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Author Topic: Socialism in Seattle.  (Read 1973 times)

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Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2012, 06:59:54 PM »
I'd enjoy a classless socity to tell the truth, but that requires a fundimental shift like you said, taking place over thousand of years.
so breaking out the molotovs and hanging CEO's (not all are evil, there are some perfectly nice companies out there, with honest leadership, who treat their people well. but they don't wind up on the news for violating the law, or with a CEO going to prison on national TV)

Offline vtboy

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #26 on: November 18, 2012, 07:15:01 PM »
I am not a communism apologists, I am a socialist, a Trotskyist Marxist, who can see that the methods used in the USSR, and by extension all other Stalinist or "communist" that came afterwards. True socialism/communism has NOT been achieved anywhere on the earth, and it is because of the failure of Stalinist that a lot of people are wary of it, yet still people are drawn towards Marxist/socialist ideas, as they can see that they are true... Capitalism is falling apart, but as Marx said, it will find away to survive, at the cost of the working class. More and more people are being drawn to the idea that socialism is the way to go for the future and betterment of humanity.

I can't imagine where you got the idea that "captitalism is falling apart." The experiences of China, India, and Brazil, among others, would seem to counsel otherwise. If any economic system may now be said to be falling apart, it would seem to be the qusai-socialism practiced in the PIIGS countries and other Euro Zone nations.

If "true" socialism or "true" communism is something not yet achieved anywhere on the planet, despite the many attempts to do so, I can only assume the ideology exceeds our frail capacities for its realization. There comes a point when one must stop blaming practitioners for the failiure of a cure, and reconsider the theory on which it rests. 

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2012, 09:11:42 PM »
As I said in the previous Communism discussion thread...

Communism/Socialism: Best idea ever on paper. Worst idea ever in reality. Human beings just aren't wired the right way to live and think by socialist mores...if we were, we wouldn't have ascended to become the planet's dominant predatory species. Every attempt to change that has ultimately imploded - forget the USSR and China, the original American Pilgrim settlement at Jamestown was originally a religious socialist community - because it's only a matter of time before our instincts for self-survival and self-advancement reassert themselves. It'll be a project of centuries or more to transition to a socialist mindset, at least as long as it took to transition from a monarchist/feudal mindset to the current nationalistic mindset (really tribes on a macro scale, the original human social group), and it'll probably only be feasible once we've achieved energy independence or ascended to a full-on post-scarcity tech level.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2012, 02:12:00 AM »
I don't see it happening till a truly MASSIVE change in technology occurs. Part of it has. The Internet has done that a bit BUT while it provide information easily you still have resource and energy scarcity. Without a technical leap forward in those fields or a MASSIVE jump in some area as yet unseen, I don't see socialism growing too far fast.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #29 on: November 19, 2012, 09:49:42 AM »
It seems to me that most of the people who label themselves as socialist today do not generally advocate an immediate leap to a socialist state with social ownership and all those traditional traits of socialism. It seems to have more to do with social justice, and anti-capitalism in general. To view it as a sort of one generational project is a mistake.

I did come across something while doing research for a paper the other day, that was interesting to me. The person who first used the term hegemony in the modern sense of power achieved through consent, Antonio Gramsci, suggested that the reason that communism failed to materialize in many European states was that the higher classes had already achieved hegemony. They'd succeeded in equating national interests with their own interests. He suggested that what needed to happen was for the workers, the poor, the lower classes, to achieve hegemony, and then bring about a revolution. Well, that's my understanding of it, anyway.

Now, this seems to me to make sense, and it has some implications. It suggests to me that the supposed change in human nature that has to take place before we can hope to achieve anything like a stable socialist society, is not actually as great as most people would have you believe. Common-sense arguments that humans are inherently selfish should not be accepted without evidence. Because the evidence supports the opposite view, that we're geared toward cooperation and the pooling of resources. And so it's not actually human nature we need to change, only what our values are, and whether our values are the values of an elite minority, or the majority. Right now it's the former.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2012, 12:00:39 PM »
It is true that we often forget that humans are social animals and that even though we are often petty, hateful, and capricious in our interactions with each other we do have a certain drive toward pooling our resources as you have said.Though it still doesn't quite explain why humans are so awful to each other regardless of what culture we are a part of.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #31 on: November 19, 2012, 12:07:53 PM »
It is true that we often forget that humans are social animals and that even though we are often petty, hateful, and capricious in our interactions with each other we do have a certain drive toward pooling our resources as you have said.Though it still doesn't quite explain why humans are so awful to each other regardless of what culture we are a part of.

