Do you ever doubt your political beliefs?

47 posts / 0 new
Last post
light emitting diode
Offline
Joined: 25-05-15
May 22 2016 10:49
Do you ever doubt your political beliefs?

Anarchism / libertarian socialism is a fringe movement. There has never been a successful libertarian socialist society in existence for an extended period of time. The vast majority of people alive today have never even heard of libertarian socialism, let alone believe in it. Surely all those people can't be wrong- isn't it somewhat arrogant and deluded to believe that a small clique of individuals has exclusive access to the truth, and the remainder of humanity is misguided? In any other context you'd be considered crazy or a cultist for believing such things. Maybe the right are right about human nature- how can we prove they aren't? Maybe capitalism is the best we can hope for, at least I have food and shelter and healthcare. Maybe libertarian socialism is just a pipedream, a lovely theory but never achievable.

Just some of the thoughts that go through my head on a day to day basis. Surely others must experience the same thing? How do you deal with your doubts without being intellectually dishonest?

jondwhite's picture
jondwhite
Offline
Joined: 23-10-12
May 22 2016 11:24

Anarchism / libertarian socialism is proposing something unprecedented. Everything is unprecedented before it happens. If you told a medieval king or a serf that there would be a free market of labour and capital in the future they would have laughed, nobody would have believed it.
The truth of the iniquities of capitalism or what may follow to take its place is not exclusive to a small clique of individuals. Capitalism will come and go just like every other system previously, as long as enough people want to build the sort of society they want to build in its place. Every popular idea started among a small group of individuals who decided to spread that idea and convince others.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
May 22 2016 11:55

Just because something didn't exist doesn't mean that it can't exist. Capitalism itself is relatively new for example.

There's nothing intellectually dishonest about having doubts.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
May 22 2016 12:16
Quote:
Do you ever doubt your political beliefs?

I'm not sure.

Noah Fence's picture
Noah Fence
Offline
Joined: 18-12-12
May 22 2016 12:18
Serge Forward wrote:
Quote:
Do you ever doubt your political beliefs?

I'm not sure.

Libcom is on a comedy roll at the moment. Full marks for that one.

Noah Fence's picture
Noah Fence
Offline
Joined: 18-12-12
May 22 2016 13:28

They are subject to review but I don't doubt the basic position ever. It's the only ideology that has even remotely made any sense to me in a real practical way.
I read some interesting stuff about council communism that I really thought was fairly close to libcom but it didn't create any doubts for me.

cactus9
Offline
Joined: 9-12-14
May 22 2016 17:17

No not really.

Sometimes I wonder whether capitalism is all for the best in this the best of all possible worlds, not in a Panglossian way but more in the original way that Leibniz meant it I think. But mostly I think I have my bearings.

the button's picture
the button
Offline
Joined: 7-07-04
May 22 2016 17:53

Nope.

I question what I do to put them into practice, but I think that's healthy and necessary.

boozemonarchy's picture
boozemonarchy
Offline
Joined: 28-12-06
May 24 2016 01:32

Not really. Also, to be clear, I don't think I or other libsoc folk actually have a handle on the 'truth' or even or think about their praxis that way. To me it is simply a more reasonable way to organize a society.
It won't be perfect - just better.

Schmoopie's picture
Schmoopie
Offline
Joined: 28-04-16
May 22 2016 19:49
Quote:
Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.

Marx, German Ideology (1845)

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
May 22 2016 19:59

Never. Only the ability for others to stick it out, fulfil what they say they're going to do

The Pigeon's picture
The Pigeon
Offline
Joined: 16-06-15
May 22 2016 20:31

I don't doubt the desirableness of anarchism/communism, never. I do doubt the potential of anarchism with the given odds though, doubtey mcdoubtersfield that I am, my dear pine nut

light emitting diode
Offline
Joined: 25-05-15
May 22 2016 20:53
jondwhite wrote:
Anarchism / libertarian socialism is proposing something unprecedented. Everything is unprecedented before it happens. If you told a medieval king or a serf that there would be a free market of labour and capital in the future they would have laughed, nobody would have believed it.

I don't necessarily disagree with you, but do you realise how deluded that would sound to the vast majority of people? You are literally claiming that we are groundbreaking pioneers, centuries ahead of our time, miles ahead of our contemporaries. And yet we're a tiny irrelevant fringe movement. To the average person, this just sounds like arrogant self-important twaddle.

I must admit, I do find it hard to believe the people that are saying they have no doubts. How can you have so much faith in something you admit is 'unprecendented'?

