FREEDOM!

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lem_
FREEDOM!
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i am thinking that freedom is not about individuals and NOT about some collective group - in the horrible little communitarianism sense.

freedom is theoretical, and based on the press etc..

it is also material, and grounded in social relations that can be made sense of.

what do you think?

Fred
Erich Fromm wrote a book

Erich Fromm wrote a book called "Fear of Freedom"  in which (I think) he put forward the idea that everybody in Germany embraced the Nazis  and their Cult in the thirties  as a means to escape from having to be an autonomous free-thinking individual  leading an authentic existence.  The great "happiness" of Nazism was that it told you what to do, what to think, who to like, who to hate and so on.  It made life easy: at least superficially so. 

 

What Fromm doesn't adequately point out is that this running away from individual responsibilities  and this fear of bring free, actually arose from the defeat of the revolutionary wave, which had been the proletariat's first great challenge to bourgeois slavery, and first international attempt at achieving real genuine freedom. (Apart from the Paris Commune of course, which wasn't international and was easily crushed.) 

 

The attempt towards proletarian freedom requires the class to be well organized.  The fear of organization within the proletarian milieu - such as may be demonstrated on various supposedly left-communist web sites - is something that we may construe as being indirectly connected with fear of losing a fetishized freedom which in fact we never had.  I mean the much vaunted "freedom of the individual" : something the bourgeoisie has raised up like a monument.  In fact, under capitalism there is no freedom of the individual at all, as we are all enslaved, all  exploited and screwed almost to the point of idiocy.  Freedom of the press is similarly all rubbish, as it's only free to say what the bourgeoisie wants it to say, like sll the media. 

 

So, to end quickly. This of us who think that the major lesson to be learned from the Bolsheviks is that the proletariat should never organize itself, have misunderstood one of history's great working class lessons, and we could  all  pay for that in the future unless more proper theoretical understandings come to prevail. And those who think that freedom is a purely theoretical concept are also making  a big mistake.  

So. Can I post this? 

Fred
Freedom from fear is

Freedom from fear is something really worth looking forward to. But we'll only achieve it once communism has sufficiently established itself  to allow a sufficient  release from the overwhelming nature of fear.  For FEAR is everywhere. 

 

There is the obvious kind of fear that relates to material issues like enough money to live on; job security; health and education matters and housing and the like.  All perpetually worrying and nagging issues that generate a fear of life itself on a daily basis.  And, if this wasn't bad enough, there are fears of a more psychological kind.  In discussion (when they get discussed) these may come across as silly and trivial, but they go to the root of our existence and happiness just as much as material issues like money. In fact, of course, psychological issues are material too. Let's not forget this. 

For instance, the question of writing something and posting it on this forum raises various fears.  There's the fear of making a fool of yourself in public; of not saying the right thing; of conforming too much to what might be presumed to be anticipated on this forum which leads to fear of accusations of ICC worship and making clone-like responses to keep well in with the ICC.  Fear of ridicule; fear of rejection and fear of just being ignored.  Link mentions this on another thread though he doesn't say that he finds it fearful, and indeed he may not. But there is a fear involved here, as there is with all actions that come across and can be interpreted as "favoritism" - imagined or otherwise.   Being ignored can be painful for people and can quickly be interpreted  as outright rejection.  

 

The ICC urges us all in the direction of debate, as a vital proletarian way of life and learning.  Yet because of the way the organization responds, or doesn't, to issues raised, appearing to favour some over others, it generates a kind of fear-of-forums pathology, as happened on redmarx and used to happen a lot on libcom. 

 

All this and more may well contribute  to the most dangerous fear of all, from a working class point of view,  and that is FEAR OF ORGANIZATION.  Only proletarian solidarity can combat the fears that permeate capitalist society.  But I fear that perhaps as yet, and in today's peculiar circumstances of stalemate, the solidarity we have is of a very watery kind, and of a selective flow. 

 

The bourgeoisie thrives on fear and generates as much of it as is possible and in all life situations.  Fear of life becomes fear of freedom and this is to the benefit of the ruling class.  But we are not the bourgeoisie and should try as hard as  possible to avoid adding more fears to an already fearful world.  

 

 

 

Link
Freedom from Fromm

 

 

Not sure what you are getting at here Fred.  Isnt fear a human response.  I don’t know if its right to call it natural but will communism get rid of it – you seem to be implying so??

