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Socialism |OT| The Dawn of a Red Era

OP
OP
sphagnum
Oct 25, 2017
8,096
When the far right goes out of their way to characterize liberals in a cartoonish manner in order to slander their views, it is more often something I actually do want unironically as a socialist on some level, and something that liberals don't actually want.

Like expropriating housing, abolishing prisons, taking money from rich people, etc.
The former are deranged and think liberals are communists, the latter are so boxed in by the hegemony of liberalism in the first world that they can't conceive of someone seriously advocating for something to its left.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
When you grow up thinking you're a Real Progressive and on the Right Side of History, and some melanin-rich kids show you up as the neolib pigs, all you can do is squeal in confusion.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,369
Are socialism, communism, and syndicalism all adequately described under the umbrella of Marxism?

As in if a person were to agree with some aspect of each of these ideologies but none in their entirety would "Marxist" be the best catch-all term? Also is there a single term for a strain of Marxism that recognizes racial, gender, and sexuality struggles in addition to class struggle? Thanks!
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,369
Thanks, I'm just trying to see where I fit in in terms of a socialist ideology. Currently trying to understand the finer points of Trotskyism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersectionality#Marxist_feminist_critical_theory

I wouldn't call people practicing intersectional analysis socialists per se, but it has strong Marxist roots given its history.
So if you subscribe to socialist economic theory but an intersectional social theory you could just describe yourself as an intersection socialist? I don't believe that social strife is caused 100% simply by class struggle and that there are other (as in the aforementioned) factors, so I wouldn't subscribe to a singularly marxist reading of history.
 
Nov 1, 2017
120
I'm always going to recommend the works of Murray Bookchin and Abdullah Ocalan, but that's personal bias talking. I want more of a conversation on those ideas. Not STRICTLY socialism, but relevant to the current socialist scheme of things-- though maybe more for revolutionary rather than reformist schools of thought.
As a starter for anyone interested in this, here’s a 48-page intro to Ocalan’s Democratic Confederalism ideas. http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ocalan-Democratic-Confederalism.pdf

No offense taken.

I enjoy the podcast quite a bit. In high school I was a Libertarian jerk-off. GAF/Era and Reddit have really opened my eyes to things over the years. This is the next step, and some very light reading for me.

Baby steps it is, lol.
Here’s a short thing, devoid of jargon too, it’s fairly plain language.
 
Oct 25, 2017
980
Speaking of Syndicalism, thoughts on its practicality as a beachhead for the capture of capital toward socialism? It's something I've wondered about, perhaps in the framework of nationalizing failing mega-corporations into an immediate, for lack of a better term in my mind, "devolution" of those means of production and capital to their workers.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,357
Thanks, I'm just trying to see where I fit in in terms of a socialist ideology. Currently trying to understand the finer points of Trotskyism.



So if you subscribe to socialist economic theory but an intersectional social theory you could just describe yourself as an intersection socialist? I don't believe that social strife is caused 100% simply by class struggle and that there are other (as in the aforementioned) factors, so I wouldn't subscribe to a singularly marxist reading of history.
there's also ecosocialism, intersectionality is important
 
OP
OP
sphagnum
Oct 25, 2017
8,096
Are socialism, communism, and syndicalism all adequately described under the umbrella of Marxism?

As in if a person were to agree with some aspect of each of these ideologies but none in their entirety would "Marxist" be the best catch-all term? Also is there a single term for a strain of Marxism that recognizes racial, gender, and sexuality struggles in addition to class struggle? Thanks!
Marxism is best understood as an analytical framework with which to understand capitalism, particularly how capital reproduces itself and the historical processes that lead to it doing so and result from it. By its nature it's supposed to be non-dogmatic, constantly critiquing itself in accordance with the reality of the time, with the different strains of it primarily being responses to the question of "how?" rather than "why?". In other words, since Marx was concerned with understanding capitalism but didn't want to get into how specifically to bring about socialism (since he didn't know), Marxists generally have a baseline level of agreement about the nature of capitalism but differ in methods of praxis regarding how to overcome it.

Due to this, there's not really one "take a thought leader's name and slap - ism" on it that would encompass every other social problem that we might want to deal with. It would just be Marxist feminism or Marxist ecology or intersectional Marxism etc., as it was mentioned above, because you're just applying Marxist analysis to other areas beyond pure commodity production and class struggle.

Marxists can believe all sorts of different things and disagree with Marx on various elements, but at some point if the totality of differences was far enough away from the generally agreed points of understanding, there wouldn't be much reason in calling oneself a Marxist. So if someone wanted democratically controlled workplaces with proletarian control of the means of production, they'd be a socialist generally speaking, but it they didn't agree with the labor theory of value, or historical materialism and the primacy of material conditions and class struggle as the transformative agent of history (regarding different stages of modes of production), or thought that the tendency of the rate of profit to fall was bunk, or didn't agree that the dictatorship of the proletariat was a necessary outcome in the struggle to establish to socialism, or want to do away with wages, etc. then it would be strange to call themselves a Marxist.

