Response to: Why electoral politics(and by implication, non violent protests) cannot possibly lead to a more progressive post-capitalist era. By Norman Pilon.

Further to my re-blogging of Norman Pilons original blog as per title above, he offered me this comment, which I also feel is worthy of re-blogging. It’s been forty years since I read Marx and decided that the poor man, though well meaning, was deluded, insofar as his perceived Utopia could never be achieved. Trotsky was always on a hiding to nothing because George Orwell(Eric Arthur Blair) had already coloured the minds of those who would read up on socialism. I, like so many of my contemporaries, had read Animal Farm and the Big Brother of 1984 and it amuses me no end to imagine that Blair got so much right but assigned entirely to the wrong cast of characters with regard to Russia’s role, especially given that it is the US and the UK who are the bad guys he so loved to hate. 

To any readers, who like me, find it difficult to grasp the many facets of socialist ideology, a concise but simple to understand in it’s basic values is a good place to start.

Essentially, two versions of the same point, or “why electoral politics (and by implication, non-violent protests) cannot possibly lead to a more progressive post-capitalist era.”

From Norman Pilon: Just follow the title to see the selection of articles Norman has available on his site.

Norman Pilon commented on Essentially, two versions of the same point, or “why electoral politics (and by implication, non-violent protests) cannot possibly lead to a more progressive post-capitalist era.”

Norman has set the reader quite the conundrum. If the world were black and white and if we all shared in a mutual understanding of what we considered right and wrong, there would be no problem. Alas, the aforesaid is not the case and the real world is inhabited by humans with brains as individual as the personality. In our reality, whether the past or the present, uniformity of thought is not the human forte and we are a multi polar species, at best we muddle through adjusting our concepts and perceptions as we make our journey through life.
Some good perspectives with the links provided. …

“And just so that people don’t think that the good people of LALKAR and Chris Harman and myself are actually calling for violent revolution, trying to, so to speak, incite people to rise up with extreme prejudice, I’d like to share a short comment on the tension between ideological inertia and the impulse to revolution, something I wrote to a friend who was expressing a great deal of frustration with respect to mass protests or mobilizations that seem always to go absolutely nowhere — this, roughly speaking, is how I see that tension:

Epochs are times of stability, when a social order — however unjust or just, repressive or not — is more or less persistent over a period of time, when social roles are more or less clearly defined and the majority of people adhere to their assigned duties and accept, if not always in gratitude but grudgingly, the rewards deemed to be their due by the norms of the dominant ethos of their society. Epochs, in other words, are the historical periods in which ideological conformity, and not critical dissent, is the rule.

When the system begins to break down, when large numbers of people begin to suffer acutely from not having their basic needs and expectations satisfied in customary ways, the end of the epoch draws nigh, people begin to be shaken out of their ideological trance, to wonder about what the fuck is going on. They notice that between the promises being preached by the elect from on high and the paltriness of the miracles being realized on the ground, there is a painful discrepancy if not a chasm.

When the people begin to suffer en mass and the suffering becomes sufficiently intolerable, that is the time of possible mass upheavals, and there is no telling how turbulent the coming storm might be or what it may leave in its aftermath.

The aftermath will certainly be a new order, a new epoch dominated by a new ideology, the mindset or culture of whoever will then comprise the new ruling class. This mindset will most certainly and in many ways resemble the dominant mindset(s) of what went before: it will be reactionary or progressive on the basis of what was because nothing in the evolution of culture or modes of life ever emerges into the light of day that isn’t largely a variation of what went before.

Therefore, the likelihood of a socialist aftermath will depend upon how far and wide the ideals of socialism will have been disseminated before the upheaval happens. You cannot make a revolution; but a revolution can to some degree be co-opted. That is the most that progressives can hope for.

To my mind, if the aftermath of the next upheaval turns out to be a step forward rather than backward, industry will be geared more to the satisfaction of human needs; and the pursuit of technological advances to enhance productivity — rather than being motivated as it is now by a mindless drive to pad and monopolize profit margins — will be used to drastically reduce the workday for everyone.

Everyone talks about freedom, but no one really says what in fact it is in concrete terms: it is leisure.

That society which maximizes ‘personal leisure time’ for the citizen, also thereby maximizes the ‘individual freedom’ of the citizen. The more you have to work, the more you have to attend to the needs of others, the more hemmed in you are by ‘necessity,’ then the less ‘freedom’ you possess as an individual.

A society that truly prizes the individual and his freedom will try in so far as it can to increase for all its citizens in as equitable a fashion as possible a maximum of leisure time, to create the ‘space’ in which each person, unharried by the hurly-burly of making ends meet, can explore and discover, alone or in company, the joy of engaging in self-selected and self-directed pursuits.

Technology reduces work-time and the drudgery of work, and that should be its only socially useful and redeeming purpose.

If someone asked me what I had in mind when I speak of my hope for a socialist future, this would be the outline of my answer.”







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