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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Yawn. Communism has never worked and never will work- it's predicated on the assumption that people will work in the best interests of society as opposed to the best interests of themselves, which never ever ever will happen.


A common misconception. The classical Marxist point of view makes it abundantly obvious that Communism is inevitable - it's part of the march of progress shown by historical materialism, in every sense just as much as capitalism and feudalism were before it. It's all about the procession of technology, which will make Communism happen, not utopians trying to get everyone to share. After all, at a point where technology has advanced to the point where labor isn't necessary to get crops grown, say because of robotics, there will be a lot less necessity for huge differences in wealth distribution.
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Originally Posted By: Goldenking
A common misconception. The classical Marxist point of view makes it abundantly obvious that Communism is inevitable - it's part of the march of progress shown by historical materialism, in every sense just as much as capitalism and feudalism were before it. It's all about the procession of technology, which will make Communism happen, not utopians trying to get everyone to share. After all, at a point where technology has advanced to the point where labor isn't necessary to get crops grown, say because of robotics, there will be a lot less necessity for huge differences in wealth distribution.


So essentially you're saying I'm wrong because someone stated that I'm wrong? "Because Marx said so" is hardly a very sound argument.

Besides, Marx thought that the conditions for the workers would continue to get worse and worse, until they were essentially reduced to scraping out the worst existence that would still allow them to work. However, we've seen nothing but a rise in living standards, nutrition, medicine, education, wages, and comfort(excepting during wars and depressions, but those are anomalies). If the workers are seeing constant improvement in their lot in life, what reason would they have to overthrow a system that is providing them objective benefits and by all appearances will continue to provide them with objective benefits?

Actually, I think there's a good quote on the objective benefits of Capitalism, from a most unlikely source:

Originally Posted By: Karl Marx, in the Communist Manifesto
[The bourgeoisie] has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

[...]

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?
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Originally Posted By: Dantius

However, we've seen nothing but a rise in living standards, nutrition, medicine, education, wages, and comfort(excepting during wars and depressions, but those are anomalies).


How do sweat shops enter your arguments? The democracies basically improved the conditions of their "roman" laborers by worsening the conditions of the "barbarian" laborers.
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
... we've seen nothing but a rise in living standards, nutrition, medicine, education, wages, and comfort(excepting during wars and depressions, but those are anomalies). If the workers are seeing constant improvement in their lot in life, what reason would they have to overthrow a system that is providing them objective benefits and by all appearances will continue to provide them with objective benefits?


You can thank the pinko unions for that.
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Communism has never worked and never will work- it's predicated on the assumption that people will work in the best interests of society as opposed to the best interests of themselves, which never ever ever will happen.

Originally Posted By: Goldenking
A common misconception. The classical Marxist point of view makes it abundantly obvious that... It's all about the procession of technology, which will make Communism happen, not utopians trying to get everyone to share.

Originally Posted By: Dantius
So essentially you're saying I'm wrong because someone stated that I'm wrong? "Because Marx said so" is hardly a very sound argument.

No, he's not. You said "communism is predicated on this"; he said "actually, it wasn't, at least not in its original form." Citing the original form seems like the best way to make that argument to me. Goldenking wasn't arguing that what Marx wrote is going to come true, just that your characterization of communism was inaccurate.

While he didn't quote Marx, he also didn't quote Marx blatantly out of context like you did.

Myself, I think it's obviously a load of bunk: we're WELL past the point where we have the easy capability to provide a comfortable life for every human on the planet, and we don't, because people prefer their own luxuries to the comfort of others.

Originally Posted By: Dantius
However, we've seen nothing but a rise in living standards, nutrition, medicine, education, wages, and comfort(excepting during wars and depressions, but those are anomalies).

This is true for the world taken as a whole, but it is not categorically true. There are numerous examples of times and places where living standards have fallen (beyond wars and depressions, there is in particular the result of exploitative rule, rather relevant to the theme of human morality that according to Goldenking communism is not predicated on). So the statement that we have seen "nothing but" an improved standard of living is false.

Quote:
If the workers are seeing constant improvement in their lot in life, what reason would they have to overthrow a system that is providing them objective benefits and by all appearances will continue to provide them with objective benefits?
Um, because they could see MORE benefits and MORE improvements by overthrowing the system and replacing it with a more egalitarian one?
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
China's doing just fine right now, what with their "centralized state power" and the ability to present a cohesive front to so many of their problems. I don't see what so bad about a few human rights violations every now and then if you can get the level or growth and union that China has.


You're not in China.

