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View Full Version : Can you be against Big Government and also for Communism? + How Church might Save Us.



Wei Wu Wei
01-10-2011, 03:59 PM
Yes.

For many, Communism and Statism are one in the same. This is because of the history of really existing communism has been one of strong authoritarian state structures with immense control and less individual freedom.

In today's American political discourse, Communism and Socialism are both used interchangeably with Big Government Statism. I disagree with this.

I submit that 21st Century Communism can and must be anti-Statist. This is a lesson we must learn from Stalinist regimes. The idea needed could be a strong proletarian state, which functions as a withering-state, a state that's created with the intention that it dies. All of it's actions should be towards facilitating it's own disintegration. Rather than a strong state, individuals can take their lives in their own hands, and form communities that address social needs.

Originally, it was believed that a communist state would eventually lead to no-state, but with plenty of foreign aggressors, it was considered necessary that communist states maintained an incredibly strong military, and then information specialists, and then strong central economic planning, and so on.

I submit that communism doesn't require a Big Government, it doesn't require central planning either. Perhaps you wouldn't even call this communism, and that is fine, it doesn't matter what word we used to describe it, it's the actions and goals that matter. Many people consider this Anarchism but communism isn't just a free-balled theory of smash everything, there is very heavy theory, lessons from history, and goals to be realized.

People often confuse Community with Collectivism. They are not the same, collectivism subordinates and dissolves the individual for the good of the collective, while community strengthens and expands upon the individual through his/her relations with other individuals in the community. The best examples i've seen of this is Church organizations. They tend to treat the church and it's resources as community-owned, it's operated by the members of the church, and everyone contributes while benefiting together and strengthening personal and spiritual bonds. Churches are also responsible for a great deal of charity work, community work, and many other activities that are wholesome and good no matter what your political beliefs.

Some Christians understand the power of community organization:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iTQd_f3DJ8

This youtube is a brilliant example of the already-existing potential for church goers to change their communities and even change the government. As the speaker in this video points out: if churches were to come together and exercise their community-oriented spirit, we would have no need for a Big Government.


He is right, we say we need a Big Government to support people who fall through the cracks, to address social problems, and more, but conservatives do not agree that this is the job of the government, and I agree that such a welfare state breeds dependence on it. If communities could serve their own, it could break the dependence on the Government, and weaken it's grasp.



The more the functions of State Power are exercised by all the people, the less this power is necessary

Whether or not you choose to call it Communism (because it will not be Stalinism), 21st century emancipatory projects must learn from the failures of the 20th century regimes, and create a new sort of community-power, one that isn't simply a function of the state, but that puts the power directly into the hands of the people.

No to Stalinism, No to Big Government. 21st Century communism is up to us to create, if we only look to the past and hope for an answer we will never find it, we are to create the answer out of the abyssal freedom offered to us in the immanence of the future coming into being.

Wei Wu Wei
01-10-2011, 04:07 PM
The sort of practical communism that I think about is closest to Churches than anything else. No one is forced to contribute, they do it out of love, and they work together, they share the resources, they help the needy, and everyone works to keep it going. Many churches do not need strong organizational administration, and even if they do, it's purely to keep things running in an administrative fashion, not in a political fashion.

When I speak of communism or socialism, I do not mean what was tried in the 20th century, I mean bringing this style of church community to a larger scale. If it can work in a church, it can work anywhere, it only takes the active loving participation that churches have in spades.

I'm not proposing any sort of government organization or set of policies or even the future abolition of private property, I'm simply trying to bring the revived idea of communism out of all of the associations and failures from last century. If we can agree on an idea of communism that would be good, then we can face that ever-present criticism that it is impossible. We can face this impossibility and make it possible, but only if we have the will.

Wei Wu Wei
01-11-2011, 01:25 PM
Socialism or Communism doesn't have to be a system of Big Government Control, in fact, if we'd learn our lessons from the 20th century we'd see that 21st century Communism should bring down the spectre of Big Government that rules our lives today.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
01-11-2011, 01:32 PM
It sounds, in short, like you're arguing for voluntary communes, sort of like the many voluntary communes of the 1960s. I don't see anything wrong with those. It's not a government thing, and if people want to enter into such VOLUNTARILY, let them. The idea of a '60s kind of commune actually sounds rather nice. I'm a city boy but I do kind of have a fashion for the country, for nature, etc.

Wei Wu Wei
01-11-2011, 01:54 PM
It sounds, in short, like you're arguing for voluntary communes, sort of like the many voluntary communes of the 1960s. I don't see anything wrong with those. It's not a government thing, and if people want to enter into such VOLUNTARILY, let them. The idea of a '60s kind of commune actually sounds rather nice. I'm a city boy but I do kind of have a fashion for the country, for nature, etc.

This is sort of the idea here. Voluntary Communes are a great example of what I mean here.

There are still issues of the power of the State to be addressed, issues of property ownership, the brutal fact that an extremely tiny portion of society owns well over half of everything and uses it for their own interests.

However, I think it's crucial to accept and overcome the failures of 20th century communism, because as fucked up as Stalinist regimes and other like it were, most people can agree, that the stripped down Idea of communism as an emancipatory gesture is a good goal. Most people, however, revert simply into "it can never work" after accepting that such a goal is worthwhile, because they assume that the only way communism can develop is through Authoritarian means.

This doesn't have to be the case. A true gesture of liberation seeks to break out of the existing order, and to create a brand new space, not to revert back to the failed policies and structures of the Soviet Union.

There are Communists and Socialists today, but none of them (or almost none) want to re-create the Soviet Union. Revived communism is not about Big Government, it's not about Central Planning or Authoritarian Control. 21st Century Communism must aim at making people actually free so that everyone actively takes control of themselves and their community and participates in running society, not some stupid illusory sense of freedom that you get when you get to choose between 20 brands of sugary cereal.

