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This Country Needs a Few Good Communists

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Posted on May 31, 2010
AP / Elizabeth Dalziel

By Chris Hedges

The witch hunts against communists in the United States were used to silence socialists, anarchists, pacifists and all those who defied the abuses of capitalism. Those “anti-Red” actions were devastating blows to the political health of the country. The communists spoke the language of class war. They understood that Wall Street, along with corporations such as British Petroleum, is the enemy. They offered a broad social vision which allowed even the non-communist left to employ a vocabulary that made sense of the destructive impulses of capitalism. But once the Communist Party, along with other radical movements, was eradicated as a social and political force, once the liberal class took government-imposed loyalty oaths and collaborated in the witch hunts for phantom communist agents, we were robbed of the ability to make sense of our struggle. We became fearful, timid and ineffectual. We lost our voice and became part of the corporate structure we should have been dismantling.

Hope in this age of bankrupt capitalism will come with the return of the language of class conflict. It does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement of the working class, but we have to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, loot the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship only money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself. The nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate state. It is the same nightmare seen in postindustrial pockets from the old mill towns in New England to the abandoned steel mills in Ohio. It is a nightmare that Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans, mourning their dead, live each day. 

Capitalism was once viewed in America as a system that had to be fought. But capitalism is no longer challenged. And so, even as Wall Street steals billions of taxpayer dollars and the Gulf of Mexico is turned into a toxic swamp, we do not know what to do or say. We decry the excesses of capitalism without demanding a dismantling of the corporate state. The liberal class has a misguided loyalty, illustrated by environmental groups that have refused to excoriate the Obama White House over the ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Liberals bow before a Democratic Party that ignores them and does the bidding of corporations. The reflexive deference to the Democrats by the liberal class is the result of cowardice and fear. It is also the result of an infantile understanding of the mechanisms of power. The divide is not between Republican and Democrat. It is a divide between the corporate state and the citizen. It is a divide between capitalists and workers. And, for all the failings of the communists, they got it. 

Unions, organizations formerly steeped in the doctrine of class warfare and filled with those who sought broad social and political rights for the working class, have been transformed into domesticated partners of the capitalist class. They have been reduced to simple bartering tools. The social demands of unions early in the 20th century that gave the working class weekends off, the right to strike, the eight-hour day and Social Security have been abandoned. Universities, especially in political science and economics departments, parrot the discredited ideology of unregulated capitalism and have no new ideas. Artistic expression, along with most religious worship, is largely self-absorbed narcissism. The Democratic Party and the press have become corporate servants. The loss of radicals within the labor movement, the Democratic Party, the arts, the church and the universities has obliterated one of the most important counterweights to the corporate state. And the purging of those radicals has left us unable to make sense of what is happening to us.

The fear of communism, like the fear of Islamic terrorism, has resulted in the steady suspension of civil liberties, including freedom of speech, habeas corpus and the right to organize, values the liberal class claims to support. It was the orchestration of fear that permitted the capitalist class to ram through the Taft-Hartley Act in 1948 in the name of anti-communism, the most destructive legislative blow to the working class until the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It was fear that created the Patriot Act, extraordinary rendition, offshore penal colonies where we torture and the endless wars in the Middle East. And it was fear that was used to see us fleeced by Wall Street. If we do not stop being afraid and name our enemy we will continue toward a state of neofeudalism.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 25, 2010 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

I very much appreciated all the posts Foucauldian and Marat
recently made.  I am still reading them carefully so that I might
respond in some coherent manner, not being a student of
economist theory, although I am trying to absorb as much as I
can put time into. 

But before I get into the relative merits of capitalism/socialism/
Foucault theory/and so forth, what I meant by my parting statement
of my last post: “Then there is the myth of unmasking.”  What occurs
to me is that biases often shade the results of unmasking, or
revelation.  Exposure of ideas can become a cause célèbre and hence
there is good reason to go slow and be certain of what is meant by
what is said, or at least as certain as one can be. The concept of bias
has to do with the lack of internal validity and emotion and one has to
always guard against the crime of bias in an expose most especially
with respect to one’s own logic that uses premises that inherently
demand clarity.  I am amused to remember the remark that was offered
as a comfort by a translator who had charge of translating a
philosopher’s lecture into a foreign language when it was discovered
that the entire long lecture was only a long paraphrase of one single
idea.  The translator said he had heard many lectures that didn’t
contain even one single idea! I recall sitting in lectures like that.  Peeling
back layers of perceptions, in other words, unmasking the unmasking,
one has to be sure the revelation did not get lost in a labyrinthine
seduction of the mind, and if that care is taken there is a chance that
some reality can be perceived a little less dimly, if even only a petite
amount.  Isn’t that all we can hope for?  Foucault’s project, unmasking
the demagoguery begins at home and is a descendent of the
Plato/Socrates prosecution of sophists.  Wanting to uncover processes
through which history becomes said to be what it is, is exactly similar
to what I am cautioning about with respect to the concepts we are
talking about.

I do not claim to be a knower.  As a matter of fact, I claim to be
ignorant.  I listen (read) to see who might have that bit of truth
Aristotle said every man had.

Marat accuses that I am a conceited Hayekian, which is untrue.  At least
I think it is untrue.  Maybe I am one without knowing I am one.  I have
one of his books, The Road to Serfdom, but I haven’t read it.  Guess I
will now.  Marat, perhaps you can say why you think I am a Hayekian?  I
say maybe since it seems capitalism is the economic system that works
best for everyone.  In my inexperience, based on what is reported that
happened to the financial and housing markets, and the worried state
everyone is talking about the country, the world, is in, I think it is
reasonable to say that the form into which capitalism has developed in
the 21st century needs fixing, and I’ve said that, even in my naïveté,
numerous times.  I guess I am the only one on Truthdig that thinks
capitalism is a positive economic format.  From what I have read, I think
the benefits of free markets overrides the criticism that capitalism leads
to exploitation and depressions which is the age-old claims of the
socialist minded.  It think there are forces at work that do not have
anything to do with capitalism but the nature of human character.  I
have heard of von Mises, John Locke, Hayek, and a few others, but I
would not say I understood the finer points of their economic
philosophies.  It also seems that some objective discussion is needed.  I
tend to be suspicious that bias creeps in of those who would explain
opposing theories.  I am trying to keep an open mind, but I can see I
tend to have a favorable bias towards capitalism.  Democracy, reason,
and the nature of language are just a few other topics that could use
extended discussion as they have been brought up but one thing at a
time.

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Marat's avatar

By Marat, June 24, 2010 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment

My reply (part 2) to Shenonymous, June 24 at 3:10 pm

You said: ,,I’ve also said that direct democracy
works at the local level in large countries.’’ As P.
Cockshott would reply: ,,The institutions of
democracy provide a quite different model. In a
democracy there was no government, no prime minister,
no president, no head of state. Sovereign power
rested with the popular assembly. Particular branches
of the state were run by juries or officials drawn by
lot. Power flows neither up nor down, but is
diffused. We can sketch out how these principles
might be applied today. At one level, the sovereignty
of the people would be exercised by electronic voting
on televised debates. To ensure that this was
universal, TVs and voting phones should be available
free as a constitutional right. This would be
analogous to the payment for jury service that the
Athenians introduced to allow the poor to participate
in the assembly.’’ 

Yes, it is possible to build up a classless society
as soon as the neoclassical democracy and new
superior kind of economic planning are possible and
practically applicable. The arguments in the sake of
this are: contemporary examples of direct democracy
on local level, as you desribed too, and the the
advances in Marxist political economy that arose from
the Russian experience: the method of material
balances used in preparing the 5 year plans and
systematised as Input Output analysis by Leontief;
the method of linear programming pioneered by
Kantorovich; the time diaries of Strumlin. ,,It is
well known that official Soviet adherence to
‘Marxist’ orthodoxy placed obstacles in the way of
the adoption of rational planning methods…’’,
writes P. Cockshott.

You could not believe in building a classless
society, keep it, but it takes you give some proves
to change my opinion on classless realization
possibility.

You said that ,,At times when socialism was installed
as a politicoeconomic system, of large countries (to
qualify it more precisely) they have failed. It is
only in theory that they “seem” to work.’’ As I
replied in my last comment: Your identification of
„dictatorship of the proletariat“ with „new ruling
class which rules to satisfy their own interests“ is
trivial from the theoretical aspect, as we have shown
above, and also, this identification is historically
refuted. The Bolshevik coup of October 1917, the
federal government stepped into the hands of Lenin
and Trotsky, who immediately dialed the demolition of
the new socialist institutions that occurred during
the people’s revolution of previous months - factory
authorities, councils, in fact, all organs of the
National power. Since then not allowed any socialist
deviation. Beside this, the reason why the planning
calculation in terms of labour time was not adopted
seriously in the USSR must, we think, reflect the
economic interests of those with power and influence
in that society. Its radically egalitarian
implications would have been unwelcome to officials
whose income differentials it would have threatened.
,,The failure of the Soviet model cannot be taken as
synonymous with the failure of socialism: what failed
in Russia was a particular form of planning, while
other, superior forms of planning are possible’’
write P. Cockshott and A. Cottrell.

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By Foucauldian, June 24, 2010 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

Sorry.  The site won’t convert HTML codes.  You can look ‘em up the links in the Wiki.

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Marat's avatar

By Marat, June 24, 2010 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment

My reply (part 1) to Shenonymous, June 24 at 3:10 pm

You asked> Please show, Marat, where I’ve said
“democracy is impossible, and it results from
exceptions that rule of the will of the citizens is
possible and practically applicable.”
Answer> You said: ,,Political scientists theorize
that an elite class will always emerge in any group,
be it aristocratic, proletariat, or bourgeoisie. 
There is no such thing as a classless society.  Such
an entity is a theoretical illusion. So that the most
that can realistically be foreseen, that is, the most
conceivable that would be advantageous to the
population, is a society where the elite groups
compete with each other for domination and the people
can align themselves with one or another of these
elites and attempt to influence the way life is
structured that way. In other words, a capitalistic
society.’’ Firstly, you don’t understand the
democracy as classic democracy on national level as I
do because you don’t believe in its realization, and
secondly, you identify the representative democracy
by the classic democracy. Besides this, you admitted
the existence of classes what is strongly different
from the statement of, for exemple, Mises’s and
Hayek’s, and this implies that there is exploitaion
which should be abolished by establishing a classless
society. Where there is exploitation there is no
virtueouse democracy. If you state that there is no
exploitation, please refute the labour theory of
value; you should go not only against Marx, but
against A. Smit too. By other words, against the
scientific truth. The second part of that sentence is
mine not yours! I said: It results from (your)
exceptions that rule of the will of the citizens is
possible and practically applicable. I recognize
those exemples (yours and mine) of direct democracy;
and they are my arguments! This implies that direct
democracy can be installed on national level. My
argument is going on…

You said: ,,What I did say on occasion is that direct
democracy does not work in large nations by reason of
large populations.’’
Very primitive reasoning! ,,A more prosaic objection
to direct democracy focuses on scale. You just cannot
gather all the citizens of a modern nation in the
agora or town square to debate affairs of state. But
this is to overlook the power of modern technology.
Television has created the global village. There is
no technical problem with fitting a voting console to
each TV to allow us all to vote after seeing debates
by a representative studio assembly. The TV current
affairs programmes routinely invite randomly selected
audiences to question politicians. On these programs
the public show themselves far harder on the
politicians than the hacks who normally question
them. It took an ordinary woman from the floor to put
Thatcher on the defensive over the sinking of the
Argentinian battleship, the Belgrano. We have every
confidence in the people’s ability to take important
political decisions after such debate’’, would reply
Paul Cockshott.

,,Communist regime’’?! ,,Communist regime’’?! You can
and you know to speak as an conceited Hayek’s
advocate that ,,Capitalism is an abstract idea not a
description of historical situations’’, but you
permit to yourself to make an a priori exception for
the sake of description of historical situation in,
for exemple, USSR or Yugoslavia. Bravo!

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By Foucauldian, June 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for taking it in the right spirit, Shenon.  Only one thing to add.

If you’re thinking “memes,” I’d be careful.  What’s there to be gained by inventing Meinongian entities (See Russell’s Theory of Descriptions”), while we can speak with perfect understanding when speaking of “the ethos of the times.”  And it’s part and parcel of the concept that times change. 

It’s unnecessary complication, I’d say, to try to replace a perfectly ordinary understanding with pseudoscience.  Just food for thought.

Looking forward to your next post.

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By Foucauldian, June 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm Link to this comment

Just skimmed through some of your comments, Shenon, on the other threads.  Quite impressive, I must say.  You are a first-class mind (which has got nothing to do with being off at times).

What is your eduction anyway?  Which schools?  Just wonder.

You speak of 1989 textbook(s), if memory serves.  To the best of my knowledge, it was over the hill, unless we’re speaking Oxford or Cambridge, or College de France.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

I’m glad we agree at least on a few things.  The world would be
boring if we agreed on everything.

