Atheists and Anarchism...

riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Atheists and Anarchism...

 

 

 

 

I recently came across this fantastic open source document on Anarchism called The Anarchist FAQ. It has been in development online since 1996, and is constantly being updated. Anarchism (which almost by pure semantic default) has rationalism, liberty and atheism as core values has been, like atheism, the subject of slander, distortion, and misrepresentation - from both left and right wing groups - since its beginnings:

"[Anarchists are] the radical of the radical -- the black cats, the terrors of many, of all the bigots, exploiters, charlatans, fakers and oppressors. Consequently we are also the more slandered, misrepresented, misunderstood and persecuted of all." [Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti, p. 274]

Since many western democracies are in the grip of irrational religion(s), irrational consumerism (a possibly more fatal condition when combined with faith) ands high levels of concentrated unaccountable private power, the anarchist society may well remain a utopian dream. However the level of thought and consistency within anarchism is worth paying attention to as we battle the forces of dogmatic absurdity in this world.

 

In light of this I have posted a very relevant section from this document. Enjoy.

The source is available here, and a Wiki article on this essay is here.

Tim. 

 

A.2.20 Why are most anarchists atheists?

It is a fact that most anarchists are atheists. They reject the idea of god and oppose all forms of religion, particularly organised religion. Today, in secularised western European countries, religion has lost its once dominant place in society. This often makes the militant atheism of anarchism seem strange. However, once the negative role of religion is understood the importance of libertarian atheism becomes obvious. It is because of the role of religion and its institutions that anarchists have spent some time refuting the idea of religion as well as propagandising against it.

So why do so many anarchists embrace atheism? The simplest answer is that most anarchists are atheists because it is a logical extension of anarchist ideas. If anarchism is the rejection of illegitimate authorities, then it follows that it is the rejection of the so-called Ultimate Authority, God. Anarchism is grounded in reason, logic, and scientific thinking, not religious thinking. Anarchists tend to be sceptics, and not believers. Most anarchists consider the Church to be steeped in hypocrisy and the Bible a work of fiction, riddled with contradictions, absurdities and horrors. It is notorious in its debasement of women and its sexism is infamous. Yet men are treated little better. Nowhere in the bible is there an acknowledgement that human beings have inherent rights to life, liberty, happiness, dignity, fairness, or self-government. In the bible, humans are sinners, worms, and slaves (figuratively and literally, as it condones slavery). God has all the rights, humanity is nothing.

This is unsurprisingly, given the nature of religion. Bakunin put it best:

"The idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty, and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind, both in theory and in practice.

"Unless, then, we desire the enslavement and degradation of mankind . . . we may not, must not make the slightest concession either to the God of theology or to the God of metaphysics. He who, in this mystical alphabet, begins with A will inevitably end with Z; he who desires to worship God must harbour no childish illusions about the matter, but bravely renounce his liberty and humanity.

"If God is, man is a slave; now, man can and must be free; then, God does not exist." [God and the State, p. 25]

For most anarchists, then, atheism is required due to the nature of religion. "To proclaim as divine all that is grand, just, noble, and beautiful in humanity," Bakunin argued, "is to tacitly admit that humanity of itself would have been unable to produce it -- that is, that, abandoned to itself, its own nature is miserable, iniquitous, base, and ugly. Thus we come back to the essence of all religion -- in other words, to the disparagement of humanity for the greater glory of divinity." As such, to do justice to our humanity and the potential it has, anarchists argue that we must do without the harmful myth of god and all it entails and so on behalf of "human liberty, dignity, and prosperity, we believe it our duty to recover from heaven the goods which it has stolen and return them to earth." [Op. Cit., p. 37 and p. 36]

As well as the theoretical degrading of humanity and its liberty, religion has other, more practical, problems with it from an anarchist point of view. Firstly, religions have been a source of inequality and oppression. Christianity (like Islam), for example, has always been a force for repression whenever it holds any political or social sway (believing you have a direct line to god is a sure way of creating an authoritarian society). The Church has been a force of social repression, genocide, and the justification for every tyrant for nearly two millennia. When given the chance it has ruled as cruelly as any monarch or dictator. This is unsurprising:

"God being everything, the real world and man are nothing. God being truth, justice, goodness, beauty, power and life, man is falsehood, iniquity, evil, ugliness, impotence, and death. God being master, man is the slave. Incapable of finding justice, truth, and eternal life by his own effort, he can attain them only through a divine revelation. But whoever says revelation, says revealers, messiahs, prophets, priests, and legislators inspired by God himself; and these, as the holy instructors of humanity, chosen by God himself to direct it in the path of salvation, necessarily exercise absolute power. All men owe them passive and unlimited obedience; for against the divine reason there is no human reason, and against the justice of God no terrestrial justice holds." [Bakunin, Op. Cit., p. 24]

Christianity has only turned tolerant and peace-loving when it is powerless and even then it has continued its role as apologist for the powerful. This is the second reason why anarchists oppose the church for when not being the source of oppression, the church has justified it and ensured its continuation. It has kept the working class in bondage for generations by sanctioning the rule of earthly authorities and teaching working people that it is wrong to fight against those same authorities. Earthly rulers received their legitimisation from the heavenly lord, whether political (claiming that rulers are in power due to god's will) or economic (the rich having been rewarded by god). The bible praises obedience, raising it to a great virtue. More recent innovations like the Protestant work ethic also contribute to the subjugation of working people.

That religion is used to further the interests of the powerful can quickly be seen from most of history. It conditions the oppressed to humbly accept their place in life by urging the oppressed to be meek and await their reward in heaven. As Emma Goldman argued, Christianity (like religion in general) "contains nothing dangerous to the regime of authority and wealth; it stands for self-denial and self-abnegation, for penance and regret, and is absolutely inert in the face of every [in]dignity, every outrage imposed upon mankind." [Red Emma Speaks, p. 234]

Thirdly, religion has always been a conservative force in society. This is unsurprising, as it bases itself not on investigation and analysis of the real world but rather in repeating the truths handed down from above and contained in a few holy books. Theism is then "the theory of speculation" while atheism is "the science of demonstration." The "one hangs in the metaphysical clouds of the Beyond, while the other has its roots firmly in the soil. It is the earth, not heaven, which man must rescue if he is truly to be saved." Atheism, then, "expresses the expansion and growth of the human mind" while theism "is static and fixed." It is "the absolutism of theism, its pernicious influence upon humanity, its paralysing effect upon thought and action, which Atheism is fighting with all its power." [Emma Goldman, Op. Cit., p. 243, p. 245 and pp. 246-7]

As the Bible says, "By their fruits shall ye know them." We anarchists agree but unlike the church we apply this truth to religion as well. That is why we are, in the main, atheists. We recognise the destructive role played by the Church, and the harmful effects of organised monotheism, particularly Christianity, on people. As Goldman summaries, religion "is the conspiracy of ignorance against reason, of darkness against light, of submission and slavery against independence and freedom; of the denial of strength and beauty, against the affirmation of the joy and glory of life." [Op. Cit., p. 240]

So, given the fruits of the Church, anarchists argue that it is time to uproot it and plant new trees, the trees of reason and liberty.

That said, anarchists do not deny that religions contain important ethical ideas or truths. Moreover, religions can be the base for strong and loving communities and groups. They can offer a sanctuary from the alienation and oppression of everyday life and offer a guide to action in a world where everything is for sale. Many aspects of, say, Jesus' or Buddha's life and teachings are inspiring and worth following. If this were not the case, if religions were simply a tool of the powerful, they would have long ago been rejected. Rather, they have a dual-nature in that contain both ideas necessary to live a good life as well as apologetics for power. If they did not, the oppressed would not believe and the powerful would suppress them as dangerous heresies.

And, indeed, repression has been the fate of any group that has preached a radical message. In the middle ages numerous revolutionary Christian movements and sects were crushed by the earthly powers that be with the firm support of the mainstream church. During the Spanish Civil War the Catholic church supported Franco's fascists, denouncing the killing of pro-Franco priests by supporters of the republic while remaining silent about Franco's murder of Basque priests who had supported the democratically elected government (Pope John Paul II is seeking to turn the dead pro-Franco priests into saints while the pro-Republican priests remain unmentioned). The Archbishop of El Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero, started out as a conservative but after seeing the way in which the political and economic powers were exploiting the people became their outspoken champion. He was assassinated by right-wing paramilitaries in 1980 because of this, a fate which has befallen many other supporters of liberation theology, a radical interpretation of the Gospels which tries to reconcile socialist ideas and Christian social thinking.

Nor does the anarchist case against religion imply that religious people do not take part in social struggles to improve society. Far from it. Religious people, including members of the church hierarchy, played a key role in the US civil rights movement of the 1960s. The religious belief within Zapata's army of peasants during the Mexican revolution did not stop anarchists taking part in it (indeed, it had already been heavily influenced by the ideas of anarchist militant Ricardo Flores Magon). It is the dual-nature of religion which explains why many popular movements and revolts (particularly by peasants) have used the rhetoric of religion, seeking to keep the good aspects of their faith will fighting the earthly injustice its official representatives sanctify. For anarchists, it is the willingness to fight against injustice which counts, not whether someone believes in god or not. We just think that the social role of religion is to dampen down revolt, not encourage it. The tiny number of radical priests compared to those in the mainstream or on the right suggests the validity of our analysis.

