The Uses of Radicalism

The Uses of Radicalism
tolstoy
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#31 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jun 6, 2011 - 6:14 AM:

Tolstoy was an anarchist that advocated not for radical change (as contradictory as that sounds) He saw all the ego trips and will of man as the source of suffering and proposed a moral revolution. He inspired Gandhi in the Indian revolution and was sort of the precursor to the hippie grin
jamalrob
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#32 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jun 6, 2011 - 6:21 AM:

Yes I understand. You might be interested in this recent topic of mine, which explores what is effectively a damning criticism of that kind of politically disengaged anarchism, e.g. the hippie communes.

Mind you, I wouldn't put Gandhi in the same box as the hippies. Give him some credit!
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#33 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jun 6, 2011 - 7:29 AM:

jamalrob wrote:
What is the Marxist position? First of all, class conflict is the fundamental motor of change, and from this (classical or orthodox) point of view I suppose that the extent of the radicalism of an individual or group (class) must be a function of their class consciousness; and the present lack of political radicalism would then be seen as owing to widespread false consciousness, wherein real social relations are obscured. How far does this theory work in today's world?


I think it works well. We can see, even in the most detailed postmodern philosophy (that traces itself back to Marx and Freud, I should add), that modern human beings are still highly constructed, external beings: we conceive of ourselves in certain ways, mainly based on what others expect of us. Your job is still very, very important in defining who you are, and the pleasant dressage of "my views" and "my values" is played upon by politicians (Davey Cameron does this a lot). We are told that we must be individuals, that we must "be ourselves" ... yet "yourself" is still a construction of society. In The German Ideology, Marx half-paraphrases Herodotus by saying "It shows that circumstances make men just as much as men make circumstances." This is as true today as it ever was - perhaps more so. I think Marx, at base, saw the individual as being thoroughly shaped by the society in which he lives, and that ideas of "self", "soul" and the like are productions of the whole, not the individual.

I reckon Karl wouldn't be too surprised at the modern world. He'd probably spend all day watching adverts on TV, and admiring the moderately sophisticated ways advertisers get people to buy things (the psychological pleasantness of nostalgia, for example, or the equivocation of a product with social status). In our own sceptered isle, you can still see class conflict in the widespread use of the word "chav", which is essentially just a derogatory term for people who don't have much money. Marx may have been surprised at how many people consider themselves to be "middle class" - but I don't think he'd be shocked at the sheer size of the lumpenproletariat (which includes not only the unemployed, but all those who work in temporary or unsalaried occupations without employment contracts, pension plans and the like).
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#34 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jun 6, 2011 - 8:13 AM:

Quite amusingly, (Baron) Julian Fellowes complains that toffs are the last group in British society who can be acceptably persecuted. Even if he's right that posh people are discriminated against, I'm not overly concerned, because prejudice against "chavs" is far more widespread, especially in the liberal media. The folk at the Guardian love a bit of righteous right-on chav-bashing - all in the name of good middle-class liberal-left values of course (do I sound bitter?).

Much of it has an insufferably moralist, holier-than-thou character. For example, out of all proprtion with the facts it's often the working class that gets the blame for climate change, what with their tawdry cheap flights to tawdry cheap destinations (an attitude shared by Scruton, unsurprisingly).

This all goes to show how politically weak, even politically non-existent, the working class has become - a state-of-affairs not helped by progressive liberals who view the lower orders as embarrassing and dangerous. Doesn't Zizek make a similar point somewhere? That the left's snobbish failure to engage with the working class after the end of the Cold War is responsible for the success of right-wing demagogues and populists, who at least appear to address their concerns.

This looks like an interesting book, by Owen Jones: Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

"Moving through Westminster's lobbies and working-class communities from Dagenham to Dewsbury Moor, Jones reveals the increasing poverty and desperation of communities made precarious by wrenching social and industrial change, and all but abandoned by the aspirational, society-fragmenting policies of Thatcherism and New Labour. The chav stereotype, he argues, is used by governments as a convenient figleaf to avoid genuine engagement with social and economic problems, and to justify widening inequality."

Edited by jamalrob on Jun 6, 2011 - 1:54 PM
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#35 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jun 8, 2011 - 7:23 PM:

Marx was able to fold in technological dynamism into a framework of class struggle. The capitalists fetishize machinery, they decide what technologies get built and how they are used. Technological change in Marx's day was in large scale industrial technology. The mechanization of domestic life was not yet visible.

