Are you a communist?

Yes
78% (62 votes)
No
18% (14 votes)
Don't Know
5% (4 votes)
Total votes: 80

Posted By

Lazy Riser
Mar 30 2006 15:07

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Lazy Riser
Apr 5 2006 10:14

Hi

Quote:
Or you wouldn't be thinking that such a notion - "a citizen's wage"?, how vulgar - is realistic within capitalism? I wouldn't insult you by saying - is that all you would want?

If we did introduce a high universal income, I don’t think capitalism would be able to survive it. For a start, if we couldn’t be starved into wage labour, it’s unlikely we’d tolerate enterprises managed by the current bourgeois strata. I appreciate your points on prices, markets and income from work, I think it would be neat if you could extract bonus income from work or taking part in disco dancing competitions etc.

Quote:
It was the greens I think.

“Benefit replacement” more like. Prevailing citizen’s income schemes along the lines of the Greens' are more similar to Labour's tax credits than anything else. We had a bit of a chat about money reform here…

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8952&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

Quote:
Somebody should really knock out a screenplay to that and send it to Charlton Heston.

It was the Soylent Greens I think.

Love

LR

hotautumn
Apr 5 2006 11:45

Im a communist innit!. Communism for me being a society of equal access to our conditions of existence—a society without property, commodity or exchange relations as well as the struggle of the dispossessed for the creation of a real human community. red n black star

Lazy Riser
Apr 5 2006 12:43

Hi

Quote:
a society without property, commodity or exchange relations

Would you allow people to take time off from work to win gold cups full of chocolate in disco dancing competitions? I can’t see how you can create a real human community otherwise.

Love

LR

hotautumn
Apr 5 2006 13:36

yes.... smile

but of course we wouldnt be 'working' , more like creatively co-operating, and nobody would be in charge. smile

Im quite interested in trying to define what 'communism' encaptulates and what it should exclude for people on these boards.

For example, I do not feel that marxist ideas encapsulate everything to do with 'communism'. (as i except the vast majority of posters on here feel as well)

There must be room for departures from 'Marxism' where 'communist insight' (camatte for example) appears to supersede this. How do others feel? Or is this to obvious a question?

Also is the term 'communist/communism' too value laden for those communists 'beyond marxism' to reclaim? red n black star

p.s Camatte can be found in libcoms excellent library.

cantdocartwheels
Apr 5 2006 16:59
sam_frances wrote:
On large scale organisation, it has been argued that a federation of commune would make goods freely available between communes as well, eliminating the need to "head hunt" - although i would point out that this sort of "brain drain" from more to less developed areas is common now, not because of capitalism so much as the action of market competition, so would not mutualism have the same problem between workplaces and localities?.

So you would propose no form of rule of law or civil society, and no ''government'' or social framework? Surely for a communist society to be possible this would be necessary, the levels of bureaucracy necessary with delegates going to and from meetings from workplace organisations would suggest that organisation would have to be formal and charter based rather than voluntary.

If a thousand people disagreed with a policy suggesed by 10,000, how would you reach an agreement purely through voluntarism. For example, say you wanted a railway from a to b, yet the only reasonable way to build it was slap bang over some houses and workplaces. Withjout a civil framework, would it be possible for this to be resolved with pure mutualism?

This is neither here nor there when argueing about whether communism is possible or not, but more that it is fair to suspect communism by its nature would be a fairly coercive society, in fact certainly in its initial implementation, a more coercive society than a libertarian socialist one since you'd imagine a libertarian socialist society would feature both communist and socialist elements and notions of value, whereas a communist society would have to striuctly eliminate these forms of value.

Cardinal Tourettes
Apr 5 2006 22:35

The whole mutualism type thing sounds fucking awful.

Everybody in their own little local commune (for local people, Tubbs), agreeing to exchange favours with the outside world, like fucking medieval villagers. Dismal.

I'm more one for human society being one big direct democracy.

Whatever the the different levels of generality of decision-making you would have ( eg neighbourhood, town/city, regional, national, global or whatever), obviously the macro level should have authority over the micro.

The key thing is it has to be a real, and therefore direct, democracy.

The mutualist shite is strictly for hippies.

Devrim
Apr 6 2006 08:47

Just as I was beginning to think that I had somehow wandered into the wrong website, the good Cardinal restores a little sanity:

Quote:
The whole mutualism type thing sounds fucking awful.

