amorri1010

Communism and Curiosity, History and Humility

38 posts in this topic

Hello all,

I've been a long time viewer of Leo's channel and reader of this forum though this is my first time posting as this is the first time I've felt compelled to contribute to the discourse here :)

Now, I have noticed a concerning trend that is on the rise of late here on this forum, in the comments section of Leo's videos, and in Leo's videos themselves wherein there is a worrying amount of information thrown around that is taken as fact, truth, common sense, etc. without verification or investigation by the individuals presenting the information and the individuals consuming it. To be more specific, this almost entirely revolves around the accepted consensus opinion on left/far-left idiologies, particularly socialism and communism, and to an absurd degree regarding the historical instances of former socialist states (PRC, USSR).

Before I go any further, please note that this is not me explicitly advocating for the ideologies and societies that I just listed. This is a plea for historical humility and curiosity around existing beliefs, something I think all of us here agree is vital. It's important for all of us to understand the relativity of history, that the subjective objectivication preformed so often under the materialist paradigm and the sciences (as pointed out by Leo countless times) absolutely applies here as well. Most all of us have grown up in Capitalist societies and that has had a severe impact on the way we understand history and ways of being that are foreign to us. For a lot of people Capitalism and it's ideology is taken as an absolute, conditioned into us since birht. And you better believe this comes with an entire view of history, economics, politics, etc. and the potential alternatives to the state of things as they currently exist. Ever notice how you don't learn about Marxism in High School Economics class??

On this community (and of course in the US and all of the capitalist world) so so many historical "facts" and political talking points about Marxism/Socialism/Communism are taken for granted, unverified and seen as common sense (a deceptive term everyone here should be on the lookout for). From "communism killed 100 million people" and all it's variants to "previous socialist states were totalitarian dictatorships" to "socialism doesn't work because <fill in the blank>". All of these are either generally accepted or opposed/corrected in the most acceptable way possible instead of critically investigating the premises and historical information they are based off of. 

I should note here that I am not here to tell you that "communism is infallible and perfect and all of you are wrong", I'm not explicitly giving you my opinions and biases and conclusions here, merely imploring you to critically examine your own. I, like every single other entity out there surviving, have an ego, preconceived notions etc. and it is from this that I'm writing to you but it in no way means that I have a dogma to preach to you. Also, concerning the burden of proof here, it's on you if you decide to have conclusions and positions in this discourse, do not ask me to prove to you whatever ideological or historical position you think I have based on what I've said here. That would be completely missing the point. My understanding of the world, of history, economics, and politics is constantly evolving and if yours isn't that should be a warning sign to you.

Now why is questioning Capitalist narratives and thouroughly understanding Communism important to the work we're doing here? Because the way we view history, economics, and politics completely changes the way we interpret, exist in, and create reality. It goes without saying that on this sub we can all be very heady at times and it seems to me that this has overriden the investigation of our material reality and history for the sake of conceptual models and paradigms of reality. Your generalized understanding and conceptual models are built on your awareness of and interpretation of specific occurrences and individualized phenomena! Your paradigms have to make sense when applied to current event and history, and if they don't they're dysfunctional and require growth. The general informs the particular and the particular informs the general. The explanatory power of something like Spiral Dynamics only has validity in relative position to your conception of reality. The reason we all like Spiral Dynamics so much is for it's pragmatism and utility in our daily lives, the general applied to the specific. So when we discover new information we were previously unaware of or the information that we previously held has been proven to be false what shall we do??

I know how frightening it can be to question reality as you know, I assume all of us do as that is exactly the work we are all supposedly doing here. I'm imploring you all to do the same to your conception of Communism, Socialism and Marxism. Stop diverting the discussion of these topics to Social Democracy, they're not the same thing! Just because you think Social Democracy is good and that capitalism has problems doesn't mean you actually understand the mechanisms and historical nuance of the past 150 years of Socialist and Communist movements or the intricacies of Marxist philosophy, economics, and political theory. Actually read Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Stalin. Learn about lesser known Socialists like Fred Hampton, Paul Robeson, Alexandra Kollontai, Eugene Debs, Fridah Kaloh, and others. Listen to self described Communists throughout history and from the present day. Actually find the written historical and political claims made against communism and follow the sources for their claims back to their source, you may be surprised what you find. Calling something extreme, radical, totalitarian, and dictator is just a cheap and easy excuse to not investigate what you think you know. I sympathize with the hesitation and confusion, sorting a lifetime of conditioning and through lenses of reality is not the easy thing to do but it is the most integral mode of being and relating to history if your goal is to be a holistic thinker with integrity and honesty. 

