Asking About Parecon/Parsoc

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  • #979094
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    Michael Albert
    Participant

    For assistance from me, about such matters – about road matters of history,k etc., I can’t help in this little forum. However, if interested, I have written about such things, at length…not just about parecon.

    As to understanding patterns and processes in history, I would suggest that you should be a little careful – marxist ways of reading history have their problems, to put it mildly.

    The claim that the key to history is a “dialectical notion of the productive forces and the social relations” is, I am sorry, not even remotely compelling to me, and I don’t think it should be to others, either.

    Please don’t take offense, but I would have to say it isn’t the key to anything other than winding up with a very narrow view of society and history, and often worse. I can’t make a compelling case regarding that with you here, but if you are interested, honestly, I can respond to questions you may have after reading about such matters – criticisms, that is..

    People do indeed operate in context of social settings, this much is quite true But social settings are not just economics, much less some rather narrow view of even that.

    I am sorry, but productive forces pushing up really doesn’t explain much of anything. You may choose to keep with that, or you may choose to consider different views – if the latter, I really have a bunch of books you could choose from and there are other writers on such matters, as well.

    No “revolution has occurred within capitalism in relation to the means of communication”much less one making parecon or anything better than we have now inevitable. There wasn’t 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or now. There wasn’t in Cuba, or China, or anywhere else. There are things that happen in economies which may create possibilities, to be sure, but without people making choices, which is quite contingent, it comes to not much.

    Of course people have doubts – that, indeed, is the biggest obstacle to change. It shouldn’t be, ideally, but it is. So the doubts must be overcome.

    I would like to say I hope you are right, that parecon is being propelled by some dynamic that will come to fruition but I can’t even do that – because the things you have in mind, the internet, etc., are actually providing far more means of repression than of liberation, far more means of fragmentation than solidarity, and so on – but – that doesn’t mean change is impossible, only that it is difficult.

    If you want to see a contradiction that propels history – it is really not hard to find. IT is between existing social relations and human potentials and aspirations.

    I think, I am sorry, what matters is people becoming aware and acting. It isn’t automatic. The cubans made a revolution – could have been much better but in any event, they did – it had zero to do with forces of production. Same for the Chinese. Same for the Russians. The difference between Venezuela and other countries there – has nothing to do with forces of production.

    Can an invention create a situation which people can become mad at – become focused on and become left in thought and deed addressing it – yes. But so can many many other things – and the important part is the people becoming aware, upset, active, and finally committed to new aims.

    There is an arc to human history – but it is uncovering human potentials and working to actualize them. We don’t do it, history doesn’t move much. Here is a different way, as a father, to perhaps consider the situation. Odds are, unless there is a revolutionary change in the next few decades, your kids will live a short and brutish life, and if not your kids, a huge number of others – actually, it is already the case for huge numbers. I would think, if you began to see the as the truth, and realize that it owes to oppressive social structures made by humans and that humans could replace, you wouldn’t care about whether “conditions” will somehow automatically foster change so much as about how you might contribute to making conditions that foster changes.

    #979095
    avatar
    Michael Albert
    Participant

    For assistance from me, about such matters – about road matters of history,k etc., I can’t help in this little forum. However, if interested, I have written about such things, at length…not just about parecon.

    As to understanding patterns and processes in history, I would suggest that you should be a little careful – marxist ways of reading history have their problems, to put it mildly.

    The claim that the key to history is a “dialectical notion of the productive forces and the social relations” is, I am sorry, not even remotely compelling to me, and I don’t think it should be to others, either.

    Please don’t take offense, but I would have to say it isn’t the key to anything other than winding up with a very narrow view of society and history, and often worse. I can’t make a compelling case regarding that with you here, but if you are interested, honestly, I can respond to questions you may have after reading about such matters – criticisms, that is..

    People do indeed operate in context of social settings, this much is quite true But social settings are not just economics, much less some rather narrow view of even that.

    I am sorry, but productive forces pushing up really doesn’t explain much of anything. You may choose to keep with that, or you may choose to consider different views – if the latter, I really have a bunch of books you could choose from and there are other writers on such matters, as well.

