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Scott de Montevideo!

"Statism v. Anti-Statism" will it replace "left v. right"?

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An ideology is about having ideas. Conservatism at its root isn't about having ideas: it's about maintaining the status quo (hence the name conservatism). It's essentially the rock that ideas push against.

The attitude of being conservative is not an ideology, so yeah, conservative in the sentence "The Russian Communist party and other conservative forces opposed Yeltsin's plan." is not an ideology. But the political view called conservatism in the anglo-world is not an attempt to maintain status quo, the conservative Margaret Thatcher led a radical government which completely changed the country.

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But the political view called conservatism in the anglo-world is not an attempt to maintain status quo, the conservative Margaret Thatcher led a radical government which completely changed the country.

Thatcher's regime was largely a liberal one (to use classical terminology), obsessed with free-market capitalism and the all-powerful individual. There were elements of conservatism involved, of course: the Conservative Party has always stood for traditional social hierarchies as a default position, and those at the top greatly benefited from her regime.

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To elaborate further, there is a tension on the Right between classical conservatives (who believe in tradition and oppose radical change) and classical liberals (who support radical market-driven change). The only thing keeping the two together is the common enemy of the Left, which (obviously) regards tradition as the bastion of privilege and regards the unregulated market with suspicion. Hence the argument that the Right is better defined as opposition to the Left than as a specific set of ideas.

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I'd like to say that the focus will be more on the federal government's role and less on social issues, but the Jerry Springer factor is strongly in play in the USA. It's hard to have an intelligent conversation with people deadlocked on social issues. I'd like to say the younger generation is moving away from that, but when you look at the Christian Youth groups and on the left the major environmentalist movement I just see more division.

Back at our founding the big debate was between the Federalist and the Anti-Federalists. There really wasn't as much division on social issues.

What can you do though? People get passionate about social issues over say, boring discussions on how far the Federal Government role in regulating interstate commerce should go. The politicians play off that stuff to the max, which is why they're quick to spend time on steroids in baseball and frankly other pointless crap while our nation heads toward economic ruin.

I remember a Republican primary debate in 08' where Fred Thompson started talking about reindexing Social Security and the people interviewed by Fox News afterwords reacted by saying he was too boring or something similar. Then Fred acts like an actor with great one liners later on and folks get excited. Politics has become theater and a sport it no longer has much to do with governance of a nation.

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Thatcher's regime was largely a liberal one (to use classical terminology), obsessed with free-market capitalism and the all-powerful individual. There were elements of conservatism involved, of course: the Conservative Party has always stood for traditional social hierarchies as a default position, and those at the top greatly benefited from her regime.

I can see your point, but I think you are using terminology which has not really been current since at least the '70s. In the anglo-sphere, and many other cultures, conservative today refers to free-market economic politics which were previously called liberal (and I'm talking pre-depression here). This is only sometimes combined with "traditionalist" (harking back to certain aspects of an imagined past) social view which actually would now require radical change to be implemented.

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I can see your point, but I think you are using terminology which has not really been current since at least the '70s. In the anglo-sphere, and many other cultures, conservative today refers to free-market economic politics which were previously called liberal (and I'm talking pre-depression here). This is only sometimes combined with "traditionalist" (harking back to certain aspects of an imagined past) social view which actually would now require radical change to be implemented.

Agreed that there has been a change in identification, but I think the big problem with calling free-marketeers conservative is that it allows the Right to claim (falsely) that Big Government is inherently a thing of the Left. If, say, the likes of General Franco wasn't a conservative, what on earth was he?

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Agreed that there has been a change in identification, but I think the big problem with calling free-marketeers conservative is that it allows the Right to claim (falsely) that Big Government is inherently a thing of the Left. If, say, the likes of General Franco wasn't a conservative, what on earth was he?

I think that's a fair point. But we can recur to some Marxist definitions of relationships of production it makes sense. Franco used the state's intervention in the economy to maintain the privileges of elites, whether social or religious, while attempting to enforce a return to a pre-19th century imagined social reality of a uniformly Catholic country. Modern conservatives (liberals in your terms) want to remove the state from the economy in order to benefit existing elites, rolling back the egalitarian post war phase which was actually largely supported by the "conservatives" of that period.

If the state is used as a tool to give economic control or power to the workers, it is a left wing state, if it is used otherwise it's a conservative state. For me conservatism is the protection of elites over workers, whatever tools are used to do this, whereas the various forms of socialsim are the reverse of this.

The liberals in the middle want the results of socialism to happen, without truly challenging the economic basis of the divisions between elites and workers.

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SOOT,

Well, personally, I've always thought spreading the ownership base of the means of production is a good thing. I simply do not believe giving control of the means of production to the State equates to the people owning the means of production. It think that equates to the people in control of the State ownig the means of production which is never a group that is coextensive with all the people in a given State.

I had a pretty good debate with my favorite Marxist professor from Undergrad on Thursday. He kept insistin that once the State controls the means of production it will simply "wither away" as Marx predicted. I asked him for examples. He offered Cuba and Yugoslavia. I asked him how those were good examples given that the State is still in control in Cuba and Yugoslavia is now a group of smaller States. He hasn't responded to that question yet.

Is there an example of a Marxist State where the State really has "withered away"?