By the way, how holistically we view Socialism and Communism directly effects how effective and explanatory Spiral Dynamics is. Almost any time I hear anyone here speak on what they think Stage Green's political and economic views are they have some things right but are often very confused and misinformed as to what these ideologies represent and seek to accomplish. This insight of how we define and understand Communism and Socialism applies to all stages not just Green! What if the previous socialist states in the USSR and China weren't actually Stage Blue totalitarian dictatorships as almost every one here believes is uncontested fact?? How would that change the way we view the social progress of humanity and every stage in Spiral Dynamics?? The conceptual model itself is not to be done away with necessarily, but the data and information utilized in it's application needs more rigorous updating and this can only make our analysis stronger, more conscious, and more integral.

As I know he has spoken on this subject in the past and has mentioned making a "Capitalism vs. Socialism" video in the future I want to take this final section to speak to Leo particularly and implore him in accordance with everything I've laid out above to please investigate very thouroughly his understanding of far-left anticapitalist idiologies such as Communism and Socialism. Leo, you have a large and highly receptive audience that is incredibly influenced by the things you say and the paradigms and models you put forward. I know that this may be a quite personal debate as I understand you lived in the USSR briefly as a child during its dissolution and your parents were Russian, I have great respect your life experiences and only hope that they do not cloud the way you relate to these topics. The way that this issue is handled has large reprocussions for the way hundreds of thousands of not more of your viewers understand history, politics, and reality.

Thank you all so much for reading through this and giving me the time to express what I believe is a vital conversation to be had over the concious political project we are attempting to engage in. 

Love,

Adam

 

"...it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be."

-Karl Marx

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You make some great and nuanced points. I appreciate the serious effort.

However, from everything I understand, true communism and socialism will never work in our lifetimes because people are far too selfish and grossly underdeveloped.

But I think it could work 100+ years from now, especially if we start to modify our genetics and brains.

The problem is that no amount of reading Marx or whomever will address this root issue. My fundamental issue with Marxism is that it gets human psychology and spiritual development wrong, and therefore it becomes unviable in the real world.

If you have some points to rebutt my core issue, feel free to share them here. I am totally open to being proven wrong on this. Unfortunately I can't see a way you will wiggle you way out of the selfishness problem.

The benefit that capitalism has, despite all its flaws, is that it works. The same cannot be said for Marxism. There has never been a viable real-world, mass scale implementation of it. This should tell you something.

It is because of this that I advocate for social democracy. We know it works. It's hard to go wrong with it. And it is the next natural evolutionary step.

The bruden of proof is on the Marxist to show that Marxism can be viable in the real world. Show us that it works at the level of psychology and ego development. Explain why all the tried implementations failed.

The problem with reading old texts is that they do not factor in or explain all the failed implementations of Marxism. This is why reading Marx will not help. If Marx saw how Marxism was implemented over the last century he might reject Marxism himself.

The best moderm Marxist I know is Richard Wolff, and unfortunately I cam see flaws even in his rather modest ideas of democracy at the workplace and profit as exploitation. Although I generally support democracy at the workplace. But it is not clear how much democracy the current workplace can handle before it breaks down.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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Posted (edited)

I don’t think Socialism requires humans to be that selfless in the first place, and to say Socialism “failed” is not a fair assessment, as those prior socialist experiments did make significant achievements in human standards of living.

My greatest issue with the argument that humans are too selfish for Socialism is that Socialism doesn’t require much selflessness.

Also, Social Democracy requires to some degree imperialism for it to function. Even then, there is still workers strikes and austerity.

Edited by Husseinisdoingfine

لا إله إلا الله، وليو رسول الله

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12 minutes ago, Husseinisdoingfine said:

to say Socialism “failed” is not a fair assessment

There are no socialist states, basically. They all had to resort to capitalism to survival. Even North Korea cannot maintain it with their near total control of the people.

Why is there not a single truly socialist state? And don't blame it on capitalism. Such states have simply not been sustainable. They were all totally corrupt.

