-For Ethical Politics
Wandering the information superhighway, he came upon the last refuge of civilization, PoFo, the only forum on the internet ...
SSDR wrote:Truth is simple.
Posting long, over exaggerated statements is only a waste of energy.
Wellsy wrote:I've been getting hints to it's nature but I'm wondering what insight others might bring to the subject.
Presvias wrote:The truth is whatever Trotsky, snippets from marxists.org and some absolute joke philosopher who's best mates with Jordan Peterson tells me, creating a big think
(But the stoicism debate linked off of that was kind of interesting..)
Nonetheless, most people don't even know what the truth is at all, or how to tell it as purely as possible, and many others are allergic to anything that causes them any amount of mental discomfort and just shy away from things that conflict with their preset beliefs, or ideas.
What kind of Marxist society do you think worked best and would you follow their prescribed method of 'telling the truth'?
In addressing the genesis of thought and language in human individuals, it would have been very tempting for an admirer of dialectics to seek a solution in some kind of reworking of Hegel’s genesis of the Notion in his Logic. But heeding Engels’ advice, Vygotsky utilised the dialectical method, and did so consistently materialistically. Whereas Hegel provided many insights in his analysis of the history of philosophy on the basis of the system of Logic, and his system continues to provide a valuable approach to the critique of philosophical method, the result of Vygotsky’s application of the dialectical method to the genesis of thought and language in the development of the individual human being is a series of concepts quite incommensurate with the stages of the Logical Idea which populate the pages of the Logic.
And so it should be! Hegel advises that: “... this progress in knowing is not something provisional, or problematical and hypothetical; it must be determined by the nature of the subject matter itself and its content”.
late wrote:Got a suggestion, labels are largely meaningless here.
The problem in Russia, then and now, and here, is income inequality.
IOW, whatever structure you want to use, it needs to actually work. That means institutions that discourage massive concentrations of power, and the parasitic behavior that plagues so much of the world, including the United States.
If you look at successful countries, they have schools that educate, some way to provide medical services to everyone, laws that can maintain order.
In all the above cases, the general rule is that it is only your collaborator who can really hurt you. One way or another, the norms of collaboration can be violated by utilising the mystique offered by playing a senior role in a project so as to exploit junior collaborators. Ancient projects like the patriarchy, which are deeply embedded in communities, have sedimented themselves in the form of concepts which normalise that which, when seen from a distance, is obviously exploitative and abusive
The abolition of the capitalist system will, undoubtedly, solve the economic side of the Woman Question, but it will solve that alone. The question of marriage, of divorce, of paternity, of the equality of woman with man are physical and sexual questions, or questions of temperamental affiliation as in marriage, and were we living in a Socialist Republic would still be hotly contested as they are to-day. One great element of disagreement would be removed – the economic – but men and women would still be unfaithful to their vows, and questions of the intellectual equality of the sexes would still be as much in dispute as they are today, even although economic equality would be assured. To take a case in point: Suppose a man and woman married. The man after a few years ceases to love the woman, his wife, and loves another. But his wife's love for him has only increased with the passage of years, and she has borne him children. He wishes to leave her and consort with his new love. Will the fact that her economic future is secured be any solace to the deserted mother or to her children? Decidedly not! It is, a human and sexual problem, not an economic problem at all. Unjust economic conditions aggravate the evil, but do not create it.
What we can now conjecture about the way in which sexual relations will be ordered after the impending overthrow of capitalist production is mainly of a negative character, limited for the most part to what will disappear. But what will there be new? That will be answered when a new generation has grown up: a generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman’s surrender with money or any other social instrument of power; a generation of women who have never known what it is to give themselves to a man from any other considerations than real love or to refuse to give themselves to their lover from fear of the economic consequences. When these people are in the world, they will care precious little what anybody today thinks they ought to do; they will make their own practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each individual–and that will be the end of it.
What people need to overcome poverty and exclusion, Sen concluded, is “critical voice.” I will go one step further, for it is said that many poor people have a voice, but that voice is not listened to in the quarters where their lives are decided. So my claim is that it is “self-determination” which people need; it is the lack of self-determination which constitutes deprivation.
