religion ?

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lem_
religion ?
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i don't think it's a cancer, but i do think it eats away at consciousness and political engagement.

my personal / quasi philosophical belief is that everyone is immortal and that different religious thinkers have provided some useful tools with which to get to grips with the world.

but still, i think the left hegelian thing is still right, despite that - that it's a cognitive mistake to believe in any kind of "God" apart from ourselves.

 

religious people of all sorts only want to understand the world and god, not change it.

Alf
Mortality

Immortal in what sense?

lem_
ha, in no way was i expecting

ha, in no way was i expecting that reply :-D !

 

there's a naturalist philosopher, i forget his name, who says that there are two kinds of nothing - sheer absence, and what he calls "positive nothingness" - like an experience of nothingness itself.

that's all i mean. i am actually quite a hard nosed atheist, and would never [i think] want to frame that in terms of some god - i understand if someone that agrees with me would want to call that a closeness to god, but honestly i would not think us reading from the same script.

 

 

apparently it's quite a common [but vulgar] belief.

Alf
no thing ness

Do you mean like in descriptions of the experience of satori in Zen Buddhism - no thing ness? The world no longer as a relation of things? 

Fred
Alice and zen

A riddle.  

Question.  What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Answer.     The bourgeoisie forecasting economic recovery and prosperity for all.  

 

I have  always thought - that is to say it just occurred to me - that "Alice in Wonderland" has a lot of Zen in it.  The Mad Hatter's Tea Party - much preferable to its modern political version in the USA - where they all move round to a clean place on the table from time to time, and nobody ever does the washing up, and they pass their time in posing absurd riddles that can't be answered, and put  the irritating dormouse in the tea pot to shut him up, is pure Zen is it not?  Utterly pointless.  Or is it a critique of the pointlessness of life under capitalism?  In which case it isn't pointless at all!

 

  The unpredictable haphazardness of the events in "Wonderland" where people can suddenly change their size and shape by eating things; where the crazy duchess in her pepper infested kitchen beats up the baby which turns into a pig amidst all the sneezing  and the Mad Queen can shriek "Off with his head" at a moment's unpredictable notice...well...I was going to say isn't it all pure Zen?  But I won't say that now because I have understood that in fact its pure capitalism.  Market forces: the unpredictable: the lunatic and the uncontrollable all let loose  down a rabbit hole peopled by preposterous characters. Just like Wall Street or The City of London Ltd.

 This isn't a new idea of course.  I think Malcolm  Muggeridge  or somebody thought this in the 'sixties as the post war recovery teetered on the brink, and made a boring intellectual tv film about it, set in Brighton. 

It is in fact difficult to capture the zaniness - the Zen - of Alice on film, because the story's remarkable achievement lies in the creative relationship between a reader and the words on the page, as does all the best fiction.  This can trigger a reader's imagination in ways I think its hard for film to reach. Its surprising the bourgeoisie has never banned the work for its subversive qualities. Perhaps they will in time.  But Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter...? Forget it! 

lem_
i guess so, i don't know what

i guess so, i don't know what i think death will be "like" to go through, but probably think satori is similar to it

lem_
loss of ego i guess - in the

so what is your opinion on religion?

jaycee
well, when we talk about

well, when we talk about religion we are talking about a few different things. Firstly if you would call the spiritual belkiefs and practices of primitive communist societies 'religion' then we have to say that they go back to the beginning of human existence and are at the core of what makes us human. However religion as we understand it today is more than just a belief system or a way of life, as soon as there is class society and the state religion takes on a dual character; it remains a real human expression of humanitys hopes, dreams, fears, potentialities and inner world but it also becomes an 'ideology' in the Marxist sense and is then used and shaped not only by these expressions of humanity but also by the need of those in power to mystify their subjects as well as justifying their own rule.

 

Historically all the world religions start out as attempts to counteract the negtive effects of 'civivlization' and are genuine expressions of the highest forms of consciousness possible at the historic moment. The Monotheist religions tend to all be movements of the oppressed and are as a result more socially oriented than say Buddhism which is more focussed on the individual and his/(and kind of)her search for enlightenment/'perfection'. However even in Buddhism there is the reaction against the society of the time and a kind of wish to return to primitive communism. This is shown not only in the rejection of the caste sytem but also the monastic rules agaisnt owning anything (Buddhism can be seen as the most thorough rejection of the concept of ownership to date because it rejects even the owneership of the self), and also its anti-society stance while not revolutionary still shows that it was seen that society as it was did not offer the possibility of humans reaching their full potential and this is why it is rejected.

However all religion ends up either being eradicated or taken over and used by the ruling class and the historic period in which religiopns can offer progress for humanity is long in the past. That is not to say that it's best points will not be reborn in our struggle against capitalism and the establishment of communism.

lem_
thanks, i would never have

thanks, i would never have thought about it like that.

 

"Buddhism which is more focussed on the individual and his/(and kind of)her search for enlightenment/'perfection'"

i agree with the first part, though i'm not seeking "enlightenment", i think. i just kinda really think its an expression of a fact about individual reality, that time isn't composed of mathematical instants and so my experience of time itself is endless... it's not a material wish or theory, it's about "me"  qualitative experience,,, whether or not commodity fetishism impinges in that aspect of life.

Fred
religion and Marxism

Lem said that religious people only want to understand the world...not change it.  Surely religious people only want to ESCAPE  the world and have no interest in understanding or changing it at all.  So organized religion is a convenient way out, focussing as it does on god and  the "next world" rather than this one.

That religion appeals mostly to the poor and the under educated is proof of this.  Not that you can blame the poor and the under educated, or even the educated  faithless, for wanting to escape the world; after all it is at the moment, under decomposition, a disgusting and shitty  place  in which to have to live.  And death can at times seem an appealing way out for some.   Webster and Donne were much obsessed by death, as T. S. Eliot explains somewhere.  But what is the point of that?  

Life  may at times be an ordeal, but it is all we've got.  There may seem  at times to be little point to life, apart from longing to see the bourgeoisie removed (and what better reason for living could there possibly be?)  but there's no point  at all to death and it'll be here soon enough anyway.  Satori and Nirvana are just fancy words for death. Those with an interest in  or fascination for death have these days plenty of opportunities to find like minded chums. There are death merchants at work all over the world, from  organizations like IS, to the failing states of Syria and Ukraine, not to forget "respectable" economies like the  US, Russia and assorted Europeans for whom death and war are major obsessions.   

 

As to enlightenment...surely today that's Marxism? Marxism is a political theory of  consciousness that focuses on human emancipation and thus improving the life of all those of us alive now! It doesn't require you to be dead, like religion, or to devote years to studying philosophy for some  obscure outcome, or immersing yourself in mathematical instants, or to studying examples  of "individual reality" or to experience time as endless which it isn't for human life anyway.  In fact Marxism is the key to human evolution itself.  Consider that!   Satori couldn't give a fuck about that. Only Marxism is interested in what really matters to all human beings  now; which is how to escape the fetters of capitalism and thus bring about a vast improvement in life quality for all life on the planet.  Not just for humans. For all life on the planet and even the planet itself.  What other theory of existence or philosophy or religion ever had such a magnificent aim?  What other theory of life ever made such sense or was so easy to understand? What other analysis of our human existence has been able so simply to consign previous class based explanations of life to the dustbins of history?   

Marxism is "the highest form of consciousness available to us at the moment" to adapt Jaycee's phrase. We should rejoice we have it. 

jaycee
I agree Fred with all the

I agree Fred with all the points you made there but only about alot of religion, it is not true to say that all religion only cares about the 'afterlife' and not the life we have here on earth. This aspect of religion has historically been particularly strong in Christianity and then only in helenised Pauline Christianity and in general the Christianity of the ruling class. Juadaism from the start was always very much focussed on this world and improving life in this world (this tendency has lessened over time and Christianity has influenced its conception of the afterlife quite a lot I think). I also would strongly disagree that Nirvana can be reduced to death because it is a state of onciousness open to us here on earth, in fact in Buddhism it is believed that being a human being on earth is better for your chances of reaching it than being a god or living in a heaven. 

Buddhism does have it faults and it almost a-socialness can be said to the main one but even Buddhism looks forward to a future world where no one will own anything and we will ll be able to reach enlightenment which is basically the same as achieving what Marx called our 'species being' among other things. 

I think when it comes to infinite time and etrnity all religions do have a focuss on this aspect of 'ultimate reality' and while its obviously true that humans are not infinite in the sense that we all die, there is some aspect of reality and therefore ourselves which is infinite and I think it is only under the bourgoise where we as individuals have identified so much with our 'little ego selves' that death is seen as the ultimate annihiltion and end. The 'me' of personal experience is a uselful illusion at times but still an illusion and I agree with the mystics of all ages that the transcending of this illussion is part of overcoming alienation' 'sin' or whatever word we use to describe the unsatisfied, split experience that we suffer from more and more aggressively under capitalism, I also think Marx would agree too.

jaycee
I agree Fred with all the

double post

Alf
table of contents

Marx once wrote that “religion is the table of contents of the theoretical struggles of mankind”. In other words, right up to the early days of capitalism the majority of humanity’s struggles to understand itself took place within the envelope of religion. This is why we have to examine religions historically and not only with reference to what they have become. All the great world religions, for example, expressed a growing awareness of the unity of mankind. Israel was once the centre of the world revolution in the sense of man’s recognition of himself as a moral and historical being; Jesus gave voice to the communist aspirations of the exploited; Islam was once the catalyst of a civilisation that overcame tribal divisions and made it possible to save the scientific achievements of ancient Greece; Buddhism expressed the rejection of the caste system and a deepening insight into the workings of the mind. Today Israel is symbolised by Netanyahu and the bombing of Gaza; Christianity by the Vatican mafia or homophobic evangelists; Islam by ISIS and al Qaida; Buddhism by pogroms against the Muslim minority in Burma. What were once products of history’s dialectical advance have become a regressive obstacle in its path. Both sides need to be grasped if we are to understand the role of religion in history. 

jaycee
i wasn't sure if i should

i wasn't sure if i should start a new thread for this or not but anyway. I just started reading a book called 'the tribes of yahweh' where Norman Gottwald tries to use a 'Marxish' analysis of ancient middle eastern society and argues for the view that Judaism originated in a peasants revolt against Cannanite city states and set up an independent communilistic confederation of 'Hebrew' peoples.

