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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. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

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    You said that it would help the socialists because it would collapse the two party system. I am failing to see the corrolation between the collapse of the two party system and the collapse of capitalism. And this is a serious question, not an attempt to "Litter the thread." If you don't think its worth expounding upon, fair enough.
     
  2. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Deity

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    Cheesy, what I don't understand is when you say "It is foolish to think the ruling class will allow their power and privilege to be voted away." it makes me think that voting for anyone is useless to the communist cause.

    That being said, why would it matter if someone votes for ANYONE? I mean if voting DOES matter, then wouldn't the obvious thing to do be vote for a communist candidate? What good is the collapse of the two party system if no matter who is elected the upper class will continue to have power? (which seems to be what you are saying)
     
  3. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    It's a step toward bringing true democracy to this country, and destroying the mere illusion of choice. I didn't say it would end capitalism.

    I said to stop because you're soapboxing. I don't care about your opinion vis-a-vis socialism coming to the United States. If you want to ask questions, that's fine, but such a debate as you were creating belongs elsewhere.

    The revolution will be made outside the ballot box, make no mistake. However, if we could make any sort of progress, including winning federal funding for the party (lol) or bringing national attention to the communist message and cause by getting anti-capitalist leftists elected, then we should do so. A "legal" communist victory at the ballot box would be the greatest triumph on Earth, but it is also the least likely to occur. That said, we also have to remember that the people whose support we wish to obtain speak the language of the democratic system and will have certain expectations of us. It is good PR to participate in elections, especially at the local level (remember, all politics is local), and when the likely government smackdown of our growing party comes, everyone will see just how corrupt and unreformable the system is.

    Yes?

    While the two parties hold sway over the entire electoral process, we have no idea just how impossible a socialist electoral victory is. But there can be no question that a multiparty political environment will be much less prone to corruption and graft, and more likely to present the voter with real alternatives, rather than the two sides of the same coin which the Republicans and Democrats are.
     
  4. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I'm going to dissent from Cheezy's opinion here, because I think that communism isn't simply a revolution that goes beyond bourgeois politics, but a revolution that actively moves against it, that tears down the illusory distinction between the "spheres" of economic, political and private life. Communism, in a certain sense, is a movement against politics, in that it dissolves politics is a seperate, specialised sphere of activity, and the dispersal of the functions it represents throughout society. The problem with electoral politics, in this view, isn't simply empiricial, that is not likely that we can vote socialism into being, but one of principle, that it is not possible to vote socialism into being.
     
  5. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton Deity

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    Couldn't you vote for a party that is set to dissolve bourgeois politics? You seem to assume that it was impossible to dissolve the system through its own means. But usually democracies actually allow for exactly that. If you have a majority big enough to change the constitution, you can - theoretically - change anything by the legit means of the bourgeois system.
     
  6. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Social forms aren't imposed from above, least of all by act of parliament. They develop out of everyday social practice, and the practice of communism is directly contradictory to the practice of bourgeois politics. You cannot dissolve mediatory structures while at the same time reproducing them.

    At most, you could organise some sort of "kamikaze party" which had the sole purpose of crippling the state, but history tends to suggest that capital is quite ready to abandon the democratic political form when and as necessary, so it's very unlikely that any such project would even be permitted to take their seats, let alone achieve anything of substance.
     
  7. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton Deity

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    Ah there we go. Unlikely, not impossible. But further on, why can bourgeois politics not - instead of simply crippling themselves, reshape themselves to encourage those "everyday social practices" you are talking about? Why can't the "mediatory structures" be simply reshaped in structures which are about setting the stage for "the practice of communism"? Isn't that also only a matter of "not to be expected" rather than "impossible"?
     
  8. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    It's unlikely but not impossible, sure. But, by the same token, it's unlikely but not impossible that I'll win the lottery. I still don't buy a ticket, because it's a waste of my time and resources. Unless it can be established that we have some ethical obligation to prefer the parliamentarian route, and I can't imagine how that would be achieved, it doesn't seem to me that there is any good reason to expend a moment of time on electoral politics when it could be expended elsewhere.

    As for the state "encouraging" these communistic practices, how would it do so? The state is pretty much by definition a mediator: it functions by forcing people into situations where they have to accept the structures of mediation and arbitration which it provides for them. To take an obvious example, if you tried to conduct business in non-state currencies, armed men will come to your house, drag you away and put you in a box, all for the simple reason that you declined to use state-supplied money. If communism is the abolition of mediation, the abolition of these state-provided structures, how could the state possibly participate in it? The only think that a "communist" government could do is attempt to cripple itself, and, as I've said, history tends to suggest that the state-capital complex is quite ready to jettison its democratic segments if necessary. Look at Italy in 1922, Germany in 1933 or Chile in 1974, to name only the famous examples; in all cases the state was able to abandon democratic elections without losing its ability to govern.
     