That said, reality is more important than labels.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
4,357
when the candidate for the democratic party will be decided, and how it exactly works?
I see a lot of fight already, is the date close?
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,832
when the candidate for the democratic party will be decided, and how it exactly works?
I see a lot of fight already, is the date close?
lol no the primary elections to choose the party's candidate are next year. things are a circus already partly because with the field fairly open people started declaring early to try and build hype for themselves.

each individual state holds its own party elections to assign its delegates ahead of the democratic national convention.
 
Oct 27, 2017
783
when the candidate for the democratic party will be decided, and how it exactly works?
I see a lot of fight already, is the date close?
Nope the main American parties drag out their presidential nominations for literal years. The nomination will officially be decided in summer 2020.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,357
lol no the primary elections to choose the party's candidate are next year. things are a circus already partly because with the field fairly open people started declaring early to try and build hype for themselves.

each individual state holds its own party elections to assign its delegates ahead of the democratic national convention.
Nope the main American parties drag out their presidential nominations for literal years. The nomination will officially be decided in summer 2020.
omg, thx, i dont think i could handle 2 years of campaign and presidential elections fight, i would go insane
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,369
Marxism is best understood as an analytical framework with which to understand capitalism, particularly how capital reproduces itself and the historical processes that lead to it doing so and result from it. By its nature it's supposed to be non-dogmatic, constantly critiquing itself in accordance with the reality of the time, with the different strains of it primarily being responses to the question of "how?" rather than "why?". In other words, since Marx was concerned with understanding capitalism but didn't want to get into how specifically to bring about socialism (since he didn't know), Marxists generally have a baseline level of agreement about the nature of capitalism but differ in methods of praxis regarding how to overcome it.

Due to this, there's not really one "take a thought leader's name and slap - ism" on it that would encompass every other social problem that we might want to deal with. It would just be Marxist feminism or Marxist ecology or intersectional Marxism etc., as it was mentioned above, because you're just applying Marxist analysis to other areas beyond pure commodity production and class struggle.

Marxists can believe all sorts of different things and disagree with Marx on various elements, but at some point if the totality of differences was far enough away from the generally agreed points of understanding, there wouldn't be much reason in calling oneself a Marxist. So if someone wanted democratically controlled workplaces with proletarian control of the means of production, they'd be a socialist generally speaking, but it they didn't agree with the labor theory of value, or historical materialism and the primacy of material conditions and class struggle as the transformative agent of history (regarding different stages of modes of production), or thought that the tendency of the rate of profit to fall was bunk, or didn't agree that the dictatorship of the proletariat was a necessary outcome in the struggle to establish to socialism, or want to do away with wages, etc. then it would be strange to call themselves a Marxist.

Tha said, reality is more important than labels.
Thank you, Sphagnum. This is very helpful.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,700
Marxism is best understood as an analytical framework with which to understand capitalism, particularly how capital reproduces itself and the historical processes that lead to it doing so and result from it. By its nature it's supposed to be non-dogmatic, constantly critiquing itself in accordance with the reality of the time, with the different strains of it primarily being responses to the question of "how?" rather than "why?". In other words, since Marx was concerned with understanding capitalism but didn't want to get into how specifically to bring about socialism (since he didn't know), Marxists generally have a baseline level of agreement about the nature of capitalism but differ in methods of praxis regarding how to overcome it.

Due to this, there's not really one "take a thought leader's name and slap - ism" on it that would encompass every other social problem that we might want to deal with. It would just be Marxist feminism or Marxist ecology or intersectional Marxism etc., as it was mentioned above, because you're just applying Marxist analysis to other areas beyond pure commodity production and class struggle.

Marxists can believe all sorts of different things and disagree with Marx on various elements, but at some point if the totality of differences was far enough away from the generally agreed points of understanding, there wouldn't be much reason in calling oneself a Marxist. So if someone wanted democratically controlled workplaces with proletarian control of the means of production, they'd be a socialist generally speaking, but it they didn't agree with the labor theory of value, or historical materialism and the primacy of material conditions and class struggle as the transformative agent of history (regarding different stages of modes of production), or thought that the tendency of the rate of profit to fall was bunk, or didn't agree that the dictatorship of the proletariat was a necessary outcome in the struggle to establish to socialism, or want to do away with wages, etc. then it would be strange to call themselves a Marxist.

