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mindshadow
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Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:36 am
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:08 am 
 

I have long been disillusioned with politics, I used to be naive and believed voting for a party would represent the less well off and disadvantaged.

It seems hard to believe that todays career politicians represent the very people who voted them into power, maybe with globalization and our dependance on other countries for their resources, it is no longer possible - though shouldn't they explain this?

What and when did things go wrong, or has it always been the same? What was Karl Marx's vision for the future, not knowing much about him or his beliefs, could those who are familiar with the (fascinating) subject contribute their views? (or even those who are just interested).

What are the Ideologies, meanings, and myths that surround him, was he someone who should be respected or despised? Who are some other people who have been very influential politically, for whatever reason, throughout history?

I don't want this thread to deteriote into a slanging match between different political views, neither will I be adding much ( as I can't), I simply wish to learn from others who are more knowledgable, about people who have had highly influential views and beliefs on society.
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iAm
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:39 am 
 

From what little I've read of Marx he seems to be much more concerned with the present, and not quite idealistic in nature.
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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:21 pm 
 

I no expert on this subject, but I've recently informed myself a bit so here's what I hopefully got right:

Materialism is the notion that the material world dominates the intellectual world in that human ideas, theories and worldviews are determined by real world necessities or conditions rather than vice versa. Marx' theory is fundamentally materialistic but his main concept is that of human practice/activity, of which activity of the mind is just a sub-category.

Dialectic is an argumentative method that aims to a reach a critical synthesis out of a thesis and a opposing antithesis and generate/extract truth this way. In Marx' materialism dialectic means that material conditions can conflict with human practice but that human activity also changes the material world. A synthesis would be a harmony between activity and material world, but such a synthesis is delayed by the persistence of ideas and conventions. An example for this would be pre-revolutionary france. In that place and time two things were dominant: The persistence of the feudal system and the beginning of the industrial age. Obviously the feudal system is the fitting human practice for a predominantly agricultural production, but not for an industrial one. The aspiring burgeoisie therefore, in response to the ensuing problems, seized the moment and ended the monarchy/aristocracy, replacing it with a parlamentary system that in turn made capitalism possible (this is painfully simplistic, I know, but my historic knowledge is very limited).

According to Marx, capitalism, already in the early stage that he witnessed, visibly produces the conditions that will lead to its own downfall: The proletarian class, heart and body of the industrial production, experiences a complete alienation from products of their work. The only thing the worker receives is the market value of his working time. Now it is in the interest of the capitalist/industrialist to keep that value as small as possible to maximize profit, leading to a conflict between the existential interest of the worker and the interest of the burgeoisie. This makes the proletariat a potentially revolutionary class and in response there is need for the burgeoisie protect themselves from it. The role of the state in this for example, is to protect capitalist property, which includes the means of production = factories and resources = the materialistic basis of society from the worker. Therefore the protection of property is the central concern of the legal system.

Marx now predicts that the proletariat will in fact, given it is sufficiently organized (through a communist party for example), become a revolutionary class and seize the means of production. Because the class that controls the means of production is the ruling class we now have a ruling class consisting of the majority of the population which results in socialism, because it is in the interest of the ruling class to let itself benefit from production. Socialism is a transitory stage which, as part of the revolution, leads to classless and stateless communism in which humans stop being defined by arbitrary historical events as described above and start rationally shaping society. AFAIK there isn't much more Marx tells us about this communist society because communism is not meant as some utopian vision but rather will develop according to the specific needs that arise. Rather he explains the necessary conditions that may lead to such a society.

***

Now don't mistake me for a communist; not that there would be a problem with that but I just feel like I'm too skeptical for it. While I think that Marx ("Why not give Engels some credit?" "Because. Shut up.") might actually be one of the most valuable and important thinkers of the 19th century, I just don't share his optimism. Explaining society in terms of materialism is essential to properly understanding it, where idealistic philosophy only produces interpretations without practical use beyond individualism and the different sciences cannot see the whole picture. But I feel like Marx predictions might or might not just have been the attempt to motivate the proletarians to actually get their asses up - more along the lines of a "you can do it" without the certainty that it actually works this time.
Western industrial nations - their working class seemingly has lost most of its former potential, probably due to the sucessfull employment of reactionary mechanisms that take away class awareness, even though it sounds kind of cynical to call democracy, welfare and a generally bearable standard of living reactionary methods. Let's remember though that this standard of living is bought with the exploitation of workers in developing nations and the resources of third world countries. Is this where we will find revolutionary classes in the future? Hell if I know.
What's with de facto socialism? It seems to have failed prominently and miserably. Was there ever any chance or are humans just too stupid to do it right? Was it too early? Or is it because the enemy had an unfair advantage? Referee!
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TheOldOne
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:55 pm 
 

I'm not the resident Marxist, and Das Kapital has been moved to the back of my reading list. I did read the Manifesto, though I didn't really find much in it that appealed to me.

