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Ask a Red III

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Cheezy the Wiz, Feb 6, 2012.

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  1. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    It is with great pleasure that I introduce the third serial "so you would like to know more about communism and socialism" thread!

    Remember that this is a question and answer thread and not for arguments. Critical response is welcome, tirade and polemic are not.

    That said, we are ready to field your questions!

    Ask a Red

    Ask a Red, Second Edition

    List of posters approve to answer questions:

    Cheezy the Wiz
    RedRalphWiggum
    civver 764
    Traitorfish
    innonimatu
    Bast
    Richard Cribb
    FredLC
     
  2. GamezRule

    GamezRule Inconceivable!

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    Is this thread under FBI surveillance?
     
  3. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    Do you enjoy being a communist?
     
  4. landlubber

    landlubber Scottish Nationalist

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    You could call me a wannabe communist, but I have serious concerns about how basic society would function.
    How exactly would the justice system function under an anarcho-communist society? Crime wouldn't disappear entirely, would it, so would we still have a court system or police departments?
    On a similar note, how would goods be distributed? Could people just take whatever they want? If so, wouldn't this system be abused? If not, someone would have to arbitrarily decide what to give who, therefore defeating the purpose of communism, right?
    I keep hearing that government would be "redundant" or "unnecessary" under a perfect communism. Is this true, and what exactly does it mean?
    (Sorry if these questions have already been asked.)
     
  5. IdiotsOpposite

    IdiotsOpposite Boom, headshot.

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    In a perfect theoretical communist society, how would you decide which laws to enact?
     
  6. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    It's nice to know that the future of human society doesn't depend on a gaggle of technocrats coming up with a series of shiny blueprints, yeah.

    No idea. Human society necessarily exists within history, which precludes any sort of ahistorical "perfection".

    Not as such, no. You'd obviously have to have some way of dealing with destructive and anti-social behaviour, but they wouldn't take the forms of the courts and police. These organisations are part of the apparatus of duration- the state- which have as their function the preservation of capitalist society from one moment to the next, and as such their structure and practice follows from that; they possess an inherently capitalist teleology. The means by which communist society ensured its duration, then, would have to take a form appropriate to a stateless, classless society, and without knowing what such a society looks like, we can't know how it would resolve these issues. We can outline certain broad points- a preference for disassociation over violence, direct communal accountability, a rejection of institutionalism- but that's about it.

    Resource-distribution is something that would vary over time, depending on circumstances, and in all likelihood you'd see multiple forms of distribution in place at the same time, for different goods and services. Free access is one possible model, if that particular category of goods is effectively post-scarcity, but it's not necessarily a choice between that, or arbitrary and centralised planning. Decentralised and democratic forms of planning are viable- rather more so than the creaking, undemocratic behemoth of the centralised planning apparatus. There are even, counter-intuitive as it may seem, solutions proposing the use of "second-order markets" based on goodwill and reciprocity, something like a formalised gift economy.
    The key, for communists, isn't the mode of distribution itself, but the social terms in which the mode of distribution arises, one of directly associated human beings, rather than atomised market actors. Within those terms, it's simply a case of efficiency, of a means to an end.

    The state, rather than government. "Government" is just the administration of collective affairs, its a matter of fact the moment you get two people in the same room. The question is what kind of government exists. Communism is, in its most basic sense, a state of communality, a situation in which human beings relate to each other directly as human beings, without the mediation of capital or of the state, and so all forms of organisation would have to begin at this most fundamental level and build up from there. This still permits large and complex forms of organisation- indeed, in a complex, industrialised society, they are quite unavoidable- but it precludes the existence of political formations which are entitled to mediate between individuals, and are empowered to uphold their status as mediator with force, which is to say that it precludes the state. Put simply, communism is the end of the state's monopoly on government.
     