Everybody in their own little local commune (for local people, Tubbs), agreeing to exchange favours with the outside world, like fucking medieval villagers. Dismal.

I though we were on a feudalism revival site. We had that big argument about language, and all of that nonsense about a ‘progressive pan-Celtic federation’ last week, and now we have this mutualism coming up. Have these people got a fetish about the idiocy of rural life. Let’s all live in little villages, speak mutually exclusive Celtic languages, and enter into free exchange with neighboring communes, in between the cattle raids of course. I think some people must have got a bit carried away by ‘Lord of the Rings’

Lazy, I think that you have started this thread just to mock people, and even though you have appealed for somebody to come and defend the communist position:

Quote:
I’m really looking for some orthodox communists to poor scorn on your Proudhonism.
Quote:
Won’t one of the orthodox Marxists challenge sam_frances’ claim for membership of the communist family?

I don't think that I am going to rise to it tongue .

I might feel forced to if people continue to post nonsense like this though:

Quote:
Libertarian Communists don't wish to surpress the market.

Joseph Kay
Apr 6 2006 08:56
Devrim wrote:
I might feel forced to if people continue to post nonsense like this though:
Quote:
Libertarian Communists don't wish to surpress the market.

hmmm i agree with that to a point - libcommies want to surpass the market - wherever there is personal property/usufruct there is the potential for bilateral exchange - libcomism would seek to make such exchange pointless. Its fairly impossible to suppress exchange at that level without serious authoritarianism, but libcomism would mean people wouldn't need to resort to such means to satisfy their needs (but what if someone had usufruct of scarce resources - communise it?).

Devrim
Apr 6 2006 09:10

I think I am about to rise to it, Lazy.

Joseph Kay
Apr 6 2006 09:31

embarrassed uh-ho what have i done? grin

Lazy Riser
Apr 6 2006 09:39

Hi

Quote:
The mutualist shite is strictly for hippies

For the record, I agree with the anti-mutualist angle as presented here.

I like Castoriadis...

Quote:
Also of note is the Greek thinker Cornelius Castoriadis. Originally a Trotskyist, Castoriadis evaluation of Trotsky's deeply flawed analysis of Stalinist Russia as a degenerated workers' state lead him to reject first Leninism and then Marxism itself. This led him to libertarian conclusions, seeing the key issue not who owns the means of production but rather hierarchy. Thus the class struggle was between those with power and those subject to it. This led him to reject Marxist economics as its value analysis abstracted from (i.e. ignored!) the class struggle at the heart of production (Autonomist Marxism rejects this interpretation of Marx, but they are the only Marxists who do). Castoriadis, like social anarchists, saw the future society as one based on radical autonomy, generalised self-management and workers' councils organised from the bottom up. His three volume collected works (Political and Social Writings) are essential reading for anyone interested in libertarian socialist politics and a radical critique of Marxism.

Love

LR

afraser
Apr 6 2006 21:41
Sam Frances wrote:
[production] is coordinated by federations of workplaces, with community assemblies making major investment decisions and decisions over what should be produced - this doesn't mean they would dictate everything each workplace did, so much as agreeing on the overall priorities of production.

I agree. But all that means is that the overall priorities are set, that is things like investment decisions are made communally, but what about - the more important - non-overall priorities of production, the nitty gritty of exactly how much and of exactly what should be produced exactly when?

Sam Frances wrote:
[workplaces] cooperate to meet the common need of the members of the commune and federation of communes.

How? How is the principal agent problem resolved? How do workplaces know what the common needs of the members of the various outside bodies are? Is it by command? Not a trivial problem, with (at the least) tens of thousands of different consumer goods out there. Workplaces won't co-operate to meet the common need by magic.

I don't want to be overly negative here, I think everyone agrees communism is a great ideal, but I do want to know the mechanics before advocating it as a practical proposition.

Lazy Riser
Apr 7 2006 11:50

Hi

Quote:
I think everyone agrees communism is a great ideal

No. It’s grim. The ICC are communists, definitely. Look what they had to say about poor Castoriadis…

http://en.internationalism.org/wr/213_castoriadis.htm

Love

LR

lem
Apr 8 2006 02:11

Well, the Bordigist position is to say that a central administration would decide for everyone what is produced - in the light of what science indicated was best for the survival of the human race. Though you do get to choose waht you consume from that, and in doing so are consuming for the beneift of the whole human species!

