Tag Archives: Philosophy

Trying to figure out Marxism, page by page…


DiaMyHegel

Video by video, podcast by podcast, and even pretension, by irritating pretension. Before we get too far, do I really understand the works of Marx? Nope I’m still neck deep in working it out, but recently my head crested the surface after something like 2 months of on and off reading, watching and general research.

So if you read some of my other posts on philosophy you may have noticed me mention I do not like it when anyone uses over complicated and difficult to understand terms to describe their work. Especially when it is an introductory piece. There no need for it, and regardless of how fashionable being hard to understand is if you goal is to create something to be use to improve the world, it will need to be able to apeal to people not steeped in your field already.

Now Marx was writing in a different time, and in many ways a climate where deep intellectual materials where simply the norm, so he writing would have been easier to digest. Yet there has been over a century of time dividing his work from us, and while plenty of people exist to carry on his work. Marxist still can’t explain what the fuck Material Dialectics are. There’s this expectation you need to read Hegel, and Marx, and sometime Lenin to really understand what Marxism is. Though I’m here to tell you, in my experience whenever someone has said that, “only x y or z can explain that,” to me it’s been bullshit. I think the real problem is many Marxism either worship the shrine of Marx, hoping to get the long dead man’s approval, or simply don’t really get the methods and just parrot what they know, because it’s confusing and that’s the only thing they know how to do.

That itself is of course an over simplification of what Marxists are doing, an abstraction if you will *wink wink*, but my frustration is real. So what have I been trying to accomplish since late September? To understand the basic of what Marxism are, so I can begin to both discuss and explain wtf it is to my own satisfaction. Because I firmly beilive that if you can’t explain the basics of a concept to a high school student in under 30 minutes, you don’t understand it yourself.

Now I wouldn’t have made is post if I was completely confused still, indeed I would have written much sooner if I had better luck in my search, but I got lucky, and decided to backtrack from Marx and figure out that “Dialectics” are in the Hegelian sense, which was much of the basis of Marx. The Luck Really kicked in when I found this lovely video series outlining the basics of Hegel’s Dialectics.

Not to be confused with the Dialectical Method of Socratic fame.

The Long and the short of it is as follows, Dialectics are not a formula for thinking, they are a method very much akin to the scientific methods. Not a single paths, but a basic system of thought that allows you to critically analyze concepts and physical processes. From what I’ve deduced and inferred from my readings. Material Dialectics, and Hegel’s Dialectics  are in turn a scientific method itself, and almost a scientific method, but still holding on to  the idealism (Think platonic if you aren’t familiar with what idealism entails) present in much of early a pre-enlightenment thinking.

So what is Marx Method? Well he died before he ever laid one out explicitly… THANKS MARX. However, Hegel was more kind, and laid the following three steps which should apply well to Marx with some tweaking. Thanks Hegel!

1 Abstraction, 2 Negation, 3 Concrete.

1. The Abstraction: This is the first step in what is a cyclical cycle. Fairly analogous to Hypothesis and experimental design in the common description of the scientific method. The Material Dialectic, when you begin to attempt to understand anything, first you must begin to make an abstract of it you must deconstruct how you think it work. Determine what it’s parts are, the inputs, the outputs, followed later by how that parts relate to one another.

2. Now like a good materialist as good scientist you must destroy what you’ve made. Now it is time for Negation! You now get to see if your abstraction can survive when it come into contract with the real world, or at least can withstand logical bombardment, in Socratic Method sense, as you and ideally some critics attempt to find its weak points.

3. Concrete is a bad name, but basically once you’ve done your best to negate the abstraction, you should be left either with nothing as your idea was wrong and completely unsalvageable (return to step one) or you should have helped move your abstraction closer to the real (material) world, and can use it to better describe the world. In essence you start with the simple abstraction, and through negation to bring it’s abstracted parts at least partially back together in a way that effectively describes, and ideally helps predicts the world.

4. Same as step one, but you take your idea from step 3 and feed it back though, in an endless cycle as you attempt to approach a perfectly accurate description of reality.

