A day in communist society

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Communist
A day in communist society
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As Marxists, we are not utopians so we don't make blueprints for future society, but I see no reason why we shouldn't try to imagine what Communist society might be like, in fact, I think if we tried to do this more I think there would be a lot more people who recognised Communism as a state of affairs worth fighting for. I think it'd be a nice creative thought experiment to hear what everyone thinks a day in Communist society might be like. Here's my contribution:

Rolling out of bed at 11AM (Not that anyone would really be looking at clocks), and heading down to the communal kitchen for some orange juice and toast. Having breakfast with your neighbours and being able to look them in the eye as friends and equals, instead of regarding them with suspicion or worrying about invading their hallowed 'privacy'. After breakfast, you pop over to the local soviet to see what work needs to be done, the place is bustling, people are running to and fro, and the hall is filled with loud and passionate conversations and even arguments about what work needs to be done. Eventually you team up with some garderners and go and plant some nice flowers. Two or three hours later you decide youve had enough and go and have some dinner with friends and drink just a little too much wine, but it's good stuff, having been prepared by people for whom it is their passion rather than their profession. Afterwards you all go down to the park and play a game of football with 40 others, children, grown men, women, people just having fun with no-one keeping score. To the children all this is normal, but to those who remember Capitalist society it is moving to see all these different people playing together as equals, the idea of adults at play no longer seems absurd. Evening comes, and you head over to the street party round the corner, everyone is dancing and live music is being played by ordinary people rather than out of a CD player, some of the musicians are god-awful, but nobody minds! Eventually you get tired and retire to a house nearby that you've never been to before and this doesn't seem strange. There is but one problem which refuses to go away though- English weather!

 

 

Communist
The struggle for Communism

Having imagined all that, the idea of having to struggle and agitate and read theoretical books seems quite depressing. I guess in the end it will all be worth it. 

Fred
I really need my days extending

Moving to the tropics seems to be something a lot of people are doing these days, especially as the weather in Northern Europe is still haphazard, so I was glad that my group decided to go as well.  Most of us are engaged in marine matters anyway, one way or another, so the chance to get involved with warm waters was terrific.  

 

As you know The Maluku Islands project is vast, covering more than a thousand miles of ocean and comprising mostly human-made floating islands, gardens, aquaria, acqua-culture, fish farms vegetable and weed farms and the like, as well as the energy science project, and includes schools and hospitals where a lot of interesting work is being done with coral cells and sea weed and their application to medicine. Miracles have been achieved already in bone and joint replacements. 

But it's the music scene that really attracts me.  Gamelan and drum bands have always been a popular form of music in this region of the world, going back far into the Alienation time.  But recently  the idea of using bird song and bird dances as a motivating source has really taken off.  This could be because of the huge growth in the birds of paradise population in nearby Papua I suppose, even spreading to nearby island like Bali and Lombok  where the birds like the tigers all disappeared in the old times.   Its also said that the birds enjoy and are attracted to the music produced by the proliferation of these "nature bands" and even drop in to listen!  I don't know if this is true, but hope to find out for myself.  

Anyway the synthesis of acoustic and electronic gamelan and drums has opened up a whole new aspect to what constitutes musically accepted sounds and improvisation.  The same is true for the dancing that these sounds can trigger.  So I am sort of in my element here.  

And then there's the water sports and diving.  Since the coral reefs have been re-grown, and since the building of the storm protection system which keeps out the pacific rollers, the diving is unbelievable. 

 

The Maluku project is so stunningly exciting and successful that there are plans to re-invent it in the Philippines -  a Mach 2 version -  that is once the climate there has been brought under tighter control.  There's such a lot to do!  I really need my days extending. 

jaycee
I've been writing a song on

I've been writing a song on this subject, I've still got to finish writing the last verse but will post up the lyrics once i have finished it, it's quite similar to Communists's day so far.

hopefully I'll get the actual song recorded soon as well.

 

 

lem_
i think i see communism as

i think i see communism as metarial conditions that allow free association to emerge in accordance with need. i just now looked at a acacedmic boojk i read a few years ago (capitalism and schizophrenia) and would suggest that a good way to look at the everyday under communism is nomadology.

and that the absolutization of politics etc. needn't make it all encompassing... everyone is human but i don't think that means we are only our humanity.

