“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words”

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”   -Orwell, 1984


I know I’ve been bringing up Orwell a lot more frequently as of late (see here, here, here and here), but when I came across this comment on reddit.com yesterday, my mind just screamed to me: “NEWSPEAK!  NEWSPEAK!  NEWSPEAK!”

The comment is:

“Progressives like to blame the greed of corporations. Libertarians like to blame the coercion of government. Progressives want democratic action to solve corporations, and end up giving a ton of power to the government.  Libertarians want the market to solve problems, and give a ton of power to corporations.

We need to get together and realize that elite power sucks regardless of where it originates. Progressives need to stop looking at the government as a benevolent solver of problems. Substitute libertarians for progressives and the market for the government.

What we need is a third way. I don’t even mean a third party, but a political consensus that acknowledges we need to be ever vigilant against elite power.  I think this consensus can be forged and maintained on the internet. I hope that the campaign of Ron Paul is only the start.” (source)

It isn’t that this particular writer is attempting to manipulate somebody.  Indeed, on the contrary,  think it is obvious that this writer is genuinely interested in progressing beyond the existing state of politics.  The reason why this comment is indicative of Newspeak, though, is that this person is writing as if he has just discovered for himself a ‘new’ idea for a political viewpoint when in fact, the idea for what he is talking about has existed for hundreds of years since at least the time of the so-called ‘Diggers’ in mid-17th Century England. The only problem is that, because of ‘Newspeak’ (for lack of a better word), the very essence and meaning of the word he seeks has been removed from political discourse and to the extent that it can be found in political discourse it is, just as Orwell predicted, taken to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means.

Orwell writes:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

So let’s see here: this writer is looking for some new ‘third way’ forward away from Conservatism and authoritarianism other than libertarianism and what the U.S. laughably considers to be ‘progressivism’.

Here is a graphical view of a standard 2-axis political orientation chart with the left-right economic spectrum horizontally and a vertical axis demarcating statism and state control versus anti-statism.  This is nothing new or revolutionary, but it is in a way, precisely its simplicity and commonality that illustrates the point I am trying to make better than anything else.

As you can see, there is a huge gaping hole in one quadrant.

For ease of reference and clarity, I’ve superimposed the position of various people onto this grid according to politicalcompass.org and other sources.

new-left-right-spectrum-people-2.png

While it is clear that every other ideology in the political compass grid is easily labeled (i.e., I could have easily gone into more detail and labeled the bottom right corner ‘Anarcho-Capitalism” and the top edge from roughly the centre to the far right as “fascism” and so on and so forth), it is true that, unlike all other quadrants on this grid, there is no one agreed upon word describing the bottom left quadrant (where Chomsky and I reside).

Chomsky himself alternates between calling it broadly “libertarian socialist” and “anarcho-syndicalist” (yes, I’m aware those are technically two different things, but I’m just talking insofar as a broad name for the quadrant goes).  I call it “True Marxism” or “True Progressivism”.  But there are also any number of other names for it:

-Anti-statist Communism (a redundant phrase as far as I’m concerned)
-Anarchist-Communism
-Trotskyism
-Post-Marxism (a term popularized by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe)

So, in essence, Orwell’s fear of the ‘destruction of words’ has been realized.  Not only does the general populace not have a universally agreed-upon word to describe our ideas, but we ourselves can’t agree on a word for ourselves.  We are, quite literally, they who are without name.  We can no longer use the word Marxism — although it would quite technically be an accurate label for the quadrant broadly understood – because, just as Orwell predicted, it’s meaning in modern parlance has been inverted into its exact opposite.

In a world without a nomial label attached to these ideas, the consequences of which are illustrated beautifully by the comment above, it has become nearly impossible for people to even think revolutionary thoughts because the person has to derive them from scratch themselves without the advantage of their long and rich history.  And, even if they do derive these ideas from scratch, the problem remains about how to express these ideas to others without further cluttering up the nomenclature for such ideas.  Thus, I would argue that it has come to the point where our very existence, our very presence as individuals holding these ideas, has itself become a revolutionary act.

While I am crushed by capitalism,
I continue to breathe.  And so long as
I breathe, I continue to hope.  And it
is this hope that animates my struggle.

See Also:

War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

Our entire existence summed up in one cartoon

All that glitters is not golden

When does it start?

U.S. Presidential Candidates compared to Canadian political parties

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67 Responses to ““It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words””


  1. 1 martinp 7 December, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Oh you young kids with yer book learnin! Do you really think most people see that as revolutionary? The only people who think its revolutionary are the ‘academic elites’ that Chomsky talks about because they’ve been taught that they are so much smarter than the rabble. Take a farmers co-op, do you really think that farmers think that ‘workers should own the mills’ is some revolutionary idea? Of course not, to them its simply the way its supposed to be. Any person who has worked in a mill or in virtually any business knows what a pain in the ass and useless function most managers are, and how criminal it is that some absent owner should reap the benefits of their work. Of course most will accept if they can avoid the responsibilities of ownership (meaning they are paid enough they can be owners in other forms), or else they simply have no choice.

    Take for example one of the biggest problems of our day-namely the massive ownership rights of corporations. As most know, the corporation has more rights than a person thanks to legislation. That CAN be challenged, in fact in several municipalities in the states it has been challenged. However, federal powers overstep such moves, and of course in Canada there are simply no mechanisms for people to hold government responsible.

    But take another look, look at, say, PEI. PEI still has a large farming sector, but it is far different than, say, its neighbour New Brunswick. McCains has essentially corporatized farming in NB, and as a result farming as a way of life on the st.john river has disappeared. That’s ‘the power of corporations’. In PEI though, there are laws that don’t let one group of companies own more than X acres of land. They recently hauled Irving into court because they were trying to sneak around it with various legal mechanizations, but the government there, which nominally represents PEI’ers, does the work of challenging them. That is interesting because of course no such laws exist in New Brunswick, or in Maine. NB of course is literally run by the Irvings, but in Maine, IF, and WHEN people think that that is important enough, people can sponsor a citizens initiative to not let one group own more than X acres.

    What I’m saying is that these aren’t revolutionary ideas at all. They are, in fact, how the vast majority of the population thinks things would be run. There’s a reason why a national day care program became the top issue. They are only revolutionary to one sector, namely the corporate media-who of course will never talk about such things-hell, they virtually never even talked about the referendum.

    I mention this because the thoughts behind it coincide very much with the next post which talks about how ‘its too late’ to do anything ‘within’ the system. The ‘system’ is not all that bad, the ‘system’ is essentially ‘law and order’ which isn’t a bad system-its just that that system currently serves a different master. There are ways to change that of course, changes were made ‘in the system’ before, and you certainly don’t need a revolution to change them. Chavez was ELECTED if you remember. What is currently a shame is that politics has been taken over by a tiny group still remotely interested, while everyone else has been disengaged. It MAY be that some big meltdown is necessary to get people active, but thats not a necessity.

  2. 2 moinansari 7 December, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Brilliant article. Here is some stuff that I have written on What Orwellian is doing to our land of liberty.

    However I stonrlgy disagree with Gandhi in the uardant with Mandela. Gandhi was a wife abuser, adulterer, pedophile in his personal life (see his gandson’t book, Mohandas) and a marketing gimmick in his public life (who brought religious symbols to to politics). The British were going to leave in 1945 anyway.

    PERPETUAL & MIMETIC WAR:
    Saving Camelot from becoming the Neocon’s Orwellian “Brazil”
    By
    Moin Ansari

    “Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the dominion of the few. … No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” James Madison 1795:

    There are many visions for the future. One ruled by law and justice and without wants and need.

    Chernyshevskij’s boundless optimism, from Chto delat’ (tr. Michael R. Katz): “ ‘Life’s great happiness resides in my sister, the goddess,’ says the elder sister. ‘But you see that every kind of happiness exists here, whatever anyone desires. Everyone lives, as he desires; each and every person has complete will, yes, free will. … What we’ve shown you will not soon reach its full development in the form that you’ve just seen. Many generations will pass before everything which you can now forsee is to be fully realized. … Tell everyone that the future will be radiant and beautiful. Love it, strive toward it, work for it, bring it nearer, transfer into the present as much as you can from it. To the extent that you succeed in doing so, your life will be bright and good, rich in joy and pleasure. Strive toward it, work for it, bring it nearer, transfer into the present as much as you can from it’.’’

    Dostoyevskiy wrote “Zapiski iz podpol’ia, Notes from the Underground” in response to Chernyshevsky “Chto delat.” Dostoyevskiy did not agree with Chernyshevsky. He saw Chernyshevsky’s utopian ‘Crystal Palace’ as stripping humanity of its dignity and free will. Dostoyevskiy preferred Christianity to a socialist utopia. The “blasphemous” chapter of Zapiski iz podpol’ia that offered Christianity as an alternative to socialism was heavily censored and the manuscript does not survive.” Had Dostoyevskiy been able to propagate his utopian vision of the future, the USSR would have had a different future.

    The worst vision of the future is Terry Gillian’s “Brazil” where vignettes of Big Brother are ubiquitous. Citizens in Terry Gilliam’s Orwellian nightmare “Brazil” live in fear as terrorists terrorize. The government posts propaganda across the state sporting slogans like “Happiness – We Are All In This Together” and “Trust In Haste, Regret In Leisure”.

    There is a war on for the soul of America. On the one hand is our glorious constitution, and the vision of the founding fathers, on the other hand is a band of “Bolsheviks” who are corrupting the original message. Dennis Kucinich is one of the partisans waging peace against those who are corrupting the message of the American revolution.

    The Neocons seem to be taking the scripts right out of “1984”, to malign and destroy the original vision of the founding fathers of America? My land is being infested with the disease that is eating away at every fiber of our society. Where did it all begin? Perhaps it was the Iran-Contra affair? Was it the fact that Casper Wienberger, Elliot Abrams and others were pardoned and seemed to get away with “murder”. Was it the beginning of the termite infestation that is destroying our noble experiment in democracy and freedom?

    In one vision of the future, in the classic novel, 1984, the most potent political tool was: perpetual warfare, Mimetic Warfare, and protracted warfare for the maintenance of state power over individual citizens. It is amazing that they are following the script so closely. If the world does not have three powers, we are attempting to create three super states rivalry (USA, China and India).

    The Neocons seem to be celebrating perpetual warfare. Those who seem to be thriving on created crises, seem to be trying to goad us into a certain paradigm. The propagation of perpetual protracted and mimetic war could have been scripted by Orwell himself and runs contrary to the basic foundations of our land “the great challenge of our new century.” “to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world..” murderous ideology” violent, political vision”.. “to develop weapons of mass destruction” … “to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.”

    “When war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous. When war is continuous, there is no such thing as military necessity. Technical progress can cease and the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded. But though it is unreal, it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs.” Big Brother:

    “Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the dominion of the few. … No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” James Madison 1795:

    “So long as there’s Al Qaeda anywhere, we will help the host countries root them out,” Senator Byrd:

    “if we expect to kill every terrorist in the world, that’s going to keep us going beyond doomsday,”

    “War, however, is no longer the desperate annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century. It is a warfare of limited aims between combatants who are unable to destroy one another. …” Big Brother:

    “Happiness – We Are All In This Together” and “Trust In Haste, Regret In Leisure”.
    Brazil:

    “War is Peace.”Big Brother:

    “fathers bury sons, rather than sons, fathers.” Herodotus:

    Terry Gilliam’s Orwellian nightmare “Brazil” is an information-crazy society that in many ways resembles a world in which the Nazis did not lose World War II”, “a world, where everyone is obsessed with shopping, and in order to get anything done within the world of government there is paperwork to be filled out, and filled out and on and on, “a place where information is of the utmost importance and the individual is not as important as the paper receipts which bear their name.”

    The Orwellian oligarchic Oceania was always at war with an elusive Eurasia or an ephemeral Eastasia-can we keep track?—the “war to end all wars”, “the cold war”. Egged on by the Neocons, the “war on terror,” has now been transformed into a “war on Radical Islam” which, will continue indefinitely. Is indefinitely just another word for forever? Isn’t forever going to at doomsday? Are we talking of “rapture”?

    Iraq, Afghanistann..who is next on the list? Are Iran and North Korea next? How much more? We are over stretched and bankrupt in many ways. Moral authority has been one of the great assets of America? Are we losing that? We are targeting alleged terrorists in 50-to-60 countries using the poorest of the poor as cannon fodder and have already spent $200 Billion.

    America is the beacon of freedom. Is this light dimming in Camelot? Michael Moore described the use of “fear” eloquently in his “9-11” documentary. Internally our freedoms are at stake. In “1984” the elite “Inner Party” rule rattled the irradiated citizens of Oceania through three conduits of fear and intimidation: surveillance, terrorism, and perpetual warfare.

    Are the Oceanians with their two-way TV screens less efficient than our Department of Homeland Security satellites, surveillance, racial profiling, torture, and outsourced torture via deportations.

    REVIVING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: We should be paying attention to some of the golden rules of governance that need to be adhered to. When I reiterate the principles laid down by some of the most intelligent brains on the planet, the founding fathers of our great country, some rebut it is “not valid anymore”.

    “I deemed [one of] the essential principles of our government [to be] peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none. …” Thomas Jefferson, First inaugural address in 1801.

    “There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the commission under which it is exercised, is void.” Alexander Hamilton stated it succinctly in The Federalist (#78):

    “It is the providence and duty of the Executive to preserve to the Nation the blessings of peace. The Legislature alone can interrupt those blessings, by placing the Nation in a state of War.” 1793, Alexander Hamilton

    “The Constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.” James Madison 1798

    “Allowing the executive to decide unilaterally ‘the question of war’ will be tantamount to … potentially setting the stage for ‘continued warfare,’ a condition in which liberty cannot long survive.” Norman Grigg

    How do we take our government back? We will find out if we can do this quickly, or if it will take a long time. We need to pump some “backbone” into the “other party”!

  3. 3 Simon A. Dougherty 8 December, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the recent posts this December. They’ve all been great! In fact, there’s too much to comment on and not enough time (I have my own papers to write and slave wages to earn to pay for school, life, et al). I hope to comment in greater detail at a more amiable time in the future.

    For now, I’d just like to express how refreshing it was to read your analysis on the Venezuelan referendum after seemingly wasting my time trying to decode reports from the corporate media. Even most “progressive/alternative” media wasn’t as good as I would have expected.

    As for that incident with John Wright — I don’t know what to call it other than a “baptism by fire,” so to speak. Was that the first time you’ve been threatened with litigation for pointing out some of the usually obvious things you do on this blog? (I don’t expect you to answer such things here, if anywhere at all.) I can’t imagine the stress John might have caused and don’t want to gloss over his violent way of handling the situation. Without discounting the horrible part of the experience, a part of me still feels good that the observations you made caused a significant stir in wider circles. It’s also been reassuring to witness the spontaneous support that’s come from the rest of the blogging community.

    Finally, just a word on this post — although I don’t know what the word is that describes the political quadrant in question. I’m also right there in that corner with Chomsky, et al, but I constantly struggle with finding appropriate language that adequately communicates the socio-political location being talked about here. Perhaps there ought to be more than one word as is currently the case. I often go with “Libertarian Socialist” or “Anarchist,” like Chomsky, although the former seems to confuse North Americans (Libertarianism doesn’t seem to be automatically accepted as Right-wing in Europe; Socialism is too often confused with Stalinism) while the latter suffers from similar re-definition from the Right (did you read Andrew Coyne’s blog entry on the anarchist/environmentalist/civil-servant/whistle-blower in May?). I’m not sure what other word(s) would satisfy me, much less others. “Left/Radical Libertarian”? “Anarcho-Collectivist/-Communalist”? I don’t know. I tend to avoid labels that are derivative of personal names like “Marxist” or “Trotskyist,” not necessarily because of what they stand for, but because it feels rather counter-intuitive to name a social/communal political ideology (one that should be broad enough by now to include radical feminism) after any singular/individual white man. But those are just some of my initial thoughts on the surface. As with most entries I read here, I’m sure this topic is one that would be best discussed at greater length.

    I look forward to more radical analysis, provocative insight, and deeper discussions in the future.

    Best regards.

  4. 4 dirk 8 December, 2007 at 1:59 am

    moinansari said…”However I stonrlgy disagree with Gandhi in the uardant with Mandela. Gandhi was a wife abuser, adulterer, pedophile in his personal life (see his gandson’t book, Mohandas) and a marketing gimmick in his public life (who brought religious symbols to to politics). The British were going to leave in 1945 anyway”…

    ‘O’, so thats what it was all about,”silly” me and i actually believed Ghandi had something to do with it

    Anyway…Paul if you can grab a copy of “Wasase”….

    http://www.broadviewpress.com/bvbooks.asp?BookID=713

    I think you will find the ideas articulated by Alfred Taaiake quite interesting and very relevant.
    His ideas come from an…. “anarcho-indigenist perspective that is non-capitalist, non-statist, pro-feminist, and based on a sustainable relation to nature”
    ….would definitely fit in the lower left quadrant.
    His ideas should be explored and engaged with,they offer very real possibilities.
    For Canada specifically,an alliance of First Nations and the “left” is definitely something that is needed.
    Indeed I would go so far to say First Nations struggles to create space & autonomy so that FN people can live according to their culture/traditions is vital not just for FN peoples but for all Canadians.Indeed for the survival of Canada as a country and as a way to counter American expansion and globalization.That is advancing the “vision” of a mono-cultural world that is dominated by capitalism and possessive individualism.
    Just as First Nation peoples and the newcomers came together for mutual defense and survival against(while at the same time allowing for each other to live according to their own culture& tradition) American expansionist efforts back in the early years,they must again.
    Taiaiake’s book provides many examples of and for living otherwise.
    His ideas come from an…. “anarcho-indigenist perspective that is non-capitalist, non-statist, pro-feminist, and based on a sustainable relation to nature”
    ….would definitely fit in the lower left quadrant
    Anyway I will say again this book is an awesome read,I can’t recommend it enough.It will give readers much pause for thought.It’s not just for, First Nations/indigenous peoples.Its for all people who dream about and struggle for real justice and a sustainable world.First Nations peoples survival is also our survival.

  5. 5 martinp 8 December, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Some very interesting responses. To add to the India thing, I’m not sure a grandson necessarily has all the info, stories get told within families, but of course India is a different country with different traditions and norms so whether Gandhi was fooling around and who with isn’t exactly relevant. Everybody is human as they say. However, a good friend of mine is an elderly Indian gentleman and he was saying much the same as the above-anybody who thinks ‘civil disobedience’ got independance is crazy. As usual it was the army who wanted independance, they suffered for the queen and now wanted some reward. However, the British certainly weren’t happy, and Churchill went to Mackenzie King for Canadian and american help in quelling the Indian unrest, Mackenzie, whose grandfather had been jailed for insurrection, promptly told Churchill to fuck off, one of the few proud moments in governmental history.

    That is also what got most of those canadian rights we take for granted, I always hated that CBC commercial that smarmly shows a minister visiting a veterans ward and making it look like it was government benevolence that got low income housing, medicare, veteran pensions, etc. Far from it, these guys who returned from the war knew exactly what their fathers returned home to.

    Two final points, there is quite a partnership between natives and environmentalists, but of course we don’t hear of it. Environmentalism is a pretty fringe movement in Canada still.

    But as for language, I simply prefer the word ‘democracy’. That is essentially what it comes down to. The word is seldom understood or thought about, which gives it its strength. The other positive is that unlike some other ‘hot’ words it doesn’t make people in the discussion simply close off their minds to whatever is being said because ‘its coming from a commie’. But no person is an ideology and unless a person is looking for a label much like religious people do, then the language issue is far different than appropriate labels.

  6. 6 amelo14 8 December, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Found your grid very helpful indeed as an attempt to map put diverse possibilities. However, I would seriously question whether Chomsky is in the same areas as the Dalai Lama and Ghandi. For one thing, they were believers; and if I am not wrong, Chomsky is not.

    Andrés

  7. 7 paulitics 8 December, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    amelo14 – religiosity has very little to do with one’s placement on the grid because the key factors are socio-economic.

    For instance, Hitler was devoutly religious, yet he’s extremely close to Kim Jong Il who is either irreligious or, under the so-called ‘Juche’ ideology, considers himself to be divine.

    Moreover, there are also brands of ‘liberation theology’ such as that espoused by Chavez, which are quite close to my (and Chomsky’s) position despite the fact that I’m an atheist (and I’m pretty sure Chomsky, despite being born into a Jewish family, is one too). Also it is worth pointing out that, while Mandela et al. are clearly the closest public figures listed to my beliefs, I am still approximately as far from them as Helen Clark is from Stephen Harper.

  8. 8 boycott John Wright and Wayne Crookes 8 December, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    “As for that incident with John Wright — I don’t know what to call it other than a “baptism by fire,” so to speak. Was that the first time you’ve been threatened with litigation for pointing out some of the usually obvious things you do on this blog? (I don’t expect you to answer such things here, if anywhere at all.)”

    In Canada one does not dare actually state an opinion that angers the least competent and least ethical members of the establishment.

    “I can’t imagine the stress John might have caused and don’t want to gloss over his violent way of handling the situation.”

    John Wright’s career must end now. Letters to his board of directors, deliberate lying to Ipsos-Reid polls until he is fired, publicizing the letters and the lying to the customers of Ipsos-Reid, protesting use of Ipsos-Reid numbers in the media, are some of the more effective ways to end it. By no means can one polling firm intimidate simple raising of questions about their statistical methodology by those obviously and unusually disadvantaged by it, nor by anyone else.

    “Without discounting the horrible part of the experience, a part of me still feels good that the observations you made caused a significant stir in wider circles. It’s also been reassuring to witness the spontaneous support that’s come from the rest of the blogging community.”

    They need a unified legal response via such means as a common defense fund run by libelchill.ca – so people like John Wright and Wayne Crookes can be resisted uniformly and effectively.

    Crookes runs his own company and is accordingly a little harder to run out of business or get fired, but Wright is a different matter. Many people who do not attempt to silence political critics with lawsuits work for Ipsos-Reid and they deserve a chance to remove Reid and avoid the consequences of his bullying behaviour. Which, when taken to the logical extreme of any corporation silencing any critic who cites them for incompetence in their exact area where they claim it, quickly becomes the, ah, “top-right” part of the graph.

  9. 9 Political Primate 8 December, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    “but we ourselves can’t agree on a word for ourselves.”

    That’s because the socialist left is collectivist in extreme, and has the great basic myth that unless you are of the same opinion as the collective you are evil. And that means that when differences in opinion appears within a party or ideological group, it leads to splits, as each viewpoint will denounce the other as “evil”. And then you define up new words for what is essentially the same thing: Some sort of anti-state socialism.

    Now, why doesn’t that happen so much for the far right, which is equally collectivist? Easy: Because their politics are more realistic they can be actually realised. It’s not a good idea to do so, of course, but it’s *possible*. That means that the opinions of view doesn’t need to happen very often, and is in the US countered by the necessity to get a majority in elections.

    But socialism isn’t practically possible. No matter how much you like the idea, it just doesn’t work. That means that socialists is constantly having to choose between dogma and reality. And this tends to lead to splits as socialists with better grounding in reality wants to step away from the dogma into a more realistic politics.

    So the reason for the naming confusion is the desire to denouce all that steps away from dogma, together with the lack of realism of that dogma.

  10. 10 martinp 8 December, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    First, I believe the point about the poll that was questionable was the claim of ‘suppression’. Like I said on the thread, you can call him all the names you want, and you can state points of opinion about the company, however, like he said, there are limits to free speech and claiming that they are ‘suppressing’ data is far different than saying ‘these guys are idiots’. Nobody would sue for the latter. As to the points about what they are actually doing, IF they are actively skewering data that is something that has to be proven.

    Second, the above is patently false, depending of course what is meant by ‘collectivist’. That word can mean just about anything. The ‘right’ of course, has just as many fractions and disagreements. As mentioned in numerous places, Bush’s administration is not ‘right’ on many policies, including immigration.

