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Why would I be a communist?

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Pyotr Tchaikovsky
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Jun 1 2012 12:06
Why would I be a communist?

Here is what my friend said when we were arguing, I am just paraphrasing him:

I understand the theory - how workers are exploited, surplus value extracted etc. etc. My question is not about theory, but simply this: even if workers are being exploited - and they are - why should I care? Workers are mostly reactionary, racist, violent, morally depraved scum, so their exploitation isn't going to bring any tears to my eyes. So even if communism is true, why would I become a communist when I hold workers in such low regard?

Any response to this, comrades?

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Rob Ray
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Jun 1 2012 12:56

1. His view of workers is the sort of stereotyping bullshit that only a very dull-witted fellow could possibly believe. More likely, it's an excuse or an attempt to troll you.
2. If he's not a worker, he's a capitalist, so his primary reason for being a communist would have to be altruistic - and if he is such a prat as to have swallowed some mindless Tory line about the working class consisting of millions of worthless scum that seems an unlikely prospect.

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Rob Ray
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Jun 1 2012 12:56

*dp

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Tim Finnegan
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Jun 1 2012 12:47

If he genuinely holds the working class in the irrational contempt that you describe, then he's entirely right, there's no reason for him to become a communist.

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Kronstadt_Kid
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Jun 1 2012 12:53

I guess he is not a worker himself then, haha.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky
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Jun 1 2012 14:41

No, he's a worker but he says one cannot support workers blindly, just as one cannot support one's nation blindly. You must realize that we're both Indians, he an immigrant worker (I am not). So he has experience with fellow workers being racist, reactionary.

Plus, logically, is it not workers who do all this reactionary stuff? Brushing it aside doesn't help. The lady on the train who abused immigrant workers was a worker herself. Most soccer fans in east Europe are racists - and they too are workers. Workers join army, demonize Arabs, workers join police force and torment fellow workers. You can keep adding to the list.

Point is, even though the bourgeois are the real culprits, are not workers voluntarily involved in this game?

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 1 2012 14:58

Communism isn't about supporting workers blindly, its about supporting your own interests which you share with other workers, which include abolishing capitalism, the state, racism sexism etc. Not all "communists" recognise this, or give it the priority it deservers but thats a problem with them, not communism itself.

Quote:
Point is, even though the bourgeois are the real culprits, are not workers voluntarily involved in this game?

i don't think so, people don't chose to be part of socity, it is imposed on them, the choices we make are not free. That doesn't excuses people who are racist sexist etc, but people take on these ideas because they are the norm not just because they are ass holes (although a lot of them are)

The point is to change things.

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Kronstadt_Kid
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Jun 1 2012 15:09

Thanks for elaborating.

For me, communists fight for our own interests. So it is in your friends own interest to fight for communism. Sort of a 'collective selfishness'.

You are right that workers are reactionary. We would be in a different situation if they were not. They do not only hate people who are 'different'. They seem to hate themselves, supporting their government when it acts against other members of their class... not standing up for their own interests.

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syndicalistcat
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Jun 1 2012 16:43

1. Our movement is not about the moral superiority of the working class but the oppressive, exploitative, destructive character of the present system.

2. People tend to be shaped in their mindset by the system itself. The system is competitive and encourages people to have negative attitudes towards people they are forced to compete with, as workers compete with each other for jobs. Greed isn't rampant in capitalism just because the capitalists have a greed problem. Rather, the capitalists have a greed problem because greed wins in this system, the system encourages people that way.

3. People can change. The working class won't be able to eliminate capitalism unless it develops actual unity and opposition to the system in a very massive and deep seated way. That requires people learning about the way the toes of other groups get tromped on, and learn to appreciate why they should also oppose things like racism & sexism. The struggle to replace capitalism with a system based on cooperation & solidarity & worker control is itself part of the process through which the working class changes itself.

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Arbeiten
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Jun 1 2012 17:02

your mate is a fucking middle class wanker and you should stop speaking to him. Workers come in all shapes and sizes.

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qbbmvrjsssdd
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Jun 1 2012 20:00

Racism and exploitation are interrelated processes. People of color have been subjugated to capitalist nations for centuries. The exploitation of colonized nations had to be reinforced by an ideology of racial inferiority, which was transmitted to the white working class.