 

Yes im fearful of lots of things although Im not sure of the context you ascribe to me.  But so what, anything new can be fearful as well as fun.  I live with fear but I don’t know that it is all due to capitalism.   Some certainly but…

 

You say that communism gets rid of fear , I cant see communism as an automatic utopia just because it gets rid of capitalism.  “Just’ – well ok it is a big deal and it will change how society behaves enormously.   

 

Im old and experienced enough though to no longer expect communism to mean the elimination of all social problems. 

 

It wont get rid of fear, because it wont eliminate human emotion.  Communism would not be a good thing if it did.  It wont eliminate train crashes, plane crashes ships sinking; it wont eliminate agrophobia or arachnophobia,;  it wont eliminate public speaking or dyslexia; it wont eliminate teenage tantrums or senility or even grumpy old men; it wont eliminate pyscopaths or paedophiles,; it wont stop bad parenting let alone child abuse; it wont make everybody agree and  itwont eliminate arguments.  As you said elsewhere it give the freedom for inequality and I do certainly hope it gets rid of fakes like Fromm

 

What it will give, I hope, is a better way to manage social problems and eliminate a lot that are rooting in class structured society and a money based economy – trouble is I don’t really know which those all are at present because we are still immersed.Freedom from Fromm

 

Not sure what you are getting at here Fred.  Isnt fear a human response.  I don’t know if its right to call it natural but will communism get rid of it – you seem to be implying so??

 

Yes im fearful of lots of things although Im not sure of the context you ascribe to me.  But so what, anything new can be fearful as well as fun.  I live with fear but I don’t know that it is all due to capitalism.   Some certainly but…

 

You say that communism gets rid of fear , I cant see communism as an automatic utopia just because it gets rid of capitalism.  “Just’ – well ok it is a big deal and it will change how society behaves enormously.   

 

Im old and experienced enough though to no longer expect communism to mean the elimination of all social problems. 

 

It wont get rid of fear, because it wont eliminate human emotion.  Communism would not be a good thing if it did.  It wont eliminate train crashes, plane crashes ships sinking; it wont eliminate agrophobia or arachnophobia,;  it wont eliminate public speaking or dyslexia; it wont eliminate teenage tantrums or senility or even grumpy old men; it wont eliminate pyscopaths or paedophiles,; it wont stop bad parenting let alone child abuse; it wont make everybody agree and  it wont eliminate arguments.  As you said elsewhere it give the freedom for inequality and I do certainly hope it gets rid of fakes like Fromm

 

What it will give, I hope, is a better way to manage social problems and eliminate a lot that are rooting in class structured society and a money based economy – trouble is I don’t really know which those all are at present because we are still immersed.

Fred
Thank you for your reply

Thank you for your reply link.  I don't really know how to respond however.  But if communism can get rid of "fakes like Fromm" then what shouldn't it, by the same process work to get rid of psychopaths and paedophiles and other psychologically sick members  of society by demonstrating and practicing real human love instead of "fake" love and sex?  Or something like that?  It might eliminate fear of public speaking by doing away with the need for people to  show off in that particular way. It might be able to get rid of, or at least ease, teenage tantrums, and tantrums in general, by getting rid of the restrictions flowing from THE HOLY FAMILY and, by the same process, get rid of bad parenting and even child abuse where its family based.  And I agree with you, that communism "is a better way to manage social problems and eliminate a lot that are rooted in class structured society..." which is all I was trying to say myself but you have said it better! 

 

And a mild correction.   I haven't I hope said anywhere that we want "freedom for inequality" but that communism will give us the right to be unequal.  Not the same thing. So thank you for your interest and sorry I upset you by references to Fromm. 

lem_
strange thread... surely we

strange thread... surely we can work together to eliminate the conditions that allow psychopaths to thrive. few psychopaths are just murderous - with nothing in it for themselves. likewise, abhoront child abuse could at least conceivably be heavily curtailed through the elimination of the means for it. there has been a rash of peadophile teachers where i live, and likewise some sex offenders are in the area.

anyway my point is i guess that some fears are rational - and so why not think we can do away with them given the opportunity?

 

likewise with respect to Fromm - i don't understand the hate... he is not pining after some utopia where nothing bad ever happens, or aversive human emotions are done away with. but i can't see how that discredits the thesis, that people turned to nazism out of excessive and misplaced fear and hate. i find it somewhat remarkable that anti-semtisim was allowed to flourish quite so much, fot it to take that form, but then what's a genocide at war time?

