Reply To: Asking About Parecon/Parsoc

ZSplash Forums AskAlbert Asking About Parecon/Parsoc Reply To: Asking About Parecon/Parsoc

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Michael Albert
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> Thank-you for taking the time to answer my questions about Parecon. I really appreciate it.

No problem…

> Maybe, I don’t know. Does it all apply to women?

I am not sure I understand the question. Do you mean does parecon have the same norms and conditions and so on, for women as for men. Of course it does. Why wouldn’t it. It has difference norms, I guess you might say, for household pets, and people, but not for different people.

> Side issue, but I’ll answer since you asked. This is how traditional people live. Men provide the resources and protection and women provide the eggs. That’s the deal.

I don’t want to be disrespectful – but the only honest reply is to tell you forthrightly that is total sexist nonsense, and quite vile. Some people arguably still believe such things, but, when people do, it is either defensive self serving rationalization, or they are incredibly ignorant perhaps due to a restricted life or indoctrination. I don’t know how to put it more gently. It is typically one or the other.

> You’ll find that arrangement in primitive and traditional cultures all over the world. Why?

You will find it in some places, yes, but not in many indeed most others, not as bad as you seem to celebrate, and often vastly better.

There was a time when you found cannibalism – there was nothing essential or desirable about that, so that one would say, it is often the case, therefore I support it. Where such grotesque sexism exists, or lesser variants, there are various reasons typically rooted in past history and associated ideologies that have elevated men and subordinated women. I highly recommend that you consult feminist literature on the matter.

> Because that’s what is best for children. All the statistics show that.

This too is utter nonsense – truly. I know there are people who believe things like this – and I guess you may be one – but belief is not the same as reason…

> Children raised in traditional nuclear families do far better on average than children raised by single moms or foster parents.

Sorry if that offends some people, but that’s just how the biology works.

It is not at all how the biology works because biology has nearly nothing to do with it. It is, instead, how harshly unbalanced social relations work, when indeed it is even true at all. So – you have said children with two parents do better than children with one – I am not sure there is much evidence, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. For rather obvious reasons, don’t you think? So I would wager if there are any such statistics and kids with two parents typically do better, all other things equal, than those with one, then likewise children with two moms similarly do better, in your sense, and thus on average, controlling for income per parent, than children with one dad, say, or with one mom. As well, how about a single mom who is really wealthy, and a male female couple who are dirt poor, and so on. I assume you are a serious person, able to think about things and I highly recommend you consider carefully your views. They are quite like those of a plantation owner, years back, saying the reason the blacks are owned as slaves is biology…etc. etc.

> I agree. It’s not good, but I think you overstate the case. I’ve had some lousy jobs, but nothing I would call “horrific.”

Evaluation always requires some kind of comparison. Compared to a rich and diverse self managed job creating valuable outputs justly enjoyed – almost all work in the U.S. is rather horrific.

> And it’s not exactly true that people have zero options, especailly in the US. One such option used to be subsistence agriculture, but that door has closed on many people due to artificially high land prices and high property taxes.

Most people would deem working the land endless hours to subsist pretty horrific compared to having an engaging and empowering set of responsibilities, in agriculature or any other domain, with just and enjoyable income, and so on…

I really do think we are going to need to stop. I don’t see us making much headway…

> Since even if your farm is totally self sufficient, where do you get money to pay the tax man? Side note: 97 percent of the United States is unoccupied, so I don’t think there is any land shortage. Barriers to entry, for sure, but peaceful solutions exist for that.

Again, I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree. Not least because I don’t feel good treating you like a kind of specimen of confused thought. Your views on women, economy, etc. seem to have a certain right wing libertarian consistency, but little relation to reality. For some of them there are perfectly reasonable and meritorious values lurking behind them – such as a desire for control of one’s life – whereas others seem to have no basis other than your identity being wrapped up in the views. In almost all cases, you seem to come at the issues entirely in terms of your own particular circumstances and worries about it (often imaginary ones, sometimes real) but without much attention to anyone else’s well being.

> I think we’re talking about different kinds of communities. The kind I’m talking about is based on personal relationships and self-governance. It can only exist on a small scale for the simple reason that most humans can only carry on meaningful relationships with maybe 75 to 100 people at a time. 150 max.

And what does that imply? Nothing other than that you or I might wish to engage with a relatively few people in a relatively deep manner. So? That tells us nothing about people having around them institutions that promote and facility healthy interpersonal relations other than, arguably, such institutions should not force you to try to relate deeply with too many other people…

Consider a college, say, with 10,000 students. Is it a healthy community, or a horrible concatenation of competing atomistic individuals ready to dump on one another. That is a consequential difference, and figuring out what kinds of relations would need to exist among the people in the college, employees and students, for it to be the former, rather than the latter, is a very worthwhile thing to assess. But pointing out that within that population no one is likely to be close with even 100 other people – is simply an observation that has nearly no important implications.

> Communication starts to break down after that. Consensus becomes impossible (I understand that’s not how parecon works). A community of millions or even thousands is a complete fantasy, since how can you commune with people you’ve never met and know nothing about?

I would suggest you consider the hypothetial campus, and ask yourself what would it look like if it had no solidarity among its members, if they were competing and cuthroat, individually or in groups, and so on. Then ask, what would it look like if folks sincerely regarded each other as community mates, and were respectful, and so on. And then, ask, okay what kind of distribution of the conditions of well being would be needed, and of decision making influence, to have the latter result.