 

edit so yeah, an end to alienation is pretty difficult, i guess i imagine it as a kind of decoupling of our ideas about need and ability. i mean at the moment there's all sorts of ways that people relate to others in terms of that - as a hero, a superior, inferior, whatever.

i think they'll still be an idea of talent etc., but it will be so different as to be impossible to make sense of intersubjectively... i think intrasuecbjtively i [e.g.] would be much the same but less frustrated and sick, and able to relate to others in ways that, like i said, i can't express yet. not agape or anything, though perhaps a kind of love for my "fate", a kind of sponatenity like in the OP but one which isn't as indivisualized as that seems to be now. social fluidity and intelligence, i guess - one that doesn't harm me or anyone else.

radicalchains
Cyborgs

I'm not going to talk about a day in communism but briefly mention something that's happening in the present which has implications for the future. I've just come across Kevin Warwick and his 'cyborg' experiments. He seems most excited by the potential of brain to brain communication which frankly scares the shit out of me under capitalism. That is to say as I understand it basically telepathy. And it is far from science fiction. He has already demonstrated various 'enhancements' such as inserting magnets into the fingertips giving the person the ablity to feel how far certain objects are from them. Or being able to tell the heat of objects or even people using a similar method. Some of these things are referred to as 'sensory substitution'. There was also quite an amazing experiment where he said he was linked upto to a robot hand half a cross the world over the internet and could sense when the hand opened and closed etc. What strikes me is the immediate military application with most of these things. The brain to brain communication is frankly terrifying. Would it mean people could known everying you were thinking or even worse stored memories etc? If there wasn't defence against it one of two things would happen. People would try and stop thinking as much as possible out of fear and privacy. Or social relations and morality would explode. Apologies if I haven't explained this very well as I've just come across Warwick. By the way does anyone know where the idea of 'telepathy' came from? Is it something from science fiction, a myth or did it develop as a theory?

Edit:

For more information search 'Kevin Warwick' on YouTube,  lots of videos of him explaining things.

LBird
Marx chips in to the conversation...

radicalchains wrote:
He has already demonstrated various 'enhancements' such as inserting magnets into the fingertips giving the person the ablity to feel how far certain objects are from them. Or being able to tell the heat of objects or even people using a similar method. Some of these things are referred to as 'sensory substitution'. There was also quite an amazing experiment where he said he was linked upto to a robot hand half a cross the world over the internet and could sense when the hand opened and closed etc.

Given your fears about contemporary 'sensory improvements', radicalchains, perhaps they can be put into context by Marx's views from the 1840s.

Marx, EPM, wrote:
...the senses of social man are different from those of non-social man. Only through the objectively unfolded wealth of human nature can the wealth of subjective human sensitivity – a musical ear, an eye for the beauty of form, in short, senses capable of human gratification – be either cultivated or created. For not only the five senses, but also the so-called spiritual senses, the practical senses (will, love, etc.), in a word, the human sense, the humanity of the senses – all these come into being only through the existence of their objects, through humanized nature. The cultivation of the five senses is the work of all previous history.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/epm/3rd.htm

Are 'sensory improvements' to be condemned, or welcomed as an example of the never-ending 'humanising of nature'?

Senses are not merely individual (ie. biologically-given) passive sensors of nature, but are collective (ie. socially-produced) active creators of 'humanised nature'.

But you can go first, comrade, when they start to 'chip' us...

radicalchains
People have already been chipped. It's common to chip animals.

I don't absolutely fear all of these potential 'enhancements' or 'substitutions'. But under capitalism as well as the potentailly positive medical uses there are sure to be a host of negative uses. It would be a different matter in a communist society. There would be no military application for a start.

radicalchains
On the subs bench

I'm sad to say I've tried twenty a side football and it was complete rubbish. One games lesson at school the teacher thought it funny to divide us into two lots arbitrarily and then toss us a ball. Maybe it was just shit because I didn't get a touch all 'match'. In fact I don't think anyone scored or got anywhere near a goal. It was too congested and panicky. We could try something a bit different though, how about a match where you can only dribble? In the early days passing was seen by some, let's call them the traditionalists as pretty vulgar.

Or, how about some three sided football? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25852634

 

 

 

lem_
Kevin Warick

holy shit. i've had psychosis like this and whereas it's kinda fun at first it gets scary pretty quick.

 

[surely] it's completely unworkable except for spies.

Alf
Morris

One of the chapters of the first volume of the communism series begins with a 'scene' from News from Nowhere. I agree with Schalken: there are many limitations but it's certainly one of the best descriptions of a 'dream of communism'

https://en.internationalism.org/internationalreview/199606/3719/transfor....

Morris was clear that the new society could only come about through revolution and you are quite right: the last bastion of the capitalists faced with the revolution was the state capitalist, reformist party, the Labour party of the day. 

Marin Jensen
Our dreams of communism

One of the problems of this kind of discussion is that it tends to turn into each individual's fantasy of how he would like to live in an ideal world (mine doesn't include football by the way, though I wouldn't ban it), and since we are all different and all born in capitalism, these different ideal worlds tend to be mirror images of the world we live in today. For example, Communist imagines "rolling out of bed at 11:00AM", but this resonates for me only because I am forced to crawl out of bed much earlier than that every day just to earn a living. In a communist society where my work was free, I can quite well imagine bouncing out of bed at 7:00AM to get to it.

