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the fallacy of communism

anomaly

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Alan Ryan said:
No, I haven't assumed that you are a Marxist: in fact, I've had the suspicion that you might be presenting a case for communism as a kind of mental exercise. For all I know, you could be a college student "trying out" various political philosophies before synthesising a world view by selecting from the spectrum of political beliefs that appear both rational and congenial to you.

You begin your opening statement about the Marxist view of human nature with a supposition about mine. But my views are not being examined here (except perhaps indirectly); the focus is on Marx.

I claim that all political doctrines are founded in a theory of human nature and disputes commonly reflect differences over what this nature is. Thus it seems that communism must assume that the aggressive, acquisitive, competitive, and power-seeking impulses of men are not "natural", but entirely result from the mutability of social conditions.

You say (if I might paraphrase and amplify) the Marxist view is that man is a social animal and human nature is not created by a "mystical agency" or simply by biological imperatives, but it is formed by man's social environment. I would go a little further and suggest it is a sine qua non (in Marxist thought) that man is neither inherently good nor evil: his nature is plastic and will be moulded by the social relations and the material circumstances in which he finds himself.

If we add what I have claimed to what you've said, I think we have the basis for a conversation about human nature. Unless you intend to modify anything in this prologue, I'll assume that it's OK to proceed without further quibbles ?

For the time being, I suggest we leave the Marxist theory of history out of the discussion: we can come back to it later if you're not fatigued by my pedantry before that.
I'll let you know that I am a young (even though you may think less of me now that I reveal that detail) anarcho-communist. I realize the fallacies of socialism quite well (although in my opinion these fallacies are all political, not economic), and view it as unneccesary. That being said, I do not oppose the establishment of socialism. In my opinion, we can view socialism as a lesser evil to capitalism. That is why I use the little socialist graphics in the upper left there. So, in short, I think socialism is an improvement, but it is not neccesary, so we may as well skip it entirely.

There's nothing to respond to in your post, and I'm not too sure if you agree or disagree with my view of human nature. So go ahead and begin this conversation, as I'm not sure how to begin it, not knowing your opinion and such.
 

anomaly

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The Truth-Bringer said:
So? That doesn't Mean Communists are wrong...In the Communist Parties (Past and Supposed to be) There is discussion About that stuff, and that is why many parties, like the Soviet Communist Party, were divided into bitter right and left factions, and fought each other. But that fallacy proves that some views are wrong, but It doesnt mean communism is wrong, because as One Russian Communist Stated "Marxist-Leninism is a Science, and so must adapt to the changing times", or in this case, changing thought.
Two questions for you, comrade:

Are you a Leninist?

How do you define communism?
 

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anomaly said:
I'll let you know that I am a young (even though you may think less of me now that I reveal that detail) anarcho-communist. I realize the fallacies of socialism quite well (although in my opinion these fallacies are all political, not economic), and view it as unneccesary. That being said, I do not oppose the establishment of socialism. In my opinion, we can view socialism as a lesser evil to capitalism. That is why I use the little socialist graphics in the upper left there. So, in short, I think socialism is an improvement, but it is not neccesary, so we may as well skip it entirely.
I have not studied the fusion of communist and anarchist principles that inspires the anarcho-communist movement: in fact my interest in politics, philosophy and economics is that of a skeptical "educated layman". I am not committed to an ideology, so if you can produce arguments that circumvent my doubts and demonstrate the political/economic feasibility of communism, I shall concede.

We begin with the idea (which Marx did not originate) that the social essence of man dwells in the "fact" that human beings are not truly such in isolation, but only when joined in social relations with their kind: but is this really the indubitable bedrock of human nature ? Isn't any social collectivity really an aggregation of individuals - each person a unique amalgam of desires, motives, abilities, etc. ? Does belonging to a community confer "humanity" upon the individual who would otherwise remain a blank slate (tabla rasa) without any trace of the abstract properties written on it which we associate with being fully human ?

Social anthropologists have studied small communities living at the very edge of viability and discovered that a kind of primitive communism serves them well. But we must remember that such communities are struggling to satisfy basic needs and have not acquired more sophisticated wants. At a certain stage of development the satisfaction of wants (as well as needs) is a factor in social dynamics - and it is at this point that the concept of private property enters the picture. I expect this concept will soon need to be examined if this discussion continues.

If the nature of man depends on the conditions in which he labours, then a theory of society that is materialist in its assumptions and anti-individualist in its results can be elaborated. But in addition to the doubts that this is an adequate account of human nature, we must also question whether the results of the theory contradict the assumptions. Doesn't the empirical evidence from the attempts to construct communist societies, strongly suggest that the Marxist version of human nature is fundamentally mistaken ? In other words, human beings are not predisposed to co-operate with their neighbours, but are driven to pursue and secure private property, status, and hegemony.
 

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anomaly said:
Two questions for you, comrade:

Are you a Leninist?