My current understanding of Marx's predictions for the future is that he figured that a Capitalist society would lead into a Socialist one, and then the Socialist society would move into Communism. Russia skipped the Capitalist phase (I believe Marx also predicted that could happen in Russia), but they didn't seem able to progress beyond the Socialist stage. And just like China, they're improving in recent years thanks to reforms freeing up the market.

I know that Bakunin was at odds with Marx and his school of thought, he accurately predicted that Marx's desired "Dictatorship of the proletariat" would do little other than replace the ruling class they strove to be free of.

Funny comic symbolizing the bastardization of Marx's work.
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mindshadow
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:19 am 
 

iAm wrote:
From what little I've read of Marx he seems to be much more concerned with the present, and not quite idealistic in nature.


I read a long article about him on-line a few years ago, it stated his views had been warped to suit others agendas, and that he was often mis-quoted. Today when people think of him in a negative light, it is because of this, and how others (regimes) merely pay lip service to his ideals.
That's why I started this thread to find out what the actual man said, rather than others over time, I hoped some, who have studied him, would be able to offer a clearer picture.

inhumanist wrote:
Obviously the feudal system is the fitting human practice for a predominantly agricultural production, but not for an industrial one. The aspiring burgeoisie therefore, in response to the ensuing problems, seized the moment and ended the monarchy/aristocracy, replacing it with a parlamentary system

According to Marx, capitalism, already in the early stage that he witnessed, visibly produces the conditions that will lead to its own downfall: The proletarian class, heart and body of the industrial production, experiences a complete alienation from products of their work. The only thing the worker receives is the market value of his working time. Now it is in the interest of the capitalist/industrialist to keep that value as small as possible to maximize profit, leading to a conflict between the existential interest of the worker and the interest of the burgeoisie. This makes the proletariat a potentially revolutionary class and in response there is need for the burgeoisie protect themselves from it. The role of the state in this for example, is to protect capitalist property, which includes the means of production = factories and resources = the materialistic basis of society from the worker. Therefore the protection of property is the central concern of the legal system.


You offer some thought provoking theories, it wouldn't surprise me if some group of people were responsible for these drastic changes and we think it was purely a "peasant revolt", if only poor, brave Wat Tyler had had a different outcome (I respect our Queen, not many of the others - especially throughout history - and she has little to no influence on political matters). I read that some of the more recent world emcompassing wars were started for certain families to sell their products, can't find any links to support this though, so maybe it's a myth.

TheOldOne wrote:
I know that Bakunin was at odds with Marx and his school of thought, he accurately predicted that Marx's desired "Dictatorship of the proletariat" would do little other than replace the ruling class they strove to be free of


This I believe, and why I'm not so interested in some people's comments/views as they would only eventually decide - "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others .."
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GTog
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:30 pm 
 

It's been a long time since I read anything by Karl Marx. Probably his most famous quote, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" always struck me as terribly wrongheaded. Is the quote supposed to be "from each according to his estimation of his own ability, to each according to what he thinks he needs"? If not, then who gets to define ability, and who gets to define need?

There are always going to be people who think they "need" a bigger house or a fancier car. What makes their "need" any more or less relevant than anyone else's? Likewise, there are always going to be people who judge their "ability" to be more in the realm of supervising than actually doing anything. Who's to say if they're full of shit or not?

Such a system is as inherently unstable as libertarianism - it only works if everyone chooses to behave, always agree, and never require correction. It's a silly ideal.

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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:39 pm 
 

Way to quote completely out of context. That's not an ideal. Marx is not an idealistic philosopher.

You'd have a point if Marx' line of thought went "In the ideal society: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." But that's simply not the case.

It's something that, according to his theory, is a consequential aspect of a society that got rid of division of labour.

There's no need to define what "everyone's need and ability" means exactly because the factuality of the sentence is the result of the nature of such a society and not a goal of it. It doesn't work that way because everyone decides to do it exactly like that, it does because it is the easiest/most natural way to do things in communism. At least that's how I understand Marx.
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GTog
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:30 pm 
 

Well, that kind of makes my point. If it were the easiest/most natural way of doing things in communism, then why didn't communism shake out that way? Because it only works if people all choose to behave that way, and everyone all agrees what abilities and needs are. If even one person gets a different idea of what his needs are, which is inevitable, it falls apart.

