looking at my alarm clock, I could not understand what would my dad be doing so early.
    I came out rubbing my eyes, seeing my dad fully dressed I asked, "Dad, where are you going?"
    And he answered me, "I'm going to a milk store, son".
    I told him that the milk store opens at 6 in the morning, why would he need to leave at three. To which he replied:
    "Son, if I wait until that time to come to the store opening, there is going to be such a huge line of people, that by the time my time comes to get the milk -- there is going to be none there. So I have to go and stay there for three hours, waiting until the store opens."
    After my dad left, I drank some tea, ate my breakfast and went after my dad to the milk store to stand with him.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @08:39AM (#47506845)

    How about automating virtually all production, as is rapidly beginning to happen? If one man maintaining a ten robots can produce as much as a hundred men by hand then you're well on your way to achieving post-scarcity. And if you don't come up with some way for the other 99 men to earn a living you're going to have some serious social problems. Sure, freeing up all that labor force makes it possible to re-harness it in other ways - but if a robot can outperform a human in most production, service, and management rolls you're going to have a real challenge finding ways for the displaced workers to make a meaningful economic contribution to society. And perhaps more to the point, would you necessarily want to? At that point you've made it possible, even practical, to achieve the mythical land of milk and honey. Spread the remaining jobs across 4-10 times as many people and everyone on the planet has the option of living a life of leisure where no-one has to work more than a few hours a week to provide for everyone, freeing everyone to focus their energy on art, philosophy, family, or even just recreation.

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