May 8, 2017 at 11:09 pm #126915robbo203ParticipantLBird wrote:Well, we differ about just what that famous statement of communism 'means', robbo.Anyway, I'm pretty clear about your personal views, but how far do they reflect the 'official' view of the SPGB?I'm always surprised that there is so much reticence for others to mention "workers' power", 'democratic production', 'social individuals', even Marx, when it comes to these discussions.Is your interpretation of 'socialism' widely held within the SPGB, even if it's not an officially declared position?
I note LBird that you dont respond to the specific points I made and indeed the specific Marx quotes I provided, which demonstrate conclusively just how removed your outlook is from a Marxian one. Thats OK if you want to hold the views you do but dont pretend that your position is a Marxian one. It most certainly not. There is no question about what "from each according to ability to each according to need" means. It means individuals freely and voluntarily contribute their labour to the common good in ways that they see fit in the light of their own abilities and awareness of what they are capable of doing. It also means individuals freely and directly taking goods from the communist distribution centres according to their own self defined needs. I dont know how you interpret that statement – perhaps you can tell us – but that is how we Marxists have always interpreted it. You have made it clear that in your view the individual in your kind of society will not be able to make any kind of meaningful choices at all. It is a "society" alone that will make all production and consumption choices so that in effect you are advocating a system of rationing coupled with a system of forced or compulsory labour. That is, workers will be compelled to do certain types of jobs and for a certain number of specified hours per week. They will have no choice in the matter. If the central Plan is to be fulfilled and workers are to receive the particular ration of goods that have been allocated to them, they will each have to be compelled to work in this manner. Just as free access goes with volunteer labour so rationing goes with forced labour I explained to you earlier why your kind of society must inevitably lead to a top down authoritarian or vanguardist system of decision-making. This is precisely because you have eliminated the possibility of any choices being made except those made by society as a whole. Since it is totally impossible for society as a whole to make the millions upon millions of decisions that it will need to make to function at all, these decisions will perforce be made by a tiny elite in the name of society. There is no other option unless you allow individuals themselves to make decisions for themselves (which you have ruled out) so that you would have a feedback system in place rather than a top down command economy where decisions flow downwards in a one-way direction I will end with this observation. Marx as mentioned took the view that in a communist society, the “free development of each is the condition for the free development of all" In other words, the individual should be empowered to choose and this would benefit society as a whole Now you have counterposed this to what you call Marx’s ”social productionism” without any understanding of what that entails at all. Certainly, modern day production is indeed a highly socialised process which brings into sharp relief just how interdependent we all are upon each other. I would argue and I think this is the point that Marx himself was making, that we can only really fully appreciate this sense of interdependence when we ourselves are free human beings, free to choose what to consume and what labour to perform. A free access communist economy provides the optimum conditions under which we can realise our true social nature and shatpen this sense of mutual interdependence. There is no one else to turn to provide for our needs, or to blame – no governments, no bosses, no charities – only ourselves The kind of society you advocate for is not conducive to promoting a sense of interdependence and the kind of cooperative ethos that arises from that but, rather, what is called a “dependency culture”. This is because in your kind of society you are deprived of the ability to make any choices and, thus, to learn from the consequences of making those choices. You are reduced to status of being a cog in a vast impersonal machine. You are essentially dependent on the decisions others – the elite – make for you. You don’t feel any sense of responsibility towards your fellows because as an individual you are powerless. As you said yourself, the individual in your society will not be able to make any choices Far from encouraging a democratic outlook, what you are proposing will do the very opposite – on the one hand by concentrating power in the hands of a tiny elite of decision-makers and, on the other, by disempowering the great majority and fostering in them a sense of isolation and helplessness In the end, a society of free individuals is an absolute precondition for a properly functioning democracy. Here I am not referring to the fake freedom of bourgeois “individualism”, a term which really boils down to the freedom of one class to exploit another. Incidentally, “individuality” which is what I am really talking about does not mean the same thing as “individualism” at all but you seem to constantly confuse or conflate these different terms. I am referring to the real freedom that is entailed by a society of free access and volunteer labour. Far from detracting from democracy as you suggest, it ensures and strengthens itMay 8, 2017 at 5:15 am #126909robbo203 wrote:You see, to talk about individuals being able to freely take from the distribution stores according to their self determined needs and to freely and voluntarily contribute to the production of wealth according their abilities is unspeakably INDIVIDUALIST, for heaven's sake. I mean, you can't really go about mouthing slogans like "from each according to ability to each according to need". Where will it all end? Next, people will be calling this Marx's "higher stage of communism"!No, people need to be democratically instructed by the ..er .."democratic global community" concerning what work we shall each contribute and what goods and services we shall each be allowed to consume. All 7 billion plus of us, Now thats "democratic communism", innit?
