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Forum Post: Is a central government, the state, really necessary?

Posted 2 years ago on June 12, 2012, 11:20 a.m. EST by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV
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Engels didn't think so. In his essay, "The Origin of Family, Private Property, and State," he wrote, "The state is, therefore, by no means a power forced on society from without; just as little is it "the reality of the ethical idea," "the image and reality of reason," as Hegel maintains (Grunlinken der Philosophie des Rechts, § 257 and § 360). Rather, it is a product of society at a certain stage of development; it is the admission that this society has become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it has split into irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to dispel. But in order that these antagonisms and classes with conflicting economic interests might not consume themselves and society in fruitless struggle, it became necessary to have a power seemingly standing above society that would alleviate the conflict, and keep it within the bounds of "order" ; and this power, arisen out of society but placing itself above it, and alienating itself more and more from it, is the state."

Why does this sound so familiar?

25 Comments

25 Comments


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[-] 2 points by Misaki (893) 2 years ago

Is the international organization "The United Nations" necessary?

No, but it helps to avoid conflicts. Same with the federal government. Same with state governments.

All of those organizations may be flawed, but people seem unwilling to support the accelerated work week which would lead to more honestry and therefore greater correlation between the goals people impose on government and the actual results (i.e. "less corruption").

That is a simple and effective plan to control the problems created by government and all types of authority. Unless you have a reasonable alternative to accomplishing that goal, failure to support the accelerated work week is indicative of lack of committment to being effective.

[-] 3 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

The conflict(s) derive from the class struggle. The state, as a tool of the ruling class, alienates "itself more and more from" the working class, the majority of society.

I don't know that people are unwilling to support the accelerated work week, but many may not see the logic, only the theoretical issues.

[-] 2 points by Misaki (893) 2 years ago

It's definitely true that the state does not respond to the desires of the working class (see chart from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_upper_class) but I see this as resulting from stupidity more than anything else. ("Never attribute to malice...")

Again, there are FEWER people who think wealth and money should be more evenly distributed now (or at least in 2011, don't have a post-OWS poll) than in 2007 when most people had jobs!

[-] 3 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

Of course I hate to continue quoting Marx and Engels, but they attributed the oppression to exploitation in favor of the capitalists.

I am skeptical of polls, since I believe to seriously consider any poll, we must know, the demographics of the people who responded; how they were selected; the nature of the question(s), and finally how it (they) were specifically asked.

Even if the poll is accurate, such a response most likely only proves Gramsci's theory of Cultural Hegemony or as Marx put it in The Communist Manifesto, "The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class."

[-] 2 points by stevebol (1269) from Milwaukee, WI 2 years ago

Communism became outdated very quickly when socialism came along. Wasn't the original intent of socialism to deal with the issue of energy? What we have now is a conflict between the right, which embraces the goals of the original socialists and the left, which has turned the meaning of "socialism" to imply the existence and need for social saftey nets. "Communism exists only in an abstract way and is beyond explanation.

[-] 2 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

I believe The Communist Manifesto summarizes the tenets of communism quite well.

Socialism and communism are not mutually exclusive. Marx and Engels viewed conversational socialism as a bourgeois approach to communism, more acceptable to the petty bourgeousie as well as the parsons and small landowners. They viewed communism as an evolutionary process, which required a socialistic government to transition from capitalism.

If communism is outdated, that's certainly newsworthy.

Socialism was a philosophical reaction to the inequalities of the industrial revolution; it favored redistribution of wealth, and many early socialists favored the establishment of communes.

I certainly can't imagine any instance in which the goals of socialists have ever coincided with the goals of the current American right wing, which is little more than a mouthpiece for the bourgeousie. The definition of socialism almost always includes public ownership of property through the government, whereas communism favors that all property be held in common.

[-] 2 points by stevebol (1269) from Milwaukee, WI 2 years ago

We have our own ideology in the US so why get too caught up with what Marx wrote long ago? He was a social critic who thought people were just greedy buggers and he was right. Don't you think it's odd that the right wants total control over the distribution of energy and they accuse everyone else of being a socialist!!! all the time? They're just using a different interpretation than you.

