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Forum Post: Dehumanization

Posted 8 years ago on March 11, 2012, 4:10 p.m. EST by struggleforfreedom80 (6584)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

(Today’s Society And How To Improve It - part III)

In the article “Human Nature” I argued that cooperation, solidarity, altruism etc. are essential and fundamental elements of our nature.

But if these things are huge parts of our nature, why don’t we see a lot more of this in our society today? Well, the problem is that today these things are being suppressed. In today’s (especially Western) societies, things like greed and consumption are being encouraged.

In fact, capitalism doesn’t just encourage us to be greedy; lots of people are actually required to act this way. Corporations f.ex. must focus on the "bottom line"; if they don’t, they’re out of business. In other words, all though they might be decent caring individuals in their private life etc, the CEOs and owners are required - in their institutional role - to only think profits and greed in order for the corporation to survive. If they don’t think profits and greed, they’re out of business, and corporations that do, replace them. A society with an economic landscape like this will of course produce a lot of greed and cynicism.

This encouragement of greed does not only apply to the people involved in corporations. Since human nature allows for some molding of the mind, the system we have manages to suppress innate human feelings and characteristics of many individuals in all of society. Take advertisement f.ex: Corporations - private tyrannies - spend huge amounts of money on this. We’re being pumped full of this garbage almost everywhere we look, whether it’s TV, radio, internet, newspapers etc, etc. Day in and day out, almost everywhere we look, we’re encouraged to buy more and more things that we in fact often don’t need.

Also, when we have a system in which people don’t have much say in the economy and the institutions they’re a part of, and instead are forced to sell their labor to powerful owners in order to survive, many will become more selfish. When people are living, often from paycheck to paycheck, always worrying whether they’ll have enough money to pay next months expenses, and knowing that if they'll get into serious financial problems, their homes might be taken from them etc, people will of course tend to be more self-centered and concerned about keeping more money and resourses to themselves.

All these things, people and corporations being required and encouraged to be greedy and selfish, are highly unnatural phenomena, they’ve been a part of human history for an extremely small amount of time, yet it affects us, many of us in a huge way.

When the economic system in society is one that is based on individuals, to a large extent, only thinking about greed, personal gain, consumption, and making more money, we’re in a place we don’t want to be. This is not an organization of society in which meaningful human life can be realized. It’s dehumanizing.

But with that said, I think it s worth mentioning that even though we’re being encouraged to be greedy and selfish, we still see some kindness and solidarity. Even in a society based on greed and consumption, some are opposing this lifestyle, often radically.

So, the ones with an overwhelming power in society - the corporations and the financial elite - try their best, and have succeeded to a large extent, in turning us into mindless greedy consumers, and suppressing our fundamental innate feelings and characteristics. State-Capitalism is dehumanizing; it must be dismantled.

Further readings:

Part I - “Our Democratic Deficit”

Part II - ”Human Nature”

Part IV - "The Free Ride Society"

Part V - "Capitalism, Exploitation and Involuntary Agreements"

Part VI - "Property Rights"

Part VII - "The Transition Phase: The Road To Freedom" (stage I)

Part VIII - "The Transition Phase: The Road To Freedom" (stage II)

Part IX - "The Transition Phase: The Road To Freedom" (stage III)

Part X - "The Transition Phase: The Road To Freedom" (stage IV)



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[-] 1 points by Quark2 (109) 8 years ago

The old adage is: The toothless get ruthless. Basically the older you get the more you are afraid of death and take out it out on the youth. Humanity goes out the window and you start acting like a robot. Hopefully, when we get old the same won't happen to us, but it could be inevitable. The more vices you have the more the heart is secretly empty exasperating the problem faster.

[-] 0 points by MichaelB (128) 8 years ago

You're pushing a form of social organization that a majority of people don't want and doesn't work when we're left to our own devices anyhow.

[-] 1 points by GreedKills (1119) 8 years ago

Funny those countries in this world that respect life are the ones who are seen to have highest quality of life..... Just sayin'

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 8 years ago

We have a lot of convincing and organizing to do, yes, and I think The Occupy Movements have started something that might, in the future, lead towards libertarian socialist, or libertarian socialist-like societies.

[-] 1 points by MichaelB (128) 8 years ago

I guess that anything is possible, but I don't see it happening and definitely not evolving through the democratic process. It's seen too much as a loss of individuality. Besides only a few life long socialists actually believe that mankind has the ability to place the needs of strangers over the desires of the individual and maybe close family.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 8 years ago

Libertarian Socialism strongly supports individual rights.

Libertarian socialism is about building democracy from below making people free to participate in their affairs. It's about creating a society where people have a democratic influence in the things they´re a part of and which affect them - real democracy in other words. This would certainly include democracy in the workplace and community. There´s a name for this society building democracy from below, it´s called Libertarian Socialism. Anyone who likes the idea of real participatory democracy in which people are in control of their own lives and work, should work for Libertarian Socialism.



[-] 2 points by MichaelB (128) 8 years ago

Socialism places the group over the individual, which is why societies that have a vote have not and probably never will totally embrace it. We vote on our affairs now and a full direct democracy isn't efficient in today's world.

Libertarian socialism is one of those ideas where as you learn more about it you see more problems with it.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 8 years ago

Libertarian Socialism strongly favors individual rights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu8J_UKKa-c

and it isn't all about direct democracy. There has to be representatives on certain levels, but they must be recallable delegates.

