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You ARE what you DO


Cael

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Kant's famous advice to the world on how best to live was to always treat human beings, including yourself, as an end and never a means to an end. That means never to exploit other people as a way to get money or fame or whatever, and, indeed, never to exploit yourself either. Of course, Jesus had also said: treat others as you would have others treat you. (Which is fine as long as your not a Sado-Masochist.)

Hegel and Marx pointed out that the human individual is what he or she does. The person\subject is not inside the human being, ready made and always the same no matter what that human being does. No, the person is always in the process of being created - by his or her actions. By their labour (and labour simply means any human activity, including thinking.)

So, is it not true that if you sell your labour as a means to an end (to get wages), that you are selling yourself, and treating yourself as a means to an end? After all, you spend most of your waking day getting ready to go to work, going to work, working, coming home from work, and then being too exhausted to do anything else after work.

If work is to be regarded as a means to an end, i.e. wages, then the people who do that work are also a means to an end.

And this holds for all types of human labour\activity. If we are not in the process of self actualisation in our everyday lives, then we are becoming alienated from ourselves, and becoming a pawn in someone else's game.

And that is the simple reason why capitalism must fail as people become more and more self aware, and demand that they be treated as an end in themselves and that they treat themselves as an end in themselves - not a means to the capitalists enrichment and their own daily survival.

Communism is the word for that form of society in which human beings treat themselves and others, in the words of Kant, as ends in themselves, and not means to an end.

And what is that end that the person must be? What is it to treat yourself as an end and not a means to an end? Hegel points out that:

"Mind is only what it does, and its act is to make itself the object of its own consciousness."

This sounds complicated but really it not. In the old days a carpenter made a table. He put his heart and soul into that work, like an artist, and he made a table that was an expression of himself. When he looked at that table he could see before him a physical manifestation of his own mind. As Hegel put it; the table had become, for that moment, the mind of the carpenter physically before him as he consciously regarded and appreciated it.

How different for the tens of millions who slave away for wages, making things that could never be regarded as an expression of themselves. What about the poor worker who makes police batons, decides to go on strike, and then has his head split by one of the very police batons he himself made. Thats what you call the alienation of labour.

Unfortunately, in the USSR and other states who aspired to Communism, the worker was very often also alienated from his labour. His labour was not an expression of himself, but, as in the capitalist system, was turned against him. The Workers State became the end to which the worker was a means to. Clearly this was not what Marx had in mind.

What todays Communists must do is create work practices and methods of production that put the productive forces in the hands and the minds of the workers themselves - so that our work becomes the physical manifestation of ourselves, and so that we work to see ourselves in our work. That is the great challenge which Capitalism must always shrink away in guilt from, and which Communism must happily make reality.
 

Dreaded_Estate

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How are you going to put the work practices and means of production in the hands of workers and make every job interesting Cael?

Some jobs simply aren't interesting and never will be!
 

Cael

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How are you going to put the work practices and means of production in the hands of workers and make every job interesting Cael?

Some jobs simply aren't interesting and never will be!
A lot of boring jobs can now be done by machine, and the rest of them could be done on some kind of rota basis. A lot of the most soul destroying jobs like stock brokers, insurance sales and estate agents would be gone anyway.
 

jcdf

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Sep 8, 2005
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There is also the philosophy 'You DO what you ARE'

In my mind they are a very simplistic ways of defining people and therefore have no real merit.


Kant's famous advice to the world on how best to live was to always treat human beings, including yourself, as an end and never a means to an end. That means never to exploit other people as a way to get money or fame or whatever, and, indeed, never to exploit yourself either. Of course, Jesus had also said: treat others as you would have others treat you. (Which is fine as long as your not a Sado-Masochist.)
The problem with this philosophy is that people including ones self are not permanent. We are all temporal, and in the eyes of some, making something that is impermanent an end in it's self is an exercise in futility. Exploiting is not always about money or fame, the 'end' it can in fact be anything real or imaginary in anyway.
Hegel and Marx pointed out that the human individual is what he or she does. The person\subject is not inside the human being, ready made and always the same no matter what that human being does. No, the person is always in the process of being created - by his or her actions. By their labour (and labour simply means any human activity, including thinking.)
From a third person perspective I suppose that is true. Actions does not equate labour. Labour must be defined within a very specific measurable matrix. Actions can be anything that changes the arrangement of reality however subtly.
So, is it not true that if you sell your labour as a means to an end (to get wages), that you are selling yourself, and treating yourself as a means to an end? After all, you spend most of your waking day getting ready to go to work, going to work, working, coming home from work, and then being too exhausted to do anything else after work.