It should be stressed that anarchists, while overwhelmingly hostile to the idea of the Church and an established religion, do not object to people practising religious belief on their own or in groups, so long as that practice doesn't impinge on the liberties of others. For example, a cult that required human sacrifice or slavery would be antithetical to anarchist ideas, and would be opposed. But peaceful systems of belief could exist in harmony within in anarchist society. The anarchist view is that religion is a personal matter, above all else -- if people want to believe in something, that's their business, and nobody else's as long as they do not impose those ideas on others. All we can do is discuss their ideas and try and convince them of their errors.

To end, it should noted that we are not suggesting that atheism is somehow mandatory for an anarchist. Far from it. As we discuss in section A.3.7, there are anarchists who do believe in god or some form of religion. For example, Tolstoy combined libertarian ideas with a devote Christian belief. His ideas, along with Proudhon's, influences the Catholic Worker organisation, founded by anarchists Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933 and still active today. The anarchist activist Starhawk, active in the current anti-globalisation movement, has no problems also being a leading Pagan. However, for most anarchists, their ideas lead them logically to atheism for, as Emma Goldman put it, "in its negation of gods is at the same time the strongest affirmation of man, and through man, the eternal yea to life, purpose, and beauty." [Red Emma Speaks, p. 248]


MrRage
Posts: 896
Joined: 2006-12-22
User is offlineOffline
riverrun wrote: Anarchism

riverrun wrote:
Anarchism (which almost by pure semantic default) has rationalism, liberty and atheism as core values has been, like atheism, the subject of slander, distortion, and misrepresentation - from both left and right wing groups - since its beginnings:

Aren't anarchist distrusted because they engaged in violent behavior? For instance President McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist.


D-cubed
Rational VIP!
D-cubed's picture
Posts: 715
Joined: 2007-01-04
User is offlineOffline
McKinley was assassinated by

McKinley was assassinated by a guy who was considered to radical for the anarchist community. 


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Anarchism itself does not

Anarchism itself does not condone violence, just as atheists do not condone the violent suicide bombings of the atheist / secularist Tamil Tigers. But specific anarchists - especially in the period from 1880 to 1920 - were, sadly, involved in violence. 

Historically (in the US) the time frame you are talking about was a time when labour unions and organisers were being violently crushed (Woody Guthrie's song about The Ludlow Massacre is particularly powerful in this regard (20 people, including 12 children were murdered on April 20, 1914 by a private militia hired by a Coal Company. Their crime: going on strike with a list of 7 very fair demands).

If we look behind the propagnada it is easy to show that Capitalism kills exponentially more individuals than anarchism ever has. Furthermore, since anarchism, by definition, is against wage slavery, the state, religion, capital exploitation and illegitimate power it has been necessary to marginalise its proponents. From the sedition act of the 1920s to the stereotype of the extremist nut with a bomb under his coat. This is to be expected, though in no way justifies the barbaric actions of individuals or the state.

A glance at the writings of Murray Bookchin, Voltairine deCleyre or Noam Chomsky will reveal a completely different picture, one that  media mandarins energetically supress. 

 Tim.


MrRage
Posts: 896
Joined: 2006-12-22
User is offlineOffline
Thanks for your response,

Thanks for your response, riverrun.

I think it's unfortunate that radical elements can otherwise tarnish a whole group. For instance, I think the ALF's tactics are hurting their cause. People aren't going to have a rational discussion about ethical responsibilities towards animals with people who are basically terrorists.

That being said, I really want to look into anarchism more, at least so I know what I'm talking about. I have a libertarian bent anyway, so I might like it. I feel very alienated with consumerism in the US.


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
Atheism and Anarchism = A+

Atheism and Anarchism = A+ Smiling


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
MrRage wrote: Thanks for

MrRage wrote:
Thanks for your response, riverrun. I think it's unfortunate that radical elements can otherwise tarnish a whole group. For instance, I think the ALF's tactics are hurting their cause. People aren't going to have a rational discussion about ethical responsibilities towards animals with people who are basically terrorists. That being said, I really want to look into anarchism more, at least so I know what I'm talking about. I have a libertarian bent anyway, so I might like it. I feel very alienated with consumerism in the US.

There was a TED lecturer (its on youtube) speaking about this very point: That the excess of choice is actually extremely damaging to the human psyche. More psychologists and economists are catching onto this realisation all the time.

As far as anarchist philosophy goes I think this introduction is by far the best online.

Tim. 


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
I have the huge anthology

I have the huge anthology on anarchism by daniel guerin called No Gods No Masters, but I will probably never make the time to read it. I have, however, read a really short book an anarchism with the seven majorthinkers that contributed to it.

 

I've also read chomsky's book on anarchism that was pretty good too. I'm really confused on the differences between marxism and anarchism though. To me they are almost the same exact thing with the same goals. For example, in chomsky's book at one point, he was explaining how we obviously can't just do away with the government. We have to give the state a certain kind of power so we can then smash it and set up a society where the anarchist ideals are followed out. 

 

After thinking about that though, isn't that the same thing marx advocated anyways?

 

Whether anyone disagrees with anarchism, marxism, anti-capitalism, etc, is one thing, but I think we can certainly say there needs to be a peoples movement. I really like how Howard Zinn explains it in his famous book, A Peoples History of the US.  A peoples movement aimed at eliminating all of these types of power that create so many delusions in our system and cause all of the problems we face. If I reread it I would be able to explain better, but if anyone can pick it up I remember chapter 23 was amazing. It was almost a summary of the whole book in a nutshell.

 

I've come across another really good point recently that I think needs to be raised. I've been miserable reading all of this anti-capitalist literature over the past few months, and I think peter singer may have put some perspective on me. I'll grab this from his wikipedia page:   In A Darwinian Left,[13] Singer outlines a plan for the political left to adapt to the lessons of Darwinism and evolutionary biology. He says that evolutionary psychology suggests that humans naturally tend to be self-interested, and that leftists can't ignore scientific fact simply because it's unpleasant or inconvenient for achieving their political goals. He further argues that the evidence that selfish tendencies are natural must not be taken as evidence that selfishness is right. He concludes that game theory (the mathematical study of strategy) and experiments in psychology offer hope that self-interested people will make short-term sacrifices for the good of others, if society provides the right conditions. Essentially Singer claims that although humans possess selfish, competitive tendencies naturally, they have a substantial capacity for cooperation that has also been selected for by evolution. It is the job of the Left, he says, to create those conditions which foster cooperation amongst members of society.


He makes that point refering to marx. I listened to his interview on the Point of Inquiry radio show last night and he points that out, that marx was wrong on his idea that if we change the economic system that it would radically change our actions. I agreed with marx for so long now and I have to say, I think singer is right.  We should use science for reform. We probably have been trying to do that though.


I also agree with marx on how he said we should use social science to help everyone in society, rather than just using it as a form of studying the public.

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
MrRage wrote: Thanks for

MrRage wrote:
Thanks for your response, riverrun. I think it's unfortunate that radical elements can otherwise tarnish a whole group. For instance, I think the ALF's tactics are hurting their cause. People aren't going to have a rational discussion about ethical responsibilities towards animals with people who are basically terrorists. That being said, I really want to look into anarchism more, at least so I know what I'm talking about. I have a libertarian bent anyway, so I might like it. I feel very alienated with consumerism in the US.

Word to that man. Are you vegan?

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


MrRage
Posts: 896
Joined: 2006-12-22
User is offlineOffline
riverrun wrote: There was a

riverrun wrote:
There was a TED lecturer (its on youtube) speaking about this very point: That the excess of choice is actually extremely damaging to the human psyche. More psychologists and economists are catching onto this realisation all the time.

I hadn't thought about it that way. I'll find that lecture. I have no problem with choice. I think there's a difference though in buying what you want and/or need, and shopping. In the US it's come to a point were people buy almost for the sake of buying.

This is a little off topic, but before I buy something I ask myself some questions:

1. Can I afford this? If I can't is this something worth getting into debt over? I keep in mind consumer debt is really bad.
2. If what I'm buying is a need: Can I live without this? Is buying this really an improvement. Do I really need this?
3. If what I'm buying is a want: Will I actually use it? For instance, am I just going to buy that video game, and play the first two levels and then put it on the shelf? Why waste $50 on it then?

If I answer no, I don't buy it. This sort of thinking goes against US consumerism, were our President encourages us to go shopping to improve the economy. Such bullshit.

riverrun wrote:
As far as anarchist philosophy goes I think this introduction is by far the best online.

Thanks. I'll look into it.


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
As an biologist, the only

As an biologist, the only thing I can say is that from an evolutionry standpoint of a self-intersted organism that is required to co-operate in societies to survive, anarchism is simply not a feasible solution. However, I despise the idea of a totally free market because people are invariably solely interested in profit, so in a free market environment, nuclear plants could store waste next to schools, that is why there needs to be some form of check and balance between socialism and capitalism. i am not an economist, the only thing I can say is that from an evolutionary standpoint, capitalism makes perfect sense.

