Can Capitalism grant meaningful reforms today? Is Decadence

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Red Marriott
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Jul 28 2006 22:40

Hi Redtwister,
I agree with your comments on relating to reforms. I'd add that many things that began as reformist struggles/demands have become radicalised. I sometimes wonder how it is expected that radicalisation occurs, except thru a process.
On Marx; I was asked to provide evidence of Marx/Engels' 'worst determinism'. I agree Marx later changed his views somewhat via study of the Russian mir (peasant commune) and thought it might be possible for Russia to avoid the same stages of development as advanced European capital, using the mir as a springboard to leap directly to communism, if there was a victorious West European proletarian revolution.

On gay marriage; you say

Quote:
"I'm not against the right of homosexuals who to get married because to oppose it is to stand with the bigots. I am not for it, however, in the sense of seeing it as an end. It will be a way to re-impose the bourgeois family in its own fashion. I am for the fight, if there is one and for making a hell of a fight of it. But if it is legislative maneuvering and a few demos, please explain to me what our role in it is besides the critique of bourgeois sexuality and sexual relations and the family? The best part about it is the real threat is does pose to the bourgeois family, and I refuse to defend the argument that gays ought to have the right to be normal.

I'm not quite sure what you mean here - if, as you say (and I agree) "It will be a way to re-impose the bourgeois family in its own fashion" do we not oppose it on that basis, as part of the critique of bourgeois sexuality etc? I can understand that gay marriage will be perceived by the bigots as a threat to bourgeois marriage, but obviously that doesn't make it true. It seems the critique of sexuality that was originally part of gay politics has disappeared and been largely replaced by demands for integration and normality. Isn't to support bourgeois gay marriage to stand with gay conservatism against straight conservatism, no? I mean, I'll go to a wedding if I'm invited, (if possible just the reception afterwards - though it rarely happens cos most people know what a cynic I am) but indulging your friends' idiosyncrasies for the sake of a good party is different from a social analysis.
Enjoy Chicago, they say it's a wunnerful town.

afraser
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Jul 30 2006 22:51
Lazy Riser wrote:
afraser, let me get a terse summary of your position please. Are you saying that campaigning with regard to official reformist political frameworks is in the best interests of the working class?

Yes.
(Can't get much terser than that)

Lazy Riser - British prison system costs closer to £36k per prisoner-year, I think. Slave systems were much cheaper due to much less oversight than prisoners get. In practice “slave” was almost a misnomer, worker without right of resigning from employment might be a closer description. In classical factories, distinguishing between slave and waged worker was impossible to an outside observer without asking for details from the workers concerned. And contra conventional economic wisdom, slavery/serfdom was very good financially to employers - without a competitive labour market, employers could (can) better drive down wages/slave subsistence costs.

Ernie – yes I appreciate Marx himself was not a proponent of crude stagist historical materialism, but still I unlike him reject the idea that there have been different epochs, really I think there have always been bourgeoisie and proletariat and an increasing capitalism for 5000 years. Any kind of extra-European study would show that – Western Europe was in mediaeval times underdeveloped, the third world of its day.

Redtwister – a good summation. I apologise for imagining your views on decadence/reforms wrong. Your view on how and why we support reforms is inspiring, except is reminiscent of the “Myth of non-reformist reforms” that Robin Hahnel (no idiot) demolishes at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7520 .

You sound like you are endorsing a Camus ‘La Peste’ style ‘struggle for the sake of struggle’ approach to reforms. I worry about that because it can lead to activistoidism. I’ve seen Trotskyist interventions in obviously unsuccessful campaigns that appeared to be purely for recruitment purposes. Having grown tired of loosing in glorious defeat, I’ve later involved myself in some winning campaigns, but they, inevitably, become non-revolutionary, reformist, leftist, shortly after that victory. Perhaps the best hoped fate of a revolutionary is to kick start successive victorious campaigns, floating onto the next as the last turns reformist?