Fred
Good post lem.  I had never

Good post lem.  I had never considered that some fears are rational, that is to say justified, but you are right. Like: I fear the proletariat may never make the revolution. Or: I fear the revolution may come too late and the planet will  be destroyed.  But I don't fear 2014 and hope it'll give us the breakthrough we're waiting for.  Quite suddenly: out of the blue.  Some small  event will trigger it all off unexpectedly.  Happy New Year everybody. 

lem_
i'm terrified of everything

i'm terrified of everything (incidentally) - i can't walk down the street without thinking that every car that drives past has been sent to kill me. just idle thoughts... but it sucks.

i don't think the danger - globally, is so much nuclear war, and much as war and civil lawlessness - superficially i mean. maybe that's just my personality, dunno

Fred
I'm terrified of just about

I'm terrified of just about everything too lem.  Including posting on this forum.  But I try not to think about it. Its hopeless.  However, I've decided that we're all in the same boat, and I don't care either whether I'm right or wrong about this.  That some might deny it I see as a failure to face the facts of life.  

But I don't see why you go out of the way to make it worse for yourself, by holding yourself responsible for it all.  You are not responsible for it all,  just a sufferer like the rest of us.  Your personality doesn't really come into it.  So do yourself a favour.  Put  the blame where it belongs. Blame the bourgeoisie and the unbearable intolerable totally despairing and miserable life they have invented and forced on us all.   It isn't that they "invented" it that I resent its that they seek tirelessly to keep it going as if there's some thing virtuous about it when its so obviously a disgusting and life-destroying mess. Why can't they see this? It isn't difficult is iit? And it's hardly a secret either!  

lem_
i don't hate the bourgeoisie,

i don't hate the bourgeoisie, i hate what they create as a class.

and there's different kinds of fear - being uncomfortable is fine in the long term, if it means that we don't give in. that's what i think, but the thread is kinda just chat now

Fred
just chat

I don't think the thread is just "chat" now. I like it.  Perhaps I like chat.  I don't hate the bourgeoisie, but I blame them for the state of affairs we live in now.  I hold them responsible.  There is a lot of hate in the world and most of it is generated by the bourgeoisie's relations of production.   I don't suppose they have got round yet to sending a car to kill you lem, but they're quite capable of doing it  if it serves some purpose of theirs which they won't bother to explain.  They're just plain Machiavellians and'll do anything to keep power.  Look at all the spying on populations they go in for.

 

Talking about all the fear - much of it subconscious and dangerous - that this society lives on and perpetuates, may be "just chat" but it isn't idle chat.  It can be reassuring to learn that other people have fears too, and open discussion or chat about fear can be helpful.  But I'll shut up now for fear of accusations of yet more chat, and I'm having a bad day. 

lem_
freedom of the press in the

freedom of the press in the transition phase... will bourgeois thinkers be locked up, or just ignored?

well i go for the latter, especially as the nature of the press is so different now. i think "dictatorship" isn't ideological but material...

Alf
 Link: I think you are mixing

 Link: I think you are mixing up levels here: communism, you say, "wont eliminate pyscopaths or paedophiles,; it wont stop bad parenting let alone child abuse; it wont make everybody agree and  it wont eliminate arguments.  As you said elsewhere it give the freedom for inequality and I do certainly hope it gets rid of fakes like Fromm".

Certainly not everyone will agree and there will be lots of arguments. Certainly there will be "inequality". Maybe there will be a few "psychopaths" if the causes of this defect are physical/biological rather than social - we can't really say at present. . But child abuse, really? I'm not talking about an overnight change but the continuing abuse of children would be a fundamental condemnation of the society we are trying to create. 

And why do you insist so strongly that Fromm was a fake?

radicalchains
Lenin strikes again

lem_ wrote:

freedom of the press in the transition phase... will bourgeois thinkers be locked up, or just ignored?

 

Good question lem. I recalled old Len had something to say about this so did a quick search:

 

The capitalists (followed, either from stupidity or from inertia, by many S.R.s and Mensheviks) call “freedom of the press” a situation in which censorship has been abolished and all parties freely publish all kinds of papers.

In reality it is not freedom of the press, but freedom for the rich, for the bourgeoisie, to deceive the oppressed and exploited mass of the people.

Indeed, take, say, the Petrograd and Moscow newspapers. You will see at once that it is the bourgeois papers—RechBirzherkaNovoye VrernyaRusskoye Slovo[2], and so on, and so forth (for there are a great many papers of this sort)—that have by far the largest circulation. What makes for this prevalence? Not at all the will of the majority, for the elections have shown that in both capitals the majority (a gigantic majority, too) favours the democrats, i.e., the S.R.s, Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. These three parties command from three-quarters to four-fifths of the votes, while the circulation of the newspapers they publish is certainly less than a quarter, or even less than one-fifth, that of the whole bourgeois press (which, as we know and see now, supported the Kornilov affair directly and indirectly).