Gingersnap
01-11-2011, 01:55 PM
When I speak of communism or socialism, I do not mean what was tried in the 20th century, I mean bringing this style of church community to a larger scale. If it can work in a church, it can work anywhere, it only takes the active loving participation that churches have in spades.



One of the primary criticisms progressives make against churches is that these types of groups make potential beneficiaries feel uncomfortable or excluded. The same would be true of any secular, non-governmental group because any such group would naturally have positions, standards, expectations, and a mission statement which would be open to disagreement and criticism.

The other problem is that church groups that extend support and aid to strangers are composed of highly motivated people who see their work as a small part of a much bigger picture. They are working as a part of their spiritual lifestyle and they don't expect to be rewarded or recognized here and now (or ever, in many cases). Their involvement is oddly less emotional and ego-based than their secular equivalents are.

That would not be true of a collection of do-gooder types who expect visible change as a result of hard work and dedication. Christians don't usually believe that feeding the poor, ministering to the sick and the imprisoned, and other forms of charity will solve those problems. They aren't problem-solving as much as they are ameliorating an on-going situation. Secular people are more likely to burn out when they realize that no amount of work will actually change the nature of human beings.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
01-11-2011, 01:59 PM
This is sort of the idea here. Voluntary Communes are a great example of what I mean here.

There are still issues of the power of the State to be addressed, issues of property ownership, the brutal fact that an extremely tiny portion of society owns well over half of everything and uses it for their own interests.

However, I think it's crucial to accept and overcome the failures of 20th century communism, because as fucked up as Stalinist regimes and other like it were, most people can agree, that the stripped down Idea of communism as an emancipatory gesture is a good goal. Most people, however, revert simply into "it can never work" after accepting that such a goal is worthwhile, because they assume that the only way communism can develop is through Authoritarian means.

This doesn't have to be the case. A true gesture of liberation seeks to break out of the existing order, and to create a brand new space, not to revert back to the failed policies and structures of the Soviet Union.

There are Communists and Socialists today, but none of them (or almost none) want to re-create the Soviet Union. Revived communism is not about Big Government, it's not about Central Planning or Authoritarian Control. 21st Century Communism must aim at making people actually free so that everyone actively takes control of themselves and their community and participates in running society, not some stupid illusory sense of freedom that you get when you get to choose between 20 brands of sugary cereal.

Yeah but what about someone like Van Jones? He seems to want to re-create an old fashioned Socialist regime....

Like I said: I don't mind what people do voluntarily, and I don't think the '60s communes violated any laws (I could be wrong though); As long as those two conditions be met, I have no problem with it.

You see...I'm 20. I'm a thinker. I'm kind of open to every idea or every hybrid of idea. I'm a little lost politically; One day, I see the merits of the New Deal Liberalism; the next I say "Hell, let's try utter free market capitalism and see if it works." Our founders did see our nation as an experiment of sorts. I don't see why every idea can't be tried once. I'm open to everything at this point, because I'm coming to I guess what could be termed a Buddhist (not sure if I got that right) point of view--That everything is everything. I'm coming to a point where, at the end of the day, partisan politics doesn't matter; Just living, interacting, and BEING matters more than politics or ideologies.

So thus, I'm very open at this point--My political identity is blowing in the wind.

Wei Wu Wei
01-11-2011, 02:04 PM
One of the primary criticisms progressives make against churches is that these types of groups make potential beneficiaries feel uncomfortable or excluded. The same would be true of any secular, non-governmental group because any such group would naturally have positions, standards, expectations, and a mission statement which would be open to disagreement and criticism.

In my experience, Churches are fairly willing to help people and church-goers are normally good at putting aside their differences when they see a calling. True not everyone is going to feel welcome (adamant atheists or members of other religions perhaps), but I personally don't critique Churches for excluding people.

I see a collection of churches banding together, as well as other secular organizations, sharing the same goal. They can be separate for their different members, but serving the community and bringing a sense of fellowship is important for everyone regardless of religion.


The other problem is that church groups that extend support and aid to strangers are composed of highly motivated people who see their work as a small part of a much bigger picture. They are working as a part of their spiritual lifestyle and they don't expect to be rewarded or recognized here and now (or ever, in many cases). Their involvement is oddly less emotional and ego-based than their secular equivalents are.

That is the absolute best kind. People who feel driven to help and don't expect reward purify their own souls, they slowly diminish the power of the ego which our society works so hard to reinforce because of it's corrupting nature. I don't see this as a problem at all.

Regardless of the motivation too, community-organized groups that pool their resources for shared goals are simply smart. They benefit everyone, so even people who are not as spiritually aware will understand that community-strength improves the lives of everyone involved.





That would not be true of a collection of do-gooder types who expect visible change as a result of hard work and dedication. Christians don't usually believe that feeding the poor, ministering to the sick and the imprisoned, and other forms of charity will solve those problems. They aren't problem-solving as much as they are ameliorating an on-going situation. Secular people are more likely to burn out when they realize that no amount of work will actually change the nature of human beings.

I don't think so. I know plenty of strong atheists who are totally up for taking on the Sisyphean task of changing the world against all of the forces that act against it. They know they'll never complete their goal but they will still work.

Also, I reject the notion that human nature is unchangeable, I think human nature is as malleable as the environment which humans live in. Change the environment, change the nature. Advertisers know this better than anyone (the compulsive desire to shop for things one doesn't need doesn't come from cavemen).

Bubba Dawg
01-11-2011, 02:06 PM
We (our church) have a large food ministry of over 350 families that we help. Our volunteers work hard to be sensitive to the feelings of the people we offer assistance.

But we still have to ask questions to make sure the neediest people are receiving the assistance. This involves at least a minimal screening process. With limited resources to offer to people we have to ask questions about resources and income and circumstances.