Of course, there are plenty of states with gruesome abuse of citizens and no growth. Compared to them, China is fantastic. As states go, in fact, China's probably not really bad at all.

But it's far from ideal. Ignoring that amounts to saying that it doesn't really matter how those billion human beings live, because they're only Chinese.

Re communism:
True, Marx presented communism as a sort of inevitable groundswell that would take over everywhere when the time was ripe, without any dictators. Lenin was the evil genius that added the Party to force history's hand. But in fact Marx's communism has never happened, and only Lenin's has ever been implemented. I reckon it's a little academic to stand on the letter of Marx, when real communism has been pretty consistently dictatorial.

And Marx was just completely mistaken about how capitalism worked and how history would go. His labor theory of value is simply wrong; it's a medieval understanding that may have seemed compelling in the early years of industrialization, but that totally misses the point of what industrialization turned out to mean. So it really should be no surprise that Soviet communism failed despite succeeding. It succeeded in delivering the 1917 model of a worker's paradise, where everyone had a roof over their head and food on the table. But in the meantime those damned capitalists, instead of collapsing over the inevitably diminishing returns of the steam loom textile industry, put cars in garages and televisions in living rooms and tomatoes in December supermarkets.
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Originally Posted By: Lilith

A corporation doesn't have a will of its own. It has directors, who often don't care if their corporation goes under because they get paid either way and can move on to ruin some other corporation. You'd think people would stop hiring terrible directors at some point, but the people who are making decisions on who to appoint to the board are in practice generally the other directors, who don't care either and are supported by large institutional shareholders who are perfectly happy to see directors effectively running pump-and-dump schemes on their own company's stock, as long as they know when to dump. Managerial culture in the US is pretty much rotten to the core.

Basically your fundamental mistake here is treating corporations as if they had agency independent of the people in charge of them, and ignoring the fact that the people in charge often actively benefit from running them into the ground. In other words:

I don't think this would be too much of a problem if the government hadn't adopted a policy of corporate welfare. Directors have already run their corporations into the ground, but the government bails them out on the idea that they're "too big to fail."

Quote:

Originally Posted By: Excalibur
Corporations and governments are both composed of self-interested people and both will use money for disagreeable purposes, but it's at least difficult for a corporation to violate my rights.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinkertons

a corporation with a staff of armed employees larger than the US Army at the time, hired primarily by other corporations that wanted to violate people's rights

The U.S. government had used military force in the interest of business as well. There was rampant corruption, but this was a century ago. I highly doubt that the same kind of situation could occur today.
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Originally Posted By: Excalibur

I don't think this would be too much of a problem if the government hadn't adopted a policy of corporate welfare. Directors have already run their corporations into the ground, but the government bails them out on the idea that they're "too big to fail."


... dude, my entire argument was premised on the fact that directors don't care if their corporations succeed or fail in the first place. Whether the government bails out a corporation is irrelevant as far as curbing directorial malfeasance goes, because by then the directors responsible for the failure have already moved on. Your argument is like saying that giving medical treatment to people with malaria is responsible for the proliferation of mosquitoes.

Quote:

The U.S. government had used military force in the interest of business as well. There was rampant corruption, but this was a century ago. I highly doubt that the same kind of situation could occur today.


with all due respect, i'm sure you've highly doubted a lot of things that turned out to be true
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
So essentially you're saying I'm wrong because someone stated that I'm wrong? "Because Marx said so" is hardly a very sound argument.

Besides, Marx thought that the conditions for the workers would continue to get worse and worse, until they were essentially reduced to scraping out the worst existence that would still allow them to work. However, we've seen nothing but a rise in living standards, nutrition, medicine, education, wages, and comfort(excepting during wars and depressions, but those are anomalies). If the workers are seeing constant improvement in their lot in life, what reason would they have to overthrow a system that is providing them objective benefits and by all appearances will continue to provide them with objective benefits


I believe that, if we're going to discuss what communism is predicated on in any sense, Marx is probably one of the better sources to go to, as he created the groundwork for the modern understanding of communism. Those who came after, the Lenin's, Stalin's, and Mao's of the day all advocated a perversion of this original vision of communism, extending the dictatorship of the proletariat indefinitely. In this sense, I don't even consider them, nor the states they created, to be communistic at all.

And Marx certainly did not believe that communism would be attained by sharing and caring with and for everyone else. He was the one who made the strict distinction between his own scientific socialism, seeing historical materialism as the way of progression, and utopian socialism, as advocated by people such as Robert Owen, as the dreamy share and care operations that were doomed to failure. Indeed, the relics of Robert Owen's utopian socialism can be found still, having been completely co-opted.

Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
Off topic: Excalibur, what does your avatar represent?


I second this request.
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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
Off topic: Excalibur, what does your avatar represent?

I made myself an avatar out of boredom. It doesn't represent anything.

Originally Posted By: Lilith

... dude, my entire argument was premised on the fact that directors don't care if their corporations succeed or fail in the first place. Whether the government bails out a corporation is irrelevant as far as curbing directorial malfeasance goes, because by then the directors responsible for the failure have already moved on. Your argument is like saying that giving medical treatment to people with malaria is responsible for the proliferation of mosquitoes.

Maybe I wasn't very clear with what I was saying, but it's Christmas morning and I don't really feel like explaining myself at the moment. tongue
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Originally Posted By: Seiðmaðr Eld

When communism becomes the operating philosophy of a government in a country that is not [censored] to begin with, I'll accept it as an example.


To some extent that's fair. But it's like the classic dialogue:
Originally Posted By: lost stranger
How do you get to Smithsville?

Originally Posted By: local bumpkin
Well, I certainly wouldn't start from here!

It's funny because you know why the bumpkin might say that. Some places are just particularly awkward to get to directly from certain other places, and you can't help thinking of the trip in at least two stages. But of course it's absurd to imply that you can only get to a Smithsville by starting from somewhere else, because you can always start from here and go by way of the somewhere else.

In the same way, if I wanted to get to the withering away of the state into Marx's utopian communism, I certainly wouldn't start from Tsarist Russia or China under warlords and Japanese occupation. But a political system that can only be reached from an ideal starting point is ipso facto a lousy system, because political systems are supposed to work for societies of humans, not angels. And there's been a lot of water under the bridge since the Communist Manifesto. If communism hasn't been properly implemented anywhere yet, it would seem to require excessively ideal starting conditions.

If all you want to mean by communism is the idealistic end goal, there's hardly any point in talking about communism. Utopian fantasies have been around too long for Karl Marx to claim copyright on the concept. The thing that deserves a name is Marx's notion of how we would get there. Insofar as that has a track record, it's horrible. Insofar as it still doesn't have a track record, after more than a century of serious consideration, that's also a horrible track record.
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Marx thought that communism would start in the industrialized Western Europe or United States which where already closer to his goal than agricultural Russia or later China. In skipping the steps of transitional governments they moved more towards dictatorships that imposed a pseudo communist government.

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity

If all you want to mean by communism is the idealistic end goal, there's hardly any point in talking about communism. Utopian fantasies have been around too long for Karl Marx to claim copyright on the concept. The thing that deserves a name is Marx's notion of how we would get there. Insofar as that has a track record, it's horrible. Insofar as it still doesn't have a track record, after more than a century of serious consideration, that's also a horrible track record.


There is, so I hear, currently a school of thought among communist theorists known as accelerationism, which holds that, all other obvious alternatives having already been tried, communists may as well actively participate in the capitalist system, thus speeding up the rate at which it gets worse, and hope that Marx was right after all and a communist society is what rises from the ashes after capitalism's inevitable collapse. I will refrain from commenting on the merits of accelerationism here, except to say that on a personal level it's a remarkably effective way of having one's cake and eating it too. That last sentence is crying out for a Marie Antoinette joke, but I can't think of one right now, so consider this a placeholder.
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"Marxism" is a scientific, materialist approach to history. It is a tool for understanding human behavior, like Occam's Razor is for general logic. Simply put, it states that ideas are dependent on the society in which they form. A tribe of hunter-gatherers will not come up with the United Nations, because there is no need or prompting for anyone to think up such a thing.

 

It is also a social system.

 

For a ton more on this, ask Dad.

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Marxism is a pseudo-scientific approach to history. To go with SoT, a hypothesis that fails to be verified is not a great hypothesis. A hypothesis that is, in fact, constantly modified contextually when it's wrong is not a hypothesis at all.

 

—Alorael, who will note that that's not actually quite how social sciences or economics are usually judged. (Insert joke about economists not being right and not being judged here.)

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That is not, in fact, Marxism. It is at best a lemma arrived at on the way.

 

—Alorael, who certainly won't reject nurture (or nature) in its role in forming humans or human societies. But Marx wasn't a psychologist, he was an economist and political theorist. Saying Marx was sometimes right is not the same as saying that Marxist theory is right.

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Once again, cite sources. I'm going with the definition of Marxism used by historians and economists since about 1867. Class struggle, overthrow of bourgeoisie, dictatorship of the proletariat. If you want Marxism to be something else, please explain where that understanding comes from.