RedHughs
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Jun 1 2012 20:42
Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote:
Here is what my friend said when we were arguing, I am just paraphrasing him:

I understand the theory - how workers are exploited, surplus value extracted etc. etc. My question is not about theory, but simply this: even if workers are being exploited - and they are - why should I care? Workers are mostly reactionary, racist, violent, morally depraved scum, so their exploitation isn't going to bring any tears to my eyes. So even if communism is true, why would I become a communist when I hold workers in such low regard?

Any response to this, comrades?

This raises the question whether the communist theory is a theory of injustice, or a theory of the behavior of the capitalist system or something else.

I would say that communist theory should be a theory of the behavior of the capitalist system combined with a theory of what is possible for humanity (a theory of "human nature" but a negative theory, not be what people will be but what they can overcome).

The first point is that the capitalist system is a historical phase which humanity is passing through. It isn't how things have always been but a small and chaotic blip on the "historical radar".

The second is that the condition of humanity is self-transformation. Capitalism is both particular form of class society, a particular form of an elite extracting a surplus from a lower class and a "general system" in the sense that wage labor allows any and all methods of surplus extraction to compared against each other and so allows the most effective surplus extraction method to "win" extending the entire process of surplus extraction (well with considerable noise and caveats but still). Essentially, capitalist relations allow "society" to "discover" all the ways that stuff, creative energy, labor power, can be extracted from proletarians. And equally, involves selling this "energy" back in alienated form to the mass of consumers. Thus capitalism could be said to be the perfection of how human beings face each as "objects". Capitalism has "perfected" human beings' process of self-transformation by reducing human beings to a universal raw material.

The oppose pole to the capitalist system would be a world wide human community. The assumption is that people have always had some ability to act collectively through some form of community. The pure alienation of capitalism could said to be, defined to be, a person acting to satisfy the whims of someone they have no other relationship with. The opposite to pole to this state of affairs would a collective process where one's act of creation related to the overall direction of humanity. And it is very open what exact form that would take. Still, the chaotic and destructive trajectory of this society seems to strongly indicate that we will be impelled more and more to answer the question of what a world-wide community will look like or face not just alienation but massive destruction.

RedHughs
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Jun 1 2012 21:02
Pyotr Tchaikovsky's friend quoted as wrote:

I understand the theory - how workers are exploited, surplus value extracted etc. etc.

Any response to this, comrades?

The other side of this is that a theory described as a "theory of exploitation", as "Marx's theory" is often put, tends to be a theory of justice at the end of the day.

And I think the trajectory of the 19th century workers' movement left it open whether "exploitation" was a term of injustice or a term of description.

I mean, You can repeat the point till your face turns blue that "exploitation" is merely technical term describing the process of capitalist reproduction but term remains tied to a strong implication of injustice and contemporary communists generally remain tied to Marx's term here.

I think a the question of whether communism is a "theory of justice" is how comparable capitalist relations and communist relations are. It seems to me that the history of capitalist progress and anti-communist counter-revolution of the last two hundred years point to capitalism, at crucial moments, being able to offer quantitative change without fundamental qualitative change. Thus it seems like rejecting communism as a theory of justice is actually crucial however much or little communism might have first appeared as such.

☭M.M☭
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Jun 1 2012 21:04

your friend has an very good point.And i agree on that mostly working class are "stupid" people. This rednecks vote right-wingers most of the time.So its their own folt on being in such position they are.

So i really dont care much about ignorant people.

But i still hate capitalistic system for creating such people.

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Jun 1 2012 21:24
☭M.M☭ wrote:
your friend has an very good point.And i agree on that mostly working class are "stupid" people. This rednecks vote right-wingers most of the time.So its their own folt on being in such position they are.

You can't be serious.

☭M.M☭
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Jun 1 2012 22:13

are you saying that this isnt true?

but unfortunately it is true working class vote right wingers believe it or not

p.s: im not trolling or something but this is true

RedFlagg
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Jun 1 2012 22:40

The working-class does come in all shapes and sizes.

