No “No Platform”

MAY 2022 Forums General discussion No “No Platform”

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  • #109285
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    But to descend from the realms of philosophy to everyday political life…

    Well, this is what every individual does, don't they, they 'decend from the realms of [their] philosophy [theory] to everyday political life [practice]…I mean, that's precisely what we Communists argue, isn't it?The only difference is that I expose my 'theory' which guides my practice, whereas some either pretend that they don't have a philosophy or consciously hide it.I've got no problem with any comrades here arguing that their 'theory' isn't Democratic Communism, and is 'Individualism', but there seems to be some reluctance to accept that WE ALL descend.I suspect that a vital part of 'Individualism' is that one doesn't have a philosophy/ideology/theory, and that one just does practice, outside of that nasty consideration of 'society', that the Commies are always bangin' on about…

    ALB wrote:
    …what do you think of the "No Platform" policy, and attempt practice, of some groups aimed at any group or individual who are or who are deemed by them to be "fascist" or "racist"?

    My real issue with the Leninist/Maoist sects is that they are not democratic, so they don't comply to my ideological view that workers must decide policy democratically.But if, as a group, they were run on the lines of workers' democracy, then I think they would be justified in voting for and implementing a policy of 'No Platform for Fascists'.The problem arises when another group following the same method voted against such a policy.Then we'd have the problem of the possibility of two groups of workers battling with each other, one to defend the Fascist's rights, outside of a venue at which a Fascist was speaking, like the two revolutionary groups attempting to kidnap Caesar's wife, in the Life of Brian, with the Fascist's supporters shaking their heads, like the Roman guards…I think there needs to be a proletarian movement, far wider than a political party (embryonic workers' councils?), to which the issue could be handed to, by the warring groups, for a decision.However, the decision would be a democratic one, not that of an isolated individual [group]…This doesn't really get us much further though does it?Furthermore, I've noticed, on the 'Science for Communist' thread and others, the same tendency as expressed on this one; that of 'turning to practical matters' and leaving 'the realms of philosophy' aside for now…I've said this before: this is the method of 'practice and theory' (or, even, 'practice' all alone!) which I've criticised as not being socialist or Marxist.

    #109286
    ALB
    Keymaster
    LBird wrote:
    This doesn't really get us much further though does it?

    No, I'm afraid it doesn't.  I'm sure that UAF and the SWP are not democratic, but I still say that even if a group decides democratically to try to impose "No Platform" for some other group, that doesn't make it acceptable.

    #109287
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant

    The philosophical objection is the same as the practical one.  Censorship requires enforcement (and the ability to enforce); someone has to know what will be said (in advance) in order to operate the censorship.  That is, someone must always be 'exposed'.  There is no way of knowing what has been wrongfully suppressed, nor of knowing what has been suppressed. It also denies the basic principle of democracy that a minority (opinion) has the right to try to become a majority opinion.  That principle alone means that democracy must 'self deny' itself and place restricting expression beyond in its powers.The only abridgement to 'free speech' is the principle of freedom of association, which says I don't have to hear someone's speech if I don't want to, or, if we are gathered to hear speech, that we only hear it in the prescribed manner (or, put another way, when there is limited bandwidth, we have to democratically control that bandwidth and the manner of its usage, free speech is for the commons).  Thus at meetings we have chairs, who must be obeyed, for example.On with philosophy, and we can make a distinction, per Austin, between speech and speech acts.  The famous 'Shouting fire in a crowded theatre' (originally introduced in the US courts to abridge first amendment rights, throuigh the 'clear and present danger' test) the reality is that that test it has nothing to do with expression, but actions.  "I believe there is a fire in this theatre" is an expression of opinion, whereas "shouting fire" is raising a fire alarm.Needless to say, even a socialist society will need to protect itself from dangerous behaviour.  The difference between these three illustrates how difficult that is:1) I hate smurfs.2) Smurfs have a harmful effect on our community.3) I believe the world would be a better place without Smurfs.4) Kill the smurfs!That illustrates how grammatical mood is not naturally aligned with the effect of the speech act (3 in particular is a declaration of a belief but one that in a certain context could be seen as having the same effect as 4).

