How does the "Century of Decadence" explain this?

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Alf
heresy

LBird: if you think the ICC really believes that it can become the dictator of the working class, then you must also argue that it is insane, as so many of its critics imply or openly assert. Maybe the Bolsheviks could fall into this illusion for a moment, in the particular conditions of the Russian revolution. They were tens of thousands, in a working class that itself numbered in mere millions. We are a tiny handful in the vast sea of the global proletariat. If we think we can impose our doctrines or our dictatorship on this ocean, we would have lost our minds. 

Alf
heresy 2

On heresy and centrism: the question is who are the real heretics? We think we are, and that you are in the centre defending common sense. 

LBird
Oceanic determinism

Alf wrote:

We are a tiny handful in the vast sea of the global proletariat. If we think we can impose our doctrines ... on this ocean, we would have lost our minds. 

I don't think that the ICC has 'lost its mind', Alf, I just can't figure out why it seems to think it can 'impose its doctrine' of 'decadence theory', given what you argue.

The 'ocean' disagrees with this 'theory', from what I've read. Surely, it's time for a reconsideration by the ICC?

LBird
What sort of 'sense'?

Alf wrote:

On heresy and centrism: the question is who are the real heretics? We think we are, and that you are in the centre defending common sense. 

Yes, but 'you' are a party, whereas I'm defending 'communist sense'.

Only the class can identify 'centrism/heresy/partyism', by democratic controls.

As usual, it's a question of power.

Who has the power to determine - a party, or the class?

Whilst a party employs the concept 'centrism', it's merely attempting to preserve its power over the class. That's Leninism.

 

KT
More on Decadence

“The question is how do we know when or if capitalism is in decline?” (Jamal/Pierre)

Indeed it is.

One of the characteristics of centrism is precisely the endless going round in circles, talking for talking’s sake, avoiding polarisation and the formulation of political positions on action to be taken. This goes for discussions within the workers councils, the party or political minorities.

For example: In 1914 – side with the defence of the fatherland, mobilise behind the war effort, or, on the contrary, raise the banner of proletarian internationalism, proclaim ‘down with the fatherland’ and ‘turn the imperialist war into a civil war’ through the raising of the class struggle against capital and its war machine? You can’t do both. Centrists of the time like Kautsky who sat on the fence or maintained a haughty silence effectively sided with the class enemy and failed to contribute to the necessary fructification of revolutionary class consciousness within the proletariat.

Obsfucation, the blurring of lines of the debate, is another feature of centrism and this thread should remain anchored on the question of decadence and the issues raised by the original poster, Pierre/Jamal.

Pierre/Jamal wrote:

“I should have been clearer here. I'm not sure about capitalism's decline and communism's potential rise. Just observing how past societies have risen and fallen. For example, when the bourgeoisie became a social force for the first time, they were not the ruling class.

Nobody, except for a few idiots on Libcom, is arguing against the rise and fall of class societies. They have all had ascendent periods, followed by periods of decline, which typically coincide with the rise of another society.

In each example, there are centuries worth of time in transition where society becomes a uneven soup of two systems. Yet somehow the ICC, who perpetually reaffirms that they don't have all the answers and aren't prophets, have worked the current period's soup out into a tidy little theory used to explain every idea and justify literally every action, including but not limited to telling revolutionaries and workers what they can and can't do because of this.”

In line with MH’s posts (above) it’s still not entirely clear to me what Jamal/Pierre’s critique of decadence consists of, other than the undeniable facts that the past century has witnessed a significant increase in economic activity, particularly in regions where there was hitherto little, and that in many parts of the globe life expectancy and, in some cases, ‘standards of living’ (for those who survived the wars!!!!) has increased, according to certain capitalist statistics.

In response to this, several posters have already argued that decadence of any social relation doesn’t mean a total halt of economic activity (something rather hard to imagine), pointing instead to a visible gap between rates previously attained and those prevalent today; a tendency towards waste production and the destruction of capital (in economic crises, through arms and advertising, and the under or non-utulisation of productive labour as represented by world-wide unemployment or the failure to integrate millions into capitalist production); a narrowing of fields of production (the yawning gap between what society requires and what is actually produced for profit) and importantly, increasingly violent competition between capitalist for a re-division of the world’s resources and markets which results in a permanent war economy and a quasi-permanent state of war.

In short, after two world wars and two violent economic crises in the past 100 years, it’s hard to make a case for a healthy, unfettered set of social relations. Today, as the Japanese economy slides back into its 20-year long recession; as the world’s stock markets undergo violent swings because the Chinese economy falters, it’s not a good time to post graphs showing the economic ‘health’ of these two countries. As the world witnesses the greatest tide since the end of WW2 of human misery in the form of refugees from war and economic crisis, a movement which is destabilising the political status quo in Europe, it’s not a good time to debate the progressive nature of capital.

And even the graph posted by earlier by Jamal/Pierre on the question of the longevity enjoyed by citizens of the world needs to be put into context. It is the tendency towards the amelioration of infant mortality that gives the graph cited in #17 its apparent sheen – and the process of dealing with infant deaths was largely linked to the systematic use of immunology popularised by Louis Pasteur in the mid 19th century, during capitalism’s ascendant period!. Strip out infant mortality, and the average age of an Englishman in Stuart Britain (1603-1714) was 75 years!

Again the question is posed: what has taken so long for the benefits of discoveries systematised in the 19th century to reach the citizens of China or Africa if not the fetters of a world divided by brutal, competing capitalist units, by an outmoded organisation of the world’s social and material resources?

Pierre/Jamal appears now to accept the reality of decadence, whilst wildly over-estimating the numbers who share his opinion (sadly, it’s not just a ‘few idiots on Libcom’ who don’t ‘get’ that capitalism is a transitory society just likes its predecessors: most on this planet don’t even pose the question!). The issue Pierre/Jamal most recently and reasonably poses is how and when do we know if capital is in decline?

It’s necessary to take an historic view of the transition of one class society to another as Piere/Jamal attempts in the post cited above. There are indeed features common to such periods. But it’s also necessary to know or at least discuss the differences, the specificities of capitalist society as opposed to previous class societies, and the way this impacts on it’s decadent period. Above all, it’s necessary to contrast the nature of past revolutionary classes, like the bourgeoisie, which indeed could develop an economic base within the decaying feudal relations of production, and today’s revolutionary class, the prolaterait, which cannot. There's a need to understand that there's no automatic transition from one mode of production to another - regression is also a distinct possiblity and has occurred historically. Such distinctions will hopefully be developed in a future post. KT

MH
Time to reconsider?

LBird wrote:

I just can't figure out why [the ICC] seems to think it can 'impose its doctrine' of 'decadence theory', given what you argue.

The 'ocean' disagrees with this 'theory', from what I've read. Surely, it's time for a reconsideration by the ICC?

It’s not just decadence either. This whole thing about the need for the communist revoution? Just doesn’t seem to be getting much traction at the moment. Time to reconsider?


LBird
Meaning

MH wrote:

LBird wrote:

I just can't figure out why [the ICC] seems to think it can 'impose its doctrine' of 'decadence theory', given what you argue.

The 'ocean' disagrees with this 'theory', from what I've read. Surely, it's time for a reconsideration by the ICC?

It’s not just decadence either. This whole thing about the need for the communist revoution? Just doesn’t seem to be getting much traction at the moment. Time to reconsider?


That's the real issue, MH. What we mean by 'the communist revolution'. I've no doubt that you, like Alf, me, Pierre, Fred, Demo, etc., want 'this'.

But, being a Marxist, I define 'this' as a class conscious mass movement of workers, who determine by themselves by democratic means, which 'concepts' and 'theories' to adopt, for themselves to criticise the existing world, and create their new world.

This Marxism is a long way from Lenin's views, about cadre, party, central committee having a special consciousness which allows them to 'lead' the (presumeably) benighted working class.

Given my assumptions, it's entirely reasonable for the ICC to propose a 'theory' of 'decadence', but it has to be the class who tells the party whether it is acceptable or not.

