How many people do you know that support the reinstatement of slavery? Is it necessary to forbid them from having such an "opinion", or do they just fall flat on their own ridicule?

It is not really different. Maybe during the civil war and for some years more it could have been necessary to use law enforcement to repress pro-slavery people and opinions. Now it is a moot issue. Same thing regarding communism: why would anyone want to restablish a state of artifical scarcity, or crave for having more material wealth than their neighbour, if there is plenty for all?


Originally Posted by xXRickyXx View Post
1-What do communists say about the refugees crisis. Do they support them or not?

We support the refugees, of course.

We should also oppose what is causing the refugees to, well, seek refuge: Western aggression against their countries. I don't think we are very successful in doing it, though.

2-Is it true that in communist country, you can't have a different political opinion/view?
Technically, there isn't something as a "communist country": communism presuposes the abolition of borders, so if something is a country, it isn't communist, and if something is communist, it is no longer a country.

In a communist society, opinion would be politically free. It would be constrained in the same way it is constrained in a capitalist society: theorically you could start a movement for the legalisation of cannibalism, but it won't be very popular, no. And, of course, just like today, you will be entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts: while you may maintain all kinds of odd views, such as that "evolution is bogus", "climate change isn't related to the increase of CO in the atmosphere due to humans burning oil and coal", "vaccines cause autism", or "Hitler was a socialist", they won't help you in academic pursuits, nor there will be "alternative" schools or universities that teach what is wrong on purpose, nor will science stop progressing on meritocratic concerns and start to be treated "democratically", with bullshit ideas being given consideration on the basis of ad populum arguments.

If what you call a "communist country" is what is vulgarly, and inaccurately, called a "communist country" - ie, the Soviet Union, Cuba, etc, then what ChrisK said. But those weren't actually communist societies, and not only because they were still countries. Indeed, they themselves never claimed to be communist societies; they would say that they were societies in transition to communism, lead by a Communist Party.

3-Is it true that in a communist country, everybody earns the same? If it's true, how can a person be motivated to study or work?

Well, again in a communist society there is no question of everybody earning the same. Technincally, nobody would "earn" anything; it wouldn't be a society based on the commodification of labour power, ie, people would not sell their time as workers for a wage (if they do, then it is not a communist society). You could ask whether all people are entitled to exactly the same share of the social product; the answer is "no": people who don't need wheelchairs won't get wheelchairs, big people will need and get more food than small people, all sorts of medicine goes to those who need them, with no concerns that perfectly healthy people are getting less of their fair share because they aren't being given sinvastatin or olanzapine.

If you take the concrete societies that are vulgarly called "communist countries", then again the answer is "no": people were paid wages in exchange for their labour time, but they were paid more, or less, according to several different considerations, including, but not limited to, their skill as workers, their output, and the nature of such work (white collar people ordinarily being paid more than blue collar people, for instance).


Originally Posted by everybody and their cousin Marie

But. But.

Don't you think that the concept of "placebo" alone is problematic?

I mean, "placebo" is something that has no directly material effect on a given disease - an innocuous drug - but that does in fact help with the symptoms of that disease, as long as the patient believes s/he is taking an effective drug?

So, the first point is not, "is this given drug/procedure more effective than placebo?", but "how on earth is placebo more effective than doing nothing?"

A materialist analysis of placebo, please!


Consider some recent medical insights, theories and ideas:

multiple sclerosis is caused by blockages in venous return from the brain causing various complicated downstream effects which eventually led to the immune system attacking myelinated cells.
prostatic hyperplasia, a prostate disease that affects millions of older men, is caused by incompetence of the spermatic veins.
Minocycline, an antibiotic sometimes used to treat acne, is effective against schizophrenia, particularly against “negative symptoms”, a set of schizophrenia symptoms considered totally untreatable and not responsive to advanced antipsychotics.

Which of them are pseudo-science?

Originally Posted by Isaac Newton
That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum, without the mediation of any thing else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an absurdity, that I believe no man, who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it.

So here we have an example of how "philosophy" (whatever that means) intersects with "science" (whatever this means).

Observation, at the time of Newton, seemed to imply that "one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum". We could be content with this, and tell ourselves that this is how things are.

Newton however says that this "is […] so great an absurdity" that it demanded a theoretical move - the aether hypothesis. The aether would be that "something" that "mediates" the gravitational interaction between two different chunks of matter.

Of course, the aether hypothesis is no less of "so great an absurdity" than "spooky action at a distance": it is "something" that is not matter in that it has no mass, and is not composed by material particles such as atoms, protons, electrons, etc., but is still different from empty space in that it somehow establishes a physical "contact" between different pieces of matter.

This non-atomic "subtle matter" hypothesis came out of favour due to the same issues that brought up the idea of a fourth-dimensional space-time, especially the absolute nature of light speed. But the lingering "absurdity" of material interaction at a distance remained, and so new hypotheses have been raised, those of "gravitational waves" and "gravitational particles", ie, gravitons.

So, those hypotheses - aether, gravitational waves, gravitons - are rooted, not only on empirical observation (as I remarked, we could just ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ off the problem of "spooky action at a distance" by telling ourselves "that is how it is". That would be the empirist attitude proper. They are rooted on considerations of a different nature, that one could describe as "philosophical", "logical" or "ontological".

So, on contrary to gravitation seems to do, human reasoning certainly does not operate in a vacuum. The idea "that one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum, without the mediation of any thing else" strikes Newton as absurd. Why? While he doesn't expand too much on it, he says that "no man, who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it". And if we are informed of things historic, we know what he is talking about when he says "philosophical matters" and "competent faculty of thinking": it is Aristotle who says that matter can only interact with matter through physical contact, and so denies even the possibility of vacuum, which in turn brings up the idea of materia subtilis whenever action at a distance seems to happen.

Evidently, Newton was versed in matters of Peripatetic Philosophy, so his theorising that spooky action through distance is "an absurdity", is everything but implicit theorising. To the vulgar empirist, however, this is not the theory of an Ancient philosopher, it is merely "how things are", to the point that he or she might not even realise that it is an underlying "theory"; in this way, the empirist gets confused into assuming what needs to be demonstrated. This will lead the empirist from theory to theory, without even realising what s/he is doing, which means that in his or her mind, theory becomes degraded into fantasy. As Chesterton would put it, as s/he stops believing in something, s/he starts believing in everything, for lack of a theoretical compass.

And so the empirist will go from the "obvious" notion that "matter can only interact with matter through physical contact" to the "obvious" notion that "matter attracts matter" with no need for "mediation", and from there to the "obvious" notion that "aether" or "gravitons" "obviously" explain gravitation. Scientists however have a method; their fantasies are theories, because their method allows them to tell apart wheat from shaft. The empirist theories, however, remain fantasies, because their "method" is to believe that things are what they seem to be, and that reality "speaks" to the observer with no need of critical dialogue (thence again Chesterton's insight: deep down the empirist's supposed adherence to "things like things are" there is an uncriticised, hypostastic, animistic belief in "mother nature").

In times of modern super-especialisation, of course, the empirist animism of mother nature easily gets transformed into an (equally animistic) cult of science, in which direct observation of reality is replaced by observation of what scientists say, and mistaking the present state of scientific research and theorising for the "way things are".

Originally Posted by ChrisK View Post
no loss of atoms and no bizarre mathematical realism. Qualitative change, no change in quantity.

But if we reduce "quantitative change" to loss (or gain, I suppose) of atoms, then there is no such thing as "quantitative change" in ordinary life. Wherever there are no nuclear reactions, atoms are merely changed from one place to another, but their quantities remain the same. There is the same number of atoms in a box as in the several pieces that a box was broken or cut into. Yet we would in ordinary language call the change that transforms a glass half full of water into a glass completely full a "quantitative change".


Originally Posted by ChrisK View Post
Sorry, I wrote that very late last night and assumed you meant it as a problem with classical mechanics failing to give good reason for the equivalence. So first of all, they were demonstrated to be equivalent many times over. Second, it is a result of General Relativity that gravity is not a force, but the curvature of space-time, which means that there is no reason to separate inertial mass from gravitational mass. Hence, no problem.

Oh yes, but then the problem is, why would mass deform space-time?

Also, when you make such a paradigm shift, out goes F=ma. Because the new paradigm has no place for "forces", the whole "philosophy" is changed. To Newton, there were quantities known as "forces"; to Einstein, there are no such things, and "force" is at best a merely aproximative term. So they imply different ontologies.

Nice, asking for clarification leads to ridicule. Sorry for not wanting to falsely attribute a view to you, so lets try this again. By value do you mean:

The essence of real value

Which of these senses are you using when you claim that value has no empirical existence? Hint: the last one isn't actually a sense of the word value.
When I write, "value, as opposed to use-value", I clearly establish the context that should allow you to determine on your own what I mean by "value", if, a) you have a minimal knowledge of Marxian categories, and b) are paying attention to how words are used.

As you claim both things, ie, to be a knowledgeable Marxist, and to understand and practice the Dark Arts of Looking at How Words Are Used, I can only conclude that, much on the contrary to "asking for clarification", you are searching for obsfucation.

Originally Posted by ChrisK View Post
Hence a shift in paradigms that accounts for the difference.

But, but, but, the problem is exactly that there isn't a difference, or so we think.

Not sure what you mean here. Use-value is a form of value.

Obviously, you have no idea of what you are talking about.

What sense of value are you using?

Just look at how words are used, will you?


Originally Posted by ChrisK View Post
For example, F=ma is part of the theoretical structure of classical mechanics, but it is not philosophical.

However, the idea of m is quite problematic from a mere empirical point of view. Why would inertial mass and gravitational mass be the same?

A further example, "Use-value is the value a commodity has insofar as a person might use or consume it" is part of the economic theoretical structure, but it is no philosophical either. But it is used to explain empirical data.

On the other hand, we know that value, as opposed to use-value, has no empirical existence.


Originally Posted by LionofTepelenë View Post
However Ancaps also use praxieology, a strange axiom in which ''the deductive study of human action based on the notion that humans engage in purposeful behavior, as opposed to reflexive behavior like sneezing and inanimate behavior.''

I have no problem with the "humans engage in purposeful behaviour"; that could indeed be sipped directly from Marx (the difference between the best bee and the worst architect, etc.) However praxiology seems to conclude that this allows us to study human behaviour without proper examination of the concrete cases, and, as we often see, to try and deduce what the "proper" human behaviour should be out from this abstraction, or, even worse, to justify common human behaviour on the grounds that if it is like that, then, given that our activity is purposeful and that we are all rational maximisers, our task as social scientists is merely to discover how the alienated behaviour of alienated human beings in a capitalist society is in fact the best course of action one could take (why are housewives supposed to stay at home, instead of pursuing a carreer? Why is Saudi Arabia supposed to drill oil out, instead of trying to industrialise? Because babies would starve, and because there is no market for expensive Saudi watches, that's why. See? Justified, be Saint Pangloss praised).

Now this called out by some economists as ''non-empirical'' and ''not following the scientific method'', which is true.

It is non-empirical, and it does not follow the scientific method, but those things are unrelated. Any science begins with "non-empirical" assumptions about the world, which should be made explicit; facts do not speak of themselves. But then the scientific activity is to apply these abstractions into the concrete study of the material world, in order to better understand both the world and the abstractions from which we proceed - not to pretend that reality can be deduced more geometricum from abstractions, never mind how spot on they may be.

