Is “human nature” a barrier to socialism?

making waves

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The world is a mess. War, poverty, and oppression are now part of the daily lives of billions round the globe. Even during the last boom 80% of the world’s population – 5.4 billion people – lived on less than $10 a day. Now that the world is in the midst of this crisis even the head of the World Bank has said it will result in “a human and developmental calamity… the number of chronically hungry people is expected to climb over 1 billion this year”. The wars in the middle east, enviromental destruction and worsening economic turmoil are only the most recent striking examples of the crises facing humanity.

At the root of this suffering is the economic, social, and political system of capitalism. Capitalism has given rise to large multinational corporations that are locked into a system of cut-throat competition, where corporations single-mindedly pursue short-term profits, power, and resources, regardless of the human cost.

Corporations and imperialist countries may have taken over the world, but millions of impoverished, oppressed people from Lebanon to Iraq, Venezuela to Mexico, are fighting back. Since the outbreak of the international economic crisis movements of workers and young people, in the more advanced capitalist countries, fighting against attcks on their living standards have shown the huge anger building up from below.

Many of the people involved in these struggles are searching for an alternative to the misery of capitalism, and many, especially in Latin America, are again beginning to turn towards socialism. However, people often come up against arguments that socialism is unrealistic because it goes against “human nature”. This article attempts to answer some of these questions about socialism.

Is “human nature” a barrier to socialism? | Joe Higgins.eu
 


Cato

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Are you going to attempt to answer the question yourself?
 

Cato

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Just read the article and Joe fails to answer the question as well.
 

Mar Tweedy

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The world is a mess. War, poverty, and oppression are now part of the daily lives of billions round the globe. Even during the last boom 80% of the world’s population – 5.4 billion people – lived on less than $10 a day. Now that the world is in the midst of this crisis even the head of the World Bank has said it will result in “a human and developmental calamity… the number of chronically hungry people is expected to climb over 1 billion this year”. The wars in the middle east, enviromental destruction and worsening economic turmoil are only the most recent striking examples of the crises facing humanity.

At the root of this suffering is the economic, social, and political system of capitalism. Capitalism has given rise to large multinational corporations that are locked into a system of cut-throat competition, where corporations single-mindedly pursue short-term profits, power, and resources, regardless of the human cost.

Corporations and imperialist countries may have taken over the world, but millions of impoverished, oppressed people from Lebanon to Iraq, Venezuela to Mexico, are fighting back. Since the outbreak of the international economic crisis movements of workers and young people, in the more advanced capitalist countries, fighting against attcks on their living standards have shown the huge anger building up from below.

Many of the people involved in these struggles are searching for an alternative to the misery of capitalism, and many, especially in Latin America, are again beginning to turn towards socialism. However, people often come up against arguments that socialism is unrealistic because it goes against “human nature”. This article attempts to answer some of these questions about socialism.

Is “human nature” a barrier to socialism? | Joe Higgins.eu
Hi Making Waves, I see the words above are those of Canyon Lalama, a member of Socialist Alternative, the sister organisation of the Socialist Party in the United States - that isn't entirely clear from your OP though anyone reading the link would know of course.
 

darkhorse

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Decisions would be made democratically, not by electing one capitalist party or the other every five years but by regular working people making decisions themselves through mass meetings and direct elections.
you really couldnt make it up.....
its hard to believe that anyone in 2010 could believe that decisions could be made by 'mass meetings' of workers (not a catholic mass i assume)
 

Cael

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No, human nature is not an obstacle to Socialism. But, the inhuman nature of a small sociopath minority certainly is. This small sociopath minority have, through centuries of murder and theft, taken the bulk of the world's natural resources into their private ownership, and have set up a system which has condemned the great majority of the world to either lifelong debt slavery, or starvation.

You might wonder that I use the words "through centuries," as we normally talk about one single individual as being a sociopath, but the fact is that there are sociopathic families, i.e. familes who will rear their children with a total lack of morality. To give just one family as an example, the Rothschilds, they kept the Napoleonic wars going by lending money to both sides, they funded the genocidal invasion of southern Africa by Cecil Rhodes, and they funded the rise of the Nazi Party, through their company I.G. Farben (to just mention some of their villiany.) And, of course, they are heavily involved today with anti-democratic organisations like the Bildeberg Group.
 

Mar Tweedy

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It's an interesting question and very difficult to answer as, as the piece points out, it is very hard to know what is true human nature under a system as totalitarian as today's capitalism.