 

This article has a slightly different point of view and seems to be on a slightly (politically)dubious website but is interesting anyway, tell me what you think

 

http://www.newenglishreview.org/Robert_Wolfe/From_Habiru_to_Hebrews%3A_T...

jaycee
i wasn't sure if i should

double post 

jk1921
Bill Maher had a nice rant

Bill Maher had a nice rant about religion this week, attacking Obama for saying that ISIS doesn't represent Islam. For Maher, and his New Athiest friends, ISIS represents Islam (and religion in general) taken to its ultimate conclusion--total belief in the superiority of your worldview, such that killing others in order to advance, protect and defend it is only logical. I imagine comrades might have a different take...

lem_
someone IRL just a random

someone IRL just a random friend of a friend was saying the same to me. i am an atheist, of sorts, but i think it has far more to do with antisociality that the excuse an antisocial might give you.

 

sorry i can't do dialectics ha.

Fred
Bill Maher is right jk.

Bill Maher is right jk.  Religion now is at the service of the lowest of the low, the most self-seeking of capitalism's citizens, those with the most  deeply embedded and barely understood resentments and hatreds of their fellow humans, and those whose sole interest in life is to spread their resentment disappointment  and loathing of it far and wide in a spirit of despairing revenge.  In short religion has put itself completely at the service of decomposing capitalism and of its deranged masters, the bourgeoisie. 

They of course, the lying hypocritical bourgeoisie, don't know which way to turn.  Do they defend some  religion against  some other religion? No, this is too dangerous because it would expose them as having preferences; and we all know how fair and tolerant the bourgeoise really is - especially if profits are at stake and oil wells too.  Do they try to pick out the good and better aspects  contained  within the religions?  Love your neighbour as yourself.  Provide charity to the poor and needy and so on.  I think not. Who would listen? Who believe it?  Life today has proven the futility of these now pious creeds.     

Given the condition of the society that capitalism in its death throes has vomited up and given the unconditional and largely uncritical support it receives  from the various religious organizations, including Buddhism which, in Burma, openly fights with Islam, feeling anything but loathing towards your competitive neighbor, and competing religion,  is laughable and tantamount to self-destruction. Because today everyone is everyone else's enemy. This is what capitalism has taught us all down the ages, no one is your friend, and now the chickens march home, heavily armed, to claim their murderous rights.  

 

Religion generally, religion as a positive motivating force for humanity - everything'll be better  when you're  dead: if you submit to the rulers of this world while alive that is - has ceased to exist.  It has now revealed itself as one of the most deadly brews yet concocted by a humanity unable to escape the superstitions and fear engendered by an exploitative society. 

ISIS represents Islam just as Obama, with his killing machines, drones and rockets, represents Christianity, and the warring Israeli state the Jewish religion.  To hell with them all.  And new Atheism too.  A religion by whatever fancy  name still stinks!   

 

Fred
Isn't religion just a kind of

Isn't religion just a kind of ritualized ideology?  In its performance it has no genuine content just outward and visible forms, just ritual.  Like all superstition it demands repeated procedures.  The soccer players who cross themselves modestly as they enter the field of play.  Or cross themselves more vigorously after scoring a goal and grin happily skywards as if god is pulling the strings specially for them.  Or the Muslim athlete who prostrates himself on winning a race, but not on losing!  Do they think god is an idiot and a  simpleton with no insight into primitive human nature, and easily fooled by empty gestures?  It seems to me they make a fool of god or, to put it more rationally,  reduce the idea of god to an absurd manifestation of their own diminutive feelings of self or ego-ness.

Atheism, on the other hand, which is the other side of the religious coin, tends to heap a significance and importance onto the deity merely by challenging his existence.  Debating the existence or otherwise of God, Allah and the Deity - the Holy Trinity -  is a favorite bourgeois activity which never goes anywhere and never ceases but continues to ensure the significance of the god question in working people's lives. The only  real alternative to the deity-concept  is communism itself, which will give us all something  better to do. 

There are other types of ritualized ideology of course.  In fact capitalist society  is full of it. There is the ritualized process of the democratic election procedure in which ponderous decisions taken in prayer-like conditions lead nowhere and to nothing. It's a meaningless ritual. A ritualized ideological expression of vacuity and impotence.

The whole education system under the bourgeoisie is nothing more than ritualized ideology.  Its a procedure to be gone through; a mechanized process of conditioning by which an individual is successfully  ideologized or not,  and thus attains academic success or not;  or fails the correct ritualized homogenization process and becomes an ideological failure whom the ritual didn't convert convincingly.  Don't the majority of the working class fall into this latter category?  Perhaps one lovely  day they will realize how lucky they have been and their narrow escape and proceed to challenge the ritualized system. 

And  then of course there is the bourgeoisie's great private obsession: the ritual of war and the rite of profit. 

What I am talking about here is I think similar to what certain rebels in the 'sixties called "the spectacle" and explained its mysteries better than I can do.  But the spectacle now takes on more and more the nature of a terrifying spectre. That's what's frightening. 

jaycee
the problem is that Bill

the problem is that Bill Maher and all bourgeois atheists deffend their own religion without realising it, the religion of liberal-democracy, of rationalistic atheism which is as fred says another religion. i think religion as such is the same as ideology and in that sense I think the bourgeois ideology has not yet been adequately grasped by Marxists with it's roots in the enlightenment and 'science' which it does not always recognise as being bourgeois although it self evidently is from a Marxist perspective.

This is not a criticism of science per se but a criticism of the assumptions underpinning the whole bourgeois religion, the bourgeois cosmos that we have been indoctinated into. a universe which maintains all the negative aspects of the monotheistic religions (mixed with a lot of unconscious paganism), all the guilt, all the alienating 'authority' and all the seperation and degredtion of nature which it takes to a level beyond which any religion can ever go while getting rid of all the consolation, all the insights and all the humanity in these traditions. As Marx said we wear the chains without even the consolation of the flowers of religion. Communism will have it's own cosmos and it will probably be closer in a lot of way to the world religions visions of how things 'should/could' be than the meaningless, cold and completely seperate universe of the bourgeoisie.

The spectacle is indeed getting more and more oppressive and extenive by the day. There is a definite connection between the bourgeoisies obsesion with putting us all in front of screens and the lifeless vision of nature which is their faith. The more the world is turned into a screen the more our 'souls' can be lulled to leep and we won't rebel or want to actually live. The spectacle in the form of internet videos etc is now being used by ISIS to fool people who are angry and dissatisfied with life under capitalism to go and throw their life away for a bunch of religious gangsters.

To say that ISIS represents Islam is like saying Obama represents the teachings of Jesus, as communists we should have a fair idea that what someone calls themselves doesn't necessarily mean they are following the values and traditions they claim to. What religion has become is the complete opposite of what all it's founders taught. Fred says that all religion is simply the mechnistic repitition of ritual, however this is precisely what all the great prophets and religious founders have always preached against, so there must be two tendencies going agaisnt eachother here.

Demogorgon
I'm not at all sure that I

I'm not at all sure that I follow jaycee's reasoning on a lot of this, but because he doesn't make any real concrete criticisms of the so-called Enlightenment, it's difficult to respond.

I do, however, agree with what he says here: "Fred says that all religion is simply the mechnistic repitition of ritual, however this is precisely what all the great prophets and religious founders have always preached against, so there must be two tendencies going agaisnt eachother here."

I think the two trends are explicable, though. Religion represents the unconscious yearning for a humanocentric society, albeit one that inverts and obscures that yearning by investing both natural and social forces with (usually) human qualities. Whatever the underlying self-deception involved, that desire to situate the psyche on a more "human" basis is a positive aspect of religion.

Of course, religion is also bound up with reproducing the relations of exploitation in the ideological sphere as well. It transforms the desire for an end to exploitation into the reproduction of that exploitation. In that sense, in all circumstances, it is the fate of all religions to end up divorced from their spiritual aspects and thoroughly beauracratised. Thus we find "organised" religion is often  the bane of the "true believer".

The Nevi'im (especially the Later Prophets), in their never-ending denouncement of the false religion of their contempory state/temple is the assault of the spiritual aspect against the temporal institutionalisation of the actual practice of the religion.

However, we shouldn't forget the underlying conservatism of much of the Nevi'im. Their critique against the "corruption" of the religious authorities related to the perceived recividism of the Jews. Hosea, for example, condemns Israel as an unfaithful wife, a whore lusting after other lovers just as the Israelites dared to worship other gods (against freedom of religion), intermarrying with the gentiles (there are strong tendencies against the evils of miscegnation in the Tanach), bringing in foreign practices, etc.

The Prophets, in that regard, are quite similar to UKIP ...

jaycee
I agree with your points

I agree with your points Dermogorgon and the point about the prophets is true, compared with today a lot of their views would be seen s reactionary, especialy the ethno-centrism which Judaism could never completely transcend. UKIP have no excuse of historical context, nationalism could at least be progressive during the time of the prophets especially as it was often held in a vanguardist way to be leading all of humanty toward a new era.