Originally Posted by someone else, I suppose Wikipedia?
Some economists strongly influenced by the Marxian tradition such as Oskar Lange, Włodzimierz Brus, and Michal Kalecki have attempted to integrate the insights of classical political economy, marginalism, and neoclassical economics. They believed that Marx lacked a sophisticated theory of prices, and neoclassical economics lacked a theory of the social frameworks of economic activity.

Those things are both true, but the way these people (plus Joan Robinson, for instance) put it is mistaken. The Marxian tradition lacks many things, and indeed a sophisticated theory of prices, because a sophisticated theory of prices is essential to managing capitalism, and the point of the Marxian tradition is, or should be, to destroy capitalism, not to manage it. In the instances where a Marxist may be put into the situation of managing a capitalist economy, he or she can, and probably should, use marginalist economics: your role as a finance minister is not to make the revolution, but to make sure that the productive and distributive system function, allowing people to be fed and sheltered.

Originally Posted by same third party
Some other Marxists have also argued that on one level there is no conflict between marginalism and Marxism: one could employ a marginalist theory of supply and demand within the context of a “big picture” understanding of the Marxist notion that capitalists exploit labor.

Such conflict may not exist as long as "supply and demand theory" is understood as a study of the mechanisms by which value is allocated, distributed and redistributed. But the point of contention of marginalism is that it explains how value is generated first place. Evidently, this calls for a rephrasing of the idea that "neoclassical economics lack a theory of the social frameworks of economic activity": it isn't so much that they lack such a theory, but that their theory of the social frameworks of economic activity is lacking, and to the extent that it is possible to assess it empirically, false.

Originally Posted by LionofTepelenë
That doesn't make much sense though, since marginalism is for subjective value. While Marxism is objective in its value, and that means it has no place in between.

Well, Marx does put a subjective condition for the creation of value: something can only have value as long as it has use-value, and use-value is undeniably subjective.
The difference is that, for marginalists, value is created by the subjective need for use values; for Marxists, the subjective need for a use value is a precondition for the creation of value, because it is what makes the specific difference of "necessary labour"; but value is created elsewhere, in the process of production of the use-value, within the specific condition that it is being produced as a commodity, not as something else (in which case it has no value, never mind how much people may crave for it).

In that sence, "value" is much more "objective" for a marginalist than for a Marxist: for a marginalist, the moment someone desires a cup of coffee or a nugget of gold, the value of those products is created, and continues to exist independently of anything else. Like the Abrahamic God created all things by wanting them into existence, the consumers create value by wanting the things they attribute value to. For a Marxist, on the other hand, value is an objectification of human desires as well, but this is objectification is achieved by putting hands to work upon matter, ie, by labouring and spending time in labour. But it is only such an objectification of human subjective needs because the economic system intersubjectively creates the possibility of buying-and-selling commodities (and not, as a marginalist would probably argue, that the possibility of buying-and-selling commodities create the economic system because this is the logic way to value to express itself.

So, not that marginalists are for "subjective value" and Marxists for "objective value": both understand that value has both "subjective" and "objective" aspects, but they see the relation between those aspects in very different ways.


Originally Posted by LionofTepelenë View Post
Here we have two large and growing powers ruled by a particularly revolting governments. One being Rousseff's Brazil, who has only a 10% approval rating and has been charged several times with charges of corruption and other crimes. She has squandered huge amounts of capital on the FIFA games in 2014, only leading to a bunch of useless empty stadiums.

"Particularly revolting" is this kind of "analysis".

The structure of the Brazilian State is corrupt, which should be no surprise, given that it is a bourgeois State. Under Dilma's government, as under Lula's before it, however, the State structures that are charged with investigating and repressing corruption have been freed from governmental controls that previously made effective results impossible. Namely, up to Fernando Henrique's government, the Brazilian President would politically nominate the Attorney General (Procurador Geral da República) in order to gag and tie the Federal Attorneyship so that it would not investigate and prosecute political corruption in higher levels. Brazilians would humorously call Geraldo Brindeiro, Fernando Henrique's Attorney General, "Engavetador Geral da República" or "Escondedor Geral da República" (the Portuguese word for attorney, "procurador", also translates as "seeker"; "escondedor" means "hidder", a person who hides, instead of seeking, and "engavetador" means a person who puts things in drawers (ie, who stalls administrative or criminal processes by "forgetting" them in drawers.

The Brazilian right operates within the myth that Brazil has no history, and was invented in 2003. The many problems inherited by the "popular" governments since are attributed to incompetence or malice of the ruling party; apparently there was no difference between Brazil and Sweden up to 2002…

People are finally having enough, and now just like in 2014, they are protesting again.

The Brazilian "protests" are anything but "the people" having it enough. They are right wing demonstrations, which aim not corruption, but the gains made by the poorer layers of Braziian society in the last decade. Their "indignation" is aimed at federal programs that target extreme poverty, and at federal general policies that have resulted in "absurds" such as scarcity of cleaning ladies and house maids, and in an expansion of markets that has allowed the working and lower middle class to frequent public spaces previously deemed "exclusive", such as airports and planes and shopping centers.

However, I must not be turning to this as something necessarily ''good'' for Brazil. Brazil has faced a major recession in recent years, and with an unconscious populous, it will mean elections will turn right-wing. I predict the next election will result in a landslide for right-wing parties, just like how I predict for France.

This isn't because of an "unconscious populous", it is because the right is winning the political dispute. Brazil is facing a major recession, which isn't a consequence of misguided policies, but of a general and international crisis of capital. The right has been able to politically indict the government for it, though, and this is, in part, a result of the government's own inability to understand the crisis (which they cannot see as a general crisis of capital, because they lack the theoretical instruments for such, and consequently think they could stave off if only they could find the correct financial/monetary/fiscal/budgetary policies).

The problem with the right, which is also a problem for the right, is that it has absolutely no idea of what to do in order to confront the crisis, except, a) reconcentrating wealth and income through unchecked recession in order to tame the upper middle class discontent, and b) politically repressing any movements by workers, peasants or the lower middle class in order to possibilitate a). Which is to say, they would not be able to provide a stable governmental alternative, which in turn is the reason that they want Dilma's government to implement the recession by itself, so that it can then be blamed for the resulting impoverishment.

I do not know enough about the political situation in Turkey to have an informed opinion on it. But if the quality of your analysis of the Turkish situation is as good as your analysis of the Brazilian situation, then, sorry, but it is utter gibberish.

(Rafiq) You are worthless. You don't matter as an individaul. Your individuality is fake.
These things may be "true" in a very abstract way.

But the way they function within a leftist cult is terrible: it means that only the supreme leadership has a right to an individuality, which quickly situates them beyond criticism. It puts the membership at a perpetual debt to the organisation, which becomes the only source of legitimacy for the individual: you are worthless, the organisation is worthy; you don't matter as an individual, you only matter as a member of the organisation, as a tool for the organisation; your individuality is fake, only the organisation is authentic. This immediately installs a caricature of a class division within the organisation; there are those who represent the organisation, and so identify their individuality to the collective being of the cult. They confiscate the individuality of the common members, and put themselves in a position to systematically decide who is and who is not worthy. And there is the common membership, who are unworthy, who are not individuals, because their individuality has been expropriated on behalf of the "surplus-individuality" of the leader/commander. And since they are not individuals, they cannot even productively discuss with each others; any such thing is a subversion of the order, in which legitimacy only comes from above.

That is, of course, a recipe for disaster, for the precise kind of disaster that is an organisation nominally committed to "socialism" (and this could be replaced with anything else, from the second coming of Christ to the advent of the superman; this is no different from Scientology or the LaRouchites or Jim Jones' cult) but that daily and ordinarily reproduces, not just the hierarchies of the capitalist system, but precisely the worst, less democratic, aspects of those hierarchies.

Originally Posted by The Garbage Disposal Unit
And yet, there is a political dimension to being an arsehole.This is, again, the mirror image of the tendencies it ostensibly attacking. The desire to be ruthless - to place oneself "above" the pettiness of having any emotional intelligence whatsoever is the elevation of the liberal "rational individual" to its insufferable extreme.

And then there is this. "Not having an individuality" becomes a competitive characteristic among the members of the organisation; you assert your individuality by systematically pretending that you have none - and you progress in your "carreer" within the cult by displaying the most ruthless, unsufferable behaviour; not only this is an affirmation of individualism under the disguise of collectivism, it is a mechanism by which the most egotistical members will always prevail over the less selfish ones (who will take in serious the "you are worthless" clause, and consequently surrender control to those who can game the rules).


There is no meaningful contradistinction between "authoritarianism" and "democracy" as in "Germany is a democracy", ie, "democratic" regimes. "Democracy" is only opposed to "authoritarianism" is a different context, in which it does not signify a kind of political regime, but only a method for decision-making (yes, this method is an important part of democracy-as-a-regime, but this is another discussion). All bourgeois "democracies" are deeply authoritarian.

Which doesn't mean that there isn't a significant contradistinction between "democracies" and "dictatorships" as different political regimes.

And "democracy", as a regime, is, if not the "natural" regime for bourgeois domination, certainly a strong "attractor" within capitalist societies. Namely, this means that whenever a capitalist society is under a political regime that is not a "democracy" (be it a dictatorship, a foreign occupation, a colonial rule, an apartheid system), democracy offers itself as the "obvious" oppositional alternative (and since "democracy" is a kind of bourgeois regime, it means that the oppositional movements to bourgeois dictatorships tend to be hegemonised by the bourgeois opposition).

The corolary of this is that "democracy" as a regime is the ultimate political obstacle in the struggle for socialism: if we want to topple the bourgeois rule, what we effectively need is to defeat "democracy". But bourgeois dictatorships aren't a step toward this; on the contrary, they function like a political shield for the bourgeois domination: where bourgeois rule is threatened in earnest, it turns to dictatorship - not because dictatorship is the "essence" of bourgeois rule, as a kind of misguided ultraleftism has it - but because this allows opposition to the bourgeois rule to be recuperated by bourgeois ideology as mere opposition to the anti-democratic regime.

Contrary to what left-Stalinism will tell us, the toppling of a bourgeois democracy does not "unmask" the nature of bourgeois class rule; rather, it adds another mask, which, when removed, will again reveal the fat, smiling face of bourgeois "democracy".

Originally Posted by Shmuel Katz View Post
But you want to join a Morenoist party via the Grantist EM… Can you see the (apparent) contradiction here?

At any rate, it looks like the IMT/CWI and the Morenoist trends have a history of fusing and splitting with each other in countries other than Brazil, for example the United States.

if the past is any guide, joining the EM would mean that a significant part of your daily practice would essentially consist of factional warfare.
Moreover, the EM are at best recent converts to Grantism; a couple years ago they were Lambertists (and, as such, had been cultivating unflinching hate for Morenoists for decades).

A spectre is haunting Trotskyism - the spectre of Pabloism.

(And it is not a good spectre, for a change.)



It seems that the two-party system is in a huge crisis. The Republican party, especially, is obviously pregnant of two or three mutually incompatible parties, and is only kept together by the fact that if it breaks apart, the Democrats will easily win any election as long as they don't split themselves and no one of the Republican shards is able to gain stature as the main opposition.

(This, folks, is a dialectic contradiction in motion: the Republicans simultaneously need to split apart and to remain united. This conundrum can only be solved - sublated - by negating what binds together those incompatible necessities, this unity of opposites, which in the case is the FPTP voting system.)

Originally Posted by Luís Henrique View Post
So, first thing, it is necessary that a huge part of social production is redirected into allowing proletarians to work something like four hours a day, quite immediately.