  9. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    I'm busy formulating a dissent to your position, but let us say for the mean time that I'm intrigued by it, and that in a somewhat ashamed Parthian shot (since we both know I love to talk), I will simply say that I think the state does play a very large part in dictating what form society and its interrelations take. If it did not, then we would not need to conquer the state in the first place.
     
  10. Smellincoffee

    Smellincoffee Trekkie At Large

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    What do you think might be the consequences of peak oil for leftist movements?
     
  11. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    It seems to me that the crux of your argument is that attempts to engage in the democratic process in capitalist countries are doomed to failure, because the bourgeois powers will torpedo the republican apparatus when it becomes too threatening to their privilege. In addition, to participate in the operations of the state would be itself a devaluation of one's anti-capitalist principles, since the state upholds the capitalist framework and cannot be divorced from it.

    I mostly don't disagree. In fact, I've stated just as much myself in the last few pages. However, I think there is an incredibly important element that you're missing here: culture. I will, from here out, speak strictly to the American perspective. We believe, as a culture, in the triumph of democracy. It is seen as the solution to everything, and all things legitimate attempt to operate within it. Furthermore, the slander that something is anti-democratic is a very effective one, because the emotional value associated with something being against democracy, and thus by default operating against or indifferent to the wishes of The People, touches on the foundational principles of our country. In a word, it's what we're all about. So for us to outright eschew that system would be a public relations disaster, because we would be painting ourselves, in the cultural eye, as both anti-America and anti-American. It's easy to stand against bourgeois politics, but that position doesn't matter if it achieves nothing. And remember, we operate with the Philosophy of Praxis, which means that we have to achieve results, we don't care as much about ideological purity. It's politically irrelevant to be loyal to a position for the sake of being right: that's a debacle best left to religion and morals, and politics is properly unburdened by either of those, most of all the politics practiced by communists. Besides, participation doesn't mean endorsement, it means accepting the situation for what it is and choosing the path that best achieves results. Maybe our participation will never win us the presidency. I don't think it will. But the inaiblity to achive the highest office in the country doesn't mean that lesser goals can't be met that still serve us. Maybe we win congressional or state legislative seats, or mayorships, or city council seats, and begin to enact change that helps people and expands our influence and spreads the message of our mission to a greater and greater audience. When it comes down to it, this is the political language spoken by the people whose support we want, so we must speak it if we ever hope to win that support.

    In addition, following the democratic political route doesn't mean an abandonment of the civic organization route. I rather think they play into each others' hands. Work in the community to spread the message of socialism, help people out, win their support, and win votes for the ballot box. That's basic political organization. Win the support of workers, help them organize unions or community organizations, and those organizations can deliver your candidates votes. Sure it's a political machine you're making, but nobody said politics wasn't messy. And again, it advances the cause of communism, so we should do it.

    As for the second point, which is that assuming state power corrupts the holder into supporting the state itself, I think that's kind of silly. You say that the state doesn't dictate how society functions, but doesn't it? It creates the laws, the tax codes, the building codes, the rights and privileges that define society, and enforces them. Ultimately, the state defends the defining aspects of capitalist society: the universal commodity exchanger (money), and private property. Destroying either or both of those will require the assumption of state power at some point, whether it's by legal or extralegal means is irrelevant, because the ability to destroy them means the assumption of that power. Again, I think your objection here is academic and not practical.

    And as for the third point, which is that communism is a movement against politics itself...what exactly is community organization but politics by another route? Everything is political. Communism as a thing is political. It may seek to abolish the political game, and aspire to that happy time when politicians step aside and let engineers and agronomists do most of the talking, but the path to get there is extremely political, and requires that people realize and act upon the fact that everything is political. Things are only going to get more political before politics starts to "go away."

    So in short, while I kind of understand/agree with parts of your points, I don't think they're particularly useful. I'm out there to achieve results, not to defend a fortress of philosophic purity. Always remember the maxim: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point, however, is to change it."
     
  12. ace99

    ace99 Deity

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    With regard to the whole democracy debate, what differentiates you and CPUSA or SPUSA from Social Democrats or Democratic Socialists if the party no longer advocates for revolution as a viable means to bring about socialism? They're not really Orthodox Marxist parties anymore are they?

    Does that not in effect mean that the party has conceded to Bernstein? I suppose you might say that social democrats have abandoned socialism as their ultimate goal and instead struck a bargain for a more benign form of capitalism but what about Democratic Socialists who still ostensibly seek to bring about socialism through democratic change?

