A query from a lurker
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Apr 14 14:35:39 MDT 2002
I have been mostly lurking and learning on your fine list for a while
now, but I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask. I'd like
though to ask them anonymously for various reasons, one being that I
feel that they are extremely basic but I am quite serious in trying
to find answers. I hope too that I am not wasting your time.
The questions I have, and they aren't related in any way, are:
1 - in any Marxist or socialist model for society, what happens to
the concept of actual currency? Is it eradicated completely, or
reformulated in a manner which would prohibit the accumulation of
2 - What is the most effective counter to the old argument that
people are inherently greedy therefore an altruistic system like
socialism cannot ever work? Is there a good riposte to this at all?
3 - Another request for a good counter-argument: many people state
that they understand that freedom under capitalism is merely an
illusion, but they would rather be unfree in the current system (IE
with the US as dominant force and aggressor) than under any one of a
number of people whom the US would list as mortal enemies, for
example Hussein, Castro, Gaddafi, etc.
This is a good opportunity for me to remind comrades that Marxmail
has a FAQ at: http://www.marxmail.org/faq_frame.htm
This is from the FAQ on human nature and socialism.
Social Change and Human Nature
by Will Miller
[This essay appeared in the Monthly Review, (Vol 50, no. 9; February,
It is when people begin to resist the dehumanizing and exploitative
conditions of contemporary life that we are more often reminded of
the limitations of human nature. The function of this pathological
view of human nature is to discourage us from attempting to change
the conditions of our lives by cooperative struggle. "After all, you
can't change human nature," is a mythic claim calculated to drown in
despair aspirations for significant social change.
But human nature is not the problem. Given social opportunities and
the institutional structures to meet their needs by means that hurt
no one else, historically, most people have chosen non-selfish
alternatives. We are a social species, and social species survive by
cooperation--evolutionary 'mutual aid' in Peter Kropotkin's sense.
Our current problems are rooted in the forced competition required by
the structure of market society with its carefully crafted artificial
scarcities of opportunity for cooperative and mutually satisfying
activity. This forced competition for scarce educational, work,
housing and other opportunities is the basis for dividing the
majority of people against one another by sex, race, age and ability.
A ruling minority depends on a divided majority for its security and
At the same time, it is a system that both produces and selects for
the most socially stunted among us--least able to trust and cooperate
with others--and places them in positions of power and privilege. In
an Adlerian sense the desire for coercive power over others is often
part of a desperate strategy for enhancing one's self-esteem. Acts of
domination over others require numbing oneself to the needs of others
and the repercusions of one's own acts on others. People become mere
objects, in a field of objects, to be manipulated for private
advantage. For those whose self-esteem is low enough, having coercive
power over others is compensatory--even exhilarating. In Henry
Kissinger's own words, "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac."
It is not the pathology of all human beings but the pathology of some
humans that lies at the root of our current social and ecological
crises. Predatory personalities among us are often in positions of
control, where their pathologies are nurtured by the very structure
of advanced industrial capitalist institutions. A socially concerned
corporate manager who puts human interests ahead of profit
maximization joins the ranks of the unemployed. It may not be
strictly necessary to be a sociopath in order to be in a position of
power in our society, but the rules of the game require doing a good
imitation of one.
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 04/14/2002
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