Anti-received knowledge

August 2022 Forums General discussion Anti-received knowledge

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 88 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #189268
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Socialist society will need people who are specialists in different fields. If you had appendicitis, you would want someone dealing with that who knew what they were doing. You would want people expert in different things, who had chosen and studied a field of endeavour: astronomers, physicists, historians, musicians, and so on. Production would require co-operation and procedure; distribution require administration. Everyone would be a member of society and would develop interests in particular fields. This would not make them “elites”. They would have no power to deny or ration me access to the means of life. If a highly talented person “looked down” on another, that would be seen as a fault of character.
    Socialism would mean no one could deny another the joy of living. But there would have to be teachers in different fields of life, because everyone has different abilities and favourite pursuits.

    #189269
    LBird
    Participant

    John Oswald wrote: “Please send me any links to this sort of talk (Specialists, etc.) by SPGB members. I have never come across it. I have argued with other members a lot, but have never heard such ideas from the party.

    I’ve tried a search on this site, for some of the threads relating to our previous discussions on these issues, of democratic socialism, who will control production within socialism, science, Marx and Engels and their differences, materialism, idealism and Marx’s unifying of the two – but I don’t seem to be able to find any. Perhaps other comrades know how to find some of those threads.

    Some of the other posters who participated in these political discussions were ALB, robbo203, Brian, DJP, Young Master Smeet, twc, alanjjohnstone, and others – if you contact them, perhaps they can give you the information about who came up with the elite political concepts of ‘Specialists’ and ‘Generalists’. I’m not sure if these terms are widespread or official within the SPGB (perhaps not), but they were used to combat my political arguments that ‘science’, just like all social production within socialism, must be under our democratic control. ‘Truth’ has to be electable. If it isn’t, an elite minority will claim that they, as they do within capitalism, have a politically neutral method which gives this self-selected elite the means to determine ‘truth’, without the participation of the vast majority.

    The elite call this supposedly ahistoric and asocial activity ‘science’. On the contrary, I’ve always argued, just like you, John, that ‘by definition, socialism cannot have any elites’. Unfortunately, the main ideological plank for this political belief in ‘science’ is 18th century ‘materialism’, which Marx predicted would lead to a separation of society into two, a small elite and a powerless mass, in his Theses on Feuerbach.

    #189271
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Science is definitely treated in such a way under capitalism, but that is the nature of capitalism imposing itself on science. Scientists like Sagan and S.J. Gould opposed this elitism. In fact, the anti-science plague of the new generation of received knowledge-denyers, conspiracy theorists and creationists has been spawned by bourgeois science’s tendency to elitism.
    The essential difference is that under capitalism the mass of people are passive onlookers, whilst in socialism they would be actively engaged.

    #189272
    LBird
    Participant

    John Oswald wrote: “Science is definitely treated in such a way under capitalism, but that is the nature of capitalism imposing itself on science. Scientists like Sagan and S.J. Gould opposed this elitism. In fact, the anti-science plague of the new generation of received knowledge-denyers, conspiracy theorists and creationists has been spawned by bourgeois science’s tendency to elitism.
    The essential difference is that under capitalism the mass of people are passive onlookers, whilst in socialism they would be actively engaged.

    Yes, it’s important to recognise that Marx wasn’t ‘anti-science’ – he just wanted it revolutionised and democratised (and I agree with Marx on this point).

    It’s important for us democratic socialists to discuss in what ways this ‘revolutionising and democratising’ of ‘science’ could happen.

    As you say, a good starting point would be the issue of ‘mass passive onlooking’, and how this could be addressed whilst building for socialism – clearly, the ways in which this ‘passive mass of onlookers’ would become an ‘active mass of participants’ in a revolutionised and democratised ‘science’, needs much thinking and discussion.

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by LBird.
    #189277
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    It is all part and parcel of persuading people to take control of their destiny and overthrow capitalism. The point is, once a socialist revolution is being made, the masses will have reached that stage, and would have long ceased to be passive onlookers anyway. Which is why we condemn minority action. Minority action would necessarily require tyranny – i.e Bolshevism.