 

granted, I strongly disagree with this overly consumerist culture, and think the wealth of the united states is obscene, but sometimes people forget what we owe to capitalism. I live in China, I have seen with my own eyes a quarter billion people lifted out of poverty. The world is changing. This Chomskian ideology is dying. With the introduction of three billion people to the market, the driving force of tommorow will be India and China.

Also, explain to me exactly how in an anarchist society I am supposed to get my money to do scientific research?

I despise the right wing more than I do the left (I'm not American, so partisan politics never appealed to me), but today I get to use one of my favorite quotes.

-If you're not a socialist at twenty you have no heart, if you're still a socialist at age forty, you have no brain

 

Also, I would not get my morals from a man like Noam Chomsky. He once acted as an apologist for the killing fields in Cambodia, the Cultural Revolution, The Great Leap Forward, (he said that criticism of these was anti-communist propagand. Is he insane? I have been to the killing fields, and to Tianamen Square) and the Faurisson affair. Also, he was recommened by Chavez, who is a tyrant. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


MrRage
Posts: 896
Joined: 2006-12-22
User is offlineOffline
ChosenByPasta wrote: Are

ChosenByPasta wrote:
Are you vegan?

No, not yet anyway. I'm taking small steps as I search the topic out. I just recently becoming aware of how animals are treated in these animal factories. My first step is to only buy free range, vegetarian diet animal products. At the least, if I'm going to eat a chicken, I'd like to know it didn't have a miserable life being fed chemical goop.

I might become vegan, but I'm going to have to get better at cooking. If it's a something I end up doing, I want to have good reasons and to be able to stick with it.


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
MrRage

MrRage wrote:
ChosenByPasta wrote:
Are you vegan?
No, not yet anyway. I'm taking small steps as I search the topic out. I just recently becoming aware of how animals are treated in these animal factories. My first step is to only buy free range, vegetarian diet animal products. At the least, if I'm going to eat a chicken, I'd like to know it didn't have a miserable life being fed chemical goop. I might become vegan, but I'm going to have to get better at cooking. If it's a something I end up doing, I want to have good reasons and to be able to stick with it.

Right on, I give you all of my respect for your efforts. I've been vegan for a year but I'm really unhealthy. I was vegetarian 2 years before that but lived off of cheese pizza. I went vegan to force myself to eat healthier. It worked at first, but I need to learn how to cook more, as you said. I live in buffalo with limited options, but it can be really easy depending on where you live. If the choice is available it's certainly an ethical one to make.

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


qbg
Posts: 298
Joined: 2006-11-22
User is offlineOffline
MrRage wrote: riverrun

MrRage wrote:
riverrun wrote:
Anarchism (which almost by pure semantic default) has rationalism, liberty and atheism as core values has been, like atheism, the subject of slander, distortion, and misrepresentation - from both left and right wing groups - since its beginnings:

Aren't anarchist distrusted because they engaged in violent behavior? For instance President McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist.


Many anarchists are against "propaganda of the deed" -- You can't blow up a social relationship as the saying goes.

deludedgod wrote:
As an biologist, the only thing I can say is that from an evolutionry standpoint of a self-intersted organism that is required to co-operate in societies to survive, anarchism is simply not a feasible solution.

A sense a problem here; how is anarchism against people cooperating in society? Anarchism is quite the opposite.

Quote:

Also, explain to me exactly how in an anarchist society I am supposed to get my money to do scientific research?

Depends on the type of economy. It could be low interest rate loans, from the collective you might work for, the community, yourself, etc.

Quote:

Also, I would not get my morals from a man like Noam Chomsky. He once acted as an apologist for the killing fields in Cambodia, the Cultural Revolution, The Great Leap Forward, (he said that criticism of these was anti-communist propagand. Is he insane? I have been to the killing fields, and to Tianamen Square) and the Faurisson affair.

I have not heard that; have any links?

Quote:

Also, he was recommened by Chavez, who is a tyrant.

Which is ironic that Chavez would recommend Chomsky.

"What right have you to condemn a murderer if you assume him necessary to "God's plan"? What logic can command the return of stolen property, or the branding of a thief, if the Almighty decreed it?"
-- The Economic Tendency of Freethought


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
My knowledge of anarchism

My knowledge of anarchism is very limited, but I'll give you my opinion on some of the things you have said.

deludedgod wrote:

As an biologist, the only thing I can say is that from an evolutionry standpoint of a self-intersted organism that is required to co-operate in societies to survive, anarchism is simply not a feasible solution. However, I despise the idea of a totally free market because people are invariably solely interested in profit, so in a free market environment, nuclear plants could store waste next to schools, that is why there needs to be some form of check and balance between socialism and capitalism. i am not an economist, the only thing I can say is that from an evolutionary standpoint, capitalism makes perfect sense.

 

 

I think I almost agree with you because of the point I made that peter singer points out, however, what anarchism really does is that it questions authority and askes whether that authority is legitimate or not. For example, we could say that the police force is unjust and supports the ruling class, but if we were to just do away with the police force there would obviously be outright chaos. When you study anarchist ideas it questions how we can reform the system without something that is illegitimate  in a rational way. So although it might seem unreasonable to be an anarchist by only scratching on the surface of it, I think we certainly need to be progressive. Progressive in the sense that we work towards a much more free democracy where it really is "we the people" and not "we the corporations" or "we the rich and privileged." Haha, I'm no economist either though, but anarchism sounds very naive to the average laymen.

 

deludedgod wrote:
granted, I strongly disagree with this overly consumerist culture, and think the wealth of the united states is obscene, but sometimes people forget what we owe to capitalism. I live in China, I have seen with my own eyes a quarter billion people lifted out of poverty. The world is changing. This Chomskian ideology is dying. With the introduction of three billion people to the market, the driving force of tommorow will be India and China.

 

I'm not too familiar with china and this subject, but is that really capitalism we should be thanking? Doesn't China have an extremely authoritarian communist system, but also with a free market? In my science class we talked about china for a little bit, and how it has managed to feed everyone through their policies. But I'm not sure about this issue. 

 

deludedgod wrote:
Also, explain to me exactly how in an anarchist society I am supposed to get my money to do scientific research?

Well, after studying some of the anarchist ideas, it is extremely scienitific in it's nature. From what I know, it advocates reforming the system into a humanistic society where we make science an important responsibility. The argument could also be made that we spend so much money on pointless nonsense right now that there would be billions of dollars available for research. Just look at how much the US spends on its military budget. It's absurd!

 

deludedgod wrote:
I despise the right wing more than I do the left (I'm not American, so partisan politics never appealed to me), but today I get to use one of my favorite quotes.

-If you're not a socialist at twenty you have no heart, if you're still a socialist at age forty, you have no brain

 

I've heard that quote before and I really like it. I hope I'm not some leftist mess when I'm 50, haha.

 

deludedgod wrote:
Also, I would not get my morals from a man like Noam Chomsky. He once acted as an apologist for the killing fields in Cambodia, the Cultural Revolution, The Great Leap Forward, (he said that criticism of these was anti-communist propagand. Is he insane? I have been to the killing fields, and to Tianamen Square) and the Faurisson affair. Also, he was recommened by Chavez, who is a tyrant.
 


Ehh, I haven't looked into him that much, but I don't that alone would be a reason to dissmiss him. You can take moral teachings from anything and dissmiss the rest, like the christians do! haha.
I've been meaning to ask someone about Chavez though. It seems to me that is he is misrepresented and portrayed as this horrible person, especailly the US. Can you tell me what you know about chavez and the sources of where you got the information on him? I once watched an interested documentary on him and it demonstrated how the US backed a coup against him, but they deliberatley used lies against him to protect their resources they were trying to steal.

 

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
A sense a problem here;

A sense a problem here; how is anarchism against people cooperating in society? Anarchism is quite the opposite.

You avoided the key pointed: I said a selfish self-interested organism

Depends on the type of economy. It could be low interest rate loans, from the collective you might work for, the community, yourself, etc.

You must not be aware of the amount of money we require.

I have not heard that; have any links?

http://www.zmag.org/forums/chomcambodforum.htm

You can also wikipedia chomsky and you will find his role in the apologist affairs listed under "criticism of noam chomksy" 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
These are excellent points,

These are excellent points, chosenbypasta. But I was merely arguing against the economics of anarchism. The politics of secular humanism are excellent things we need more of.

We do need a less hypocritical democracy, one where we do not spend 400 billion dollars on tanks and guns.

Also, the fact that anarchism is very scientific does not necessarily mean it's economic system will be able to give scientists enough money to do the work they need to do, but again, I was only arguing against anarchist economics.

China's politics are slowly evolving. Human rights have drastically improved within the last decade. It is still very authorarian however (since I hold a Canadian passport, I am not under this system, and I live in Hong Kong now anyway). When the USSR fell, the Russians tried to pull off economic and political overhaul simeltaneously, with the result that both collapsed. The Chinese are gradually introducing both to keep the country stable.

 

The US has had some appalling practices in backing the worst regimes on the planet during the cold war, and still today. This is inexcusable. But that doesn't excuse chavez for being an asshole. Chavez claims venezuala is a socialist democacy. It is neither. It is listed as an authoratarian state and chavez managed the economy so badly that it is in tatters. 