Is that all correct and accurate? Probably not, but if not I can certainly run in it back through the system, because the funny thing was, if I’m even close to being right, I have been doing material dialectics all along.

Questions and comments are more than welcome. If you know a fair bit about Marxism even better, but regardless I’ll keep up my investigations, and share again when I have something of interest.

Withteeth

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Podcasts on the LEFT, Including some potential clarity on Charlottesville.


Bwahahahaha! Ready to be radicalized? Bored with your listening options? Want more Radical Politics in your cereal, your commute, and your alienating job? Well I know I did a few months ago, and luckily I’ve been finding them! Time to share.

Aside: Sorry I can’t keep up with posts I’m monstrously busy. Parenting, moving, demolition, selling of annoying asset, work. I need a lot of time over a few days to write a decent article, and so far I’ve got a bunch of half finished posts, but nothing worth publishing.  This, however, I can do tonight.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but here are some excellent Radical Podcasts. I lean heavily to the Anarchist line of thinking, but not all of these podcast are anarchist, many are Marxist and some avoid political labels at together. All I can say is that each of these podcasts a worth listening too even if you don’t find yourself agreeing with them.

First some specific episodes on what went down in Charlottesville. There’s a lot of bullshit on the riots, and It’s good to hear from actual people on the ground there.


The Ex-Worker: Charlottesville – Triumph & Tragedy in the Struggle Against Fascism 

An excellent overview on hat went down and my memory fails me at least one good interview about what Antfia was doing on Friday and Saturday.

It’s Going Down IGD Podcast: Unicorn Riot on Neo-Nazis Celebrating & Planning Violence at Unite the Right and “Soft Targets”
If you want to hear about the riots from a journalist perspective, but one who was actually there, this is for you.  There are additional links in this podcast to follow as well

Feminist Killjoys, PHD: Ep 66: Stand Up & Fight Back – An Interview with Redneck Revolt

Want to learn more about those Armed Leftists at Charlottesville? An Excellent Podcast.


Now Onto the Podcast proper. I’ll be splitting them loosely into categories to make picking some out easier.  In no particular order…

The Fun Stuff: Comedy, typically lighter subject material, or at least stranger!

Srsly Wrong: These guys are Canadian, so that’s cool for me. They do a lot of skits and faux ad in there podcasts. Very entertaining, but some very good substance as well. You want to get some family and friends Radicalized? These are some cool dudes who might just be able to do it. Episode 100 is great.

Left Coast: New and make me laugh every time. West coast the best coast? Well these fine folks make a strong case. If your ready to go on a radical journey with some funny people this is also an amazing Podcast to get started with.

Last Podcast on the Left: Warning contains Liberalism! If you need to stay tapped into what more liberal minded folk are thinking, plus the weird conspiracy nonsense coming out of the right. These guys will do you well. They also make me snort randomly on the job which is difficult to do. More entertainment then info, and a centrist bias but just worthy of being on this list. Abe Lincolns Top Hat (politics) and Sex and other Human Activities (Sex and Mental health) are good too, but not good enough to get their own entries here.


Though Stuff: If you’re looking for the weighty stuff this is for you.

Revolutionary Left Radio: Probably my Favorite of them all. Consistently even handed (not neutral), smart and thoughtful. Very active with a new podcast every week. Rev Left Radio goes into the various different leftist ideologies, and into detailed left history. Has a gold star recommendation from me.

CrimethInc. The Ex-Worker: This Podcast was what got me started down this rabbit hole. They have a decent archive, and they recently started a weekly show “The Hotwire” which covers the news in anarchist circles. Hardcore, and some time difficult. I definitely recommend stopping in from time to time.

From Alpha to Omega: Infrequence updates, but a quality archive. Tom O’Brien is a Marxist, and get quality quests on his show every episode. Worth a try with a strong recommendation from me.

IGD It’s Going Down Podcast: Very similar news outlet to CrimethInc.  With a much more frequent history of updating. I have less experience with IGD, but they have been good over all and like CrimethInc. Are worth dropping by ever so often and downloading a few files for later.

