Curious philosopher and outsider is looking for online discussion participants

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Dr_Curious's picture
Dr_Curious
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Jan 2 2018 13:04
Curious philosopher and outsider is looking for online discussion participants

Hi.

I'm an academic and a philosopher. I see myself (in the future tense) as a "philosophical journalist." I'm an outsider to this whole movement. I'm open-minded. I wouldn't consider myself dogmatically Left or dogmatically Right. I'm suspicious of irrationalist forms of collectivism but also of liberal individualism. I worry about movements that appear to deny the dignity of the individual. Yet I know there is something seriously wrong with Ayn Rand. Egoism is not the answer. I think Heidegger was onto something with his anti-humanism and call to "thinking".

I'd like to discuss a few questions with anyone involved here. I want to hear what people have to say. I want to see where they are coming from. I don't know exactly where the discussion will lead. I don't really have an agenda--just a few concerns about recent developments in society that have motivated me to find out more about the revolutionary Left.

I want to question and grapple and explore. I don't necessarily want to change anyone's mind. I won't bite or belittle. Respect for the views of others is important to me. But that won't stop me from prodding and challenging a bit to uncover what someone thinks. I'm happy to have my pre-conceptions challenged too. I don't assume that I know what I should know.

At this moment I probably can't articulate exactly what I want to find out, or what my important questions are. But off the top of my head, here are 10 questions that might be a good place to start.

1. What exactly is your political goal?
2. How will this be achieved, in your view?
3. What are some of the more "extreme" things that you would be willing to do to bring about this end-goal, if you believed that the situation called for it?
4. What are some of the more "extreme" things that someone might do that you would defend as justifiable--even if you probably won't be doing it yourself?
5. What would you NOT be willing to do to bring about this end-goal? Is that because you are weak? Inconsistent? Or does your philosophy/ideology allow for it?
6. Is there some destructive "means" that you believe is actually NOT justified in light of the End? Or do you agree with the motto "by ANY means necessary"?
7. What do you love? Cherish? Hold dear?
8. Do you believe in individual rights? Or in the notion of inalienable human dignity?
9. Would you say that you are invested completely in the political future, so that you are unable or unwilling to experience, in the present: spiritual rest, a sense of being-at-home, peace, contentment, the appreciation of timeless beauty?
10. In what or whom do you put your trust?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
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Jan 2 2018 17:52
Quote:
1. What exactly is your political goal?

abolish private property

Quote:
2. How will this be achieved, in your view?

by the organised proletariat

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3. What are some of the more "extreme" things that you would be willing to do to bring about this end-goal, if you believed that the situation called for it?

crush capitalist counter-revolution

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4. What are some of the more "extreme" things that someone might do that you would defend as justifiable--even if you probably won't be doing it yourself?

crush capitalist counter-revolution

Quote:
5. What would you NOT be willing to do to bring about this end-goal? Is that because you are weak? Inconsistent? Or does your philosophy/ideology allow for it?

nuke the world, because it would be very bad I think

Quote:
6. Is there some destructive "means" that you believe is actually NOT justified in light of the End? Or do you agree with the motto "by ANY means necessary"?

nuke the world, because it would be very bad I think

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7. What do you love? Cherish? Hold dear?

safety/healthy working conditions and social welfare

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8. Do you believe in individual rights? Or in the notion of inalienable human dignity?

just as a principle, the freedom of one should not harm others

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9. Would you say that you are invested completely in the political future, so that you are unable or unwilling to experience, in the present: spiritual rest, a sense of being-at-home, peace, contentment, the appreciation of timeless beauty?

I try to do the first. The second is silly nonsense, but if you meant just a quality life, then it's not a question of unwilling, but more unable due to capitalism.

Quote:
10. In what or whom do you put your trust?

The international proletariat.

