February 17, 2015 at 5:31 pm #109574DJPParticipantQuote Bomb wrote:The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way.The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature.
Wasn't this quote from that guy that helped set up the Adam Smith Institute?February 17, 2015 at 11:52 pm #109575LBird wrote:I'd simply ask, YMS, why you and robbo keep using the loaded term 'individuals'.Why use an ideological term so closely connected to the bourgeoisie?Why draw parallels between 'individuals' who live in very different societies, which is also a method used as an ideological justification for 'what exists, now' by showing the alleged 'similarities' with 'what existed, then'?If neither you nor robbo share neither ideology nor method with the bourgeoisie (as you both say that you don't), why employ the ideology of 'individuals' and the comparative method of 'sameness'.Especially as the 'individuality' being expressed is one of 'biological traits' ('that we all share, after all, we're all humans, we individuals', implying bosses and workers, being 'human' should look to their similarities), rather than emphasise the contrast and vast differences between societies and their production methods.What's the fascination with 'individuals', for alleged socialists?
Groan. Isn't the term "bourgeoisie" itself closely connected to the "bourgeoisie"? Why do you keeping using this "loaded term" if this does not demonstrate your own bourgeoisie way of looking at the world? See – this is what your kind 2+2=5 logic comes to. You end up trying yourself in knots. Look, nobody is saying that the individual is not "socially constituted". I've said that several times to you but as usual you are just not listening. You just bang on with your bee in your bonnet like you've stumbled across some revolutionary new sociological insight but the rest of us, philistines that we are, are unwilling to accept it , are too stuck in the mud and blinded by bourgeois ideology to embrace it. Its getting tedious, LBird. Very tedious The "bourgeois individual" is quite a different animal to the "feudal individual" or again to the individual in a hunter gatherer society. We know this but you are trying to tell us more – that only under the rule of the bourgeoisie , under capitalism, does the "individual" qua individual come into being , that before that "individuals" simply didn't exist and after that individuals too will not exist. But this is ahistoric nonsense. It rides roughshod over the sociological (and indeed Marxist) maxim that individuals are not only constituted by society but continuously constitute or reconstitute society.. You can't have society without individuals or individuals without society. They hang together. They are two sides of the same coin There is no sense of this dialectic or interaction between individuals and society at all in your philosophical musings which is why these come across as so sterile and barren. For you individuals don't exist; only social categories exist – "I'm a worker not an individual" – despite the fact social categories too consist of individuals. Your whole approach is simplistic and black-or-white. Can one not be a worker and an individual too?You askWhy draw parallels between 'individuals' who live in very different societies, which is also a method used as an ideological justification for 'what exists, now' by showing the alleged 'similarities' with 'what existed, then'? Actually, it shows quite the opposite! What it demonstrates is that anatomically identical individuals with the same mental equipment as us can live under a wide variety of social systems. That being so there can be nothing more subversive than such a thought as far as the existing capitalist social order is concerned for it demonstrates very clearly that there is nothing in human nature that prevents us living in a different kind of society. You call yourself a communist yet you would wish us to spike this most subversive and revolutionary thought! In fact I would go further – if what you say held any water then the whole Marxian concept of alienation would make no sense at all. The "individual" in your absolutist behaviourist schema would just be assimilated into some infinitely mouldable putty shaped by the forces of history over which we would have no control. The kind of logic that underlies your thinking is the same kind of logic that informs the racist with his or her essentialist talk of "races". It stands in sharp contrast to the humanism and universalism that informs Marxism. Yes we are workers under capitalism but we are also defiantly human beings and it is the fact that we are human beings, that we have certain needs, that we chafe under the condition of being exploited members of the working class and therefore seek to overthrow capitalism. If that were not they case then from whence would arise the incentive to overthrow capitalism? If we were totally mouldable, the product of our social