I think it is clear enough the kind of things people need to attain self-determination, a real, critical say in their own lives; it means education, it means decent public media, it means public health and education, it means a democratic political system which allows for participatory democracy in little things as much as big things. It means having organisations and public figures with whom people can identify, organisations to speak for them and fight for them.
Just to avoid any misunderstanding, here is the definition of self-determination (or sovereignty) from a book called Framework for International Law:
A subject is sovereign if it ‘answers only to its own [internal] order and is not accountable to a larger ... community, save only to the extent it has consented to do so.’
This kind of self-determination cannot be achieved by individuals in a fragmented society, but only by means of a variety of social ties, forms of social cohesion, identity and participatory community. So knowing who you are and having a way of expressing that socially is vital.
Having money does give people a kind of self-determination, so does the capacity to produce things that other people need. You can’t get away from that. And if people are denied a means of earning a living, then they have to get access to the negotiating table by other means. So economics is important, too; the alternative is political struggle or often violence.
My impression is that income inequality is more the symptom of capitalist production than it is the essential problem as the usual solution proposed to this symptom (as distinct from the cause of such inequality) is progressive taxation.
As seen on this forum even: https://www.politicsforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=177258
And the solution to the coalescing of power to a minority atop of a hierarchy of some kind seems yet to be resolved. Not that I think it would necessarily be resolved entirely if one did dissolve the law of value, but I do think that a significant issue in it is based in class power where one subjugates the other to it's ends. Although it's a truism that abuse of power can be found in any project, that it is ones collaborates that do us the most harm.
As such, it won't be heaven on earth, but a prime basis of many problems that stem from economic power of one class over another would dissipate when the economic basis of such power is properly resolved.
And I would agree in terms of 'successful' countries, in terms of those that best serve their people are those that have an adequate education system, well funded media, access to healthcare.
Supporting people to develop their subjectivity such that they're in strong enough position to assert their voice and interests when they are largely excluded from many of the already respected and established means is an important part in having a society that properly recognizes it's own citizens, not merely a rabble but as people.
late wrote:Umm, no.
There was plenty of income inequality in Soviet Russia.
The language you use, for the lack of a better term, is antique.
There are economic studies that track inequality, as I mentioned, successful economies take care of their people. When I say successful, I don't mean simply along economic lines.
Not that I think, as so many do, that capitalism is magic or something. Capitalism replaced mercantilism because it was better. We will need to develop something better this time to avoid the extinction of the species. Assuming we aren't too stupid, of course.
Looking at past performance, that's not what you would want to call a good bet.
However, what is posed by the adoption of collaborative project as a unit of analysis are two interrelated studies, which alas are hardly even embryonic in their development: the study of the internal dynamics of collaborative projects, and the study of the collaboration between projects, both conflictual and cooperative. It is upon this problem, the relations between projects, that I believe the future of socialism rests.
The relevance of collaborative project as a unit for social change today, at this juncture, reflects the developments in the productive forces themselves. Just as parties have become ineffectual in bringing about fundamental social change, capitalist firms have changed their form in ways reflective of the changing demands of our times. The Left itself now already looks like so many independent projects. That’s life! The communist party which was able to coordinate the activity of millions of members is gone long, long ago, along with the great capitalist firm which directly employed all the people who worked for it. Projects have become the real unit of social formation, not in theory, but in social reality.
A project is a collaboration. I call projects ‘collaborative’ because in projects numbers of autonomous individuals collaborate towards universal, though ever changing, ends. But the more important aspect of collaboration is that between projects. Collaboration as such means projects fusing together in a common endeavour and sharing a common identity. Collaboration between projects in which the separate identity is maintained include: colonisation (or philanthropy), exchange (or bargaining) and solidarity. (Note that solidarity here is nothing to do with Durkheim or Weber).
I get the impression that you think that I see the USSR as an ideal to recreate.