Our social nature is just a reflection of our selfish nature - when human groups or tribes pool their resources, it's almost always for the intent of achieving something that wouldn't be within reach of any individual included in the group; we sacrifice, but the expectation is that the end result will still leave us better off than where we were or would be on our own, whether that is in security, food, wages, etc. The core ideals of socialism, comparatively, look to equalize everyone; the sharing of resources is the same, but the expectation that the net total resource will increase is replaced by the desire to remove the imbalance in resource distribution.

Online Vekseid

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #32 on: November 19, 2012, 03:35:06 PM »
Most humans are only selfish when afraid, desperate, ignorant, etc.

There are evil people in the world, but they are vastly in the minority.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #33 on: November 19, 2012, 04:17:13 PM »
I wouldn't consider selfishness to be evil in and by itself, but perhaps I should have said non-altruistic. People genuinely willing to make serious risks or sacrifices for no personal benefit or gain are sadly a very small portion of society, which is why we call them heroes when they appear.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #34 on: November 19, 2012, 06:06:54 PM »
Most humans are only selfish when afraid, desperate, ignorant, etc.

There are evil people in the world, but they are vastly in the minority.

I'd disagree and place that number around 35-50%. If people were so good there would be far fewer problems.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #35 on: November 19, 2012, 06:12:42 PM »
Our social nature is just a reflection of our selfish nature - when human groups or tribes pool their resources, it's almost always for the intent of achieving something that wouldn't be within reach of any individual included in the group; we sacrifice, but the expectation is that the end result will still leave us better off than where we were or would be on our own, whether that is in security, food, wages, etc. The core ideals of socialism, comparatively, look to equalize everyone; the sharing of resources is the same, but the expectation that the net total resource will increase is replaced by the desire to remove the imbalance in resource distribution.

Here's the thing, though: For the vast majority of the world's population, equality is improvement.

I suspect that the reason many people don't like the idea of socialism, is precisely the hegemony of those in power. If it's true that we're all driven by a selfish desire to be better off than we were, then for many people, even people in wealthy countries, would - or should - be all for socialism. You have to remember that the distribution of wealth on this planet - or even just within our own countries - is incredibly uneven.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #36 on: November 19, 2012, 09:02:51 PM »
Here's the thing, though: For the vast majority of the world's population, equality is improvement.

I suspect that the reason many people don't like the idea of socialism, is precisely the hegemony of those in power. If it's true that we're all driven by a selfish desire to be better off than we were, then for many people, even people in wealthy countries, would - or should - be all for socialism. You have to remember that the distribution of wealth on this planet - or even just within our own countries - is incredibly uneven.

Though that same vast majority are also the people that are least likely to be vocal in politics or social activism, for reasons that extend well beyond pressure from the oligarchy. If your primary day-to-day life is focused on making sure you have bread/rice/meat on your table at dinnertime, all means of improving your lot in life from capitalist advancement to socialist wealth redistribution look the same. That's not calling them anything close to unambitious, it's saying they literally have more important things to worry about, like if they will eat tomorrow. And for those slightly better off, who have the freedom to think past tomorrow night's food or lack thereof, that same ambition now has its chance to flare, and they're less likely to settle for aiming at a hard ceiling for them and everyone else even if it means getting help to reach it when they can have a theoretically unlimited ceiling for themselves and their family. It's only when the second isn't considered a viable alternative at all, such as third-world countries or inner-city communities with extremely high levels of oppression, that socialism begins to get serious consideration. End result is that the overlap between those two/three categories is quite small compared to the total population living in conditions of poverty.

There's also a psychological phenomenon I find interesting called Dunbar's Number, or the 'Monkeysphere' as it was nicknamed by a Cracked author - very simple definition, the number of people you personally are subconsciously capable of conceptualizing as an actual person, rather than one of a mass, and why I believe things like religious communes, unions, and food co-ops work while full-on socialist societies tend to collapse. Past a certain point, the human brain doesn't recognize 'us' as the proper descriptor for groups past a certain size, and interest in the advancement of people who aren't 'us' takes a significant backseat to that of 'us', if it gets a seat in the vehicle at all.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #37 on: November 19, 2012, 09:46:18 PM »
I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at there.

When I say a majority of people, I mean a majority even in the developed west. If people were driven purely by a selfish desire to improve their own conditions, then even the ordinary middle class would be for socialism, because compared to those who control the wealth and the industry, they have nothing. We're all - assuming no one here happens to own a transnational corporation - dirt poor compared to the richest people in the world. If we took all their wealth and redistributed it evenly, we'd all benefit. Or most of us would.

But that's not the point. The point is that I don't think that is the case. I don't think people are driven purely by such self-interest. The idea of capitalist hegemony, while it may not be the best explanation, certainly seems better to me. Jon Stewart made a good point in his debate with Bill O'Reilly, when he asked "Why is it when a corporation takes advantage of cuts and loopholes, they're considered smart businessmen, but when someone takes advantage of something to keep them from being hungry, they're a moocher?"