environment , if there was absolutely nothing about being a human being that transcended any and every kind of social system that human beings have ever lived under, then it totally conceivable that we could be indefinitely conditioned to accept capitalism as not only the best of all possible worlds but the only possible world. Your logic permits this. And so to answer your question -what is the fascination with individuals for socialists? – it is because we are ourselves human individuals one and all. Even you LBird. I doubt very much that you are some 3D hologram programmed by certain remote impersonal social forces to endlessly parrot the mantra that there are no such things as individuals – only "society.". The utter absurdity of your whole position is exposed by your glib dismissal of the fact that hunter gatherer possess a strong sense of individuality and an interior subjective life as "ahistoric waffle". What you are saying in effect is that hunter gatherers had no feelings, were incapable of feeling sorrow, anger, remorse, happiness, boredom and the full gamut of emotions which some "superior" being (presumably yourself) is capable of feeling. No? Well then why come out with this daft statement of yoursWhy draw parallels between 'individuals' who live in very different societies, which is also a method used as an ideological justification for 'what exists, now' by showing the alleged 'similarities' with 'what existed, then'?There is nothing "alleged" about the similarities I have referrred to above. They are actual similiarities It is precisely because hunter gatherers are capable of precisely the same emotions as ourselves i.e.. are similar to us – that they are of huge interest, more so because for over 95 % of our existence on this planet we human beings lived as hunter gatherers. That may very well have important consequences for us today and for the struggle to achieve a communist worldFebruary 18, 2015 at 6:33 am #109576
YMS That Radical Anthropology article by Peter Gray you posted a link to was very useful and informative. In connection with this discussion I think the following passage is highly relevant: Essentially all researchers who write about the social lives of hunter-gatherers emphasize the high value placed on individual autonomy. The descriptions make it clear that hunter-gatherers’ sense of autonomy is different from the individualism that characterizes modern, Western, capitalist cultures. Western individualism tends to pit each person against others in competition for resources and rewards. It includes the right to accumulate property and to use disparities in wealth to control the behavior of others. Thus, Western individualism tends, in principal, to set each person apart from each other person. In contrast, as Tim Ingold has most explicitly pointed out, the hunter-gatherers’ sense of autonomy is one that connects each person to others, rather than sets them apart but does so in a way that does not create dependencies. Their autonomy does not include the right to accumulate property or to use power or threats to control others’ behavior or to make others indebted to them. Their autonomy does, however, allow people to make their own decisions from day-to-day and moment-to-moment about their own activities, as long as they do not violate the implicit and explicit rules of the band, such as rules about sharing. For example, individual hunter-gatherers are free, on any day, to join a hunting or gathering party or to stay at camp and rest, depending purely on their own preference. This is a freedom that goes far beyond the freedom of most workers in Western culturesFebruary 18, 2015 at 8:26 am #109577Young Master SmeetParticipant
That individualism can also manifest as indifference: I've herad someone mention that some huinter gatherers have been known to just watch someone drowning.February 18, 2015 at 5:18 pm #109578
I have not followed all of what looked like a mostly pointless debate on this thread, but I am interested in the ostensible subject matter, and thought this link might be of interest – it's Jared Diamond defending his recent (and brilliant) book on the subject:http://www.jareddiamond.org/Jared_Diamond/Rousseau_Revisited.htmlRegardless of the facts in the debate about hunter gatherers, I would have thought that the merest introspection would reveal that human beings are naturally capable of and indeed delight in the most grotesque violence and stupidity (as well as kindness and intelligence). If introspection won't do it, just look at the contributions to this forum (including mine)!February 18, 2015 at 5:28 pm #109579DJPParticipant
FWIW it looks like Brain Morris, who has spoken at party dayschools before, has a new book out:http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1604860936/February 18, 2015 at 5:45 pm #109580