[-] 2 points by MichaelB (128) 8 years ago

It becomes pointless then to change from one form of representative government to another form of representative government. The real heart of libertarian socialism is worker control of the workplace and that involves taking over ownership, which most see as an infringing on individual rights. This is not an arrangement the majority will support.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 8 years ago

If you've decided that you want to criticize libertarian socialism, at least know what it is you're criticizing. LS is not about forming another government.

workers' takover of workplaces is infringing on the rights of the non-elected finacial elites and CEOs etc, absolutley, but the workers will have much more rights and will be much better off. I have no problem with these infringements because I don't favor private tyranny.

Again, LS strongly supports individual rights. Watch the link.

[-] 1 points by MichaelB (128) 8 years ago

I know what it is, on paper it sounds good, but then so does the communist version of socialism or capitalism for that matter. It's workers taking over the means of production from the rightful owners and calling it democracy. Workers are free to purchase any business they want now and run it as they see fit. People are also free to vote in the changes you like. In the last century support for socialism has actually dropped. It's a form of Utopia that few believe could work.

I also know it was forced on people in parts of Spain during the Spanish Civil War. They banned use of money under penalty of death, then had backtrack and issue vouchers for work that were traded for food and goods. I suppose because people weren't actually as altruistic in practice as they were supposed to be on paper.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 8 years ago

If you know what it is, then why did you bring up government?

Many didn't think that parlamentary democracy would work either before that came into existence..look what happened.

Current property rights are not graven in in stone, they can be changed just like they were, a certain time ago, changed into the ones we have today. Just like the wealthy business owners have been given the right to own the means of productions others are using and profiting on someone else´s labor, workers can be given the right to instead control their own work and workplace. Property rights are not unchangable and come in different variations, and it has to be the public who have to live by these laws that should get to decide these. In other words, democracy.

"Workers are free to purchase any business"

First of all, you're only "free" to do this if you have lots of cash. Second, the economy is all-encompassing. Workers purchasing a couple of factories and making them into co-ops does not change the fact that the wealth and power are very highly concentrated on the finacial elite. Besides, it's a principle thing: should people be able to have a say in the things they're a part of and which affect them. I don't think that's an unreasonable suggestion.

[-] 1 points by MichaelB (128) 8 years ago

You seem to want something that the majority have rejected repeatedly. In the last century socialist movements in the United States have actually lost membership.

What you say about personal rights is very true all rights are the result of a social contract and change is always possible. Under the contract we operate under today private property rights exist and it would require constitutional changes to alter that. Workers are free to vote for that, as is everyone else effected by property rights. Today an individual business may be owned by thousands of share holders that would obviously support the status quo. In some cases there are more owners/shareholders then there are workers. The principle of the thing requires all of them to get to vote.

Workers can have access to the same capitol as any businessman, develop a business plan, take out a loan, or attract the interest of investors. Most small businesses start with loans and someone willing to work hard and take a risk. If workers prefer to be simply employees and not take any risk I would say that is a form of voting against libertarian socialism.

You seem to want things simply handed over to workers. If it's too hard for them to make a co-op work then maybe they are not really competent to run a major business at all. You want democracy but don't seem to like to accept the results when they go against you. Libertarian socialism is a fringe movement at best, you'll have to prove it works before you get any support.

[-] 0 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 8 years ago

"You seem to want something that the majority have rejected repeatedly"

You've said that already, in which I responded that "we have a lot of convincing to do" I know that lots of people don't share my view. But attitudes can be changed, so why do you keep bringing this up agin and again? Besides, I don't think it's going to be hard to convince people that one should have a say in the things that affect you and which you're a part of. That's not an unreasonable suggestion.

Politics and democracy can have more dimensions than parlamentary democracy. In fact just putting a piece of paper in a box, voting for a, often cynical self-centered guy in a suit, is a poor democratic system: http://occupywallst.org/forum/our-democratic-deficit/

No matter how you try to formulate it, you can't escape the fact that the wealth and power, especially in the United States, are very highly concentrated A couple of occational workers with an over avarage salary or fortune doesnt change anything.

"If it's too hard for them to make a co-op work then maybe they are not really competent to run a major business at all."

Most workers are absolutely able to do this, but again I want a society in which people are controlling thir own lives, workplaces and communities, so what you rise is not that relevant to me.

[-] 0 points by Dumpthechump (96) 8 years ago

Yes MichaelB, you have hit the heart of the libertarian socialist (LS) conundrum and the upholders of "Chomsky ueber alles" like sff80 (who now won't reply to my postings because he considers them childish).

When Marx was around he thought that inordinate capitalist greed would short circuit the capitalist system beginning with the most advanced countries, leading to a popular revolt and the setting up of a socialist system which could provide for human needs.

Over the 20th century capitalism spread over the world, the first capitalist countries controlling the bulk of resources in the 3rd world countries - proving Rosa Luxemburg's insight that capitalist profit actually derives from the non-capitalist world. However the non-capitalist world is now essentially nonexistent so that after our debt-fuelled age finally fell (1972 stagflation to 2008 GFC) it has become a race to the bottom as wages fall across the world - and as a result, purchasing power and markets are shrinking across the world!

Hence, sheer desperation will force the majority (OWS hoping to be its spokespeople) to accept a new system.

The problem with LS is that it is localistic and cannot deal with national and global issues. The answer is that the world itself is hierarchical and any future government has to recognize this fact. A self-elective caste system, as I have been posting elsewhere here, will be the way to go.

The nub of the issue is that capitalism (i.e. rule by capitalists over a complicit state) is unsustainable both on its own economic terms and the global energy crisis. LS is merely a symptom of it - a cry from the heart from those who have yet to grasp the extent of the crisis.