    Third, socialism is of course EASILY practisable, certainly as practiceable as whatever somebody may call the ‘right’. In fact, the ‘right’ cannot even make reasonable claims to be ‘capitalist’ in any ‘reasonable’ sense of the word, which means that NO ideology is practiseable. Socialism, at its core, is virtually identical to ‘democracy’, although modern democracy is supposed to ‘not get involved’ with ‘the market’-of course we know that isn’t true. So whatever type of ‘society’ is preached by the right is equally ‘unreasonable’, moreso than socialism.

    Just one final thought, Canada is actually fairly good at fostering such socialism within the system. So you can look at amish and mennonite communities, many of which operate under fairly socialist conditions. The ‘lack of realism’ is simply a lack of imagination. Even Canada had a fairly successful run during the seventies, eighties and early nineties where its government was MORE socialist-mean more responsive to the needs of canadians. But socialism doesn’t function on dogma AT ALL. In fact huge swaths of canadian society operate under its guise. When I volunteer at various places that is what I am practicing, just like when I borrow something from a neighbour or lend something. Or when we get together to make purchases, or set up a co-op, which are now huge organizations that are as large as private companies. In the prairies and maritimes the co-ops are huge, although not socialist in structure, they are socialist in nature. Even take Canada’s government-here’s a hypothetical. Let’s say media and all the people in riding X got very involved in a Bill. Let’s call it Bill X. IF the media hyped it, and the population said “ok, lets get together and vote”. So all the people got all the info and voted, then counted it. The media hyped it all the way, then the results were presented to the local representative. They would have a VERY hard time ignoring such a referendum, and of course if they did, then the media and people would ensure it was remembered next election.

    Now of course media wouldn’t do that (probably, but who knows), so lets take them out, lets say though that the people still had a referendum and blogged it and everybody in the riding knew about it, meaning that if that guy wanted to get re elected then his vote had better reflect their vote.

    That’s for one vote, but can certainly be done for the most contentious votes. Take it further and suppose that not only could they vote on those subjects, but also picked on the ones that government is avoiding, and further, suppose this happened in EVERY riding of the country. That goes a LONG way towards socialism, in fact the only thing barring it is assuming that people wouldn’t vote on subjects that have to do with industry-but say they did. Say somebody said “should we take away corporations right of personhood?” That was a legal decision and is easily changed. In other words, that is all EASILY ‘practiseable’, what is separating us from that is simply organization. Most people can’t be bothered, but time marches on….

  11. 11 Political Primate 8 December, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    “Second, the above is patently false, depending of course what is meant by ‘collectivist’. That word can mean just about anything.”

    Thats correct of course. In this case I mean that you put the group first in issues of identity and morality. I.e. that wan defines a world view where “we” are set against “them” and that “we” are always right, not matter what “we” do.

    “The ‘right’ of course, has just as many fractions and disagreements.”

    Fractions and disagrements are not the same thing, which is the whole point. And not that I did not say “left”. I said “socialist left” and talked about socialism. You would need to talk about conservatim, or libertarianism, och fascism, or some other ‘ism’. All of these are usually called “right” and they have absolutely nothing in common.

    “Third, socialism is of course EASILY practisable, certainly as practiceable as whatever somebody may call the ‘right’.”

    This argument firstly assumes that there is such a thing a “right” politics, which simply isn’t true. There is no ideology alled “rightism”. Secondly of all, socialism has failed each and every time it has been practiced. While the alternative to socialism, capitalism, succeeds all around the world today. How we can then claim that socialism is “EASILY practisable”, if nobody has ever suceeded? Reasonable, there must be something about it that is NOT “easy”.

    “In fact, the ‘right’ cannot even make reasonable claims to be ‘capitalist’ in any ‘reasonable’ sense of the word”

    Well, did I say that the right was capitalist? I would never do such a claim. Fascism and Nazism are not capitalist, and they are normally seen as right.

    “which means that NO ideology is practiseable.”

    That was very strange logic. Or, well, no logic at all, really. I didn’t follow that.

    “Socialism, at its core, is virtually identical to ‘democracy’”

    No, it isn’t. Democracy, at it’s core, is when you have the ability to choose your rules. Socialism is the common owenrship of the means of production. They have nothing in common. At the core.

    “although modern democracy is supposed to ‘not get involved’ with ‘the market’-of course we know that isn’t true. So whatever type of ’society’ is preached by the right is equally ‘unreasonable’, moreso than socialism.”

    This again does not follow. Can you explain the logic here? You seem to claim that because free markets work better than unfree markets, the people who advocate free markets are somehow unreasonable. I’m not able to follow your logic here at all.

    “Just one final thought, Canada is actually fairly good at fostering such socialism within the system.”

    That’s an extremely strange thing to say. Canada has the fifth freest economy in the world. Their politics is very liberal and not socialist in any way shape or form.

    “So you can look at amish and mennonite communities, many of which operate under fairly socialist conditions.”

    It is possible to own things together. But that is not socialism. Socialism is common ownership, that is that everyone owns everything, not that a smaller group of people owns something together.

    “The ‘lack of realism’ is simply a lack of imagination.”

    No. Realism is a lack of imagination. Lack of realism is way to much imagination, and no contact with reality.

    “Even Canada had a fairly successful run during the seventies, eighties and early nineties where its government was MORE socialist”

    No, they were liberal.

    “socialist-mean more responsive to the needs of canadians.”

    No, that is not what the word means. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

    “But socialism doesn’t function on dogma AT ALL.”

    Socialism is pure digma, as it’s every encounter with reality has failed. People who are not dogmatic in that situation stops being socialists. Only the dogmatics remain.

    “In fact huge swaths of canadian society operate under its guise.”

    Do you remember I mentioned realism? Connection to reality?

    “Or when we get together to make purchases, or set up a co-op, which are now huge organizations that are as large as private companies.”

    A coop IS a private company.

    “In the prairies and maritimes the co-ops are huge, although not socialist in structure, they are socialist in nature.”

    That is a debatable statement.

    “Even take Canada’s government-here’s a hypothetical. Let’s say media and all the people in riding X got very involved in a Bill. Let’s call it Bill X. IF the media hyped it, and the population said “ok, lets get together and vote”. So all the people got all the info and voted, then counted it. The media hyped it all the way, then the results were presented to the local representative. They would have a VERY hard time ignoring such a referendum, and of course if they did, then the media and people would ensure it was remembered next election.

    Now of course media wouldn’t do that (probably, but who knows), so lets take them out, lets say though that the people still had a referendum and blogged it and everybody in the riding knew about it, meaning that if that guy wanted to get re elected then his vote had better reflect their vote.

    That’s for one vote, but can certainly be done for the most contentious votes. Take it further and suppose that not only could they vote on those subjects, but also picked on the ones that government is avoiding, and further, suppose this happened in EVERY riding of the country. That goes a LONG way towards socialism”

    No it doesn’t. It has NOTHING to do with socialism. Not one yota.

    The problem here is completely clear: You define yourself as a socialist. And having a collectivist mindset, you therefore automatically define anything good as being socialist, and everything bad as being non-socialist.

    But the world doesn’t work that way. Socialism and democracy is not the same thing. In fact, democratic socialism is just one time of socialism, known as social democracy. And you can just as easily combina socialism with dictatorship, in which case people generally call it communism.

    But your collectivist view makes this hard for you to accept, because you identify yourself so heavily with socialism and the socialist community, and at the same time you define yourself and this community as “the good guys” so strongly that everybody else must be bad, and in an evil community you call “right”. And therefore all good things MUST come from socialism, because of they don’t then they come from the “right”, and that would mean they are not purely evil. And you can’t accept that, because that means you are not purely good. And the knowledge that you are is what keeps you going.

    So heres some chocking news:

    1. The world is not made up of a “we” vs “them” clan. Your attempt above of pushing me into an evil “them” you call the “right” fails. I am not “right”. I do not support Bush. I am leftist. I am liberal. I just happen to understand a bit about economics. And therefore I understand that socialism doesn’t work, and why.

    2. The right doesn’t exist. The “right” is made up by the “left” as an evil spectre that you can blame all evils on. “The left” doesn’t exist either. (At least not in the US). Same thing there. Don’t identify with the left, because when you do you take responsibility for all things left, which includes really evil things, like Stalinism.

    3. Words have general meanings. When you say “A car” you generally do not mean a very hairy dog. If you do start calling all hairy dogs “cars” people will get confused and they will not understand what you say. So, try to use words with it’s general meaning. Socialism has such a general menaing, and that is common ownership of the means of production. Democracy is not socialist (nor antisocialist) It’s a separate thing.

    4. You may be a good guy. But that doesn’t automatically turn everything you do into good results. For example: Every communist revolution has had a good purpose. It’s made by people who wanted good things and saw themselves as good people. Yet, no communist revolution has ever had a good result. In fact, tens of millions of people hav dies as a result. Good will does not mean good results.

    5. The people who do not want the same politics as you are not evil. They are also, generally good guys. They also want good things. They have just different opinions on how to get there. Don’t bunch them together with people who do not have the same opinions. Don’t accuse them of wanting evil unless you have a good reason for it.

    I hope this cleared some things up.

    And you are welcome to read more about this on my blog. I haven’t written that much yet, but more is coming, I hope.

  12. 12 paulitics 8 December, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    Sorry I’m just getting around to responding to comments now. I was extremely busy today.

    Martinp, in your first comment, you wrote:

    “Oh you young kids with yer book learnin! Do you really think most people see that as revolutionary? The only people who think its revolutionary are the ‘academic elites’ that Chomsky talks about because they’ve been taught that they are so much smarter than the rabble.”

    I’m not sure I understand this. Are you saying that my political position is not revolutionary or that the political position of the commenter on reddit.com is not revolutionary?

    I think most people would view my platform as revolutionary, but whether the populace — such as your example of collective farms et cetera — agrees with this or not has no bearing in my eyes as to whether the platform is revolutionary or not. In fact, I think a great majority of proletarians agree at least on some level with much of the revolutionary project, so I take this as reason for hope rather than reason for assuming that the programme itself is not revolutionary.

    Lastly, I don’t know if your comment about Chomsky is entirely fair. So far as I can tell, Chomsky is rabidly anti-elitist especially anti-academic elite. If you want, there’s a great talk Chomsky gives wherein he describes academic elites using the most withering terms here:

  13. 13 paulitics 8 December, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    Dirk, I’ll keep an eye out for something by Alfred Taaiake. To tell you the truth, I’d never heard of him until you mentioned him.

  14. 14 paulitics 8 December, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Martinp,

    In one of your later comments you wrote:

    “But as for language, I simply prefer the word ‘democracy’. That is essentially what it comes down to. The word is seldom understood or thought about, which gives it its strength. The other positive is that unlike some other ‘hot’ words it doesn’t make people in the discussion simply close off their minds to whatever is being said because ‘its coming from a commie’.”

    I think that’s an excellent formulation. The more we can emphasize that socialism is the radical expansion of democracy into the economic realm as well as what is currently narrowly-defined as the ‘political’ realm, the better off we’ll be. Liberals, as evidenced by our good friend Political Primate, claim to love democracy. Thus, I think your point is a great strategy for nomenclature when attempting to communicate with non-socialists.

  15. 15 paulitics 8 December, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    “boycott John Wright and Wayne Crookes”

    I thank you for your kind words of support. I think all people who love free speech must come to realize that the way the justice system is structured creates a class of ‘untouchable’ corporations and individuals who can spend enough money to avoid any tort or criminal charge. I read once that somewhere in the world, something like every 20 minutes of every day, a law suit is launched against Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart loses almost none of them because they have a law department that rivals most developed coutnry’s public prosecutors.

    Also, as for you question, yes, this was the first time that I’ve ever been threatened by anybody for something I’ve written on this blog. I was threatened once before, but it was a physical threat to kill me and have me ‘burn in hell’ because I am a Marxist rather than a legal threat.

  16. 16 paulitics 8 December, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    Political Primate,

    In your first comment (I’ll get to your second comment shortly), you wrote:

    ““but we ourselves can’t agree on a word for ourselves.” That’s because the socialist left is collectivist in extreme, and has the great basic myth that unless you are of the same opinion as the collective you are evil. And that means that when differences in opinion appears within a party or ideological group, it leads to splits… Now, why doesn’t that happen so much for the far right, which is equally collectivist? Easy: Because their politics are more realistic they can be actually realised. It’s not a good idea to do so, of course, but it’s *possible*”

    I certainly agree with you that the left has been prone to fragmentation. Actually, I don’t know if any seriously engaged individual could disagree with you on that front.

    But, that said, I don’t know if I buy your argument that this doesn’t happen on the right because their programme is somehow more “possible” or easily realizable. Could you elaborate on why you think this is the case?

    While we have to be careful about what we consider to be the ‘right’, my view of things is that the right’s programme is considerably MORE difficult to realize than any (non-utopian) socialist programme. One could take any number of unsustainable rightist political programmes such as that of the Shah from 1953-1979 or Nazism wherein the goal was the complete eradication of all non-Aryans and use them to clearly and empirically demonstrate the unrealizable nature of such rightist programmes.

    However, in the principle of charity, lets take something that is much more speciously ‘realizable’. For instance, lets take the Chicago School (Friedman et al.). The Chicago School acknowledged themselves in their own literature that their programme was hugely unpopular throughout Latin America and that any democratic régime would repudiate what would come to be known as the Washington Consensus. So their programme entailed the destruction of entire thriving and democratic political communities in the hopes of keeping a populace under dictatorial rule so as to maintain the appropriate neo-liberal economic model in perpetuity.

    This is clearly an ahistorical programme (as, I would argue, are all rightist programmes) that seeks to reverse the grand trend towards democratization which we see in the past 1000 years of history. Is such a thing, in your eyes, really realizable? To me it most certainly is not.

  17. 17 paulitics 8 December, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Political Primate,

    Okay, now on to your second (lengthy) comment.

    There are several points which you bring up that are worth addressing, but I’m going to limit myself to the most glaring ones.

    Firstly, you write that socialism is not democracy at its core and go on to write that “Democracy, at it’s core, is when you have the ability to choose your rules. Socialism is the common owenrship [sic] of the means of production. They have nothing in common. At the core.”

    Your definition of democracy is crude, but useful and thus for our purposes is a fair definition. I agree with you that Democracy is the ability of a populace to chose the rules by which they are governed and to exercise control over the factors that shape their lives. This is why Marx sought the radical expansion of democracy. and not only the expansion of the franchise to include women and Jews for example long before it was fashionable to argue for such radical expansions, but Marx most importantly and famously advocated the expansion of what would be included in the practice of democracy from its current narrow and parochial definition to something much more expansive which included everything which is currently included as well as democratic control over the means of production and the economic sphere as well.

    So, you point on this front, with all due respect, is simply untenable. Marx was a democrat. In fact he was a radical democrat. The only real question is why do liberals distrust democracy insofar as it is applied to the economic sphere and then turn around and hypocritically say that Marxists or socialists aren’t democrats. Empirically-speaking, if you have two groups: one which advocates the limiting of democracy and the other which advocates the radical expansion of democracy, it’s fair to say that one group is more democratic than the other and it’s also clear that the more democratic group is not the liberals.

    Secondly, you write that: “It is possible to own things together. But that is not socialism. Socialism is common ownership, that is that everyone owns everything.”

    This is also patently false. You should really read some Marx. If you like, there is a Marxist professor at Carleton University who specializes in Marx’s work and he has a running competition wherein he says he’ll award a half a million dollars to anybody who can find any quote in any of Marx’s work that advocates what you’re saying. So if you’re so certain that what you’re saying is true, I recommend you contact him. His name is Marvin Glass and he teaches specifically in the philosophy department of Carleton University here in Ottawa, ON.

    The fact of the matter is that what Marx does advocate is the abolition of private property. This is commonly misunderstood to mean that under a Marxist system everybody would have to share everything including their toothbrushes because they won’t own anything. This misconception is not supported by the voluminous corpus of Marx’s writings.

    Marx wrote, in one of his earliest works that, “The right of [private] property is, therefore, the right to enjoy one’s fortune and to dispose of it as one will; without regard for other men and independently of society.” Thus, the problem with this for Marx is that, in reality, property is not a ‘private’ matter but rather has a social life and a social character that is simply ignored in the capitalist epoch. Thus, when Marx speaks of the ‘abolition of private property’ he speaks of the abolition of this conception of property not property as an abstract idea itself.

    Thirdly, you write, “I am leftist. I am liberal.” This, I find kinda funny. Liberalism is not leftism. Go anywhere in the world other than North American and ask them what ‘liberalism’ means and they’ll tell you that it’s a centre-right or at best a centrist ideology. The reason for this is that, outside of North America, they view this historically as opposed to ahistorically. It is obvious to anybody who reads history that, by definition, liberalism has not been ‘progressive’ since the victory of liberal capitalism over feudalism (most notably following the French Revolution). Thus liberalism is status-quo and/or reactionary and not leftist.

    Fourthly, you write that “the alternative to socialism, capitalism, succeeds all around the world today.”

    The only way this position is tenable is through willful ignorance of capitalism.

    If you learned that in the European Union, every cow received $2.50 every day in government subsidies all the while 75% of Africans live on less than that — would you say that capitalism has been a success?

    If you learned that over 1 billion people lived on less than $1 per day and over 2 billion people lived on less than $2 per day all the while the richest 1% owned more than all of these 2 billion people combined — and that this inequality was INCREASING not decreasing — would you say that capitalism has been a success?

    If you learned that more than 70% of the world’s population has never heard the dial tone on a telephone, would you say that capitalism has been a success?

    If you learned that over 30,000,000 people in Africa alone are living with AIDS, and that there ARE pills which can help them, but that there is more money for pharmaceutical companies to give a North American an erection than there is to save an African life, would you say that capitalism has been a success?

    If you learned that over 18,000,000 people die every year from the poverty created by capitalism (keep in mind that’s 3 times the entire holocaust EVERY YEAR), would you say that capitalism has been a success?

    (if you like, I’d be happy to give you ample sourcing for all of these above claims, if you’d like to learn more about any of them).

    Irrespective of what you think of the alternatives to capitalism, there is no way the position that capitalism has been a success is logically tenable except through wilful ignorance or doublethink.

    Lastly, you write on a few occasions some variation of the theme that ‘socialism doesn’t work’ or, at the end of your last post that “I just happen to understand a bit about economics. And therefore I understand that socialism doesn’t work.” This latter claim is an argumentum ad verecundiam and thus is fallacious. To prove that this is fallacious I could point you to any number of the Marxian economist professors with whom I am acquaintances and point out to you that they know more than you and understand that capitalism doesn’t work. However, insofar as your other non-fallacious formulations are concerned, I have already addressed these concerns specifically in the comments section of this post, if you’re interested in reading a thorough rebuttal to this point:

    https://paulitics.wordpress.com/2007/01/07/to-those-who-say-socialism-doesnt-work/

    The gist of the argument, however, is that socialism has never been fully tried anywhere. There have been elements of socialism which have been tried (such as universal healthcare or old age pensions or free education for all or progressive taxation) and there have been various attempts at socialism writ small in various anarchist-socialist communities most notably in Spain prior to the Civil War. However socialism, at least non-utopian socialism as Marx (and I) understood it, has not been attempted yet in human history. The USSR and China and all other so-called ‘socialist countries’ (the very phrase ‘socialist country’ is itself a contradiction in terms), under any objective analysis, were state capitalist, not socialist. If you can find me any significant similarities between Marx’s writings and the Soviet Union other than in rhetoric, then I’ll stop calling myself a Marxist today.

  18. 18 Simon A. Dougherty 9 December, 2007 at 12:27 am

    I was originally interested in this post because it was largely about struggling with language to define those of us who occupy that space of political orientation and practice that has many names though no definitive one. While there may be no satisfactory answer in the end, it’s always a worth-while process to define who we are, not just to know ourselves better, but also as a practice to decolonize ourselves from oppressive language that makes us think and act in ways we do not endorse. And one way language is oppressive is when those who don’t identify with the kind of politics being discussed here come in and try to define others and tell them who they are for them. There are too many examples of this above to cite them all. Some arguments appeal to narrow notions of economics and history; some are tied up with “knowing” the correct version of “reality” and what’s practical, practicable, and realizable; etc. I’m tempted to argue each point when history and economics are defined so narrowly; when there’s so little understanding of epistemology (knowledge-claims) and metaphysics (reality); when there’s no differentiation made between things that have not been realized and things can’t be realized. Digressing into all of these arguments might be worth it for those who are sincerely interested in learning and changing, but I fear it would be a waste of time given the original task at hand; it would fall on deaf-ears that are only interesting in maintaining definitional-power, which is really what all this is about and what’s being threatened when non-conservatives/-liberals/-libertarians/-Stalinists/-fascists attempt to define themselves and create an abstract and intellectual space for themselves in language. I know such opposition to self-definition only increases when discussions like these branch out from thinking into reality (some people get threatened with litigation, or worse). So I won’t waste my time trying to defend the fact that these difficult-to-name things even exist (that shouldn’t stop anyone else from trying). I’m just saying that those whose definitional- and material-power is threatened by such radical politics have no interest in acknowledging anything that falls in that libertarian-left quadrant because they’re wedded to more neoliberal ideologies and lifestyles/realities that depend on not seeing the part of reality we’re talking about here. By their definition, the things we’re trying to name here cannot exist or else it would seriously threaten the “realities” to which they adhere and the privileges they receive via their complicity (passive or otherwise) with such systems. I already know — in my body and through my experience — that the things that are difficult to name here are still real in both theory and practice, even if they’re constantly threatened, erased, marginalized, made invisible, etc. I’m not here to debate such things with neoliberals and the rest of them (not that this will or even should stop the debate).

    I’m here (not just in this little forum, but in the world generally) to witness and participate in the naming (or re-naming/re-claiming) of this kind of politics. And this is no trivial matter. Language in this sense is performative, not just something abstract and intellectual. It makes real what it speaks of, like when you say “I am…” — it’s not just saying something, it’s doing something; creating a new space in which something real can exist. “Language is the house of being….”

    I hope to see more posts on the original topic, i.e. the self-definition of a radical politics that isn’t new but is in need of renewal.

    I am inspired when I recall a scene in Ken Loach’s film, “Land and Freedom” about the Spanish Civil War. After the POUM militia (like the one George Orwell was a member) liberates a village from Franco’s fascist army, the villagers organize a town hall meeting to decide whether or not to collectivize the land. The “actors” are not all actors — some of them are actually villagers with no acting experience; they’re children of those who were actually liberated and practiced one variation of the politics we speak of here. The scene is absolutely beautiful. The villagers debate across several languages (Spanish, English, French, German) and translate for each other so that they all understand their varying political positions regarding the decision to be made about how they will live on the land and, thus, who and how they will be together. And there are many varying positions — revolutionary Marxists, Communists, Anarchists, moderate Socialists, etc. — not all mutually exclusive, but different enough that one name won’t do. And even though they struggle and disagree, their discussion/debate is democracy in action. And when they democratically decide to collectivize the land, it is a cathartic moment of political (not to mention cinematic) achievement. It not only shows that such radical politics are possible; it shows how real they actually were and still can be, even if they are to take on different forms adjusted to today’s circumstances (just as they took on many different forms across Spain and even more diverse forms around the world and throughout history). Those villagers and internationals defined themselves — their politics, economics, history, etc. — and, thus, not only defined but also created a new reality for themselves. No fascists, conservatives, liberals, etc., were present. They weren’t needed to define them or what they knew was possible in reality. Their exclusion was necessary, in fact, for the new reality to take shape and be created. They can observe and question and even attempt to destroy these ways of living and the language we use to describe all of this, but such coercion will never disprove their existence in both theory and action; both past and present, and hopefully the future, too.

  19. 19 the_last_name_left 9 December, 2007 at 2:28 am

    QUOTE: the very essence and meaning of the word he seeks has been removed from political discourse and to the extent that it can be found in political discourse it is, just as Orwell predicted, taken to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means.
    ——-

    Indeed – but you say the word “Marxism” is lost to us because of this. I don’t agree. I realise the difficulties of employing the term – instant rejection is common – but isn’t accepting this corruption of the language accepting a defeat?

    Why should marxists accept such a defeat? Why should we accept the corruption of the terms? I don’t see why we should – rather we be more assertive and confident?