And from wide discussions, here and elsewhere, communist workers seem to have rejected the 'theory'.

This isn't an 'anti-ICC' attitude, but one of workers trying to put the party on the right track - ie. the 'track' determined by class conscious workers, collectively, after discussion.

  

MH
Fantasy

LBird wrote:

Given my assumptions, it's entirely reasonable for the ICC to propose a 'theory' of 'decadence', but it has to be the class who tells the party whether it is acceptable or not.

And from wide discussions, here and elsewhere, communist workers seem to have rejected the 'theory'.

This isn't an 'anti-ICC' attitude, but one of workers trying to put the party on the right track - ie. the 'track' determined by class conscious workers, collectively, after discussion

Firstly, the ICC isn’t a party.

Secondly, again, the ICC isn’t a party.

Thirdly, you make it sound like the working class organised in its soviets had just passed a resolution rejecting the theory of decadence.

Would that it were true!  At least there would be a mass movement we could try to convince of our positions.

"Wide discussion by communist workers"? This is pure fantasy.

At best we’re talking about some posts by individuals on some online discussion forums. Oh and the ICC is holding an annual discussion day in London this Saturday on the question of decadence so we should include that. I hope at least a hundred people will attend, although I’d be very pleasantly surprised, but even if they did it would still be a drop in the ocean in terms of the challenge we face.

The harsh reality is that all of us who consider ourselves communists today are a tiny, tiny minority of the working class. As Alf said, it is we who are the ‘heretics’ and as far as the bourgeoisie is concerned we are all dangerous 'lunatics'.

This is absolutely a time to debate, openly and rigorously. It is not the time, is all I'm saying, to abandon our positions faced with some entirely spurious democratic 'majority' of communist workers.

LBird
Who's the fantasiser? What is spurious?

MH wrote:

This is absolutely a time to debate, openly and rigorously. It is not the time, is all I'm saying, to abandon our positions faced with some entirely spurious democratic 'majority' of communist workers.

And "all I'm saying" is that 'our' needs defining.

It's not 'my position', for example, and it doesn't seem to be many other communists' 'position', either, if the debates that I've followed are anything to go by.

By all means, stand by 'your positions' as a party/current/tendency/other 'special consciousness' identifier, but there comes a time to decide if you're having any influence amongst workers.

The class will have the final say, and the way the wind's blowing at the moment is against 'your position' on 'decadence'.

MH
Wide support?

LBird wrote:

The class will have the final say, and the way the wind's blowing at the moment is against 'your position' on 'decadence'.

And support for your positions; on science, democracy, materialism, etc; how’s that going for you?  Wide support among communist workers yet?

No, I thought not. That’s my point: support for ‘our’ positions, as people who believe in the possibility of the communist revolution and the need to overthrow capitalism, resonates with only a tiny minority of the class today. We constantly need to deepen our positions and verify them based on new evidence. But lack of ‘wide’ support, general incomprehension or even open hostility among the tiny minority of those identifying with revolutionary politics today – let alone “communist workers” - cannot in itself be a criteria for discarding ‘unpopular’ positions. Communists don't bend with the wind and the biggest storms are still to come.

 

LBird
Mystery - enticement as a method?

MH wrote:

LBird wrote:

The class will have the final say, and the way the wind's blowing at the moment is against 'your position' on 'decadence'.

And support for your positions; on science, democracy, materialism, etc; how’s that going for you?  Wide support among communist workers yet?

No, I thought not. That’s my point: support for ‘our’ positions, as people who believe in the possibility of the communist revolution and the need to overthrow capitalism, resonates with only a tiny minority of the class today. We constantly need to deepen our positions and verify them based on new evidence. But lack of ‘wide’ support, general incomprehension or even open hostility among the tiny minority of those identifying with revolutionary politics today – let alone “communist workers” - cannot in itself be a criteria for discarding ‘unpopular’ positions. Communists don't bend with the wind and the biggest storms are still to come.

 

You're quite correct, about 'support', MH.

But at least my positions, and the questions that they raise, are readily understood, if not yet agreed with.

I say workers must control all science - physics, maths, sociology, etc. - because these social activities are a part of the means of production.

If anyone disagrees, I simply ask: 'who should control them, then?', and we can discuss the issue.

But the 'theory of decadence' in itself is opaque: when we ask questions about it, we never get clear answers. It's difficult to discuss with any clarity.

At least it retains an alluring air of mystery, I suppose...

schalken
Interesting statistics

Pierre began this discussion by citing a report saying that now only 12% of humanity live in extreme poverty. Today a report using a poverty line of $1.90 that put that figure at just 10%.

But.

According to Counterpunch's "#GlobalGoals? The Truth about Poverty and How to Address It", if a figure of 5 dollars per day was adopted as the poverty line, 14% more people are in poverty now than in 1990. That's 900 million people worse off now than 25 years ago.

I'm not posting this to take pierre to task. (His post sparked an interesting discussion.) I just think it's interesting in its own right, timely, and certainly a validation of KT's warning about giving undue credence to what one might call statistical soundbites.

LBird
Atoms are soundbites

schalken wrote:
Pierre began this discussion by citing a report saying that now only 12% of humanity live in extreme poverty. Today a report using a poverty line of $1.90 that put that figure at just 10%. But. According to Counterpunch's "#GlobalGoals? The Truth about Poverty and How to Address It", if a figure of 5 dollars per day was adopted as the poverty line, 14% more people are in poverty now than in 1990. That's 900 million people worse off now than 25 years ago. I'm not posting this to take pierre to task. (His post sparked an interesting discussion.) I just think it's interesting in its own right, timely, and certainly a validation of KT's warning about giving undue credence to what one might call statistical soundbites.

Yes, it's all about definitions, schalken. How humans come to understand their (socio-physical) lives.

If your reasonable point is accepted, though, it suggests that 'decadence' began in c.1990. I've said before, that I'm more open to a 'theory of decadence' which periodises the late 20th century (1980-90) as its start point, rather than the early (c.1914). But... I'm also open to the criticism that my perspective has been formed by my life experience, rather than a 'theory'.

The real problem is that we never get an understandable definition of this 'theory'. Whenever a historic 'fact' is produced to support the mysterious 'theory', the 'fact' is shown to be also applicable (sometimes more so) to other periods.

The unavoidable 'statistical soundbites' (ie. 'facts') only make sense within a framework. We have to have the 'framework' of 'decadence' explained to us, first.

Fred
According to the Cambridge

According to the Cambridge English dictionary 'decadence' means "low moral standards and behaviour". As a description of our current ruling class this appears to fit pretty well, though it is a little over-polite for my taste.  Synonyms for decadence include the following: 

  • Cambridge English Dictionary wrote:
    . abhorrent     amoral    rotten to the core    go to the bad    seamy     seedy    impure    shocking     sinful    wicked     indecency   heinous     godless    anomie   hanky-lanky  
     
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  • There's nothing here relating directly to money however.  This pleases me as I too don't immediately connect decadence and decay to money as do some libcom  posters. Though financial problems may always underpin it. But was it a wholly financial problem that underpinned the prolonged decadence of Rome  and its Empire? 
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  • I don't need to have the framework of decadence explained to me because I understand it.   It smacks us all full in the face. The society we are living in now is abhorrent because amoral and rotten to the core.  In its making the pursuit of financial gain the whole aim and purpose of life, the bourgeoisie has in the end created a society approaching anomie, ravaged by constant and indecent war, and shocking in its disrespect for all life on the planet which it is in the process of destroying in its seamy obsession with profit via Imperialism in all its forms.  
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  • In the ICC's usage of decadence as a social theory the bourgeoisie achieved its triumphant entry into its decadence with the organisation and execution of the First World War which was the very dawn   of murderous Imperialism and its continuous perpetuation since. Some comrades think however that the bourgeoisie has always been a disgusting, nauseous class and might quote the wonderful breakthrough they made for human progress by what they did to the Paris Commune in 1871. Surely this was decadence already?  The case is argued however, that even though the bourgeoisie has always been a seedy money-grubbing class, savagely bent on its own preservation whatever the cost,  while it was expanding itself and capitalism across the planet, introducing wage labour where ever it could, making engineering advances like the railway system in India, digging canals to facilitate trade, spreading a minimum of education in its colonies and making scientific discoveries in areas like health and agriculture, it was in fact a progressive class within its own limits. And it  did after all bring into being  its own gravedigger in the form of the working class.  This is without doubt its greatest achievement and shouldn't be overlooked. 
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In the end the question of decadence doesn't boil down to statistics and dates, and matters of how many people live below subsistence levels and on how many dollars a day, but rather to questions of whether life is really worth living or not under capitalism as it is now today?  Or  whether it could easily be improved by the removal of the capitalist system;  whether the people currently living on the planet would actually choose to go on living under the bourgeoisie and its decaying system of cruelties and war or whether they wouldn't rather rush to embrace the freedoms of communism if only they knew what they were. And  if only the working class would get up and start making it obvious that we have an alternative; and that we don't have to go on as we are, suffering under a decaying system, but have our own communist world to win...well that would be a start.  

