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stoneunhinged
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Crud. I was just about to post something about the Space Program thread here, just to get to five. I guess maybe I could say something about the Space Program thread in...ah...the Space Program thread. So the damage wasn't too great. So you're OK this time, Bob.
mastermindreader
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Actually, Jeff, I have never thought you are just spouting off ideas from the right. I generally agree with you as well (unless I'm feeling particularly ornery). And I'm glad you clarified what you meant by "redistribution of the wealth." Unfortunately, the phrase is now usually used as a pejorative to suggest that liberal ideas on fair taxation, etc., are somehow part of a socialist plot to steal from the rich.

Good thoughts,

Bob
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2012-07-14 04:51, mastermindreader wrote:
Unfortunately, the phrase is now usually used as a pejorative to suggest that liberal ideas on fair taxation, etc., are somehow part of a socialist plot to steal from the rich.


Which is exactly why I chose to use the phrase. If thereis a socialist plot, it's at least as old as the term "progressivism", and a century ago the most "progressive" candidate--Woodrow Wilson--was elected to be President of the USA. He may have been the most liberal (I think he was), but Taft and Roosevelt (anyone remember the "square deal"?) were also solidly progressive.

Ain't nothing truly new happening these days. FDR would have nationalized health care in a heartbeat, and he would have been LOVED for it. Obama is really getting an undeserved bad rap when he is accused of somehow tilting the country toward socialism. That happened 100 years ago.

BTW: which thread is this, anyway? Isn't this the global warming thread? What does Obama have to do with global warming?
landmark
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The primary function of government is to ensure the power of one class of people over the others. Not making a value judgment here (though I certainly have my opinions!), and it takes many forms (the political, economic, military, and judicial structures). How the wealth is distributed is only one aspect of that function.
Woland
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Good one-line paraphrase of Karl Marx there, landmark.

Stone, the socialist ideal is as old as Plato, if not older. From the "Republic," through St. Thomas More's "Utopia," Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backwards," to "OWS," with asides in the Inca Empire, Bockelson's Munster, and appearances such as we find in Babeuf, Proudhon, and of course iots manifestations as Marxism-Leninism, National-Socialism, Fascism -not to mention, since you already have, the avowedly anti-Constitutional statist Woodrow Wilson, and of course FDR -- the story is always the same: put everything in society, from what work people do to what clothes they wear, under the supervision of a properly qualified elite and (as even in Bellamy's supposedly kindler, gentler version) kill anyone who resists. From Plato on, the social imperatives are the same: military enforcement of the decisions of the elite, abolition of the family and the breeding of different orders of people in an industrialized fashion, abolition of private property, and, ultimately tyranny, war, poverty, and the stifling of individual freedom and cultural expression.

The ornithologist and natural historian Alexander F. Skutch writes in one of his wide-ranging essays, that one of the most striking things about the living world, as opposed to the non-living world, is that life exists in the form of individuals. Living beings are discrete individuals, even single cell organisms are separated from their environment and from each other by their cell membranes. A vein of granite in the earth does not exist as individuals of granite, it is a seamless sheet of rock, from which individuals can't be identified.

With that in mind, it is possible to see the underlying emotional/belief current of the socialist ideal as an attempt to obliterate individual living consciousness, and merge into a mass of humanity that is, however, like the mass of granite, not alive, soulless, and mute. Since it denies individuality, and in true Darwinian fashion, exalts the survival of only a class of what once were individual people, it is no wonder that the socialist (or if you prefer, statist) totalitarian tyrannies so often decide to advance along "the shining path" towards those "tomorrows that sing" by annihilating whole classes of people.
tommy
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According to the birds and the bees for life to go on there must be more than an individual. Smile
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Woland
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Quite so, landmark, but still, individuals. Not a mass, a class, or "genre humain," if you know what I mean, and I think you do . . .
landmark
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That was tommy, but he expressed my thoughts well. We live only in the duality of our individual and social natures, as does all life. A liver cell is meaningless, as is a human being in isolation from all other life.

Quote:
Good one-line paraphrase of Karl Marx there, landmark.

Marx was wrong about a bunch of things. I don't think he was wrong about that--though I'm not using class in the economic Marxist sense.
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2012-07-14 07:42, Woland wrote:
Good one-line paraphrase of Karl Marx there, landmark.



Precisely correct. And I think Marx was precisely incorrect. But I won't get into it here: it would take hours, and no one cares, anyway. I'm not anti-Marx because he was some kind of Godless Communist, but because his epistemology and ontology were wrong. In fact, he had them exactly backwards, because he was trying to be anti-Hegel and Hegel's epistemology and ontology were correct. But I sure as heck ain't gonna start giving Hegel vs. Marx lectures at the Magic Café. It suffices to say that it has nothing to do with "left" or "right" or "liberalism" or "conservativism". Marx was simply wrong. And since he was wrong, a good deal of what he wrote and thought was wrong. And reducing an analysis of political power to class conflict is one of those wrong things.

Woland, the sad thing about your list is that I interpret Plato as actually warning us AGAINST the very thing you describe. The Republic is sort of philosophic theater piece in which Socrates shows how far you need to go to achieve something like political perfection. You would have to go so far, in fact, that people cease being people, exactly as you suggest. It's a powerful message that few people seem to get from the book anymore. More's Utopia is the same, I think, but I've never read it so I don't really have an interpretation.