Tha said, reality is more important than labels.
This is when state machinations are seized "by the proletariat" and used to establish a socialist society, right? Like a revolutionary vanguard or socialist political party taking over and nationalizing a bunch of industries and whatnot. How popular is the idea of "the dictatorship of the proletariat" among modern socialists in the west? Or really, any kind of pro-one party, authoritarian leaning sentiments?
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,357
This is when state machinations are seized "by the proletariat" and used to establish a socialist society, right? Like a revolutionary vanguard or socialist political party taking over and nationalizing a bunch of industries and whatnot. How popular is the idea of "the dictatorship of the proletariat" among modern socialists in the west? Or really, any kind of pro-one party, authoritarian leaning sentiments?
"In Marxist sociopolitical thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a state of affairs in which the proletariat, or the working class, has control of political power.[1][2] According to this theory, it is the intermediate system between capitalism and communism, when the government is in the process of transferring the ownership of the means of production from private to collective ownership,[3] and the existence of any state implies the dictatorship of one social class over another. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted in the 19th century by the central figures of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Both of them argued that the short-lived Paris Commune, which ran the French capital for over two months in 1871 before being suppressed, was an example of the dictatorship of the proletariat. "Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" is thus used as an antonym of "dictatorship of the proletariat".[4]

It is termed "dictatorship" because it retains the state apparatus as such, with its implements of force and oppression, but differs from the popular notion of dictatorship which Marxists despise as the selfish, immoral, irresponsible and unconstitutional political rule of one man. It instead implies a stage where there is complete "socialization of the major means of production",[5] in other words planning of material production so as to serve social needs, provide for an effective right to work, education, health and housing for the masses and fuller development of science and technology so as to multiply material production to achieve greater social satisfaction. However, social division into classes still exists, but the proletariat become the dominant class and oppression is still used to suppress the bourgeois counter-revolution."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictatorship_of_the_proletariat
 
Nov 1, 2017
120
Funnily enough, I think any dictatorship of the proletariat would need to be thoroughly thoroughly democratic at all levels of the economy and political system in order to not regress into a totalitarian bureaucracy like the Soviet Union did. If a small section of the proletariat seized power over the rest I personally feel it’s almost inevitable they will just set themselves up as the new bourgeois.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
Funnily enough, I think any dictatorship of the proletariat would need to be thoroughly thoroughly democratic at all levels of the economy and political system in order to not regress into a totalitarian bureaucracy like the Soviet Union did. If a small section of the proletariat seized power over the rest I personally feel it’s almost inevitable they will just set themselves up as the new bourgeois.
Yes, this is why I consider "democratic socialism" the "next phase" if we consider societies as transitioning through phases. There must be direct democracy and it needs to be as total as technologically feasible because any other set up threatens to regress into Stalinist authoritarianism.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,700
Funnily enough, I think any dictatorship of the proletariat would need to be thoroughly thoroughly democratic at all levels of the economy and political system in order to not regress into a totalitarian bureaucracy like the Soviet Union did. If a small section of the proletariat seized power over the rest I personally feel it’s almost inevitable they will just set themselves up as the new bourgeois.


Yes, this is why I consider "democratic socialism" the "next phase" if we consider societies as transitioning through phases. There must be direct democracy and it needs to be as total as technologically feasible because any other set up threatens to regress into Stalinist authoritarianism.
This is my biggest concern. Centralization of power under a single party, regardless of their ideals, offends my delicate sensibilities. The idea that power will be acquiesced peacefully if we just had the right people in charge sounds... naive. Doubly so if power was seized through violent means. Cincinnatus is a compelling character because his qualities are rare, after all. I was just wondering how many modern socialists, particularly in the west (where I'd be more likely to rub elbows with) look favorably on the idea.

And while I'm at it, what's the difference between libertarian socialists and some branches of anarchists? The lines get kinda fuzzy sometimes. :p
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
libertarian socialists and some branches of anarchists
Not much as far as I know. The real issues there come from the fact that "libertarian" has been poisoned by Randians and "anarchist" has been poisoned by popular culture.

Ultimately they both envision a society of "free association" without coercement from the state or from capital.
 
Oct 25, 2017
436
Yes, this is why I consider "democratic socialism" the "next phase" if we consider societies as transitioning through phases. There must be direct democracy and it needs to be as total as technologically feasible because any other set up threatens to regress into Stalinist authoritarianism.
I still think representative democracy is more desirable than direct democracy not for any sort of "foolish easily swayed masses" reasons but rather that remaining relatively politically informed is already a time-consuming measure within liberal representative democracy and I don't think it's more liberation and control to need to spend even more time informing yourself about issues, particularly the more mundane regulatory stuff, particularly since individual votes are already meaningless.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,581
I still think representative democracy is more desirable than direct democracy not for any sort of "foolish easily swayed masses" reasons but rather that remaining relatively politically informed is already a time-consuming measure within liberal representative democracy and I don't think it's more liberation and control to need to spend even more time informing yourself about issues, particularly the more mundane regulatory stuff, particularly since individual votes are already meaningless.
Yeah, in its optimal form, representative democracy is just a recognition of the value of specialization.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
remaining relatively politically informed is already a time-consuming measure within liberal representative democracy and I don't think it's more liberation and control to need to spend even more time informing yourself about issues,
Liberation from capitalism should ideally handle this problem.