 

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Fred
Please note. I am not

Please note. I am not directly responsible for all the decorative dots in this post or the huge paragraph spacings. I don't know how this has come about.  But at least the middle section which was originally pale blue in colour (don't know why) has reverted to black! 

LBird
Method and the place of 'theory' - it comes before 'practice'

Fred wrote:

I don't need to have the framework of decadence explained to me, because I understand it. It smacks us all full in the face.

This is not Marx's method of 'theory and practice', Fred, but bourgeois individualist empiricism: that is, 'practice and theory'.

Nothing 'smacks us all full in the face', because if it did, Marx wouldn't have argued that 'science' was necessary to expose 'what reality is'. If it did, he wouldn't have needed to write Capital.

Fred wrote:

 

In the end the question of decadence doesn't boil down to statistics and dates, and matters of how many people live below subsistence levels and on how many dollars a day, but rather to questions of whether life is really worth living or not under capitalism as it is now today?  Or  whether it could easily be improved by the removal of the capitalist system;  whether the people currently living on the planet would actually choose to go on living under the bourgeoisie and its decaying system of cruelties and war or whether they wouldn't rather rush to embrace the freedoms of communism if only they knew what they were. And  if only the working class would get up and start making it obvious that we have an alternative; and that we don't have to go on as we are, suffering under a decaying system, but have our own communist world to win...well that would be a start.

This can all be said of any period of capitalism, for various groups of workers. It is not defining of a sub-period of capitalism.

What we need is a definition of 'decadence', so we can measure it against 'fact-values'.

Fred
reply to LBird

What is a "sub-period" of capitalism and why do you as a  communist suddenly define workers as being arranged in "various groups" no longer as a class? Is this a new "fact-value" you have invented? A key-stone in your "democratic communism" theoretical musings? 

There's  nothing like a smack in the theoretical face for making you think LBird. Marx got smacked in the face by the arrival on the scene of the working class and it's struggles to identify itself politically  in the 1840's. This enabled him to place Hegel in perspective and see him and philosophy in general  as upside down. It allowed him and Engels to formulate and write the communist Manifesto based on the actual practice of the working class from whose practice communist theory was mainly derived. When their observations were based merely on what they thought, both Marx and Engels could make mistakes such as thinking in 1848 that the Nationalisation of industry was a step towards communism. The class clarified this for them by its practice in the Paris Commune.

Engels himself got his smack in the face as a critical factory owner in Manchester and by what he learned there and from writing his book "The condition of the working class in England." He wasn't the boring old joke that you repetitively try to make him out to be. Marx's smack led him to abandon philosophy in favour of arming the working class with some theoretical underpinnings, based solidly on its living practice, which meant clarifying the workings of capital, and elaborating the theoretical gains made by the class in its living, daily and practical struggles, such as the Paris Commune. These theoretical gains, derived from earlier practice, would be used to inform and improve future working class  struggles when more theory would become available for clarification in the very working class struggle for life  itself and the necessary emancipation of the class as part of this.   

Scientists and thinkers in general get smacked in the face by suddenly being presented with things that need explaining like Newton's falling apple or Galileo's realisation having purchased a telescope that the earth couldn't after all go on being  regarded as the centre of the solar system;  or Einstein's intuition given the various phenomena and the available information that the universe had to be curved. This was later proved by photos of an eclipse of the sun. And this isn't or wasn't a case of theory preceding practice but a matter of Einstein subjecting other people's earlier scientific understandings to criticism and concluding in a practical manner that they had to be mistaken in both their theory and their  practice. If he hadn't been alive and living however - and being alive is human practice - his theories could never have emerged. 

Overall the 19th. Century was an exciting time to be alive,  despite all the misery and horror, precisely because the ruling class was still a critical and thinking class interested in improving their own lives and thus life in general. Science, literature, music, and education for the exploited, all made enormous strides forward. Though education for the exploited was perhaps the laggard and still is.  Your obsessive insistence that this doesn't mean that capitalism can in any way be regarded as being a "progressive" force then in a way that it isn't now,  when it generates constant wars and destruction as replacements for its former intellectual and progressive pursuits beggars belief.  

Decadence isn't something like gravity that requires an exact definition.  It's like a bad smell. You just know it's there and that the drains need fixing. The drain in this case is decomposing capitalism. A new symptom of this stinking decay is the mass flight of thousands of refugees from a variety of countries to the supposedly rich and thus safe havens still to be found in parts of Europe. How about that for a fact-value? Try measuring that against a world and a human society where everything can be cosily assumed to be okay because everyone is happy and contented and the streets all have electric lights - which I recall as being one of the fact-values you used yourself to "prove" the enormous strides taken forwards by capitalism as part of its 20th.Century growth - and I think you'll find you don't even have a leg to stand on.  

LBird
What's to hide?

Fred wrote:

There's  nothing like a smack in the theoretical face for making you think LBird.

Yeah, for me this was the dawning realisation, after years of listening to numerous so-called 'Marxist' groups telling me fairy-tales about 'materialism', that, with some reading, one can come to understand that Marx wasn't a 'materialist'.

In fact 'materialism' was the ill-informed nonsense that Engels reverted to, which suited all bourgeois thinkers because it allows a minority to pretend that 'matter' speaks to them, and so they can tell ignorant workers what 'matter says'. This includes Lenin and Kautsky (and their ideological adherents).

You're continuing this non-Marx farrago, Fred.

If you accept Marx's 'theory and practice', you'll tell us what the 'theory of decadence' actually is, rather than pretending to workers that 'matter' tells them 'what it is', without them even needing to actively think about it.

What have you got to hide? If you can't even outline the 'theory', why should workers employ it to help them understand their world?

Or do they just place their 'faith' in a small minority, who will liberate them? The 'conscious minority' who will lead workers to 'the promised land'?

No, Fred, I'll stick with Marx, and his 'idealism-materialism', where workers have to think critically about the world, and build, first in their heads, new ideas, and then proceed to change the existing and create the new. Theory and practice. Workers' self-activity.

'Decadence theory' seems to me, to be simply an attempt, once again, by a party/current/tendency, to bamboozle workers into following a 'knowing elite'.

 

LBird
Einstein wasn't a materialist, either

Fred wrote:

 ...Einstein's intuition given the various phenomena and the available information that the universe had to be curved. This was later proved by photos of an eclipse of the sun. And this isn't or wasn't a case of theory preceding practice but a matter of Einstein subjecting other people's earlier scientific understandings to criticism and concluding in a practical manner that they had to be mistaken in both their theory and their  practice.   

You'll have to read Einstein's own words, Fred.

He argued for 'theory and practice' (like Marx did), and rejected 19th century positivism's 'practice and theory' (which Engels was unfortunately influenced by).

In fact, Marx was ahead of bourgeois physics by nearly a century.

lem_
Quote:Nothing 'smacks us all

Quote:
Nothing 'smacks us all full in the face', because if it did, Marx wouldn't have argued that 'science' was necessary to expose 'what reality is'. If it did, he wouldn't have needed to write Capital.