    I’ve spent a lot of time on forums speaking with N Americans about politics, and am continually amazed at the depth of indoctrination, over marxism/socialism especially. It’s true, the words carry massive baggage, and just as you point out, the connotations are inversions of reality. But isn’t it easier to work at re-inversion rather than starting from scratch? In ways the american public have already undergone a long “education” about marxism – only in the inverted opposite form. That speaks to me as an opportunity – though a huge task in itself. Those whom “refuse to be equal” have expended great effort on inverting the meaning of marxism and socialism – why waste it? “We’ll hang them with the rope they sold us?” – right? :)

    So I disagree when you say:

    “We can no longer use the word Marxism — although it would quite technically be an accurate label for the quadrant broadly understood – because, just as Orwell predicted, it’s meaning in modern parlance has been inverted into its exact opposite.”

    I agree with what you are saying, I only disagree about the use or otherwise of the term “marxism”. Why not use it? Only the correct actual use of the term can rehabilitate it, surely? So why not do it, and why not do it with relish!? Why not take advantage of the “education” employed to achieve the inversion?

    IMO american audience (especially most latent radical elements) are ready to hear the message – they agree with so much of the marxist critique of capitalism – only they see the inversion of it in what they understand by “marxism”. Whilst disappointing to behold, it IS an opportunity when considered against the growing sense amongst americans that “all we were told is lies”. How often do we hear this from disaffected americans? I see it everyday.

    And how obvious is it to everyone that nowadays the easiest way to find the truth of what “our leaders” say is by simply inverting it? IMO people are increasingly aware of this – and I suspect it makes them available to a re-inversion of all they have been told about “marxism”.

    btw – everytime I take that test I end up occupying that same spot. And I’ve never known anyone to occupy the top right quadrant – not even proto fascists, so I think it’s pretty skewed. Or maybe we really don’t have as much work ahead of us as we might sometimes fear? :)

  20. 20 Political Primate 9 December, 2007 at 4:45 am

    “Thus, I think your point is a great strategy for nomenclature when attempting to communicate with non-socialists.”

    No, it gets confusing as it isn’t the same thing, and will only make non-socialists angry as they see you as liars. It does show that you mean well, and it explains your intentions. But as we all know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    “But, that said, I don’t know if I buy your argument that this doesn’t happen on the right because their programme is somehow more “possible” or easily realizable. Could you elaborate on why you think this is the case?”

    Considering the amount of discussion my comment already has generated, I have to say “no”. :) *WHY* socialism doesn’t work is an topic that is going to take at least as long as this to explain, and one that my current blog incarnation isn’t interested in discussing. I’ve discussed that for what seems to be several eternities already. I’m now focusing on getting a good grip on why socialists doesn’t want to understand that it doesn’t work. Because it really is not a matter of that they can’t understand it, or that they just haven’t got the information. No, socialists truly do not WANT to understand it.

    Thus, I’m not going to answer any of your points on why capitalism is bad, because you are wrong, and I’m bored with spending years of talking to walls about this. I want to understand WHY you believe that socialism works in the face of overwhelming evidence. And I’m starting to understand this, I think, but I am still very unsure.

    “my view of things is that the right’s programme is considerably MORE difficult to realize than any (non-utopian) socialist programme. One could take any number of unsustainable rightist political programmes such as that of the Shah from 1953-1979 or Nazism wherein the goal was the complete eradication of all non-Aryans and use them to clearly and empirically demonstrate the unrealizable nature of such rightist programmes.”

    And here is one of the basic mistakes you do. “Us against Them”. All that is not “Us” are in one group called “Them”. And “Them” all think the same and have the same opinion and the same ideas and the same politics.

    But that’s not how it works. If Nazism is “right” then neither liberals, libertarians or conservatives are “right”. They are all “left”. Because none of these other groups have ANYTHING in common with Nazism. However, a case can be made for socialism to be “right”, as the connections between Nazism and socialism is strong. It is called national-socialism, you know…

    So therefore, basically, each time you talk about “rightist” policies, you fail to make an argument. So we have to stop talking about “the right”, because the right you are talking about DOES NOT EXIST. It is a fictional “Them” you have created to act as an enemy to your “Us”.

    “The Chicago School acknowledged themselves in their own literature that their programme was hugely unpopular throughout Latin America and that any democratic régime would repudiate what would come to be known as the Washington Consensus. So their programme entailed the destruction of entire thriving and democratic political communities in the hopes of keeping a populace under dictatorial rule so as to maintain the appropriate neo-liberal economic model in perpetuity.”

    That’s an interesting statement, because it shows your attitude towards politics. Your view is that if you have a program that is unpopular, you should force it through with violence. And so you assume that everybody else have the same opinion. Well, we don’t. I don’t and Friedman didn’t. Friedman wanted to see the Washington consensus implemented. but not with violence or dictatorship.

    It also shows that your talk about democracy and socialism is just veneer. You are only interested in democracy, because you view democracy and socialism as being the same thing. basically, for you “democracy” is just another word for socialism. Well, outside the socialist world, democracy does actually mean something substantial, and separate from socialism. And that view is also the only way to explain your next comment:

    “This is clearly an ahistorical programme (as, I would argue, are all rightist programmes) that seeks to reverse the grand trend towards democratization which we see in the past 1000 years of history.”

    This comment is only understandable if you in your head equate socialism and democracy, and “right” and non-democracy. If you don’t see things that way, it’s just gibberish. So this is more proof that you see the world as battle between “Us” and “Them”. My guess is that to get anywhere in this discussion, I must first make you truly understand that this is not hoe the world works. I have to get you to sopt being so goddamn collectivist. And I have NO idea how to do that.

    “Firstly, [...]”

    Firstly you define socialism and democracy as being the same thing, even though I make a case for it not being so. I’m flexible, we can use the word “democracy” for “socialism” if you want. But then we need another word for democracy. You are adamant the democracy should mean “common ownership of the means of production”, and then we need another word for “a society in which the rulers of the state are elected by and responsible to the people in free, fair elections with full freedom of speech and everything else that is necessary for this to work properly”.

    You are free to suggest words for this. I’m going to for the time being call it “populocracy” at the moment, after the latin word for people.

    Because when you equate democracy and socialism, that means you can push through socialism, and claim democracy, even if it is not a populocracy. Case in point: Cuba and the soviet union, who both have had many socialists support them from around the world, often claiming that these countries are more democratic than the west, with exactly your argumentation. Well, with that argumentation the word “democracy” becomes meaningless. So therefore, I now are going to call it “populocracy” until this changes, or debate will be impossible.

    Again we can also see how this is a result of your collectivist viewpoint. You aim to take all positively charged words and make them equal to “Us”, and all negative words and make them equal to “Them”. But words have a meaning independent of their emotional charge, a meaning you ignore or distort in your effort to gather all Good Things around you.

    “You should really read some Marx. ”

    I have read a LOT of Marx. Let’s leave it at that. To make this discussion easier and less rude: Just pretend that I know everything you know. And more. I’m not saying I do. Just assume it, and then we don’t have to have these silly “just read this and that”. Assume that I have read it, OK?

    “Marx’s work and he has a running competition wherein he says he’ll award a half a million dollars to anybody who can find any quote in any of Marx’s work that advocates what you’re saying.

    The fact of the matter is that what Marx does advocate is the abolition of private property. ”

    Funnily, that’s exactly what I said! I guess you can heave in that award now.

    “Thirdly, you write, “I am leftist. I am liberal.” This, I find kinda funny. Liberalism is not leftism. Go anywhere in the world other than North American and ask them what ‘liberalism’ means and they’ll tell you that it’s a centre-right or at best a centrist ideology.”

    True. But with the use of “the right” as it has been used in this discussion, I’m definitely left. It again just shows how useless those words are. They are only there for you to be able to split the world into “Us” and “Them”. And you really do NOT like the fact that I am not part of “Them”. But you know, I ain’t. I am not a “Them”. I’m nots likely not an “Us” either. Don’t that just make your head explode? :)

    “This latter claim is an argumentum ad verecundiam and thus is fallacious. To prove that this is fallacious I could point you to any number of the Marxian economist professors with whom I am acquaintances and point out to you that they know more than you and understand that capitalism doesn’t work.”

    No, they don’t. Now I’m going to get back on the topic: Why you, and these professors, cling to an ideology that has been completely disproved. That’s what interesting. I know they cling to it, I know they are wrong, I know also that you are wrong, and that nothing I say can convince you about it. I want to know WHY you have this dogmatic point of view. That’s what interests me now.

    “My simple response to people who spout this empty rhetoric is to ask: how do you know?”

    It’s called “the scientific method”.

    Your argument is that every time socialism has been tried, and it failed, that wasn’t socialism. That is just a rationalization from your part. Is a reasoning you use to protect yourself from reality. And just as a quick note: Socialism has been tried in many more places than the ones you note It has been tried also, most significantly, in democratic ways. And it failed then too. It has really been tried. Really. And it doens’t work. And I’m not talking about the communist dictatorships. I’m talking about everything from Indian economics before 1991 to public schools in US.And never, even once, did it work.

    “The gist of the argument, however, is that socialism has never been fully tried anywhere.”

    “Fully tried” is a dangerous arguments. Libertarians often use the same.

    Basically, when ever somebody has tried socialism, democratic or otherwise, it has failed, and the attempt has normally been stopped quite quickly. The longest running attempts was the Soviet Union and North Korea, and we know how well *that* works, and no, they are not “fully socialist” either. Most people, if you try to do something and you fail, this is called as a failed attempt. You however, say that it wasn’t an attempt, because it wasn’t fully tried.

    It’s a bit like trying to make an aeroplane, and everytime you try to get up to liftoff speed, the wings tear off. Most people would call that a failure. You say it wasn’t “fully tried” because you never got off to takeoff speed.

    And if something has to be fully tried before it works, and just trying it a little bit doesn’t work, then you can’t get there in a populocratic manner, because the rules trying to get there will make things worse, and get voted out. If something has to be “fully tried” before it can work, you are going to have to push it through against the will of the people.

    This is the view of communists. And that’s why Lenin in the Soviet Union tried to push through collectivisation with force. The result was mass starvation.

    “If you can find me any significant similarities between Marx’s writings and the Soviet Union other than in rhetoric, then I’ll stop calling myself a Marxist today.”

    Wow. I wish I could believe that. But I might take you up on that some other day just to prove that you are not going to stop being Marxist even when I do this.

    Now, that’s the end of my explanations for this time. But I have some questions for you:

    1. Can you give me examples of where good intentions had bad effects?
    2. Do you believe that Lenin was an evil man? Why or why not?
    3. Is there in your opinion an objective reality and an objective truth?
    4. How can you know if a political or economic theory is wrong or right?

  21. 21 dirk 9 December, 2007 at 7:29 am

    Simon said..”I was originally interested in this post because it was largely about struggling with language to define those of us who occupy that space of political orientation and practice that has many names though no definitive one. While there may be no satisfactory answer in the end, it’s always a worth-while process to define who we are, not just to know ourselves better, but also as a practice to decolonize’…

    So true human being are very complex and to try and shoehorn people or reduce their views to simplistic labels is an exercise in futility.
    That said I do believe that the people who fall into the lower left quadrant are definitely looking in the right direction.They all bring valuable insights.

    Political Primate said…”Wow. I wish I could believe that. But I might take you up on that some other day just to prove that you are not going to stop being Marxist even when I do this”…

    I wish you luck on that.Marx definitely has nothing in common with nor stood for anything that transpired in the USSR.You seem to misunderstand what Marxism is.
    It is not a theory about some Utopian world.
    Marx’s main contribution was to articulate and explain how capitalism works He discovered the fact that there are inherent and unresolvable contradictions built into capitalism…i,e the needs of capital and private property clash with the basic needs of people and the environment.
    Sure a capitalist economy can be moderated at times,but eventually the needs of capital and private property will always try and reassert themselves.They do this by the constant whittling away of hard won gains a such as decent wages,various social programs,workers rights,every one of these right were payed for with the blood tears and sweat of workers and their allies.In our time NAFTA comes to mind. In the developing countries they just use brute force & colonialism,pretty much as they have been since day one.
    Marx’s idea being that if we understand the mechanics and inner rational of capitalism we are then in a much better position to understand how to do away with capitalism.
    Being that private property and profit are what motivates capitalism.The logical solution would be to return to the commons i.e a system based on the common property.
    Marx had very little to say on what a post capitalist society might look like…. “a society of free producers” is the closest Marx came to such speculation.
    But none of this can happen without the direct input and conscious efforts of the working class.That’s working class,people working together for the needs and good of all.
    An example that can help one to understanding how such a society might operate,with out rulers and with common “property” being the norm,is the Iroquois Confederacy.
    Hero’s,potential rulers,Kings,Queens & Stalins need not apply.

  22. 22 martinp 9 December, 2007 at 8:04 am

    For the above poster, your at the wrong site for the “I already know I’m right and I’m sick of arguing it”. Of course EVERYBODY says that. Like you, ‘we’, or at least I, want to also understand WHY you think you are right when you are wrong (well, actually, I don’t care that much).

    You are the only one here who keeps bringing up ‘right’ and ‘left’. On his chart Paul has ‘economic right’, and ‘economic left’, but there has been no comments about it, and that generally means something different from ‘social left’ and ‘social right’, which NOBODY has mentioned. Likewise, nobody else here has said ‘we’ or ‘them’, that is something YOU keep bringing up, ironically to keep repeating that WE are fixated on them.

    There is of course no ‘we’, since as we’ve established, there is no political union or representative body. I enjoy this blog because its one of the better ones, particularly in its well thought out criticism. I likewise enjoy davidwcampbell.com, a blog which is run by an economic developer in New Brunswick for the same reason.

    So we can just hereafter state that you understand the pertinent political philosophical terms far differently than ‘we’ do (or I at least) and move along your merry way. Otherwise, as said, it becomes about the terms and all the things you think you know are right but are sick of arguing about-believe me, a blogger like Paul, and certainly I have had the same argument from the opposite end MANY times, and come to the same conclusions as you.

    The central problem with semantics and political philosophy IS language, namely, the attempt to label massive things as one thing or another or ‘locate them in the spectrum’. Paul replied to most of the criticisms, but there were a few good comments that are worth bringing up. One concern above was ‘well, if you don’t call it democracy then we need other words’. No, we don’t, as mentioned above, we need people to understand that a word in politics is not the same as science. It is not ‘natural phenomena’, so the ‘scientific method’ only goes so far. The first point of the scientific method is to state the parameters of any experiment, which is what the linguistic exercise is in political philosophy. If you leave that out, then the ‘experiment’ is moot. To Pauls credit that is what the chart is for. IF you don’t agree with it, then obviously you won’t agree with the ‘findings’, just like if you use a particular dendrimer in a molecular biology experiment then the findings change. However, we CAN note that the US never calls itself a democracy and the founding fathers expressly fought against it (more on that later)

    Of course that doesn’t make them ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. In politics what is ‘right’ for one group is not necessarily wrong for another. A ‘theory’ is just that-’a theory’. I could make up a fairyland and say that if we all smoked pot and stayed ‘high’ all the time then there would be peace and love. That is a political philosophy and is not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. You may disagree with it, it may even be bad for your health, but that doesn’t make it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’-this isn’t science. In science your ‘theory’ needs to be reproducible in an objective forum, meaning by anyone. It has to explain ‘reality’. That is not true of political or economic theories, that is only true of CRITICISM, where what is said about certain topics must be verifiable. Plato’s republic is not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, it just IS.

    The number three question is far too vast to be approached here, suffice it to say “it depends what you mean by ‘objective’ reality and truth. God? The natural world? The question about good intentions and bad effects again comes down to semantics. That is the common claim about Iraq, although both are argued. Many though accept that the US had ‘good intentions’, but it had ‘bad effects’-I’m not saying either of those are true, again, it depends how it is defined. As for Lenin, that has nothing to do with this. Certain aspects of it may be considered ETHICALLY right or wrong. We have universal human rights in theory, in theory we say ‘killing is wrong’. So IF a politial philosophy says kill, that statement may be said to be wrong.

    But semantics are all important. If you THINK that Co-ops are the same as private companies then the debate ends here. They are only similar in that ‘private’ by necessity means that they do not include everybody (but everybody is free to start one). But lets use an example. In Fredericton there is a direct charge Co-op. It functions, in general, like our political system. It’s not DIRECT democracy, but representative in nature, and everybody ‘owns’ a share, and their shares are equal to every other person. Compared to a private company that is far different. A private company has no mechanisms to include any others, and is totalitarian. What George Weston wants for his grocery stores is what George Weston gets, even if it makes no economic sense. It takes work, but decisions of a co op can be challenged, and resolutions are voted on.

    A co-op is ‘public’, meaning it is open to as many people as can be represented. A PUBLIC company is a not quite middle point, but many have said that IF public companies didn’t allow majority shareholders then they would function far better. As mentioned elsewhere, the executives of a public corporation have an obligation to do what a private company does, which is make money for its owners/shareholders. A co op is not designed to make money AT ALL, it is designed for local control and usually to SAVE money.

    So, IF you think a co op is the same as a private company that is only true in your little world. Because a ‘business’ offers the same service does not mean its the same thing. A public company is not the same as a private company because it has a similar service (it should be stated that most co-ops do not even have a ‘similar’ service). The canadian government owns Purolator Courier, they do the same thing as UPS, but they are certainly not the same thing even if the government tries to operate it on similar lines.

    For democracy, that is a similar question. A ‘public utility’ TECHNICALLY belongs to ‘all of us’, therefore whereever you see a public utility you see an imperfect example of socialism. If ontario hydro allowed ‘local control’, and local control by the population, then you’d have an even clearer example of socialism. It is ‘owned by everyone’, and ‘everyone has a say’. So first, as we head down the spectrum toward socialism and noted that ontario hydro is ‘owned by everyone’ then we can ask whether that system is better than, say, NOT having a public utility.
    And there the reaction is mixed, but there is certainly ample evidence that public utilities ARE the better way to go, and we can use your own logic and state that it is better BECAUSE it exists in that form. Ontario had an early advantage over the eastern provinces because it had a public utility far longer than they did.

    So again, we can see how socialism is successful. Of course it depends what you mean by successful. Many in california got very rich with privatization, that is THEIR version of successful, but thats not the public vote. But we can note that a public utility, while ‘more socialist’ than private utilities, is not socialism, but merely MORE socialist.

    Back to language, capitalism is not the opposite of socialism, it may be to YOU and to your friends who agree with you, but that doesn’t make it the common consensus. EVERYBODY uses the ‘common sense’ argument to support their case, and like I said, thats why I don’t see this stuff as ‘revolutionary’. The two are only opposites if you think that ‘money’ and ‘people’ are opposites, but far from it. Far Far from it.

    As for democracy, you claim we need other words, but we don’t, we need people to understand words. Just because you SAY that the United States is a democracy doesn’t make it true. In fact, as mentioned in numerous places, the US is a REPUBLIC. And even ‘democrats’ see it as a republic, democracy was absolutely warned against by the founding fathers. In Canada, of course, democracy was never even in the cards, it is a ‘constitutional monarchy with a system of responsible government’. But how often do people call it that? But to be ‘scientific’ we can go to the government itself and see that IT calls itself that and always has. Sometimes science does come in handy, and at the very least it means looking at reliable information-in this case NOT the corporate media.

    For democracy and socialism, there is an easy way to look at that in reality. Democracy, technically, means ‘rule by the people’. So in the states we can say that the country has more ‘democratic tools’. A democratic tool is not the same as democracy, but the presence of certain tools make it more democratic. It has more tools than just about any other country, although it can be argued about Switzerland. So for example, referenda can be considered ‘more democratic’ than NO referenda, and thats why most constitutional changes in most countries require them. In the US, half of the states have citizens initiatives, that provides a ‘democratic tool’, one that half the states lack, and which isn’t present in canada at all.

    And in the states it is no great suprise that many of the original progressives who pushed for citizens initiatives and referenda were openly socialist. Take a look at Maine and South Dakota for example.

    Here we see where democracy and socialism COULD be different, because in a community you may find a population that WANTS corporate rule. Or you may find a community that WANTS to crack down on minorities. So here you see where you are very very WRONG, that what ‘we’ are talking about as being ‘a better way to run a society’ is not always GOOD, depending on how you define good. Switzerland has the most democratic tools, but didn’t allow women to vote until the seventies.

    The means of production is something else. You may in fact find a population that WANTS to live in servitude. Here in ontario the economy is pretty good, and IF you have skills that are sought after and paid for well, then you probably don’t want the responsibility of public ownership. You don’t WANT to own part of the company because that involves responsibility and involves time, which you want to preserve for your family or some such thing. Like I said, democracy and socialism are close, but not identical. The ASSUMPTION of many people who may call themselves socialists is that given the choice, people WANT to not live in servitude. I don’t think thats ALWAYS the case, which is why socialists are by far more practical people-the ROAD to socialism, or democracy, at least has the result that changes along the road solve many of the problems that make it necessary in the first place.

    That is different from, say, Chomsky, whose words mirror early activists that ‘the workers should own the mill’. That is different from saying EVERYONE should own the mill. That ‘may’ be better than absentee corporate owners, but a group of workers could still have interests different from the general public. So it is ‘better’, but not necessarily ‘best’. To be fair, Chomsky is never really clear on this and in the Corporation does maintain that society in general should own most means of production.

    Finally, sorry this is so long, but this is long stuff. Canada has the fifth most free economy depending on how that is measured. And since NO economy is ‘free’ then thats a bad measure, like rating which village in China is most democratic. Free, according to most published critics,means free from government control. That doesn’t mean free, in fact it can be argued that a freer economy is one that is government controlled-depending on the government of course. Most measures see CORPORATE control as being most free, the more that corporate interests control an economy, the more ‘free’ it is. Again, thats an unusual view of freedom. In fact, even the conservatives, the nominally ‘less government’ party is now trying to make a national trading regulator. This, even though they refuse national…welll, anything else. But the national regulator is designed because Canada’s ‘free’ economy is so publicly corrupt that even business friendly publications like McLeans have huge spreads on public corruption.

    Alberta and BC trading markets have long been known as being among the most crooked in the world. BC’s is mainly mining, and as one insider pointed out “I don’t know of a single successful honest mining promoter”. So corruption can mean free, as long as its the corporations who are corrupt, and not the government-which is often seen as corrupt if it EVER gets involved.

    Again, its all semantics, IF you think the US is a democracy and the economies are free, and that capitalism is successful and socialism is not, then those are YOUR preconceived notions. So before going around the web telling people that they are wrong and to examine themselves, physician, heal thyself.

  23. 23 paulitics 9 December, 2007 at 9:39 am

    the_last_name_left,

    I really appreciate your comment and I think your contribution is invaluable to the discussion here. You’ve definitely given me food for thought.

    I wanted to point out a section in your comment that I thought was interesting. you wrote:

    “I’ve spent a lot of time on forums speaking with N Americans about politics, and am continually amazed at the depth of indoctrination, over Marxism/socialism especially. It’s true, the words carry massive baggage, and just as you point out, the connotations are inversions of reality. But isn’t it easier to work at re-inversion rather than starting from scratch?”

    I think this is an important point. Indeed much of the academic school of thought known as ‘Frame theory’ is predicated very much on what you’re saying here. In essence, the idea is that once you accept your opponents’ terminology/taxonomy/nomenclature et cetera, you lose. Period. No matter how coherent your arguments are, they cannot succeed if you do not reframe the debate using your own terms.

    That said, I’m not sure whether I either fully disagree or agree with your comment. I’d have to think about it some more. But, what I do this is fair to say is that, the two strategies (i.e., Martinp’s strategy of using the radical democracy frame and your strategy of rehabilitating Marx in the eyes of the populace) don’t necessarily have to be pursued to the exclusion of each other.

    In fact, in both my day-to-day life and here on this blog I attempt both strategies side by side. For instance, that’s why I made the “Marx to English Dictionary” and that’s why I openly and frequently call myself a Marxist and publish works on dispelling various myths about socialism and Marxism. But, on the other hand, when you’ve got somebody who’s been so thoroughly indoctrinated, I think Martinp’s strategy is best.

  24. 24 paulitics 9 December, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Simon, “I hope to see more posts on the original topic, i.e. the self-definition of a radical politics that isn’t new but is in need of renewal.”