The dangers involved in playing with reformism are huge.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote:
He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Gaze not too long into the abyss of leftist reformism, for it has eyes also, and they look back at you with longing. A revolutionary should dance around the edge of that abyss, taunting it, while taking care to avoid falling in.

The Hippocratic teaching: ‘first, do harm’, should be remembered when seeking to treat the disease of capitalism through reforms:

Hippocrates of Cos wrote:
The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future - must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm
http://classics.mit.edu/Hippocrates/epidemics.1.i.html

It is no simple task to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future; yet such is required of us for right action.

redtwister
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Aug 1 2006 20:04

I am not even replying to things. I am just apologizing for having a rather belligerent bug up my ass the other night.

Sorry.

redtwister
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Aug 1 2006 20:36
afraser wrote:
Redtwister – a good summation. I apologise for imagining your views on decadence/reforms wrong. Your view on how and why we support reforms is inspiring, except is reminiscent of the “Myth of non-reformist reforms” that Robin Hahnel (no idiot) demolishes at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7520 .

You sound like you are endorsing a Camus ‘La Peste’ style ‘struggle for the sake of struggle’ approach to reforms. I worry about that because it can lead to activistoidism. I’ve seen Trotskyist interventions in obviously unsuccessful campaigns that appeared to be purely for recruitment purposes. Having grown tired of loosing in glorious defeat, I’ve later involved myself in some winning campaigns, but they, inevitably, become non-revolutionary, reformist, leftist, shortly after that victory. Perhaps the best hoped fate of a revolutionary is to kick start successive victorious campaigns, floating onto the next as the last turns reformist?

Indeed, I was worried later the next day that it came off that way.

My intention was not to state that we ought to be activists, but that if and when we find ourselves involved in a struggle, our orientation is to the struggle and viewing it from the point of view of how it increases the strenthg, consciousness and solidarity of our class, not from the point of view of reforms.

In those situations where it is impossible to play anything other than the role of the best reformists, where a communist perspective is impossible, we may still participate, but not in any leadership role. I have no innate need to lead regardless of the politics under which I can lead. I've been there and it is a very bad thing. Better to be a fellow worker getting screwed than a new boss.

There are times in which nothing can be done unless one wants to become an agent of capital...

Chris

redtwister
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Aug 1 2006 20:51
Ret Marut wrote:
I'm not quite sure what you mean here - if, as you say (and I agree) "It will be a way to re-impose the bourgeois family in its own fashion" do we not oppose it on that basis, as part of the critique of bourgeois sexuality etc? I can understand that gay marriage will be perceived by the bigots as a threat to bourgeois marriage, but obviously that doesn't make it true. It seems the critique of sexuality that was originally part of gay politics has disappeared and been largely replaced by demands for integration and normality. Isn't to support bourgeois gay marriage to stand with gay conservatism against straight conservatism, no? I mean, I'll go to a wedding if I'm invited, (if possible just the reception afterwards - though it rarely happens cos most people know what a cynic I am) but indulging your friends' idiosyncrasies for the sake of a good party is different from a social analysis.
Enjoy Chicago, they say it's a wunnerful town.

I am from Chicago, actually. 21 years. Now I loathe going back if I have to do any driving. It is an increasingly hostile, miserable town. I love many things about it, but it has become a truly viscious place on a day-to-day level.

anyway...

I am unsure what standing against gay marriage can mean besides supporting attacks on gays. As I said, I am not for gay marriage as I am not for marriage, but if I would not spend energy supporting it, why would I spend energy opposing it beyond the somewhat banal statement that in making gay marriage, it will merely play a role in turning gay sexuality into another acceptable state of bourgeois society.

But I can hardly begrudge friends of mine having legal rights to stay in the hospital with a sick partner or to have legal standing against the family, etc. It is not communist, but it certainly would improve things for many people.

Still thinking...

Chris

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Red Marriott
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Aug 1 2006 21:32

Ok, thanks Chris - I understand your position better now.