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Thread: The State: Polly vs. Alyosha

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    The State: Polly vs. Alyosha

    Alright @Alyosha, let's start out debate!

    For our purposes here, the state refers to the following four institutions corresponding to the use of official force:

    1. Police
    2. Courts
    3. Prisons
    4. Military

    We share the view that these institutions jointly constituting the state should ultimately be done away with, as the use of official force is intrinsically repressive in nature and therefore undesirable. However, this basic moral position is where the typical anarchist's argument on the subject ends, which I submit fails to take matters of the practical (the how) into due consideration. In order to adequately decipher how the state might be one day abolished we must ask ourselves how it began. I submit that whereas the state began in ancient history as a means by which the ruling classes enforced their will upon the rest, it therefore follows that the general abolition of class distinctions must historically precede the abolition of the state, lest the state spontaneously resurface. I further submit that, while it's both possible and important to steadily diminish the use of state instruments progressively as the global wealth gap shrinks, the force of the state can also actually be useful, potentially, toward the realization of the aforementioned aim (the abolition of class distinctions), namely in the way of enforcing the will of the poorer classes upon the richer ones. It is thus advantageous for the poorer classes to have states of their own, or at least to control the existing ones if possible, in the short run.

    The ball is now in your court.
    Last edited by IMPress Polly; 11-06-2014 at 06:06 AM.

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    I agree that the state is to the advantage of the elite, and that the poor must break away, decentralize, organize and implement governance of their own outside the confines of "the state". I would argue, however, that where we disagree is not on the need of governing mechanisms as even tribal communities had those, but how force is implemented and the voluntary or involuntary nature of it.

    When consent is removed all that has happened is that you've traded one master for another, albeit a more benign one. The question then becomes are we a species that wants to be enslaved and it is only the degree of slavery that we disapprove of, or was and is the human animal a free creature? Lest I be misunderstood, man can be independent and cooperative, independent and tribal. One does not deter from the other. I believe us to be social animals, though we are predators.

    I believe that to truly break the cycle of hierarchical rule we must forget about using the state to implement our desires, and take the long, steady path of voluntary cooperation and buy in for without it we trade one yoke for another and will create within the new order the mechanisms to revert to the old one.

    @IMPress Polly

    I am having personal issues at present and may not be available to address your remarks as quickly as I could have. I will continue the debate, however. Thank you for engaging.
    And if we should die tonight
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    Raise a glass of wine for the last time
    Calling out father, prepare as we will
    Watch the flames burn auburn on the mountain side
    Desolation comes upon the sky..

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    Alyosha wrote:
    I am having personal issues at present and may not be available to address your remarks as quickly as I could have. I will continue the debate, however. Thank you for engaging.
    Believe me, I understand! That's fine.

    Anyway, to address your response, so far we've been speaking to the issue at hand in the abstract, but now I think it has become necessary to get into the details of practical application a little bit, as I need a little further clarity as to just what your position is in order to know how to respond. To that end, I'd like to know your position on the Occupy movement of 2011. The Occupy movement of 2011 was a modern-day, native (well semi-native) example of the sort of proletarian mass movement that I believe can and will lead humanity into a new era at some point in this century. It was the Western expression of the populist squares occupation movement that began in Thailand in early 2010 months before more famously sweeping the Arab world. That movement made its way to America in late 2011 in the form of the Occupy movement, which touched off a larger expression thereof throughout the global northwest and then more recently in South America (as we have seen fairly recently in countries like Brazil, for example). The politics of the Occupy movement were proletarian in nature, centered around demands for increased economic and political equality (especially the end of the financial industry's supreme rule of national politics), and the organizational structure of Occupy encampments reflected that mentality: Occupy encampments typically offered whatever products and services the participants could afford on crowdfunding -- including basic food, shelter, medical care, entertainment, sometimes libraries for education, etc. -- free of charge to all Occupiers who had need or want of them (as applicable), and used direct democracy in the form of general assemblies as their internal system of government. (Note that, in contrast to the middle class neo-primitive hippie movement of an earlier era that often used similar organizing principles, Occupy was a political movement, not just a social movement, and featured a generally proletarian class composition and base of support.) I was deeply involved in Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Vermont and proudly earned for myself the nickname "Miss Occupy" on another message board that year, as I went to great lengths to promote it, including circulating the Occupied Wall Street Journal online, organizing Occupy Movement social groups, and so on. Did you support the Occupy movement, with its demands for increased democracy and whatnot, or are you more of a postmodernist who would oppose these sorts of movements because they're political (postmodernists often being too individualistic to really believe in politics at all)? If you belong to the latter category, by what alternative means would you aim to realize the goal of a more stateless future? And if you (like me) belong to the former camp, here's another question I'd pose to you:

    At a certain point, Occupy Wall Street and some of the other Occupy encampments began organizing the rudimentary beginnings of a parallel state structure in the form of internal policing systems. Why? Because of the rape cases, basically. Here and there, because there was no formal legal system inside the Occupy encampments, there would be a rape case and the rapist would invariably evade any form of real penalty for fear that leaking the info out would invite the police in to suppress the entire movement. Well the info inevitably did leak out and the press protested, causing the movement as a whole to look very bad in a way that repelled many women and started causing female participants to leave the encampments out of basic safety concerns. Feminist participants organized an internal women's movement to respond to these developments that basically compelled OWS and some other encampments to develop safety policies on pain of losing the vast majority of their female participants. Curfews and rotational nighttime watches were the solutions agreed upon. The takeaway here is that not all oppressions are state oppressions. Spontaneous oppressions (like rape) occur too, and the women felt that these were worse than the inconveniences that a nominal, rotational police force might include. The existence of a policing structure was seen as better than allowing these things to go on unchecked. The position you take makes it sound like this is something you'd have opposed. Am I correct about that? Or would you concede that, in the absence of class equity (in this case gender equity), the use of state force to mitigate and reduce spontaneous class oppressions (in this case social class oppressions) can be necessary?

    (As to my opinion on why this movement went down to defeat, that has to do with my assessment of overall bourgeois class composition of First World countries. The fact that most Americans belong to the middle and upper classes, and were therefore naturally unsympathetic to the demands of poor and working class people, led to a lack of pro-democratic majority-protest when the existing powers used state force to just simply crush the movement in very much the same way that those same powers hypocritically complain of other countries doing. In poorer countries, the use of state force by the class enemy in these situations usually broadens the protest movement's base of support instead of collapsing it. The said movement then organizes an army of its own to respond to said force, and thus a revolutionary conflict of two opposing states is birthed. In other words, it was structurally impossible for a proletarian movement like Occupy to succeed in a First World country like ours. America must first become a more re-proletarianized nation before such movements have the potential to succeed, as they currently lack adequate support. That re-proletarianization will happen.)
    Last edited by IMPress Polly; 11-07-2014 at 07:33 AM.

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    My opinion on the Occupy Movement was that I supported the general methodology of being a fly in the ointment, versus passive sing alongs in some government approved location. It was exactly how a movement or revolution begins and should occur; with a show of force. Force is not always violent, sometimes it is passive resistance of the "we will not be moved" variety.

    Wall St. and Bankers (yes, capitalizing) have robbed, coerced, stolen, and generally pilfered the pockets of humanity, consolidating money and power in near-monopolistic, definitely oligarchal ways but because they wear suits and use the government to steal and plunder they are ignored and given a free pass. Toppling their evil empires is not a crime, but true justice.

    However, not all businesses are evil and I am not anti-business. I am anti-injustice. The pizza shop owner who invested his time and savings, worked 15 hour days for years to crate a successful store and chain is right to pay himself more than new employees, for example.

    I'm not certain that I am explaining this right.

    I will say that people have a right to organize and implement justice. They will make mistakes, but the state also makes mistakes. I believe free people should act free. They should say "no". They should "occupy".

    This is where I think in so many ways you and I do agree. Our only real disagreements that I find are in the vanguard type process. I don't think you can use an evil mechanism to do good because it removes objection and destroys voluntary cooperation.

    I am a communitarian. I have very social inclinations. I am just not of the belief that everyone should have to structure themselves around my personal ethos for communities.
    And if we should die tonight
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    Calling out father, prepare as we will
    Watch the flames burn auburn on the mountain side
    Desolation comes upon the sky..

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    You know, Polly, I think this is why we ultimately became friends because we disagree but we agree.
    And if we should die tonight
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    Calling out father, prepare as we will
    Watch the flames burn auburn on the mountain side
    Desolation comes upon the sky..

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    I agree!

    Anyway, if you're responding to my post, you might want to refresh your page because I just now finished editing post #3, sorry!

    I'll try and respond to post #4 tomorrow if I can!

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    I'll reread and try to respond. I do believe we need a revolution --and you should look up "Georgianism" if you haven't already because I think that you and I would also agree there.

    This will be a boring debate, lol. Too much agreement.
    And if we should die tonight
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    Calling out father, prepare as we will
    Watch the flames burn auburn on the mountain side
    Desolation comes upon the sky..

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    Alyosha wrote:
    I'm not certain that I am explaining this right.
    I do gather what you're saying and agree when you say this:

    My opinion on the Occupy Movement was that I supported the general methodology of being a fly in the ointment, versus passive sing alongs in some government approved location. It was exactly how a movement or revolution begins and should occur; with a show of force. Force is not always violent, sometimes it is passive resistance of the "we will not be moved" variety.

    Wall St. and Bankers (yes, capitalizing) have robbed, coerced, stolen, and generally pilfered the pockets of humanity, consolidating money and power in near-monopolistic, definitely oligarchal ways but because they wear suits and use the government to steal and plunder they are ignored and given a free pass. Toppling their evil empires is not a crime, but true justice.
    Obviously you're arguing that, at minimum, civil disobedience in the face of genuine oppression is merited, and we agree there. However, when you say this...