I don ‘t mind Marat’s polemical style at all, simply not assigning
statements to me that I have not made would do the trick.  He is
free to argue all he wants with the points he is making, and I hope
he continues as my mental ears have perked up at his comments, I
just don’t want him erroneously to use me as the wellspring.  Isn’t a
call for honesty a fair request and it shouldn’t be too hard to do?  No? 
Of course I am not meaning to speak of Marat in the third person, it is
just the way it has turned out and I have already expressed my
complaint directly anyway.  Yes, he doesn’t strike me as a dummy
either, and I find his comments an intrigue to consider.  I am not
taking your defense as a criticism at all!  I am giving all you’ve said
today much thought and once it is put through the grinder of my
mind I’ll respond. 

One of the things that is churning in my thoughts as I think about all
that you, and Marat, said, and Anarcissie for I thought what she said
was most compelling as well, and ought not, hopefully, to be taken as
mere musing and what might be thought more about is, and hopefully
not merely an iconoclastic notion in terms of myth as a subject, the
myth of unmasking.  I sometimes think an idea gets planted like a
seed, and overcultivated.  There was much to mull over so I’ll be back.

Report this

By Foucauldian, June 24, 2010 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Shenon,

Can we overlook Marat’s rather polemical style of argument, and yes, excessive quotations, and look instead to some of the points?  He ain’t exactly a dummy, and from my selfish perspective, we need all the minds we can get.

I hate it when egos present an insurmountable obstacle to the meeting of minds.  We should be able to do better.

Please don’t take it as a criticism of any kind, just a suggestion.

Report this

By Foucauldian, June 24, 2010 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

(2) Interestingly, however, I don’t believe we’ve reached a stage when we can disavow ourselves of myths.  I’m going to import one of my comments from my own thread:

#10 roger nowosielski

If you want to convince yourself and others of the purity or the wholesomeness of your pet belief, just preface it with a disqualifier. It’s an old Jedi mind trick.

Crony capitalism: by implication, capitalism is good

# 11 - roger nowosielski

Come to think of it, Mark, I tried to provide additional examples to substantiate point in #7 but couldn’t think of any good ones.

Which got me to think. It looks like capitalism is the last myth of the modern man. Perhaps that’s why it’s so difficult to put it away.

# 13 - Mark

...capitalism is the last myth of the modern man…

The ‘Robinson Crusoe’ myth of individualism—the part claiming to be the whole, you mean?

# 14 - roger nowosielski

Well, yes, but that’s part of the same picture.

Indeed, this suggests formidable difficulties, precisely because we’re dealing with a myth.

# 15 - roger nowosielski

The myth of individualism, of human progress, of the little engine that can.

# 16 - roger nowosielski

Actually, I shouldn’t be surprised because it’s all part of the myth of Enlightenment, but for some reason it had struck me in a very concrete way.

# 17 - roger nowosielski

Which suggests another line of thought, Mark.

How do you fight a myth if not with another myth? Or to put it differently, have we transcended the phase of human development so that we might envisage and realize a new future without the help of a myth?

If the answer is in the negative, different possibilities and solutions suggest themselves.

# 18 - roger nowosielski

Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man may have to reconstructed to mean a faithless man.

Rorty’s vision of liberal democracy is a myth; the problem is, it doesn’t do away with capitalism but tacitly embraces it.

Marx vision of a classless society and of the withering of the State is a myth which aims at defeating the myth of capitalism.

We are in a mess.

# 19 - roger nowosielski

Since I was on Marcuse, here’s another find,


Steven Hicks’s 2004 book Understanding Postmodernism, look it up in Wiki.

THESIS: The failure of epistemology made postmodernism possible, and the failure of socialism made postmodernism necessary.


# 20 - roger nowosielski

And here is another myth: Love conquers all.

And this myth pushes the myth of capitalism aside.

# 21 - roger nowosielski

All of which seem to place Chris Rose’s thesis in doubt.

How is it possible not to be a “faithist”? Perhaps only in a brave new world.

# 22 - roger nowosielski

All of the above points to the major strength of French postmodern thought. Instead of representing itself as just another myth, it’s express purpose is to debunk any and all myths. It aims at unmasking them. It is a method for unmasking.

Which perhaps also explains why the postmoderns are being unjustly accused of not offering a theory. If myths are on the order of theories, the postmoderns are not in that business. They’re in the business of unmasking theories, not creating new ones.

Unmasking will make you free.

(3) BTW, I’m all for the Socratic method - questions are more important than answers.

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By Foucauldian, June 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

You’re second post deals with “foundations,” Shenon.

(1) We’re in agreement as regards “the view of the world.”  I subscribe to Nelson Goodman’s, Hillary Putnam’s, Davidson’s, even Rorty’s pragmatic view of “irrealism.”  There is no objective knowledge of the world, no way of getting the language out of the way (Wittgenstein); our experiences form the only legitimate object of our talk. 

Continuing in the next post:  over the limit.

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By Foucauldian, June 24, 2010 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

You’re a formidable opponent, Shenon.  It’s difficult to break through your intellectual architecture.  Let me try it, however, in a piecemeal fashion.

(1) You say, “Also we have to ask if prosperity and justice are connected, and if they are, how they are?  Seems there has not been much discussion of these two subjects separately nor as conjoined.”

Indeed, an excellent point not only from the conceptual but just as importantly, practical standpoint.  As regards the former, suffice it to say that any justice-oriented society, political community, ought to strive to promote prosperity on behalf of all its citizens.  We may revisit this topic at a later point, but for now, I think it’ll do. 

As regards practice, there obtains an even more interesting relationship, I think.  My view is, it’s precisely when a society manages to attain a certain level of general prosperity that it can build thereupon as a base.  (To wit, it’s much more difficult, if not “unnatural” to be charitable towards your fellow women and men when the economic condition is one of subsistence, everyone scrounging, as it were, for limited resources.)  Indeed, it is precisely on this score that America failed miserable.  During the sixties and early seventies, we had a golden opportunity to spread prosperity and well-being to include most of our citizens, even to the world at large.  The major corporation still prided themselves for being “good corporate citizens.”  It was the tenor of the times.  Well, we’ve squandered that opportunity, and there is no way we can retrieve the past.

(2) “I don’t think capitalism is a vague term.”

I agree.  I was, however, responding to an ambiguity formulated by Anarcisse as regards “economics” and “politics”  (see my latest response).

(3) The Adam Smith’s initial formulation represent an ideal, and from the vantage point of history, a myth.  By its nature and internal contradictions (Marx), “pure” capitalism devolves into crony capitalism or, if you will, corporate statism.  It’s form in the US, such as it exists today, is a natural development, not a matter of coincidence.  Besides, Smith spoke of “moral sentiment” in the same breadth as he spoke of the invisible hand.  Reinstate the ethical component and there won’t be much disagreement between us as to the merits of the system - not at least from the standpoint of efficiency.  (However, there will still be negative after-effects to be concerned about:  consumerism, commodification, etcetera(.

(4) I think you’re being unfair to the postmodern thought in dismissing the main thrust.  Becoming aware of the problem, of its many multiplicities and dimensions, is the first step towards formulating solutions.  Besides, solutions don’t come easy.  But they do and will develop “on the ground,” if you know what I mean.  It’s near-impossible to envisage concrete conditions which will make people to respond.  But respond, of this I’m certain, they will.  Consequently, my mode is one of patience.  History will unfold itself, as it always had and always will.

I believe I fielded the major points of your first comment.  If I missed anything, let me know.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 24, 2010 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

Please show, Marat, where I’ve said “democracy is impossible, and it
results from exceptions that rule of the will of the citizens is possible
and practically applicable.”  M’thinks you have misattributed something
to me that you wish to argue against but in fact I have not actually said
it.  What I did say on occasion is that direct democracy does not work in
large nations by reason of large populations.  A representative
democracy, if there is to be a democracy (which there isn’t in a
totalitarian or communist regime)  is what works.  I’ve also said that
direct democracy works at the local level in large countries.

Parliamentary systems may work as you describe but where part of the
system includes the representation of labor, and middle class, as it does
in England, and India, they do significantly include the non-wealthy. 
Let’s take India for example:

India’s Parliament is composed of the head of the country, a president,
and two Houses which make up a legislature. The President of India is
elected for a five-year term by an electoral college consisting of
members of federal and state legislatures.  There are two legislative
chambers:  The House of the People (Lok Sabha), interestingly enough,
543 elected plus two appointed members who represent the Anglo-
Indian community as specified by the Constitution of India. The two
unelected members are a relic from the past membership of the British
Commonwealth. The members of this house are elected under a
plurality electoral system. The Council of States (Rajya Sabha) has 245
members.  The members are elected by legislators of the state and
union (federal) territories.  The elected members are chosen under the
system of proportional representation by means of the Single
Transferable Vote. The twelve nominated members are usually a broad
combination of preeminent artists that include, by the way, actors,
scientists, jurists, sportspersons, businessmen and journalists and
common people.

The British Parliament is also bicameral with a House of Lords and a
House of Commons.  The House of Lords is self-explanatory and are
composed of those you spoke of, the wealthy. The House of Commons
on the other hand, The Commons is a democratically elected body.  It is
said this house has more legislative power then the upper house. The
“lower house,” does not mean it relinquishes any power, but only refers
to the “power” of the House of Lords to delay rather than veto any
legislation. The lower house (House of Commons) is the house that
designates the head of the government, or the Prime Minister and may
remove them through a vote of no confidence. Minors, Members of the
House of Lords, prisoners, and insane persons are not qualified to
become Members of the lower house.

The Parliament of Japan, however, has both houses approval the PM and
its legislature is also bicameral.  Sweden and New Zealand democracies
have unicameral Parliaments, where Communist states, i.e., PR of China,
Cuba, PR of Poland, Ukraine, Moldova and Serbia have unicameral
legislatures where it is thought that it is a more “efficient” lawmaking
body (and most certainly there would be no possibility of simplicity and
legislative deadlock).

Nor did I say, and you have a bad habit of saying I said things that I
didn’t,
that I “don’t believe in building a classless society.”  I said it
is an impossibility.  Get things right… or there is no dialogue!  The
reason Ancient Greece failed in its democracy of protected property
rights was much more complex than you have stated. Is it the pot (you)
calling the kettle (me) black?  You should give complete reasons as well. 
At times when socialism was installed as a politicoeconomic system, of
large countries (to qualify it more precisely) they have failed.  It is only
in theory that they “seem” to work.

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By Foucauldian, June 24, 2010 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

To continue:

I like the will idea, Anarcisse, along with that of value.  Values are what define our interests, and will actualizes them (the means-end nexus, as per George Herbert Mead). 

Yet, it’s on account of values that we experience conflict - e.g., moral values (as per Kantian dictum to regard the other as ends, never as means) and a whole bunch of values which, for convenience sake, let us call “economic” values.

The point of Aristotle (and the classical thought) is that politics is an extension of morality/ethic, an extension whereby person-to-person relations and “code of conduct,” if you will, are made to apply to a society at large - in this case, a political community.  Hence the natural and ineveitable conflict between moral/ethical values and values of any other kind.  And morality as well as politics, so defined, always should trump other concerns.  (No utiliarian account or calculation here; that’s foreign to classical thought).  So here is a conceptual distinction as to the (proper) aims
of politics. 

It goes without saying, of course, that a human community must be more or less economically self-sufficient, and viable, before it could become a political community.  And in that sense, economic activity would appear to be both conceptually and perhaps historically prior to politization (which is a higher stage of development).  In that sense, therefore, it is more “natural” than politics; but then again, I don’t know what kind of mileage you want to derive from this.  I’ve already expressed my reservations concerning the “cognitive science” project - which, if I understand it correctly, attempts to reduce (perhaps not the best term to use here) social sciences to natural sciences and the naturalistic model.  If you want to discuss this further, I’m game.

One more word about separation of terms.  I do subscribe to Wittenstein’s view of language games, and that most our conceptual problems and difficulties arise from mixing language games, which makes them pseudoproblems, if you like.  I’m certain that something of the kind occurs here, when discussing politics and economics, but this would apply mostly to everyday discourse.

The problem seems to be, both politics and economics have, for better or worse, acquired theoretical baggage, some perhaps good and some less so, and this surely complicates things.  Which does mean we really have to thread carefully here, to make certain that our theretical terms are more or less in line with our ordinary understanding.  In short, a social theory must make sense, at least to the extent of being capable of being expressed in ordinary language terms.

Again, I do subscribe to Wittgenstein’s view of the natural language, and of the logic of natural language [which reflects the logic of human practice(s)], as a major criterion of meaning and of what counts as sense (or nonsene).