 

—Alorael, who points out that everything Marx said, thought, and wrote isn't Marxism. The discipline belongs to the disciples, and in this case some apples fell pretty far from the tree. He's still unaware of Marx being a nurture over nature guy, though.

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
On the other hand, Erasmus's avatar needs no citations and is simply full of win.


This


But I'm not one to just comment on a comment. In order to contribute to the conversation, I agree with Alorael. Who is in concurrence with the teacher who taught me about Marxism and Communism.
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Originally Posted By: Slartucker
Oh wow, you went there.

Traditionally I believe there were 3 palm trees on my head and not 2. Also, that is not me.

Is it a grass/psychic pokemon?
Please tell me you still have a copy of that image.

Back to the "Marxism/Communism/Whatever as a scientific theory" metaphor: perhaps it's unfalsifiable? That is, the sufficient conditions for a Marxism/Communist/Whatever are too nebulously defined?
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The funny thing about the economy is that psychologists have influenced it far more than economists. Businesses rely more on BF Skinner's theories than most economic theories. Heck, Las Vegas is practically a shrine built in honor of Skinner. Any economic model is feasible if you can manipulate the population into the right mindset. Plus Benoit Mandelbrot's theories are probably going to supplant most other economic theories.

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There's about to be an explosion of breakthrough research in the field of neuroeconomics, especially with increased fMRI time available for researchers at many of the big research universities.

 

I'm sure there will be a lot of early adopters trying to make a buck based on their findings, and then we'll get to see how applicable these studies really are!

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Originally Posted By: Drakefyre
There's about to be an explosion of breakthrough research in the field of neuroeconomics, especially with increased fMRI time available for researchers at many of the big research universities.

I'm sure there will be a lot of early adopters trying to make a buck based on their findings, and then we'll get to see how applicable these studies really are!


whoa look who's back
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Originally Posted By: Drakefyre
There's about to be an explosion of breakthrough research in the field of neuroeconomics, especially with increased fMRI time available for researchers at many of the big research universities.

I'm sure there will be a lot of early adopters trying to make a buck based on their findings, and then we'll get to see how applicable these studies really are!


It's funny how neuroscience just reeks of legitimacy. People don't even question it when a scientist uses an fMRI to tell them something about the brain. I just wonder what will happen when a person says that he like Coke but an fMRI image of his brain says that he likes Pepsi. Are they going to believe the person or his brain?
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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Originally Posted By: Drakefyre
There's about to be an explosion of breakthrough research in the field of neuroeconomics, especially with increased fMRI time available for researchers at many of the big research universities.

I'm sure there will be a lot of early adopters trying to make a buck based on their findings, and then we'll get to see how applicable these studies really are!


whoa look who's back

Oh hey there LRTDeM ... I've been finishing up Avernum 6 and decided to pop in and see wuz happenin'
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Originally Posted By: Vicheron
I just wonder what will happen when a person says that he like Coke but an fMRI image of his brain says that he likes Pepsi. Are they going to believe the person or his brain?

Based on the results of the Pepsi Challenge, you should always put your money on Coke.

Dikiyoba doesn't get people's obsession with the Coke brand. It's not Dr. Pepper, so what's the point? tongue
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Originally Posted By: Vicheron

It's funny how neuroscience just reeks of legitimacy. People don't even question it when a scientist uses an fMRI to tell them something about the brain. I just wonder what will happen when a person says that he like Coke but an fMRI image of his brain says that he likes Pepsi. Are they going to believe the person or his brain?


Depends - what happens when he tries them both? There's a lot of psychology that goes into something like brand loyalty - someone conditioned to think that they prefer Coke when 'chemically' he prefers the taste of Pepsi is an interesting case. There are a lot of things that go into a purchasing decision, and ultimately that's the only thing that really matters. Taste, price, corporate practices, advertising, image ... it's all considered.

And there's obviously the need to make sure people aren't drawing spurious conclusions by reading the fMRI data backwards. If a certain area of the brain sees activity when shown "frightening" images, just because there is activity in that area of the brain some other time, it doesn't mean that person is frightened (although that is one possibility).

There's a large disconnect in neuroscience between what can be seen and observed on a minuscule scale of neurotransmitters and axons, and any kind of resultant behavior. There are so many factors and so many unknowns that every connection from small to large scale or vice-versa is celebrated. We're getting more and more tools to draw these connections, and anything that is reproducible and statistically significant is worth exploring further.

And then we get into fun, manipulative things like neuromarketing.
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