Communism is not a 'nice idea', Vol. 1 Part 4, Communism: the real beginning of human society

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Fred
Communism is not a 'nice idea', Vol. 1 Part 4, Communism: the real beginning of human society
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Communism is not a 'nice idea', Vol. 1 Part 4, Communism: the real beginning of human society. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Fred
I wanted to say something

I wanted to say something about this remarkable article to which LoneLondoner provided a link on the current "ecology" thread.  So thanks for that LL.  But I can't think of anything to say because I am once again overpowered by Marx's thought and his mode of expression as it comes across in English.  This I am not criticizing, but would label "aphoristic" - very compressed thoughts - as a further complication to (my!) comprehension.  Its a little like poetry.    But even regarding the bits I think I follow, the ideas are already so amazing, so new, so clearly "right" that they leave one open mouthed.   But with nothing to add.  Marx has said it all.  What can anyone add?  

 

The ICC adds a little  in the way of elucidation in this piece, and is clearly a little gob-smacked itself!.  Marx has said it all.     There's nothing left to say. This is one of the problems with the communist left in general.    When they get round finally to explaining something, presumably after much debate within the group, it can present itself as so thoroughly thought out that a reader is left with nothing to do but accept or reject what is said.  (Unless of course the said reader is a leftist or otherwise bourgeois through and through, in which case they can try and tear it down or change it.)  This makes it difficult for the   culture of debate, among the communist left and their sympathizers, to get started at all   For if, after considering what's said, you agree totally with what's said, this means that there's nothing left for you to say!   I came across this predicament when first encountering the ICC.  Comrades would ask: what d'you think about our views?  Embarrassed silence would follow.  "I fall down and worship at their feet," could be a reply, but silence was the  better option I guess.  

 

I am am writing this now because I think it would be lovely if we could have a discussion about some of the things that Marx says here, especially as they relate to how we think the changed personalities of people under communism would effect their behaviour as, for example, consumers, parents, individuals with expectations of life,  relations with other people.  (I was very surprised that Marx uses the word "personality" for instance, and talks uninhibitedly about individuals.  In my miscomprehension of communism, perverted by life under the bourgeoisie, I had thought that individualism and specially "personality" (whatever it means  - "celebrity"? Ugh!! )  wouldn't be allowed any place in communist  society. Perhaps they won't?  But the remarkable thing about Marx is that he doesn't shy away from talking about things which today maybe we would think twice about raising,  and he brings  issues into the open.  And even if he had no reason to believe anyone would read his personal manuscripts not published in his lifetime, he still had the confidence to try and elaborate his ideas on paper and talked openly and frankly with himself.  He was clearly very excited and enthused by the new communistic ideas assaulting him at the time. And we should be the same. 

 

Was he always right? What would he say about ecology and the environment, and the prospects for communism today? 

A.Simpleton
To be radical

I am so glad you posted the above Fred. 

'But the remarkable thing about Marx is that he doesn't shy away from talking about things which today maybe we would think twice about raising,  and he brings  issues into the open.  And even if he had no reason to believe anyone would read his personal manuscripts not published in his lifetime, he still had the confidence to try and elaborate his ideas on paper and talked openly and frankly with himself.' 

What I have held to be the only 'explanation-in-motion' that makes any sense of the 'chaos of history' for 40 plus years is Marx's. It's not just that he 'boldly went where no-one had gone before': it's that his very starting point had never been posited before: he was - as the joke runs - that original Irishman who, when asked 'How do I get to Dublin?' replied :'well....if I was going to Dublin, I wouldn't start from here'.

To me that sums up the at root 'disarming' of all dualistic, false-base-assumed, previous blah blah about everything that Marx's materialist view established and developed  I will self-edit as the volumes I could speak might crash the Web ....

Armed with or despite a classic 'bourgeois' education he 'alone' (in the sense of the enormity of the work that followed) thought: hang on a minute ... all these great philosophers of antiquity, these 'eminent' social theorists ..they may show graceful logic here or Holmesian deductive powers there .... but none of it explains or even thinks it needs to explain why/how come what is right under my nose is right under my nose.

**

With regard to the extract from the book 'Not Just A Nice Idea ..' 

For me, what Marx wrote in his 1844 manuscripts and especially 'die entfremdete Arbeit' 'estranged labour' section was and is so profound yet simple: the step by step, on the nail, description and explanation of precisely what my personal experience and observation of the world was questioning, glimpsing through a glass darkly : those manuscripts sprung the trap of my bourgeois 'education'. I literally walked into a lampost reading them: quite suddenly the essence of everything and the connections between processes - the pavement under my feet, the passing cars, railways, buildings, canned food in shops, - was revealed for what it was - stripped of its confusing 'appearance'.