But if this is true, it follows that a socialist revolution will, other things unchanged, imply a reduction of the total output of the productive system. Which means, either this reduction in the labour journey will have to happen before "the revolution", or the revolution will have to be furthered by some kind of improvement in the productive system, either by increasing productivity or by eliminating labour that is no longer necessary due to the change in the relations of production.


Originally Posted by RedMaterialist View Post
Real illusions? Isn't that saying false consciousness is a true consciousness?

Real illusions, in the sence that if you go to the bakery and buy a scone, it is an illusion that the scone "is worth" $ 1.00, it is an illusion that the paper note you give in exchange for it "represents" the amount of $ 1.00, etc; but those are "real illusions" because if you spend the $ 1.00 you will be given a scone, and if you don't spend that $ 1.00 you won't have the scone (or if you try you might "legitimately" face the State power enforcing the illusions).

The world is not false or an illusion, but the ideology, the justification of the world is what is supposed to be false.

The ideology, however, is part of the world, and helps shaping the world. That we are going to war against this or that country because they are barbarians and we need to freed them from their barbarism is lie, but if it is a lie that is going to make us wear our uniforms and kill people, the it is a lie that is as powerful, or more, than most truths. In this sence, it is very real, even if it is false.

And that means that the real world, to the extent that the real world includes the war against that country, is at least partially based on something false, on an illusion.


Originally Posted by Skinz View Post
Obviously, the bourgeoisie couldn't do shit if it wasn't for the obedience of the working class. It's the inaction, submission and sometimes the downright collaboration of other members of our own class that keeps the rest of us down. If by some magic a social revolution were to kick off tomorrow it wouldn't be rich fucks in top hats mowing you down in the street, it's not the bourgeoisie that break strikes, scab, snitch & guard the prisons.

Obviously, the bourgeoisie couldn't do shit if it wasn't for our obedience.

What you want is to be part of that "us" when that "us" is a victim of bourgeois exploitation - and to be no part of that "us" when we - including you - are accomplicits in that exploitation.

Yeah, I'll let you get back to pontificating about how you're going to go about organising the working class on Revleft.

Curious, I don't seem to remember pontificating about that. Indeed, the only ones "pontificating" about anything here seem to be the holier than you types who claim to be some kind of separate social stratum that is exploited but has no part in that exploitation.

If your expectation is the abolition of the working class, let's put it like that:

There are only two relevant social agents that can abolish a social class:

1. the bourgeoisie; and
2 .the working class.

The bourgeoisie won't abolish the working class because that would mean abolishing profits, surplus value and capital.

So you either count on the working class to abolish itself, or you despair (in the process probably adhering to some misanthropic bullshit or supernatural belief in a transcendent wrathful vigilante god), or you quit this revolution thing.

Or you could of course delude yourself about a third social agent (the lumpenproletariat, or the petty bourgeoisie, or a coalition of both, or, more likely, the petty bourgeoisie pretending to be the lumpenproletariat) doing the trick. It won't work, because these social strata have neither the means, nor the will, nor an objective interest in doing so (and in their mouths, "abolish the working class" will sound like a call for genocide rather than for revolution).

Originally Posted by Full Metal Bolshevik View Post
Then build. Aren't capitalists in love with 'job creations'?

It doesn't look like they are, no. Instead, they seem to prefer "austerity".


Originally Posted by MarxSchmarx View Post
If bourgeois govts can ban fascist speech, they can ban leftist speech too.

Sure. It doesn't follow that if they do not ban fascist speech they won't ban leftist speech. They still can ban what they see fit, the bourgeois States have the monopoly of legitimate violence. So the problem is not a merely legal one.


Originally Posted by Luís Henrique View Post
* This "branched" model is based on Marx's famous text known as "Formen", and retains the main problems with that text (the very imprecise notion of "Asiatic mode of production", and the absence of a fourth branch, that of what I would call the "nomadic herder" way (which is quite interestingly described by Perry Anderson in his Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism)).
Here is the relevant excerpt from the Formen:

Originally Posted by Karl Marx
Another form of the property of working individuals, self-sustaining members of the community, in the natural conditions of their labor, is the Germanic. Here, the member of the community as such is not, as in the specifically oriental form, co-owner of the communal property.

(Where property exists only as communal property, the individual member as such is only the possessor of a particular part of it, hereditary or not, for any fraction of property belongs to no member for himself, but only as the direct part of the community, consequently as someone in direct unity with the community and not as distinct from it. The individual is therefore only a possessor. What exists is only communal property and private possession. Historic and local, etc., circumstances may modify the character of this possession in its relation to the communal property in very different ways, depending on whether labor is performed in isolation by the private possessor or is in turn determined by the community, or by the unity standing above the particular community.)

Neither is the land [in the Germanic community] occupied by the community as in the Roman, Greek (in brief, the ancient classical) form as Roman land. Part of it [that is, in classical antiquity] remains with the community as such, as distinct from the members, ager publicus in its various forms; the remainder is distributed, each plot of land being Roman by virtue of the fact that it is the private property, the domain, of a Roman, the share of the laboratory which is his; conversely, he is Roman only in so far as he possesses this sovereign right over part of the Roman soil.

Originally Posted by RedMaterialist View Post
How does it presuppose what it tries to explain?

Like this:

It wasn't that the inheritance mechanism was to ensure paternity, but that paternity and patriarchy were necessary to insure the inheritance.

Well, why? Why couldn't property pass from mother to children, or even from mother to daughter? This presupposes patriarchy: patriarchy is necessary because otherwise the inheritance process wouldn't be controlled by males. But why would the inheritance process need to be controlled by males, unless we pressupose patriarchy?

It wouldn't have worked in a matriarchy (at least according to Engels and Morgan) because private property did not come into existence until the matriarchy had been overthrown.

Yes, that is what I think happened: patriarchy comes before private property. But then private property and inheritance mechanisms cannot be the material basis of patriarchy; rather patriarchy is the base (or one of the bases, the process might be multicausal) of private property.

It was the males who raised the captured, then domesticated animals, and who went to war and captured land and slaves. When large scale agriculture (esp grain) led to surpluses, then those who controlled the land and animals became the dominant, owning, class.

But this states a direct continuity between husbandry-based societies and agricultural societies, that I don't think has been established (and maybe even suggested) at all.

What evidence is there that male supremacy is older than class society? If anything there is plenty of evidence of matriarchy.

Seems to be directly implied by what you stated above:

private property did not come into existence until the matriarchy had been overthrown


Reproductive labor is a part of all mammalian species. A division of labor does not necessarily imply a class society, although the opposite necessarily is true.

I don't think any kind of labour is part of any extant mammalian species other than Homo Sapiens. Reproductive labour as alienated, dissociated labour - non-valuable wealth - is characteristic of capitalist societies. The issue isn't the mere sexual division of labour; it is the division of labour between something that is widely recognised as "labour" by society at large, and something that is quite often explicitly denied as "labour" (to the point that we talk of "women who don't work", because sweeping the floor, cooking, rearing children, don't constitute "labour" because it is not value-generating labour for capital).

Surely the forces of production in modern society have demanded that women leave the home and enter the workforce, leaving child rearing to day care providers and teachers.

Who are overwhelmingly female, of course. And who in turn have to also outsource the care of their children, mostly to other women.

It's only the capitalist class which can afford to have women staying home, and even then it's the nannies, maids, etc. who take care of the children.

On the contrary, it is at the lower layers of society that we most often see women staying home - because the wage they would be able to earn in the labour market would not be sufficient to pay nannies, maids, cooks, "cleaning ladies" (see? no "cleaning gentlemen" here).

Besides, didn't it used to take a village to raise a child? If Bookchin is trying to say that male dominance has always been a part of human society, then he is no Marxist. Supposedly he was a "gentle" anarchist, which is an odd description if he believed male dominance is genetically determined.

Well, I really don't know what he thought about that; the little I have seen from him (excerpts from Listen, Marxist) seems to point to he not knowing enough about Marxism to have an informed opinion about Marxism, but his opinions about the transition between classless societies and class societies, and its relation to the transition between so-called "matriarchy" and patriarchy remain unknown to me.


Originally Posted by Lacrimi de Chiciură View Post
Luís Henrique, can you help me understand your flowchart?

I can certainly try.

Did you make a connection between tidalectics and Wittfogel's ideas about "hydraulic empire" and the "Asiatic mode of production"?

Ha, ha, no, it didn't cross my mind. No, Wittfogel's concern was to explain a given set of societies, while, if I correctly understand, the "tidalectics" are about a model for the historic interconnection between different kinds of society (which is also what I tried to do with my chart, which proposes something that is not unilinear as the Stalinist "khipu cord", but is also isn't circular or spiraling: a "branched" model, perhaps*).

Why does the "Germanic way" bypass a slavery-based mode of production and what makes it different from the "Ancient way"?

The differences between the three "ways" are differences in the manner in which the primitive classless society disintegrates. But the idea here is not that the "Germanic way" bypasses slavery, rather that the classless societies undergoing the Germanic way historically collided with class societies of the slave-based kind, resulting in an original kind of society, feudalism.

Is it saying that capitalism can either progress into some unknown or into "Asiatic mode"? and what does the shorter and shorter dotted line represent?

Nope; the vertical lines should be read as one given kind of society influencing others (Germanic tribes invade and destroy slave-lords States, capitalism destroys "Asiatic" societies by either colonial invasion or by imperialist influence). The dotted line would mean some kind of withering away; it is perhaps a bad way to represent it, but what happens is that "Asiatic" societies are turned into capitalist societies outside-inside.

Luís Henrique

  • This "branched" model is based on Marx's famous text known as "Formen", and retains the main problems with that text (the very imprecise notion of "Asiatic mode of production", and the absence of a fourth branch, that of what I would call the "nomadic herder" way (which is quite interestingly described by Perry Anderson in his Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism)).


Originally Posted by Sinister Cultural Marxist View Post
Luis - worth noting, Berlusconi had the neo-fascists in his coalition. This makes sense re the parallel with Trump - whether he is actually fascist himself, he certainly seems comfortable courting and energizing a fascist politics.

Fascism is impossible without a politics of ambiguity. And Trump is certainly a master of ambiguity. Stephen Colbert tried to expose this, by staging a debate between Trump and Trump, but I am pretty certainly it was preaching to the choir. Trump's fans might even see this as evidence of their idol's genius (which, in a certain distorted way, it indeed is).


Originally Posted by Bea Arthur View Post
Perhaps one day you should try speaking to an actual woman and see if they think degrading over-sexualized depictions of them in Hollywood are "obvious nonsense"!!

I do know lots of actual women. Most of them don't give a second thought about the degrading over-sexualised depictions Hollywood makes of women. I am surely not saying that this is a good thing, nor that it is "the way things are and nothing can be done about it". But if all, or even most, actual women would refuse to pay for entertainment that makes degrading over-sexualised depictions of women, Hollywood would be in huge financial trouble by now.

If it's one thing about this forum, it's that sexism is ubiquitous, either latent or blatant!!

It is, but I am not sure that we collectively are able to identify it where it really is, instead of just making noise about the (mis)use of a few words that have been fetishised and deemed taboo.


Trump is no Hitler, and no Mussolini.

But he very much looks like something almost as dangerous: an American Berlusconi.


Originally Posted by Thirsty Crow View Post
In other versions of communization (Tiqqun) this indeed means right now and today, which brings us to the most important demarcation line in what appears to be a unified field (it is not). Troploin on one hand cleave to the common view on proletarian revolution vis-a-vis the state (with good reason); Tiqqun do not and represent a different kind of beast all in all. I'd say that the latter are beyond reformism (to my knowledge, they neither support any reformist initiatives nor count on policy changes as viable mechanisms) in that one basic point is escaping from the state and capital to "non-occupied zones" from which "revolution" could spread by means of accumulating acts of communization.