This I think was one of Marx's main points: that under communism, work would for the first time in human history be truly free from compulsion either by an exploiting class or by material necessity. Lbird is also right I think to quote Marx as he does, because one of the essential conditions of a communist society is the transformation of man's relation to nature - nature becoming no longer something alien and external but man's "natural body"

This is one of the attractions of Morris' book: he does try to imagine a society in which work - the act of consciously changing the world for human benefit - is no longer alienated, but it has two major limitations to my mind. The first is that it comes across as very parochial: it does not look beyond England (and the south of England at that) and there is no sense of a broader world out there, nor of a world where all humans can mingle freely across the planet. Second, it is very static - not by accident, "News from Nowhere" is subtitled "An epoch of rest". I much prefer the impression of Fred's post - a major project of associated labour whose purpose is both to change the world and to learn from it.

I'm also a fan of Iain M Banks' Culture novels, which are the only truly imaginative works of SF that describe a future society that it something other than capitalism (or feudalism) with spaceships. One of his best is still "The player of games", which counterposes a citizen of the Culture with a sadistic, barbaric society that is only a thinly disguised caricature of our own. Yet even Banks' books almost invariably concern the "Contact" section of the Culture, which deals with extra-Culture societies: when he actually descibes the lives of the Culture's citizens, they often seem disappointingly empty, and they don't seem to be forced to engage in the moral dilemmas that make the best literature interesting.

radicalchains
'enhanced' work

lem_ wrote:

holy shit. i've had psychosis like this and whereas it's kinda fun at first it gets scary pretty quick.

 

[surely] it's completely unworkable except for spies.

 

I'm not looking forward to 'enhanced' productivity either.

jaycee
my song

double post

jaycee
my song

Here are the lyrics for the song I said i was writing on this topic. Hopefully it will be recorded soon, I have recorded a song a few years back about a day under capitalism which i'm going to connect in with this and i think another song about an imagined revolution.

 

News from Nowhere:

I woke up today at a leisurely pace

Felt the sunshine slide in, settle and stay,

Bathe my leg and my face

Opened my eyes to fields of green and the delicate way

Heavenly rays lit the leaves and had set them ablaze

Rose up , did some stretches meditated then I headed away

Thinking “i wonder what i’m gonna have for breakfast today”

So I slowly headed to the regular place

A hand crafted, beautiful

Large communal hall

Ancient paintings, marble carvings

Some of my friends had set the table and were ready to make

Some eggs and some bacon

Had a pot of tea, cheese and some bread on the plate

Then we just hate

Now the food was done, lounged for an hour or two

Deciding what to do with the rest of the day

Some wanted to go fishing some wanted to work the fields

Several persons were going metal working

Some wanted to learn the skill

Some were reading, writing, drawing or gardening

4 were wood carving, some were sat still

A group was going hunting, then all of a sudden a dozen other started singing

“return with a kill or don’t return to a meal” X2

 

 

 

Verse 2:

I decided to go fishing with some people I knew

Jumped in an old ship, everyone then got on

with what they needed to do

Singing songs while we did it just enjoying the task

No bosses watching us,

no employer, no master

there to soil our hearts

Or to spoil the laughs

Once it was all finished

Nets uncoiled and cast

We sat back with a brew and rejoiced in the calm

Water, wind and wisdom, the being beyond it all

We spoke some words of dreaming on meanings of what we do

The feeling was honourable

Until somebody farted

Then we all cracked up laughing loud

Packed up the catch and started back to town

When we got there a good mood was in the air

Food being prepared

Music being played

Amusement being made

And truly being there

In the moment, no-one worried about what’s next

Except wanting to be in place to watch the sun set.

 

Verses 3:

 

All as one

 we watched the orange sun

falling under the horizon

while there were stories spun on all phenomenon

more than one was on the origin

of that ball and why it shines and gives life

and brings sight and kids gathered round

food and drink handed out

then we sat around for hours

drinking, eating, joking and laughing

thinking, deeply, smoking and dancing

sinking deeper into holy trances

men and women meeting, old folks arguing

children playing games

since we made the change

this is how the whole globes basking

after, I parted from one fire side

I arrived

 by the side

of an old timer trying

 to describe the life before the time of the uprising...

 

Alf
hunting

Marx was certainly in favour of huntin' and fishin' in his ideal day...It would rather depend on the ability to restore some kind of wilderness and a new 'balance' between humanity and other species. Trotsky, in Literature and Revolution I think, also had the idea that communism would restore and preserve large areas of wilderness. 

But there would also probably be an influential veggie tendency, so it would be a matter for debate I suppose. 

MH
Did you put the recycling out?

No one emptying the bins then?   

Does anyone remember seeing an anarchist comic/graphic novel in the 70s portraying a very ‘News from Nowhere’ vision of communism? Beautifully drawn although if I remember rightly tinged with anti-Leninism….


        
        
        
        
        
        
 

radicalchains
Am I right in thinking our

Am I right in thinking our brains developed substantially due to eating meat??? I also heard that the famous Marx quote about hunting, fishing, being a critic at night but being none of these things was a sarcastic reply to someone? Perhaps I could team up with the 'country gent' as I have two (non) working dogs. Mind you you won't catch much in London, rats and pidgeons?