    I think I can probably oblige you here. :)

  25. 25 paulitics 9 December, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Political Primate ,

    I generally make it a policy not to discuss with somebody who sees me as inherently wrong and as idiotically clinging to some falsehood. Such a position is authoritarian in the highest degree because it assumes that you have the privileged position of truth and if only I could be brought to see what you see, then I would be saved. Thus, against my better judgement, I have decided to engage with you here although I’m sure you’ll make me regret this decision when you try to reiterate the idea that if only I could be brought to see what you see, I’d be better off.

    Thus, to begin:

    Firstly, you wrote: “Thus, I think your point is a great strategy for nomenclature when attempting to communicate with non-socialists.” No, it gets confusing as it isn’t the same thing, and will only make non-socialists angry as they see you as liars. It does show that you mean well, and it explains your intentions. But as we all know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

    Then if you’re so convinced of that, then you can just keep all your bad intentions and work with them. Enjoy.

    Secondly, you wrote: “*WHY* socialism doesn’t work is an topic that is going to take at least as long as this to explain, and one that my current blog incarnation isn’t interested in discussing. I’ve discussed that for what seems to be several eternities already. I’m now focusing on getting a good grip on why socialists doesn’t want to understand that it doesn’t work.”

    Wow, that’s both arrogant and fascist at the same time. Should I thank you for taking the time out of your day to educate those of use who simply refuse to realize what you take to be so objectively true? If so, I really do thank you for taking the time to help us stupid people out. We really need it, thanks.

    Also, I’ve also given you voluminous writings on the topic of why the whole “socialism doesn’t work” topic is not accurate because socialism has never been tried. Show me an example of a Marxist society, please.

    Thirdly, you wrote: “Thus, I’m not going to answer any of your points on why capitalism is bad, because you are wrong, and I’m bored with spending years of talking to walls about this.”

    That’s hilarious. You don’t think we do the same thing with capitalists who just don’t want to learn or understand anything we have to say because they see us socialists as evil and unwilling to understand why socialism doesn’t work? Your position here is infantile. Yes, you’re the centre of the universe and no socialist has ever had to face the same thing.

    Fourthly, you wrote: “But that’s not how it works. If Nazism is “right” then neither liberals, libertarians or conservatives are “right”. They are all “left”.”

    That’s a false dichotomy. For a person who’s trying to educate us stupid socialists who are simply unwilling to learn, you sure do commit a large number of fallacies in your writings.

    Fifthly, you wrote, “a case can be made for socialism to be “right”, as the connections between Nazism and socialism is strong. It is called national-socialism, you know…”

    This one also made me laugh. Yes, it was called nationalism socialism. It had the word socialism in the TITLE! Oh my God! I’m called “Paul”, therefore, using that logic, I must be the St. Paul that all the Catholics talk about.

    If you think that the connection between the two is strong, why don’t you go and try to publish an academic paper on it? And when you do, can I please be there when you get the reply from the journal you submitted the manuscript to?

    Sixthly, you wrote: “That’s an interesting statement, because it shows your attitude towards politics. Your view is that if you have a program that is unpopular, you should force it through with violence. And so you assume that everybody else have the same opinion. Well, we don’t. I don’t and Friedman didn’t. Friedman wanted to see the Washington consensus implemented. but not with violence or dictatorship.”

    Um, no. Read through my statements again. It’s clear that I’m opposed to such a move and this is why I opposed Friedman’s lifelong support for Pinochet. So, if you still believe that “Friedman wanted to see the Washington consensus implemented. but not with violence or dictatorship.”, you really need to look up Friedman’s support for the overthrow of the democratically-elected government by the dictator Pinochet to implement the Washington Consensus. It’s well-documented and a part of public record.

    Seventhly, you then get into a whole bit about redefining words. I don’t know what this is about. I think I take the commonly accepted definition of democracy — in fact I took YOUR definition of democracy. I then take Marx’s definition of socialism to prove that the latter is a radical expansion of the former. So I don’t know why you’re so afraid of this point. Are you saying that my formulation of Marx is wrong or are you saying that your definition of democracy is wrong?

    Eighthly, you wrote: “The fact of the matter is that what Marx does advocate is the abolition of private property… Funnily, that’s exactly what I said! I guess you can heave in that award now.”

    Go try and claim the prize then. I didn’t make him up, he’s a real person and he’s offered the prize on multiple occasions. Again, can I please be there when you try to tell him that the abolition of *private* property in Marx’s writings means the same thing as either the abolition of property altogether or that it means that we will all own everything together like some horrible hippie commune writ global? Please? I’ll drive you to go see him if you let me be there.

    Ninthly, you wrote: “And you really do NOT like the fact that I am not part of “Them”. But you know, I ain’t.”

    Did I ever say that? Ever? or are we just making stuff up again? I never said you were a part of some “them”. All I said was the everywhere in the world liberalism is seen as centre-right. AND YOU AGREED WITH ME! This has got to be one of the most incoherent parts of your argument.

    Tenthly, you then go on to quote me when I wrote:

    “This latter claim is an argumentum ad verecundiam and thus is fallacious. To prove that this is fallacious I could point you to any number of the Marxian economist professors with whom I am acquaintances and point out to you that they know more than you and understand that capitalism doesn’t work.”

    You then respond with the pithy: “No, they don’t.”

    To prove to you that this response is still fallacious, I could simply respond again to you:

    “Yes, they do.” Get how useless your answer is now? Want to do another round of this again? Your argument on this front is getting you nowhere, move on.

    Eleventhly, and possibly most importantly: Did you ever notice how your very definition of somebody who’s a socialist is, to use your words, somebody who’s “cling to an ideology that has been completely disproved.”? Thus, under your definition, before I even open my mouth, I’m wrong because I’m clinging to an ideology which you claim has already been disproven — although I didn’t get the memo and I think I’m a reasonably educated person.

    Since you believe this, you might want to reconsider posting any further on this blog because, you see, I don’t take kindly to that kind of paternalism. If you want to have a discussion with me, or with any of my readers, you have to at least drop the presumption that we always/already are “cling[ing] to an ideology that has been completely disproved.” and that we simply don’t want to see the truth as you are graciously attempting to reveal it to us.

    This is a bare minimum. If you don’t heed my advice, you’ll soon find yourself without anybody to discuss with and you’ll be talking back at those walls talk about doing for so many years.

    There’s a place for proselatization, it’s 18th Century South America, not this blog.

    Twelvely, you then write:

    “Most people, if you try to do something and you fail, this is called as a failed attempt.”

    That’s a fair point and I agree with it. Thus, in order to argue that socialism in the USSR or China was a failed attempt, you have to FIRST prove that it was their INTENTION to create Marxist socialism. In other words it has to be an attempt at Marxism first in order to be a failed attempt at Marxism as you claim them to be.

    The fact of the matter is though that one of the first things Lenin did after seizing power was to ABOLISH the workers soviets (the democratic workers councils which, for Marx, was the cornerstone of his writings). If the first thing they do is the exact opposite of what they claim to be attempting, what does that say to you? Does that suggest to you that they ever wanted to establish Marxism or does it mean to you that they simply wanted to establish a dictatorship and use the rhetoric of Marxism?

    Thirteenthly, you also write that “And if something has to be fully tried before it works, and just trying it a little bit doesn’t work, then you can’t get there in a populocratic manner.”

    This doesn’t follow. I think we can both agree that socialism has never been fully tried because, at least for Marx, socialism needs to be global and needs to abolish all nation-states. But that said, certain limited, yet incomplete types of socialism have existed and some failed miserably and others were proven to work. I’ve already discussed the various socialist/anarchist communities in Spain pre-Civil War, but there is also the Paris Commune that could be pointed to. Niether of these were able to resist being crushed by outside capitalist forces because their socialism wasn’t complete, but I think most objective analyses would argue that they did work.

    Fourteenthly, you go on to quote me when I wrote:

    “If you can find me any significant similarities between Marx’s writings and the Soviet Union other than in rhetoric, then I’ll stop calling myself a Marxist today.”

    And you responded:

    Wow. I wish I could believe that. But I might take you up on that some other day just to prove that you are not going to stop being Marxist even when I do this.

    No, I was genuine when I said this. This further speaks to the fact that you don’t really want a debate, you just want ME to see that YOU’RE right. You must really think me a horrible person if I would voluntarily wish to associate myself with brutal dictatorships. If you can make the case, I’ll stop calling myself a Marxist today. However, I should warn you that I’ve done a fair bit of research and from what I’ve found, I’ve seen not a complete disjuncture between the Soviet Union and Marxism, but very close to a complete disjuncture.

    Lastly, you then go and ask me four questions which have no bearing on anything I wrote or on the topic at hand. The discussion here is for those of us who want to discuss the post at hand and interjected into our discussion and wrote some things which were, whether you agree with it or not, not an accurate representation of Marx’s work and thus I corrected them. So I don’t know what MY opinion has to do with anything.

    But just for argument’s sake, I’ll quickly answer them:

    1. Can you give me examples of where good intentions had bad effects?

    Yes, any thinking person can do so. Can you give me examples where bad intentions had bad effects?

    2. Do you believe that Lenin was an evil man? Why or why not?

    No, I do not. While I may have disagreed with him, I do not believe anybody is evil. To use Kant’s moral taxonomy, I do believe certain people are “nasty” (i.e. Hitler), but not evil. I believe ‘evil’ is a null-set which exists only epistemologically and is then projected onto individuals, places, things or ideas by priests, missionaries and people with weak minds.

    3. Is there in your opinion an objective reality and an objective truth?

    Yes, but that doesn’t mean that anybody necessarily knows it.

    4. How can you know if a political or economic theory is wrong or right?

    The whole issue of ascertaining the validity or rightness or wrongness of a theory is philosophical idealism of the worst kind.

  26. 26 paulitics 9 December, 2007 at 11:11 am

    martinp,

    “You are the only one here who keeps bringing up ‘right’ and ‘left’. On his chart Paul has ‘economic right’, and ‘economic left’, but there has been no comments about it, and that generally means something different from ’social left’ and ’social right’, which NOBODY has mentioned. Likewise, nobody else here has said ‘we’ or ‘them’, that is something YOU keep bringing up, ironically to keep repeating that WE are fixated on them.”

    That has got to be the single greatest paragraph I’ve read all day! Brilliant, hilarious and beautifully worded. Well done, comrade.

    Cheers,

  27. 27 Political Primate 9 December, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    This is getting WAY to long. I’m only going to answer things that are very interesting to me.

    Dirk: “Marx’s main contribution was to articulate and explain how capitalism works”

    Yes, Marx attempted to do that, and formulated a scientific theory about this. The problem is: He was demonstratably wrong. Just as wrong as say phrenology, or the theory of the ether. What interests me now, is as mentioned before, why people cling to his theory when they have been disproven.

    Martinp:
    “You are the only one here who keeps bringing up ‘right’ and ‘left’.”

    Maybe you should read the discussion before you answer it?

    “Otherwise, as said, it becomes about the terms and all the things you think you know are right but are sick of arguing about-believe me, a blogger like Paul, and certainly I have had the same argument from the opposite end MANY times, and come to the same conclusions as you.”

    Yes, and this is what interests me. How do you mind works when you come to that conclusion? What goes on inside your head? That’s what I want to know.

    “To Pauls credit that is what the chart is for. IF you don’t agree with it, then obviously you won’t agree with the ‘findings’”

    I haven’t even mentioned the chart until now. So, again, maybe you should read the discussion before you answer it?

    “In science your ‘theory’ needs to be reproducible in an objective forum, meaning by anyone. It has to explain ‘reality’. That is not true of political or economic theories, that is only true of CRITICISM”

    Of course it’s true about political or economic theories. I have no idea what you try to say here.

    “Plato’s republic is not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, it just IS.”

    Right or wrong is a question about morals, not science. And why did you bring up Plato? What does his fascist ideas have to do with anything today or in this debate?

    “The number three question is far too vast to be approached here, suffice it to say “it depends what you mean by ‘objective’ reality and truth. God? The natural world?”

    I didn’t ask anybody to prove it, just answer it. And I don’t see how the word “reality” can mean more than one thing. That and the quotes around “objective” indicates to me that you answer is “no”. Is that correct?

    “The question about good intentions and bad effects again comes down to semantics.”

    How? What is semantic about that? Can it be more clear and unsemantic?

    “Back to language, capitalism is not the opposite of socialism, it may be to YOU and to your friends who agree with you, but that doesn’t make it the common consensus. EVERYBODY uses the ‘common sense’ argument to support their case, and like I said, thats why I don’t see this stuff as ‘revolutionary’. The two are only opposites if you think that ‘money’ and ‘people’ are opposites, but far from it. Far Far from it.”

    I’d like you to expand on this. In what way os capitalism not the opposite of socialism? Can you have capitalistic socialism? Socialist capitalism? What is the opposite of socialism (please make my day and day “dictatorship” or something like that, then I’m going to laugh my pants off).

    “As for democracy, you claim we need other words, but we don’t”

    You don’t want another word, because you don’t want to acknowledge the existance, benefits and the moral good of “populocracy”. Instead you want to appropriate the goodwill in the word “democracy” and paste it into socialism, while you at the same time you want to ignore the existance of populocracy, so that you don’t have to be ashamed of not supporting it.

    Populorcacy exists, as a concept. It is supported by the vast majority of people around the world, it has brought power to the people and much peace. They call it democracy. Paul here want to use “democracy” for something else. Well, then we need another word. You can not just pretend it doesn’t exist.

    “, we need people to understand words.”

    Word are just labels on concepts. We need people to understand the concepts. What words are used is irrelevant. You are trying to ignore a very important concept, and pretend it doesn’t exist.

    “And even ‘democrats’ see it as a republic, democracy was absolutely warned against by the founding fathers.”

    Yes, because they used the word for something different than what is used for today. They used it for something that is admittedly closr to how you use it: The absolute rule of the majority. For them, the bill of rights was a defence against democracy, as it gave people rights, and therefore protected them against an oppression of the majority.

    “Here we see where democracy and socialism COULD be different, because in a community you may find a population that WANTS corporate rule.”

    Thank you for admitting this. Which probably means that I don’t have to use a new word with you. But since there are others here discussing, I’äm going to keep with the new word anyway.

    “Finally, sorry this is so long, but this is long stuff. Canada has the fifth most free economy depending on how that is measured.”

    Well, in this case, it pretty much means how neoliberal, and hence antisocialist, the economy is. My point was, as I thought was abundantly clear, that the statement that Canada is a socialist country is a patently absurd statement.

    Paulitics:
    “Such a position is authoritarian in the highest degree because it assumes that you have the privileged position of truth and if only I could be brought to see what you see, then I would be saved.”

    I do understand what you mean. And of course, I’m also sure that you make that assumption, and I don’t. I just can’t be bothered to discuss HOW you are wrong, because I think it’s a waste of time. I want to know WHY.

    “decision when you try to reiterate the idea that if only I could be brought to see what you see, I’d be better off.”

    I don’t think you would be better off. You would just be less incorrect. That’s not “better off” in any way.

    “Then if you’re so convinced of that, they you can just keep all your bad intentions and work with them. Enjoy.”

    Here you attempt to not listen to me by demonising me. Why?

    “Wow, that’s both arrogant and fascist at the same time.”

    How is it fascist? Arrogant, yes, but so what? That doesn’t make it incorrect.

    “If so, I really do thank you for taking the time to help us stupid people out. We really need it, thanks.”

    You are not stupid. Continuing to be incorrect in the face of overwhelming evidence usually takes loads of intelligence. Listen to Chomsky when he complains about the highly educated people. Sometimes he is right, you know. ;)

    “Also, I’ve also given you voluminous writings on the topic of why the whole “socialism doesn’t work” topic is not accurate because socialism has never been tried. Show me an example of a Marxist society, please.”

    I answered that argument already.

    “That’s hilarious. You don’t think we do the same thing with capitalists who just don’t want to learn or understand anything we have to say because they see us socialists as evil and unwilling to understand why socialism doesn’t work?”

    I’m sure you have. Am I claiming that only socialists behave like this? No.

    “Your position here is infantile. Yes, you’re the centre of the universe and no socialist has ever had to face the same thing.”

    Did I say that?

    “That’s a false dichotomy.”

    Which is my whole point. Left/right is a false dichotomy. I’m glad that got through.

    “If you think that the connection between the two is strong, why don’t you go and try to publish an academic paper on it? And when you do, can I please be there when you get the reply from the journal you submitted the manuscript to?”

    Maybe you should actually read something about Nazism. It’s history and ideology? Why should *I* write a paper about it? The connections are well known to anybody that has read any book about political ideology. Honestly, you just made a big fool out of yourself. My hope of getting any sort of useful discussion just dropped significantly if you are willing to make such strong and arrogant statements about a topic that you obviously know nothing about.

    “Um, no. Read through my statements again. It’s clear that I’m opposed to such a move and this is why I opposed Friedman’s lifelong support for Pinochet.”

    That support is a fiction. Friedman never supported Pinochet. It was clear that you were opposed to such a move, but it was not clear that you were opposed to it because it was unpopulocratic or because it was liberal.

    “So, if you still believe that “Friedman wanted to see the Washington consensus implemented. but not with violence or dictatorship.”, you really need to look up Friedman’s support for the overthrow of the democratically-elected government by the dictator Pinochet to implement the Washington Consensus. It’s well-documented and a part of public record.”

    I have looked at it closely, and it doesn’t exist. He never in any way voiced his support for that overthrow, and in fact, he many times publictly denounced it and all forms of dictatorship.

    “Seventhly, you then get into a whole bit about redefining words. I don’t know what this is about. I think I take the commonly accepted definition of democracy — in fact I took YOUR definition of democracy. I then take Marx’s definition of socialism to prove that the latter is a radical expansion of the former.”

    Yes, but you failed. You didn’t prove it, you just said “it is”. Well, I don’t agree.

    “Again, can I please be there when you try to tell him that the abolition of *private* property in Marx’s writings means the same thing as either the abolition of property altogether”

    Did I ever say that?

    “Did I ever say that? Ever?”

    Yes, you implictly argue like that all the time.

    “All I said was the everywhere in the world liberalism is seen as centre-right. AND YOU AGREED WITH ME! This has got to be one of the most incoherent parts of your argument.”

    And now you did it again. You are trying hard to push me into the “Them” group. Well, I’m not “Them”.

    “Get how useless your answer is now?”

    Did I claim it was useful? Did I say it was not fallacious? No. I do claim it is *correct* though.

    “Your argument on this front is getting you nowhere, move on.”

    I’ve explained to you many times that I’m not going to discuss that topic. Is that unclear?

    “Thus, under your definition, before I even open my mouth, I’m wrong because I’m clinging to an ideology which you claim has already been disproven — although I didn’t get the memo and I think I’m a reasonably educated person.”

    Yes I noticed this. You are completely correct here. Although I’m sure you got the memo.

    “Since you believe this, you might want to reconsider posting any further on this blog because, you see, I don’t take kindly to that kind of paternalism. If you want to have a discussion with me, or with any of my readers, you have to at least drop the presumption that we always/already are “cling[ing] to an ideology that has been completely disproved.” and that we simply don’t want to see the truth as you are graciously attempting to reveal it to us.”

    It’s not a presumption. Sorry. Again, my point is not trying to convince you that you are wrong. I’m not interested in that. I will fail, should I try. I want to understand WHY you are wrong, and I can only to that by discussing with you.

    Reasonably, if you are of the opinion that I’m worng, you should be interested in understanding why. But you don’t seem to be.

    “That’s a fair point and I agree with it. Thus, in order to argue that socialism in the USSR or China was a failed attempt, you have to FIRST prove that it was their INTENTION to create Marxist socialism. In other words it has to be an attempt at Marxism first in order to be a failed attempt at Marxism as you claim them to be.”

    Yes, this is true. But do you really argue that nobody ever has even TRIED? Why not, in that case?

    “No, I was genuine when I said this.”

    I’m sure you were. I just don’t believe it.

    “This further speaks to the fact that you don’t really want a debate,”

    I do not want a debate on whether socialism is right or wrong. Correct. That debate would be pointless.

    “You must really think me a horrible person if I would voluntarily wish to associate myself with brutal dictatorships.”

    Ah but you see, that’s the thing. Loads of people who are NOT horrible persons, voluntarily associate themselves with brutal dictatorships. I’ve long since come to realize that if you want bad politics, that doesn’t mean you are a bad person.

    “If you can make the case, I’ll stop calling myself a Marxist today. However, I should warn you that I’ve done a fair bit of research and from what I’ve found, I’ve seen not a complete disjuncture between the Soviet Union and Marxism, but very close to a complete disjuncture.”

    Well, you got me hooked. I will try this in the near future.

    “Lastly, you then go and ask me four questions which have no bearing on anything I wrote or on the topic at hand.”

    They have LOADS of bearing on what you wrote. But indirectly.

    “1. Can you give me examples of where good intentions had bad effects?

    Yes, any thinking person can do so.”

    Good, Because this, i would say, is one of the major errors in common leftist thinking. That bad effects come from evil, and that everything becomes good if you just want to. And in fact, you show these tendencies, when you evidently try very hard to claim that the Bolsheviks didn’t really want socialism. That they just used it as an excuse for their power-grab.

    “2. Do you believe that Lenin was an evil man? Why or why not?

    No, I do not. While I may have disagreed with him, I do not believe anybody is evil.”

    So you believe his power-grab was done with good intentions. But that socialism was just an excuse? I don’t really follow that thinking…

    “To use Kant’s moral taxonomy, I do believe certain people are “nasty” (i.e. Hitler), but not evil. I believe ‘evil’ is a null-set which exists only epistemologically and is then projected onto individuals, places, things or ideas by priests, missionaries and people with weak minds.”

    Sigh. So, do you think Lenin was “nasty”?

    “3. Is there in your opinion an objective reality and an objective truth?

    Yes, but that doesn’t mean that anybody necessarily knows it.”

    Good.

    “4. How can you know if a political or economic theory is wrong or right?

    The whole issue of ascertaining the validity or rightness or wrongness of a theory is philosophical idealism of the worst kind.”

    So, you believe science is a complete fallacy? That there is an objective reality, but we can never know what it is? How is that different from there not being an objective reality?

  28. 28 paulitics 9 December, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Political Primate,

    Remember when I wrote:

    “I generally make it a policy not to discuss with somebody who sees me as inherently wrong and as idiotically clinging to some falsehood. Such a position is authoritarian in the highest degree because it assumes that you have the privileged position of truth and if only I could be brought to see what you see, then I would be saved.”?

    And when I wrote:

    “Did you ever notice how your very definition of somebody who’s a socialist is, to use your words, somebody who’s “cling to an ideology that has been completely disproved.”? Thus, under your definition, before I even open my mouth, I’m wrong because I’m clinging to an ideology which you claim has already been disproven — although I didn’t get the memo and I think I’m a reasonably educated person.

    Since you believe this, you might want to reconsider posting any further on this blog because, you see, I don’t take kindly to that kind of paternalism. If you want to have a discussion with me, or with any of my readers, you have to at least drop the presumption that we always/already are “cling[ing] to an ideology that has been completely disproved.” and that we simply don’t want to see the truth as you are graciously attempting to reveal it to us.

    This is a bare minimum. If you don’t heed my advice, you’ll soon find yourself without anybody to discuss with and you’ll be talking back at those walls talk about doing for so many years.

    There’s a place for proselatization, it’s 18th Century South America, not this blog.”?

    I started reading your comment in good faith and then stopped when I got to the point where you acknowledged that you have no interest in actually discussing or debating and steadfastly refused to meet even the minimal requirements of decency and respect which I set forth. This point was reached when you wrote:

    “Yes, Marx attempted to do that, and formulated a scientific theory about this. The problem is: He was demonstratably [sic] wrong. Just as wrong as say phrenology, or the theory of the ether. What interests me now, is as mentioned before, why people cling to his theory when they have been disproven.”

    Discussion isn’t possible if you hold on so dearly to your preconceived notion that Marx’s theory’s have been disproven such that you do not even let it be challenged. Thus, since you see my comrades and I as simply delusional, idiotic or otherwise blinded by ideology, you have by your own statements made discussion impossible. So, thanks for playing, but you can run along now and try to ‘fix’ some other poorly misguided people with your superior knowledge in order to make them see the light of capitalism and turn away from the darkness of socialism.

    Hallelujah!

