Community-Wealth

May 2024 Forums General discussion Community-Wealth

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 74 total)
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  • #102116
    colinskelly
    Participant

    My hairsplitting was not intended to sap your resolve,  twc.  The point is that, in the politics of persuasion that we are engaged in, it is not just what you say but also very much how you say it.  If you try to outmuscle those close to you politically because their definition is not the ‘correct’ one then we won’t get very far.  We are trying to substitute other meanings of socialism for our own and in so doing need to engage in sympathetic conversation and not denunciation and triumphalism at the superiority of our own doctrines.  

    #102117
    steve colborn
    Participant

    When reading AJJ's posts, I have myself, taken up the challenge he tacitly set, to find a way of getting our message across, in a more robust and successful way. Assuredly, the SPGB have managed to keep Socialism, in the public view, however we must have a bigger target, that of "growing" the movement for societal change.Whether we like it or not, the term Socialism has been distorted, an indisputable fact we must live with and work around. What I believe Alan has begun, is to start a process on the road to this. Not a dissolving of  "our" resolve or heritage but to make us a more effective political organisation. Whether or not we are up to this challenge, may well decide the fate of the Party, in the short term, at least!Branches having special meetings to "brainstorm" ideas around this and possibly a special Party meeting, may well be one of the ways to go. Forget "community wealth" as in co-ops etc, our community wealth is what is lodged between our lug-holes and we need to start exploring the possibilities.

    #102118
    twc
    Participant

    The shortest version that is correct isCommon-Ownership-and-Democratic-Control-of-the-Means-of-LifeorCODECOM

    #102119
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    I have now posted the blog i referred to earlier. Should be tomorrow, but TWC and others can now read my previous comment in context. Perhaps a little contradictory but i think the overall point is made in it. http://socialist-courier.blogspot.com/2014/06/socialism-from-below.html

    #102120
    twc
    Participant

    Oh my god!  I couldn’t stomach reading it through in one go.It contains more subjunctives than a talk-back radio caller who knows exactly what “should” be done because it’s so obvious.By what evidence do you declare that “The socialist movement has felt obliged to abandon the use of an important word because it had become too corrupt.”?Meanwhile, I will be posting, probably tomorrow, at your request regarding Vin and the TSSI, a modern account of Marxian economics that refutes most of what I fear you’ve said about Marx and socialism.

    #102121
    DJP
    Participant
    #102122
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Yesterday's Guardian had this about invented words.http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/17/authors-invented-words-used-every-day-cojones-meme-nerdWords frequently change meanings and the list is too long but in Marx, "idiocy" of  rural life and "dictatorship" of the proletariat are two examples that come to mind where the original term does not reflect the present day common usage.Again to bring it back on track of the thread, while we understand and accept Marx's use of the DOTP, is there any constructive need to use it ourselves except to correct misconceptions and its misuse? I suggest the party and most of its members have already selected to abandon it because of its corruption of use.  I'm sure others can add to unpopular marxist/socialist expressions that we should be wary of using. (One or two of our more sophisticated, cosmopolitan city-urbanised members may still persist in describing country-folk as idiots, though!!)

    #102123
    steve colborn
    Participant

    For the DOTP, read "Democracy". Pity they do not teach critical thinking and analysis, at the educational abattoirs that pass as "schools" in this pathetic hell hole, called apitalism.