We do find some people who abuse the system. It is a shame for any truly needy person to feel uncomfortable for receiving assistance, but we have to have some mechanism for deciding who gets the limited food we have to offer.

Wei Wu Wei
01-11-2011, 02:13 PM
Yeah but what about someone like Van Jones? He seems to want to re-create an old fashioned Socialist regime....

Does he? I haven't heard much about the guy except from Glenn Beck. Like I said, [i]almost[i] no socialists or communists today want to bring back Soviet Style Socialism.


Like I said: I don't mind what people do voluntarily, and I don't think the '60s communes violated any laws (I could be wrong though); As long as those two conditions be met, I have no problem with it.

Well, good ideas. However, sometimes it's important to break laws for Justice, ie: civil rights marches, sit-ins, underground railroad, ect.



You see...I'm 20. I'm a thinker. I'm kind of open to every idea or every hybrid of idea.

No offense, but you still seem extremely reactionairy. It appears, from my perspective, that you still have many ideas that were just told to you and reinforced through popular media which you have yet to question. STill, yous eem pretty intelligent and you're clearly not a wingnut.

There are plenty of resources out there for somoene who wants to learn more and isn't afraid to ask the really basic questions about the current system.


I'm a little lost politically

We all are ;)


; One day, I see the merits of the New Deal Liberalism; the next I say "Hell, let's try utter free market capitalism and see if it works."

These are both pro Capitalism. Liberal Capitalism simply attempts to be the bandaid for the problems caused by Free Market Capitalism. Neither of them even begin to question "how does capitalism work?" "is capitalism the best?" "why do we fight so hard to defend capitalism"?

Read a little bit of Marx, and not just some intro page-skimming in high school, but actually try to study it.


Our founders did see our nation as an experiment of sorts. I don't see why every idea can't be tried once. I'm open to everything at this point, because I'm coming to I guess what could be termed a Buddhist (not sure if I got that right) point of view--That everything is everything. I'm coming to a point where, at the end of the day, partisan politics doesn't matter; Just living, interacting, and BEING matters more than politics or ideologies.

So thus, I'm very open at this point--My political identity is blowing in the wind.

I think you might have the best position out there. In some sense your position is better than a "more educated" position because the more 'facts and references' that people have, the less they are willing to accept new ideas because they believe they are right.

It's refreshing to hear someone being willfully open to the "i don't know" of reality.

I've thought about buddhism, I've meditated for a few years sometimes casually sometimes with extreme effort for extended periods. It's interesting stuff, and it can bring us the an interesting place within ourselves where things do float freely.

In my opinion, it's best for someone in your position to simply keep trying to deconstruct everything, whether they are liberal conservative fascist or socialist, don't accept anything as 'obvious' or 'given', look directly at your own line of thinking and you'll find that most of it is groundless. It's quite a sublime experience.

Molon Labe
01-11-2011, 02:20 PM
The sort of practical communism that I think about is closest to Churches than anything else.

Funny how Marx didn't see it this way. He'd string you up for blasphemy if he heard you say this.

That's Marx biggest gliche. His failure of recognizing Human Nature as it is. He never understood that the nature of man is universal and unchanging. That is why socialists fail to remold us. That all men forever have a natural tendancy to believe in something bigger than themselves and it's not unnatural.

What Marx wanted was a society based on selflessness, and he had the foundation for it right in front of him in the Christian Church model and he rejected it.

Wei Wu Wei
01-11-2011, 02:37 PM
Funny how Marx didn't see it this way. He'd string you up for blasphemy if he heard you say this.

Good for him. I do not accept the anti-religious, anti-church stance that many socialists and communists do. I think that, for now at least, churches have the potential to be the most progressive forces in our society.




That's Marx biggest gliche. His failure of recognizing Human Nature as it is. He never understood that the nature of man is universal and unchanging.

Absolutely not. Nothing is universal and unchanging. Man, in his natural environment with other apes chillin by a tree would never choose to sit in a cubicle all day every day so that he can buy a bunch of shit he doesn't need and put it in his other little box and play with toys until he has a midlife crisis. This is not 'natural' in the sense that it is in our innate nature as homo sapiens. Human nature is extremely fluid and changing all the time. There's a million examples of people doing the "normal thing", which is in reality so far removed from our natural lives as hunter-gatherers.


That is why socialists fail to remold us. That all men forever have a natural tendancy to believe in something bigger than themselves and it's not unnatural.

That's fine. They can believe in their communities, they can believe in history, they can believe in a loving God - who's spirit will fill and shine through believers and lead to good actions. It's all good in my opinion.



What Marx wanted was a society based on selflessness, and he had the foundation for it right in front of him in the Christian Church model and he rejected it.

I don't think so. I think a lot of Marx's theory has been deliberately misconstrued to help fuel the fire of Cold War Propaganda. Marx was very explicit is saying that the material conditions for humans have to change before their nature does.

Take for example, the differences in "natural masculinity" depending on your social class. If you are poor and live in a rough and hard area, with less educated parents and less disposable income, it's WAY more likely that a male will grow up acting hyper-masculine. They won't smile, they'll wear clothes and signify toughness, they have an inability to accept their faults, they always try to project an image of "hardness' or "swag".

Contrast this with a typical male raised in an upper middle class community, they will tend to be more open, less machismo, more secure in themselves, less violent.

Neither of these males would choose their ideas of masculinity, but they both conform to it. The material and social circumstances shape the concepts that they then later use to shape themselves.

Human nature is very malleable. I have no hope for today's human society creating a classless system, no that will not happen, but we can accept the reality of today's situation and work towards the eternal idea in communism, that of freedom, active participation in society, and community-oriented goals.

PoliCon
01-11-2011, 02:59 PM
In today's American political discourse, Communism and Socialism are both used interchangeably with Big Government Statism. I disagree with this. Actually - this is nothing new. Lenin was hailed as the father of modern socialism in his own day.