I assumed Marx was articulating and developing, deepening the insights of the labour movement. His work may be scientific but it isn't just science, it is human

Quote:
It smacks us all full in the face. The society we are living in now is abhorrent because amoral and rotten to the core

I don't think decadence should be just a moral claim [and I assume you agree]. It could be a scientific claim about moral agency: how capitalism petrifies any attempt to make things [by either class] better.

lem_
Quote:first in their heads,

Quote:
first in their heads, new ideas, and then proceed to change the existing and create the new. Theory and practice

I think you should stop calling Fred bouregeois, IMO it really is "bamboozling".

The idea that 8 billion proletarians have to each individually form an idea of Communism and then try and create it, without the work of a class conscious "elite" and without their ideas being formed by material conditions (only testing them there), seems outlandish. I admire and respect your intransigence here, but it is IMO a defective idea.

LBird
Humanity creates its science

lem_ wrote:

I assumed Marx was articulating and developing, deepening the insights of the labour movement. His work may be scientific but it isn't just science, it is human.

'Science' is human, lem_.

It's the 'materialists', following Engels (who got it from positivist 19th century physics) who think that 'science' is just about 'out there', 'matter', 'external reality', to the exclusion of human social consciousness, morals and beliefs.

Science is 'theory and practice by a society', and changes with historical development.

One must define one's 'society' which relates to one's 'science'.

Proletarian science (physics and maths included) will be democratic, for example, whereas bourgeois science clearly isn't.

Marx's work is premised on proletarian science.

LBird
Whose is the 'old idea', and whose is the 'new'?

lem_ wrote:

Quote:
first in their heads, new ideas, and then proceed to change the existing and create the new. Theory and practice

I think you should stop calling Fred bouregeois, IMO it really is "bamboozling".

The idea that 8 billion proletarians have to each individually form an idea of Communism and then try and create it, without the work of a class conscious "elite" and without their ideas being formed by material conditions (only testing them there), seems outlandish. I admire and respect your intransigence here, but it is IMO a defective idea.

So, you are an elitist then, lem_? In favour of a 'conscious minority' making the world, not the 8 billion that Marx argued for?

Like Fred, it seems, you are a defender of bourgeois scientific method?

My 'intransigence' in the defence of proletarian democratic science is not 'defective', but revoutionary.

That's why it sounds 'mad' or 'impossible'. Revolution always is, to ruling class ways of thinking.

 

MH
Decadence and growth

I though there was a good discussion about decadence at the London meeting, which quickly zeroed in on the question of how we explain growth. In the interests of moving this discussion forward, this  is my own further attempt at a definition of decadence taking this into account:

All modes of production are based on social relations that express the fundamental class antagonisms on which that mode of production is based (slaves, serfs, wage labourers, etc).

Decadence is the stage in a mode of production where the specific social relations of that mode of production come into definitive and irreversible conflict with its further progressive growth of the productive forces.

At this point:   

  • The conditions for the abolition of the mode of production exist;
  • Further growth of the productive forces is fettered/shackled/contstrained by the relations of production;

  • The class struggle poses the question of the revolutionary transformation of society.

As a mode of production based on the extraction of profit to ensure an ever growing accumulation of capital, the decadence of capitalism can be described as one of ‘dynamic decline’, in which growth continues to take place but only at the expense of an increasing destruction of the real productive forces of humanity, either directly through wars or indirectly through waste (armaments, unproductive costs, state bureaucracy, marketing, etc).

The growth of capitalism in its decadent phase is thus experienced by humanity as a mounting series of catastrophes in the form of wars, massacres, man-made disasters, economic crises and social decomposition alongside sometimes dazzling new developments which express the ever increasing conflict between the productive forces and capitalist relations.

Due to its destructive power, the continued survival of this system threatens the future of human civilisation and even the survival of humanity itself.

Any views?

 

 

LBird
The ball's rolling

MH wrote:

I though there was a good discussion about decadence at the London meeting, which quickly zeroed in on the question of how we explain growth. In the interests of moving this discussion forward, this  is my own further attempt at a definition of decadence taking this into account:

... 

Decadence is the stage in a mode of production where the specific social relations of that mode of production come into definitive and irreversible conflict with its further progressive growth of the productive forces.

At this point:   

  • The conditions for the abolition of the mode of production exist; ....

Any views?

 

In the interests of actually starting this discussion in the first place, MH, can you explain...

... If 'decadence' is a 'stage' in which 'the conditions for abolition exist'...

...and Marx argued that only conscious self-activity by the proletariat can abolish capitalism...

...and these clearly do not exist in the present period (and never have)...

How can we designate this period, now, and since 1914, as 'decadent'?

MH
In response

My personal answer would be:

By accelerating the growth of the productive forces at an unprecedented speed and scale and spreading its mode of production across the world, capitalism creates the material conditions for its abolition and – because the proletariat is both a revolutionary and exploited class – for the abolition of all class societies and the final creation of communism.

We can say that this point was reached with the creation of a world market; the colonisation of the last areas of the globe by the existing capitalist powers; the rise of imperialism as the attempt of capitalism to avert its inherent tendency towards over-production; and finally with the outbreak of world war in 1914 as the definitive proof that it could now only survive by re-dividing the world market and destroying the productive forces it had already brought into being.

The decadence of capitalism does not mean that the capitalist system will either inevitably collapse or be overturned through the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat because:

1. Capital is above all a social relation and the capitalist class will at all times consciously act to prevent the development of any revolutionary threat to its system even when the economic crisis of its system becomes critical;

2. Capitalism can enter into its historic crisis but only conscious self-activity by the proletariat can abolish it. The motor force of history is the class struggle, not economic ‘laws’. As Marx says in the Manifesto, the class struggle can result “either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” History is littered with examples of societies that rose, fell and disappeared. The problem today is that capitalism is a global system that dominates the entire planet. It could bring everything down with it.

MH
dp

 

 

LBird
No, the ball's still stationary.

You've avoided answering my question, MH.

If 'decadence' signifies the presence of 'mass proletarian class consciousness', then we clearly haven't yet entered that period.

Pierre
Pierre/Not Jamal here. MH,

Pierre/Not Jamal here.

MH, the ICC and others make these issues seem very black and white.

Marx, Engels, the comrade above and the rest of the ICC speak often about how "capitalism [has] created the material conditions for its abolition". However, this change in the conditions does not lead automatically to the development of communist consciousness within the working clas, at an individual or massive scale.

We see this bad habit of overemphasising  the ICC and other associates often.

The other bad habit is the bit about geographic expansion and overproduction. This doesn't take into account the accompanying technological development that has happened since WWI. Even war itself has progressed in one sense of the term.

Everyone may have an iPhone 3GS in Burundi, but how about the iPhone 6? Did Marx envisage a time when billions of workers would perform unpaid advertising labor for companies like Google and Facebook in the name of a farcical, narcassistic past time hiding under the guise of "social media"? Did he imagine a ratio of one automobile, microwave, toaster over, dishwasher, dryer, cat, dog, goldfish and a bonsai tree for every person? How about credit in the broadest sense, the form it's become today? How could he have?

Marx never discussed much whether people actually want to be free. Most people could kill a family member for a life time access of free Diet Pepsi. Who cares if state security is trading pics of nude civilians like baseball cards? There hasn't been a major terrorist attack in the UK since 2005!

How do you turn a bathing ape into a thinking communist when they have no urge to do so?

I think you need a lot of convincing people, in the streets and workplaces, discussing with workers as often as possible. Something the ICC is shown itself to be totally incapable of in the current period. Many individuals in this thread have alluded to the individual communist, not as a freedom fighter, a militant, but a noneffectual drop in the ocean of dominant ideologies.

MH
Curious logic

LBird wrote:

“If 'decadence' signifies the presence of 'mass proletarian class consciousness', then we clearly haven't yet entered that period.”

This is a non sequiter isn't it?