That may not be the most conventional form of reformism (which would imply a mass political machinery involving elections and trade unions), but reformism it is anyway; it is the idea that we can defeat the system by either working "within" it (ie, putting up "alternative" productive units that produce for the market but are "not privately owned" - cooperatives, communes, whatever) or by founding a whole complete non-capitalist society in some mythical outside. (The contradiction here is glaring - the State is "proteic", it occupies every space, so it cannot be toppled, etc. - and then the weird conclusion is that there are "non-occupied zones" to which we can flee and restart the socialisation process from scratch).

Anyway, it is what can only be summed up as "left-reformism": attempting to have a revolution without a revolution, ie, to transform the social relations within society without having the trouble of a political conflict against the State.


Originally Posted by RedMaterialist View Post
I think the original economic basis was the private property (land, cattle) owned by the father. He needed to insure that his property be transferred to only his own children. (Engels, Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State). Thus, patriarchy was necessary to insure that his wife only had the patriarch's kids and the kids were taught that the father's property was their "legacy."

The problem with this explanation is that it presupposes what it tries to explain. Why was the inheritance mechanism to necessarily ensure that the kids of the patriarch were, well, kids of the patriarch instead of kids of his neighbour? Why wouldn't the private property and inheritance system function based on matrilinear inheritance first place?

(This, of course, would point to what a huge part of the left wants to deny: that male supremacy has roots that are older than class society, and are directly related to the sexual division of labour that was already in place at least since the upper palaeolithic.)

The forces of production have long since expanded beyond male dominance, but the social relations still hang on.

Was reproductive labour really revolutioned by the forces of production, beyond the point at which rearing children is a female job?


Originally Posted by Communist Mutant From Outer Space View Post
Bookchin mentions explicitly sexual exploitation between sexes and just in general; what is the economic benefit of sexually dominating someone, male or female?

Unpaid "reproductive labour".

Why are there many young girls and boys today still having their genitals mutilated by their parents, or i.e. why is there an established generation dominating the newly born; the next generation? Where is the economic benefit here?

There are no boys suffering genital mutilation anywhere in the world; that is an antisemitic fantasy. Girls are mutilated to make them submissive slaves to men; what is not economic here?

The "established generation" "dominates" the newborn because the newborn are utterly dependent on the established generation; they cannot fend for themselves. It is not an exploitative relationship.

I've also often wondered how Marxism accounts for homophobic attitudes. Is there a Marxist interpretation of homophobia as something with an economic basis to it?

Well, of course. Homophobia (as a social phenomenon) is directly related to patriarchy, and the patriarchy is firmly grounded into the "economic" exploitation of unpaid feminine labour.


The point is, the vast majority of mankind does support the existing order (otherwise, the existing order would no longer be the existing order).

Which means, if you want to change/destroy/abolish/reform/revamp/reboot/transform/revolutionise the existing order, you will have to get a significant part of that vast majority of mankind to stop supporting the existing order.

That, unfortunately, cannot be done by telling the vast majority of mankind to "fuck themselves".


Originally Posted by AdrianO View Post
It is cost prohibitive but only because the capitalists make it so. What capitalist would want an invention that created matter from sunlight ?

Since only labour creates value, it depends on how much labour would be involved in the process.

If none, then capitalists would have no interest in it.

If lots (and I strongly suppose it is lots, or lots of lots), then all capitalists who have the initial capital necessary (which I suppose aren't many).

How will he continue to amass wealth off the backs of laborers, if in some future products will not need to be bought or sold due to the abundance of solar energy ?

This is a miscalculation. Solar energy is abundant regarding our actual needs for energy; it is not abundant enough for us to create significant amounts of matter through a reverse-atom-bomb process.

It would take a full year of solar energy (total solar energy, meaning that we wouldn't have light available for plants to grow) to create about 500,000 metric tons of matter. To put that into perspective, we consume about 9,000 metric tons of crude oil a day. We would have to stop all the normal functioning of the Earth for about a week per year, just to get enough oil for one day of our present consumption.



Originally Posted by a guy sticking his tongue at you

This gives you the relation between energy (photons) and matter. Now how much energy would you need to create any non-negligible amount of useful matter? And how does this compare with effectively available energy (ie, roughly, the amount of photons that the Sun continuously pours upon the Earth?

(hint: "c" in the equation above is 300,000 km/s; thence c² is 90,000,000,000 km²/s², or 90,000,000,000,000,000 m²/s². One Joule is 1kg.m²/s².)


Originally Posted by Thirsty Crow View Post
One basic tenet of communisation is that the process of social transformation - making things and our own beings and actions common - needs to start take place from day one (if one believe's in the dictatorship of the proletariat as well, which groups like Tiqqun don't). In that case, it would be a continued process of communisation, and not a static end point, involved.

The first problem is that it isn't clear at all what "day one" means. What is that, the "day after the Revolution", ie, the day after the coup d'Etat that topples the bourgeois State? Or is it today? Because the latter cannot help but have clearly reformist overtones under the ultra-revolutionary verbiage: taking the bourgeois State apart piece by piece, starting social revolution without destroying the bourgeois State, etc.

The second problem is at the other hand of the process: what does it mean to have a "continued process of communisation, and not a static end point"? Does this remind me of Stalinist paranoia of an always too fragile socialism that has to be always defended against real and imaginary enemies lest it spontaneously devolve into capitalism?

Surely at some point value will have been abolished, or is going to have to be constantly fought against so that we can have a continuous process without an end point?


Originally Posted by DOOM View Post
This holds only true if you consider male dominance today to be a vestige of pre-capitalist societies, which simply isn't true (I'm not you do, just wanted to clarify some things). Modern patriarchy isn't just some abstraction "floating" in capitalism, it's rooted in capitalism and perpetuated by it.

Historically, it certainly originated from pre-capitalist societies. But capitalism reinvents everything, and takes things that are rooted in pre-capitalist relations and transplants them into its own workings, in such a way that if you don't know better you would think capitalism directly created them.

I like the take of value-dissociation on this subject.


Thanks for that; I have always found difficult to find Scholz's texts in English (or, indeed, in any language besides German - or, go figure, Portuguese).


Let's not fool ourselves. When the right talks about "free speech" they don't mean free speech, they mean "speech free of consequences".


Originally Posted by Guardia Rossa View Post
Long term effects of colonization anyone?

Indeed. The French complain about the "invasion" of Maghrebian people. It isn't like France ever invaded, conquered and colonised the Maghreb, now is it? Oh wait.

The last huge transnational movement of people in which the receiving end of the movement had nothing to do with the reasons that made people move from one country to another was the European Great Migration of the second half of the 19th century. From them on, it has always been the backlash of colonialism.

The above is simple to the point even a Donald Trump supporter can understand, it is true, easy to document and demonstrate, and follows directly from a leftist comprehension of colonialism and imperialism. And yet the left systematically fails to make the point. To the extent that you point it out in a leftist forum, and the response you get is "but not all those people are fleeing bombs, some are fleeing starvation too". As if famines had nothing to do with colonialism, go figure.


//Originally Posted by PikSmeet View Post

From it,

From 1945 to 1976 the Tories, the Labour Party and the liberals were all officially supporters of Keynes. From 1976 most, but not all the Tories were Monetarists. And most of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats remained committed Keynesians.

From 1945 to 1976 (of course in practice 1976 wasn't a magical divide, but that's another issue) Labour made extensive use of Keynesian economics (though I am not so sure that Atlee's reforms in the immediate post-War can be reduced to mere Keynesianism). The tories were unable to come with any thing different, much less better, and so grudgingly maintained those policies when they were in charge, trying to resist their more progressive consequences without much success.

From 1976 on, Tories found the philosopher's stone of Friedman policies, and adopted them. Labour followed suit (that's the point of "New Labour") after a period of initial confusion. Again Labour attempted to resist the more reactionary consequences of neoliberalism, and again with little success. Their rhetoric may still appeal to Keynesianism; their practice in government no so much - just like the Tories in 1945-1976 might have made rhetorical appeals to the good old days of the gendarme State, but when in business had to apply the economics of reality.

(There may, or may not, be an actual ressurgence of actual Keynesian economics under Corbyn; we would have to see what an eventual Corbyn government does, as compared with what a Corbyn opposition says. But the fact is that policies that were common place and common sence bourgeois management of things as things are 50 years ago are now seen as dangerous, almost lunatic ultra-leftist radicalism. If such ressurgence proves true, I don't think it will solve the problems of capitalist accumulation in Britain, much less the problems of the working class. What they will do is to momentarily improve the living standards of the working class, at the price of provoking further crises in the reproduction of capital - that in a capitalist society cannot but result in great suffering for the working masses.)


Originally Posted by Blake's Baby View Post
So, you think that Germany, at the point where it was the most productive capitalist nation on earth, was actually feudal?

You know, certain tasks are better performed with a lancet than with an axe.

Russia was a society transitioning between feudalism and capitalism. Petrograd and Moscow were certainly centers of capitalist production. The countryside not so much; certainly there was capitalist production of commercial crops, but there were also plenty of feudal relations, semi-servitude, payments in work or in natura, susbsistence production, closed autarchic or quasi-autarchic productive units, etc.

The Russian State on the contrary was still a feudal State. It had no equality under law, but several different "states" (in the acception of First, Second, and Third "states" in the French Revolution) with different rights and privileges. There was an active feudal nobility, and that nobility had a monopoly over the senior civil service positions. There was no parliament, except when in times of crisis it become convenient to make concessions; and then as soon as the situation was normalised, the Duma would be again closed, and back to absolutism we went.

All State structure and machinery in Tzarist Russia was still, not just semi-feudal, but actually feudal. But that was a feudal State that had traditionally played a great power role in European international politics, that had no intent of stopping doing that, and that had already realised that playing a great power role in European politics was increasingly difficult with a belated economy that couldn't produce modern weaponry.

So it was a feudal State striving to obtain the bright side of a capitalist economy (big guns with which to defeat foreign armies in the battle field) without the dark side (destruction of the idyllic relations in the countryside, dismantling of the nobility as a feudal order, modern proletarian class struggle, a constitution that made the State responsive to the needs of the bourgeoisie instead of the landed nobility, etc). Which means, a (feudal) State striving to attain self-contradictory aims (which translates into Leninese as "the weakest link in the imperialist chain"). A feudal State trying to become a bourgeois State without becoming a bourgeois State, to make a "revolution from above", ie, a revolution without a revolution.

All this is very similar to the German situation if we only look at the formal aspect of the issue. There too, a feudal State was attempting a "revolution from above" and to become a bourgeois State without becoming a bourgeois State. There too, you had an economy in transition between feudalism and capitalism, with Berlin and Munich (and Koeln, and Stuttgart, and Frankfurt, and Hamburg, and Luebeck, etc.) being centers of capitalist production, while in the countryside there still were Junkers exacting labour rents from "their" peasants.

But there were enormous differences in the real situation. Russia was a mixed economy where the capitalist side was weak and deeply penetrated by foreign capital (mainly French though also British, and, to a lesser degree, even German). It was a transitional State that was still an absolutist feudal State without a professional bureaucracy, without political representation, and without a bourgeois legal order. Germany was a mixed economy with a much stronger, and predominantly national, capitalist side, in great part due to the fact that "Germany" was larger than "Prussia", and its Western side was much more advanced than belated Brandenburg, and a transitional State (in that an absolutist "House" still kept power - and not merely nominal power - in direct continuation to Prussian absolutism) much more transformed by bourgeois reforms. The feudal system of different legal orders and particularist rights and privileges had been mostly dismantled, there was an effective parliament with regular and fair elections, there was a professional bureaucracy in place, etc. (The Army, of course, was an exception, and was still very much controlled by the Junker nobility, a situation that was only terminated by the defeat in WWII.)