    #109288
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Smurfs? What's wrong with us?According to wikipedia we live in a socialist society:

    Quote:
    The Smurfs' community generally takes the form of a cooperative, sharing, and kind environment based on the principle that each Smurf has something he or she is good at, and thus contributes it to Smurf society as he or she can. In return, each Smurf appears to be given their necessities of life, from housing and clothes to food without using any money in exchange.
    #109289
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    …but I still say that even if a group decides democratically to try to impose "No Platform" for some other group, that doesn't make it acceptable.

    No, I agree.But the reverse is also true:"if a group decides democratically to try to impose 'No "No Platform" ' for some other group, that doesn't make it acceptable".Thus, in our scenario, it makes sense for the 'No Platform' group to attend the meeting to prevent the Fascist from speaking, and for the 'No 'No Platform' ' group to simply not attend the meeting, so they by omission don't prevent……and neither 'imposes' upon the other.The problem here is not one of 'internal democracy', but the lack of a higher body of workers, which both groups are a constituitive part of, which can determine, and can impose, because it has the democratic authority to do so.As I've said, I'm a Democratic Communist, and I do recognise a social and political authority outside of individuals (persons or groups).That's why I'm not an Anarchist or, from what I've read and tried to discuss on LibCom, a 'Libertarian' Communist. From what little response I got, their 'Libertarian' forms seem very similar to robbo203 and Young Master Smeet's ideological views.The best that I've come up with so far as a way of illustrating these divergent positions is the ask the questions:1. Are you an individual?; and2. After the revolution, who shall tell you what to do? (ie. who shall you obey?).My own answers to these ideologically-loaded questions are:1. No, I'm not an individual, I'm a worker (ie. I regard myself as a constituent part of a social structure); and2. The Democratic Commune of which I'm a voting member will tell me what to do (the Anarchists always seem to reply that, after the rev., no-one will tell them what to do, implying, to me, no society, no political structures, and no authority whatsoever, just 7 billion individuals).If I was pressed to give a short answer to the differences, I think one starts from 'society', and the other from the 'individual'.I start from society, and its history, as I think Marx does, too.

    #109290
    ALB
    Keymaster
    LBird wrote:
    But the reverse is also true:"if a group decides democratically to try to impose 'No "No Platform" ' for some other group, that doesn't make it acceptable".Thus, in our scenario, it makes sense for the 'No Platform' group to attend the meeting to prevent the Fascist from speaking, and for the 'No 'No Platform' ' group to simply not attend the meeting, so they by omission don't prevent……and neither 'imposes' upon the other.

    This is not a parallel, so the reverse isn't also true. The "No Platform" group wish to stop someone speaking. The "No to No Platform" group don't necessarily want to take action to stop the "No Platform" group from stopping the speaker. I'm not advocating fighting the SWP to allow the National Front to speak !  Just opposing their undemocratic practice and saying they shouldn't do it (because it's not in the interest of the working class or socialist movement). Actually, one of the students at the anti-Le Pen demonstration in Oxford on Thursday put it rather well:

    Quote:
    One student in the queue, Ping Shen, 25, said: "I am here because I am very interested in free speech."She added that people had the right to protest against the talk, but she believed that the Union should be a platform for free speech.

    Protesting is one thing. That's an expression of opinion. Using physical force to trying to stop someone expressing a view is another.

    #109291
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    I'm not advocating fighting the SWP to allow the National Front to speak !  Just opposing their undemocratic practice and saying they shouldn't do it (because it's not in the interest of the working class or socialist movement).

    [my bold]I think we can agree on this, anyway!Nevertheless, I've tried to expose my underlying ideology, and where I think it takes me, on this and other issues.

    #109292
    robbo203
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    As I've said, I'm a Democratic Communist, and I do recognise a social and political authority outside of individuals (persons or groups).That's why I'm not an Anarchist or, from what I've read and tried to discuss on LibCom, a 'Libertarian' Communist. From what little response I got, their 'Libertarian' forms seem very similar to robbo203 and Young Master Smeet's ideological views.The best that I've come up with so far as a way of illustrating these divergent positions is the ask the questions:1. Are you an individual?; and2. After the revolution, who shall tell you what to do? (ie. who shall you obey?).My own answers to these ideologically-loaded questions are:1. No, I'm not an individual, I'm a worker (ie. I regard myself as a constituent part of a social structure); and2. The Democratic Commune of which I'm a voting member will tell me what to do (the Anarchists always seem to reply that, after the rev., no-one will tell them what to do, implying, to me, no society, no political structures, and no authority whatsoever, just 7 billion individuals).If I was pressed to give a short answer to the differences, I think one starts from 'society', and the other from the 'individual'.I start from society, and its history, as I think Marx does, too.