    #102124
    twc
    Participant

    Hal Draper wrote a magnificent study—the definitive study—of the term Dictatorship of the Proletariat, as Volume 3 of “Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution”. [All four of Draper’s volumes are excellent, often ground-breaking, studies, despite the man’s communist intellectual lineage.]Draper retraces the history and usage of the term “dictatorship” from ancient times, and he discusses in extremely close detail every one of Marx’s half-dozen usages.Draper also published a shortened version of the work that discusses Lenin’s [ab]usage as well. These are excellent studies by one of the greatest 20th century writers on Marx.  Brilliant stuff.Now to your aversion.“Dictatorship of the Proletariat” is a perfectly legitimate phrase to describe the crucial act of the working class confiscating capitalist-class ownership and control of the means of life.  The bourgeoisie are unlikely to confiscate ownership and control of their own free will.That grand historical act can only be the consciously thought-out democratically-condoned action of one class abolishing the foundation of all class domination.  The bourgeoisie aren’t likely to abolish the foundation of all class domination of their own free will.The social act of pulling the rug from under any future attempt at class domination has to be an act of class domination in the process of abolishing class domination.  The bourgeoisie aren’t likely to pull that rug of their own free will.It will be the act of the hitherto subservient class abolishing its erstwhile ruler’s control and ownership of the means of social life and conferring that power upon all of society.  The bourgeoisie aren’t likely to confer social power of their own free will.If that ain’t adequately termed “dictating” to—enforcing your dominance over—your erstwhile dominator, give me a better term.  But don’t waste your time in trying to find a softer, whiter, brighter, marketing term. “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” is the only adequate phrase, and it will be the adequate revolutionary phrase on everyone’s lips when it is acted out.  This is entirely independent of whether you abolish the phrase in your imagination or deprecate it by decree.We have far more serious issues ahead of us than “terrifying terminology”![Recall that it was Luxemburg who openly condemned Lenin for duplicitously abusing the then-accepted phrase “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” as a smokescreen to cover the actuality of his “Dictatorship by the Party”, i.e. dictatorship by himself. We, of course, know that Lenin was simply practicising what all prototype bourgeois leaders in the aftermath of a bourgeois revolution against feudalism are compelled to do in order to run a prototype capitalist economy, and embark on capitalism’s murky beginnings of forced primitive accumulation.  Of course, he saved face by distorting terminology.]As to today’s common usage — that’s ephemeral in the scheme of things — on the timescale of social modes of production, which is measured in centuries, and not in weeks, months or years.Modes of production survive because they solve the social problem of how to reproduce society.  That’s why they prove to be pretty damn robust things, thank god, or we’ll all be clamouring for next year’s model on the morning after the revolution.On that timescale, by the time we introduce a genuine class dictatorship that abolishes all classes, the old abused meaning of the phrase that everywhere accompanied the beginning of capitalism will hardly be a memory.On that timescale, Marx wrote (what Kuhn recapitulated a century later about serious scientific theoretical frameworks):“No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed;  and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself.” [Marx: A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy].Current usage is, as it always is in a class society, based entirely on mistaking the outward appearance of the mode of production for its inner workings.Current usage on matters relating to a social mode of production is ephemeral, as it changes with changing outward appearance while the inner workings remain invariantly working, unchanged, as ever.Current usage will lose its force, its zing, its pizzazz, its élan, when folks start to see through that appearance, but not before they do.Then folks will look incredulously at a party, that survives only because it eschews outward appearance for inner workings, yet has jettisoned the only invariant terminology adequate to invariant inner workings, and embraced instead yesterday’s vulgar usage.We rely entirely on technical terminology. Why should we capitulate to current unsage, and ingratiate ourselves to the mob by validating its false consciousness that adequately expresses the mere outward appearance of things, when our whole case is crucially based on exposing that outward appearance for the fleeting illusion that it is.As to “rural idiocy”, well, what can I say.  We have abundant examples of concomitant “urban idiocy” created spontaneously by a triumphant capitalism, expressed in today’s common usage that fetishizes the outward appearance of things.Large sections of our urban proletariat are as “idiotic” as the useless Roman proletariat that gave us the servile “idiocy” of christianity, and the feudal “cretins” who perpetuated it.For the sake of mankind, I am at one with Horace — Odi profanum vulgus et arceo, favete linguis, carmina non prius audita … canto — We sing our own songs in our own linguis.  Damn the “idiotic” vulgar tongue!Sorry, but I’m not capitulating to ignorance, no matter how mellifluously its oh-so-acceptable voice charms the ear with today’s common usage.