    No “revolution has occurred within capitalism in relation to the means of communication”much less one making parecon or anything better than we have now inevitable. There wasn’t 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or now. There wasn’t in Cuba, or China, or anywhere else. There are things that happen in economies which may create possibilities, to be sure, but without people making choices, which is quite contingent, it comes to not much.

    Of course people have doubts – that, indeed, is the biggest obstacle to change. It shouldn’t be, ideally, but it is. So the doubts must be overcome.

    I would like to say I hope you are right, that parecon is being propelled by some dynamic that will come to fruition but I can’t even do that – because the things you have in mind, the internet, etc., are actually providing far more means of repression than of liberation, far more means of fragmentation than solidarity, and so on – but – that doesn’t mean change is impossible, only that it is difficult.

    If you want to see a contradiction that propels history – it is really not hard to find. IT is between existing social relations and human potentials and aspirations.

    I think, I am sorry, what matters is people becoming aware and acting. It isn’t automatic. The cubans made a revolution – could have been much better but in any event, they did – it had zero to do with forces of production. Same for the Chinese. Same for the Russians. The difference between Venezuela and other countries there – has nothing to do with forces of production.

    Can an invention create a situation which people can become mad at – become focused on and become left in thought and deed addressing it – yes. But so can many many other things – and the important part is the people becoming aware, upset, active, and finally committed to new aims.

    There is an arc to human history – but it is uncovering human potentials and working to actualize them. We don’t do it, history doesn’t move much. Here is a different way, as a father, to perhaps consider the situation. Odds are, unless there is a revolutionary change in the next few decades, your kids will live a short and brutish life, and if not your kids, a huge number of others – actually, it is already the case for huge numbers. I would think, if you began to see the as the truth, and realize that it owes to oppressive social structures made by humans and that humans could replace, you wouldn’t care about whether “conditions” will somehow automatically foster change so much as about how you might contribute to making conditions that foster changes.

    #979099

    CJS
    Participant

    The revolution in the means of communication has occurred within capitalism (with a little help from government admittedly) over the past thirty years or so. China and Cuba are whole other stories.

    Meanwhile, Parecon’s collective planning process relies on fibre optics and fast, powerful, available computer networks. Otherwise your iterations would take up half the production period or might never even reach stability. Can you imagine?

    Up until now no one has successfully run a full economy for any period of time on the basis of collective planning in the proper sense. Not even the CNT/FAI managed that during their brief flowering in 36/37. Nor did the Piedmont councils after the First World War. Nor did the original soviets, nor the workers’ councils in Germany. Nothing of the sort happened in France in ’68.

    But now we may just have the means to do it so why not?. Computers = new productive force (or whatever you want to call it) and Parecon = new social relations (no?) and capitalism = old social relations. Tell me this at least: could information technology (which has developed under capitalism) contribute to the end of capitalism? If you think so we are in full agreement. You’re just a bit allergic to the language I am using because of certain negative associations. Fair enough but be careful not to put people in boxes.

    I am not a marxist, not in any narrow sense at least. I have never even belonged to a marxist organisation. I like what Subcommandante Marcos says: “The anarchists accuse me of being a marxist and they are correct. The marxists accuse me of being an anarchist and they are correct.”

    What I am is an independent thinker who is bored with idealist versions of history (which are everywhere, left and right) and dualisms (capitalism good/socialism bad or, equally, socialism good/capitalism bad). This stuff drives me nuts – not just the marxist in me but me. Sets off the old bullshit detecter something shocking.

    I have read Marx sure, but plenty else besides. And I have lived plenty else besides. Not a total dummy. Seen some stuff.

    I just wanted to offer Parecon a new dimension because (and here I’m sorry) it just ain’t there yet. And for the reasons you outline in your last paragraph it is approaching time to rock and roll.

    Be defensive or engage. Your choice.

    #979100

    CJS
    Participant

    BTW: Do you seriously believe that the revolutions in Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela have had zero to do with the forces of production?

    #979105
    avatar
    Michael Albert
    Participant

    You asked my opinion on matters that are vague and depending how one interprets them would require a whole lot of commentary. I tried to offer it, but I also said, well, if you want to know my particular views on what you seem to be asking, they are easily available in full, not briefly, and if you turn to any of that, and then have a question or reaction, it would be more productive.