They were the foundation of his own development: why not start at the beginning? They can still shine a focussed beam on many subsequent issues: they pack a prose punch - classic prose really - no 'cut and paste' in them days ..:@} (Even more of a wow in German: not that I read Deutsch - but with a very large dictionary and knowledge of how languages work - I am reading some sections at 1 mph)

I don't feel the intention behind these sections is other than a substantial presentation of 'the story so far': making available 'under one roof' as it were the core of Marx's work and method - and where his depth, breadth and clarity are self-evident then there is little to add.

In other cases - the 'Stalemate of Decadence' for example - there is.

**

In praise of Marx ..indeed .. as you say he does not 'shy away' : he will start a paragraph : 'So where did this state of affairs come from? Or : 'Why is this so?

 

AS

 

 

'

Fred
Marx wrote:   In my

Marx wrote:
  In my production I would have objectified the specific character of my individuality and for that reason I would both have enjoyed the expression of my own individual life during my activity and also, in contemplating the object, I would experience an individual pleasure, I would experience my personality as an objectively sensuously perceptible power beyond all shadow of doubt. (2) In your use or enjoyment of my product I would have the immediate satisfaction and knowledge that in my labor I had gratified a human need, ie, that I had objectified human nature and hence had procured an object corresponding to the needs of another human being. (3) I would have acted for you as the mediator between you and the species, thus I would be acknowledged by you as the complement of your own being, as an essential part of yourself. I would thus know myself to be confirmed both in your thoughts and your love. (4) In the individual expression of my own life, I would have brought about the immediate expression of your life, and so in my individual activity I would have directly confirmed and realized my authentic nature, my human, communal nature.

 Our productions would be as many mirrors from which our natures would shine forth.

  I am glad you posted your post above comrade Simpleton and hope you will say more.  For instance, in the quote I've given, does Marx mean to suggest a difference between "individuality" and "personality" or is it a question of translation?  And, if there is a difference in meaning , what can it be?Where does our notion of "psychology" come into this: and consciousness and motivation, not to mention the sub-conscious!   When did the early marxists start talking about "consciousness" and "class consciousness" ? And, instead of talking about "my personality" would it be possible to talk about "my psychology" on the assumption that my personality is merely the expression of my psychological makeup?  As in: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is her attempt to express her inner feelings and understandings of the emerging class struggle as this was a hardly understood phenomenon prior to the Communist Manifesto.   She was giving vent to a largely hidden psychological response to the awful situation in which the working class existed.   She was "emotional" about the class.  Is that right?  A lot of what Marx is saying above could also be seen as "emotional".  But its like "objectified" emotion.  He's using words like "enjoyment", "pleasure",  "satisfaction"  and sees his personality "as an objectively sensuously perceptible power".  This is potent stuff!  He even becomes an essential part of another being   - transcending bourgeois marriage at a stroke - and thus "know myself to be confirmed both in your thoughts and your love."   This is is almost a love poem.  Through his productive activity this human being, living in a communist society, has "directly confirmed and realized my authentic nature, my human, communal nature."  But is  his "authentic nature" realized communally, the same as was his "individuality" and his "personality" earlier on, or  are these  subsumed into the greater more loving  and blissful experience?   This all sounds a little like the talk of modern psychologists such as Maslow (self-realization) and Carl Rogers (freedom from whatever it is that restricts us) except that they failed to understand that what they see in ideal form cannot be brought to fruition under capitalism.  A  failing on their behalf.   So, can you talk some more about this A Simpleton. I would love  to read more.  Our communications would be as so many mirrors from which our natures will shine forth.  Albeit dimly. Fred.      
A.Simpleton
Once again ..

You cheer me with your choice. and it does not surprise me that the quote you choose is one so often left out of many 'editions' of Marx's 1844 Manuscripts.

(... puts on librarian's hat .. )

Paris 1843: Marx is studying (I need not add 'critically') the works of Adam Smith, James Mill, Jeremy Bentham and others I know little of. He is 25 years old and, naturally, he kept notebooks in which he would present long tracts of the author under consideration and then, point by point, reveal the flaws in assumption, logic, standpoint and/or show what had not been addressed, ask and usually explain why.

They are known as 'The Paris Notebooks' and Marx restated these 'notes' more precisely in the various 1844 Manuscripts. His 'notes' on James Mill are quite extensive and in critique of Mill's 'Elements of Poltical Economy' he writes more on this central (IMHO) aspect of the 'vile' and vicarious substitution by bourgeois economists  viz: that they are presenting any credible theory or description about the workings of 'natural' or 'human' society pointing out that they have missed the point - the point of departure: the reality that their 'reality' is an imposter: that man's natural activity and expression is supposedly in any way identifiable with the estranged, inhuman, unnatural activities, relations, expressions under Capital's rule.

