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Communism

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Communism - the only hope for humanity or a big bag of bollocks?

Yes
42
36%
No
48
41%
I'm not sure
15
13%
If i'm honest i don't really know what it is
12
10%
 
Total votes : 117

Re: Communism

Postby Zorg on Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:06 am

Tendency of course is to paint everything with breadlines and the Stasi watching your every move, but the reality was far more mundane for most. Like a glass ceiling if you're not active in the Party, etc. And yes, as someone who experienced it firsthand, I can attest that there were arguably positives to living behind the iron curtain, but likely not enough that anyone wants to return to it. Being strong-armed into Socialism isn't sustainable.

The main problem that communism suffered is that without a free market, all the inequities, corruption and paranoia could unquestionably be directed at the government (spoken under your breath of course). With "freedom" comes a complete dilution of accountability, and a paper trail is that much more abstract. Certainly the continued celebration of a con artist like Trump is as good an example of that as any. Glaringly criminal, but within the margins of what we consider democracy, so it's ok.

Also, there was no "revolution" in these countries, there was Soviet occupation and localized cronyism, which adds a further point of resistance.
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Re: Communism

Postby Luzwei on Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:09 am

Zorg wrote:Also, there was no "revolution" in these countries, there was Soviet occupation and localized cronyism, which adds a further point of resistance.


Again, not everywhere was Soviet boot put down as I lived in a communist country that resisted the boot of the Soviet and had semi open market but with strong socialist roots.

Single payer
"Free" education
Secure jobs after high school/uni
Affordable housing plan
Booming culture
Zero church influence in politics

Can't say it was such dark times. Could've been worse.

Also, my grandfather fought the Nazis and was one of the first in the region to do so, so everyone knew us.

Bet then again, I can understand that living in Soviet Germany was no fun for anyone. That was probably not fun 40 years for the people living there.
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Re: Communism

Postby prowler on Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:36 am

erskine wrote:
prowler wrote:I'll just drop them here and maybe some more senior red FMs can enlighten me...

man!! you're in Bucharest and most people on the forum live in the "west", and have never lived in a communist regime.
i don't know how old you are, but if you don't recall the pre 90's era, you may ask questions to older people in your surrounding.
doesn't experience matters, even a little?

80s Romania was miserable, nobody except nostalgic loonies will deny this. FM Lu is right that not all regimes were the same, tho.

anyway, this is not what i was asking about. My question was about revolutionary (+democratic?) Marxism, where has it gone? Obviously 50 years of Cold War + 25 years of neoliberalism didn't help, but if it's still a good idea, shouldn't we see a resurgence?

i thought of another possible reason for its demise:
C. modern Marxists realised that any dictatorship, including that of the proletariat, is a shit idea.

i'd really like some people who know more than me to chip in here :smt006
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Re: Communism

Postby kokorodoko on Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:16 am

prowler wrote:is revolutionary socialism dead today? If so, what's the reason?

Depends on what you mean by dead.
Is there a unified labour movement with a revolutionary agenda, like 1880s-1920s? No.
Is there a militant and powerful labour movement like until mid 1970s? No.
Class struggle, however, is obviously not dead.

The reason? I am not sure, and I think that is one of the main things characterising revolutionary socialism of the last several decades: Confusion.

A couple of pointers though:
- Various events in the 1970s: Economic problems eroding faith in keyesianism, counter-offensive against organized labour, the image of western communist parties tarnished following the Prague Spring, the fizzling out of the '68 events.
- Because of above, western communist parties distancing themselves from the SU and and seeking an alternative course (eurocommunism), which in the end looked pretty lukewarm and didn't amount to much.
- The end of the communist regimes, leading many to view it as a "finished chapter".
- Because of above, mainstream labour parties resigning themselves to the new order.
- The New Left and everything that followed in their wake - hostility to authority, institutions, solid organization, centralism etc.
- Concurrent shifts in leftist intellectual trends away from traditional marxism and more in the direction of the Frankfurt school and post-structuralism. Much of what is vaguely referred to as postmodern left stems from here. For example, focus on particular struggles rather an overarching idea of "the revolution".

Everybody agrees that there are problems right now, so why does inactivity seem to persist? To my mind, there seems to be unpreparedess to deal with the situation, and lack of explanatory models. All european social democrats by now are neoliberals, and most communist parties are basically conservative welfare nationalists. Apart from them it's a nebulous mass of tiny groups with vague and contradictory ideas.

But social democracy is still a "brand", so they have maintained support from organized labour, because - this is my take - they are expected to be the old, familiar social democracy even though the reality is very different form before. To a lesser extent this is true of communism as well. For those fed up however, there is nowhere to turn.
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Re: Communism

Postby blackmarket on Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:50 pm

I find it bizarre that seemingly educated people still talk about the former socialist republics as "communist". So many hungover from the Cold War.
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Re: Communism

Postby blackmarket on Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:56 pm

prowler wrote:A. scientific Marxism has been proven wrong

You are going to have to back up that assertion.

