The Early Days of a Better Nation

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Soul of Man after Socialism

I have another article up at the new online magazine Aeon, this time elaborating on some points about socialism and (post)humanism that I've made earlier.

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An excellent article, although I suspect that new social philosophies will eventually arise that will offer alternatives to either market capitalism (as a social philosophy) or transhumanism.
Has socialism, or communism for that matter, really been discredited outside the West? I notice that the Naxalites and Maoists seem quite vigorous in India and Nepal, for instance.

A fascinating article, which sparked a lot of different thoughts - hopefully I'll get round to collecting them! For now I'll just pull this out:

As sociological analysis, a sentiment such as ‘Racism is a tool of the bosses to divide us!’ might not be terribly sophisticated, or even true. But, as politics, it works.

This to me relates back to my frustration with the "boo, imperialism!" school of Left foreign policy analysis. When socialists start talking about the former Yugoslavia, or post-war Italy, or any other part of the world I know a bit about, I almost always find myself hopping up and down muttering well yes sort of, but it's a bit more complicated... actually it's a lot more complicated than that.... But, if you're thinking in terms of orienting any kind of political intervention, a complete and appropriately nuanced analysis of the situation may not be what you want at all. What you want is to identify the relevant point of cleavage in your own situation and strike there - and "boo, imperialism!" may be what's needed.

Or it may not - a simple appeal to workers' internationalism might be more useful, for instance. But the criteria should be tactical, not analytical. Returning to your example, "Racism is a tool of the bosses to divide us" may not be analytically true, but it's something that can be usefully fought against.

"Partly in reaction to, and partly in competition with, the communist challenge, a common sense of universalism and common humanity did become institutionalised after the Second World War in the UN, in a system of human rights and the development of other instruments of international law. Inspiring as this liberal, global humanism was, and real as its achievements have been, it has lacked socialism’s firm footing in the material self-interests of individuals."

& I think the proponents of Human Rights often know this. When Mrs.McM did her post grad work her prof (a good egg by all accounts) was heard to mutter ,"Human Rights are the best we can manage at the moment."

But still a better place to start than identity politics?

Phil, Charlie - yes.

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