Molon Labe
01-11-2011, 03:00 PM
Absolutely not. Nothing is universal and unchanging. Man, in his natural environment with other apes chillin by a tree would never choose to sit in a cubicle all day every day so that he can buy a bunch of shit he doesn't need and put it in his other little box and play with toys until he has a midlife crisis.

Well then...that speaks in my favor to my belief that human nature has a defined state.

This is why most of humanity is on anti depressants and everyone is still looking for the meaning of life.
It's because Human nature is about one thing and we've chosen the false path and everyone is unhappy in their cubicle and no matter how much crap they buy........and doesn't have a clue why. Maybe it's because we weren't supposed to be about any of that crap.

Wei Wu Wei
01-11-2011, 03:04 PM
Well then...that speaks in my favor to my belief that human nature has a defined state.

This is why most of humanity is on anti depressants and everyone is still looking for the meaning of life.
It's because Human nature is about one thing and we've chosen the false path and everyone is unhappy in their cubicle and no matter how much crap they buy........and doesn't have a clue why. Maybe it's because we weren't supposed to be about any of that crap.

I think making people's work more personal, give them a say in their own work, make their labor self-directed and with a purpose rather than just doing what the boss says so you can pay your rent, would make people feel better.

I don't think people need to relentlessly consume goods but this is what our economy is based on so good luck what that.

I think people feel aliented in their social lives. They don't like their jobs, many people consider their jobs as just "a job" rather than as a personal part of their life and they hate it. Family ties are being broken, people feel less connected to their communities.

I would argue that this is all good for Capital. Perhaps it isn't the best idea for me to suggest that our current lifestyle is unnatural compared to a less civilized state, perhaps living in trees was human nature 500,000 years ago and living in little boxes and being depressed is human nature today. Communism should be about community-living and self-directed activity with a shared purpose. This can do a whole lot for the mental health of a people.

Wei Wu Wei
01-11-2011, 03:04 PM
Actually - this is nothing new. Lenin was hailed as the father of modern socialism in his own day.

yes he was. what I mean by "today" is a post-soviet post-fall era where there doesn't exist any alternative to global capitalism in the minds of the masses.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
01-11-2011, 03:24 PM
I have to say--and I know many of us disagree with Wei on a lot--
BUT can we at least acknowledge that the guy is VERY intelligent? I mean I consider myself average-above average. An IQ test done when I was 5 showed an IQ of 130 but who knows how accurate that was, especially at that age. Another evaluation done at the same age (I had just turned 5 a month before) said my mental age at age 5 was that of someone aged 6--That I was of above average cognition. Who knows.

My point is, we can all disagree with Wei--Vehemently--But I'd like if we give the man his due intellectually. And the same goes for many here on the other end. We have many intelligent, rational conservatives who put forth very persusaive reasoning behind why their answer is the right one. This is not a den of DUmmies (pun intended). I believe our politics in general should be just like this forum: Reasonated, rational debate put forth by people who "know their shit"--Not the soundbite politics we have on both sides nor the attack dog, catchphrase politics we have on both sides.

Politics is an art; Unfortunately, both sides have degenerated it and the discourse around it, and dumbed it down.

Wei Wu Wei
01-11-2011, 03:31 PM
Thanks CITM. I think there's plenty of space for people of different political stripes to find common ground.

Gingersnap
01-11-2011, 03:45 PM
I think making people's work more personal, give them a say in their own work, make their labor self-directed and with a purpose rather than just doing what the boss says so you can pay your rent, would make people feel better.

I don't think people need to relentlessly consume goods but this is what our economy is based on so good luck what that.

I think people feel aliented in their social lives. They don't like their jobs, many people consider their jobs as just "a job" rather than as a personal part of their life and they hate it. Family ties are being broken, people feel less connected to their communities.

I would argue that this is all good for Capital. Perhaps it isn't the best idea for me to suggest that our current lifestyle is unnatural compared to a less civilized state, perhaps living in trees was human nature 500,000 years ago and living in little boxes and being depressed is human nature today. Communism should be about community-living and self-directed activity with a shared purpose. This can do a whole lot for the mental health of a people.

Unfortunately, many of these things have been going on as long as individual human beings have been taking money/goods in exchange for labor. Few things are as satisfying as making your own clothing or furniture and cooking food you have raised/hunted yourself. Alienation from work has been around for centuries wherever people work for others to supply themselves.

The other part of contemporary alienation stems from a lack of group identification. Putnam has studied this extensively and his conclusions are not happy. The more diverse a community is, the less trust community members have for "others" and (surprisingly) for themselves and those who share their background or culture. Diversity diminishes interpersonal and institutional trust across the board which also contributes to unhappiness. The happiest and most trusting communities with the strongest interpersonal ties are also the least diverse in Putnam's research.

:(

malloc
01-11-2011, 07:09 PM
The sort of practical communism that I think about is closest to Churches than anything else. No one is forced to contribute, they do it out of love, and they work together, they share the resources, they help the needy, and everyone works to keep it going. Many churches do not need strong organizational administration, and even if they do, it's purely to keep things running in an administrative fashion, not in a political fashion.

When I speak of communism or socialism, I do not mean what was tried in the 20th century, I mean bringing this style of church community to a larger scale. If it can work in a church, it can work anywhere, it only takes the active loving participation that churches have in spades.

I'm not proposing any sort of government organization or set of policies or even the future abolition of private property, I'm simply trying to bring the revived idea of communism out of all of the associations and failures from last century. If we can agree on an idea of communism that would be good, then we can face that ever-present criticism that it is impossible. We can face this impossibility and make it possible, but only if we have the will.