Our government sucks and is confusing because it's structured that way. You need to dedicate half your life to remaining an "informed voter" because of the excess of fake news and worthless news that you need to sift through and this is why it's such a struggle. Direct democracy is incompatible with liberal consumerist capitalism, yes, no objection from me there.

And there's the same problem of authoritarian capture in representative democracy as there is in one-party state socialism. When you're constantly forced to vote for "the lesser of two evils" because of "the realities of politics", how representative is your democracy anyway?
 
Mar 4, 2018
888
I still think representative democracy is more desirable than direct democracy not for any sort of "foolish easily swayed masses" reasons but rather that remaining relatively politically informed is already a time-consuming measure within liberal representative democracy and I don't think it's more liberation and control to need to spend even more time informing yourself about issues, particularly the more mundane regulatory stuff, particularly since individual votes are already meaningless.
Honestly, though, I think the truest vulnerability in any democratic system is that people DON'T see civic participation as an active, day-to-day part of their lives. People want to "just get on with their lives and not think about politics" and within the framework of massive social upheaval to create an equitable society, that's a threat. In that respect, I think direct democracy doesn't even go far enough. Part of why I get so worked up about the idea of worker ownership of industry as a big cornerstone of socialism is because it's a way to introduce that democratic paradigm into daily life. Individual votes might be mostly meaningless-- on a national scale. On increasingly local scales, they get increasingly more important. Including the workplace as part of that gradation empowers people to make voting blocs more easily. We already know workers, on the whole, are working far more than is necessary-- we should encourage people to pursue a balance where some of the time they would be winning back would be part of civic participation. I still think representative democracy does have its place, because people well and truly can't be aware of all aspects of highly technical political situations-- but I'm not sure where to start with that representation.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
People are "uninformed" because they're too busy trying to survive to inform themselves, because they don't see any benefit from being "informed" as their vote feels "worthless" and because they're used to signing over their political voice to authority figures.

I think the conclusion to draw from this is "we must emancipate workers from the drudgery of their life and show them direct benefits of being civically involved, as well as the necessity of guiding of their own political power", and not "voters are going to be uninformed forever so we can only trust specialists to represent them".
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,581
People are "uninformed" because they're too busy trying to survive to inform themselves, because they don't see any benefit from being "informed" as their vote feels "worthless" and because they're used to signing over their political voice to authority figures.

I think the conclusion to draw from this is "we must emancipate workers from the drudgery of their life and show them direct benefits of being civically involved, as well as the necessity of guiding of their own political power", and not "voters are going to be uninformed forever so we can only trust specialists to represent them".
Artisans don't exist because of the inevitable burgeoning of capitalism, they exist because it's more efficient for laborers to divide up tasks and accumulate specialized knowledge rather than attempting to be good at farming, smithing, milling, sewing, etc., all at once. Why should creating laws be a fundamentally different trade than any other trade, such that everyone must learn to do it regardless of their inclinations?
 
Mar 4, 2018
888
Artisans don't exist because of the inevitable burgeoning of capitalism, they exist because it's more efficient for laborers to divide up tasks and accumulate specialized knowledge rather than attempting to be good at farming, smithing, milling, sewing, etc., all at once. Why should creating laws be a fundamentally different trade than any other trade, such that everyone must learn to do it regardless of their inclinations?
I dunno, I feel like being well-versed politically should be a lot like being able to wash your own clothes in a washing machine or cook your own food, in that sure, there are some tasks that are important for people to be specialists in, but other tasks which are just considered life skills. Political involvement and civic responsibility are life skills we should cultivate and promote, and the governmental system should be one that endeavors to be simple enough and accessible enough that those life skills guarantee a pretty heavy capability for engagement.

A dedicated political class is almost always going to concentrate power, and I don't really trust like that. I don't see how you avoid the formation of a political class if your society has lawmaking as a highly specialized, highly time-consuming event that only a trained few can participate in.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
Artisans don't exist because of the inevitable burgeoning of capitalism, they exist because it's more efficient for laborers to divide up tasks and accumulate specialized knowledge rather than attempting to be good at farming, smithing, milling, sewing, etc., all at once. Why should creating laws be a fundamentally different trade than any other trade, such that everyone must learn to do it regardless of their inclinations?
Specialization of labor is fine.

