Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn


Was at 61c this evening, overheard an old guy who I've often found irritating for his very traditional/regressive values talking about sexuality, he speculated that all non-straight sexual preference derives from some sort of trauma: prison, childhood abuse, etc, and hoped neither he nor anyone he knew would have that kind of a "terrible" existence. Afterwards he went on to reminisce about how everything was better in the old days, etc etc. It's sometimes an interesting exercise to simply listen to perspectives one so strongly disagrees with and dislikes.

General outlook on politics, spark of life, and aging (CAUTION: moves into politics):

  • At a certain age, one understands the world enough to see a huge gulf between what one would like to see (partly connected to the specifics of one's values, partly just noticing how badly things seem to work and how unhappy people are), and this grows, in many people, into a sustained anger
  • This anger is large and vague enough that it can go in many directions - most passionate politics/philosophy/activism grabs much of this formless anger in a person, points it in a direction, and harnesses it
  • Surrounding people:
    • Advocates of an idea: Establish/enhance considerability of a style of politics - most people are reluctant to or not creative enough to blaze new ground, but if they know someone of a philosophy, be it ecofeminism, neo-conservativism, socialism, classicism, or similar, they are much more likely to move in that direction. Some people consider themself to have a license to be "slightly less extreme" than the most distant-from-centre of their social network, others have no such constraint
    • Lack of advocates of an idea or members of a group: Open the door to vilification/blame of that group for some of society's woes. If someone were to have kin or a friend who is of group X, it would be difficult for that person to accept ideas that vilify X (for better or for worse). Socially very well-connected people may have a tough time ever accepting politics/philosophies that blame anyone, both making them disinclined towards senseless hate and ideas that are necessary to protect society. People too eager to be indiscriminatley harsh become monsters, those unwilling ever to be harsh even on good principle are spineless.
  • Aging: diminishes anger
    • Cognitive Dissonance: for many people their hopes for society are weakened
    • Anger is tiring over a span of years
    • As people become established in society (property, children, job) they become unwilling to risk these things
    • If people find insufficient kinship with their ideas for long enough, or the costs of their ideas become too high, they moderate them (if close enough to societal norms) or abandon them, often swinging quite far from them in the latter case as part of making a "clean break"
      • After retirement and when things begin to matter less, they may drift further from centre again, usually in whatever direction they were most recently leaning and aided by their present company. Idealised past mythos is very easy to acquire given selective memory.
  • Movements and norms of subgroups are significantly social, although ideals are not necessarily insignificant
I have hoped that the existence of people like myself in social circles would help make the case for plausibility of a way to reasonably direct that dissatisfaction. In particular, I want liberal state-socialism (even in as nonspecific a form as mine) to be an option - for people to still think about/consider/work towards. I am particularly concerned that anarchosocialism, libertarianism, and religious fundamentalism seem to be the largest voices out there, and that there is not enough of a path for many people to come to conclusions like those I have arrived at. This suggests that people like myself be very loud and nontenative with our ideas and values, the latter at lead not being something I'm inclined towards.

With Anarchosocialists in particular we have the unfortunate task, if we wish to draw people towards liberal state socialism, of acting as a voice of moderation, making people realise the necessity of a state, of democratic elements rather than direct democracy, of coersion and education and other things that do not naturally mesh as well with the populism that thrives in anarchosocialism. From our perspective, we have the duty of convincing people towards a position that's less idealist but more realistic to people too young to appreciate it, both before most of them lose that anger that forms a political spark and in competition with a similar socialist philosophy that's better at channeling vitrol but too impractical to ever form a government (let alone establish socialism). To suggest moderation (with the police, for example) instead of dehumanisation, to tell people to rebase the state on better foundations and grow society towards that rather than to destroy the state and hope society will spontaneously generate something better, this is difficult to do. I believe the age distribution of socialists and anarchosocialists I've met is telling - anarchist movements are almost without exception composewd of youth, while state socialists have a much more even age distribution - we have values and sets of ideas that can survive the transition out of youth, but no longer capture many young doers. This, I think, is why anarchosocialists have a thriving (but underground) movement in urban America and state socialists have very little. I would not claim that Anarchosocialists act as a barrier towards socialist goals (as their ideas, being cousins to ours, also lead to curiosity that takes some from Bakunin to Marx), but finding a way to raise the level of political analysis of those predisposed towards some form of socialism, and effectively outcompeting them in the spheres of socialist ideas and social movements is an important task.

We consider the following as reasonable starting points for definitional discussions for these movements:

  • Socialism - system under which the means of production is primarly or wholly owned/managed, at least at the highest levels, by society as a whole, with the benefits from a given means of production accruing to the people as a whole or the workers rather than investors, and decisions about how a given means of production (factory/collective/business/etc) are, at least at the highest level, made by or appealable to societal institutions (government/public polling/etc) or the workers at that means of production. We recognise further that means of production must take a broader meaning than it did in Marx's day, encompassing pretty much anything a business does today (Coffeeshops would not be considered a means of production in the older sense, but we wish to have a much broader meaning).
  • State Socialism - a form of socialism under which there exists an organisation (the state) which serves to advance the good of the people, by organising them, providing structure that permits necessary social order (laws, etc), guarding culture, and negotiating with other entities, both within the nation and outside it, for the good of its people and humanity in general. Under state socialism, the state may (not must) act as the effective owner/manager of means of production, organising them for the public good
  • Liberal State Socialism - A form of state socialism that acts broadly within the traditions of political liberalism, placing strong emphasis on openness, rejection of cults of personality, moderate amounts of political pluralism and incorporation of some democratic elements, and emphasis (but not supremacy) on individual autonomy
  • Anarchosocialism - A form of socialism under which the state is minimal or nonexistant and authority is avoided as much as possible at all levels (both private and public).


  • I recently learned that ancient SUN optical mousepads are one of the best surfaces around for modern optical mice.
  • I want to trace though how HOSVDs work (and make sure I really understand SVDs). Unfortunately, I am well beyond rusty in math related to tensors, and (as always) I loathe standard mathematical notation (just as frustrating for music)
  • Still thinking about some news events that happened a bit ago - will probably eventually post about them
  • I'm pretty sure I want to learn the Persian language. Starting to look for a good textbook...
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