Archives for posts with tag: Marx

Are you done laughing?

It isn’t funny?

Well, it wasn’t meant to be funny… only illustrative for the way in which some people understand freedom… ‘they’ being free to impose their will upon others while all the rest are free to obey. Or else.

My point being that freedom is nothing more and nothing less than what we make of it.

In order to make myself understood I have to mention that there are two kinds of liberty and that, historically, there have been two only apparently conflicting visions on whether freedom is real or not.

Freedom, like most things human, is both a concept and a reality.
We think about it, hence it is relatively simple to accept ‘freedom as a human concept’.
If you find it hard to accept that liberty is also real… when was the last time you took a dog to a park where you can unleash it? To a meadow where it can run its heart out without you being afraid of the city warden? And no, I’m not thinking about the joy experienced by the dog…

We have ‘internal’ freedom – the manner in which each of us relates, in their heads, with the concept, and ‘social’ freedom – the vectorial sum of all that the members of a certain society put in practice about freedom.
It’s a matter of ‘obvious evidence’ that these two may swirl in two directions.
Form a virtuous circle – the natural evolution of humankind, from slavery to feudalism to democratic capitalism, sometimes interrupted by ‘vicious’ epicycles –  the last two being fascism and communism.

Before discussing whether liberty is real or just an illusion let me poke another wasp nest.
How big is this thing we call ‘freedom’?
How big can this ‘vectorial sum’ be?

Infinite? Nobody can live that long, anyway…

Then where does it stop? At the ‘tip of our collective nose’?
It’s up to us to decide? Through constant negotiation? Always keeping in mind that all ‘imperial’ endeavors have failed, sooner or later? That no human being has ever been able to survive alone for any considerable length of time, let alone to grow up by him/herself?

Communism and fascism being only the last two examples of what happens when too many of us forget the most important lesson history teaches us?

One more thing. I still owe you an explanation about why I consider the conflict between the ‘promoters’ and  ‘deniers’ of liberty to be a false one.
Currently, most people agree – even if most of them only implicitly, about ‘your liberty to swing your fist ending where my nose begins’.
From time to time various ‘hot headed’ individuals have contested this.
Either philosophically – Nietzsche, Marx, or practically – Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol-Pot…
The most interesting aspect of all this being that there still are ‘philosophers’ (?!?) who continue to argue one side of the argument against the immense historical evidence which keeps growing. Not only ‘against’ the immense… but also producing fresh pretexts for the ‘willing practitioners’ to try for yet another time. And to continue to increase the mountain of evidence…

‘But what are the arguments marshaled by the ‘freedom deniers’?
What if they are right, after all, only the ‘practitioners’ have not yet been able to ‘do it right’? You, of all others’ – that would be me, ‘should remember that “Critics of early steam-spewing locomotives, for example, thought “that women’s bodies were not designed to go at 50 miles an hour,” and worried that “[female passengers’] uteruses would fly out of [their] bodies as they were accelerated to that speed”!
And, even more importantly, who are you to tell us that freedom is real?’

OK.
As I mentioned before, there are two categories of deniers.
‘Relative’ and ‘absolute’ deniers. The ‘Nietzsche-s’ and the ‘Marx-s’.
The ‘Nietzsche-s’ argue that freedom is up for grabs, that it can – no, actually that it should – be cornered by those having the strongest “will to power”. ‘Finders keepers, losers weepers’.
The ‘Marx-s’ argue that freedom is nothing but an illusion and that everybody must observe the implacable laws which derive from the world being made of nothing else but matter. Hence, according to Marx, the ‘communists’ – those who have understood the ‘scientific’ nature of the world/society, have the duty to take over the society and to take it, forcefully if needed, to its ‘scientifically’ determined destination.
‘Quite a Platonic vision of the world, don’t you think?’
‘Well… I’ve already covered this subject…’
Coming back to the apparent conflict between the promoters and the deniers of freedom, it is now rather simple to observe that ‘Marx’ is nothing but ‘Nietzsche’ dressed up in ‘scientific’ garb – don’t be fooled by the fact that Nietzsche was way younger than Marx, they had been kindred souls, while ‘Nietzsche’ had been a very focused ‘freedom fighter’ – focused exclusively on ‘his’ freedom, that is.

A petty conflict about ‘who has the bigger one’, hidden under pretentious make-up…

‘And were does all this leave us?’

At the conclusion that being free means, before and above anything else, being responsible?
For one’s own fate and for at least some of what’s going to happen in the (near) future?

 

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Peste puțin timp, vor fi 30 de ani de când a implodat lagărul comunist.

O jumătate de viață de om.

Momentul invită la reflexie. Mai există supraviețuitori în putere și încă lucizi.
În același timp, noua generație – care doar a auzit de cele întâmplate sub fostul regim, începe să preia controlul asupra unui număr din ce în ce mai mare de ‘butoane’.
O parte semnificativă dintre cei care au experimentat comunismul au dezvoltat tot felul de nostalgii iar o parte din ce în ce mai mare a ‘inocenților’ se comportă ca și cum n-ar fi înțeles nimic din toată tărășenia.