 

 

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Hi Deludedgod, Thanks for

Hi Deludedgod, Thanks for the thoughtful response. I to am interested in the Steven Pinker-esque approach to evolutionary psychology (which I find interesting in its glib cherry picking and plethora of contradictions) and apologetics for capitalism. The original theorists including trivers, hamilton, wilson are a much richer and deeper resource for me though. Its worth mentioning that Pinker is well aware that those who professed the greatest belief in the Blank Slate where firmly on the right, though he neglected to mention this in his book. It's also of note that there is a rich literature of evolutionary thinking (Kropotkin's Mutual Aid is one example) that does not attempt to use evolutionary insight to support the status quo, but rather to critique it. The naturalistic fallacy that disappears and reappears througout Pinker's half-digested assertions is rather entertaining.

Unfortunately you decided to edit your post and decided to come out with a roll-call of typical ad hominem slanders against Chomsky, who was interestingly not central to any of the claims I was making in previous posts. I should also point out, given the assumptions you made, my self-confession that anarchism is "idealistic" and hence probably impossible but for different reasons than Pinker would suggest. See my first post, first paragraph above.

A brief aside on your edit: To say that Chomsky justified the killing fields or to imply he is a Holocaust-denier (the 'Faurisson affair&#39Eye-wink is typical of fabricators like Oliver Kamm, Francis Wheen and the greatest fraudster of all: the Harvard appointed Alan Dershowitz. I'm not willing to stoop to that level. Everyone of these accusations were rebutted years ago (indeed a few hours with what he actually wrote should suffice). 

Finally and on a lighter note, you wheeled out the tired old anti-socialist quote. Well.. I'm 34, so give me my 6 years of idealism. Eye-wink

Tim. 


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
Hi riverrun I'll just say

Hi riverrun

I'll just say the same thing that I did to chosenbypasta. I agree with the politics of secular humanism, which is endorsed by anarchism. But the economic system it puts forth is just not practical.

I do not use evolution to support the status quo. I despise the massive power of large corporations, and consumerist culture. I just use evolution to support the idea of a system whereby people advance in society by working, purchasing goods and services from an organization whose driving force is profit, which tends to breed effeciency. Obviously this needs some balance from the state. 

I'll have to look into the Chomsky thing. I always hated him because I am Jewish and have strong ties with the Israelis, who is always bashing (he once said that Hamas was more conduicive to peace, a terrorist organization) 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Chomsky is Jewish, and both

Chomsky is Jewish, and both his parents saw Nazism first hand. They were also first rate Hebrew Scholars. Just to clarify: I am in no way anti-Israeli or anti-American, indeed I have very close friends (and an ex-girlfriend) in both countries (who are all Jewish and also, along with my Jewish friends in the UK, support a two state settlement along the 1968 borders...) The US has repeatedly Vetoed (along with Israel and the UK) all such attempts at resolution for more than 30 yrs.

I want peace in the region as much as anyone else and deplore the use of suicide bombings and Israeli aggression against the Lebanon equally.

Tim. 


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Quick point about the

Quick point about the economics of universities. I don't think that taxation can be considered as part of any kind of neo-liberal market place, that would be absurd. The funding system for any of the Universities that I have connections with (Harvard, MIT in the States for example) is largely provided by taxation. I did some work at Cambridge university with their Zoology dept. (it was fantastic to get to see Darwins original collection and work on a 3d scan of one of the few Dodo skeletons that remain) but I remember the massive outcry when the Wellcome trust came along with private capital and attempted to hijack the whole system.

Another direct example would be my work with the BBC in London as part of a "blue sky" innovation lab called "Imagineering", again it worked because it was outside the risk-averse world of capital: It was paid for by a compulsory tax (roughly £100 per household - with a TV - per year)... This is a fundamentally regressive tax redolent of the worst excesses of Stalinist Russia right in the heart-land of so-called post-Thatcher privatisation. My point is that we need to separate rhetoric from reality when it comes to the real economic systems that we live within and always be open to systems that will be more equitable as we move forward.

Tim. 


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
"We do need a less

"We do need a less hypocritical democracy, one where we do not spend 400 billion dollars on tanks and guns." Yeah, it's so disappointing to think about it. It just makes more sense to me that the US should use that money to be a humanitarian superpower rather than a military superpower. I think anarchism is a way to work towards that though. "I'll just say the same thing that I did to chosenbypasta. I agree with the politics of secular humanism, which is endorsed by anarchism. But the economic system it puts forth is just not practical." I think when people take a glance at the idea of anarchism this is one of the first things that always comes to mind, but I think it's goal is very similar to marxism. Capitalism creates a society that pits everyone against each other, competing for status. Even in a society that isn't so based off on consumerism and corporate power, I think capitalism still creates this nonstop struggle that marx always pointed out. Why do we need a society where one human being is more of another human being based off of the status it has worked up to? Capitalism puts profit before people, always. "I just use evolution to support the idea of a system whereby people advance in society by working, purchasing goods and services from an organization whose driving force is profit, which tends to breed effeciency. Obviously this needs some balance from the state." I think we can advance in a society similar to this where there is working, but not a need for purchasing goods from an organization that's driving force is profit. I think such a system causes us to exploit each other. Consider why we even use such a system to produce advances and resources. The end goal is always supposed to further benefit all of us, right? For our happiness. This is the goal of capitalism, but I think it's results are disastrous. I think a non-capitalist society that focuses primarily on our needs, human happiness, and well being is much more important than having all of these material things. Maybe we could even live in a capitalist society such as that, but I don't see a way we could work towards that. I'm not sure how to answer your question, or the one about funding science, but anti-capitalism just seems much more reasonable to me if the end goal is human well being.

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
Tim, you are much more

Tim, you are much more educated on the subject of anarchism, and I must say, it's an honor to finally hear from someone who knows what they are talking about when it comes to this subject. However, I think deludedgod made a good point right here that needs to be addressed:



"I do not use evolution to support the status quo. I despise the massive power of large corporations, and consumerist culture. I just use evolution to support the idea of a system whereby people advance in society by working, purchasing goods and services from an organization whose driving force is profit, which tends to breed effeciency. Obviously this needs some balance from the state."




I haven't been studying anti-capitalism as of lately, so I'll leave that up to someone else to address. 

 

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
Ha, this video deserves

Ha, this video deserves recognition even though I'm not too into NOFX:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzpTmcq7nBg&eurl=

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


qbg
Posts: 298
Joined: 2006-11-22
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote: I just

deludedgod wrote:
I just use evolution to support the idea of a system whereby people advance in society by working, purchasing goods and services from an organization whose driving force is profit, which tends to breed effeciency. Obviously this needs some balance from the state.

Yet, people have great difficulty advancing though work, there is the view that the workers are exploited under capitalism, experiments in worker control have yielded higher efficiency, competition kills competition, wage slavery, etc.

Quote:

You avoided the key pointed: I said a selfish self-interested organism

Would it not be selfish to avoid oppression and exploitation? Cooperation can arise through selfish means.
Quote:

You must not be aware of the amount of money we require.

Where do you currently get the money?

"What right have you to condemn a murderer if you assume him necessary to "God's plan"? What logic can command the return of stolen property, or the branding of a thief, if the Almighty decreed it?"
-- The Economic Tendency of Freethought


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
Hi qbg, Do you think my

Hi qbg,
Do you think my represenation of anarchism is accurate so far?


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Great debate guys..



Great debate guys.. I've put together some general responses below, and will publish a follow up on participatory  / anarchist economics later today.

Just to reiterate: My central concern in bringing anarchism to the table is its central questioning of unaccountable power. The ethical framework that, if you like, underwrites my position has been called Universal Utilitarianism. It can be summed up in the maxim:

Minimise actual and potential harm, maximise actual and potential happiness.


The formal relations are important for me: we must act first to minimise harm before we attempt to maximise happiness. This concept draws on Kant's categorical imperative, on the rule-base utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill and on John Rawls' Theory of Justice (and others). This system is universal but not predicated on an external objective set of discoverable laws or Gods. These moral systems are remnants of the dark age, though still extremely prevalent. They are based on our shared natures as one animal of many on earth, and upon our never-ending search for happiness, be it in the hallowed halls of the latest Shopping Mall, where we pay homage to our newer Gods, in travelling the foothills of Peru or in writing a response to the RRS forum...


TINA!

Margaret Thatcher said, of neo-liberal economics, her copy of Hayek in her handbag: “There is no alternative!” This was the rallying cry of Kings and Queens (elected to rule over us by divine right), Slave Owners (“It's better to own someone than rent them! We treat them better in the south than you wage slavery types up north!” they would tell us). Its really nothing new. Cynically speaking I would say that indentured forms of slavery were overthrown because they did not produce sufficient demand and therefore ultimately failed as a method of accumulating profit. The inherent logic of capitalism is expansion and exploitation and it should be clear to anyone that this simply cannot continue indefinitely. It also causes more much more harm than good if one is familiar with global economic realities, and if one accepts my ethical maxim above then capitalism is simply immoral. Gradualist reform, revolution or auto-implosion? It is impossible to predict what will happen, my own choice is to stay as far outside it as possible, and criticise it from that space. Interestingly I only really come to understand the oppressive nature of the system after considerable intellectual effort. This is unfortunate and proved demonstrably just how effective the entire system really is. Someone once said “you only realise the strength of the tide when you try to swim against it”. Very true. It is also precisely because of our human natures and what evolutionary psychology tells us about ourselves (which is not very much, currently) that renders capitalism incoherent as a long term model. To compound human capacities towards selfishness with an economic system that inherently promotes selfishness; that atomises us and acts as a solvent over human social relations; that turns all into a commodity or fetish, must be challenged.


