Thread: Are poor americans too scared and too shy to become marxists?

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  1. #41
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    The part I donít understand is the need for a specific way of understanding this. Like I said I assume this is more often the case than not. Also Iím personally less interested in why someone working shit jobs and hating it would be interested in revolutionary politics than why so many people who hate it donít see any revolutionary possibility.
  2. #42
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    Ahh. Well I don't know. Of course it looks strange from the other part of the divide. Knowing that your life is shitty is one thing. One might want change, but not fully believe in it. One might convince themself that things will get better if they just keep working at it. We are encouraged to internalize our suffering at all times, we pretty much do it unreflectively.

    It varies between people no doubt. One person will react instantly to lousy treatment. Another will have so low sense of self-worth that they don't feel they even have the right to make demands.
    Someone might take action, but it leads them down a blind alley. And this discovery might have them give up altogether.

    Revolutionary propaganda needs to inspire. What I have talked about is true for me on a personal level. That's what it has to do, it has to speak to people directly. How I formulate what I care about, it is finding purpose, finding true human connection, not being hemmed in, etc. The way some revolutionaries speak, it's like whole dimensions of life are non-existent to them. It's all about production and bla bla. Which looks as though it gets at a more fundamental reality, but in practice only makes things more abstract.

    You could tell me though that only in Communism can these things I desire be realized, and that is indeed where I am placing my wager at the moment.

    Still, I agree it is strange what you talk about. The Marxian thesis is very simple at the outset, and I do believe everybody knows on some level that their work is stolen from them. But as we know Power has an endless arsenal of justifications for it. They have a counter ready for every argument. And questioning the common sense puts you in the territory of uncertainty. Someone wavering on the threshold might just sheepishly go "Maybe you're right..." and waver back. The intertia of habit is tremendous.
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  4. #43
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    Which looks as though it gets at a more fundamental reality, but in practice only makes things more abstract.
    On the contrary: Marxian theory doesn't look like insight into fundamental reality because it tends to approach practical matters in an abstract way. Marx's rhetorical gifts enabled him to write for audiences of the largest size, but that doesn't mean his insights into fundamental reality can necessarily become obvious on a first reading, especially to those who are ideologically blinkered. To identify this very circumstance as practically irrelevant is then to ignore what I claim to be an objective (and grave) difficulty: however much individuals know that they are ripped off by their employers, they do not necessarily know how to show that this injustice isn't accidental or contingent but constitutes the whole logic of our mode of production. As a result, nothing is easier than dismissing a worker's socialist politics as the propagation of a self-serving 'victim narrative', a charge which not only contradicts this socialist worker's views but surreptitiously changes the object of debate from the social totality to the worker's particular case. Those who would defend the status quo thereby prolong their denial (on the basis of professional economists in public settings, but privately and more realistically on the basis of plausible deniability or–-expressed in the garb of shame-faced rhetoric-–the 'scientific virtue of skepticism') of systemic capitalist exploitation into ruthless character assassination of each and every worker who formulates the unconcealed (and frequently brazenly advertised, as if to accentuate the naked power of a capitalist class whose rule is supposed to be consensual) facts of the matter. Such ruses will never convince individuals that they do not suffer injustices, but their repeated deployment may be quite effective in discouraging individuals from making political claims about universal features of social relations.

    Meanwhile, the individual's same failure to link her experienced certainties to abstractions about universal social relations also makes her vulnerable to those whose class positions and instincts make them contemptuous of working class people and who naturally view communist principles, especially when they are voiced by workers, as a form of 'poor taste', thus conveying the impression that they represent a hypothetical communist society to themselves as literally the rule of janitors over management. In dialogue, these upperclass loyalists tend toward a 'philosophical' defense of capitalism on the incredibly convenient grounds that "human nature" only responds to "material incentives", as if they piously hoped all the janitors could one day become managers themselves, and as if they hadn't really hired the janitors in order to clean their stuff. The ultimate if tacit recourse for those bourgeois most committed to class struggle but least willing to concede the existence of classes in the first place is predictably if vacuously unanswerable: they imply that if the workers had been bourgeois instead, their 'human nature' too would dictate cynical renunciation of communism.

    What this means, I think, is not that the proletariat exists out there in the world dumbly waiting for communist inspiration, but that it must be made, 'created' in the first place: class consciousness too is something that must be produced, and historically its production has cost an often prohibitive quantity of 'socially necessary labor-time'. Once it has been produced, however, (and before it has been beaten down again) the proletariat comprises a collectivity in which individuals can reliably expect that their various personal difficulties will be understood as directly related to when not produced by prevailing social relations. Just as much, the proletariat is a collectivity in which hope for a better future is justly grasped as the polar opposite of the autistic messianism of cults. To such a collectivity, abstraction must become second nature. And how could it be otherwise? To master their future humans must learn to abstract from their past: that is the pedagogy of freedom.
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  6. #44
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    ckaihatsu: It seems as if we are talking past each other. You say that I cannot transpose what is true for me subjectively onto the "objective" surrounding reality. I am saying that the subjective world I inhabit must ultimately be tied to the objective world, and to every other subjective world, since every subjective world belongs to a human living in the objective world, and is the objective world seen through its eyes.