    #189278
    robbo203
    Participant

    Some of the other posters who participated in these political discussions were ALB, robbo203, Brian, DJP, Young Master Smeet, twc, alanjjohnstone, and others – if you contact them, perhaps they can give you the information about who came up with the elite political concepts of ‘Specialists’ and ‘Generalists’. I’m not sure if these terms are widespread or official within the SPGB (perhaps not), but they were used to combat my political arguments that ‘science’, just like all social production within socialism, must be under our democratic control. ‘Truth’ has to be electable

    I am quite happy to stand by the claim that there will be both specialists and generalists in socialism.   We can’t all become qualified molecular biologists in socialism because that takes many years of dedicated study.  The opportunity costs of everyone striving to become a  qualified molecular biologist, is that there will no structural engineers , agronomists, astrophysicists  or dieticians in society which also require years of dedicated study.  The consequences of that will be devastating for obvious reasons

     

    Thus , a social division of labour is, to that extent, unavoidable in any advanced system of production.  That does not mean that molecular biologists in socialism will not try their hand at various others kinds of job. Nor does it mean they will have any power over non molecular biologists.  Free access to goods and series coupled with the institution of voluntary labour, dissolves the very basis of elite power and removes any possible leverage any one individual or group could possibly exercise over another.

     

    Unfortunately L Bird has never understood or even addressed this point and continues not to do so

     

    #189279
    LBird
    Participant

    robbo203 wrote: “Unfortunately L Bird has never understood or even addressed this point and continues not to do so

    robbo, I’ve always understood your point, and have constantly addressed it, probably dozens of times, and, in the interests of a fresh and comradely start in these political discussions, I’ll do so, once again.

    Firstly, this is a political (and philosophical and ideological) issue. Secondly, it is an issue about ‘social power’ and just ‘who’ would wield it, both under socialism eventually, and in any workers’ movement dedicated to building for socialism.

    That is, it’s not a discussion about whether unqualified, untrained and uncaring people will be allowed to perform operations on anybody they like, whilst highly trained and qualified, dedicated surgeons will be treated with contempt and put in the stocks.

    The political question is, who controls the social production processes that socially produce, for example, surgeons (or any other ‘specialists’, that you name, like molecular biologists, structural engineers, agronomists, astrophysicists or dieticians, and, just to make quite sure we know what we’re discussing, plumbers, airline pilots, mathematicians, logicians, physicists, etc.).

    This can be summed up quite easily as the question ‘who controls science?’.

    In the building for socialism, we’d need to discuss what ‘science’ actually is, what are its purposes, aims, assumptions (especially those currently hidden from us, and often unknown to the so-called ‘specialists’), concepts, theories, methods and practices.

    Again, to simplify, to give us some focus, for example, what is the purpose of ‘science’?

    This can be answered a number of ways, depending upon the ideological assumptions (and I’d argue class viewpoint) of those giving the answer.

    Bourgeois ideologists have, since the 17th century, given the answer that the purpose of science is to uncover the workings of reality.

    But another answer that can be given, and I’d argue that this is the answer that democratic socialists should be giving, is that the purpose of science is to build a better world.

    Of course, there are ideological assumptions in both of these views. The former, for example, assumes that ‘reality’ already exists, before humans attempt to ‘discover’ it. But Marx didn’t agree with that, and argued that we humans socially produce ‘our reality’, a ‘reality-for-us’. If this is so, then bourgeois scientists have been pulling the wool over our eyes for more than 300 years, and simply pretending to ‘discover’ a world that they themselves have actually built, for their own political, social and productive purposes. That is, this ‘reality’ is a ‘reality’ built by the bourgeoisie.

    With the latter view of the purpose of science, comes the issue of who decides what ‘better’ means, in the concept of ‘better world’. Clearly, for a movement building for democratic socialism, the only interpretation of ‘better’ can come from the movement itself, ie., in your terms, the ‘generalists’.