Zero Squared Podcasts: Zero Squared is a book publisher, but they have a Podcast which goes into all kinds of stuff I’ve never heard of and pump out content for their podcast and Youtube videos. I recommend the Posadist Episode if your into some quality Satire. This also gets a quality assured recommendation from me.


Here lies Feminism! Sex, Veganism, and Good times.

Sexplanations Podcast: The Least political of the podcast posted here. This podcast by Lindsey Doe is all about sex positivity, and sex education. Nothing like dismantling puritanism when your smashing the patriarchy am I right? Fun and Positive Episodes. If you need something Uplifting and Sex Positive Sexplinations may be what your looking for.

Feminist Killjoys, PHD: These two Academics are all about media theory. A Bit woo-ie, but self aware about it. They get into Marxist stuff every so often, and a a good place to get your feminist fix, as all good Anarchists are want to do.

Whorecast: Sex workers and Anarchist work well together, and you’ll see the connection crop up in this podcast fairly regularly, if not always directly. Very important stuff in here, and if you want to deconstruct the stigma you have towards sex work I can’t really recommend anything else! A personal failing I’m sure.

Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack!: First they are not preachy about Veganism, two they talk Marxism and Anarchy, and a very anti-capitalist, and are good feminists far as I’ve listened to them. If any of that is of interest to you (understand I recommend them as an active omnivore) then give them a try. They might be a good listen for you as well.


Yes I listen to all of these I wouldn’t recommend them otherwise. Yes my job would be crazy boring (and alienating) with out them.

Have fun listening!

Withteeth


Stefan Molyneux on property rights.


Normaly I avoid doing critiques of video’s these day, but I ended up doing this one anyway, and am sharing it here. The orignal video can be found here https://youtu.be/nFcaanYaFKU , but I am not a supporter of Stefan Molyneux and I don’t really think he offer anything of real value, your better of reading “Understanding Power” by Noam Chomsky, or “Neo-liberalism a Breif History” by David Harely.

My first listen of Molyneux’s video on property rights had me really wondering what he was saying. It was vague enough that I could impose various interpretations. Having since rewatched it I find that first inerpritation was a bit too harsh, but he does rely heavily on assertion of his position as fact, rather than sound logical reasoning.

He begins by saying not only that property rights are the basis of all morality and ethics, a dubious claim at best, and then that property rights are all about self ownership and owning the effects of one’s own actions, a far more defensible position. While self determination (Being able to make choices free of compulsion) and personal autonomy (the freedom to live one’s own life and make moral and personal choices, affecting the self, interdependently should you wish it.) are quite powerful foundation to build morality, self ownership as property rights as Molyneux describes isn’t in my view so robust a foundation as he claims, and is certainly not foundational to all of ethics.

He then goes into a garbage can analogy, which amounts to the idea that actions are more important than ownership in determining who is responsible for product. The example being if you knock over someone else garbage can the mess you made is yours even if the can and the garbage belongs to another. He does mention there can be blameless situations, but Stephan does not explain how his model would deal with such instances. As an aside would it also then be the case that if you sneak into a person’s workshop and build a new contraction that while he would own the parts you would own the machine, just as you would the mess?

Moving on according to Molyneux that full personal ownership in the first Criterion of property rights, and therefore morality, as such co-owner ship is not morally relevant in Molyneux system of morality presented here. Again another glaring problem as there are clearly plenty of instances where co-ownership is just as relevant as sole ownership, really any time something is co owned it only seems to make the morality more complex, rather then some how making it irrelevant. My guess would be that he seems to be shooting himself in the foot to try to avoid a loose association with “socialism.”

