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Socialist Humanism

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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Dave B
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#21 Post by Dave B » April 19th, 2012, 5:13 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Have there been any successful large scale, in terms of millions, libertarian socialist communities, Emma? I will leave the definition of "success" to you but it should include personal freedoms plus universal healthcare, education etc. etc.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Tetenterre
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#22 Post by Tetenterre » April 19th, 2012, 7:29 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:I get the impression that you're talking about what has happened in practice, rather than actual compatibility.
I am certainly talking about what has happened in practice; anything else is just pie-in-the-sky flim-flam (IMO, of course). I wouid also argue that to be "actual" it has to be based on practice, not theory.

The more authoritarian the form of order, the more it will inhibit freedom. Fascism is authoritarian by definition,
And socialism in practice is just as authoritarian.
Steve

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Dave B
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#23 Post by Dave B » April 19th, 2012, 7:39 pm

Just thinking . . .

Is not any system authoritarian to some degree?

Even anarchy, the supposed lack of all forms of authority, only works if the whole of the anarchic society plays to the same rules - oops, that means that you have to comply to the same thing that everyone else complies to. Is that also not a form of authoritarianism. Serious question there folks, be happy to be told I am wrong! But add the why as well please.
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#24 Post by Tetenterre » April 19th, 2012, 11:23 pm

Dave B wrote:Is not any system authoritarian to some degree?
Probably, but the value of "some" varies a heck of a lot.
Steve

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Dave B
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#25 Post by Dave B » April 20th, 2012, 6:32 am

Point taken, Steve. :D
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phalarope
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#26 Post by phalarope » April 20th, 2012, 8:53 am

What this exchange brings out so far is that there is a multiplicity of socialisms, as there is a variety of humanisms. Emma's postings have been the more perceptive for me so far in that she embraces the potential and possibilities of this variety without being dismissive of the state forms and experiments. It seems to me that socialist humanism can contain all of the possibilities of difference without painting oneself into a corner of excluding e;g, state forms, however failed, or the governmental kinds that have been reformist and self-interested, self-effacing and money grabbing. To dismiss out of hand the potential of diversity of forms within the concept of socialism as a humanist endeavour gets us nowhere. Anyone can drag up the old and pat formulas of why socialism doesn't work, human selfishness, etc,etc, but for my money it is precisely the utopian spirit of experiment, like the kibbutz and communes, that never stales. My idealism may be qualified at every turn but it is why I became a socialist first and humanism second, because the humanism came out of the socialism.

Life's disappointments concerning the soviet model(s), the failed revolutions, the sneers and betrayals of people one trusted, are never far away in my memory, which is why for me humanism came to the rescue and encourages me to hold on to the dream. Dystopian reality is difficult to bear at times. I feel especially disenchanted with the bourgeois anti-spirit of rugged self-individualism and the kind of individualism that Neo-Liberalism spews out every day. The market this, entrepreneurial that, off shore and house boat buccaneering I hear as the loud mouth bragging of vulgar success, or embittered dismissal. The market may be innovative but it's still about getting on at the expense of others. Sure the welfare state hasn't delivered on the ideals but it's still the more preferable route to socialist humanism I can think of, even with all its imperfections. For every skiver and dodger there's a hundred who believe in community and solidarity. Kropotkin was right.

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Re: Socialist Humanism

#27 Post by Tetenterre » April 20th, 2012, 9:44 am

phalarope wrote:To dismiss out of hand the potential of diversity of forms within the concept of socialism as a humanist endeavour gets us nowhere.
Possibly not, but promoting ideals that don't work in practice doesn't get us anywhere either.

... it is precisely the utopian spirit of experiment, like the kibbutz and communes, that never stales.
So why adhere to some species of outmoded "-ism" that has repeatedly been shown to fail? Surely the "utopian spirit of experiment" should lead to new forms of socio-political relationships, not the regurgitation of tired old failed forms like socialism?

Kropotkin was right.
In many ways he was, I agree. You are aware that his sojourn with the Geneva IWA cured him of his socialist tendencies as well? :wink:
Steve

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Re: Socialist Humanism

#28 Post by Nick » April 20th, 2012, 10:11 am

phalarope wrote:The market may be innovative but it's still about getting on at the expense of others.
No it's not. Besides innovation, which we couldn't do without, it's about the more efficient allocation of resources, so that others get what they want too.

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Re: Socialist Humanism

#29 Post by phalarope » April 20th, 2012, 12:10 pm

Are you, T and N, expounders of tired old humanism then? Is humanism also a failed idea? Does it not work in practice? Or is humanism merely what you want it to be, a convenience good that one can taste now and then? It is easy to knock socialism and champion the free market but humanism has to be more than that. I find little in the market that inspires any idealism or can motivate, other than to make profit for the few over the many.