Brian's great, and a lovely guy – well worth reading. (I hope my recommendation doesn't reduce his sales.)February 18, 2015 at 7:37 pm #109581stuart2112 wrote:…a mostly pointless debate …stuart2112 wrote:…the merest introspection would reveal that human beings are naturally capable of and indeed delight in the most grotesque violence and stupidity…
[my bolds]I wonder who contributes to this site.The longer I read, the more I feel alienated from what's being written.February 18, 2015 at 8:09 pm #109582stuartw2112 wrote:I have not followed all of what looked like a mostly pointless debate on this thread, but I am interested in the ostensible subject matter, and thought this link might be of interest – it's Jared Diamond defending his recent (and brilliant) book on the subject:http://www.jareddiamond.org/Jared_Diamond/Rousseau_Revisited.html
Interesting link though I can't say I was overly impressed., Stuart. Diamond along with Pinker and co have been charged with confusing complex HG societies – tribes – with simple HG societies – bands – and also with confusing hunter gatherer societies in general with horticulturalist societies. In his book "The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?" (2012) Diamond makes much of the fact that the Dani people of Papua New Guinea have a reputation for being violent. However, not only are the Dani tribal in social organisation; they also happen to be agriculturalists practicing an elementary system of property rights. With territoriality and sedentism coming into the picture this would indeed provide an incentive for violent conflict. but the point about simple HG bands is that they are nomadic – there is no territory to defend. I note that Diamond in the article you posted is still talking about tribal societies not band societies Why is this important? Well, as John Horgan points out in the link I posted earlier One of the most insidious modern memes holds that war is innate, an adaptation bred into our ancestors by natural selection. This hypothesis—let’s call it the “Deep Roots Theory of War”–has been promoted by such intellectual heavyweights as Steven Pinker, Edward Wilson, Jared Diamond, Richard Wrangham, Francis Fukuyama and David Brooks. (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2013/07/18/new-study-of-foragers-undermines-claim-that-war-has-deep-evolutionary-roots)If it is the case that "war is innate, an adaptation bred into ancestors by natural selection" then this would have had to have happened a long long time ago – when in fact human beings were universally living as simple hunter gather societies – not tribal societies. Tribal societies are too recent for this warlike "adaptation" to have taken effect. So in order to make this argument stick you would have to demonstrate that war was a fact of life when we were all simple hunter gatherers way back in the distant past. And that is precisely where Diamond , Pinker et come unstuck; they cannot produce such evidence as R Brian Ferguson has very effectively demonstrated in the link I provided So the Diamond-Pinker hypothesis falls at the first hurdle. What worries me is that this is an argument that has ostensibly been used to justify the need for a state as a supposed "pacifying influence" on the population which is allegedly prone to this innate disposition to wage on their fellow human beings. Am I to take it that you too have become a pro-statist by virtue of your evident enthusiasm for what Diamond has to say? I sincerely hope not Stuart Oh, and just as an aside, I note in Diamond's article he saysTribal victors kill their captives and don’t take prisoners, because they can’t be readily imprisoned or exploited. Is this necessarily the case though? Its a long time since I read Evans Pritchard book on the Nuer so I may be wrong here but I vaguely recall that in their sporadic fighting with the neighbouring Dinka tribe that occasionally, instead of being killed, the defeated Dinka would simply be assimilated and became Nuer themselves . If I recall correctly Evans Pritchard was saying that the Dinka and the Nuer were often one and the same people. Correct me if I am wrongstuartw2112 wrote:Regardless of the facts in the debate about hunter gatherers, I would have thought that the merest introspection would reveal that human beings are naturally capable of and indeed delight in the most grotesque violence and stupidity (as well as kindness and intelligence). If introspection won't do it, just look at the contributions to this forum (including mine)!
Yes but this is not saying anything profound or novel. We all know people are naturally capable of both grotesque violence as well as incredible kindness. The much more interesting question is what causes them to behave in one way or another. I don't think that has got anything really to do with our genesFebruary 19, 2015 at 10:44 am #109583robbo203 wrote:We all know people are naturally capable of both grotesque violence as well as incredible kindness. The much more interesting question is what causes them to behave in one way or another.