With regard to the enlightenment and my criticisms of 'it' I would say that the fact that is was bourgeois is not often thoroughly acknowledged enough by marxists in the sense that it is not looked into in enough detail, how the bourgeois world view even in the progressive era of capitalism was always limited and tainted by it's bourgeois nature. For example the bourgeois 'materialistic' world view which I criticised although progressive at a certain stage was always underscored by a disdain for nature and life inherent in the bourgeois outlook. Capitalism being the highest form of alienation in history must surely express itself in its worlview from the start.

For example secularism,although obviously progressive against the power of the Church and liberating in many ways was also a way in which capitalism carved out a sphere for itself where money making and greed could become enshrined and accepted by a society which like all societies before capitalism had viewed these things with a great deal of suspicion. My point is that the extent to which capitalism goes against all moral systems and beliefs prior to it's existence and the uniqueness in so many ways (i.e the fact that it is the only era in which the 'social self' of everyday life is declared to be the only self, the fact that it is only with capitalism that the completely pessimistic view of human nature we are so familiar with today can be held so widely and so completely where meaninglessness of life is an article of faith) of the worldview of the bourgeoisie needs to be understood and the effect of these underlying assumptions and psychosocial attitudes needs further anlysis in my opinion.

The breaking away from supersition was also the repression of the imagination and the unconscious which is taken to new heights by capitalism. The literalism of people like ISIS (although they are only literal about the very worst aspects of Islam they are less literal when it comes to forgiveness and not killing prisoners of war etc just as most fundamentalist Christians take the whole sell all your possessions part with a pinch of salt ). Literalism is itself a prduct of the bourgeoisie, it din't exist before the reformation and has become steadily the mainstream in religions today precisely because it fits in with the bourgeois outlook which distrusts the unconscious and it's symbolic language.

 

 As we all know in capitalism nothing is sacred, in communism everything will be.

jk1921
Its funny that world leaders

Its funny that world leaders feel compelled to excuse the great religions of the world from the crimes of their most extreme representations, even going so far as to argue that they do not represent those religions at all. ISIS is really not Islamic; the Westboro Baptist Church is really not Christian; the Jewish Defense League is not really Jewish, etc. etc.

However, when it comes to the crimes of Stalinism all Marxists are guilty. Its impossible to divorce the crimes of Stalinism from the essence of Marxism; Stalinism is the ultimate conclusion of Marxism; Marxism has underlying tendencies towards totalitarianism, etc., etc.

There is a selective logical fallacy at work here in this dishonest use of "ultimate conclusion" argumentation.

Demogorgon
In response to jaycee, my

In response to jaycee, my points about UKIP were a bit tongue-in-cheek. I think the question of whether the Prophets themselves were reactionary or not, is difficult to answer if only because of the contradiction I alluded to in my post.

One finds the same contradictions with Martin Luther. On the one-hand, there's the rebellion against the corruption and elitism of the Catholic Church and the demand for a direct, personal relationship with God as opposed to the mediated one of Catholicism. Both were obvious precursors to the material conflict between the bourgeoisie and the rotting aristocracy, and the bourgeois conception of each invididual having a direct and personal relationship with the state, one framed by rights and the "rule of law". Yet he was also a rabid anti-semite, which I'm not sure was any more progressive then than now.

Nearly all religious reformations seem to be based on a return to a pure, uncorrupted spiritual state that was present before the temporal corruption of the present. This, inevitably, has a reactionary content even though (and because) the past it aspires to is exactly that past, even though it is also a revolutionary demand for the communism of the future. No form of thought better expresses the inverted world of ideology than religion, in my opinion, even if it cannot be reduced entirely to it.

On materialism and the Englightenment, there are obvious shortcomings with bourgeois thought or Marxism wouldn't have been either possible or necessary. I agree with some of your critique.

I'm not at all sure what you mean about the repression of the imagination or the unconscious though. Certainly, the bourgeoisie in its decadent phase has presided over a flowering of religion in all its forms, whether it's the rise of fundamentalism (which has an atavistic content similar to the Prophets, Luther, etc.). And just as the fundamentalists of all stripes promise a return to the fundamentals of the truth faith, the blossoming of the occult, "new age" and neo-pagan movements promise exactly the same. The "fluffier" Wiccans never tire of repeating their ignorant claim to the "Old Religion" (around for not even a century) because older is, of course, better.

I find nothing progressive in any of this. Ecstatic states of various description may be pleasant and deeply inspiring (I have experienced several sorts myself, of the religious variety, not the drug induced) but I'm not sure the embracing of such states is the goal of the liberation of humanity, or that the latter will bring about a "secularisation" of such experiences.

I don't think the human-ness of the communist revolution is to found in our inner life, but to be found in our relations with each other. The radical core of Christianity (as an example) is not to be found in the tongues of fire at Pentecost but in this: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

Similarly, I don't think communism will make everything sacred as this implies a setting apart from the mundane, or profane. Such concepts will have no meaning in communism. Of course, even here the conflict between the radical and reactionary can be found in the etymology of these concepts. "Holy", for example, derives from "whole" and communism will certainly offer wholeness to the human species at long last.

Demogorgon
Astute observations from JK

Astute observations from JK as always, although disassociating ourselves from Stalinism can sometimes lead to accusations of the "no true scotsman" fallacy.

jk1921
Yes

Demogorgon wrote:

Astute observations from JK as always, although disassociating ourselves from Stalinism can sometimes lead to accusations of the "no true scotsman" fallacy.

You're right, Demo. So how do we respond to that?

lem_
seems pretty obvious to me;

seems pretty obvious to me; marxism is more science than religion.

lem_
"the demand for a direct,

"the demand for a direct, personal relationship with God as opposed to the mediated one of Catholicism"

i never really got the necessity of an individualized religion, unless you mean one that you have personally thought through, or there's a kind of anti civilization all symbolic bonds are distorted by technology sort of thing.

WRT isis it is of course best to analyze them in terms of class conflict... as here:

"obvious precursors to the material conflict between the bourgeoisie and the rotting aristocracy"

PERSONALLY i see isis as madmen, but madmen that are if you like the swan song of economic disparity between "the west" and the arab world. they will take centre stage for a decade or so, and then without termination the west will realize that they aren't a significant enemy. that the media HYPE is part distraction part division. i know of no historical precedents in the end of the aristocracy, russian revolution, or anything

jk1921
So Bill Maher was back at it

So Bill Maher was back at it again this week getting into an argument with Ben Affleck about the nature of Islam. Affleck accused Maher and his buddies of being "gross" and "racist" in their assertions that there is something particular about Islamic societies at the moment that leads to the repression of "liberal values." This exchange has set-off a bit of media controversy in the days since, with most left of center figures supporting Affleck and certain Fox News personalities cautiously supporting Maher.

Two things here: 1.) How sad is it that public discourse is determined by Ben Affleck and Bill Maher? 2.) What's the Marxist position on all this? There has to be one or several.

A.Simpleton
Rich thread

On one of jaycee's points first:

 'My point is that the extent to which capitalism goes against all moral systems and beliefs prior to it's existence and the uniqueness in so many ways (i.e the fact that it is the only era in which the 'social self' of everyday life is declared to be the only self, the fact that it is only with capitalism that the completely pessimistic view of human nature we are so familiar with today can be held so widely and so completely where meaninglessness of life is an article of faith) of the worldview of the bourgeoisie needs to be understood and the effect of these underlying assumptions and psychosocial attitudes needs further anlysis in my opinion.'

A very good point if it means - as I think it does - that the bourgeoisie claimed and still claim 'copyright' on their description of whatever the 'non-rational' 'non-commercial' aspects of the human species are.

Marx refuted the tag 'atheist' on the grounds that it sounded like a child being scared of the big bad bogeyman. The idea that all the non-capitalist-rational, non-capitalist emotional human yearnings were without substance was not part of his critique. 
His stance was quite plainly that man could not even address these aspects of his species being (Gatungswesen) until liberated from the blinkers of bourgeois ideology.

With regard to Islam I am reflecting on the fact that for example the Moslem World -a pretty imprecise concept at best - only got printing 300 years after The West. By which I mean that even as the capitalist mode began to dominate the world 'they' were playing catch up. Moslem states have had a secular theory of social development for hundreds of years and it is - ironically- dialectic.

The substance and history of the Islamic world is obviously vast, written or remembered of course by the governing conservative or liberal scholars, Imams. Some qualify the Q'ran with the Hadith - quotes of the prophet and Imams: the oral tradition of 'updates on policy' as it were. Others interpreted the Q'ran in the light of the practical experience and the precedents over centuries. Myriad divisions with their own historic circumstances: analyses of inherent contradictions between the secular and the religious. It is a remarkably familiar library of positions, pronouncements, that reads like that of the christian church or any other faith in non-human off-world omnipotence.

Despite the image that Islam is singularly extreme by nature as opposed to by user, it strikes me as pretty industry standard really: creed, prayer, fasting, be good , don't be bad, give charity et al. and  always division, internecine struggle and of course a good deal of carnage whether confronting other factions or especially an adventurist band of fired up christians.

Even before the capitalist mode, in times of 'civil failure', interfaction conflict or resistance to external intrusion (the Mongol invasion for example), the focus of back to basic Islam - the fundamentals, was the platform for resurgence.  

One things for sure: the history of all hitherto societies is the history of class struggle. Even in the 16th century England had a booming arms trade with the Moslem world.

AS

 

 

A.Simpleton
Apologies jk

My post was under construction and landed before I saw yours: no intent to ignore.

I agree about the absurdity of Ben Affleck being a 'respected source' of social comment: especially as his younger brother is a better actor.