But the deeper issue is what I keep describing as "legitimacy". There is no reason that democratic socialism (i.e., socialism by consent rather than the state enforcing it against the will of the people) is automatically illegitimate. Or would you disagree with that statement?
landmark
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Didn't expect you or Woland to agree. I would however, like you to point to a country that does not put one group of people's interests (okay? so I'll avoid using class which is a loaded term for y'all) above others and uses the mechanisms of the state to enforce their interests.
Woland
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How to explain history, and the rise and fall of nations and civilizations, is enduringly interesting. Although I have not re-read it recently, when I was an adherent of what I understood to be Marxism-Leninism-Mao-Tse-tung Thought, I admired the illustration of Karl Marx's historical theory presented by Peter Farb, in his book, Man's Rise to Civilization As Shown by the Indians of North America from Primeval Times to the Coming of the Industrial State. He starts from the observation, that at the time of European contact, North America was home to hundreds of varying native cultures, that varied in their apparent complexity, from small bands of impoverished hunter-gatherers who lived from day to day with nearly no technology and a social organization limited to that of small bands, on the one hand, to complex, hierarchical, empires such as that of the Aztecs, who lived in large cities and had a variety of social political institutions that included, but were not limited to, tribes, subject nations, and the ruling elites. Farb attempted to explain this variety by appealing to Marx's theories about class struggle, and the development of more complex social structures as populations grew and different classes of people emerged. Interesting, but I don't think that explains the whole story.

The theory of successive class struggles leading to increasingly complex social forms is also portrayed, as I'm sure you know, (and perhaps more entertainingly) in Bertolt Brecht's Der gute Mensch von Sezuan.

Marx's adaptation of the Hegelian dialectic to the purposes of historical explication makes for an appealing and engaging story. Much as Freud's literary criticism of the (hi)stories his patients told him can be adapted easily to the explication of any other narratives. But in both cases, I wonder if the evidence is really there.

I would add, that the deliberate characterization of democratic political institutions as "the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" (which they are not) provided excellent cover for the establishment of a "dictatorship of the proletariat" -- which it was likewise not, but it certainly was and is a dictatorship.
stoneunhinged
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Wait wait wait wait, Landmark. You're conflating a couple of concepts here. What you just said I would agree with. To "use the mechanism of the state to enforce their interests" is political power, not government. I was making a specific comment about what the state actually does for its citizens, which is to provide goods and services (not just education and roads and stuff, but also policing and military functions) which are paid for by the citizens. That's what the state does.

Now, sovereignty, law, power, politics...those are something else.
Woland
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Hi Stone,

Quote:
Woland, the sad thing about your list is that I interpret Plato as actually warning us AGAINST the very thing you describe. The Republic is sort of philosophic theater piece in which Socrates shows how far you need to go to achieve something like political perfection. You would have to go so far, in fact, that people cease being people, exactly as you suggest. It's a powerful message that few people seem to get from the book anymore. More's Utopia is the same, I think, but I've never read it so I don't really have an interpretation.


I hope you are right about Plato, and More, but I think that there is not that satirical purpose in Bellamy.

Your comments about Marx as an anti-Hegelian are interesting. I think here the philosophical debate or struggle between the right-Hegelians and the left-Hegelians is an important aspect of XIXth and XXth century European intellectual history.

It was through a Marxist left-Hegelian, Alexandre Kojeve, that Hegel was finally introduced to French philosophy, as I am sure you know. It was through Kojheve's lectures that Merleau-Ponty and Sartre absorbed the Marxist dialectic. And Kojeve was one of the major architects of the European Union.
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2012-07-14 08:50, Woland wrote:

Marx's adaptation of the Hegelian dialectic to the purposes of historical explication makes for an appealing and engaging story.


Or, rather, fairy tale. Smile
Woland
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Hi landmark,

Political power is always used by those who have it to enforce their will on those who don't have it. No less in the Soviet Union or Castro's Cuba than anywhere else. Marx thought that the advent of democratic reforms and representative government in Europe enabled the "Burgerlicheklasse," or "bourgeoisie," that is the non-noble owners of mines, factories, and farms, to constitute a ruling class and overthrow the rule of the hereditary nobility or aristocracy. I think that is however missing the point.

And it was precisely because they understood that political power is always used by those who have it, to enforce their will on those who don't, that the American founders crafted a federal structure for a national government, and attempted strictly to limit the powers and abilities of the government they established, dividing its functions in executive, legislative, and judicial branches, none of which was supposed to overpower the others on its own.
stoneunhinged
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Woland, yes, I've read Kojeve on Hegel. But long before I was confronted with European intellectuals first hand. And unfortunately, I lost that book.

You've probably already figured out that I think a couple of threads of European philosophy lead directly back to the rejection of Hegel. There's the Hegel-Marx-neo-Marxist-Frankfurter School-critical theory-post-structuralism thread, which begins with rejecting Hegel. Then there's the Hegel-Nietzsche-Existentialist-Heidegger-relativism thread, which begins with rejecting Hegel. Throw Freud into the mix and you get the political and philosophical (or rather, anti-philosophical) nonsense that is cancerous among European intellectuals.

Therefore I think what needs to be done is that we need to go back to assess Hegel. He's either the source of the disease or the solution. He might even be both, if you can figure that one out.
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Stay on roof. Batman?
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Woland
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Thanks, Stone. Agree about Hegel and his epigones, completely. As undergraduates, my friends and I were amused that Schopenhauer felt himself driven from the university when his lectures, which he deliberately scheduled to conflict with Hegel's, went nearly totally unattended.

Tell us more about the rejection of Hegel, since at least on the left, those you identify as anti-Hegelians would have claimed to be Hegelians, no?
R.S.
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Stone, Woland...

Way to ruin a perfectly good incendiary thread by devolving into polite philosophical/historical musings. Now let's get back on track and start bashing each other over global warming.


Ron
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"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." Thomas Paine
wulfiesmith
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What summer?
perhaps it is the build-up to the Mayan Calendar?
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