Fragments Of Comprehension

(semi-internal) Our consciousness and humility must reflect, refine and redeem every scattered fragment of the material world

► Open WITBD Study Group (reply to Eric) – [FoC.13.06.05]

Posted by Ben Seattle on June 5, 2013

From the bulletin board of the Open WITBD study group:

http://witbd.the-talk.net/t23-democratic-discipline-report-on-april-28-meeting-of-the-open-witbd-study-group

(formatting here is broken because of cut and paste incompatibility between WordPress and the bulletin board)

Contents:

  1. The Theory of Dopes
  2. What Are the Decisive tasks?
  3. Life on Planet Earth
========================================================
The Theory of Dopes
(Reply to Eric – part 1 of 3)

========================================================
Eric:
> What Kautsky writes is: “Accordingly, the old Hainfeld
> programme quite rightly stated that the task of Social-
> Democracy is to imbue the proletariat (literally: saturate
> the proletariat) with the consciousness of its position and
> the consciousness of its task.”
> You seem to interpret “its task” as nothing more than “to
> rule society”, but this is a little narrow. Sure, that is a
> stage in the path which Marx predicted for the development of
> human history. But it is only a stage.
Eric lays out, in a useful way, these stages:
(1) The proletariat becomes sufficiently organized
(2) The proletariat “wages the revolution”
… (ie: overthrows the class rule of the bourgeoisie)
(3) The period of transition to workers’ rule. This is
… the period, following the overthrow of the bourgeoisie,
… during which the proletariat “gets up on the horse”
… and learns “to take the reins of society”.
(4) The period of transition to classless society, during
… which the proletariat rules society
(5) Classless society, “from each according to his ability,
… to each according to his need”
It is useful that Eric is recognizing the distinction between
stages 3 and 4 in the list above. This is essential if we are
to talk, in an intelligent way, about any of this.
There has been of lot of confusion about this and many activists
throw around words such as “socialism” or “the dictatorship of
the proletariat” to describe both stage 3 and 4 as if they are
the same thing.It is useful to have words that are not confusing. If words or
phrases do not exist that are suitable, then we must create them.

Eric refers to stage 3 as “the transition to socialism” and to
stage 4 as ‘socialism”.

I refer to stage 3 as the “dictatorship of the proletariat
(embyonic)” and the “dictatorship of the proletariat (with
Immune System)”.

But, no matter what words we use to describe these stages,
understanding the distinction between these stages is decisive.

The main theoretical obstacle into which the CVO crashed, was
getting confused on the distinction between stages 3 and 4. As
a result, the CVO has assigned features of stage 3 to stage 4.

What are some of the different characteristics of these
two stages? In my view, here are some of the important
distinctions:

—- Timespan —-

… Stage 3 will be relatively short in comparison to stage 4.

—- Economic development —-

… Stage 3 will be where economic processes are stabilized
… or restored following the disruption which may take
… place during the overthrow of bourgeois rule, so that
… the conditions of life of the masses are tolerable and
… similar to (or better) than what existed under bourgeois
… rule. Stage 4, on the other hand, will be where the
… economic processes experience immense increases in
… productivity. It is in stage 4 that an economy that is
… not based on commodity production will grow and
… outcompete and eventually overwhelm the sections of the
… economy that are based on commodity production.

—- political development —-

… Stage 3 will be a period in which there will be
… extremely high risk of either bourgeois restoration
… or the emergence of a new ruling class, while during
… stage 4 there will be relatively low risk of this.

… During stage 3, society is ruled by a single organization
… or some kind of stable (or unstable) coalition of the
… same. During stage 4, society is ruled by the working
… class as a class, which has the ability to, so to speak,
… hire and fire organizations as it sees fit, and to create
… new organizations if and when it considers this necessary.
… Stage 4 will see the emergence of a very large number of
… organizations that play a role in the political, economic
… and cultural life of society.

… Stage 3 may (or may not) involve the suppression of
… the fundamental democratic rights of free speech and
… independent organization. Stage 4 will be “unthinkable”
… without free speech and organization.

The problem with the CVO’s theoretical work on stages 3 and 4
is that they are not able to recognize that the right of free
speech and independent organization will be necessary for
stage 4, and they are unable to understand the distinction
between the rule of an organization and the rule of the working
class as a class.

Eric is correct that, until humanity reaches stage 5, there
will be “risk” of the revolution being overturned. But not
all risk is equal. We would, for example, face one kind of
risk in the middle of intense, hand-to-hand combat, and
another kind of risk when crossing the street after looking
both ways. More than this, any realistic understanding of
how society will function when it is run by the working class
will recognize that the best and only way to defend the rule
of the working class will be by means of the rights of speech
and organization.

