Human feelings - sorrow and frustration, where do they come from?

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LoneLondoner
Human feelings - sorrow and frustration, where do they come from?
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LBird wrote:

I think that I've got a sense of humour, and I think that you share that sense of humour. But when 'literalness' clashes with 'humour', misunderstandings occur.

(...)

Unfortunately, I'm getting to the point where I'll say something to jk that I really regret later. Humans and their feelings, eh?

This comes from another thread (on Beliefs, science, and marxism), but rather than reply on that thread it seemed preferable to start another, since this is a very different subject.

At one point that discussion got quite heated, and it was clear that comrades experienced feelings of being under personal attack, or of frustration at not getting their point across (or at being misconstrued). There is no doubt that such negative emotions cloud our judgment and make debate more difficult, and this is often even more the case on a forum where we only have the written word to go on, not the body signals and tone of voice that can show someone is only speaking in jest (for example).

It occurred to me that it might be an idea to ask where these emotions come from. We tend to think of our emotions as being intensely personal, because that is how they feel to us, but in fact is it not more valid to think of our emotions also as a social product?

One reason I ask this is because I am often oppressed by a sense of inadequacy if I compare revolutionaries of today with the Bolsheviks before the revolution. These militants were extraordinary men and women, who engaged in political activity knowing that it would cut them off from any hope of a normal life (they could reckon at most a few years of activity before being sent to prison or to Siberia), constantly in hiding and constantly on the move. Yet many of them (including workers with little or no formal education) were also intellectuals in their own right, reading and even writing at the same time as they were militants.

They seem like super-heroes, and our little frustrations and resentment at being criticised (very common) seem petty and mean-spirited in comparison.

Is this, perhaps, the wrong way of looking at things?

Would it not be more accurate to say that our own emotions, when they spring from our militant life, spring (up to a point) from the situation of the working class as a whole?

If the working class today is crippled by lack of confidence in itself, and its ability to change the world or even to defend itself, then is it surprising that revolutionaries should be afflicted by lack of self-confidence, and even a hyper-sensitivity to criticism?

If the working class is today - for the moment - unable to respond at the level required to the attacks it is confronted with, and often seems even unwilling to look the reality of the world in the face, then is it any wonder that revolutionaries should be infected with feelings of frustration and anger at not getting their viewpoint across?

If we are aware of this, and of the extent to which we can be dominated by unconscious sensations which in a sense do no "belong" to us, then perhaps this will help to overcome them.

Fred
This is a lovely post

This is a lovely post LoneLondoner and I like and sympathize with what it says very much. I'm sure your point about emotion being in part a "social product" is true. I've just watched on Sky/CBS News a piece about all the wounded children in Syria, with sad pictures; the result of the actions there - seemingly interminable - of various stupid, idiotic, self-centred, and warring factions of the disgusting bourgeoisie, who never ever it seems stop furthering their own ends or take time out to consider what they're doing. But I wouldn't have had this response if I hadn't seen The News and the miserable film. What am I trying to say?

Looking back at the "superheroes" of the first revolutionary wave, I feel an ambiguous respect for what they did; ambiguous because really it was all a mistake wasn't it? Not that they could possibly know this at the time. This was a revolutionary experience that the maturing class and its militants had to go through wasnt it? And we are the beneficiaries of this "heroic" phase of proletarian revolutionary history. Perhaps we might think that they were over-confident? But nobody could say that about us now.

LoneLondoner wrote:
If the working class today is crippled by lack of confidence in itself, and its ability to change the world or even to defend itself...If the working class is today - for the moment - unable to respond at the level required to the attacks it is confronted with, and often seems even unwilling to look the reality of the world in the face, then is it any wonder that revolutionaries should be infected with feelings of frustration and anger at not getting their viewpoint across?

Good analysis here. But does the frustration and anger of revolutionaries and other militants as yet uncommitted to proletarian organization, all stem from an inability to get their viewpoint across, or from a debilitating awareness that until the class escapes from the denial stemming from bourgeois ideology about communism being impossible, or even already tried and already dead; in short, until the class actually faces up to the awful and inescapable reality of the quasi death of capitalism ( not communism at all!) and the rapid onset of decomposition (look at Syria again) we won't get anywhere and there's not a lot we can do about it. But then, what is this that I've just said, but the revolutionary viewpoint? So I'll leave it to LoneLondoners persuasive post.

Fred
confidence building

Fred wrote:
I've just watched on Sky/CBS News a piece about all the wounded children in Syria, with sad pictures; the result of the actions there - seemingly interminable - of various stupid, idiotic, self-centred, and warring factions of the disgusting bourgeoisie, who never ever it seems stop furthering their own ends or take time out to consider what they're doing. But I wouldn't have had this response if I hadn't seen The News and the miserable film. What am I trying to say?

The bourgeoisie unashamedly bombard us daily with film and pictures of their nauseous way of life; their violence and horror in pursuit of diminishing profit; their destruction of the environment; their non-stop preparations for war. How do they expect us to react? Do we just sit passively and let it wash over us? I suppose we might. Or we might just feel impotent. They'd like that wouldn't they? We are puppets on their strings; or so they think.

My response quoted above, in which i am able to see the bourgeoisie and capitalism as the motivator of all the death and destruction, and the mutilation of the children in Syria, is only possible for me because I am acquainted with left communism, and notably the writings of the ICC. Otherwise I'd be left in solitary wringing my hands, and having queasy feelings that there ought to be some other more organized and intelligent response to the world crisis other than hand-wringing and depression. So do not get too frustrated and dejected comrades, that you fail to get your point of view across, because in fact you do. And increasingly so. Those who have eyes to see can find it on this site, and tell others. You are building our confidence.