They can either be reactionary, or they can be revolutionary.

I think that one should be a communist in order to fight for the downtrodden.

Who cares what your friend thinks, lest you can convince them otherwise.

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Tim Finnegan
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Jun 1 2012 22:40
Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote:
Plus, logically, is it not workers who do all this reactionary stuff?

No more than the middle class, no. Look at the leaked BNP membership lists from a few years back, which showed that the majority of them are business-owners, managers, professionals and cops. Workers are a peripheral minority among organised reactionaries. If there's a difference, it's that the working class aren't as good at couching their reactionary tendencies in publicly acceptable language.

isawamouse
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Jun 3 2012 08:39
syndicalistcat wrote:
2. People tend to be shaped in their mindset by the system itself. The system is competitive and encourages people to have negative attitudes towards people they are forced to compete with, as workers compete with each other for jobs.

exactly. obviously much of the xenophobia aimed at eastern europeans in the uk takes the form of "those immigrants taking our jobs", as flawed as this argument may be, and historically the notion of south east asians "taking over our businesses". this is an obvious and important point.

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Uncreative
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Jun 3 2012 17:15
☭M.M☭ wrote:
are you saying that this isnt true?

but unfortunately it is true working class vote right wingers believe it or not

p.s: im not trolling or something but this is true

Yes. I am saying that this:

☭M.M☭ wrote:
mostly working class are "stupid" people.

is not true. Because it isn't.

blimeybruv
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Jun 4 2012 17:01

If he claims to understand the theory, he should have an inkling as to how capitalist hegemony perpetuates reactionary attitudes. Doubt it'd be worth your time to explain though as he sounds bitter in the extreme.

Can you explain the 'morally depraved scum' remark? I wonder what his superior morals are like.

secondcreed
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Jun 5 2012 00:03

If I found all the slaves in the world to be selfish, mistrustful, and uneducated I would still oppose Slavery, especially if I was a slave.

1.) It is likely that their mistrust and lack of education are results of the institution.
2.) Slavery deserves to be opposed because of the qualities of the institution, not because it's victims are fantastic people.
3.) By abolishing Slavery, I emancipate myself.

Would your friend have the same reservations about opposing slavery?

Pyotr Tchaikovsky
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Jun 9 2012 10:38
secondcreed wrote:
If I found all the slaves in the world to be selfish, mistrustful, and uneducated I would still oppose Slavery, especially if I was a slave.

1.) It is likely that their mistrust and lack of education are results of the institution.
2.) Slavery deserves to be opposed because of the qualities of the institution, not because it's victims are fantastic people.
3.) By abolishing Slavery, I emancipate myself.

Would your friend have the same reservations about opposing slavery?

Point 2 is very good. Normally, people take things personally and wonder whether anyone is worthy of emancipation.

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antifaoz
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Jun 9 2012 11:19

Hang on here. This is like dissing someone for being blind after you have put their eyes out. Yes the average political conciousness is pretty poor, but [and its a big one] when there has been a concerted effort on the part of capital since 1917 to defuse working class militancy, solidarity and awareness by feeding us sports, spending and slops from the 'social welfare' budget as our social reality. Fine, you,ve sussed out the con and understand the theory behind it. Most workers haven't. Why? becuase they've been fed a diet of ideological garbage from cradle to grave by elite interests. Even the 'entertainment' proffered by the mainstream media has its propagandistic function in the mechanisms of ideological control. So instead of acting so superior and disdainful, how about you do something productive like show people why racism, for example, is a tool that oppresses them as well by keeping the working class divided. Contempt for the class we are part of smacks of Leninist/Stalinist b/s and we all know where that led!!!!!! circle A hand

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Jun 9 2012 13:35
antifaoz wrote:
So instead of acting so superior and disdainful, how about you do something productive like show people why racism, for example, is a tool that oppresses them as well by keeping the working class divided.

By throwing racial slurs at them or what.

Especially the "division of the working class" thing comes across as some loony conspiracy shit if you as in this case start with the superstructure instead of the base. And that's where people are all like, oh well tough shit happens gotta deal with it. Not to sound patronizing but capitalist realism makes anyone outside its logic sound like a fringe loon.

