Another controversial discussion! (Capitalism vs Communism) - Page 14 - Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums
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post #131 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-19-09, 09:35 PM
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I may have been wrong about the Lenin quote, it was in my history classroom with marie antoinette's "let them eat cake" (which she probably didn't say) soi make no effort to defend it.

However, saying that the population explosion graphs are wrong is probably not true, especially as we would have had enough data on populations in the last couple of hundred years. Especially as Europeans had empires that covered most of the globe and had been in place for a long time (just speculation - i know nothing about the administrative side of the european empires).

"And then there are people who just say outrageous and untrue things" well stalin was training to be a priest in Georgia. That is true.

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post #132 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-19-09, 09:57 PM
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Well cafel, I'd certainly agree with you that Lenin was wrong about many things. He believed that the socialist party had to take power on behalf of the workers like any bourgeois politician does, which means he hadn't broken from 'parliamentary cretinism' as much as he had supposed. The fusion of the Bolsheviks with the state was a huge accelerator of the degeneration of the revolution. The counter-revolution triumphed (and started murdering revolutionaries) through the agency of the workers' party. That travesty left the term "communist" tainted in many people's minds even to this day.

Even if the revolution and the workers' party in Russia hadn't degenerated (somehow), it would be impossible for socialism to exist in one country. To argue that the Soviet government just needed to adopt 'different policies' is to fall into the logic of Stalinism. "Socialism in one country" is impossible, no matter what policies are adopted. "Handing power over to the people" would have resulted in... capitalist restoration, as a theoretical "people's USSR" would still have had to compete economically and militarily with the west. Either, a group would have arisen inside the USSR to 'seize control of the state in the temporary emergency' (which is effectively what happened) or the Germans, British, Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Poles, Serbians, Italians, and any others I've forgotten about who were occupying the USSR, would have just massacred the revolutionaries and restored the Tsar.
That was a major split on the part of Lenin, but I guess I have a tendency to overlook it because I don't think it's possible to see socialism rise concurrently world wide and by extension I don't really see socialism ever coming about.

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I don't see 'democratic centralism' in itself as being a problem though, as I understand it, it means that if you're in an organisation, in which you have an input into decision making, you need to abide by the decisions of that organisation, even if they go against you. I think that's just basic politeness, apart from anything else.
That is how it stared, but it morphed into a more hierchical top down structure to combat Tsarist infiltrators which was the basis for the Poliburto which I think didn't help the state by any means.

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post #133 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-19-09, 11:24 PM
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... saying that the population explosion graphs are wrong is probably not true...
No, really. I've looked at precisely this subject, as I'm an archaeologist. The population data that the graphs are based on tends to lag a long way behind actual research. I'll bet you... a regiment of your choice that if you collated all of the data currently available on ancient populations, it would be significantly higher than the total estimated population of the world - at pretty much any period before 1600.

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... "And then there are people who just say outrageous and untrue things" well stalin was training to be a priest in Georgia. That is true.
Indeed it is, and proof that the Bolsheviks were not immune to the the poison of letting 'politicians' with cretinous ideas into their party. From trainee monk to brutal dictator. What a career path.

Cafel, I'm not sure what "a major split on the part of Lenin" means. What was he splitting from? Do you mean that taking power was a split from Marxism? Or from the politics of the Second International? Or do you actually mean Stalin's "Socialism in One Country" was a split from the policy of Lenin? Just not sure what you're getting at.

As for democratic centralism... sure, when the Soviets ceased to be real institutions, when party apparatchiks could put forward the lists - in other words, when they stopped being democratic institutions - they became a heirarchical power structure. But that wasn't to stop "Tsarist infiltrators". They were giving Tsarist officers and factory managers jobs by then fer chrissakes. In other words, they were already comning to terms woth capitalism and the old order, ie they had ceased to be revolutionary and were becoming counter-revolutionary.

The problem in Russia is not that it went too far but that it didn't go far enough. They toppled the Tsar and pulled out of the war, but the Russian revolution was isolated and so it stagnated. Ultimately all you were left with was Stalinism, "Socialism in One Country", and a militarised prison-camp desperate to compete with the west (or be crushed).

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post #134 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-20-09, 01:18 AM
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I meant it was a split from Marx's theories on Lenins part, trying to directly take power on a single country as opposed to waiting for mass demonstrations to bringing it about on a world wide stage.