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Re: Socialist Humanism

#30 Post by Nick » April 20th, 2012, 12:51 pm

phalarope wrote:Are you, T and N, expounders of tired old humanism then?
Dunno what you mean by that.... :puzzled:
Is humanism also a failed idea?
No... whay do you write that?
Does it not work in practice? Or is humanism merely what you want it to be, a convenience good that one can taste now and then?
To me, humanism is a perspective on life, not a set of rules. Take a look at the descriptions on the main site.
It is easy to knock socialism
Sure is. It doesn't work.
and champion the free market but humanism has to be more than that. I find little in the market that inspires any idealism or can motivate, other than to make profit for the few over the many.
It is the abandonment of socialism that has lifted billions out of poverty and starvation.

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Re: Socialist Humanism

#31 Post by Tetenterre » April 20th, 2012, 1:05 pm

phalarope wrote:Are you, T and N, expounders of tired old humanism then? Is humanism also a failed idea? Does it not work in practice?
Not expounding anything. As Nick said, humanism is a way of looking at life, i.e. a personal view of what it's all about. Works in practice for me; YMMV.

It is easy to knock socialism
There's a very good reason for that.

and champion the free market
I didn't think I'd even mentioned the free market. But, since you bring it up, my view (a poor thing, but mine own :smile: ) is that I am somewhat suspicious of the concept of absolutely free markets (with little to base the suspicion on except a prejudice born of mind-boggling ignorance, since AFAIK it's never been tried in practice), but there's very little that is not substantially preferable to socialism (which has been tried and which has been astoundingly unsuccessful).

And we still seem to be wallowing in the false dichotomy swamp...
Steve

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Dave B
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#32 Post by Dave B » April 20th, 2012, 1:15 pm

phalarope wrote:Are you, T and N, expounders of tired old humanism then? Is humanism also a failed idea? Does it not work in practice? Or is humanism merely what you want it to be, a convenience good that one can taste now and then? It is easy to knock socialism and champion the free market but humanism has to be more than that. I find little in the market that inspires any idealism or can motivate, other than to make profit for the few over the many.
I seem to remember that it was mentioned that there is a difference between a personal credo and a social system . . .

Humanity is an attitude to life that, I think, has no boundaries. Even a member of a religious belief can share a great deal with humanists, the things we differ about do not really come into this argument anyway. Equally perhaps we share tenets with socialists, but I would not want to live in a purely socialist country - rather have the mish-mash we have here (though it is leaning too far to the right for my perfect comfort at the moment!)

Things often become a problem when people group together too tightly, rules become rigid, aims become paramount. Then politics creeps in, factions become established . . . "Life of Brian" was a good example, we had the "Judean Liberation Front," "The Liberation Front of Judea" etc. All espousing the same ideals and fighting each other - Python does reflect real life in many ways.

Nothing "old fashioned" with the basic humanist values IMHO. Those who want "socialist humanism" are free to develop that ideal, and that is not a typo for "idea". Humanism is an ideal as well and the all we can do it attain the best approximation to it that the world and our abilities allow us. Make it conform to another structure and it may distort until it loses its coherency.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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lewist
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#33 Post by lewist » April 20th, 2012, 1:18 pm

I'm almost getting interested in this.
Nick wrote:
It is easy to knock socialism
Sure is. It doesn't work.
That would be like capitalism, Nick, the economic creed of greed that was brought into disrepute by Conservative governments in the 1980s? These people wrecked the morals of the nations. We are still living with the results of their doctrinaire lunacy.

I have to say, however, that Humanism is not really tied to a political system. It is possible to be Nationalist, Labour, Libdem or Conservative, (not that there are many of them in this country) and still be a Humanist, because Humanism is not really about politics. There are other political systems that may not lend themselves to Humanist views, such as the BNP, Scottish Christians, UKIP and the like, because they would not espouse the moral views that Humanists would hold.
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

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Re: Socialist Humanism

#34 Post by phalarope » April 20th, 2012, 2:55 pm

Steve, you are being naughty when you suggest that Kropotkin was cured 'of his socialist tendencies'. What treatment would you propose for little old socialist me then? Prayer? Isolation? A padded cell? :puzzled:

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Re: Socialist Humanism

#35 Post by Dave B » April 20th, 2012, 3:08 pm

I took it to mean, like the communist mayor of an Italian town in the 60s, the experience of the actuality of the system was sufficient for him to reject it - not an imposed "cure" by another person but reality hitting home after the experience!
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#36 Post by Tetenterre » April 20th, 2012, 3:21 pm

phalarope wrote:Steve, you are being naughty when you suggest that Kropotkin was cured 'of his socialist tendencies'.
Not at all; I was merely repeating (in my own words) what Kropotkin himself reported (although I can't recall where; possibly Mutual Aid).
What treatment would you propose for little old socialist me then? Prayer? Isolation? A padded cell? :puzzled:
Oh, I don't know, the choice is so limited nowadays, but a year or so in either the Lao People's Democratic Republic or Democratic People's Republic of Korea might do the trick.
Steve

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animist
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#37 Post by animist » April 20th, 2012, 9:00 pm

Saying that all societies are authoritarian recognises that society places some limit on us as individuals so that we don't get in each other's way too much, and it backs this up by the authority of laws and sanctions, but genuinely authoritarian societies are usually police states with elites of some sort who use the trappings of authority to maintain their control. Putting it another way, democracy recognises authority, but it is there with the consent of the governed.