Concentration of power is not.
A dedicated political class is almost always going to concentrate power, and I don't really trust like that. I don't see how you avoid the formation of a political class if your society has lawmaking as a highly specialized, highly time-consuming event that only a trained few can participate in.
This.

The idea that you need "experts" to craft laws, while reasonable in a vacuum, ultimately promotes the stratification of wealth and political power, as well as education. If your legal system is so complex that only by being born into a certain economic stratum can you be equipped to deal with it, and if being a lawmaker was profitable, then of course it's going to lead to corruption.

And regarding representative vs direct, hypothetically, in a representative system where the representatives don't hold any more sway than the sum of their constituents, and that their compensation is the same as another standard laborer (an ideal representative), then that representative to me would cease to exist as an individual and become a conduit for the collective will of their constituency. Which is still analagous to direct democracy in the end.
 
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OP
OP
sphagnum
Oct 25, 2017
8,096
Specialization of labor is fine, but society being structured so that we are all required to be specialized in something to sell our skills on a market is not.

Something something Marx cattle rearing something something no jobs
 
Oct 25, 2017
436
I just fundamentally disagree with the amount of work necessary for direct democracy to be at the core of any system I guess. I know very little about climate change aside from the fact that it's bad and needs to be addressed and while I'm aware of some of the solutions like planting trees or investing in renewable energy I could not tell you about the various merits of them over others and what would constitute the most productive response and which would bear the highest cost on the political losers which are all important questions but my life would be made substantially more miserable if I had to research and read about all this stuff for every mundane issue and I don't think the benefits of socialism are going to make it more desirable for me to do so, *especially* since my vote is of zero value.

I think referenda are important as a check on representative democracy's accountability issues (for instance, Medicaid expansion was highly popular in my home state of Idaho but had no legislative majority to push it through) but as a replacement that sounds dreadful. Do you really want to have to dedicate hours to studying every proposed change to public transit, recycling policy, firearm regulation, or educational material reform? Of course not! I'd much rather have a group of parties set forth their values and then select the one that best represents my own such that I can expect they will enact my preferred outcomes when elected and that if they do not I can select a different party or pursue a citizens' referendum on the issue.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
The thing is we already know enough about climate change to determine what needs be done. Our problem here is not with the specialists, but with the representatives of special interests who all have their own profit-driven agendas that clash with climate change initiatives.

I don't think it's that you don't want direct democracy. I think it's that you don't want to lose access to "experts", which is totally understandable, this is not what I'm advocating at all. I'm advocating lowering the amount of barriers between the "experts" and the "voters", aka the political bureaucratic middle-men who spend their lives making sure nothing happens so they can keep getting richer.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
Basically I don't want representatives who campaign on reducing X and then once they get into office they go "well reducing X isn't really feasible how about reducing Y" after taking lobbying money from people who profit from X.

And then when it turns out you plan to challenge this rep, you get support from the Y lobby who's opposed to the X lobby but they're pro-Y as well, they want Z and now your counter candidate was captured.

Once power is ceded over to the rep, you pretty much lose control over it and have to watch it play out for 2-4 years before you can try again. I guess I would accept representative democracy better if you could hold representatives directly responsible to their platform, if they renege, they're immediately out. Which seems to contradict the very point of a representative democracy (that you "lock in" your choice for a couple of years and you can't just takesy backsies all the time or else the whole system fails).
 
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Mar 4, 2018
888
I think Samoyed's got it on the money, in that connecting political parties to knowledge about subjects represents an error of attribution. You're attributing expertise and knowledge to political parties, when that isn't the case. We don't need political parties to tell us what to do about climate change-- we need climate scientists to do that. I don't believe political parties represent the best way to communicate the concerns and knowledge of climate scientists to the lay person.

There's another issue to explore, and that's the fact that it MIGHT be tedious to keep track of all the political nuances of ALL topics for SOME people, but MOST people have a hobby horse or two that they actively like to dig into, even if it's not a professional thing. I like digging into environmental legislation, for example. I mean, shit, most of us aren't socialist academics but we like and are informed about socialism. If you have parties that package together a bunch of positions, you're likely to have to accept positions you don't agree with to further the ones you do. That's an awful compromise especially when someone admits they have neither the time nor the inclination to get politically involved. It makes more sense by far to go to the people in your community who are politically involved in the subjects you aren't to get their opinion. You can probably find someone in your community who just loves transit code so goddamn much even if they're not professionals just like you like socialism without being an academic specializing in Marxist analysis.