Religion and its discontents.

It's worth noting that the Rational Response Squad's ultimate vision would be the overthrown of religion, a force that has been consciously used to ensure the poor tolerate their oppressors and a system that “gives a gold-plated excuse not to think” [Daniel Dennett]. In light of this and the inherent questioning of hierarchy and subordination (to either God or State) that the overthrow of such an ideology would entail, it is important to consider the relevance of alternative bottom-up / rhizomatic / net-centric structures that minimise unneeded hierarchy. I believe that the religious 'meme' predisposes humans to an unquestioning acceptance of a particular vector relationship to power, a surrendering of this world (the only one we currently have proof of [lets not get into string theory, lol], and a further entrenchment of current forms of hierarchy. It also reinforces the corrupting ontology of “original sin” and predisposes us to a neo-Hegelian teleology based on sheer fantasy, and a psychological incapacity to confront our own mortality... and if that wasn't bad enough, Sticking out tongue


On a deeper existential level I consider it at least worthy of discussion that capitalism and its enshrining of legal fictions as immortal structures / bodies in the form of the Corporation is a response to our own deepest irrational fears and will one day be recognised as such; perhaps appearing as Ozymandian museum pieces dating to the late dark ages (ie: the 21st century), an age still gripped by deception, delusion and fear, made palatable by the psychic paralysis brought on by excessive unimportant forms of choice. See Neil Postmans book 'Amusing ourselves to Death. Basic Wiki article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amusing_Ourselves_to_Death



It is very common to hear statements about “American democracy” and “Chavez is a dictator / tyrant” in contemporary discourse. I think its a useful exercise to unpack them and see how they stack up against reality. This is just the simple application of scientific methodology to cultural analysis. Its very common to hear neo-liberals and neo-cons wax lyrical about the wonders of Adam Smith as the grandfather of modern capitalism. Smith is someone we are meant to quote, but not read. The very fact that he spent a sizeable portion of his key text critical of Mercantilism over 'waxing lyrical' about capitalism should be enough to ring alarm bells. The penny dropped for me when I went back to his 'Wealth of Nations” and “Theory of Moral Sentiments” and realised that the poster boy for capitalism was actually nothing of the sort (the invisible hand is mentioned once briefly in the entire book, and Smith railed against the dangers of capitalism and offered a profound analysis of how it would destroy “Sympathy” amongst people. He spoke of how the “masters of man” as “principal architects” would bring “dreadful misfortune” to humanity. Now, in the age of full spectrum dominance and the race to both control, own and militarise space, we our tobecome the “master of the universe” [to quote the Financial Times]


Since then I have made the effort to actually read first hand sources. This has helped me understand the extent to which we live within a web of carefully constructed / selected narratives which ensure minimal criticism of the truly powerful [“Government is the shadow cast by big business over society” - William James] and minimal understanding of how the world really works (religion is simply one aspect of this, and by no means the most important, if we are to consider human rights and egalitarian principles important). As long as we allow ourselves to be fed “emotionally potent simplifications” by the corporate press, our capacity to know and understand the whole will continue to atrophy.


Democracy? Where?

The American system isn't and never was a democracy, as formally defined by serious scholars of political science. It's actually a polyarchy with a formal façade of democracy, sufficient to maintain the delusion. The population are considered spectators, not participants, and their job is to elect electors, who in turn elect the “noble men” who know on which side their bread is buttered and can save the “rambling herd” from themselves. James Madison explained it best when he said, during the American constitutional convention, that the main goal of the new system has to be "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority," and has to be designed so that it achieves that end. This is the founding of the American constitutional system, so nobody, as to be expected, nobody studies it. You can’t even find it in the academic scholarship unless you really look hard.


On the other hand Chavez's Bolivarian revolution, wealth redistribution and overwhelming popular support within a system which has 7 private media outlets (all highly critical of him) versus one state owned TV channel is much closer (though far form perfect) to democracy than the American system. If Chavez had been elected by a court, and subsequently had been found to have deliberately denied thousands of key voters their right to vote - you can imagine the chorus of “Dictator!” coming from the Oil executives. Of course this is precisely what happened when Bush was elected by the Supreme Court after the outrage of Florida. Furthermore no-one in Venezuela has called for the assassination of Bush. However the American TV evangelist Pat Robertson called for Chavez's assassination live on his privately owned 'christian' TV Channel.


Finally, lets look at the economy. The facts rather than the headlines, are what count.

A look at macroeconomic indicators shows that the Venezuelan economy is performing well. Economic growth has been the fastest in Latin America for each of the past two years. In the last quarter of 2006 growth continued apace, registering 9.3%. Yet in the midst of the economic boom, inflation has been halved. This year, at least one forecaster expects Venezuela to experience its lowest inflation in 18 years though it will still be one of the highest in Latin America. Declining inflation in the midst of an economic boom, while not unprecedented, is atypical and suggests pragmatic economic management.

Factoring in social indicators, Venezuelan economic performance looks even better. Unemployment has been steadily dropping, reaching 10.1% in 2006. In 2005 the government's index of social well-being reached its highest level in 10 years. Incomes of the poor doubled in the past two years. The poverty rate, which had been increasing for most of the past twenty-five years, has been dropping. In fact, the World Bank recently noted that "Venezuela has achieved substantial improvements in the fight against poverty."

A failed economy or one in which the nepotist class, drunk from a half century of exploitation, have suddenly awoken with an almighty hangover?


Tim.



deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
  I am in no way

 

I am in no way anti-Israeli or anti-American, indeed I have very close friends (and an ex-girlfriend) in both countries (who are all Jewish and also, along with my Jewish friends in the UK, support a two state settlement along the 1968 borders...)

 Relax riverrun

No need to be so defensive. I never said anything about you. I agree with you. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
Yet, people have great

Yet, people have great difficulty advancing though work, there is the view that the workers are exploited under capitalism, experiments in worker control have yielded higher efficiency, competition kills competition, wage slavery, etc.

This is true. Capitalism should be less exploitave. But look at the alternatives. The reason every other market system has failed is because there is no incentive for people to work. Feudalism? Forget it, you owe everything to the King, you own nothing, socialism and communism? The state owns everything, you own nothing, and if society is supposedly completely classless (which is ridiculous, the communist countries were incredibly class-divided, 95% peasantry and 5% ruling elite in Maoist China)nobody can advance whatsoever in society.

 

I can provide a good example of this. I live in China and am fairly versed in Chinese modern history.

When Mao ze Dong took over China in 1949, the first thing he implemented was agrarian reform. He took land away from landlords, killed many, and redistributed it so each peasant got an identical fair share. During this first reform, peasants owned their own land completley, with no state grip. They were very happy because the communists had made good on their promise. China was also industrializing under a five year plan, and industries, with the help of the Russians (who were destalinizing after his death in 1952) had partial private control so factory workers were paid good wages. China's curious mix of public and private economy worked very well until 1953, when Mao decided to socialize agriculture and force everyone into Russian style kolchos or collectives. Now, people still owned some land, but everyone shared tools and equipment. People were less happy. Industry too, was state controlled.

 

Mao was satisfied even though his people were not, until he came up with his next insane scheme in 1957: the great leap forward. The premise was that China would undertake a quantum leap and catch up with the USA in thirty years. To do this, Mao undertook the final stage of communist agricultural dogma, and forced everyone into communes literally overnight in 1958. The communes were massive complexes often with 30,000 families. It provided schooling, nursing, hospitals, and housing, and the best (i mean worst) part was that no-one owned everything. All land was state-controlled, all tools were state controlled, all everything was state controlled. It was a miserable cradle to the grave system.

 At the same time, Mao believed that steel was the gauge of a nation's economy, so to launch "satellites to heaven" and raise steel output along with industrial chemicals, fertilizers, military machinery and agriculture, he ordered thousands of little backyard steel furnaces to be built in the communes, and people to melt all their possessions to make steel to boost the numbers.  During the great leap forward, Mao may have come closer than any nation to acheiving marxist-leninist genuine communism.

It was a disaster. People were so intent on making steel that crops rotted and died. Steel was useless and brittle, as the Chinese lacked the sophisticated ultra heat treatment and refining machinery. 98% of it had to be scrapped. China's crude logistical system broke down entirely. Agriculture relied on crude, outdated communist methods like packing fertilizer so thick that children could stand on it (a famous 1958 picture in a Beijing newspaper). The satellites to heaven were so rigorously enforced that corrupt officials cooked the books instead of facing steep punishment for failing quotas. The state took from the peasants accordingly and millions starved over the next three years.

 

This is what happens in a supposedly utopian equal society. This is why the need to advance is necessary. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


Vastet
atheistBloggerSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 13210
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote:Forget

deludedgod wrote:
Forget it, you owe everything to the King, you own nothing, socialism and communism? The state owns everything, you own nothing, and if society is supposedly completely classless (which is ridiculous, the communist countries were incredibly class-divided, 95% peasantry and 5% ruling elite in Maoist China)nobody can advance whatsoever in society.