I suppose that humanism requires that we are not subject to this sort of authority which in some way serves an elite, whether it is the inner party of Orwell's "1984" or some more traditional nexus of church, state and army, as in Franco's Spain. In total opposition to this nightmare, anarchism does seem intrinsically humanistic, as Emma said, but it is also very hard to establish anarchism (almost an oxymoron) in an advanced complex society; maybe the Internet could help us to form tiny anarchistic societies (but I wouldn't hold my breath).

Socialism seems to favour equality rather than freedom, communism still more so. Capitalism is the reverse (but how far real freedom for most people is possible under conditions of great inequality is a problem for capitalist democracy), while fascism has neither equality nor freedom. The trouble with socialism is that, unlike anarchism, it requires a strong government to achieve, and also maintain, equality; on the other hand, one could view socialism as a sort of synonym for societies which prioritise equality, and thus anarchism and communism (at least in the Marxist form which has dominated debate) could be seen as diametrically opposed ways of trying to achieve this utopian socialist state. Extreme laissez-faire individualism which some Americans (like Ron Paul) favour might seem to shade into anarchism - but of course without the equality. Moving further into fantasy, how would an anarchist society maintain equality, Emma, once it were somehow established? Would individual property be totally abolished? Including toothbrushes?

Phalarope may be confusing socialism with the welfare state, which is compatible with capitalism. There simply does not seem to be the desire in most contemporary societies for the sort of equality that socialism, in whatever form, requires; a much more relevant concern is basic social and economic equality BETWEEN societies (which unfortunately means nations) and we do not seem motivated to achieve even that, on the basis of what one reads about the perils of "excessive" immigration from poor societies to rich ones. Mentioning this reminds me that a lot of arguments (eg in TH) between socialists and others presupposes that a socialist state would be there in a sea of non-socialist ones (echoing the old debate between Stalin and Trotsky over socialism in one country). It does seem indeed difficult to rein in bankers' salaries if they can simply respond by moving to somewhere less socialistic, so how could we collectively move away from this trap?

But what of the future? I must admit that I see global warming, bad as the prospect is in itself, just possibly as a way in which perspectives might change in a humanistic way and in favour of real equality between the rich countries and the poor. For one thing, given that (apart from Australia) it is the poor regions of the world which will be worst hit, there is likely to be increasing pressure on populations to emigrate from the poor world to the rich, causing all sorts of problems. What if some poor countries get hold of nuclear weapons as well as suffering the effects of global warming? - I have a sneaking hope that Iran may do this and end the blackmail which the US and Israel exert over the Middle East. Maybe the rich world, which will also be affected by GW and may at last run out of oil, will for lots of reasons realise that it must change its ways, limiting consumption and all these wonderful dynamic markets and accepting at last that our world's resources are limited and need to be shared - but maybe not. The future is always very different from what one might expect - which is why Marx, along with virtually all great thinkers, was such an asshole!

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Re: Socialist Humanism

#38 Post by Dave B » April 20th, 2012, 9:06 pm

Was Marx really the ashole or was it the assholes who perverted his ideas?

It is not usually that perversion of ideals for personal advantage that ruins the game for all? From totalitarian "Marxist" regimes through corrupt politicians to greedy bankers? Every country has one kind or another.
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#39 Post by animist » April 20th, 2012, 9:16 pm

Dave B wrote:Was Marx really the ashole or was it the assholes who perverted his ideas?

It is not usually that perversion of ideals for personal advantage that ruins the game for all? From totalitarian "Marxist" regimes through corrupt politicians to greedy bankers? Every country has one kind or another.
the trouble with revolutions like that in Russia is that they overestimate how much anyone knows about society and the human nature behind it. Marx thought he understood this but he didn't, so how could any implementation of his ideas have worked? Russia was anyway the wrong country to do it - he assumed that the first communist societies would be advanced industrial ones like Britain or Germany

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Re: Socialist Humanism

#40 Post by Dave B » April 20th, 2012, 9:44 pm

40 years, or more, since I read "Das Kapital . . ." (along with Virgil's "The Aeneid", and Plato's "The Republic" and a load of other stuff that was considered trendy at the time.) Might put it on my Kindle as bed time reading should I end up in hospital for a spell. :laughter:

Tried "Mein Kampf" but it was too much of a struggle.
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Re: Socialist Humanism

#41 Post by animist » April 20th, 2012, 9:50 pm

Dave B wrote: Tried "Mein Kampf" but it was too much of a struggle.
:hilarity: capital!

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