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SOOT,

Well, personally, I've always thought spreading the ownership base of the means of production is a good thing. I simply do not believe giving control of the means of production to the State equates to the people owning the means of production. It think that equates to the people in control of the State ownig the means of production which is never a group that is coextensive with all the people in a given State.

I had a pretty good debate with my favorite Marxist professor from Undergrad on Thursday. He kept insistin that once the State controls the means of production it will simply "wither away" as Marx predicted. I asked him for examples. He offered Cuba and Yugoslavia. I asked him how those were good examples given that the State is still in control in Cuba and Yugoslavia is now a group of smaller States. He hasn't responded to that question yet.

Is there an example of a Marxist State where the State really has "withered away"?

A marxist would argue that the state *cannot* wither away until the capitalist system has been overthrown globally, until that point it is needed to defend the revolution.

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your favourite Marxist professor Ser Scot? Just how many marxist professors did you have :) ?

I was listening to those lectures on Marx's Capital that were featured in a thread here a while back. Apparently part of Marx's argument was that the State and Capitalism rose together which doesn't seem a million miles away from what you have been saying about the role of corporations. From that point of view if the State is promoting capitalism through creating new legal identities, enforcing laws that allow them to develop and expand their business by fair means or foul and the Capitalists are promoting the role of the state by poring money into it then I suppose you might think that if you break that link, move ownership from the capitalists to the individuals then you will also break the state which having lost it's reason for existing would then wither away.

In actually existing Communist states as far as I know things didn't work out that way largely because the state replaced the capitalists and mostly tried to run their countries to maintain political stability. Although I believe that there was a development and promotion of co-operative and mutual forms of businesses in the old Yugoslavia.

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Galactus,

So, why would Dr. Haynes offer Cuba and Yugoslavia as examples of the State withering away? It makes no sense to me.

I would assume (though you'd have to ask him, of course) that he was was comparing them to extremely authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union and China.

Yugoslavia was the first communist country to break away from the USSR's influence (as in, we shall dictate your policy), which, at the time, was considered very progressive. But how it ended up cannot be explained purely on regime, you have to consider the ridiculously complicated mess of the Balkans in terms of identity, religion, ethnicity etc. These were swept under the carpet for far too long, and exploded later - though not without help from the west. And Cuba is currently, and has been for a long time, the least authoritarian communist country in the world.

That said, the original idea of the state withering away after a (short!) period never ever came to pass. In almost all cases, even the decentralized organization of local councils, like the soviets, soon ended up controlled by the Party and the state. That wasn't the idea at all, but there you have it. From there to a totalitarian regime was a small step to take.

But you must absolutely take into account two important factors. First, communism was never introduced to a country that was previously democratic, or non-totalitarian, or a good place to live in any case. Before the Bolsheviks, there was the Tzar and the knout. Before Mao, there was Chiang Kai-sheck. Before Castro, there was Batista.

Second and even more important, no communist state was ever left in peace to find its way. Europe, and later America, were horrified that such a regime could prove successful, and fought them with every means at their disposal. As a general rule, when other countries are invading you, sabotaging you, and desperately trying to overthrow your government (with a vicious propaganda war, assassinations, attempted coups, embargoes and cutting off your resources), you tend to respond with more authoritarianism. Sadly.

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Guag,

Thanks. Those are interesting points, but, don't they still fall under "no true scotsman"?

Well, I don't know. First, I admit that I'm not very well versed in logical fallacies (sorry...), so I'm not sure what you're referring to, exactly.

Second, I wasn't trying to prove something. I was only trying to explain a few aspects of the relation between communist states and authoritarianism, without easy (and wrong) answers like "because they're evil" or "because they're communists, duh". This doesn't mean I approve of the results, I'm just trying to put things into perspective.

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It's hard to have an intelligent conversation with people deadlocked on social issues.

Question. What are "social issues" in this context?

I certainly don't believe communists or communism is "evil[sp]TM[[/sp]".

Heh, sorry, I didn't mean it that way (it sounded a lot better in my head).

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Guag,

Thanks. Those are interesting points, but, don't they still fall under "no true scotsman"?

It's not really a no true scotsman, as no one is trying to say those states weren't communist by some definition.

It's just there's also a huge number of caveats to that statement.

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move ownership from the capitalists to the individuals then you will also break the state which having lost it's reason for existing would then wither away.

The problem of course is that individuals are capitalists. Capitalists as a class are simply individuals with a certain amount of property who use it in a certain way (namely to acquire more property)

Remember that to Marx the state is *intrinsically* about enforcing the will of the dominant class, and the state as an organization will look the way the dominant class wants it (basically) hence why you can't just seize the state: That won't do anything, you have to destroy the dominant class.

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I simply do not believe giving control of the means of production to the State equates to the people owning the means of production. It think that equates to the people in control of the State ownig the means of production which is never a group that is coextensive with all the people in a given State.

But it comes a lot closer to it than private ownership, and it has to at least pretend to be acting in the interests of the whole country. And for a definite plus, no more taxes!

He kept insistin that once the State controls the means of production it will simply "wither away" as Marx predicted.

That idea has never made any sense to me. Marx had a lot of very sensible ideas, but he wasn't necessarily right about everything.

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