    However, not all businesses are evil and I am not anti-business. I am anti-injustice. The pizza shop owner who invested his time and savings, worked 15 hour days for years to crate a successful store and chain is right to pay himself more than new employees, for example.
    ...I obviously disagree. We could argue even about the morality of what's in pizza, but that would kind of evade the larger point you're trying to make, so let's get straight to that:

    The measure of a system's merits lies in what it looks like when they are properly implemented, not in what it looks like when their purity is sufficiently diluted. There capitalism obviously has serious natural problems that range from a structural tendency to truly exploit not only the Earth itself, but also both the worker and the consumer, as seen for instance in the 19th century when it yet was largely unreformed. (I highlight the latter point because communitarianism is essentially consumerism in political form.) Most people lived in poverty under capitalism until organized labor created a middle class in the proper sense. Furthermore, you're defending capitalism here by highlighting exceptions to the rule, as the average consumer does not spend their money in some mom-and-pop pizza shop, but rather gives it to Domino's, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, or some other multinational chain that does not underpay their workers out of necessity like the small business owner might, but simply because they can; because that is the business model that made them a powerful, multinational company in the first place. That is called exploitation. The Costcos of the world are not the rule. The Walmarts of the world are the rule. Warren Buffet, with his request to be taxed at a higher rate for the sake of the nation's fiscal well-being, is not the rule. The truly greedy Donald Trumps of the world who don't care are the rule. Most capitalists may be relatively small business owners, but 80% of all private sector economic activity is driven by giant national and multinational operations. Exceptions to the rule do not make capitalism in essence a good and moral economic system.

    This is where I think in so many ways you and I do agree. Our only real disagreements that I find are in the vanguard type process. I don't think you can use an evil mechanism to do good because it removes objection and destroys voluntary cooperation.
    In that connection, I can't help but notice that you neglected to answer my second question from post #3, which can be found in the second paragraph of that post. I'd be very interested to see what alternative response you'd propose to that kind of situation!

    Let me also add one new question that relates to the paragraph in parentheses: How would you propose that the proletariat should respond when state force is used against it if not with a parallel armed force of their own? Anyone who is serious about making revolution recognizes the necessity of armed force to making it happen at some point. If the protesters do not eventually form an army of their own, then the only other way they ever win is by winning over the existing one (as per Egypt, for example). You see what I'm getting at? One simply does not bring down existing states without the use of state force in one sense or another! Civil disobedience may offend and threaten the powers that be, but it does not defeat them.

    But yeah, here I'll admit that I'm kind of fishing for areas of potential disagreement, as we seem to agree on about 70% of the substance. I had, by contrast, originally expected that we'd only be in like 30% agreement on this subject and that this would wind up becoming a very basic-level debate on postmodernism and the merits of taking political action. You're a different kind of anarchist than I thought, and one which I can relate to better. I'm still hoping to find an excuse to remark on the Spanish Civil War though, as you know that's the first place kilgram will want to go with this subject the minute we open it up to the general membership.
    Last edited by IMPress Polly; 11-08-2014 at 06:43 AM.

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    Okay, you've got ample time to respond this time, as I won't be back until Wednesday morning, so no rush. I know you're very busy!

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    Thanks Polly, I'm having a day. Wish you were here.

    Point Small Chain vs. Dominos...

    I don't believe that elitism is the historic result of the mercantile class, but feudalism and inherited wealth and poverty. Were individuals not shut out from land ownership, from the ability to rise above their station and take ownership of "free time" there would be no merchants and later no "capitalists".

    The rise of merchants and merchant guilds was to give the lower classes and opportunity to rise above a sunrise to sunset day of hard labor, to rise above their daughters being absconded with and pillaged, and to have ownership of their life's course and direction. This cannot be inherently a bad thing, but it is a byproduct of an already predetermined class system that came about as a result of conquest.

    I don't condemn humans to static engagement, but believe that we are dynamic creatures capable of change, and the majority of us are also altruistic. Science backs me on this. I do believe that the accumulation of wealth is a psychological disorder that takes our natural mammal propensity to meet our basic needs and to stockpile scarcity to the extreme. A skewed Maslowian response. I think that there will always be some who will attempt to return to this behavior even should we dismantle their regime, but that most people when not set against each other can be educated towards charity and cooperation as they are in our natural inclinations anyway.

    Humans respond to suffering first with empathy and then our secondary response it learned. Combine the two and we can accomplish much. We can be voluntary, cooperative creatures building a moral society together. When people feel their basic needs are met, when they have free time, when they can achieve, they are satisfied. Remove one of those and the relative deprivation causes reaction.

    So I do believe that in a voluntary society, without the enabling of government sponsors you wouldn't see a large corporate chain. That is the product of collusion and enabling.

    You mentioned use of force, I believe that the use of force is required to topple our current systems, unfortunately. It is another reason why a peaceful person like me is anti-gun control. I may be a peace, love, and music type. I may wish to be "Jesus" and the "Buddha" but if the masses achieve any level of awakening, if we try to topple the bankers, remove the federal reserve system you will see TPTB use force against us. They subverted Occupy, the Tea Party, the Greens, the Libertarians through infiltration but that won't always work. When those groups find a common bond as Nader proposes, you will see the mask removed and the monster revealed.
    And if we should die tonight
    Then we should all die together
    Raise a glass of wine for the last time
    Calling out father, prepare as we will
    Watch the flames burn auburn on the mountain side
    Desolation comes upon the sky..

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