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However, the advent of global decentralized communications networks is totally changing the game. By the very nature of the net it is impossible for any one person or entity to consolidate to much power - people can simply "route" around the "problem". CyberLeninism is I believe an inevitable emergent behavior of this increasingly complex global brain. Capitalism won't be destroyed however, it will be transformed into a more resource-base economy that Buckminster Fuller had advocated all his life.
Keep up the good work Ben!
I have recently joined the Autopsy list and came across Max Anger and from there your site. I visited it but I can't seem to get in to any of the work you have there. [Note by Ben: one of my "internet service providers" was down for a few hours] I should be very interested in 'The economics of transition period' or whatever, since here in Liverpool we attempted something like this in a discussion group we had going. Thru' [deleted] on the Autopsy list this article is available below.
At the moment I am trying to use the net to get support/discussion of the dockers dispute which is now in its 13th month. I have reported this at the following site:
Either way I should be grateful for comments AND anything you can do to make the dockers struggle better known.
Unfortunately, other than this, I do not have time at the moment
to deal with anything other than your question.
(And your question, by the way, is a very good one.)
We will succeed because of objective and subjective factors:
1) subjective factor: We will keep our eyes open and, with the open participation of many people, develop a good understanding of why previous attempts at going beyond capitalism failed.
2) objective factor: Conditions are vastly more favorable today than they were in a country like 1917 Russia, especially in modern countries, such as the United States, Western Europe, Japan and so forth. Modern industry and communications infrastructure will allow an educated and politically active workforce comprising the majority of society to "supervise the supervisors" and prevent the so-called "inevitable" degeneration into the rule of either the market, a small clique of central planners, or a new class of privileged bureaucrats.
Ben -- Seattle -- 27 Oct 96
LONG LIVE THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTION OF 1917
LONG LIVE LENIN AND THE PEASANTS AND THE SOLDIERS DEPUTIES
1) I like your site. It is a good format for presenting your views and short editorials on various subjects. In this way it can serve as an example to others. I believe one tendency as the web develops will be a steady proliferation of explicitly political sites and this should be encouraged.
2) I should probably make a mention concerning your use of the U.S. flag. My impression is that you are somewhat new to all this and that you may not be aware that this flag is deeply offensive to many people. Of course in the U.S. we are taught as children that this flag stands for freedom and liberty and all these wonderful ideas. But this is also the flag under which U.S. warplanes dropped bombs and napalm on Vietnam and killed probably around two million people and caused untold misery in a land that was desperately poor but surging with a valiant people. This flag, in the eyes of many people outside the U.S. (and some inside also), represents U.S. imperialism and historically has served the U.S. bourgeoisie as a rallying point for mindless chauvinism and unlimited hypocrisy.
3) My impression (and, of course, I am only guessing here) is that there is a good chance that you are somewhat young and have parents who are hoping very much that you will outgrow what they see as a youthful infatuation with communism. Such is often the normal course of events.
I hope it is ok if I make two comments here that are somewhat of a personal
1) If you are not doing so already, I believe it is absolutely essential to keep a political journal that is private, because your thinking will evolve and it will be very useful for you to be able to study the development of your own ideas.
2) If my guess is correct that you are young and that your parents are concerned about your politics -- it may not be the best tactics to try to "educate" them in some kind of major way. You must use your own judgement of course. If they are receptive that would be one set of conditions. If they are not -- they probably have enough to worry about and your energies would be more productive (to yourself and to the cause of building a communist movement that is genuine and worthy of the name) -- were they spent on building your web page and interacting with a larger number of people. Part of being an independent thinker is having the ability to recognize and accept the human limitations of those we love.
At this time, in my view, it is not very easy to be a communist. One factor here is that the "communist" movement itself is something of a sewer. It needs a thorough cleansing. For example, if you survey the various groups on the web which believe themselves to be communist -- I doubt that you would find much agreement on such things as:
a) what "communism" is
b) what kind of work in the real world might help to bring about genuine communism
c) why the various "communist" groups do not cooperate more with one another
If you would like to do something that could be very useful and also help develop your web page, I have some ideas.
1) Put a textarea on your page so that people can respond to you (ie: like I have on mine here) and post most (or all) of the responses. Interactive web pages are more powerful and the interaction with the thinking of other people can greatly accelerate your own political development.
