Arguments from Ignorants

If there is one thing that annoys me when seeing arguments against Communism is persistent ignorance. We’re not talking about simple ignorance where someone is not aware of a fact, but the kind of stubborn insintense on false ideas even when one has explicitly been told that they have it wrong. At this point we’re not simply talking about someone who has it wrong but about someone who is unwilling to learn.

Witness now this obtuse argument from BadTux who tries to explain why Communism is doomed to failure with arguments even a cursory look at an introductory text to Marxism should have put to rest.

He flies right off the bat by separating the political aspect of Communism from the economic, not obviously undertanding that this is impossible. Communism is not simply an economic system but a complete one, ecompassing social, political and economic aspects. You cannot disconnect the economic aspect of Communism from the social simply because it requires a specific type of society to work.

Communism is about having a classless, stateless society. It’s that simple. If you have a state or separation of classes, whether in the form of government bureaucrats or simple capitalists, you cannot claim to be in Communism. In any sense. It’s that simple. So by taking the economic aspect of the Soviet Union and calling it “Economic Communism”, you are using a flawed system as an example.

Next, we have the argument of how people would not join communes by themselves and they would have to be forced. Something which is of course totally away from any historical reality. If BadTux had bothered to actually read the History of the Russian Revolution he would have seen how “few” people were willing to to form soviets. The reality was that people were joining Soviets by the thousands, both the proletariat in the cities and the peasants in the armies. They were very much the majority and did not have to use any force.

He at least tries later to improve the validity of his article by talking about “modern communism” not realizing that there is nothing “modern” about it but rather that the original idea was about industrial societies. The idea for Communism was that it always required an industrialized society before it could take hold. This was the original idea from the time of Marx. The lack of a big proletariat in Russia and China was a large, if not the largest reason why the revolutions failed. A feudal peasant population is incompatible with Communism.

Then we’re treated to the impossibility of handling the modern production under communism simply by bringing up all the elements required for a product. But that’s just it. There’s no explanation of why this makes it impossible other than the inability of the author to think about it.

And with these arguments we are then told “So this, then, explains why communism as an economic system has failed every time it has been tried” and then goes on to bring the Soviet Union as an example. So he has failed to grasp what Communism even is, and then brought up State Capitalist society as proof. Incredible!

We then continue with the “other aspect” of Communism which is the political which apparently has been shown to fail…in a capitalistic society. What BadTux does not realize is that Communism does not work on an per-nation basis. Communism has to be achieved internationally so as to not have the need for standing armies or a state apparatus.  Even Lenin recognised the need for International movements for Communism and this is what he was counting on. He knew that if that did not happen, the Russian Revolution was in a really tight spot.

It is no worth looking at individual communes in a Capitalist society as they are not the point or an example of socialism. Their struggle to survive in a Capitalist society is what creates contradictions among the people within. This “problem of power” that BadTux keeps referring to does not exist in a society where people can easily leave a syndic they do not like and immediately join another or form their own.

And indeed. there is no better example for this than the Free Software movement. Therein you have groups of people clustered around any specific application and you have a benevolent dictator at the top. This “leader” or group of leaders that BadTux claims would always cause problems and dissolving the group. However not only does this work our, but it works admirably. When the leaders are indeed benevolent, the group prospers and keeps them in their place due to their abilities. If the leaders misbehave enough however, the dissatisfied people simply fork the project and start a new group. What “problem of power”?

This is why such arguments from ignorants are so annoying. You end up having to refute arguments which have nothing to do with Communism at all. This is not productive at all to the Communist who does not learn anything new but rather has to waste time pointing out strawmen left and right. Argue why the Labour Theory of Value is wrong. Argue how exploitation of the worker does not exist. Argue, in short, for things that Marxism actually explains and proposes, not whatever half-truths you gathered from school and popular news sources.

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34 thoughts on “Arguments from Ignorants

  1. even when one has explicitly been told that they have it wrong.

    The problem, Db0, is that all you've said is "you're wrong." Your argument boils down to "well, there were these other factors" or variations on "No True Scotsman" fallacies in order to wind around any counter-examples. Unfortunately, there are always other factors. That's the reality of politics, economics, psychology, and the world.

    He flies right off the bat by separating the political aspect of Communism from the economic, not obviously undertanding that this is impossible.

