Foreplay: Ben Burgis vs. Gene Epstein

Left: Ben Burgis, (Photo:
Right: Gene Epstein (Photo: The

I’m a big fan of debates and this coming Monday there is one I’m looking forward to watching live and the topic is an interesting one. The point the two debaters are going to battle over is: “Democratic socialists should shift their entire strategy to one of creating networks of democratically-run businesses within capitalism, as the only way to realize the ideals of socialism consistent with human liberty”. Sounds like a great topic right? I’m stoked!

You can watch the debate live on the show Part of The Problem on Monday 10th June at 6 PM ET. Requires a sign-up with GaS Digital Network, you can get a 14-day trial and cancel at any time. It will be available sometime after the airing on Dave Smiths YouTube-channel (for a brief period of time, if I’ve understood how things work over there correctly)

Gene Epstein is taking the positive and Ben Burgis is taking the negative in the discussion. Don’t know who these two gentlemen are? Here is a brief overview:

Ben Burgis is teaching philosophy (a subject he has a PhD in as well) and politically identify as a Marxist-Socialist that want full worker control over the means of the production. He is the author of the book “Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left” (with a cover featuring Ben Shapiro getting hushed, that is hilarious! It is on my reading list). Mr. Burgis debated Dave Smith on the topic of “Is Taxation Theft?” which sadly is behind a paywall now, but if you sign up to watch the debate on Monday you can warm up by watching the debate on the same site. You can however view Ben Burgis aftermath video where he shared his thoughts on the subject! He also comes equipped with a Twitter account.

Gene Epstein has a background as an economist (NY Stock exchange and Barron’s Magazine), got a MA in economics and wears Libertarian-colors in his political stance, specifically from the Austrian school of thought. The 75-year old Mr. Epstein runs and moderates debates at the Soho Forum, a monthly debate series that is a Reason Foundation project. He has written the book “Econospinning” which gives some insight into how to approach reading about economical stuff the media gives you, can recommend. Gene’s twitter can be found here. If you want to get hyped for the debate this coming Monday, I can recommend watching his discussion with Bhaskar Sunkara on “Capitalism vs. Socialism“.

I’m on Team Gene on this topic so I had some fun trying to figure out where Mr. Burgis bring forth in the form of arguments in this discussion. Here is three:

  1. The Obvious. One of the simplest arguments Burgis can bring is an attack on the phrasing of the resolution itself: “Of course democratic socialists shouldn’t ONLY build a network of democratically run companies, its not the only way to do this”. How Burgis frames this and continues the train of thought is crucial to his position.
  2. No ethical consumption under capitalism. Or similar arguments. I’m not sure if Burgis will go here in the discussion. Hopefully not. There is so much to unpack in a claim like this that it will be a back and forth of that will not interest me in the least, because semantics doesn’t really tickle me in a good way.
  3. The Revolution. My jaw would drop to the floor if Burgis suggests something like an armed revolution as an alternative, but its not unheard of that Marxist can justify violence against an opposition (heck, it has happened in real life. Several times!) – But Burgis don’t strike me as that kind of guy. Just putting it out there that its not entirely impossible. Looking at you Lenin.

In any case, no matter who sways me over to their side, granted Gene has an advantage in that regard, I’m going to get a debate on a topic I didn’t knew I wanted in my life! That is wining in my book.

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