Just proves Maoist China wasn't communist. A true communism would have no class structure. A true communism has never existed. And likely never will.
And societal advancement has no intrinsic value.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
 And societal advancement

 And societal advancement has no intrinsic value.

 

From an evolutionary standpoint, I'd disagree. A human is a selfish creature that needs to co-operate in society to survive. But if he cannot promote his own self-interests, like making money, his incentive to work will flag. People have no instinctive concept of "greater good", there are two ways to overcome this. The first and most commonly employed method throughout history was simply for the elite to subjugate the people. Then the wanton to advance was overome by the pressing needs of survival and food. But in a society which operates on a free market, people need to climb the rungs, or at least believe they can climb the rungs, to work. Capitalism works because it gives people incentives that quell their evolutionary requisites.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


Vastet
atheistBloggerSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 13210
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote:  And

deludedgod wrote:

 And societal advancement has no intrinsic value.

 

From an evolutionary standpoint, I'd disagree. A human is a selfish creature that needs to co-operate in society to survive. But if he cannot promote his own self-interests, like making money, his incentive to work will flag. People have no instinctive concept of "greater good", there are two ways to overcome this. The first and most commonly employed method throughout history was simply for the elite to subjugate the people. Then the wanton to advance was overome by the pressing needs of survival and food. But in a society which operates on a free market, people need to climb the rungs, or at least believe they can climb the rungs, to work. Capitalism works because it gives people incentives that quell their evolutionary requisites.

Humans don't need to cooperate in societies to survive. Nor can you prove that a society is a requirement to give motive to a person to work. The individual came before the society. The society could not have arisen if the motivation did not already exist. The only value society has is technological advancement and the capability of raising masses in defense of the society.

As for capitalism, it works the same way a monarchy does. The rich are born into it, the poor have a small and nearly insignificant chance to attain it on their own. Mostly through marriage. Though the odd fluke does happen. Regardless, the rich do nothing and make money off the backs of the poors work. Hardly an ideal economy.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
Humans don't need to

Humans don't need to cooperate in societies to survive.

I would say that is instinctive of any complex organism to work in societies. Certianly, when humans first arose and had definitely not tamed their world they definitely needed societies, or rather clans. Even if this is just a family clan, which many animals, like lions, operate in.  Large societies merely represent social evolution from clans as technology advanced. Certainly, for a modern world to be sustained, society is vital.

Nor can you prove that a society is a requirement to give motive to a person to work.

But if I can prove that society is fundamental to evolutionary instinct, then I don't need to, because all complex organisms work in societies. 

The individual came before the society

It is true that evolutionary gene drift works on individuals, but the lines of speciation can be blurry (25 notches pan/hominid in four million years is alot of divergence) that would not be noticable. For advanced organisms, society came with the individual.  The only organisms that do not need others to survive are phototrophic plants and lithotrophic prokaryotes.

As for capitalism, it works the same way a monarchy does. The rich are born into it, the poor have a small and nearly insignificant chance to attain it on their own. Mostly through marriage. Though the odd fluke does happen. Regardless, the rich do nothing and make money off the backs of the poors work. Hardly an ideal economy.

True enough. But I stick up for it simply because it is better than any other system so far. The key point about capitalism is that it can make more people well-off than any other system. There will still be inequality, but nothing compared to fuedalism or "communism". China's capitalist boom lifted 250,000,000 out of poverty. 

 

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


Vastet
atheistBloggerSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 13210
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote: I would

deludedgod wrote:
I would say that is instinctive of any complex organism to work in societies. Certianly, when humans first arose and had definitely not tamed their world they definitely needed societies, or rather clans. Even if this is just a family clan, which many animals, like lions, operate in.  Large societies merely represent social evolution from clans as technology advanced. Certainly, for a modern world to be sustained, society is vital.

A modern(technological and defensive) world. But not our species. All our species needs to exist is fuel and sex. Your argument of complex organisms is inapplicable. There are a great many complex organisms on this planet that have no society at all, yet manage to function and survive with little trouble.

deludedgod wrote:
Nor can you prove that a society is a requirement to give motive to a person to work.
But if I can prove that society is fundamental to evolutionary instinct, then I don't need to, because all complex organisms work in societies.

Yet not all complex organisms work in societies(ex: sharks). Even worse, many simple organisms work in societies(ex: ants).

deludedgod wrote:
 The individual came before the society
It is true that evolutionary gene drift works on individuals, but the lines of speciation can be blurry (25 notches pan/hominid in four million years is alot of divergence) that would not be noticable. For advanced organisms, society came with the individual.

That can only happen if society already existed in some form, which means only that homo-sapiens didn't come up with it, but a previous form of humanoid did(or perhaps pre homo species)(which is supported by recently discovered archeological evidence of a species, from which both chimps and humans came from, using tools). A survival trait it may be, but a necessary one it is not.

deludedgod wrote:
  The only organisms that do not need others to survive are phototrophic plants and lithotrophic prokaryotes.

Needing other life forms to survive does not equal society.

deludedgod wrote:
True enough. But I stick up for it simply because it is better than any other system so far. The key point about capitalism is that it can make more people well-off than any other system. There will still be inequality, but nothing compared to fuedalism or "communism". China's capitalist boom lifted 250,000,000 out of poverty. 

The problem though is that it's just a longer road. There's more equality at the beginning, but the further down the road you travel the less equality there is at the end of it. The gap between the rich and poor has been steadily widening now for who knows how long. Certainly my entire lifetime. People who were once referred to as middle class, had a home, car, etc, can today not even afford an apartment. The only thing capitalism can lead to is revolution. Eventually the poor will be sick of being poor and remove the heads of the rich. Which may not in and of itself be a bad thing, but such conflicts are completely unpredictable.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
A modern(technological and

A modern(technological and defensive) world. But not our species. All our species needs to exist is fuel and sex. Your argument of complex organisms is inapplicable. There are a great many complex organisms on this planet that have no society at all, yet manage to function and survive with little trouble.

And to obtain that fuel and sex almost always requires reliance on others, and even if it did not require reliance, the point I made was that evolution has primed us to exist in society because it is advantegeous, not because it was necessary. That is why some complex organisms can operate indepedently, so I retract my earlier point. The correct thing to say would be that many complex animals work in societies.  

yet not all complex organisms work in societies(ex: sharks). Even worse, many simple organisms work in societies(ex: ants).

We have different understandings of the word complex. An ant is a complex organism from a biological standpoint.

The problem though is that it's just a longer road. There's more equality at the beginning, but the further down the road you travel the less equality there is at the end of it. The gap between the rich and poor has been steadily widening now for who knows how long. Certainly my entire lifetime. People who were once referred to as middle class, had a home, car, etc, can today not even afford an apartment. The only thing capitalism can lead to is revolution. Eventually the poor will be sick of being poor and remove the heads of the rich. Which may not in and of itself be a bad thing, but such conflicts are completely unpredictable.

 

If there is one thing that we have learned from history, it is that every revolution carries within the seeds of it's own destruction. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Chosenbypasta: Peter

Chosenbypasta: Peter Singers ideas on the Darwinian Left are important, however it is also important to remember that the Darwinian left has been around for over 100 years. Again I would mention Kropotkin's Mutual Aid, published in 1902.

It has often been noted that humans understand their world through the lens of their current place within it: the mind as computer, the modular mind etc... In relation to Darwinism it is clear that both Wallace and Darwin saw the world refracted through the lens of Malthusian doctrine and the tightly compacted speciation of the tropics. This, I believe, led their less sophisticated votaries to exalt the competitve aspect of selection over the aspect that Darwin saw as metaphorical: The struggle of organism against environment. Kropotkin, just one of many harsh critics of the peculiarly "British character" of Darwinism at the time suggested something different:

" There is an immense amount of warfare and extermination going on amidst various species; there is, at the same time, as much, or perhaps even more, of mutual support, mutual aid, and mutual defense.... Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle."

If we ...ask Nature: “who are the fittest: those who are continually at war with each other, or those who support one another?” we at once see that those animals which acquire habits of mutual aid are undoubtedly the fittest. They have more chances to survive, and they attain, in their respective classes, the highest development of intelligence and bodily organization.

Both Peter Singer and Robert Wright (hardly a radical) converge on similiar conclusions: They speak alternatively of non-zero sumness and the expanding moral circle. IE: It is easier for us now to treat animals with respect because of cultural evolution, even Descartes thought of them as being a form of machine. Same goes for those from outside the immediate 'geneopshere' of kin selection.

We can also look to the literature on reciprocal selection to understand, with nuance, the considerable altruism that exists with us. Finally experimental cognitive neuroscience has pinpointed mirror neurons: when someone in front of you is pinched it fires off neurons located in the same part of your brain as would be fired were *you* being pinched. A powerful example of just how dependent humans are on eachother and how deep our natural empathy and sympathy can flow.

There will always be a creative flow between ideology and interpretation, and it is much easier for that dynamic to be heuristically bound to our current political, scientific and economic age. Unless you swim against the tide you don't know how strong it is, indeed it may be as invisible as the clearest stream of mountain water.