    Perhaps a more recent example of this problem could be the interwar issue of ‘genetics’, when self-selecting ‘specialists’ decided off their own bat that some people had bad genes (the poor, Jews, Blacks, untermensch, etc.) and that others had good genes (the rich (no surprise there, eh?), Christians, Whites, ubermensch, etc.).

    The simple question is, who had the power to label ‘Eugenics’ as ‘science’? Would this be possible in a democratic socialist society? Or would society itself, employing democratic methods within their ‘science’, decide on purposes, concepts, disciplines, theories, etc.?

    As a final plea, robbo, please focus on the political and ideological questions embodied in this discussion. If you really think that this discussion is about whether we should be letting 10 year old kids on a whim have control of nuclear weapons, whilst the ‘experts’ are forced to stand aside and weep, I think that you’re missing the point.

    I should make it plain that I think that the nuclear industry and its research should be under our democratic control. We have to elect our ‘truths’.

    #189288
    robbo203
    Participant

    That is, it’s not a discussion about whether unqualified, untrained and uncaring people will be allowed to perform operations on anybody they like, whilst highly trained and qualified, dedicated surgeons will be treated with contempt and put in the stocks.

     

    OK so I take it you do now accept the need for specialists in a socialist society in the sense of individuals who undertake intensive study to become competent practitioners of a particular profession.  Good.  This is a step forward.   You are basically agreeing that there must be to an extent a social division of labour in a socialist society involving specialisation.  That does not mean , as I said, that a specialist will only do work relating to what he or she has been trained for.   A trained neurosurgeon could also, for example , take part in the vital work of hospital maintenance and general cleaning.  And why not? But as I said we can’t all become neurosurgeons. only a tiny minority.  This is not because most of us do not have the potential to become a neurosurgeon,  rather it is because a socialist society cannot afford for most of us to become neurosurgeons For such a society to function effectively it is vital the vast majority of us do NOT become neurosurgeons and that we concentrate our time and effort in equipping ourselves with the skill sets involved in  all those other numerous occupations that socialism would require  to effectively function.

     

     This can be summed up quite easily as the question ‘who controls science?’.
    In the building for socialism, we’d need to discuss what ‘science’ actually is, what are its purposes, aims, assumptions (especially those currently hidden from us, and often unknown to the so-called ‘specialists’), concepts, theories, methods and practices. Again, to simplify, to give us some focus, for example, what is the purpose of ‘science’?

     

    I wouldn’t disagree with your point that the answer that “democratic socialists should be giving, is that the purpose of science is to build a better world“.  This is indeed where the democratic control  of science can be realised – in defining the agenda of the scientific endeavour, so to speak.  I have never disputed this.  I have also constantly made the point that the fact that you have small  groups of specialists in a socialist society who have particular skills and knowledge that the general population do not possess in no way gives these groups elite power over the general population

    This is because

    1. any one group of specialists would be technically part of the general population vis a vis any other. Molecular biologists would tend to know as little about Astrophysics as any random  member of general population
    2.  The core features that define socialism – free access to goods and services and volunteer labour completely dissolve the material conditions under which elite power could be exercised anyway.  They remove any leverage one group could exercise over another.  In this sense socialism is the only basis on which a truly free and democratic world can be constructed

     

    There remains however your claim that ‘science’, just like all social production within socialism, must be under our democratic control. ‘Truth’ has to be electable

     

    I will grant (as I have above) that the purpose of science has to be under democratic control but truth? No I cant see any rhyme or reason for that at all (unless you mean by this something quite different that has completely escaped me).   I reject your view, as I understand it, for these reasons:

    1. To vote on the ” truth” of a scientific theory you have to know what it is about in the first place and be sufficiently interested to vote on the matter anyway. If you agree that the various branches or scientific knowledge are likely to be subject to a significant degree of specialisation then by default if not design the great majority of the population are just  not going to be acquainted with the more esoteric theories pertaining to these various branches.  Nor does it matter on jot that this would be the case. I am not that much interested in or knowledgeable about astrophysics, for example, and I have no motivation whatsoever to go out and read up on some theory in the field of astrophysics in order to knowledgeably vote on it.  I have other priorities and interests which are much more pressing to me.  I suspect 99.9 per cent of the population would think the same.  This doesn’t make us thick or inferior.  Nor does it give astrophysicists any power over us as I’ve explained
    2.  There is the question of the mechanics of voting anyway.  Its unrealistic to canvass the entire population on the truth value of literally thousands of new theories churned out every year
    3.  There is no point in voting on the truth value of a theory anyway. Why do you say “Truth’ has to be electable“?  What is the point of the exercise? If you want to take a straw poll amongst those interested in a particular theory out of curiosity then  fine but you are not going to stop a minority from continuing to press their own rival theory against the orthodox theory accepted by the majority.  Nor indeed should you.  This would be wholly against the spirit of scientific endeavour as fundamentally self-critical  – at least in theory.  Ironically it is bourgeois science that tends to suppress minority alternative viewpoints via such well known mechanisms as withdrawing funding.  Socialist science, I suggest, will be all the more stronger and vital by permitting the free exchange of ideas – not clamping down on discussion and dissent through the imposition of orthodoxy and “elected truth”
    #189290
    ALB
    Keymaster

    That’s true, Robbo. I vote for it.

    #189293
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    It is not like it is only LBird and the SPGB that has to discuss decision-making. Capitalism itself must be able to apply information to make a judgement on preferences and within the structure of transnational corporations, there is a need for shared and coordinated decision-making. The days of CEOs being physically able to direct global operations are passing.

    I look forward to the day we acquire members who fully understand the logistic supply chain from the field to the fork and explain to me that my choices at the supermarket shelves along with the choices of others determine what we produce without me understanding or participating in all the ins and outs of the process.

    To return to the very beginning of this never-ending story if the majority vote that the sun goes around the earth then it is true. I’m well use to the ignorance of the majority everytime they cast their ballot in an election for lies and fakery. I already live alongside those who believe the movement of celestial orbs determine my destiny. Just as Trump’s actions doesn’t change science, it’s  just the same as if some believe the world is flat – it isn’t going to make any difference as we all live out our lives.

    But what I get irritated by is Lbird often critiques us for not exercising democracy – workers democracy. He sort of claims that we are akin to the technocrats, placing ourselves above our fellow-workers as an elite, imposing our opinions and power upon fellow-workers. Yes, there is a fundamental difference in the knowledge held by a Socialist Party member and all other fellow-workers and it does have an effect.

    We possess class consciousness and we do view the world around us in all its manifestations very differently from some one who has not acquired this awareness, which we describe as being a materialist. I’m not going to enter too much into the different philosophical interpretations of the term and prefer its broader meaning of social evolution.

    I plead guilty to having a deeper political and economic insight into my life and the lives of family friands and neighbours. It keeps resulting in strong disagreements and usually I am the one who is accused of holding fanciful ideas and not reflecting the way things are in the “real” world. But contrary to accusation, I am a democrat, I do not enforce minority views on the majority. I rely upon education and persuasion. I do take upon that role of teacher. Another important difference. Yet I desist from exercising any role of leadership, demanding they follow.

    If someone wants to go on believing the sun goes around the earth – so be it, he or she can, if so wished. But I will not be trusting them to be an astronomer. Nor entrusting my health in the hands of someone who advocates homeopathic cures. I will decide such decisions. And hopefully there will be a democratic structure about how such professions admit and approve entrants.

    This is what I learned in the Socialist Party where I happily absorbed ideas from my mentors, sometimes somewhat reluctantly. I am still on a learning curve

    #189294
    LBird
    Participant

    robbo203 wrote: “I will grant (as I have above) that the purpose of science has to be under democratic control but truth? No I cant see any rhyme or reason for that at all (unless you mean by this something quite different that has completely escaped me). ”

    First of all, robbo, thanks for engaging with the real political questions. I’m glad we seem to have put behind us the misapprehension that ignorant brutes will conduct surgery, if these political questions are asked of ‘experts’.

