Notes on the subterranean maturation of consciousness

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Fred
LBird wrote: Again, I ask the

LBird wrote:
Again, I ask the ICC ‘in a Communist society, where does power lie?’

 I maintain that Marx must mean ‘Power lies with the proletariat’.

  In a fully communist society "power" has presumably disappeared as an antiquated concept, whereby some people manage to dominate some other people. In communist society nobody dominates, or exploits anybody, so there's no power.  As to "power lies with the proletariat" this must be true during the dictatorship of the proletariat.  Regarding the question of whether the party or the rest of the class exercises power during the period of transition, well the class execericises power through its councils, which may include members of the party  as participating comrades. The party isn't something weird and traitorous,  but just the organization of those comrades who have achieved an earlier maturation of class consciousness than the majority of the class who'll soon catch up.   I don't really understand a concern over POWER  - which is a word I don't like at all, and associate closely with the bourgeoisie, its mind -set and obsessions.  The proletariat's concern isn't with power, but with its abolishment!  Power is a negation of  the freedom, and the right to be, of one class or group, by another class or group. This is anathema to the proletariat including its vanguard party. Unless you measure advanced class consciousness as power, then the party has no power that it can actually abuse. And if it abuses the power of its advanced consciousness - well this will only go to show that its "advanced consciousness" is all a lie and a sham.   Isnt the party really like yeast in the dough: it works to produce good bread. 
jk1921
Are councils the state?

LBird wrote:

Why does clearly saying this (that the ICC’s policies, organisational structures and indeed its very existence will be subject to proletarian power exercised through the Workers’ Councils) seem to be so difficult?

Because the ICC rejects the crass democratism that would have the communist program subject to the veto of the vicissitudes of public opinion as it may stand at any one given moment in time. This doesn't mean that the ICC thinks it should exercise political power. However, it does not submit its "policies" (by that I think you mean positions) to democratic review. This would violate the very raison d'etre of the organization and every last Enlightenment principle about the independence of science.

Of course, if all power does lie with the councils and they decided that they needed to repress the organization then there wouldn't be much the organization could do about it, I suppose. But, this would be a grave mistake and evidence that the revolution was heading in the wrong direction.

LBird wrote:

Political sovereignty must lie in the Workers’ Councils.

So, the councils are the state? I am not sure if the ICC agrees that "political soverignty" would lie exclusively in the councils. They have typically argued that in the period of transition there would need to be a "semi-state" that also represents the interests of other "non-exploiting" layers of society other than the proletariat, although the councils would somehow keep an eye on this semi-state. But, this may be a weakness in their theory. How do the councils watch over the semi-state and wouldn't that make them, in effect, the state (or semi-state)? Is the concept of a semi-state even coherent? What exactly is the function of the councils and their relationship to whatever state power is necessary during the period of transition?

jk1921
Dialectics

Fred wrote:

.I don't really understand a concern over POWER  - which is a word I don't like at all, and associate closely with the bourgeoisie, its mind -set and obsessions.  The proletariat's concern isn't with power, but with its abolishment!  Power is a negation of  the freedom, and the right to be, of one class or group, by another class or group.

But Fred, any good dialectician would tell you the proletariat must first exercise power in order to abolish it. First, you have to fill the cup before you can empty it, or something like that.

Fred
That's what I said jk, in

That's what I said jk, in post 142. The proletariat has to wield power during its dictatorship. We agree on something 

LBird
Is power only present in class societies?

Fred wrote:
In a fully communist society "power" has presumably disappeared as an antiquated concept, whereby some people manage to dominate some other people. In communist society nobody dominates, or exploits anybody, so there's no power.

Perhaps this is the source of our difficulties, Fred. To me you're here confusing 'exploitation' with 'power'. 'Exploitation' a parasitic mechanism whereby an exploiting class receives the production of an exploited class. This wll end with the destruction of class society.

But 'power'?

Power is an ever-present property of relations between humans. Every society, including egalitarian ones, have a social authority which wields power. Communism is the control of this social power by everyone within society. That's why democracy is unavoidable. Power must be under the control of humanity, and not under the control of an exploiting class, as it is now.

The conception of 'power' as something which only exists within class societies is one I have only come across when discussing with Anarchists, who locate 'authority' within the individual, and thus can imagine a non-society without authority and power. But if 'power' is a product of society, then it will always exist, this side of dividing society and the planet into 7 billion individual worlds.

The only society in which 'power will presumably disappear' is in a bourgeois individualist dream one, as advocated by individualist Anarchists.

Power is an inescapable emergent property of social structures. And we must recognise this to control it.

slothjabber
Communism is the end of the proletariat

'The proletariat' cannot exercise power in communist society because there will be no proletariat.

Classes (including the proletariat) are a reflection of property relations, and in communist society neither property nor classes will exist. So, no 'proletarian power' I'd argue in communist society. It may even be that in communist society we can actually legitimately use the term 'democracy' - rule by the whole people.

LBird
Power again

slothjabber wrote:
'The proletariat' cannot exercise power in communist society because there will be no proletariat.

Why do comrades seem to willfully insist in mis-interpreting my words?

If I use 'proletariat', there's the usual 'Aha! There won't be a proletariat!'.

If I use 'humanity', there's the usual 'Aha! You're ignoring classes!'.

Let's try again, and clearly state what I think was obvious, given the context of the discussion about whether 'power' will exist in a Communist society. Fred thinks not. My view?

The victorious proletariat/humanity/Communist society will face the issue of 'power'.

All societies have to face this issue, because 'power' is an emergent property of social structures, and Communism, being a social structure, will contain power relationships.

I hope I've clarified myself sufficiently.

slothjabber
You can't ignore something that isn't there

If you use 'proletariat' you must be talking about a class society.

If you aren't talking about a class society, using a term that refers to classes isn't useful because it doesn't refer to what you want it to refer to.

Why do you seem to wilfully insist on being deliberately imprecise?

 

'Power' is a difficult concept. 'Power  to' or 'power over'? There will be 'power to' certainly, but will there be 'power over'? I'm not sure there will. '...the government of people is replaced with the administration of things' and all that.

LBird
Power once more

slothjabber wrote:
There will be 'power to' certainly, but will there be 'power over'? I'm not sure there will. '...the government of people is replaced with the administration of things' and all that.

If we regard power as a product of social structures, then 'power to' and 'power over' will remain.

How will decisions of Workers' Councils be enforced, if they don't have the power to ensure compliance with democratic voting? Workers' Councils will have 'power over' everyone that forms the Workers' Councils.

As far as I can see, only individualist Anarchists could maintain otherwise. All societies have had 'authority', and the failure to recognise that will lead to some disappointed 'individuals', after the 'glorious day'!

Communism is a social ideology, not an individualist one.

jk1921
What kind of Power?

LBird wrote:

The victorious proletariat/humanity/Communist society will face the issue of 'power'.