  29. 29 martinp 9 December, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Yes, theres not much left to say, by all means read through the discussion and see who is talking about right and left. As for ‘theories’, there is a difference between political science and political theory. If somebody postulates a political system, thats far different than political science. The latter explains politics as it is, the other postulates what the author thinks it SHOULD be. Feel free to laugh your pants off, capitalism is an ECONOMIC theory, while socialism is a POLITICAL theory. Capitalism doesn’t include socialism, but socialism CAN include capitalism very easily, in fact it does, just read Adam Smith. There is no common notion of capitalism anymore, again, it comes down to definitions. You can define them as being identical if you really want to. As a political theory the opposite would be a dictator. Again, we’ve established that socialism is very close to democracy, YOU don’t accept that, but that’s your business. You may want to use different terms, but we are under no obligation to accept that. In one system the people as a whole make decisions through various means, the ‘opposite’ of everybody is of course nobody but that makes no sense, but lack of democracy is easily defined as a dictator. Again, I use democracy and socialism as synonymous, YOU don’t like that, but I don’t really care. So what goes through my mind, to assuage your curiousity is “this guy makes no sense, how can I show this guy how wrong he is?” Well, not so much the latter, mostly I think about the words themselves. I assume the points that ‘don’t interest you’ are ones you accept and realize how wrong you were. If not, then thats just belligerence to make statements and ignore rebuttals.

    But Canada is NOT a socialist nation, but of course it depends on terminology, check my first post. If you think that government is composed of US, then whatever the government owns is shared by us and we have the mechanisms to use those. We sort of do, but only technically. Again, public utility is closer to private utility and most utilities are public or at least publicly governed. As the US has more mechanisms for public control, that makes them MORE socialist than Canada, however, in most cases that control is truncated, whereas in Canada it still nominally exists as a public utility.

    But language is all we have, there is no ‘concept’ without the word. Apparantly my use of Plato was apt if you think there are ideas floating around.

  30. 30 Political Primate 9 December, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Well, I repeat: I am interested in debating. I’m just not interested in debating whether socialism is correct or not. It isn’t, but there is no way I will ever be able to convince you of that, so I’m not going to waste my time trying.

    I’m sorry that you are not interested in discussing why people cling to incorrect ideas.

    “Discussion isn’t possible if you hold on so dearly to your preconceived notion that Marx’s theory’s have been disproven such that you do not even let it be challenged.”

    Yes it is. Discussion about MARXISM isn’t possible. But as repeatedly states: That’s not what I’m trying to discuss.

    martinp:
    “by all means read through the discussion and see who is talking about right and left. ”

    Exactly. And then you’ll notice that it is you and Paul, and that I bring it up as responses to what you said, and also repeatedly say that we should stop talking about “the right” because it doesn’t exist. How does that make *me* the one that brings it up, in your opinion?

    “Feel free to laugh your pants off, capitalism is an ECONOMIC theory, while socialism is a POLITICAL theory.”

    Capitalism is not a theory at all, and neither is socialism. Capitalism is a type of society with a specific mode of ownership of the means of production, and so it socialism.

    “You can define them as being identical if you really want to.”

    Cheese and fries…

    “Again, I use democracy and socialism as synonymous, YOU don’t like that, but I don’t really care.”

    No, that’s OK, but as mentioned, then we need a word for what others call democracy, as you use the word in a completely dfferent meaning. It’s evident that the same goes for socialism and capitalism as well. Words mean nothing to you, do they? It’s just a set of fuzzy emotions, they don’t have any actual meaning? So you can play with the meanings and bend and massage it until white means black and black means polka-dot?

    “So what goes through my mind, to assuage your curiousity is “this guy makes no sense””

    Maybe then you should ask questions, until what I say *do* make sense, so you understand what I say?

    “how can I show this guy how wrong he is?”

    So you decide to show me how wrong I am before you even make sense of what I say? Well, I’m not surprised. And now you are going to say “that’s not what I meant”. Well. I believe it is.

    Anyway, I’m totally easy to convince. All you need is facts and logical arguments to show that I’m wrong. But of course in your particular case, you probably need to start defining all the words you use, include words as “define” and “word”.

    “But Canada is NOT a socialist nation, but of course it depends on terminology, check my first post. ”

    Sure, if you define “socialist” as “liberal”, then it’s socialist. But then you wouldn’t be arguing with me, would you, because then we would agree. :-)

    “But language is all we have, there is no ‘concept’ without the word.”

    That’s an interesting statement. It’s wrong, but interesting. Are you perhaps an idealist as opposed to a realist/nominalist in these issues?

  31. 31 Political Primate 9 December, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    And oh, btw, the agressive discourse here so far hasn’t even touched on anything I write on my blog. I can only assume that means you haven’t read it. You probably should. It would be interesting to get feedback. Read the oldest posts first.
    http://politicalprimate.wordpress.com/2007/10/28/a-storytelling-ape-tells-a-story-of-apes/

  32. 32 moinansari 9 December, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Interesting dicussion without polemics. I love it.

    On Gandhi..it just wasn’t one grandson…there is a plethora of books on the subject and Mr. Gandhi actually bragged about it in his own book “In search of Truth”. It just has not made it here in the USA–still infatuated with a wife abuser, pedophile and sexual pervert who slept naked with his niece to prove that he could not get an erection. Many times he faled.

    In 1945…Britian was totally exhausted after a brutal war that had taken 50 million lives (total). It had no stomach left to hold on to an empire.

    Brtis were sick of war. They had no stomach left to wage more war in a far away land.Churchill and his government were thrown out. The Labor government of Attlee announced that it would withdraw from the colonies.

    Lord Mount Batten was sent sent to “India” to make as quick a withdrawl as possible. The earlier date for the withdrawl was 1950. Lord Mountbatten wanted to get back to England so he moved the date back.

    Gandhi’s movement came at the tail end of the War of Indpendence (Indian mutiny of 1857). By the time Gandhi started his marketing the Brits had already decided to leave “India”.

  33. 33 moinansari 9 December, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    See multiple articles on my blog.

    Mohandas (not Mahatma) Gandhi’s Failed Leadership in Politics and Gandhi’s Domestic Violence and weird Sexual Perversion in his private life

    POLITICAL FAILURE:
    Gandhi did not bring the British empire to its knees. The exhausted British had already decided to leave all her colonies after the 2nd world war. Gandhi first introduced Hindu religious symbols to the Secular Indian National Congress and then tried to make all of India succumb to a racist Hindu Rajha rule.Gandhi was a failure in South Africa and a failed attorney in Bombay. Gandhis sole contribution to history was to make 150 million Muslims of India subservient to the Hindus. Attempts to make another 300 million subservient continue. Other than lip service he was unable to eliminate the caste system in India. He introduced religious symbols into politics which led to the Indian National attracting the communalists like Patel. As a result of the Ashrams and the satyargarhs and the Banda Mahtaram INC became a Hindu Party with the Muslims in the Muslim League and the Sikhs in the Akali Dal. Unable to agree on the Cabinet Mission Plan all agreed to gain independence in a different manner from the British. Gandhi’s religious symbols eventually led to the BJP ruling India, Ayodhia and the massacres in Gujrat. Secularism in India means “Hinduism Light”

    PERSONAL FAILURE:
    1. Gandhi used to beat his wife up routinely.
    2. Gandhi was having sex when his father lay breathing his last upstairs.
    3. Gandhi denied sex to his wife for decades
    4. Gandhi was an adulterer and had a spiritual marriage with two British women who were in the Ashram
    5. Gandhi slept naked with his niece and other women to prove that he could control his manliness.
    6. Gandhi would do enemas twice a day and if he liked you allowed you to enter the piece up his rectum.
    7. Gandhi son left him and converted to Islam

    You can see all of this in the movie Gandhi but it is not overt and explicitly shown. You have to be smart and familiar with the history to se it imbedded in the movie.
    This is what Time Magazine says:
    “Exceptions to the author’s reserve mostly center on Gandhi’s limitations as a family man. Where the world sees a saint, Rajmohan Gandhi sees a cruel husband and a mostly absent father, paying scant attention to his children’s schooling and dragging wife Kasturba across continents at will, belittling her desire for the simplest of material possessions, then expecting her to comply when he turns from amorous husband to platonic companion to apparent adulterer. Gandhi took on a magnetic personality in the presence of young women, and was able to persuade them to join him in peculiar experiments of sleeping and bathing naked together, without touching, all apparently to strengthen his chastity. (Whether these experiments were always successful is anyone’s guess.) It is also revealed that Gandhi began a romantic liaison with Saraladevi Chaudhurani, niece of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore—a disclosure that has created a buzz in the Indian press. The author tells us that Gandhi, perhaps disingenuously, called it a “spiritual marriage,” a “partnership between two persons of the opposite sex where the physical is wholly absent.”

    This bombshell occupies only five pages, but it gives Rajmohan Gandhi enough material for his book’s redeeming feature—namely, the clear depiction of the tensions between Gandhi’s erratic emotional compass and his unswerving moral one. For despite the occasional salacious lapses, the overarching principle that infused Gandhi’s life was his intrinsic belief in the equality of all souls.

    Everything else about Gandhi is just plain marketing garbage.

    Source: Mohandas by Gandhi’s grandson, In Search of Truth by Mohandas Gandhi, Freedom at Midnight by Le Pierre (screen play for the movie Gandhi).
    Mohandas– a true story of a man, his people and an empire, on Mahatma Gandhi” by former Parliamentarian and writer Mr. Rajmohan Gandhi
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1609478,00.html

  34. 34 paulitics 9 December, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Political Primate,

    I noticed how you were able to generate some nice faux indignation when you replied to Martinp: “So you decide to show me how wrong I am before you even make sense of what I say? Well, I’m not surprised.”

    Spare me. Anything Martinp wrote for you pales in comparison to your MULTIPLE statements wherein you’ve very clearly explained that, before we even had the chance to say anything or make an argument, you start from a point wherein you assume socialists to be delusional, idiotic or otherwise blinded by ideology in clinging to something which you take as ipso facto ‘disproven’.

    This, in case you hadn’t noticed, is the epitome of authoritarianism and arrogance and doesn’t just make debate unpleasant, it makes it *impossible*. Whether you realize it or not, in taking this position as your precept, you are casting yourself as the architect of the universe as if you were the protagonist in a Nathanial Hawthorn short story, and, in so doing, assume yourself as occupying the Archimedian point of the universe with you as the possessor and purveyor ideologically-neutral truth and the rest of us the purveyors of hopelessly ideological untruth.

    You clearly haven’t gotten the hint, but this is not the place for proselytizing, which is what you are doing. Thus, by your own words, it is obvious that no, you are not interested in debating.

    So, as I said before, thanks for coming out, but you’ve lost your debating partner. Maybe one of my readers will be willing to pound their head against the wall in attempting to engage in a discourse with you, but that person won’t be me. However I would ask you kindly stop cluttering up the comment section of this post and hijacking what was an actual productive discussion between several individuals.

  35. 35 martinp 9 December, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Well, its still fun, and of course its useful since others may be reading the posts. Again, for readers who don’t want to wade through, nobody mentioned ‘right’ or ‘left’ until point 11, which was this political primate (we can make a joke that he really should evolve but we won’t:) So that shows just how much ‘realism’ goes into it. Capitalism is a ‘theory’ which espouses many things, not just the modes of production, again, go read Adam Smith. There IS no society that functions along its lines, which makes it theoretical. Theoretical doesn’t mean its not descriptive. ‘Capital’ of course means money, is there a ‘moneyism’? As you can see it makes no sense. Likewise, as Paul states, socialism, at least the particular definition of socialism hasn’t been practised, therefore it is theoretical. But likewise its descriptive. That little game can be played with virtually every word-just go look up any word in the dictionary and see how non descript they are.

    As for definitions it is YOU who wants to change them around. There is a big difference between what media and pundits call ‘democracy’ and what the rest of the population calls it. The US is called democracy by the governments PR people and the media, but few americans see it that way, barely only half bother to vote at the federal level, and even those who do vote don’t do it as a constructive decision. They know that their ‘government’ has far different agendas than theres. YOU want a word for that, but all I am doing is using the terms most accept but the media ignores. You simply want to use the RHETORICAL definition of democracy, which is of course the LACK of democracy.

    As for language, thats a given, you can’t have a concept without a word. That’s what a concept is. As for Canada, like I said, you can CALL it socialism, depending on your definition, or you can call it liberal, again depending on your definition. Once again, the central problem is the attempt to define something as vast as a government and society by a single word-it doesn’t work. Virtually every government can be called virtually EVERY term in the political philosophical handbook-it all depends how you define the term, and what features of the millions of facets of a government you are talking about. Again, see my first post, virtually every farmer KNOWS the best way to sell a product is through a worker owned enterprise-this is not revolutionary stuff. Which is why farmers don’t come to blogs to argue forever about the different meanings of words and how possible interpretations of words are ‘wrong’ or ‘don’t work’. The entire argument is non-sensical, again, because of the use of language.

    But I’ve shown how socialism can and does work, and shown how it even works far better than other modes of trade and in multiple posts, you don’t appear to read my posts, but keep telling people to read yours. Again, no argument has even attempted to broach that, there is only the repitious “your wrong”, which isn’t proof. So nobody is asking you questions because there is nothing to question. If you think we’re all sitting with baited breath waiting for you to enlighten us then you’re wasting it. As they say, put up or shut up. If you have a relevant argument then just cut and paste it from your blog, if you are just trying to drum up support for your blog then just say so. From whats been posted I see no reason to go hunting for more of the nonsense. That’s not ‘aggression’, thats simply reality. People have challenged your points, and points their own, you offer no rebuttal or arguments. I’ll make that joke about ‘primates’ evolving now.

  36. 36 martinp 9 December, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    By the way, that post about India sets up a false image-Churchill wanted to go into India, like I mentioned he asked Canada and the US for help. They didn’t just ‘give it up’, that makes it sound like they found benevolence but far from it.

  37. 37 martinp 9 December, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    I did actually go check out the blog to be fair, but I have to say its the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. Supposedly we’re supposed to be prepared to ‘be offended’, but thats a joke, right? In that bloggers world there are two types of people, seemingly speaking two different languages who can’t understand one another. There are those whose identity comes from a group, and those whose comes from their individuality. Well, guess what, everybody’s identity comes from a group, unless you are born and raised in the forest by wolves. Again, thats just silliness. There is plenty of disagreement here, but we perfectly understand the arguments, at least as much as they are presented. We just don’t agree on the language. That’s it, that’s all. We are all humans with generally the same cognitive abilities. There is nothing super mysterious going on. That of course is why politics has been so dumbed down by media, because once you agree on the terminology and the facts, then the options become much clearer. Thats why few options are ever offered and so much attention is focussed on political parties and calling one another names and arguing about terms. Ask a single mother what kind of ‘system’ she wants to live under. She won’t give you an ideological term, she will say she wants to be productive and care for her child and be able to care for them and give them a good life. Ask a farmer what he wants and the same occurs. Only people on the sidelines who have little time for action play the endless games that a first year philosophy student should know is rubbish.

    All this debate of course happens because there is no realistic mechanism for political involvement. THere is nothing people can DO, therefore we talk. In Maine, if we thought there should be a public utility, we could be gathering signatures and forcing a vote on it, then trying to change the relevant laws. In Canada, none of those tools are available, however there are some that are. I’ve counted about five new politial parties started in the past two years by people who are disgusted, but as everyone knows, thats a tough road to hoe. In ontario, we fought for our public utility of ontario hydro. Again, thats MORE successful than private utilites, and it is more socialist. We did it because we know what the benefits of such a system are.

  38. 38 Political Primate 10 December, 2007 at 3:53 am

    “you start from a point wherein you assume socialists to be delusional, idiotic or otherwise blinded by ideology in clinging to something which you take as ipso facto ‘disproven’.”

    Again, it’s not an assumption. And you have the same opinion of liberals, I’m sure. So can you drop what you call “false indignation” now?

    “This, in case you hadn’t noticed, is the epitome of authoritarianism and arrogance and doesn’t just make debate unpleasant, it makes it *impossible*.”

    I already answered this is my last answer. Was anything unclear?

    martinp:

    “nobody mentioned ‘right’ or ‘left’ until point 11″

    In point 10 you said: “The ‘right’ of course, has just as many fractions and disagreements. As mentioned in numerous places, Bush’s administration is not ‘right’ on many policies, including immigration.”

    “Capitalism is a ‘theory’ which espouses many things, not just the modes of production, again, go read Adam Smith.”

    No, that theory is not normally called “capitalism”, but free.market economy. Which definitely is a theory. But if you want to call that theory “capitalism”, that’s OK with me.

    “There IS no society that functions along its lines, which makes it theoretical.”

    Most of western society functions along these lines, so that’s a strange statement.

    “Theoretical doesn’t mean its not descriptive. ‘Capital’ of course means money, is there a ‘moneyism’? As you can see it makes no sense. Likewise, as Paul states, socialism, at least the particular definition of socialism hasn’t been practised, therefore it is theoretical.”

    I’ve answered this above already.

    “That little game can be played with virtually every word”

    Yes, so stop playing the game. I’m not playing it. You are using it as rationalization to be able to claim that socialism has never been tried, so that you can cling to socialism despite it being disproven. You are trying to claim that all economic theories are just untested ideas, so that you can claim that they all are equally (in)correct. And that just doesn’t hold water.

    “As for definitions it is YOU who wants to change them around. There is a big difference between what media and pundits call ‘democracy’ and what the rest of the population calls it. The US is called democracy by the governments PR people and the media, but few americans see it that way”

    Do you have any support for the statements that most americans doesn’t agree that US is a democracy?

    “You simply want to use the RHETORICAL definition of democracy, which is of course the LACK of democracy.”

    You are good with words, but what you say has nothing to do with reality or the truth.

    “As for language, thats a given, you can’t have a concept without a word. That’s what a concept is.”

    No, the concept can exist before you have given it a name, and the concept stay the same even if you give it another name. Essentialism is incorrect.

    “As for Canada, like I said, you can CALL it socialism”

    Yes and you can call it a banana republic, a washing machine, a car and a poop too. But that doesn’t make it correct.

    “Once again, the central problem is the attempt to define something as vast as a government and society by a single word-it doesn’t work. Virtually every government can be called virtually EVERY term in the political philosophical handbook-it all depends how you define the term, and what features of the millions of facets of a government you are talking about.”

    Again you are trying to make words not have meaning. Without meaning in words, there can be no communication. I wonder if this attitude is a an effect of, or a partial cause of your socialism. Interested question, I’ll have to keep that in mind in the future.

    “But I’ve shown how socialism can and does work, and shown how it even works far better than other modes of trade and in multiple posts, you don’t appear to read my posts”

    I have to admit that I haven’t seen any post where you do this. Hang on. (read through the comments above again). Nope. still can’t see it. Or did you mean somewhere else? Did I miss a link?

    “but keep telling people to read yours.”

    I asked you once. That’s not “keep telling”. Please do not try to score points by lying, it makes for an infected debate.

    “People have challenged your points”

    No. You and Paul has repeatedly tried to debate whether socialism is correct or not. I’ve repeatedly answered that I’m not interested in that discussion, as it is pointless.

    “I’ll make that joke about ‘primates’ evolving now.”

    Please, go ahead. But you should probably have read my blog first. ;)

    “I did actually go check out the blog to be fair, but I have to say its the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.”

    Yes that’s the response I unfortunately expected from a Chimpanzee.

    “In that bloggers world there are two types of people, seemingly speaking two different languages who can’t understand one another.”

    Yes, And do you think you and me understand each other? That we speak the same language?

    “There are those whose identity comes from a group, and those whose comes from their individuality. Well, guess what, everybody’s identity comes from a group, unless you are born and raised in the forest by wolves.”

    No, see, it doesn’t. You think it does, because you are a “chimpanzee”. I’m not. I’m an “orangutan”, and my identity does NOT come from a group.

    “There is plenty of disagreement here, but we perfectly understand the arguments, at least as much as they are presented. We just don’t agree on the language.”

    QED.

    “That’s it, that’s all. We are all humans with generally the same cognitive abilities. There is nothing super mysterious going on.”

    What’s going on inside your head is extremely mysterious to me. And I’m pretty sure it’s the same the other way around, but that you haven’t realized that yet. You honestly think everybody thinks like you do. Well, I don’t.

    “That of course is why politics has been so dumbed down by media, because once you agree on the terminology and the facts, then the options become much clearer. Thats why few options are ever offered and so much attention is focussed on political parties and calling one another names and arguing about terms. Ask a single mother what kind of ’system’ she wants to live under. She won’t give you an ideological term, she will say she wants to be productive and care for her child and be able to care for them and give them a good life. Ask a farmer what he wants and the same occurs. Only people on the sidelines who have little time for action play the endless games that a first year philosophy student should know is rubbish.”

    Good point.

    “All this debate of course happens because there is no realistic mechanism for political involvement. THere is nothing people can DO, therefore we talk.”

    I agree with that. And that’s why I want to give people power of their own lives.

  39. 39 martinp 10 December, 2007 at 10:36 am

    OK, this is less fun and getting repetitious and childish. I put ‘right’ in quotes because in point EIGHT, you wrote ‘the collectivist left’, which would be the first instance. I was replying to that and the caveat I put afterwards about Bush shows how little credence is given to ‘right’ and ‘left’. So lets just leave that.

    Yes, that theory IS called capitalism, maybe not by you, but now that you’ve admitted that that is what capitalism is, then you can admit that CAPITALISM has not been tried either. It is a theory, like socialism, that has never existed in practise, and of course CAN”T exist since of course Adam Smith doesn’t ‘own’ the theory of capitalism. The only way it CAN exist is semantically IF you define a capitalist economy as being identical to the american economy. Even ‘free market economy’ is a misnomer, because THAT doesn’t exist and never has. The closest has been Britains attempt in the late 1800′s to justify their global empire (“its just free trade old chap”), but they quickly abandoned it. Again, there’s the problem of trying to stick a label on something so huge. It doesn’t work.

    A ‘free market economy’ is even more rare than aspects of socialism. Again, at least with socialism there is the possibility of shared means of production, local decisions makeing, and democracy. Local mennonites do it, so do co-ops. That doesn’t happen in our economies which are totalitarian and run by corporations which reflect the will of a tiny minority.

    Western society does NOT function as a ‘free market economy’, it never has, and there is little movement in that direction, in fact in the US protectionism is gaining even more ground. But again, the US economy is pretty much directed by Washington, either directly through pentagon and public spending, or else indirectly by willingly avoiding regulation to expand private control. Again, if you think that western society functions on these grounds then YOU are wrong and need to prove that, because it certainly isn’t accepted here. Again, it all comes down to definitions.

    As for whether socialism has been tried, then lets turn the tables, you tell us WHERE it ‘has been tried’ and we’ll go from there. But again, its linguistic games to argue that a ‘theory has failed’. That really makes ZERO sense. If a country has a government which is toppled by outside forces does that indicate failure because they didn’t adopt policies that would make them stronger than the other? Of course not. By many measures the US is a ‘failed state’, even moreso than the former soviet union. By most measures Soviet ‘capitalism’ is FAR less successful than Soviet ‘communism’, in fact the vast majority of russians agree with that statement. Again, it comes down to what a person considers to be a ‘failure’. But I’ve shown in post after post how nominally socialist forms are far greater successes than their private industry counterparts, yet you keep saying your central point “its just wrong thats all”

    For support about americans view of their government simply go look at any poll. That almost half of the people don’t even bother voting is ‘support’, as are the frequent polls that show support for politicians at an all time low and americans never state that their federal government reflects their needs or concerns. But again its semantics, because almost half pay zero attention to FEDERAL politics. But say you live in a state that has citizens initiatives and in a town like many that has frequent referenda. Those are at least MORE democratic tools, but then of course they are getting more and more federal legislation to co-opt that decision making.

    As for concepts and words, again, that is just your opinion, saying ‘your wrong’ isn’t an argument, saying ‘your incorrect’ isn’t a debate. The word ‘canada’ is an appropriate example, like I said, you CAN call it many things, you can call it a ‘car’ and it would be correct IF you state that that is the definition of a car and redefined a four wheeled passenger vehicle that is not a truck so there is no confusion. Again, define the terms.