He then goes on to an aside where he discusses that because we are hard-wired into our own nervous system, or more correctly in my mind, we are our own nervous system and our body is controlled by nervous system, and because no one else can take control of our nervous system, we have full and unquestionable ownership of ourselves, to use terms he uses later in the video, you have a natural enclosure on the “property rights” of your own body. In essence not one can question your ownership because they couldn’t have any kind of claim like you do. The one problem this is when you ask, what happens as Neuroscience improves into the future and we not only can remote control insects like we can now but can remote control or even remotely program other human beings? Does that mean we can now lose our autonomy because other people can access our nervous system and control our bodies? I’d say that given Molyneux’s description of property rights, that if you ever take ownership of a body early before they really have a chance to be considered an independent person enough, or someone gives it to you voluntarily, then yes you can lose self ownership and essentially lose your standing as a moral agent. This to me seems to be a problematic outcome of the theory proposed by Molyneux. Even if this sort of loss of personal ownership is not relevant right at this moment in time since science has yet to progress to that stage, I have not yet ruled out other way in which you might lose your personal ownership, and since there appears at least one I would not be surprised if there was more.

He then makes the point that coercion is different from choice, and makes the point that culpability falls upon the one doing the coercion, or the instigator in cases where someone is forced into an action such as self defence. nothing wrong here.

Stefan’s next major claim is the idea that property rights is not what you grab but when you create, that almost certainly is simply not true, simply because of historical facts. Basically all wealth has been at least indirectly created upon the results of violence and if you don’t respect that historical context, at least in passing, I’m going to find you position on ethics dubious. Another problem with this and the counter argument that comes along with it is the notion that the first people to an uncontested piece of land are just grabbing that land, and while yes it is true that to maintain and say that you do own that land you have to build and essentially take over that land, you can in theory hold far far more land and even build things on it then you can actually personally use especially if your main focus is to keep others from using that land. This is why the distinction of of private property and person personal property is important because it seems it can be unethical for someone to simply grab a huge hunk of land they can’t use if there are other people need it, but Molyneux’s position doesn’t actually allow for that kind of distinction. 

Next Stefan says that what creates that property right in the first place in the example of land is when you actually “enclose” your ownership over that land once you can get other people to accept that you own that land. the problem here being there is simply a tyranny of the powerful written directly into the theory, However, confusingly he then implies that this is just like self owner ship, but if so then if someone in the future where to ever enclose the rights of someone else body with a general agreement, or do so while the person was unable to respond, such as an infant, this implies that you could at least in theory, deny someone self ownership, and remove them from the morality question altogether.

I think the main flaw in the Stephen Molyneux argument is the fact that he is trying to do too much with a single concept. He’s attempting to wrap up the ideas of personal and bodily autonomy, additionally he’s trying to wrap in all of property rights, providing no distinction between personal and private property. By doing this he creates a bunch of what I think are unsavoury consequences including not only that you could theoretically lose your bodily autonomy if someone were to “enclose” their own rights around your bodily autonomy, but indeed it doesn’t prevent people from enclosing their rights around practically any property is as long as they have a general agreement from the relevant persons. While this doesn’t necessarily have to be bad it doesn’t preclude imperialism for example. an imperialist could easily use the logic to justify taking land from people they being irrelevant savages, particularly since he denies co-ownership as relevant moral form of ownership, so he immediately gives away this big chunk that basically justifies the seizure of land from many Native American tribes who lacked complete personal ownership over the land.

In conclusion I find that Stefan Molyneux philosophical position is rather shaky, and not only has he competely failed to show that property rights as he’s described them are foundational to all ethics, but I think I’ve pointed out where his conception of property rights as this bundled concept gives up a lot in order to condense personal autonomy, private property, and personal property into a single concept. Removing any protections or distictions between moral agents and inanimate objects.

Withteeth 


Thoughts on Identity Politics.


Greeting all Withteeth here,

Long time no write! Today I want to talk about a lil’ol thing called Identity Politics‎. I’m no expert on this topic, but I do have quite a few years steeped in it’s topics and outcomes, good and bad, so I want to share my thoughts. As is always advisable bring some salt to the table and feel free to raise your objections!

Identity Politics, by my understanding, is most fundamentally a collection of shorthands for various type of individuals and group that allow for quick and concise descriptions and cues for numerous kind of people. From issue like Gender or sexual orientations, ethnicity, psychological descriptions such as ADHD, and Depression, and some times expands to include other descriptors more commonly things like introvert and extrovert, and more rarely briggs-myrer test results, INJP or the like‎. This is by no means a full list, just some common examples.