In my view the dominant trend of today is Moore's Law. Electronic equipment develops in all sorts of spontaneous ways. It would be difficult to argue that either the Proletariat or the Bourgeoise (or the middle class) has "control" over the direction of technology in the way that they did in Marx's day.

These days it feels like the entire human race is together in the role of sorcerers apprentice. Our technological economy will destroy the resources on which it now stands. Industrialism immolates itself. With it go many of the ecosystems which mankind has known. The darkest hour is right before the dawn. Genetics, Nanobots, and Artificial intelligence are about to completely transform our entire world. Recall Orgel's Second Rule: evolution is smarter than you are.
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#36 - Quote - Permalink
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Posted Jun 9, 2011 - 2:57 AM:

Son, remember, when you fight to be free, to see things how they are, and not how you'd like them to be!
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#37 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jun 9, 2011 - 8:45 AM:


The darkest hour is right before the dawn.

Genetics, Nanobots, and Artificial intelligence are about to completely transform our entire world. Recall Orgel's Second Rule: evolution is smarter than you are.

How ominous! Or should I say excitng? What are you getting at here? Some kind of cybernetic revolution?

Edited by jamalrob on Jun 9, 2011 - 9:19 AM
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#38 - Quote - Permalink
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Posted Jun 9, 2011 - 9:14 AM:

sheps wrote:

We are told that we must be individuals, that we must "be ourselves" ... yet "yourself" is still a construction of society. In The German Ideology, Marx half-paraphrases Herodotus by saying "It shows that circumstances make men just as much as men make circumstances." This is as true today as it ever was - perhaps more so. I think Marx, at base, saw the individual as being thoroughly shaped by the society in which he lives, and that ideas of "self", "soul" and the like are productions of the whole, not the individual.

I don't disagree, but there's another side of things for Marx. This quotation (which you probably know) from The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte is the crux of the biscuit:

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past."

(Incidentally, this reminds me of Schopnhauer's comment that you can do what you will, but you cannot will what you will)

So I would want to emphasize Marx's belief in human agency: "Men make their own history". As for the self or subject, it may be constructed, but it's none the worse just for that, and we ought to be able to take it for granted. What other ideology is piled on top of it is a different matter. The lesson in terms of radicalism, I suppose, is that all is not lost - at least not for ever.


Edited by jamalrob on Jun 9, 2011 - 9:34 AM
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#39 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jun 9, 2011 - 10:31 AM:

jamalrob wrote:

Since 1994:

  • The South African government has Built 1.2 million homes. In 1994, two-thirds of South African households owned their own homes. Seven years later, this figure has risen to 77%


What are South Africa's immigration and emigration statistics for the past seven years?

  • The government has redistributed more than 2.5 million acres of land


  • To whom has the land been distributed, and from whom has it been taken?

  • Provided running water for 7 million people. Water is now piped into 76% of households, compared to 68% in 1994
  • Provided electricity for 3.5 million. 80% of South African households now have electricity in their homes. In 1994, this figure was only 58%.


  • Both of which could be attributed to the number of newly built homes, which presumably come equipped with both.

  • Spending on education has increased tremendously. In 1994, the government spent R31,8 billion and by 2000, this figure had risen to R51,1 billion. At 6% of the country’s GDP, the country’s investment in education rates among the highest in the world


  • Are the schools segregated by preference?


  • In 1994, 74% of all households had a monthly income of less that R2 499. By 2001, only 62% were still in this category. Higher-income brackets have grown. Households earning a monthly income of R2 500 to R5 999 are up from 16% to 20%, and households that now have a monthly income of over R6 000 are up from 10% to 18%.

    Source


  • That's not adjusted for inflation, so it's negligible.















    jamalrob
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    #40 - Quote - Permalink
    Posted Jun 9, 2011 - 10:47 AM:

    I don't have the answers to your questions, O Chosen One. Suspecting that things had got better in South Africa since 1994 (even aside from the dismantling of the legal structure of apartheid), I lazily grabbed the first data I found.

    I've read that they've done very well to pull the very poorest people out of poverty (though I don't have stats), but otherwise they've had difficulties.
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