    This being so, what you do subjectively you do in the context of an environment constructed by humans, of relations with other humans. What you subjectively think is you reacting to and interpreting this environment. This is how "the personal is political", this is how it is illusory to think that you can have some place that is just "your own world", independent of everything that goes into constructing the environment that forms you as a subject.

    As for eating pizza and watching a movie - how does the pizza and the movie get to me? How am I able to receive the signal to watch the movie? How is it that a person living in Scandinavia can eat pizza and watch an American movie, on a TV set made in Japan? You want to tell me that I am compartmentalized here?

    Of course, people act AS IF what they do has no connection with anything else, but this is an illusion. An illusion made real through their acting as if it's true.

    You do seem confused, because you gave an example of how you care about the toil that corporate use of natural resources takes on the environment, despite the fact that you live in a city. This, you said, means that the state of the natural environment has NO OVERLAP with you. I mean just look at the disconnect here!
  7. #45
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    ckaihatsu: It seems as if we are talking past each other.

    You say that I cannot transpose what is true for me subjectively onto the "objective" surrounding reality.

    This is a false claim, perardua -- I've *never* said this, and you should at least provide an excerpt from my writing as backing for whatever claim you happen to make about me.



    I am saying that the subjective world I inhabit must ultimately be tied to the objective world, and to every other subjective world, since every subjective world belongs to a human living in the objective world, and is the objective world seen through its eyes.

    Look, I'm not going to be the one to shit on your religion, but that *is* what it is -- some religious-type liberalish concept of 'being connected to everyone'. There's no basis in reality for thinking that 'the subjective world I inhabit must ultimately be tied ... to every other subjective world', in any direct sense. Sure, if you want to say we're all floating on top of the same pool, or some other metaphor for the common experience-sharing of the overall objective world, then, sure, no problem.

    But you're accusing me of somehow 'locking you out' of the objective surrounding reality, based on your own experiences and particular subjective reality, when I make no such contention of that sort whatsoever. If you can find instances in your own experiences that help you to describe and understand the larger objective reality of the world, then go for it! I'm not the guy who's standing in your way.



    This being so, what you do subjectively you do in the context of an environment constructed by humans, of relations with other humans.

    Certainly -- this goes for any one of us.



    What you subjectively think is you reacting to and interpreting this environment. This is how "the personal is political", this is how it is illusory to think that you can have some place that is just "your own world", independent of everything that goes into constructing the environment that forms you as a subject.

    Of course -- but just experiencing life on a very individualistic basis is *hardly* political, so I can't agree with your 'the personal is political' aphorism. To me politics is basically a 'realm' above our individual heads, with its own unique qualities and characteristics (like the class divide), that must be interacted with, as on an Internet discussion board like RevLeft, for any kind of 'political' participation.

    The subject matter is not really particular to any individual, you or me, but deals with the larger objective reality that is common to us all -- 'politics'.

    That said, I *do* make an exception for those whose lives have been disproportionately impacted by this larger societal whole, like for the parents whose children have been killed by cops or the military, but this kind of thing doesn't happen to *everyone*.



    As for eating pizza and watching a movie - how does the pizza and the movie get to me? How am I able to receive the signal to watch the movie? How is it that a person living in Scandinavia can eat pizza and watch an American movie, on a TV set made in Japan? You want to tell me that I am compartmentalized here?

    Well, I was speaking *experientially* -- within the context of the 'personal sphere'. If you want to track down material inputs, then that's more of a socio-political-material investigation, which is valid, of course, but is clearly *tangential* to the issue of whatever is purely personally experiential.

    I'm not accusing you of being 'too compartmentalized' -- if anything, I'm arguing for a *stricter* practice of compartmentalization in general, among the three main 'realms' of 'lifestyle (personal) - logistics - politics':


    History, Macro-Micro -- politics-logistics-lifestyle






    ---



    Of course, people act AS IF what they do has no connection with anything else, but this is an illusion. An illusion made real through their acting as if it's true.

    Okay, so now you're referencing the 'subjective social reality' scale, as represented in the following diagram:


    Worldview Diagram






    But you're not acknowledging that, at some times, people *are* acting individually, on the basis of their own individuality, and that such is valid. Sure, we're all socialized into the world as it existed during our respective childhoods, and that anything 'material' (in the broadest sense of the term) results from social connections (again in the broadest sense of the term). One's own particular *experience*, though, can be said to be 'individualistic', as through the dynamic of consumption (pizza-and-a-movie) -- *which* pizza, which toppings, what day of the week, what time, what mood, who with, what movie, etc. (This corresponds to the 'Event' level of social dynamics as seen in the first graphic of this post.)



    You do seem confused, because you gave an example of how you care about the toil that corporate use of natural resources takes on the environment, despite the fact that you live in a city. This, you said, means that the state of the natural environment has NO OVERLAP with you. I mean just look at the disconnect here!