Though categorization is only the identity side of of identity politics. And as those on either the far left and right will tell you, and what may surprize you is there is a great deal of derision from both sides. Those complaints that to main stances. Identity politcs is political correctness run amock! Or Idenity Politics is divisive and needlesly splitting people apart.

Now I think when people say political correctness is running amock, or “I’m just teeling it as it is.” I mostly hear “I wanna be a jerk to people, without Soical consequences.” Occasionally I’ll hear a meaningful point, but Normally when I encounter it it’s used as a distraction or excuse for holding a unplesant veiw about some other group the person doesn’t belong too.

The argument from divisiveness, however really has some soild truth to it. Where ever you attempt to catigorize, you make seemingly neat division in a messy and complex world. By it’s very nature the identity part of idpol is dividing people. I have seen folk rise to defend, and attack solely based on these division, and use them as a method to strip legitimasy from one group. perhaps the best example is that of Bi sexual erasure in the LGBTQA community where Gay and Lesbian people will attack and condem Bi sexual people of having heterosexual relationships and ostracizing them for this perceived betrayal.

This obviously not cool, but if people who should know better use identity politics to hurt people who only want similar recognition they themselves have won, why do I think identity politics are ultimately a positive force?

One: awareness building. Yes having aware of a group and for a time make them a target, but I think we have seen enough through history that staying hidden is a terrible stratagy for long term survival in a human population. Unless of course you have the power already to maintain your secrecy. The best way to make sure someone isn’t going to ostrisize and single out a group of people is to make sure they know about those people, and have a direct and meaningful relationship with at least one member of that group. That way you can easy attain empathy for another. The end goal of any awarenessraising move in my opinion has to be normalization, and acceptance, and I think for the fault of identity politics it has help raised awareness about dozens of minority group who face real threats from scoiety at large, and in part has been key in pushing LGBTQA issues, and have and effect on ‘race’ issues although I am regertiable less informed on the effect of identity politics on Person of colour.

Two: this real problem with divisiveness is a lack of intersectional understanding. Intesectionality is hard. Really hard. People who claim to be intersectional feminist can and often still preptuate harmful ideas and will sometimes ignore other people’s lived experiences if they haven’t directly experinced them first hand.

What makes intersectionality so hard is that it requires empathy for others, and a deep understanding of the experinced and conditions which affects a given group of people. You basically need to have the basics of economic theory, a good grounding is the relevant history, and know a lot about the social sciences to really start making a crack at competent intersectional thought. You can have a good grasp of the categories of indetity politics but have no idea of the kind of power structures which affect how people interact, live their day to day lives, and how they affect individual and group opportunities and access. 

To really appreciate and utilize intentional though, and therefor use indentity politics for good you need to be curious , and have a real desire to learn about people, and critcally you need to be willing and actively want to push yourself to try to understand experinces that might be radically different from your own.

So to wrap this post up, my thought on Identity politics can be summed up as follows. Idtity politics on a practical level is little more then a list of labels and desripitions for indivials and groups to indetify themselves. Unless you are actively applying intersectional thought to these catigorization, there no reseason that people won’t use that lables as a tool to harm as much as help. Due to that I’m wary of agree with just anyone pushing idenitity politics, but I still think that it does more good then harm and the use of idenitity politicswill contiune to give power and reconition to unserved and unrepresented group in our societies. We as agroup just need to become better at applying intersectionality to issues of privledge and access.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Withteeth


Science Withteeth: Scientific Method.


Welcome to Science Withteeth

One thing I intend to do with this series is get into the nitty gritty of what science actually is, and how unclear that actually is. To do that it is important to discuss the methods that compose much of science.

More importantly though the scientific method, is poorly understood. I’m sure anyone with a basic science education has seen charts like the following.

http://www.sciencebuddies.org

These a great little over views a good way to explain the basic way science works, but generally you don’t revisit this idea unless your get into the second or third year of university. Let me tell you that while this is a good learning tool it’s does not actually tell you much at all. So rather then just assuming people understand the scientific method I’m going to examine what each point means, and how a scientist might go about creating or finding a question, or procedures.