    Perhaps the political importance of ‘the social production of truth’ has completely escaped you, as you seem to suggest is possible.

    The political issue is, if truth isn’t under democratic control, whose control is it under?

    You’re entitled, of course, to argue that ‘truth’ is something outside of social production, and that this ‘truth’ doesn’t have a history (which would imply that ‘truth’ changes), and that, outside of democratic control, there is an elite who can access this unchanging ‘truth’, because they have a method which is politically neutral.

    But… if you were to argue this about ‘truth’ (that it isn’t a social product, that it doesn’t change with society and over time, and only an elite can tell the rest of us what is the ‘truth’ on any issue)… then not only wouldn’t it be Marx’s view (which you might put to one side, if you’re not a Marxist), but it would mean that you would have to ignore what we know, and have done for over a hundred years, that ‘truth’ changes, that the bourgeois elite who claimed to ‘know Truth’ were shown to be wrong within their own physics, maths and logic at the end of the nineteenth century, and you would have to champion the ‘elite science’, which has got the world into the mess that we’re all in now.

    The ‘rhyme or reason’ for this is the issue of ‘democratic control of production’. As far as I’m aware, that’s the very definition of socialism.

    I’m tempted to think that our political disagreements are more profound than simply the issue of ‘science’, but are tied up in our differing conceptions of ‘democratic socialism’. I have to say (and I think this applies to some other posters, too), that I think that ‘socialism’ is about ‘how we socially produce’, whereas for you ‘socialism’ is about individuals and their ‘freedom’.

    These aren’t mutually exclusive, of course, but I’d want to build a democratic society which can realise ‘individual freedom’, which doesn’t currently exist. That means, any workers’ movement building towards ‘socialism’ would have to discuss both what ‘individual freedom’ is (it isn’t as obvious as bourgeois, ruling class ideology currently makes out) and how we would socially produce it (it won’t simply ‘exist’ or ‘happen’).

    In a nutshell, I’m interested in the ‘building process’ (and any ‘science’ which will be a key part of that process). Whatever ‘socialism’ will be, it will be as different from the current capitalist society as that was from what preceded it. I think that you make too many assumptions that much of capitalist ideology (and here of course I include ‘science’) will simply be carried over into your form of ‘socialism’. On the contrary, I expect a revolutionising of our world, including its ‘thought’.

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by LBird.
    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by LBird.
    #189308
    robbo203
    Participant

    You’re entitled, of course, to argue that ‘truth’ is something outside of social production, and that this ‘truth’ doesn’t have a history (which would imply that ‘truth’ changes), and that, outside of democratic control, there is an elite who can access this unchanging ‘truth’, because they have a method which is politically neutral.

    LBird ,  though I oppose your idea that the truth has to be electable for the reasons given it does not follow that I conceive of truth as being outside of social production or that it is unchanging

     

    Production today is more or less completely socialised process. The laptop that you are typing on is the direct or indirect product of the labour of millions upon millions of people around the world.  So is virtually everything else.   Does that mean the totality of production must be subject to democratic control by the entire global population i.e. society wide planning?  Obviously not.  Such an idea would be absurdly unworkable.  In case you haven’t read the Socialist Standard lately, I’ve written two articles on Socialism and Planning in this month and last month’s issue which will help you to see where I coming from

     

    So just as socialised production does not require society wide planning , so in the same sense the social construction of truth does not require truth to be electable

     

     

    #189309
    LBird
    Participant

    robbo203 wrote: “LBird ,  though I oppose your idea that the truth has to be electable for the reasons given it does not follow that I conceive of truth as being outside of social production or that it is unchanging

    No it doesn’t, and I was only suggesting that it was an option for you to argue that.

    But… if you’re now agreeing that ‘truth is socially produced’, and that ‘truth does change’…

    …’who’ do you regard as ‘the social producers’, ‘how’ do they ‘change truth’?

    In a political sense, since ‘production’ is powerful, and the ‘power to make change’ is a political power, who should have the social control of these powers?