    This is not relativism, this isn’t saying ‘words have no meaning’, this is saying exactly what Paul said above, that FIRST you have to define your terms. Like I said, Paul placed his terms on a grid, which is fairly useful as it shows where he places certain ideas and figures. Again, like I said, this is how you do science, FIRST you define the parameters of the debate. If YOU don’t agree with OUR definitions, then obviously we are not talking about the same thing. But you keep trying to force us, or me, to accept YOUR definitions, which we won’t do, because we see them as being too vague, and outright incorrect.

    That is simply how you have an academic discussion, it is not a ‘function’ of anything. What you want to do is throw around media cliche
    s and have everybody accept them as truth. That may work at websites where people already agree with you, but not here.

    As for where socialism can and does work, again, look at farmers co-ops, or even the farming industry in general. Look at public utilities. Hell, look at the average family. Families operate on very socialistic lines. There are SOME personal possessions but generally people ‘share’ the house and vehicles. Parents care for their children and share their wealth and when older the kids reciprocate. The entire non profit sector is an example, obviously they accept rules of private ownership because they HAVE to. CHurches operate in much the same way, and in countries like the US and Canada, it is increasingly the volunteer bases that are keeping the poor in any state of developed world accessability. So like I said, this is NOT revolutionary stuff, this is how people operate- FAR more ‘socialistically’ than the ‘free market economy’. Children don’t ‘compete’ for food from their parents, and in families where they do we would easily judge that as being a less successful family. Again, I said all the stuff about farmers and public utilities before. But like I said, its not ‘socialism’, just like the US is not ‘democracy’. Countries are not definitions. The US has more features of democracy than Canada, that doesn’t make it a democracy. ‘Sharing’ could be an essential feature of socialism, to MY definition at least. Again, you don’t have to accept my definition. The more is ‘shared’, the more socialist it is. Shared ‘power’ is the essential feature of democracy, so again, the two are very close.

    As for your blog, again, of COURSE your identity comes from a group. I hate to tell you but you are not writing chinese (in which case it would be a chinese group). It is english which you learned in school and got all your ideas ‘from a group’. You weren’t born in a box in the middle of nowhere and recieved all your insights from God. Either because you are smug or delusional you don’t want to identify with your group, thats your business. But because people have differences of opinion does not mean its not the same language. Again, that ‘groupthink’ comes directly from media, you are SUPPOSED to think that you are so different and misunderstood, its politically useful and keeps you from joining organizations where you could be politically useful and keeps you slamming anybody who does. In politics, organization means everything. You even sound american, which has even more of that individualist ‘groupthink’ than canada.

    But again, and for anybody else out there, this is simply how an academic debate is done. FIRST you define your terms. If some people don’t accept your definitions like our friend, then the discussion cannot continue, and they spend a lot of time simply yelling “your wrong”. Thats why Paul stated that you weren’t interested in debate, and to be fair, at least you’ve SAID you aren’t interested in debate. Which begs the question about why you keep posting. You say you are interested in seeing how people think, but then go on to keep saying where you think people are wrong.

    One final point is that WE have seen that thinking before many times, that idea that ‘you’ are dumb, ‘I’ am smart. It’s nothing new and you aren’t particularly unique. Because we disagree you like to think we don’t understand you, and that if we just understood you then we’d agree. I used to go to conservative blogs for some debate, but many of them were so much like that it wasn’t even worthwhile. But I am not a member of any political group,a nd don’t get my central ideas from any one thinker, I was even kind of uncomfortable when Paul called me ‘comrade’. I think you are young, because you’ve got that smugness of youth that thinks they have all the answers, which usually comes from reading a book that they promptly forget about so they can claim the ideas as their own. There is far less ‘groupthink’ here at this website than you portray in your posts, which we’ve all seen numerous times. I guess that makes you uncomfortable. It must be unsettling to think you are an orangatuan when you are a chimpanzee just like everybody else. Don’t be ashamed of it, just be the best darn chimp you can be. And by the way, orangutans are not solitary animals, they are in a group and are very social. You might want to pick a more asocial animal like one of the many ones who live solitarily and only meet up to reproduce. A group of orangutans isn’t identical to a group of chimps, but they are still a group of monkeys to everybody else.

  40. 40 paulitics 10 December, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Political Primate,

    You wrote:

    “I want to give people power of their own lives.”

    On this, I believe, we can all agree.

    Martinp,

    It wasn’t my intention to make you uncomfortable by attributing a label to you (‘comrade’) to which you do not subscribe. Truthfully, I generally call anybody who’s quasi-leftwing (even if we disagree on many points) “comrade” because I like the sentiment of solidarity it conveys. I use the term not because I’m trying to make the person into something they’re not, but rather for the same reason Cornell West calls everybody “Brother” or “Sister” (such as “They gay brothers and the lesbian sisters” or “sister Amy Goodman” etc.)

  41. 41 martinp 10 December, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    I got that Paul, I was being pretty facetious, but like I said, I usually avoid any of the socialist terms and pleasantries simply because the indoctrination system has worked so well that people immediately turn off their brains. While I said that I’m not a member of a party or organization, I AM politically active and don’t like to limit the debate. Plus, like I said, ‘radical’ democracy is fairly close and the term is pretty accepted as being ‘good’ and worthwhile, so it makes life that much easier. Solidarity.

  42. 42 Political Primate 10 December, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Martinp:
    “OK, this is less fun and getting repetitious and childish.”

    I agree. This whole debate got off completely wrong, and wasn’t fun at all. It’s obvious that the difference in way of thinking between you and me is much greater than I thought. I’ll try to be shorter this time.

    “As for your blog, again, of COURSE your identity comes from a group.”

    No it doesn’t. Really, it doesn’t. You are now claiming that the sea has purple stripes and that the sky is a pink yellow polka dot. It isn’t. Really. I expected you to think that everybodies identities comes from a group, but again the rift between us surprised me. I did not expect you to deny that the rift exist, for example. :) And possibly I can get you to understand this by using the right words. But I don’t know what those words would be. We don’t speak the same language. I will just have to try to reformulate and discuss this until I can make myself absolutely clear: I do NOT get my identity from a group.

    “I hate to tell you but you are not writing chinese (in which case it would be a chinese group). It is english which you learned in school and got all your ideas ‘from a group’. You weren’t born in a box in the middle of nowhere and recieved all your insights from God.”

    Of course. This is all true. That does not mean I identify with a group or that my sense of self and my sense of identity comes from a group.

    “But because people have differences of opinion does not mean its not the same language.”

    This is correct. But it IS a different language, as the discussion between you and me above clearly demonstrates.

    “Again, that ‘groupthink’ comes directly from media, you are SUPPOSED to think that you are so different and misunderstood”

    I’m neither different nor misunderstood. I’m different from *you* and *you* misunderstand me. But *you* are not the rest of the world. I am no more different and no more misuderstood than you are.

    “One final point is that WE have seen that thinking before many times, that idea that ‘you’ are dumb, ‘I’ am smart. It’s nothing new and you aren’t particularly unique.”

    Right. And of course, what I said was the exact opposite of that. Are we really talking the same language? If we are, how come you rarely understand a word of what I say?

    “I used to go to conservative blogs for some debate, but many of them were so much like that it wasn’t even worthwhile.”

    Of course. Most US conservative blogs I have seen are all raving mad collectivists, who has one and only one argument: If yu don’t agree with me, you are a stupid, evil asshole pedofile murderer. I have rarely seen more rabid colletivistic stupidity than amongst religious conservatives. The worst of the all must be Anne Coulter. She is so extreme that it goes all the way through funny and out the other way.

    “There is far less ‘groupthink’ here at this website than you portray in your posts”

    You use the word groupthink completely different from me too, I think. :) Anyway, I never said anything about groupthink. Groupthink can happen to individualists too, it doesn’t have to do with this as all, as I use the word. I’m talking about dogma, and the unwillingness to challenge the assumptions of your identified group.

    “It must be unsettling to think you are an orangatuan when you are a chimpanzee just like everybody else.”

    You denying a fact is not going to make it go away. I’m not uncomfortable. Are you uncomfortable with the idea that people may not think and function as you do? Why are you so adamant that I am exactly like you?

    “And by the way, orangutans are not solitary animals, they are in a group and are very social.”

    That is correct, and very appropriate. I am also not a solitary animal. I am very social. I am also a part of many groups. I just do not get my identity from them. I do not identify with the groups. I identify with ME. I am MYSELF, not my group.

    Paul:
    ““I want to give people power of their own lives.”

    On this, I believe, we can all agree.”

    Exactly. And the next question then, is: Why are not all liberals (in the classic sense, not the “leftish democrat, US sense) or libertarians? Because liberalism is the moral presupposition that people should have as much power over their life as possible. So in some sense, if you want to give people power of their own lives, you are a liberal. But yet, you claim not to be. Why? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. And after many years of discussion, I’ve realized that it does not have ANYTHING to do with whether liberalism is “good”, “evil”, “incorrect” or “correct” or if socialism is “good”, “evil”, “incorrect” or “correct”.

    Which is why I refuse to discuss it. It’s pointless. I will never be able to convince you. So why bother? Why should I try to convince you not to be socialist, when I know that this is completely futile?

  43. 43 martinp 10 December, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    I agree, so simply stop posting it. Nobody needs umpteen posts from somebody making arguments about refusing to make arguments. Contrary you what you think, there is plenty of diversity here and there are plenty of differences of opinions and lots of ‘individuality’.

    However, unlike you, we are not afraid of debate or challenge, we don’t just assume ‘people are wrong so there is no point talking to them’. That’s pretty sanctimonious for a couple of bloggers to be making claims of “I want to give people power of their own lives”. Sheesh, what is this, Oprah? I missed where you guys got divinely inspired. Anyway, to answer the question that you are trying to figure out, IF classical liberalism is defined as meaning people should have as much power over their own life as possible”, and IF somebody says that that is what they want, then fine, they can be defined as classical liberals. So what? Nobody claimed not to be. However, its not as simple as that. First, nobody defines themselves as that probably for the same reason I avoid the terms socialism and communism-because they’ve now become so convoluted and the debate so various that there is virtually no agreement on what the term means. Simple as that.

    But dude, you’ve got to cut down on your dosages because you simply aren’t making sense. You are speaking english, but you are right, if you are CRAZY then people will have trouble understanding you. You’ve been having years of discussion over whether Paul calls himself a classical liberal? I don’t even remember anybody talking about liberalism of any kind, certainly not me. In fact you seem very confused, since Paul places himself right by Chomsky so go look at the chart, its right in the ‘socially liberal’ section. So again, if you presuppose people’s words and don’t actually read about what they say then of course you don’t understand, but it isn’t complicated. So nobody claimed not to be, so there, now you can sleep easy knowing that your years of discussion are over.

    After that line of course you make no sense, after years of discussion you realize that not calling oneself a classical liberal doesn’t have anything to do with whether liberalism is good or evil? I suspect if somebody doesnt want to call themselves a classical liberal it is because they don’t think they are one. I don’t call myself catholic, not because I think catholicism is ‘good’ or ‘evil’ or ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but because I don’t subscribe to those particular beliefs. I THINK they are wrong, which is why I don’t subscribe to them, but I don’t KNOW they are (plus theres the whole question of the Pope and the history, etc). If somebody doesn’t want to call themselves a particular term it is because they are not comfortable with it, simple as that. They may feel another term more aptly describes them. They may not like terms at all. I don’t ‘call myself’ anything. I hope that clears it up for you. If one term doesn’t fit, then a person will choose another. They do this because its a free country and people are allowed to call themselves whatever they want-a person can call themselves something that doesn’t even apply, I could start up a blog and call it “My Republican Homestead” even though I’m not a republican. I may simply want to call myself that for metaphoric or satiric reasons, to make a point, whatever. Those are all the numerous reasons why people may or may not label themselves, since that seems to be your ‘why’ question.

    However, there is a case I can think of where somebody might want to avoid that definition, particularly if ‘classic liberalism’ is used (you’ll note that ‘neo liberalism’ means virtually the opposite of that), and thats because if you have different levels of power, then one persons ‘maximum freedom’ may infringe on another persons. You see that in much of the world since corporations are defined as ‘persons’, but are immortal persons which are a collection of wealthy investors. So first you have to ensure that one groups individual freedom will not affect another groups-which is a dicey thing to do. In fact thats what I’d call neo-liberal (again, nobody has to accept my definition, but its closer to reality than others I’ve heard)-where private power is given unfettered rights over the rights of ACTUAL individuals. The indirect effect on individuals is said to be incidental, that ‘they all have the same rights in theory’. So rich corporations can sue poor people no problem-they have the right and the money, but poor people can’t sue rich people-they have the right, but not the money, but the lack of money is somehow supposed to be incidental, what is important is that ‘they have the right’, even though its impossible.

    But I really don’t know who you are talking to, maybe you’ve seen The Life of Brian too much. You are a member of the human race, just like us. Your history comes from western civilization, or at least it does now. You have a particular socio-economic status and probably employment. You’re beliefs, whether you admit it or not, coincide with a large group of the population, you aren’t from mars. That doesn’t mean you aren’t an individual, but guess what, we all are. We aren’t brainwashed by some prophet who tells us each month what to think. I share many of Paul’s opinions but have never met him or knew of his existence two months ago. Obviously you are ‘yourself’, duh, thats pretty much a given. Guess what, I am not ‘a group’ either. I am not even a spokesperson for a group or any kind of representative. I share some common beliefs with Paul, but I certainly don’t speak for him or anybody else. But you are wrong , you Do identify with a group-you are somebody’s child, you are part of a family, you are part of a class, or were. You get your language from a group-a very large group called western civilization. I’m assuming that you are perhaps a teenager and really feel the need to assert independance for some reason, maybe you just escaped from a cult, I don’t know, but that’s a fault of youth though, you’ll grow out of it. Politically you may recognize it earlier, if you want to have any kind of political effect, since individual people have zero power or influence.

    As for language, again, I and Paul (there may have been others I didn’t read all of it) answered all of your concerns. Each issue you raised we addressed, we understood your questions and answered them, just like I answered your above one. Its the same language, we call it ‘english’. But again, you refuse to reply, except in very specific places to say ‘your wrong’. So, we do understand one another, we just disagree on some terminology, thats all. But again, belligerence is not debate. However, as a final note, IF there is something you are trying to understand from others (although you’ve purposely misinterpreted at least one point I made), in other words, if you are asking for somebody’s input in order to help you understand something, then learn a little decorum. I’m more patient than most people, so I’ve replied, but if you are essentially asking people’s help to understand something, then don’t go around saying “I know you are wrong I just want you to help me understand why you keep believing it when you are wrong”. In a nutshell, people don’t like jerks, so don’t talk to people like a jerk and you’ll get more help in understanding things you are trying to understand.

  44. 44 Political Primate 11 December, 2007 at 5:18 am

    “I agree, so simply stop posting it. Nobody needs umpteen posts from somebody making arguments about refusing to make arguments.”

    Please try to understand that I am NOT interested in trying to convince you or Paul that socialism is bad. I am simply not going to attempt that, no matter how much you ask me. That’s the final word from me on that.

    “However, unlike you, we are not afraid of debate or challenge, we don’t just assume ‘people are wrong so there is no point talking to them’.”

    Neither do I. Please do not make up assumptions about my opinions or assumptions. You don’t know how I think, and you don’t understand how I think. And before we can even start discussing, you will have to accept that you can not see into my mind and guess how it works, just as I can not see into your mind and guess how it works.

    “But dude, you’ve got to cut down on your dosages because you simply aren’t making sense.”

    See, told you so. Yes, I am making sense. You just don’t understand what I’m saying. If there is anything that doesn’t make sense, you should ask me to clarify it. But you don’t instead you say…

    “You are speaking english, but you are right, if you are CRAZY then people will have trouble understanding you.”

    Ah, Right. Denounce everybody who is not of the opinions or mode of thinking as you as “crazy”. That makes for a good and healthy debate! ;) But once again you prove my point: We are talking different langauges. Yes, it’s all used with words from English. But it is still so different that you don’t understand what I say, think it doesn’t make sense, and conclude I must be crazy.

    Don’t do that. Instead of just brushing off everything you don’t immediately recognize as something that fits well into your preconceptions, TRY to understand.

    “You’ve been having years of discussion over whether Paul calls himself a classical liberal? I don’t even remember anybody talking about liberalism of any kind, certainly not me. In fact you seem very confused, since Paul places himself right by Chomsky so go look at the chart, its right in the ’socially liberal’ section.”

    Yes but it’s right by the economic left, or in this case more accurately described “economically unliberal” section.

    “So again, if you presuppose people’s words and don’t actually read about what they say then of course you don’t understand, but it isn’t complicated.”

    No, that’s what YOU do.

    “After that line of course you make no sense, after years of discussion you realize that not calling oneself a classical liberal doesn’t have anything to do with whether liberalism is good or evil?”

    Yup. Can you explain what in this that didn’t make any sense to you?

    “I don’t call myself catholic, not because I think catholicism is ‘good’ or ‘evil’ or ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but because I don’t subscribe to those particular beliefs. I THINK they are wrong, which is why I don’t subscribe to them, but I don’t KNOW they are (plus theres the whole question of the Pope and the history, etc).”

    Well, why don’t you know? I know. I don’t guess, I figure out.

    “If somebody doesn’t want to call themselves a particular term it is because they are not comfortable with it, simple as that.”

    That didn’t actually answer any question, as the next question just is “Why are they not comfortable with it”, and then the answer is “because they don’t subscribe to those beliefs” and then the question is “why not” and so on. Peel off all the non-helpful and obvious answers and get to the real question I’m trying to ask.

    “But I really don’t know who you are talking to”

    I’m talking to YOU.

    “maybe you’ve seen The Life of Brian too much. You are a member of the human race, just like us. Your history comes from western civilization, or at least it does now. You have a particular socio-economic status and probably employment. You’re beliefs, whether you admit it or not, coincide with a large group of the population, you aren’t from mars. That doesn’t mean you aren’t an individual, but guess what, we all are. We aren’t brainwashed by some prophet who tells us each month what to think. I share many of Paul’s opinions but have never met him or knew of his existence two months ago. Obviously you are ‘yourself’, duh, thats pretty much a given. Guess what, I am not ‘a group’ either. I am not even a spokesperson for a group or any kind of representative. I share some common beliefs with Paul, but I certainly don’t speak for him or anybody else. But you are wrong , you Do identify with a group-you are somebody’s child, you are part of a family, you are part of a class, or were. You get your language from a group-a very large group called western civilization.”

    Yes, yes, yes yes and so on. But again: I do NOT identify with a group. My identification does NOT come from any sort of grouping. When I think of my self I do not think of my self as “Mr Primate. A liberal orangutan All Blacks fan”. No I see my self as I. A person separate from the groups I belong to. If I should one day realize I no longer am liberal, or get bored by watching rugby, this is not an identity crisis. When I say “I’m liberal”, I do not mean that I *am* liberal. Liberalism is not a party of my identity. I just have liberal opinion. I believe liberalism is the right way. But liberalism is not a part of *me*.

    “I’m assuming that you are perhaps a teenager and really feel the need to assert independance for some reason, maybe you just escaped from a cult”

    Instead of being rude, try to assume that I’m a 75 year old professor of psychology, who knows everything you do, and more, but doesn’t understand how you think, but would like to figure it out. That is just as wrong, but that incorrect assumption will probably lead to a better and more creative discussion.

  45. 45 martinp 11 December, 2007 at 9:15 am

    I would assume you were a 75 year old professor if you wrote like one, you don’t, so I don’t. I answered your questions above, like I said, it was a guess because you phrased the question badly-that’s all. If I asked you “up sideways train mobile?” then I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t understand. It’s still english, but phrased badly, like I said, most of this comes down to language-define the terms. It’s very easy to understand you when you actually write some content that isn’t just ‘your wrong’, or ‘I refuse to talk about it so let me talk about this instead”.

    Again, don’t talk like a sophomoric poli sci student and maybe people will be more helpful, you’re lucky I put up with it, as you can see, everybody else has bailed and I can’t say I blame them. WHY people are uncomfortable with defining themselves with a term I’ve answered. Ironically, its often the same reason you say you don’t identify with a group. I don’t identify myself as ‘socialist’ because so many misunderstand the term. Like I said, depending on how one defines socialist, one can ascribe to it. I know many catholics whose beliefs are not very doctrinal, are in fact quite loose, even heretical. They still call themselves catholic because they associate with those beliefs and can handle the doctrinal differences. Think of political philosophy as like religion, people may be ‘uncomfortable’ identifying themselves with a religion for many reasons. A person may identify with Islam, but want to avoid any cultural backlash. They may not like the community, or there may be big enough differences that they feel more comfortable saying they are agnostic but believe certain things in common. Much of that is identical to your comments about liberalism, in fact identical. NOBODY I know says what you seem to think, that ideas are genetic components of their bodies. Plus, of course, in a corporate run society where people aren’t talking about a violent revolution its somewhat pointless to argue about one’s ‘favoured state’ when there is enough work to do combatting the injustices of the current one-unless people want to move to a commune and then design their mini society.

    I can’t be clearer than that. Suffice it to say people DON”T call themselves a certain term for the same reason YOU call yourself a liberal (your ‘group’ just got smaller and more definitive). For assumptions, again, you seem to think you are different, Paul calls himself a socialist (I believe) for exactly the same reason you call yourself a liberal. But again, the misunderstanding comes down to semantics, since you claim the ‘economic left’ is ‘economic unliberal’. There is the problem, you are defining your terms differenently again-nowhere is that in the chart. The economic left IS economic ‘liberalism’ SO LONG AS WE TALK ABOUT THE CLASSICAL LIBERALISM DEFINITION YOU MENTION. There’s the rub. YOU say that the economic left is UN liberal (by your definition of liberal), which is false. In fact far from it. Economic liberalism would be ‘fairly’ close to Adam Smith’s notion of capitalism. The idea is to make ‘the market’ as free as possible for individuals-but under very specific guidelines. That’s where the argument about ‘neoliberal’ comes in, like I said, that is virtually the opposite of classical liberalism because it simply substitutes PRIVATE power for government power. Nobody would say the Jamaican market became ‘freer’ when it was opened to american goods by the IMF, go watch “Life after Debt” and you’ll see what I mean. Adam Smith of course never dreamt that corporations would become what they are, and specifically wrote against concentrations of power. In Jamaica people had numerous choices for produce as there was unlimited numbers of local farmers to choose from. The market was opened to ‘make it freer’, in other words to let US industry in so THEY could ‘compete fairly’, which of course meant with their unlimited resources they undercut everybody until all the farmers were out of business and then only THEY were left and raised prices substancially. There was no more choice left, but that was claimed to be ‘the market’ acting invisibly, when thats far from the case. So NOW there is a monopoly, something VERY economically UN liberal, but the result is not supposed to be the issue, the ‘opening the market to foreign goods’ is supposed to be the ‘economically neo liberal’ part, no matter its consequences (which the press usually subsequently ignores as it moves on to the next country-notice how seldom we hear about Russia’s economy now). Again, define the terms and most of these differences go away. We just resolved your difference, but again, you dont like to talk about it (except to make your definitions known-I like that, its a neat strategy).

    Again, thats why I say capitalism has not been tried, as like liberalism its main theme was against private concentrations of power.

    And again, go reread my post, I DID answer your question about classical liberalism. I am not comfortable defining myself with a term because of the same reason you state-I don’t ‘belong’ to an idea. What you call classical liberalism is sort of close, but I don’t call myself liberal as you do, first, because I don’t like labels, in some ways I’m ‘classical liberal’, but in other ways not. My ideas don’t subscribe to any one writer, which is what political ideas have to do because they are so vast. Mainly I don’t call myself by a label because I know it will be misunderstood by anybody I am speaking to, and is usually irrelevant anyway (I would never say “I’m Martin the socialist” even if I WERE a socialist (again, I would be a socialist IF your definition was ‘socialism is anything Martin believes’)

    But again, there are few places in your posts where you actually say anything, so there is little to venture at understanding so please stop saying ‘try to understand’ and then not saying anything TO understand. I answered all your comments where you said you are having diffficulty -these latter questions are easily summed up as ‘we (I) mean economic left to be economic (classical) liberalism and we’re all happy or could at least proceed to debate why or why not economic left is economic (classical) liberalism (although I did offer some proofs in case any body out there is still reading this). If it means that much to you to attach labels to other people, even when you dislike them yourself, then you can add that and our problem is solved. But again, while some above have worried about the semantics of what to calll themselves, like I said, most people don’t do that or worry much about it for the reasons I mentioned, and we can add yet another-because people don’t want to spend hours online arguing with strangers about why or why not they call themselves classical liberals.

