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 61 
 on: June 06, 2017, 10:05:29 PM 
Started by Rick - Last post by Rick
Invasion primarily but if you want to do something else Im always down for ideas.  I just miss Invasion funtimes with the pals

 62 
 on: June 06, 2017, 12:04:10 AM 
Started by Rick - Last post by SK
but are we talkin about co-op, invasion or dm, cuz this is important

 63 
 on: June 05, 2017, 08:13:03 PM 
Started by Rick - Last post by Soaprman
i upvote this thead :yeah!: :yeah!: :yeah!:

let's magical rip and tearing !

 64 
 on: June 05, 2017, 08:05:57 PM 
Started by Rick - Last post by Rick
Hey fellas!  Gonna do some multiplayer dooming this weekend! This is just a topic to keep some map links and such. Please dont downvote me  :angelica:

 65 
 on: June 02, 2017, 04:43:11 PM 
Started by Mia Kris - Last post by Gamma_Metroid
Attachment to material things under socialism takes on a different form. Obviously there is a great emphasis on the equal distribution of real-world things--food, housing, medical care, etc--and, contrary to popular myth, there's nothing necessarily spartan or austere about socialism, since a majority of socialist projects have set a rich cultural and social life for the people as a goal and achieved such in many ways. I think the difference here that is relevant for the discussion is that these are no longer personal possessions--food and housing are simply things you get for being part of a society, and no longer need to be scrounged for or worried over. And while equal proliferation of material goods is still part of society's economic lifeblood, there's less of an emphasis on luxury and waste (since accelerating the rate of profit naturally demands the perpetual expansion of wasteful goods, whereas creating durable goods and encouraging thrift helps achieve a point of "market saturation" that is actually desirable under socialism.)
This is a really interesting point, and I think super important, because there is such a vision (at least from what I have seen and people I have talked to) of socialist societies having problems with resource allocation. For example, I took a microeconomics class this spring--interestingly from a professor who is increasingly disillusioned with the current capitalist system, although he has had a healthy distrust of capitalism for a while, from what I can tell--and he mentioned in one lecture the problems that the Soviet Union under Stalin encountered with food distribution. Namely that while food was cheap, it was so scarce that there were incredibly long lines to get it, and most people didn't get enough. I haven't studied this situation much, but it makes sense from what I do know about the production and distribution of goods.

However, considering Stalin's priorities, I think this may be due to a misallocation of resources--not enough spent on provide quality of life, and too much on war and Stalin's purges, etc. This is already similar to the problem facing capitalism: resources are allocated not by what is needed to provide the best quality of life to the most people (or to use Brand's words, minimizing suffering), but to increase the wealth of the elites.

So this brings up another problem. Someone has to be in charge, or at least a group of people. There's no way an entire populace can really govern themselves when they are in such large groups. A system of government like the United States' makes sense to me for this reason, at least as far as electing legislators goes. But I think even if we didn't have issues like gerrymandering, corporate donors, etc. we would still face the issue of individuals being fallible. People like to be comfortable, and when they find a way to help themselves, they will often take advantage of it. I don't mean to say that everyone will fall victim to this, but it happens often enough to seem like an unavoidable occurrence to some extent. And the individuals who do take this advantage seem to be quite capable of manipulating others into helping them without realizing that they are doing themselves a disservice. So I'm not sure how there could be a system in which socialism is truly effective at minimizing suffering.

PS This is a good thread, thanks for posting it!

 66 
 on: June 02, 2017, 03:24:31 PM 
Started by Pancakes - Last post by Namine
I've been so busy, I would've entered though. Good enough excuse to get my Wii U out of storage.

 67 
 on: June 02, 2017, 12:25:01 PM 
Started by Mia Kris - Last post by total body workout
I really appreciate you saying so. I don't ever want to assume that I "know pretty much enough" about this stuff, and I don't want the relevant facts to seem inaccessible or overly "specialist", so I think I probably do downplay the value and extent of what I already know. I mean, I have made serious efforts to understand this stuff! It pretty much is the most important stuff in the world!

Hehe, it seems like we're sort of in the same habit of not finishing all the projects we start... But it's ok, there's value even in incomplete work sometimes? What you've told me about mindfulness is really helpful and helps me understand a little bit about how it's a value/practice coherent together with socialist ideas and construction. It also sort of goes with what my mom, who is very into this stuff, has been saying about it for a while.