    But you can separate the political and economic inputs, which is what BadTux did.

    You cannot disconnect the economic aspect of Communism from the social simply because it requires a specific type of society to work.

    If your political-economic system requires a very specific type of society to work, it will never work, because society is never static. This is
    dialectic utopianism.

    …by taking the economic aspect of the Soviet Union and calling it “Economic Communism”, you are using a flawed system as an example.

    BadTux is arguing about actual attempts at this utopianism, and you're busy arguing that because they fell short of the ideal those attempts are invalid. But then, you whip around and demand that he and I study those invalid attempts. That's fucking dishonest.

    Communism has to be achieved internationally so as to not have the need for standing armies or a state apparatus

    You've yet to demonstrate a single case where an attempt at communism in an industrial society — the so-called pre-fucking-requisite — has surmounted the challenge of "state capitalism." You can't say that attempts at communism within an overarching capitalist structure are invalid examples because that's where all attempts at communism will have to fucking start. Unless you have a model for successfully navigating those transition stages from within a hostile political-economic landscape and then some indication that your model will work in practice, you're just engaging in some Hegelian masturbation on a massive scale.

    If the leaders misbehave enough however, the dissatisfied people simply fork the project and start a new group. What “problem of power”?

    What a bullshit response! The free software movement encompasses an infinitely fungible set of resources: computing power, virtual workspace, and brainpower. A knowledge of code, time, and a goal are all they require. If communist attempts within a capitalist structure are invalid, then you can't claim that communist attempts in a world of virtual unlimited resource is at all valid. Unless you've got a Star Trek "replicator" hiding in your pants, I don't see how your free software movement can be taken to approximate a real world situation.

    You're arguing like a fucking theologian.

    1. If communist attempts within a capitalist structure are invalid, then you can't claim that communist attempts in a world of virtual unlimited resource is at all valid.

      That is because you still don't understand it. The attempts of communism, are the revolutionary part. What is after the revolution (which can last several years) can either be socialism or, defeated by a counter revolution, another form of Capitalism. IF it is socialism (and eventually communism) then this type of "unlimited resources" would also be available and THIS is why this "problem of power" would not affect the syndics. Like the free software programmers, they would be able to move to other syndics or, if the leaders are indeed doing a bad job, democratically change them.

      The specific example that I gave, was not to show you communism in action but rather to display that this ridiculous concept of "problem of power" which you claim "affects all humins and we can't escape it ev4r!!1one" is defeated by having the correct economical AND social environment.

    2. Unfortunately, there are always other factors. That's the reality of politics, economics, psychology, and the world.

      This is not simply about other factors existing, it's about your dishonest take that Communist revolutions fail because of "the problem of power" while marginalizing all the orher fucking factors which played the biggest role in such failures. You then continue on this stubborn path and insist that you are in the right obviously without having a fucking clue on what Communism is.

      Yes, you're wrong. You're not only wrong, you're astronomically wrong. To explain why you are wrong it would mean me explaining in length how Communism is supposed to work and all the different reasons of why the Russian revolution failed, something which given your persistent stubbornness I see no reason to do.

    3. But you can separate the political and economic inputs, which is what BadTux did

      You cannot. Communism is a whole system. One part of it will not work outside of the whole. Is that so difficult to understand? We can talk on why the different inputs of Communism will fail indipendently, but that is something that is easy to see by any socialist.

    4. If your political-economic system requires a very specific type of society to work, it will never work, because society is never static. This is
      dialectic utopianism.

      Read what I said again. The economic system of Communism requires a specific type of sociopolitical system (which is what I meant by "society") to work. I am countering your separation of the economic from the sociopolitical aspects.

    5. BadTux is arguing about actual attempts at this utopianism, and you're busy arguing that because they fell short of the ideal those attempts are invalid. But then, you whip around and demand that he and I study those invalid attempts. That's fucking dishonest.

      No. This is not what I am saying.
      I am arguing that the attempts at this utopianism failed at the revolution. Got that? Is that clear? The system after the revolution has nothing to do with the ideal. It's not even on the same continent. You know why? Because they are the result of a counter-revolution.

      I then simply point out that you cannot bring the result of the counter revolution as a sample of communism.

    6. You've yet to demonstrate a single case where an attempt at communism in an industrial society

      Because. There. Has. Been. None!