Further, such a society cannot grow unless it maintains a perfect dynamic equilibrium. Right? As soon as some factor wrecks the equilibrium, the system shakes itself apart. So anyway, regardless of the context of the quote, whether it's meant only to describe the natural consequence of having no division of labor, it's a silly idea. That wouldn't happen at all.

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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:07 am 
 

GTog wrote:
Well, that kind of makes my point. If it were the easiest/most natural way of doing things in communism, then why didn't communism shake out that way?

Because there was no communism, only socialism. And socialism failed to progress into communism.

Quote:
Because it only works if people all choose to behave that way, and everyone all agrees what abilities and needs are. If even one person gets a different idea of what his needs are, which is inevitable, it falls apart.

I find your liberal use of the word "inevitable" irritating. What are you even picturing in your mind? Someone saying he wants all the stuff there is because that's what he needs it right now? Right. It would totally work that way and they would all be like "shit what do we do now?"

Quote:
Further, such a society cannot grow unless it maintains a perfect dynamic equilibrium. Right? As soon as some factor wrecks the equilibrium, the system shakes itself apart. So anyway, regardless of the context of the quote, whether it's meant only to describe the natural consequence of having no division of labor, it's a silly idea. That wouldn't happen at all.

What are you talking about? Be more specific please. It still looks to me like you are picturing some kind of tabula rasa society that some day just starts acting on the maxim of "everyone according to [...]". I thought I made clear that's not the case.

What kind of equilibrium would that even be? You are saying that one person's misbehaviour would be enough to topple the system. Why? If you'd tell a caveman that people would live in cities in the future, maybe he'd say "Yeah right, that would never fucking work, there are just so many problems with that concept. Where do they get their food? What if someone decides to burn that shit down? They'd be back in the caves in no time." Just because you can't imagine something doesn't mean it won't happen.

Every society is the result of historic development. Structures are developed according to necessities that arise during that development. There are structures that ensure the stability of the capitalist system, like the burgeois state. Without it that one wouldn't work either.
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Compared to how it is here in Sweden, fascism sounds like paradise.
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GTog
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:25 am 
 

Once people start pulling posts apart and responding sentence by sentence, the conversation's over. Internet maxim #3358.

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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:52 pm 
 

You seem to be really competent at discussing correctly.
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Celtic Frosted Flakes wrote:
Compared to how it is here in Sweden, fascism sounds like paradise.
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If Summoning is the sugar of fantasy metal, is Manowar the bacon?

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The SHM
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:35 pm 
 

mindshadow wrote:
I have long been disillusioned with politics, I used to be naive and believed voting for a party would represent the less well off and disadvantaged.

It seems hard to believe that todays career politicians represent the very people who voted them into power, maybe with globalization and our dependance on other countries for their resources, it is no longer possible - though shouldn't they explain this?

What and when did things go wrong, or has it always been the same? What was Karl Marx's vision for the future, not knowing much about him or his beliefs, could those who are familiar with the (fascinating) subject contribute their views? (or even those who are just interested).

What are the Ideologies, meanings, and myths that surround him, was he someone who should be respected or despised? Who are some other people who have been very influential politically, for whatever reason, throughout history?

I don't want this thread to deteriote into a slanging match between different political views, neither will I be adding much ( as I can't), I simply wish to learn from others who are more knowledgable, about people who have had highly influential views and beliefs on society.


Marx? All fine and well, except he comes from an age without knowledge of our advanced state of capitalism- far beyond what he had predicted- and, far more importantly, a great hinge in the ultimate development of humanity: the Singularity, and the rise of Transhumanism. When this occurs and how it impacts politics and society, I don't and can't know. I'd love to hear what Marx would have to say about an age where humans don't even work.
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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:52 pm 
 

Funny you'd say that because in what I've read Marx describes communism as a society without work/labour (which shouldn't be misinterpreted as a society without productive human activity).
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The SHM
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:40 pm 
 

inhumanist wrote:
Funny you'd say that because in what I've read Marx describes communism as a society without work/labour (which shouldn't be misinterpreted as a society without productive human activity).


Which is exactly what Post-Singularity, Transhumanistic Post-Capitalism/Transcommunism is. Except that it would actually make sense and still drive on human development.

