A Brief Observation on Liberals

I keep noticing people–liberal and conservative–who give credit (or blame) for the minimum wage, the end of child labor, the 8-hour day, medicaire, welfare, &c &c to liberal politicians. But these were products of mass struggles by the working class. The role of the liberal politician in all of this was sometimes as its expression in the legislature, and thus no more deserving of credit (or blame) than my keyboard is for the contents of this post (especially appropriate given how many spare keyboards I have lying around). More often, the role of the liberal is to do everything possible to put the brakes on the movement after making as few concessions as possible.

ETA: I’ve added the word “politician” after “liberal” because apparently the original wording was ambiguous.  Mea culpa.

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48 thoughts on “A Brief Observation on Liberals”

  1. One way to decide about government is for a well-armed minority to decide things, and everybody else bows to their will. When they get too unpopular, people fight them against the odds and typically .5% to 20% of the population dies. You can cut down the casualties if it works out that people don’t start fighting them until they’ve disgusted so many people that they obviously have no chance, and they run away without fighting much.

    The main alternative I’ve seen is to let everybody say what side they’re on, and the coalition with the most members gets to decide until a new coalition forms. This has a lot of disadvantages but it has the advantage that people mostly don’t have to die to decide who rules.

    As long as “liberals” are the largest part of one of the coalitions, it makes perfect sense to give them credit for what their coalition does that you like, and blame for what their coalition does that you don’t like. They have as much free will as anybody else, and they get the most say because there are more of them.

    If you’re part of a smaller minority, in this kind of system it makes sense to try to persuade more people — then you will become a larger minority and have a bigger voice in your coalition. Even if you prefer a violent revolution it makes sense to persuade more people, since the more people who are sympathetic to your goals, the less trouble you’ll have. And it might make sense to dilute your goals some so that more people will agree. Or maybe not.

    It isn’t much use to blame the people who sort of agree with you but who don’t go along with everything. They are just doing what they think is best, the same as you are. Persuade them, or fail to persuade them.

  2. That’s the role of the establishment – and of those politicians in the pay of the establishment. And if the establishment consists of conservatives and liberals, then I will choose the one less actively trying to do harm to me and mine to help its bosses.

  3. There are approximately zero countries in the world with no working classes, but there are countries in the world with no meaningful number of liberals. In approximate zero countries do people like the idea of their children working 12 hour days with no healthcare, but there are countries where that happens, and ones where it doesn’t. The working class of Bolivia and Russia and South Africa certainly do not struggle any less hard than those of the USA and western Europe, and may actually be more organised.

    So it seems a pretty well supported theory that middle class liberals (i.e. people who have both capital and jobs, but identify more with the latter) are actually causally key to any form of positive outcome for a society,

  4. 1soru1: Thank you for your remarks. I thought it was pretty clear that by “liberals” I meant liberal politicians; apologies if that didn’t make it across.

    More significantly, the most cursory study of the American labor history will show the relationship between the massive working class struggles (the 30s, the 46-48 strike wave, the mass movements in the 60s) and the political results. The politician always comes along AFTER the movement and in response to it.

    But, even more, pulling the current circumstances of any country–Bolivia, Russia, South Africa–out of its historical context is deeply unscientific. Let me put it another way: these “middle class liberals” of whom you speak were not bestowed on a given country by a benevolent deity (or a malicious one, for that matter), but are the product of the particular conditions, the history, and above all the development of the class struggle in that country.

    To point to the existence of middle class liberals as the reason for advances in the condition of the working class is like saying the oceans came into existence because of ships.

  5. Liberals come about because they see suffering and injustice in the world and their country and have empathy for that suffering. That is a useful thing for producing change. I agree with J Thomas on that.

    No, you were not in the least clear that “liberals” referred to only politicians. You sounded pretty much like the GOP badmouthing liberals for not being conservatives. You are correct that improvement in working rights came about because of class struggle and conflict.

    As for politicians who claim to be liberal, but primarily work for the establishment; yeah, there are a number of them. Clinton is one.

    I have noticed a tendency on your part to try to frame the arguments in a way to force the argument to support only your form of socialism. To eliminate any competition on the left as lacking purity. Sometimes you stretch things quite a bit to try to make that work.

  6. “No, you were not in the least clear that “liberals” referred to only politicians”

    Okay, I’ll fix that.