     This is nonsense. The position that LBird is trying to defend is as  indefensible and untenable as Margaret Thatcher's notorious  claim that there is no such thing as society – only individuals (and their families) . Except that LBird is making the equivalent and opposite theoretical blunder  of asserting that there is no such things as individuals only society. In fact there is no society without individuals and there are no individuals without society. Both are just two sides of the same coin. LBird's comments remind me of some of the writings of Emile Durkheim , the famous 19th sociologist who espoused at times an extreme form of holistic thought.  Extreme holism has a long association with authoritarian conservative political thinking and the notion of subordinating the individual to the needs of the state (no wonder  LBird feels incomfortable with the arguments of libertarian communists like myself and others here!).  When confronted by criticism that he was seeking to "reify" society and endow it with some kind of quasi-objective reality separate from, and over and above, that of individuals, Durkheim tried to extricate himself somewhat from the hole he had dug himself into in his  "Rules of Sociological Method" in which he tried to moderate his extreme holism but not very successfully L Bird's implied suggestion that Marx starts from a holistic perspective is questionable.  Louis Dumont makes a strong case against this in his classic work "From Mandeville to Marx : The Genesis and Triumph of Economic Ideology".  But I think Dumont goes too far in suggesting that Marx starts form an individualistic premisses. There is an intermediate position and it is one that I take – namely that of emergence theory Emergence theory steers clear of the pitfalls both extreme individualism and extreme holism and in my view is the way to go

    #109293
    ALB
    Keymaster
    LBird wrote:
    Nevertheless, I've tried to expose my underlying ideology, and where I think it takes me, on this and other issues.

    I know what your theory is but it doesn't seem much of a guide to action like Marxist theory is supposed to be. By the time you've worked out what to do at a "No Platform" protest the action will be all over.

    #109294
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    Nevertheless, I've tried to expose my underlying ideology, and where I think it takes me, on this and other issues.

    I know what your theory is but it doesn't seem much of a guide to action like Marxist theory is supposed to be. By the time you've worked out what to do at a "No Platform" protest the action will be all over.

    Spoken like the true 'practical men' of the bourgeoisie!The myth of a 'guide to action' merely covers the refusal to expose what 'theory' lies behind the 'guide', and the unspoken 'guide' simply justifies itself in 'action'.How can workers come to understand what's behind 'action', and thus control it, if they haven't realised that 'theory' is doing the guiding, or, indeed that those doing the 'guiding' won't reveal their 'theory', and thus expose it to a workers' vote, ie. democracy?Thus, we have the secret of the constant refusal to accept workers' power (ie. demos and kratos), and the looking to elites and experts to make decisions – as 'practical men' are wont to do, of course!And don't mention physicists, and their 'objective practice' of 'science'….

    #109295
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Actually, I don't think that "Marxism is a guide to action" or rather that this phrase means anything. I was just quoting it to bring out that your theory didn't seem to help in dealing with policy decisions confronting socialists, e,g whether or not to support a policy of "No Platform" for selected opponents. The SWP wants "no platform for fascists" (who are not really a threat) but "a platform for islamists" (who are more of one).

    #109296
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Actually, I don't think that "Marxism is a guide to action" or rather that this phrase means anything. I was just quoting it to bring out that your theory didn't seem to help in dealing with policy decisions confronting socialists, e,g whether or not to support a policy of "No Platform" for selected opponents.

    I think that Marxism is a guide to action, but then that leads us to the interminable question about just what is 'Marxism'. At base, I regard it as a framework for "workers' power", rather than 'inalienable rights for individuals' (ie. 'free speech' for anyone, regardless of a workers' vote).As I've said, to me, if workers vote to not allow a platform to a 'speaker', that's fine by me, because it doesn't contradict my 'Marxism', my 'guide to action'. The asocial and ahistorical 'right to free speech' for any individual, regardless of specific circumstances, is, to me, a mythical bourgeois freedom. Your quoting of the US Constitution earlier, I put into this category, because we all well know that for most of the existence of that constitution many workers had no free speech whatsoever (and for 100 years didn't even have 'free hands'), and for all of its existence, the rich have been able to buy more 'free speech'.