The saddest part of this, robbo, is that you're making quite clearly my (and Marx's) argument here, very well, but without realising it.You're contrasting your 'individualist consumptionism' with Marx's 'social productionism'.The former doesn't need 'democracy', whereas the latter does need 'democracy'.For the former, Engel's 'materialism' ('matter' being touched by 'passive biological individuals') is quite sufficient.But for the latter, some ideology of 'human creation' is required, where the 'subject' is a 'social' category, a subject that creatively produces its world.For the former, individuals contemplate their choices from the existing store; for the latter, society creates both its choices and its store.April 1, 2017 at 7:35 am #126394
In reply to: ‘Materialism’ is the perfect ideology for elitistsalanjjohnstone wrote:The charge you are making LBird that i deny my own ideology i think is misplaced. I prioritise it in my view of it.
I'm only going by what you have already said, alan.You've argued that 'practice' is the definer of 'theory', and the 'theory' is simply rejected, if it doesn't work 'in practice'.I've argued that 'theory and practice' is a unified method, and so if it fails according to the 'theory', then it has to be replaced by a different 'theory and practice'.That is, if something doesn't work 'in practice', one can't pretend that then the 'practice' determines a new 'theory'. 'Practice' is not the source of 'theory' – humans are the source of 'theory'.So, the failure of a cycle of 'theory and practice' tells us nothing about the 'practice' alone. That is, any appeal by individuals to 'practice' is simply hiding the 'theory' that they are employing which tells them whether a 'practice' is a success or failure.Only the producers of the 'theory and practice' can determine whether the 'theory and practice' is successful or not. That is, they can vote upon whether their 'theory and practice' has worked for them, for their interests, purposes, plans and desired outcomes. If the 'practice' fails, it fails for a 'theory'. It is not apparent to individual senses held by an elite with a special consciousness whether 'practice' has failed or succeeded.That is, only the social producers can determine the 'truth' of the outcome of their social theory and practice. This 'truth' is not simply apparent to some few, but can only be apparent to the collective.This is where 'materialism' falls down, because it argues that the source of 'truth' is 'The Material World', and any sequence of 'theory and practice' is measured (by individuals/elites) against their senses within 'The Material World'. But Marx's 'social productionism' argues that we create our world (ie. 'material-for-us', if you like), and so all can judge whether this 'World-For-Us' is true or false. True or falsity, success of failure, can only be determined by social theory and practice, which can only be democratic.If 'failure' of 'theory' is apparent to individual senses, science would be superfluous. It's not necessarily clear what constitutes 'failure' of a 'theory', and if it is clear, then all can clearly see this, and would vote accordingly.The denial of democracy within epistemology is itself a political act, which is intended to reserve the decision on whether a 'theory' has 'failed in practice' to an elite of 'scientists' who have a 'special consciousness' that the masses cannot develop, and that these 'scientists' have a politically-neutral method, and they are 'disinterested' passive observers (ie. that they don't create the 'Reality' that they are 'observing'), and so this elite are the ones to determine the 'practical failure of a theory'.Put it this way, alan. If you can tell a 'theory' has 'failed in practice', so can I, and all the others here. We can vote upon that outcome.If you can't tell, and don't expect those who claim that they alone can tell to openly explain in a way that you understand, then you are in the power of this 'special elite'.Within socialism, physics must be explicable to all of us – it must be explained, openly, so that a vote can be taken on whether the 'scientific knowledge' it produces is 'True-For-Us'. But 'materialism' claims that 'matter' tells us its 'truth', and so from the start undermines any attempt to democratise science, which is a key social tool in building our world. In fact, 'materialism' puts power into the hands an academic elite, who claim to have special powers to Know Truth, to discover Eternal Knowledge, which once discovered, can't be changed. If they admit it can be changed (which is what Marx argued we should be aiming to do with our social reality), then they'd have to admit that their 'scientific knowledge' is not 'True', but only 'true-for-us' at a given socio-historical point in our social production.ajj wrote:I did so the day i chose that agreeing 100% with 100% of the membership of the SPGB was not necessary but what i did accept was that i had much in common with the majority of them and that the points of difference were not so vastly apart or irreconcilable that they could not be overcome by debate and discussion – something that is still ongoing as many will acknowledge from the temper of some of my posts.