The next post will be about where do scientific questions come from? Where do us scientists get our ideas from.

If you have any ideas you’d like me to examine comment below and I’ll start making a list.


I’m At a Loss


I’ve been finding it difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts, which is why this blog hasn’t been very active lately. As such, I’d like to leave it up to the readers: what would you like us to write about? Would you like to know something specific about our atheism? Do you have an argument that you’d like us to address? Would you like us to discuss a particular book? Do you have any questions about Philosophy, Biology, or History? Would you like to know our stance on a particular feminist issue? Is there something else you’d like us to write on? Let us know in the comment section.


I’m So Tired of These So-Called Skeptics


I can’t help but think that there needs to be a test before one can call themself a skeptic. It’s amazing how many people call themselves skeptics while having no critical thinking skills once so ever. This is the biggest reason I don’t really identify as a skeptic.

Today I received a reply to a comment I wrote on YouTube. The person considered themself a skeptic, but they couldn’t be bothered to supply any evidence to support their claim that masculinity and femininity are biological despite the fact that different cultures around the world hold to different ideas about what is masculine and what is feminine. Skeptics are supposed to be critical of all claims, and they are supposed to look at the evidence before they decide what is true, but so few actually do that. So many skeptics ignore the evidence and determine what they believe to be true on what society accepts, or who they hero-worship, or what they simply feel to be right. But that isn’t being skeptical.

Skepticism is a fine line to walk. It isn’t easy. But it also isn’t that difficult. Somebody says the sky is blue? Look up. Does the sky look blue? If yes, then do you have any reason to believe you are being deceived? No? Then the sky is blue. Obviously not everything is this simple, but it follows the same pattern. Someone says god exists? Can you see god? No? Then what other ways can we know something using our senses? Can we feel god? No? Can we smell god? No? Can we taste god? No? Can we hear god? No? Then how else can we find out if this claim is true? What evidence does the person making the claim have to offer? Can that evidence be verified? If not, then what does this say about the claim? If you can’t verify something using your own senses, and the evidence offered by the person making the claim isn’t verifiable, then the person’s claim can be dismissed.

But skeptics don’t generally have an issue applying this method to gods. It’s other things, more mundane things that skeptics want to be true, where they have difficulty applying their skepticism. But applying skepticism to one area does not a skeptic make. So where do skeptics fail?

Skeptics fail at applying skepticism to claims about sex and gender. It’s widely accepted that men are stronger than women. But how do we know if this is true? Can you see a man lift something that a woman can’t? Probably. But this is one man and one woman. So how do you turn the “this man can lift something that that woman can’t” claim into a “men are stronger than women” claim? First you need a lot of men and a lot of women. Then you need to compensate for weight difference. What do the results show? Obviously the average person doesn’t have time to do all of these experiments to determine what they should believe. Luckily scientists have done much of the research for us. So what have scientists found when they have done these studies? Are there studies that contradict each other? Does one debunk the other one? Are there meta-studies that explain why one is more accurate than the other? And are you sure your sources are good (ie. can you follow the source back to original research?)? Once you’ve done all that, you can be reasonably sure that your belief is accurate. However, to be a good skeptic, you can not say that you are a 100% certain that your belief is true. There is always a chance that you are wrong, and a true skeptic understands this. The problem with most so-called skeptics is they do not understand this.

So do you need to use the process given above to determine if your believes are true if you want to be a good skeptic? Yes. But it is not as daunting as it sounds. We all do the process to a certain degree, but most people don’t look at both sides of an argument, and they aren’t often open to changing their mind. The research doesn’t have to be done all at once. It can be done over the course of months or years, but both sides need to be considered, and you need to be open to changing your mind. That’s how we learn and grow.

So please, if you call yourself a skeptic, please make sure that you are as willing to apply your skepticism equally to all of your beliefs. And please make sure that you are willing to accept that you might be wrong. Because as soon as you say “I know x for certain” you cease being a skeptic. And as soon as you fail to apply the rigorous research needed to accept a belief you cease to be a good skeptic.


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