All societies have to face this issue, because 'power' is an emergent property of social structures, and Communism, being a social structure, will contain power relationships.

I hope I've clarified myself sufficiently.

 

So you are drawing a distinction between "power" and "expolitation"? What about "domination"? Or is that too humanist? The problem it seems to me is that you haven't defined what you mean by "power" in the context you are using it. It doesn't appear to be the same as "state power"? So, what is it? Is it Foucault's "micro-power"? How exactly would that function in a communist society? And was Foucault (and therefore Nietzsche) right then that communism does not escape the horizon of power and is therefore not a whole lot different than capitalism? Destroying the bourgeois state doesn't bring us one blip closer to something like "emancipation" (once again, is that too humanist?) But it seems you see this post-revolutionary power you speak of as some unavoidable fact of the human condition and thus necessary?

jk1921
Transcendence

LBird wrote:

As far as I can see, only individualist Anarchists could maintain otherwise. All societies have had 'authority', and the failure to recognise that will lead to some disappointed 'individuals', after the 'glorious day'!

Communism is a social ideology, not an individualist one.

Or transcendentalist Hegelians who see the overcoming of these contradictions in a communist society. Nobody will be forced to work, because everyone who can will want to work. Stuff like that. Of course, if you are talking about the period of transition, then that is another discussion.

LBird
Power in Communist society

jk1921 wrote:
Nobody will be forced to work, because everyone who can will want to work. Stuff like that. Of course, if you are talking about the period of transition...

No, not 'transition', 'full Communism'.

Who's talking about 'work'? There are at least two reasons for social authority, in every society.

First, co-ordination: if the 'who' is voluntary, then the 'when', 'where', 'how' and 'why' are not. Decisions will have to be made: we can't have one group building a canal through an underground line, just because that group decided they prefer boats to the tube. If it can't be resolved by agreement, we can't allow a potentially fatal situation to develop. An authority has to decide: I prefer a democratic authority. But this is a question of 'power'.

Second, disagreements between individuals or groups: not everybody after the revolution is going to get on like a house on fire, and personal emnity will still exist. Unless we're going to regression to 'vendetta' over generations as a means of settling disputes, were going to have to have a mediating authority, which can settle the troubles. This also is a question of 'power'.

jk1921
Work is Important

LBird wrote:

Who's talking about 'work'? There are at least two reasons for social authority, in every society.

It seems like the issue of "work" would be a central problem for anyone who thinks communism is possible. Why won't some people just "free ride" on the work on others? Don't we need some regulating authority to make sure all those who are able to work do in fact work? If we have done away with labour as a commodity, then it would seem there would need to be some kind of state to force the free riders to chip in, i.e. Rousseau's problemtaic of "forcing people to be free."

All of this is done away with in the Hegelian-Marxist vision by presupposing a dramatic transcendence of these categories inhereited from bourgeois society, such that the issue of people not wanting to work (and thus the issue of there needing to be a state power to compell them to do so) never arises. Its assumed that all those who can will want to work; a new kind of humnaity will have evolved that has transcended the seperation of individual and society, etc.

I was only attemtping to respond to your question about how Marxists can envision a communist society without "power." Its not only anarchists that subscribe to this as you claim.

LBird wrote:

Second, disagreements between individuals or groups: not everybody after the revolution is going to get on like a house on fire, and personal emnity will still exist. Unless we're going to regression to 'vendetta' over generations as a means of settling disputes, were going to have to have a mediating authority, which can settle the troubles. This also is a question of 'power'.

It sounds like you are saying there will still be a state under communism, only that the state will be in proletarian hands?

LBird
Now, power and authority!

jk1921 wrote:
It sounds like you are saying there will still be a state under communism, only that the state will be in proletarian hands?

It sounds like you are saying there won't be a social authority under communism, only that any social authority is a state?

jk1921 wrote:
I was only attemtping to respond to your question about how Marxists can envision a communist society without "power." Its not only anarchists that subscribe to this as you claim.

Evidently.

I should have said anarchists and individualists. Remember 'empiricism', when we discussed 'science'?

jk1921
Not sure

LBird wrote:

It sounds like you are saying there won't be a social authority under communism, only that any social authority is a state?

Frankly, I don't know LBird. But how would a "social authority" be enforced?

LBird wrote:

I should have said anarchists and individualists. Remember 'empiricism', when we discussed 'science'?

I don't think I understand the point about empiricism.....

LBird
No authority but the individual, in science and society?

jk1921 wrote:
But how would a "social authority" be enforced?

Try looking at any egalitarian, pre-class society.

jk1921 wrote:
I don't think I understand the point about empiricism.....

The basis of empiricism is 'individual sense experience'.

The basis of science is 'social theory'.

jk1921
Explain

LBird wrote:

Try looking at any egalitarian, pre-class society.

Please explain what you mean.

LBird wrote:

The basis of empiricism is 'individual sense experience'.

The basis of science is 'social theory'.

Again, please explain.

Fred
LBird said: Quote: The

LBird said:

Quote:
The conception of 'power' as something which only exists within class societies is one I have only come across when discussing with Anarchists, who locate 'authority' within the individual, and thus can imagine a non-society without authority and power. But if 'power' is a product of society, then it will always exist, this side of dividing society and the planet into 7 billion individual worlds.
 

Power in the sense of "power over" - as sloth jabber suggests - isn't a product of society, its a product of class society.  Therefore it doesn't have always to exist: it can be got rid of.  I don't think this idea makes either sloth jabber or me into anarchists. And I for one cannot "imagine a non-society" as anarchists can (your suggestion L Bird) but can imagine a fully acheived communist society without either "power over" being exercised by anybody, or "authoritarianism" being the order of the day. We should distinguish "authoritarianism" from "authority". The ICC as an organization is an authority on the history of class struggle. An individual pianist may be an authority on the performance of Bach's keyboard works.  The Third Reich was an authority on death and destruction  and exercised its AUTHORITARIAN rule against all it conquered.

The workers councils have to exercise their authority and power during the period of transition. Once communism is built, the proletariat will have ceased to exist. And communism isn't a "social ideology" because communism achieved  isn't an ideology at all; it's a condition of complete and confident consciousness - the absolute opposite of ideological false consciousness - established as a way of life world wide.  I am not deliberately trying to misinterpret your words, on the contrary I am trying hard to establish what you mean, because it seems to me  you use certain words in a very personal way. This is fine up to a point. But if we're going to have a discussion that gets anywhere, we have to roughly agree about what is meant by certain words like "power", "authority", "communism",  "science" , "social authority" "ideology" and so on, otherwise we can get nowhere.  Aren't words part of some "social structure", that we need  to go along with just a bit, otherwise we risk total anomie?   In discussing on this forum are we not all trying to sort out and establish what we think, and why we think it,  and whether or not it might need some fine tuning?  In this sense the whole process of coming to define more clearly the meaning of the key words we use, is a vital part of what we're doing. Is it not? I hope I've clarified myself sufficiently for the moment.     

jk1921
Transcendence again

LBird wrote:

Second, disagreements between individuals or groups: not everybody after the revolution is going to get on like a house on fire, and personal emnity will still exist.