    Your answer seems to be thinking that that is defensive, not engaging. Not sure why.

    Yes, I think the various struggles I referenced had little to nothing to do with forces of production much less being driven by them. Can a technology be relevant to change, be useful to people seek change, prod people to think about things, sure. Of course. So can many things… Is thinking about history as somehow in some major or even primary extent a product of something called forces of production calling forth or requiring or even making possible possibilities that didn’t previously exist in my view a useful approach? No. Does that mean no technical advance can ever in part, be one factor in such effects? No.

    As to parecon…assemblies, balanced job complexes, and equitable remuneration have little to do with any particular technologies. Right now, in say vanezuela, all could be undertaken in form after firm. Indeed, all could have been pursued and implement,enter in Cuba, Russia, China, etc. Participatory planning can and would certainly make very good use of various communicative technologies. But it could also occur with much much less, and the desire for it could fuel creatin of new means and methods of communication, rather than vice versa, and that likewise was technically possible long ago. On the other hand, fascistic movements can utilize emerging tchnologies…the Internet very much included…and the current emergence of many communications technologies seems to me to be fostering more negative rather than positive trends, in values, attitudes, behavior patterns, surveillance, attention span, etc. I wish it wasn’t true….

    The issue isn’t some push by technology that inexorably causes desirable outcomes, the issue is how people relate to emerging tchnologies and those that have been around a long time, too, as well as to their own circumstances and desires and a great many other phenomena.

    Come at social change looking for an unfolding of some automatic process one can hitch a ride on, so to speak, and one tends to wind up with a very mechanical prespective and with a kind of observer status. Likewise, one tends to elevate one or a few types of phenomena, usually economics or, even more narrow, technology, but missing so much else.

    That is my short answer.

    Again, if you want to see a stance and approach that rejects the forces of production as driver of history, and ogres a different cinceptual framework for folks seeking to understand society and history for the purpose of social change, have various works you can consider.

    #979149

    CJS
    Participant

    Here’s the thing. I know you know this but I need to say it because I think I am still not making myself clear. I’m not saying what you think I am saying, perhaps.

    Working people are not stupid but they have, by and large, not chosen revolution so far, especially in countries like yours and mine. You can say this is because they have not arrived at the proper consciousness yet, have not had exposure to the right ideas or you can give them more credit.

    People rightly view revolution and a new social system as very risky business, even when they would seem to have nothing to lose (which has not generally been the case anyway in the West since WW2 or thereabouts). People have families, loved ones, lives. Choices can have consequences, whether these choices be collective or individual. Working class conservatism, tedious as it is to jokers like us, is not simply ignorance. It is more complicated than that.

    To know that you are at the jumping off point, you need to have a powerful sense that the forces which put eggs in egg-cups for your children are in the process of becoming social, that is, latently social productive forces. What does this mean? It means that you know your fellows will be out there doing the impossible: making it work because they want to make it work and can make it work. No arrangement can mechanically function without something forceful and authentic animating it from inside.

    This something is firstly about people, sure, but also about history. If it were simply a matter of us all waking up one morning and deciding to construct a better world, or a problem of communication or theoretical formulation, a spiritual matter maybe, I believe it would have happened long ago. We are in something, in process, like it or not. It is not that we don’t make our own history but that the narrative of our making it is excruciatingly turgid, twisty and problematic. That we make history with our bodies as well as our minds is the source of the annoyance. History is not simply a matter of intellectual will or desire.

    To be more specific, the fact that a truly social economy implies some form of genuinely collective planning is one particularly massive headache history is posing for us and a headache we need history’s help in treating (but never finally curing I would suggest). This is very scary territory. Almost unthinkable to the great bulk of humanity hitherto. We need points of reference in the real historical context to move through this. I do for certain.

    To put this another way: she may be a nasty piece of work but capitalism is, in so many ways, in so many minutiae, the mother of the possibilities we have to choose from, even if the one we want would seem diametrical to her. Of course, the biosphere is the mother of everything and we need to pay far greater respects to her, this being a whole other dimension to the situation, but studying with a degree of humility the way capitalism itself has evolved and embedding within this understanding, our ways out of it is, to me, much more compelling than saying capitalism is bad and we have something objectively more ideal because of this, this and this ethical argument.