B. there's nobody left to lead such a revolution, as most believers today are treating it more as theory than practice, under the wing of academia/journalism/mom's basement/etc

You don't get out much, do you?
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Re: Communism

Postby blackmarket on Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:02 pm

jimmywahcrowbar wrote:My neighbour grew up in communist Dresden. I asked him what it was like and he said "terrible".

The GDR was no more "communist" than it was democratic.

Be wary of labels and try to think for yourself.
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Re: Communism

Postby Zorg on Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:28 am

blackmarket wrote:I find it bizarre that seemingly educated people still talk about the former socialist republics as "communist". So many hungover from the Cold War.


They called themselves communists. Unclear what you mean, just that it gives communism a bad name? There will always be that stigma attached to it, I'm afraid, but keep persevering, comrade.
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Re: Communism

Postby Redline on Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:37 pm

Communism - the only hope for humanity or a big bag of bollocks?
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Re: Communism

Postby prowler on Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:27 am

kokorodoko wrote:Everybody agrees that there are problems right now, so why does inactivity seem to persist? To my mind, there seems to be unpreparedess to deal with the situation, and lack of explanatory models.

this is what i meant by "scientific Marxism has failed" (maybe "proven wrong" is too strong an assertion, but it's definitely been defeated, right?)

thanks FMkokorodoko, i'd been thinking along the same lines of much of what you wrote.

it's true that there are several solid initiatives for change and progress around, but they can't really be described as Marxist-revolutionary anymore

blackmarket wrote:
B. there's nobody left to lead such a revolution, as most believers today are treating it more as theory than practice, under the wing of academia/journalism/mom's basement/etc

You don't get out much, do you?

that's true, i don't. Where should i be going?

blackmarket wrote:I find it bizarre that seemingly educated people still talk about the former socialist republics as "communist". So many hungover from the Cold War.

this is a pretty arid point of debate... the choice seems to be of using the word communist to describe a regime (based on the ruling parties' own names) or not. You're right, it's more of a Cold War-style geopolitical denominator than any sort of description of the societies themselves. So what? You think that's a hindrance to revolutionary thought today?


what are your thoughts on my point C. dictatorship of the proletariat is a bankrupt idea. It seems to me that if any concept is to have been discredited by the experience of the USSR, it's the idea of having a workers' party monopoly on politics
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Re: Communism

Postby Gramsci on Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:23 pm

Defining what we’re talking about here would help. If we’re talking about the Eastern Block former Stalinist dictatorships then emphatically crap. However if we are considering Marxian theory regarding the nature of capitalism and the potential for a technological post-capitalist communitarian society structured around a free association of worker owned collective businesses operating in competition and/or cooperation then an emphatic not crap.
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Re: Communism

Postby m3kcomp on Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:16 am

To be honest, my reading of Marx and other Communist writing was minimal at best and happened over 20 years go. So I have a genuine question: Does Communism take human nature into account?

This would appear to me to be the biggest failure of all political theory and application. Human nature is like water, and always seems to finds the cracks.

What would a Communist state determine the conceptual artists of, say, the 60s be put to use for? Clerical work? How about all the bands we love on this message board? How many positions would the Communist state determine can be filled by musicians making music and not doing something else?

Human nature seem to have evolved into a totally contrarian one. I don't believe there's a political system that can contain it. It's too bad we can't just be respectful and not pillage one another on every level.

Will Das Kapital convince me otherwise? Again, a genuine question.
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Re: Communism

Postby kokorodoko on Sat Jun 09, 2018 9:46 am

"Human nature" is a bit vague. Do you have any specific situations in mind?

The utopian idea of organizing everything under a perfect, machine-like system will obviously run into problems, and something like human nature revolts at the idea. It is not a specifically communist feature though, but an enlightenment/modernist one, which communism shares since it belongs to the same "current".
And even so, there has been much gained from this type of rationalization.

Your second question, I'm not sure what you mean. When you say "put to use", I think of graphic designers being employed in advertising, or musicians hired to do TV jingles. There are obviously lots of artists outside of those narrow examples.

Will Das Kapital convince you otherwise? Only one way to find out.
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Re: Communism

Postby blackmarket on Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:23 am

Zorg wrote:
blackmarket wrote:I find it bizarre that seemingly educated people still talk about the former socialist republics as "communist". So many hungover from the Cold War.


They called themselves communists. Unclear what you mean, just that it gives communism a bad name? There will always be that stigma attached to it, I'm afraid, but keep persevering, comrade.


You don't seem to understand the words you are trying to use. Under Marxist theory, the term communist state is antithetical. That was a pejorative hurled by the west and still used by cold-warriors today. It is not a thing that can actually exist and not something the old republics claimed to have achieved. Communism, as defined by Marx, is a stateless, classless, post-currency situation. None of this existed in the old republics.
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Re: Communism

Postby blackmarket on Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:30 am

prowler wrote:
blackmarket wrote:I find it bizarre that seemingly educated people still talk about the former socialist republics as "communist". So many hungover from the Cold War.

this is a pretty arid point of debate... the choice seems to be of using the word communist to describe a regime (based on the ruling parties' own names) or not. You're right, it's more of a Cold War-style geopolitical denominator than any sort of description of the societies themselves. So what? You think that's a hindrance to revolutionary thought today?