What you are saying here is that communicating with tons of people closely is impossible – which is true – and you want to define a community as as a bunch of people communicating together closely – which is your option – and so then a community can’t be very large. Okay, so? Now let’s have another word – communality – or whatever – for a population that…like the better version of the college above.

> It is also critical that your community be self-sufficient in the areas of food, shelter, transportation and defense. Otherwise it becomes too easy for outsiders to come in and start bossing everyone around.

I can’t go on with you, I am afraid. You believe you know quite a lot, with a good deal of certainty, but the problem of our communicating this way, as compared to over a beer say, for a few hours, is that, well, honestly, you don’t know as much as you think and I don’t have time to address every point you might raise, in this format. Consider the college with 10,000 students. By your logic, what – there should be 100 communities of 100 people each, each operating self sufficiently, perhaps each being armed, and so on. The things you are saying are part of a kind of world view, I guess, which you seemingly hold and which probably sustains you in various ways, but its truth value, so to speak, is nearly nil.

> Just ask the Palestinians. I don’t really know, but I pick that example because I just read an article about that situation on Znet. The author was Norman Finkelstein. Sounds like Israel has them by the balls, no? If they get too uppity or whatever, Isreal just cuts of the water supply or something like that, right? Well, this illustrates perfectly why self-governing communities need to be self-sufficient in terms of food, water and defense.

There is no point replying, there really isn’t. The example you pick is one where the occupier is simply blowing the occupied to pieces. The idea that everyone has to be self sufficient has no bearing when an occupying force doesn’t give a damn. But more, the idea that everyone should fit in a little community of say 150, and regard everyone beyond that with suspicion and hostility, and be self sufficient rather than interdependent, would render billions of people on this planet, dead. And it would leave the rest with horribly constricted and shortened lives. And it would do all that to gain nothing that could not be had without the sacrifices.

> If you want to know why rural people are so attached to their guns, this is why. They know perfectly well that people who can’t defend themselves and their boundaries are slaves. On the gun thing, you just need to be really clear that your weapons are for defensive purposes only.

You have strong views, that in practice are horrible – you worry about dangers that don’t exist, or, when they are real are not reduced by your concerns and preparation to deal with them, but only aggravated, and you ignore, it seems, much more massive and real injustices that the people you celebrate often advocate and, I suspect, many people you support and relate to, endure. I have to tell you, being honest, it is a pretty sad picture.

>> And it depends what you mean by government interference – if you mean the social whole should have no collective impact on its parts, I think that is not only not necessary for community, it would be almost the antithesis of it. If you mean no interference by some kind of authoritarian state entity that exists above and outside the will of the populace, then of course.

> Conformity to the social norms of a deeply immoral society is no virtue.

That is quite correct. But acting in accord with norms that are justly established by self managing governance is something quite different.

>> In the world we inhabit, opposing the left out of fear of such train wrecks makes no sense because it means standing pat with arrangements that are horrific. The really worthwhile stance, I would suggest, is to favor changes that bring collective self management, an equitable share of the social product for all, dignity for all, diverse options to choose among for all, and solidarity with others – community – again, for everyone.

> I don’t know what the term “left” means anymore. Best I can tell, it’s just an umbrella term for a whole bunch of different activist groups with different and sometimes conflicting goals. And that’s OK as long as things stay peaceful and boundaries are respected. No harm in talking, right? But to the extent that land reform involves aggression toward peaceful farming communities, then I can guarantee you opposition.

Now just translate your words into the mouth of a slave plantation owner about abolition… If what you mean by a peaceful farming community is a set of giant farms covering massive terrain, operating amidst a landless population forced to work those lands for little – then the violence is that horribly unequal situation, and redistributing the land to attain more just and fulfilling relations for all is the antidote to that violence.

> The initiation of violence against peaceful people is wrong. Period.

Mostly that is right – but there is a problem with the phrase peaceful people – let’s take the guy who requires a wife to cook and clean and so on, who forbids her from working, who beats her routinely, and so on. The guy may think he is peaceful, he is anything but.

Okay, now lets take a reasonably civilized slave owner, and there were many. He doesn’t rape his slaves, or whip them for fun, and so on and so forth. Perhaps he even gives them birthday presents! But he also makes them work all hours in the field and gives them subsistence, and goes out and finds them if they try to escape. So he is peaceful, in his own view, and actually many in those days would say so. So along comes a slave rebellion – is it wrong? Maybe we have to agree to disagree about this, too.

> It matters not what your goals are. But communists have always believed that violence can be used to achieve what they call “the greater good for the greater number”, or some formulation like that.

Actually, you believe that. You just said as much when you said you believe that a land redistribution program, even if it was voted on by a huge majority, say, and there was going to be a fair outcome for all, should be met with violence by landowners. The big issue is who is included in the greater number.

> Or as Stalin put it, “You can’t make an omelete without breaking a few eggs.” How many eggs will the communists break next time before they finally see that breaking eggs only results in broken eggs and no omelete?

This is an excellent question to ask, say, the U.S. military, and government behind it, most police deparnments, etc. etc. It is also aptly aimed at certain sectarian left or other ideological groups. But you have to be careful. You are not a pacifist, I would bet. There are such people. And they can use the formulation you raise honestly. I think you probably can’t…

A Farmer, A Landowner, A Gun owner, A Father, and A Christian. Peace and God bless.