Isn't that Hobbes' point of departure in Leviathan?, i.e. there are too many competing egos in the world, therefore we need to all rationally agree to set up a soverign whose will is substitued for our own?

It seems like if communism is to work, there would have be a fundamental transcendence of many of the features of human realtions that today seem "natural," "inevitable," part of the "human condition," etc. Too utopian?

Demogorgon
Marx is absolutely clear.

Marx is absolutely clear. There will be no political power in communist society: "The working class, in the course of its development, will substitute for the old civil society an association which will exclude classes and their antagonism, and there will be no more political power properly so-called, since political power is precisely the official expression of antagonism in civil society."

MH
Marxism v sociology

LBird wrote:

All societies have to face this issue, because 'power' is an emergent property of social structures, and Communism, being a social structure, will contain power relationships.

‘Social structures’ sounds a rather empty, bourgeois sociological term. What is the material basis of these social structures, ie in the last analysis, what is their economic basis, in communism?

LBird wrote:

Power is an ever-present property of relations between humans. Every society, including egalitarian ones, have a social authority which wields power.]

Again, what is the Marxist, materialist basis for your statement that “Power is an ever-present property of relations between humans”?  Or, if you like, what is your scientific evidence for these statements...?

LBird
Philosophy and structures

MH wrote:
'Social structures’ sounds a rather empty, bourgeois sociological term. What is the material basis of these social structures, ie in the last analysis, what is their economic basis, in communism?
[my bold]

If you don't accept 'structures' can't be understood by only examining their constituent parts (if that is what you mean by 'last analysis'), then we've got a philosophical difference between us, MH. The notion that 'structures' can be understood by reducing them to their constituent parts is 'Reductionism'.

If you don't accept 'structures' exist, we have an even greater philosophical problem.

If this isn't what you mean, could you confirm that you accept 'structures' and reject 'reductionism', before we continue?

MH
What I'm trying to get at is

What I'm trying to get at is, as Demogorgon's quote from Marx clearly shows, as Marxists we argue that it is not possible or meaningful to talk about 'political power' existing in communism, because there will be no material, economic basis for that political power to exist. You on the other hand argue that 'power is an emergent property of social structures', which from a Marxist perspective to me sounds suspiciously un-scientific and a-historical. So I'm wondering where your evidence comes from for this position?  Apart from this, your vision of communism seems to be one in which people potentially come to blows over where to build a tube line or have to have their personal differences 'mediated' by some authority, which to me at the very least suggests a serious underestimation of the transformation that communism will involve, not least the transformation of individuals; are we really to believe that a class which has destroyed capitalism and class relations forever and instituted a realm of abundance for the entire human race can't sort out where to build some transport links without needing a 'social' or 'mediating authority'?

mhou
Power

MH wrote:

What I'm trying to get at is, as Demogorgon's quote from Marx clearly shows, as Marxists we argue that it is not possible or meaningful to talk about 'political power' existing in communism, because there will be no material, economic basis for that political power to exist. You on the other hand argue that 'power is an emergent property of social structures', which from a Marxist perspective to me sounds suspiciously un-scientific and a-historical. So I'm wondering where your evidence comes from for this position?  Apart from this, your vision of communism seems to be one in which people potentially come to blows over where to build a tube line or have to have their personal differences 'mediated' by some authority, which to me at the very least suggests a serious underestimation of the transformation that communism will involve, not least the transformation of individuals; are we really to believe that a class which has destroyed capitalism and class relations forever and instituted a realm of abundance for the entire human race can't sort out where to build some transport links without needing a 'social' or 'mediating authority'?

 

I'm also confused by the conception of consciousness Lbird presents as a necessity for even a revolutionary situation to happen (communist-workers building councils), but that the human consciousness following the transformation of social relations is still so chained by the social, political and economic forms of capitalism that 'power' as we know it today is still a deciding factor?

Marin Jensen
What is power?

Lbird maintains that "power" is an "emergent property of all social structures", but is this really the case? Can it be shown to be the case? This would be very difficult to say the least - even the example of primitive communism does not help us very much here, since a fully developed communist society would be (will be, I hope) a very different proposition.

Marx in the German Ideology poses the question of power in terms of the division of labour. First of all, the emergence of the division of labour makes man's social power into something separate from him.

The social power, i.e., the multiplied productive force, which arises through the co-operation of different individuals as it is determined by the division of labour, appears to these individuals, since their co-operation is not voluntary but has come about naturally, not as their own united power, but as an alien force existing outside them, of the origin and goal of which they are ignorant, which they thus cannot control, which on the contrary passes through a peculiar series of phases and stages independent of the will and the action of man, nay even being the prime governor of these.

This "social power", in a society based on the division of labour, is the power of ruling classes which direct social labour to their own benefit. Hence the disappearance of social classes in communism, based on the end of the social division of labour, also implies the disappearance of what you might call "alienated power".

...with the abolition of the basis of private property, with the communistic regulation of production (and, implicit in this, the destruction of the alien relation between men and what they themselves produce), the power of the relation of supply and demand is dissolved into nothing, and men get exchange, production, the mode of their mutual relation, under their own control again?

I'm inclined to think there is a good deal of confusion in the way Lbird poses the question, which is indicated by the fact that he tends to talk about "the proletariat", "democracy", "workers' councils", indistinguishably in both what is generally called the period of transition (anarchists don't believe in such a thing of course and think you can go directly from capitalism to communism overnight) and communist society. By definition, in communist society none of these things will exist. Not even democracy will exist, since even democracy has never existed as anything but a class power, whether it be the rule of the Greek demos over other fractions of society, or the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie dressed up as an impersonal power exercised on behalf of society as a whole. How the unalienated social power will be exercised is a very difficult question, and indeed may even be unanswerable from our present standpoint.

Marin Jensen
Democracy + power = state

Coming back to Lbird's arguments again, I would suggest a thought experiment. Let us suppose, in Lbird's view of a communist society, that there is a disagreement about where to put a canal and it is decided to put it through against opposition. Here, I would suggest, we have the "power" the Lbird imagines in operation: power without action after all is not power.

So the "power", however democratic it may be (based on whatever kind of voting system you like in the councils), enforces the will of the majority. By what means will it enforce this decision? If "power" "enforces" a decision, however democratic it may be, that implies policing and if necessary measures of constraint or repression against those who resist. And before you know it, you're back where you started, with power, police, and why not? the army, and of course a bureaucracy to back it all up. It can be as democratic as you like, but as George Orwell once observed in France they write "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" over the prison gates.