If work is to be regarded as a means to an end, i.e. wages, then the people who do that work are also a means to an end.
That depends on whether you consider the work an ending in it's self. I suspect most people do not. Remember people do not have to work in our modern society.
And this holds for all types of human labour\activity. If we are not in the process of self actualisation in our everyday lives, then we are becoming alienated from ourselves, and becoming a pawn in someone else's game.

And that is the simple reason why capitalism must fail as people become more and more self aware, and demand that they be treated as an end in themselves and that they treat themselves as an end in themselves - not a means to the capitalists enrichment and their own daily survival.
Here is the thing about self-actualisation, a person has to it them self, no one else can do it for them. It also requires sacrifices to attain a more self-aware state, though these are not always necessarily monetary. Becoming alienated from ourselves does not always necessarily result in us becoming a pawn in someone else's game. A self-actualised person is just as likely if not more so of turned into a tool.

You second point has more merit. When capitalism fails it will be because of people becoming more and more dispossessed and alienated from the world at large.

Communism is the word for that form of society in which human beings treat themselves and others, in the words of Kant, as ends in themselves, and not means to an end.

And what is that end that the person must be? What is it to treat yourself as an end and not a means to an end? Hegel points out that:

"Mind is only what it does, and its act is to make itself the object of its own consciousness."
Perhaps, or one of a number of religions do as well. I do not agree with Hegel.

This sounds complicated but really it not. In the old days a carpenter made a table. He put his heart and soul into that work, like an artist, and he made a table that was an expression of himself. When he looked at that table he could see before him a physical manifestation of his own mind. As Hegel put it; the table had become, for that moment, the mind of the carpenter physically before him as he consciously regarded and appreciated it.

How different for the tens of millions who slave away for wages, making things that could never be regarded as an expression of themselves. What about the poor worker who makes police batons, decides to go on strike, and then has his head split by one of the very police batons he himself made. Thats what you call the alienation of labour.
Many people still behave as your carpenter today Cael. The man having his head split open by one of his own batons is what I would call fubar.

Unfortunately, in the USSR and other states who aspired to Communism, the worker was very often also alienated from his labour. His labour was not an expression of himself, but, as in the capitalist system, was turned against him. The Workers State became the end to which the worker was a means to. Clearly this was not what Marx had in mind.

What todays Communists must do is create work practices and methods of production that put the productive forces in the hands and the minds of the workers themselves - so that our work becomes the physical manifestation of ourselves, and so that we work to see ourselves in our work. That is the great challenge which Capitalism must always shrink away in guilt from, and which Communism must happily make reality.
People do not require an ideological or supernatural force like communism to find greater meaning in or project our psyche into our actions.
Many people are required to produce the things that we want and need today. Capitalism facilitates, the efficient production of these goods. Communism does not!
 

Eurocitizen

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Oct 1, 2008
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A lot of boring jobs can now be done by machine, and the rest of them could be done on some kind of rota basis. A lot of the most soul destroying jobs like stock brokers, insurance sales and estate agents would be gone anyway.
Gael there is truth in what you say but will machines not take jobs from the working class ?
 

cactusflower

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Oct 1, 2008
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What's happening, Cael ? Two good OPs in a row !!

I would add to what is said is that man is social, and that to see the thing in terms of the individual only, as Hegel did, is misleading.

The first and foremost change for workers (and that includes the working "middle class") is when they as a class own the means of production - factories, mines, land etc. and get the benefits of their work, instead of handing profits over to be used against them.

Having won control, very many things then can be done about the actual experience of working - shorter working days and weeks, instead of boom and slump through overproduction, would be a start.
 

toughbutfair

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May 28, 2009
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9,744
If I was rich, I'd hire people to do all the stuff I hate - shopping for groceries, cleaning, listening to the girlfriend talking about her job etc. What's wrong with that?
 

jcdf

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Models are Mannequins aren't they?
 

Eurocitizen

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jcdf

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Hmm I wonder if you ever tried either ;)
Very funny!

But they are much alike, neither eats or thinks, sense of humor is constant and they are identical in bed.
 

Eurocitizen

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Oct 1, 2008
Messages
808
Very funny!

But they are much alike, neither eats or thinks, sense of humor is constant and they are identical in bed.

Wow I eat very well thank you , I do have a sense of humour and I see you have tried both , which did you prefer stalion;)
 

loaf

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Sep 2, 2009
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In the same way that the mind does not have any objectivity beyond action, I would argue Marxism does not have any objectivity beyond its actual historical manifestations.