Schmoopie's picture
Schmoopie
Offline
Joined: 28-04-16
May 23 2016 06:39

I once asked my comrade if he doubted in revolution. He replied that if he did he'd have nothing to live for.

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
May 23 2016 07:14

light emitting diode #13

Anyone who has never had doubts about their beliefs must be a singularly unreflective person. I am not unduly worried about the opinions of the vast majority of people, as their multiplicity of contradictory beliefs appear to be less coherent than my own.

An individual or a group do not by themselves do much. Revolutionary power lies in the spreading of the word – the idea is the thing. Some seeds lie dormant for years, it is not in the power of the seed to create the conditions which will spring it to life. A seed appears insignificant in terms of size, though within it lies the future.

Zeronowhere
Offline
Joined: 5-03-09
May 23 2016 10:53

People often are wrong. If one person can be wrong, then adding more wrong people does not necessarily bridge the gap, it just encourages them.

Going along with whatever other people believe is a fairly hollow, meaningless ethic. Still, people can die or otherwise have their demographics shifted dramatically, so proportions in that sense need not be significant.

Quote:
isn't it somewhat arrogant and deluded to believe that a small clique of individuals has exclusive access to the truth, and the remainder of humanity is misguided? In any other context you'd be considered crazy or a cultist for believing such things.

Once they called you wrong, they could add further personal insults. I mean, that's just them being rude, it's not substantive.

Christianity generally implied a belief in a 'strait gate,' but was apparently quite popular - which is misleading, most people were not serious Christians or just took as much from Christianity as pleased them and distorted the rest. Nonethelesss, obviously a thing being true does not automatically determine that it is believed, which is surely fairly basic, especially when it stands against a social form generally.

Truth is not usually ascertained between two different views by ignoring the views and instead looking at how many abstract people believe in them.

Quote:
Maybe the right are right about human nature- how can we prove they aren't?

This seems slightly out-there. 'They' don't have any particular views on 'human nature' - which is slightly absurd, as if they were all utopian ('libertarian') socialists but just were unsure of its achievability, like you. What they generally meant by that, in the process of missing the actual workings of the capitalist system and falling into ideological illusions, was simply that capitalism was what did exist, and they did not want it to change. (Obviously, just because things were 'given,' they were not correct.) Which stands to reason, as they had a lot invested in belonging to such a society and fitting into the predominant social form of the time. Mostly they did not have any clear conception of socialism. They could not then know what aspects of 'human nature,' whatever that is, would have been a problem for it.

Obviously a discussion of human nature was traditionally generally a theoretical matter, rather than a matter of 'proof.' If a single human being could escape from 'human nature,' that would generally be enough to discredit it, though. The social relations of capital were generally complex enough that 'human nature' had little relevance to them, in any case the engagement in abstract or void labour was not 'human nature.' Human society wasn't built up of the tendencies of isolated monads anyway.

Human beings can think. Things which contradict this are not 'human nature.' Things which invert the usual nature of human production are not 'human nature' either. They are obviously contrary to it.

In general, socialism is above the contradictions of capital, and hence any oppositions they can draw on here, such as self-interest, etc., were quite harmless. Socialists rarely implied that any of these were inimical. As such, past this, you only ended up with the vague implication that 'human nature' might mean something negative about socialism, or 'human nature' conflated with the person of McCarthy, which was fairly incoherent and came off more like a person obsessively talking about drugs than anything, and couldn't have much real influence one way or another.

People merely attempted to distort this so that they could filibuster by proposing any random things as 'human nature.' The only reason this occurred was that they wished to tack on things to existing human qualities like thought, etc., but also keep them completely unrelated to this, like a parasite - while of course human nature has to be an active and not passive matter, not just a 'trait.' Of course, if something had some inherent part in 'human nature,' this had to have some relation to the rest of it, such as thought, or it was inert and useless. If it was subject to this requirement, then in any case all that we say about socialism as a necessity - deriving from the active nature of humans in production - is valid, so why they are merely repeating terms as if they meant anything might seem peculiar.

A general social system was generally speaking a bit much for an instinctive, Robinsonade monad, lacking other people for this to have much sense, to find natural.

If people liked socialism, but found it unlikely, then they were merely utopian socialists. They hence had merely to ground their socialism in a historical and social understanding.

Quote:
Maybe capitalism is the best we can hope for, at least I have food and shelter and healthcare.

You might then wonder whether or not you like this society, or whether you interact instead only with 'food,' 'shelter,' etc.