MH
Class War Comix

Re the 70s anarchist comic I asked about earlier, if anyone is interested I’ve just found it on libcom; it’s by an anarchist illustrator called Clifford Harper and was published as “Class War Comix No. 1” in 1979.  Here’s a link:

https://libcom.org/files/Class%20War%20Comix%20-%20Clifford%20Harper.pdf 

Beautifully drawn and very obviously influenced by News from Nowhere. I’ll leave comrades to spot the political anomalies of the post-revolutionary society portrayed….

 

 

MH
oh dear

That’ll teach me. I see a thread where it looks like for once I can sit down, relax a little, enjoy a bit of pleasant conversation, the next thing I’ve upset the regulars and been told to sober up…  On the new thread LL even refers to “MH’s publication of Class War Comix”! It was just a link for comrades to take a look at.

Anyway, can I just say that, despite my warm affection and admiration for William Morris, I agree with Melmoth (good to see you here btw) that there is an unmistakable worship of medievalism which colours his vision of a future communist society, and it is precisely this which influences the anarchist vision of the Comic (one – beautifully rendered - scene is actually set in the churchyard at Kelmscott where Morris is buried). In Morris’ own writing this medievalism is perhaps most apparent in ‘A Dream of John Ball’, which I can’t help feeling gives a rather rose-tinted vision of the life of the 14th Century English peasantry…

And, while I enjoyed reading jaycee’s rap lyrics, this vision is also inevitably present. For my money, I agree with LL that Fred’s wonderfully vivid and imaginative vision is by far the best here so far.

I also agree with LL about the Iain Banks’ Culture novels, which are eminently critiquable but at least have the merit of proposing that a far future communist society will be fun! (drug glands anyone? enhanced sexual pleasure?), while the original short story “The State of the Art”, where Culture representatives land in 20th century Paris, is to be recommended as a more thought-provoking look at the contrasts between the two cultures.

Finally, while we’re on sci-fi, and at the risk of reviving LL’s 70s flashbacks, I’m surprised no one yet has mentioned Ursula Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed”, which was certainly popular in the milieu of that time but is – and here’s the health warning – heavily influenced by libertarianism and anarchism.

Marin Jensen
Dispossessed

My main memory of The Dispossessed was that it demonstrated very convincingly the impossibility of socialism on one planet.

As for Morris, I personally am a big fan of Morris and his art (and the house he rented at Kelmscot is almost an epitome of the beauty of the Oxfordshire countryside)... but I still hold to the critique of his vision of communism.

Alf
Morris

Morris needs to be criticised, but in depth - and this means recognising the depth of his vision as well. There is a very thorough two volume study of his approach to the communist society and how to get there, written by Paul Meier: William Morris, Marxist Dreamer, which answers many of the more superficial arguments against his ideas. But not very much has been done from inside the proletarian movement as such. It's above all in his approach to the question of labour that he shows there's more to his thought than nostalgia for the Middle Ages, even if that element does exist in his work. We tried to show this in this chapter of the communism series:

https://en.internationalism.org/internationalreview/199606/3719/transfor...

Alf
False mends?

Incidentally, skimming back through the article recommended in the previous post, I noted a small error in the last line of the little appendix on William Morris as a revolutionary militant. This is an extract from an article which was first published in World Revolution 195, 'The many false friends of William Morris'  - not, as typed or scanned in here, as 'The many false mends of William Morris'. No doubt, giving the amount of making and mending Morris did in his weavings, prints, paintings, and other productions, there were indeed a few 'false mends', but not enough to write home about.... 

 

jaycee
Hi I accept to an extent the

Hi

I accept to an extent the criticism of William morris' work as being too medieval and too parochial, although personally I sympaphise with the desire for a simpler and more natural world/society I understand that this is not everyones vision and that communism will surely be the synthesis of both as well as offering more choice in how people wish to live than the present society can do. 

I feel like I should deffend my own vision a bit too. There is a reason that I made the story 'local' and kind of ordinary feeling because i wanted to avoid making it too fantasitical and 'otherworldly' so it would be more like an actual 'day in the life'. No disrespect to Freds vision but I don't think we will spend most days travelling the world I think most people will still live in one place and mainly live in a local setting with people they know etc. 

I didn't include much technology firstly because as those who know me know I'm not really into technology personally and i think that in communism people will mainly want to create things by hand as it is more aesthetically pleasing and 'fun' but also because I didn't want it to have a sci-fi feel or for the vision to be tied to closely to having to have these technologies. Communism is afterall mainly about the social relationships and freedom of its members than any particular techology or practice. In communism afterall technology will serve humans not humans technology.

I agree with the criticisms made of the 'comix' even if they were nicely drawn I think the story itself suffered from being driven too much by sectarianism. I am actually currently working (with my brother) on a graphic novel of my own about the return of 'the gods' which eventually will include a story set during the revolution and in which part of it will take place in a 'News from Nowhere' type world, although this is part of a massive epic story arch I have planned but might never see the light of day- still the first edition is about a third of the way finished and I've only been working on that for about three years now so....