    7. You can't say that attempts at communism within an overarching capitalist structure are invalid examples because that's where all attempts at communism will have to fucking start

      You examples are attempts at reformism or simply withdrawal from the system. Again, it has nothing to do with revolutionary communism which is what I propose. THIS is why I say you HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT YOU'RE ARGUING AGAINST!

  2. Look, Db0, I have never stated that the "problem of power" was the only factor, but if you deny it was one, you're arguing dishonestly. In that whole thread at BadTux's, I was arguing the very narrow point: You said there was no problem of power at play. You were fucking wrong. Suck it up.

    1. Don't give me that crap. Your main argument was this

      I think BadTux's point — and I apologize if I'm wrong — similar to mine, is that communism can aspire to not have power centers all it wants, but it will ultimately fall prey to basic human bio-social instincts of tribal clustering and leader/follower dynamics.

      So yes, you asserted that communism is due to failure due to that only factor. And even if you didn't and I somehow misread the above quote, my original post was in reply to BadTux, not you, who certainly makes out this argument about "social" communism.

      I deny that this problem will exist in a communist society. I deny that this "undefeatable" problem is part of "human nature". I base that on arguments which I have made above and eslewhere

      1. No, that's not an assertion of "only", unless you can't read. You can deny all you want — your arguments, at least the ones linked to, are unpersuasive. But yes, any system predicated on the need for humans to be totally honest, totally informed, and totally egalitarian towards one another is doomed to failure, be it total laissez-faire capitalism or "pure" Marxist Communism. Or even any other type of communism. Basic history, anthropology, and psychology are against it.

        1. There is no need for humans to be totally honest, informed etc, This has never been my argument. As long as the system they have does not reward dishonest, greedy etc behaviour and has an form which avoids the concentration of power, it will work. This is why I brought up the Free Software which, even worse than Communism, has actual benevolent dictators for each project and because of its structure, this does not create a problem of power.

          Yes, of course Communism does not require a dog-eat-dog or Consumerist mentality as the one promoted by Capitalism but this kind of hostile individuality on this scale is something rare in the history human civilization and certainly non-existent in pre-civilization. Communism does not require the ripping out of competitiveness, individuality or natural leadership of humans but it simply requires them to take a more cooperative & Epicurean aspect to their life. The capacity of humans to do either is both proven and supported by history and pre-history.

          Look at any socialist revolutionary period and you'll see an amazing amount of cooperation and spontaneous organization without any such problem of power. People act amazingly different when they know it is in their benefit, to such a degree that even Communists are surprised. There is the seed that can bloom to be a flower if we let it.

  3. Wow. So the ideal can never be impugned because it's unprovable? All failed attempts are by definition not communism. Talk about a theory with a built-in escape valve. It's no different than idolatry. That's fucking theology in a nutshell. What utter nonsense.

    1. Yes you idiot. All failed attempts which produced a non-communist system are, by a goddamn definition, NOT COMMUNISM!

      That does not mean that they do not have educational capacity, mainly to find out and avoid the mistakes on why they failed, but you cannot call whatever comes from a socialist revolution Communism.

        1. Are we talking about the same thing or not? When I'm talking about Communism I am talking about a classless, stateless society. Not a commune (like the ones you seem to have studied) or anything else.

          At this point I'm not certain what you're trying to say.

  4. Cute that you can't even argue a point because you have no idea what you're talking about, but can only insult someone who does. Really cute.

  5. Hi Db0,

    I have to apologize for my language and overall comportment during this thread. I was a right ass. I don't regret or rescind the substance of my critique, but I do regret treating you poorly and framing my argument like a monstrous dickhead.

    1. James, I am not taken aback by such behaviour as I've grown quite a thick skin by now. It simply meant that I responded in kind.
      We can continue the discussion in more civil terms if you wish and I've already toned down my aggression in my latest responses.

  6. Simple, you say that USSR and China are Communist because they claim(ed) to be. By the same token, one should consider Zimbabwe and North Korea as Democracy, as they claim to be

    1. Thank you db0. That is exactly the point, and no one before has had trouble with it.

      What politicians claim should be the last measure of reality.

  7. I'm not a Marxist either. The thing is that Communism and Marxism was so misrepresented that anyone with even a passing familiarity can see the mistakes.

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