Ei bine, există două feluri de comunism.
Cel imaginat de Marx și cel experimentat de ‘argații’ lui Lenin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, etc.
Diferențele dintre ele sunt majore dar asemănările sunt și mai importante.

În imaginația lui Marx, comunismul urma să apară atunci când suficient de mulți dintre membrii unei societăți urmau să se prindă că erau exploatați de o minoritate.
În practică. Lenin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot și ceilalți s-au folosit de nemulțumirea maselor pentru a rasturna ordinea socială. Și pentru a face în așa fel încât o minoritate, a lor, să acapareze toată puterea.

Cu alte cuvinte, diferența între comunismul teoretic al lui Marx și cel practic al lui Lenin & company este că la Marx apariția comunismului urma să fie mai mult sau mai puțin naturală în timp ce Lenin și gașca sa au dat dovadă de un oportunism feroce.

Asemănările mi se par mult mai importante. Tocmai pentru că oferă mult mai multe informații utile.
Pentru început, trebuie sa constatăm că imaginația lui Marx a fost suficient de mare încât să prevadă chiar și oportunismul lui Lenin. Pe undeva pe la începutul manifestului comunist, Marx îi descria pe comuniști ca fiind „avangarda clasei muncitoare” – oameni cu o conștiință socială foarte ridicată, care se pun în fruntea luptei de emancipare a proletariatului și care se sacrifică pentru binele societății în ansamblu… Și uite-așa o barba-avea…
A doua asemănare se referă la minorități.
În ambele variante, energia socială care face posibilă apariția comunismului este nemulțumirea maselor cu privire la regimul/ordinea socială instaurat de minoritatea aflată la putere înante ca noua minoritate, cea comunistă, să o detroneze pe prima.
Al treilea numitor comun, și cel mai important, este chiar energia socială despre care vorbeam în paragraful anterior. Și care nu ar fi putut fi manipulată în mod criminal de alde Lenin dacă nu ar fi existat.
Și nu ar fi existat dacă Nicolae al II-lea ar fi luat exemplu de la vărul său care statea pe tronul Angliei în loc să plece urechea la predicile lui Rasputin… Sau dacă în China ar fi avut loc, tot de sus în jos, ehivalentul chinez al revolutiei Meiji… sau dacă interese ‘obscure’ nu l-ar fi propulsat și ținut pe Batista la putere în Cuba… și așa mai departe…

Până la urmă societatea umană seamănă foarte bine cu o baterie electrică.
Fără o ‘diferență’ de potențial între cei doi poli, bateria e moartă. Nu produce nici un fel de curent. Poți să o arunci liniștit la gunoi – sau să o reciclezi, dacă ții la viitorul planetei.
Pe de altă parte, dacă diferența de potențial crește peste limitele rezonabilului relativ, curentul o ia pe scurtătură.
În loc să circule prin exteriorul bateriei, și să producă ceva constructiv – de exemplu bunăstarea majorității membrilor comunității, o ia ‘pe direct’. ‘Face scurt.’ Adică topește izolația și ‘își găsește liniștea’ mult prea devreme, înainte să producă ceva cât de cât folositor.

Cum apare acest gen de ‘supratensiune’?

Mai țineți minte „Ucenicul Vrăjitor” al lui Goethe?
Cam despre același lucru e vorba și aici. Orice electrician care se respectă știe că nu poți să depășești anumite limite. Că nu poți să concentrezi prea multă energie într-o portiune prea mică din rețea.
Din păcate, pentru ei și pentru cei care le dau crezare, ‘ucenicii vrăjitori’ nu țin cont de nimic. Toți fac niște greșeli din ce în ce mai mari. Greșeli care, la rândul lor, se acumulează și dau naștere unor noi ‘supratensiuni’.
După cum bine știm, comunismul s-a prăbușit la fel de dureros ca țarismul.
Sau ca orice altă forma de autoritarism/monopolism/autarhie.

Ei bine, până când suficient de mulți oameni – și în special dintre cei aflați la putere, nu vor înțelege că prăbușirea unei forme de autoritarism nu justifică în nici un fel existența oricărei alteia, cercul vicios va continua să se tot închidă.

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Over reliance on ‘tradition’ and over reliance on ‘science’ (a.k.a. rational thinking).

The individual prone to falling victim to the first method is convinced that:

They has adequately framed the problem.
– The answer, to that particular problem or to one close enough so that the old answer is still usable,  has already been found and recorded in the collective archive currently known as ‘tradition’.
– They is smart enough to identify the correct answer inside that huge wealth of  rather haphazardly accumulated knowledge.

The individual prone to falling victim to the second method is convinced that:

– They has adequately framed the problem.
– The answer to that particular problem can be reached scientifically.
– They is smart enough to identify the correct answer using the scientific tools currently at their disposal or to develop new ones, if necessary.

If, on top of all this, that individual, in no matter which of the two situations described above, is so convinced of the adequacy of “their” answer as to be prepared to impose it on others, even against their will – or without telling them before starting the implementation of “the answer”, then all hell will break loose – sooner or later.