And I think that the central administarion would not be democratic! Can someone explain that to me - why isn't that a terrible thing? Some unelected group of people deciding what everyone else is able to consume - seems like it would very easily become corrupt, and maybe a bad idea despire that.

Alf
Apr 8 2006 12:43

Lem - what are you basing your description of the "Bordigist position" on?

As a general remark, communism is the world human community, and the abolition of private property certainly entails the abolition of separate enterprises and any notion of ownership by local communes. So the world's resources will certainly be centralised. But centralisation does not mean everything is decided by an unelected elite. The structures of communist society will have lost their class character, but they will no doubt maintain the mechanisms which the working class has created to fight against the emergence of such elites (such as elected and recallable delegates).

Lazy Riser
Apr 8 2006 13:54

Hi

Quote:
the abolition of private property certainly entails the abolition of separate enterprises and any notion of ownership by local communes

At last! A serious communist. Thanks for chirping up. Why does the abolition of private property remain so very unpopular with the working class as an ideological position?

Are they mistaken, misguided or correct in their analysis of communism’s central tenet?

Love

LR

lem
Apr 8 2006 14:55

Erm, can't find the source now, but I am sure that I have read that he was very anti democratic, though I may be wrong, and perhaps I was wrong to extend it to planning/etc

Edit:

La Banquise wrote:
Certainly, Bordiga made a justifiably strong critique of democracy. People often reproached democracy for separating proletarians, who were united in action, through the vote, and instead they recommended « true democracy » or « workers democracy », where decisions would be taken by everyone in general assemblies, etc. However Bordiga showed that democracy brings about this separation in decision making because it separates out the moment of decision itself. To make believe that one can suspend everything for a privileged moment in order to know what one will decide and who will carry it out, and to create for this purpose a process of deliberation and decision making : here is the democratic illusion ! Human activity is only driven to isolate the moment of decision making if this activity is itself contradictory, if it is already traversed by conflicts and if antagonistic powers are already established. The structure for the encounter of different opinions is nothing but a façade masking the real decision, imposed by the prior play of forces.

Democracy establishes a break in time, makes it as if one were setting out again from scratch. One could apply to the democratic ritual the analysis which Mircea Eliade makes of religion, where periodically one replays the passage from chaos to order, placing oneself out of time for a brief instant as if everything had again become possible. Democracy has been erected in principle in societies where the masters have to meet to share out power by complying with the rules of a game, even if it means resorting to dictatorship ( a permissible form of government in ancient Greece ) as soon as play is obstructed.

While demonstrating very well that the democratic principle is alien to the bases of revolutionary action and of human life, Bordiga was incapable of imagining the interaction of the subversive activities of proletarians, and he could conceive no other solution than dictatorship ( of the party ). The German left had fallen into the democratic error through fetishism of the workers councils. Having failed to seize the subversive capacities of the proletariat and their ability to centralise their actions, the Italian left ran up against the false alternative which it had itself denounced, and pronounced itself in favour of dictatorship, even of implementing a monolithic discipline when necessary

http://www.geocities.com/~johngray/rome07.htm

Alf
Apr 8 2006 17:01

Lazy Since attachment to private property is the most sacrosanct tenet of bourgeois ideology, and since "the ruling ideas are everywhere the ideas of the ruling class", I don't think it's too hard to understand why at any given moment the vast majority of workers can't see an alternative to it.

Did you say somewhere recently that you're not a Proudhonist? In what sense not?

Lem I would agree with La Banquise (Dauve?) that Bordiga makes an important critique of 'The democratic principle' http//www.marxists.org/archive/bordiga/works/1922/democratic-principle.htm

I don't think that the quote from La Banquise gets to the heart of the problem however (although it does suggest the importance of a synthesis between the Italian and German lefts).

The most important element in Bordiga's critique is I think derived from Marx's early writings, in particular On the Jewish Question, where he shows the connection between democratic ideology and the notion of the atomised bourgeois citizen. But it's also true to say that Bordiga tended to bend the stick too far and posit the dictatorship of the party (and, within the party, of the 'organic leadership') as the best antidte to democratic fetishism.