Your fundamental idea isn't new, and as a matter of fact, it's very, very old. A good example of this type of societal and economic organization would be Native American tribal societies, pre-Romance European tribal societies, and even early American colonists. American colonists and Native Americans had private property, currency and the like, but the essentials and necessities were very communal in nature. However, even this type of communism failed, and it failed for very much the same reasons Stalinist systems failed. These types of systems were outmatched by better, more efficient systems competing for the same resources.

The division and specialization of labor, for instance, improved from division between the hunter, the gatherer, and the medicine man to a division of thousands of fields, from the arms maker, to the hunter, to the tanners and butchers and cooks. The greater the complexity the division of labor becomes, the greater the potential for innovation in a specific field. Instead of worrying about skinning and cooking the animals, the hunter and arms maker have free time to collaborate on better hunting tools. Instead of trying to track down animals, the cook and butcher have more time to talk about cuts of meat.

The more specialized the labor, the more efficient, complex and innovative a society becomes. The efficiency of a societies economy and that society's inventiveness directly contributes to the wealth and standard of living of that society. However, the complexity of the division of labor and the complexity of each individual's decisions about quality of life inevitably lead to some products of labor being worth more opportunity cost than others. What would a butcher do with a hunting tool? What is a hunting tool worth if all the hunters have plenty of them, and the butchers and cooks won't buy them? What effect does this have on the hunting tool maker?



There are Communists and Socialists today, but none of them (or almost none) want to re-create the Soviet Union. Revived communism is not about Big Government, it's not about Central Planning or Authoritarian Control. 21st Century Communism must aim at making people actually free so that everyone actively takes control of themselves and their community and participates in running society, not some stupid illusory sense of freedom that you get when you get to choose between 20 brands of sugary cereal.

If, as you say, there is no statist, big government regime to constrain men from making their own economic decisions, then capitalism will exist, and communism will disappear. Capitalism is what happens in the absence of direct governmental economic control. Men make economic decisions based upon what is most beneficial to their own self interests. Trade is accomplished when two or more parties believe the terms agreed upon are in their own self interests. Trade and capitalism requires only the minimum amount of government, that is law enforcement and a judicial process to prosecute force or fraud, and to enforce contracts. In order to maintain enough people participating in the communal system to provide adequate specialization of labor in large enough quantities to sustain the community you would require a big government just to force people to stay in the system. If your commune had no one willing to be an oncologist, what is to stop an oncologist from charging your community communal resources in exchange for services? You would need governmental force capable of mandating or assigning people to become oncologists, and you would need a government to force oncologists your commune created to stay within your commune. Otherwise they would be free to go to another or they would be free to become individual for-profit oncologists.




Absolutely not. Nothing is universal and unchanging. Man, in his natural environment with other apes chillin by a tree would never choose to sit in a cubicle all day every day so that he can buy a bunch of shit he doesn't need and put it in his other little box and play with toys until he has a midlife crisis. This is not 'natural' in the sense that it is in our innate nature as homo sapiens. Human nature is extremely fluid and changing all the time. There's a million examples of people doing the "normal thing", which is in reality so far removed from our natural lives as hunter-gatherers.

Well then...that speaks in my favor to my belief that human nature has a defined state.

This is why most of humanity is on anti depressants and everyone is still looking for the meaning of life.
It's because Human nature is about one thing and we've chosen the false path and everyone is unhappy in their cubicle and no matter how much crap they buy........and doesn't have a clue why. Maybe it's because we weren't supposed to be about any of that crap.


Well this got really new agey all of a sudden. However, it's untrue. There's no possible way "most of humanity", or even a "good portion" of humanity is anti-depressants. If they were, Pfizer and McKesson wouldn't be able to keep up with demand and Celexa would be $1,000 a pill due to a international anti-depressant shortage.

If man wasn't meant to acquire wealth by "sitting in a cubicle" working, then what was man meant to do? Was he meant to spend all of his time wondering the earth searching for spiritual or personal enlightenment or something like that? Of course man was not meant to do this, because last I checked we humans have a strong desire for shelter, food and water. Basically, every man consumes resources to maintain an existence, and that is precisely what man is meant to do. That doesn't mean we should be working and producing with all of our time and spending almost no time perusing other goals. Think back to what I said about division of labor and free time. Look at the amount of free time that guy sitting in a cubicle, buying toys you claim he doesn't need, has to play with those toys and pursue other interests, compared to the amount of free time men had prior to the industrial revolution, or how much free time that Native American hunter had. Capitalism has brought superior division of labor, unprecedented standards of living, and more free time for those who participate in a capitalist system than any other system in the history of man. Your tribal system, Wei, is not going to give people more time away from labor, it's going to make their labor worth less to them, not more, and it would severely limit the amount of innovations they would have otherwise enjoyed. You asked if "capitalism was 'the best'". I'm not sure if it's 'the best', but it's the best mankind has experienced so far, and that includes your attempt at a tribal structure. I know you are going to try to redefine your vision as being completely different and completely new and separated from a tribal structure for various reasons, but there's only so much you can do with communal organizations, and I'm not sure if anything "new" can be done with them. They have served their purpose, run their course, and are now incompatible with modern day individualism.

wilbur
01-11-2011, 08:51 PM
If nothing else, I will praise this post for pointing out one of the major sources of cognitive dissonance in the religious right.... which consists of the extreme collectivism inherent in church culture, and the extreme anti-collectivist sentiments expressed by that same group.

Articulate_Ape
01-11-2011, 09:19 PM
If nothing else, I will praise this post for pointing out one of the major sources of cognitive dissonance in the religious right.... which consists of the extreme collectivism inherent in church culture, and the extreme anti-collectivist sentiments expressed by that same group.

Let me preface this by pointing out that I am an agnostic, Wilbur, and tend to hold organized religion in low regard for the most part. Having said that, I think that the very critical point that you are missing is this: How many churches (places of worship, organized faith) are there in comparison to a centralized entity these days?