As I don't follow why you're talking about income inequality in the USSR.
nimism, we said earlier, neither wants nor for that matter is able to set up an absolute discrimination between value judgments and statements based upon knowledge; for having once assumed that there is an intention, however carefully disguised, present in the universe, what would be the sense of such a distinction? In an objective system the very opposite holds: any confusion of knowledge with values is unlawful, forbidden. But - and this is the crucial point - the logical link which radically binds knowledge and values - this ban, this 'first commandment' which ensures the foundation of objective knowledge, itself is not, and cannot be, objective. It is a moral rule, a discipline. True knowledge is ignorant of values, but it has to be grounded on a value judgment, or rather on an axiomatic value. It is obvious that the positing of the principle of objectivity as the condition of true knowledge constitutes an ethical choice and not a judgment reached from knowledge, since, according to the postulate's own terms, there cannot have been any 'true' knowledge prior to this arbitral choice. In order to establish the norm for knowledge the objectivity principle defines a value: that value is objective knowledge itself. To assent to the principle of objectivity is, thus, to state the basic proposition of an ethical system: the ethic of knowledge.
The concept of truth is linked with the moral concepts of honesty and sincerity. Truth is the aim of science and honesty is the ideal of moral motivation. Fruitful studies in science and philosophy are impossible where fear of the consequences of thinking is stronger than the love of truth. Truth is authenticated knowledge and knowledge is strength, the greatest strength of all. It cannot be destroyed by prisons, penal servitude, the gallows, the guillotine, or the stake. The burning bush of truth will never burn out. Giordano Bruno died at the stake in the Campo dei Fiori in Rome as a martyr to scientific truth. His body perished in the flames but truth remained, it was indestructible. Although the great majority, misled by all kinds of false arguments, may be against it, truth is bound sooner or later to win through. An ardent and selfless love of truth is often to be found in individuals who are richly endowed morally as well as intellectually.
Ethics and knowledge are inevitably linked in and through action. Action brings knowledge and values simultaneously into play, or into question. All action signifies an ethic, serves or disserves certain values; constitutes a choice of values, or pretends to. On the other hand, knowledge is necessarily implied in all action, while reciprocally, action is one of the two necessary sources of knowledge.
Activity Theory is above all a theory of human flourishing. ‘Human flourishing’ is the usual English translation of the Greek word eudemonia, the central concept of Aristotle’s ethics. As a current of scientific thinking, Activity Theory has the great merit that its central concept – ‘collaborative project’, also often referred to as ‘an activity’ – is equally a descriptive, explanatory and normative concept.
‘Human flourishing’ refers to the enjoyment of a good life, something which bears little relation to the consumption of material goods, is little concerned with rights, but rather with the expansion of a person’s capacity for enjoyment. As Aristotle showed, human flourishing is meaningful only in terms of the collaborative creation of a good life for all human beings.
So activity theory is a scientific theory which is simultaneously an ethical theory. We not only see the world as made up of collaborative projects, and use collaborative projects to promote human flourishing, but we also advocate collaboration as the norm for secular life. The way all people ought to deal with one another is to collaborate with each other in projects.
Causality is fundamentally different from teleology. Causality means that something does not exist for itself but is the effect of another; that other also is the effect of yet another. The concept of causality thus leads to an infinite regress in which nothing exists in and for itself, but is the effect of something else. Causality is thus an extremely limited mode of understanding the world, but nonetheless has a relative truth. All material processes contain causality as moments within itself, but causality cannot attain the level of a social practice. Causality must pass through the stage of ‘reciprocity’ in which the chain of cause and effect ‘bends back on to itself’ so that the entire process becomes equally both cause and effect, and through this it may become a causa sui, a cause of itself, a self-sustaining process, though not necessarily a teleological process.
But human purposive activity can never be deemed simply an effect of a cause.
For example, the defence counsel may plead that their client’s crime was a result of their disturbed childhood, and consequently the client is not responsible for the crime. A politician witnessing the case may agree and take action to protect children and reduce poverty, but were the judge to excuse the defendant on this basis it would amount to treating them as less than human, as not responsible for their actions, which are consequently always the effect of some external cause. Lack of knowledge of relevant conditions may limit responsibility, and the question as to whether a teleological or causal explanation of the defendant’s behavior is appropriate may be a complex problem for the court.