In short, democracy + power = state

That means one of two things: either communism is impossible and we can just all go home, or the problem of power is a much more complex one than just being an "emergent property of social structure".

And thinking about it, perhaps there are some pointers in primitive communism after all. Because in primitive communist society there is no power, in the sense of a separate body above the others. There is no coercive authority. And social relations are (and will be in developed communism) very very different even from anything we can imagine.

LBird
Egalitarian includes structure and authority

LoneLondoner wrote:
Because in primitive communist society there is no power, in the sense of a separate body above the others. There is no coercive authority.

But it seems to be posters on this thread who are defining 'power' to mean only 'minority power'. I'm not.

In primitive communist society there is 'power'. It is not wielded by a 'separate body', but by the community. This is a 'coercive authority' in relation to individuals who transgress the customs of the society.

Egalitarian societies have a structure: it's incorrect to see them as merely aggregates of 'individuals'.

extract from my unfinished personal work wrote:

Within the earliest communities, based on the family or kinship group, the natural social authority was the parents or the elder members of the gens. Age was an obvious factor in producing social authority, because of the greater experience, knowledge, wisdom and memory of the older members of the group, and of course the natural caring authority of parents over their children. To an overwhelming extent, the ‘communal interest’ of the social group was identical to the interests of their kin, as identified by the heads of the gens. That is, there was no structural conflict between a society and its social authority. It was a natural relationship between all individuals, and their authority figures reflected and determined their kinship interests, both as individuals and as a group.

However, the decisions of the social authority, whether related to the communal interests of production, defence or justice, were not enforced by a ‘police’ force or a group of men separate from the social grouping itself. Any ‘coercion’ that might be required to enforce the communal interest in opposition against any dissenting individual or small group was carefully graduated. Initially, there was the power of tradition and custom, which all individuals within the group internalised as they were socialised when growing up – ‘things are just done this way’. An individual felt morally obliged to listen to the advice of their wiser elders. Next, there was social disapproval, which was applied to those who appeared to flout the ethics of the kin group. This is related to public opinion, and could range from gossip and ‘dirty looks’ to ostracism and the refusal to offer necessary aid to the person offending against public morals. No individual could hold out for long against the wishes of their kin. Food, shelter and defence were social products. At the most serious end of this spectrum of coercion, if an individual committed a serious offence against the community or any of its members, they would be driven out of the group and left to fend for themselves. This was, in effect, a death sentence. If force was required, there were no special individuals or bodies of armed men – all adult males were armed as warriors, and social force was applied by the whole group.

Finally,

LoneLondoner wrote:
In short, democracy + power = state

This is an anarchistic formulation.

'Power' will always exist in every form of society. If we don't address this issue collectively and openly, someone else will, by hidden substitutionism.

I'm very surprised to be on a political board, discussing politics, with people who think 'power' is going to go away. Politics means power. All societies are political structures, and power is an inescapable human concern, for ever.

jk1921
Orwell

LBird wrote:

I'm very surprised to be on a political board, discussing politics, with people who think 'power' is going to go away. Politics means power. All societies are political structures, and power is an inescapable human concern, for ever.

 

Some would see communism as the transcendence of "politics" itself as an alienated form of human activity, one more mediation of genuine human relationships entered into in freedom. But, its pretty clear you reject such a Hegelian/dialectical view as utopian. Its not really clear, however, just what your alternative view of communism is. It seems to have something to do with democracy; but its not clear how democracy would have any meaning in a society that has left individualism behind in the way you describe elsewhere. At other times, your vision seems to have more in common with Rousseau's vision and you seem to argue with him that even in an ideal human society the community will have to, at times, "force people to be free."  This seems very different from Marx's vision of communism and does in fact seem to have Orwellian overtones. 

mhou
I agree with LoneLondoner and

I agree with LoneLondoner and jk's characterizations.

Quote:
In primitive communist society there is 'power'. It is not wielded by a 'separate body', but by the community. This is a 'coercive authority' in relation to individuals who transgress the customs of the society.

Quote:
'Power' will always exist in every form of society. If we don't address this issue collectively and openly, someone else will, by hidden substitutionism.

It almost sounds like you're simply talking about social pressure or moral pressure- which likely would exist and be an active factor in the movement to transform all social relations. I don't think it's unique to anarchism or Marxism to conceieve communism as without power structures- it seems common to both.

Is that why you think democracy is a principle? Because it is the least-awful form of power (since power wouldn't be going anywhere, just wielded by others)?

jk1921
I'll concede that LBird does

I'll concede that LBird does have a serious point in his rejection of dialectical/transcendent solutions to practical problems regarding how communist society would be organized. But maybe he can say a little more about this and how this connects up with his views on science? There seems to be a great deal of skepticism here: skeptcism about how a society can function without power, skepticism that without addressing this question power will reassert itself in some other form, etc. I wonder if this connects up to a skeptical epistemology in regards to the science discussion?

But what do others think about LBird's concerns? Is it acceptable to deflect questions about power, etc. in a communist society by citing dialectics or that "we can't provide recipes for the cooks of the future"? Is this sticking our heads in the sand? Is it plausible to maintain that these things will just work themselves out?

Marin Jensen
But what is power?

LBird wrote:

LoneLondoner wrote:
In short, democracy + power = state

This is an anarchistic formulation.

'Power' will always exist in every form of society. If we don't address this issue collectively and openly, someone else will, by hidden substitutionism.

I'm very surprised to be on a political board, discussing politics, with people who think 'power' is going to go away. Politics means power. All societies are political structures, and power is an inescapable human concern, for ever.

How that is an anarchistic formulation I fail to see, and for once I think Lbird is avoiding the question rather than addressing it. This is partly because the notion of "power" he is defending is confused and imprecise.

For example,

LBird wrote:

In primitive communist society there is 'power'. It is not wielded by a 'separate body', but by the community. This is a 'coercive authority' in relation to individuals who transgress the customs of the society.

so here he is talking about how the community exercises constraint over individuals who transgress its customs and rules. It is conceivable that such "power" would be possible without a separate body imposing it, but I think that raises questions about the relationships between individuals and society which are too complicated to go into here.

In a previous post however, he was talking about the majority exercising its power over the minority.

These are two very different things: my simple "thought experiment" is designed to show that for a majority (even a democratic majority) to wield coercive power over a minority, is impossible without an organised body separate from the rest of society to wield that power. Marx certainly thought that this would disappear with the disappearance of the division of labour.

Where Lbird is right is in trying to deal with the question of conflict within communist society. But before he can do that, IMHO, he will have to sort out two things:

  1. The fundamental difference between the transitional period and a fully developed communist society.
  2. What exactly power means.

To do so, he will have to get away from the ahistorical approach in the first quote, and remember (as Marx said in relation to hunger): "Hunger is hunger; but the hunger that is satisfied by cooked meat eaten with knife and fork differs from hunger that devours raw meat with the help of bands, nails and teeth. Production thus produces not only the object of consumption but also the mode of consumption, not only objectively but also subjectively. Production therefore creates the consumer."

jk1921
Mob justice?

