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Thread: The next generation

  1. #31
    nomadologist Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by S-Mac View Post
    The association of economic liberalism with social conservatism is really just a product of politics, beginning during the Reagan era in the US, rather than of an actual ideological standpoint. Neo-Conservatives needed an apparently sound economic agenda to appeal to a whole chunk of middle-class voters, while Neo-liberals needed a moral agenda to appeal to the conservative base which was their only real political option, since most left-leaning voters were obviously attached to state intervention.

    The two positions are extremely contradictory and are quite frequently at odds with each other, since conservatives tend to want more government/legal intervention into peoples private lives (fertility rights, drugs, etc) which neo-liberals are in principle opposed to.

    Happily for them, a shared love for capital accumulation, and hysteric opposition to anything smelling remotely of communsim, takes prioity above everything glossing over the myriad contradictions for the sake of political power.

    So being economically conservative/liberal and socially liberal is really a more internally consistent position.

    The problem for the the political 'left' is that most are also scared shared shitless of communsim or any truely radical ideology, and a desire to appear hip-to-the-economic-groove neccessitates making concessions to neo-liberal economics (being 'realistic' about the economy) while retaining some socialist principles, leading them more towards the centre, where other types of contradictions abound.

    [Edit]

    From my own observations (of middle-class college students), for most youngish folk 'communism' of any sort is completely off the agenda for all but a minority of students and activists. Most are quite aware of the 'evils of capitalism' but at the same time cant imagine anything else but a capitalist economy being possible, leading to two general ideological positions (if they're bothered to take one at all); fully-fledged libertarianism, believing that if all barriers to 'freedom' are removed, a Van Hayekian/Friedmanian Utopia of a grand markt-equilibrium awaits; or a sort of rearticulated Third Way, with the negative effects free-markets balanced by some sensible social policies.

    This was a truly great post, though I think those who are scared of communism are obviously wrong. Grandmarkt equilibrium? Please. The market thrives on instability.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomadologist View Post
    I think those who are scared of communism are obviously wrong.
    I refer you to 20th century world history, passim.
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  3. #33
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    As someone who has experienced life under Communism (Romania), I'm not particularly keen on more of the same either.

  4. #34
    nomadologist Guest

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    There have been problems in a lot of communist countries historically, yes. Have there not been problems in *every* system of government historically?

    If communism were no real threat to capitalism, America and most of the rest of the western world would not have spent so many years on McCarthyism and so many dollars and lives on fighting its mere existence.

  5. #35
    nomadologist Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    As someone who has experienced life under Communism (Romania), I'm not particularly keen on more of the same either.
    Have a very good friend from Romania, and one psychiatrist, and neither had much of a problem with Communism--in fact my friend expresses nostalgia for her childhood in a communist state at times...

    What was your experience like?

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomadologist View Post
    Have a very good friend from Romania, and one psychiatrist, and neither had much of a problem with Communism--in fact my friend expresses nostalgia for her childhood in a communist state at times...

    What was your experience like?
    Hmm...super-long queues for heavily rationed poor quality food; 60W light bulbs and no brighter permitted; government propaganda on telly every day and little else; restrictions on cultural imports; persecution of dissenters; signing in to police stations; not being able to speak one's mind about anything; destruction of hundreds of villages and forced relocation of peasants; flattening of vast areas of the capital city with great loss of cultural heritage; erection of vast, pointless monuments to the leader's ego; ludicrous academic promotion of leader's wife...it goes on and on and on...The country's back was broken by Communism (and this is a place that has the natural resources to be very strong: fertile land, oil, sea and mountains for tourism...)

    My mum (Romanian side of the family) treats Western friends of mine who might praise Communism with undisguised, sad contempt.

    Your friends' views are odd.
    Last edited by mixed_biscuits; 30-03-2008 at 09:28 AM.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    As someone who has experienced life under Communism (Romania), I'm not particularly keen on more of the same either.
    I doubt anyone would want more of that.

    But it's precisely this instant conflation of the term communism with the specifics of Soviet repressive authoritarianism that makes people so scared of giving it any serious thought.

    But there is no essential link between a form of social organisation based around the commune, in one way or another, and authritarianism. Just as there is no essential link between capitalism and freedom or democracy (as contempoary China and Russia are showing us, and to a lesser extent the revocation of human rights in the UK and US).

    So much time and energy has been expended on forging an inherent theoretical link between communism and repressive authoritariansim, and next to none on developing a workable alternative to capitalism or repressive forms of Communism.