So that is it. A bourgeois revolution in Germany would topple the Hohenzollerns, of course, and reform the Army into a modern professional armed service and perform a land reform no doubt. But a bourgeois revolution in Russia would have to do much more, reforming the whole State bureaucracy, establishing a parliament and regular elections, performing a much more radical and comprehensive land reform, dealing with the centennial delay in the development in the economy, abolishing an enormous system of legal privileges, and, in the end of all this, it would still face the unsurmountable problem of imperialist penetration of its economy. Why do all this, if in the end the main profits would go to Anglo-French capital, not to the Russian bourgeoisie?


First things we ought to say, that no one seems to have been able to articulate yet, are:

  1. those people are refugees because they are fleeing something;
  2. that thing they are fleeing is, specifically, a civil war;
  3. that civil war was provoked by foreign intervention;
  4. that foreign intervention was American intervention;
  5. that American intervention was proposed, fostered, and feted by those same people who now oppose accepting refugees.

You cannot be gung-ho imperialist interventionists when dealing with other people's problems, and then become isolationists when your intervention creates worse problems than those it "solved". You have to accept responsibility for the wrongs you make.


Originally Posted by Q View Post
I'm pretty positive that Sentinel has long since renounced his stance on technocracy.

There are two possible routes for people who spouse such kind of utopian blueprints for society when they come in contact with the real movement: they either cling to their ideological fanatasies and become increasingly reactionary, or they are swept by reality, and slowly drift away from sectarianism.


Originally Posted by khad
I've had run ins with technocrats here, and from time to time some individuals have come up for discussion as restriction candidates, but the general precedent is that they are a legitimate part of the left. You can't escape the fact that technocracy can morph into a kind of third positionism, but at the same time many of our users (not as many these days, but a few years ago) have expressed interest in techocratic principles

There was a time when lots of people here were adding grey to their avatars. Which shows how much fads can influence us.


Originally Posted by Hit The North View Post
I have no argument with your class analysis, but to argue that the Russian state was not weak in 1917 defies the evidence, I think.

It was a very rigid State, which means in situations in which it was not challenged it gave the impression of being extremely strong (while in turn, in situations when it was effectively challenged it revealed brittle, not strong).


These days I came across one of these "political quizzes", in which one of the questions was something like "there is a fascist demonstration disturbing traffic flow, should we allow them to demonstrate because of freedom of speech, or should we disperse the demonstration because they are disturbing the traffic?"

And I think we "should disperse the demonstration", not because they are disturbing traffic, but because they are fascists. Otherwise next week a communist demonstration will disturb traffic, and either we will have to forbid it too, or our silly and hypocritical pretext will be exposed.

So, if we want to ban the ICL from posting here, we should say that aloud. It may be a crime, but it wont't be a mistake, if you understand to which quote by Oscar Wilde I am referring.


Originally Posted by Rafiq View Post
These are acts, which are not atheist ones - they are acts that are in contradiction with one's religious customs, traditions (i.e. a Muslim drinking beer is not so uncommon either), but they are not godless ones. The god of capital remains.

Indeed. But then all "religious" people nowadays cultuate Mammon, and only delude themselves about their purported god(esse)s.

This is different from the Muslim drinking beer or the Catholic woman having an abortion, though: these are sinful acts, that these people do "knowing" they are sins. Much of their common, daily, acts, however, are sins according to their holy texts, but they are no longer able to recognise their sinful nature.

My point isn't so much that religious people cannot partake in a revolution becasue of their religious scripture, but because the least common denominator of all religion, personal (held by 'new atheists' too) or institutional, is this superstition toward the social.

That's interesting; could you expand a little more on the "superstition toward the social"?

The issue is not that important anyway - however - because I envision that before a revolution is even possible, this wouldn't be so much of an issue. One should remember the elasticity of the degree of religiosity even, in urban life. The eagerness of the postmodern man - to join new age cults, to become born again, go on retreats to temples in the east, is evidence of the contingent nature of his religiosity.

Indeed, and quite often the final result of these "searches for God" is a general disillusion with religion in general. However, this disillusion is frequently expressed in religious forms of pseudo-atheism.

The loyalty working people have toward such superstitions would be negligible not simply through revolution, but through common struggle beforehand. They would be atheists in practice, as Engels said of the English workers.

Yes, this is the path to a real superceeding of religious superstition. It is denied in practice, before it is denied in words.


Originally Posted by PikSmeet View Post
As for governments controlling capitalism do you seriously believe that the capitalist system is affected by whoever is in power?

Of course the capitalist system is affected by whomever is in power. Otherwise capital would never being in the trouble of removing bourgeois teams that failed in promoting the "correct" capitalist "line" - and we do know that capitalism has made such moves hundreds of times around the globe.

The system follows it's own rules. As the old saying goes "you don't subvert the system it subverts you".

Yes, it does. But then, who is "you" in this statement? The bourgeois State, or the government team? Because, if the former, then this subversion can take - and often takes - the form of a coup d'Etat that changes the garrison. And if the latter, well, there are plenty of government teams who were unable to guess what capital wanted from them, or to abide by such wants, and were toppled in the process: Allende, the Spanish Republic, the Weimar Republic, the ND-PASOK coalition in Greece, Perón, France's first and second republics, the dazzling succesion of Mueller, Bruening, Papen, Schleicher… heck, just from my country alone I can mention half a dozen: Peter II, Washington Luís, Vargas, Jango, the military in 1985, Collor.

I agree with you on the rate of unemployment as there is a term "the natural rate of unemployment" and whilst no one agrees on what the rate should be I'll go with the Bank of England, they state it should be around 5%, which works out at around 1.3 million. As I do agree that this acts as a downward pressure on wages.

I am not sure we are talking about the same thing. I don't mean that unemployment acts as a downward pressure on wages (albeit this is evidently true). What I mean is this:
Situation 1: average wage $1,000, employed people 1,000,000 -> wage mass 1,000,000,000;
Situation 2: average wage $1,100, employed people 800,000 -> wage mass 880,000,000

If we move from situation 1 to situation 2, then there was a wage rise. But the mass of wages fell instead.

(Also, it is possible that the actual meaning of "wages" changed; if the average wage rose from $1,000 to $1,100 - but benefits that averaged $ 300 per worker were cut down to $100, then it is delusional to talk about wages rising; the actual income of workers was reduced, not increased. Considering that Thatcher ruthlessly attacked things like pensions, paid leaves, health care, public education, I am pretty sure that this is what happened under her administration).

But, what government can guarantee to get unemployment down or up, as the case maybe, to this figure?

It is usually easy to make unemployment go up, exclusively through governmental measures. You stop minting money and/or restrict credit (raising the interest rate is usually the easiest form of doing the latter, but there are other methods), and unemployment soars. Evidently, you do the opposite, and it is likely (though this is much less sure) that unemployment will decrease.

Of course, there are situations in which paradoxal effects take place, and there are situations in which no amount of Keynesian policies can revert economic slowdown (and this is arguably a historic phenomenon, that you can say, more or less accurately, "from 1970 on, Keynesian policies stopped being effective in reducing unemployment"). Also of course, if you have a 2% unemployment rate and restrict credit to raise it to 5%, there is absolutely no guarantee that you won't end with a 27% unemployment rate and an electoral defeat/non-conficence vote/generalised riot/coup d'Etat/revolution.

Every Labour government promises to reduce unemployment (employing Keynesian methods!) and the Labour party always leaves office with unemployment higher that it was when they came to power.

I am not sure that nowadays Labour governments actually try to implement Keynesian policies at all. But on the other hand I am far from sure that if they did exactly that they would obtain the results that they obtained during the 1945-1973 period. Much likely they would just end with a stagflation, with both high inflation and low economic activity. And so they apply neoliberal policies instead, and go with low economic activity but no higher inflation.

I should have made that point clearer, as for 0% unemployment I don't think that in UK this will ever be achieved. I meant it was desirable for governments as they would reduce the amount they pay out in benefits and increase the amount they get in via taxation. So that would be win-win for any government.

0% unemployment is impossible. But it is also not desirable for governments to run with too low unemployment rates because this will reduce competition between workers, which leads to rising wages, which in turn, absent some huge transformation in work relations inside the companies (such as those prompted by Fordism, for instance), leads to declining profits, which leads to capital going "on strike" and refusing to continue to hire workers (at which point either the unemployment rate rises back, or the government has to interfere in companies to avoid them firing workers, with the predictable consequences if there are no soviets to actively support such measures). So they usually do what they do, ie, raise the interest rate or stop minting money or raise the taxes, and bring the economy into a recession to avoid overheating.


Originally Posted by reviscom1 View Post
I am not talking about evolving gradually, nor am I objecting to revolution. But the revolution should be, and can only be, the final expression of economic and social changes.

This poses a flowchart problem.

If the revolution only comes as the final expression of economic and social changes, what is the revolution for? Or, on the other hand, what are those economic and social changes that happen before a revolution, but are not, in themselves, a revolution?

In talking of Russia, you omit to mention that before the Bolshevik revolution there was a bourgeois one that ended Feudalism, implemented liberal democracy and removed the Tsar from power.

But, according to your previous paragraph, we would expect the bourgeois revolution - I suppose you mean the February revolution that happened in March - to be the final expression of economic and social changes. Or, in other words, that the February revolution implemented liberal democracy and removed the Tsar from power, not end feudalism (which should have happened as those economic and social changes that precede the revolution).

I would absolutely have advised Lenin not to seize power after it, though.

I doubt he had many options, though. The provisional government was unable to extricate Russia from WWI, and the Russian military were unable to effectively confront the German/Austrian troops. So what we had, in practice, was a continued slaughter of Russian soldiers, to no military gain at all, and a continuous deflection of Russian peasants and workers from their peace time activities into war, positing the very real and very immediate risk of widespread shortages of everything.

If the Bolsheviks had not take power when they did, in all likelyhood Russia would be badly defeated in the battlefields and would have gone through a complete economic paralysis, which we would now remember as an extremely bloody disaster.

The French did wait (more than) a hundred years for feudalism to develop into Capitalism and then had a revolution at the end of that period which set the seal on the transformation.

It has already been pointed, but the French didn't "wait" out of discipline (and they did involve themselves in several jacqueries in the meanwhile), but out of inability of toppling their government before 1789. Besides, while the history of France between its foundation and the fall of Louis XVI was certainly marked by several economic and social changes, it was still a feudal monarchy when its last and unfortunate king was toppled; the social and economic changes that turned it into a bourgeois republic were only possible after the revolution cleared the way for them, consciously extirpating the several feudal fetters that obsted the development of capitalism in France (this is the general rule also; in England, in the Netherlands, in Switzerland, in all countries that were to be at the vanguard of capitalism in its early phase, bourgeois revolutions preceded, not followed, the actual development of capitalism).

Originally Posted by PikSmeet View Post
Well, as we are both marxists we would agree on one thing, governments cannot control the economy. Ergo they don't have any say over the level of unemployment in the economy.

There is a stark difference between "cannot control" and "don't have any say". Of course bourgeois States cannot control the economy; that would beat the point of being a bourgeois State. But they do have a lot of say over the level of unemployment (of the economy they are in charge of, of course).