LoneLondoner wrote:

so here he is talking about how the community exercises constraint over individuals who transgress its customs and rules. It is conceivable that such "power" would be possible without a separate body imposing it.

Sounds like rule of the lynch mob.......

LBird
Power?

LoneLondoner wrote:
Where Lbird is right is in trying to deal with the question of conflict within communist society. But before he can do that, IMHO, he will have to sort out two things:
  1. The fundamental difference between the transitional period and a fully developed communist society.
  2. What exactly power means.

And IMHO, I think your question 2 should be the first question!

And that is exactly what I've been trying to tease out of the ICC over a number of threads.

What 'power' is, and, relatedly, from where it originates and who shall wield it.

As jk1921 has pointed out, I'm not too convinced by talk of 'trancendence' or 'dialectical interplay'!

PS. the last bit is a joke.

LBird
Knowledge is power

jk1921 wrote:
I'll concede that LBird does have a serious point in his rejection of dialectical/transcendent solutions to practical problems regarding how communist society would be organized. But maybe he can say a little more about this and how this connects up with his views on science?

In a nutshell, jk, 'knowledge is power'.

'Scientific knowledge' is a social authority and must be under our control. Society must control any form of authority. That's what I conceive of Communist society doing. And not just science, but also socialisation - but that's best left alone for now!

jk1921
Power and Knowledge

LBird wrote:

jk1921 wrote:
I'll concede that LBird does have a serious point in his rejection of dialectical/transcendent solutions to practical problems regarding how communist society would be organized. But maybe he can say a little more about this and how this connects up with his views on science?

In a nutshell, jk, 'knowledge is power'.

'Scientific knowledge' is a social authority and must be under our control. Society must control any form of authority. That's what I conceive of Communist society doing. And not just science, but also socialisation - but that's best left alone for now!

 

Is knowledge power or does power determine what counts as "knowledge"? I am not quite clear how the last part works: "Society must control any form of authority." Wouldn't this mean then that science would no longer be an authority as it would be subjected to the control of something else? Knowlegde would be a mere effect of power? Honest questions......

LBird
Questions of 'Authority'

jk1921 wrote:
...science would no longer be an authority...

What sort of 'an authority' do you consider science to be? Do you mean 'an authority' outside of humanity? How could this be so, given what we've discussed so far?

If you agree it is a social authority, whose authority is it?

mhou
Are any or all (or none) of

Are any or all (or none) of us agreed that the idea of authority or power is relevant prior to communism? When classes still exist, but after the beginning of the revolutionary movement?

I'd think that trial and error and the enormous resource of lived experience after day 1 of the next revolutionary period would equal a rise and shift in consciousness- which, in the class' movement toward communism, would redefine or re-configure 'power' and 'authority'.

Some people define the semi-state as the organized violence of the proletariat. That fits most of the definitions of 'power' or 'authority' used in this thread. How does it factor into a society undergoing tremendous changes in social relations?

A.Simpleton
Ability and Skill

And good questions jk

I've thought a bit about LBird's statement viz: 'power is an inescapable emergent property of all social relationships' : not 'inherent' I note : cf :a statement like 'salinity is an inherent property of all oceans'

1 ) 'Power' does have negative connotations but is that just because of such a long history of its abuse? Its root is : poto / potere / potui / possum (Latin) and I only bring that in because it made me think of words from the same root : potential / potent / possibilty which in turn made me think:

'potential' tends to have positive connotations in many contexts though we can say for example ' it's a potential disaster' but it's really just: 'power' in the future as it were.

'poto' translates as 'I am able to'

So that made me wonder 'what if one - just as an exercise in sort of 'refreshing' perception of the word - thinks of 'power' like 'ability'? {I'm not trying to misrepresent your meaning LBird ;@}ha !)

I.E. trying to hear it as just a 'property' a 'force' if you like without any assumed connotation?

Thinking out loud ...

***

2) Knowledge (is Power) 

Again do we not inevitably - for we live in 'distortedland' as it were - make assumptions about the word?

Knowing how to mix plaster for example (especially 'skim') or how to drive an artic. is 'knowledge' once you've mastered the skill is it not? power 

Skill requires knowledge which gives you the 'ability' the 'power' to build or drive.

But I'm thinking too 'individual' here yes? 

Just to clarify LBird man : 'Scientific knowledge (is a social authority) : are the kinds of 'knowledge' I am thinking out loud about (not positing in 'opposition;.) are they all under the 'scientific knowledge' umbrella or have I misconceived the picture ?

AS

 

 

LBird
A 'skim' over the issue?

A.Simpleton wrote:
Knowing how to mix plaster for example (especially 'skim') or how to drive an artic. is 'knowledge' once you've mastered the skill is it not? power

Skill requires knowledge which gives you the 'ability' the 'power' to build or drive.

But I'm thinking too 'individual' here yes?

In a word, mate, 'Yes!'.

When we're discussing 'power', we're really talking about social relationships, not individual abilities.

A.Simpleton wrote:
Just to clarify LBird man : 'Scientific knowledge (is a social authority) : are the kinds of 'knowledge' I am thinking out loud about (not positing in 'opposition;.) are they all under the 'scientific knowledge' umbrella or have I misconceived the picture ?

Well, I'm sure if people want to discuss the 'power' of poetry or soothsayers to produce a personal 'knowledge' or insight, they will do, but I'm specifically concerned here with the issue of 'scientific knowledge', its status as 'objective Truth', and its power to convince people that they should obey its bourgeois authority.

As a Communist, I think that all social products should be under our social control. That includes the production of 'scientific knowledge'.

LBird
Social relations equals power

mhou wrote:
Some people define the semi-state as the organized violence of the proletariat. That fits most of the definitions of 'power' or 'authority' used in this thread. How does it factor into a society undergoing tremendous changes in social relations?

Leaving aside the issue of the term 'semi-state' for now, Workers' Councils will be the source of 'organised violence'. They will have the power to enforce their decisions. They will have 'the keys to the armouries'.

Unless we discuss this issue of post-revolutionary authority and power, it's easy to fall into the individualist anarchist belief that, somehow, immediately after the 'great day' every individual will do as they please ('free association' seems to be the ideological term that they use).

When I've asked Anarchists who also claim to be Communists (and so also subscribe to the notion of 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their need'), who determines 'ability' and 'need', they don't seem to have an answer. Of course, the answer is the collectivity to which the biological individual belongs: that is, the Commune or Workers' Council.

'Need' and 'ability' are social concepts, not whims of the mythical, bourgeois, individual.

When I'm asked 'As an individual, who will tell you what to do?', they expect the answer 'No-one!', because that fits their ideological conditioning.