AS

 

 

 

jaycee
Hi Demogorgon I've been

Hi Demogorgon I've been meaning to reply to your post for a while but never quite got around to it. I think it was partly because I kept coming up with new points I wanted to make and it started becoming a bit of a tract, so I'll try and keep it relatively short and concise.

Firtsly I agree with your points about Martin Luther, he as a precursor to the bourgeois worldview was certainly full of contradictions and a mass of some good ideas and insights as well as alot of reactionary and less postive ideas. In particular his emphasis on the individual and his dedication to literalism against the more Feudal idea that there was always four meanings to scripture etc in my opinion show important aspects the development of bourgeois consciousness.

With regards to the idea that all religious movements offer a return to an uncorrupted past; this is true to an extent but as you say yourself it is often also a vision of the future and with most schools of mysticism it is also the striving towards an as yet unrealised spiritual/conscious state. I also think that the idea of eternal 'progress' and forward movement is largely a product of bourgeois ideology which unfortunately has infected alot of the proletarian movement throughout it's history (thats not to say that there is no progress and no historical process).

I would however disagree that no form of thought better expresses the inverted world of ideology than religion in that I don't think bourgeois ideology in it's rationalist, scientistic and liberal forms is any less ideological than religion. Ideology is religion in it's negative sense, of an alienating set of beliefs designed to keep the status quo, which creates it's own world in the minds of it's believers and creates gods/idols to maintain this condition and this is just as applicable to the atheistic bourgeois view as the theistic bourgeois view.

I think that visionary states can be extremely important, they can also just be 'intersting' or 'pleasant'. Mystics in all traditions agree that thery have to be 'gone beyond' at some point as they tend to still imply seperateness from the 'sacred' or whatever word we use to describe 'ultimate reality'. The 'unitive' experience, i.e the experience of oneness tends to be viewed as more important because it is seen as offering a more permanent and deeper changes in the persons reltionship to life/reality. I would argue that the human relationships and our relationship with nature etc are the same thing as our 'inner' life or at least that the division between the two is at best conventional. Communism will alter both.

the sacred line was a bit of poetic license I suppose; As you say 'sacred' implies seperation which is the opposite of what I meant in some ways-then again if everything is sacred then sacredness has lost this meaning of splitting off. 

I also agree that New Ageism is by nd large reactinary nonsense even if it also contains elements of rebellion against the mainstream bourgeois worldview. It also at least lays emphasis on imagination which in capitalism is viewed as 'mere' fantasy and is basically just childish refusal to accept that life is a serious business and we live in a cold meaningless universe where the day to day life will always be nothing but a struggle to survive. The bourgeois rejection of the reality of dreams and even in the last analysis of ideas and consciousness itself is an aspect of this repression. The repression of the imagination in bourgeois society is different to all other epochs in it's totalitarianness. This is surely the essence of 'The Spectacle' the only imagination which is given credence is of the 'media' whether its the tv, cinema or the 'artist' as long as people are passive consumers of another imagination then it's ok (and only if it can be sold).

A.Simpleton:  I agree with the point about Marx and his reason for rejecting the label 'atheist' although I think Marx also had a strong idea about the 'kernels' of truth in religious ideas finding full expression in the communist future, in that sense we can make some general steps towards understanding what this will involve.

in terms of Islam and Ben Affleck, I actually thought he showed good instincts in that debate even if he couldn't really argue his points and probably doesn't know all that much he at leat could see Bill Mahers racism for what it was. Colonial sense of superiority dressed up in liberal concerns which is characteristic of all these liberal atheist 'thinkers'.

jk1921
Racism?

jaycee wrote:

In terms of Islam and Ben Affleck, I actually thought he showed good instincts in that debate even if he couldn't really argue his points and probably doesn't know all that much he at leat could see Bill Mahers racism for what it was. Colonial sense of superiority dressed up in liberal concerns which is characteristic of all these liberal atheist 'thinkers'.

I am not sure that racism is the best way to describe the sentiments Maher and his cohorts convey. First of all, Islam is not a "race." But, I think his point--and if you are going to give Affleck the benefit of the doubt for inarticulateness you should grant it to Maher too--is that there is something wrong with Islamic societies such that the border between private religious belief and public policy/state priorities does not exist in the same way it does in the "West." Its not a failure of Islamic people per se, or even Islam as a religion, but of the societies in which Islam forms the majority faith. Basically, what Maher is trying to say in his hamfisted way is that most Islamic countries never experienced an Enlightenment that led to the seperation of church and state and an the development of public/private split.

I can see how one could spin a Marxist analysis out of this--its really a failure of captialist development. Its capitalism's inability to fully develop the world in its own image as a result of its decadance and now decomposition, etc, that is responsible for the deplorable condition of much of the Islamic world.

Its true that Maher paints with far too broad a brush. He fails to make any real historical analysis, which would show that when the West was launching inquistions--some Islamic empires showed more tolerance towards religious minorities. He is far too trimumphantalist about the West--ignoring its own failings and never really admitting that even in the West the process of Enligtenment has been far from complete or consistent.

Its true than Affleck showed good anti-colonialist insiticts in fighting not to have all Islamic people painted as an irredeamably primitive "other." But he also downplayed the real significance of the development of utopian, millenarian movements like ISIS, claiming that they wouldn't fill a "Double AA ball park in Charleston." Can they then be safely ignored?

 

Demogorgon
"I would however disagree

"I would however disagree that no form of thought better expresses the inverted world of ideology than religion in that I don't think bourgeois ideology in it's rationalist, scientistic and liberal forms is any less ideological than religion. Ideology is religion in it's negative sense, of an alienating set of beliefs designed to keep the status quo, which creates it's own world in the minds of it's believers and creates gods/idols to maintain this condition and this is just as applicable to the atheistic bourgeois view as the theistic bourgeois view."

I think care needs to be taken here. There is a difference between the way science exists in popular culture and the way it is actually practiced, developed and explored. Sciencism, if you like, is not science. And certainly once you get into the realms of its practical application, things become even more clear cut. There is no such thing as bourgeois engineering, for example. A bridge stays up or it doesn't. An electronic circuit works or it doesn't and no amount of ideology or class consciousness alters that fact.

"I think that visionary states can be extremely important, they can also just be 'intersting' or 'pleasant'. Mystics in all traditions agree that thery have to be 'gone beyond' at some point as they tend to still imply seperateness from the 'sacred' or whatever word we use to describe 'ultimate reality'. The 'unitive' experience, i.e the experience of oneness tends to be viewed as more important because it is seen as offering a more permanent and deeper changes in the persons reltionship to life/reality. I would argue that the human relationships and our relationship with nature etc are the same thing as our 'inner' life or at least that the division between the two is at best conventional. Communism will alter both."

I don't agree that our inner life is the same as our social and natural relations, although naturally I think the former is directly conditioned by the latter. And, obviously, consciousness changes nature through the medium of action

As for mystical experiences, I think the sense of unity offered by those experiences is, at best, itself an expression of alienation. (Actually, I think our response to those experiences is the product of alienation - the mechanism of the actual experiences themselves can be described in terms of brain function - the frontal lobe is overstimulated, spatial awareness is lost, etc. - and in that sense are not fundamentally different to drug experiences. Not that we are close to understanding everything about these things, yet!)

It's precisely because we are psychologically fractured that we experience these moments of unity in such a profound way. Of course, I agree that communism would ultimately resituate our inner life in the context of a more unified relationship with each other and nature.

Ironically, I think this would make ecstatic states less likely to occur. And, if they still did, they would be seen as far less profound both by society as a whole but also to the people who experience them. I will admit that this view is informed somewhat by the fact that I have had several forms of "mystical" experience myself, both in religious and secular forms. The religious experiences were deeply profound - exactly what you described in your post, although coloured by whatever religious framework I was engaged with at the time. I had a similar experience when I finally broke from religious ideology and "became" an atheist. And, of course, the right combination of alcohol, dancing and my favourite Pixies track used to be able to do the trick every now and again on a Friday night!

This raises another question in my mind. The implication throughout this discussion is that we have accord a certain privilege to mystical experiences as somehow pointing to something positive in the deep well of the human psyche.

But, are we willing to entertain the idea that the "braingasm" induced by crack cocaine indicates the same? Similarly, opiates have a long association with various mystical traditions, including kaballah, hinduism, etc. Of course, I instinctively rebel at the idea that crack or heroin use would still exist in communism as anything other than a recividist aberation. I doubt I'm alone in that feeling.

Yet what objective reasons inform such sentiments? Of course, the crack or opium high is chemically induced but given that all states of consciousness have their basis in chemistry (even if the mechanism of action varies) this seems artificial. This is particularly the case with opiates which have their effects because they are chemically identical to substances the body produces naturally (endophins = endogenous morphine).

One might also argue that opium is damagingly addictive. But in my experience, one of the reactions to mystical experiences (especially religious ones) is the desire for another one. Crack and cocaine users often report their first experience in profound terms and the compulsive use that develops around it is often based on trying to recapture that first high. Certainly it seems to be the mechanism behind the infamous "crack binge".

Of course, profound religious experiences are harder to induce than drug-induced ones and this lack of availability is probably key in preventing actual physical dependence. But there are, in my opinion, definite similarities between certain religious ideologies and drug abuse - it's no accident that you often find fundamentalist Christians with a conversion story of how they have a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Now they get high on Jesus.