    And for what its worth (and at the risk of turning this discussion into a Monthy Python sketch), my mother's family couldn't afford decent, food, housing, lighting or heating, but instead of being able to identify the structures which put them in such a situation, and being able to attribute a name to it and oppose it, it was simply accepted as 'the way things were'. She is highly contemptuous of anyone who is in favour of preserving massive social inequality or suggests that it might be a 'neccessary evil' for the sake of 'a dynamic economy', 'economic efficiency' or 'wealth generation'.
    Last edited by S-Mac; 30-03-2008 at 08:07 PM.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by S-Mac View Post
    But there is no essential link between a form of social organisation based around the commune, in one way or another, and authritarianism.
    Fine - you set up your commune with like-minded people and then seek to expand it for what you presume to be the good of the masses, whilst doing so implicitly or explicitly agreeing to do things a certain way. Unfortunately, a pesky bastard like me decides that your rules are rubbish and, to boot, I have something to offer that your commune would really like (so I can't just be ignored) - how are you going to make me toe the line or ensure that your rules aren't bent for the sake of convenience?

    This conundrum always seems to stump my idealist communist-minded buddies.

    Reminding them of the dysfunctional train wreck of their personal lives can also serve as a reminder of the difficulty of putting their communal ideas into practice (ie. creating harmony amongst men).
    Last edited by mixed_biscuits; 30-03-2008 at 11:18 PM.

  9. #39
    nomadologist Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    Fine - you set up your commune with like-minded people and then seek to expand it for what you presume to be the good of the masses, whilst doing so implicitly or explicitly agreeing to do things a certain way. Unfortunately, a pesky bastard like me decides that your rules are rubbish and, to boot, I have something to offer that your commune would really like (so I can't just be ignored) - how are you going to make me toe the line or ensure that your rules aren't bent for the sake of convenience?

    This conundrum always seems to stump my idealist communist-minded buddies.
    If you're not interested in making decisions that are based on the mutual good of the "commune", and disagree with the form of government proposed by others within the organization, then you can always leave. Why should you continue to benefit from the organization if you fundamentally disagree with its precepts?

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

  10. #40
    nomadologist Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    Hmm...super-long queues for heavily rationed poor quality food; 60W light bulbs and no brighter permitted; government propaganda on telly every day and little else; restrictions on cultural imports; persecution of dissenters; signing in to police stations; not being able to speak one's mind about anything; destruction of hundreds of villages and forced relocation of peasants; flattening of vast areas of the capital city with great loss of cultural heritage; erection of vast, pointless monuments to the leader's ego; ludicrous academic promotion of leader's wife...it goes on and on and on...The country's back was broken by Communism (and this is a place that has the natural resources to be very strong: fertile land, oil, sea and mountains for tourism...)

    My mum (Romanian side of the family) treats Western friends of mine who might praise Communism with undisguised, sad contempt.

    Your friends' views are odd.
    Romania now is hardly utopia. There were people who did better under communism there than they would have otherwise. I imagine those are the types who are nostalgic for it.

    But yes, I agree with S-Mac, let's not conflate the USSR and its likeminded authoritarian partnership regimes with all or any form of communism.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomadologist View Post
    Romania now is hardly utopia. There were people who did better under communism there than they would have otherwise. I imagine those are the types who are nostalgic for it.
    It's a damn sight better than it was.

    Life is harder for some now, but not by much - inevitably tough transition period.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomadologist View Post
    If you're not interested in making decisions that are based on the mutual good of the "commune", and disagree with the form of government proposed by others within the organization, then you can always leave. Why should you continue to benefit from the organization if you fundamentally disagree with its precepts?

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out!
    My hypothetical specified that I had something to offer to the commune that could not be ignored.

    The problem is that people do decide to leave - in their droves. So communist governments put up big walls to stop them going = authoritarianism.

    I've got no problem with people setting up their own little communes, provided that they don't expect to be allowed to force other people to join them.

  13. #43
    nomadologist Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    My hypothetical specified that I had something to offer to the commune that could not be ignored.

    The problem is that people do decide to leave - in their droves. So communist governments put up big walls to stop them going = authoritarianism.

    I've got no problem with people setting up their own little communes, provided that they don't expect to be allowed to force other people to join them.
    Yes and what would you be offering? This hypothetical makes no sense unless it has content--i.e., do you have a couple of trillion dollars? A cheaper way to run public transit? What exactly could you possibly have that would be this important?

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomadologist View Post
    Yes and what would you be offering? This hypothetical makes no sense unless it has content--i.e., do you have a couple of trillion dollars? A cheaper way to run public transit? What exactly could you possibly have that would be this important?
    Scale the size of the commune down if you're having problems with the hypothetical.

    In any case, your solution is either to tell me to sling my hook or just ignore me. If you have 100,000s of dissenters in your large commune (which, of course, is inevitable), you would be wasting a lot of human resources.

  15. #45
    nomadologist Guest

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    I'm not having "problems" with the hypothetical, it simply doesn't make sense to "hypothetically" have something so wonderful that an entire group of people would have to throw off any principles they would use to structure their government. Either you have something you can name that is this wonderful, or it's just a bullshit argument.

    What do you have? A couple of cars? Some drums of crude oil?

    It doesn't matter how many people we're talking about.

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