    At least I always give a clear political answer: in socialism, the only acceptable ‘social power’ is the ‘social producers’ themselves, and the only acceptable method of ‘political control’ is ‘democracy’.

    If you disagree with these political statements, about ‘who’ and ‘how’, you need to give a clear political answer as to your position, rather than, when I attempt to give a reasonable guess, just state that ‘it does not follow’.

    For you, what does follow these political questions about socialism? If ‘truth is not electable’ (which means that the social producers would have no collective say about its production), who would be the producer of ‘truth’, and what (obviously, if not democratic) elite method would they employ?

    Once again, to be clear, I’m asking a political question, about power within socialism (and indeed, within any workers’ movement within capitalism, as it prefigured the socialism it was attempting to build).

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by LBird.
    #189318
    LBird
    Participant

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “… determine what we produce without me understanding or participating in all the ins and outs of the process…I’m well use to the ignorance of the majority everytime …

    alan, don’t you think that these statements are contradictory? Apparently, your ignorance about the workings of social production within socialism you deem will be acceptable, whereas you condemn this within capitalism, where it’s entirely explicable. Surely being ‘without understanding or participation’ is precisely what we are fighting in the present mode of social production?

     

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “But what I get irritated by is Lbird often critiques us for not exercising democracy – workers democracy. He sort of claims that we are akin to the technocrats, placing ourselves above our fellow-workers as an elite, imposing our opinions and power upon fellow-workers. Yes, there is a fundamental difference in the knowledge held by a Socialist Party member and all other fellow-workers and it does have an effect.

    We possess class consciousness and we do view the world around us in all its manifestations very differently from some one who has not acquired this awareness, which we describe as being a materialist. I’m not going to enter too much into the different philosophical interpretations of the term and prefer its broader meaning of social evolution.

    I plead guilty to having a deeper political and economic insight into my life and the lives of family friands and neighbours.” [my bold]

    You’re completely right here alan, I do claim that your political stance is elitist – look at the first pair of statements that you made.

    And I think that you’re wrong about there being a ‘fundamental difference’ between the SPGB and ‘all fellow workers’ – the sorts of political arguments that are being made here display identical forms of political consciousness with ‘the man in the street’ – ‘materialism’ is the 18th century philosophy that permeates our society, and just like them, you don’t (and won’t) think ‘too much’ about your ideology, which reflects ruling class interests, as we’d expect.

    I’m afraid your ‘insight’ is non-existent, in comparison to many outside the SPGB, ordinary workers who do take an interest in these political and philosophical issues, and many are not even socialists. Shouldn’t that be worrying, that it’s not ‘socialists’ within our class that are at the cutting edge of critical thinking about ‘insight’?

     

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “It keeps resulting in strong disagreements and usually I am the one who is accused of holding fanciful ideas and not reflecting the way things are in the “real” world. But contrary to accusation, I am a democrat, I do not enforce minority views on the majority. I rely upon education and persuasion. I do take upon that role of teacher. Another important difference. Yet I desist from exercising any role of leadership, demanding they follow.

    If someone wants to go on believing the sun goes around the earth – so be it, he or she can, if so wished. But I will not be trusting them to be an astronomer. Nor entrusting my health in the hands of someone who advocates homeopathic cures. I will decide such decisions. And hopefully there will be a democratic structure about how such professions admit and approve entrants.

    This is what I learned in the Socialist Party where I happily absorbed ideas from my mentors, sometimes somewhat reluctantly. I am still on a learning curve

    These statements show to me that you still haven’t learned that these discussions are about ‘social power’, that is, ‘politics’.

    You still seem to think that it’s about you, as an individual ‘I’, making your decisions, alone, and having to be wary of ‘dodgy individuals’, like ‘flat-earthers’.