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Marat's avatar

By Marat, June 24, 2010 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

My reply (part 1) to Shenonymous (June 21)


„In America, anyone who  owns anything can be
considered bourgeoisie, it is not attached to any 
one class.  True, the wealthy have more ‘capital.’ 
However small the  property might be of those who are
not wealthy, they considered it  theirs, they own it,
and they do not want to give it up!  It is their
capital“, you said. The proposals put into the book
,,Transition of 21st Century Socialism in the EU“
were a significant break both from traditional
western social democracy and from its eastern
variant. Instead of seeing the transition to
socialism as being something that was to be achieved
by nationalisation of industry within the confines of
the nation state, the focus was on: 1.The assertion
of positive rights for labour against capital.
2.Radical monetary policies. 3.A programme for
participatory democracy at the European Union level.
It was proposed that the Euro be tied to labour time.
Currently the Euro is equivalent to the value created
by about 2 mins of labour. It was proposed that the
European Central Bank be put under the direction of a
value policy committee – similar in some ways to
Brown’s monetary policy committee, except that it
would be made up of economists nominated by the
parliament plus lay members chosen as a citizens jury
by lot. German economists Bartsch and Stamher
presented interesting accounts of how they were
working on complete national accounts in terms of
labour time. Once the value of the Euro had been
stabilised in terms of time, the Euro notes would
have their time content printed on them. This would
immediately raise the question in the minds of
European workers: why am I only being paid 20 or 30
mins for each hour I work? The issue of exploitation
would rise to the top of the political agenda.
Instead of firms being nationalised, which raises all
sorts of issues relating to expropriation or
compensation, the focus should be on directly
abolishing wage slavery in a manner analogous to the
abolition of slavery in the USA by the 13th
amendment. It was suggested that we should aim for a
European constitutional right not be exploited. If
employees were being paid less than the full value
added by their labour, trades unions should have a
legal right to claim the difference back from the
employers. Whilst this would make all firms
unprofitable, they would not be unviable from the
point of view of their then principle stakeholders –
their employees. To relieve firms of the burden of
debt, there should be general debt amnesty affection
all public and private debt other than banks
obligation to private depositors up to a maximum of
30K euro. The vast majority of private depositors
hold much less than this. The rentier class, who hold
millions in deposits would, on the other hand , face
the euthansia of which Keynes spoke.

You claim that there will always be a group or class
which wants to be singled out as the ruling. I
agree. However, we should find reasons why it happens
and to try to appropriate alternatives to destroy
this evil in roots. But you also claim that you don’t
believe in building a classless society, though you
don’t give a strong argument why this is so (I will
return to this below). „The current EU states derived
their constitutional model from the Roman Republic
via the French Revolution, and as such conciously
adopted a state form that was optimal to the rule of
the propertied classes. It was for this reason that
Ancient Greece faced the treaon of its propertied
classes when invaded by Roman Imperialism. The
Republic was seen then and now as the ideal form of
rule by the wealthy“, writes Marxist Paul
Cockshot. It tell us only one - that democracy in
class society is an illusion and that there will
always be trends of the wealthy to be able to lift
smoothly to fulfill their private interests, by
exploiting the working people.

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Marat's avatar

By Marat, June 24, 2010 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

My reply (part 3) to Shenonymous, June 21

Your „argument against classical democracy is that it
was a democracy of the slave owners, and so has
nothing to teach us. On the one hand this objection
is just irrelevant: the modern advocates of direct
democracy do not propose the reintroduction of
slavery. It is also based upon a misconception about
ancient Greek society. Athens was not a slave-owners’
democracy, it was a democracy of the freeborn
citizens. Slaves were excluded from citizenship, but
the majority of the citizens were not slave-owners.
The great bulk of the demos was made up of the
working poor peasants and artisans. The demokratia
was the instrument they used in their class struggle
against the rich, the big landowners who were also
the big slave-holders. The latter favoured an
oligarchic constitution, and were eventually able to
impose this with the help of Roman imperialism“,
would reply Paul Cockshott.

Your identification of „dictatorship of the
proletariat“ with „new ruling class which rules to
satisfy their own interests“ is trivial from the
theoretical aspect, as we have shown above, and also,
this identification is historically refuted. The
Bolshevik coup of October 1917, the federal
government stepped into the hands of Lenin and
Trotsky, who immediately dialed the demolition of the
new socialist institutions that occurred during the
people’s revolution of previous months - factory
authorities, councils, in fact, all organs of the
National power. Since then not allowed any socialist
deviation.

„The modern state, as we have said, is based upon
centralist, hierarchical principles. The institutions
of democracy provide a quite different model. In a
democracy there was no government, no prime minister,
no president, no head of state. Sovereign power
rested with the popular assembly. Particular branches
of the state were run by juries or officials drawn by
lot. Power flows neither up nor down, but is
diffused. We can sketch out how these principles
might be applied today. At one level, the sovereignty
of the people would be exercised by electronic voting
on televised debates. To ensure that this was
universal, TVs and voting phones should be available
free as a constitutional right. This would be
analogous to the payment for jury service that the
Athenians introduced to allow the poor to participate
in the assembly“, writes Paul Cockshott.

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By Marat, June 24, 2010 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

My reply (part 2) to Shenonymous, June 21

Your accusations against my simplification of parliamentary system it doesn’t refute my argument, but on the contrary, your examples of direct influence of citizens in making important decisions in some countries, which you mentioned, contradict to your statement that democracy is impossible, and it results from exceptions that rule of the will of the citizens is possible and practically applicable. Other such exemples are in the jury system, the modern Swiss cantons and recently in the Canadian province of British Colombia that set up a Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform in which members were chosen at random. But generally, the parliamentary system is under the dictatorship of the professional politicians - contemporary aristocracy and capitalists - oligarchy. I do not believe that in Canada, Sweden or the UK it takes short term before the people can vote unpopular politicians out of power. It may take years! If the professional politicians collectively decide to raise their salaries, paid by the citizens, who is going to stop them? Patronage and nepotism worsen the representation of these politicians further and because of that they do not work in accordance with the same experiences and interests as common people. In which parliamentary state the level of taxes, the percentage of national tax that goes to investment, health, education and so on, are regulated by direct public vote? In contrary, when faced with demands for referendums, politicians often reveal their contempt for the will of the people they claim to serve. Democracy, as originally understood, is the rule of the common people; Parliamentarism, on the other hand, is the rule of professional politicians.

Here is too Paul Cockshott’s opinion: „In fact all capitalist states are plutocratic oligarchies. Plutocracy is rule by a moneyed class; oligarchy is rule by the few… These are the characteristic principles of the modern state. This state, the end or telos of history according to Fukuyama (1992), the most perfect form of class rule since the Roman republic, exercises such hegemony, spiritual and temporal, that it appears to have banished all competition. Effective power resides in a series of concentric circles, concentrating as they contract through parliament and cabinet to prime minister or president: oligarchy. This power is openly exercised in the name of Capital, it being now accepted by all concerned that the job of government is to serve the ends of business, the highest objective of a state: plutocracy. The plutocracy’s power derives from its command over wage labour, a relationship of dominance and servitude whose dictatorial nature is not abolished by the right to vote. Psephonomia or election is merely a mechanism for the selection of individual oligarchs. It at once lends legitimacy to their rule, and enables these to be recruited from the ‘best’ and most energetic members of the lower classes (aristoi). At best, election transforms oligarchy into aristocracy. Aristotle regarded oligarchy as a deviation from aristocracy: However the name aristocracy is used to mark a distinction from oligarchy… it describes a constitution in which election to office depends on merit and not only on wealth. But oligarchy readily passes for aristocratic since almost everywhere the rich and the well educated upper classes are co-extensive (Politics, 1293). Substitute ‘meritocratic’ for ‘aristocratic’ and the verbal change well encapsulates the historical metamorphosis of British society since the early 19th century, as Parliament was opened to individuals of merit who were not necessarily well born. But the key question is not that some individuals of relatively humble origin are recruited to public office, it is who holds power. All else is illusory“.

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By Marat, June 24, 2010 at 9:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My reply (part 1) to Shenonymous, June 21

„In America, anyone who  owns anything can be
considered bourgeoisie, it is not attached to any 
one class.  True, the wealthy have more ‘capital.’ 
However small the  property might be of those who are
not wealthy, they considered it  theirs, they own it,
and they do not want to give it up!  It is their
capital“, you said. The proposals put into the book
,,Transition of 21st Century Socialism in the EU“
were a significant break both from traditional
western social democracy and from its eastern
variant. Instead of seeing the transition to
socialism as being something that was to be achieved
by nationalisation of industry within the confines of
the nation state, the focus was on: 1.The assertion
of positive rights for labour against capital.
2.Radical monetary policies. 3.A programme for
participatory democracy at the European Union level.
It was proposed that the Euro be tied to labour time.
Currently the Euro is equivalent to the value created
by about 2 mins of labour. It was proposed that the
European Central Bank be put under the direction of a
value policy committee – similar in some ways to
Brown’s monetary policy committee, except that it
would be made up of economists nominated by the
parliament plus lay members chosen as a citizens jury
by lot. German economists Bartsch and Stamher
presented interesting accounts of how they were
working on complete national accounts in terms of
labour time. Once the value of the Euro had been
stabilised in terms of time, the Euro notes would
have their time content printed on them. This would
immediately raise the question in the minds of
European workers: why am I only being paid 20 or 30
mins for each hour I work? The issue of exploitation
would rise to the top of the political agenda.
Instead of firms being nationalised, which raises all
sorts of issues relating to expropriation or
compensation, the focus should be on directly
abolishing wage slavery in a manner analogous to the
abolition of slavery in the USA by the 13th
amendment. It was suggested that we should aim for a
European constitutional right not be exploited. If
employees were being paid less than the full value
added by their labour, trades unions should have a
legal right to claim the difference back from the
employers. Whilst this would make all firms
unprofitable, they would not be unviable from the
point of view of their then principle stakeholders –
their employees. To relieve firms of the burden of
debt, there should be general debt amnesty affection
all public and private debt other than banks
obligation to private depositors up to a maximum of
30K euro. The vast majority of private depositors
hold much less than this. The rentier class, who hold
millions in deposits would, on the other hand , face
the euthansia of which Keynes spoke.

You claim that there will always be a group or class
which wants to be singled out as the ruling. I
agree. However, we should find reasons why it happens
and to try to appropriate alternatives to destroy
this evil in roots. But you also claim that you don’t
believe in building a classless society, though you
don’t give a strong argument why this is so (I will
return to this below). „The current EU states derived
their constitutional model from the Roman Republic
via the French Revolution, and as such conciously
adopted a state form that was optimal to the rule of
the propertied classes. It was for this reason that
Ancient Greece faced the treaon of its propertied
classes when invaded by Roman Imperialism. The
Republic was seen then and now as the ideal form of
rule by the wealthy“, writes Marxist Paul
Cockshot. It tell us only one - that democracy in
class society is an illusion and that there will
always be trends of the wealthy to be able to lift
smoothly to fulfill their private interests, by
exploiting the working people.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 24, 2010 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

If we don’t believe in an abstract world order or substance,
philosophies can be regarded merely as interpretations, that is,
as implicated stories, narratives, that are no more important than
myth.  Useful as a tool in broader human thought, philosophy plays
the role of clarification of our thinking.  I think that is what
philosophy ought to do, nothing more. In that sense, philosophy
does more than myths.  It forces thought and offers resolutions. 
Myths provide fantasy analogies, explanations, where the thinking
skills cannot really gain understanding unless comparative thought
takes place using abstract or universal forms and seen in extant
instances to show the reality of the ideas.  When that happens, we
enter the realm of philosophy.  We,as finite and historical human
beings, can only create special stories about the world and ourselves to
others and to ourselves more importantly. There is, in other words, no
final piece of knowledge about a thing.  The abstract or universal
framework is just that, and I think that is what Wittgenstein and his
attendant, Foucault, were getting at, only in their elaborate and unique
verbal way.  We have always lived in an age of storytelling from the cave
onward and philosophy is subjectively relative but is also useful
objectively.  At least that is how it appears to me.  Once conclusions are
realized, it then philosophy becomes of paramount use (pragmatic if
you prefer) when it motivates the emotions to be expressed in actions,
or not, as the case may be.

In my preferred Socratic way, it seems definitions are required if any
progress can possibly be made.  You undoubtedly already know this
and what I am about to define, as does Anarcissie, but a recap won’t
hurt to make sure we are speaking the same language.  I expect
correction where I’ve gone astray.

Starting with the first concept you presented: a political system is a
compound of politics, which is a process by which groups of people
make collective decisions in combination with a government.  A
government is the agency, or the organized instrument of power or
influence exerted by administrators, who are selected by some means
or another, on the members (the people) of its collective (society).

You say “the” political system has been hijacked the world over by the
economic system. You did not say exactly what political system it is
that did the hijacking as there are several systems, but let that go for
the moment.  Nor did you describe the economic system that did the
hijacking.  Let’s look at what can be meant by “economic system” for it
seems that what economic basis a society evolves to have determines
the kind of politics that also evolves along with it.

