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Another stupid question about another Lefty group

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redtwister
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Sep 29 2005 15:29
Another stupid question about another Lefty group

Anyone know anything about the Internationalist communist Group (ICG)?

I have been cruising their web site and poking through some stuff, some of it pretty good, some of it in typical sort of leftist mode, but my interest is piqued, especially since they seem on good terms with the folks at Kolinko and Precari Nati, who are decent sorts.

Usually I don't have to ask since i seem to know a lot more Left trivia than is healthy, but I'm drawing a blank.

Are they mostly a continental Europe group? Clearly, with a mailbox in Belgium, that's their center to the extent that they have one.

Mostly I'm curious if anyone has any actual experience with them: discussion, e-mail exchanges, activities, etc that give some indication about how they behave, function, relate to people. I can read the theoretical/political stuff on their site, but that only goes so far.

For example, on a prick scale of 1 to 5, are they

1. not much of a prick at all

2. kind of more prickly than prick

3. moronic and thick, but not necessarily all that rude beyond being a smug fucker, inbred, scenester activist-level prickness

4. 3+unnecessarily rude, sectarian, opportunistic, manipulative

5. 3+4+everyone's a fucking twat, I'm wonderful, suck my balls, I'd prefer to be rude than breathe, Spartacist League/Healyite/Progressive Labor Party prickness (was tempted to poke at a few people here, but that would be being a prick and I'm trying to downgrade my prick rating right now.)

But seriously, any opinions?

Obviously, they seem kind of like the complete opposite of Independent Working Class Action, but also very anti-Leninist even anti-Bordiga, whcih surprised me a bit. For some reason I thought they were some splinter from the International Communist Current (ICC), but apparently not.

thanks in advance,

Chris

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 29 2005 17:40

Hi

Quote:
For some reason I thought they were some splinter from the International Communist Current (ICC), but apparently not.

I also believe the ICG to be the expelled remains of an ICC internal fraction. Nasty business.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Communist_Current

Not a very kind entry, perhaps a proper ICC activist could put it right. Maybe updating a wiki entry is tantamount to defending the left of capital.

Kind regards

LR

redtwister
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Sep 29 2005 20:16

Thanks!

The more I read this, the odder and more surreal it gets. The funny thing is that one could nominally agree with many aspects of their Theses of Programmatical Action:

1. By state, they do not mean "state" as the political treated as a separate social sphere from 'the economic', 'the social', 'the artistic', 'the ethical', but basically as the concentrated rule of the working class during the period of the overthrow of capital, by implication leading to the withering away of this apparatus with the overthrow of capital.

2. By party they do not mean this or that sect, but the working class organized as the proletariat for the overthrow of capital, and as such the "historical party" of the class is in fact the revolutionary fraction of the class, not some sect or even a hundred thousand or a million people. The part is generated and formed in the class struggle through actual struggles, not at all in the way Leninism conceives of the party. Their Bordiga is showing.

3. They are big on insurrection, and while they do not reduce revolution to insurrection, since the abolition of wage-labor is part and parcel of a revolution, they certainly see the smashing of the bourgeois state as a central task. This is a very big shift from autonomist-type and even councilist-type thinking.

4. They are definitely maximalists. The immediate and historic interests of the working class are one and the same.

What I found interesting was the following:

1. they reject, in no uncertain terms, any kind of theory of capitalist decadence (with which I happen to agree, though their presentation seemed a bit crass)

2. They are not hung up on this or that form of organization of communism, as many councilists are (almost by definitions), rather they are focussed on the content of communism.

3. They despise Bordigism, nominally as a variation of Leninism, which they despise, but the influence of Bordiga seems profound.

4. Their approach to racism, sexism, class seems crudely reductionist, as if racism and sexism were simply about exploitation. at the same time as i am sympathetic to their denunciation of anti-racism, anti-fascism, Feminism, environmentalism, etc., but wonder how much their maximalism blinds them to the historical formation of such tendencies. Capital is really all-powerful in some weird way.

it is like their approach to unions. Active involvement in a union is counter-revolutionary (not membership per se since one does not always have control over that), but they make this proviso that while that was not always so, it is today. Its like history is absent from their theoretical positions, nor do they quite seem to grasp how struggles develop through contradictions, through activities that in themselves place a limit on the historical content of workers' struggles, but how else should such struggles develop? There is no all of a sudden, direct confrontation of the classes leading to a communist climax. But that again seems to go with their insurrectionism.