How do you define communism?
Well, Im a Marxist-Trotskyist With Some Elements of leninism but I see some problems with Leninism too.
 

anomaly

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Alan Ryan said:
I have not studied the fusion of communist and anarchist principles that inspires the anarcho-communist movement: in fact my interest in politics, philosophy and economics is that of a skeptical "educated layman". I am not committed to an ideology, so if you can produce arguments that circumvent my doubts and demonstrate the political/economic feasibility of communism, I shall concede.

We begin with the idea (which Marx did not originate) that the social essence of man dwells in the "fact" that human beings are not truly such in isolation, but only when joined in social relations with their kind: but is this really the indubitable bedrock of human nature ? Isn't any social collectivity really an aggregation of individuals - each person a unique amalgam of desires, motives, abilities, etc. ? Does belonging to a community confer "humanity" upon the individual who would otherwise remain a blank slate (tabla rasa) without any trace of the abstract properties written on it which we associate with being fully human ?

Social anthropologists have studied small communities living at the very edge of viability and discovered that a kind of primitive communism serves them well. But we must remember that such communities are struggling to satisfy basic needs and have not acquired more sophisticated wants. At a certain stage of development the satisfaction of wants (as well as needs) is a factor in social dynamics - and it is at this point that the concept of private property enters the picture. I expect this concept will soon need to be examined if this discussion continues.

If the nature of man depends on the conditions in which he labours, then a theory of society that is materialist in its assumptions and anti-individualist in its results can be elaborated. But in addition to the doubts that this is an adequate account of human nature, we must also question whether the results of the theory contradict the assumptions. Doesn't the empirical evidence from the attempts to construct communist societies, strongly suggest that the Marxist version of human nature is fundamentally mistaken ? In other words, human beings are not predisposed to co-operate with their neighbours, but are driven to pursue and secure private property, status, and hegemony.
Ah, using practical examples to disprove Marx's theories? And what 'attempts' do you refer to?

Also, remember that any primitive society usually struggles to satisfy many wants. In spite of this, I argue that a form of primitive communism would satisfy needs and wants of modern peasants (of Latin America, Asia, for example) far better than the current system of primitive feudalism. If their technology cannot advance, then I say let their society advance.

You do not agree with the idea of tabula rasa? This was proposed by John Locke, correct? How can one not agree with it? Look at cases throughout the world, the wild boy of France in the 1800s for example, and you shall see that if a human is stripped of social contact, he never becomes fully human. The wild boy, when found, was more wolf, in his actions, than man. That said, we cannot deny the impact of mere biology, but this biology has little to do with man's characteristics. Greed is not inherited, but rather is impirnted, upon people in this world. As the old saying goes, it's a dog-eat-dog world. And as humans become acquainted with their world, they soon realize that they shall either eat the other dog or die. If we change society, we change this so-called human nature.
 

anomaly

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The Truth-Bringer said:
Well, Im a Marxist-Trotskyist With Some Elements of leninism but I see some problems with Leninism too.
Essentially what I am wondering is whether you feel socialism is a neccesary prerequisite to communism.
 

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anomaly said:
Ah, using practical examples to disprove Marx's theories? And what 'attempts' do you refer to?
What other "examples" would you prefer ? Abstract examples, I assume, to counter the impenetrable self-confirming nature of some aspects of Marxist theory ?

Why have you put scare quotes around "attempts" ? I could mention, in alphabetical order, quite a number from Albania to Yugoslavia.
anomaly said:
Also, remember that any primitive society usually struggles to satisfy many wants. In spite of this, I argue that a form of primitive communism would satisfy needs and wants of modern peasants (of Latin America, Asia, for example) far better than the current system of primitive feudalism. If their technology cannot advance, then I say let their society advance.
The satisfaction of wants as distinguished from mere primary needs involves a consideration of economic motives: can you be a little more specific about the wants you have in mind that could be satisfied under communism rather than capitalism ? (Nobody would argue that primitive feudalism is a fair comparison).

Your sentence about society advancing without technological advance is a rhetorical flourish: perhaps you could sharpen up what you mean here.
anomaly said:
You do not agree with the idea of tabula rasa? This was proposed by John Locke, correct? How can one not agree with it? Look at cases throughout the world, the wild boy of France in the 1800s for example, and you shall see that if a human is stripped of social contact, he never becomes fully human. The wild boy, when found, was more wolf, in his actions, than man. That said, we cannot deny the impact of mere biology, but this biology has little to do with man's characteristics. Greed is not inherited, but rather is impirnted, upon people in this world. As the old saying goes, it's a dog-eat-dog world. And as humans become acquainted with their world, they soon realize that they shall either eat the other dog or die. If we change society, we change this so-called human nature.
Your example from feral children has some validity: social conditioning is undoubtedly of the essence in the "nuture" argument. But "mere biology" is too easily dismissed here: are you saying that man is purely a product of his social environment and that "nature" has no input at all ? Or are you saying, much more plausibly, that human nature is always a compound of nature and nurture ?
 

anomaly

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Alan Ryan said:
What other "examples" would you prefer ? Abstract examples, I assume, to counter the impenetrable self-confirming nature of some aspects of Marxist theory ?