Why is that so?

Everyone knows very well why. Because the publication of a newspaper is a big and profitable capitalist undertaking in which the rich invest millions upon millions of rubles. “Freedom of the press” in bourgeois society means freedom for the rich systematically, unremittingly, daily, in millions of copies, to deceive, corrupt and fool the exploited and oppressed mass of the people, the poor.

This is the simple, generally known, obvious truth which everyone sees and realises but which “almost everyone” “bashfully” passes over in silence, timidly evades.

The question is whether and how this crying evil can be fought.

First of all, there is a very simple, good and lawful means which I pointed out in Pravda long ago, which it is particularly opportune to recall now, before September 12, and which workers should always bear in mind, for they will hardly be able to do without it when they have won political power.

That means is a state monopoly on private press advertising.

Look at Russkoye SlovoNovoye VremyaBirzhevkaRech, etc.—you will see a multitude of private advertisements, which yield a tremendous income, in fact the   principal income, to their capitalist publishers. This is how bourgeois papers hold sway, how they get rich, and how they deal in poison for the people all over the world.

In Europe there are newspapers which have a circulation as large as one-third the number of inhabitants of the town (for instance, 12,000 copies in a town with a population of 40,000) and are delivered free to every home, and yet yield their owners a sizable income. These papers live by advertisements paid by private people, while the free delivery of the paper to every home ensures the best circulation of the advertisements.

Then why cannot democrats who call themselves revolutionary carry out a measure like declaring private press advertising a state monopoly, or banning advertisements anywhere outsidethe newspapers published by the Soviets in the provincial towns and cities and by the central Soviet in Petrograd for the whole of Russia? Why must “revolutionary” democrats tolerate such a thing as the enrichment, through private advertising, of rich men, Kornilov backers, and spreaders of lies and slander against the Soviets?

Such a measure would be absolutely just. It would greatly benefit both those who published private advertisements and the whole people, particularly the most oppressed and ignorant class, the peasants, who would be able to have Soviet papers, with supplements for the peasants, at a very low price or even free of charge.

Why not do that? Only because private property and hereditary rights (to profits from advertising) are sacred to the capitalist gentlemen. But how can anyone calling himself a revolutionary democrat in the twentieth century, in the second Russian revolution, recognise such rights as “sacred”?!

Some may say it would mean infringing freedom of the press.

That is not true. It would mean extending and restoring freedom of the press, for freedom of the press means that all opinions of all citizens may be freely published.

What do we have now? Now, the rich alone have this monopoly, and also the big parties. Yet if large Soviet newspapers were to be published, with all advertisements  it would be perfectly feasible to guarantee the expression of their opinion to a much greater number of citizens—say to every group having collected a certain number of signatures. Freedom of the press would in practice become much more democratic, would become incomparably more complete as a result.

But some may ask: where would we get printing presses and newsprint?

There we have it!!! The issue is not “freedom of the press’ but the exploiters’ sacrosanct ownership of the printing presses and stocks of newsprint they have seized!

Just why should we workers and peasants recognise that sacred right? How is that “right” to publish false information better than the “right” to own serfs?

Why is it that in war-time all sorts of requisitioning—of houses, flats, vehicles, horses, grain and metals—are allowed and practised everywhere, while the requisitioning of printing presses and newsprint is impermissible?

The workers and peasants may in fact be deceived for a while if such measures are made out to be unjust or hard to realise, but the truth will win through in the end.

State power in the shape of the Soviets takes all the printing presses and all the newsprint and distributes them equitably: the state should come first—in the interests of the majority of the people, the majority of the poor, particularly the majority of the peasants, who for centuries have been tormented, crushed and stultified by the landowners and capitalists.

The big parties should come second—say, those that have polled one or two hundred thousand votes in both capitals.

The smaller parties should come third, and then any group of citizens which has a certain number of members or has collected a certain number of signatures.

This is the distribution of newsprint and printing presses that would be just and, with the Soviets in power, could be effected easily enough.

Then, two months before the Constituent Assembly, we could really help the peasants by ensuring the delivery to every village of half a dozen pamphlets (or newspaper issues, or special supplements) in millions of copies from every big party.

That would truly he a "revolutionary democratic" preparation for the elections to the Constituent Assembly; it would be aid to the countryside on the part of the advanced workers and soldiers. it would be state aid to the people’s enlightenment, and not to their stultification and deception; it would be real freedom of the press for all, and not for the rich. It would be a break with that accursed, slavish past which compels us to suffer the usurpation by the rich of the great cause of informing and teaching the peasants.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/sep/28.htm

 

 

 

Link
communism or perfection?