If they did they'd have everyone in a job as they would surely be re-elected, which party wouldn't?

You are supposing that everybody with a stake in elections would support everyone having a job. But this is not true; capital does not benefit from full employment (not, at least, in the long or medium term). And will oppose it violently And will have the resources to oppose it. And, in the end, governments of bourgeois States are responsive to capital, not to workers.

In real terms, I mean those that were in work, their wages were rising faster than prices so that by the end of that period 1979 - 1990 they bought 10% more in 1990 than they did in 1979.

So, it may well be that the mass of wages fell, isn't it? I would say that this is the important piece of information.

Also, what you mean by real growth is that wages were rising faster than prices. But to this to make sence for capital, it should also mean that profits were rising faster than both prices and wages - which is the same to say that the gross product was rising faster than wages.

That might branch off into another discussion, would proto-communists have sided with Robin Hood or told him to drop his support for the monarch as one of their conditions for joining up with him

Sorry, but I don't think there were proto-communists at the time. The internal enemies of a feudal society wouldn't think in terms of "communism", not at least in the sence we mean this word nowadays.

And the Robin Hood that supports the King is a fictional character; if there was a real world Robin Hood, he either would not support the King or not oppose the King's appointed delegate, the Sheriff of Nottingham… or, at least, the "benevolent" King would never see him as a supporter if he opposed the material expressions of his royal authority.


the labor theory of value:

1. All wealth must be created by labor (this is a fact, it takes some form of work to make anything)

This is certainly wrong. Wealth is created by labour and natural resources. Labour alone cannot create wealth.

What is created exclusively by labour is value, which is not the same as wealth.

2. Commodities are wealth that is sold (creating value, a very limited idea)

Commodities are wealth that is intended to be sold. Bread that is produced to be sold, but is never bought is a commodity (its value goes to waste, but value it is nonetheless). The misunderstanding in the quoted text leads to the mistaken idea that value is created by the selling of the commodity; it isn't, it is created in its production.

3. Therefor[e] labor creates value (ie the money u get from selling stuff)

Again this is mistaken. Value is not money. The money you get from selling stuff is price, not value; it will (normally) express value, but it is not value. Value has no empirical existence at all.

Except when you're creating something that no-one will buy.

If you are creating something that no-one will buy because you are creating something that isn't intended for sale (such as, for instance, making your own breakfast), you are creating wealth, but no value. If you are creating something that no one will buy because its quality is substandard, then you are creating value (which in all likelyhood will go to waste), but not wealth.

But, as the text goes to say, this time correctly,

Wealth isn't a fixed thing

In the "real" example provided,

in the USSR, their was a factory that made jeans so terrible that nobody [bought] them. It wasn't creating wealth; heck it was destroying it.

notice that this can only be because wealth isn't a fixed thing; the reason that people wouldn't buy their jeans can only be, because they were buying jeans from somewhere else, jeans that were actual wealth. If that was the only factory, or if all factories in the market were producing similar shitty jeans, then those jeans would not be substandard: the standard would be lower. And consequently, people would buy them, just like people bought brick-sized cellphones when the small slim things we have today didn't yet exist, or vault radios before the inventio of transistors.

Something is valuable because somebody desires it, not because somebody spent time making it.

This is use-value. It doesn't contradict the fact that things are valuable (in a measurable way) because somebody spent time making it.

Since wealth isn't produced exclusively by labour, there is wealth that doesn't have value. Such is the case of air, for instance, which is very much desirable, but does not have a value.

So, the whole argument arises from several misunderstandings of what labour theory of value (or, at least, Marxist Theory of Value) is.


Originally Posted by PikSmeet View Post
Love the use of the term Robin Hood to describe Keynesian economics, maybe that is a good anaology. Keynes = Robin Hood & Friedman = The Sheriff of Nottingham. But in the story both men are fighting for the same thing; a king. So to keep with the analogy the king = capitalism!

Yeah, more or less that. There is a reason that people ordinarily think of Robin as a hero, and of the Sheriff as a villain, though, and it is not because their memory is to blame. (Their pockets more so.)


Originally Posted by PikSmeet View Post
Yet, by 1990, after 11 years of Thatcherism wages were over 10% in real terms than they had been in 1979. So much for the theory that wages only rise under Keynesian policies and fall under monetarism…

What was up 10% in real terms, wages (average wages, minimal wages, maximal wages, median wages, modal wages?) or the mass of wages? (If wages raise 10% but unemployment grows 20%, then the mass of wages falls (wihch is more or less what I suspect happened under the "Thatcherate".)

What are "real terms"? Do wages grow in "real terms" when they buy more stuff (ie, when their nominal raise is above "inflation" (meaning, the increase in living costs))? Or do wages grow in "real terms" only when they grow above the overall growth of gross production? (If wages raise by 5% while inflation was 4%, but the gross product increased by 6%, then even though workers can now buy more things, their economic power, contrasted to capital, has diminished, not grown.)


Originally Posted by Rafiq View Post
Not insofar as they are Lutherans they don't. They may do so - for example - at the expense of this identity as proletarians, let's say as people joining up with the momentum of a revolution who were won over at the heat of the moment, or just more loosely associated with an actually existing movement beforehand.

But in doing this, they would have already discarded their Lutheranism - it would not be compatible with such an action insofar as it occupies a place in their consciousness with their participation in a revolutionary situation or the period after one.

The degree that which they would remain committed Lutherans during such a moment, of course, would depend on the side they take. But that is because somewhere, there is a real existing movement of mobilized, self-conscious, militant proletarians carrying out the revolution so that people on the outside, who beforehand lacked the necessary faith, can join in. If there is nothing to join into in the first place, there is not much to say about it.

I agree with most of that, but I was thinking that Lutherans (and other religious people, as long as they remain sane) do committ "atheist acts" on a daily basis. For instance, they seem to buy their bread, and work in shitty jobs in order to afford it, instead of "consider[ing] the lilies in the field, how they grow; [that] they toil not, [nor] do they spin", as the Bible quite clearly commands them to do.


Originally Posted by QueerVanguard View Post
We fight on both fronts, against imperialism AND borders, that's the class line, that's Communism.

If we do so, that's fine. But do we?

What I see is that "Third World" countries get bombed by central countries military, or have their governments toppled, or are harrassed into adopting policies in the interest of companies based in the central countries… and "we" quabble among ourselves, either supporting shitty tyrannies "against imperialism" and dismissing popular movements as pawns of imperialism, or supporting imperialist intervention in the name of democracy, or "opposing both" in a way that disarms people both in central and peripheric countries.

The King of White/mansplaining Zizek pretends to support fighting against imperialism WHILE ALSO putting his support behind the far right who oppose letting in refugees and the bourgeoisie who keep up their fucking borders.

I don't think he does that, at all. Though it may be his fault that he makes provocative comments without realising that people will appreciate them from their own black-and-white perspectives.


Originally Posted by Danielle Ni Dhighe View Post
A proletarian revolution is a revolution by proletarians, some of whom may be religious, and some of whom may be atheists.

Do you think that, say, Lutherans, never committ "atheist acts"?


Originally Posted by PikSmeet View Post
So Keynesian economics in a sense are a cruel confidence trick on the working class? They promise to solve the problems they face but fail and only offer a semblance of hope and lifetime of welfare dependency? They may take a little from the rich and give to the poor but capitalism remains intact and if Keynesian works capitalism will end up stronger?

Keynesianism doesn't propose to solve the problems of the working class; it proposes to solve some specific problems of capitalist accumulation. In that it is very succesful, as long as those problems are the central problems of capitalism (which is probably historically dated, and cannot be re-enacted any more, even though neoliberalism seems to reproduce some aspects of pre-Keynesian capitalism). In time, the systematic application of Keynesian policies creates a different set of problems for capital, which are the problems that neoliberal economics attempts to solve.

Whilst I get that people are putting a negative spin on Friedman he could equally turn around and say of the Keynes ideas what Callaghan did in 1976:

"We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists, and in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step."

Yes, exactly. Both Callaghan and Friedman were right: the bourgeois State could no longer spend its way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending; these policies had an objective limit, beyond wich they would either destroy the collectively accumulated wealth, or destroy the capitalist relations of production, which capital evidently could not accept (so, yes, what you have there is capital speaking through Callagham's mouth).

If this is true and in 1976 it sure seemed that way why is this better than the alternative offered by Friedman? Granted his economics are not the answer either.
It is not a matter of Keynesian economics being "better" than neoliberal ones.

Keynesianism is unsustainable in the long term; the accumulation of capital cannot continue beyond a certain point unless its policies are reversed. The problem, for the working class, is that the reversal of such policies is tantamount to a huge reverse-Robin-Hood process, in which wages are brutally cut down, and life standards plummet. But avoiding such developments was no longer possible except by putting capitalist relations of production into question. And that the working class failed to do, which in turn led to its political defeat.


Originally Posted by PikSmeet View Post
I get that they may call themselves socialists but why Kenyes and not another capitalist economist like Friedman?

Keynes and Friedman are difficult to compare to each other, because they didn't deal with the same issues. But if you suppose they are comparable, it is difficult not to consider Keynes the "best" of the two, or at least the lesser evil.

Keynes dealt with the problem of cyclic crises, and proposed a series of anti-cyclical measures that cannot but improve the life conditions of workers - to the extent that they can be improved without destroying the capitalist relations of production.

Friedman dealt with the problems caused by Keynesian policies, and with overacumulation of capital. So what he proposes is the reversal of Keynesian policies, and an all-out bourgeois offensive against the working class.

So Keynes is associated with an era in which the working class was relatively powerful, and was making economic gains; Friedman is associated with an era of destruction of working class rights and organisations.

What is it about him that they love? I mean his theories have failed to stop prices rising and to bring about full employment anywhere.

It is not that his theories failed to stop prices rising and to bring about full employment. It is that the application of his theories led to further problems in the management of capital. They did bring about full employment - to the extent that "full employment" is possible under capitalism. But "full employment" - even in the limited sence that it was made possible by Keynesian policies (ie, workers between jobs are still "unemployed") is poisonous for capital in the long term.

But still they don't get it and I understand that as the saying is how soon men forget. But I've yet to find a rational explanation as to why he has been choosen as a saviour of the left when they have their own economist; Marx.

Again, I doubt that Keynes was been choosen as a saviour of the left, unless by "left" we mean something too broad to have an actual consistency. His policies were popular with the organised working class of central countries; they were never appliable in the periphery of the system, and were popular only to the extent that the working class was comfortable with its condition as a class of labourers, as opposed to a class of the dispossessed. He, himself, was never a leader of the working class, nor the reformist leaders of the working class referred to him as anything more than a practical problem-solver.

And, of course, Marx was not an economist; he was rather an anti-economist. He never had solutions for the problems of capitalism, because he considered capitalism to be the problem first place. His analysis cannot help in the management of capitalism; if the working class is to do that, it must resort to other theorethical frames, other than Marx's.


Originally Posted by Quail View Post
The issue here isn't the disease itself, but rather the fact that women who can't access affordable contraception and who aren't legally allowed to abort are being told not to get pregnant.

If we were organised enough, our answer would be quite simple: give us legal abortion and we will avoid microcephalic babies.


Originally Posted by QueerVanguard View Post
yea no shit, that doesn't mean we simultaneously support borders and locking out fellow workers in their most desperate time of need just because we're scared of fascists stirring up hate. real shit internationalism on your part.

On the other hand, "supporting open borders" while at the same time being unable to stop imperialist aggression that produces refugee influxes isn't the most brilliant kind of internationalism either.