Stopping Tsarist infiltrators reffers to before the revolution, not after. The Tsar had agents in pretty much every anti-tsarist group, the Bolsheviks introduced a control scheme in which the leaders of the group sent orders to the lower ranks who had no control or real information other then what they were told by the rank above them.

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post #135 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-20-09, 03:44 AM
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Archaeologists keep upping the population estimates of ancient civilisations. Every few years they make the figures bigger. Not certain what the current figures are for world population, but in the field of British demography, the estimates for the Roman period have more then trebled over the last 50 years or so. So it's quite probable that the population graphs that show an explosion over the last 3-400 years are actually way wrong, and the populations of the Mesolithic (around 7,000BC) and before are higher than you think.

Not that I agree with Lawrence that we need to kill 90% of the population for communism to work. I think that's madness. The whole point of communism, as I see it, is that we don't have to kill anybody (unlike capitalism, of course).
I suspect you are correct on this. For my interest what the accepted timeline? When were we at 50% of the current and when at 10%?

My main point however that our species, as a result of nature (genetics/personality) and nurture (environment) could never live in a utopian true communist society. And I haven't seen this point effectively beaten down.

The point on populations is actually mainly irrelevant to my argument. Sure increased populations create more competition for resources and space. However I'm talking about human interactions in all sizes of groups from families to populations. Even in small groups a heirarchy will establish itself.

I've been in the forces for 18 years and we even use this natural evolving heirarchy during officer and SNCO selection processses. In any group in a surprisingly short period of time a leader will emerge. And it becomes even more obvious in stressfull situations such as on operations.
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post #136 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-20-09, 09:41 AM
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Well, in some ways cabbage, you're re-inforcing my contention that a reduction in the environmental stress will lead to a reduction in the competitive urges in society; and I've seen no evidence presented that humans have to compete even if there's no need.

I agree that in class society, the rules of class society tend to (but don't inevitably) replicate themselves. That says nothing about societies without classes. All the argument boils down to is "we have competition now so we can't ever have communism", which I think you'll agree is a poor argument.

But I disagree that leaders and heirarchy inevitably (which is what I take it you mean by 'naturally') emerge. When my mates and I want to go to the pub we don't start little faction fights, set up armies or command structures, elect a president or anything; a couple of people make suggestions, and we all talk about it for a few minutes, until we decide. It's pretty strightforward really, and almost never involves death or even temporary dictatorship.

Decisions can be arrived at by debate, even under capitalism. So it's not 'inevitable' that groups are riven by competition or the establishment of heirarchical leadership structures, even under these circumstances.

But even if it were inevitable that some people would seek to dominate, then communism is still a better system, because it makes it harder to do that. Instead of setting up a society where 'the scum rises to the top' - and you can look at Stalin or Hitler or Mao or Churchill or Kennedy or any other mass-murdering capitalist warmonger - it's surely better to have a system where the power-hungry are not rewarded for their Machiavellianism.

You (I think it was you anyway, apologies if not) mentioned classical Athens earlier; while I don't accept that classical Athens was really all that democratic (what with women, slaves, and other categories of non-citizens it wasn't actually much more democratic than Sparta say), for the citizen body at least it was democratic; and the times that Athens lost its way were precisely when that democracy was subborned. It was political machinations against democracy that led to farcical and tragic episodes like the Sicilian expedition.

But under communism, which must be a worldwide system, that couldn't really happen. Athens was a class state, competing with other class states; communism will be universal, and I can't see the Glorious 1st May Bakery voting to invade the Internationalist Bicycle Factory next door, or even the Internazionalist Bicycle Fabrikwerken in the former territory of Germany. It doesn't make much sense.

Cafel, Lenin, the Bolsheviks, and the Social-Revolutionaries and Anarchists who all let's not forget collaborated in the October revolution in Russia weren't seeking to establish Socialism (or even 'take power' as such) in one country. They thought that they were just the first. They expected the revolution to break out in Germany (which it did, but was crushed), France and Britain, and then America (which it didn't).

On 'taking power', the Bolsheviks' conception was that the workers' party (ie the Bolsheviks) could somehow 'stand for' the working class; it 'represented' the working class in the state/government. This is the same conception that any political party has in any bourgeois-democratic setting, and was a hangover from the earlier history of the workers' movement when socialists tried to get elected to parliament. No workers' revoltion had ever succeeded in taking power for more than a few weeks in a single city before (Paris Commune, 1871), and no-one knew what to expect taking power in a whole country. But the conception was not that the 'Soviet Republic' was it; it was all provisional until the German revolution 'rescued' Russia from its isolation. "Socialism in one country", the idea that the USSR should attempt to move towards communism alone, wasn't formulated until Lenin had been dead 3 years.