    “I have noticed a tendency on your part to try to frame the arguments in a way to force the argument to support only your form of socialism”

    Confused now. Are you expecting me to frame the argument in a way I don’t agree with?

    “…to eliminate any competition on the left as lacking purity.”

    Purity? Seriously, purity? If one group is supporting a middle-class agenda that works to the benefit of the bourgeoisie, and another is supporting an agenda that works to the benefit of the proletariat, you are going to reduce this difference to one of “purity”? Wars are fought between soldiers in different uniforms–will you reduce the question of war and peace to disputes over fashion?

  7. I see the credit given to liberal politicians as being clumsy short-hand for giving credit to the movements these politicians are part of – as spearheads, figureheads, spokespeople, servants, or the variety of other possible roles politicians play in gaining visibility and legal traction for mass action of any kind.

    That said, I understand that getting legislation without a legislator is often considered quite difficult.

  8. ‘If one group is supporting a middle-class agenda that works to the benefit of the bourgeoisie, and another is supporting an agenda that works to the benefit of the proletariat, you are going to reduce this difference to one of “purity”?’

    If we want to live together in peace, we will probably need to compromise. Some benefits for the bourgeois, some for the proles, some for everybody who has a place in the coalition. Give everybody at least enough that he will put up with it and not choose to fight to the death.

    In the long run we might eliminate some classes. If all the bourgeois and aristocrats anc capitalists etc become proles, then perhaps we can get rid of class warfare. When everybody is proletarian and there is only one class, then we have nothing left to fight over except everything else.

    But in the short run what choice is there but to cooperate, and hope the other negotiators are reasonable enough that we can find a bargain we can live with?

  9. If you want evidence of a liberal politician supporting a cause after it was popular, look no further than Obama and gay rights. In general, crediting liberals for workers’ issues is like crediting men for women’s issues or whites for equal rights: the power that concedes rarely deserves the credit for the victory.

  10. skzb, what I would hope is that you could see more than just a very narrow spectrum of politics. I was accusing you of having the opinion that liberals have insufficient socialist purity and are thus either unworthy or traitors to your cause. Now if you are talking just about politicians who have betrayed their voters, you can easily make that case.

    You seem to be of the opinion that there is hard core socialism and everything else. Two camps. Nothing else. Otherwise you could acknowledge that good can come from other groups.

  11. David: Thanks for the clarification. In fact, I believe that, as an ideology, liberalism always betrays itself; but that wasn’t my argument in the OP, and I won’t attempt to make the case now. It might be something to come back to at some point.

    To me, it is not about “hard core socialism” or not, it is, always and in every way, about the class basis of a party, a program, an ideology. I believe that in a class society, it is always the case that politics on every level must be judged first and above all on a class basis. A politician who is a member of a bourgeois party is never going to have my support because I oppose his class whether in their overt reactionary form or their more deceptive liberal form.

    To me, it is not about a “very narrow spectrum” of politics, but rather about what permeates the entire field. With that understanding, I think the nuances of politics are very important–the oil billionaires who backed Bush are not the same section of the ruling class as the Wall Street bankers who backed Obama; there is always conflict and jockeying for position within the ruling class, and I try not to be blind to those differences. But the importance of those differences lies in understanding how best to fight them, not in preferring one over the other. If given the choice between being stabbed in the back or shot in the head, I opt for the cake.

  12. As I understand it, Obamas main source of income before becoming president was as a NYT best-selling author of books about politics. No wizards or flying reptiles in them, afaik.

    Any powerful centralised system with a single person in charge makes that person a member of the elite by definition; that’s nothing really to do with their prior class background, or liberalism as a specific philosophy. Socialists when elected face the same problems (and when not elected, add some more).

  13. “A politician who is a member of a bourgeois party is never going to have my support because I oppose his class whether in their overt reactionary form or their more deceptive liberal form.”

    I try to imagine how that would work in the short run. We get a politician you would support. He tells the media “I support the proletarian class and oppose all other classes. If elected, I will do whatever I can to help proletarians in my district and hurt the bourgeoisie and the capitalists and people with inherited wealth. I will never compromise with anyone who is from the wrong class.”

    How many districts can people with that platform win?

    The concept of democracy is based around compromise, you need to get a majority at least. But the proletariat would be a minority even if they all agreed. The only way the proletariat can win is by violent revolution and then oppressing the majority, or else persuading many of them.

    I just don’t see how this can work.