This discussion is important but I'm not sure whether it's in line with this thread.

Lazy Riser
Apr 8 2006 19:21

Hi

Quote:
Since attachment to private property is the most sacrosanct tenet of bourgeois ideology, and since "the ruling ideas are everywhere the ideas of the ruling class", I don't think it's too hard to understand why at any given moment the vast majority of workers can't see an alternative to it.

The working class see much more than the elite want them to. They see the alternative alright, communism, and they avoid it. Why? Are they brainwashed? Or maybe there is a flaw in communist ideology. Perhaps the working class are sending us a message through their indifference to the kind of collectivisation normally enjoyed only by the most devout religious cults.

Quote:
Did you say somewhere recently that you're not a Proudhonist? In what sense not?

Lots of reasons. Not least because Proudonists disown me. I don’t distinguish between “the means of production” and other objects. I advocate a high universal income untied from work and that people’s courts should resolve contended ownership.

Love

LR

OliverTwister
Apr 8 2006 19:24

Are you sure you're not a communist?

Lazy Riser
Apr 12 2006 19:19

Hi

Quote:
Are you sure you're not a communist?

How do you measure an organism’s communism?

Love

LR

RedCelt
Apr 13 2006 10:46

Yes, I'm a Communist. I don't think Bolsheviks or any would be vanguard should have the rights to the term. Communism requires a classless society. The USSR wasn't Communist. There was a large mass of workers living on a similair plain, and a small group of people dictating every sphere of the masses' lives.

Describing yourself as an Anarchist is in my experience more likely to be met with a more positive response than describing yourself as a Communist though. People are too stuck into seeing dictatorships such as North Korea or the Capitalist totalitarianism of China as Communist rather than what they really are. True Communism is Anarchist and good Anarchism is Communist.

red n black star

Felix Frost
Apr 13 2006 13:19
Devrim wrote:
I though we were on a feudalism revival site. We had that big argument about language, and all of that nonsense about a ‘progressive pan-Celtic federation’ last week, and now we have this mutualism coming up. Have these people got a fetish about the idiocy of rural life. Let’s all live in little villages, speak mutually exclusive Celtic languages, and enter into free exchange with neighboring communes, in between the cattle raids of course. I think some people must have got a bit carried away by ‘Lord of the Rings’

Now, what exactly is wrong with living in a village? Will everyone be forced to move to the cities after the revolution? (After a short stay in the compulsory English learning camp, of course.)

As for "free exchange", even Marx described the economy in a classless society as "free exchange between associated producers". The question is not whether we exchange goods or not, but how this exchange is organized. That is, whether it is organized collectively based on people's needs, or decided by the alienated forces of the market. And I think this applies to a collectivist as well as a communist society.

Overthrowing capitalism doesn't automatically resolve all the problems of the economy. There will still be scarce resourses, problems of environmental destruction, how to organize production rationally, how to organize distribution so everyone gets a fair share, etc, etc.

The problem with (anarcho-)communists in discussions like this is that they typically provide no answers to such problems. Instead they conjure up naive fantasies of a utopian society where there is an abundance of everything, and everyone can just go to the local community store and simply pick up anything they want (and any size TV they want). And then they pour scorn on everyone else for "advocating self-managed capitalism"...

Perhaps the discussion would be more fruitful if we started discussing how to organize society during and directly after the overthrow of capitalism, instead of how the utiopian society might look some generations from now.

Lazy Riser
Apr 13 2006 15:07

Hi

Quote:
the alienated forces of the market

The market does a better job of organising production collectively based on people's needs than any explicit attempt to do so through the application of communist ideology.

Quote:
Perhaps the discussion would be more fruitful if we started discussing how to organize society during and directly after the overthrow of capitalism, instead of how the utiopian society might look some generations from now.

Definitely. We’re “during the overthrow of capitalism” right now, and our proposal is long overdue.

Love

LR

sam sanchez
Apr 13 2006 19:08
Quote:
The market does a better job of organising production collectively based on people's needs than any explicit attempt to do so through the application of communist ideology.

Naive. Its not got a good record so far, and we don't have any real examples of non-capitalist markets to go on, (or any real approximations of libertarian communism), so thats an unfounded statement for now, I'd say. In the majority of the world people's needs are not met, and market competition makes this worse not better.