Also, their belief that 1917-23 was the highpoint of the revolutionary process so far reached seems slightly archaic and rigid. speaking of rigid...

Overall, I am totally unsure of what to make of it. The style bothers me, and since I do not draw a hermetic line between style and content, that usually indicates something to pay attention to. Their style, their demeanor, is very rigid.

Cheers,

Chris

redtwister
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Sep 29 2005 20:42

There's a lot of theories of decadence, but it basically amounts to special versions of the following:

Capitalism has two phases, ascendant, in which it is progressive, and descendant, in which it is regressive or reactionary. This also often includes political implications. In the ascendant phase, alliances with or support of the bourgeoisie are necessary and progressive, while in the decadent tphase, they are not. This also usually extends to the idea that in the ascendant phase, communism was not possible, but in the descendant phase it is not merely possible, but necessary.

The theories come in a variety of forms, usually associated with some theory of imperialism like Lenin or Luxemburg, but not always. some people use the notions from Marx (imperialism not being one of them) of formal vs. real subsumption, whether groups like Theorie Communiste or academic super-stars like Antonio Negri.

There is a long discussion of this (three issues worth) on Aufheben's web site in issues 2-4 (http://www.geocities.com/aufheben2/)

cheers,

chris

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 29 2005 20:49

Hi

I second Jack's gracious request. Go on redtwister, do your crazy thing for us. You’re building a fan base here.

Quote:
they reject, in no uncertain terms, any kind of theory of capitalist decadence (with which I happen to agree, though their presentation seemed a bit crass)

Join the club. That's you, me, them and Castoriadis. From what I've read Brinton was mildly critical of Castoriadis' anti-decadence stand later on. I’m reminded of your earlier excellent point about how Marx’s enthusiasm for crisis and inevitable decadence waned with time.

Love

Chris

knightrose
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Sep 29 2005 20:55

They've been around for years, I first came across them in the early 80s. Not bad as left communists go - one of a whole clutch of groups at the time who were non-ICC but left com.

redtwister
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Sep 29 2005 21:04

Thanks knight, that is the most cryptic but prolly apt synopsis I can imagine.

As for the Aufheben articles, they are definitely worth it, if a bit dated and insufficient. nontheless, I find them pretty good overall.

On Castoriadas, the problem is that he though that capital had overcome economic downturns, which is clearly not true at this point.

I am also a big fan of Pannekoek's critique of Henryk Grossman, that the only real crises of capital are those caused by the revolutionary activity of the proletariat. So-called 'economic crises' are just a (sometimes incredibly nasty) economic adjustment, part of the normal ebb and flow of capital.

Cheers,

Chris

knightrose
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Sep 29 2005 21:11
Quote:
On Castoriadas, the problem is that he though that capital had overcome economic downturns, which is clearly not true at this point.

Plus of course his ridiculous notion that socialism meant equal wages plus democratic self-management.

knightrose
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Sep 29 2005 21:15

My problem with saying much about the GCI is that most of what I read was in French - and my French is really awful. I know that the Wildcat people liked them though. And in the 80s, being ant-ICC was quite important - they were even more annoying then than they are today and a lot more vocal - it was useful having people on a similar wavelength who hated them too. There was another group called PIC - Pour Un Intervention Communiste who were French and hated them even more.

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 29 2005 21:41

Hi

Quote:
Plus of course his ridiculous notion that socialism meant equal wages plus democratic self-management

I agree comrade. Obviously, true socialism means that people can enjoy better terms if their talents are in especially heavy demand, plus democratic self-management. All this equal pay nonsense is downright anti-competitive, we’ll never achieve cornucopian communism without appropriate incentives.

Love

Chris

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Sep 29 2005 22:56

Hi

Quote:
On Castoriadas, the problem is that he though that capital had overcome economic downturns, which is clearly not true at this point.

I concur, I think our man Maurice took a similar line to us. Nevertheless, the general spirit of rejecting dogmatic reverence for inevitable and apocalyptic capitalist crisis is to be applauded.