Attentiveness to the present seems like an extremely valuable and expansive concept... I know that it's an important element of meditation, since my mom does mindfulness meditation... And I feel like there's congruency with what I guess you'd call the socialist perspective of time? Socialism puts a great deal of emphasis on the immediate... the future and past are given due consideration since the history and outcome of today's actions are important, but those concepts are always understood in terms of their relevance to what's immediate. I feel that contrasting this to consumer culture is good. It's accepted capitalist practice, especially in the advertising age, to constantly be shattering our sense of place in time, in the now, so we can move on to the next paid distraction, as their only prerogative is to increase their rate of profit.

The 'mindfulness' attitude towards suffering, I'm not sure if I can directly relate that particular aspect to socialism, although I see intrinsic value in it. I would say that my personal attitude towards suffering, and how I relate it to socialism, is virtually identical to an expansive definition of "pain", and I typically view suffering as something that is evil-in-itself when in excess. Skinning your knee might not register as evil since it's such a transient experience, but starving or debilitating sickness or sexual abuse or being subjected to severe emotional cruelty, etc clearly crosses the threshold into evil. I'm not even sure how to phrase that except in terms of a tautology... it's just... bad, the worst aspect of our experience as feeling, thinking creatures.

But I think it's also true that such experiences of suffering do manifest traumatic symptoms and cut us off from meaningful aspects of our lives, including a connection to the immediate as you state. Trauma symptoms seem to manifest themselves as haunting memories of the past and fear of future events. Such circumstances make a connection to the present truly daunting to establish, and that can keep us from reaching the state of emotional wholeness that I, hopefully correct, think mindfulness as a practice seeks to bring about.

I'm really glad I asked you about this stuff, because I feel like it expands my point that, despite the apparent contradiction that the opposing names would apply, Buddhist-derived nonmaterialism is actually complementary towards socialist materialism. There's something deeply... sensible? about the attitude towards material objects and commodities and even loved ones being transitory. It's just about being prepared for the inevitabilities life brings, right? I think that such an attitude also strikes a blow against consumerist conceptions and ideas about bourgeois luxury. The hypervaluation of marketed consumer goods and personal wealth accumulation, the childish tantrums thrown when socialism threatens to take away their perception of "the good life"... it's symptomatic of an absurd attachment to material wealth, right?

Attachment to material things under socialism takes on a different form. Obviously there is a great emphasis on the equal distribution of real-world things--food, housing, medical care, etc--and, contrary to popular myth, there's nothing necessarily spartan or austere about socialism, since a majority of socialist projects have set a rich cultural and social life for the people as a goal and achieved such in many ways. I think the difference here that is relevant for the discussion is that these are no longer personal possessions--food and housing are simply things you get for being part of a society, and no longer need to be scrounged for or worried over. And while equal proliferation of material goods is still part of society's economic lifeblood, there's less of an emphasis on luxury and waste (since accelerating the rate of profit naturally demands the perpetual expansion of wasteful goods, whereas creating durable goods and encouraging thrift helps achieve a point of "market saturation" that is actually desirable under socialism.)

You've also shown that forgiveness is a compatible concept in this regard... Since it's no naive take on forgiveness, but rather one with practical meaning. It's true that resentments can become obsessions and completely destroy us. We do not need to forgive as in condoning of behavior, but we must at least not let the phantom of people's past actions rule our lives. This is something my mom talks a lot about too, and it's always made sense even if my practice of it has been imperfect.

The relevance here to socialism goes along lines that you've cited, pretty much. When socialism has developed to a certain point, the classes are liquidated into the form of a classless society, there is no need to struggle or seek vengeance for what was done before, as no group will be able to reestablish dominance or position themselves as a threat. This doesn't mean that we simply roll over and don't bother to create socialism in the first place, since the definition of "forgiveness" doesn't mean tolerating the actions of those who are actively harming you... it moreso seems like, socialism can be defined in terms of what it is, rather than in terms of what it opposes?

Thanks for the prompt response! Talking about this with you is really fun.

 68 
 on: June 02, 2017, 12:17:24 AM 
Started by Mia Kris - Last post by Mia Kris
I'll say first that my initial impression of your textwall here was mainly that you were being disingenuous by saying you're also not much of a scholar, as you go on to reference myriad historical and contemporary attempts at socialism that I have no knowledge of... I understand that you are very into this stuff, so it is commendable that you know all that! When I say that I am no scholar I'm speaking relatively - you have clearly done a lot more reading than I have.

I started the discussion off by referencing that Russel Brand book mainly because I suspected you were more familiar with this character than myself and might be able to provide a little more context for what he was saying. I guess I could have just done my own research on him but I obviously wasn't very interested in the guy himself, so much as the message... or, some of the messages... delivered in the portion of this book that I heard, which keep in mind was several months ago.