The distinction between teleology and causality in each case is not cut and dry, but the principle is clear enough: insofar as a response to a situation passes through a thinking consciousness, it is teleological not causal. Nothing forces a person to make any particular response to their situation; they simply have certain options. Hegel takes the whole of the Philosophy of Right to elaborate how the will can become genuinely and fully free, and it entails not just the powers of an individual but a social transformation. Nonetheless, insofar as a person weighs their options and has insight into their own desires and the conditions of their action, then only an account of their will formation can make their action intelligible. An enquiry into the conditions in which they acted can make their action intelligible only to the extent of showing what would be rational response. But the person must still decide and their response may not be rational.
So when, for example, my male chauvinism confronts your feminism, it is not true that both are equally true, nor that the truth of each are incommensurable, or that the truth of each is in my life and your life, or yours is true for middle-class Western women and mine for backward males, nor surely that "truth" is meaningless, or something trivial that interests only dogmatists!? Nor that I make a better, more convincing, politically-correct defence of my position which is published in a reputable journal, or vice versa, or that I get more votes than you. But nor can I make the claim that my idea reflects what objectively exists, independently of human experience and yours not - what an absurdity! Perhaps we can say that yours is liberatory and mine repressive, and although neither is true, one is good and the other is bad, and that is all that matters? Perhaps we could settle the matter by arm-wrestling?
We must not get this question confused with the right of an individual to hold a view. This is of course a basic bourgeois right. But that is not the point; I do not thank you for allowing me the right to walk across a mine-field. I am interested in whether my idea of the best way home is objectively correct or not.
The structuralists were right when they identified the location of truth in the social practice of a culture, but limited by the conception of culture in anthropological static isolation (dynamic, static or partial "equilibrium"). The truth and error of my view and your view (continuing the metaphor from above) is a really-existing patriarchal society of which we are both a living part and which is undergoing transformation under the impact of the socialisation of women's labour and your struggle for the value of your labour. That is the source of the concepts (of "feminism", "male-chauvinism", "sexist language", etc.), that is the criterion of truth and that is what is changed by the material struggle of our ideas, that is the meaning.
Some theoretical propositions may be directly confirmed and put into practice (for example, the geologists' assumption that there is uranium ore in a certain place at a certain depth). Others have to be practically confirmed by extremely circuitous ways, involving long or short intermediate links, through other sciences, through the applied fields of know ledge, through the revolutionary action of the masses, whose effect may show only years later. This is how certain mathematical ideas, the propositions of theoretical physics, biology, psychology, sociology, philosophy, history, aesthetic theory, and so on, take effect. Everything that is truly scientific must inevitably, directly or indirectly, sooner or later, be realised in life.
late wrote:The more power is concentrated into the hands of a few people, the worse off everyone else is.
I learned that in 1973, when I went to Franco's Spain, and Soviet dominated Hungary.
Income inequality is just an easy metric to illustrate that.
Presvias wrote:Of course, despite both your truthful and excellent posts, wells feels the need to overlook the points, or simply ignore them and talk down to you and imply that you're dishonest. A weak aegument but all too common on this "black is white" forum. I notice your avatar got deleted too the black is white thing is just too apt lol..
Of course, despite both your truthful and excellent posts, wells feels the need to overlook the points, or simply ignore them and talk down to you and imply that you're dishonest. A weak argument but all too common on this "black is white" forum. I notice your avatar got deleted too the black is white thing is just too apt lol..
Julian658 wrote:The analysis of capitalism by Marx is brilliant, on the money, and very compelling for young people (who never experienced it) in every generation. The problems is not the analysis of capitalism: The problem is the solutions-----they do not work.
Wellsy wrote:I've been getting hints to it's nature but I'm wondering what insight others might bring to the subject.