  7. West 36

    West 36 Can count up to 4

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    I'm a leftist myself. Communist, anarchist, socialist, what have you, the label isn't entirely important, but I believe in class struggle directed to create the kind of society I'm sure the reds here would quite like. I participated somewhat in the occupy movement, and now having seen how that works, I was left, paradoxically, both inspired and disheartened. Inspired by the way people can work together for a common goal and by seeing the awareness that people actually do have about class conflicts and their desire to change it. Disheartened by the disjointedness, the more 'radical liberal' bent on things, as in working within the system, to make changes, as well as seeing the movement attracting the likes of people who, while they may label themselves as such, didn't really have a firm grasp of much leftist theory and were far more idealistic. Distracted by, to me, such minuscule, deranged, or otherwise seemingly daft things, be it what looked like more of a desire to simply cry out at any sign of authority without reason- such things can easily be tackled with dialectic arguments, but here was more... cliche teen angst-y feelings, as well as seeming to be prone to paranoia, which while somewhat understandable, when leading to conspiracy theories, compromises much of the faith I'd have in some of these people- boiling things down to such simple answers (it's all THEM and they hate US, etc) shows a lack of understanding of how the system really works, and creates paper tigers, a problem, for sure. I realize these people exist within all forms of movements, but these people are often the most vocal, most likely to make some visible action.
    So my question regarding all this is: What do you see as the role of a red, or at least of yourself, TODAY? How do you attempt to bring about the changes you want to see? How do you fight ignorance, within and without any organization you may be associated with? The powers that be naturally try to stop it. There are common people who see everything you do as evil. Then there are those, as I described, by your side who lack understanding but have a great energy to them, and surely will cause problems. A complex issue, to be sure, but one that must be addressed if any progress is to be made.
    Spasiba :D
     
  8. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    Do you agree that communism already had its historical chance to become something beneficial & great for humanity but it turned out to be a total failure everywhere where people attempted to implement it? If yes, why do you think it utterly failed and what would you modify in it to really become such an utopian, beautiful dream as in the original 19th century conception?

    And second question:

    Do you consider modern social democratic welfare states, such as those in Scandinavia, as capitalist in the negative sense? And why do you think that communism could ever be or even pretend to be any better alternative for a good life than this Nordic model of social democratic welfare state?
     
  9. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Do you think I would know if it was? :scan:

    Generally speaking, yes.

    However, it leaves one with a bi-polar view of the world. On the one hand, we know that our society's greatest hour has yet to come. On the other, it feels like it is further away from our grasp than ever. It is both hopeful and hopeless.

    Anyone should, when dealing with something that has never existed before.

    Presumably.

    Are we talking about communism or socialism? In socialism we would presumably still have functioning markets. In communism, we wouldn't need them, because where the system failed to provide for all by design, moral people would fill the gap. Make no mistake, communism requires people to behave with at least a vague sense of virtue.

    Possibly. If it is, then the process will continue to improve until it cannot.

    Which is why the role of distribution is a social one. Everyone decides what everyone gets.

    Government exists primarily to protect private property, which is the source of wealth and power for the rich and powerful. Once that is removed, the need for such an institution diminishes greatly.

    Make no mistake, there will still be organizational structures and administrative bodies, but not of the impositional kind. Think of it as democracy, applied to all facets of life.

    Democracy.

    Indeed we do, my old friend. It is good to see you around these parts again! :hatsoff:

    I can sympathize with this. It more or less matches my armchair Occupying conclusions about the movement.

    It is a Lenin quote that inspires me the most. "Patiently explain, and we will have our majority." Erode the ideological foundations of capitalism wherever they exist. Prove people wrong, talk about the truth. Don't get tied up with Marxist theoreticizing where you don't have to; find everything examples to talk about. How the elites get around the law, the influence of money in politics, why it is impossible for everyone to get promoted. At your job, point it out to your colleagues in ways they can empathize. Explain the importance of a union, explain why they make so little and your bosses make so much, and why that's even possible. To the libertarian types at work, use the OSHA and Department of Labor "know your rights" posters that should be present, or even the existence of the MSDS book. Cater your arguments to your audience, and always state things in common-tongue ways. You'll be surprised how often even conservative people will agree with socialist principles when they don't realize that they're socialist!

    It is surely an uphill battle, and it will take a long time. But if you believe it to be worth your effort, then it is no real obstacle.