By now you have probably figured out why these two methods are ‘only apparently different’.

In fact both of them are nothing but variations of the ‘inflated ego syndrome’.
This theory has been proven by the fact that all the dictators that have ever ‘ruled the Earth’ have always been convinced they were ‘rational people’, regardless of all of them either pretending to had been ‘blessed by God’ or explaining their ‘arrival’ as a ‘natural consequence’ of Marx’s scientific/dialectic materialism and/or Nietzsche’s Will to Power.

The people suffering from this syndrome can be identified by the manner in which they react to every input they receive. If their response is either ‘No, you’re wrong about this’ or ‘Yes, I was thinking along the same lines’ but never ‘Thank you for this fresh and very interesting perspective’ then you are dealing with someone harboring a very ‘inflated’ – and usually also very jealous – ego.

This kind of people are usually very good at spearheading change but allowing any of them  to acquire any considerable amount of power is, to say the least, suicidal.

There are a lot of definitions available for these concepts. I’ve found out that Google offers the blandest ones so I’ll use those. You’ll understand why.

a. “An experience involving the apparent perception of something not present
b. “An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.”
c. “An optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions, especially the appearance of a sheet of water in a desert or on a hot road caused by the refraction of light from the sky by heated air.

If we follow the ‘dispassionate’ line used by Google we’ll notice that the ‘real’ problem is us, not a. b. or c.

We are the ones who are not able to figure out the source of the perception in a, the explanation for what happens in b and to reconcile what we know with what we see in c.

More than 35 years ago, while in college, I had to study ‘Marxism’. It was considered a science by the communists and all students had to take that class.
Marxism is a reaction against the idealist thesis that reality consists entirely of minds or spirits and of their experiences or ideas. The materialist conception of history, Marx and Engels contend, postulates the existence of an objective, concrete reality that is independent of human consciousness and is also its determinant“.

For a future engineer, and one that wasn’t particularly concerned with religion, the concept seemed appealing.
Something was nagging me though. In time I understood that Marx was making a huge mistake when conflating ‘objective’ with ‘real’ and individual consciousness with the collective one.
Also what he termed ‘reality’ is not that independent from consciousness as he would liked it to be.

I’ll start with the second idea.

We coined the term/concept of reality.
How’s that for ‘real’ independence?

Is there anything outside my individual knowledge/consciousness?
A lot.
Do I care?
Sometimes yes but most of it is both absolutely inconsequential for me and way out of my grasp. So my accepting its very existence depends decisively on ‘hearsay’ and faith…

Is there anything outside our collective knowledge/consciousness?
Probably yes. Hard to believe that we already know everything, right? Particularly since we discover something new each moment…
‘We discover’?!?
So it’s us who are ‘conquering’ more and more ‘reality’?!?
Wasn’t it supposed to be independent from us?

OK, you probably got it, I won’t bother you anymore with this.

Let me go back to ‘objective’ versus ‘real’.

Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions.
Actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed.”

If we gather five children who haven’t yet seen a tarmac road scorched by the July Sun and take them to Arizona they’ll tell us, excitedly but objectively, that the road is boiling out there near the horizon.
We, the grown ups, know that’s a mirage. For them, it’s a miracle.
For a single child – one that knows the concept, of course – it might seem a hallucination, specially if he doesn’t have another person to speak to about what he sees.

Some independence… But wait, there’s more.

You are reading this on a computer. (If you call it a smartphone you are deluding yourself. It’s a computer that you can also use as a phone). Is it ‘really’ real?
According to Marx, I mean.
If your consciousness hasn’t yet digested effectively its ‘user manual’ that computer is little more than an useless  piece of junk… Not to mention the fact that its processor would still be a little pile of sand if not for an entire string of consciousnesses – from INTEL’s CEO to the driver who delivered it to the assembly plant and they are only a few of those involved in the process.

The fact is that we change the reality around us. We build cities, roads to connect them and power plants so we can cool our homes in summer.

And then we pretend reality is independent from us.
Who’s delusional now?

This image constantly pops up all over Facebook.

And while the caption does harbor some truth it somehow completely misses the point.

So:

– Those who don’t study the history have all the chances to repeat it but only if they are just as callous as their ancestors.

– Those who do study the history and stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it have studied it in vain. They still haven’t got a clue about what really happened outside those books they’ve been reading. Had they learned a real understanding of what went on they would have been able, and willing, to explain it to their contemporaries and thus help them move forward, to a totally different set of mistakes waiting to be made.
Just as Plato (and Marx after him) thought of having found the absolute truth and did his best to lead his people to it …

But don’t despair. There is a safer way. To let things take their own course, to develop naturally. Just as Lao-Tzu taught us.

http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-the-wicked-leader-is-he-who-the-people-despise-the-good-leader-is-he-who-the-people-revere-the-lao-tzu-188515.jpg

Karl Marx and Max Weber, two different pupils of Plato:

https://nicichiarasa.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/karl-marx-and-max-weber-two-different-pupils-of-plato/

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