As a leftist, I am concerned when Marxists dismiss Stalinism, for example, as a corruption of some 'original pure doctrine'. Communism in the twentieth century largely failed, and we need to consider why such an ideal historically tended towards authoritarianism and state / party oppression. This is not to give up on the idea of communism, it is to treat it seriously.

Communism is still relevant, but by creating this dichotomy between its 'pure' ideals (as distilled by Marx), and its historical reality, leftists are falling into a platonic trap.
 
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cactusflower

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In the same way that the mind does not have an objectivity beyond action, I would argue Marxism does not have an objectivity beyond its actual historical manifestations.

As a leftist, I am concerned when Marxists dismiss Stalinism, for example, as a corruption of some 'original pure doctrine'. Communism in the twentieth century largely failed, and we need to consider why such an ideal historically tended towards authoritarianism and state / party oppression. This is not to give up on the idea of communism, it is to treat it seriously.

Communism is still relevant, but by creating this dichotomy between its 'pure' ideals (as distilled by Marx), and its historical reality, leftists are falling into a platonic trap.
I agree about the need for serious appraisal of the lessons of attempts to intruduce communism, so far. That doesn't mean that I agree that Stalinism isn't something quite different from Marxism, or that it is an inevitable outcome.

But yes, we should have a real, serious, examination and analysis of what has been done so far.
 

loaf

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I agree about the need for serious appraisal of the lessons of attempts to intruduce communism, so far. That doesn't mean that I agree that Stalinism isn't something quite different from Marxism, or that it is an inevitable outcome.

But yes, we should have a real, serious, examination and analysis of what has been done so far.
Stalinism was not the inevitable outcome of Marxism, but it was, in one historical mode, the outcome. Politics is about situations, relations, resources - things that exist. Politics is about action, not thinking. Actions produce truth, not philosophy.

I like Alain Badiou's writings in this area when he talks about the fallacy of 'political philosophy' - trying to objectively 'think the political'.
 

cactusflower

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Stalinism was not the inevitable outcome of Marxism, but it was, in one historical mode, the outcome. Politics is about situations, relations, resources - things that exist. Politics is about action, not thinking. Actions produce truth, not philosophy.

I like Alain Badiou's writings in this area when he talks about the fallacy of 'political philosophy' - trying to objectively 'think the political'.
The main driver of events is economic development, but there is a connection between thinking and being. Stalinism was one of many outcomes influenced by Marx.

I agree with you that practice is primary, but it is to some degree influenced by ideology.
Its an iterative process, in which we learn from practice. Thought is developed not only from day to day experience though. There is science too.
 

BrownEnvelope

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Feb 5, 2009
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A lot of boring jobs can now be done by machine, and the rest of them could be done on some kind of rota basis. A lot of the most soul destroying jobs like stock brokers, insurance sales and estate agents would be gone anyway.
I wholeheartedly agree. I'm an automation engineer by trade, and became one for that very reason. Unfortunately throughout my career, I've come to realise the reality of the situation. Automation itself is used as a tool by the rich to negate the need for people, replacing jobs with nothing but the dole queue.

The constant struggle for personal wealth (or greed) is what drives this condition, and therefore the system is the problem. If we were all subject to more or less the same living standards, this would not be an issue. Automation, and implicitly, the advancement of technology, is one of the keys to the freedom of mankind. But only if used correctly and with the advancement of mankind as an end goal.

When I was about 18, I decided to become an automation engineer, and, here I'll bare my innocent soul, this was my logic:

As tasks become automated, the doing of those tasks becomes cheaper. The economic savings of this process should be invested back into the people who are replaced, to train them to do things that machines cannot do (teaching, healing, spiritual guidance etc) The working week for all would be reduced, people would be "more free" to pursue more "human" goals instead of just being a cog in the machine. As this situation progresses, there are more people that are happy with their lot in life, less people working just to put food on the table or a roof over their heads, and a general improvement in the standard of life for all.

I still think the theory is sound, but we have to break the mould in order to turn it into practice.

The problem is the monetary system. If this was gone tomorrow, the average person would see their life dramatically improve. If everyone worked for the greater good we could all be living much more enriching lives, and more affluent lives too. The technological capability to do this exists in spades (much of it suppressed), which only leaves the proper management of resources.

Some might say that there would be no incentive to work if we weren't being financially compensated for our efforts, but I think if people really felt that their efforts make a difference (not the case now) that this would be motivation enough. Not working like slaves as most of us do now, but at a slower, more focused pace, and enjoying life at the same time. I know this still holds true for me, or am I the only one that feels this way?
 
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