    Sudavolstvyem tovarisch. :)

    I don't believe it has ever gotten the chance. The closest it might have come was a few weeks in the Spring of 1871, though a decent argument might be made for an approach of socialism in 1970s Scandinavia. I regard the Soviet experiment as an understandable, but ultimately doomed venture. Not because of any wrong actions on the part of the Soviets (please note the wording there, so that we do not enter into the silly argument that might otherwise surely follow), but because Russia was barely capitalist, much less the fully developed capitalist society that begs to share its mass-produced goods fairly.

    First, understand that I have great admiration for the Scandinavian social democracies. However, while it might produce a decent standard of living for everyone, which is certainly a goal of socialism, the institution of private property exists, and there are still large disparities of wealth which create unequal political tiers. These forces are constantly trying to undo that which has been created to quell their power and privilege. In Sweden, for example, they have been rather successful at rolling back those welfare gains. Even in Britain, for the first time in decades serious talk about the future of the welfare state is being made.

    The point is not to create a society which cares for all - who wants to be babied? The point is to create one which is fair and just, which has destroyed the capability of one person to oppress or use another for his own gain, thus enabling all to meet their true potential. In such a society people could "build themselves up" without hindering others, because those avenues no longer oppress, and the very meaning of the phrase has changed from what it is today. Today to "succeed" means to find a place of economic security, which means occupying a place of exploitation in the social hierarchy. In communism such a feat would not be necessary, because all social positions would be equally safe, save that of the person who refuses to contribute despite being capable of doing so.
     
  10. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

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    - What do you think about modern Russian communists (CPRF), their views and political program? Is there any cooperation between American and Russian communists?
    - How do you consider Cuban variant of socialism? As far as I know, living standards there are among the highest in Latin America, despite of embargo.
    Thank's in advance :)
     
  11. amadeus

    amadeus As seen on OT

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    Initial questions:

    (1.) What individual rewards are there for hard work?

    (2.) How are scarce goods allocated most efficiently in the absence of a (free) price system?
    [note: this question is to both market and anti-market communists]

    (3.) If there is a market, how can "labor hours" be used as a mechanism to efficiently establish a price for goods?
    (a.) How do you account for factors other than labor time, such as scarcity and quality?
    (b.) How do you incorporate the cost of capital into the price of finished goods if labor time is used in place of a free price system?

    (4.) If there is a market, what happens when a business fails?
    (a.) Who owns the business?
    (b.) Do the business owners own the physical land upon which the business is situated and if so, what subsequently happens to the land?

    (5.) Can residential land be owned and if so, under which circumstances may it be expropriated? Example: I own a plot of land upon which my house is situated and it has been decided that a shoe factory is going to be built, but my house and the land lie within the proposed factory's building site.

    (6.) What happens if I choose to reject the communist system and issue currency not tied to labor hours? (or, in the case of an anti-market communism, what happens if I try to establish market relations?)
     
  12. Monsterzuma

    Monsterzuma the sly one

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    are there any contemporary "red" thinkers you recommend reading up on?
     
  13. CELTICEMPIRE

    CELTICEMPIRE Zulu Conqueror

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    So how will a Classless, Stateless society function? (tell me if this is too broad).
     
  14. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Speaking for myself? I don't know. It's a question I've been wrestling with for a while. If communism is properly understood as "the real movement" of labour against capita, then what is the role of the activist/militant? What part do specific ideological and theoretical orientations play in that? Does s/he have a role at all? There aren't any easy answers. I think that the old Wobbly slogan, "Agitate, Educate, Organise" still expresses the essence of what is necessary, but there are no easy answers to that in any specific instance. We can say what doesn't work- Trotskyist fronts, bureaucratic parties, anarchist cliques; none of these have any relevance to the struggle of labour at this point- but what does work is a much more difficult question, and one that can only ultimately be determined through trial and error.
    So I suppose what I would say we can do here and now is, as Cheezy says, to educate ourselves, and to share our insights with others- and, very crucially, to allow others to share their insights with us. The world doesn't need more dogmatists.