Julian658 wrote:Marxists operate on the principle that the ' the end justifies the means". Hence truth is to be altered or twisted as needed.
In opposition both to Stalin’s teleology of historical progress and to Kant’s ahistorical categorical imperative, MacIntyre suggested that we should look for a ‘theory which treats what emerges in history as providing us with a basis for our standards, without making the historical process morally sovereign or its progress automatic’.28 He went on to argue that if Marxists were to make human actions intelligible then they should, contra Kant, follow Aristotle in linking ethics to human desires.29
But Stalinism treated Marxist theory as the discovery of the objective and unchangeable laws of history, and glorified the party bureaucrats as the men who possessed the knowledge which enabled and entitled them to manipulate the rest of mankind’.40
Trotsky’s pamphlet Their Morals and Ours was a brilliant attempt to elaborate a socialist ethic. In refuting the Stalinist maxim of “the End justifies the Means” Trotsky proposed an Ethic which evaluated actions by reference to history.
However, there is another understanding of morality which should not be forgotten. This is the sense of morality in which morality is linked with certain virtues, excellences, or flourishing ways of living. In this sense, morality is not primarily concerned with rules and principles, but with the cultivation of certain dispositions or traits of character. This view has been expressed in this way: ‘The moral law ... has to be expressed in the form, “be this”, not in the form, “do this” ... the true moral law says “hate not”, instead of “kill not”...... the only mode of stating the moral law must be a rule of character.’  This, I believe, is quite close to Marx’s views.
Accordingly, Marx avoids (certain) ‘moral words’ not only because their use has been appropriated by moralists (as noted above), but also because he has different concerns than most modern moral philosophers. Usually morality tells us not to steal, kill, lie, cheat, commit adultery, etc. But what about the people to whom this is told? What if they have been transformed into commodities, into (say) the equivalent of hats (MECW, 6:125)? What if their labour or activity is itself treated as a commodity (MECW, 6:113, 125)? What if the crafts they learn are but forms of craft-idiocy (MECW, 6:190), and they are abased in the process (MECW, 6:201)? How do any of these things count in morality? Marx speaks, for example, of one’s feelings towards the dwelling in which one lives — does one find it a natural or an alien environment which one can have only in so far as one gives up blood and sweat on it (MECW, 3:314)? He speaks of activity in direct association with others becoming a means for expressing one’s own life (MECW, 3:301). He criticises money for ‘overturning and confounding ... all human and natural qualities’ (MECW, 3:324-5). In essence, Marx believes that it is crucial to push beyond the rules and principles of an ethics of duty to the underlying realities which constitute and form people’s daily lives. Morality has tended to demand that we act in certain ways, whereas the daily life we really live has told us other things. What we are, the nature our characters and dispositions take in society, is, Marx suggests, what is crucial and of immediate (moral) significance. The rules of duty and obligation seem remote to such concerns. Indeed, even some who defend an ethics of duty have noted this remoteness. Thus, they have expressed their consternation ‘that so many admirable people live by something other than a sense of moral obligation ... that what takes primacy in the lives of such people ... is not ... a sense of moral duty . . . but an ideal of being virtuous. ...’  That traditional morality, the ethics of duty, is separated from the underlying concerns of daily life is a crucial part of Marx’s attack on ethics and morality. One basis for life and another for science is a lie, Marx claims. Marx does not seek a morality that is separated from other crucial areas of life, but a view of life which would unify our daily concerns and our moral concerns. In so viewing the subject of his concern, Marx looks at morality more broadly than is often done today.
The conformity of idea with object is called usually the “truth.” Spinoza, however, considered this conformity to be only denominatio extrinseca of truth [8, vol. 2, p. 447]. The habitual definition of truth as adaequatio intellectus et rei expresses the nature of truth as little as Plato’s “two-footed animal without feathers” expresses the nature of human being. “A true idea must agree with its object” is a mere axiom for Spinoza [8, vol. 1, p. 410]. This feature is certainly belongs to any true idea, but it is not the “agreement” that makes it true. And false ideas do agree with some real object as well.
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