  46. 46 paulitics 11 December, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Political Primate,

    “Exactly. And the next question then, is: Why are not all liberals (in the classic sense, not the “leftish democrat, US sense) or libertarians? Because liberalism is the moral presupposition that people should have as much power over their life as possible. So in some sense, if you want to give people power of their own lives, you are a liberal. But yet, you claim not to be. Why? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”

    Well, that’s actually not a question, but I presume you mean to ask: ‘Why are WE/YOU not all classical liberals?’ (please correct me if I’m wrong.)

    I’m surprised as to how you could be so misled as to think that it is only classical liberalism seeks to give people the as much power over their lives as possible. It certainly is one theoretical formulation for such a programme, but it is by no means the only one. Indeed I used to be something of a libertarian myself and as evidence for this fact, the only party I’ve ever been a member of (I’m not anymore) was the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. The only difference between you and me is that even when I was a libertarian, I was not so naive as to assume that was the only way to achieve this (and partly as a result of my willingness to entertain such notions, I’ve since moved into the Marxism camp).

    You actually hint at the reason why we can share the same goals and yet why we do not call ourselves libertarians or classical liberals yourself. It’s not entirely accurate to say that “liberalism is THE moral presupposition that people should have as much power over their life as possible.” What would be more accurate to say is that “liberalism is a 17th and especially 18th Century enlightenment era theory which holds as its moral presupposition that the people should have as much power over their lives as possible.”

    The distinction is an important one because to the extent that classical liberalism seeks to remove the greatest fetters on individual freedom, it does so in the historical context of 17th and especially 18th Century socio-politico-economic circumstances. Thus, logically, since the single most threatening institutions to individual freedom in the 17th and 18th Century were the church and the state, classical liberalism rightly railed against both. Incidentally, Marxists and socialists do not disagree with this, indeed Marx explicitly states that this is one of the three elements which make up his thinking and animate his work. But “the rub” to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, is that the 17th and 18th Century were either pre-capitalist or proto-capitalist. Thus, since capital was not a dominant institution in people’s lives at the time, it was not the subject of great worry to classical liberal theorists. This is why taking this 18th Century theory and exporting it into 21st Century capitalism where capital is THE dominant institution shaping people’s lives is ahistorical. This is also why we don’t reject the project of classical liberal theorists, we simply realize the folly of taking it ahistorically as opposed to modern-day libertarians.

    Thus, if we’re going to take as our objective, making sure that people have the most freedom over their own lives, socialists consider that it is clear that keeping the parochial focus on only church and state will not help. Rather, one must abolish the private conception of property because capital has become (although it was not always) greatly deleterious to human freedom.

    As early as 1763, Simon Linguet famously wrote:

    “It is the impossibility of living by any other means that compels our farm labourers to till the soil whose fruits they will not eat, and our masons to construct buildings in which they will not live. It is want that drags them to those markets where they await masters who will do them the kindness of buying them. It is want that compels them to go down on their knees to the rich man in order to get from him permission to enrich him… what effective gain has the suppression of slavery brought him? He is free, you say. Ah! That is his misfortune… These men, it is said, have no master—they have one, and the most terrible, the most imperious of masters, that is, need. It is this that reduces them to the most cruel dependence. They live only by hiring out their arms. They must therefore find someone to hire them, or die of hunger.”

    While libertarians clearly have different opinions, for us socialists, clearly, this isn’t ‘freedom’ over one’s own life.

    I won’t go too much into this point, because there are far better expositions of this idea than I can offer here. However if you want to hear a thorough theoretical and detailed discussion of this (and it’s one which I agree with fully), you can listen to this (it’s lengthly but worth it):

    http://www.chomsky.info/audionvideo/19700216.mp3

    Give what I’ve read of yours, I do genuinely think you’d enjoy the talk linked to above (and I don’t mean that in that I just want you to listen to something to infuriate you). It is the clearest explanation of this idea that I’ve ever heard and is framed using entirely the language of classical liberalism as opposed to the dense language of Marxism, so after listening to it, you should be able to better understand why we think what we think — if, of course, that is your genuine interest.

    Incidentally, Chomsky’s four idealized systems of government discussed in the .mp3 coincide perfectly with the four quadrants illustrated in the body of the post.

  47. 47 paulitics 11 December, 2007 at 11:48 am

    I know this is a bit old because I haven’t really been following this discussion that closely, but Martinp said something a while back that I thought was so important that it really worth repeating.

    Martinp wrote:

    “So, we do understand one another, we just disagree on some terminology, thats all. But again, belligerence is not debate. However, as a final note, IF there is something you are trying to understand from others (although you’ve purposely misinterpreted at least one point I made), in other words, if you are asking for somebody’s input in order to help you understand something, then learn a little decorum.”

    Well put, Martinp.

  48. 48 paulitics 11 December, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Political Primate,

    You do realize that “I do NOT identify with a group” is nowhere near the same thing as “My identification does NOT come from any sort of grouping”, don’t you?

    I think we can all accept that you do not identify with a group, but that has no bearing whatsoever on Martinp’s point that you are shaped and defined by groups. The only way you could argue that Martinp’s point is wrong with regards to you would be if you could prove that either you are a god who created himself or you are the Nietzchian Übermensch. Otherwise, Martinp’s argument is res ipsa loquitur internally coherent.

  49. 49 an actual Green 11 December, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Sometimes to answer a complex question requires looking at a broader or even more complex question. Some possible ways to do that in this analysis follow.

    First, consider that “economic” and “social” are words that we use to describe relations only among humans. They seem to be separate things only because there is competition to define social relations as economic, or economic relations as social, and the compromise is to pretend they are orthogonal as in this graph. But that’s not usually the right way to resolve questions of precedence of this kind. Instead we usually look for something prior to either. Say “god” or “gods” or “human nature” or just “nature”. So this becomes a third axis of comparison among political viewpoints if we are to follow the non-judgemental path of just accepting that each fight over precedence is one axis.

    So, imagine a third axis, “ecological”, in which the extremes are the view that ecological relationships are what we struggle against to establish a neat and ordered society (including for instance our own sexual natures), and the view that societies fail to the degree they struggle against ecosystems, and that success is equivalent to extending them.

    Extremists of the latter view will claim that social relations arise wholly from constraints that are ultimately those of the surrounding ecosystems (weather, predators and parasites especially). Pretty much any economist, including especially the most “conservative” who take the classical or Adam Smith view, will acknowledge that ecosystems are the base of any economy – that the economy cannot function without certain services being provided by nature such as erosion prevention, water filtration, irrigation, parasite predation (rats eaten by foxes say), pollination, and so on. A list of 17 of these services was estimated by Robert Costanza and his team in 1995 at US$33 trillion to the US economy alone, which stood at the time at US$25 trillion. In other words, the ecological contribution to the economy, and thus the natural capital, is indisputably larger than the human contribution. Were we to try to substitute those services with human-engineered equivalents (as Costanza tried to estimate) we come up with staggering numbers. We have no idea how to engineer systems that work as well as those of nature.

    Given that there’s really no dispute about this, there are still two attitudes we can take towards it. One is that it is impossible to account for natural capital or its services to us, accordingly we accept it much as we accept those of a government or parent, and rule it out of our accounting. An “economically conservative” view MIGHT include this view or it MIGHT include the opposite view, that we MUST account for these services so as to use markets to equalize the costs of restoring them and ensuring no subsidies are going to those who destroy them. That is, that people who voluntarily buy carbon offsets are not simply enabling others to waste more.

    Socially, one can look at humans as just another bad example of ill-behaved primates and come to the conclusion that we, of all primates, need regulation, law, coercion of all kinds. A group more violent than chimps, such as us, or more sex-crazed than bonobos, such as us, needs regulation and structure and rules. Including some that very much keep us from expressing our own natural urges and desires. That “socially conservative” view is not incompatible with natural science and ecology, one can find examples of chimps and bonobos doing all sorts of awful things (like hunting a closely-related species to extinction because it’s tasty) we used to think only humans did.

    It’s also possible to take the opposite view, that there is no basis for social organizing other than empathy. Through observation we universally find that all primate social groups, especially those of our nearest relatives, have extraordinarily strong mother-child bonds and very deep persistent friendships. They display behaviour like mourning and grief and loneliness. There is nothing unique about human abilities to use language or tools – if there is any unique ability it is the institution-building that leads to long-running torture, warfare, genocide. The excuses we layer on our worst behaviours so as to justify and continue. This would lead one to be “socially liberal” then.

    So if all four of the positions on the existing graph can be overlaid on the ecological and natural awareness without any necessary shifting of tactics, then we might have to agree it is a three-dimensional graph, at least, and that any and all of the above arguments ought to be included in debates on political ideology. We know so much more about nature in this millenium that it’s absurd to confine our debate to the positions that were taken two hundred years ago in “The West”.

    Gandhi, to address a particular character in the graph, did certainly consider low and local consumption to be meritous and (being of Jain descent) was certainly inclined to see a human being as a particularly powerful animal that needed to be self-disciplined and had duties not to harm other beings.

    His economics did not seem to be of the commodify-nature-and-improve-technology kind but rather of the robust-local-self-reliance kind (the spinning wheel being the obvious symbol).

    Most of today’s “Greens” (not necessarily those voting for a party or its candidates but those who accept the “Four Pillars” of the Greens: social justice, ecological wisdom, participatory democracy and peace/non-violence) could said to be in the “bottom-left” corner of the graph accordingly. They certainly quote Gandhi often to call attention to his insistence on local over global reliance, low consumption and vegetarian lifestyle.

    So one word for that bottom-left corner is “green”. Later formulations of the Pillars emphasized diversity and a need to building communities via economic development, and to base this on the women of the community specifically. But simultaneously, the great successes of the green movement economically came from audited “eco-labels” and setting high standards of process within organizations (ISO 9000 and ISO 14000) often in open defiance of union and “leftist” groups (who tend to resist monitoring of workers including auditing) and of course the acid-rain-reducing “SO2 market” and today’s global-warming-prevention “carbon market”. The “cap and trade” approach properly exists in the ecologically concious but economically conservative section of the graph, as it minimally tweaks the market system to solve a problem the market system creates, requiring market participants to come to the market with a common (not zero) carbon liability.

    Getting that liability to zero may of course require other means than technology and trading, so a real live “green” is likely to favour more socially interventive methods such as deliberately favouring high-density development in building codes, insisting on major currency or money supply reforms, specific interventions in the banking or trading system or a shift in education towards more sustainable trades and so on.

    In other words, the “green” who accepts the conservative means of intervention will ultimately accept also the more socialist methods, though they’ll pursue the conservative means first. In the medium term, they end up “on the left”.

    But then, ultimately, the green will also usually admit that all species compete most viciously and intensely with their own kind. Accordingly, inter-human status and control fights are not going to end any time soon, if ever. To let the planet cook and rot as a mere object in the games human groups play is accordingly unwise. We cannot, in other words, wait until all human beings are equal to each other to begin to preserve the natural world and protect it. We will have to accept, for instance, that people might die of starvation or fight amongst each other for what land they have already cleared, or just have to move, if they can’t find a more efficient way to live than to take more from the forest than it grows. This means ultimately greens accept an authoritarian view of the relation between humans and non humans, that ultimately some kind of regulation is required not just to enforce inter-”human rights” but also ensure that the struggle between humans does not destroy the rest of life on this planet. During the Cold War, for instance, many people observed that they had “no right” to eradicate all higher life forms on this planet, due to human fighting.

    This ultimate recourse to a single planet-wide conciousness or duty, which resembles theocracy, may ultimately have to classify the green in the very long term as an authoritarian.

    That is, they will employ first conservative tinkering and commodifying, then socialist visioning and redesigning of society, and as a last resort theocratic socially coercive authoritarianism. They’ll wander all over the economic and social graph based on the degree to which the constraints of being a real being in a real society on a real planet loom.

    What they don’t do, though, is lose the preference for social diversity and an economy constrained explicitly by ecological limits, so as to best preserve that diversity and prevent it from falling into “locust” or “parasite” habits. This means, psychologically, they belong in the bottom left of that graph as it exists. But in the third dimension, that of ecological integration and awareness, they might be taking their cue from science, rather than politics. If it is possible to draw operational conclusions about politics from scientific research and consensus, we might also say that the ecological awareness is not a political choice, and that each type of intervention or measure can be assigned a correct scale and degree of intervention. If that’s so then greens are a re-emergence of the old “technocracy” ideology but putting biologists, ecologists and primatologists (rather than engineers and physicists and chemists) “on top”.

    The difference is, this time they may just be right.

  50. 50 martinp 11 December, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Man, that was lengthy and I won’t pretend to understand it all, but its good to get on track again. I’d just like to stick in my point about language again. Defining ‘green’ so broadly accomplishes the goal of elevating it, but to steal a point from another poster, its not necessarily a definition of ‘green’ that one expects. The contentious point would be saying green involves local democracy and social justice. Just because ‘some’ greens share that in common with others, doesn’t mean it is part of the defintion. Green, historically in Canada anyway, is a focus on the ecological aspects of all those things. Just because our economy is based on the physical environment doesn’t mean it is PART of it, in fact as pointed out, ‘the market’ goes out of its way to avoid it altogether.

    So in being green I can be as totalitarian as I want, and not be interested in social justice at all. As mentioned, ‘democracy’ may not even be preferable since a majority of people can elect to do horrible things to the environment. As thats self defeating, the argument may be made that people would not elect to do that, but we don’t know, we’ve never seen it. But its a very thought provoking idea, and I won’t pretend to understand the ‘new three dimensional grid’, but then I didn’t pay that much attention to the grid in the first place-again that wariness of terms.

  51. 51 an actual Green 11 December, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    It’s not fair to define Marxist with reference to much more than Marx himself. As noted every country in the developed world implements every point of the Communist Manifesto now except the abolishment of rents in land. One can argue that China did implement that latter by having government hold the formal deed (though they do still charge rents, it’s ‘for the people’ presumably). We’re all Marxists otherwise.

    Similarly, idiosyncratic or naive definitions of ‘green’ that do not reference the actual political analyses and theory by which the Green Parties grew from nothing to be represented formally in over a hundred countries are unwise. There is a standard definition and the Global Greens get together regularly to agree on what it is. It has a history. You can’t make up your own absurd versions of it and expect to give them equal standing in an argument on political theory and how we should categorize or name it.

    “The contentious point would be saying green involves local democracy and social justice. Just because ’some’ greens share that in common with others, doesn’t mean it is part of the defintion.”

    That’s just not contentious. It was always part of the definition as it evolved in Europe and elsewhere. The Four Pillars, then the Ten Basic Values, then the Six Principles, always included local democracy and social justice. Everywhere on Earth.

    You can argue that big-G Green Party “Greens” don’t live up to the principles they espouse, few people of any stripe do. But you can’t argue that any coherent political theory exists in which ecological conservation is wholly divorced from local democracy and social justice. There’s no such theory that anyone subscribes to or has successfully used as the basis for a global movement or even a transnational one.

    Some people who claim to be “Greens” in Canada may claim to have some wonderful previously-undiscovered solution to the problem of ecological conservation and equity that does not involve either social justice or local/participatory democracy, but that’s irrelevant. Claims of political integrity from Canada aren’t admissible for the same reason that juries don’t tend to believe testimony in court from drug-addicted petty thieves.

    Canada is an absurd backwater, with a primitive and stupid politics of dominatino and cowardice. It allows governments to tell citizens to use non-native plants and cosmetic poison and to clear-cut lands instead of sustainable harvesting. Canadians allow liars to represent them and neither refuse to pay taxes nor shoot the liars in the street. They allow truth-tellers to be sued and blackballed. They let the federal government sign treaties that the provinces ignore. Accordingly Canadians and their uniquely disgusting habits are not worthy of much notice as a contributor or factor to any political theory. It’s just an outlier. Emphasis on “liar”.

    In Canada it may be novel to say that “the argument may be made that people would not elect to do that, but we don’t know, we’ve never seen it.” It’s not novel most other places. The national executives that consistently get “fossil awards” like China, the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, do NOT represent the majority of their country’s own citizens – nor demonstrably the majority even of the legislatures that are elected (Bush and Harper have minority support in their legislatures, Saudi has none, and China’s is all one party).

    The democracies are in favour of action on climate change and have taken action under Kyoto. That’s a powerful sign that, on the largest and best understood questions, global democracy may well work. However it may only work well in the climate case for the same reason that carbon markets do: A molecule of greenhouse gas entering the atmosphere anywhere on Earth can be counter-balanced by one leaving anywhere on Earth. It’s a simple situation that a market can effectively model, and a democracy can validly apply to, as all of us have equivalent responsibility for the problem which can be reduced to a simple number representing how much carbon-dioxide-equivalent we emit.

    It’s not hard to see how that might fall down when looking at, for instance, fresh water, where those who are upstream are grossly more responsible to those downstream than vice versa. If upstream outnumbers downstream, polluters may win until such time as the global majority comes to see that we are all downstream somehow.

    When dealing with commodities in high demand, it may get more difficult. A global democracy where the majority gets to overrule all desires of the locals everywhere and force them to, for instance, sacrifice their environment to the “greater good”, is obviously NOT part of the definition of ‘green’. Local democracy is in that definition to RESIST global democracy, not to become subordinate. Support NIMBY efforts to some degree also.

    One can see markets and democracy as gigantic polls on what to charge and what to coerce. What relevance such global polling and coercing should have on locals is up for debate. Locals may have better information and may value what is close by much higher than anyone else would, but it’s not absolutely clear that this can be expressed as a price.

    Whether the economy drawing on the natural (not just “physical”) environment implies reconcilation with, or defiance of, natural capital in the market mechanisms is an ideological choice, as the analysis above points out. There are cases and arguments either way. So while either of us may wish to say it does or does not imply that, it remains a matter of easy empirical investigation to prove both views, and everything in between, do in fact exist among the people.

    However, there are limits. Language is easily abused and you’ve abused it. Saying that “in being green I can be as totalitarian as I want, and not be interested in social justice at all” isn’t defensible except (again as pointed out in the analysis) that on the global scale some species-wide limiting factors will overrule inter-human equity as a governing priority at least some of the time. As stated:

    “We will have to accept, for instance, that people might die of starvation or fight amongst each other for what land they have already cleared, or just have to move, if they can’t find a more efficient way to live than to take more from the forest than it grows.”

    Being robbed of land in one place doesn’t entitle people to despoil it in another. There’s no infinite draw on nature to make up for inter-human harms. At some point people may have to be told to go back with guns and throw out the ones who robbed them of the land, rather than simply spread onto “new and untouched” land.

    But this too is requiring longer itme horizons on decision making to define what “justice” really is. It’s a naive and idiosyncratic definition of ‘green’ in which the long term effects of injustice aren’t considered. Totalitarian solutions are notoriously short lived. For that reason alone, you can’t “be as totalitarian as [you] want”. It’s only your means of achieving social justice that may have to change, but not the need for it.

    The standard definition of ‘green’ advises seven generations of impact assessment. That’s the definition used in almost every document that makes mention of future time horizons – including the Seventh Generation Amendment to the US Constitution championed by Winona LaDuke (certainly a big-G Green).

    So while you you might be able to say that you could support totalitarian measures that have a negligible chance of major backlash and revolt and further social injustice and violent reaction within seven generations, you’d be hard pressed to find any such measure that you could say reliably would not.

    Conclusion: The missing dimension may be the time horizon of decision making. Anywhere from zero (immediate seizing of all assets of the rich by the mob, instant closure of all disputes by the market closing, no consideration for reaction or feedback from totalitarian measures taken today to protect the irreplaceable) to seven-generation (planning longer-horizon means of transference such as wealth tax and encouraging the very rich to deed sensitive lands to trusts, incremental extension of commodity market contracts and equity offering regulations to require carbon neutralizing and ultimately ecological footprints of effectively zero, a systematic effort to redesign civics appropriate for limited resource bioregionally governed world and teach it to kids via simulations and games). With everything in between of course. Of course, everyone will claim to be long-sighted.

    But those that claim to be able to see past seven generations would be making a cognitively insensible claim, as no statistically significant number of human beings has ever lived long enough to personally know eight generations of human beings. Our average lifespan and age of fertility rule it out. So to claim foresight of eight generations and up is to claim quasi-divinity: A perspective wiser than any human can naturally have. We can accordingly put any such claimants into the zero-generation foresight category. At least free marketeers claim to be doing what’s good for the current generation, and seize-it-all socialists claim to be doing what’s good for their kids.

    Anyway many irreconcilable perspective clashes here. Read Cowan on spiral dynamics and Clare Graves. He puts colours on the various ideologies and claims they are choices of perspective that aren’t contradictory and aren’t in conflict.

  52. 52 Political Primate 12 December, 2007 at 2:04 am

    martinp:
    “WHY people are uncomfortable with defining themselves with a term I’ve answered.”

    And as I pointed out, that’s not the question I asked. If you didn’t read properly or I was unclear shouldn’t matter, since I already pointed out that it was not the question I wanted answered. But instead of answering it, you become rude. Yeah, that’s helpful. And you think i should be greatful that you answer, when all you have are mudslinging?

    Yeah. Right.

    “NOBODY I know says what you seem to think, that ideas are genetic components of their bodies.”

    I have never said anything that can be even remotely misunderstood like that.

    “Suffice it to say people DON”T call themselves a certain term for the same reason YOU call yourself a liberal”

    And I’ll again note that I didn’t talk about “calling” yourself this and that.

    “But again, the misunderstanding comes down to semantics, since you claim the ‘economic left’ is ‘economic unliberal’. There is the problem, you are defining your terms differenently again-nowhere is that in the chart.”

    Just because it doesn’t say so in the hart, it doens’t mean it’s not true.

    “The economic left IS economic ‘liberalism’ SO LONG AS WE TALK ABOUT THE CLASSICAL LIBERALISM DEFINITION YOU MENTION.”

    No. This statetement is completely and blatantly false. The problem with you, is that not only do you like to pretend that I’m a teenager so you don’t have to listen to me. You simply know nothing about the things you talk about. You are also completely incapable of even trying to understand what I say. Insead, you do everything you can in your power to intentionally misunderstand me.

    All typical behaviour of the collectivist.

    “Nobody would say the Jamaican market became ‘freer’ when it was opened to american goods by the IMF”

    Everybody would say that. It’s called “free trade”. You live in your own fantasy world, a world you create so that you don’t have to challange the dogmas of your group identification by claiming that white is black and up is down.

    Paul:
    “Well, that’s actually not a question, but I presume you mean to ask: ‘Why are WE/YOU not all classical liberals?’”

    Right.

    “I’m surprised as to how you could be so misled as to think that it is only classical liberalism seeks to give people the as much power over their lives as possible. It certainly is one theoretical formulation for such a programme, but it is by no means the only one. Indeed I used to be something of a libertarian myself and as evidence for this fact, the only party I’ve ever been a member of (I’m not anymore) was the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. The only difference between you and me is that even when I was a libertarian, I was not so naive as to assume that was the only way to achieve this (and partly as a result of my willingness to entertain such notions, I’ve since moved into the Marxism camp).”

    Ways to achieve it is a later discussion, I’m still talking about what the goals are. And I don’t agree that socialisms moral goal is to achieve the freedom of the individual. I’ve met some exquisitely naive anarchists who believe that socialism can be combined with individual freedom, but those are few and far between, and quite easily convinced that their vision of anarchy is, when it means the practical reality, in fact a liberal, capitalist market democracy. Although they will of course adamantly claim that this still is a socialist anarchy. ;) In fact, some of these encounters is what sparked of my thoughts about the “chimpanzee/orangutan” subject. Why would these teenage kids, after I’ve showed them and they agreed that their stateless non-hierarchical society would, to work in practice, need a representative democracy, still claim that there was no state in this situation? Clearly, they were not interested in the *ideas* they only associated with the *words*. Which, I think, is why you and me can have the same goal, but you talk about socialism, and in particular Marxism, which is completely contrary to your stated goals. That doesn’t make much sense to me, and I’m trying to make it make sense.