The existence of an international proletariat is clearly the vital condition for capitalism’s abolition, and the creation of the revolutionary class – its own gravedigger - is the single most progressive task that the capitalist mode of production has to accomplish for humanity.

But the creation of the conditions for capitalism’s abolition do not in themselves guarantee the development of mass activity and mass consciousness and Marx certainly never saw a pre-existing level of class consciousness as a criterion for the entry of a mode of production into its epoch of decline. This is precisely why he warned that the class struggle can result “either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”

As I said very clearly in my post, capitalism can enter into its historic crisis but only conscious self-activity by the proletariat can abolish it; the development of mass activity and mass consciousness in response to capitalism’s decadence today is affected by many factors, including the ability of the bourgeoisie to manage the effects of the crisis; the great difficulties faced by the proletariat in asserting its identity as a revolutionary class; and not least the lack of influence of the revolutionary minorities today, which all suggest that the development of mass activity and mass consciousness will be a long term process. Meanwhile capitalism sinks deeper into decadence and decomposition.

But I’m curious; tell me, if you are “more open to a 'theory of decadence' which periodises the late 20th century (1980-90)”, what definition and criteria are you using?  Clearly not “the presence of 'mass proletarian class consciousness'”?

LBird
Back to faith

No, you defined 'decadence' as a period in which the conditions must exist for the abolition of capitalism. This must mean, according to Marx, that mass class consciousness exists.

I'm using your definition to try to understand 'decadence', but when I do, you change the definition.

This is why workers can't take the theory seriously - there isn't one yet to understand.

'Decadence', as offered here, seems to require an unthinking faith, rather than critically engaged workers.

LBird
Unlike you, I say that I don't know

MH wrote:

But I’m curious; tell me, if you are “more open to a 'theory of decadence' which periodises the late 20th century (1980-90)”, what definition and criteria are you using?  Clearly not “the presence of 'mass proletarian class consciousness'”?

I'm open to a 'theory' which I can understand.

If 'decadence' is defined as a period of mass consciousness, then I don't think we're yet in it.

That doesn't mean capitalism doesn't become 'decadent' at some stage, but that the period is still in the future - 2050, perhaps?

Since I haven't got a crystal ball, I don't know.

 

lem_
Quote:'Science' is human,

Quote:
'Science' is human, lem_.

It's the 'materialists', following Engels (who got it from positivist 19th century physics) who think that 'science' is just about 'out there', 'matter', 'external reality', to the exclusion of human social consciousness, morals and beliefs.

so where is the bourgeois sceince of social consciosuness morals and beleifs? do you really believe that economics is a rational human activity?

and if you are going to rely on marx in calling everyone that disagrees with you bourgeois and individualist, then at least provide some kind of material quote and interpretation of a text of his.

to some extent we're just doing hermeneutics here right? you seem to be saying bourgeoise economics (etc.] is a science, everyone else seems to disagree and say sceince deals in an "external [i.e. measurable or non relative qualities].

why does it matter until you can prove your point: or failing that at least that it's been argued in the communist milieu.

lem_
amaze

Alf wrote:

LBird: if you think the ICC really believes that it can become the dictator of the working class, then you must also argue that it is insane, as so many of its critics imply or openly assert. Maybe the Bolsheviks could fall into this illusion for a moment, in the particular conditions of the Russian revolution. They were tens of thousands, in a working class that itself numbered in mere millions. We are a tiny handful in the vast sea of the global proletariat. If we think we can impose our doctrines or our dictatorship on this ocean, we would have lost our minds. 

yeah but after a few whiskeys right?

haha perfection itself.

KT
Mass Consciousness

L Bird wrote:

“If 'decadence' is defined as a period of mass consciousness, then I don't think we're yet in it.”

The problem here is a view of proletarian class consciousness (L Bird’s view) which is linear, static and one-dimensional.

Linear, because it assumes that consciousness cannot advance and retreat. This advance and retreat in all aspects of class consciousness is particularly marked in the proletariat because not only is it subject to the dominant ideology – the ‘general ideas of the day’ which are, of course, those of the ruling class - but, uniquely for a revolutionary class, it has no economic base within this society and, since the integration of its trade unions and mass political parties into the bourgeois state everywhere in the world, no permanent mass organisations of struggle.

Static, in that it looks at the level of class consciousness today, as in a fixed snapshot, and concludes that a period of mass proletarian consciousness has yet to have been attained, whereas in fact it has already been attained and may well be attained (and surpassed) tomorrow.

It was precisely the tendency for the proletariat’s organisations like trade unions and the millions-strong social democratic parties to be integrated into the bourgeois state (a product of and a pointer to the onset of decadence) that obliged the proletariat to create – as a need of the struggle - its own mass organisations – the workers councils or soviets, which were not only the product of a given level of mass, political, proletarian class consciousness, but the organisational form to deepen this consciousness through action: praxis. Like mass proletarian consciousness itself in our epoch (the epoch of decadence), the workers councils don’t appear permanently but only at specific moments of heightened class struggle - moments of the mass involvement of the proletariat in the direction of its own affairs. First seen in Italy in 1904, then more widespread in the Russian empire in 1905, the workers councils were to appear and centralise their power in various parts of Europe between 1917-23. They were the evidence of a mass class consciousness within the proletariat. They stopped the First World War. They posed the question of revolution. They were the epicentre of the first proletarian seizure of power at the level of one country – in Russia. Neighbourhood councils, soldiers and sailors soviets; workers’ committees; stewards and strike committees – all these were and are evidence of a heightened, a mass level of class consciousness within the proletariat in general. Their demise both signalled and was a product of the defeat of that ‘world revolutionary wave’.

If communism is not some fixed goal to be obtained, but the movement going on in front of our eyes; if communist consciousness is similarly not some static fixed thing but a fluctuating phenomenon which can shrink in extent even as it deepens historically, then despite the failure of the conscious period of generalised proletarian activity between 1917-1923, we can say that this was a moment in the movement towards communism. Part of the duty of revolutionary minorities today is precisely to remind the broad layers of its class brothers and sisters of what they have already achieved, and what they must go beyond tomorrow.

One dimensional, precisely because it sees only one dimension of consciousness – ‘mass consciousness’, the extent of consciousness within the broad layer of the masses - whilst ignoring other aspects such as the depth of consciousness, and the relationship between the two. Proletarian class consciousness, crystallised in political positions, remains and can be deepened outside periods of mass activity, reflecting and theorising the proletariat’s own experience. This is inevitably, for the majority of the time, the work of only a tiny minoroity of the class.The proletariat’s own experience can in turn deepen and even contradict this work of minorities within the working class, laying fresh layers of practical experience to be absorbed by the entire proletariat.

In short, it’s precisely in the decadent period of capitalist society that we have seen the deepest and most widespread aspects of mass communist consciousness in action, and the appearance of mass communist consciousness in action – the revolt against what exists in favour of a new society without classes and exploitation – is a major factor in what makes capitalist social relations obsolete, a barrier, a fetter: decadent.

LBird
Marx and Modes of Production

lem_ wrote:

Quote:
'Science' is human, lem_.

It's the 'materialists', following Engels (who got it from positivist 19th century physics) who think that 'science' is just about 'out there', 'matter', 'external reality', to the exclusion of human social consciousness, morals and beliefs.

so where is the bourgeois sceince of social consciosuness morals and beleifs? do you really believe that economics is a rational human activity?

'Rationality' is a class construct lem_. What is 'rational' to the bourgeoisie is different to what is 'rational' to the proletariat.

lem_ wrote:

and if you are going to rely on marx in calling everyone that disagrees with you bourgeois and individualist, then at least provide some kind of material quote and interpretation of a text of his.

to some extent we're just doing hermeneutics here right? you seem to be saying bourgeoise economics (etc.] is a science, everyone else seems to disagree and say sceince deals in an "external [i.e. measurable or non relative qualities].

why does it matter until you can prove your point: or failing that at least that it's been argued in the communist milieu.