[my bold]This is a contradictory statement, robbo.If something is 'natural', then that is the cause of the 'behavour'.But if 'behaviour' can be different ('one way or another'), then it's not 'natural'.Unless one clarifies what one means by 'naturally' and 'behave', and discusses 'causation', then this thread will remain confused.At the root of these issues, about nature, behaviour and causes, is an ideological viewpoint.Robbo, it's clear to me that stuart, for example, does not share my ideological viewpoint, and I'm still unsure of yours and YMS's, because you wrote the ideologically confused statement above, and refuse to discuss the ideological underpinnings of all the works of the anthropologists that you've quoted.As you've started to point out, though, the issues of 'what is a hunter-gatherer society?' (eg. 'bands' or 'tribes') and 'violence' (something done by a biological individual (eg. 'a person pulling a trigger') or something done by a society (eg. 'a soldier pulling a trigger'), are all relevent.There are no simple 'facts' which are 'out there', waiting to be 'discovered'.Different anthropologists will choose different facts to suit their own ideological purposes and own ideological frameworks, and it would be more helpful for those comrades wanting to understand 'hunter-gatherers' to be clear from the start about the political context of any 'text' or 'research'.Stuart might think that this is all 'pointless', but that in itself is an ideological attitude, not simply stuart's 'personal opinion'. stuart has been influenced by a society that stresses 'facts' as being more reliable than 'mere opinion'. 'Money and matter' are hard, unlike 'value and relationships'.The beginning of wisdom, though, is starting to realise that all 'facts' reflect the 'opinion' of the researcher. Carr's What is History? would be relevent reading here, for those comrades who do realise that simplying looking for the 'facts of anthropology' is the really pointless activity. Stuart will remain the prisoner of the framework of the last anthropologist that they read.February 19, 2015 at 10:56 am #109584
The debate between Diamond and some anthropologists is clearly a technical, specialist one, and I have no dog in the fight. All I know for a fact is that Diamond is a wonderful and important writer. He tries to paint the big picture – any painting of that is bound to fall foul of the odd specialist every now and then. It doesn't really do all that much damage to the majesty of the painting.I'm glad Robin agrees with the point I made though – it is, as he says, hardly novel or profound, and obviously true. To what extent such behaviours can be put down to our genes is debateable and unsolved, but it would be very surprising indeed if there weren't some genetic component. We are chimpanzees, after all, not angels.February 19, 2015 at 11:07 am #109585
Robin: "Am I to take it that you too have become a pro-statist by virtue of your evident enthusiasm for what Diamond has to say?"Me; No, not at all. Early on in his book, Diamond says explicitly that his book shows why the "dreams" of anarchists can never be realised. I'm fairly sure he's wrong about that – I hope so anyway. I'm sure he's wrong about lots of things. But his books are wonderful.February 19, 2015 at 12:44 pm #109586
I wasn't going to reply to my old sparring partner LBird because I didn't think it was relevant to the subject of this thread. But thinking about it, maybe it is. LB has a point that is now well known – that our ideologies (not to mention our cognitive wiring) colour how we see the world. Indeed, it does so much more than one might guess from a rational or logical point of view – see the work of Daniel Kahneman. However, to take this as something inevitable and therefore to be celebrated and worn as a badge of pride is very strange. Both the scientific and spiritual traditions have always been about enquiring after the truth, into the reality of the world. Knowing that this endeavour is coloured by ideologies in surprising ways, misleading us into falsehoods, we take that into account in our further searches for the truth. We become more humble for a start. We design our experiments in truth to take account of cognitive biases and to correct for them. To take a trivial example, perhaps if we're lefties, we decide to take the Spectator and the Telegraph, rather than the New Statesman and the Guardian. When we feel we know something, we wonder whether it is isn't because our ignorant monkey minds have tricked us into it. If we feel anger, and express it, we look into it and wonder whether that wasn't an incredibly childish way to carry on, and whether we have any choice in the matter. And so on.So LB's remarks are relevant to the discussion. Genes almost certainly play a role in violence. So no doubt do property relations. But ideology plays its part too. Having an ideology is violence in embryo. It's only a few short historical steps from penning a scientific analysis to turning it into a dogma and ideology, to denouncing anyone who doesn't agree as lame-brained idiots, to taking state power and throwing the morons into the gulag (or gas chamber).Don't be so proud of your ideology, LB. Rise above it! Look into the better angels of your nature!February 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm #109587stuartw2112 wrote:So LB's remarks are relevant to the discussion.
I'm happy enough that you've acknowledged this, stuart.As to the rest of your 'advice' to me, I'll leave it to the other readers to discern the ideological roots of such 'advice'.I clearly don't share them with you!February 19, 2015 at 1:59 pm #109588
Thanks LB. If we don't share ideologies, is genuine communication possible? I'd say probably not – perhaps another cause of all the violence and craziness in the world!
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.