I pay tribute to your openness, alan, and to your constant reasonableness under the extreme provocation of my arguments. In many ways, we are 'not so vastly apart'.But on this issue, the ideology of 'materialism', it's a deal-breaker. I'm arguing that any socialists who espouse 'materialism' will turn away from democracy within social production, and will turn to 'rule by specialists', who will be autonomous within their 'specialism', and so out of the power and control of the majority (or, 'generalists').For my version of Democratic Communism, only the 'generalists' can decide whether the 'specialists' know what they are talking about – the 'specialists' are not the source of 'truth', they are only the source of 'options' for our votes. We might accept one option, or two or more, or reject all those currently supplied. That is, 'truth' is not necessarily singular, and certainly isn't 'Eternal Truth', a myth of bourgeois science. 'truth' is a social product, and we can change it, and within a democratic society, that changing of truth can only be a democratic decision. There isn't an elite who 'Know Reality'.ajj wrote:The need to begin to be part of the great process of social change was more vital than some of my own pet theories (ideology) and individual interpretation of the class struggle, past, present and future.It would be indeed utopian to suggest that the SPGB is the ideal vehicle for achieving socialism, but it is the best we got right now. Or can you offer a better alternative, LBird? What is ideology that remains outside practice? Religion and the belief in a non-interventionist "god"? The test of ideology is its application.
I've always argued for the method of social theory and practice, alan, and only those who wish to hide this say that I only talk about 'theory'. Again, this is a political move to undermine what I'm saying – to call me an 'Idealist' who wishes to 'ignore practice'. The 'materialists' got this move from Engels, when he divided all philosophy into either 'materialism' or 'idealism', and so gave the 'materialists' the power to call their opponents, like me, 'idealists'.ajj wrote:Educate Agitate Organise. You may well believe the first is the prime imperative but without the pillars of the other two, then any edifice will tumble (as the Wobblies discovered, mezinks).Again some will note that the content of my posts emphasise the second principle as the one lacking most within the SPGB.While some members concentrate on party matters so to provide a home for the organise option…but i think the future of the workers movement does not rest with the SPGB as a political party and thus, i have invited the forum to discuss the various means that "workers democracy" can materialise and be expressedThe choice is yours whether you are willing to put any flesh on to the bones of your own ideology, LBird.
I'm all for putting flesh on to the bones of Marx's ideology, alan. I don't pretend to be an individual, and I openly declare my ideological underpinnings.I'm all for Educate Agitate Organise , but this process will be based upon an ideology, and I'd rather expose, examine and determine which it is to be from several, prior to 'doing stuff'. I don't place 'practice' first, and pretend that a correct 'theory' will then emerge from this supposed 'non-ideological practice'.If democracy isn't at the centre of this process of Educate Agitate Organise then it can't produce socialism. And within the ideology of 'materialism', democracy isn't central – 'matter' is. 'Materialism' denies that humans produce 'matter' and can thus change it – 'materialism' places 'matter' first, not democratic production.Apologies for the length of my post – your enquiring post and comradely attitude deserved a full reply.jondwhite wrote:I think the point is the Anti-Engels brigade includes David McLellan, Terrell Carver and 'the Western academic left, and which was closely connected to the rise of “Western Marxism”' dating back at least as far as 1974. Western Marxism being a category the SPGB are sometimes lumped into.
I know perfectly well what 'the point' is, jdw.'Western Marxists' are a bunch of academics, who don't know their 'material' arse from their 'ideal' elbow.If anyone here actually bothered to read some of the 'Anti-Engels brigade', including Carver, Thomas, Levine, Farr, they might actaully be able to engage in a discussion, which would include criticisms of their inability to understand Marx's 'social productionism'.It's not too far wide of the mark to characterise 'Eastern Marxism' (Lenin, etc.) and 'Western Marxism' (Lukacs, Frankfurt school, etc.) as the tweedledee-tweedledum of anti-democratic, anti-proletarian, anti-Marxist bourgeois elite theory and practice.Why the hell the SPGB lines up with either, beats me. One lot call the other 'idealist', whilst the other lot call the other 'materialist'. In fact, neither understand Marx's 'idealism-materialism' (democratic theory and practice by the social producers).September 26, 2016 at 12:57 pm #121021Capitalist Pig wrote:I think I understand it now. materialism is saying that there are absolute truths in the world and that people are capable of being completly objective in forming their hypothesis. Idealism-materialism is the idea that we are not capable of being completly objective and we are the ones who actually create 'absolute truth' which can change accordingly with our ideas.aaaaaahh my head hurts
That's what's been argued by me, anyway.It fits better with the general approach of Marx, of social productionism, than does Engels' reversion to old-fashioned, passive, elitist, 'materialism'.If you can tell the difference between Marx's and Engels' approaches to 'knowledge production', then you have the power to choose, and especially to decide which provides a better fit for workers who are coming to consciousness of their power to change our world.'Absolute Truth' and 'Finality' are the death of democratic socialism.PS, before the 'materialists' jump on you, '…accordingly with our ideas and practice'.Marx's method is 'social theory and practice'.
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