I think your analysis of bourgeois rationalism in the section on New Ageism is too simplistic. It is based on the assumption that bourgeois ideology is inherently rationalist albeit obviously in an alienated sense. Certainly, there are powerful elements of this that derive from the nature of production in capitalism ... it's no accident that we talk of rationalising production i.e. making it more efficient. But, because of the alienation inherent in the commodity form, alienation is also at the root of bourgeois consciousness. This means that consciousness is also fundamentally irrational in the sense that it inevitably obscures reality. And because capitalism takes alienation to its ultimate conclusion it also has tendencies extremely favourable to the flowering of religion, even if the aforementioned counter-tendencies also exist.

In decadence, and especially decomposition, the flowering of religion finds especially fertile ground. Of course, it has a particularly capitalist i.e. commodified nature as you might expect. In that sense, the New Age with its "pick and mix" approach is probably the most quintessentially capitalist form of religion yet seen.

I also think your comments about the passive consumption of media are too simplistic. One only has to look at YouTube to see the vast outpouring of individual acts of artistic expression, even if most of it is crap. Similarly, the internet in a wider sense, is actually destroying the commodity value of art ... or at least threatening the traditional models of bourgeois artistic production as it destroys the business models of the main publishers. A classic expression of the conflict between the underlying means of production and the relations of production, if you ask me - although it must be said capitalism is finding ways to adapt to the problem.

Fred
Demogorgon says "there's no

Demogorgon says "there's no such thing as bourgeois engineering".  But there is such a thing as bourgeois economics and bourgeois engineering is subsumed under this heading.  Thus we get a variety of corruption; freebies, cheapies, "savings" on materials and wages resulting in poor quality of structure and workmanship; and buildings and bridges do fall down all over the world, and motorways crumble under usage, and quality planning takes a back seat to the quick and easy profit.  The bourgeois rule and don't you forget it! 

jk1921
There is something like the

There is something like the practice and implementation of engineering under bourgeois social and economic conditions, but I don't think there is a bourgeois engineering in the same way as there is a bourgeois politics or bourgeois economics, which are--of course--variations of ruling class ideology.

Fred
Doesn't bourgeois engineering

Doesn't bourgeois engineering usually serve bourgeois war interests? Perhaps "imperialist engineering" would be a better nomenclature?  Competitive. Profit seeking as economically  demanded.  

And doesn't ideology effect the bourgeois view of engineering projects? Generally understood as "compartmentalized", like all bourgeois thought processes; paying no heed to the whole and greater picture and bugger the environment or any other inconveniences that may be considered to interfere with short term aims.  

There's  bourgeois education too isn't there?  All passive;  and knowledge "transmitted" as dead facts, not learned from practical experience. And bourgeois understandings of what constitutes medical practice and health care.  Psychological aspects and actual health "care" are down played in this view of health care, where illnesses tend also to be compartmentalized off and treated specifically rather than holistically.  

I think you know a great deal more about this than I do jk.  And I am struggling hard.  But I think, or suspect, that the bourgeois way of looking at and interpreting  the world will strike us all as very odd, limited and peculiar, and as being of a widespread nature,    once we have started to leave it behind in the period of transition.  

But really this should be a new thread starting with post 35. If I knew how to transfer these posts to a  new thread  I would. But I don't. Is it possible the webmaster magician could help here? 

jaycee
I perhaps was a bit

I perhaps was a bit simplistic with some of my points but I think was pointing to trends with regards to both New Ageism and the passive nature of modern social imagination etc. 

I agree that the inner and outer 'reality' of people is not the 'same' but they are rooted in the same general reality and influence eachother dialectically, obviously. If they were the same social chnge and revolt would be impossible; my point was that they reflect each other and I think that just as people living in capitalism with its tendency to split everything into seperate 'bits' and things in the outside world creates greater splits in the inner world of people a world that tended towards unification and wholeness would produce an inner life more in tune with this mentality.

I agree with your point that the 'unitary' experiences people have are seen as more special because of the oppressive regularity of alienated 'reality' and maybe are seen as more 'unusual' than they should be but this is precisely becuse they are 'true' or point towards an important truth. However they have been seen as very very important by people throughout history-before class society as well as during it. again mystics the world over will agree with your caution against 'chasing after' these experiences as this is the polar oppositte of the point tht most of these experiences are 'making'. The point isn't the pleasure these experiences can bring but the 'lessons' they offer- i.e. interconnectedness of all things, the unity of mind/body and usually the sense of peace, tranquility they offer.

I think in communism these experiences will be more widespread and after a while probably will be seen as 'no big deal' in that they will just be normal parts of life (as I remember telepthy being described by an Australian Aborigine shaman).

I think the point about bourgeois engineering is important as well- i would argue that there is such a thing as bourgeois engineering, bourgeois science, bourgeois art etc. All man made things are in some way expressions of their time. The fact that the bridge works isn't enough, what materials is it made of, how does it fit in with the environment around it, how does its look and even the methods used express its bourgeois basis (i.e that it was made for money by the various individuals who made it and were not collectively involved in its creation). William morris said capitlism killed architecture and even though any art form can never be completely 'killed' I certainly agree with his sentiment in a lot of ways.

Demogorgon
"I agree with your point that

"I agree with your point that the 'unitary' experiences people have are seen as more special because of the oppressive regularity of alienated 'reality' and maybe are seen as more 'unusual' than they should be but this is precisely becuse they are 'true' or point towards an important truth."

Yes, but my point is that they are more likely alienated expressions of that truth.

"The point isn't the pleasure these experiences can bring but the 'lessons' they offer- i.e. interconnectedness of all things, the unity of mind/body and usually the sense of peace, tranquility they offer."

Isn't the interconnectedness, etc. precisely an aspect of the pleasure they bring?

"I think in communism these experiences will be more widespread and after a while probably will be seen as 'no big deal' in that they will just be normal parts of life (as I remember telepthy being described by an Australian Aborigine shaman)."

That all seems to based on the idea that they are not products of alienation, which you haven't demonstrated yet.

Communism will, one hopes, bring a new sense of interconnectedness, etc. into everyday life on a permanent basis, although clearly not in the intensity of an altered state - otherwise no-one will ever get any work done!

I'm assuming you're not suggesting that telepathy will be part of communist society?

"I think the point about bourgeois engineering is important as well- i would argue that there is such a thing as bourgeois engineering, bourgeois science, bourgeois art etc. All man made things are in some way expressions of their time."

If all that term means is some kind of stage of development of the sciences, etc. then no problem. We can easily, for example, compare "Victorian" science with "21st century" science and see the changes in paradigms, the general advancement of knowledge, etc. With art, that is even more obvious.

"The fact that the bridge works isn't enough ..."

It's enough to demonstrate that the understanding and techniques employed demonstrated an adequate understanding of reality to enable the building of a successful bridge. The fact that the bridge was build in a social context has absolutely no bearing on the accuracy of the load calculations used in its design.

To take another example, are Ohm's Law or the Laws of Thermodynamics somehow "bourgeois"? What about Newton's Laws? Are they valid beyond the society that produced them? Is their validity determined by their social context or by their material application?

I think what we broadly call the "scientific method" is one of the greatest gifts capitalism has given humanity even if its current application is the ever more ruthless exploitation of humanity.

"William Morris said capitlism killed architecture and even though any art form can never be completely 'killed' I certainly agree with his sentiment in a lot of ways."

I don't know enough about archictecture or art to be able to say. Personally, though, I find some modern artistic productions far more satisfying than previous forms. The novel, for example, is an essentially bourgeois form of art but I generally find it more satisfying than theatre, which is far older. I suspect some modern bourgeois buildings will one day be seen as cultural treasures, assuming they survive.

I'm not saying though that social context is irrelevant to all this. Obviously, the herding of people into concrete monstrosities is a social question - the engineering principles that enabled us to build them will also allow us - one day - to build something better.

baboon
Telepatby

I agree with some of the points raised above by Demo on the question of science but I certainly wouldn't rule out telepathy being part of a communist society, particularly its advanced form. There is some elements that point towards telepathy in Shamanisms in ancient African society and Trotsky's descriptions of the electric spread of class consciousness among masses of workers in his "History of the Russian Revolution", looks to me to indicate some form of telepathy. Whatever, it can't be ruled out in a future human society particularly based on the developments of the analyses of Darwin and Wallace going beyond and overturning natural selection and the possibility that those point to about the development of humanity into a possible new species with new mental powers.

Fred
I don't see why we have to

I don't see why we have to develop into a new species baboon in order to acquire new powers. Surely we already have immense abilities, of which telepathy as a development of intuition is merely one, all locked up inside only  awaiting release with the onset of the next revolutionary wave.

But the bourgeoisie has managed to convince us that we are total nothingness and merely the shit and detritus of their earth which they own and rule. That  most of us don't have and  don't even need any mental powers for money is all  that counts, and most of us don't even need that, and wouldn't know what to do with it if we had it. For essentially  we are born to remain idiots. We are less than wild dogs  which have an advantage over us in that they  are not even required to sell their labour power and are thus free! 

Trotsky was right in pointing out the miraculous spread of consciousness among the class in 1917.  Everybody reading and talking to each other.  Everyone bursting with intellectual  fervour newly discovered. Sounds like madness?  It was madness!  The new  exciting madness of communication unleashed. Never witnessed on the planet before!   The Pentecostal tongues of fire and of enlightenment brought to earth by the lowest of the low: the working class itself.  The slaves.

And didn't Rosa notice this too?  The Mass Strikes.  When she talked about  "waves of fructifying consciousness" that flowed out among the class, bringing insight and understanding to this stinking mass of ill-fed, stupid, rural and idiotic simpletons  who'd been nothing else all their lives than barely paid toe rags and arse wipers for the superior classes.  The bourgeoisie with their vastly  superior perfumed ignorance and stupidity.  But who were now to be shoved aside by the  magical manifestations of solidarity, hope and love, and triumphant class consciousness. All newly discovered and set free. Oh Gods!  At last!  Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive! Bliss it will certainly be again. 

