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Post By
Late Great Donald Blake 
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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,414
In Reply To
The Mandarin

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,003
Subj: Pessimism is a thing to be defeated for any radical politics.  
Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 at 03:50:57 pm EST (Viewed 243 times)
Reply Subj: Re: It depends on what you mean.
Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 at 02:22:05 am EST (Viewed 235 times)

Previous Post


    Quote:
    In communism, those bureaucrats in
    charge of distributing the wealth favor their families and golfing
    buddies. They then require ever more amounts of policing power to
    enforce this disparity, resulting in a constant seesaw where the
    goods given to the people get ever smaller, requiring ever more
    policing power to prevent a rebellion from resulting, resulting in
    even less money getting distributed to the people, requiring even
    more money be given to the policing needed to prevent rebellion,
    until the country is just a feudal system in which the Feudal Lords
    are called bureaucrats.


    LGDB: well communism by definition is a classless society, so if only government bureaucrats control the means of production that's a sharp class difference and thus not communism.  But besides the semantics if the idea is regardless of the situation things will always get worse or decay or there's always entropy, I'm not really sure that that's more than a quietism, politics will only get worse regardless of what we try.  I'm not sure how useful the political pessimism really is.
The abstract idea of communism is very different from those structures needed to implement it in practice. This degree of non-profit based societal behavior has proven so alien to human nature that only an authoritarian bureaucracy has been able to implement it. Authoritarian bureaucracies quickly fall prey to the human tendency to favor ones family and friends over society, leading to the results already discussed. Consequently, the abstraction idea of communism has proven about as relevant as saying we should all do good stuff and not do bad stuff.



    Quote:
    And more importantly there's a pretty strong differentiation right up top:  with communism, people are trying to achieve a classless society where no one class privately owns the levers of power.  And they might fail even most of the time, but capitalism just accepts as a positive good the unequal, private control of society.  So based on my values I don't see them as equivalent systems.
Which people? Most regular people are trying to help their families and friends and find some time to relax in comfort and safety. Most people in power are going to be careerists with a vested interest in increasing their power, and shutting the door behind them for competitors. Communism really requires that the majority of people be saints. All systems that require the majority of people to be saints are utopian and doomed to end in de facto feudalism.


    Quote:
    And I think tribalism is bad sure, but that's also a bit vague.   What is the answer?  Just surrendering to tribalism?  Accept that no politics can overcome tribalism?  That's not a problem for communism, it's a problem for any political project.
The Scandinavians seem to be doing a pretty good job. Their system is too complex to be summed up in a message post, but they have notably used a mix of capitalist and socialist design. Social democracy, in other words.


    Quote:
    Also, could you respond to the idea that the Iron Law of Oligarchy was coined by a literal fascist?  I don't think that's something we wanna gloss over.

 He made many insightful observations about the human tendency towards neofeudalism, but then decided to become part of the problem instead of working towards a solution.





The abstract idea of communism is very different from those structures needed to implement it in practice. This degree of non-profit based societal behavior has proven so alien to human nature that only an authoritarian bureaucracy has been able to implement it. Authoritarian bureaucracies quickly fall prey to the human tendency to favor ones family and friends over society, leading to the results already discussed. Consequently, the abstraction idea of communism has proven about as relevant as saying we should all do good stuff and not do bad stuff.


LGDB:  We agree about the abstract notion of communism or anything for that matter being not much use by itself.  And you're preaching to the choir about it differing from its material form.  But of course the point is about having working principles and a standard that you're applying.  Critics of socialism often misconstrue the direction socialist want to head, their north star, with their more materially grounded political projects.   I'm not comparing my abstraction to your realism.   We simply disagree about the nature of political reality here.  Ultimately politics is about building institutions that can represent the people and channelize the people's will.  For instance I'm a socialist that believes strongly in the democratic aspects of the history of socialism.  I think authoritarian bureaucracies are of course a problem (and a sign of failure), insofar as they form their own private class within the larger government and then subvert the people's will to their own private interests.  We have to understand that danger like we understand any political danger, i.e. set up institutions populated by working people that incentivize people who work in the system differently, and primarily mobilize people such that they're directly involved in political processes at the highest level.  We can look at some concrete examples, but insofar as we're only talking in the most general of terms, I think you and I just have an ideological difference.  But to reiterate I think the problem you're articulating is real but special pleading if only applied to socialism.  The problem of corruption or bureaucratic capture is a problem for ALL political projects, not just socialism.  And I would worry that you pessimism risks becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.  Just another reason not to try to reform or revolutionize a broken system.  




Which people? Most regular people are trying to help their families and friends and find some time to relax in comfort and safety. Most people in power are going to be careerists with a vested interest in increasing their power, and shutting the door behind them for competitors. Communism really requires that the majority of people be saints. All systems that require the majority of people to be saints are utopian and doomed to end in de facto feudalism.


LGDB: Communists lol  Yes and I think the division you're talking about as there are people doing political work and other people who are not involved in political work is an unnecessary distinction.  And one ultimately a populist socialism works to break down; not something it accepts as a law of society.  But I don't think whatsoever that the redistribution of the means of production requires that people be saintly anymore that the privatization of the means of production.  Organizing ourselves in such a way that the value produced by the community is redirected to the community doesn't require somehow more magical angel people that a system where we direct the vast majority of value produced into a small minority of oligarchic hands.  I think the idea that communism is utopian is basically a strawman propagated by people who have every reason to want it to fail.  It's not anymore utopian than the idea that somehow the board game Monopoly will create a material equilibrium and maximize all of our freedom.




The Scandinavians seem to be doing a pretty good job. Their system is too complex to be summed up in a message post, but they have notably used a mix of capitalist and socialist design. Social democracy, in other words.


LGDB:  Yeah absolutely.  I, unlike many socialist on line, don't really go out of my way to criticize social democracy or the Scandinavian system.  I think they've arranged a far better system for themselves they we Americans have, but ultimately it's insufficient to a more equitable possibility.  In other words in Scandinavian countries you're looking a market system that is heavily regulated by government intervention, and they've a much more robust social welfare system.  All much better things.  That being said their orientation with the global South is less than stellar and much of their prosperity their critics argue still rely on a larger system of imperialist global capitalism.  I could stand to no more about the details honestly.  But for me it comes down to the fact that they still do have the unjust privatization of the means of production and the foundational exploitation of the labor of their workers.  The treat their people FAR better than we do in the United States no question.  And I would absolutely love to get to a place that was even half as humane as the Nordic countries if we're being realistic.  But ultimately it's still a system whose essence is a kind of capitalist exploitation.  So for instance if all the Nordic workers had a revolution had took back the factories, companies, farms and so on from their bosses and owners, I would unequivocally and full-throatedly support that and them.




He made many insightful observations about the human tendency towards neofeudalism, but then decided to become part of the problem instead of working towards a solution.


LGDB:  Yes.  But I would go onto argue that the logic of political pessimism has its own fascist tendencies, and classically pessimism is the kind of thing absolutely fostered and propagated by the ruling class.   This is a bit of a longer argument but basically it boils down to the fact that if one thinks power cannot be justified, that power cannot be managed by a equitable society, or channelized through a system of democratically constituted justice, then one's only recourse is to ensure they're on the right side of power and domination.  And in order to be on the right side of domination one often has to utterly capitulate to it and serve as its mouth piece.  And if you have an abiding belief that people are inherently barbarous, wanton, collectively insane of a necessity, the you may be wont to see fascists arrangements as our only recourse.   So with guys like Michel, it's very likely not a fluke that they joined the brown shirts.  It may be that their ideology had that trajectory all along.  


cheers,
---the late great Donald Blake



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