This is not hermeneutics, but Marxism. A class-biased viewpoint from the perspective of the proletariat. Current mathematics and physics have been constructed by the bourgeoisie, as have all the social activities of 'science'. We're going to have to reconstruct them all. Keep what we democratically determine is useful to our class, and ditch the bourgeois stuff. This will be obvious to you in, say, sociology, but applies throughout human knowledge.

Think of Marx's concept of a 'mode of production'. Different m o p's produce different logics, rationalities, maths, etc. Communism will produce different knowledge.

It 'matters to me', because I wish to help fellow workers embark upon the social, collective activity of building our class consciousness, which I think is needed in the mass of workers prior to our revolution.

LBird
Quick reply

I'm not ignoring KT's contribution, but I think that I've answered all the points in the past.

If one is a Marxist, the active subject is the class conscious proletariat, not a minority with a special 'consciousness', which is supposedly not available to the class.

That view is Leninism.

I'm not a Leninist, and if KT is, they should openly say so.

 

petey
crikey

Pierre wrote:

Give me one number, one piece of data to corroborate any of this dribble? You can't! So, I leave you with this:

you forgot to say "sucks to be you."
this is why you came here? i don't get the decadence either. i assume ICC believe it provides the correct predictor of where things will go, though the creation of new markets that aren't territorially based convinces me otherwise. but this is why you came here?

KT
Deflector shields up...

L Bird is free to ignore KT’s contribution or that of anyone else and frequently does. Point is, no-one has talked about a “minority with a special ‘consciousness’” but a proletarian consciousness which, at certain times, is expressed openly only by a minority of the class. Not at all the same thing. But perfect for deflecting the debate...

Petey: could you at some point elaborate on your disagreements with decadence theory, and in particular why the notion of new markets that aren’t territorially based nullifies it?

LBird
Round the houses, once again

KT wrote:

L Bird is free to ignore KT’s contribution or that of anyone else and frequently does. Point is, no-one has talked about a “minority with a special ‘consciousness’” but a proletarian consciousness which, at certain times, is expressed openly only by a minority of the class. Not at all the same thing. But perfect for deflecting the debate...

I haven't ignored 'your' contribution - on the contrary, I've argued against 'it' many times.

I'll say it again.

IF 'only a minority of the class' are conscious, then the conditions for the revolution DON'T EXIST.

MH DEFINED 'conditions existing for the revolution' as being DECADENCE.

Thus, we aren't in a period of 'decadence'.

Your view is that a 'minority' can count as 'conditions existing'.

This is a Leninist view, not a Marxist view. Marx insisted that ONLY THE CLASS CONSCIOUS PROLETARIAT CAN MAKE THE REVOLUTION, not a minority.

What bit don't you follow?

If you argue for anything less than MASS CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS to overthrow capitalism, then you are a LENINIST.

Now, do you wish to define 'decadence'? In a way that we can all discuss. MH tried, but when I employed his definition, I showed that we are not in a period of 'decadence', according to that definition, combined with Marx's views.

  

Pierre
Permanence; yet another

Permanence; yet another temporal fixation. Have there ever really been "permanent" mass organizations? Even the question is oxymoronic.

Another issue is the ICC's view of the history of the State. It would seem to me from the mid 1500's to 1800's, possibly even as early as 13th century, the state emerged as excretion of the bottom classes. So not only has the bourgeoisie integrated the trade unions and democratic parties, the State itself was co-opted at one point. It emerged in a transitional period, from feudalism to capitalism, and the bottom classes really fought for control of it and lost.

The last thing is that KT's conception of the ebb and flow of class consciousness seems to be at odds with the ICC's one dimensional view of this period.

Why not just call the period the pre-apocolypse?

Does the ICC have any grips on how or why the proletariat becomes revolutionary? Because it's not right now. It may have the potential to be, it may have been during past stages of history, but can anyone really say the proletariat is revolutionary right now? Obviously no. How to we engage the class and spark their interest? Anyone?

LBird
What's the 'matter' with workers?

Pierre wrote:

How to we engage the class and spark their interest? Anyone?

I can tell you what 'disengages' the class and 'dampens' their interest, Pierre.

Leninism.

I've been in the SWP, and I've had friends in Militant, RCP, WRP, Workers' Power, and other groups I've forgotten.

Like me, they all left.

Why do 'Trotskyist' groups, who claim to want workers to join "workers' parties", have such a poor track record, even when they grow, as did the SWP, to thousands strong, of workers?

The truth is, all of these parties want to tell workers what to think and do. They claim to have an insight into 'reality' that ordinary workers don't have, called 'materialism'. 'Materialism' isn't subject to democratic accountability (because it claims to produce the 'Truth' of matter), and so workers can't vote against what the cadre say is the Truth.

The simple answer is to have organisations that are controlled by the entire membership, but this would mean that 'material conditions' would be determined by the class, rather than by a cadre with 'special insight'.

When workers, like me, join, and soon find out that they don't control the organisation, they leave again.

This scenario has been played out for a century now, and in that time hundreds of thousands of workers have joined Leninist 'materialist' parties, and have then been disengaged and dampened.

It's a dead end. A cadre claiming special insight into 'material conditions'.

With the ICC, the 'theory of decadence' seems to play that role.

  

KT
Why the Distortions?

L Bird Wrote: What bit don't you follow?

The bit where L Bird attempts to substitute the appearance of logic for Marxism. Let’s break it down.

IF 'only a minority of the class' are conscious, then the conditions for the revolution DON'T EXIST.”

Agreed.

“MH DEFINED 'conditions existing for the revolution' as being DECADENCE.”

“Thus, we aren't in a period of 'decadence'.”

But who argued that the revolution was possible at any moment, at any time, within decadence? Not MH. Not me. Not the ICC.

The decadence of any class society is a necessary pre-condition for its revolutionary overthrow. But the opposite – which you wrongly attribute to us – that a revolutionary overthrow is possible at any moment in decadence is clearly, demonstrably, historically, evidently not the case and no-one has argued that is. Again, why must L Bird resort to such distortions (not to mention brandishing the word LENINIST in CAPITALS, as if this somehow verifies his arguments? ‘Turn the Imperialist War into a Civil War’; ‘All Power to the Soviets’, ‘Without Revolutionary Theory, No Revolution’, etc, etc - this Lenin I could only dream of being).

Finally: Pierre-who-says-he-is-not-Jamal asks: “Can anyone really say the proletariat is revolutionary right now? Obviously no....”

But what exactly is a revolutionary class anyway? A class which bears within itself the seeds of the new society to come, embodies in its mode of organisation the features of the future social relations. For the bourgeoisie: the accumulation of capital based on the exploitation of labour, the production of surplus value, the establishment of nation states and relentless competition against its rivals. For the proletariat: associated labour; the absence of a fatherland, the struggle against exploitation and the division of humanity into classes, together with production not for profit but to satisfy human needs. The proletariat is the revolutionary class of capitalist society whether or not it’s in a position to make that revolution at this or that moment. Or even if it fails to make the revolution. There is no other force that can take this society forward. How that may or may not evolve is beyond the scope of this post. 

LBird
Back to square one - 'what is the definition of decadence?'

KT, you're going to have to read what MH wrote, about the definition of decadence.

If you disagree with MH's definition, please provide a different one, and we can proceed further.

MH
The definition of decadence?

LBird wrote:

MH DEFINED 'conditions existing for the revolution' as being DECADENCE.

No, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. I stated very clearly at least twice that “capitalism can enter into its historic crisis but only conscious self-activity by the proletariat can abolish it.” But for the proletarian revolution to be on the agenda of history certain material conditions have first to exist, among them a certain level of productive forces, the existence of a world market, and last but not least the existence of an international class of wage labourers. The entry of capitalism into decadence signifies that these material conditions practically pose the question of the proletarian revolution and the possibility of abolishing capitalism and class society,but do not determine the ultimate victory of the proletariat's revolutionary struggle.

Presumably this is where we disagree? Previously, asked when you think communism became possible, eg. 1848, 1870, 1914, you have argued there are no material conditions necessary for communism, other than “mass consciousness”:

LBird wrote:

Communism has never been possible, and never will be possible, until mass class consciousness exists, as you implied, above.