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

Now, we are in agreement. One of my basic arguments against "conservatives" is that they actually want bigger government in the form of controlling myth taught as science, people's sexual preferences, who they marry, women's vaginas, reproductive rights, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

What most of us on the left propose is actually less government, which has no business in our personal affairs. In fact most anarchists, (and you will appreciate the irony of this) as well as Marx and Engels, all see the day when no vertical government is needed at all. The whole point of Engel's essay, from which I quoted, is that eventually in a true communist state, the government will wither away. The final sentence reads: "Society, which will reorganise production on the basis of a free and equal association of the producers, will put the whole machinery of state where it will then belong: into the museum of antiquities, by the side of the spinning wheel and the bronze axe."

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 2 years ago

they attributed the oppression to exploitation in favor of the capitalists.

From this blog site which was linked to by the main OWS faction's "Fight Back" initiative, http://pink-scare.blogspot.com/2012/05/against-robert-reich-on-socialism.html

This site, which advocates socialism instead of capitalism, says...

Finally, because of fierce market competition among capitalist firms, individual capitalists are forced to try to accumulate not just any level of profit, but maximum profit by any means necessary. Capitalists, then, don't screw over the 99% because they're evil. A capitalist who doesn't drive wages down, maximize profit, and reinvest in expanded production is not likely to remain a capitalist for long. They are likely to lose market share and go under to more ruthless competitors.

we must know, the demographics of the people who responded; how they were selected; the nature of the question(s), and finally how it (they) were specifically asked.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/147881/americans-divided-taxing-rich-redistribute-wealth.aspx

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted April 7-11, 2011, with a random sample of 1,077 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

. . . Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

You can see the questions if you like.

[edit] the full results show that that the number of people who think that wealth and money should be more evenly distributed was between 60~66% from 1984 to 1998, was at 56% in 2000 (during .com bubble with higher labor costs from high demand), meaning that despite higher inequality (since median wages haven't risen for the past 30 years, while productivity increased 80%) there are fewer people who think inequality is too high.

There were less people who thought there were too many rich people in 1990 but also less people who thought there were too few rich people... it seems like the US population is just more opinionated and divided now without agreement on the reason for economic problems (which people are also more aware of now due to the financial crisis/recession and persistent high unemployment).

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

I'm not exactly sure what the quotation means. If it means that capitalists don't generally kick dogs, beat their wives, or molest children, I would agree, but the objectification of labor for the purpose of profit is an exploitive technique; you may not consider it evil, depending on the relative definition of evil, but in my book exploiting people for money and treating them only as objects is reprehensible and, yes, even evil.

I didn't take a look at the Gallup questions, but if the poll is accurate, the results probably only validate the theory of cultural hegemony, expressed so basically by Marx.

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 2 years ago

in my book exploiting people for money and treating them only as objects is reprehensible and, yes, even evil.

Alright, so then what is your definition of when someone who owns capital is "exploiting people for money and treating them only as objects"? How can we decide when this is occurring?

but if the poll is accurate, the results probably only validate the theory of cultural hegemony, expressed so basically by Marx.

There is some value in pointing out that people are wrong, and that the rich do in fact have lots of money despite, or even because of, "a bad economy" and high unemployment. But there is much more value in going beyond that to suggest a workable solution.

Saying "we just need to fix the corruption in government!" is not an effective solution. The US has very low rates of actual bribery compared to, say, China; most of the "corruption" that people complain about has the effect of helping working-class people in a local area at the expense of the federal budget as a whole. Higher inflation due to out-of-control government spending DOES lead to higher employment, as economists are well aware but many people seem to be ignorant of.

So asking for "lower corruption" is not really distinguishable from asking for lower government spending (including tax expenditures), which will have the overall effect of higher unemployment. Politicians, no matter how they were elected, are unlikely to commit political suicide by reducing government spending unless there is a reasonable expectation that jobs will be available in the private sector. This is unlikely to happen except through the accelerated work week.

[-] 2 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

The basic tenet that capitalists have used is to pay the minimum subsistence wage or what the workers will tolerate. That has proven out since 1979, when real income has stagnated or declined for most workers.

I like the idea of a workable solution.

The corruption of government under our present system isn't fixable. The system has to be reworked.