    ALB wrote:
    The SWP wants "no platform for fascists" (who are not really a threat) but "a platform for islamists" (who are more of one).

    Obviously, I'm as vehemently opposed to the SWP as you are – probably more, since I was once hoodwinked by them, to some extent, at least. But my essential problem with the SWP is its lack of democracy, not its specific policy of 'No Platform', which I would support if voted for by workers, in certain circumstances (perhaps if not in others, where I would be in a defeated minority, where I'd argued against 'No Platform' because it couldn't be implemented, and thus just showed up our class weakness).The key difference between us here, though, is the nature of the 'principle' at stake:'Individual freedom of speech' versus 'workers' democratic power to restrict any speech that they determine to be harmful'.I'm all for democratic restrictions on all sorts of things – that's the nature of 'power'. Rather than bluff other workers into believing that socialism will realise the bourgeois wet dream of 'free individuals', who will not be subject to any authority, I'd rather stimulate a discussion on the nature, extent and problems of "workers' power", ie. Communist Democracy.

    #109297
    ALB
    Keymaster
    LBird wrote:
    I think that Marxism is a guide to action, but then that leads us to the interminable question about just what is 'Marxism'.

    Precisely. It's a phrase used by all sorts of Leninists and is interpreted by all of them differently, i.e to all sorts of different "actions". So it's not much of a guide to what to do. What is a guide must be something beyond the mere word "Marxism", eg. what is in the interest of the working class and socialist movement. Better to say this directly and skip the appeal to Marx.

    LBird wrote:
    The key difference between us here, though, is the nature of the 'principle' at stake:'Individual freedom of speech' versus 'workers' democratic power to restrict any speech that they determine to be harmful'.

    I would say that the principle is everybody's freedom of speech. But your principle is dangerous as it can be used to justify censorship.Anyway, when "workers", or socialist-minded workers, have the power to restrict freedom of speech they won't need to because they will be in the majority and won't need to fear fellow workers being "misled" by hearing "wrong" views (a patronising and elitist view towards other workers anyway). Or you're not advocating that non-socialist-minded workers should have the power to decide to restrict "any speech that they determine to be harmful" are you? Are you? You've got me worried now.

    #109298
    robbo203
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    I'm all for democratic restrictions on all sorts of things – that's the nature of 'power'. Rather than bluff other workers into believing that socialism will realise the bourgeois wet dream of 'free individuals', who will not be subject to any authority, I'd rather stimulate a discussion on the nature, extent and problems of "workers' power", ie. Communist Democracy.

     "In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all."Communist Manifesto  chapter 2

    #109299
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    What is a guide must be something beyond the mere word "Marxism", eg. what is in the interest of the working class and socialist movement. Better to say this directly and skip the appeal to Marx.

    But, to determine just 'what is in the interest of the working class and socialist movement' requires "workers' power", not 'individual free speech'. This need for workers' power and democratic control is at the heart of Marx (the issue of 'all sorts of Leninists' leads us to discussion about the differences between Marx/1st International and Engels/2nd International, and neither of us wants to go there…).

    ALB wrote:
    Anyway, when "workers", or socialist-minded workers, have the power to restrict freedom of speech they won't need to because they will be in the majority and won't need to fear fellow workers being "misled" by hearing "wrong" views (a patronising and elitist view towards other workers anyway).

    Yep, I agree. They won't need to, but they'll have the power to.

    ALB wrote:
    Or you're not advocating that non-socialist-minded workers should have the power to decide to restrict "any speech that they determine to be harmful" are you? Are you? You've got me worried now.

    Well, since I always talk of 'Democratic Communism', I thought everyone realised that I'm talking about the class conscious proletariat.'Non-socialist-minded workers' don't have power to do anything now, and never have had, and never will. Whatever power they've supposedly had, has been in reality someone else's power.But, once again, it comes down to our definition of 'socialist-minded-workers'.To me, that is workers being conscious of their democratic power to determine their world, not workers falling for the bourgeois myths of individualism ('free' to do whatever they like, no authority, the pretence that 'individuals' are the primary source of their own thoughts, as opposed to society, etc.).I think Marx's works are a useful guide to these issues (even if clouded by his poor writing, and needing our critical thinking to interpret them).

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