Marin Jensen
Technology and poetic licence

I accept that Jaycee was posting a poem, not an analysis, and as such of course a certain poetic licence has to be conceded.

That said, I think there are some disagreements which go deeper than this.

It is quite true that communism is fundamentally about human relationships not a particular technology, and that technology will serve human beings not the other way around (or to put it in marxist terms, that dead labour will serve living labour). However, there is a danger in putting things like that, in that you can lose site of the fact that technology is the fruit of human labour every bit as much as things you make directly with your hands. It is in capitalism that we are told that "technology" or "industry" is something over and above us, something inhuman.

Jaycee says that "i think that in communism people will mainly want to create things by hand as it is more aesthetically pleasing and 'fun'", but this is a purely personal viewpoint for which I see no real justification. I would agree that human beings will display an infinite variety of different kinds of creativity, and undoubtedly some will want to create directly rather than using a computer perhaps. However, when you talk about creating "by hand" this also begs a rather big question: if for example, you build something using an electric power drill, can you be said to be building it "by hand"? The power drill itself had to be built (using very sophisticated technology) and powered (also using very sophisticated technology). If you make music using electronics and computers, can you be said to be doing it "by hand"?

Finally, if you want to develop a vision of a world where people are free in their activity (truly free, in Marx's sense), then technology is a condition sine qua non. But it will simply become a part of our everyday lives, which we think about no more, in many cases, than we think about switching on the light.

jaycee
I agree with pretty much all

I agree with pretty much all your points there LoneLondoner and it is a good point that technology is only in capitalism an alien power above and against humanity, however I also feel that we are living in an overly developed world ( at least in the 'west') in a lot of ways and that techology produced under capitalism like all social products reflects the society which gives rise to it to such an extent that alot of the technology we have now will simply be if not completely abandoned then masively modified and scaled down.

Again it is more about the 'spirit' in which the creativity and life in general is carried out under communism for me, so although I take your point about the degree to which 'creating with your hands' can become a bit of a grey area and can become overly dogmatic in its approach it is still true that methods of production which are massively mechanised and compartmentalised leave very little room for individual artistry.  

lem_
like the lyics jaycee, can't

like the lyics jaycee, can't imagine them being rapped lol.

i think it's probably easiest to think about it like that, rather than how i'd like to spend my day type stuff... ftr i'd totally be up for being a dustman after the revolution ;-D !

Alf
dead labour

The exchange between jaycee and LL is potentially a fruitful one. The underlying issue seems to be the domination of dead labour over living labour. Capitalism has taken this to a level never experienced in any previous mode of production. The suspicion and fear aroused by ever-developing technology is a direct consequence of capital's tendency to make the worker, indeed mankind, an appendage of the machine. This is surely the reason why artisan production often seems so much more human than all the varieties of production in advanced capitalism, which has subordinated all life and desire to the rhythm of the machine - product of man's hands which has escaped him and stands over him as an alien power.

Morris certainly remained rather vague about the nature of the 'force' which his future society harnessed to free mankind from the drudgery of repetitive labour. But he was not wrong to insist that a such a liberated mankind would not therefore spend its time in indolence and lose the desire to create beautiful things. This is where Morris links up with Marx's early Manuscripts which talk about man needing to create for its own sense, and "in accordance with the laws of beauty". The question of the technological forms that will be used in such creative activityis a secondary one, although no doubt the technology of the future will itself reflect the same aesthetics.     

Fred
overly developed world?

I wonder if we are really living in an "overly developed world" as Jaycee suggests or not rather in one that has been   "developed"  badly almost to the point of destruction. Plundered for profit.   In properly planned and considered development, which would be a development for use rather than profit, presumably all the destruction which accompanies bourgeois so-called development wouldn't take place.  Also the planned development and use  of better, cleaner safer  technologies like solar and wind energy, and others we don't know about yet,  would do away with dirty energy like coal and oil.  Of course, the acquisition and use of coal and oil may only be disadvantageous at the moment because of the way the bourgeoisie does it. The cheap way needless to say, and they aren't inclined to spend money to clean up the messes they continually create in mining these commodities and in pursuing profit.  

You could argue that the world under capitalism hasn't been "developed" ie improved, beautified, scientifically evolved  in tune with nature and so on, but just exploited like humanity and the animal world have.   The developed countries who've had to put up with the bourgeoisie for longer than the so-called "underdeveloped" countries, have been rendered in some parts more or less uninhabitable; ugly, traffic-jammed, poisonous in places through pollution,  noisy and worn out almost  down to the bones.  

We shouldn't fall for the bourgeois trap of calling what they've done to the planet "development" nor think that it is technology which is to blame.  In the right hands ie the proletariat's the more advanced our science and technology is the better. 

MH
more ambitious?

