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Thread: Is “human nature” a barrier to socialism?

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    Politics.ie Member making waves's Avatar
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    Default Is “human nature” a barrier to socialism?

    The world is a mess. War, poverty, and oppression are now part of the daily lives of billions round the globe. Even during the last boom 80% of the world’s population – 5.4 billion people – lived on less than $10 a day. Now that the world is in the midst of this crisis even the head of the World Bank has said it will result in “a human and developmental calamity… the number of chronically hungry people is expected to climb over 1 billion this year”. The wars in the middle east, enviromental destruction and worsening economic turmoil are only the most recent striking examples of the crises facing humanity.

    At the root of this suffering is the economic, social, and political system of capitalism. Capitalism has given rise to large multinational corporations that are locked into a system of cut-throat competition, where corporations single-mindedly pursue short-term profits, power, and resources, regardless of the human cost.

    Corporations and imperialist countries may have taken over the world, but millions of impoverished, oppressed people from Lebanon to Iraq, Venezuela to Mexico, are fighting back. Since the outbreak of the international economic crisis movements of workers and young people, in the more advanced capitalist countries, fighting against attcks on their living standards have shown the huge anger building up from below.

    Many of the people involved in these struggles are searching for an alternative to the misery of capitalism, and many, especially in Latin America, are again beginning to turn towards socialism. However, people often come up against arguments that socialism is unrealistic because it goes against “human nature”. This article attempts to answer some of these questions about socialism.

    Is “human nature” a barrier to socialism? | Joe Higgins.eu

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    Moderator Cato's Avatar
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    Are you going to attempt to answer the question yourself?
    “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson (yeah, I'm aware of the irony)

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    Moderator Cato's Avatar
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    Just read the article and Joe fails to answer the question as well.
    “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson (yeah, I'm aware of the irony)

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    Quote Originally Posted by making waves View Post
    The world is a mess. War, poverty, and oppression are now part of the daily lives of billions round the globe. Even during the last boom 80% of the world’s population – 5.4 billion people – lived on less than $10 a day. Now that the world is in the midst of this crisis even the head of the World Bank has said it will result in “a human and developmental calamity… the number of chronically hungry people is expected to climb over 1 billion this year”. The wars in the middle east, enviromental destruction and worsening economic turmoil are only the most recent striking examples of the crises facing humanity.

    At the root of this suffering is the economic, social, and political system of capitalism. Capitalism has given rise to large multinational corporations that are locked into a system of cut-throat competition, where corporations single-mindedly pursue short-term profits, power, and resources, regardless of the human cost.

    Corporations and imperialist countries may have taken over the world, but millions of impoverished, oppressed people from Lebanon to Iraq, Venezuela to Mexico, are fighting back. Since the outbreak of the international economic crisis movements of workers and young people, in the more advanced capitalist countries, fighting against attcks on their living standards have shown the huge anger building up from below.

    Many of the people involved in these struggles are searching for an alternative to the misery of capitalism, and many, especially in Latin America, are again beginning to turn towards socialism. However, people often come up against arguments that socialism is unrealistic because it goes against “human nature”. This article attempts to answer some of these questions about socialism.

    Is “human nature” a barrier to socialism? | Joe Higgins.eu
    Hi Making Waves, I see the words above are those of Canyon Lalama, a member of Socialist Alternative, the sister organisation of the Socialist Party in the United States - that isn't entirely clear from your OP though anyone reading the link would know of course.

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    Politics.ie Member darkhorse's Avatar
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    Decisions would be made democratically, not by electing one capitalist party or the other every five years but by regular working people making decisions themselves through mass meetings and direct elections.
    you really couldnt make it up.....
    its hard to believe that anyone in 2010 could believe that decisions could be made by 'mass meetings' of workers (not a catholic mass i assume)

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    No, human nature is not an obstacle to Socialism. But, the inhuman nature of a small sociopath minority certainly is. This small sociopath minority have, through centuries of murder and theft, taken the bulk of the world's natural resources into their private ownership, and have set up a system which has condemned the great majority of the world to either lifelong debt slavery, or starvation.

    You might wonder that I use the words "through centuries," as we normally talk about one single individual as being a sociopath, but the fact is that there are sociopathic families, i.e. familes who will rear their children with a total lack of morality. To give just one family as an example, the Rothschilds, they kept the Napoleonic wars going by lending money to both sides, they funded the genocidal invasion of southern Africa by Cecil Rhodes, and they funded the rise of the Nazi Party, through their company I.G. Farben (to just mention some of their villiany.) And, of course, they are heavily involved today with anti-democratic organisations like the Bildeberg Group.

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    It's an interesting question and very difficult to answer as, as the piece points out, it is very hard to know what is true human nature under a system as totalitarian as today's capitalism.

    As Cato would know better than me, philosophy does seem to point to there being dark and light sides to human nature but there again its hard to know 'what is true human nature' as much of that philosophy was influenced by theories about Gods or God and how much of the philosophy sprung from the order in place at those times, ie the control of humans through totalitarian deist systems?

    My own experience of 'idealistic' movements and living arrangements is that it is naive to expect easy co-existence and co-operation. Yet again, how much these are influenced by the capitalist context, I don't know. I have seen well meaning people act in destructive ways towards others in those communities. Usually it has something to do with maintaining 'the system' over and above individual needs or it has to do with influential individuals wanting things 'their' way no matter that others who are affected by this may want.
    But then, we live in such an individualistic culture that is quite blind to how dependent and vulnerable we all actually are, it is hard to know whether these destructive aspects are cultural or natural?

    Its the big culture/nature question isn't it? A very big question! I think culture does have a greater impact than natural. The disappointing results from the study of the human genome, ie in general, they can't pin down particular behaviours or disorders to particular genes, does point to environmental influences being hugely important to who we are and who we see ourselves to be.

    Given certain conditions, I would agree with the author of the article that the answer is probably, no, human nature is not intrinsically a barrier to socialism (which is what I think she is saying) but how we get from here to those particular conditions, is also a very big question.

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    + x 1000. Perfect. Love your "If voting could change anything - it would be banned." Who said that?

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    Animal Farm really does the best job of showing up the idea of socialism -. there will alway be resentment, jealousy and greed, together with self interest.

    capitalism is just as it is in nature, the most ruthless and self determined thrive.
    Condemnant quod non intellegunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xiogenes View Post
    Animal Farm really does the best job of showing up the idea of socialism -. there will alway be resentment, jealousy and greed, together with self interest.

    capitalism is just as it is in nature, the most ruthless and self determined thrive.
    Orwell wrote Animal Farm in a particular political context though as a satire/critique of the goings on at the time when western lefties were being blind to what was going on in the USSR not necessarily as a comment on human nature generally.

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