There was a time when the Vatican ruled the "world" either overtly or covertly, but that is a time long gone. Today there are many churches present all around us. There are different denominations and divisions within those denominations even. In short, you have a democracy of faiths. A centralized government is not so divided, nor connected to, nor able to know, let alone meet, the needs of those in need.

I can pretty much assure you that if people of faith were allowed to keep the dollars they are compelled to forfeit to such a centralized government; a government that metes out pennies on those dollars to the intended cause while absorbing the rest for its own sustenance, that those requiring such assistance would not only receive more, but they would understand that help in a time of need is a gift, not a source of income.

I am not sure what you understand less, Wilbur; the oppression of governmental socialism or the freedom of genuine human charity. I am certain that you have been lied to about both.

PoliCon
01-11-2011, 09:37 PM
If nothing else, I will praise this post for pointing out one of the major sources of cognitive dissonance in the religious right.... which consists of the extreme collectivism inherent in church culture, and the extreme anti-collectivist sentiments expressed by that same group.

What idiots like you fail to grasp is the idea of voluntary and involuntary collectivism. It's one thing to give because you choose to give and to whom you choose to give. Quite another to be forced to give my the government against your will.

Molon Labe
01-12-2011, 09:35 AM
I think making people's work more personal, give them a say in their own work, make their labor self-directed and with a purpose rather than just doing what the boss says so you can pay your rent, would make people feel better.

I don't think people need to relentlessly consume goods but this is what our economy is based on so good luck what that.

I think people feel aliented in their social lives. They don't like their jobs, many people consider their jobs as just "a job" rather than as a personal part of their life and they hate it. Family ties are being broken, people feel less connected to their communities.

I would argue that this is all good for Capital. Perhaps it isn't the best idea for me to suggest that our current lifestyle is unnatural compared to a less civilized state, perhaps living in trees was human nature 500,000 years ago and living in little boxes and being depressed is human nature today. Communism should be about community-living and self-directed activity with a shared purpose. This can do a whole lot for the mental health of a people.

You have a very complex idea of human nature. That's probably why you believe it is everchanging. And probably why every social theory based on Hegel's bull has failed.

HN isn't "how we live" or "Where we work" ....in trees or apartments. Those things change how we view the world certainly, and effect how effective we are living to our nature.....but they do not change our core nature.

Human nature's quite simple. The need for recognition. The need to love and be loved which is really just another facet of recognition. The preservation of one's life. Anything that gets in the way of that can make things difficult.

And I'll say it again.....those things NEVER change.


Man is a rational animal, a social animal, a property owning animal, and a maker of things. He is social in the way that wolves and penguins are social, not social in the way that bees are social.

Social reconstructionists like Marx think we are Bees.

NJCardFan
01-12-2011, 11:05 AM
What idiots like you fail to grasp is the idea of voluntary and involuntary collectivism. It's one thing to give because you choose to give and to whom you choose to give. Quite another to be forced to give my the government against your will.

You hit the nail on the head here. Another aspect is participation. The reason why socialism and communism fails is that usually the need outnumbers the ability(drawing on the "from each according to his ability to each according to his need"). This is the major reason why people like myself hate the welfare system. Personally, I see no problem with helping someone who is truly in need. Problem is, a lot, if not most, on welfare are on the system as a way of life. They see no reason to go out and earn a living when every month everything they need is given to them without they having to do a thing to receive it. IMO, this is what modern liberalism, or progressivism want for our society because this creates a docile society and nothing spells power more than a dependent society. The problem is that eventually those living off the system become so great that eventually, all the water gets drained from the well and you get what's going on in Greece. The government gets to the point that they have to start cutting stuff out which makes those who benefit from it a bit uneasy and a little upset. Socialistic societies are destined for collapse. That's not to say that capitalists systems don't collapse but the difference being that when a capitalist system collapses, it's only a matter of time before it rights itself. Socialist societies, once they collapse, they're done and the reason why they're done is because the reason why they collapsed is because there is no more water in the well.

Now, comparing this to churches, as was said, this is a voluntary communal society. As I said in the DUmmy thread on the subject, when you're in church and the collection plate comes around, there is no requirement to give, especially if you cannot afford it. Sure you might have individual congregations who might use guilt tactics in order to entice you to give but those only work for the weak minded. As for the comment made about those receiving charity feeling uneasy about it, that's because their benefactors have a face. You have to look a person in the eye when accepting that handout and that is extremely humbling. When it comes to the welfare system, it isn't so humbling to go to the mailbox to receive your checks from a faceless government. Worse yet, you don't even have to do that anymore with the advent of direct deposit.

Oh, and CITM, I agree with you to a point on WeeWee. What makes him different from stupidicus is that Wee at least puts some thought behind what he says, however skewed and deranged that thinking might be. Stupidicus is a douche about it.

PoliCon
01-12-2011, 12:07 PM
Another way that Christianity differs from socialism is a baisc rule that Christinity has but socialism does not: 2 Thes 3:10.

Gingersnap
01-12-2011, 12:32 PM
If nothing else, I will praise this post for pointing out one of the major sources of cognitive dissonance in the religious right.... which consists of the extreme collectivism inherent in church culture, and the extreme anti-collectivist sentiments expressed by that same group.

This is just absurd. You're usually better than this.

If you are going to compare political collectives with religious collectives, then do just that: compare collective living/working environments framed by ideological views with collective living/working environments framed by theological views.

There are many, many examples of monks and nuns living in a collective environment based on theological and doctrinal views. Many of these have been in continuous operation for well over a thousand years. There are no ideological collectives that have lasted so long even though many thousands of "flavors" have been tried.

In political collectives, the workers own the means of production, In religious collectives, God owns everything including the workers. Political collectives operate theoretically through consensus but often actually through small group power structures. Religious collectives are top-down organizations. Political collectives keep everything you bring to the collective if you should leave (or can leave). Religious collectives return all the money you brought to the operation (even if they paid for your higher education).