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jondwhite
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Jan 2 2018 21:08
Dr_Curious wrote:

1. What exactly is your political goal?
2. How will this be achieved, in your view?
3. What are some of the more "extreme" things that you would be willing to do to bring about this end-goal, if you believed that the situation called for it?
4. What are some of the more "extreme" things that someone might do that you would defend as justifiable--even if you probably won't be doing it yourself?
5. What would you NOT be willing to do to bring about this end-goal? Is that because you are weak? Inconsistent? Or does your philosophy/ideology allow for it?
6. Is there some destructive "means" that you believe is actually NOT justified in light of the End? Or do you agree with the motto "by ANY means necessary"?
7. What do you love? Cherish? Hold dear?
8. Do you believe in individual rights? Or in the notion of inalienable human dignity?
9. Would you say that you are invested completely in the political future, so that you are unable or unwilling to experience, in the present: spiritual rest, a sense of being-at-home, peace, contentment, the appreciation of timeless beauty?
10. In what or whom do you put your trust?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

1. Workers rule - common ownership and democratic control
2. Democratically with a class-conscious majority, most likely peacefully
3. A social revolution in people's minds, convincing workers one by one if necessary. Debating anyone and everyone.
4. A fully democratic society of common ownership carrying out compulsory seizure of the means of production
5. Ruling or politically trading with the ruling-class or trading with anyone seeking less than a fully democratic society of common ownership. This is ideologically consistent.
6. Yes, the only destruction sought is the destruction of class distinction and privilege. Destroying lives or homes doesn't seem justified.
7. Life, liberty, democracy and society.
8. I believe in humanity where dignity and rights should be respected. I don't believe this exists sufficiently now.
9. No I'm fairly content personally, but the personal is not political.
10. The capability of the working-class to become class conscious and emancipate themselves. NOT leaders and not those who offer to emancipate on their behalf.

zugzwang
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Jan 2 2018 23:11
Dr_Curious wrote:
Hi.

I'm an academic and a philosopher. I see myself (in the future tense) as a "philosophical journalist." I'm an outsider to this whole movement. I'm open-minded. I wouldn't consider myself dogmatically Left or dogmatically Right. I'm suspicious of irrationalist forms of collectivism but also of liberal individualism. I worry about movements that appear to deny the dignity of the individual. Yet I know there is something seriously wrong with Ayn Rand. Egoism is not the answer. I think Heidegger was onto something with his anti-humanism and call to "thinking". ...

Reading through libertarian socialist literature (or some of the libcom guides) might help answer a lot of these questions or at least give an idea of the politics here. None of these answers is going to help if for example you equate socialism as a political goal to nationalisation or anarchism/libertarianism to 'bomb-throwing' or 'stateless capitalism' (as it's commonly defined in North America.) Rand and her right-'libertarian' followers have nothing in common with the anti-capitalist politics here, and I don't imagine Heidegger who was caught up with Nazis is admired much either. Also not everyone 'involved' here holds identical politics or shares the same strategies -- though it's fair to say most seek a socialist/communist system where people's needs and not profits are the priority.

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
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Jan 4 2018 10:02

1. What exactly is your political goal?

It has changed over the years. We read. We learn. We experience. We reflect. Its tempting to see it as one pure trajectory toward wisdom, but its not.

The common theme has been the permanent end of the daily humiliation and deprivation of the poor.

2. How will this be achieved, in your view?

Again, the means that I've advocated has changed over the years, never in a straight line because the idea that there is some "truth" or "sweet spot" that my political journey is aiming for is just an illusion. As I change, so do my tactics and strategy.

The common theme has been a rejection of pacifism. I am not a violent person, I do not enjoy conflict at all, and I certainly don't go looking for it but I also feel strongly that power never concedes without a desperate fight and that we should not allow ourselves to be brutalised in some hippy, dippy attempt to show the powerful that we hold the higher ground. I suppose you could say I believe its better to feel regret at the blood on your hands than to lay in a mass grave a la the Paris Commune. There is no such thing as a glorious defeat.

3. What are some of the more "extreme" things that you would be willing to do to bring about this end-goal, if you believed that the situation called for it?

I dread to think. I suppose anything anyone would do fighting for their freedom under massive assault. It all relates to the way that I see fundamental change ultimately happening. I do not see the ruling class ever giving up power without a fight. They will always be able to recruit a reactionary and or mercenary army that they will be able to arm to the teeth. When we declare private ownership of production abolished I imagine the reaction will be severe. Oppression will immediately follow. At that point we will not be living in peaceful and joyful times. Marshall Law will exist and as such it will be similar to the Resistance against the Nazis. You don't do anything you don't have to do, but equally you can't refuse to fight.