LBird
Is 'it works' good enough for Communists and their science?

Demogorgon wrote:

"I think the point about bourgeois engineering is important as well- i would argue that there is such a thing as bourgeois engineering, bourgeois science, bourgeois art etc. All man made things are in some way expressions of their time."

If all that term means is some kind of stage of development of the sciences, etc. then no problem. We can easily, for example, compare "Victorian" science with "21st century" science and see the changes in paradigms, the general advancement of knowledge, etc. With art, that is even more obvious.

"The fact that the bridge works isn't enough ..."

It's enough to demonstrate that the understanding and techniques employed demonstrated an adequate understanding of reality to enable the building of a successful bridge. The fact that the bridge was build in a social context has absolutely no bearing on the accuracy of the load calculations used in its design.

To take another example, are Ohm's Law or the Laws of Thermodynamics somehow "bourgeois"? What about Newton's Laws? Are they valid beyond the society that produced them? Is their validity determined by their social context or by their material application?

I think what we broadly call the "scientific method" is one of the greatest gifts capitalism has given humanity even if its current application is the ever more ruthless exploitation of humanity.

[my bold]

For any critical 'scientific method', it should follow that 'the fact that the bridge works isn't enough...'. Unless one believes that 'science' produces the 'Truth'.

Science involves philosophical assumptions.

And the 'fact that something works', taken as sufficient justification for 'what exists', is essentially a conservative method. It leads to thinking like 'Just deal with the real world!'.

As for 'Newton's Laws', the ICC recommend a book by the practicing physicist Rovelli that says that 'Newton was wrong'. I've given that quote often enough for the regulars to be familiar with it. If any newbies want the full reference (quote, book, page numbers), please ask, and I'll give it, once again.

I definitely agree with the comrade above who wrote:

"All [hu]man made things are in some way expressions of their time."

It's simply not scientific to equate 'what works' with 'the truth'. Something might 'work' (for a given society), but still be incorrect (according to another society). The Ptolemaic view of the universe is a simple example.

It 'worked' for its time, but it doesn't for ours. Then it was 'true', now it is not.

Demogorgon
Newton's Laws are perfectly

Newton's Laws are perfectly adequate when dealing with the situations in which the initial observations that gave rise to them occur. That they are not accurate when dealing with very large or very small objects is, of course, well-established but this doesn't mean that Newton's Laws are "wrong".

Quantum methods actually give the same results as Newtons Laws when applied to Newtonian situations which is one of the reasons they are considered valid. They are much more accurate compared to Newton's Laws (which are essentially approximations) but unless you are dealing with situations that require quantum-levels of accuracy, Newton's Laws are absolutely fine (and much easier to work with). In other words Newton's Laws are completely valid ... in Newtonian situations, something which ought to be completely obvious.

I have no idea (and, frankly, do not care) what books you've been reading but it might be an idea to achieve a basic understanding of at least high-school of physics before you start pontificating about how Newton's Laws are "wrong".

New theories emerge when previous ones encounter situations where their predictions diverge from reality. For example, Ptolemaic and Copernican models ran concurrently for a while because they make the same predictions at certain levels of observation (although the Copernican model was also inaccurate because it proposed circular orbits rather than eliptical ones). Ironically, it was Newton's "wrong" theory of gravitation that rescued the heliocentric models from their failed predictions.

Nowhere did I say or imply that science produces "truth" and of course it is based on assumptions. For one thing, it assumed a reality beyond human consciousness and it expects that reality to be consistent: if you repeat the same experiment under the same conditions, you get the same results. If you abandon these assumptions, not only would you no longer need to change your theoretical framework on new evidence, all theoretical frameworks become redundant.

Which brings us back to bridges: the basic behaviour of what we call stress and load are not dependent on human beliefs. They are not dependent on human social formations. They don't care whether they are radical or conservative. Our understanding of those phenomena may or may not be accurate (although the millions of successful bridges indicates our understanding is pretty good), but the phenomena themselves operate independently of that understanding.

But, as per usual, you ignore and take out-of-context what people say. In my previous post I asked (rhetorically) if the validity of scientific observations was determined by social context or by their material application. It is quite clearly the latter. I also agreed that while we can clearly see a historical trend in the development of science, this doesn't mean that the principles it uncovers have themselves changed: quantum mechanics is equally valid in the time of Socrates as it is today; if you excite an electron with enough energy it will change its quantum state.

Demogorgon
"There is some elements that

"There is some elements that point towards telepathy in Shamanisms in ancient African society and Trotsky's descriptions of the electric spread of class consciousness among masses of workers in his "History of the Russian Revolution", looks to me to indicate some form of telepathy."

Elements that have nonetheless remained conspicuously and consistently unverifiable by scientific investigation. I honestly never thought I would ever see the claim that the Russian workers organised the revolution via telepathy.

But this is a good example of the need for the principle of parsimony. Do we need telepathy to explain the behaviour of the Russian workers? Or is it explicable by normal human interaction? If the latter, then introducing concepts such as telepathy needlessly overcomplicates our description / explanation.

"Whatever, it can't be ruled out in a future human society particularly based on the developments of the analyses of Darwin and Wallace going beyond and overturning natural selection and the possibility that those point to about the development of humanity into a possible new species with new mental powers."

What developments of which analyses? And made by whom? It's well-known, of course, that Wallace believed in spiritualism. There are any number of scientists who believe in any number of deities as well, but those hardly count as analyses.

And while I realise you are more knowledgeable than me in the fields of hominid evolution, I nonetheless seriously doubt there is anything in modern evolutionary theory that supports, let alone predicts the emergence of psychic phenomena as a product of human evolution.

It's worth considering for a moment the implications behind telepathy actually existing might be. If thought really can exist separately from the electro-chemical impulses of the brain (as its transmission suggests) then it opens up the field of "possibility" to the existence of disembodied consciousness and, therefore, life-after-death, disembodied entities (aka spirits) ... the list goes on!

Personally I think there's no more evidence that telepathy will be a part of communist society than there is for the idea that the spirits of Marx or Trotsky will be summoned as guest speakers at some communard quorom in the future.

LBird
The usual tantrum

Demogorgon wrote:
I have no idea (and, frankly, do not care) what books you've been reading but it might be an idea to achieve a basic understanding of at least high-school of physics before you start pontificating about how Newton's Laws are "wrong".

I can always tell when I'm dealing with ignorant people, because rather than engage with the arguments, they throw their dummies out of the pram, and use big words like 'pontificating'.

I can accept when bourgeois thinkers react like this to the revelation that capitalism and the market isn't 'the truth', but I still find it shocking when self-professed Communists dish out such uncomradely dismissals to other comrades.

Demo, my advice to you is to try reading some literature critical of your 'positivist science'. It might make you a better comrade, too.

Erudition and manners await you!

baboon
Analyses?

I would say that Darwin's "Descent of man..." is a methodical science based analyis of the development of humanity as are Wallace's complimentary papers on the same issue. Although the ICC's excellent text on Patrick Tort's "Darwin effect" doesn't mention Wallace, Tort actually puts forward Wallace's position that was written by him over a hundred years earlier. As to Wallace's belief in spiritualism, to me it means nothing in the face of the man's great  achievement. Like Darwin, Wallace lost young children to disease and this had an effect on him. I'm not putting anyone forward as a Superman - Wallace's analyis of the overturning  of natural selection stands on its own as a major advance in the understanding of humanity's development and its potential.

Demogorgon
"I can accept when bourgeois

"I can accept when bourgeois thinkers react like this to the revelation that capitalism and the market isn't 'the truth', but I still find it shocking when self-professed Communists dish out such uncomradely dismissals to other comrades."

Now there's the pot calling the kettle black. I've lost count of the people you've insulted on here, then played the victim and withdrawn from discussion without ever answering any of the cogent points put to you. I'm very sorry that after months of having to tolerate your monumental arrogance, egotism and intellectual dishonesty I let my temper slip ever such a tiny bit and unkindly exposed you for the puffed-up fraud you are. Really, really sorry.

And, of course, if that was all I did, you might have a point, but I also put in (as always) considerable time to show you how you are wrong about Newton's Laws, which you have failed (as always) to acknowledge or respond to. But this is hardly a surprise as that's how you always behave as evidenced on thread after thread after thread.

"Demo, my advice to you is to try reading some literature critical of your 'positivist science'. It might make you a better comrade, too."

I hope this literature is better informed than the one you pseudo-quoted above.

"Erudition and manners await you!"

On that score I agree. But as, in the past, you have responded to neither a new approach seems called for.

Demogorgon
"I would say that Darwin's

"I would say that Darwin's "Descent of man..." is a methodical science based analyis of the development of humanity as are Wallace's complimentary papers on the same issue."

How does that support the idea of humanity developing telepathy?

"Although the ICC's excellent text on Patrick Tort's "Darwin effect" doesn't mention Wallace, Tort actually puts forward Wallace's position that was written by him over a hundred years earlier."

But how does that support the idea of telepathy?

"As to Wallace's belief in spiritualism, to me it means nothing in the face of the man's great achievement."

Agreed. But how does this lend support for telepathy?

"Like Darwin, Wallace lost young children to disease and this had an effect on him. I'm not putting anyone forward as a Superman - Wallace's analyis of the overturning  of natural selection stands on its own as a major advance in the understanding of humanity's development and its potential."

Yes, but what has any of this got to do with telepathy?