  14. J Thomas, I think you’re equating “socialist candidate” with “dumb candidate.”

  15. Thanks skzb for your clarification.

    There is something strange that goes on in US politics as Richard Melvin noted. Suddenly, after taking office, the politician may be corrupted to support the oligarchs. I do not think this is a free choice by the politician.

    Obama is a good example and maybe even Bush W. Obama started out as he campaigned, but then suddenly he started supporting big money. My personal belief (no proof, of course) is that some guys show up and threaten the President and their family, if they do not do as they are told. They may even rough the President up to show that they mean business, but it may be more subtle than that. “Gee, Mr. President, it sure would be a shame if you and your family died in a plane crash.”

    From things like the Kennedy assassination and the bizarre Wellstone crash, it would appear that the CIA, FBI, Mafia and the Secret Service work together to enforce the will of the super rich. A President that does not do as he is told is of no use to them.

    I do not think a socialist President would fare much better. A President accusing these guys of such an extensive “conspiracy” to control the presidency, would have a tough time selling that. Especially if he is a socialist. So there is a good chance your socialist President would be co-opted just like every previous president. The spooks probably have a number of crazies they can give a gun to, and clear the way to allow him to assassinate the President in the same way they did with Bobby Kennedy.

    Gee but that is a depressing thought.

  16. Emma, are you suggesting that a socialist candidate should lie about his intentions to get elected? That that is the “smart” socialist candidate?

  17. ‘J Thomas, I think you’re equating “socialist candidate” with “dumb candidate.”’

    Yes, exactly.

    I would imagine that a “liberal” candidate with proletarian support might try to get some things that his bourgeois supporters want and some things that his proletarian supporters want, and he would show less support for things his supporters disagree among themselves about.

    But then SKZB says he will never support such a candidate, because it looks like SKZB does not want any alliances or compromises among classes.

    I try to imagine what sort of candidate he could support, and what I imagine comes out as somebody who cannot win an election except perhaps in some very special locations.

  18. “Emma, are you suggesting that a socialist candidate should lie about his intentions to get elected? That that is the “smart” socialist candidate?”

    I don’t think that works either. How would SKZB know that this is a good candidate who lies and says he’s a bad candidate, rather than a bad candidate who is telling the truth about how bad he is (if not the truth about precisely which bad things he intends to to)?

  19. > then suddenly he started supporting big money

    The usual theory is that campaign donation are necessary to get elected because advertising. But recent research seems to show political advertising makes no detectable difference to anything.

    The simplest theory that explains things is the one subtly foregrounded in VEEP; to be a serious politician is to employ an office full of staffers. The more serious the bigger the office, the sharper the suits, the higher the salaries. Salaries that need paying.

    Which means that whatever you were before you were a politician, once you are one you are an employer, a patron. Which is a _really_ small social class; 1% doesn’t begin to cover it. Even among millionaire capitalists, most businesses are incorporated, partnerships or at least family-owned, not held in a single individual’s name.

    The only people anything like them are the likes of Donald Trump…

  20. I did notice that the staff Obama “hired” were exactly the wrong people for him to stay on message. I thought staff was paid by the government, and not paid the mega-salaries that they got in the non-government world.

    If you hire a Wall Street broker (who is still sucking on Wall Street’s tit), how can you possibly expect that person to do anything to reign in Wall Street excesses?

  21. David: This is totally off topic, but… “and the bizarre Wellstone crash” I thought I was the only one who thought the timing of that awfully suspicious. I feel better. Either I’m not paranoid, or at least I have company in my paranoia.

  22. Wellstone told Cheney to his face, that he would be voting against the war in Iraq. Several days later, his plane with his family on board, crashes under unexplained circumstances. The FBI shows up (after having driven for several hours) within minutes and shoos away the local police (the airplane being intact and unburned at the time) and suddenly all the passengers were burned to a crisp. That is what I call a message. You mess with the big boys and you are toast (literally).

    This doesn’t address liberals directly, but it helps explain why so many liberal politicians fell in lockstep with Cheney’s agenda when it was pretty obviously based on lies that were known to be lies.

  23. David, do you have citations for the FBI arrival time or the change in the state of the plane? I’ve always found the crash suspicious myself, but I haven’t been able to find anything corroborating an early FBI arrival time, and heard nothing to suggest the plane was intact post-crash. it’s been an interest of mine, since I met Wellstone in the week before his death, when he spoke at my college.