    Revolution may be about abrupt change, a discontinuity, the point where the surface cracks, but there are always underlying continuities of movement below the surface, revolution or no revolution. You don’t make a religion out of these forces as some more frowny marxist types might have done in the past but you have to acknowledge that they exist. If you think they don’t exist ask any ordinary, non-political comrade to point them out

    Meanwhile, there are so many ways we can find in history or reality, if you like, places to stand: the progressively real interdependence of industries and economic existence, the nagging, continuous sublimation of private exchange, the clownish obsolescence of ‘rational self-interest’ on display amongst our elites, the productive forces with nowhere to go arising out of modern education, the dire imperative of a green transformation (implying a huge socio-cultural transformation alongside it), the growing, literally maddening emptiness of consumerism as capitalism becomes necessarily more bizarre in its search for markets, the extreme commodification of war, the now chronic and systemically inherent crisis of fictitious capital and debt, the historically perverse but no less grand capacities of information technology as a tool for new non-capitalist economics, the convergence of interests within world social classes and cultures as the dangerous (read promising) flip-side to globalisation, the gradual but eventually explosive churning of the political unconscious, the enormous practical aggravations from below now facing old-school authoritarianism. These are just a few themes and they all play into Parecon.

    And it is not a matter of hitching a ride on this train. Ride you must. You either ride with your eyes open or closed.

    All this is why I want to understand Parecon from within the world in which it would grow. I reckon you have something wonderful here, and you are living proof of social productive force in yourself, a social productive force unto yourself, but I want to see the connections as well as the breakages between Parecon and what is. There is not one without the other.

    Such is the difference between a historical pathway and a mere idea. History and Parecon are not separate topics, matters to put each ‘elsewhere’.

    CJS

    #979157
    avatar
    Michael Albert
    Participant

    I think I have said what I can – Of course what happens tomorrow relates to what is today and what happened yesterday. This is a truism. The only issue I can see is do we think that there will be something in today or yesterday that says to us, act now, act this way, and success will occur – or do we do our best to propose paths and act and see what happens – acting, of course, with a foot in the present and a foot in the future…that is, being careful, as best we can, that what we do is rooted in actual relations and thus suited to addressing them and winning gains in their context, but also oriented to desired relations for the future and thus suitable to attaining them.

    That signing up for change is risky, scary, etc. is also true, of course. Pointing out indicators in the present that seem to foster a sought future might well increase the probability that some people will seek that sought future. Of course. I assume you would agree that people believing, as well, that the future is possible and desirable, as compared to not, will increase those odds as well. Where might one’s effort best be applied – pointing out current and past trends or demonstrating future possibility? Probably different at different times.

    I honestly don’t see anything much to discuss. If you add that the place to look in the present and past for trends that we can say seem to point to a preferred future is technology, or even economics, only – then we disagree. If you say that such trends will win the day, inexorably, so we can just watch, then we disagree. I suppose one could get into details – you aren’t and I don’t have time or space to do so, here – and I don’t see anything else here to discuss. I am sorry, but I don’t.

    If the details that give you a feeing that history is moving toward parecon are, for example, the emergence of the internet and new communications technologies because you feel they have in their very logic and definition a pressure that will yield parecon…I honestly think that is quite wrong. Can they be used, positively, sure? But is there some kind of built in dynamic that makes that an overwhelmingly likely result, even? I wish that was true, but it these trends seem to me as likely to usher in horrendous conformity and oversight as anything positive, spending, of course, on how people respond to them.

    If you say the rise of opposition electoral efforts in various places in Europe, Latin America, and even the U.S. could have such effects, moving us toward parecon and other desirable results – I would say, yes, of course, but nothing is guaranteed.

    It seems you want to engage further, or i assume so, but, honestly, I don’t think I have anything for you. I suggested that if you are particularly interested in my views, in particular, for some reason, about these types of matters, okay, I have written at length in easily accessible places about various revolutions, historical events, systems, and even a broad conceptual framework or approach that seems to me particularly useful for understanding the modern world in order to change it. If interested, consult any of that, of course. Then if you still think there is something I can help with, ask, based on the materials. My answers, in short, in far greater detail, are there, not in this forum.

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    #980933

    Josephsen Josephsen
    Participant

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