This one seems to be a bit easier, but maybe not.  The term economic
system more or less means “a set of methods and standards by which a
society decides and organizes the allocation of limited economic
resources to satisfy unlimited human wants.” This comes from my old
1989 college book.  That seems straightforward and simple enough.

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By Shenonymous, June 24, 2010 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

But is it?  Two polarized theories of economic systems emerge. 
One is expressed by Adam Smith who wrote, that when one pursues
his self-interest he indirectly promotes the good of society.  By
pursuing his own interest, one frequently promotes as a bi-product
“the good of the society more effectually than when he intentionally
promotes it.”
  He further argued that self-interested competition in
a free market would be liable to benefit the whole society by fostering
low prices yet have a built-in incentive to provide a broad range of
goods and services and is called private-enterprise and is at bottom
the capitalist orientation.  At the other end of the spectrum of economic
systems is the one Karl Marx is credited with commonly called a pure-
communist system where all resources are publicly owned with intent
of minimizing inequalities of wealth among other social objectives.
A
closer look at the reality of socialism is on the menu.

Barry Clark writes that economics is associated with efforts to achieve
the highest possible material standard of living from available resources
and has three dimensions: efficiency, growth, and stability.  Politics is
the effort to establish and protect rights so citizens can receive and
hold that to which they are entitled with the primary goal of justice that
involves individual freedom, equity in the distribution of benefits and
burdens, and social order.  The idea of entitlement, then, is the pivotal
point.  Also we have to ask if prosperity and justice are connected, and
if they are, how they are?  Seems there has not been much discussion
of these two subjects separately nor as conjoined.  If the post-modern
impulse is to unmask the underlying concepts of various ideals as
expressed in societies, then that is not too unlike what was Socrates’
agenda and for which he died, actually.  I don’t see the post-
modernists as so committed.  A lot of talk but no action, no solutions
only unmasking.  It is the same impulse that drives a lot of the talk on
these forums.

”Let’s backtrack a bit, Shenon.  True, “capitalism” is a rather vague
term, and perhaps we ought to define it for the purpose of the
discussion.  For starters, let’s agree it’s an economic system whereby
the means of production and the relations of production are defined by
“capital,” and that over time, capital becomes concentrated at the hands
of what becomes “the ruling class,” on analogy with landed aristocracy
of old, whereby ownership of land carried all the rights and privileges. 
We can always improve on the definition in stages.”

I don’t think capitalism is a vague term.  It has a specific meaning in
economics as a system based on free markets, open competition with
an eye on profit motive, but one which extols as its highest virtues,
private ownership of the means of production and ownership of
property.  Capitalism is the right to own and use wealth to earn income
and to buy and sell labor with little government control.  This is in
sharp contrast to socialism/communism where all property is held in
common by a community or a state and all the economic and social
activity is controlled by a totalitarian single self-perpetuating political
party. 

But more on the universal application of capitalism next time.  There
is a lot to unpack from the recent discussion.  I don’t think it is
advantageous, at least for me, to go too fast.  Snail’s pace is just about
right for absorption to happen with my spongy brain.

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By Foucauldian, June 23, 2010 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

Interesting post, Anarcissie.  Looked up your reference, BTW, Dan Sperber, on Google Books - http://books.google.com/books?id=gPzLM1-UWVoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Explaining+Culture&hl=en&ei;=-qQiTNC-FMSblgeIpYHHBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f;=false.

Interesting approach, beware however it’s a “cognitive science” project.  I have my reservations, which I’ll express later.

Also, a very interesting set of connections on your part, original, I should say.  You have given this matter a great deal of individual thought.  I’ve never quite heard it expressed that way.  At the very least, you’re opening the door to further understanding and a more precise set of
“definitions.”

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By Anarcissie, June 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

By “politics” I mean the theory and practice of determining whose will is to prevail (in a community)—and I suppose, where many wills are in play, how their differences are to be accounted for.  In other words it is about power—the power to do as one wills and possibly to make others do as one wills.  I think this definition covers the way most of us talk about and conceptualize the political, although they might not put it in those terms.

It is more difficult for me to characterize “economics” succinctly because sometimes it seems to be about value, and sometimes about energy.  (And maybe other things as well, but for me these are what stand out.)  The connection of either to politics (will) does not seem controversial: one values that which one wills; one accomplishes what one wills through the use of energy.  One of the things that puts me off out many writers observing economics is that their concepts of these things seem to slide around uneasily.  Thus someone says “capitalist organization” but it isn’t clear whether political organization or transfer of value or something else is meant.

Lately I’ve been reading a book, Explaining Culture by Dan Sperber (Directeur de Recherche at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Paris; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Sperber).  He seems to be trying to connect anthropology and sociology to physics (to skip over a few dozen explanatory steps).  It is an interesting project in outline—and the book is really only an outline.  I would like to see someone do something like that with economics; then I might know what I was talking about, instead of talking about it first and hoping some meaning would drop out of the discourse.

You can assume I know nothing about Aristotle other than that he was Greek and approved of slavery.

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By Foucauldian, June 23, 2010 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

I don’t think politics and economics do anything.

. . . they . . . [are different] ways of looking at (quite possibly the same) phenomena, rather than two sets of phenomena.  They are ways of examining social behavior, one we might say focused on power relations, the other on value or energy.

A phenomenological view, I suppose.  Or to put it in another way, different descriptions (with different purposes in mind).

Mightn’t we speak here of aspects of “the social”?  And if so, are there any “causal” relationships?

It’s true that in postmodern thought they’re treated as a complex, and this they do form.  Still, Foucault speaks at times, by way of offering a strategy, of disavowing ourselves of “the political,” which perpetuates the existing relations. 

I suppose he’s falling back here on the ancient idea that “the political” represents the freedom of thought and action, to rein in, if necessary, on “the economic,” which is, by and large, an accretion of human practice.  Of course, on Foucault’s view, the political has been betrayed; it serves the economic.  And in that sense, both are manifestations of the same system of domination, for which very reason they’re are lumped together as a result.  But surely, the critique stems from the conception of “the political” as some kind of ideal.

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By Foucauldian, June 23, 2010 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Rights are a construct, Shenon, and you’re right, a rather recent development in the annals of political philosophy.  And while the focus on rights has been instrumental when it comes to attaining much of “human progress” in terms of the splintered liberation movements - the women, the blacks, the gays - I have a sneaking suspicion the usefulness of the concept is limited and perhaps needs be replaced by a more comprehensive concept. 

My main objection, to focusing on rights has to do with the fact that it buys into the existing system, the status quo, without questioning the general parameters.  Ultimately, of course, appeal to “rights” is a form of exhortation, no different, I suppose, in which appeal to moral language is used.  It’s prescriptive for the main part rather than descriptive (John Austin and John Searle on speech acts).

As to your remarks on “human nature” and the corrupting influences which are always liable to creep in as it were, I think we’re in agreement.  Less so, perhaps, on the need for “property.”

And there, too, as you state, it’s a recent development (as compared to the times when land was used as Commons).

The challenge is to replace the competitive/conflict model with a model featuring co-operation.  It’s not all that clear that “human nature” leans one way or another.  An argument can be made for either side (as per Kropotkin, for example).

Last point, for the time being

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By Shenonymous, June 23, 2010 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Merci, it is refreshing.

Getting up to speed will be a challenge but one that I will relish.
I am superficially acquainted with Foucault, et al, and will spend
time absorbing what I can as I can. That said, I will continue
with some thoughts I’ve had since my, our, last posts since I found
it intriguing to stretch my knowledge and push into this new territory
on the forum. Pardon me if I may have digressed. I think I am still in
the ball park.

If Castoriadis is going to be invoked, it’s fair to speak right off of his
philosophy of autonomy, within which, politically speaking, reference is
to self-governance of a people which democracy is regardless of the
corruptions that sometimes accompanies it.  I would submit that
corruption always accompanies every form of government as it is the
nature of humans to always try to best another.  Natural competition as
it were. It can be attempted to control such corruption with laws and
enforcement, but the fact that there has to be such laws decidedly says
it is man’s nature to be corrupt.  When it comes to the individual,
autonomy is synonymous with anarchy. I believe, with Levinas, in the
imperative that humans are responsible for the quality of their own
lives and responsible to be moral when choosing to live within the
confines of a society. But to be moral then means to follow the code of
ethics developed by the society which may or may not match what one
thinks is in his/her self-interest. The options are to try to change the
code or go elsewhere. But more than that, along with Kant, I believe
one acts morally because it is good in itself to do so and that is how
human dignity comes to be built, through self-reflection and taking
charge of one’s own life. Self-reliance is a virtue in my book.

What Castoriadis called self-examination, Socrates called knowing
oneself.  The ideal human mind, in some ancient Greek perspectives
was self-reflection and is embodied in their philosophy and their art. It
is what is known as the Hellenic impulse.  When that impulse became
corrupt, as the way all systems of human behavior seem to go for
reasons given earlier, it became Hellenistic, or a perversion of what was
self-reflective, it became self-serving self-interest.  This perversion is
what I believe happens to modes of government and economics.  Shall
we see where this discussion leads?  To go just a little way…

The notion of property ownership is one that has not been a right had
by people the world over.  It seems to me that under the oppression of
serfdom and slavery the ability to own property by all members of the
population of the world is relatively speaking historically a new concept. 
Winning its war for independence, the United States has come to
represent the idea that anyone and everyone can own property under
constitutional law. An idea that needs yet to percolate, it is this right
that I use as a basis to say communism or strong socialism will not ever
be the foundation of government in America.

It is quite true that humans are not born into the world as property
owners.  Just as true they are not born as religious beings either, nor
entitled to anything really, the only right they have, if it could even be
called a right, is the right to breathe and the right to find food for
sustenance.  In other words, the basic natural right to live only by the
fact of his/her birth.  It is a right given by nature. Given this, then, how
is it humans gain a foothold in life to stand independently?  How is it
we become the proprietor of our own internal nature?  From where do
rights emerge?  Particularly an invention such as property rights since
one does not owe their identity nor any natural position whatever to
one’s community or any authority be it government (one’s society) or
religion?  I would like to spend some time discussing these ideas since
capitalism vs socialism hinge on how the right to property is perceived.

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By Anarcissie, June 23, 2010 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Foucauldian, June 22 at 3:02 pm:
‘Why do you suppose that capitalism is ontologically different than any other system of production?  It’s just as historical and temporary as other economic systems throughout history.  It has no greater claim to longevity or permanance than former modes.  It will be made obsolete by historical forces which are always at work.  Don’t you see the signs of the system’s breakdown?’

Not really.  Capitalism (as we know it) corresponds to a certain level of development (all kinds of development), in which the means of production and political authority are the possessions of an elite, a minority, although not necessarily one that is closed, hereditary, or highly authoritarian.  The next stage of development would be the distribution of these means and powers to people generally and would be evidenced by the rise of cooperative, democratic or anarchic relations and institutions.  While there is some of this going on and a lot of talk about it, by and large most communities, including large, important states, are becoming less democratic, less egalitarian, less free, apparently with the consent if not the enthusiasm of most of the population.  Agreed, this could change at any time—but I haven’t seen those changes taking place on a broad scale yet, which is what I would expect if capitalism were giving way to different order.  Nor (in spite of what I say immediately above) has there been wide reversion to feudalism, fascism, mafias.  So I think capitalism is going to be with us for awhile.


‘Secondly, what’s at stake for you in trying to keep politics and economics as though inseparable?  In what sense are they inseparable?  Conceptually?’

I think I said they were ways of looking at (quite possibly the same) phenomena, rather than two sets of phenomena.  They are ways of examining social behavior, one we might say focused on power relations, the other on value or energy.

‘For one thing, we’ve got the structure-superstructure form of analysis from Marx.  And in the classical, Aristotelean sense, politics was the most encompassing mode of thought - wasn’t it?  So perhaps you should clarify.’

Lastly, I’m not certain what point you’re making with respect to absence or presence of “agency.”  And how does it impact your view(s)?’

I don’t think politics and economics do anything.  It’s as if I say I have a telescope which can see the rings of Saturn.  What I mean is that I can see the rings of Saturn using the telescope.  Perhaps this is a language quibble.  Whether we use one or the other depends on what we want to do.  Speaking of Foucault, I think he discusses this sort of thing in The Archeology of Knowledge, with regard to botany, although my memory of this has become pretty vague.

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By Foucauldian, June 23, 2010 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

Let’s backtrack a bit, Shenon.  True, “capitalism” is a rather vague term, and perhaps we ought to define it for the purpose of the discussion.  For starters, let’s agree it’s an economic system whereby the means of production and the relations of production are defined by “capital,” and that over time, capital becomes concentrated at the hands of what becomes “the ruling class,” on analogy with landed aristocracy of old, whereby ownership of land carried all the rights and privileges.  We can always improve on the definition in stages.