Love

Chris

knightrose
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Sep 30 2005 07:38
Quote:
Obviously, true socialism means that people can enjoy better terms if their talents are in especially heavy demand, plus democratic self-management. All this equal pay nonsense is downright anti-competitive, we’ll never achieve cornucopian communism without appropriate incentives.

No. Socialism means from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs. Sorry to quote that old saying, but it really does. By rejecting Marx, Castoriadis also rejected the understanding that capitalism exists by exchanging value. His plan would have simply made capitalism fairer.

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888
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Sep 30 2005 08:34
revol68 wrote:
aye but the problem with refusing to hold any organisational principles other than the "working class" as whole making up the party is that it is just meaningless.

Isn't that the whole point of these groups?

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 30 2005 09:15

Hi

Quote:
Socialism means from each according to their abilities, to each according to their need

You're welcome to it. That's not socialism, it's Christianity. A hopeless, crippling oversimplification of the complex relationship between desire and effort. Who decides what I need? Who measures my ability?

“From each according to their abilities, to each according to their need” is nothing more than excuse for moralists and prohibitionists to build a grey little world of Mao suits and mediocrity, a life devoid of passion and scandal. Full of authoritarianism, food queues and ration books.

Love

Chris

(edited to remove superfluous "and")

knightrose
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Sep 30 2005 09:40

Lazy, do you favour the market then? Any notion of socialism or anarchism based on value is simply a temporarily nicer version of the hell we live in now.

afraser
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Sep 30 2005 10:22
Quote:
Socialism means from each according to their abilities, to each according to their need

I had thought that was communism, not socialism:

Socialism = from each according to their abilities, to each according to their work.

Communism = from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.

(For example http://www.cpusa.org/article/static/13/)

That would make socialism compatible in principle with a market, but communism not.

MalFunction
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Sep 30 2005 10:26

greets

for those interested in such matters here are three attempts to make sense of some lefty groups and the relationships between them.

the third is exclusively USA.

(taken from the a-librarians list)

i just discovered "the red encyclopedia: a communism and communists

reference guide." it is fascinating!

http://reds.linefeed.org/

-------------------------------------------------------

For my own interest and use I had an initial go at tracing UK parties and groups, including the Trots, here:

(you'll need excel or summit that reads excel spreadsheets for this one:

http://homepages.shu.ac.uk/~llrdjb/political%20organisation%20v1.xls

It's "version 1", so highly incomplete and probably riddled with errors. The sources I used disagreed on things like names and

dates, so I had to make my own guesses in some places.

A starting point, anyway.

Dan

--------------------------------------------------------

go to

http://www.freedomroad.org/whoweare/familytree/familytree.html

while not complete, it covers the new left and its fissures

(or rather freedom road to socialism and its roots - never heard of them meself)

mal

knightrose
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Sep 30 2005 10:26

nope. I'm being pedantic historically. Check your nineteenth century types. They made no distinction between the two.

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 30 2005 12:22

Hi

Quote:
Lazy, do you favour the market then?

I favour the market over commissars and moralists deciding what I need and what I should do for a living.

Quote:
Any notion of socialism or anarchism based on value is simply a temporarily nicer version of the hell we live in now.

My hell is caused by economic insecurity and political disenfranchisement. I’m not sure what “based on value” means. I want all resources ultimately vested in the public through neighbourhood councils alongside individual ownership of personal property. I believe in a universal citizens’ income, peoples’ banks and the ability for individuals to profit from their endeavours balanced by the community’s power to sequester surplus hoarded against the public interest.

Love

Chris

knightrose
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Sep 30 2005 12:33

sorry Chris, that sounds a lot like capitalism to me.

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 30 2005 14:46

Hi

Welcome to the weekend. I’ve just discovered that I’m working for less than minimum wage today, so I’m going to stop now and chat with knightrose. Let me say first of all that I really like knightrose and I stand to learn a lot from her/him, so I’m going to approach this in as friendly a way I can. Do you think we’re going to play out an argument similar to the ones that came at the end of Solidarity? How exciting.

I believe in a human project of scientific and cultural progress to achieve a state of total relaxation and comfort. The only section of society that has a clear interest in breaking free of the current social economic system in order to implement that project is the working class, a class to which I am proud to belong. The primary problem that faces the proletariat, and hence prevents us from moving forward, is economic insecurity and political disenfranchisement, a condition inexorably bound up with the capitalist system.