This should be particularly clear in situations where the
political organization or party which is closest to state
power becomes corrupt. If society is ruled by a single
party
 and the working class and masses do not have the
right of free speech and independent organization–then they
will have no way to defend their role as masters of society.

What do Eric or the CVO have to say about this? Not a damn
thing. When asked this question they simply become evasive
or stonewall. Essentially, they have learned to click
a switch
 in their mind–which shuts down their brain any time
this question comes up. Occasionally, before their circuits
fade to black, they may have time to accuse anyone who dares to
ask this question of being a “petty bourgeois”.

What is the result of this kind of self-imposed political
lobotomy? The result is that the masses see the stages
of development we outlined (above) as follows:

(1) The proletariat becomes sufficiently organized
(2) The proletariat “wages the revolution”
… (ie: overthrows the class rule of the bourgeoisie)
(3) A police state emerges, with hypocritical words
… about proletarian power, and creates an economy with
… low productivity and poverty and misery for most
… and luxuries for the new ruling class.
(4) The police state remains in power. Got any questions?
… If so, too bad for you. One way or another, you will
… learn to shut up–or you will be shut up.

This is why I think the best and most accurate name for the
CVO’s view, in which stages 3 and 4 are confused with one
another, is the “dictatorship of the proletariat for the
extremely stupid”, or the theory of “dopes”.

(to be continued …)

Last edited by Ben Seattle on Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:52 pm; edited 1 time in total

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PostSubject: What are the Decisive Tasks? (Reply to Eric – part 2 of 3)   Today at 2:52 pm

========================================================
What are the Decisive Tasks?
(Reply to Eric – part 2 of 3)

========================================================
Eric:
> … there are many important questions, many areas where
> the working class must develop consciousness of its task.
> And the key question is, what are the most important
> tasks in front of the working class today? What is holding
> the class back today from taking up the struggle in a more
> conscious form, organized as a class?
I have identified the tasks that I consider decisive. I
believe our movement must develop clarity on these four
tasks (see appendix A below):
… (1) our revolutionary goal,
… (2) the revolutionary organization we need,
… (3) independence from social-democracy and
… (4) the digital infrastructure we need.
When he replies to me, Eric does not want to discuss these
tasks. He says they are “way off-topic” for a study of WITBD.
But Eric’s comments on this thread show the opposite. Eric
has brought up “the most important tasks” because they are
unavoidable: any serious study of WITBD in 1902 will be
inseparable from WITBD in 2013.The spectrum of our workEric:> Lenin goes into some detail about the role of agitation
> and propaganda and what is important for communists to
> disseminate into the class through those forms.

> agitation is meant to rouse the masses into action, by
> pointing out the outrages of capitalist society against
> all classes and social groupings

> the first priority of agitation is to address the whole
> spectrum of abuses of capitalism.

> beyond simply exposing abuses in every sphere of life,
> it is also necessary to draw the connection between a
> given abuse that we’re attacking and the whole capitalist
> system. Lenin emphasizes this work as being indispensable.

> agitation … in today’s conditions … is more effectively
> carried on via leaflets aimed at the masses.

In today’s conditions, most agitation will be done by means
of social media, especially the kind that have potential to
“go viral”. Leaflets are still useful, of course, but are, so to
speak, a bit “deeper” in the “spectrum” of our work (please
see graphic below) that extends from things that are small
and easy to understand – to things that are more complex.

> So this is Lenin’s conception of imbuing, saturating
> the proletariat with socialist consciousness, and I think
> it is a correct one. Agitation written in a popular form
> for the broad masses, more in depth theoretical articles
> focused on the nature of the capitalist system, why the
> problems we point to in capitalism are irresolvable within
> capitalism, the need for it to be replaced, etc.

Let’s take a look at this spectrum:

In the graphic above, we can see a continuum of work, ranging
from journalistic exposure type articles (or comments that
might be made on existing articles) to deeper theoretical
work. At the top of the graphic are types of work that are
relatively easy for many readers to understand, and as we
get deeper the work involves the integration of increasingly
complex
 things, and becomes understandable only to a smaller
audience.

I will not discuss, right now, the details of what forms of
distribution (ie: blogs, facebook, twitter, YouTube, email,
paper or verbal, etc) may be best suited for each layer.

Now let’s consider two more aspects of our work: the
population of people who will be reading (or watching)
our work (or maybe helping it spread on social media)
and the population who will be creating it. There will
be some overlap between these two populations (ie: the
creators and the consumers of content), but we can
understand that, in general, the creators will have a
higher level of political consciousness. We can picture
this in graphical form in the following image (which I
created for another purpose two years ago, but which is
still useful).