4. What are some of the more "extreme" things that someone might do that you would defend as justifiable--even if you probably won't be doing it yourself?

See above. We're talking about a fight for our very existence and the reestablishment of liberty and democracy. The revolution will force Capital to drop its mask of respectability. Capital has always been authoritarian by nature. It seemingly rules by consent because it manufactures that consent. If its power was challenged it would not hesitate, as it has done regionally, to release the hounds.

5. What would you NOT be willing to do to bring about this end-goal? Is that because you are weak? Inconsistent? Or does your philosophy/ideology allow for it?

Again, I don't know. What would any of us decide was beyond the pale when confronted by an ultra-authoritarian junta? I think basic principles apply. Violence only as a last resort and never knowingly do harm to someone who doesn't do harm to you. Also, if you're trying to win the land of bread and honey it doesn't make much sense to enact a scorched earth policy. The enemy may well, however. I don't believe in vengeance or punishment or humiliation. These are result of our anger and our hate. Although people and situations make us angry we can't be motivated by anger and hate. Anger and hate make you dulled, stupid, reckless and rash.

6. Is there some destructive "means" that you believe is actually NOT justified in light of the End? Or do you agree with the motto "by ANY means necessary"?

See above.

7. What do you love? Cherish? Hold dear?

My wife and child. The vulnerable. The innate human compulsion to do good. The care givers around us always humble me. I see what we could be. I see what we're denied...and for what? Industrial development for the needless expansion of wealth which forever becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. I grew poor, I know what it feels like. I don't want anyone to have to go through that, its vile.

8. Do you believe in individual rights? Or in the notion of inalienable human dignity?

We are not a group of individuals. We are an intrinsically collective species. Every freedom we have interlocks with the freedoms of others. Its impossible to talk of individual rights without talking about collective rights. Inalienable human dignity is a religious idea. Nothing is inalienable. Anything can be taken away from you. You can be conditioned to believe that you never had it and shouldn't want it. That's what makes the fight for our freedom so pressing. We still have ideas floating around that remind us of what it was like to be collectively empowered but there are no guarantees that these ideas will live forever if they are not fought for. Already we can see ideas of collective and commons dying. Its a complicated subject and a fascinating field of study. The logic of autonomy and capitalisation are nearly universal now.

9. Would you say that you are invested completely in the political future, so that you are unable or unwilling to experience, in the present: spiritual rest, a sense of being-at-home, peace, contentment, the appreciation of timeless beauty?

I think the present state of things creates a huge amount of alienation which manifests as mental illness - depression, anxiety.etc We've all been trained to think of our lives as inventories of personal capital - time, mood, productivity, ambition.etc - I don't think that is compatible with being at peace, content.etc

10. In what or whom do you put your trust?

The innate goodness of ordinary people. When someone is in need, and reaction takes over it robs us of our individualism and personal optimisation. We stop. We help. We care. We smile. We take time. We ask nothing in return. We give. We don't judge. Its the most tragic thing for a society to built around contrary principles.

zugzwang
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Jan 5 2018 21:19

I'd like to see Curious follow up on all the responses he's got, bit strange.

Vlad The Inhaler wrote:

2. How will this be achieved, in your view?

Again, the means that I've advocated has changed over the years, never in a straight line because the idea that there is some "truth" or "sweet spot" that my political journey is aiming for is just an illusion. As I change, so do my tactics and strategy.

The common theme has been a rejection of pacifism. I am not a violent person, I do not enjoy conflict at all, and I certainly don't go looking for it but I also feel strongly that power never concedes without a desperate fight and that we should not allow ourselves to be brutalised in some hippy, dippy attempt to show the powerful that we hold the higher ground. I suppose you could say I believe its better to feel regret at the blood on your hands than to lay in a mass grave a la the Paris Commune. There is no such thing as a glorious defeat.

I think there is a retaliation fear that discourages violent employer and government offenses against the working class (at the risk of losing legitimacy) and encourages more subtle methods (propaganda, discrediting workers first -- then using violence etc.) to undermine/defeat workers' organizing. In that sense a bloody defeat (shooting striking workers e.g.) could lead to more people sympathizing with workers and their demands/goals. Just a thought on defeats in general, not really related to the Paris Commune.