Again, I like the idea of a workable solution.

[-] 2 points by DemandTheGoodLifeDotCom (3213) from New York, NY 2 years ago

What is your idea of a workable solution?

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

I don't have any pat answers; I was responding to Misaki where he said, "But there is much more value in going beyond that to suggest a workable solution...This is unlikely to happen except through the accelerated work week."

However, I don't believe our current system, corroded to the core by corruption can be reformed. Maybe, just maybe, a third party, which truly represents the interests of the workers and is more resistent to corruption can make a difference, but that is utopian.

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 2 years ago

Yes, that is the question.

The point of work conser— sorry, "the accelerated work week" is that it is neutral or positive for the companies that use it, and the cost (in the form of lower profits) is borne by ALL businesses that participate in the global economy, not just ones in the US.

So basically no one has offered a valid critique of its economic effectiveness. The reasons people aren't supporting it seem to be either they are confused about what it would do to wages, or... something else, not really sure.

In one thread someone said that we need a "fundamental change" and implied that the accelerated work week wasn't that. In previous discussions it was said that we needed to address the "culture of corruption" and the latest arguments for the accelerated work week tried to work on that angle... but without success (in the form of support).

[-] 1 points by OccNoVi (415) 2 years ago

So TitusMoans and Engels want to live in Afghanistan ???

That's what you get. Tribes dominate activities that devolve to the national governments in stronger, constitutional nation states.

Afghanistan is the counterexample to strong government. Same when Taliban got on top 1996/1998. They still had to fight the drug lords, a.k.a. Northern Drug Alliance. Hell, they had Binladen on their side fighting that U.S. financed part of the War on Drugs.

Btw: there's been speculation some of that War on Drugs money from Clinton and Bush went around the bend, helping directly to finance the 9/11 suicide-hijacking.

Imagine the U.S. with Romney turned loose to build a private gang. Then allowed to run amok. Want a theocracy ??? Local police would get turned hard-right as their first targets. Gold rules.

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

I'm not sure what you're saying. Maybe you can elucidate. Do you mean that anarchistic, communistic societies end in the same wretched mess as Afghanistan?

You should re-examine what anarchism and communism actually propose before venturing such an opinion.

[-] 1 points by OccNoVi (415) 2 years ago

Afghan villages are mostly communistic and apart from communal religious rules that have been in place for a millennium, they are anarchistic.

"Actually propose" by half-looped Ad-Busting theorists (escaped from poli-sci courses) ain't worth a dime compared with actual practice. Afghanistan does it out at the edge of the world.

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

You have an interesting perspective that completely disregards history. Afghan villages are mainly theocratic, not communistic. The country is Muslim. They fought the Soviet Union for years, as the United States armed and trained them, so the Mujahideen could turn around and fight us.

So, now you need to re-examine Afghan history and culture as well as polticial science. Good luck.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5846) 2 years ago

You mention "theocratic, not communistic" with the implication that they're mutually exclusive terms.

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

No, they are not mutually exclusive. In this country the Hutterites, the Shakers, Amana have all been religious communes.

From what I have read, however, most Muslims of Afghanistan do not practice communism, nor do they believe in it.

[-] 1 points by OccNoVi (415) 2 years ago

These are different words: "communistic" and "Communism."

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

Fair enough. Here is a link to the site from which I gathered my information. Undoubtedly, it could be wrong, and I could be misinformed. http://www.afghanistans.com/information/people/wayoflife.htm

[-] 1 points by OccNoVi (415) 2 years ago

Herding is done on common areas. Farming is diverse. Where water comes in by canals, families own their own plots but that is a small fraction of the overall land. Generally the country is semi-arid -- shifting around with waterfall and run-off is the norm.

Recently the poppy trade came to dominate the money economy. It's all the big money. Martin Booth's book is a start, goes way back.

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 2 years ago

Local government is all that is necessary for a free people. A state grows by enlarging itself by engulfing local governments, with or without their consent. So the state is paradoxical, both defender and aggressor.

A nation is never really free unless all of it's members consent to the merger. When any member is forced against their will to be in union with the state, the state is not a protector, but a criminal, taking hostage local governments against their will for it's own benefit.