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
There is one thing that

There is one thing that makes evolutionary biology different to capitalism, and that is the idea of the constant struggle for power.

In evolution, there was a false pre-Darwinian Theory put forth by Lamarck. It stated that Natural Selection shaped the most fit individuals. This is incorrect. Natural Selection does something  different with the same effect, it eliminates the weak, it doesn't select the strong.

 

But capitalism is lamarckian in nature. Companies evolve out of necessity, it is not an elimination of the weak, but a shaping of the strong. Because companies are guided by "intelligent design" unlike evolution, there is no random process of genetic mutation probability to rely on. Economic dynamism comes from a strive for excellence, not a destruction of those who are not.  

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Marxism, communism and anarchism.

There are some very clear and important distinctions between Marxism and Anarchism. Here's a couple of quick pints. Firstly Marx's form of analysis 'historical materialism', based on an inversion of Hegel's dialectic, whilst providing a thorough understanding of the brutal history of capital, especially in england, neglects an ethical dimension.

Anarchism goes much deeper in its analysis of not just class relations, but of all institutionalised forms of power. It is not about the overthrow of all authority but about understanding and being conscious of both rational (a doctor) and irrational (a priest) authority and their effects upon human freedom, consciousness and wealth. Not the absurd notion of wealth as money, but in the classical liberal (and even ancient Greek sense) of wealth as human wealth. It examines the ways in which values and mores are distorted by economic, sexual, political etc.. forms of domination. How profit subverts human bonds etc...

Murray bookchin speaks about this on youtube here.

Secondly: It was anarchists, most eloquently Bakunin, who pointed out the dangers of Marxism. He warned of the "Red bureaucracy" which would prove to be "the most vile and terrible lie that our century has created." And he was write (as deludedbygod clearly showed in relation to China and the 'leap forward&#39Eye-wink. Anarchists oppose this form of tyranny even more than they oppose Capitalism.

T. 


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote: There is

deludedgod wrote:

There is one thing that makes evolutionary biology different to capitalism, and that is the idea of the constant struggle for power.

In evolution, there was a false pre-Darwinian Theory put forth by Lamarck. It stated that Natural Selection shaped the most fit individuals. This is incorrect. Natural Selection does something different with the same effect, it eliminates the weak, it doesn't select the strong.

 

But capitalism is lamarckian in nature. Companies evolve out of necessity, it is not an elimination of the weak, but a shaping of the strong. Because companies are guided by "intelligent design" unlike evolution, there is no random process of genetic mutation probability to rely on. Economic dynamism comes from a strive for excellence, not a destruction of those who are not.

Really interesting observations. Im not sure there exist too many untenuous connections between the corporation and evolution besides the idea that they both evolve. Perhaps if we were to discover eight dinosaur skeletons the size of countries we could start drawing meaningful connections.

Lamarckianism seems to be making an obscure come back in biology, but that's for another discussion. I would tend to view them (corporations) more as parasites (take the 'race to the bottom' of the global south economies, and capitalisms preference for oppressive ecologies (regimes) who consciously disempower their citizens.. Indeed in the 19th century the approach to the "free market" in the fittest economies (the British empire) was to "kick away the ladder".. Protectionism was the key to successfull growth of both the British and American economies, something we are determined to deny to the least developed regions now. If Britain had taken seriously Ricardo's rather silly notion of comparative advantage we would have a population consisting mainly of sheep.

As you will know better than me deludedgod, the countries that survived the late 90s asian crisis were the ones who didn't listen to the free marketeers but implemented firmly non-capitalist principles in order to protect their economies from the ravages of capital flight and inflation.

It remains to be seen what happens when China truly comes online in the next few years. My gf is from Singapore and has lived in Shanghai for years.. she has observed the positive and negative effects of capitalism in the region (including the crisis of the late 90s... Giovanni Arrighi has written on the global cycles of capitalism, and the dangers ahead... History has not ended.

From a fairly mainstream perspective The Long Tail (by the editor of Wired) is an example as to the importance for business to monetise the 'less' or 'least fit' parts of the new economy.. the rare books, rare songs etc....

Corporations as abstract legal fictions have no parallel with evolutionary theory, unless one wants to make the case that the corporation (body) is the extended phenotype of the humanity that shapes each one... 


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
Lamarckianism seems to be

Lamarckianism seems to be making an obscure come back in biology, but that's for another discussion.

At last! A subject I actually know something about. Lamarckianism is indeed returning. This is because our understanding of genetics of evolution has shown us that in addition to removing the unfit, fit organisms can arise slowly from cumulative advantegeous mutation. Segment shuffles, exon/intron shifts, horizontal transfers and itragenic innovation can all produce useful mutations. Without this mechanism there would be no evolution. So perhaps I was wrong to judge Lemarck

However, alongside this, the favored mechanism is still removal of the weak. It is just that for this mechanism to take place, there has to be a shaping of the strong. In terms of random frequency probability, the smart money is on removing the weak, which in terms of energy expenditure, is far easier than shaping the strong.

You can read more about this in the numerous posts about evolution I have made on the board, where I push advantage mutation in debating theists. I mostly cobbled my answers together from old molecular biology essays I wrote, as I am not studying reproductive genetic innovation at the moment. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
Wow, didn't expect this

Wow, didn't expect this discussion to expand so drastically over night. So many great points raised.

I just have one other point I wanted to bring up. As far as working towards a gradual change and informing people on these concepts, shouldn't anarchists/marxists/progressives be working on educating the people about something like the green party? A people's movement is going to take like at least 300 million people. It is something that is going to happen (or at least have to happen hopefully) naturally. It's not something that can be done by implanting these ideas by force.

If these ideals are going to be carried out, it seems like we should be doing things to work towards a society where they are even possible. We can sit here and lay out this perfect idea of how the world should be, but George Bush is still screwing everyone over as we speak.

I think the capitalism that Ralph Nader advocates is much more reasonable and compatible with the ideas that deludedgod is mentioning.

 

I don't think this discussion was intended to figure out what needs to be done right now anyways, but I just wanted to bring that up. The only thing I can think of right now is informing people about all of the great arguments Noam Chomsky makes in 'Manufacturing Consent.'

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
That's really fascinating

That's really fascinating stuff.

There are threeinteresting debates about evolution here:

1) Lamarck and natural selection 

2) Chance and Design

3) Human Nature (with Pinker)

I'm sure you're familiar with Dennett's "Darwins Dangerous Idea". That book had a significant effect on my thinking about these issues. If I remember in that book he discusses the Baldwin effect (a "good trick" that  enabled organisms to evolve more quickly. Sounds a little Lamarckian. The little I read about Lamarck himself was aroudn the theory of 'acquired characteristics', which, at the time, didn't make sense to me.

T. 


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Hey chosenbypasta

Hey chosenbypasta

I hope you're feeling al dente today. lol

I have shown Manufacturing Consent in a couple of cafes. Hired a screen, had a few beers and a Q+A. Went really well, it is always interesting to witness peoples reactions to what he actually says for the first time.

I also used a combination of split cam and the webcam community software Camfrog to stream the film (and others) from a server into a private online 'screening room' (just a room on a server with password access to prevent the need for constant moderation). Maybe we could try screening some films with RRS. I dont really know the main guys who run it yet, but they sound like a great bunch.

I've had a quick play with the web software they use, the quality seems pretty good for streaming.

T.


kriz
Posts: 33
Joined: 2007-02-15
User is offlineOffline
This has been a great

This has been a great discussion and I'm glad its being brought up here.  Too often atheists ridicule those who believe in an invisible god, yet simultaneously hold up the religion of Free Markets as a holy and unassailable force for good.

 

This is my first post here, and I originally signed in to answer the Chavez-bashing, but Riverrun already did it (and I'll add he did it excellently).  So I'll just throw in a few comments.  First of all Venenzuela is far from perfect, but the way the media throws around words like "dictator" and "authoritarian" at them is downright propaghanda.  Chavez has won several elections now, all internationally observed and recognized as free and fair.  In the latest on December 3rd 2006, he won with 63% of the vote, a landside unequaled in the US since 1820.  Also noteworthy is that the elction produced the largest turnout in Venenzuela's history, something like 70% of the electorate.  Compare that with the 40% or so who show up for elections in the USA, not because they are lazy, but because they know they have no real choices and their vote doesn't make a difference.  And he won with this incredible margin despite being so despised by all the major Venenzualen (and US, for that matter) media networks.   

 The only way to a see dictator here is by deciding first to see a dictator, then assemble what "facts" and free-market beliefs you can dig up to support it.  Sounds too much like religion for me. 

 So, I value Chavez's democratic socialism as a means of "expanding the cage" although I don't feel it is the ideal political set up.  "Expanding the cage" is a term used by Chomsky and others to show a way towards an egalitarian anarchist society, and the basic premise is:  You implement laws and structure society to raise the poorest of the poor up; and getting everyone to a level of comfort and resources where you can start to dismantle the cage, doing away with things like police forces and militaries and governments.  

 The first step is to make people who are blinded by the divine right of Markets and Capatalism to see again, and what better place than the Rational Responders site?