William Morris’ vision of communist society contains precious insights but it is unmistakably coloured by a vision of artisan production in reaction to industrial capitalism. I thought this discussion could do with raising its sights a little by looking at the insights of other Marxists who have offered more ambitious visions. The following extracts from Trotsky's Literature and Art certainly offer a rather more exciting vision of what people might actually be doing with their lives in a future society - and also, in my view, tend to support Fred’s vision of reshaping islands along both productive and aesthetic lines, along with LL’s comments on the role of machines (I know these extracts have been quoted before here but in my opinion well worth revisiting):

The wall will fall not only between art and industry, but simultaneously between art and nature also … The present distribution of mountains and rivers, of fields, of meadows, of steppes, of forests, and of seashores, cannot be considered final. Man has already made changes in the map of nature that are not few nor insignificant. But they are mere pupils’ practice in comparison with what is coming. Faith merely promises to move mountains; but technology, which takes nothing “on faith”, is actually able to cut down mountains and move them. Up to now this was done for industrial purposes (mines) or for railways (tunnels); in the future this will be done on an immeasurably larger scale, according to a general industrial and artistic plan. Man will occupy himself with re-registering mountains and rivers, and will earnestly and repeatedly make improvements in nature. In the end, he will have rebuilt the earth, if not in his own image, at least according to his own taste. We have not the slightest fear that this taste will be bad.

[…]

Through the machine, man in Socialist society will command nature in its entirety… He will point out places for mountains and for passes. He will change the course of the rivers, and he will lay down rules for the oceans. … Of course this does not mean that the entire globe will be marked off into boxes, that the forests will be turned into parks and gardens. Most likely, thickets and forests and grouse and tigers will remain, but only where man commands them to remain. And man will do it so well that the tiger won’t even notice the machine, or feel the change, but will live as he lived in primeval times. The machine is not in opposition to the earth. The machine is the instrument of modern man in every field of life. The present-day city is transient. But it will not be dissolved back again into the old village. On the contrary, the village will rise in fundamentals to the plane of the city. Here lies the principal task. The city is transient, but it points to the future, and indicates the road. The present village is entirely of the past. That is why its aesthetics seem archaic, as it they were taken from a museum of folk art.

jaycee
I agree that the term

I agree that the term 'overly-developed' is problematic but i think it does describe an aspect of reality in the 'west', manily the way in which everything revolves around technology which is more and more technology for technologies sake and only there to keep the whole mad 'growth' going perpetually along these lines. I think capitalism can only develop in one direction and it just happens that this direction has stopped being useful/progressive a long time ago.

Technology is obviously not to blame in itself but as i said technology is a social product which is produced by and reproduces the society in which it is made. In communism technology will be used to beautify and enrich the world and our lives and as Fred alluded to it will be done in tune with nature and along artistic/spiritual lines as well.

The quotes from Trotsky have some good bits, i like the point about the village 'raising itself to the plane of the city' which I understand as saying that a synthesis of town and country will be found in which the cultural 'superiority' (often overstated, self congratulating nonsense but does have some truth to it) of the city will be transcended and the benefits of a village life will be realized alongside this process. However there is a certain element in Trotskys language hint at a bit of machine and man worshipping which I don't think Marxism (especially early 20th century Russian Marxism) was free from and which I think was a bourgeois view which had infected the workers movement.

 

MH
optimism and confidence

jaycee wrote:

However there is a certain element in Trotskys language hint at a bit of machine and man worshipping which I don't think Marxism (especially early 20th century Russian Marxism) was free from and which I think was a bourgeois view which had infected the workers movement.

Hi jaycee. Yes in deciding the Trotsky quotes were worth repeating I did reflect on this and I certainly don’t disagree entirely with your comments; in the artistic sphere there was a definite tendency, especially in recently industrialised countries like Russia (and Italy), to idolise/idealise the symbols of capitalist industrial ‘progress’ in the early 20th century (Futurism etc - see the discussion on art in decadence).

But I think there is another very strong political influence in Trotsky’s writings of this period and that is the sheer optimism engendered by the proletarian revolution in Russia; an unshakeable belief that the proletariat can utilise the tools created by capitalism to build a far better world, a world of immense excitement and unlimited opportunity. And it is precisely this optimism, this belief, this sheer excitement, that has inevitably been eroded by the experience of the counter-revolution and 100 years of capitalist decadence. In my view our visions of the future need to try to recapture this, as part of reappropriating the gains of the past movement.

Fred
On yes MH you are absolutely

On yes MH you are absolutely  right in pointing out Trotsky's optimism and the absence of it today as we all decompose quietly.   And I agree that "our visions of the future" and confidence too need to recapture what we once  had and what we've lost.   What we had but lost was a firm confidence that our revolution would succeed. In fact, after reading your Trotsky quotes above the other day, I was going to have a go at you for not attempting to picture the future for yourself and relying instead on quotes from the past. Dry and dusty documents as critical comrades  on redmarx call them.  But I won't do that now!  Not that the Trotsky quotes are dry and dusty at all. But I think today, that some of us do have a tendency to rely on quotes from the past to speak for us, rather than trying to speak for ourselves, don't you?  Not that it isn't very difficult to imagine and have confidence in the future in this stinking morass of bourgeois decay, and not that it isn't extremely difficult now to speak for ourselves because we're out of practice and have sort of lost the talent for it. But we must try to express ourselves mustn't we and not be afraid of failing or making fools of ourselves as we recover what we lost?  