    #102125
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

     I will ask you to refer me to an article in the Socialist Standard that uses the phrase "dictatorship of the proletariat" as an aspiration of the Socialist Party.From memory, when it has been used, it has been, as i said, to clarify its abuse and more often than not in connection with the Paris Commune.Why is it rarely so used by writers of the Standard?..Because they no longer consider it an "adequate" phrase.Members are not comfortable with its use and simply do not use it. Our writers have abandoned it as a positive term. They have indeed sought other means of expressing it – much simpler as Steve has already said…democratic rule. The Standard's editor pointed out  "[we] think the term "dictatorship of the proletariat" to be so open to misunderstanding as to be counter-productive. We prefer to speak simply of the (very short-term democratic) exercise of political power by the working class…" http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/lettersThe blog has explained Marx's use of "idiocy" which again is from Hal Draper.http://www.socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2013/02/idiots.htmlIt also discussed the meaning of the DOTP ( A Bill Martin contribution from the old Yahoo WSM forum)http://www.socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2010/02/dictatorship-of-proletariat-what-did.htmlCertain language in Marxism is technical terminology as you say…surplus value, etc, etc but "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" is not, but rather, it is a metaphoric description of a stage in the emancipation of socialism, an expression, a figure of speech…It can easily be substituted as the Socialist Standard says by other words.If certain phrases result in automatic suspicion and cause red lights to start flashing …why on earth would you deliberately inflame it when alternative means of communicating your meaning exists. There is a proper place and proper time to discuss semantics and etymology of Marxist terms, but it is not in the introduction and opening arguments for socialism. We have to seek a common language, a shared imagination, to connect and relate to people that reveals our commonality as workers and to gain a receptive audience for what we say.There is no one size fits all so we have to be adaptable, flexible, pliant, and most of all innovative. Surely we should reach out to those who have our vision but perhaps express it differently or lack confidence in our strategy to achieve it  and endeavour to seek ways to discuss the means and methods of attaining it. I made reference to the concept of democracy in the blog…we don't try and discourage people for striving for it…we say why not take it to its logical conclusion…go that little bit further …use what you are doing to get a little more…socialism itself is within your grasp, closer and nearer than you think…it's not far off and far in the future but at hand…Take hold of it…Again i return to the purpose…we have to concentrate our limited resources upon who and where and how we get the better results and that may mean adopting their language if it agrees with our own…Resource Based Economics…is an example…it may mean adapting to their form of organising …Occupy for instanceYou can sing your own song your own way but it just may receive the same attention as the drunken uncle at the wedding reception singing his rendition of "My Way", his way…polite indifference, at best, patronising amusement , at worse.  

    #102126
    twc
    Participant

    Why didn’t you answer my question: “By what evidence do you assert that The socialist movement has felt obliged to abandon the use of an important word because it had become too corrupt”?Now to your question:

    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    “I will ask you to refer me to an article in the Socialist Standard that uses the phrase ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ as an aspiration of the Socialist Party.”

    Of course I can’t.  But that proves nothing, since your Socialist Standard test backfires.I will ask you to refer me to an article in the Socialist Standard that doesn’t use the term “socialism” as an aspiration of the Socialist Party.I will ask you to refer me to an article in the Socialist Standard that doesn’t refer to the party as the S[ocialist]PGB, or the “Socialist Party”, etc.Socialist Standard usage reveals pride, rather than shame, in the term “socialism”.  We therefore should keep it.Now to the minor matter of the ‘idiocy of rural life’.I have never considered Marx and Engels to be insulting over the materialist consequences of social conditions.  Their materialist point is clear enough, and Draper explains it, after a fashion.  But, Draper misses something vital.Engels wrote the Manifesto (with Marx), and he reproduced the phrase as “idiocy of rural life” [sic] in his 1888 English translation (with Sam Moore).Engels was an expert linguist, superbly adept in German and English.  He knew precisely what he was translating from and precisely what he was translating to.Engels was one of the greatest editors the world has seen, and has never been successfully convicted of failing to reproduce Marx with the utmost fidelity.If Engels gave the English Manifesto his imprimatur, that’s good enough imprimatur for me.For the first time,  Engels refutes Draper!You insist, on the contrary, that Engels refutes rural idiocy when he says

    Engels wrote:
    the abolition of the town–country antithesis “will be able to deliver [rescue] the rural population from the isolation and stupor in which it has vegetated almost unchanged for thousands of years” (Housing Question) [http://www.socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2013/02/idiots.html

    It’s my turn to ask you to explainthe hair-splitting difference between rural idiocy and rural stupor,the non-idiocy of vegetating almost unchanged for thousands of years,why your non-idiotic non-stupid rural population needs to be rescued at all.For the second time,  Engels refutes Draper!Finally, to your harmonious solipsist farewell canto “You can sing your own song your own way.”Let me remind you that Marx, Engels, Morris, Fitzgerald, Baritz, Gilmac, Hardy, our forefathers, … sang that “socialist” song in unison.On the other hand, you seem to have no song-in-itself and a bedraggled untrained croaking chorus.

    #102127
    twc
    Participant

    Thought I should check the translation against the original.

    Engels, in original German, wrote:
    … aus der Isolierung und Verdummung herauszureißen, in der sie seit Jahr-tausenden fast unverändert vegetiert.
    Engels, in English translation, wrote:
    … to save the rural population from the isolation and stupor in which it has vegetated almost unchanged for thousands of years.

    Engels says Verdummung ≡ dumming.So, Dummkopf, three strikes and out.For the third time,  Engels refutes Draper!

