The Socialist Cause

April 2024 Forums General discussion The Socialist Cause

Viewing 15 posts - 46 through 60 (of 66 total)
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  • #110150
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    Thanks again, one final thing and I'll leave you alone! Just genuinely interested in this whole issue. Do you consider Robin's reply to the ECA and, say, the "Socialism As A Practical Alternative" pamphlet to be adequate responses? Presumably in general terms you do, being a member and all, but do you think they are wanting? Need more detail, updating? If so, and you could roughly sketch how and in what way, would be very interested to hear your thoughts. Cheers.

    #110151

    I think it's fine as far as it goes, but I don't think either 'regulated stock control' or saying 'Zim-zala-bim ABUNDANCE' quite does the job (90% of the time, I think both do cover the case, they merely , to my mind, fight the ECA to a draw, rather than knock it out). I used a different tack in my talk about incas, demonstrating that a complex (largely) moneyless society existed, and the main basis was self sustaining communities backed up by very detail labour accounting centrally, plus stores of reserves.  So, we aren't far off, but i am still seeking the magic bullet, possibly in Adjusted winner and stable matching systems.

    #110152
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    Is your talk available?

    #110153
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    stuartw2112 wrote:
    Is your talk available?

    The Secrets of the Incas

    #110154
    twc
    Participant

    YMS,I enjoyed listening to the audio recording of your Inca talk and ensuing discussion, for the second time as it turns out.  It brought back vivid memories of my only visit to Head Office when in England three years ago, on which happy occasion you delivered this talk.twc

    #110155
    robbo203
    Participant
    stuartw2112 wrote:
    I think Meel's concerns are to the point – these are the kinds of things we should think more carefully about, and not try to sweep under the carpet.Robin presents the SPGB case, which I presume he reiterates for the benefit of other readers and not for me! But yes, I'm afraid I do rather find Mises' argument persuasive, nor do I think the example of the Soviet Union can be so glibly swept under the carpet, along with all other difficulties, and made to vanish with a magic wand called "abundance". I've just this moment finished reading Red Plenty by Francis Spufford, so that's where I'm coming from. (Don't worry – I have no intention of becoming another McDonagh and boring the arse off everyone with talk of tons of rubber and tons of steel. And yes, I've read your detailed and in its own way impressive rebuttal of the argument Robin. It's just where I'm at at the moment and would be happy to hear from anyone who has any sympathy with the Mises' position – it was not unknown within the SPGB when I was a member.)

     Hi Stuart. Well , my feeling is that Hayek rather than Mises is of more interest to us with the former's emphasis on the "knowledge problem" in a modern economy and the dispersed nature of economic information.  Both, of course, take for granted that socialism would be a centrally planned economy in the classic sense of society wide planning and their whole critique is essentially based on this assumption.  As I have long argued, if you are going to start off on this basis then this ipso facto precludes the very mechanism that allows you to overcome the objections raised by the so called economic calculation argument. I don't think either of these two anti socialists ever seriously considered socialism from the standpoint of being a system that entailed a feedback mechanism where there is necessarily a degree of decentralisation. They did of course refer to small scale communistic experiments that involved the absence of money but this is not the same argument at all; it is an argument against autarky. I  am actually quite sympathetic to the sentiments you express here that the problems that socialism will face, certainly to begin with, cannot just be "made to vanish with a magic wand called "abundance"".  This is precisely why I feel more emphasis needs to be placed on the "demand" side of the supply- demand equation and why I would endorse your "Zen approach" to the realisation of abundance by "demanding less".  I've tried to illustrate this by showing how a socialist society would sever the link between status acquisition and material consumption, thereby rendering much of what we "demand" today quite superfluous.  It is capitalism that by its very nature necessitates and artificially maintains, scarcity.I don't think the position of the SPGB is much different,  frankly.  Although I seem to recall one or two conversations with individuals members who take an extreme cornucopian position – that socialism will produce a "superabundance" of everything – I don't think this is reflected in the official party position. I remember reading one of Hardy's articles – I think it might have been on "Marx's conception of socialism" – in which he quite blatantly stated that workers certainly in the developed world might well have to accept a cut in living standards initially to raise the standard of living elsewhere, I don't have a problem with this approach and it ties in with my argument that socialism is in part an ethical approach not just a question of "self interest". Apart from anything else there is much more to life than just the so called "standard of living".  In my book, quality of life counts as least as much, if not more

    #110156
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    Thanks Robin, YMS and Gnome – much food for thought which I shall go away and ponder! Cheers

    #110157
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    My "going away to ponder" involved finally getting round to reading this short book, a favourite of SPGB friend Ken Macleod:digamo.free.fr/nove91.pdfAlthough dated in some respects, I think it would be a bracing read for any party member. The book was reviewed (entirely unconvincingly in my view) in the Standard:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1980s/1984/no-956-april-1984/abundance-feasible 

    #110158
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    It seems we are in a position whereby there are 3 main obstacles that often go hand in hand when discussing our idea of socialism with those willing to engage.In no particular order.The identifying of socialism/communism with the former USSR and the likes of the "left" such as old Labour.The Economic Calculation Argument.The Human Nature Argument.Anybody got any advice they can share as how best to tackle these sticking points. I must add I'm referring to non pre-prepared, face to face and internet discussions only. 