Moreover, capitalism cannot be reformed, for without the risk of poverty and political oppression it ceases to be. The revolution is simply the elimination of scarcity and the establishment of common sense direct democracy, that is to say, self managed enterprises and neighbourhood councils. In implementing the program we will come into direct conflict with the ruling elite who will be retired alongside their failed ideology of hierarchal power, artificial scarcity and forced labour.

So knightrose, what exactly is the content of socialism and what makes it so good? Do we even want the same thing? What’s your problem with capitalism, exactly?

In solidarity (not literally though)

Chris

redtwister
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Sep 30 2005 14:50
afraser wrote:
Quote:
Socialism means from each according to their abilities, to each according to their need

I had thought that was communism, not socialism:

Socialism = from each according to their abilities, to each according to their work.

Communism = from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.

(For example http://www.cpusa.org/article/static/13/)

That would make socialism compatible in principle with a market, but communism not.

That description of "socialism" was a phrasing of Stalin's that was his excuse for work camps and the like. It is also a pretty close definition of capitalism, if you think about it.

And knight, Lazy is a market-friendly, well, something. Anarchist? (one thing communism isn't about is markets, but their abolition.)

Also, Lazy, note the phrasing: from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs." In other words, there is no objective measure of the 'value' of goods anymore (a market) that would impose on people the 'value' of their concrete activity by trying to equalize and quantify it for exchange via a purely quantitative medium with other labors. Or to be plain simple: it means that the person who has the needs and abilities determines what their needs and abilities are. When they come into conflict with someone else's needs and abilities, then they have to work together to work it out, not simply go "Hey fuck you, I own the means of production and I have the money. To get what you need, you have to go to the market, where you need money. So you have to work for me, and then you can take your money into the market and buy whatever you can afford, regardless of what you need. Or you can start your own business and become a petty exploiter."

There is no 'market communism' because the market is necessarily commodity production and commodity production is the production of classes and class society.

"Market socialim" is just another petty proprietor utopia, in this case posed as "the freedom to buy what I want and sell what I want".

chris

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Sep 30 2005 15:38

Hi

Don't panic redtwister. I'm not a "market socialist", or even a Euro-Green. Most people would regard public disclosure of all assets and collective ownership of everything through neighbourhood councils as being distinctly communist, but you'll forgive me for not exerting too much energy regaining my leftist credentials.

My mate Catch doesn't even think the system I'm describing is a "market". I take a slightly different perspective. The market is a medium of production and consumption. Demand is researched through experiment and risk and a prize is given for especially useful things. It is capitalism that suppresses the market in the best interests of the ruling class. If we want the benefits of a truly open market, then capitalism must go. The capitalist parties talk about competition and markets to convince the working class of the viability of their programmes, but in reality a truly open market would mean the end of capitalism. The Left, like frightened sheep, bleat about the evils of the market simply because the bourgeoisie extol its virtues. They may as well be criticizing sunshine.

But redtwister, there’s no reason for us to see eye to eye. After all, I think we want different things. You want an end to “exploitation” and “oppression” for its own sake because they’re like, naughty, or something. I have an entirely different agenda that requires open markets for their productive powers.

On a slightly different note, I was fascinated by a little piece of work that afraser dealt to us recently…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytical_Marxism

Quote:
In his General Theory of Exploitation and Class (1982), Roemer employed rational choice and game theory in order to demonstrate how exploitation and class relations may arise in the development of a market for labour

I’ll need to check Roemer’s mathematics, because my own game theoretic research contradicts his findings, although I’m a bit suspicious of that word “may” there. By my reckoning, the risk of exploitation and poverty is minimized in an open market for labour when the citizenry enjoy a net income regardless of errors in forecasting demand.

Nice to hear from you.

LR

knightrose
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Sep 30 2005 16:19

I tend not to like insulting people and I think I did that with Lazy - my only defence is that he called me a christian, so I felt it fair response.

Actually, i find little to disagree with in your vision of what the world will be like - except the notion of buying and selling. Anway, Redtwister has put up as good a response (or better) than I could do and so I've nothing to add to it really.