In fact, I answer 'I'm a worker, not an individual (one is a socio-political identity, the other a biological one) and my comrades will tell me what to do'.

Of course, as a member of the Commune, I'll have the same right to be fully educated and informed, and to play an active political role in the Commune, as will everyone. I'll have to argue for my 'individual' wishes, as will everybody, within our collective social organisations. Thus, they will have to be democratic and controlled from below, to allow all a say.

But, there will be power, and it will be collectively exercised. That is the nature of any human society. To deny this is to either be ignorant or be hiding something.

Marin Jensen
Power? Authority? All too vague

Lbird wrote:

And that is exactly what I've been trying to tease out of the ICC over a number of threads.

What 'power' is, and, relatedly, from where it originates and who shall wield it.

And you're not having much success, in my view, for two reasons:

  1. We think that the question is badly posed. Demogorgon and myself have posted Marx's words on this thread in support of the view that "political power" will cease to exist in communism, and that "power" itself is a product of the division of labour (and therefore the appropriation of the product of labour by an exploiting class), which will also cease to exist under communism. Here is Marx again (in the German Ideology): "as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic". Marx (who was not an anarchist) certainly implies that Lbird's idea that "power is an emergent property of all society" simply is not true. This is a huge question, and Marx only gives some very general pointers to what communist society would actually look like. It is related to the problem of whether conflict (by which I do not mean armed conflict) would exist in communism, and if so what form it would take. But to answer these questions, we need to start by grappling with what Marx actually had to say on the subject, otherwise we will simply fall into sociological platitudes.
  2. Lbird is raising good questions, but their difficulty is only demonstrated by his vagueness on what power actually means: on this thread he has offered us political power, social power, social authority - all very vaguely defined. And when confronted with the problem of what the exercise of political power could actually mean without a police, an army, a bureaucracy, he simply retreats into accusations of "anarchism". The degree of confusion in his way of posing the problem is indicated in the quote that appears at the top of this page: "Again, I ask the ICC ‘in a Communist society, where does power lie?’ I maintain that Marx must mean ‘Power lies with the proletariat’": as others have pointed out, this is meaningless because there is no proletariat in communism.
Marin Jensen
Social products under our control

LBird wrote:

Well, I'm sure if people want to discuss the 'power' of poetry or soothsayers to produce a personal 'knowledge' or insight, they will do, but I'm specifically concerned here with the issue of 'scientific knowledge', its status as 'objective Truth', and its power to convince people that they should obey its bourgeois authority.

As a Communist, I think that all social products should be under our social control. That includes the production of 'scientific knowledge'.

I see two problems here:

  1. The idea that "poetry" or "soothsayers" can only produce "personal knowledge" is patently wrong (if that is what you are saying): people have never been convinced by science that they should obey bourgeois authority, they have been "convinced" (or rather they have never been able to think otherwise) by ideology (this is a rather imprecise way of putting things I'm afraid) which to date has been based on art, spectacle, and the appeal to the emotions, infintely more than on science.
  2. "I think that all social products should be under our social control". What on earth does this mean? Does it mean that if "we" decide that quantum mechanics is a load of hooey then it necessarily becomes so? If so then it is nonsense. Nor does it bear much likeness to what Marx and Engels (communists, without a doubt), actually thought. Here, for example, is Engels: “.... the more ruthlessly and disinterestedly science proceeds, the more it finds itself in harmony with the interests of the workers.” (quoted in the article on Women's role in the emergence of human culture)
LBird
Does elitism stalk these columns?

LoneLondoner wrote:
Does it mean that if "we" decide that quantum mechanics is a load of hooey then it necessarily becomes so? If so then it is nonsense.

Yes, it does mean that from the point of view of 'social objectivity', it becomes 'a load of hooey'.

A 'social objective' science will be the Communist view of science, and will entail the control of the product of science, 'knowledge', by the finest educated majority of humans that history has ever seen. The issue will have been debated as widely as possible, with millions of people who have done post-graduate research in physics giving the benefit of their knowledge to their democratic communes. Once the democratic processes have been followed, with the demand for minority postions on the question to get a full hearing before the widest possible number of humans who will be affected by this decision, then society has to make a decision: 'Is quantum mechanics a load of hooey?'.

If, after all that, it is decided thus, who is to deny its 'truth'?

A special, all-knowing elite? Is this ICC policy? Does the ICC have unmediated access to 'reality'?

For my part, I'll place my trust in my highly-educated comrades, who can revisit the question of its 'truth' at any time. 'Truth' is a social construct.

jk1921
Post Modernism

LBird wrote:

A special, all-knowing elite? Is this ICC policy? Does the ICC have unmediated access to 'reality'?

For my part, I'll place my trust in my highly-educated comrades, who can revisit the question of its 'truth' at any time. 'Truth' is a social construct.

Once again, the accusations of "elitism" fly to anyone who proffers that there is something like objective scientific truth, which seems more or less synonomous in your system with "Leninism."  So, I suppose the question should then become: Is science Leninist in your view? As it is "phallocentric" for certain feminists or "Eurocentric" for some Third Worldists?

The idea that some group of human beings might have a better grasp on "reality" (although not necessarily "unmediated") seems intolerable to you. It seems you see this as some kind of violation of democratic principle. But then, it would seem to me, that science (and along with it Marxism) would simply collapse. We would truly enter a post-modern world where science would become a meer effect of power, just another "narrative" to go along with all the others: religion, young earth creationism, new age spiritualism, climate science denialism, UFOlogy, parapsychology, etc. We would lose the epistemological perspective from which to counterpose truth to fantasy other than as an effect of power. We could not longer to claim to be "right" in any objective sense. We could only ever hope to say that our ideas carry "social authority" (whatever that means). This would seem to open the door the rankest democratism, force us to bend our critique to the social authority of (the masses? the proletariat?) and subcumb to public opinion.

This is simply not Marxism of any shape or form. Its not the Marxism of Marx, not the Marxism of Lenin and it bears no resemblance to the Marxism of Gorter, Pannekoek or the GIC either (as evidence by textual examples given earlier). The entire premise of left communism is that Marxists must not compromise themselves for the sake of legitimacy in the eyes of the masses at any one moment. It is better to suffer isolation than to seek relevance by pandering to illusions--regardless of whatever "social authority" they may have at any given time.

But then you finish by saying you will put your trust in your highly educated comrades? So, not everyone will have the same education? How is this not a fatal contradiction in your approach? What are scientists other than people with a certain level of advanced education in a particular specialized field?

As far as their being "bourgeois science" as opposed to "proletarian science," I am afraid there must be some misunderstanding here as you repeatedly say you do not endorse Lysenkoism. But just what exactly do you mean? Thabo Mbeki, former PM of South African and HIV denialist, used to rail against scientists who criticized his policies as representing "Western science." He assembled around himself an AIDS advisory committee that represented mostly discredited views and his health minister used to recommend lemon juice as a cure for AIDS. How in the world are we to critique this kind of nonsense if not from the perspective of a universal scientific truth (HIV causes AIDS) that is valid everywhere for everyone?