Honestly, I think this is going to be part of an attitude adjustment. People see keeping up on politics as this monolithic, dreary task-- and yet they don't see spending forty hours of the week, at minimum, not counting commute, making someone else money so they can live as something monolithic and dreary. I think people will have more energy and capacity to engage in political subjects than they expect.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,581
I dunno, I feel like being well-versed politically should be a lot like being able to wash your own clothes in a washing machine or cook your own food, in that sure, there are some tasks that are important for people to be specialists in, but other tasks which are just considered life skills.
Those skills aren't actually basic life skills at all. We built machines to transform them into basic life skills so that people who would otherwise spend a lot of time on them could do other things.

I am tentatively interested in lawmaking robots but I understand there are some potential drawbacks to that approach.

Political involvement and civic responsibility are life skills we should cultivate and promote, and the governmental system should be one that endeavors to be simple enough and accessible enough that those life skills guarantee a pretty heavy capability for engagement.
This, to me, sounds basically like "we should be able to do our taxes on a postcard." If you want the government to do very little, you can make it very easy to understand. If you want the government to literally wield the accumulated power of the workers and reify their will, I am not sure why you would expect it to be possible to make that simple. Their will isn't simple!

To the degree that government complexity just arises out of mulcting, then we should eliminate it. But I think the point of disagreement here is mostly that I think most byzantine bureaucracy arises out of a genuine desire to have the government do things, and doing the right thing the right way is not fundamentally easy to do. It seems facile to imagine otherwise!

A dedicated political class is almost always going to concentrate power, and I don't really trust like that. I don't see how you avoid the formation of a political class if your society has lawmaking as a highly specialized, highly time-consuming event that only a trained few can participate in.
To be blunt, there doesn't seem to be much evidence that direct democracy won't lead to a political class either. There were plenty of politicians in ancient Athens, and the people chosen by lot to preside didn't end up mattering as much as the people who decided to make it their business to have political opinions. If democratic participation is voluntary, then the people with more motivation to participate will simply end up with more control, as anybody who's attended an Occupy meeting can tell you. If democratic participation is mandatory, people will still seek out political parties to limit the demands that participation imposes on them. Both of those pressures exist today, so it's not like I made them up.

Your desire seems to be for a different class of new socialist human who has a stronger civic ethic. I think this does not give much credit to today's humans. Most people would like to participate in our democracy, but it doesn't mean they all want to make policy.

I think Samoyed's got it on the money, in that connecting political parties to knowledge about subjects represents an error of attribution. You're attributing expertise and knowledge to political parties, when that isn't the case. We don't need political parties to tell us what to do about climate change-- we need climate scientists to do that. I don't believe political parties represent the best way to communicate the concerns and knowledge of climate scientists to the lay person.
I don't think most policy problems are amenable to scientific solutions. Even with climate change, the problem is not necessarily convincing people of the science (I think assuming that gives too much credit to the denialists) -- it's convincing them to accept significant short-term costs, and identifying who can most easily bear those costs. That question is not scientific -- it's governmental.

There's another issue to explore, and that's the fact that it MIGHT be tedious to keep track of all the political nuances of ALL topics for SOME people, but MOST people have a hobby horse or two that they actively like to dig into, even if it's not a professional thing. I like digging into environmental legislation, for example. I mean, shit, most of us aren't socialist academics but we like and are informed about socialism. If you have parties that package together a bunch of positions, you're likely to have to accept positions you don't agree with to further the ones you do. That's an awful compromise especially when someone admits they have neither the time nor the inclination to get politically involved. It makes more sense by far to go to the people in your community who are politically involved in the subjects you aren't to get their opinion. You can probably find someone in your community who just loves transit code so goddamn much even if they're not professionals just like you like socialism without being an academic specializing in Marxist analysis.
The system you're describing is literally how political parties operate, though. People looking to community experts is not fundamentally distinct from looking to political parties. Political parties are, by and large, made up of people who were once community experts. I don't particularly have a problem with handing over my power to a given community expert, but recognize that's literally the point of representative democracy -- to find those people and empower them to make policy decisions. That guy in your community who you want to put in charge of the transit code is just a representative by another name.

Honestly, I think this is going to be part of an attitude adjustment. People see keeping up on politics as this monolithic, dreary task-- and yet they don't see spending forty hours of the week, at minimum, not counting commute, making someone else money so they can live as something monolithic and dreary. I think people will have more energy and capacity to engage in political subjects than they expect.
Mandatory selling of labor being bad doesn't mean mandatory civic participation is neccessarily good. I would suggest it is more likely to mean the opposite! Once freed up from work, many people may find they want to engage in politics. But just as many people may find they don't. A system that builds sensibly around the people who don't is likely to have greater success. After all, if we replace 40 hours of work with 40 hours of politics, we haven't really gained much.