    I don’t understand how within socialism, you think there will be ‘individuals’ with such powers. The notions of ‘science’ will have been decided by all of us, democratically, and will be changed, if needed, democratically – by discussion, debate, disagreement and decision-making. In this political context, how will there be anyone with the power to socially produce and teach ‘geocentric’ cosmology, if we’ve put that to bed (in a scientific sense)? Furthermore, if, in the future, it is scientifically proven (ie. by democratic socialist science) that we do live in a geocentric planetary system, how could you continue to believe, against all evidence, all scientific opinion, that ‘we go round the sun’? Think about that for a moment – that’s all bourgeois science does now, tells us ‘The Truth’, and most simply passively accept this ‘Truth’, without ever digging into it – much like you propose doing in socialism, if your statement earlier is recounted. The difference is socialism will be that the determination of whether ‘heliocentric’ or ‘geocentric’ will be decided by us all, by our scientific methods. No-one will be believing the current bourgeois myth that ‘Science Knows Reality’ – they’ll have been critically educated to follow Marx’s lead, and ‘Doubt Everything’, and know that we humans socially produce ‘our reality’, a ‘reality-for-us’ that we can change, if it suits our aims, purposes and needs. They’ll know that there isn’t an elite with a ‘special consciousness’ that is denied to the majority of us.

    If ‘science’ within socialism isn’t democratic, and a social activity within which everyone participates, what will everyone be doing? If socialism isn’t the active participation by all in their social production, what is it?

    Sometimes, I get the feeling that posters here regard socialism as the realisation of the bourgeois ideological aim of ‘freeing individuals from society’, where everyone ‘does just as they feel like, all the time’. But there will be social imperatives upon us, as long as humans exist (as Marx made plain), so we can never escape, as the US survivalists hope to do, the participation in ‘Society’, seen as an oppressor of ‘individual freedom’.

    As I said to robbo earlier, the more we deepen these conversations, the more we clarify just what we mean by ‘socialism’, the more I feel justified in pressing these political issues about ‘the social production and control of science’, because it clarifies for me, at least, my political differences with the SPGB. I must admit, the key issue for me is ‘democracy’, and I had thought that most members/sympathisers would share this concern, but most seem to be more animated, like you, with ‘individual power’. To me, this is a bourgeois myth, and look to Marx’s concept of the ‘social individual’, who is a collective producer, not a ‘free individual’ outside of political society.

    Politics, eh?

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by LBird.
    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by LBird.
    #189323
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    “… determine what we produce without me understanding or participating in all the ins and outs of the process…”

    LBird, I not only know my capacity to understand things which means I defer to those with greater knowledge – read Bakunin on the shoe-maker. But I am also aware of what interests me and how I focus and concentrate on the things that interest me. I have no desire to know everything there is to know. That is very different from

    “…I’m well use to the ignorance of the majority every time …”

    And yes I am accustomed to the ignorance of my fellow workers who are imbued with the ideology that our masters instil into us.  I would be a fool to deny  the many beliefs and attitudes a lot of my fellow-workers demonstrate on an almost daily basis  I find objectionable.

    But I have witnessed these change and seen the growth of tolerance in such things as another’s sexuality or race. But I still feel we have a long way to go for them to challenge the “common-sense” acceptance to the “rights” of private of property, the innate quality violence and aggression in human nature etc. When it comes to understanding ourselves, my fellow-workers have a long way to go…but they are getting there.

    “…But I will not be trusting them to be an astronomer. Nor entrusting my health in the hands of someone who advocates homeopathic cures. I will decide such decisions…”

    My point if it needs elaborating is that “If someone wants to go on believing the sun goes around the earth – so be it, he or she can, if so wished.” I’m not going to be dictatorial and impose my version of the truth. But I will not passively acquiesce to views I consider wrong.

    The material conditions and situation will eventually determine the actual practice of any idea or theory. A doctor may well be a devout follower of some religion but when it comes understanding anatomy and treatments, scripture in whatever holy book is ignored. However, if some “healer” still trusts in faith of the supernatural then I will be making another choice on who I seek medical advice from.

    I do not consider the debate and discussion on socialism and the individual to have been resolved. For sure we are not atomized isolated individuals and I am not Robinson Crusoe  but equally nor are we all clones of one another.

     

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 88 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.