Alf
consciousness etc

In a way it's a shame that jaycee's off the cuff remark about telepathy has become the focus of the discussion about states or levels of consciousness. Personally I don't think there is an automatic progression from the idea of telepathy to the idea of disembodied spirits. Freud for example posed the question about the unconscious as a possible medium for such phenomena, which - despite his life-long distrust for any form of occultism - he came to re-consider in later life. But the initial discussion was about what we can learn from past societies' intense interest in cultivating 'altered states' of consciousness. 

In this article from the  series on communism  (https://en.internationalism.org/internationalreview/199210/3571/communis... ) the quote from Trotsky on the role of the unconscious in the Russian revolution (which I think is what baboon is referring to) is used not to support the idea of telepathy but to provide a marxist account of the state of 'inspiration' which seems to be what Marx is also pointing to when he talks about the future 'emancipation of the senses' in communism. It seems to me that there is still a great deal for marxists to study and understand about such questions. 

A key problem to be considered is this: are all such inspired states merely expressions of alienation (as demogorgon seems to argue), indeed perhaps even very extreme forms of alienation (akin to psychosis: let's recall the old fashion term for psychiatrists - alienists). Or are they glimpses, flashes, that point beyond alienation, to real human potentials currently 'buried' in the unconscious and certainly subject to all the influences of an alienated society? 

On science, I agree with Demogorgon that the term 'bourgeois science' is not accurate. Science is the expression of something which goes beyond sectional interest and thus ideology (Chris Knight develops this argument here: https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2011/07/marxism-and-science-ch...). This does not mean that in its actual practice and in the actual theories it advances it entirely escapes the influence of particular class societies and in particular the ideology of the bourgeosie, but it expresses something that goes beyond it. This is what Hegel called the movement of knowledge from something esoteric to something exoteric, ie available for all, and potentially at least in the interest of all.

baboon
Cheap shot

There's is lot to discuss here about the possible development of the senses and, as I said before, at a particular stage at the development of "communist man", I wouldn't rule out something that today we call "telepathy". I think it a cheap shot to use Wallace's interest in spiritualism to deny his contributiion to the workers' movement (text on this site). I wouldn't consider dissing Isaac Newton's work - whom I have read - on the basis of his interests in the occult, superstition and his deep religious beliefs. Darwin and Wallace provide an analysis that separates the development of humanity from the chains of natural selection. This makes all intellectual development possible including the development of the senses. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of some sort of telepathy in future mankind.

Demogorgon
"A key problem to be

"A key problem to be considered is this: are all such inspired states merely expressions of alienation (as demogorgon seems to argue), indeed perhaps even very extreme forms of alienation (akin to psychosis: let's recall the old fashion term for psychiatrists - alienists). Or are they glimpses, flashes, that point beyond alienation, to real human potentials currently 'buried' in the unconscious and certainly subject to all the influences of an alienated society?"

I think you're pushing what I say too far. Earlier, I said in reference to mystical experiences that they "my point is that they are more likely alienated expressions of that truth". In other words, they are contradictory. They can be both expressions of alienation and glimpes beyond it. In that sense, they share that quality with religion in general.

But exactly what "potentials" do altered states supposedly hint at? The potential to go beyond alienation, certainly. And if that's all we're talking about, there's no particular problem. Some comrades (and here I refer to baboon, not jayce who has said very little specifically on this) seem to think that these "potentials" include entirely unverified psychic phenomena that has already manifested in the class struggle! You'll have to forgive me for being a little bit nervous about what other phenomena people may be obliquely referring to here.

"Personally I don't think there is an automatic progression from the idea of telepathy to the idea of disembodied spirits."

Telepathy as normally understood is predicated on the idea of thought being able to exist in a non-material medium i..e beyond the electro-chemical activity of the brain. It is, quite literally, disembodied. Therefore it is no great leap to accept the principle of disembodied consciousness unless we can demonstrate that thought is somehow separate from consciousness.

"Freud for example posed the question about the unconscious as a possible medium for such phenomena, which - despite his life-long distrust for any form of occultism - he came to re-consider in later life."

I don't know much about Freud beyond the basics, but if he conceived of the unconscious as something existing outside of the brain I think such a hypothesis is highly questionable.

Demogorgon
"I think it a cheap shot to

"I think it a cheap shot to use Wallace's interest in spiritualism to deny his contributiion to the workers' movement"

Strawman argument. I am asking you to support your claims about telepathy. You made the claim that Darwin and Wallace's theories posed the possibility of humans developing new mental powers which, in the context of this discussion and especially your post, indicated telepathy.

Given that Wallace believed in spiritualism it's perfectly legitimate to ask if you were referring to this.

"I wouldn't consider dissing Isaac Newton's work - whom I have read - on the basis of his interests in the occult, superstition and his deep religious beliefs."

See above.

"Darwin and Wallace provide an analysis that separates the development of humanity from the chains of natural selection. This makes all intellectual development possible including the development of the senses. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of some sort of telepathy in future mankind."

It's possible humanity might also develop wings, either via a lot more evolution or through our own conscious efforts. In terms of sci-fi self modification, I'd love to have the capacity to see into the infra-red spectrum. But regardless of the practical difficulties of such things, at least they have actual precedents in nature.

What you're talking about is something wholly unprecedented in nature and which potentially violates our entire understanding of the physical universe. If we're going to accept telepathy, why not remote viewing, clairvoyance, psychometry, precognition and, yes, communication with non-physical consciousnesses (whatever we choose to call them).

None of these phenomena have any evidence to support their existence or even their possibility in terms of our current understanding of the world. Of course, it's possible that such phenomena do exist or may come to exist. It's also possible that we might develop faster-than-light travel. Or teleportation. But there's no evidence that any of these things are possible and suggesting communism as some kind of marx ex machina to enable them appears to me to depart from rational thought.

LBird
Newton or Marx?

Demogorgon wrote:
And, of course, if that was all I did, you might have a point, but I also put in (as always) considerable time to show you how you are wrong about Newton's Laws, which you have failed (as always) to acknowledge or respond to. But this is hardly a surprise as that's how you always behave as evidenced on thread after thread after thread.

And thread after thread I ask you about your opinion of an ICC-recommended book.

But you're the one who can't be arsed to read it, not me.

And you won't discuss epistemology, and try to shift the discussion to physics, where you are comfortable.

This is what 'materialists' always do: ignore issues of human consciousness (ie. knowledge) and focus on 'matter' (which they claim to 'know' better than the rest of us).

And then turn to abuse. It's easier to condemn someone as an 'idealist', rather than engage in discussion.

This all gives me no confidence that you actually have something to teach me, that I can learn anything from you. Every time I've tried to engage with 'materialists', they turn to bluster, rather than evidence. Your response is not an individual one, but a characteristic of adherents of 'materialism'.

lem_
it's not clear how literal

it's not clear how literal everyone is being. telepathy or my internal thoughts and sensations moving through the space between my body and yours, is impossible.

people can be in sync, and we can call that "telepathy" or a form of ESP but it'd be through the senses.

Fred
I literally died as It

I literally died as It suddenly dawned on me that what lem said above isn't quite right; I mean about thoughts and sensations not being able to move between bodies - between people that is. Thoughts can be transferred via language, or music, or images, or "gleams, like the flashing of a shield" as Wordsworth put it; or by sudden "eureka" moments;  or by intuition, which is like just having a feeling about something "for no apparent reason" but which turns out to be right.  

With regard to language, which Marx pointed  out is all metaphor anyway, for  we constantly indicate that something is really like some other thing, in order to try and convey what we are attempting to say don't we, and " a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" as Shakespeare twigged...in fact, with regard to language - our wonderful evolutionary achievement which separates us from the other animals, although Asian cats are strikingly intuitive and elephants mourn the dead while Dolphins keep regular appointments and play games  with amazed visitors in various parts of the world - well language wouldn't work well at all without the necessary technique of  inference  whereby we look beyond the words to find the meaning and can thus reach different interpretations of what is said, or written, or communicated by a sudden glance.  (Have I said something to offend her?) Most communication isn't to be taken literally but to be mulled over either instantly, as in a day-to-day conversation, or over weeks or months as in a text by Marx. 

As a species we are surely very intuitive and use it all the time. Probably most animals do. Solidarity, when we get it again, will be one of intuition' s crowning glories won't it? Or will it be one of freely emerging and developing telepathy's achievements, whereby we know without being reduced to mere words and their  confusion, what it is we want to achieve and how to start to do it too.  I think Rosa and Pannekoek would back this up but'll probably be proved wrong. 

Alf
Fred's connections

I think that Fred is posing the right questions here. The 'reunification' of mankind with his animal ancestors, the recovery of "the power of scent inherited from animal forebears": Trotsky refers to this precisely in those paragraphs of My Life where he concludes that "revolution is the inspired frenzy of history"

I really do think we would make some progress in this discussion if we focused on this passage, where he talks about what it actually felt like to be involved in a proletarian revolution, and in doing so poses at a very profound level the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious, and thus the relation between marxism and psychoanalysis. To my knowledge it is one of the very few attempts by a marxist to investigate the question of "inspiration". Here it is, from the beginning of chapter 20, 'In Power': 

 

In the life of the country and in the life of the individual, those were extraordinary days. In social passions, as well as in personal powers, tension reached its highest point. The masses were creating an epoch, and their leaders felt their steps merging with those of history. On the decisions made and the orders given in those days depended the fate of the nation for an entire historical era. And yet those decisions were made with very little discussion. I can hardly say that they were even properly weighed and considered; they were almost improvised on the moment. But they were none the worse for that. The pressure of events was so terrific, and the work to be done so clear before us, that the most important decisions came naturally, as a matter of course, and were received in the same spirit. The path had been predetermined; all that was required was to indicate the work. No arguments were necessary, and very few appeals. Without hesitation or doubt, the masses picked up what was suggested to them by the nature of the situation. Under the strain of events, their “leaders” did no more than formulate what answered the requirements of the people and the demands of history.