    Well, it's the modern condition -- living in a city *does* make for a certain disconnection from nature since flora is mostly replaced by concrete.

    There's no confusion from my end of things.
  8. #46
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    Right. I am beginning to see how we're sort of discussing different realms of conception. Sorry for dragging you into this again - I have read and considered your post but if you don't mind I'd like to round off this discussion, because I seriously have to take a break from message boarding.

    Two small points though:
    1. I was not talking about some obscure, New Agey "feeling of oneness", but while the EXPERIENCE of an individual might be one of being separate, there is the very CONCRETE fact that you as a human in society is necessarily connected to the others in society - through your daily activities and everything facilitating those activities, through your formation as a person which was made in the context of other people and a society made by those people etc. etc.
    2. If you have to breathe air, drink water and eat things grown in the earth, how is then the health of the natural environment not of very real, immediate interest to you? How does it not, in other words, directly overlap with your existence?
  9. #47
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    Right. I am beginning to see how we're sort of discussing different realms of conception. Sorry for dragging you into this again - I have read and considered your post but if you don't mind I'd like to round off this discussion, because I seriously have to take a break from message boarding.

    Okay, no prob -- I'll be here for whenever you *do* want to continue.



    Two small points though:
    1. I was not talking about some obscure, New Agey "feeling of oneness", but while the EXPERIENCE of an individual might be one of being separate, there is the very CONCRETE fact that you as a human in society is necessarily connected to the others in society - through your daily activities and everything facilitating those activities, through your formation as a person which was made in the context of other people and a society made by those people etc. etc.

    Sure, no contention.

    But you're stepping away from your thesis that:



    [T]he subjective world I inhabit must ultimately be tied ... to every other subjective world, since every subjective world belongs to a human living in the objective world, and is the objective world seen through [their] eyes.

    So just because we all share the larger objective world in common doesn't mean that we're all 'tied to every other subjective world'. This is the part that sounds rather wacky.


    ---



    2. If you have to breathe air, drink water and eat things grown in the earth, how is then the health of the natural environment not of very real, immediate interest to you? How does it not, in other words, directly overlap with your existence?

    Well, for example, what if food could be created fully *synthetically* so that natural growing processes were obviated altogether -- ? Then food-consumption determination *would* continue to be a social thing at some level (getting feedstock materials), but perhaps full production of food -- like from a 3D printer -- would *not* depend on nature *or* even on others, if one could somehow provide one's own feedstock materials and supply of electricity.

    More regularly, of course I'm not anti-nature, and presently I *do* depend on natural processes indirectly to get resulting food within the urban environment. The 'Worldview Diagram' from post #45 illustrates the fact that we're *all* circumscribed by nature (since we're organic beings depending on organic natural processes).
  10. #48
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    Politics is EVERYWHERE.

    Watching a movie- not political????????????

    Can someone name a movie that is not political???? I will name three movies off the top of my head.....

    Jingle Bells (with Arnold Schwarzenneger)
    The Lion King
    The Jungle Book

    I am quite certain...... that if someone like Zizek watched those movies, they could find all sorts of political content.

    Politics is everywhere. The idea that you can make some sort of clean split between that which is non-political and that which is political..... it is just not correct. The political is everywhere. And its arena encompasses the totality of reality.
  11. #49
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    Default Are poor americans too scared and too shy to become marxists?

    Sure, ideology is everywhere in the culturally constructed world, but how does watching a movie matter in terms advancing freedom or power for me as a worker?

    Also, whatís wrong with escapism? What does the movieís plot context matter ultimately. Idk, it seems like the meta-context of Hollywood is that it used to be a cheap way for workers to escape for an afternoon and enjoy what they donít get from work: opulent wealth (or production values if the characters arenít wealthy themselves), scenes of alcohol during prohibition, anti-social behavior for the pent up anger of the neoliberal era, restorative-vengeance, fulfilling work, true love, ideal communities, being a tough man or woman who doesnít have to take shit from anyone, world-travel. Itís like the commodification of all the things we lack on a daily basis. Itís also fun and enjoyable imo. But it doesnít do much for my situation in life.
  12. #50
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    Politics is EVERYWHERE.

    Watching a movie- not political????????????

    Can someone name a movie that is not political???? I will name three movies off the top of my head.....

    Jingle Bells (with Arnold Schwarzenneger)
    The Lion King
    The Jungle Book

    I am quite certain...... that if someone like Zizek watched those movies, they could find all sorts of political content.

    Politics is everywhere. The idea that you can make some sort of clean split between that which is non-political and that which is political..... it is just not correct. The political is everywhere. And its arena encompasses the totality of reality.

    Yeah, gotta agree with JH here -- the standard for 'politics' (as noted in the first graphic from post #45) should be *mass-scale-oriented* subject matter, such as addressing economics, technology / technique, the mode of production, and the class struggle itself. Pizza-and-a-movie just wouldn't nearly *approach* such socially important topics, and so would have decisively *zero* impact on the socio-political world -- it's personal, lifestylist, and *not* political itself.

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