Specialization of labor is fine, but society being structured so that we are all required to be specialized in something to sell our skills on a market is not.

Something something Marx cattle rearing something something no jobs
Like, duh
 
Nov 1, 2017
120
I’m still very much muddled in my thoughts on representative and direct democracy and how to structure all that, but one thing I thought of a couple years back was that here in the UK I’d love to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with a legislative chamber where the constituencies were divided not by geography, but industry. So you’d have legislators who represent the chosen thoughts of the workers in each section of the economy.

And so in theory, the workers in the industry will already be knowledgeable about things they work on professionally, so they don’t need to spend loads of time informing themselves on those issues. Then those legislators act as the leaders in the house on legislation that involves their industry. And preferably, this would be a chamber with no political parties, each legislator would be independent.

How the details of all that would work I never thought too hard about, but there’s my musings.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,581
I wrote all this stuff but I realized I really should make an affirmative case for representative democracy in a socialist system, so it is this:

The purpose of representative democracy is to provide a framework for selecting policy experts to solve difficult and unpopular problems. For topics where an answer is obvious, costless, or popular, most governing systems will work similarly, but for problems that do not admit of popular or simple solutions, putting them to a mass vote puts a significant demand on the average person and makes it harder to envision and evolve compromises. Representative democracy allows groups of people to select individual representatives whose judgement they trust to thoroughly investigate the problems and identify the necessary unpopular tradeoffs. Ultimately, since most people are not experts in any given problem, their decision will, in the end, come down to selecting a person whose judgement they trust and adopting their solution in any case. Formalizing this allows these people to be held accountable, become professionals, and accumulate specialized knowledge in government.

Obviously American representative democracy in particular has many flaws, but I think that's approximately the generic case for it.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
Not to get too caught up in this because it's endless, a political party is merely the formalization of a system of social alliances between people. So long as people can make strategic alliances to cooperate (something implicit a free society), a political party will form (whether literally or in effect). This is true of representative democracy as it is of direct democracy.

Pigeon is right in that, at least for me, I'm imagining a kind of post-capital citizen whose concerns and desires are alien and incomprehensible to someone who grew up under capitalism (us). A part of me thinks it's possible, another part of me is unsure if it'll work out. After all, we weren't always living in a capitalist world. The children of feudalism had different political concerns than we did, and I want to believe the children of socialism will be better equipped to be civic minded than we are.

That said, if you truly believe that people will be fundamentally apathetic about civics, then what you really want is a class of "decision makers" who can solve the annoying mundane problems of government while the common man pursues whatever fulfills their ambitions. This veers into the territory of technocracy, which carries with it the risk of authoritarian corruption. I don't see a way around this short of technomagic (an administrative AI that handles the bulk of governing).
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,581
Not to get too caught up in this because it's endless, a political party is merely the formalization of a system of social alliances between people. So long as people can make strategic alliances to cooperate (something implicit a free society), a political party will form (whether literally or in effect). This is true of representative democracy as it is of direct democracy.
Worth remembering that the founding fathers thought American-style representative democracy would prevent or eliminate political parties. They are hard to get rid of!

Pigeon is right in that, at least for me, I'm imagining a kind of post-capital citizen whose concerns and desires are alien and incomprehensible to someone who grew up under capitalism (us). A part of me thinks it's possible, another part of me is unsure if it'll work out. After all, we weren't always living in a capitalist world. The children of feudalism had different political concerns than we did, and I want to believe the children of socialism will be better equipped to be civic minded than we are.

That said, if you truly believe that people will be fundamentally apathetic about civics, then what you really want is a class of "decision makers" who can solve the annoying mundane problems of government while the common man pursues whatever fulfills their ambitions. This veers into the territory of technocracy, which carries with it the risk of authoritarian corruption. I don't see a way around this short of technomagic (an administrative AI that handles the bulk of governing).
I want to clarify one thing here -- I don't think people will be fundamentally apathetic about civics. I don't even think they are apathetic about civics today! I actually think the point of disagreement is exactly that -- you seem to think most people are apathetic right now. I actually think people are mostly quite politically inclined, and would be more politically inclined absent the need to produce and sell labor. But since that political inclination does not, today, create widespread policy knowledge, I don't think it will under socialism either.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,652
But since that political inclination does not, today, create widespread policy knowledge, I don't think it will under socialism either.
Where does PoliEra/PoliGaf fit under this then?