  24. “Obama is a good example and maybe even Bush W. Obama started out as he campaigned, but then suddenly he started supporting big money. My personal belief (no proof, of course) is that some guys show up and threaten the President and their family, if they do not do as they are told.”

    A year after the election Obama was talking about doing something about Israel/Palestine. When Netanyahu promised nothing would change, Obama talked about applying some pressure. He quickly caved in and stopped trying for change, and nothing much has happened since except a lot of Israeli expansion in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the 2012 and 2014 attacks on Gaza.

    That would seem to say that the big money is not monolithic, that it is split into multiple factions that disagree. Obama presumably thought he knew what he could get away with, and he was wrong. The big money that controlled him starting in 2008 thought it was just fine for him to threaten Israel with peace, but other big money also controlled him later to prevent that.

  25. “This doesn’t address liberals directly, but it helps explain why so many liberal politicians fell in lockstep with Cheney’s agenda”

    For this to be an explanation, many politicians would have to believe that the Wellstone deaths were probably action by the administration, and that they could not effectively fight back.

    So they gave in. They didn’t tell anybody they were threatened. The media did not report it. They all had to do as they were told, while pretending it was their own idea.

    That would be incredibly demoralizing. I think if I was in that situation I would want to retire. Why stay with it, when you can get a modest lifetime retirement instead? Did an unusual number of legislators choose not to run during that time?

    Of course, maybe some of them were threatened and not allowed to not run for re-election….

    I would expect morale in Congress to go way down and stay down.

  26. J Thomas, IIRC, there were a fair number of politicians (even Republicans) that retired or didn’t run again. I would have to do research to know how this stacked against normal years. But I remember it being noticeable at the time.

    Matt Doyle, here’s a link that summarizes a lot of the problems with the Wellstone crash.
    http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/110102_wellstone.html It corresponds to what I remember from at the time.

    A quick search did not give me info published at the time. I remember the local sheriff saying that the airplane body was mostly intact, the wings (with the fuel tanks) sheared off and the plane not on fire. Even official reports said that everybody (including the pilots) was dead and still in their seats after the crash and before the fire (no smoke in lungs). It sounds like nerve gas (which is undetectable after a few hours) was used to kill everybody during the approach to a landing. Possible EMP to kill communications.

    This article alludes to more issues with the Wellstone crash. http://jamesfetzer.blogspot.com/2009/12/american-assassination-what-happened-to.html

    Book review on “American Assassination” http://www.assassinationscience.com/No_Accident.pdf No details in review, I would have to get the book.

    This digresses a bit, but addresses the FBI quick response problem. http://www.assassinationscience.com/fbicoverup.pdf

    Sorry for the digression from the OP topic.

  27. “IIRC, there were a fair number of politicians (even Republicans) that retired or didn’t run again.”

    Let’s proceed as if it was all true and see what consequences we’d have.

    Here’s a group that threatens to kill politicians and gets away with it. Presumably that group has corrupt agents in the FBI etc who will protect them. Maybe it *is* corrupt agents in FBI etc. Most politicians would know about it, but they know not to talk to the media and so to the public it looks like just conspiracy-theory nonsense, the sort of thing we’re doing here.

    Say they were doing it for Cheney. (And Bush, who would presumably like that kind of thing. He has Cheney that people would believe it of.) After Obama wins, would they stop? It was already illegal etc, why would somebody who was part of it before stop doing it just because the President and the majority of Congress were Democrats? Instead they would threaten the President and the majority of Congress, and there would be nothing anybody could do to stop them. If somebody did come out and tell it to the media, the media would either not publish anything or else report that he’d gone crazy.

    So Obama would say that he was trying to be all bi-partisan or bi-sexual or something with the Republicans, and spend two years doing basicly nothing until Congress turned more Republican. Then he would have the excuse he couldn’t do anything because Republicans in Congress were stopping him.

    In that scenario, what would Bernie Sanders be doing? Surely he’d have heard about the threats. If he actually won they would kill his dog and a couple of his nieces and nephews to show they were serious, and kill somebody in his office to show they could get through his security, and then if he still didn’t go along they’d kill him. What good does it do him to run? He’d do better to retire.

    He would have to be part of the plot, doing things that were intended to lose. Why would “They” let him run in the first place? I don’t know, but I don’t have to understand the details of how they want things to go. The important thing is that nobody can oppose them no matter what.

    Herodotus told a story where a tyrant was giving someone advice about how to rule. He went to his wheat field and cut off every wheat stem that stood out taller than the rest.