The most telling point, however, is that nobody has to join a religious collective and the vast majority of believers never do. Political collectives have a way of encroaching on individual freedoms. There have been examples of people being simply forced into political collectives but so far as I know, entire towns weren't required to join the Benedictines or the Oneida Community.

The comparison just doesn't work on this level. Volunteering to help shingle a new roof on your church isn't incompatible with a distaste for socialism.

Molon Labe
01-12-2011, 12:44 PM
Another way that Christianity differs from socialism is a baisc rule that Christinity has but socialism does not: 2 Thes 3:10.

True, it would take on conservative "values"........but the point is that a true Christian society would far more resemble a socialist society than what we currently have. Read C.S. Lewis "Mere Christianity".



It is acknowledged that Jesus did not teach any new morality. In fact, it's quite obvious that Christian morality is not unique to Christianity. The morality, presumably instilled in us by God, is eternal, and works for any society. Lewis asserts that a Christian society would closely resemble socialism and that Christian morality and family life would be quite conservative. He astutely remarks that most people wouldn't particularly like the society as a whole. He avoids the question of lending, which is proscribed in the Bible, by pleading ignorance of the intricacies of economics. Then, he asserts that charity (which, to me, seems intrinsic to economics in some way, but no matter) is always a good thing.


The problem with socialists is not socialism. It is the idea of using "force" to implement it. As I've said before, everyone should be a socialist....."at heart". It has to by the choice of the individual, not the state's sanction.



If you are going to compare political collectives with religious collectives, then do just that: compare collective living/working environments framed by ideological views with collective living/working environments framed by theological views.

good points.

noonwitch
01-13-2011, 10:37 AM
No way am I living on any kind of commune. I am not sharing a bathroom with that many people:). The only way I could live with a system like that is if it was like the Israeli Kibbutz system. I had a coworker at one point (long since retired) who had spent some of her college summers living in one, and she had some amazing stories to tell of communities in which the members lived together, shared work and childcare responsibilities, while building a nation. But families had their own living space and bathrooms.



Seriously, I'm not into the whole communism/christianity argument and whether christianity is more atune to communism or capitalism. The truth of the message of Jesus is beyond such arguments and systems.

Wei Wu Wei
01-13-2011, 03:05 PM
Your fundamental idea isn't new, and as a matter of fact, it's very, very old. A good example of this type of societal and economic organization would be Native American tribal societies, pre-Romance European tribal societies, and even early American colonists. American colonists and Native Americans had private property, currency and the like, but the essentials and necessities were very communal in nature. However, even this type of communism failed, and it failed for very much the same reasons Stalinist systems failed. These types of systems were outmatched by better, more efficient systems competing for the same resources.

They didn't "fail", they evolved. Real societal failure has primarily occurred with large civilizations. There's nothing wrong with a system evolving that's what all systems do or else they do fail.


The division and specialization of labor, for instance, improved from division between the hunter, the gatherer, and the medicine man to a division of thousands of fields, from the arms maker, to the hunter, to the tanners and butchers and cooks. The greater the complexity the division of labor becomes, the greater the potential for innovation in a specific field. Instead of worrying about skinning and cooking the animals, the hunter and arms maker have free time to collaborate on better hunting tools. Instead of trying to track down animals, the cook and butcher have more time to talk about cuts of meat.

It's true that division of labor is a naturally occurring and necessary aspect of any organization of production, Marx himself made this point in the first chapter of Capital.


The more specialized the labor, the more efficient, complex and innovative a society becomes.

Not always. They do become more complex at times and are not always becoming more efficient. Complexity and efficiency aren't always the most natural matches.


The efficiency of a societies economy and that society's inventiveness directly contributes to the wealth and standard of living of that society. However, the complexity of the division of labor and the complexity of each individual's decisions about quality of life inevitably lead to some products of labor being worth more opportunity cost than others.

Where does value come from?

In Marx's terms - The value of a commodity represents the amount of labor embodied in it. Commodities have two sides (like a coin), one is it's use-value as it's material substance and form, the other is Value - (or exchange-value) because in the process of exchange a commodity can represent pure value. The fact that you could exchange so many jackets for a television, and that the value of these things are represented in their relation to each other (so many jackets = so many televisions) means that there is something internal to them both which is comparable, commensurable, and equal. This is abstract human labor. The thing they have in common is that they are both the product of human labor (with specialized labor counting qualitatively the same as, but quantitatively greater than simple labor). The valueSo, X amount of any commodity A can be said to be equal in value toY amount of any commodity B, which is represented in it's final form of Money.


What would a butcher do with a hunting tool?

If it's a valueable hunting tool which required a great many hours of labor (respective to that society with it's productive capability in that time) to complete it's production, it could be traded for many butchering tools.


What is a hunting tool worth if all the hunters have plenty of them, and the butchers and cooks won't buy them? What effect does this have on the hunting tool maker?

This happens. A commodity can be representative of a certain quantity of abstract human labor, only in so far as we know the average labor needed to produce or obtain that commodity. The average labor necessary, or say, the productiveness of that society can and does change, and as the average labor necessary for producing commodity C decreases, it becomes worth less relative to another commodity who's productiveness was unchanged.

However, to be fair, you are assuming that hunting tools never wear or break, in which case there would not be professional hunting tool makers.




If, as you say, there is no statist, big government regime to constrain men from making their own economic decisions, then capitalism will exist, and communism will disappear.

Possibly, but not because of the reasons you outline.


Capitalism is what happens in the absence of direct governmental economic control.

Capitalism is not an "end-state". History has been nothing but the long constant process of change and flux, societies rising and falling, changing and twisting. Capitalism is what has happened, it's not a given.