Anyway, that said, my critique of the system is not limited to mere abuses and the recurrence of business cycles but partakes of social consequences - such things as commodifications, consumerism, objectification of the individual, hyperreality, and a whole bunch of other things (and I’m certain we’ll get into it later).

You’re not too familiar, I reckon, with postmodern thought.  Well, for starters, I recommend Foucault’s collection of essays, Power/Knowledge and Jean-Francoise Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge

The latter is a rather difficult read, but you should try to stumble through it.  It will bring you up to speed on the failure of Project Enlightenment, and yes, Reason itself - in that the progress in the sciences, knowledge, and the technology did not bring about the much hoped for human emancipation.  Again, it’s a must-read if you want to be up-to-date on the latest in social thought.

You mention Weber.  Well, Weber himself questioned the idea of Reason - his three spheres - because of its instrumentality, so this is just a continuation - a very cogent argument by Lyotard, presented besides from a historical perspective.

You might also look up Richard Wolff’s lectures on capitalism, as well as David Harvey’s lectures on “Reading Capital,” both in video and print forms.  Fascinating stuff.  I’ll provide the links if you’re interested.

Other than that, I must say it’s a pleasure dialoging with you, not only for the challenges you’re presenting, but more importantly perhaps, because of your intellectual detachment that so many lack, a detachment without which no real conversation is possible.  So let’s agree that we’re not arguing here:  my one and only object is to reach a common ground.  And take it from there.

And BTW, I was born and raised in Poland, so I do know what you’re talking about when you speak of “bland faces.”

Volya naroda!

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By Foucauldian, June 23, 2010 at 6:30 am Link to this comment

Let’s examine your argument, Shenon.  First thing first. 

You cite the People’s Republic of China or the Czech Republic - clearly political entities at different stage of economic development when compared to the postindustrial West.  So indeed, there is no argument here that capitalism will indeed bring these countries “up to snuff,” just it had done so for all who have experienced the Industrial Revolution.  Indeed, we may view the developments there, in the past Soviet Union, indeed, even in parts of the Third Worlds - parts, that is, that aren’t being “colonized” by the Western powers, such as Brazil, for example - as going through their own “industrial/technological revolution,” in a manner of speaking. 

So far so good, but you’re not addressing capitalism as a global phenomenon, nor as a phenomenon which has reached a saturation point, its outer limits as it were; and the US stands here is the paramount “example.”

Indeed, many social theorists from the Third World argue that the right kind of modifications to “the system” - Castoriadis comes to mind - are likely to originate in those cultures rather than from within the context of the bankrupt West.  (I’ll provide the links later.)

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By Shenonymous, June 22, 2010 at 11:43 pm Link to this comment

You must mean “John” Dewey.

“The political system has been hijacked the world over by
the economic system.  It’s capitalism, such as we know it, that has
got to be eradicated before the world can be set “aright.”  Capitalism
is the culprit.”

It seems like wishful thinking.  The ideological polarization between
socialism/communism on one side and capitalism on the other
inarguably dominated the 20th c.  Yet as we see today the People’s
Republic of China is the only significant power still attached to a
communist ideology, and there private property and markets are
extensive.  The diminished, nearly depleted commitment to the aims of
wholesale central planning or public ownership has certainly
undermined faith in a state socialist future.  It is obvious with the
disintegration of the eastern bloc that Stalin and Mao economics have
not survived even in the facts of more liberal, or democratic state
socialism.  We see it also in post-communist Czech Republic which is
really most curious in view of the fact that its transition was began and
accomplished in the absence of a capitalist class.  This was a unique
conversion it is true, but as examined by Gil Eyal in an article in Theory
and Society, privatization proceeded more cautiously where there was
diffuse ownership rights and only de facto managerial control in place. 
He called it a capitalism without capitalists.  An interesting development
from which much could be learned.

“In short, I don’t see any future for liberal democracies with the
economic system intact.”

It seems to me that capitalism will not be going but will have to be
restructured only because public awareness is catching up to what the
principles of economic equality and justice really means to them. 
Keynes in his general theory noted at the end “how much human
economic behavior is driven by ideas.”  I think it is safe to say that the
economic picture is for the most part a result of the beliefs, ideas, and
the abstract economic orientation of economic agents.

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By Shenonymous, June 22, 2010 at 11:41 pm Link to this comment

Capitalism is an abstract idea not a description of historical
situations.  For all its faults, there is a “spirit” in people in
capitalist societies but not the kind as theorized by Weber
as a Protestant (religious) sense of moral duty, or a “calling,”
which accompanies the profit-seeking activities of capitalist
entrepreneurs which play a major role in rationalizing their
conduct,
but the kind of spirit that comes from the excitement
to produce things and take joy and pride in ownership of property
that is not found in socialistic/communistic societies.  I have always
been struck by the wretched general look of the people who live
under communistic states.  I highly doubt the American public can
be convinced to give up their property and right to own property. 
The problems seen in Greece and Spain and Portugal will go away
and austerity will follow but then I see a new permutation of capitalism
developing.

...postmodernists take a different view… Reason has failed.

Hardly reason, for without it you have only chaos.
 
“So yes, capitalism has got to go.”

Do you really think so?  Do you really think Smith’s “commercial
society” in which individuals can privately own property and possess the
right to use these resources or that freedom of enterprise, competition,
and a limited control by government is going to go away?

Foucault’s skeptical view that all our institutions and ideals are
historically-conditioned and tarnished, which is to say, they carry
remnants of class division and class rule.

 
This appears to be true, but it is true of all our experiences.  We learn
from birth we are in a different class than our parents and who rules,
LOL.  Seriously, I don’t think this can be argued against.  But if all of
them are so affected then we choose the best we can based on our
circumstances.  Besides Foucault’s is a theory and has not been put into
practice.

Since I am only an occasional reader of economic theory, not really a
student of the science, I can only express observations culled from the
literature I’ve run across.  But like everyone else, I have a vested ?
interest in our future.

Also, thank you Anarcissie for the info on the odd appearance of
question marks.

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By Foucauldian, June 22, 2010 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

OK, Anarcissie, to follow up.

Why do you suppose that capitalism is ontologically different than any other system of production?  It’s just as historical and temporary as other economic systems throughout history.  It has no greater claim to longevity or permanance than former modes.  It will be made obsolete by historical forces which are always at work.  Don’t you see the signs of the system’s breakdown?

Secondly, what’s at stake for you in trying to keep politics and economics as though inseparable?  In what sense are they inseparable?  Conceptually?

For one thing, we’ve got the structure-superstructure form of analysis from Marx.  And in the classical, Aristotelean sense, politics was the most encompassing mode of thought - wasn’t it?  So perhaps you should clarify.

Lastly, I’m not certain what point you’re making with respect to absence or presence of “agency.”  And how does it impact your view(s)?

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By Foucauldian, June 22, 2010 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie,

My reading of Foucault on “social theory” compares to Wittgenstein’s take with respect to philosophy:  the object was to offer descriptions.  Foucault shied from offering solutions (though at times he couldn’t help himself); for the main part, he offers a method of analysis for the purpose of unmasking. 

Which isn’t to say that we can disavow ourselves from the impulse to social theorizing and presenting strategies. 

The skepticism with regard to grand narratives (aka myths) is fully justified - insofar as those narratives aim at legitimization.  In that sense, the postmoderninst critique is spot on, undermining legitimization efforts.

The problem, as I foresee, is to save the concept of justice from Foucault’s notion of historicity and infinite regress.  And the idea of moral and aesthetic impulse (as having evolved from praxis), via transcendence, is one way to do it (unless you want to argue that right and wrong and our sense of beauty have been writ large in the human heart by the finger of God).

Qeuestion:  Am I offering just another grand narrative?

I’ll tend to the rest of your comment in a separate post.

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By Leefeller, June 22, 2010 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

And to have thought all this time, everyone was asking more questions then I or possibly, I was of the opinion people were making fun of me?

For I do not believe in absolutisms and especially those absolutisms followed by question marks?

Examples of absolutisms used here on TD, you are the horses ass of stupidity?  Another example of absolutisms used here on TD, this is the fact of facts?  Or, one can combine them
with something like this; You are wrong and I am right for I know everything which is true and only know the real and unreal facts for they are, because I am a Republican who uses the absolutest word of ....no!

May I qualify, I just read many posts by self proclaimed absolutists on other threads and am going through withdrawal!

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By Anarcissie, June 22, 2010 at 7:36 am Link to this comment

Foucauldian, June 21 at 9:34 pm:
’... As to your notion of “universal justice,” along the Socratic mode, I’m still somewhat conflicted about it.  For the time being, I’d rather take Foucault’s skeptical view that all our institutions and ideals are historically-conditioned and tarnished, which is to say, they carry remnants of class division and class rule.  Ultimately, however, I don’t believe it is possible for us to even imagine a perfect or near-perfect society without justice and a view of aesthetics and morality serving as a cornerstone; but I’d like to be able to argue for those concepts in terms of transcendence, transcendence, that is, from originally pragmatic and humble beginnings to the level of binding ideals.’

This seems like a considerable paradox.  First there is a dominant ideology, a “grand narrative”; then there isn’t; then there is.  Nice if you can pull it off, I suppose.

In regard to eradicating capitalism, it seems like an enormous amount of government force, especially police power, would have to be exerted to ensure that no capitalist relations of any kind anywhere ever arose.  Past experiments with this sort of thing have not turned out very well.  Most specifically, not only was a lot of violence and terror employed, but in the end capitalism returned anyway, being implicit in the new states as well as the old.

Incidentally I believe “economics” and “politics” are not things but ways of looking at things, usually the same things.  As such they lack agency. 

I believe the superfluous question marks come from the use of the return or enter key, which leaves a newline character which Truthdig’s content management software is too dumb to deal with.  But that’s just a guess.

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By Foucauldian, June 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

OK, Shenon, here is the first stab.

The political system has been hijacked the world over by the economic system.  It’s capitalism, such as we know it, that has got to be eradicated before the world can be set “aright.”  Capitalism is the culprit.

In short, I don’t seen any future for liberal democracies with the economic system intact.  Richard Rorty (e.g, Philosophy and Social Hope) argues for a happy resolution.  Conveniently, he omits the the dehumanizing effects of capitalism, still thinking of America along James Dewey’s and Walt Whitman’s lines - as “the great experiment.”  Well, the postmodernists take a different view.  They look back to the Project Enlightenment and all the promises of progress in terms of human emancipation.  And their view is, Reason has failed.  Rorty suffers from limited perspective, limited event-horizon.

So yes, capitalism has got to go.  It is going away, slowly but surely.  Witness the events in Greece, likely to spread to Spain and other members of the EU.  There are signs of fissure, of structural stresses.  Even Obama’s securing the trust fund from BP is unprecedented in a matter of speaking, a political entity taking a direct action against a multinational corporation without recourse to courts of law.  We’re in a transition period.

As to your notion of “universal justice,” along the Socratic mode, I’m still somewhat conflicted about it.  For the time being, I’d rather take Foucault’s skeptical view that all our institutions and ideals are historically-conditioned and tarnished, which is to say, they carry remnants of class division and class rule.  Ultimately, however, I don’t believe it is possible for us to even imagine a perfect or near-perfect society without justice and a view of aesthetics and morality serving as a cornerstone; but I’d like to be able to argue for those concepts in terms of transcendence, transcendence, that is, from originally pragmatic and humble beginnings to the level of binding ideals.

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By Foucauldian, June 21, 2010 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

That should be least of your worries, Shenon. 

Understand, it’ll take me a while to respond.

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By Shenonymous, June 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

Good grief, sorry about all the question marks. It is a TD quirk.
It makes my comments about questions a hoot!  I think you can
read past them and put them in where they belong. I really don’t
want to repost this.  Thank you for your indulgence.

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By Shenonymous, June 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, June 21 at 1:30 pm – Have not had time to read your?
website thoroughly, but I did take a peek and you might find me ?
there after not too long. Have to budget my time, as most everyone
?does.  I like small group discussions.  I love African rooibos?red tea
and drink it by the wheelbarrowsful.  Since you are new to TD? my
middle name is Hyerbole, and Meticulous is the last.

Foucauldian, June 21 at 5:41 pm - I am wondering if money interest ?
politics is not seeping into governments everywhere in the world? 
Since ?I was addressing the dictatorship of the proletariat vs the
dictatorship of ?the bourgeoisie, I deliberately avoided discussion of
the American ?professional politicians, which I think have been created
by the ?respective political party machines.  As a Democrat I shy away
from all ?the organizational seductions.  I think robotic politicians are
being ?created by them, both the Dems and the Repubs.  I think that
mold ?needs broken like a litho stone or rubbed out to hell and back
once an ?edition has been printed, and not only term limits but
campaign finance ?rules revised, passed by Congress, and enforced by
Congress.  That is ?what the public needs to insist on.  There needs to
be some real ?penalities for pseudo politicians who are bribed by money
interests.  ?But you are right, that is another whole issue.