So for me the 'split' wasn't between Lenin and Marx, but between Stalin and Lenin. That's not to unequivocally defend Lenin however. I think Lenin mad a lot of mistakes; but Stalin didn't. Lenin tried, and failed (because the task was actually impossible), to preserve the Soviet Republic as a 'proletarian bastion' should the revolution catch hold in Germany. Stalin, however, tried and succeeded, to make the Soviet Union an imperialist power, through brutal exploitation and militarism.

"Well it's Forty-one Thousand Nine Hundred Sixty-nine OK -
Gotta war across the Milky Way - "
Iggius Popiscus and the Stoogii, "41,969"



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post #137 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-20-09, 04:47 PM
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I still contend that over time a heirarchy will naturally/inevitably establish itself in any human society. You and your friends going to the pub is a bad example IMO. It is in terms of size, group dynamic and time nowhere near representative enough. A part of any larger group/society under different conditions you would IMO find yourselves moving up and down the heirarchy individually. That doesn't mean you can't drink together but have you naturally fallen into a system where you all pool your wages, resources and possesions? I thought not.

I only mention classical Athens as an example where IMO we made an attempt at a true, one man one vote, democracy. And as you yourself state it was human beings acting against it which caused it to fail. That backs up my argument. Our human nature (the whole created by a combination of nature and nurture) will not allow us to live as equals. Precisely because we are not equal.

I have no intention of aguing whether communism or capitalism is better (I know that is the whole thread) because I believe that true communism cannot ever happen in anything other than isolated times and places where a peculiar set of circumstances come about. You are clearly well informed on our attempts at communism to date. However the central tenet to my contributions is that out nature (environment and genetics) make living in a equality based utopian idyll impossible (however desirable).

Evidence with more than a night out with friends or the failed paris commune will be required to overturn my convictions. All your examples including Russia and China and every other attempt at communism (however bad) have been ruined by human beings, more evidence for my argument IMO.

We can change our environment but not our genetics. And as they combine to produce our capabilities and personalities how can we ever live as true equals? As a political thoerist you argue persuasively for true communism. As a realist I contend that our nature makes it impossible to create or maintain.

+rep for a really good discussion in which you haven't tried to post bully but stated your opinions and arguments pleasantly. Or at least I would if I could in this board.
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post #138 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-20-09, 05:04 PM
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so...from what i can gather from cabbage's last post is that...basically a true communist state, however big, is a fairy tale? a utopia that is often dreamed for yet never becomes a reality, as it always dissipates once we wake from slumber? that capitalism is the distopian world that we are forced to live in because it IS reality?

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post #139 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-20-09, 05:14 PM
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Well, I don't think cabbage is arguing that capitalism is reality per se, just that class society and domination are inevitable - class society and domination come in a lot of forms other than private property, wage labour and commodity production, to be fair.

But it does seem that we've reached a point where further elaboration of this particular strand of the argument seems pointless; either, humans are capable of working together sufficiently well to establish communism, or they aren't. Only the 'future of history' will judge whether we do. But even if we don't, I'd still hold that it's not impossible. It might just be hard.

"Well it's Forty-one Thousand Nine Hundred Sixty-nine OK -
Gotta war across the Milky Way - "
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post #140 of 144 (permalink) Old 04-21-09, 03:39 AM
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Well, I don't think cabbage is arguing that capitalism is reality per se, just that class society and domination are inevitable - class society and domination come in a lot of forms other than private property, wage labour and commodity production, to be fair.

But it does seem that we've reached a point where further elaboration of this particular strand of the argument seems pointless; either, humans are capable of working together sufficiently well to establish communism, or they aren't. Only the 'future of history' will judge whether we do. But even if we don't, I'd still hold that it's not impossible. It might just be hard.
Definately right, I am no capitalist or bust salesman.

In the main I like the system the UK has now in theory. You work you pay tax. Certain services free at the point of use are provided to you by the government, ie education and the NHS. The welfare state is a safety net, you break your back in an industrial accident and you are looked after by the state until you can work again or not.

As i'm sure you'll agree our system has been twisted all out of shape and I wait with interest to see if it will snap back. For example loafing about on benefits is now a lifestyle choice, fashion accessory children, the demise of the working class. The fact that it is currently twisted does not make it broken though and I live in hope that it will roll a six and self repair.
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