Originally Posted by PikSmeet View Post
So why is he so loved by socialists?

I don't think this is true, unless by "socialists" you mean everybody to the left of Margareth Thatcher…


I am sorry if this seems a little bit off, but I read this article, and I find it quite interesting.

From it,

Originally Posted by Scott Alexander
I want to avoid a very easy trap, which is saying that outgroups are about how different you are, or how hostile you are. I don’t think that’s quite right.

Compare the Nazis to the German Jews and to the Japanese. The Nazis were very similar to the German Jews: they looked the same, spoke the same language, came from a similar culture. The Nazis were totally different from the Japanese: different race, different language, vast cultural gap. But although one could imagine certain situations in which the Nazis treated the Japanese as an outgroup, in practice they got along pretty well. Heck, the Nazis were actually moderately friendly with the Chinese, even when they were technically at war. Meanwhile, the conflict between the Nazis and the German Jews – some of whom didn’t even realize they were anything other than German until they checked their grandparents’ birth certificate – is the stuff of history and nightmares. Any theory of outgroupishness that naively assumes the Nazis’ natural outgroup is Japanese or Chinese people will be totally inadequate.

And this isn’t a weird exception. Freud spoke of the narcissism of small differences, saying that “it is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and ridiculing each other”. Nazis and German Jews. Northern Irish Protestants and Northern Irish Catholics. Hutus and Tutsis. South African whites and South African blacks. Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Anyone in the former Yugoslavia and anyone else in the former Yugoslavia.

So what makes an outgroup? Proximity plus small differences. If you want to know who someone in former Yugoslavia hates, don’t look at the Indonesians or the Zulus or the Tibetans or anyone else distant and exotic. Find the Yugoslavian ethnicity that lives closely intermingled with them and is most conspicuously similar to them, and chances are you’ll find the one who they have eight hundred years of seething hatred toward.

Which is somewhat eery, given that 870 is from the former Yugoslavia, and that this reflection on how "outgroups" aren't necessarily the most distant other, but indeed probably the close other, is uncannily reminiscent of Al Qaida's strategic idea of "close enemies" and "far enemies" (which ISIS probably adheres to). Anyway, I think we should be careful when "outgrouping", because, 1. since our membership is fairly international, our "close enemies" are going to be different (it is different to say we should "support" Brazilian Vargas' "semi-fascist" regime against a British aggression when you are addressing English workers, who never had their comrades or relatives kidnapped, tortured, and killed by Vargas' secret police, than when addressing Brazilian workers whose experience with that may be quite personal); 2. if indeed our outgroups are defined by "proximity plus small differences", then it may well be that we are more able to spot the absolutely intolerable among those who are closer to us, and perhaps not only in the geographic sence, but also under the ideological poin of view (perhaps I tend to be more tolerant to the ICL vicious views and practices because they are mostly absent from the Brazilian political landscape, and because, not being a Trotskyist, they essentially "are not my problem"?); but, most importantly, 3. if the phenomenon Alexander describes is true, it is pre-political, and people who intend to (as I suppose we do) make conscious, deliberate politics, should be minimally aware of our own pre-political exclusionary tendencies.

Originally Posted by Scott Alexander
But the story I’m actually referring to is liberal talk show host / comedian Russell Brand making that same rant against Fox News for supporting war against the Islamic State, adding at the end that “Fox is worse than ISIS”.

That fits my model perfectly. You wouldn’t celebrate Osama’s death, only Thatcher’s. And you wouldn’t call ISIS savages, only Fox News. Fox is the outgroup, ISIS is just some random people off in a desert. You hate the outgroup, you don’t hate random desert people.

I would go further. Not only does Brand not feel much like hating ISIS, he has a strong incentive not to. That incentive is: the Red Tribe is known to hate ISIS loudly and conspicuously. Hating ISIS would signal Red Tribe membership, would be the equivalent of going into Crips territory with a big Bloods gang sign tattooed on your shoulder.

But this might be unfair. What would Russell Brand answer, if we asked him to justify his decision to be much angrier at Fox than ISIS?

He might say something like “Obviously Fox News is not literally worse than ISIS. But here I am, talking to my audience, who are mostly white British people and Americans. These people already know that ISIS is bad; they don’t need to be told that any further. In fact, at this point being angry about how bad ISIS is, is less likely to genuinely change someone’s mind about ISIS, and more likely to promote Islamophobia. The sort of people in my audience are at zero risk of becoming ISIS supporters, but at a very real risk of Islamophobia. So ranting against ISIS would be counterproductive and dangerous.

On the other hand, my audience of white British people and Americans is very likely to contain many Fox News viewers and supporters. And Fox, while not quite as evil as ISIS, is still pretty bad. So here’s somewhere I have a genuine chance to reach people at risk and change minds. Therefore, I think my decision to rant against Fox News, and maybe hyperbolically say they were ‘worse than ISIS’ is justified under the circumstances.”

I have a lot of sympathy to hypothetical-Brand, especially to the part about Islamophobia. It does seem really possible to denounce ISIS’ atrocities to a population that already hates them in order to weak-man a couple of already-marginalized Muslims. We need to fight terrorism and atrocities – therefore it’s okay to shout at a poor girl ten thousand miles from home for wearing a headscarf in public. Christians are being executed for their faith in Sudan, therefore let’s picket the people trying to build a mosque next door.

But my sympathy with Brand ends when he acts like his audience is likely to be fans of Fox News.

In a world where a negligible number of Redditors oppose gay marriage and 1% of Less Wrongers identify conservative and I know 0/150 creationists, how many of the people who visit the YouTube channel of a well-known liberal activist with a Che-inspired banner, a channel whose episode names are things like “War: What Is It Good For?” and “Sarah Silverman Talks Feminism” – how many of them do you think are big Fox News fans?

Now, I know. Alexander is a liberal at best, and perhaps even worse than that, so it is time for some violent diatribes against me for daring to quote from a liberal source. But as it always is, political points stand or fall on their own merits, not on the merits or demerits of other points coincidentally made by the same author.

And anyway, I don't think the ICL's (rather contorted) position on ISIS will make anyone in these forums - people who are, anyway, already somewhat swayed to what we, perhaps impressionistically, call "leftist" positions - have a second thought and switch to political Islam (so, who or what are we exactly protecting?)

It would be better if we simply defined this in a straightward fashion: we think that the ICL in itself is a problem (not its outlandish, but also quite wishy-washy position on Daesh, nor its outlandish, and outright reactionary, position on pedophilia). That the ICL directly (and not ISIS by proxy of the ICL) is an actual danger to leftists and leftist organisations; that they are an organisation so secluded in its own sectarism that it is on the brink of taking the first steps into the path that the LaRouchites, or Bandera Roja, or Hora do Povo, or the KLA or the Khmer Rouge have more or less completed, going from the far-left directly to the far-right without passing through the ordinary steps of social-democracy, liberalism, and common-sence conservatism. Which, of course, can be true or false, but is at least plausible, in a way that their supposed support for Daesh isn't. After all, they do have a history of disrupting other leftist organisations actions, meetings, demonstrations, etc, even physically.


If feminism is to fight for equality between men and women, it seems that it values "equality" on some level.

Then why would it gloss over other kinds of inequality? Is the goal just to have a 50% quota of female CEOs, managers, police, top brass military, while ignoring the oppressive nature of all those roles?

And then there is the problem of domestic labour. Capitalism can dispense with much of the inequalities between the genders. It can allow women property rights, civil rights, voting, theoretically even equal wages for equal labour. But capitalism is based upon the peculiar nature of labour power as a commodity that produces more value when consumed than the value it originally had.

This implies that labour power is a commodity that the capitalists cannot produce in a capitalist way. There will never be factories to produce labour power. And so, labour power must be produced by someone else. Because it does not grow in trees, either: it requires labour to be produced. But this particular kind of labour that produces labour power cannot be fully integrated into properly capitalist production relations; at some point, as Roswitha Scholz reminds us, the working class must take the brunt of producing it for free, and not against a wage.

Historically (and for reasons that are rooted in realities much older than capitalism), this completely unpaid labour has always been the task of women. And while I think this is contingent on historical issues that are no longer relevant as of now, it also seems obvious to me that capitalism cannot dispense with a tiered working class, in which the load of unpaid labour of reproducing labour power must fall upon an especial group of workers, that can easily be distinguished from "normative" workers. And that substituting some other especial group of workers for the one which is readily available as of now, ie, working class women, would be too costly, bot economically and politically, for the bourgeoisie ever to consider it in serious.


I think much of this discussion is premised into a misunderstanding.

An "inalienable right" isn't a "natural right" or a "god given right". It is just a right that cannot be forfeited. Ie, my right to not be a slave cannot be given up by myself: I cannot sell myself into slavery. It is inalienable because of that, not because it inscripted in a supposed natural order of things, or because it was given to me by some deity. It is inalienable because the juridical order of the United States (and of the vast majority, if not the totality, of other bourgeois States) so determines. It has been alienable in the past (for instance, under the Roman Republic), when people could sell or give themselves as slaves, or offer their civil freedom as a warrant against loans.

The arguments within this thread are possibly valid against the idea of "natural" or "godgiven" rights, but they have little to do with "inalienable" rights. Of course, such confusion is also present in the argument discussed in the OP; but we should dispell the confusion.


//Originally Posted by Communist Mutant From Outer Space View Post
What the fuck, huh? Why does saying "Lenin said", "Marx said", "Trotsky said", "Stalin did" or "Stalin said", blah blah blah, actually give you credence? Why does them saying or doing something in the past mean anything now? Does it allow you to justify mass murder, or even worse defending a mediocre fucking idiot? Kill me now if this passes for some kind of rapier wit and intellectual skill on the left. Orthodoxy and sainthood belong to religion, and unless certain people understand that Lenin, Stalin and even Marx were human beings then I refuse to partake in this fucking joke of political sect anymore.


We can of course discuss the subject, but I am afraid that the Learning Forum is not appropriate for that end.


We don't think that quoting a given person gives us credence. We think giving rational arguments is the point. The people you refer to (and also Bakunin, Kautsky, Sorel or Stirner, among many others) have taken some time to think about problems that concern us. As such, some of their arguments may be rational for us to like them. And then there is a question of intellectual integrity; if I think that the development of capitalism is uneven and combined, that's fine; but I can't pretend that I invented the idea; Trotsky did.

Why would a discussion about cosmology refrain from quoting Newton, Aristotle, Hubble, Plank, or Einstein?

There is, of course, a tendency to use ad magister dixit arguments among us. That's because there is such a tendency in society at large, not because the left is especially prone to it. And there is an increased tendency to use such arguments among those of us who are Stalinists. That's because there is such an increased tendency among religious currents to do so, and Stalinism is a quite religious current.

In any way, arguments ad magister dixit are logical fallacies. They can be easily dispelled, provided that:

we are able to point to logical inconsistencies in themselves;
we are able to point to inconsistencies between them and observable facts;
we can demonstrate that the magister involved in the discussion isn't in fact an authority on the subject under discussion.

That, unfortunately, has to be done in a case by case basis. The fact that Trotsky was wrong about subject A doesn't mean he was necessarily wrong about subject B. As such, sweeping denunciations of the kind you are doing are also fallacies in themselves: an argument isn't invalid because the person making it cites Marx or Proudhon in support of it.