That, or we'd be screwed by the machines, or the rich would wipe out the entire lower classes.
But the gist is, Marx- probably without ever even considering where technology would lead us to- pretty accurately described a Post-Singularity world. And capitalism wouldn't stand a chance because of this catch 22 deal-
Capitalism, innovation, and the system itself equals and begets progress. At some point, technology would have progressed to such a point as to create machines that could do the job- any job- that human can do, and indeed surpass their abilities thousandsfold. In fact, there would be a point that any thing a human can do, it would be infinitely cheaper to use a machine- even the finest of arts and jobs of care. At which point, what do you do? If you refuse to let machines do the work, you're then against capitalism, for you're choosing a method of labor vastly less efficient than the common standard. At that point, you regress progress and begin to create a form of socialism. You have to prevent corporations from developing the technology that could replace humanity, right? That calls for intense government regulations.

If you are for this future, you would have to realize that the vast numbers of working poor now have no job and you nor they no longer have excuses about why you are rich and they are poor. They can't work to feed themselves, as machines are so much more efficient at creating capital. However, you also have billions (supposedly at the time) that could benefit from this capital, but have no way to afford it. Do you bow down to social mores and offer advanced welfare, thus progressing transhumanism and the Singularity- and thus Transcommunism- or do you refuse to do anything of the sort and destroy the ex-working class? On top of that, you'd have humans completely altering the human experience. If possible, we could recondition ourselves to be more prone to communism than we really are (humans are naturally individualistic, and collectivism is an illusion begotten out of individualistic survival mechanisms. In transhumanism, we could completely reverse this, and anything in between, since we would have 100% control over our minds. May also lead to people making themselves satanic mass murderers.)
Good to note- this would almost certainly lead to the "Final Revolution," in which either all of the rich or all of the poor would be killed, or the two classes coming together. Or Artificial Intelligent completely annihilating the human race. Or Biological Intelligence being too stupid to handle such power and annihilating itself in a pointless nuclear/grey goo holocaust.

It's like the Communist Manifesto meets Cyberpunk, except that this stuff is actually beginning to happen. I've heard that the Internet is actually the very first "Transcommunist" invention, in which information is made available to all, equally. In a Transcommunist world, information is the value behind good because you should, theoretically, be able to manipulate the matter in which you consume. Thus, gold is worthless- it's the information behind it that's worth gold, no pun intended.

All products of the Singularity, and stuff Marx would love debating.

But also the rambles of a madman. Ignore at all costs....
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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:29 am 
 

So Star Trek, basically?

The SHM wrote:
humans are naturally individualistic, and collectivism is an illusion begotten out of individualistic survival mechanisms.

What? So the middle ages never happened? Individualism was invented in the 17th century dude. Any academic of the humanities can tell you that.
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Compared to how it is here in Sweden, fascism sounds like paradise.
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If Summoning is the sugar of fantasy metal, is Manowar the bacon?

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The SHM
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:57 pm 
 

inhumanist wrote:
What? So the middle ages never happened? Individualism was invented in the 17th century dude. Any academic of the humanities can tell you that.


For as long as humans have been concerned about their own well being, the need for a collective is just another means to protect the self. Whatever the mind finds most beneficial to itself is what the mind desires. Collectivism works, as does individualism. The individual concedes to the collective in any situation, but the individual is most concerned about its own survival.
If this were altered, it could swing totally one way or the other. In many cases, all individuals would merge to form one collective individual, a digital hivemind per se. This would be the ultimate goal of transcommunism, to create a hivemind.

inhumanist wrote:
So Star Trek, basically?

Except that this is actually beginning to happen. I actually know a cyborg. Take it, the guy's not close, and it's just his leg, but he's definitely a cyborg.
Now, if it were desirable to become a cyborg, and it would improve upon what you have, then you have transhumanism.
And the base problem of transhumanism is that, in capitalism, real transhumanism is only available to the richest of us. At the same time, the rise of AI would and should accompany transhumanism, and AI would render us obsolete, and thus render capitalism obsolete.
Just reiterating, but good to use to help to those who might not understand, I guess.
Actually, I've been writing the Transcommunist Manifesto for some time now. Might publish it soon.
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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:51 pm 
 

The SHM wrote:
For as long as humans have been concerned about their own well being, the need for a collective is just another means to protect the self. Whatever the mind finds most beneficial to itself is what the mind desires. Collectivism works, as does individualism. The individual concedes to the collective in any situation, but the individual is most concerned about its own survival.