The putative property owners’ dictatorship is supported by a legal and ?
juridical system, and it seems to me regulation is the tool that forces ?
honesty, though a forced honesty is hardly honesty but let’s say ersatz ?
honesty.  If men will be cheats and liars, then they have to be treated as
?such in order for the society to operate justly, which really does not ?
have much to do with the legal system.  Justice is not really ?
administered by any bourgeoisie government, and would seem to be ?
even less so in a proletariat driven structure.  Justice has to do with ?
moral rightness, equity, upholding established rights, and generally the ?
proper ordering of the life of a society.  I don’t think any government ?
regardless of it basic character has ever been responsive to real justice ?
for its citizens.  That is a cynical view I know.  But I would be happy to
see ?evidence to the contrary.  Now the question of surveillance is
curious.  It ?has to be broken down into kinds of surveillance and in that
sense ?might be foucauldian, but I just see it as a matter of making clear
what ?is meant.  Not adding terms as that makes clarity almost
impossible.  I ?prefer Socratic analysis where one comes to understand
ideas through a ?series of questions, more introspective thinking goes
on.  Isn’t there a ?need for security of the population since there are
groups in the world ?who would do Americans harm?  And doesn’t it
seem like some ?surveillance system needs to make sure the financial
world is not ?ravishing the public?  So don’t we have to know what is
meant by ?surveillance to have any rational discussion about it? Am I
wrong?  On ?the other hand, it seems a dictatorship of the proletariat
would also ?need a judicial system, as there are bound to be disputes? 
It is human ?nature.  Tribunals can be tyrannically dangerous, or
inefficient.  I am ?not sure, I am not trained in the legal sciences.

I don’t see the contradiction you alluded to with respect to my ?
discussion about parliamentary systems.  Maybe I am just tired and ?
eyes bleary, but I’ve was making a distinction of two kinds of such ?
bodies and how they are constructed.  Oligarchic parliaments would be ?
completely run by a small faction such as a local aristocracy.  Posslbly ?
seen today in Latvia, Ukraine, Argentina, even Russia?  I can’t see, even ?
though they are advertised as such, that any of these sovereignties ?
show a real democracy, direct or representative.  Do you?

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By Foucauldian, June 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

Interesting comment, Shenon.  I don’t want to get into the tricky business concerning the differentiation between different forms of parliamentary systems.  Certainly in the US “professional politicians” have been the rule rather than the exception (for all intents and purposes), if only because money interests drive our politics.  But to the larger issue.

You say, “the bourgeoisie dictatorship, in contrast, and expectedly, as also claimed by Marxists, hides its ‘unofficial’ official ideology and its seen in its domination of the political architecture.”

Of course it’s very Foucauldian as well - and you might throw into the equation the entire legal-juridical system as well as the mechanism of regulation and surveillance brought about by the mushrooming of the disciplines and their corresponding knowledge regimes.

So my question is, unless you’re making a kind of distinction between parliamentary systems in the postindustrial West, on the one hand, and the bourgeoisie dictatorship on the other - which I don’t believe you are - you seem to be contradicting the main import of your third paragraph.

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By Leefeller, June 21, 2010 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

Opportunism seems prevalent in all forms of government, 
religion, and social situations.  This may just be a
human concept of the animal pecking order? Most anyone
who raises animals should be able to observe this and
the comparison dove tails quite well, humans most often
seem the lower animal in the kingdom, but of course I
am prejudiced.

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By Foucauldian, June 21, 2010 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

You’re a sharp cookie, Shenon, always an intellectual challenge.

I’ve been immersed in French social thought/theory for the past year or so, and we do have a small discussion group of our own.  Here’s a website:  http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/bye-bye-miss-american-pie-part2/comments-page-52/#comments

Check it out at your leisure to see whether it’s your cup of tea.  We could always use a new blood, especially someone of your caliber.

PS:  I’m new to this site, so I’m not certain whether hyperlinks require HTML format.

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By Shenonymous, June 21, 2010 at 3:30 am Link to this comment

You can name some of these historic facts, can you not, Marat? 
For that matter everything is temporal, we all live within the bounds
of time.  The dictatorship of the proletariat as claimed by a Marxist
is allegedly open and has an “official” (meaning public), ideology. 
The bourgeoisie dictatorship, in contrast, and expectedly, as also
claimed by Marxists, hides its “unofficial” official ideology and is seen in
its domination of the political architecture.  Bourgeoisie is defined as a
class of people who own the social means of production, i.e., their
private property which is considered capital.  In America, anyone who
owns anything can be considered bourgeoisie, it is not attached to any
one class.  True, the wealthy have more ‘capital.’  However small the
property might be of those who are not wealthy, they considered it
theirs, they own it, and they do not want to give it up!  It is their capital.

Political scientists theorize that an elite class will always emerge in any
group, be it aristocratic, proletariat, or bourgeoisie.  There is no such
thing as a classless society.  Such an entity is a theoretical illusion.  So
that the most that can realistically be foreseen, that is, the most
conceivable that would be advantageous to the population, is a society
where the elite groups compete with each other for domination and the
people can align themselves with one or another of these elites and
attempt to influence the way life is structured that way.  In other words,
a capitalistic society.  To what degree there is socialism involved is a
different matter.  A dictatorship can only be sustained by a social class,
one man cannot hold political control unless there is a bulwark
supporting him, often it is military but it need not be.  It could be
economic power, wealth.  If there is such an entity as a dictatorship of
the proletariat, once they assume power, they become the new
ruling class and will do their ruling to satisfy their own interests.  So in
the final analysis, for the people, nothing is gained.

Parliamentary democracies are not all the same.  There are a couple of
different systems, the more adversarial where debate of the entire body
has more status.  Some of these parliaments are duly elected by the
population using a plurality voting system such as seen in England (UK),
Canada and India.  Another form uses proportional representation,
which allows all voters an amount of influence on the political process
using a percentage system and there are different methods of such
representation as well. So I find your simplistic statement misleading
that parliament is rule by professional politicians who are part of an
oligarchy.  You would need to cite examples of this claim to have any
validity.

Yes, indeed, the word in Greek is tyrant and in ancient Greece these
were the elite, rich, and aristocratic or, and just as likely, conquering
military leaders in oligarchic structure that had all the power. Winning
and losing wars or agriculturally-based (farming) economic crises
determined who ruled Athens and Athens was in a perpetual state of
war. Harry Stotle’s constitutional democracy was applicable only to the
white males of Athens so I hardly think Marx and Engels explicitly
followed his definition.  But it sort of gives them authenticity to say so. 
There was a series of swapping between tyranny and democracy
throughout the history of Athens.  Overthrowing an aristocracy is a
common occurrence throughout history.  Marx and Engels did not
invent it.  Volya naroda!  Eventually the will of the people will prevail.

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By Foucauldian, June 20, 2010 at 9:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Greek term was “tyrant.”

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By Anarcissie, June 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

I believe “dictatorship of the proletariat” was meant to indicate that the concerns and interests of the working class would come first, as opposed to the existing order, which according to Marx could be called “the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”.  I don’t think Marx was advocating the installation of a set of individuals who would rule dictatorially in the name of the proletariat.

As far as I know, Marx did not advocate violence for its own sake.  He predicted that when existing capitalist arrangements broke down, violence was likely to ensue (as in fact it did); the working class could then achieve state power and establish the aforesaid “dictatorship of the proletariat”.  Since the state is intrinsically violent, one can say this is a call for violence, but in fact it may be no more violent than an entirely legal election, which, however peacefully, also allocates coercive force and the power that flows from it.  Unless you’re a hard-core anarchist, I don’t think you can fault Marx much for this sort of violence.

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By Marat, June 13, 2010 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I base the notion that there is a natural tendency
for temporary dictatorship to degenerate into
lifelong rule on the ground of historic facts.
Also, the bourgeois dictatorship is a temporal one.
They are natural because they can only grow from the
ground of parliamentary ,,democracy’’ and
capitalistic mode of production.
They stop being natural when you abolish the
parliamentary ,,democracy’’ and capitalistic mode of
production. Because of that they become temporary.
Hence, the assassination is not the alternative of
the temporary dictatorships.
What it relates to your last question, you can’t know
what the other one think and it is not relevant.

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By Shenonymous, June 13, 2010 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

On the nature of dictators and dictatorships:  Why do you say,
Marat, or on what are you basing the notion that there is a “natural”
tendency for temporary dictatorship to degenerate into lifelong rule. 
If it is natural, then why would there be a bother at all with the idea
of temporary?  Is it true that all so-called temporary dictatorships
did fact degenerate into lifelong rule short of assassination? Also do
you think any dictator ever thought they would be dictators
temporarily?

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By Marat, June 12, 2010 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I quote:

„It does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx,
who advocated violence and whose worship of the state
as a utopian mechanism led to another form of
enslavement of the working class“ (This Country Needs
a Few Good Communists, Chris Hedges).

By the words of Marxist W. Paul Cockshott the
critique would be:

„Parliamentary government and democracy are polar
opposites. Democracy is rule by the masses, by the
poor and dispossessed; parliament, rule by
professional politicians, who, in numbers and class
position, are part of the oligarchy. Marx and Engels
quite explicitly followed the Aristotelean definition
of democracy when they wrote, in the Manifesto of the
Communist Party of 1848, that “the first step in the
revolution by the working class, is to raise the
proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win
the battle of democracy” (Marx and Engels, 1970, p.
52). The violent overthrow of the aristocratic state
and the establishment of proletarian rule were, for
the founders of communism, synonymous with democracy.
They spoke in 1852 of proletarian rule as the
dictatorship of the proletariat.

‘Dictator’ is a word deriving from the Roman republic
rather than Greece. It refers to one individual who
was given temporary power to rule by decree in an
emergency. There was a natural tendency for temporary
dictatorship to degenerate into lifelong rule. Lenin
and Stalin were dictators in this Roman sense. Is
this what Marx meant by the dictatorship of the
proletariat? Certainly not. What he meant was a mass
democracy unconstrained by entrenched constitutional
rights defending private property“ (Cockshott and
Cottrell, Towards a New Socialism).

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By Leefeller, June 11, 2010 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

You know it always seems to me, people feel they proclaim to know more than other people.  Like the Pope a self proclaimed person of wisdom. Such proclaimers do not hesitate to tell what everyone else should do and how they should do it.  I find proclaiming by others of disputed ability, in every part of my life.  From Politics to religion and even farm equipment. 

Owning a peace of farm equipment,  is a bit like taking people at their word and blindly accepting, they know what they are doing.  Equipment designed and engineered to perfection, well until the new model comes out.

So as a farmer I have something a hay bailer that will allegedly do the job or work at what it was designed to to.  On the farm we have the hay bailer, an engineering marvel, the engineers designed something which is very comprehensive, and it bails hay with consistency. Everything seems just right until one little thing breaks and then the cursing of the engineers begins, for I doubt with political certitude of a Republican or with the religious absolutism of a Catholic, engineers have never repaired or had to work out in a 100 degree heat under a bailer in the middle of a tick infested field.

So my gripe is with experts,..... all experts, they offer nice things, from shit bailers to computer crap.  People of the world are force fed all kinds of much better ways to live, from chemicals in our food and on our crops, to oil in our machines, plastic covering the oceans. 

Self proclaimed experts are everywhere, look how many are on this thread, they spew so much enlightenment one has to grab a bottle of Tequila to comprehend all this wisdom.  Amusing to me is some people seem to know what they are talking about and most do not, so sifting through all the experts is like working on a shit bailer, self procalimed experts are like engineers, they never did any repairs or had to work on what they propose as a marvel peace of equipment or expert advice!

“Yeah,..... I know smart is something special only to the few who think they are, which never seems the case to the most who know they aren’t!”

Dingis Flagus

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By Shenonymous, June 9, 2010 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, June 8 9:31 pm
“All too self-attentive.”  Yabutt, better than not paying any
attention.  Oh, I know, that is what anarchists really want.  I don’t
believe in totally free spirits.  There is always a blinding hangover
that comes with them.

tihsstaezevahc, June 9 10:28 pm
Yeah…5.  No, I cannot imagine any couple living on 14,570… or a
single person on 10,830.
 
I meant the weasel clause in case we were attacked.  Just a thought.
As far as an executive taking this country into war?  Well why not take
the choice out of his/her hands all together?  It is not like it is 1914 or
1940.  We now have cell phones!  TwitThis, Facebook, StumbleUpon,
Reddit, YahooBuzz, and on and on and on…Course it would take a
Constitutional amendment.  But what the hell

8. Good articulation! 

I think we have this wrapped up!  Now just to convince Washington. 
Any ideas?

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

2.(new) Campaign finance:  Publicly financed election campaigns only.?
and No political donations or contributions of any kind to a candidate
running for public office.