Quote

My greatest issue with the argument that humans are too selfish for Socialism is that Socialism doesn’t require much selflessness.

Then you haven't really understood why communism collapsed. It collapsed because the natural greed of ambitious and power-hungry people led to massive corruption and secret hierarchies.

What happens under socialism/communism is that we all agree to level the hierarchies of power and to distribute things evenly. But then those who are naturally ambitious and power-hungry and greedy dominate these flat hierarchies, crown themselves boss, and take most of the resources for themselves and their friends, leaving the working class with pennies. Just like under capitalism, but it's even more corrupt and dysfunctional because it's done in secret with an air of equality and a socialist ethos.

It's very hard to get selfish people not act selfishly. You basically cannot have an even or fair distribution of resources (the goal of socialism) without selfless people. Selfish people will corrupt any system for equality that you design or establish.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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The primary reason why socialist states have failed so far is because of the economic calculation problem. Without market mechanisms there simply isn't a good way of determining where resources in society are to be allocated. The centrally planned economy can't possibly make the millions of calculations required to adequately allocate resources by itself without price signals. This would be the case even if those running the centrally planned economy were benevolent

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Today's socialists are not arguing for central planned economies. So that point is moot. It's pretty clear that markets are necessary.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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@Joel3102 YESS!!! Thank You!!! 

I'm so glad someone else here has read some of the great Austrians (my favorite Economics school of thought) 

This is why I don't think Pure Socialism / Communism can ever work, one of the best ideas I have heard is replacing the welfare state with a Negative Income Tax (NIT), its such a simple yet profound way of helping the most impoverished in a nation. I also think the real issue countries face isn't so much 'Inequality' but serious Poverty, I don't think Billionaires would be hated like they are if everyone had a higher baseline, and if we shifted the focus from 'we have to make them poorer to make us richer', to making everyone more prosperous globally, I think that is a much more appealing standpoint that everyone wants? 

@Leo Gura Are you referring to Market Socialism?- 'Market socialism is a type of economic system involving the public, cooperative, or social ownership of the means of production in the framework of a market economy.' 

Or are you referring to Social Democracy (e.g. Bernie style) 


'One is always in the absolute state, knowingly or unknowingly for that is all there is.' Francis Lucille. 

'Peace and Happiness are inherent in Consciousness.' Rupert Spira 

“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” Ramana Maharshi

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@LfcCharlie4 Yeah there was a big debate in the 1920s between the Austrian economists and the socialist economists who thought that central planning would work out, which evidently it didn't. Although the Austrian's IMO are still pretty wacky with their hardcore libertarian views on central banking etc. But they have some interesting partial perspectives

It's true that the flavour of the month is now a kind of market socialism, which may or may not work some day. I'm not ideological about it, if it empirically works then I'd be in favour of it. I do think there are some elements of the left (mainly online not the mainstream) that defend old style communism

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Posted (edited)

@amorri1010 Great and thoughtful post, and welcome to the Forum.

From my own vantage point, the most common mistake I see about Socialism (disregarding its demonization from intellectually dishonest actors) is to be Reductionist about it, and treat Socialism an All or Nothing affair. Either workers in a Society own the means of production, or they're being exploited.

When from my point of view, thinking of Socialism as a gradation or a matter of degree makes much more sense. Powerful Unions which give workers a voice as to how their workplace is run is one point on that spectrum, with worker owned businesses being further along on that spectrum.

While %100 socialist country is unrealistic, I see no reason in principle why various degrees and gradations of Socialism can't co-exist within a system driven by Market forces (at least within the more Democratic countries of the world, this system obviously wouldn't work where Democratic Institutions are weak).

If one looks at the moral  imperatives behind Socialism, namely that workers: (1) deserve the full value of thier labor (2) should have control over thier work environment (3) should be able contribute in a meaningful way to the products of thier labor.

The mistake I see is that people become ideologically fixated on their chosen method for achieving these Principles, rather than on the Principles themselves; missing the forest for the trees, so to speak. I would argue that thinking that there's only one way to achieve these overall goals is Limiting, and there's a Spectrum for how fully these Principles are realized.