Have you ever considered why the DPRK is always refereed to as communist and never democratic? (it is neither)
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Re: Communism

Postby m3kcomp on Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:29 am

kokorodoko wrote:Your second question, I'm not sure what you mean. When you say "put to use", I think of graphic designers being employed in advertising, or musicians hired to do TV jingles. There are obviously lots of artists outside of those narrow examples.


I suppose my question is if artists, of any kind, can continue to be whatever kind of artists they want under a Communist system?

If not, then crap. No waffles.
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Re: Communism

Postby Zorg on Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:59 pm

blackmarket wrote:
Zorg wrote:
blackmarket wrote:I find it bizarre that seemingly educated people still talk about the former socialist republics as "communist". So many hungover from the Cold War.


They called themselves communists. Unclear what you mean, just that it gives communism a bad name? There will always be that stigma attached to it, I'm afraid, but keep persevering, comrade.


You don't seem to understand the words you are trying to use. Under Marxist theory, the term communist state is antithetical. That was a pejorative hurled by the west and still used by cold-warriors today. It is not a thing that can actually exist and not something the old republics claimed to have achieved. Communism, as defined by Marx, is a stateless, classless, post-currency situation. None of this existed in the old republics.


I'm not using "words", or concerned about theory here, I'm simply stating FACT. The ruling parties in the Eastern Bloc nations and the Internationale called themselves Communist parties. It had nothing to do with Western propoganda. Do with that information whatever you want, but probably best you stop being a know-it-all, or go back in time and tell Lenin he needed to re-read doctrine to avoid any confusion.
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Re: Communism

Postby Anthony Flack on Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:19 pm

And North Korea calls itself "democratic". That is also a FACT.

Since it has the word "democratic" in its name, unlike any Western nation, I guess that makes it an exemplar of the principles of democracy.
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Re: Communism

Postby Zorg on Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:50 am

Certainly Mr. Flack, my effort was only to clarify to blackmarket that his disparagement of myself and the forum at large are undeserved, as "communism" as a label was not assigned to these countries by myself, or by any Western power. The label was embraced by Lenin, dsplayed on party "merch", and widely used across Eastern Europe to describe their own particular brand of collectivism. If you have problems with the good name of Communism being sullied, you can blame Lenin, but I might wager that that train has left the station, and the term will most likely be forever associated with this particular part of history, regardless of the accuracy.
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Re: Communism

Postby kokorodoko on Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:43 am

prowler wrote:
kokorodoko wrote:Everybody agrees that there are problems right now, so why does inactivity seem to persist? To my mind, there seems to be unpreparedess to deal with the situation, and lack of explanatory models.

this is what i meant by "scientific Marxism has failed" (maybe "proven wrong" is too strong an assertion, but it's definitely been defeated, right?)

If you mean as a movement, it would be impossible to say that it has failed or been defeated irrevocably, since a movement could always return the next day.

If you agree that class struggle exists as long as class society does, then any defeat is only temporary.

If you mean as theory, then we would have to agree upon something that would constitute defeat of the theory, for example if the labour theory of value was shown to be invalid. (In that particular case, I don't know enough about economy to make a judgement).

What I won't concede however, is that the experience of 20th century communism disproves or invalidates marxism as a theory (or communism as an idea), because a multitude of factors went into making those regimes what they were, which go well beyond marxist theory (or any theory).

They present problems for sure, grave problems, and some might say that those problems point to flaws within marxism itself. I'm willing to entertain any such argument, but I also have problems with the idea of "flaws within the theory itself", because nothing ever exists by itself, if you know what I mean. The ideology and practice of the communist states was shaped as much by the positivism that was immensely popular in some camps within the labour movement, by the general apocalyptic feeling that you see expressed in people like Chernychevsky with their "destroy everything to make way for a new dawn" mentality, by extreme faith in modern technology, by subsequent geopolitical developments... as by Das Kapital.

Especially by Das Kapital, in fact. IIRC Stalin never even read it.

Even in Marx, it becomes hard to point to what it is "in itself", and what is other things.


it's true that there are several solid initiatives for change and progress around, but they can't really be described as Marxist-revolutionary anymore

Perhaps, but we don't yet know what marxist-revolutionary looks like today. Remember, the first marxist-revolutionaries called themselves social democrats.


what are your thoughts on my point C. dictatorship of the proletariat is a bankrupt idea. It seems to me that if any concept is to have been discredited by the experience of the USSR, it's the idea of having a workers' party monopoly on politics

At the time of those writings, the existing order was understood as a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. In other words, the bourgeoisie is the ruling class and thus dictates the rules. A dictatorship of the proletariat is then a reversal of this power relationship, but still a dictatorship since while the proletariat holds power, opposition to their power still exists from the people removed from power.

Accordingly, there is no choice between proletarian dicatorship or multiparty democracy, but between different forms of dictatorship.

I'm not sure how far I can go along with this, but I agree at least that there is no neutral ground, some transcendent interest. It's always one against another, in some way.
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