In the chart above, the most conscious section of the
population is colored in green, and the less conscious
(but far more numerous) section of the population is
colored in black. We can understand that the creators
of our content will tend to come from the green section,
while most of the consumers of our content will come
from the black section.

But this does not mean that we should simply “chase
numbers” by aiming our work at the black section.

The reason for this is simple. We cannot reach the
“consumers” in the black segment of the population
until such time as we have a critical mass of “creators”
(who can create a critical mass of content) from the
green section.

Let me give an example of the kind of content to which
we could give wide (and maybe viral) distribution.

An example (from the 21st century)

Quote:
From the Associated Press (May 25):Another teen suicide after alleged assault
leaves California town asking tough questions
SARATOGA, Calif. — One evening last Labor Day weekend, 15-year-old Audrie Pott walked up the driveway of a classmate’s home alongside other teenagers. She’d told her parents she was spending the night with a friend. The friend claimed she was sleeping at Audrie’s. Instead, the girls were having a party. A classic teenage ploy.By all accounts, Audrie was a gorgeous girl. Her lush brown hair framed a heart-shaped face. Light makeup outlined her sharp brown eyes, but round cheeks gave her a childlike charm. She was a soccer player, a painter, a girl who at age 4 had the gumption to stand in front of 1,000 people in church and belt out a solo.On that Sunday night, she was just another kid pushing the limits as she celebrated the last days of summer, getting drunk with her friends on vodka and Gatorade.Police and a civil lawsuit outline allegations of what happened next: Three boys came into a room where Audrie had passed out. When she awoke the next morning, her shorts were off. Pictures were doodled on her body with a Sharpie. On one leg was the name of a boy, followed by the words “was here.”“My life is ruined,” Audrie would tell a friend in a Facebook message over the coming days. “I can’t do anything to fix it.”Soon Audrie learned about a photograph apparently making the rounds — of an intimate part of her body, taken, a family lawyer says, while she was passed out. “I have a reputation for a night I don’t even remember,” she wrote in another Facebook message, “and the whole school knows.”Eight days after the end-of-summer party, the sophomore who dreamed of traveling the world took her own life, hanging herself in a bathroom at home. Now the three boys, only 16 themselves, stand charged with sexual battery.

If the story of Audrie Pott rings familiar, it’s because, tragically, it is. The federal government last year released data showing a rise in cyberbullying and youth suicide, including cases such as the 2010 death of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Irish immigrant who hanged herself after bullying by classmates in South Hadley, Mass. Five students later accepted plea deals.

In Ohio, the rape of a 16-year-old girl last year was recorded on cellphones and gossiped about online. Two high school football players were convicted in the incident. And last month police in Canada reopened the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, a Halifax, Nova Scotia, teen whose family said she was photographed while being sexually assaulted in 2011 and bullied after the photo circulated online. Parsons died in April after hanging herself.

“How can our society provide a safe haven for young girls? Why do young men feel that young girls are but objects for their sexual fantasies and pleasure? Why do teenagers avoid seeking help when they are depressed and suicidal?” asked the pastor who delivered the eulogy for 17-year-old Rehtaeh.

Such questions come easily in the wake of these cases. Answers? Less so.

Now another community is left grappling with the loss of another girl, and Saratoga is asking its own questions. About blame and morality — but also what, if any, lessons can be learned from losing Audrie.

I would like to draw particular attention to the questions
asked by the Canadian pastor:

“How can our society provide a safe haven for young girls?
Why do young men feel that young girls are but objects for
their sexual fantasies and pleasure? Why do teenagers avoid
seeking help when they are depressed and suicidal?”

Readers want answers to these questions. Only the revolutionary
movement of the working class can give answers to questions like
this that make any sense.

Capitalist culture is mired in its own contradictions. Capitalist
media is based on the objectification of women. Capitalist
culture is based on the objectification of every human being.
Every time you see or hear a commercial in which another
human being is pitching some product at you–you are being
objectified (and the person doing the pitching is also being
objectified). This kind of culture, based on insincerity, cannot
change under bourgeois rule, which is based on the idea that
insincerity (every man for himself) in part of (supposed) “human
nature”.

And the toxic culture we experience under capitalism adds up to
a crisis of mental and emotional health that impacts, in one way
or another, everyone. This toxic culture will only be overcome
when we overthrow the system of bourgeois rule.

Readers are interested in articles like the one that I quoted above
for several reasons. The article is about a phenomenon that is
emerging because of the increasing interconnectedness of young
people through social media. The article is about our changing
culture (sometimes called the “pornification of culture”). The article
is about something that takes place when the emerging revolution
in communications intensifies all the contradictions in society.