    #102128

    On Idiocy, without having a dictionary to hand, I believe the word derives from the greek Idiotes: a private person (which is why Shaw used 'Private Person' as an insult). Just checked, and ἰδιώτηςmeant private person/layman, non-specialist, uneducated, etc. so not stupid as such…

    #102129
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    “By what evidence do you assert that The socialist movement has felt obliged to abandon the use of an important word because it had become too corrupt”?[/quote]i must be pretty thick because i thought the evidence of the editors of the Standard was suffice. I even quoted them in bold so the message would be clear. You persist in emphasising that the we use socialism…and my case is we dropped other terms …communist…why isn't that used as frequently after all we did publish the Communist Manifesto but the word was rarely in favour, for all our arguments about them being synomyns. Social Democratic Party of Great Britain was suggested as a name to the party in 1904 but it got shot down in flames but not on the grounds of being an incorrect definition. I may go through recent Standards and count the articles that does not mention socialism but only if i have the time. I have already referred you to Kids Stuff video that does not use the word socialism in its script.

    "1906 – But this Industrial Democracy is a possibility only when the capitalist class have ceased to rule the State. Hence the class struggle is the greatest struggle, and the revolutionary method the only correct one." http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1900s/1906/no-24-september-1906/why-are-we-revolutionary [/quote]I did a quickie check and i never realised like the IWW we also used that term. I used to describe myself as a libertarian communist at one time. I still frequent the LIBCOM website. But if i was in America i would think twice before using the term libertarian. In fact, i would abandon its use there. I'm weary of insisting to Randist and Paulists the correct term for them is propertarian. Idiocy. 1. (not in technical usage) severe mental retardation2. foolishness or senselessness; stupidity3. a foolish act or remarkAs i said, words change their meaning and shouldn't always be used. Expressions should be abandoned. Neither Marx nor Engels are accusing the peasantry of the above dictionary meanings. I see little point in quoting Marx when it would be misunderstood in current usage of word meanings. They were not claiming the peasant were stupid, are they?As for you claim that Marx, Engels and Morris sang from the same song-sheet as those others , that is factually and historically wrong. The SPGB and Marx and Engels do not always share the same views and we have always acknowledged that. We accept their core ideas not everything they said or wrote.  At times they were singing very different lyrics and Morris kept changing his tune over the years. Actually thinking about Morris, parliamentarianism is another word that often confuses and while we advocate using parliament to abolish capitalism, other use it to mean reform capitalism…Best not to use it, i think..abandon parliamentarianism too from our revolutionary lexicon.But really i keep trying to link this discussion to practical politics rather than abstract crossing t's and dotting i's. You have argued the old ways are the best ways and we should stick to our guns. I'm not sure that would be a fruitful tactic judging by our progress and success and you will remember just how part of this exchange began…a 1948 Socialist Part Australia article that raised similar questions…and we all know what happened to the Socialist Party of Australia. I have no way to know just how they responded to the realities they faced but in regards to the SPGB i have previously offered a pessimistic prognosis and suggest we will disappear too…unless we can find certain anwers of how to become an influence within the working class movement and grow along with it. Recent European elections can be seen as ambiguous…partly a rise in reactioary votes but also a smaller but significant rise in what can be called  progressive although mostly left reformist. Despite our gallant endeavours, we were statistically zero in the Euro Election aross all the countries in it.  I argue that there is an audience that we can engage with but have to be proactive and adaptive. We got to learn to talk their talk and walk their walk but without surrendering our own identity and our own principles. I'm not suggesting we subsume ourselves and become absorbed. I simply say there are different ways of expressing our ideas that we should explore and experiment with. It was you in an earlier message who talked about the long timescale …surely we do have time to try out new things if that is the case. Again i stress i don't possess the magical formula…at times i don't even know the questions much less the answers. But if you are happy and satisfied and confident that things are proceeding as those forefathers as you describe them expected then fair-do to you…i'm pleased you don't have any doubts …but i do have them…and i am raising them as is my privilege as a member of a democratic organisation that welcomes discussion and debate. 

    #102130
    twc
    Participant

    To YMS,Just so.  But that doesn’t prevent Engels—the materialist—from engaging in wordplay that overlays biting contempt atop the Greek, to convey disquiet over the thousand-year imposition of stupidity by the feudal system upon its lord, court and, particularly, its serf and peasants. The Elizabethan poet Spencer captures this “brutish rural imbecility” well in his magnificent Faerie Queene. Book II. Canto XII. [A title, by the way, that has none of its modern connotation.]Said Guyon; See the Mind of beastly Man, That hath so soon forgot the Excellence Of his Creation, when he Life began, That now he chuseth, with vile difference, To be a Beast, and lack Intelligence. To whom the Palmer thus: The Dunghil Kind Delights in Filth and foul Incontinence: Let Grill be Grill, and have his hoggish Mind. But let us hence depart, whilst Weather serves, and Wind.

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