    I suppose my question is, are these groups really ideologically distinct anymore or are all you of a bunch of "Bernsteinarians" as Lenin might call you? And if you're all the same now, then why does it make sense to have the separate parties aside from historical circumstances?
     
  13. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    The CPUSA is presently run by social democrats who refuse to allow us to protest the Democrats directly. Their attitude is one of strategic politics, and they support the Democrats insofar as to secure a "left of the GOP" victory. It's a stupid policy that much of the rank and file does not agree with. However, after the end of the Cold War, the party realigned itself with orthodox Marxism, as a sort of realization of the times. There are still many Marxist-Leninists in the party, though, and their current is strong. The Party has not abandoned the idea of revolution, they are simply trying out the post-Cold War political sphere, to see if they can make some headway there. As I said above, doing so wins you brownie points. Many people still think we want to recreate the USSR precisely over again in the United States, participating in the democratic process on some level demonstrates in an unmistakable way, to the people we cannot explain it to, that this is by no means our goal.

    I literally know nothing about Eduard Bernstein, so I cannot comment on that aspect of your question.

    As for the "why different parties" question, yes, why indeed? Many are asking that now, and there are efforts, which I am proud to say I throw my labors into, to find common enough ground to create either a union or alliance of Blacks and Reds from across the spectrum. Who knows, we might even include some Greens in the mix. But it's nothing formal or even official, just some feelers and discussions in our free time, on Facebook and such, outside of party organs.

    My steampunk fantasies all come true?

    In all honesty, I haven't thought about it.
     
  14. ace99

    ace99 Deity

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    I guess my question is specific to Lenin's criticism of Bernstein http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1901/witbd/i.htm

    And on the topic of a coalition party, how would you avoid the fate of the Popular Fronts? While you don''t have to worry about fascists (or maybe you do?) the anarchists have a tendency to split, and while SPUSA and CPUSA may have a lot in common these days I suspect that's less true with regard to the anarchists.
     
  15. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    The largest thing working in favor of a Popular Front that was not before is the absence of the Soviet Union, and the ideological baggage imposed upon all parties by its existence and state ideology. The CPUSA felt compelled to toe the M-L line or lose aid, ISO and SWP in turn were dissuaded from any level of cooperation because they are Trotskyist and associated with the 4th International, the RevComs because they were Maoists could not work with either due to the Sino-Soviet split, and the anarchists would work with none because all represented or were tied in some way to "bureaucratic state capitalist" governments, though I could have left out all but the last word. Today, though some of the old guard remembers the bitterness of those quarrels, I think events like OWS have made it ever more apparent that some sort of level of cooperation is going to be necessary. Remember, it was said that the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations could never work together, but how many people today know that the AFL-CIO was ever actually two rival unions? Maybe we can put the past behind us as well, and work together towards the future.
     
  16. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    I was talking with a friend about Communist theory and his major point against it was that in a Communist society there would be no incentive to work because of "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need".
    Because I'm not very good at Communist theory I couldn't articulate an argument against that. In the future, how should I respond to that assertion against Communist theory?
     
  17. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton Deity

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    It very well may be my lack of insight into Communist thought speaking here - but I see no reason such structures of mediation and arbitration could not perpetuate to building a communist society. After all, such structures can also be of a very basic nature which enable people to freely do a dame to begin with. Like freedom of speech. That would also be a structure of mediation, right?
    For instance, how about the state enforcing democratic structures in all companies? But there is a lot more then such basic structures I can see. How about the state forcefully acquiring the means to have mandatory (but as a must free-spirited) classes on what Communism may look like and may require. How about the state establishing an agency which supports materially as well as intellectually the establishments of communes? Etc. I haven't thought those examples really through, but I think you see the angle I am getting at.
    Odd example, as this is not actually the case. At least in Germany there already exist alternative currencies. I forgot the name of one, but it is used with an at least leftish idealogical background. In any case, state currencies are merely currencies privileged by the state, no?
    In any case, I get that the thought of this abstract authority of a state forcing its will with physical froce isn't exactly what Communism is about, but on the other hand, you need to start somewhere. And I'd think that to start with abolishing the only authority capable to plan-fully reshape society is a little risky.
    Well I assumed we talk about the road to Communism rather than its final stage.
     
  18. Takhisis

    Takhisis Free Hong Kong

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    What? You have laws prohibiting that? Barter and permutations are usually allowed, as long as it's something susceptible of pecuniary appreciation, and many times even when it isn't.
     
  19. Ondskan

    Ondskan Emperor

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    Why don't you giiiittt out?!
     
  20. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

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    Tax evasion?
     
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