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Jun 9 2012 23:13
Quote:
By throwing racial slurs at them or what.

confused confused confused

not meaning to be obtuse but:

Quote:
Especially the "division of the working class" thing comes across as some loony conspiracy shit if you as in this case start with the superstructure instead of the base

confused

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not to sound patronizing but capitalist realism makes anyone outside its logic sound like a fringe loon.

Why think within capitals discourse and what it finds logical. All ideologies have their own specific logical premises. Whilst it is neccessary to grasp the inner logic of an ideology to understand it, it is by no means incumbent upon the individual to accept them blindly.

secondcreed
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Jun 10 2012 01:47
Quote:
Especially the "division of the working class" thing comes across as some loony conspiracy shit if you as in this case start with the superstructure instead of the base. And that's where people are all like, oh well tough shit happens gotta deal with it. Not to sound patronizing but capitalist realism makes anyone outside its logic sound like a fringe loon.

I'm very interested in this. Sorry to be naive; Could you give some brief examples of what you mean by starting with the base?

TitusMoans
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Jun 10 2012 04:32

The way most workers behave, in the USA at any rate, which I'm sure is fairly true in most developed nations, is a result of lifelong indoctrination.

Antonio Gramsci formulated the theory of cultural hegemony to explain this indoctrination. The ruling class, the bourgeousie, by controlling all means of communication, entertainment, etc. fix societal norms. As a result, most of the working class come to believe that the society, their beliefs, their lives are exactly as they should be.

Even if you point out to them the absurdity of their beliefs, the contradiction of how they behave as opposed to their own well-being, most will insist, argue, even fight to prove they are behaving exactly as they should to protect the sanctity of their perfect world.

andy g
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Jun 10 2012 07:32

perhaps a slightly one-sided interpretation of Gramsci, Titus. i think it best of consider hegemony as a contested process rather than an automatically accomplished fact. Gramsci also argued, as a counterpoint, that workers' life situation impels them to engage in resistance to capital that is often at odds with the world-view they have had imposed upon them. this leads to the generation of a counter-hegemonic working class consciousness that is often unsystematic and only partially articulated, existing alongside ideas inherited from the ruling class. hence his idea of "contradictory class consciousness"

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Jun 10 2012 09:27
antifaoz wrote:
Why think within capitals discourse and what it finds logical. All ideologies have their own specific logical premises. Whilst it is neccessary to grasp the inner logic of an ideology to understand it, it is by no means incumbent upon the individual to accept them blindly.

I'm by no means an advocate of discourses within the logic of capital. What I meant to say is that I (for one) find it incredibly hard to argue stuff without recourse to certain Marxist concepts which immediately makes you look like you're a Stalinist type... thanks very much comrades, best disservice to the communist movement, bourgie propaganda couldn't do it any better.

Which relates to:

secondcreed wrote:
I'm very interested in this. Sorry to be naive; Could you give some brief examples of what you mean by starting with the base?

For a bit of background info, I'm from Germany. Consider the current crisis in Europe, especially Greece.

Without explaining class and exploitation (basically the underlying mechanism of capitalism, or the mode of production, which is meant by base) there is just no way to argue against such bullshit like "Why should we (the Germans) pay for their (the Greeks') bill? They lived the high life, not us, and now they can't take a bit of austerity". Now try arguing why it's not the fault of the Greek working class.

Good luck with that. I find it to be a dead end; it's like what antifaoz said about premises, but what if your premises already dismiss you in the eyes of others?

I don't debate with Randroids either. Well, tried it once, learned my lesson...

The same goes for racism and nationalism. Without a class analysis, it all ends up in some bleeding heart liberal lingo...

(You can probably see I'm a bit disenchanted with the whole "argue your way to communism" approach)

TitusMoans
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Jun 11 2012 03:03

That is true, andy g, but I was simply explaining to the OP, why so many workers often seem to work against themeselves, especially, for example, when it comes to voting.

I was not attempting to offer a complete summary of Gramsci, only point out that cultural hegemony influences workers in ways, of which they are often unaware.

I also could have used Marx's own words from _The Communist Manifesto_, in which he writes, "The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class."