The problem, it will become clear with time, is not the increasing
role of open sexuality in our culture, but that under capitalism,
relationships between human beings (including the sexual dimension
of relationships) are treated as commodities. At Burning Man, for
example, there is a large amount of open sexuality. But the open
sexuality at Burning Man is not commodified (for example, there is
no advertising at Burning Man, nor is there anything, with rare
exception, that you can buy). And so the open sexuality at
Burning Man has a profoundly different character than the
commodified sexuality which saturates capitalist culture.

Only the revolutionary movement of the working class has the
ability to answer the questions on the minds of readers, and
can give readers the ability to understand the direction in which
humanity must and will develop.

But in order to create a news service that can give a reliable
analysis in which to put news items like this are placed in context,
we need a critical mass of activists who understand that all news
points
, in one way or another, toward the need for the rule of the
working class
.

So we need people from the green segment (in the chart above) to
reach the black segment. And we are never going to recruit the
activists we need from the green segment if we cannot raise their
consciousness about the nature of workers’ rule. And we cannot
raise anyone’s consciousness by promoting the “theory of dopes”
as the CVO does.

(continued in part 3)

=========================================================
Appendix A: Four decisive areas of work for our movement 
=========================================================

I have concluded that these are the four areas of work
that are decisive for our movement.

(1) Our revolutionary goal 

We must understand: (a) the nature of humanity’s long-term
goal: a gift economy rather than an economy based on
commodity production, and (b) the nature of the transition
period and the democratic rights of speech and organization
that will allow the development of the gift economy
following the overthrow of bourgeois rule.

(2) Our revolutionary mass organization 

We must Understand the nature of the revolutionary mass
organization we need: based on political transparency
and “democratic communication” rather than “democratic
centralism”

(3) Independence from social-democracy 

We must build the revolutionary movement without and
against the treacherous social-democratic trends which
skillfully work to lead us into the swamp and liquidate
our independent militant politics. At the same time we
must develop the ability to assist countless struggles
for partial demands in complex united fronts with these
treacherous forces–without losing our bearings.

(4) Digital infrastructure 

We must create an open, public database that will serve
as an indestructible backbone of both (a) a democratic
communications system for all revolutionary activists and
(b) an open revolutionary news service that can bring news,
culture and solid, reliable analysis and theory to millions.

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PostSubject: Life on Planet Earth (Reply to Eric – part 3 of 3)   Today at 3:38 pm

========================================================
Life on Planet Earth
(Reply to Eric – part 3 of 3)

========================================================
Eric:
> Nowhere does Lenin talk about painting a well-formed
> picture of what socialism or communism will look like,
> nor does Marx, nor Engels, nor any other of the
> theoreticians of the communist movement. Of course,
> you might argue this might simply be an oversight,
> maybe there’s a value to doing so even if they didn’t,
> etc. But it does warrant asking the question, Why did
> they never consider it a priority to do?
Eric asks this question, but he does not do much to
answer it other than this:
> In other words … Engels says, we should be skeptical
> of how much we can truly say about future understanding.
> In particular, to pretend that we can know today much
> of anything about the particular organizational forms
> that socialism will take is fruitless.Eric is overlooking the obvious reason that our movement
needs to raise consciousness concerning the nature of
workers’ rule in a deeper way than was necessary during
the time of Marx or Lenin.** The FAILURE of the Russian and Chinese revolutions.** The transformation of these revolutions into POLICE STATES.** The utter CORRUPTION of the ruling party-state, in both
these cases, into a weapon, used by a NEW EXPLOITING CLASS,
for the suppression of the independent voice and independent
life of the working class.

** The creation of the LARGEST FAMINES IN HISTORY.

Eric continues:

> Of course, you might argue this
> might simply be an oversight

It is an oversight, all right. But not an oversight by
Marx or Engels or Lenin. It is an oversight by Eric, and
the CVO, who are overlooking the bitter experience of
the last 90 years
.

Eric and the good comrades of the CVO have a simple
(and they believe effective) method of dealing with
this bitter experience. They simply refuse to think
about it
.

This is what happens when someone’s concept of being a
revolutionary activist is reduced to being (essentially)
bible thumper. If it is not in the “good book”, it must
not exist.

The question of whether or not workers’ rule will be the
rule of the working class, and based on the democratic
rights of free speech and independent organization, or
a permanent police state–is considered by Eric to be a
question that it is “fruitless” to consider. And he
even believes that even such an authority as Engels
would back him up.

This is what happens when attempts at revolutionary work
are based on quote-chopping from authorities rather than
the application of living principles to life on planet
earth
.

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