2) As your thinking develops, you will probably have many questions concerning communism. "Informed opinion" that surrounds you will give you about a billion reasons why communism "might be a nice idea but will never work". You don't have answers to these billion arguments and hence will eventually have questions. Here is what I recommend. In your journal, see if you can develop a small set of questions that would be very useful for yourself. Maybe 3 questions. Maybe 10. Then compile a list of a dozen or so organizations on the web which believe themselves to be communist and send them an e-mail in which you:
(a) list your questions,
(b) request a reply to each question in 200 words (or less)
(c) inform them that all replies will be publically posted to your web page.
(d) follow-thru (post all replies or give notice of non-replies)
I would believe that such a project would be useful for you and of potential interest to many others. There are many charlatans posing as communists and a great many others who are just extremely confused. But to systematically do a public survey and post the results publically exploits the power of the web to bring "transparency" to proletarian politics and represents a step in cleaning up the mess which is the present-day communist movement.
Also -- should you decide to do this -- keep me posted on your progress. I would be very interested.
Ben -- Seattle -- 29 Oct 96
Here is an excerpt from part one of my reply: The Digital Fire:
and permanent police state
I believe that many of the essential views of Phoenix are mistaken. I will show here how it is actually the views of Phoenix which serve the bourgeoisie and help to prop up the thoroughly bourgeois perspective that we can only choose between:
The views of Phoenix are not merely wrong. The views he holds (which are not original with him--which in fact are views which I once held and which date to the 1930's) are obstacles to the re-emergence of Leninism as a modern theory capable of guiding the revolutionary struggle of the working class.
The essential views of Phoenix (as a supporter of the theoretical views of Stalin) is what I call the "single-point-of-control" theory--under which workers' rule in a modern, stable society requires the administration of all society (and in particular the media, the culture, the economy and the politics) by a single political party or organization which represses all other (and particularly, all other oppositional) political parties, organizations, trends or forces.
Here is an excerpt from part two of my reply: The Digital Fire:
the "ecosystem" of groups on the left
The proletariat, in the modern age, has little or no need for "information isolation". On the contrary, its interests are served by the opposite principle: "information wants to be free". The open, principled exchange and clash of views -- serves to cast light on the issues and raise the consciousness of everyone involved and is part of the principled cooperation and competition of proletarian trends.
Part of this "principled coopetition" involves representatives from opposing trends publically answering public questions from one another designed to establish the truth about such issues as what principles should guide the development of a genuine communist party and how the "dictatorship of the proletariat" in a modern society might function.
So in the spirit of determining whether my distinguished opponent knows what he is talking about -- or is just full of hot air -- let me ask him now, in full view of the world:
And while we wait for Phoenix's answer (hint to readers: don't hold your breath) we will start a clock. Today is Monday, November 4, 1996. Let's see how many days, weeks, months or years it takes Phoenix (or anyone upholding Stalin's interpretation of Lenin) to answer our simple question.
Here is an excerpt from part three of my reply: The Digital Fire:
censor the internet ?
The bourgeoisie (and its ideological servants) argue that the harsh features of the bolshevik regime which emerged from 1917 are the inevitable result of all successful attempts to overthrow capitalism. "The cure", they argue, "is worse than the disease". The bourgeoisie argues that therefore workers should give up the idea of overthrowing capitalism and the rule of the bourgeoisie. Rather, this argument goes, workers should either:
And to this we can add one more simple truth: no regime which cripples its own economy can resist being eventually overwhelmed by a more powerful and dynamic system of economic organization (the former Soviet Union, with its bureaucrat style of state capitalism eventually yielding to more conventional and dynamic free-market capitalism is the example that here most comes to mind).
[additional note by Ben: Oct 29]
Per your more recent request, I've zapped your e-mail address
and will temporarily forward to you mail I receive
(To: "Ben@pix.org", Subject: "forward to Post#3-Oct10").
You should get a free anonymous e-mail account here.
Your site is very interesting, but it has no graphics or organization.
Graphics are another story. This site is hosted by PIX, a free public-domain archive and retrieval service for progressive text. With rare exceptions PIX only allows text, no graphics. This is to conserve both hard disk space and bandwidth for a service that (given that it is free) plans to host documents from a lot of progressive organizations. (Of course, as the administrator of PIX, I could make an exception for myself, but other users will probably be more comfortable knowing that we all play by the same rules.)
Thanks very much also, Sara, for your encouraging words. This site will sink or swim on the basis from helpful criticism from people like yourself.
Ben -- Seattle -- 9 Oct 96
Capitalism uses all its abilities to achive the same goal: winning people's consciousness; that "things could not be better than what we've already done".