Not 'material conditions', but the active, critical, creative proletariat. Proletarian ideas and practice, to change their world, both ideal and material.

Yet you still deny you defend an idealist conception of history?

So what is your position? And I think you’re going to need to back up your ideas with at least some references to what Marx actually wrote, rather than just your standard assertion that ‘Marx was an ‘idealist-materialist'. We need to be able to examine the evidence if we're going to get anywhere.

      

lem_
Quote:'Rationality' is a

Quote:
'Rationality' is a class construct lem_. What is 'rational' to the bourgeoisie is different to what is 'rational' to the proletariat.

so you DO think that economics is a rational science for the bourgeoisie. then say so!

Quote:
I wish to help fellow workers
and every other marxist ever wants to do what?

Quote:
So, you are an elitist then, lem? In favour of a conscious minority making the world, not the 8 billion that Marx argued for?
no of course not what a rediculous bamboolzling thing to say.

Quote:
Like Fred, it seems, you are a defender of bourgeois scientific method?
what do you mean by this? i think that the working class can build on the successes of science during capitalism.

and what relevance is it? other than an opportunity to call everyone bourehois?

if you act this way to the rest of the 8 billion you will excuse me if i wish you bad luck

Pierre
Re: Bad periodisation

MH wrote:
Presumably this is where we disagree? Previously, asked when you think communism became possible, eg. 1848, 1870, 1914

LBird wrote:
Communism has never been possible, and never will be possible, until mass class consciousness exists

You're both wrong here. We're humans. We're communists by nature. We hunt and gather and forage, remember? How are both of your views on communism not exactly what KT suggests they are? Static.

MH, how would you explain off all the struggles that seemed "embryonic" between 1848-1914? Was the proletariat in 1905 in Russia not capable of overthrowing capitalism? Why not?

Also, what about the Commune? Not socialist or revolutionary, eh?
 

jaycee
Also, what about the Commune?

Also, what about the Commune? Not socialist or revolutionary, eh?

You know or should know if you've read the ICC's basic positions what their position on the Paris Commune is. It was an attempt at a revolution and establishment of communism at a time when the material conditions were not yet ready.

This is a prime example of what was different in the 20th century. The Russian Revolution was also isolated but managed to take over an immense country like Russia and realistically could have spread to the rest of Europe. This is a qualitative change that any serious historical view has to consider.

LBird: do you think that communism was possible at any time in history or was capitalism a necessary stage to pass through first?

Pierre
"Insight, foresight, more

"Insight, foresight, more sight...the clock on the wall reads a quarter past midnight."

Do you think the Communards were aware of their historical position? How could they have been?

If not, then what great ability does the ICC have that it can be aware it's position? Are you guys just that smart, and the rest of us that dumb? Or does it point to, as LBird correctly asserted before flying off on every random tangent he can, a misunderstanding of the theoretical role the revolutionary org. plays, in terms of how it recieves the ideas of other workers and communists. We're left communists, historically we explore minority positions as much as possible.

Pierre
Re:

petey wrote:
you forgot to say "sucks to be you." this is why you came here? i don't get the decadence either. i assume ICC believe it provides the correct predictor of where things will go, though the creation of new markets that aren't territorially based convinces me otherwise. but this is why you came here?

I thought it was witty. Cool gif either way. Sorry to have offended you

LBird
Engels' dichotomy

MH wrote:

Presumably this is where we disagree? Previously, asked when you think communism became possible, eg. 1848, 1870, 1914, you have argued there are no material conditions necessary for communism, other than “mass consciousness”:

I haven't argued that 'there are no material conditions necessary', I've argued that class consciousness (not merely party consciousness) is also necessary.

MH wrote:

LBird wrote:

Communism has never been possible, and never will be possible, until mass class consciousness exists, as you implied, above.

Not 'material conditions', but the active, critical, creative proletariat. Proletarian ideas and practice, to change their world, both ideal and material.

Yet you still deny you defend an idealist conception of history?

I defend Marx's idealist-materialist conception of history.

You don't recognise this category, because you adhere to Engels' belief that there is only 'materialism' and 'idealism', and so you, having only two categories to work with, are compelled to place anything not 'materialist' in the 'idealist' category. This is Engels' theoretical failure.

MH wrote:

So what is your position? And I think you’re going to need to back up your ideas with at least some references to what Marx actually wrote, rather than just your standard assertion that ‘Marx was an ‘idealist-materialist'. We need to be able to examine the evidence if we're going to get anywhere.

      

I've done this many times over many threads, MH. It's all still available to you, right now. If you re-read even one of these threads, and have a question to ask, I'll be only too pleased to explain further.

LBird
Random thanks?

Pierre wrote:

"Insight, foresight, more sight...the clock on the wall reads a quarter past midnight."

Do you think the Communards were aware of their historical position? How could they have been?

If not, then what great ability does the ICC have that it can be aware it's position? Are you guys just that smart, and the rest of us that dumb? Or does it point to, as LBird correctly asserted before flying off on every random tangent he can, a misunderstanding of the theoretical role the revolutionary org. plays, in terms of how it recieves the ideas of other workers and communists. We're left communists, historically we explore minority positions as much as possible.

Not 'every random tangent', Pierre, just the Engelsian myth that 'Marx was a materialist'.

Thanks for the back-up, though. You're the first to judge any of my arguments as 'correct'.

LBird
Necessity

jaycee wrote:

LBird: do you think that communism was possible at any time in history or was capitalism a necessary stage to pass through first?

Like Marx, I think capitalism is a necessary stage. It has produced the proletariat.

MH
Outbreak of (partial) agreement?

LBird wrote:

I haven't argued that 'there are no material conditions necessary', I've argued that class consciousness (not merely party consciousness) is also necessary.

(…)

Like Marx, I think capitalism is a necessary stage. It has produced the proletariat.

Agreed. We have (finally) established that there is common ground between us!

If I have pushed you on the question of idealism it was precisely to get you to clarify that, however you describe your (and Marx’s) conception of history, and despite your false dichotomy between Marx and Engels, you do recognise the validity of material conditions in analysing capitalism and the conditions for communism.

Now I don’t know what to say…

(Re your technical problems in posting, are you not able to write in Word or similar and copy it over? I’m sure this is what most of us do.)

 

LBird
It's the word: Greasy Matter

MH wrote:

Agreed. We have (finally) established that there is common ground between us!

If I have pushed you on the question of idealism it was precisely to get you to clarify that, however you describe your (and Marx’s) conception of history, and despite your false dichotomy between Marx and Engels, you do recognise the validity of material conditions in analysing capitalism and the conditions for communism.

Now I don’t know what to say…

(Re your technical problems in posting, are you not able to write in Word or similar and copy it over? I’m sure this is what most of us do.)

 

I've always recognised Marx's view of 'material': he means 'social production', not 'matter'.

The dichotomy between Marx and Engels rests upon this point.

'Social production' requires 'theory and practice': human ideas to change reality. The 'active side' is humans.

'Matter' requires 'practice and theory': induction, where 'doing something' is followed by 'enlightenment': reality changes human ideas. The 'active side' is matter.

Thanks for your comradely response, MH.

I can't 'cut and paste', so Word is out.

 

petey
...

Pierre wrote:

Give me one number, one piece of data to corroborate any of this dribble? You can't! So, I leave you with this:

indeed you thought it was witty.

baboon
Position

I think that the "outbreak of partial agreement" referred to by MH above stresses the absolute necessity for L. Bird to follow Link's suggestion and write up a position/statement of his views. I don't think that any copy/paste elements are a serious impediment to this and any effort in this direction would save enormous time and energy that has been spent going round and round in circles.

LBird
The 'impediment' is not only technical!

baboon wrote:

I think that the "outbreak of partial agreement" referred to by MH above stresses the absolute necessity for L. Bird to follow Link's suggestion and write up a position/statement of his views. I don't think that any copy/paste elements are a serious impediment to this ...

Pierre
Do you guys typically derail

Do you guys typically derail threads for the sake of trying to recruit people around here?