 

We have to relearn to speak as communists.  Because we  lost so much in the fires of counter revolution and wars,  and must try harder today  to recover our spirits and confidence. And the only way to do that it is by doing it, not just by thinking about doing it,  isn't that right? After all, what  have we got to lose now?  Absolutely nothing!  

 

Alf
The question of remoulding

The question of remoulding the mountains: I would not rule it out but I think that it would have to be done for reasons deeper than 'taste' and with a great deal of thought about what future generations might make of it, because it's not something that can be easily undone. I do like Trotsky's idea of people's palaces at the bottom of the Atlantic however (as long as they are built in the proper Atlantean style)

I think that this passage does to a certain extent reflect the huge attraction of the machine and of the idea of mankind as the conqueror of the universe, a trend of thought which, as MH notes , found fuller expression in futurism. It is a vision which is to some extent the other side of the coin to the longing for the rural idyll which haunts Morris. In the next paragraph but one, which is the penultimate paragraph of the whole collection of essays joined together in the 1924 work Literature and Revolution, Trotsky actually raises the question of the superman: 

Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.

For us of course the term superman has certain connotations: Nietzche meant one thing, Hitler another, and Sigler and Shuster and Action Comics, yet another. But it is interesting that the area of transformation which, in Trotsky's view, will be key to the emergence of a new species, is the inner realm, psyche, the unconscious and the conscious. This is explained in the paragraph precedes the one about the superman:

"Man at last will begin to harmonize himself in earnest. He will make it his business to achieve beauty by giving the movement of his own limbs the utmost precision, purposefulness and economy in his work, his walk and his play. He will try to master first the semiconscious and then the subconscious processes in his own organism, such as breathing, the circulation of the blood, digestion, reproduction, and, within necessary limits, he will try to subordinate them to the control of reason and will. Even purely physiologic life will become subject to collective experiments. The human species, the coagulated Homo sapiens, will once more enter into a state of radical transformation, and, in his own hands, will become an object of the most complicated methods of artificial selection and psycho-physical training. This is entirely in accord with evolution. Man first drove the dark elements out of industry and ideology, by displacing barbarian routine by scientific technique, and religion by science. Afterwards he drove the unconscious out of politics, by overthrowing monarchy and class with democracy and rationalist parliamentarianism and then with the clear and open Soviet dictatorship. The blind elements have settled most heavily in economic relations, but man is driving them out from there also, by means of the Socialist organization of economic life. This makes it possible to reconstruct fundamentally the traditional family life. Finally, the nature of man himself is hidden in the deepest and darkest corner of the unconscious, of the elemental, of the sub-soil. Is it not self-evident that the greatest efforts of investigative thought and of creative initiative will be in that direction? The human race will not have ceased to crawl on all fours before God, kings and capital, in order later to submit humbly before the dark laws of heredity and a blind sexual selection! Emancipated man will want to attain a greater equilibrium in the work of his organs and a more proportional developing and wearing out of his tissues, in order to reduce the fear of death to a rational reaction of the organism towards danger. There can be no doubt that man’s extreme anatomical and physiological disharmony, that is, the extreme disproportion in the growth and wearing out of organs and tissues, give the life instinct the form of a pinched, morbid and hysterical fear of death, which darkens reason and which feeds the stupid and humiliating fantasies about life after death".

baboon
excellent quote

I think that it's a very good quote from Trotsky and one that it was searching for following a post from LL - so thanks to Alf for raising it and I think that it takes us beyond the realms of machine v idyll. LL raised the point about people in communism (communists?) still keeping in touch with one another on the interweb or whatever the equivalent of pen and paper is at the time. I totally agree with this all the way through but think that in any higher stage of communism a new species of mankind will be in the process of development that will, amongst other things, be able to communicate without using any sort of tools at all - through some form of telepathy.

jaycee
I agree with baboon that in

I agree with baboon that in communism a lot of dormant powers of the human mind will make themselves known and be collectively and systematically harnessed and this may well include things like telepathy and other things which are now seen as either 'occult'/magic or confined to freak cases etc.

 

Marin Jensen
What about the sewers?

Jaycee says that "the Western world" is "overdeveloped". What exactly is meant by this? Think for a moment about two things that we take absolutely for granted in the "Western world": freely available light and heat, freely available clean water (more or less - it's considered a scandal when the water is not clean) and sewage. 

Does Jaycee want to go back to a world where he can't just flick a switch for light when it gets dark, or where boiling water for a cup of tea means cleaning out the fireplace before lighting a fire (and collecting the fuel beforehand etc... not to mention the question of where the tea came from in the first place)? Or where taking a shit means going out and digging a hole in the garden - and probably polluting your neighbours' water supply further down the hill? Ok to live like that on a camping holiday, but permanently?