Why have you put scare quotes around "attempts" ? I could mention, in alphabetical order, quite a number from Albania to Yugoslavia.
Yes, yes, these are those nice little examples. But were these revolutions Marxist in nature? Any group can hold up banners, and claim a label for their revolution, but does this mean that these revolutions were Marxist? Of course not! The idea that any of the revolutions following the Russian of 1917 were 'Marxist' is completely absurd. Most of these had more to do with Stalin, Mao, or Kruschev than with Marx. I assumed you'd realized this.

Alan said:
The satisfaction of wants as distinguished from mere primary needs involves a consideration of economic motives: can you be a little more specific about the wants you have in mind that could be satisfied under communism rather than capitalism ? (Nobody would argue that primitive feudalism is a fair comparison).
By capitalism, I'll assume you simply mean the advanced version we see in the USA. I agree, there is little need for revolution here. But, communism would help the less fortunate of our country considerably, it would abolish homelessness and poverty, and it would fuzzy the rigid division of labor we currently see before us. Now, as for specific 'wants' (what I mentioned are things I'd classify as 'wants'), I'm not really sure.

Alan said:
Your sentence about society advancing without technological advance is a rhetorical flourish: perhaps you could sharpen up what you mean here.
It's quite simple really. I strongly disagree with Marx about the rigidity of revolution. He wrote that communist revolution can only come after capitalism, and capitalism alone. I, on the other hand, believe that the people's revolutionary will decreases as they progress toward capitalism. I think Marx underestimated the power of capitalism itself: not only does it destroy the working man, materially and immaterially, it also influences him not to revolt. Therefore, I call for revolution in the third world, where true oppression is still felt, where the darker side of capitalism lingers. The revolutionary will there is quite high, yet technology is quite low. The opposite is seen here. So I think those with a lower level of technology can and should progress societally.

Alan said:
Your example from feral children has some validity: social conditioning is undoubtedly of the essence in the "nuture" argument. But "mere biology" is too easily dismissed here: are you saying that man is purely a product of his social environment and that "nature" has no input at all ? Or are you saying, much more plausibly, that human nature is always a compound of nature and nurture ?
The latter, of course. Nature, however, shapes human beings in only material ways. Biology gives us no 'wills' save one: the will to survive. And men survive with food, water, shelter, and, in capitalism, it becomes apparent to man that he must be rather greedy to survive. In other words, this 'will' toward greed is an illusion: it is entirely an effect of socioeconomic forces.

You will have to excuse the time it takes me to respond to your writing. School began a few weeks ago, and I find myself to be very tired very often.
 

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anomaly said:
Yes, yes, these are those nice little examples. But were these revolutions Marxist in nature? Any group can hold up banners, and claim a label for their revolution, but does this mean that these revolutions were Marxist? Of course not! The idea that any of the revolutions following the Russian of 1917 were 'Marxist' is completely absurd. Most of these had more to do with Stalin, Mao, or Kruschev than with Marx. I assumed you'd realized this.
These "nice little examples" to which you rather patronisingly refer, are not so easily dismissed by mere sophistry. Castro, Tito, Hoxha, Gomulka, Mao, Ulbricht, and Lenin (to specify a few more instances you won't be anxious to examine), all claimed to be students of Marx. Your assertion that I should not include the regimes of Mao, etc. under the banner of Marxism, and that I should "realize" otherwise, is tendentious and the burden is on you to show how/why the practical applications of Marxist ideas have, at least so far, been corrupted.

Marxists, like astrologers, are notoriously slippery when their claims are scrutinised: there are neat tricks of circularity or the resort to a supposition that the "true", unalloyed, and virtuous version of Marxism has not been examined.
anomaly said:
But, communism would help the less fortunate of our country considerably, it would abolish homelessness and poverty, and it would fuzzy the rigid division of labor we currently see before us. Now, as for specific 'wants' (what I mentioned are things I'd classify as 'wants'), I'm not really sure.
Again, a number of generalisations which I expect you to support from first principles. It's no use simply asserting these benefits would arise from the application of a political theory; you have to show how the viability of the theory arises from your original hypotheses.
anomaly said:
The latter, of course. Nature, however, shapes human beings in only material ways. Biology gives us no 'wills' save one: the will to survive. And men survive with food, water, shelter, and, in capitalism, it becomes apparent to man that he must be rather greedy to survive. In other words, this 'will' toward greed is an illusion: it is entirely an effect of socioeconomic forces.
You say "of course" - but earlier in your argument you appeared to assume that human nature is constructed entirely by social environment, and you made no attempt to consider the balance between nature and nurture until I called your attention to it.

I don't think you have made a convincing case that "proves" nature moulds human beings in only material ways: you have produced nothing but mere assertions that man "must be greedy to survive" etc. - which I might agree with if you gave valid reasons for your assurances.

Having failed to agree on a theory of human nature which might support the idea that Marxism will improve man's estate, perhaps the discussion should move on and take a look at the Marxist position on natural rights and how a communist society is supposed to protect them ?
 
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