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Jan 5 2018 22:11
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Curious philosopher and outsider is looking for online discussion participants

I went through a period in university where I was a bit phi-curious, too. Luckily, libcom is a very open-minded place. wink

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
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Jan 6 2018 10:21
zugzwang wrote:
I'd like to see Curious follow up on all the responses he's got, bit strange.

I think there is a retaliation fear that discourages violent employer and government offenses against the working class (at the risk of losing legitimacy) and encourages more subtle methods (propaganda, discrediting workers first -- then using violence etc.) to undermine/defeat workers' organizing. In that sense a bloody defeat (shooting striking workers e.g.) could lead to more people sympathizing with workers and their demands/goals. Just a thought on defeats in general, not really related to the Paris Commune.

I don't deny the possibility but I would never condone making it part of a formal strategy. Workers are people, they have families, friends, loved ones, hopes, dreams, a reason for living, potential.etc

I look at the great martyrs of the movement with regret not inspiration. Its not necessarily that they were wrong to do what they did, maybe it was the only course of action, I just think any death is regrettable.

Its a tricky one because an aversion to tragedy can make one passive or cautious but at the same time I have a strong desire not to send fellow humans over the top on suicide missions in the name of propaganda of the deed, a concept of which I am very sceptical.

zugzwang
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Jan 6 2018 20:21
Vlad The Inhaler wrote:
zugzwang wrote:
I'd like to see Curious follow up on all the responses he's got, bit strange.

I think there is a retaliation fear that discourages violent employer and government offenses against the working class (at the risk of losing legitimacy) and encourages more subtle methods (propaganda, discrediting workers first -- then using violence etc.) to undermine/defeat workers' organizing. In that sense a bloody defeat (shooting striking workers e.g.) could lead to more people sympathizing with workers and their demands/goals. Just a thought on defeats in general, not really related to the Paris Commune.

I don't deny the possibility but I would never condone making it part of a formal strategy. Workers are people, they have families, friends, loved ones, hopes, dreams, a reason for living, potential.etc

I look at the great martyrs of the movement with regret not inspiration. Its not necessarily that they were wrong to do what they did, maybe it was the only course of action, I just think any death is regrettable.

Its a tricky one because an aversion to tragedy can make one passive or cautious but at the same time I have a strong desire not to send fellow humans over the top on suicide missions in the name of propaganda of the deed, a concept of which I am very sceptical.

I was basing that observation about defeats mostly off labor struggles in America, particularly Brecher's Strike!. Employer and government violence and other actions detrimental to workers often seem to gain workers support and escalate tensions. I definitely do not want to formalize striking workers getting shot just because it might gain them support. It was just a thought, not really related to Paris Commune.

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
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Jan 12 2018 17:02

Alrighty then. lol

I guess the prof wasn't THAT interested.

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Jan 12 2018 20:59
Vlad The Inhaler wrote:
Alrighty then. lol

I guess the prof wasn't THAT interested.

It was obvious from the start, so I had hoped my first response would have nipped this thread in the bud (and thus spare others from writing long responses), but you lot couldn't resist the temptation to have a go at it.

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Jan 12 2018 22:08
Noa Rodman wrote:
Vlad The Inhaler wrote:
Alrighty then. lol

I guess the prof wasn't THAT interested.

It was obvious from the start, so I had hoped my first response would have nipped this thread in the bud (and thus spare others from writing long responses), but you lot couldn't resist the temptation to have a go at it.

Call me niave, I took him at face value, although there was something about his grammar that made me question whether he was actually an academic.

Even if it was a gigantic waste of time trying to facilitate him its always good to check in with yourself and see if you'd still answer a certain question the same way as you have done in the past. It helps me to clarify certain things for myself.

zugzwang
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Jan 13 2018 07:40
Vlad The Inhaler wrote:
Alrighty then. lol

I guess the prof wasn't THAT interested.

May have forgot, or just couldn't find thread again after submitting it. I dislike when academics speak of socialism or of "socialist states" (is that what they meant by "irrationalist forms of collectivism"?). They never show an appreciation for the extent of socialist thought; it's not like these "socialist states" don't have their left/socialist critics who can't be read about. I'm sure this doesn't apply to all academic types, but you would think someone who studies/teaches philosophy would know something about these conflicts.

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Jan 15 2018 10:30

My guess was final-year university student trying to find material and some direction.