"Brave New World" or "the Soul of Man under Socialism"? (was Re:Desire & Scarcity)

Carrol Cox cbcox at SPAMilstu.edu
Sun Jan 30 11:01:36 MST 2000

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> Perhaps in your view, (1) "the beginning of pleasant surprises & lasting
> friendships" =  (2) "mindnumbing happiness forcibly made 'free' from fear,
> jealousy, anger, sorrow, etc." = (3) the Brave New World.  I don't think
> that the first equals the second and the third, nor do I think that
> "happiness" (work of art) is dull or mindnumbing.

Biologically modern humans have been around for roughly 150,000 years.
(Language is probably about 100,000 years old. Our linguistic philosophers
have 50,000 years of human life to explain. The power and flexibility of
thought certainly underwent a huge change with language -- but human
thought, including thought devoted to cooperative, social, activities,
clearly was rather powerful and flexible without language.)

Now the kind of sharp divisions in human life brought about in late
paleolithic times by the early division of labor (and probably the
entrenchment of male supremacy and the exploitation of women)
leave close to 150,000 years of human life which must be regarded
as subhuman by those who fear that communism will be dull and
sanitized without the conflicts of capitalism. That is, Eric and others
must think that only under the whip of necessity, of torment, can
humans be really human.

Now I do suspect that only under the whip of extreme physical and
emotional pain could the human species *discover* that it was human
(a discovery celebrated in what remains the richest of all the literary
works I am familiar with, the *Iliad*) -- but that discovery once made,
it seems a bit silly to me for the Erics to wish to continue that pain
forever less we "lose" our humanity.

There is more to human possibility than is dreamt of in your philosohy,
Eric. I'm sure our distant descendants will find ways to amuse themselves.


P.S. One does not envisage the future as a *goal*, for that would reduce
our present life to futility, since we will never live in that envisioned future
but must live out our lives within the struggle against capitalism. One
envisages the communist future to achieve a perspective from which
we can view the present as history -- that is, to make the present
intelligible and therefore make the struggle against that present possible.
See Bertell Ollman, "What We Can Still Learn from the *Communist
Manifesto*: The Dance of the Dialectic, or How to Study the
Communist Future Inside the Capitalist Present," *Socialism and
Democracy* 12 (Nos. 1-2, 1998), pp. 1-6. I have never quite known
what to think of Ollman's work myself, but this aspect of it at least
is powerfully persuasive.

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