LBird
Derail

Pierre wrote:

Do you guys typically derail threads for the sake of trying to recruit people around here?

Is this aimed at me, Pierre?

I'm not an ICC member, so I'm not in the business of recruitment.

All I'm trying to do, is to get someone to outline the theory of 'decadence'.

I do this, because Marx's method is one of 'theory and practice'.

This causes some disenchantment with the followers of Engels' 'materialism', and its method of 'practice and theory'.

So, the 'derail' is far more fundamental than you suggest - it started with Engels, and his followers here insist on maintaining it, against all the evidence from Marx himself.

KT
Agreement or argumentation?

Agree with Baboon's post #123 which in turn is in line with what Link suggested suggested on the thread What is LBirdism? where the ICC's Alf added: "Link' s idea is a good one, and points to some of the limitations of forum discussions, which is why we have started a 'heading' called Readers' Contributions for those who want to develop their ideas in more depth. If LBird wants to lay out, as elaborately as necessary, his whole theory of consciousness, idealism, materialism and all the rest, then that might be a way of doing it."

Otherwise, we might spend another 130 posts and thousands of words to esatablish that: "Like Marx, I think capitalism is a necessary stage. It has produced the proletariat." (L Bird)

Not that I'm knocking the validity or importance of this statement: on the contrary, it's not something that the majority of the anarchist or libertarian  milieu could sign up to. It's just that we need to stop going round in circles and go deeper into the theoretical underpinnings and understandings of different currents and stop the tit-for-tat responses and the tendency to want "the last word" on every thread. And if Pierre/Jamal would like to forward his eleborated 'minority positions too.... 

 

LBird
Method

Demogorgon, post 52, wrote:

Workers can only become conscious of being exploited because they actually are being exploited.

I've returned to this statement of Demo's, because it encapsulates Engels' method.

Marx's method of 'theory and practice' would suggest otherwise.

Workers will only become conscious if they learn the 'theory of wages', become critical of that theory, thus searching out a new theory, hopefully Marx's 'theory of exploitation', and then, and only then, set out to put into practice their new theory of exploitation.

This is where the role of Communist workers, like us, is so vital - we play a part in the proletariat developing itself in its critical thinking.

'Reality', in the guise of Demo's 'actually', will never 'speak to workers'.

In 'actuality', without our intervention, workers are as likely to discover that 'actual wages' tell them that they are 'being stolen by immigrants'.

Marx's method is 'theory and practice'.

baboon
If the impediment to writing

If the impediment to writing an outline or a defence of a position is not only technical then what is it L. Bird?

LBird
We could always turn to what Marx writes...

baboon wrote:

If the impediment to writing an outline or a defence of a position is not only technical then what is it L. Bird?

The inability to read Marx's actual words?

Some just adhere to spoken rumour - what they've heard that someone else claims Engels wrote...

 

LBird
The materialist carousel must be abandoned

KT wrote:

Agree with Baboon's post #123 which in turn is in line with what Link suggested suggested on the thread What is LBirdism? where the ICC's Alf added: "Link' s idea is a good one, and points to some of the limitations of forum discussions, which is why we have started a 'heading' called Readers' Contributions for those who want to develop their ideas in more depth. If LBird wants to lay out, as elaborately as necessary, his whole theory of consciousness, idealism, materialism and all the rest, then that might be a way of doing it."

Otherwise, we might spend another 130 posts and thousands of words to esatablish that: "Like Marx, I think capitalism is a necessary stage. It has produced the proletariat." (L Bird)

Not that I'm knocking the validity or importance of this statement: on the contrary, it's not something that the majority of the anarchist or libertarian  milieu could sign up to. It's just that we need to stop going round in circles and go deeper into the theoretical underpinnings and understandings of different currents and stop the tit-for-tat responses and the tendency to want "the last word" on every thread. And if Pierre/Jamal would like to forward his eleborated 'minority positions too.... 

I appreciate your acknowledgement, KT, of 'the validity or importance' of what I wrote.

But, the reason it has taken '130 posts' etc. and we keep 'going round in circles' is that whenever I quote Marx, he is simply ignored. So, I'm compelled to continue on this carousel.

The 'What is LBirdism?' thread is a case in point: a comrade asks for some clarification, I provide Marx's words, and his views (not simply "LBird's") are ignored, and the respondents continue with Engels' 'materialism'. Even after Marx writing that he unified both idealism and materialism, a claim which fits perfectly with his Theses on Feuerbach, and Capital.

baboon
"Growth" what is it?

I was musing over the question of "growth" under capitalism - what exactly is it? It's certainly changed over the period of capitalism and taken on different forms. What is growth today? There's still profits to be made and innovations to assist that but the "growth" figures of the bourgeoisie at best don't tell the whole story and are fundamentally unreliable. This is particularly true of the state capitalist period of decadence.

I remember reading a couple of years ago that the cost of medical treatment and pensions for US soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq would top one trillion dollars. This amount will find itself on the plus side of the balance-sheet and be expressed as "growth". But like many expressions of the "growth" of capitalism - just like the "growth" of masses of populations living in misery - there is a contradictory side to it..

baboon
Following from above: the

Following from above: the hundreds of billions, probably trillions of dollars spent on the “refugee crisis” worldwide, will, in one way or another, down to the latest rolls of barbed wire, appear on balance sheets of capitalist growth. Capitalist growth in the 19th century was real, an expression of the growth of living tissue. Capitalist growth in its period of decadence is an element keeping a moribund and deadly system alive. It is a cancerous growth.
Five or so years ago, in response to the communist position on decadence, some anarcho-libertarian elements on libcom posed a renewed growth of capitalism based on the development of new technologies such as wind-power and the like. It showed the child-like faith of the petty-bourgeoisie in capitalism to rise above itself and “do the right thing”. You don’t read anything much about this on libcom anymore.
Following the revelations about the VW emissions fraud recently – a fraud that all the major governments were complicit in, showing the growth of outright fraud – the issue of pollution is raised once again. In the Observer yesterday there’s an informative piece about its global scale and consequences often based on deliberately underestimated figures. Despite the attempts of the authorities in London to fiddle the results, the first few days of 2016 saw the capital’s pollution figures breaching its own legal limits for the whole of the year with deadly noxious NO2 (the countryside doesn’t escape either). Just over a year ago David Cameron called this pollution, which official figures say is killing around 30,000 people a year in Britain with an estimated cost of $83 bn , “a normal weather event” (or words to that effect). It’s the same and worse for all the European capitals and these are where figures are kept. The estimated cost for Europe as a whole (from the Observer) is $1.6 trillion.

But it’s Asia that’s turning into one big gas chamber where, for the great majority, there’s no respite indoors, if one can stay indoors, as the deadly poison seeps in. The effects of pollution put the so-called decadence-defying “miracles” of Chinese and Indian growth into perspective. Pollution is killing the fertile lands of the countryside in China and turning them into deserts. Desertification is a growing phenomenon in China. The Max Planck Institute for chemistry in Germany estimates 1.6 million a year being killed in China and .4 million a year in India. Far from being a harbinger or by-product of capitalist success, pollution – which unlike the industrial revolution is now global and intensifying – is a mark of its decay.
 

lem_
I hope this isn't too off

I hope this isn't too off topic, but I found this by Vaneigem, kinda pertinent to some languages here

Quote:
We must reappropriate the most radical aspects of all past revolts and insurrections at the point where they were prematurely arrested, and bring to this task all the violence bottled up inside us. A chain explosion of subterranean creativity cannot fail to overturn the world of hierarchical power. In the last reckoning, the nihilists are our only allies. They cannot possibly go on living as they are. Their lives are like an open wound. A revolutionary perspective could put all the latent energy generated by years of repression at the service of their will to live. Anyone who combines consciousness of past renunciations with a historical consciousness of decomposition is ready to take up arms in the cause of the transformation of daily life and of the world. Nihilists, as de Sade would have said, one more effort if you want to be revolutionaries!

i suppose more apt would read one more effort of you are to be revolutionaries

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