species being

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Wed Aug 30 00:01:15 MDT 1995

(second try)

Whether people are nice enough for socialism, is really a question
that assumes socialism is fundamentally a set of moral principles.

It accepts our parents' stories that we must all be good boys and
girls, and not pinch baby just because we are jealous. It abstracts
and almost reifies goodness.

We are wonderfully complex inherently collective creatures. We have
a great tendency both to compete and to co-operate. The competition
is often in terms of how well we contribute to the collective process
of co-operation.

We can be very tender, and even give up our lives for others, and we
can be exceptionally cruel to those we define as alien, wishing to
destroy them psychologically and even physically. eg being a member
of the wrong part of the Fourth International. Or being a Trotskyist
when you should have been a Stalinist, or vice versa.

But we co-operate naturally. Indeed the natural end point of capitalism
is monopoly and the bourgois state has continually to guard against this.

What was unconvincing about the image of socialist societies was the
picture that they had no fundamentaly disagreements or tensions, not
that they co-operated. In fact from a capitalist point of view they
cooperated too much; there wasn't enough competition to promote
higher productivity of labour.

In short my reply is: transcend the moralistic argument, concentrate on
the social control of the means of production that are already social
in their complexity.

Chris B

From: "Matt D." <afn02065 at afn.org>
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 95 12:46:33 EDT
Subject: Re: species-being?

>This last point deserves more elaboration from you.  One thing I often
>hear when I advocate a socialist notion of human nature is that it isn't
>practical, people don't behave nicely...etc.  It is precisely this denial
>of the possibility of something better that makes me so upset
>with our existing social framework.  How do others counter the "It isn't
>possible because people aren't nice" attack?

One tactic that often works is to ask, "Are you that much of an asshole?"
"Uh, no."  "Well, then why are you so ready to assume that everyone else is?"

- -- Matt D.

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