    #110159
    SocialistPunk
    Participant
    #110160
    stuartw2112
    Participant

    The assumption in the question  is that the issues raised are quack ones that can be tackled with a good strong argument – in much the same way that arguments against climate change or for conspiracy theories might. But the assumption is all wrong as can be seen on this very forum. It's perfectly reasonable to believe that the history of the Labour Party and the Soviet Union hold useful lessons for those who would call themselves socialist; that certain well-verified aspects of human nature militate against glib assumptions about how people would necessarily act in a more cooperative society; and that considerations of economics makes the idea of running a complex industrial society without markets unfeasible.No advice on how to debunk these will be of much use to anyone. You just have to engage with them. If you do, you might find you have a harder job ahead of you "tackling" them than you dared imagine.

    #110161
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    As i keep saying, often just to myself it sometimes feels like, we should offer a much more detailed vision…yes, a blueprint…a utopia…an ideal…a goal and an aim that has more substance than an ethereal appearance. George Sorel if i recall suggested the revolutionary myth…As LBird maintains being scientificall correct is merely ideological…it is what people think and believe that makes something so and in all the discussions we overlooked Sorel's contribution to the interpretation of truth and science of socialism (i may be paraphrasing LBird's lengthy arguments out of context and apologies)We must offer the HOPE of change plus CONFIDENCE in our means of change. Let us say what we want, what it contains and will look like even if we do need to add the caveats that the future will be written by choices yet to be made and actions yet to be taken, under circumstances yet to exist. But our imagination is based upon the present…as such our aspiration is limited but lets be ambitious and optimistic. We can be critical of Zeitgeist but they have outlined what sort of society that can be imagined even if it is circular cities…We can be critical of the IWW/SLP/Syndicalists but they prepared their democratic decision-making structures in advance… We can do better that both.  …And let the Von Mises and the gradualists come looking for us with their analyses of our failures and with their ideological counter-claims. Why should we hunt them down? Let them come to us to debunk us. Stuart, describes the Libertarian Alliance discussions…I also read something of the debates and our best responses was when they sought to challenge us and we grew stronger in our case because of it. It was to our advantage to be attacked rather than seek to argue with them, which is pointless, considering the strength of their think-tanks and media access. Bookchinites, i think,  prefer to call their proposals the compass…to offer direction…i think we don't even really do that very well…We should lay down the road-map for the path to socialism we advocate…the sign-posts being all the moral and ethical support for our case…as Robbo and others keeps reminding us of (i hope i do not do him an injustice by being too simplistic with that statement)…In regards to Ken McLeod, at, i think, was his very first encounter with the SPGB at Edinburgh University, the subject of who will do the dirty work was raised…Brian Gardener said he always thought it would be done by Matt Culbert…I don't want to be exactly that specific in a recipe for the cook-shop…but we need to be just that bit more comprehensive and descriptive as he is as a novelist …we have to be as unique in expressing our ideas as he  is…I think it is no coincidence that some of our best arguments come from the speculative writings of sci-fi from News From Nowhere all the way down the line …As i said at the start of this, we need to creat a picture for people to associate with with both their minds and their hearts…we have to build desire and passion…I know from personal experience that many members have a strong emotional attachment to the Socialist Party…We need to spread that same sentiment and sensation to socialism itself. A tall order.Anyways…thats how i feel inside me anyways …  

    #110162
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    Hi Stuart,Not sure what you're getting at. Are you saying advice is useless?The SPGB has been around for over one hundred years, and I'm fairly sure these issues are a constant. So there should by now have been a "standard" approach to these three points. I've pointed to the Party endorsed articles that should be of use as far as the ECA is concerned, and there are others on the other subjects to be found of which I will post links to. However what I was asking for, was perhaps some advice from some veteran Party speakers.I'm still very green when it comes to debate about these issues, perhaps with the exception of human nature. When I was in the SPGB in the mid to late nineties, I got stuck into whatever was required of me, as a new member. I never had the inclination to become a Party speaker though. When I left I never bothered with active politics for years. It's only been the last few years since joining this forum that I've flexed my discussion muscles on the internet on a few other forum sites.So any advice as to how to approach these subjects would be much appreciated. It could be examples of preferred approaches, positive experiences, ie hits rather than misses. Anything that could be useful, even the tiniest morsel. Afterall it's election time, politics is more on the agenda.This thread is open to a variety of socialist aspects, (three of which have been identified as sticking points) so is of more use than a few others I could mention.

    #110163
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    In my estimation this analysis and critique of the Economic Calculation Argument by Robin Cox is second to none.https://libcom.org/files/CommonVoice3.pdf

    #110164
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Another thing that worries me is the way socialists tend to insist on using words that are misunderstood, because the rest of the world understands something completely different by those words.One such word is “working class”.  I understand the concept behind categorising most of the world population as “working class”, but what use is that when most people no longer identifies with the term.  Instead, most people see themselves as “middle class”.  If they don’t quite place themselves in that category, they aspire for their children to get there – they want them to have better education, better jobs, better homes to live in and so on (this is what most people understand by becoming “middle class”.).In 20 years the percentage of people worldwide living in absolute poverty has halved.  The birth rate per woman has been on a downward trend for a long time – it’s now 2.5 children per woman.  In Bangladesh it’s 2.2.The whole trend for the world, on so many levels, is towards the middle.Hans Rosling is a Swedish medical doctor and statistician who has set himself the task of presenting the latest trends to people in an entertaining and easily understood way.Below are links to some of his presentations:“The Joy of Stats”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojoPreconceived ideas/ Why are people so ignorant of the facts:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm5xF-UYgdgThe overpopulation myth:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA5BM7CE5-8Meel

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