However your idea about government control is a little off. What do you mean by "control"? Do property laws count? Does the enforcement of labor laws count?

By any sane measurement, the government has always been deeply involved with economic affairs since the Founding Fathers.

There has been an increase in government measures which as coincided with the increased development and complexity of corporate structures and the markets.



Men make economic decisions based upon what is most beneficial to their own self interests. Trade is accomplished when two or more parties believe the terms agreed upon are in their own self interests. Trade and capitalism requires only the minimum amount of government, that is law enforcement and a judicial process to prosecute force or fraud, and to enforce contracts.

Capitalism at one time, perhaps in a 20 year window, needed this. Sure enough as time goes on and the power dynamics are solidified workers would (and did) face inhumane working conditions, child labor, almost no pay, and more. This idea that there existed a time where Capitalism was "done right" is a fantasy, this fantasy where there was no government involvement in the markets and all the bad marks in history were where government stuck it's nose in. No that's just wrong. Government has been involved since the beginning, this narrative is just a story to get people to become anti-labor.


In order to maintain enough people participating in the communal system to provide adequate specialization of labor in large enough quantities to sustain the community you would require a big government just to force people to stay in the system.

Churches grow to enormous sizes without government forcing them to stay. People tend to put more into these groups financially than they do get out of it, but they get community, they get peace, they get fellowship, they can worship there are many other benefits.

You are assuming that everybody is just as narsisstically self-centered and borderline-sociopathic like they are right now. This is not a given, kids today are being brainwashed, watching reality tv every day learning how to be a person in this world and they internalize it. Many adults grew up being brainwashed by cold war propaganda. Many seniors grew up being brainwashed by racial rhetoric.

In this thread, I am merely suggesting a voluntary sort of communism that isn't utopian, but based on already-existing models like church communities.


If your commune had no one willing to be an oncologist, what is to stop an oncologist from charging your community communal resources in exchange for services? You would need governmental force capable of mandating or assigning people to become oncologists, and you would need a government to force oncologists your commune created to stay within your commune. Otherwise they would be free to go to another or they would be free to become individual for-profit oncologists.


I don't follow your question but I see nothing wrong with a person working and being paid justly according to their own amount of work and the skill level of their labor. I also have no problem in this ideal situation with people having their own personal property, none of this conflicts with communism or socialism.

The only thing avoided in property terms would be one person with a lot of money buying the land that the community uses for food, and then letting the people continue farming that land but taking half of all food produced for himself. This is a problem.



Well this got really new agey all of a sudden. However, it's untrue. There's no possible way "most of humanity", or even a "good portion" of humanity is anti-depressants. If they were, Pfizer and McKesson wouldn't be able to keep up with demand and Celexa would be $1,000 a pill due to a international anti-depressant shortage.

I didn't mean all of humanity because obviously not even all Americans can afford medication there's no way third worlders are going to get them.

There is a pretty significant portion of Americans who are on some sort of psychiatric medication. I wouldn't be surprised is most people on this forum at least knows one or two people who are.

Wei Wu Wei
01-13-2011, 03:06 PM
If man wasn't meant to acquire wealth by "sitting in a cubicle" working, then what was man meant to do? Was he meant to spend all of his time wondering the earth searching for spiritual or personal enlightenment or something like that? Of course man was not meant to do this, because last I checked we humans have a strong desire for shelter, food and water. Basically, every man consumes resources to maintain an existence, and that is precisely what man is meant to do. That doesn't mean we should be working and producing with all of our time and spending almost no time perusing other goals. Think back to what I said about division of labor and free time. Look at the amount of free time that guy sitting in a cubicle, buying toys you claim he doesn't need, has to play with those toys and pursue other interests, compared to the amount of free time men had prior to the industrial revolution, or how much free time that Native American hunter had.

FYI small hunter gatherer groups had plenty of free time that's why they had elaborate art and poetry and dance. In a small communal group you only need to hunt every now and then and with light agriculture and the ability to freely move with the changing weather food isn't really a concern. With division of labor and again, communally owned resources, shelter is easy. Plus, as anyone with a garden or who likes hunting knows, that sort of labor isn't really "work", there is something wholesome and liberating about doing work because you care about the work itself and because yourself and your loved ones will all benefit directly from it.

Perhaps it's inappropriate to speak of what man was "meant to do", but I certainly have opinions on what actions of man are done more authentically.


Of course there are other problems in pre-industrial society, but those are matters of technology.


Capitalism has brought superior division of labor,

Nope.


unprecedented standards of living, and more free time for those who participate in a capitalist system than any other system in the history of man. Your tribal system, Wei, is not going to give people more time away from labor, it's going to make their labor worth less to them, not more, and it would severely limit the amount of innovations they would have otherwise enjoyed. You asked if "capitalism was 'the best'". I'm not sure if it's 'the best', but it's the best mankind has experienced so far, and that includes your attempt at a tribal structure. I know you are going to try to redefine your vision as being completely different and completely new and separated from a tribal structure for various reasons, but there's only so much you can do with communal organizations, and I'm not sure if anything "new" can be done with them. They have served their purpose, run their course, and are now incompatible with modern day individualism.

It's not just about how many years you can live or how many things you can buy, it's about the quality of life that you can live and Capitalism has hardly ushered that in.

As for capitalism being the reason for technological growth? No. It coincided, but it wasn't the cause.

Yes there were human rights abuses in the Soviet Union, but looking at their technological and societal advancement is stunning. In a matter of 30-40 years (in periods of continued large scale war mind you) they went from being a mostly agrarian peasant and farmer society to being the first human beings in space, and developing all the technology that makes modern GPS systems and the internet possible.

In such a short time with such great problems occurring, their ability to expand so rapidly, faster than the US in many cases, should be respected. To attribute technological success to Capitalism is mere superstition, believing that a thing caused another thing simply because the two happened at the same time in some places.