I read an article a few months ago, it was talking about the low rates of math literacy among Americans, but those same Americans could be quite mathematically oriented when they were discussing something important to them: sports, and sports stats

I think we all carry within ourselves the ability to understand policy to the extent that we can make reasonably informed decisions in politics or talk about it on a high, abstract level, and that can be taught and nurtured but this ability needs to be given some amount of social importance and normalization before it can manifest.
Part of why I get so worked up about the idea of worker ownership of industry as a big cornerstone of socialism is because it's a way to introduce that democratic paradigm into daily life. Individual votes might be mostly meaningless-- on a national scale. On increasingly local scales, they get increasingly more important. Including the workplace as part of that gradation empowers people to make voting blocs more easily.
As deffers said here, people are capable of understanding politics, if it is valuable to them to do so, this is why organized labor is real. We need to create a society conducive of turning out organizationally minded people. Instead of relying on a few people to "call the shots", as it were, it would make more sense to rely on a lot of people having a general idea of what they want and to have that mass movement translate into political action.

That being said, as always, I'm thinking about potential futures rather than what's possible this minute. We're still a little too far out to just throw away representative democracy because modern people are idiots, but they're also poor, so I don't hold their idiocy against them.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
3,581
Where does PoliEra/PoliGaf fit under this then?
We're all going to get guillotined under the new regime so probably best not to plan around us as an example.

No, seriously, obviously some people do know a lot about politics in their spare time, and if we weren't so damaged by our video game message board post history, we are the kind of people who do end up going into politics as a career. But we are notable precisely because most people have healthier hobbies, like mixed martial arts or falconry, and don't get so into the weeds on politics.

I read an article a few months ago, it was talking about the low rates of math literacy among Americans, but those same Americans could be quite mathematically oriented when they were discussing something important to them: sports, and sports stats

I think we all carry within ourselves the ability to understand policy to the extent that we can make reasonably informed decisions in politics or talk about it on a high, abstract level, and that can be taught and nurtured but this ability needs to be given some amount of social importance and normalization before it can manifest.
Yeah, the math thing is something I evangelize a lot, actually. People are taught to believe they're bad at math when in reality most people do tasks every day that are at least as cognitively difficult as algebra. My wife sometimes has anxiety attacks when asked to do math by hand, despite being a competent professional.

But I'm not really convinced that the same issue applies to politics. It’s a good argument, though. I could be wrong! I’ll have to think about it.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
7,477
Most people are basically totally apathetic about civics. In no small part due to centuries of ingrained learning that capital will beat you down if you don't make more than $100K a year. Hell if you don't make that much why would you ever vote or stay engaged until now, there's been no signs that the government on either party even views people in lower or baseline median income brackets as even worth considering as people. It's why voter turnout in anything other than a Presidential election is so incredibly low. People don't care, they tune out because politics doesn't help them and doesn't put food on the table. They have no option under capitalism to resist the mores of society.

It's going to take more than 2-3 generations post revolution to get people to accept that being engaged in civics is a good thing that can help their lives. The transition from Feudalism to Capitalism did nothing to assuage that it simply handed the reigns of power to a ever slightly larger pool of people and influences while still denying the lower class any legitimate say in their enfranchisement. Hell we're still barely 60 years removed from basically making legal the enfranchisement of black voters, and that comes to bear in turnout rate being lower (as well as notable election fraud committed against them and active countermeasures to ensure their continued disenfranchisement). These things are not easily broken in a generation or two even when the terror begins and we rise up against the systems in place.
 
Oct 25, 2017
7,477
Reading "Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia" right now, it's a very artistic book, and it struggles to land itself at a lot of points. But it's a great read still and highlights how the culture Western Democracies have fostered is just this bloated behemoth of consumerism and capitalist hellishness that endures because people are terrified of being labeled and ostracized.
 
Mar 4, 2018
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Are leftists not in favor of gun control? I’m kind of new to socialism and not too informed about the issue.
It really depends. A lot of reformist socialists, which most democratic socialists (and thus most socialists in general) are, would definitely be in favor of strict gun control.

Where it gets iffy is where revolutionary socialists stand. A bunch of them think gun ownership is going to help, if not with actual revolution, then with keeping the state from overreaching. Still others remember how they did Fred Hampton and countless others and make a bit of a calculus between how much guns might help and how much they hurt society every day and decide they are in favor of gun control.

So for the most part, pro-gun control. But it's always important to be aware there's people who do it like this:

 
Oct 25, 2017
436
Are leftists not in favor of gun control? I’m kind of new to socialism and not too informed about the issue.
most social democrats and socialists in consolidated democracies are generally in favor outside of maoist cells with 8 people (and historically the Black Panthers but black Americans overwhelmingly favor gun control). Crime is also historically higher in cities than in rural areas I believe and the base of the left is pretty consistently in cities in industrialized societies so it also makes sense that urban workers would prefer to reduce the risk of being murdered while rural conservatives who use guns as tools would resist having them taken away.

I think revolutionary socialists tend to be against gun control until they succeed at regime change and then strictly enforce it once in power.