I mean, your view on it as a socialist would hardly be determined positively in that respect. You'd have to like capital quite a bit to enjoy your life being considered subject to its continual support.

The atomised people who have no view on society and never come into contact with it - apparently not due to any problems with it -, but nonetheless only interact with possessions, were mostly a capitalist fiction. Generally, if people attempt to withdraw from approving of capital, they probably oppose it anyway.

Quote:
How do you deal with your doubts without being intellectually dishonest?

Work out your communism on a theoretical basis, to the point where it is certain, rather than relying on others' opinions or approval for it. "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."

boozemonarchy's picture
boozemonarchy
Offline
Joined: 28-12-06
May 23 2016 11:48
light emitting diode wrote:

I must admit, I do find it hard to believe the people that are saying they have no doubts. How can you have so much faith in something you admit is 'unprecendented'?

Again, you're still stuck on this libsoc caricature of the odd religious cultist.

I guess I can only speak for me, but honestly, I've run into very few libsoc folk who give me the impression of the self-important twaddle-delivering fringe-lord. Sure, most don't doubt that libsoc would be better than capitalism, don't have to stretch particularly far to achieve that one! Also, I don't think you're giving the 'people' too much credit either and instead, are sort of painting them in a not too pretty light. Seriously, I think, once a serious conversation gets going, that most people understand that the present society isn't 'fixed', divinely ordained or 'the only way' and that the best way to organize is still an open question. Funny how you are positioning yourself to tear down libsoc folk for religious pretension and delusion when you seem to be the one hauling yourself atop the mountain above the rabble.

boozemonarchy's picture
boozemonarchy
Offline
Joined: 28-12-06
May 23 2016 11:50

double post

petey
Offline
Joined: 13-10-05
May 23 2016 12:03

i don't doubt the basics ever, though i'm still frustrated by the details.

the basics:
1: there's nothing natural about capitalism. the current economic order was made this way, and it can be made differently.
2: all of us are interdependent for emotional and physical survival. the solipsism on which capitalism is based is a wrong interpretation of human nature (however far 'human nature' extends) which benefits the few who have created and kept control of the levers of power, not least by physical violence, at the expense of the many.
3: nobody should ever have to worry for a second about secure access to food and shelter and some other whatnots.

the frustration
1: i cannot after all these years come to a conclusion about which of the mutually-exclusive structures is the best to re-organize the economy: councils, syndicats, localized organizations (IWCA sort of thing). please, somebody, please, convince me of one of them.

Scallywag
Offline
Joined: 24-03-14
May 23 2016 12:37

I sometimes doubt whether we are ever going to abolish capitalism and create an anarchist society, but I don't doubt the necessity or desirability of anarchism and I think it can work also. I also don't think there is anything about human nature which makes anarchism not possible, in fact I think anarchism basically is human nature.

birdtiem
Offline
Joined: 29-11-15
May 24 2016 00:13

I'm too filled with doubt about my politics to even be politically active. I have no doubts about the sort of 'communist ethos', e.g. things like worker solidarity, opposition to racism/sexism/nationalism), as well as the value of historical materialism as a tool for understanding human history and the development of class societies. But. I know this sounds horribly cliched, but the communists I find myself most in agreement with (usually those regarded as 'ultra-left', e.g. certain kinds of anarchists and left communists), I just feel like there has been a failure to grapple with the way the world has changed. I live in the United States, which obviously colors my perspective. Looking around, seeing the disappearance of the mass industrial workforce and fragmentation of the working class (and I know this isn't just the US), I just find that I can't see the vehicle for communism. It's 'the real movement, not a state of affairs to be established' ok, well, where is it? I don't see it. Where is it going to come from? Because to me, it just looks like the world is going to hell.

radicalgraffiti
Offline
Joined: 4-11-07
May 24 2016 01:43

doubting my political believes is why i'm a communist

boozemonarchy's picture
boozemonarchy
Offline
Joined: 28-12-06
May 24 2016 11:46
birdtiem wrote:
Looking around, seeing the disappearance of the mass industrial workforce and fragmentation of the working class (and I know this isn't just the US) I just find that I can't see the vehicle for communism.

Don't wanna sound too harsh, and sorry for being kind of off topic, but this is a just such an oft repeated bullshit line that never, as a rule, comes with any further elaboration or explanation when first trotted out.

The dominance of this or that industry has changed (which is nothing new) but a 'mass industrial workforce' certainly didn't go anywhere. Some strange cultural stuff happened with the rise of 'middle-class' sociological identity but this failed to fundamentally alter capitalist social relations.