Marxism considers itself the conscious expression of the unconscious historical process. But the “unconscious” process, in the historico-philosophical sense of the term not in the psychological coincides with its conscious expression only at its highest point, when the masses, by sheer elemental pressure, break through the social routine and give victorious expression to the deepest needs of historical development. And at such moments the highest theoretical consciousness of the epoch merges with the immediate action of those oppressed masses who are farthest away from theory. The creative union of the conscious with the unconscious is what one usually calls “inspiration.” Revolution is the inspired frenzy of history.

Every real writer knows creative moments, when something stronger than himself is guiding his hand; every real orator experiences moments when some one stronger than the self of his every-day existence speaks through him. This is “inspiration.” It derives from the highest creative effort of all one’s forces. The unconscious rises from its deep well and bends the conscious mind to its will, merging it with itself in some greater synthesis.

The utmost spiritual vigor likewise infuses at times all personal activity connected with the movement of the masses. This was true for the leaders in the October days. The hidden strength of the organism, its most deeply rooted instincts, its power of scent inherited from animal forebears all these rose and broke through the psychic routine to join forces with the higher historico-philosophical abstractions in the service of the revolution. Both these processes, affecting the individual and the mass, were based on the union of the conscious with the unconscious: the union of instinct the mainspring of the will with the higher theories of thought.

Outwardly, it did not look very imposing: men went about tired, hungry, and unwashed, with inflamed eyes and unshaven beards. And afterward none of them could recall much about those most critical days and hours.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/mylife/ch29.htm

 

To be reflected on and returned to...

jk1921
And we are back to the

And we are back to the problem of Hegelian transcendence (what I think Demo means when he refers to a Marx ex machina) vs. scientific socialism. I know that the two things are not supposed to be mutually opposed to one another, but I think we are still searching for a more convincing way to link them--otherwise we seem stuck in what looks like a real antinomy between a kind of passive positivism and a seeming fantasy world where communism makes almost anything possible.

Demogorgon
I quite like the way that

I quite like the way that Trotsky poses the question, particularly in the 3rd paragraph, in reference to creative states. Nonetheless, I'm not sure those sorts of moments of inspiration can be a permanent state. Obviously a world without "writers block" would be wonderful, but then it would simply become normality punctuated by outbursts of creativity when you actually write even better stuff. I'm not sure that these are necessarily the same as the ecstatic states experienced in religion, however.

However, I'm not sure I'm convinced about the desirability of the way he describes the revolutionary process in the first paragraph. It seems to me to make virtue of necessity: tired people running on adrenaline (and probably other things as well), making decisions on the fly. It suggests a process that was not yet fully conscious or planned. In any case, you don't need to be a revolutionary to experience some aspects of it. I've had a similar experience this week at work, in fact. Hard graft, followed by a moment of collective triumph and celebration, then wanting to sleep for a week!

@JK1917, I don't think there's an antimony between what you might call the "poetic" side of communism (which basically just boils down to people being happy) and the practical side of things, in terms of the actual organisation of production. I think the two will fuse. Those precious moments of work being fulfilling will become the norm rather than the rarity they usually are. But obviously that doesn't mean we'll have a magic wand that will allow us to do anything.

jk1921
Antimony

Demogorgon wrote:

@JK1917, I don't think there's an antimony between what you might call the "poetic" side of communism (which basically just boils down to people being happy) and the practical side of things, in terms of the actual organisation of production. I think the two will fuse. Those precious moments of work being fulfilling will become the norm rather than the rarity they usually are. But obviously that doesn't mean we'll have a magic wand that will allow us to do anything.

Well, there isn't supposed to be an antimony between these two sides of communism, but I think there might be in the way we today conceptualize these things--but maybe that's the point, we can't transcend this antimony from within the social conditions of capitalism? Still, that kind of approach does seem to invoke the spectre of Marx ex machina.

Fred
Mr. Bean

I was thinking about what jk said about having to transcend the social conditions of capitalism in order to escape its paradoxes and contradictions and - unlike Dickens who thought of Mr. Pickwick - I remembered Mr Bean! 

Surely the fascinating thing about him is (was) that he illustrates and dramatizes all the  nonsensical absurdities of life under the established bourgeois limitations of cultural understanding  and helps make us aware of them as comedy even though they're not actually funny. 

The misunderstandings, confusions, embarrassments, social blunders, failures of communication, various infantile obsessions, imperative need to be top dog and to get the better of others, ingenuity put to idiotic use and all the trouble taken to avoid emotional confrontations,  are the stuff of daily life under the capitalist system. This is what Mr. Bean shows us. This is the absurdity and pointlessness of everyday life now.  It spawns nihilism. It contributes to ISIS and tbe retreat into the supposed rationality of religion with its rules and regulations, which appear to restore order and purpose to existence.

So when Pannekoek, and Trotsky too,  enthuse about what they found revealed in the working class attitude to life, as it began to be unveiled 1917 - 21, it is because they have glimpsed the answer to the Mr. Bean  paradox.  Don't try and change, reform or re-educate him, or the current capitalist system either,  because theyre finished; relics of a bygone way of life now completely out-moded and useless.  

Trotsky, Pannekoek and others, realized that the implications for change contained within the acts of the revolutionary  proletariat far exceeded the merely economic but heralded a whole new way of life for humanity. A whole new notion of what it is to be human: a whole new way of thinking and living with consciousness and solidarity  to the fore. 

Trotsky refers to "the frenzy" and "the inspiration" and he himself was a major part of the excitement.  Pannekoek is less excitable and perhaps more considerate in his trying to define what exactly it is that is beginning to distinguish the proletarian way of thought, and manner of reaching decisions, from the old and now antiquated bourgeois understanding of how things should work. This is something vital that needs to be done. I read something  that suggested  that  Pannekoek considered the proletariat to have a quite different way of thinking and reasoning from that of the bourgeoisie. This is an exciting idea. I wish I knew more about it.  

 

Demogorgon
Pannekoek's "Lenin as

Pannekoek's "Lenin as Philosopher" discusses the methodological differences between bourgeois and proletarian materialism and, to a lesser extent, their relationship to the scientific method. Lukacs' essays on Class Consciousness and Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat discuss the structure of bourgeois and proletarian thought.

Pannekoek is probably the most accessible, but a little unclear in places. Lukacs can be very hard work but extremely rewarding if you can make it through. It might be worth warming up with What Is Orthodox Marxism? which is worth a read in its own right, as is the Marxism of Rosa Luxemburg.

Lukacs works can be found online here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lukacs/index.htm

Pannekoek's Lenin as Philosopher is here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/1938/lenin/index.htm

lem_
"Thoughts can be

"Thoughts can be transferred"

Yeah but not literally, the thought itself stays this side it's just articulated into something new. Else you are a behaviourist of sorts and saying there's no differene between saying something and thinking it.

 

FTR I used to be a big believer in telepathic like abilities, and I got put in a mental hospital for it.

baboon
Throwawy

I think that Jaycee's "throwaway" line about telepathy proved to be quite useful for this discussion particularly in relation to Fred's post above where "he literally died" - surely not?

I don't know what telepathy is or could be in the future when the minds of men are liberated. I know that it's not some Music Hall act. But there seems no doubt that thoughts without words or writing can be projected outwards as Fred describes above and this can happen at the level of society and class in a sort of distillation of the material conditions and possibilities from the collective instinctive unconcsious. I think that the independent development of major human material advances like ceramics, metallurgy and agriculture point to this.  The "My Life" quote is interesting - it's almost as if the workers suffered a hangover after the event - and there are similar quotes about the frenzy and fervour of class consciousness in Trotsky's "History.."

I think that in a communist future there are all sorts of possibilities. Man could grow feathers and fly but I somehow doubt that. More interesting to me is the "flight" taken by Shamans (I know that I go on about this but this belief system lasted for tens of thousands of years at least and has a great deal to tell us) in connections with the animal spirits and the cosmos which wasn't always a pleasant experience. What does seem a pleasant experience, one that reinforced society, was how the community joined this process taking "flight" through music, song and dance. That's a different phenomenon than telepathy.though.

There's no doubt here (I don't think) that altered states of consciousness do exist in individuals on a daily basis today and that this has its roots in the distant past. I don't know about Pannekoek's distinction between bourgeois and proletarian thought but he wrote a good deal with depth about the origins of thought, the development of language and consciousnes in his "Anthropogenesis" where, among other things, he sees the advance of the thought of humanity in "the perception of perceptions". For Pannekoek the origins of the social instincts of solidarity, courage, confidence "remain unconscious and can appear mysterious and supernatural". It's a good read anyway.

Demogorgon
"But there seems no doubt

"But there seems no doubt that thoughts without words or writing can be projected outwards as Fred describes above and this can happen at the level of society and class in a sort of distillation of the material conditions and possibilities from the collective instinctive unconcsious. I think that the independent development of major human material advances like ceramics, metallurgy and agriculture point to this."

The independent development of material techniques takes place because human beings inhabit the same material world with the same material possibilities. This is exactly what is to be expected according to a materialist view of history that bases technical and ideological development in the framework of material conditions. No theory of telepathy, projected thought or thought-transfer is needed to explain this!

baboon
I agree with that specific

I agree with that specific criticism of Demo and the materialist analysis that he puts forward. I have used exactly the same point as he makes in the past against the position of the archaeologist V. Gordon Chile who argued that agriculture began in the "fertile triange" of the Middle East and then spread outward through contact. I don't know what I was thinking of.

lem_
good post demog.

good post demog.