Yes, definitely.

5.  Taxes: I agree with almost all.  I don’t know what you mean by
minimum impact federal taxes on all making under $150,000.  And it
seems like the 10% federal budget for military spending needs some
weasel clause in case of war.

The 2009 Poverty Guidelines for the
48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia Persons in family   Poverty guideline
1   $10,830
2   14,570
3   18,310
4   22,050
5   25,790
6   29,530
7   33,270
8   37,010
For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,740 for each additional person.

These are the 2009 poverty guidelines. Way too low. Who the hell sets these numbers? Could you imagine a couple living on 14,570?

The bulk of taxes need to be paid by those making $150k+. Anybody below that the bare minimum. Anybody below new higher poverty levels pays nothing. I don’t know what those figures should be but I feel that a couple that makes 35k-40k is barely getting by with bare necessaries. A couple who makes 70k can live pretty comfortable in the state I’m in so they aren’t exactly living in poverty. They have enough to cover bare minimums such shelter, transportation, food, clothing and then some. Anything above bare necessaries is gravy. So they wouldn’t be living in poverty, they may not be living in an 10,000 square foot mansion or driving a top of the line Mercedes but is the mansion and the Mercedes a necessity?


As to the 10% weasel clause on military spending I don’t agree with you on this one, that’s what got us into Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The weasel clauses in the War Powers Act. This principle has to be very strict since there are the lives of our fellow Americans and innocents abroad at risk. We can’t afford an imperial executive taking the country into a war of choice or preventive war based on cherry picked and cooked intelligence. Condemning thousands to early deaths. I understand that there can be a national emergency but these actions need to be fast, with clear objectives, get in and get out, no open ended military adventures. No protracted wars without a declaration of war. If we close our overseas military bases not only will that save tons of national treasure but we will be less tempted to use military means as a method to resolve what may be resolved through diplomacy. Of course energy independence plays into this and will have to be like the Apollo program.

8.  Outsourcing jobs:  ??? needs articulated.

If it’s not made in the US then it is subject to import tariffs applicable to the country of origin even if it’s an American Corporation. The tariff would be targeted to have the cost of manufacturing equalized with tariffs as if it was manufactured in the US by American workers. Of course there are exceptions, for example we don’t grow coffee so coffee would have a lower import tariff. Foreign companies are welcomed to come and build their products using American workers.

Also the inheritance tax for inheretances above $10 million.

Capital gains tax breaks only on long term investments of let’s say 5-7 years. Any profits on assets sold prior to that treated as ordinary income.

Of course all of these changes would have to be from the bottom up. We can’t pretend to have a benevolent autocratic leader or politician to really have our best interest in consideration and to reap on our behalf these social gains and redistribution of the national wealth for us. Like some in here delude themselves to believe in their idolatry for for demagogues who sweeten their ears with words of social justice and violence.

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By Anarcissie, June 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, June 8 at 12:16 pm:
’... It seems to me that government would not fund elections, only regulate the flow of money into and out of campaigns.  And in any case, it is proper that it judges itself.  It is called being self-attentive to its reason for existence.’

All too self-attentive.

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By MarthaA, June 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, June 8 at 12:16 pm,

There is no representation for everyone, but I agree with you that “All of the people’s needs must be kept in mind and all actions committed on their behalf.”  Right now the 70% majority common population is being left out, as if they are non-existent.

It is good to understand what will never be, otherwise there is a continuous symbolic treading of water toward an imagined subjective reality that will never exist in private capitalism, and a total denial of objective reality where the 70% majority Common Population are continuously getting sucked under by the DLC’s Democratic Leadership Council’s Republican mill.

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By Shenonymous, June 8, 2010 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

By MarthaA, June 6 at 10:11 pm
“The solution will NEVER be a Conservative Republican Right-
Winger or a Conservative Right-Wing DLC Democrat like Bill Clinton
or any member of the Democratic Leadership Council cooperators
led by Right-Wing Republican EXTREMISTS, who assisted in the
economic collapse,...”

It is not enough to say what will never be.  It must be said why it can
never be.  How it came to that.  Even so, I find my essential self
agreeing with MarthaA on important occasions.  The reason
Conservative Republican Right-Wing or DLCs who seem to behave in a
like manner cannot be the solution is that they do not pay deep
enough attention to the true needs of the American people they
represent.  While they have constituencies, those constituencies are
only a part of the larger whole.  As part of the body that governs this
country, that body represents all of the people.  All of the people’s
needs must be kept in mind and all actions committed on their behalf. 
Politics are not for one man nor one partisan group.

I particularly agree with her comment, “The solution will be found
legislators like Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida.”
I have
thought this for a long time.  Grayson showed extraordinary bravery
standing in the face of the old guard on the Congressional Floor.

Grayson does not seem to be much more interested in advanced
politics beyond his Congressional seat.  But maybe that is because it is
too soon?  He is young?  He is new and learning the ropes?  Let us
hope.  He seems to fill what was a void on the scene.  We saw what he
would do for common health care, what else would he do?  Do we see
any further signs of life there?

It seems to me that government would not fund elections, only
regulate the flow of money into and out of campaigns.  And in any
case, it is proper that it judges itself.  It is called being self-attentive to
its reason for existence.

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By Anarcissie, June 8, 2010 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, if the government funds elections it becomes the judge of its own case.

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By Money is funny, June 7, 2010 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment

I support your suggestions fully along with jays.
NICE

Publicly financed elections are the best first step, which would almost definitely lead to the rest.

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By Shenonymous, June 7, 2010 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment

Since no one else has deemed it important enough to respond to
these suggestions to fix the country and giving power to the voter.
I will take the bull by the horns and give it a go.  As a preliminary
statement, it was a commendable thing to do.  No one else had the
kahonies to do it!  So critic of Chavez, as a cutter through the shit,
you have my admiration for whatever it is worth. 

1. Term limits (no career politicians):  An absolute, an imperative.  Your
distribution of terms seems about right. 

Adding a different #2 since I think campaign financing is a separate
issue:

2.(new) Campaign finance:  Publicly financed election campaigns only.?
and No political donations or contributions of any kind to a candidate
running for public office.
2.  Lobbying:  Upon leaving a public position a ban from lobbying
activities for at least 10 years.
3.  Corporations:  All perfect!
4.  Social Programs: All perfect too!
5.  Taxes: I agree with almost all.  I don’t know what you mean by
minimum impact federal taxes on all making under $150,000.  And it
seems like the 10% federal budget for military spending needs some
weasel clause in case of war.
6.  I would change this category from Miscellaneous to Wage Standards:
then split off the doing business into a 7th category.
7.  Foreign Mfgers:  Good as is.
8.  Outsourcing jobs:  ??? needs articulated.
Thank you Jay.

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By ThomasG, June 7, 2010 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

tihsstaezevahc, June 7 at 1:21 am,

Blah.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment

By ThomasG, June 6 at 10:21 pm #

ardee, June 6 at 6:45 pm,

Thanks for the olive branch.  Your perception of objective reality is apparently improving.

What a naked simultaneous manifestation of insecurity and arrogant imperiousness.

First we established your idolization of tyrants by you defending one and exposing you as unable to rationalize in other than absolute predetermined terms. Then we establish that that you’re a resentful individual and that you hold a grudge, so you can’t accept criticism. Finally it becomes obvious that can not tolerate disagreement.

Given that you make this so blatantly obvious, even through this electronic media, I’m sure I am not the first one to point this out to you, nor will I be the last.

You’re long on theories and short on solutions. I proposed solutions, albeit radical ones, but solutions nevertheless. For you to put your ideals into effect you need a path. You don’t have one.

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By ThomasG, June 6, 2010 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

ardee, June 6 at 6:45 pm,

Thanks for the olive branch.  Your perception of objective reality is apparently improving.

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By MarthaA, June 6, 2010 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment

ofersince72, June 6 at 3:05 am,

The solution will NEVER be a Conservative Republican Right-Winger or a Conservative Right-Wing DLC Democrat like Bill Clinton or any member of the Democratic Leadership Council cooperators led by Right-Wing Republican EXTREMISTS, who assisted in the economic collapse, so perish that thought.

The solution will be found in legislators like Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

That’s a cowardly way to agree with someone.

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By ardee, June 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

ThomasG, June 6 at 3:13 pm

If memory serves me I think this the first time I am in full agreement with one of your posts.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

Glagla-Klungly

dat gud sotori. hahahaha! sory baut da reebs. nex taim geev sum tu waif tu den ju bot laff en fol a slip at churc en everibuddy laff.

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By Glagla-Klungly, June 6, 2010 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

Mr spy guy you maked joked with me but that ok i be laff 2.I be haved the story for you and other peoples 2.tree week ago i be go it to the marget for the shoping and by the normal foods onion potato garlik and
a bigged bag of the chokalat.so i go back to the hawse and gived to wife to put the food away.but i be keyped the chokalat maybe for the sirprize later you noe.so i be bring bag with me to the gardin and i done noe
why i open the bagged .maybe becuz the little chokalat soo fansee looked and i thinked too me if i eated ther more at the store.so i be try one tayst very good but insided the chokalat some kind of the jewse i never
be tayst befor .so i walked in the gardin and eat more and more sum more and started to feel a little bit happy.now i cheked the watch and sooned my brather be comed to bring me and women to the churc.so i
be hurry and eated all the chokalat in the bagged and hided the bag emty in the chiken hawse.now i go to hawse to changed shirt and put the ty for the churc.now i be feeled little bit crazy maybe too mushed sugar
and go liked hell .dinky donk door bel ringed time to be go to the churce and me be talked like stupid and the laff like crazy .brather be sayed what you laffing all the timed for .i be sayed becuz you sayed the jowk
and i laff .now the wife she not find funy and every timed i laffed she hit me in the ribs.now we getted to the churc and go inside and sitted on the bench and the father sayed the masses and i be singed like crazy
all the peoples looked at me but the father be smile.haff the masses i start to feeled very tired and closed my ized and sleep and wen me very tired i be snored like old tracter just liked the homer guy.now every
time i sleeped the wife be hit me in the ribs .by the timed the churc finish i be feeled the finish too with the very sored chest.we be going to the hawse after and me i go to layed down a little bit becuz the hed very
sore and the ribs too.after i be sleeped 2 ours i feeled better and drinked lots of wasser and go to the chicken hawse to finded the bag and be reeded the bag more close .the bag sayed that the jewse is the
cognac somethink newed for me so i be checked in the dicksonary and me no drinked the alcooholed and i be think gooded think i no gived to the wife as surprized but i havit the sor ribs for 1 week.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

Oh poor elohssaehtgsamoht, your problem is that you are a resentful individual that holds a grudge after Jay mopped the floor with you. But you seem to waddle in your tnemercxenworuoy when it comes to intelligent discourse.

Jay says that he’s happy to see that you got it off your chest. Maybe now you can get a full night’s sleep.

Best regards,

Jay

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By Money is funny, June 6, 2010 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

O.k.
I got defensive. I guess I am living in dream world somewhat.

Apologies.

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By ThomasG, June 6, 2010 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

The problem with Tihsstaezevahc’s patterns of perception is that he has a medical condition called Sniarbroftihs that influences his outlook.

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By ThomasG, June 6, 2010 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

Richard Aberdeen, June 5 at 12:05 am,

Do you support American Socialism, as it has existed in the United States for the last 234 years, used in combination with Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism, and that the dead corpse of Privatized Capitalism should never again be reanimated with Social Capital?

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By ThomasG, June 6, 2010 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

ofersince72, June 6 at 2:15 am, ofersince72, June 6 at 2:34 am, ofersince72, June 6 at 2:43 am, ofersince72, June 6 at 2:51 am, ofersince72, June 6 at 2:55 am, ofersince72, June 6 at 2:58 am, ofersince72, June 6 at 3:05 am, ofersince72, June 6 at 3:11 am, ofersince72, June 6 at 8:47 am, ofersince72, June 6 at 9:27 am,

The solution to all of your ten (10) posts is Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism in competition with Privatized Capitalism and no more use of Social Capital to reanimate the dead corpse of Privatized Capitalism.

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By ThomasG, June 6, 2010 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

Money is funny, June 6 at 6:28 am,

Your post is ludicrous; you make me laugh.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

Here’s a more complete quote. I find this quote so amazing. And we see little has changed:

“It is odd to watch with what feverish ardour Americans pursue prosperity…” Tocqueville found it curious that Americans would seek prosperity so feverishly.

“...ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it.” He observed their anxiety over missed opportunities or mistaken decisions.

“They cleave to the things of this world, as if assured that they will never die, ...” He watched their obsession with possessions and living for the day.

“... and yet rush to snatch any that comes within their reach, as if they expected to stop living before relishing them.” They grasp anything that they might enjoy before dying.

“Death steps in, in the end, and stops them, before they have grown tired of this futile pursuit of that complete felicity which always escapes them.” And they die, still pursuing the happiness that they cannot obtain, because no amount of riches will satisfy them.”