To date I have read like half of three books on this "mindfulness" topic, so my understanding of it is unsystematic. I am working with pretty broad philosophic concepts here, to say the least. I have gathered that it's pretty central to Buddhist philosophy, and any other eastern philosophy that was influenced by Buddhism. The most basic definition of this mindfulness concept is along the lines of, being attentive to the present. "Mindfulness meditation" simply refers to using meditation as an exercise to practice being mindful. I've repeatedly seen this framed as a sort of antidote to the attention-shattering overstimulation imposed by fast-paced, modern consumerist culture.

The ultimate goal with mindfulness is always simply to be "in the present", which does raise the question of how all those other ideas I mentioned come in. A lot of it has to do with endeavoring to mitigate those things that would prevent us from being mindful, that is to say, which would divert our attention from our present experience. "Suffering" is a big deal here because, this is kind of an awkward statement, but suffering (both of oneself and of others) is very distracting. Some traditions go so far as to invert that statement and claim that suffering is defined as anything that distracts a person from serenely attending to the present. This could go on to be a much longer attempt to untangle the distinction between suffering and "pain", which I guess is considered to be merely one form of suffering among many... suffice to say, when a person is experiencing "pain", "fear", "despair", "regret", and so on, they tend to disassociate from their present circumstances as a means of evading that suffering, which again, runs counter to the ultimate goal of being in the present.

Another concept that I've found to be central in this philosophy is "non-attachment" or "relinquishment". This is very relevant to nonmaterialsim but also the "forgiveness" thing. Basically any Buddhist will tell you that you need to be prepared - mentally, emotionally, spiritually - to relinquish your attachments to everything you care about. Depending on how this is stated and what kind of examples are given it can come off as downright nihilistic, which is something I'm still trying to reconcile, but the reasoning is that you will, sooner or later, lose everything (material possessions, cared-for people, etc) due to the transitory nature of existence. The point is to accept that these things are transitory so that their inevitable passing will cause a minimum of suffering.
To use an extreme example, let's say a person you love dies. Relinquishing your attachment to this person doesn't mean you can't care that they died - like, you don't have to become exaggeratedly stoic about it. It's just about accepting the reality of your loss and being willing to move on with your own life, rather than languishing in a state of "this can't have happened, I can't go on" - which is a form of suffering.
To use a less extreme example focused on material externalities, say like, you drop your smartphone down a sewer drain - a less mindful person might panic and despair because that phone was like, my life, man - or you can accept that, unfortunate as the loss was, your life can go on without this object. This goes some way toward explaining why material possessions, particularly the more decadent ones sought after and hoarded by the participants in consumer capitalism, are seen quite literally as spiritual burdens by people who are into eastern philosophy.

This brings us to the topic of forgiveness, which I'll agree is pretty fascinating. I'll give a rough paraphrasing of what I recall Mr Brandman saying: "You have to forgive everybody for everything. This does not mean that you have to condone, or forget about, the actions of those who have caused you harm. It simply means that you must - sooner or later - relinquish your resentment toward that person. That resentment is ultimately a burden on your own soul that you're going to be better off without. The only way to relinquish this burden is to forgive the person responsible." So, this kind of forgiveness is more internal than external. If someone has harmed you in the past you do not have to go to them and tell them that you forgive them, you just have to accept it for yourself. In fact Brand suggests writing a list of everyone who you can remember having ever caused you harm, and then going down the list and saying "I forgive you" to each name, all in one go. I haven't literally done this but I can see what he's getting at - it's just about moving on from past trauma.

I've thought about what that concept in particular would mean in the context of an anticapitalist revolution. Would we forgive the capitalists? I think we would have to. Were capitalism to be dismantled and true socialism built, would we then round up all the previous oligarchs and imprison or execute them? There would be no need if we had truly succeded in creating a system in which they could no longer do any harm - it'd then be best to simply let them be.

 69 
 on: June 01, 2017, 05:14:43 PM 
Started by Mia Kris - Last post by total body workout
Well, not only am I not so much of a scholar (political science is actually a thoroughly useless form of study, in that it's explicitly antirevolutionary and is mainly about justifying existing systems of oppression...  :angelica: ) but, this stuff isn't about scholarly learning so much as it is, letting your moral sense and basic tools of analysis guide you through your observations. We already have all of that. Study can benefit you and help refine your understandings, but there's no need to be an "expert" to understand this stuff or else revolutions would primarily be carried out by elite academics. Past revolutions which were successful at least in part, were able to mobilize great numbers of people to constructive political ends despite their constituencies having high levels of illteracy, yknow?

