In this episode of Dignities & Disasters, Robert MacNaughton and Michael Porcelli discuss one of the topics on the tips of the tongues of the United States these days. When it comes to Socialism, the definition itself seems to be loosely adopted by the political agenda it is pushing. We drive to the heart of socialism in many of its forms and unpack the good, the bad, and the confusing. We call this version 0.1 of addressing this topic since we’re not political or economic authorities, and we’re just scratching the surface of this far-sweeping and divisive area of discussion.

Some of the topics we explore:

The Basics:

  • Social ownership of the means of production
  • Marx defined and popularized “Capitalism” in Das Kapital
  • Authoritarian socialism (Eastern bloc) vs democratic socialism (Western bloc)
  • The Nordic model is not socialism, but a social democracy or “cuddly capitalism”; free market capitalist with a more generous welfare state and a high personal tax burden shared by medium and low income households

The Dignities:

  • Humans are inherently equal and everyone should have an equal opportunity to thrive
  • We spread the benefits of social membership to those whose own efforts do not suffice to obtain basic welfare
  • We enjoy the fruits of society only if we are also ready to share them
  • Nobody suffers from their basic needs not being met due to no fault of their own
  • Why you should be a socialist: wealth disparity; crony capitalism; obvious distribution problems ; basic social welfare 

The Disasters:

  • Creation of a class of dependents
  • Antagonizes those that live responsibly and separates dependents from a full experience of citizenship
  • Open ended budgets with ever increasing costs and borrowing from the future
  • The issue is politicized — e.g. Marx’s war language; an essential antagonism between proletariat and bourgeoisie; class war, only when fomented by political leaders: e.g. Lenin in Russia, Mao in China
  • Measuring Poverty — Poverty is defined relatively — “Relative Deprivation” e.g. the British Labor govt defined poverty as “people with 60% of median income”. Whereas the World Bank defines poverty in absolute terms — defining extreme poverty as living on less than US$1.90 per day
  • The “zero sum vision” — a fallacy that sees life where every success requires someone’s failure, i.e. winning requires losing
  • The over involvement of the state paid by taxes on working classes 
  • Cannot admit that the poor benefit from the wealth of the wealthy 
  • Lenin: October Revolution, Stalin: the kulaks, and Hitler: the Jews
  • The failed socialist nations, Communism, The totalitarian temptation to remake society
  • An attempt to realize a heaven that inevitably leads to hell

Resources mentioned:

Robert MacNaughton

Robert MacNaughton


Executive coach and facilitator, Robert is a pioneer in the fields of Integral community organization, leadership development, and experiential education. Robert focuses on supporting leaders with execution strategies, fostering healthy work culture, and navigating interpersonal conflict both personally and professionally. Robert co-founded the bygone Integral Center in Boulder, Colorado in association with renowned philosopher Ken Wilber, which hosted an international community of thought leaders, practitioners, and "evolutionaries."

Michael Porcelli

Michael Porcelli

Co-host & Expert

Michael Porcelli, co-host and "pandit” or general subject matter expert, is a coach, educator, writer, speaker, facilitator, consultant, and specialist in social technology. Over his career, he’s developed insight into the dynamics between human beings, technology, and the social world. He has expertise in Authentic Relating; Holacracy; Evolutionary, Teal, & For-Purpose Enterprises. Michael is a founding member with Bedrock Culture and Leadership, and a former colleague of Robert’s at the Integral Center where he directed curriculum and faculty development.