Have I been harsh on Fromm?  I didn’t like the bit Fred was referring to – that he explained defeat of the wc and the rise of Stalinism and fascism as products of psychological changes but I have to admit to getting carried away with the alliteration!!  Gratuitous definitely

On communism, I think the point you mention is key – whether there are social or physical/biology roots for any given human behaviour is not and I don’t think can be clear to us at present because we cant see any of it in a neutral environment

Having said that I suppose I am assuming that general human emotions are ‘natural’ but that they get an expression which is highly impacted by the type of society we live in.   Individual fear therefore I don’t see a something that can be eliminated although an unalienated society will undoubtedly change a socially generated feafulness of life.

Child abuse!?  I suppose ive reached a stage where I don’t believe in perfection anymore and I don’t really think that communism can mean the elimination of ignorance, selfishness, carelessness, accidents, lack of understanding, mental illness,  even  sadism or psychopathy,  Are all mental conditions socially determined; it would be nice to think so but I very much doubt it.   Perhaps we can say there will be a much improved environment to raise kids in but I cant see guarantees that child abuse wont take place.    Fred seemed to like the expression I used that communism ‘could give  a better way to manage social problems and eliminate those rooted in class society’  and I do agree with your implication of it as an  environment in which learning and progressive improvements can take place- isn’t this the most important part.

I think I would then apply this approach to a lot of other human behaviours we see as negative.  Paedophilia I mentioned as well.  Social or biological??

I went to an SPGB meeting on alienation a while ago.  Is that where this idea discussion leads – what impact does the elimination of alienation have on humanity?

baboon
child abuse

I think that some of things mentioned by Link in the first post will not be eliminated by a revolution and the  move towards communism. They will be attenuated (disasters, etc) and managed better but such things can't be eliminated. I think that the abuse of children is a different matter and it has been a factor of civilisation  Marx "forgave" Christianity a lot for its attitude towards children) which has reached its apogee in capitalism and the relations of capitalist production throughout society. Millions of children are killed every year by capitalist war and capitalist induced hunger and disease. In the heartlands of capital, the contempt of children, particularly working class children, is a normal part of capitalism. Sexual abuse of children is just a stage on from the "natural" relations of capitalism towards children.

For me a  working class morality is  part of a proletarian class consciousness. The abolition of child labour was a  key component of class consciousness that expressed this morality and I would very much expect this line of march to be expressed in the development towards a communist society. Malthus admitted that he was puzzled by the way that the working class looked after its children despite the terrible poverty that they lived in and, while this doesn't eliminate the fact that as individuals workers can be paedophiles or child abusers, this bothered him a lot for his overall analysis. A struggle for communism is a struggle that can only be inclusive of children and for elimination of child abuse.

The recent Harman, Dromey, Hewitt, etc., cosying up to paedophilia in the 70's was quite interesting I thought. This was the left of capitalism's "inclusivity", political correctness where everyone who forms a committee can have a voice and exert pressure. I remember the serious articles pleading for tolerance for child abusers in the posh Sunday papers and the idea that it was OK to have children as sexual partners/playthings was as much about the power of the individuals or groups of individuals in capitalist relations as anything else. While individual workers would have been  involved in child abuse it was the state and its political representatives which perfected and advocated the sexual abuse of children. There were rumours at the time that one of leading lights behind the Paedophile Information Exchange was high up in the secret services and this was confirmed a little later by Private Eye who named Sir Peter Hayman, long term deputy head of MI6 as one of its most viscious advocates. The Kincora boys home in Norhtern Ireland was being frequently visited by Catholic and Protestant forces as well as agents of the security services - those boys were being "raped by the state" as they grew up.

 

radicalchains
Kincora

As Baboon mentions Kincora, here is a brief audio clip of ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone on the subject: https://soundcloud.com/gypsumfantastic23/ken-mi5

lem_
i dont think poetry is gonna

i dont think poetry is gonna work, i want peace of mind, to feel safe - i may become a monk... is that alright lol?

 

EDIT i'm sorry to make that outburst - i have severe and chronic mental heath problems including paranoia and religious issues (that no-one will talk me through...). i never feel safe, etc.. in this instance, i think i just needed to talk to my mum. thanks, though - anyone is welcome to suggest a reply to the question before this edit.

lem_
sorry for the crazily

sorry for the crazily abstract question, but what is "barbarism"? fetishism not of the commodity form but of technological power itself ?