Freely available light, heat, power, clean water, sewage... these are the very basics for communism. And far from being overdeveloped they remain underdeveloped. Repairing and cleaning the sewers has not yet been robotised and needs to be done by human beings (workers as they're called). Power stations for the moment need to be run on something (and it may be that our best bet for unlimited clean power in the future is nuclear fusion, which is ultra high tech of course).

Of course Jaycee is quite right to say that, under capitalism, technological advance has achieved a sort of insane independence - but this is simply because capitalism as a social form must produce for profit in order to accumulate and expand, it has nothing to do with technology in and of itself. Mankind has always used technology, ever since the first ape ancestor shaped the first stone tool. Technology is an integral part of what we are. Mankind freed itself from the evolutionary processes of nature through culture, of which technology is an integral part.

I'm very glad to see the quotes from Trotsky also, because they introduce another element which to my mind is fundamental to a vision of communism, that it to say that production will not be done by individuals alone (though doubtless there will still be individual artistic production) but also by the mass of humanity together. We will aim, together, to transform the planet into something entirely suited to human needs (physical and "spiritual"). In my view, humanity as a whole will also endeavour to plumb the deepest recesses of nature to understand it - CERN's LHC will look like Meccano compared to the projects of the future!

Above all, there will be as wide as possible an intercourse between different human beings. It is no accident that the word "civilisation" derives from "civis", the city. The city is where human beings of different cultures could meet, and exchange both goods and ideas, and this mixture of ideas is fundamental to the development of human culture. 

Thanks to modern means of communication, it will be possible to overcome the contradiction between the overcrowding and separation from the natural world of today's cities, on the one hand, and what Marx called "the idiocy of rural life" on the other - but this aspect of exchange of ideas (and cultures perhaps?) will remain fundamental.

Alf
Over and under

But doesn't overdevelopment in some areas necessarily produce underdevelopment in others? A bit like those pumped up body builders on steroids whose penises become very small?

baboon
Yes I think that capitalism

Yes I think that capitalism does produce underdevelopment and there is a valid point about the insane development of technology under capitalism which goes towards the development of the means of destruction. I don't think that anyone disagrees with that.

But LL makes the point about electricity being fundamental, vital to any communist perspective. The other point he makes related to this is how work, collective labour, will be necessary and will necessarily not be a chore but a pleasure.

I worked in the water industry that LL mentions above as also vital so let me give a bit of an example. Under capitalism potable (clean, drinkable) water is produced as rapidly as possible with as few workers as possible - the plant I worked in produced 20-30 thousand metric tonnes of water per day and was mostly single-manned. In order to produce potable water quickly and as safely as possible a number of chemicals are needed: lime, sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid, polyelectrolytes (cancerous I suspect), activated carbon (to remove occysts which the strongest disinfectants won't touch), sulphor dioxide, chlorine, ozone and some others depending on circumstances. Now potable water could be produced without any of the chemicals above, perhaps just a drop of disinfectant. But that would require larger water treatment plants than exist today in order to slowly filter the water and elimate harmful viruses, bacteria and occysts through a natural process of building up layers of bacterias that gobble up the threats and then eat each other. A similar process is used in some sewage operations. The trouble is for capitalism and its inherent short-termism, is that this would require larger areas, would be a slow process and would require many more workers than there is in the industry today with its need for rapid production, as few workers as possible and a great deal of chemicals.

 

I agree with Jaycee above the possibilities of the development of all sorts of human faculties and senses either unknown to us or to be developed in a new society - the possibilities are endless.

It would be wrong to call the history of homo a progression, particularly a fated progression. There's been too many twists and turns, dead-ends and regressions, 'incidents and accidents' and contradictions. But, nevertheless, there's been a progression in the sense that we, the whole communist movement, stand not only aware of our own possible supercession as a species by another, but are actively working towards it. Darwin and Wallace's overturning of natural selection dovetails perfectly in the communist perspective of Marx and Engels for the advancement of "science".

jaycee
 Here is the song I recorded

 

Here is the song I recorded on this topic. I kind of sat on it for a bit but I think its not too bad. 

 

https://myspace.com/jayceemcee/music/song/change-has-come-113569302-1291...

 

I haven't linked music online and especially on myspace for a while so if the link doesn't work let me know.

Pierre
Jaycee I didn't know you

Jaycee I didn't know you rocked at this tempo. What the hell man? Send me an acapella

jaycee
haha. well this tune was

haha. well this tune was supposed to be relaxed, like life in communism. I can get you the acapella but might take a bit of time. 

jaycee
Jamal, I got the acapella

Jamal, I got the acapella ready now. I can put it in my dropbox or I could email it to you directly. could maybe do it through libcom.

jaycee
Jamal, I got the acapella

Jamal, I got the acapella ready now. I can put it in my dropbox or I could email it to you directly. could maybe do it through libcom.

Pierre
Ok awesome, whatever is

Ok awesome, whatever is easiest for you. Can you email a dropbox direct download link? [email protected]

Thanks homie

jaycee
Ok man i just sent attached

Ok man i just sent attached it to an email, let me know if you got it or not.