Fragmentation? I'll admit the working-class is fractured, but this issue is as old as capital itself and did not arise or have anything to do with the shrinkage of a singular industrial sector (manufacturing).

Lack of vehicle for communism? Well, not totally wrong there as it is somewhat inappropriate
to understand our (US) existing movements as a proper vehicle. What we do have are some pretty good starts that deserve more than the cynic can afford.

There is plenty of conversation to be had about the specific ways certain societal trends present new challenges to building class consciousness and confidence, but again, working-class militants have always, since the very start, had to fight against such things.

So yea, if you're gonna be a pessimistic misanthrope just leave this one at the door.

birdtiem
Offline
Joined: 29-11-15
May 24 2016 02:56

Yeah, pretty much the entire working class has the sense that nothing is going to change and there is no alternative, but I guess you waving your dick around in the air sets them straight.

I remember why I don't post on Internet forums, gross.

ajjohnstone
Offline
Joined: 20-04-08
May 24 2016 03:52

When i was in my youth and the general trend was one of revolutionary growth, i was an optimist (in fact, overly optimistic) that i might see a mass movement, an intense class struggle and even the emergence of a socialist society.

But now in my twilight years, i very much doubt i will even witness a genuine re-awakening of the working class (but i'm forever hopeful, believing anything can happen under the right conditions)

I have only the one consolation that no matter how small and insignificant, i played a part in the struggle for the establishment of socialism, which is the next best thing to actually seeing it realised. I met good comrades who shared the same aspirations.

As for doubting my political beliefs that depends...from SPGB to anarchism and industrial unionism back to SPGB again, my views on methods and tactics have been flexible (and still are) but my view of capitalism as a despicable and detestable social system and that their supporters are likewise, has always remained firm and that the Left are merely manipulative radical reformists who are revisionists of history to boot has also not changed.

And as a PS i have also not dismissed the thought that i still remain on a learning curve and need to learn from others and events. Being in the SPGB it is difficult not to think you have all the definitive answers but sadly we don't, being as much a product of history as everyone and everything else. Isn't that the meaning of the Materialist Conception of History? Again an idea i still adhere to.

Gulai Polye
Offline
Joined: 24-05-16
May 24 2016 04:56

If you have a small collective around you, say 50 people who are anarchist, you can engage with them and see anarchism will work. You dont need a whole country too see that. Plus whenever anarchism surfaced it didnt die because of inherent faults within anarchism, it died because of external pressure.

Now capitalism has internal faults so we will get crisis. You can just look up in any history book and see that capitalism is not only bad for the workers it is a bad system as a whole.

The Pigeon's picture
The Pigeon
Offline
Joined: 16-06-15
May 24 2016 05:20
Gulai Polye wrote:
Plus whenever anarchism surfaced it didnt die because of inherent faults within anarchism, it died because of external pressure.

A good point, one which liberals still bend in their own favor, saying that, essentially, anarchism is valid, but it's too weak on its own, confronted with the reactionary forces of society.

And I think this topic has a lot to do with sympathetic liberals, because most liberals have no problem with the principles underlying anarchism, but for whatever reason don't consider it realistic or practical politics.

Gulai Polye
Offline
Joined: 24-05-16
May 24 2016 05:36

The reactionary forces of society are only strong for a brief blitz war. Hitler knew this. Thats why he adopted blitz krieg. Also you can see the same pattern in the USSR invasion of Afghanistan, in Vietnam, and now in Syria.
You dont have to win the war. Just drag it out. You just have to make it unprofitable for the capitalist to invade. Thats it.

Noah Fence's picture
Noah Fence
Offline
Joined: 18-12-12
May 24 2016 05:57

If everybody on Libcom had the attitude and approach of ajjonstone it would be a far more productive and pleasant place to be.

Schmoopie's picture
Schmoopie
Offline
Joined: 28-04-16
May 24 2016 06:40
Quote:
If you have a small collective around you, say 50 people who are anarchist, you can engage with them and see anarchism will work. You dont need a whole country too see that.

Quote:
doubting my political believes is why i'm a communist

An ideology/belief is 'what if'; reality/knowledge is what is.

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
May 24 2016 07:31

Pigeon #27
‘And I think this topic has a lot to do with sympathetic liberals, because most liberals have no problem with the principles underlying anarchism, but for whatever reason don't consider it realistic or practical politics.’

I agree with you. There are also some liberal philosophical anarchists. An adoption of class struggle politics helps irons out the self-serving complacency of these individuals.