ChosenByPasta
ChosenByPasta's picture
Posts: 141
Joined: 2006-08-08
User is offlineOffline
Hi kriz, welcome to the

Hi kriz, welcome to the board. I just started making more time to post on here as well and it's a great place to learn.
Although I haven't studied Chavez very much I think I have to agree with you. I saw that documentary "the revolution will not be televised" and Chavez seems like a very honest and moral person to me. It seems that all the negative talk about him IS propaganda.
I wanted to ask all of the other anti-capitalists in here, how do you deal with being an anti-capitalist in a capitalist world? I get really miserable thinking about politics all of the time. It has really bashed my mental health thinking about the nature of the system of a whole and how it directly affects everything.

I'm just trying so hard to accept the world for what it is and do my part to encourage people to think more rationally and make better choices.  It's pretty clear at this point for me, however, that there is no turning back. There is no possible way I could escape and completely numb myself from society. There is no way I could ever give a fuck about american idol. Never! 

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Hi Kriz, Welcome, thanks

Hi Kriz,

Welcome, thanks for the feedback, and I counld't agree more with your analysis. Neo-liberalism, from the days of TINA ("There is no alternative", from Pinochets fellow compadre Thatcher) to now is most certainly a religion born out of the zealous attachments of Victorian economists to Hayek and the Chicago school. Reality is nothing but an objectionable distraction when dealing with rational man and the sublime perfection of free-markets, where pieces of land and free men can cross the globe in seconds. Or is that speculative capital? Sticking out tongue

Look forward to more discussions with you.

Tim. 

 

 

 


riverrun
Posts: 57
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Hi Chosenbypasta, You raise

Hi Chosenbypasta,

You raise really important points. Anyone exposed to capitalism will almost certainly find Chomsky and other anarchists thinkers as insane, and they are often literally charcterised as such in the media. I'm not a great fan of popular culture but The Matrix is probably as good a parallel as you can find (fight club and american psycho are worthy of mention) of the almost parallel realities the emerge from deeper understanding. It's much like the ways in which a physicist who understands n-dimensional space or Einstein's spacetime (and the idea that gravity isn't even a force) will diverge radically in their conception of the world from, say, a creationist.  

Brian Flemming (the guy who made the great documentary The God Who Wasn't There) commented on his blog recently that being on TV (he doesn't have one) caused him to laugh. I totally relate to this: Watching Fox (and even BBC) news for me is almost surreal these days... [ironically I used to be a Creative Director for the BBC and so was a 'corporate guy' for about 5 yrs.] Even walking around the city and observing consumption in practice is wierd.  

I must admit that I have disconnected myself for the past few years increasingly from the mainstream. I dont use banks, cars etc... I spend a sizeable portion of my time working on my writing and music. the biggest difficulty has been finding sources of income: I usually resort to web projects (I have about 11 years experience of web and motion graphics stuff), but I dont get paid for anything that I really enjoy.

Chomsky, after inventing the modern field of Linguistics, decided to stay at MIT. I can understand the choice but I've committed to remaining 'supra-institutional' as an auto-didact in my own work. Im in my 30s now, but I can remember when I was in my early 20s and got as far outside political awareness as possible. I was a percussionist and drummer in Jazz and Rock bands. Life is certainly much easier when you aren't aware of injustice, mendacity and corruption on a global scale and I've often thought about going back to that (in fact I recorded an album last year), but I find the intellectual challenges and pursuits that interest far more compelling and impossible to renege on. I'm doomed! LOL

In personal correspondence with Chomsky I asked him about options regarding survival within and without the system. He had this to say:

It's easy, and there is a simple formula, borrowed from the old Communist Party days.  There was a notion "critical support." Meaning, lending support for every crime of state or other power center, but distancing oneself by affecting a high moral tone and regretting that one has to compromise one's own magnificent values to support "the lesser evil."  It's also useful to be able to claim a dissident past (in the West today, to claim to have participated in some student activity in the 60s). It's an old genre, and it wins great acclaim.  It requires no credentials at all, though one who pursues this path is likely to gain academic credentials.  There are innumerable examples.  Michael Ignatieff is a good example (though it's true that he has an irrelevant Phd and published a rather arcane scholarly book about 30 years ago, unrelated to his later fame and fortune).  Yesterday's New York Times (maybe the book review) had an adulatory article on leading intellectuals, mostly of the same type.  The most prominent, and respected, was Paul Berman, an incredible fraud and liar, exposed over and over, but it doesn't matter, because of the very valuable contributions he can make in critical support.

Of course, the response depends not on credentials but on subordination to power.  Thus Bertrand Russell had magnificent credentials, but was utterly reviled because he was too honest and independent.  For examples of those who elicit a different reaction, just take the press, intellectual journals, etc., and see who is revered.

I realize you are rejecting that well-travelled path.  But the consequences follow, no matter how rich the credentials.  It's possible to proceed, and to be influential among people who matter (which excludes elite sectors, generally).  But one should have no illusions about the reactions.  As history demonstrates dramatically, intellectuals (writers, academics, etc.) tend to be servants of power, and while there are exceptions, usually at the margins, the core sectors do not treat them with kid gloves, to put it mildly.

 Chomsky also often quotes Gramsci's line: "Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will."

Communities like this certainly help, as do local communities and any grass-roots groups. It's impossible to do it alone.

Tim. 


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
Hi all.   I would like to

Hi all.

 

I would like to reiterate that I am not right-wing. I despise the far  spectrum of both political wings, and American partisanship in general, and I do not stick up for hypercapitalism or the free market. I suppose it would be a little different for me than you riverrun, I get paid for an intellectual pursuit that I enjoy, which is to unlock the secrets of life.

I don't stick up for capitalism because I am religiously devoted to it, you cannot be religiously devoted to a branch of economics. I stick up for it because from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes good sense.  I would also like to point out that just because many capitalist societies are exploitave, especially in the class-divided West, does not mean it has to be. It is not inherent in it's nature, it seems remarkably utalitarian in the fact that it can lift the living standards of the largest number of people.

There are indeed egalitarian capitalist systems, for example, Japan. 

And by the way, like I said, I only stick up for the economics. I still endorse the politics of secular humanism. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


MrRage
Posts: 896
Joined: 2006-12-22
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote: There are

deludedgod wrote:
There are indeed egalitarian capitalist systems, for example, Japan.

I'm starting to think that Japan is the counter example for everything. Eye-wink


deludedgod
Rational VIP!ScientistDeluded God
deludedgod's picture
Posts: 3221
Joined: 2007-01-28
User is offlineOffline
One more thing. I would

One more thing. I would like to point out that I do understand where you are coming from. If I lived in the West, I would probably be quite disillusioned as well. But I live in China, and so you must understand where I am coming from.

China is more or less economically capitalist at this point, but the truth is, it's culture extolls such pragmatism, that it really isn't that materialistic. People save money and work hard. I mean, I have a TV and computer, but I simply don't consume very much, well, stuff. The single most numerous possesion in the house I have is books. Books about atheism, religion, books about history and music and marxism and rand hypercapitalism, about anatomy and cellular biology. I'm simply not into consumerism, and neither is anyone else here. There is a funny article in the Onion, the satire newspaper, where the Chinese factory worker says he cant believe the shit he makes for Americans.

And you know what? When I went to the USA, I agreed. I would go into a mall, and they would sell things like electric salad forks and money suits and little electronic bath bubbles or whatever, I was appalled by this culture of retarded consumption, but also just puzzled. Who would buy all this useless shit?? So I do understand. If I were in the West, I would agree with you. But I am not in the West, I am in China, so I cannot agree with you. At least about economics, I think I agree with you about everything else! LOL 

BTW, this culture of pragmatism I was referring to earlier is what makes the Chinese so sensible. The country is 93% atheist! I am completely at home here, everyone laughs at the faithful. People here cannot understand why the Americans are so stupid. Bush came to China and started talking about faith-based initiatives on his Asia tour several years ago, and I just watched and wondered: What the fuck is he talking about. Doesn't he know that everyone is sitting there and thinking he is out of his fucking mind?

So, if the Chinese take over the world (they will), I would not be suprised if religion slowly dissolved. So, that is good. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


qbg
Posts: 298
Joined: 2006-11-22
User is offlineOffline
deludedgod wrote: I don't

deludedgod wrote:
I don't stick up for capitalism because I am religiously devoted to it, you cannot be religiously devoted to a branch of economics.

However, economics is used under capitalism the same way religion was in the middle ages to justify the status quo.
Quote:

I stick up for it because from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes good sense.

An economic system is important to have in a society, but that doesn't mean that capitalism is the best one.
Quote:
I would also like to point out that just because many capitalist societies are exploitave, especially in the class-divided West, does not mean it has to be. It is not inherent in it's nature, it seems remarkably utalitarian in the fact that it can lift the living standards of the largest number of people.
Quote:

It can destroy the living standards of a large amount of people too.
Also, from an anarchist viewpoint, capitalism must be exploitative because it is through this exploitation that profit arises.
There are indeed egalitarian capitalist systems, for example, Japan.

Still, the profit motive still exists.
Quote:
And by the way, like I said, I only stick up for the economics.

Maybe you would like to check out: section C of An Anarchist FAQ

"What right have you to condemn a murderer if you assume him necessary to "God's plan"? What logic can command the return of stolen property, or the branding of a thief, if the Almighty decreed it?"
-- The Economic Tendency of Freethought