It really is so interesting that Russell Brand of all people is the starting point to this discussion. I'm a little familiar with his stuff because I used to know someone who was very into British comedy, and he's just... so full of himself with his cosmopolitan libertine shtick that it's unbelievable. So it's even more surprising that he has a level of skepticism about capitalism that is a complete outlier. The only other one I can think of is a comedian on "The Young Ones" who remained a committed communist throughout his career and his life. But I think it highlights an important point: Revolution against existing political and social structures is "about" certain people more than others, it's "about" people who are suffering the most under the existing order
most of all, but you don't need to be from any particular background to commit yourself seriously to its cause, although the propaganda and circumstantial preconceptions one grows up with can indeed be a serious hindrance to this. There have been individuals instrumental to various socialist revolutions in history who gave up their fortune and their station because a classless society was more important to them, so Brand's "class traitor" status isn't completely without precedent.

I'm sorry, once I'm no longer limited by format I can just go on and on, so let me try and get to the substance of your inquiries...

You asked about anyone who synthesizes concepts of mindfulness and anticapitalism. I don't know of anyone who has done this explicitly save for Brand, so this formulation is likely his original construction, especially since mindfulness is a concept that has seemingly spread a great deal in recent decades. But this may not be a dead end of discussion either. I believe you could find traces of "mindfulness" in the works of others who have written about socialism, or use your concept of it to synthesize with existing writings where you find it inadequately present. I won't presume too much about who may or may not do this until I know more about mindfulness though, and maybe you can help me along by elaborating on the concept. What I can do is discuss elements of mindfulness that you've already described and how they might apply to socialist theory and practice.

So one of the elements that you brought up is "minimizing of suffering". I really like this because it seems to imply the right questions. Why care about the suffering of working class, poor and marginalized people if suffering isn't somehow fundamentally morally abhorrent? Philosophies that seek to justify existing oppressions have always said that suffering exists to help us grow into better people, but the crucible of suffering more often cracks and shatters us rather than tempering us. Sometimes nature is cruel and inflicts disease or injury upon us--there's not really much to grow from on that. Or sometimes humans will prey on others--there's not really such a nice prepackaged Growth Lesson behind all that. And I feel strongly that socialism has always been about minimizing humanity's suffering, by obviating political structures that institutionalize interpersonal cruelty and by instrumentalizing collective human effort to hold nature's capricious cruelties at bay, in such forms as universal healthcare, etc.

I truly feel that, while Marxism was and is enormously influential and important to the growth and spread of socialism, that the "minimization of suffering as fundamental political principle" attribute that underpins socialism arises quite naturally and has appeared in various guises throughout history, as political or religious movements--some examples might be the development of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan, or the subsequent Ikko Ikki peasant's rebellion there, which was widespread, developed largely organically and proclaimed its egalitarian philosophy through the religious precepts of True Pure Land Buddhism. Europe developed similar egalitarian political movements with religious philosophical expressions during the middle ages. These movements were aggressively snuffed out, since the ruling classes would not accept liquidation or anything less than their own untrammeled power, but they are important examples because they show that the desire to minimize suffering transcends history, an idea that has always been waiting in the wings until it can be made to take center stage.

If mindfulness is a sincere commitment to minimize human suffering, then I think it's copacetic with socialism as a means of substantially attaining that goal.

The other element you mentioned, nonmaterialism, is a trickier subject to broach, because I'm not entirely certain of its implications--it could mean a lot of things!--and one of the underpinnings of modern socialist theory and practice is, indeed, "materialism". But what I think is that the mutual negation implied between these two terms is not such a guaranteed thing, and there's a decent possibility that they could both be present at once.

I can be reasonably assured that nonmaterialism doesn't imply a complete abandonment of that which materialism describes, since it's apparently paired with an opposition to the suffering which takes place in our temporal lives here in the physical world. Materialism's primary function in socialist theory and practice is just that--a recognition that suffering originates in our real lives, and is a substantial consequence of economic and political processes in which human suffering is a product of the ruling class need to accumulate wealth and power. When people are facing starvation or homelessness if they do not work themselves to the bone, either at the workplace or domestically, their pain is not simply an existential malaise, it's a physical reality.

This formulation of materialism is, I think, necessary as a basis for socialism, but it doesn't strike me as particularly exclusive of nonmaterialist ideas except for maybe the most theologically fundamentalist or absurdly postmodern. It doesn't preclude a healthy respect for the mysteries of existence, or inquiry about the ultimate nature of the reality we inhabit, or a general sense of wonder. But then again, my understanding of the particular implications of nonmaterialism is extremely crude at best. If you could help me understand that better then I may be able to offer more specific comment.