I think that's very much related to that issue of why socialism is seen as being so unrealistic. In essence because we, very broadly speaking, are conditioned to accept a certain set of values, which are not actually reasonable values for most people. They're very sound values for people who have a lot of money, and it's very good for those people if others are convinced that these are good values. That's a textbook example of what hegemony means: You convince someone that your values are their values, and they will be your allies as you pursue your own interests. And a challenge to that set of values, even if it's a challenge that would benefit those people you've convinced to support you, will be seen as a challenge to all.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #38 on: November 19, 2012, 10:18:36 PM »
I'm saying that the middle-class bracket you're talking about still falls under the second category I mentioned - the people who have the ability to improve their station past literal dirt-poor and the capability to consider their multiple options. It's not in their self-interest to adopt socialism because while it would benefit them, it would benefit them less than capitalism with its theoretical limitless cap on advancement - the semi-mythical 'American Dream' so to speak, though it's not exclusively limited to Americans. Benefiting 'everyone in the world', all 7 billion of us, is so many iterations of the Monkeysphere beyond any human being's ability to rationalize that it ends in the same mental pathways as setting most of that money on fire in terms of usability.

Napkin Math: The total liquidateable wealth of the world isn't a number I can find, though the most-reliable estimate seems to be 200 trillion in 2010, figure 250 trillion now. Spread over 7 billion people would be roughly $35,000. That'd be a nice chunk of initial cash - a year's salary for the lower-middle-class income bracket, but the world GDP is only 70 trillion, or $10,000 per person per year after all that initial cash is spread out. The poverty threshold for the US, by comparison, is $11,000 for one person living alone, so such a total redistribution would literally throw every 1st-worlder into poverty while making most 3rd-worlders rich as relative kings.

I guess I just don't buy into the idea that we're all being brainwashed by the ultra-rich to not overthrow them, which seems to be the cynical summary of your capitalist hegemony, any more than you believe we're all selfish greedy animals at our cores.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 10:19:40 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Lux12

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Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #39 on: November 20, 2012, 12:13:16 AM »
The rich have always attempted to keep it that way. It has been so from the rise of Sumer to the present. The goal of the wealthy and the powerful more often than not merely keep retain or further their wealth and their power. Sure some enter into it with this noble idea that it is their duty to help others and serve the people, but it is not always so and that sort of person is a rare find these days.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 12:14:18 AM by Lux12 »

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #40 on: November 20, 2012, 08:13:34 AM »
That's not really being disputed - my position is that the desire to keep, retain, or further wealth and power is not something restricted to the wealthy and powerful while the poor and common folk are more enlightened or benevolent...i.e., money does not make you evil, evil just widens your options for getting money. An ancient Sumerian prince didn't have to worry about the peasants taking his stuff and sharing it, he had to worry about a peasant taking his stuff and becoming a prince. Those rich and powerful Sumerians were and are simply following the instructions locked into their genes, the ones that say no matter how cool of a dude your best friend/cousin is, helping them won't ensure your children and your genes survive, so the other guy has to take second fiddle when a choice must be made. The genetic imperative is much smaller in modern times, but thousands of years of habit and natural selection, social or otherwise, take an equally long time to overcome, and socialism as a concept hasn't even existed for more than two hundred years or so, let alone had enough time to seriously develop. Hence my position that while it may someday be reality (and would be awesome if it did), it won't happen in our lifetimes, probably not in our children's lifetimes, and might not even in our grandchildren's lifetimes.

Offline Moraline

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #41 on: November 21, 2012, 11:50:19 AM »
I don't really believe in a classless societal construct. I do consider myself to be a bit of a socialist though.

I feel there is a good happy middle ground where the poor are not poor, the middle class can live without so much financial stress and the wealthy don't need to be quite so ridiculously wealthy.

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people should (in my opinion) actually support and aid it's people and not the interests of the elite few with the financial power to control them. The people should rest back control of their government and force a more socialist doctrine to support themselves.

Either way... with or without a complete socialist revolution, a socialist party is good for the system to help bring about positive change. Here in Canada we have our NDP party to do that.

Offline vtboy

Re: Socialism in Seattle.
« Reply #42 on: November 21, 2012, 04:08:35 PM »
Though I do not consider myself a socialist, I couldn't agree more with your aims. I think the best way to achieve them is not by preventing or deterring the acquisition of wealth, but by preventing the concentration and perpetuation of political and economic power in the hands of a few. To this end, were it up to me, I would impose draconian taxes on the intergenerational transfer of wealth, and prohibit all private financing of political campaigns, whether by fat cats, corporations, labor unions, or special interest groups.