There's no particualr reason why markets should meet need. They only meet effective demand - demand of those who have money. Equilibrium between supply and demand has no necessary connection with human need. For example, assume a country of one million people in which 900,000 are without means of livelihood. One million bushels of wheat are produced. The entire crop is sold to 100,000 people at $10 a bushel. Supply and demand are in equilibrium, yet 900 000 people will face starvation."

Neither is this problem due to wage labour. Price fluctuations in food grains are the most common cause of famine in african countries, which are based more on small farming and artisan production than wage labour, except in the cities.

cantdocartwheels
Apr 13 2006 19:22

I agree with you but thats a mistake as an example, since a market is a compromise between demand and desire for profit. Capitalism is a social matrix not something imposed on a whim.

Even at its most utopian, the market places a clear limit on our abilities. If we were to have LR's fixed income (fixed by who exactly he hasn't specified) we would have a fixed limit to our desires. From A,B,C and D we can choose only one, this therefore becomes as true within industry as within personal consumption.

How are we to enjoy the maximum fulfiullment of life LR harks on about, if our fullfillment of life is reduced to a budget balance, how would his fixed income economy develop, would it not stagnate very rapidly?

sam sanchez
Apr 13 2006 19:28

I agree that we need to discuss how a communist society would work, although that's not the discussion being had here. But then, its not that interesting, any more than market economics is. Who wants to go into the ins and outs of labour-time computations or scarcity indexes? I disagree that people just on ideas of abundance - at least I don't, although i do try to limit how much detail I go into about specific ideas I've read or thought about. Last time I tried to be specific Lazy Riser called me a reactionary!

That said, if anyone wants to start a topic about how anarchist communism could work and what are the potential problems, I'll happily pitch in my two pence.

sam sanchez
Apr 13 2006 19:43
Quote:
Afraser said: I agree. But all that means is that the overall priorities are set, that is things like investment decisions are made communally, but what about - the more important - non-overall priorities of production, the nitty gritty of exactly how much and of exactly what should be produced exactly when?

Could that not be organised according to the autonomy of workplaces. Different workplaces would make different products (i.e. different types of TVs etc). People will order what they want, and the shit will get left on the shelves, and shops won't order any more of it. Federations of similar workplaces will share info and help each other meet the demand that becomes apparent from what people buy. I don't see the need for beurocracy or planning in minute detail - if in doubt, leave it to the people doing the work!

The market mechanisms still apply to an extent. If people don't want a certain product, it will be left on the shelves, and any sensible shop will order less of that product and more of the popular ones. But rather than the workplaces producing unsuitable products going out of business and the popular ones expanding, federations of workplaces would be an ideal way to share information, and to tell shit workplaces to buck their ideas up.

By the way, Lazy, how is castoriadis's ideas expressed in that quote a while back any different to libertarian communism, or at least council communism?

Lazy Riser
Apr 13 2006 19:58

Hi

Quote:
In the majority of the world people's needs are not met, and market competition makes this worse not better.

As I type this reply on a laptop computer, I’m thinking market competition is at worse neutral to poverty. I could as easily argue that poverty is maintained by communists in order to attack competition as matter of principle.

Quote:
There's no particular reason why markets should meet need

They meet the need to play poker for money, using your old man’s lucky deck. Markets have been done to death, I’ll take it up on “If capitalism is so bad, why don’t people vote it out?”.

Quote:
How is anarchism pastoral?

Is this a serious question? Which other ideological premise has a primitivist wing?

Quote:
How is communism presbytarian?

Its penchant for temperance and austerity.

Am I a communist? How do I tell? I don’t buy this “to each according to their need’s” stuff, and everyone who does is the sort of person who gives money to beggars.

Quote:
By the way, Lazy, how is castoriadis's ideas expressed in that quote a while back any different to libertarian communism, or at least council communism?

Interesting question. A quick google confirms the resemblance between Castoriadis and Pannekoek is conventionally accepted. This is very pleasing to me.

Love

LR

sam sanchez
Apr 13 2006 20:02
Lazy Riser wrote:
I could as easily argue that poverty is maintained by communists in order to attack competition as matter of principle.

Go on then.

P.S I don't understand the last line. And don't balme me for those primitivist nutters - I disown them. Plus there are non anarchist primitavists, and most conservatives views are pretty medieval.