    Well, from a Marxist perspective, this wouldn't be theoretically coherent. Communism is two related things: it is the "real movement" of labour against capital, and the form of social organisation that emerges from that movement. It is implicit in capitalism. Perhaps a communist society would anything like what we imagine it will, perhaps our idea of communism is way off the mark, but that was never what it was about anyway.

    To answer the first part, I do consider them to be capitalist, because they meet every single one of the Marxian criteria for identifying capitalism. I don't think that's a negative descriptor, it's just a matter of fact; it is what it is. We don't see "grizzly bear, in a negative sense", even though few of us would fancy its company.
    To the second, I'll concur with what Cheezy said, but I think there is another point which is worth stressing: that the Scandinavian model is not universally applicable. The Scandinavian countries occupy a specific position within the international division of labour that is not open to everyone, just as, say, a well-paid engineer occupies a specific position within the division of labour within a manufacturing firm. Posing the relative well-being of Scandinavian workers in defence of capitalism today is like posing the relative well-being of the middle classes in capitalism a century ago; it does not address the experience of the overwhelming majority of the international working class, and so gives us no clue at all as to how they should set about bettering their lot in life. Whether or not you see communism as the answer, "Be more like Sweden" is not going to help anyone.

    Speaking for the leftcoms, I'd say that Loren Goldner and Gilles Dauvé are a couple of the best individuals, while some good collectives are Aufheben, Endnotes, Theorie Communiste and Troploin. There's a fair bit of internal variety- Goldner's a neo-Bordigist, while Dauvé is a Marxist-Humanist who sits on the border with post-Marxism- although I'll be honest that a lot of that isn't likely to be apparent to someone whose new to the stuff.

    'Fraid so. You'll need to define "function", because at present it could mean anything and everything.
     
  15. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I don't know. That's something that people will have to work out at the time. Adam Smith didn't sit down and lay out a system of universal and eternal pay-rates, and neither do we.

    Depends on the good, depends on what we want it do. Healthcare isn't bread isn't education isn't iPods. No reason to adopt a single, universal, eternal mode of distribution, any more than there is in capitalism.

    It can be possessed, certainly, and possession tends to imply a legitimate claim to continued usage. If the shoe factory doesn't need to be there, then there's no reason not to put it somewhere else, and if it's utterly vital that it goes there, then some sort of compromise could presumably be worked out. It doesn't need to be set in stone, any more than it is in capitalism.

    Depends. You won't be reviving capitalism, because capital as an historically specific social relationship will be done and dusted, so there's no real way of knowing what "currency" or "market" would mean in this context.

    If that sounds vague, then, well: yes, it is, because utopian blueprints are a mug's game. Communism, as much of capitalism, is an ongoing process, a way of doing-together, rather than a thing in and of itself. That means that, again like capitalism, it develops over time, that the fundamental terms of the social type find expressions in varying and specific ways. There's no Idea of communism, no ideal towards which we can strive, any more than there is an Idea of capitalism or an Idea of feudalism. It just is.
     
  16. NedimNapoleon

    NedimNapoleon Weird Little Human

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    Can I become a communist, I'm not ignorant when it comes to sociology, history, politics, and so on, in fact I'm good at it. What makes you communist, is it you just say I'm Communist or do you have to believe in certain "policies"?
     
  17. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    In the most literal sense, communism is the movement towards communality and against mediation- against capital, and against the state- and if that's a movement you support, then you can call yourself a communist. You don't have to adhere to any particular theory, tendency or set of policies. You might be anarchist, Marxism, Christian, Taoist, whatever. It's all good.
     
  18. NedimNapoleon

    NedimNapoleon Weird Little Human

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    Okay so from now on I'm a Socialist! [My fb profile stated that a long time ago] And to celebrate it

    Link to video.
     
  19. muhtesem insan

    muhtesem insan Amateur Revolutionary

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  20. Monsterzuma

    Monsterzuma the sly one

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    I'm curious what the communist perspective is on gold ownership. Communism purports to be both anti state and anti property. However, if people are capable of accumulating gold in the privacy of their homes, it follows that some pretty extensive financial dynamics will emerge which only an invasion of that privacy could prevent. So it would seem to me that a situation of "anarchy" would have some distinctly capitalistic features. How does communism resolve this contradiction.
     
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