Just before he writes the section you quote he likens the alienated 'economic converse' between men with an analogy about language itself ( boy was he ahead of the game...)

Within the imposterous world of Capitalist rerlations:

The only intelligible language in which we converse with one another consists of our objects in their relation to each other. We would not understand a human language and it would remain without effect. By one side it would be recognised and felt as being a request, an entreaty,  and therefore a humiliation, and consequently uttered with a feeling of shame, of degradation. By the other side it would be regarded as impudence or lunacy and rejected as such. We are to such an extent estranged from man's essential nature that the direct language of this essential nature seems to us a violation of human dignity, whereas the estranged language of material values seems to be the well-justified assertion of human dignity that is self-confident and conscious of itself.

Also earlier on

Within the credit system, its nature, estranged from man, under the appearance of an extreme economic appreciation of man, operates in a double way:

1) The antithesis between capitalist and worker, between big and small capitalists, becomes still greater since credit is given only to him who already has, and is a new opportunity of accumulation for the rich man, or since the poor man finds that the arbitrary discretion of the rich man and the latter's judgment over him confirm or deny his entire existence and that his existence is wholly dependent on this contingency.

2) Mutual dissimulation, hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness are carried to extreme lengths, so that on the man without credit is pronounced not only the simple judgment that he is poor, but in addition a pejorative moral judgment that he possesses no trust, no recognition, and therefore is a social pariah, a bad man, and in addition to his privation, the poor man undergoes this humiliation and the humiliating necessity of having to ask the rich man for credit.

3) Since, owing to this completely nominal existence of money, counterfeiting cannot be undertaken by man in any other material than his own person, he has to make himself into counterfeit coin, obtain credit by stealth, by lying, etc., and this credit relationship – both on the part of the man who trusts and of the man who needs trust – becomes an object of commerce, an object of mutual deception and misuse. Here it is also glaringly evident that distrust is the basis of economic trust; distrustful calculation whether credit ought to be given or not; spying into the secrets of the private life, etc., of the one seeking credit; the disclosure of temporary straits in order to overthrow a rival by a sudden shattering of his credit, etc. The whole system of bankruptcy, spurious enterprises, etc.... As regards government loans, the state occupies exactly the same place as the man does in the earlier example.... In the game with government securities it is seen how the state has become the plaything of businessmen, etc.

4) The credit system finally has its completion in the banking system. The creation of bankers, the political domination of the bank, the concentration of wealth in these hands, this economic Areopagus of the nation, is the worthy completion of the money system.

Owing to the fact that in the credit system the moral recognition of a man, as also trust in the state, etc., take the form of credit, the secret contained in the lie of moral recognition, the immoral vileness of this morality, as also the sanctimoniousness and egoism of that trust in the state, become evident and show themselves for what they really are.

 

Synapses tiring, I'll leave it there :@_

AS

 

 

 

Fred
Human language

Marx wrote quoted above in post 5:

 

Quote:
 The only intelligible language in which we converse with one another consists of our objects in their relation to each other. We would not understand a human language and it would remain without effect. By one side it would be recognised and felt as being a request, an entreaty,  and therefore a humiliation, and consequently uttered with a feeling of shame, of degradation. By the other side it would be regarded as impudence or lunacy and rejected as such. We are to such an extent estranged from man's essential nature that the direct language of this essential nature seems to us a violation of human dignity, whereas the estranged language of material values seems to be the well-justified assertion of human dignity that is self-confident and conscious of itself.

Difficult stuff this.  What on earth is he on about?  I hardly dare to try and say, but would love to be able to.  I think this must be  because, to use his words more or less "I do not understand a human language" I only  know the mechanics of one and use it mainly for mechanical purposes which are the tortured expression of my isolation and alienation.  What Marx calls  "the estranged language of material values".  We hear it every day, all the time, on the tv, in films, and it is the essential stuff of bourgeois political speak  "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". It is the everyday language of avoidance. Yet, as Marx points out, this estranged language  "seems to be the well-justified assertion of human dignity that is self-confident and conscious of itself."  Politicians of polish, like Obama and Cameron use  it all the time.  They impress, but often seem to have said nothing, merely to have rendered themselves somehow...well "impressive".  Celebrities speak it all the time.  It comes across as a well-connected series of well-established cliches. You could script in advance what they will "say" and their  self-confidence, which hides their fearful estrangement, carries it all off successfully.  It is a performance designed to hide their true personality, while they put on sale their phony adopted one.  If you want to be successful in this bourgeois world this is what  you are required to do.  And the more accomplished you are at it the more successful you risk being.  In the end you become your own talking dummy.  It's like being  interviewed for something. Somebody asks a question. You think: well I know what I want to say, but I also know what Im expected and supposed to say.  If you are wise then in this society you will say what you are supposed to say, and avoid making a fool of yourself by coming out with what you think, which may be dismissed as "impudence or lunacy"  and leave you feeling, in Marx' words "a humiliation...a feeling of shame, of degradation..."   The direct language of man's essential nature, where we try to say what we think, or to elaborate and work out what we think in communication with others, is not at all welcome in this society, it is anathema. It is rejected as "trying to be clever" as"being facetious" and so on, "a violation of human dignity" where a suitable cliche is all that's required. 