You can make the case, evidently, that this or that poster here in revleft quotes authors in an acritical manner, that constitutes fallacies of the ad magister dixit kind. But the idea that because posters A, B and C do it, then it follows that all of the left does it, or that poster Z does it, is fallacious too. And so is the idea that if anyone quotes an authority, it necessarily follows that their argument is fallacious. You would have to be able to point to specific cases, and demonstrate, by logic or by observation, that their argument is problematic.


Originally Posted by Location C View Post
I will use a factory as an analogy of how I see it.

The bourgeoisie own the capital - the factory and all the machinery.

The petty bourgeoisie are those who run things for the bourgeoisie - the university educated management. They run the operation. These are the ones who relate to the workers the demands of the bourgeoisie. They earn several times that of the worker.

The proles are the ones who do the work.

A slave plantation works the same way (slave owner and family, house slaves, field slaves). This is not a coincidence.

I would say the slave plantation, as you describe it, is very different from the factory as you describe (and that both are very different from society).

House slaves, in any way, are not the equivalent for management; the proper analogy would be foremen. But foremen don't earn several times the wage of slaves; either they earn wages, which the slaves do not, or they are slaves themselves, and their privileged position vis-a-vis common slaves is not predicated on earnings, but in something else.

The petty-bourgeoisie, strictu sensu, are not management people, but owners of petty means of production that don't qualify as capital. Latu sensu, they may or may not include management (which could be seen as an upper layer of the working class), but I would say that the difference is elsewhere, in the reduced ability of capital to quantify, and consequently mechanise, intellectual labour, as compared to manual labour.

And, of course, any society is very different from its productive units. It includes the relations between productive units, for starters, which the productive units, by definition, don't.


Originally Posted by Philosophos View Post
Dali was a fascist?

It depends on how technical you are willing to get. He was a "fasho", ie, someone who supported brutal authoritarian tiranny, and opposed organised fighting against the regime. I doubt he would wear a blue shirt and march through the streets throwing Roman salutes right and left. And of course, the brutal authoritarian dictatorship he supported was Franco's regime in Spain, which brings into question, to what extent was Franco's Spain a fascist regime?

So, in short, I would say yes, he was a fascist in the sence that Idi Amin or Pinochet or the LAPD are or were "fascists". Not necessarily in the sence Mussolini or Rosenberg or Plínio Salgado were.

Whatever, I don't think his works reflect his political opinions. Melting watches have nothing to do with fascism.

I love his work, but I din't really know many things about his views or personal life, I'm actually quite shocked

Yeah. It is really disappointing when we discover those things about artists we like. In a certain sence, however, this is a consequence of what I wrote above about his works. If the only source of information on him we had were his paintings, we wouldn't be able to figure his politics out. Thence the shock.


Originally Posted by Бай Ганьо View Post
3. The attacks were planned by a small group of far-right (non-)Islamic radicals and carried out by a couple of far-right Islamic radicals who only had to put the fuse in the powder keg, i.e. inciting vulgar drunkards and thiefs to (sexual) violence, and hope for a snowball effect.

That's definitely a possibility.


So we have the following possibilities:

1. The New Year Eve attacks were vulgar drunkard attacks against women in general; their ideology is merely the widespread ordinary sexism of contemporary societies in general. At most, it gets mixed with a "The Great Cat Massacre"-style attempt at humiliating middle class women perpetrated by lower class men - which might explain the idea that the attackers were predominantly immigrants.

2. The attacks were planned actions by far-right Islamic radicals, in order to foster ethnic divisions in Germany. Their mobile would be political, strategical, and premised into plotting immigrant rights against women's rights.

The problem with 1. is that if it so, then it would have to be explained why those episodes weren't regularly happening in the past years, and erupted just now, suddenly, with apparently no previous signs, in several different cities. The problem with 2. is that the behaviour of the New Year attacks resembles much more that of vulgar drunkards and brigands than that of committed far-right Islamic activists (who would be expected, at least, to not mix binge drinking with serious political activity).

I tend to believe that it was basically 1., and that the "sudden eruption" is basically due to police cover-ups of previous similar incidents (which police will probably try and attribute to evil politically correct socialdemocrats tampering with their professional work).


Originally Posted by Brad View Post
This would not prove the existence of a "persona" in the inherent sense suggested by an underlying "psychic truth"…

To be sure, a "persona" cannot be based upon "psychic truth"; a "persona" is what human beings show to each other in social interactions. If there is a "true person" under the persona(s), then the persona(s) is or are the opposite of psychic truth; if there is no "psychic truth", then there are only personas. And if the "persona" is only a direct manifestation of one's "true self", then there is actually no "persona" at all.

Sure, insofar as Zizek posits the destructive egoist showing his true self in Grand Theft Auto as the "psychic truth", we can disagree with that, but that doesn't bring any more coherence or justification to the positing of said destructive egoism as the "psychic truth" relative to another, less malevolent, persona, as others posting here have said. We may comprehend, for the sake of argument, this concept of a psychic truth, but when it's no more justified than another version of the psychic truth which could be posited just as well, the argument hinges on a concept so fluid as to be unreliable for either side and thus not particularly coherent in itself.

Yeah, I think that Zizek's idea is highly debatable. But then the point is, the argument that he doesn't make sence or is ununderstandable doesn't help to debate them. Either Zizek's point stand, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, it is either because the observed facts seem to contradict it, or because its internal structure is logically flawed. Both require adequate demonstration; the argument that "I don't understand, therefore it makes no sence" is fallacious.

Originally Posted by quote
In short, insofar as a concept's meaning is accepted tentatively, it's rejection or acceptance is tentative. We can disagree with the idea as Zizek presents it, but not merely because it has a concrete meaning with which we disagree. We think "psychic truth" is a flimsy basis for an argument about human behaviour because it's a malleable enough idea to be used in support of mutually exclusive allegedly inherent "personas".

Yes, this is a good analysis of the problem. If "psychic truth" is the base of antinomic ideas, then it probably is a bogus concept. For what I have read of Zizek, that would be his position; there is no "psychic truth" underlying the several "manifestations" of a given personality; the "manifestations" are the only "truth" of a psyché (and so, they are not "manifestations" at all). The "personality", therefore, isn't the cause of the personas; on the contrary, the "personality" is a purely mental construct, based on the data provided by the personas.

What it seems to me is that, as a good dialectician, and as a someone who admires Lenin's practice of "pushing things to the other side" as a therapeutic procedure, Zizek is exactly arguing the "antithesis" for the common place "thesis" about the relation between "personas" and "true psychés", in order to prepare the terrain for the proposal of a "synthesis". But this would require further evidence. As it is, your point stands.

(As a side note, there is no concept that isn't "tentative", either. We cannot arrive at a concept that is reducible to "concreteness"; all concepts are abstractions.)

By the way, I'm not blaming you, but you're a pain to quote. For some reason, when I click the quote button under your posts, I get a blank box. It's a minor inconvenience, really. I'm just wondering if it's characters in your name, or what.

Thank you, I didn't know that. I will try to address this with the admins.


Originally Posted by Luís Henrique View Post
It isn't, because "what we really are" is a complicated concept. And it may well be that there is no such thing as "who we really are", and that we are merely a collection of different personas, who manifestate according to circumstances, no one of them being "truer" than each others. But we can only arrive at such conclusion if we start from the consideration that we do have different personas, which requires a working comprehension of the concept of "persona" (which, from what I have read from Zizek, seems to be his actual position; it is possible that he is being contradictory here, or merely Socratic).

If I recall correctly, Zizek makes a whole point of this in discussing fictional characters and their plausibility. How is it possible that one person, say Shakespeare, can carry within himself so many personas, as to make them credible? How is there space for Hamlet, King Lear, McBeth, Romeo, who, all of them, strike us as real, complex personalities? How is it that one jar can contain within it so many other jars, none of which resembles a mere miniature? That would be only possible if personas aren't actually any "deep"; they must be mere surfaces, into which we mistakenly project a third dimension, as in a drawing in perspective.


I think people are confusing two very different things.

Take for instance:

Originally Posted by Ptolomaeus
The Earth is the centre of the Universe.

This is a false statement. It is also quite easy to understand.

You may of course complicate things by asking questions such as "but what is 'the Universe'?" or "what is a 'centre'?"

But anyone who is presented to the statement will "understand" it (what does it mean 'to understand'? Let's play the game!) Disagreeing with it is not the same as missing its meaning. Indeed, a proper disagreement can only come once we understand what it means. If we had no clue about its meaning, we wouldn't be able to decide whether it is true or false.

As it is, it seems that some people here think that saying things like "it isn't even false, it is meaningless" is a more radical way to disagree with a given statement. But this can only be true if the statement in case is thoroughly disassembled to demonstrate it has no actual content; reflex reactions of the kind "I don't understand it, so it must have no meaning" are mere demonstrations of irrationalism or anti-intellectualism.

Originally Posted by Brad
Are they all "weak"? Why presume that, when they could be people who are openly assholes in day-to-day life, who simply translate that into virtual pseudo-reality?

This, for instance, is a take on Zizek's analysis truth-value, not of its understandability. It raises a third hypothesis, that the difference between real-life personas and internet personas (that common sence attributes, probably after Adler, to overcompensation, and Zizek thinks is due to a more genuine, less socially restrained internet behaviour) simply doesn't exist.

Common sense actually tells us that our in-person persona is more aligned with who we really are than an identity constructed largely by and necessarily within pre-programmed parameters that limit our range of choices even more so than reality does (despite reality, too, placing its limits). We might want to just knock somebody out in a game, but be compelled by programming to kill them or be killed.

Well, of course Zizek can be wrong about what is or is not common sence. But then we would say something like "Zizek thinks X is common sence, but it actually isn't - in fact, ~X is common sence". Definitely, not that "Zizek thinks that X is common sence, but this is a meaningless assertion, for in fact ~X is common sence".

Going for the complicated discussion, nobody forces us to participate in online games where we can only choose between killing or being killed. If we participate in them voluntarily, then this must say something about ourselves.

The idea that our virtual actions reveal our "psychic truth" is only really comprehensible if one accepts that such a notion means anything concrete.

Well, no.

The idea of a "psychic truth" is widespread; we do accept that it means something "concrete" (or abstract, but in a meaningful way). Whether we are critical of such a notion is a different issue. We can evidently say something like "there is no such thing as an individual psychic truth, something that the person is regardless of how she actually behaves". But this already implies making sence of the expression "psychic truth" - that hidden persona that is usually concealed, and only emerges in extraordinary circumstances (in vino veritas, the coward who reveals him/herself a hero in battle or that dies heroically for his/her right to be a coward, etc.) We know what this means, even if we don't believe it exists.

People are unquestionably bigger assholes on the internet, but that anonymity is used as a pressure valve doesn't explain where the pressure came from.

So you contradict yourself: there is, after all, a difference between our internet personas and our real life personas - that you attribute to anonimity.

It's easy to say that it came from inherent urges rooted in "who we really are", but it's not really that simple.

It isn't, because "what we really are" is a complicated concept. And it may well be that there is no such thing as "who we really are", and that we are merely a collection of different personas, who manifestate according to circumstances, no one of them being "truer" than each others. But we can only arrive at such conclusion if we start from the consideration that we do have different personas, which requires a working comprehension of the concept of "persona" (which, from what I have read from Zizek, seems to be his actual position; it is possible that he is being contradictory here, or merely Socratic).

The pressure comes from a clash between the systemically-promoted egoist mentality and the functionality of the system, for which fiction acts as a release that also conveniently reinforces the system itself.

I am actually inclined to agree with this, but it is a conclusion that requires an actual comprehension of how human psiché works, that cannot be predicated into the premise that common knowledge about human psyché is meaningless.


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