Alexis de Tocqueville

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

Drugs:
•  Legalize and regulate drugs.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

“It is odd to watch with what feverish ardour Americans pursue prosperity, ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it. They cleave to the things of this world, as if assured that they will never die, and yet rush to snatch any that comes within their reach, as if they expected to stop living before relishing them. Death steps in, in the end, and stops them, before they have grown tired of this futile pursuit of that complete felicity which always escapes them.”

Alexis de Tocqueville

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

Foreign policy:
•  Impose an arms and economic embargo on Israel.
•  Withdraw immediately from Afghanistan and Iraq.
•  Close down all military bases on foreign soil.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

•  If criminal intent or criminal negligence is evident, abrogate the corporate veil to personally prosecute CEO’s and other corporate officers.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 6, 2010 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

Jay’s view on fixing the country in addition to some of the suggestions offered here, fixing should be directed in giving power to the voter:

1.  Term limits (no career politicians):
•  President 2 four year. Only this office has a term limit.
•  Senator: 1 six year term. Can run again after 6 years in the same state.
•  Representative: 3 two year terms in a 10 year period. If served 3 consecutive term must wait 6 years to rerun but only in same district
•  Federal Justices: 1 six year term. No re-election.
2.  Lobbying:
•  Publically financed election campaigns only.
•  No political donations or contributions of any kinds to a candidate running for public office.
•  Upon leaving a public position a ban from lobbying activities for at least 10 years.
3.  Corporations
•  Abrogate corporate personhood
•  Too big to fail, to big to exist. Re-write the Sherman anti-trust laws break up too beg to fail monopolies.
•  Nationalize industries that depend on exploiting national treasures: ie, petroleum, lumber, etc.
•  Nationalize monopolistic utility companies or regulate through citizen elected Public Service Commissions.
•  Re-write all corporate charters were a publicly traded corporations primary duty is to the public good and not to stockholder dividends.
•  Raise taxes to rates that were effective during the Eisenhower Administration
4.  Social Programs:
•  Publically funded guaranteed health insurance. No premiums. Abolish health insurance companies for primary care.
•  Publically funded guaranteed education at all levels. No tuition.
•  Publically funded guaranteed housing for the destitute.
•  Publically funded jobs programs for the unemployed.
5.  Taxes:
•  Raise the poverty guidelines. Tax exemption for all under guidelines.
•  Minimum impact federal taxes on all making under $150,000.
•  Progressive tax above $150,000. 90% tax rate on all income above $3 million dollars.
•  Social security taxes and other similar taxes no income caps. All income taxable.
•  Raise import tariffs to make domestic products more competitive with imports.
•  Close tax loopholes to tax offshore profits of companies doing business in the US.
•  Military spending limited to 10% of federal budget.
6.  Miscellaneous:
•  Set minimum wage standards for hourly wage earners similar to hourly rates in the Bacon-Davis Act.
•  After 5 years of doing business in the US require foreign manufacturers to manufacture at least 80% of all goods in the US. 100% of all assembling.

There is more that can be added to this list, so please feel free to add your own suggestions. For Jay that is all for now.

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By ofersince72, June 6, 2010 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

Sorry you interpreted it that way money, oh well,

I all did was name what I believe to the minimum
reforms we need to have to save our republic, I am not
saying that I am right, just this BABY BOOMER opinion.

See a lot of complaints, especially from the journalists,
but few solutions offered, Hedges every week, so far
all I have seen from him for a solution is
Boycott FedEx. excuse me for questioning his motives.
One thing for sure, things are not going to stay the same.

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By ofersince72, June 6, 2010 at 4:47 am Link to this comment

you must be living in a dream world if you believe
that i don’t respect your opinion,
don;t know where yougothat

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By Money is funny, June 6, 2010 at 2:28 am Link to this comment

Thomas G:

You must be living in a dream world if you think that my point of view carries less wait than yours just because it is subjective.

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 11:11 pm Link to this comment

And Cris Hedges,  I hear a lot of moaning and groaning
out of you, what are your solutions?
Your are looking for communists, secessionist,
people that care, and on and on, but never, do you
exibit solutions, so what is yours, to see how much
money you can make Truth Dig ????

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 11:05 pm Link to this comment

And probably most important, we need to realize
Bill Clinton was wrong when he said
“it’s the economy stupid”
because “it is the ecology stupid”

And the American public needs to be educated to this,
which I believe might be an easier task than one would
believe. 
Because we are running out of air, water, and soon food.
and everyone knows what it takes for survival.
We have the ability to accomplish all these tasks and it
is neccessary, but we are lacking the leadership to get
us there.

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 10:58 pm Link to this comment

We need to rethink the drug war in a very bad way.

Ain’t gonna happen

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment

We need to quit subsidizing the farming industry

Ain’t gonna happen.

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment

There are only a few solutions and I don’t see them
happening.

Get rid of industrialized farming , and land
redistribtion…...Never happen

Get rid of these stupid trade agreements, make all
imported goods show minimum wage and health benifits.
Ain’t gonna happen.

Public financing of elections and reform the primary
format to standardize federal elections, and to make
the states hold their federal primaries within a certain
time limit.  Ain’t gonna happen
There are a few more things need to happen but
Ain’t gonna happen…

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 10:43 pm Link to this comment

Our government can’t keep up subsidizing the public
because they allowed all the jobs to be exported,

and keep up its military industrial complex.

Which do you believe will go first????

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment

Because the manufacturing base has been removed,
education, medium and small farms, there is little left
for employment of the masses.
Because of this, in many communities, 50 to 75 percent
of the households are dependent on some form of government
assisstance or check, be it S.S. retirement, disability,
or SSI , food stamps, medicare and medicade.
I believe in all these programs, however, because of the
lack of good employment, whole communities are dependent
on this subsistance.
Yet, America keeps expanding its military expenditures
and tenticles in all regions of the world which is also
very costly and only benifits the “privatized capitolists.
Regardless, sooner or later all the government checks are
going to fail, what happens then???

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 10:15 pm Link to this comment

TomasG,

I wish that I was as optimistic,  I believe that the
privatized capitolist know well the situation, way better
then us. Soon , what is left of the middle class
privitized capitolists, will be a part of us peons.
They have been preparing much better than us, they have
shredded the constitution, for whatever it was worth
anyhow, at least it was there. They have installed all
neccessary controls.
The inverted totalitarian state is no longer inverted,
just a little camouflage, i.e. cheap gasoline, available
food, when these disappear, all camouflage be gone and
and the nonvisable martial law will be visable.
We are just one crisis away from that disaster.

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By elisalouisa, June 5, 2010 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment

Hopefully, I did not convey the feeling that the Baby boomers are to blame Money is funny for much of the way things are now was carefully planned, even as you say the massive industries developed to medicate us. Lunatic behavior may lessen with medication but also people medicated in the right way do not revolt. A pivotal point in my life as to my political views was the suspicious death of Senator Paul Wellstone, who would have made a good Presidential candidate in 2008. He did not play ball with Washington or power/elite, people like that seem to have timely accidents or perhaps are enticed by forbidden fruit with the same result. Doesn’t that send a message to the rest of Congress and other potential
candidates? Such are my opinions after years of observing the political scene and also participating in that process somewhat.

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By ThomasG, June 5, 2010 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment

What happened to the time when the majority American Peasant Populace defended being milked for Capital by Privatized Capitalism in the name of the American Dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with freedom and justice for all?

Has the American Peasant Populace awaken to the American reality that, as cows being milked for Capital, all the majority American Peasant Populace has is the freedom of the field, like cows, and that their American Reality is to be used by the American Aristocracy and American Middle Class, as cows— commodities to be used and disposed of when it is expedient for the American Aristocracy and the American Middle Class to do so?

Why are the Privatized Capitalists so quiet? 
Could it be the Privatized Capitalist minority realize that they are a minority, and that the American Peasant Populace no longer want to settle for a dream, the American Dream, and want American Reality?

Could it be that Privatized Capitalists are afraid their time is coming to an end and that they are in fear of retribution and retaliation for their long history of use and abuse of the American Peasant Populace for their own greedy benefit at the expense of the American Peasant Populace?

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm Link to this comment

Money, I am really not blaming any one generation,
Just having fun with mine. Because my generation is the
one that had most of the control on the voting levers
the last forty years and that we need to examine all our
responsibilities of how America has arrived to this sour
position that we find ourselves in.
We all point to corporate heads, lawmakers, the media,
third world nations rather than to accept the responsibility we all had in arriving here.
I believe there was a point years ago that we had
the power to vote ourselves good leadership with better
direction and we passed it up, now , I do not believe
that possibility exists anymore, that the chips are going
to fall and we are not going to like how they land nor
will we have any say so how they land.
If you see a way, please tell me.

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By ThomasG, June 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

Money is funny, June 5 at 3:27 pm,

What you are talking about is “subjective” life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, with freedom and justice for all of the American Populace, the American Dream; you are living in a dream world, Money is funny.

However, the Private Capitalists are living in the Real “objective” world with objective standards of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with freedom and justice for all that they cyclically purchase with Social Capital——Socialism for the Rich and Privatized Capitalism for the American Populace.

Are you beginning to awaken from your life in the American Dream World, to realize the squalor of your American Reality?

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By Glagla-Klungly, June 5, 2010 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment

Mr inherit the wind you are the saylor guy becuz you be sayled away from the the bosses and be thinked for you self .every man haved the rite to be it free.

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By Money is funny, June 5, 2010 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

I love this movie:
http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/independent/trumbo/
It is very relative to this article. Maybe you have already seen it, but if you haven’t you should because it is really great.

It is a cheep shot to blame a particular generation I’d say. Everything is set up to promote consumption here.

It is helpful to go overseas for an extended period of time and then return because you see us from outside looking in.

Most of us are working our butts off, and then most of the money we make has to go to the bank because they own our cars and houses.

It is no wonder why we do not respect others because we are constantly competing with each other just to barely get by.

There are massive industries developed to medicate us now, and no real effort is made to address the root causes of our lunatic behavior.

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By ofersince72, June 5, 2010 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

Elisalouisa

“Not quite true OFER, Many BABY BOOMERS were given the
goal that money is everything.”

How true,  that is the dialogue that I was trying to
influence.

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By Leefeller, June 5, 2010 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

Heretics and Infidels need to be dealt with before it starts catching on like the Swine Flu!

Before you know it, the next thing you know people will be thinking for themselves, can’t have that can we? Must maintain the cause for ignorance demands so.

The earth like a small not even large, grain of sand on the beaches of the world, only now it may be covered in oil!

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By Shenonymous, June 5, 2010 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Given there are over 6.7 billion people in the world why would it
be surprising that a provincial view of human evolution is still held?
Given that only 8% of the entire world are agnostic, atheist, secular
humanistic, viz., without a theist belief. That means 92% believe in
some deity, even if about 8% of those believers are not religious.  I
always find the statistics hilarious that the nonreligious are lumped
in with the unreligious.  The nonreligious still have the belief in
some form of supernatural being involved in the existence of the
universe, of which this world is a very very tiny almost imperceptible
part.  Guess the statisticians don’t know how to categorize in small
stuff and just don’t sweat it???

The numbers say it is about 1.1 billion secular/agnostic/atheistic/and
nonreligious as compared to 3.6 billion, 2767 million, 1900 thousand
adherents to some religion of some kind.

What are the signs of regression by the way?  Seems like the
religionists are shooting themselves in the foot with all the scandals
that are being unearthed and exposed.  Religious belief is being eroded
in the major religions by an awakening of the mind humans have and
its potential to rationalize.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 5, 2010 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

FYI

There is an excellent documentary on PBS NOVA in regards to ID vs Evolution. Here is the link if anyone cares to see it:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/beta/evolution/intelligent-design-trial.html

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By Leefeller, June 5, 2010 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

Inherit the wind, all this time I had thought you were reminiscing about Clark Gable saying “Frankly my dear, ...I don’t give a Damn!”, one of My ex’s favorite movies.

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By koopsnefrus, June 5, 2010 at 7:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t ordinarily break silence, but I have to commend many on this thread for trivializing Hedges and ridiculing Chavez. You have served the interests of the United States America and your actions may exempt you from the coming prosecutions.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 5, 2010 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

In regards to the Scopes Monkey Trial in recent years it seems that we haven’t made much progress and that we are going regressing. In spite of all the progress made in medicine and evolutionary science it seems incomprehensible that there are those still anchored in old beliefs.

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By tihsstaezevahc, June 5, 2010 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

Glagla-Klungly

i borne in ol cuntry tu, u maibi ur bruder. ju no ketch mi kwik. i big espai guy wit mosad. i goe chut ur wuf wuf den u no laf tu mi. luk frum u haus crus de estrit i waiv tu ju. u si mi no? syke, i plai joek. hahahahah! i gut u agen

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