The paragraph by Marx , quoted in post 4 above,  where he talks freely and with a frankness and openness which is breathtaking, might I guess be referenced as an example of someone trying to speak "a human language". He says: "I would thus know myself to be confirmed both in your thoughts and in your love." This because of some work, some object he has produced, which triggers a flow of human responses and inspires a flow of mutual love and understanding such as you will hardly find today on a factory floor or in an office.  

"Are you mad," screeches the bourgeois, reaching for a pistol in self-defense. "Do you seriously think there's a place for this kind of drivel in society as it is?   If you want to keep your job you should knuckle under and keep these nonsensical ideas to your self." 

And the bourgeois is right.  There is no place for these kind of ideas in this society where bombarding the Gaza Ghetto and shooting down passenger planes is more the accepted order of the day, the only "intelligible language" available.  The other stuff is waiting for the proletariat to engineer its release.  

 

Fred
embarrassmen!

I want to add how embarrassed I now feel about my naive comments in Post 2 paragraph 2 above which have come back to haunt  me.  I'm very sorry for what is written there now, and am "gob smacked" myself  (awful expression! ) to read it again.  My apologies to comrades and specially CDW whose writings I actually appreciate so much, that I wonder once again what  got Into me! I think the article may have over-enthused me into a kind of idiocy. 

And thank  you to A.Simpleton as well for his very helpful remarks and quotes on this thread too.  I have much to be grateful for from the ICC and other posters, which I dont always appreciate in the heat of the moment.   But I hope to do better in the future.  Fred. 

Fred
In a very intriguing note 3

In a very intriguing note 3 to the article to which this thread is a modest adjunct,  CDW raises the question of the relationship that might be found between Marx's concept of  "alienation" and its effect on people, and Freud's contributions to the emerging science of psychology.  Freud's work also caught the attention of Trotsky who talks about "the frenzy of inspiration" the Russian revolution triggered as it started to make links between the conscious and  the unconscious minds of its working class participants.

But I want now to consider this quote from Marx, given by A. simpleton in his post 5 above.  It raises some interesting ideas.  Incidentally Marx wrote this is the early 1840's long before Freud came on the scene.

The subject matter at hand is that of someone trying to secure credit. 

Marx wrote:
 Mutual dissimulation, hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness are carried to extreme lengths, so that on the man without credit is pronounced not only the simple judgment that he is poor, but in addition a pejorative moral judgment that he possesses no trust, no recognition, and therefore is a social pariah, a bad man, and in addition to his privation, the poor man undergoes this humiliation and the humiliating necessity of having to ask the rich man for credit.
 

The "perjorative moral judgement" here, and its effects, as presented by Marx, serve as a kind of psychoanalysis  of the state of mind of the "man without credit" after he has been turned down by the banker, or money lender.

 In his own head, in his  feelings and sensibilities, Marx tells us that this man  is confirmed as poor - which the man already knew - but in addition to this that he is bad, inferior, a social pariah, not to be trusted and deserving of the humiliation he justifiably suffers at the hands of heartless capitalism. Yet none of this is actually spoken out loud by the banker, but is inferred by Marx, is possibly conveyed bodily by the banker, but doubtless understood by the man seeking credit who suffers this psychological blow to his self esteem, merely because he made a request, which he probably knew in advance deep down would be rejected anyway. 

The "perjorative moral judgement" as Marx calls it is in fact a piece of psychoanalysis by Marx of the state of mind of the man refused credit.  Marx understands intuitively how the man feels. Marx knows himself the psychological effects of being turned down or rejected.  Or at least he can imagine them and empathize, in the way in which 19th. century  novelists like George Eliot could "get inside" the psychological mind-sets of the characters they write about.  Of course, neither Marx or Eliot knew officially about either psychology, which hadn't been discovered  or Freud who hadn't been born; but they knew in advance of their time the difference between what people might be prepared to say about themselves and situations they encountered,  and the inner reality of what people  might really be feeling but not be prepared to  put into words or even be able to find the words should they wish to.

 

  This "real reality"  is probably most likely to be encountered  when people resort to the real genuine "human language" referred to by Marx elsewhere in the Paris manuscripts and which I referred to in post 6 above; which human language tends to find no place for itself in the excessive politely phrased atrocities of life under the decomposing capitalist system, and the mutual dissimulation, hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness which passes for human communication  under the rule of the bourgeoisie.