As Cato would know better than me, philosophy does seem to point to there being dark and light sides to human nature but there again its hard to know 'what is true human nature' as much of that philosophy was influenced by theories about Gods or God and how much of the philosophy sprung from the order in place at those times, ie the control of humans through totalitarian deist systems?

My own experience of 'idealistic' movements and living arrangements is that it is naive to expect easy co-existence and co-operation. Yet again, how much these are influenced by the capitalist context, I don't know. I have seen well meaning people act in destructive ways towards others in those communities. Usually it has something to do with maintaining 'the system' over and above individual needs or it has to do with influential individuals wanting things 'their' way no matter that others who are affected by this may want.
But then, we live in such an individualistic culture that is quite blind to how dependent and vulnerable we all actually are, it is hard to know whether these destructive aspects are cultural or natural?

Its the big culture/nature question isn't it? A very big question! I think culture does have a greater impact than natural. The disappointing results from the study of the human genome, ie in general, they can't pin down particular behaviours or disorders to particular genes, does point to environmental influences being hugely important to who we are and who we see ourselves to be.

Given certain conditions, I would agree with the author of the article that the answer is probably, no, human nature is not intrinsically a barrier to socialism (which is what I think she is saying) but how we get from here to those particular conditions, is also a very big question.
 
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+ x 1000. Perfect. Love your "If voting could change anything - it would be banned." Who said that?
 

Xiogenes

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Animal Farm really does the best job of showing up the idea of socialism -. there will alway be resentment, jealousy and greed, together with self interest.

capitalism is just as it is in nature, the most ruthless and self determined thrive.
 

Mar Tweedy

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Animal Farm really does the best job of showing up the idea of socialism -. there will alway be resentment, jealousy and greed, together with self interest.

capitalism is just as it is in nature, the most ruthless and self determined thrive.
Orwell wrote Animal Farm in a particular political context though as a satire/critique of the goings on at the time when western lefties were being blind to what was going on in the USSR not necessarily as a comment on human nature generally.
 

PAD1OH

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Animal Farm really does the best job of showing up the idea of socialism -. there will alway be resentment, jealousy and greed, together with self interest.

capitalism is just as it is in nature, the most ruthless and self determined thrive.
capitalism doesn't do away with jealousy, resentment or greed. it thrives off them.
 

Cael

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+ x 1000. Perfect. Love your "If voting could change anything - it would be banned." Who said that?
The first I heard of it was an old man on the Shankill Road in Belfast saying it. Maybe it was his own original.
 

Cael

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Animal Farm really does the best job of showing up the idea of socialism -. there will alway be resentment, jealousy and greed, together with self interest.

capitalism is just as it is in nature, the most ruthless and self determined thrive.
You have misread Animal Farm. The point Orwell was making is that if you allow a few people to rule, the result will be disaster. Capitalism makes a virtue of allowing a few evil, sociaopathic, greedy people to decide the whole course of human society.
 

darkhorse

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the reality is that most people who claim to be socialists do so for personal gain.
most of those who work for the state or its quangoes, or those who are dependant on the state for benefits of one kind or another - all claim to be 'socialists'
which, in short, means they are parasites living on the back the few 'capitalists' who produce a positive revenue return to the state - and who pick up the tab for all of the sad and 'principled' socialists who endlessly complain about their conditions
 

Cael

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the reality is that most people who claim to be socialists do so for personal gain.
most of those who work for the state or its quangoes, or those who are dependant on the state for benefits of one kind or another - all claim to be 'socialists'
which, in short, means they are parasites living on the back the few 'capitalists' who produce a positive revenue return to the state - and who pick up the tab for all of the sad and 'principled' socialists who endlessly complain about their conditions
The trade union misleadership are certainly not Socialists. They were bought off by Bertie and all his jobs for the boys and six figure salaries for sitting on fake committees.
 

darkhorse

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The trade union misleadership are certainly not Socialists. They were bought off by Bertie and all his jobs for the boys and six figure salaries for sitting on fake committees.
Oh I forgot, there is always a split!
 
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The trade union misleadership are certainly not Socialists. They were bought off by Bertie and all his jobs for the boys and six figure salaries for sitting on fake committees.
The Union leadership in this country is Laughable, its time to rebuild proper Union structures proper Shop stewards who are not kneeling at the table of their masters
 

Fides

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The Union leadership in this country is Laughable, its time to rebuild proper Union structures proper Shop stewards who are not kneeling at the table of their masters
But maybe that is proving the thread - human nature is a barrier to socialism. They started off with high ideals, agitated, got elected, got paid more and became cosy with the status quo.

No matter what way you try it you'll end up the same.
 


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