That's Hobbes. I have no desire discussing if Hobbes was right (he wasn't). Doesn't have anything to do with individualism in the narrow (correct) sense though: Defining oneself by distinction from the rest of society. I think the word you're looking for is egoism.

Edit: Not sure if really Hobbesian, but can be interpreted in such a way.
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Compared to how it is here in Sweden, fascism sounds like paradise.
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If Summoning is the sugar of fantasy metal, is Manowar the bacon?

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The SHM
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:09 pm 
 

inhumanist wrote:
The SHM wrote:
For as long as humans have been concerned about their own well being, the need for a collective is just another means to protect the self. Whatever the mind finds most beneficial to itself is what the mind desires. Collectivism works, as does individualism. The individual concedes to the collective in any situation, but the individual is most concerned about its own survival.

That's Hobbes. I have no desire discussing if Hobbes was right (he wasn't). Doesn't have anything to do with individualism in the narrow (correct) sense though: Defining oneself by distinction to the rest of society.

Except that humans are just monkeys who talk, and an animals who claim to have morals. The individual before the state is nothing because the individual has assumed that the state is more important.
If individuals all refuse to assume something as it is, then what is it? Titles, classes- only matter for as long as we accept them.

But back on topic- in socio-economic terms, individualism is definitely defined as trying to pursue one's own self interests, rather than those of the group at large. That I'm not denying. But it is pointless, IMO, to completely disregard our status as monkeys in this view- if we choose to adopt a lifestyle favoring the collective, it would still be out of individual interests. When the individual loses self and rights and only the collective matters- you've lost the purpose of the collective, which is to raise the life of the many within.

I might be overthinking this, as well as adding too much nihilism, but that's what I've surmised. That the human experience will always forcase individualism and collectivism in some form, and that forcing only one or the other on a society is oppressive- whether it be democratic dictatorship or fascism. I've always viewed China, circa 1958, as the finest example of what I mean.
And it was perhaps realizing that these limits are only bound by our humanity that led to me considering transhumanism as a conduit to pure communism.
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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:19 pm 
 

The SHM wrote:
The individual before the state is nothing because the individual has assumed that the state is more important.

Definitely Hobbes.

Quote:
But back on topic- in socio-economic terms, individualism is definitely defined as trying to pursue one's own self interests, rather than those of the group at large.

Definitely egoism.

Quote:
That I'm not denying. But it is pointless, IMO, to completely disregard our status as monkeys in this view

Definitely apes.

Don't mind me, I just love being a wiseass.
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Compared to how it is here in Sweden, fascism sounds like paradise.
Metantoine wrote:
If Summoning is the sugar of fantasy metal, is Manowar the bacon?

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The SHM
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:21 pm 
 

inhumanist wrote:
The SHM wrote:
The individual before the state is nothing because the individual has assumed that the state is more important.

Definitely Hobbes.

Quote:
But back on topic- in socio-economic terms, individualism is definitely defined as trying to pursue one's own self interests, rather than those of the group at large.

Definitely egoism.

Quote:
That I'm not denying. But it is pointless, IMO, to completely disregard our status as monkeys in this view

Definitely apes.

Don't mind me, I just love being a wiseass.

Because psychology rules all.
Doncha love how complex our world is these days? And has always been?
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:26 am 
 

Getting beyond semantics and philosophy and into the reality of flesh and blood, all you really need to know about Marx and Engels is that they had an almost comically warped understanding of human nature coupled with a false understanding of history, which is nearly the worst combination one can have when trying to fashion a society (the worst would be those two coupled with sadism).

Let's put it this way: the system of state persecution in Nazi Germany took 15 years to kill between 5.5 million and 11 million people, most of whom were killed deliberately. By contrast, China's Great Leap Forward killed 30 million people in 3 years by accident (link). To put this in perspective, if a similar economic system was put in place today in the U.S. and left in place as long as Nazi Germany existed, half of the country would be dead by 2027 at that rate.


The ongoing adherence to and sympathizing with Marxism and its children will be looked at centuries from now in much the same way historians treat organized religions. Given its failures in the last century, it is disconcerting that hasn't happened yet.
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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:24 am 
 

Ridiculous. How about you try again with arguments?
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Bezerko
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:39 am 
 

He has a point. The Russians fucked it, China fucked it and North Korea is still fucking it. Can't speak for Cuba, don't know what it's like there.

It's not a great track record.

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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:49 am 
 

Fair enough, but arguments are still required to trace these historical events back to Marxism (instead of just megalomania or something). As are to give the first and last part of his post any kind of base.

Cuba does relatively well considering the fact that they still endure the embargo.
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