How would you, LBird, have responded to Mbeki? What method would you have used to tell him he was wrong? During his administation, state authority said that HIV does not cause AIDS and that simple nutrition could cure it. This was backed up by the "social authority" of the various state insitutions that enacted his policy from the ministry of health down to the local hospital. On what basis was this lunancy shown to be wrong? Democracy or science? I don't know what "democratic" public opinion in South Africa said about this at the time. But given Mbeki was popularly elected and head of the ANC, its probably reasonable to beleive that many South Africans agreed with him.

But this can't possibly be what LBird means. He can't possibly mean that there is no way to critique this kind of stupidity because there is no objective truth about what caused AIDS. So please help us understand what you really mean.

 

LBird
Elitism is too weak a word for your views

jk1921 wrote:
Once again, the accusations of "elitism" fly, which seems more or less synonomous in your system with "Leninism."

Well, when it comes to evidence of 'elitism', jk, you're one of my main witnesses!

jk1921 wrote:
The idea that some group of human beings might have a better grasp on "reality" (although not necessarily "unmediated") seems intolerable to you. It seems you see this as some kind of violation of democratic principle.

'Some group', versus 'democracy'. Why not educate everyone, properly, so that all can realise their abilities? Perhaps you agree with the bourgeoisie, that most humans are simply incapable of running their society?

jk1921 wrote:
But then, it would seem to me, that science (and along with it Marxism) would simply collapse. We would truly enter a post-modern world where science would become a meer effect of power, just another "narrative" to go along with all the others: religion, new age spiritualism, UFOlogy, parapsychology, etc. We would lose the epistemological perspective from which to counterpose truth to fantasy other than as an effect of power.

This make me wonder if you've actually understood anything that I've written about science over the last few weeks. You're still arguing (similarly to Fred on the other thread) that rejecting 'objectivity', in its positivist sense, leaves us only with 'subjectivism'. There is a third alternative, 'social-objectivity'.

jk1921 wrote:
But then you finish by saying you will put your trust in your highly educated comrades? So, not everyone will have the same education? How is this not a fatal contradiction in your approach?

Why can't you discuss the relevent issues, and stop the snidey remarks?

Who has claimed on these threads that 'everyone will have the same education'? We want a society that educates everyone to the best of their interests and abilities. To me, this means there will be mass interest in science.

I'm seriously wondering why I'm still bothering to engage with you, jk1921.

You haven't shown any real interest in discussing 'science', just repeating worn out canards about clever scientists and mass stupidity.

[edit]

I've just seen the rest of your post.

The most restrained thing I can say is goodnight comrade. I'm finished trying to reason with you.

[end edit]

Marin Jensen
The minority...

LBird wrote:

If, after all that, it is decided thus, who is to deny its 'truth'?

How about the minority that remains unconvinced? The point is, all knowledge necessarily evolves through study, observation, experiment (where possible), but also through contradiction. Pretty much all new scientific theory first emerged as a minority rebelling against the current scientific consensus. Hence the importance of debate.

As for your "highly educated comrades", surely it is safe to say that, unless communism reduces humanity to the state of identical robots then people under communism will be very different (indeed they will be more different from each other than they are today where everybody is forced into the limited moulds of capitalist consumerism and productivism). I entirely agree with you about the necessary spread of scientific education, but I still find it hard to believe that the entire world population will be capable of the highly complex math involved in the dispute between (for example) superstring theory and quantum loop gravity theory.

What the entire world population will and must be concerned with, is deciding questions like "do we devote x amount of resources to building a gigantic super-collider on the moon?".

LBird
'Why let the thickoes vote?' Oh dear!

LoneLondoner wrote:
How about the minority that remains unconvinced?

I don't know about you, LoneLondoner, but I see Communist democracy very differently to bourgeois, parliamentary democracy (sic).

We have to structure minority positions into our debates, and ensure that both (or all three, etc.) positions are thoroughly understood during the discussions that will take place before any decision of any sort (political, scientific, economic, etc.) is made. Furthermore, I would expect that we would have at least one minority position on any question that is recognised as a potential successor to our present majority position.

I would expect that these political methods would be taught to children as they grow up, and the method would be similar to how sociology should be taught today (although I know from experience, both personal and familial, that it often isn't), that is, there are always three answers to any question: the liberal, the conservative and the Marxist perspective. The notion of there being only one, final answer to any question would be bred out of learmers from the start.

So, in direct answer to your question, the 'unconvinced minority' would form the organised human basis for a different answer. The minority would have the same rights as ever, to maintain a campaign of disagreement in an attempt to build for another vote on whatever scientific issue is in question. This would be a fundamentally anti-authoritarian approach to science. We would know that 'scientific authority' rests will us all, not some self-selected elite group of 'experts' (sic).

We haven't discussed the nature of Communist democracy, and I think it requires a separate thread.

LoneLondoner wrote:
The point is, all knowledge necessarily evolves through study, observation, experiment (where possible), but also through contradiction. Pretty much all new scientific theory first emerged as a minority rebelling against the current scientific consensus. Hence the importance of debate.

The problem with current bourgeois science is that there isn't enough rebelling by organised, well-funded, well-organised minorities, who are opposed to the current consensus. This would be another point of difference between proletarian and bourgeois science. We would structure dissent into our very method.

LoneLondoner wrote:
As for your "highly educated comrades", surely it is safe to say that, unless communism reduces humanity to the state of identical robots then people under communism will be very different...

This is a strange argument for you to make, LL. 'Education will reduce humans to robots'? This is the sort of propaganda that the ruling class employ, isn't it? Y'know, 'you'll all be wearing identical blue boiler suits and eating the same gruel, under Communism!'. I'm not sure where you're going with it.

LoneLondoner wrote:
I entirely agree with you about the necessary spread of scientific education, but I still find it hard to believe that the entire world population will be capable of the highly complex math involved in the dispute between (for example) superstring theory and quantum loop gravity theory.
[my bold]

Who has argued this on these threads? I certainly haven't. I think everybody should be educated to take full advantage of their personal abilities, interests and priorities. I happen to think this this process will produce mass interest in science (and indeed in every subject), and at least an ability to follow explanations made by those who are 'capable of highly complex maths'. But if someone has no interest, why would they vote?

LoneLondoner wrote:
What the entire world population will and must be concerned with, is deciding questions like "do we devote x amount of resources to building a gigantic super-collider on the moon?".

Perhaps I have higher expectations, than just this, of the abilities of most humans under Communism, LL!

Marin Jensen
Please read

LBird wrote:

This is a strange argument for you to make, LL. 'Education will reduce humans to robots'? This is the sort of propaganda that the ruling class employ, isn't it? Y'know, 'you'll all be wearing identical blue boiler suits and eating the same gruel, under Communism!'. I'm not sure where you're going with it.