Edited by DocWatts

"The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical." - George Lakoff

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@Leo Gura Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I think you have some very legitimate points that need to be wrestled with if an ideology like Marxism is to be proven effective in some capacity for the future of humanity. My goal with the original post was to provide a plea for historical and theoretical investigation of said ideology, not provide a defense of it's efficacy necessarily, though it probably came through implicitly that I believe Marxism has much more merit than most here. I'd like to answer your concerns from a Marxist point of view and engage with this debate more fully, however I believe to do that with the most rigour and nuance possible I will be making an entirely new post regarding this considering the debate interests me so much and I haven't seen anyone on this forum who shares many of my views concerning this. Plus I would rather leave this post as a place to invite skepticism about traditional narratives and make an entirely new post for the proposal of the alternative (s).

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1 hour ago, Leo Gura said:

Today's socialists are not arguing for central planned economies. So that point is moot. It's pretty clear that markets are necessary.

Incorrect, not even Richard Wolff likes markets


لا إله إلا الله، وليو رسول الله

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Yes, as society becomes more comm-curious, we may have some interesting political developments.

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Posted (edited)

I would posit that wanting to separate Essentials (health care, education, utilities, housing, etc) from Markets is a far cry from positing public ownership of the entire economy...

It's my understanding that most contemporary Socialists want to retain Markets, but believe that they should be subordinate to what's necessary for the Public Good (rather than the exact opposite being true).

Edited by DocWatts

"The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical." - George Lakoff

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@Joel3102 Of course I would say this, but it’s genuinely the rise of Bitcoin & Crypto overall that has given Austrians another little run in the spotlight, at least that’s how I found them. 
 

Through Roger Ver (BCH advocate) who is a big advocate for P2P electronic money / economic freedom. 


'One is always in the absolute state, knowingly or unknowingly for that is all there is.' Francis Lucille. 

'Peace and Happiness are inherent in Consciousness.' Rupert Spira 

“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” Ramana Maharshi

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@DocWatts @Husseinisdoingfine @Leo Gura

Y'all are all assuming that there is a consensus among some monolithic group of "Socialists" on markets, their merits and viability. There's so much more nuance here you're missing. The far-left is incredibly balkanized and fragmented on individual issues like this, with a wide variety of opinions and theories. Note that just because one group of people calls themselves socialist and posits a certain ideological position, this is in no way representative of some sort of complete and static expression of these arguments. All this means is that there are more variations of thought and policy to be confronted in revolutionary politics than previously imagined.

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Posted (edited)

@amorri1010 Of course what you say is true, and just to lay my biases on the table, when I refer to contemporary Socialism, I'm implicitly referencing to what I'll broadly refer to as Libertarian-Socialism. 

While that's far from the only ideological block under the 'Socialist' umbrella, but I do see it as the most relevant to contemporary conditions in the United States and Europe.

That's not to deny the Historical and Sociological significance of other types of Socialism, but as a contemporary political force in the West, I would argue that they are negligible. Regardless of whether thier arguments have Merit, something like Anarcho-Syndicalism or Leninism are anachronistic by this point.

Edited by DocWatts

"The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical." - George Lakoff

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Look man, you can dance around the issue all you want, but markets are not going away.

Yeah, there are a lot of fools within socialism who believe all sorts of impractical and silly things. A centrally planned economy is not gonna happen.

The only kind of socialist that I can take seriously is at least one who can admit the importance of markets and why they exist.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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@Leo Gura That's completely fair and I even agree personally on the inevitability of markets. Like I said I think this needs to be fleshed out more in another post where I can put forward some real positions and have a discussion around those topics. I have some personal stuff to take care of at the moment but as soon as that's out of the way I'll be posting here about what I believe Marxism has to offer as a viable alternative to Capitalism. Looking forward to some serious and constructive discourse.

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@amorri1010 Why do you need another post? You started this. So flesh it out. We await with open ears.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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Capitalism is a natural process needed to move towards socialism/communism. Communism will only happen when most of the population reach yellow or higher, and technology has advanced to the point where resource becomes abundant. Most implementation of communism failed because they didn't understand the process of ego development. If they did, they would realize that communism will not happen unless people are educated and developed. Capitalism is a stage that can't be skipped; it must be experienced and integrated. Overall we are moving towards communism but very slowly, in 100-200 years maybe. Think Star Trek. Short term wise, socialism is the next stage for most to transition to, to reach a balance between class differences while maintaining capitalism to a large degree. 

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