I'd just say that I don't think a moneyless society would lead to scarcity. There's more than enough capacity in the world to feed, clothe and house everyone - those are our basic needs and there is no need to ration them in any way. As to our other needs, I have no idea what they are. I can fantasise and guess, but like everyone else's my idea of need is totally warped by this society. What would people want or need in a stable, non-market society where abundance is the norm and there are no needs for market control or uncontrolled capital expansion and accumulation? I'd guess that where difficult decsions need making that community councils would be able to make them.

As a participant in the debates at the end of Solidarity, I have little desire to repeat them. Were you there? It wasn't very nice, was it?

redtwister
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Sep 30 2005 16:19
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi

But redtwister, there’s no reason for us to see eye to eye. After all, I think we want different things. You want an end to “exploitation” and “oppression” for its own sake because they’re like, naughty, or something. I have an entirely different agenda that requires open markets for their productive powers.

Thanks for the clarification.

I think on markets, part of the problem is that we do not see eye to eye on <groans> method. Sorry, hate that word, but its shorthand. I'm not interestind in what 'markets' might be, i am interested in what markets have been and are, as a particular social relationship tied to commodity production, money and wage-labor. I'm genuinely not interested in 'theorizing' alternative notions of 'markets' because I have no idea what the point is. But from another post, we disagree on the blue print thing too, i think. Its not that I am against planning, but I don't see how I can plan for a revolution that will be the outcome of billions of people taking control over their lives.

As for oppression and exploitation, its not about naughty, its about how they limit, constrain and pervert human beings, how they do damage and stunt us intellectually, emotionally, physically, sexually, socially, etc., aside from the obvious violence of class society. I'm a big proponent of the ideas that "the freedom of each is the predicate of the freedom of all" and "the freely associated laborers" as Marx put it (please note that most people fuck that first one up by saying that the freedom of all is the precondition for the freedom of each", a major difference.)

So I don't know what you mean by markets, and for me it doesn't matter except in so far as it confuses and obfuscates the problems of money, markets, class, exploitation in this society. I have no idea what the specific 'forms' communism will take. I know what their content is, and I know that the actually existing market is at the core of capital. My task is to critique what is and to show how that critique is worked out in practice everyday by the way that people resist, and how that points to a radically different future.

But again, this is something of a philosophical problem, of starting points, of what we should be doing intellectually. The empirical and the theoretical have to dance, i can't just talk about one or the other.

Maybe the proper question that follows is what does your view mean to you politically? How does it impinge on what you do and how you respond to other people's politics?

If there is no difference in practice, then we can bleat on like a couple of old goats, well, just because its what old goats do to entertain themselves. Thankfully, revolution is not predicated on agreement to a set of principles, theoretical positions, or anything else. That's why I try to avoid such things in an abstract sense, even if I get ranty. Maybe its just a sign of the times that in the abscence of social movements, we pick at each other over nits and gnats.

cheers,

chris

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 30 2005 16:56

Hi

Quote:
I don't see how I can plan for a revolution that will be the outcome of billions of people taking control over their lives

The general public will draw from the proposals submitted to the market of ideas. You better have a plan, the enemy will.

Quote:
they limit, constrain and pervert human beings, how they do damage and stunt us intellectually, emotionally, physically, sexually, socially

That is very naughty, they must be punished.

Quote:
it confuses and obfuscates the problems of money, markets, class, exploitation in this society

I find the opposite to be true, but each to their own. The economic model I propose will enable communities to operate along orthodox communist lines much better than an orthodox communist society would cope with agorism.

Love

Chris

Mike Harman
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Sep 30 2005 17:13

Lazy,

I've said before I think your main problem with communism is equating it with equal wages, and not having any idea how complex demands for consumption could be managed democratically.

Communism doesn't mean commisars telling you what you get, it means you take what you want., and it depends on (socially determined) basic needs being satisfied.

Some things are never going to be produced in large numbers (like yachts), but if enough people are interested they'll have the time and resources to develop and build just about anything, and stuff that requires rare or large quanities of resources and labour would have to be decided democratically, and made available on loan for personal use in the same way you can get just about any book out of the library system now.

Any system which allows people to accumulate money allows them command over the labour of others, if you don't want to be working making tat for everyone else, you want a system where work can't be imposed by a market system. In other words, people should decide what they want first, then set in motion the production process to deliver it - ending the separation of work and leisure depends on ending the separation between production and consumption.