Please read what I wrote. I was arguing precisely the opposite.

LBird
Janet and John?

LoneLondoner wrote:
LBird wrote:

This is a strange argument for you to make, LL. 'Education will reduce humans to robots'? This is the sort of propaganda that the ruling class employ, isn't it? Y'know, 'you'll all be wearing identical blue boiler suits and eating the same gruel, under Communism!'. I'm not sure where you're going with it.

Please read what I wrote. I was arguing precisely the opposite.

Which was:

LoneLondoner wrote:
As for your "highly educated comrades", surely it is safe to say that, unless communism reduces humanity to the state of identical robots then people under communism will be very different (indeed they will be more different from each other than they are today where everybody is forced into the limited moulds of capitalist consumerism and productivism).

You have said directly that 'highly educated comrades will be more different from each than they are today'.

I agree. But so what?

Within the confines of our discussion about Communism, science and democracy, you are clearly implying something more than 'people will be different'. In my opinion, you're implying that this will (or might) be fatal for democracy, which apparently requires 'identical robots'. Otherwise, why make the statement about 'people being different' contrasted with 'human robots'?

I might be wrongly categorising your view of 'democracy', but your statement certainly leaves room for that interpretation.

LBird wrote:
This is a strange argument for you to make, LL...  I'm not sure where you're going with it.

I've outlined my confusion ('strange' and 'not sure'), but you've done nothing to clarify or explain your intended meaning, other than ask me to read and make an unsupported assertion.

I can read. I can be wrong. But can you explain?

Fred
LoneLondoner's view of an

LoneLondoner's view of an achieved communist society got me worried. 

 

LL wrote:
 What the entire world population will and must be concerned with, is deciding questions like "do we devote x amount of resources to building a gigantic super-collider on the moon?".
  My initial silly response was to consider whether a Stonehenge Bouncy Castle wouldn't be more fun, given the moon's more relaxed gravity ( cf our lengthy discussions about the Bouncy Castle a year ago). More seriously, I thought that in the Period of Transition surely there must be more pressing issues for scientific method to address than super -colliders. Like feeding everybody, saving the planet from ecological and environmental disaster, and educating everyone and each other as best we can. These may sound like dreary mundane goals - they'd probably make the bourgeoisie giggle - but are they not, at least to start with,  the main goals of a communist society as opposed to a capitalist one, where something big like a super-collider, and "conquering " nature, and showing what we can do, is much more the order of the day?  If humanity is not going to be a very different life form under communism than it is under this hellish regime, then what would be the point?  Now I realize that LL doesn't believe that the capitalist mentality will be carried forward into communism and there perfected. But it struck me as unfortunate to select a gigantic super-collider on the moon as  an example of the type of triumphant achievement of a liberated humanity, with all the possibilities of a freed -up science at its finger tips, and as being illustrative of communist achievement. 
Marin Jensen
Science and democracy under communism

Fred wrote:

it struck me as unfortunate to select a gigantic super-collider on the moon as  an example of the type of triumphant achievement of a liberated humanity, with all the possibilities of a freed -up science at its finger tips, and as being illustrative of communist achievement

One of the problems of any attempt to imagine life under communism is that it tends only too easily to become transformed into an exchange of everybody's favorite fantasy as to what they would like the world to be like, which is not very helpful. So, two points in answer to this:

First, we're talking about communism, a society in which by definition the transitional period has come to an end and the scars of capitalism have been healed. As Marx said, in communist society the producers will be truly free for the first time because what they produce will be determined not by scarcity (the need for housing, food, etc.), but by humanity's social needs for knowledge, beauty... its fully human needs in short.

Second, I confess that personally I can imagine nothing more magnificent than the whole of humanity deciding to devote a colossal combined effort to know and understand the deepest nature of matter, hence the super-collider. But of course not everybody will feel like this!

Lbird wrote:

You have said directly that 'highly educated comrades will be more different from each than they are today'.

I agree. But so what?

Within the confines of our discussion about Communism, science and democracy, you are clearly implying something more than 'people will be different'. In my opinion, you're implying that this will (or might) be fatal for democracy, which apparently requires 'identical robots'. Otherwise, why make the statement about 'people being different' contrasted with 'human robots'?

What I am trying to get at is this: as I understand it Lbird's proposition is that under communism the whole of humanity will vote on the "truth" or otherwise of (for example) quantum theory. Leaving aside the question of what Lbird's "socially objective" truth means for the moment, unless I'm mistaken this assumes that the whole of humanity will be equally capable of understanding the math involved in quantum theory.

But, if human beings will be different (as we agree), and even more different that they are now, it seems a safe assumption that there will still be only a minority of humanity capable or desirous of understanding quantum theory. Now, a "vote" on something that you don't understand is obviously meaningless, so even on Lbird's democratic assumptions we still end up with an "expert minority". The fact that the minority capable of understanding quantum theory is - say - 2 billion strong as opposed to a few thousand, is neither here nor there: it's still a minority, the same "expert minority" that Lbird keeps denouncing.

I may not always express myself as clearly as I might, but it is a mystery to me where Lbird gets the idea that I think communist society requires people to be robots. To repeat, I am arguing the precise opposite.

LBird
We agree on 'mass' participation

LoneLondoner wrote:
Leaving aside the question of what Lbird's "socially objective" truth means for the moment...

Well, this is being dealt with on the 'Marxism and science' thread, so I agree we can 'leave it aside', here.

LoneLondoner wrote:
...even on Lbird's democratic assumptions we still end up with an "expert minority". The fact that the minority capable of understanding quantum theory is - say - 2 billion strong as opposed to a few thousand, is neither here nor there: it's still a minority, the same "expert minority" that Lbird keeps denouncing.

So, an 'expert minority' of 'say 2 billion' is in the same range of thought as 'a few thousand'?

A third of humanity is commensurate to a tiny, tiny, tiny, elite?

'Transformation of quantity into quality'? Now, where have I heard that before?

Or, 'they know the price of everthing and the value of nothing'?

LoneLondoner wrote:
I may not always express myself as clearly as I might, but it is a mystery to me where Lbird gets the idea that I think communist society requires people to be robots. To repeat, I am arguing the precise opposite.

I get the 'idea' from the context of what you wrote about science and democracy. Now, I might be mistaken, or you might be 'unclear' (ahem), but 'pleading' is not an explanation.

Why not just say whether you think that the human activity of science should be under the mass control of humanity, or, on the contrary, of a few experts?

For the purposes of your response, if you accept that a third of the human race will be actively participating in decisions, I'll happily accept that as 'democracy' (the mass) as opposed to 'elitism' (the few).

Let's face it, if the other two-thirds of humanity would rather write poetry than study and vote on science, I think we'll both still be happy comrades!

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