I guess the final thing that really needs addressing is nonviolence and violence. I think that you and I both feel, and rightly so, that violence is abhorrent, and that we both wish for a world without it. Our world as it exists and has existed since before history is utterly rife with it. What parameters could possibly defy the precedent of all history? I feel the answer can only be in socialism--where there is no survival desperation that fuels interpersonal conflict, where no repressive violence is used by the state on the poor and marginalized, where no imperialist wars are carried out to plunder nations and subjugate their people. I do not believe all forms of violence would be eliminated. I think that there are forms of cruelty and evil that do not need greed or ambition to fuel them, and I think that a justice system would continue to exist even under socialism, but the difference in violence between that which we face now and that minimal element which would linger is almost beyond imagining.

So socialist revolution could be the greatest reduction of violence humanity has ever known. Why then has socialist revolution in the past entailed elements of violence? From the perspective of mindfulness, doesn't this also entail the creation of suffering?

I've done, probably inadequate but at least not insigificant reading outside of the capitalist propaganda canon, about the history of socialist revolutions, the parameters that they needed to exist under, the tactics they used, etc. And I say "history" but this applies to the modern day too. There are socialist states which are ardently attempting survival after the destruction of the larger socialist projects, there are communist guerilla groups with widespread support base in places like India and the Philippines, and I know at least a little bit about the circumstances they exist under too.

The best thing I can say is that, socialist or proto-socialist 'reduction of suffering' movements are ruthlessly extirpated since they are an existential threat to ruling class power. Even ones with principled stances of non-violence, will face repressive, eliminationist violence by apparatuses of the ruling class. No socialist nation has ever been permitted to exist except under conditions of perpetual siege by the capitalist, imperialist bloc. After ousting the czar, a little-known story is that the Bolsheviks faced not only civil war with those loyal to the czar and the emergent capitalism that his throne was partnered with, but that an international invasion force was put together by the US and Western European powers to put down the revolution which they so abhorred.

It may be asked: Weren't the Bolsheviks already committing violence by that point, though? Was it perhaps them taking up arms that provoked such a violent response?

The answer to this can be found in the experience of socialist Chile. Chile followed what are supposed to be the rules to peaceful power acquisition--its people democratically elected a Marxist government under Salvador Allende, they did not arm themselves and seize power by conflict. And yet, the United States still saw fit to finance and support a coup by a puppet leader who would restore capitalism. Tens of thousands of people were murdered and many more were tortured, disappeared or imprisoned in order to fight the "greater evil" of socialism.

The two best books that I can recommend for understanding how socialism is created under siege conditions would be "Killing Hope" by William Blum and "Blackshirts and Reds" by Michael Parenti. I really feel that no better or more accessible primer exists to understanding these circumstances.

I might also point out that liberal capitalist democracy itself did not come into being by peaceful protest, and that a protracted war was fought with preceding feudal political structures in order to lay the foundation for the new political system.

So... nonviolence is a meaningful value, even in our world full of violence and tragedy. But capitalism will always force socialist movements to fight for their survival or else be destroyed. We are forced to decide then, not between nonviolent or violent revolutions, but between revolution or the preservation of the existing violent, oppressive, murderous system. Our sincere hopes for peace cannot change these circumstances, because we have no control over how capitalists react to the alternative being born.

I have no idea what Russell Brand has to say on the topic of violence, but consider what he says about it in light of what I describe here, if you get that far in listening to him.

Oh, and I probably should have remembered to discuss this before, but I don't want to let it go unmentioned. I would be really interested to know the implications of Brand's declaration that "you have to forgive everybody". I think forgiveness is an enormously valuable concept and needs to be practiced wherever possible, but I wonder how far he takes it. We can forgive people for their cruelties while still stridently opposing them and seeking to take away their power to do cruelty, right? And surely there are instances where forgiveness is not meaningful or necessary--forms of victimization that are so evil and beyond the boundaries of what's acceptable that we cannot expect those victimized to follow the path of forgiveness?

Well, I just went on and on so much that maybe the Twitter character limitation is seeming pretty good right now. But I wanted to answer your questions thoroughly and expansively because I was happy you talked to me about this and I care very much about what you think of this stuff. Please respond whenever and however you wish, and maybe this discussion can take the form of dialogue rather than big goofy textwall.

 :mario:

 70 
 on: June 01, 2017, 01:48:50 AM 
Started by Mia Kris - Last post by Mia Kris
https://twitter.com/VariaKris/status/870136071551451136

So, to continue...
I do get anxious about discussing these things because I'm so not scholarly, I just get half a book on a topic here and there.
But, trusting one's intuition is ok too.
Anyway, go on...

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