Mike Harman
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Sep 30 2005 17:20

redtwister,

I don't think we should be offering blueprints. But I ideas on how society might be organised post-revolution ought to be developed at least to an extent - in terms of organisation of production and social life. Otherwise everything boils down simply to critique, without the offer of a positive alternative. For instance I think there needs to be lot of work done on how food and energy production could be managed ecologically without oil dependency - that's urgent to a greater or lesser degree, and demonstrating with well researched information how communism might be able to deal with some of those issues could be very persuasive.

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 30 2005 18:08

Hi

Quote:
Any system which allows people to accumulate money allows them command over the labour of others

Why? Why can’t we just ignore them. If they really annoy us we can just take it away. Perhaps they’re just saving up for a yacht.

Quote:
if you don't want to be working making tat for everyone else, you want a system where work can't be imposed by a market system

Work isn’t going to be imposed by anybody. There’s a guaranteed basic income regardless whether there’s work to be done or not. For something to be made, someone will have to want it, plus it’ll need to be worth the while of the producer operating in a self managed enterprise.

Quote:
In other words, people should decide what they want first, then set in motion the production process to deliver it - ending the separation of work and leisure depends on ending the separation between production and consumption.

And that’s fine for some situations. But anyone whose ever done any market research, product development or design engineering will know that it isn’t that simple. It pays to allow engineers to take a chance with a prototype to test for utility and demand.

I’m also afraid you’ll have a severely limited range of novelty lingerie and anal bungs under your model, a situation that I find totally unacceptable. How are you going to make a movie? Call an assembly of consumers and ask them to vote on the plot? Hang on, maybe they already do.

Love

Chris

Mike Harman
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Sep 30 2005 18:41
Quote:
Work isn’t going to be imposed by anybody. There’s a guaranteed basic income regardless whether there’s work to be done or not. For something to be made, someone will have to want it, plus it’ll need to be worth the while of the producer operating in a self managed enterprise.

So if you want to buy something, and it doesn't already exist, how do you go about getting it made?

Assuming it's a complicated item:

In a communist society, you'd either find like-minded people to build it with or argue for it in an assembly. If no-one else wants one hard luck, but everything else is available for free, and you can still argue for it next time.

The only way you're going to get stuff that no-one else wants in a market society is in some way being able to impose work on the people with skills to produce it - by control of currency which they need to buy something else. Otherwise, what does "it’ll need to be worth the while" mean? Unless you'll be bartering your own labour for that yacht with them directly - hardly practical.

Quote:
It pays to allow engineers to take a chance with a prototype to test for utility and demand.

You don't think a massive increase in free time and guaranteed access to workshops and research facilities would do that?

Quote:
How are you going to make a movie? Call an assembly of consumers and ask them to vote on the plot?

For the infrastructure to make and show movies (cameras, cinema, DVD players etc.) you need only the demand for "films". Film is one of the mediums that gets fucked up most by capitalist production, so I don't think it's a good example for you to use. What you won't get is good actors, directors, and cinematographers wasted on shit movies because the production house wants it.

redtwister
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Sep 30 2005 18:53
Catch wrote:
redtwister,

I don't think we should be offering blueprints. But I ideas on how society might be organised post-revolution ought to be developed at least to an extent - in terms of organisation of production and social life. Otherwise everything boils down simply to critique, without the offer of a positive alternative. For instance I think there needs to be lot of work done on how food and energy production could be managed ecologically without oil dependency - that's urgent to a greater or lesser degree, and demonstrating with well researched information how communism might be able to deal with some of those issues could be very persuasive.

When i say content, this is sort of what I mean, at least a part of what I mean. Even with this, however, the solutions a few of us will come up with are likely to be quite impoverished compared to mobilizing billions of people, hence it is partially what I mean by content.

When I say form, I mean that we have no idea how people will go about doing these things, what organizationla forms will be created, how they will be linked practically, and also exactly the shape of social relations. As a result, we do not know how that will impact what we consider viable solutions to a range of problems.

I am also not suggesting we do not learn from previous struggles, but it is quite possible that what we learn from previous struggles is in fact more negative than positive. I find it hard to imagine how we could compare the impact of communications, for example, between 1917 in Russia or 1936 in Spain with 2005 in Britain and the U.S.

And I am not particularly hung up on 'councils'. They will likely appear in some places, in different moments, but are councils 'the' form? I doubt that very much.

Hope that clarifies.

chris