    “You actually hint at the reason why we can share the same goals and yet why we do not call ourselves libertarians or classical liberals yourself. It’s not entirely accurate to say that “liberalism is THE moral presupposition that people should have as much power over their life as possible.””

    It is EXACTLY accurate. That is a complete definition of liberalism, and it is just as valid today as ever.

    “Thus, if we’re going to take as our objective, making sure that people have the most freedom over their own lives, socialists consider that it is clear that keeping the parochial focus on only church and state will not help.”

    So don’t do that then. Liberals don’t.

    “You do realize that “I do NOT identify with a group” is nowhere near the same thing as “My identification does NOT come from any sort of grouping”, don’t you?”

    No, I don’t realize that. I’ve read it a couple of times, and….no, sorry. That still means the same thing for me.

    An actual green:
    “As noted every country in the developed world implements every point of the Communist Manifesto now except the abolishment of rents in land.”

    That is an interesting statement. Can you explain that a bit more? What points of the communist manifesto has been implemented, more specifically?

  53. 53 paulitics 12 December, 2007 at 11:42 am

    “I’m trying to make it make sense.”

    Drop the charade. Actually, no, by your own actions, you’re not trying to make sense of it. If you were interested in making sense of it, you’d be behaving completely differently. Instead of reading my post and writing:

    “And I don’t agree that socialisms [sic] moral goal is to achieve the freedom of the individual. … Which, I think, is why you and me can have the same goal, but you talk about socialism, and in particular Marxism, which is completely contrary to your stated goals.”

    You would have written something along the lines of, “I don’t fully understand that line of reasoning that you’ve given” Or “Okay, I don’t agree with that line of reason which has been given, but I understand it fully and now I also understand that that’s where they’re coming from. Now I’m going to listen to the audio lecture linked to in order to better understand this point of view even more.”

    Aristotle once wrote: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

    Given your impressive ability to distort our utterances and your impressive ability to actively avoid understanding or entertaining the ideas we present and ignoring or dismissing the portions that could provide an answer your question, you might want to contemplate Aristotle’s axiom.

    We’ve given you the answers you claimed to have sought despite the fact that it is more than clear that you’re really not interested in the questions you claimed to be interested in. And we’ve done this despite your astounding rudeness and arrogance (and trust me, having read through your misspelling-laced diatribes, you have VERY little to be arrogant about).

    Go run along now and try to con some other group of people into wasting as much time you’ve successfully conned us into wasting for the fool’s errand of “helping you” with your putative goal of understanding our arguments.

  54. 54 martinp 12 December, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    To mirror Paul’s comments, again, it is semantics. Here’s a tip, whenever somebody says “the whole world calls it that”, then you know where the chimps are. Ironically, what you are saying is that IF a large group says something then it is by nature true, so in fact it is YOU who cannot get out of the groupthink box-”if everybody else says it then I should adopt it”. So its pretty hypocritical to be preaching at others. And when you start a sentence “the problem with you..” then guess what, thats mudslinging.

    And of course the whole world DOESN”T call it free trade. Just because the business press calls something by a term doesn’t make it so. Just because Fox says that Bush is only interested in bringing Democracy doesn’t make it so, and just because a Fox reporter says ‘everybody calls it that’ doesn’t make it so either. If you want a more concrete example of that look at the mainstream media’s scientific coverage. Virtually NONE of it is close to being ‘true’ in any scientific sense of the word.

    Of course the argument is absurd since by definition YOU have not met ‘the whole world’, you have only met a tiny minority, and have only read a tiny minority of what is out there. Again, this is not talking a different language, it is simply you not accepting our terms. As for the capitalism and socialism argument, again, it depends how they are defined. Perhaps a little less talking to teenagers and more adults will help. What you are suggesting is that by extrapolating a definition far enough it means another, which is exactly my point. It all depends on the definitions accepted.

    But again, your ‘rebuttal’ is never to try to make things clearer, it is to say “you are wrong, you don’t know what you are talking about”. That is NOT a rebuttal, again, we assume your a teenager because you WRITE LIKE ONE. I don’t even know about that though, I’ve talked to teenagers far smarter, and the only response to “you are wrong” is of course the pre teen “I’m rubber and your glue”, so I’ll get off this boat before it degenerates to a grade five level. If you have a question then ask it, if you have a concept, then explain it. All my points were easily verifiable, they are only ‘wrong’ to you. PROVE that they are wrong, again, ‘the whole world says so’ and ‘you don’t know what your talking about’ is not proof of anything. People will infer the opposite, that you are simply incapable of rational disagreement and maybe as Paul indicates, that is true. Yes, you SHOULD be thankful I’m still writing, I know many blogs that would have simply started deleting your comments just to avoid them and call it trolling. I’ve taken the time to read what you post and reply to it, and the response is “your wrong” “you live in a fantasy world”, “thats completely false” (but I won’t explain why).

    That you think Jamaica operates under free trade is the delusion, in fact NOBODY says that, Jamaica is virtually never written about in the press, again, like russia. To see that you don’t have to go far, Canada is said to have ‘free trade’ with the US. That is a complete joke. If I buy something online from California, I still have to pay duty on it. When I cross the border I can only bring so much booze. How is it free trade when the US can hold up lumber at whim and charge a duty on it even though every tribunal weighed in Canada’s favour? How is it free trade when any excuse of health safety can ban products like beef and potatoes?

    That’s not delusion, thats YOU living in groupthink, and believeing whatever the media tells you the ‘whole world’ believes and then preaching at others to state that they are brainwashed. Puhleeze.

    But our new posting friend at least has the interest of posting some really thought provoking stuff. Much of it I’d agree with, it comes across as pretty cynical but when you get down to it it is hard to argue with. However, I would venture to say that simply because Canad’as government isn’t representative of its people in the same way that exists in europe, I don’t think that it discounts it from ‘political theory’. I don’t think simply signing on to Kyoto is indicative of any huge environmental move, although its certainly broader than here. To be fair, this is after europe has essentially UNenvironmentalized itself, something that hasn’t yet occurred here so people are more cavalier.

    People don’t ‘stop paying taxes’ for the same reason they don’t stop in other places-because it means jail. I suspect Canada is one of the least ‘organized’ countries in the world, our geography tends to push it, and our culture certainly pushes that, in many ways even more than in the US.

    I don’t follow the conclusion at all, I will admit my laziness and think that it is the type of ideas that need a lot of work to decipher and I haven’t that kind of time. The one question I’d ask is that IF canadian greens are so different, what exactly is the international version? I’m assuming you don’t mean Greenpeace but perhaps the european green parties? I had never heard of the seven generation thing, but its a very interesting idea that I’d be keen to learn more about.

  55. 55 Political Primate 12 December, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Paul:
    It’s not a “line of reasoning”. Socialism does not define it’s goal as individual freedom. very few socialists I have ever discussed with state it as a goal for their politics or socialism. Then claiming that this is the goal of socialism is an unreasonable claim.

    You two, paul and martinp has your own definition of words compared to with how they are normally used, and socialism is liberalism, marxism is capitalism, war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. I tried to adapt myself to that language, by introducing new words for the concepts which were lost, but that wasn’t accepted.

    You take over words, so that you can forget the concepts they are used for by the rest of the world. By defining democracy and socialism as equivalent, you deny that democracy exist outside socialism. By claiming that socialism and freedom as equivalent, you can deny that freedom exists outside socialism. By defining socialism as equivalent to everything that is good, it becomes impossible to criticize socialism. If I were to show how socialism leads to absence of freedom, you just claim “no, socialism IS freedom!” and the debate dies.

    And is it a matter of semantics as martinp claims? Yes, in a way. Because of course your semantics is designed to make criticism impossible by destroying the possibility of communication. But what I wonder is not what your opinions are. I know them. Neither do I wonder how you destroy words. What I wonder is WHY. What is it in knowledge and debate you fear so much?

    I’m still hoping to somewhere penetrate the minds of people like you. But your minds are so closed that you don’t let anything in or out. They are like black closed boxes, fearing the world around them and building impenetrable walls around yourselves. Your world is small and probably very comfortable, and anything that threatens it is instantly denounced as stupid or evil. Nothing can never be just different, it has to be exactly like you expect it, or stupid or just evil.

    You have beautiful minds, capable of great things, and all you use it for is coming up with excuses for not understanding. Something you are depressingly good at.

  56. 56 paulitics 12 December, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    You’ve made certain you don’t want understand us, so I guess there’s no way to reach us and our word-destroying ways (although, just to point out, Orwell was a socialist, so it is a bit ironic you draw on him to criticize us).

    Now scamper along back from whence you came.

  57. 57 martinp 12 December, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Again, WE say the same about you, so again, move along. The reasons we define the words the way we do are things we state up front. YOUR definitions so far consist of “nobody I talk to defines it that way”. So here’s a response and a solution-find new friends. Obviously you are talking to people who are brainwashed into only looking at the very basic definitions of terms without thinking them through. You’ve found two people whose definitions are fairly close even though we have two completely different backgrounds, experiences, and who have never sat in a room together and had a discussion. And again, there are numerous academic sources that say the same thing, the only thing we have in common is that we’ve both heard most of Noam Chomsky’s talks and find much there to agree with. Even if you disagree with everything he says, you have to admit that his popularity is considerable and so lots of people agree with him.

    It may be pointless, like the black box you talk about that’s what your arguments are, again, ‘I’m rubber and your glue’. Perhaps I didn’t make it clear, but here’s an easy way to understand what I am talking about-those words don’t have ANY concrete meaning on their own. Your slavish desire for concrete definitions, and defintions of ‘the whole world’ or ‘the people you talk to’ is what limits your imagination. Any deviation from your chosen definition seems beyond your willingness to accept. Again, I have no idea what it is you are trying to understand, the reason WHY we believe what we believe is simply because its what we believe, the same as you.

    But of course then there is the whole slavish desire to adhere to ‘belief’. Again, its all semantics, what exactly does ‘believe’ mean? And again, I’d suggest your inability to understand WHY people believe what they believe may stem from you inability to accept other definitions. In other words, you have such a strict definition of ‘belief’ that it can’t get ‘outside the box’.

    But again, virtually everything that we’ve said has been to provide examples of WHY the definitions are valid, but again you keep saying ‘your wrong’ and ‘the whole world doesn’t believe that’. That is a nonsensical answer dude. If you can’t accept these definitions then just move along. Its simply semantics we will never agree on. You think that believing certain definitions is some kind of proof of..well, I’m not sure what, but again, just call Paul a commie and move along. Like I said, if you are trying to ‘understand’ something, then just ask a question, don’t argue and debate about the semantics because we’ve agreed to disagree. As you’ve seen, people here are fully willing to have discussions-when they are actually discussions.

    But saying “I’m trying to penetrate your minds” makes zero sense. If you don’t understand a response, ask for an explanation. You can’t ‘penetrate a mind’, what are you, vulcan? If you want to know what somebody thinks or why, just ask questions, don’t sit and debate.

    As for the definitions, its absolutely true that people define terms differently, thats a huge issue. Plenty of people define them the way that Paul does. Again, the grid is very helpful because political philosophical ideas cannot be tied down to one definition-they are subjective to history and to events and to their selected writers and critics. That’s why I like the grid, it at least says up front that these can’t be locked down, but ‘here’s the ballpark’. Again, a good reason for that is so that people don’t spend forever bickering and arguing about the definitions of words.

    But again, we’ve justified those definitions many times, there are hundreds of thinkers who say the exact same thing, but if your friends or the people you talk to don’t, well, thats not our fault. However, a good example of this is to download Chomsky’s debate with Richard Perle from decades ago. Like this debate Perle was saying that all these foreign policy forays were the US ‘just being nice’ to other countries but having some mistakes. Chomsky replied that its far from the case, and provide ample evidence to show how it was all a calculated move, and even presented the documentary evidence from the government. In the case of the middle east, the state department has said that the area must be controlled at all costs, and why, and nowhere in there is ‘bringing democracy’ even mentioned. And yet you will see masses of people who think the US actions in the middle east are to bring democracy. You saw that more than half of US citizens still think Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. If you only knew those people, then your view of what the ‘whole world’ thinks would be defined by that. If somebody said, ‘no, here’s whats true’, then from your posts you’d say ‘no, nobody accepts that, everybody I know says that Hussein was behind 9/11′. You may want to believe that, thats your business, but in fact most of the world doesn’t believe that, it is only a tiny minority. So again, get away from the media and that small group of friends and you’ll find ALL KINDS of definitions for political words.

    Its a big world out there chimp, with all kinds of ideas. You are the only one here locked down by beliefs. Ask any self professed socialist what the chief goal of socialism is and you’ll get as many answers. But like I’ve said, WHO CARES? The only people who sit around and debate such things are arts students with too much time on their hands. Whether its personal freedom or whatever, its irrelevant, or at least academic. And again, maintaining an adherence to one concrete answer is pretty fascist. The ‘chief goal’ is hardly relevant when you don’t live in a socialist society anyway.

    As for democracy and socialism, the reasons I equate them are my own-I have no interest in whether other people agree or not. Again, they are MY beliefs and I’m not going to change them because YOU say so. Like I said, both are about ‘sharing’ at least to me. In socialism it is about sharing resources, in democracy it is about sharing power. The two are both about sharing, but each in a different way. If the conversation continued into specifics, it would be found that power and resources, as our friend has discussed at length above, are inseparable. However, it depends where the discussion goes. Either way, it really isn’t important except for people who argue semantics all night.

    To me what is important is practise. So in my life I practise socialism as much as possible by volunteering, and democracy by being poltically active. But like I said, when I volunteer, even though I ‘share’, I don’t call it socialism for all the reasons I mentioned above. If every volunteer in the country were called a socialist, the Marxist-Leninist party would probably have more people show up at meetings. But to most people it isn’t that important-they don’t care. The definitions just aren’t that important. So keep believing our definitions are wrong if thats what floats your boat, but if you want to understand WHY we believe the definitions then go back and reread the posts. If you want, just ask a whole bunch of questions. Nobody here CARES why you believe what you believe, and nobody here cares what your arguments are, so as said numerous times, if you really want to understand, then simply ask, and don’t be a jerk about it, be happy that people are patient enough to put up with it.

  58. 58 Political Primate 14 December, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    “although, just to point out, Orwell was a socialist, so it is a bit ironic you draw on him to criticize us”

    I guess you don’t know what 1984 is about: Some types of socialism. It’s one socialist critizing others.

    “Obviously you are talking to people who are brainwashed into only looking at the very basic definitions of terms without thinking them through”

    Yes. You.

  59. 59 paulitics 14 December, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Yes, I suppose you’re right. I only quote from 1984 ad nausem and it’s only my single most referenced book (more so even than Marx and the Communist Manifesto) on my bookshelf. Yeah, I guess you’re right: I really don’t know what 1984 is about.

    I really didn’t know that 1984 is actually (and openly) about the horrors of Stalinism and about how the only hope against such horror is socialism. Remember the whole: “If there is hope… it lies in the proles” motif throughout the whole freakin’ book?

    Okay, seriously now, go run along back from whence you came and go play with your friends. My parting words to you are that: if you feel like re-reading 1984, you might want to pay attention to, you know, the slight insignificant details like that one as well as the whole motif of the Newspeak redefinition socialism (Ingsoc) to mean the exact opposite (just like the Ministry of Love etc…) of what socialism actually means according to proponents.

    “By 2050 — earlier, probably — all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron — they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be.” -1984

    Also, remember the whole section with Goldstein’s book wherein he wrote?

    “[Ingsoc] rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it does so in the name of Socialism”

    So Ingsoc, of course, was just as much a type of socialism as the Ministry of Truth was an agency concerned with truth or the Ministry of Peace was an agency concerned with peace. This, of course, was the inspiration for the original post, any discussion of which, you have effectively drowned out with a diarrhea of words and a constipation of ideas. (But don’t feel too bad about that last point, you’ve more than made up for your hijacking of the discussion by being the single greatest human embodiment of exactly the point I was trying to make about Orwell’s idea and the active process of destroying words).

  60. 60 martinp 14 December, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Don’t worry, he’s down to two points. And don’t forget, a picture is worth a thousand words.

  61. 61 an actual Green 20 December, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    It’s not fair to define Marxist with reference to much more than Marx himself. As noted every country in the developed world implements every point of the Communist Manifesto now except the abolishment of rents in land. One can argue that China did implement that latter by having government hold the formal deed (though they do still charge rents, it’s ‘for the people’ presumably). We’re all Marxists otherwise.

    Similarly, idiosyncratic or naive definitions of ‘green’ that do not reference the actual political analyses and theory by which the Green Parties grew from nothing to be represented formally in over a hundred countries are unwise. There is a standard definition and the Global Greens get together regularly to agree on what it is. It has a history. You can’t make up your own absurd versions of it and expect to give them equal standing in an argument on political theory and how we should categorize or name it.

    “The contentious point would be saying green involves local democracy and social justice. Just because ’some’ greens share that in common with others, doesn’t mean it is part of the defintion.”

    That’s just not contentious. It was always part of the definition as it evolved in Europe and elsewhere. The Four Pillars, then the Ten Basic Values, then the Six Principles, always included local democracy and social justice. Everywhere on Earth.

    You can argue that big-G Green Party “Greens” don’t live up to the principles they espouse, few people of any stripe do. But you can’t argue that any coherent political theory exists in which ecological conservation is wholly divorced from local democracy and social justice. There’s no such theory that anyone subscribes to or has successfully used as the basis for a global movement or even a transnational one.

    Some people who claim to be “Greens” in Canada may claim to have some wonderful previously-undiscovered solution to the problem of ecological conservation and equity that does not involve either social justice or local/participatory democracy, but that’s irrelevant. Claims of political integrity from Canada aren’t admissible for the same reason that juries don’t tend to believe testimony in court from drug-addicted petty thieves.

    Canada is an absurd backwater, with a primitive and stupid politics of dominatino and cowardice. It allows governments to tell citizens to use non-native plants and cosmetic poison and to clear-cut lands instead of sustainable harvesting. Canadians allow liars to represent them and neither refuse to pay taxes nor shoot the liars in the street. They allow truth-tellers to be sued and blackballed. They let the federal government sign treaties that the provinces ignore. Accordingly Canadians and their uniquely disgusting habits are not worthy of much notice as a contributor or factor to any political theory. It’s just an outlier. Emphasis on “liar”.

    In Canada it may be novel to say that “the argument may be made that people would not elect to do that, but we don’t know, we’ve never seen it.” It’s not novel most other places. The national executives that consistently get “fossil awards” like China, the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, do NOT represent the majority of their country’s own citizens – nor demonstrably the majority even of the legislatures that are elected (Bush and Harper have minority support in their legislatures, Saudi has none, and China’s is all one party).

    The democracies are in favour of action on climate change and have taken action under Kyoto. That’s a powerful sign that, on the largest and best understood questions, global democracy may well work. However it may only work well in the climate case for the same reason that carbon markets do: A molecule of greenhouse gas entering the atmosphere anywhere on Earth can be counter-balanced by one leaving anywhere on Earth. It’s a simple situation that a market can effectively model, and a democracy can validly apply to, as all of us have equivalent responsibility for the problem which can be reduced to a simple number representing how much carbon-dioxide-equivalent we emit.

    It’s not hard to see how that might fall down when looking at, for instance, fresh water, where those who are upstream are grossly more responsible to those downstream than vice versa. If upstream outnumbers downstream, polluters may win until such time as the global majority comes to see that we are all downstream somehow.

    When dealing with commodities in high demand, it may get more difficult. A global democracy where the majority gets to overrule all desires of the locals everywhere and force them to, for instance, sacrifice their environment to the “greater good”, is obviously NOT part of the definition of ‘green’. Local democracy is in that definition to RESIST global democracy, not to become subordinate. Support NIMBY efforts to some degree also.

    One can see markets and democracy as gigantic polls on what to charge and what to coerce. What relevance such global polling and coercing should have on locals is up for debate. Locals may have better information and may value what is close by much higher than anyone else would, but it’s not absolutely clear that this can be expressed as a price.

    Whether the economy drawing on the natural (not just “physical”) environment implies reconcilation with, or defiance of, natural capital in the market mechanisms is an ideological choice, as the analysis above points out. There are cases and arguments either way. So while either of us may wish to say it does or does not imply that, it remains a matter of easy empirical investigation to prove both views, and everything in between, do in fact exist among the people.

    However, there are limits. Language is easily abused and you’ve abused it. Saying that “in being green I can be as totalitarian as I want, and not be interested in social justice at all” isn’t defensible except (again as pointed out in the analysis) that on the global scale some species-wide limiting factors will overrule inter-human equity as a governing priority at least some of the time. As stated:

    “We will have to accept, for instance, that people might die of starvation or fight amongst each other for what land they have already cleared, or just have to move, if they can’t find a more efficient way to live than to take more from the forest than it grows.”

    Being robbed of land in one place doesn’t entitle people to despoil it in another. There’s no infinite draw on nature to make up for inter-human harms. At some point people may have to be told to go back with guns and throw out the ones who robbed them of the land, rather than simply spread onto “new and untouched” land.

    But this too is requiring longer time horizons on decision making to define what “justice” really is. It’s a naive and idiosyncratic definition of ‘green’ in which the long term effects of injustice aren’t considered. Totalitarian solutions are notoriously short lived. For that reason alone, you can’t “be as totalitarian as [you] want”. It’s only your means of achieving social justice that may have to change, but not the need for it. It depends how urgent you think the need is, which is back to time again.

    The standard definition of ‘green’ advises seven generations of impact assessment. That’s the definition used in almost every document that makes mention of future time horizons – including the Seventh Generation Amendment to the US Constitution championed by Winona LaDuke (certainly a big-G Green).

    So while you you might be able to say that you could support totalitarian measures that have a negligible chance of major backlash and revolt and further social injustice and violent reaction within seven generations, you’d be hard pressed to find any such measure that you could say reliably would not.

    Conclusion: The missing dimension may be the time horizon of decision making. Anywhere from zero (immediate seizing of all assets of the rich by the mob, instant closure of all disputes by the market closing, no consideration for reaction or feedback from totalitarian measures taken today to protect the irreplaceable) to seven-generation (planning longer-horizon means of transference such as wealth tax and encouraging the very rich to deed sensitive lands to trusts, incremental extension of commodity market contracts and equity offering regulations to require carbon neutralizing and ultimately ecological footprints of effectively zero, a systematic effort to redesign civics appropriate for limited resource bioregionally governed world and teach it to kids via simulations and games). With everything in between of course. Of course, everyone will claim to be long-sighted.

    But those that claim to be able to see past seven generations would be making a cognitively insensible claim, as no statistically significant number of human beings has ever lived long enough to personally know eight generations of human beings. Our average lifespan and age of fertility rule it out. So to claim foresight of eight generations and up is to claim quasi-divinity: A perspective wiser than any human can naturally have. We can accordingly put any such claimants into the zero-generation foresight category. At least free marketeers claim to be doing what’s good for the current generation, and seize-it-all socialists claim to be doing what’s good for their kids.

    Anyway many irreconcilable perspective clashes here. Read Cowan on spiral dynamics and Clare Graves. He puts colours on the various ideologies and claims they are choices of perspective that aren’t contradictory and aren’t in conflict.

    Unless, that is, one insists on idiosyncratic definitions and personal feelings as a guide to what political principles actually mean. Then we’re just in a brutal war to the sticks and stones, with the stupid hoping to dominate by numbers and the clever by lies.

  62. 62 nascentliterati 18 September, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Long after the fact I read your post after doing a search for the destruction of words in its full context. I have the audio book version (unabridged of course) of 1984, but I wanted to quote a chunk of the speech for my blog. You have done so admirably here. I was actually looking for the name of the fictional speaker, because I couldn’t quite visualize it by how it was pronounced. I don’t know if you keep track of comments, but for what it’s worth, there you are.

  63. 63 paulitics 18 September, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    nascentliterati: The quotation “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words” was spoken by the Newspeak dictionary writer named “Syme” and is spoken during his conversation with Winston in the first part of 1984.

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