    Now, with more information available cheap, it’s easier to tell who stands out.

    In the medium run, I would expect that “They” would generate internal disagreements. “They” would find themselves threatening politicians on both sides of some issues. “If you do X you will be killed.” “If you don’t do X you will be killed.” Morale in Congress would hit bottom. “They” might start killing each other.

    The fact that this stuff was going on would gradually change from something that silly conspiracy theorist believed, to something that everybody knew but didn’t talk about. I don’t know where it would go from there.

  28. J Thomas, I think you summarized the problem pretty well.

    Somebody like Sanders (a tough minded guy) might have to be killed. This would have the problem of being a little too obvious, even if it is an “accident”. So, as you say, kill people close to him until he complies.

    Recently, a reporter on the verge of releasing an expose of the CIA director, suddenly had his car go out of control and crash at high speed – and blow up rather spectacularly. Since then, hackers showed how a car can be hacked remotely to cause it to malfunction. The explosive was for insurance. Modern cars don’t blow up when they crash. No investigation, of course. His story disappeared.

    At one time, Cheney had his personal little army of mercenaries from Blackwater. I would imagine he still has some access to these people.

    Recently Harry Reed (D-NV) had an “accident” at his home, broken ribs, broken cheekbone and other contusions. He made an elaborate but somewhat plausible explanation. But my first thought was that he had the shit beat out of him. He is retiring.

    So liberal, socialist or conservative, sooner or later, you follow the oligarchs directions.

  29. “So liberal, socialist or conservative, sooner or later, you follow the oligarchs directions.”


    Assuming it went that way, how many people would have to be hired to beat up or kill anybody who got out of line? 0.1% of the population? ) 0.01%? Probably it could be added to regular police work.

    But the people who did that would have to justify their pay by occasionally beating people up or killing them, and they would have to meet their quotas no matter how innocuous the provocations. People would get upset. But any attempt at organization would be crushed.

    Eventually the public as a whole might get so disgusted by the system that they simply did all refused to maintain it. They would not need a leader or any organization. But that would give them no start toward organizing a new system to replace the bad old system.

  30. At this point, you hardly need any. A few dozen people in the right places with the right skills. You only enforce compliance on political leaders (elected or influential). They can approach politicians one at a time.

    They don’t really care about you or me. We do not have influence. As long as we are merely conspiracy nutcases, we are no real threat.

    Now if skzd suddenly had a strong following, he might have to worry. ;>)

  31. In some “black” communities, the police seem eager to act as enforcers to prevent any organization. To keep the minorities demoralized.

    But I think any change has to come from the bottom up.

  32. “They don’t really care about you or me. We do not have influence.”

    A few dozen Mafia members with the right skills would not be enough. A few dozen FBI members with the right skills would probably not be enough — they could be arrested by other FBI members who took their oaths seriously.

    NSA members who took their oaths seriously could provide evidence to FBI to get the perps arrested.

    You basicly need whole organizations where most of the members are either on your side, or who are at least intimidated into not opposing you.

    “The more that is controlled, the more that needs to be controlled.” Frank Herbert

    It isn’t enough to control Congress, you will find you must also control the media. And it goes on from there.

    In Castro’s Cuba, around 1% of the public wound up on the payroll of the secret police. Most of them were part-time, they got a small stipend to report problems and prevent problems. Still that’s a lot of people. (I believe I got that from US government sources, so of course it may be incorrect. I find it plausible. It turns into a sort of public opinion polling, which would be useful to any government.)

    An Iranian friend told me about Golamrasi Takhti. He was an Iranian wrestler who won an Olympic gold medal. The Shah of Iran thought he was too popular and had him killed. Once you start this business about killing people who notice what’s going on, it’s hard to know when to stop.


  33. People in organizations like the FBI and CIA have a greater loyalty to the organization than they do to the welfare of the country. They can always defer to authority and rationalize things as being for the greater good. The scandal would do harm to the organization, so they shut up. That is, of course, an unstable equilibrium.

    Only certain people need to know what is going on. Even if an honest FBI guy suspects something, he has no proof. So he will just keep a low profile. So we really don’t need huge numbers of people in on the plan. Everybody else just keeps their head down and does what they are told. You need people in the key positions of authority and media control. As long as there is no hard proof (that wasn’t covered up and destroyed), they can get away with it.

  34. “People in organizations like the FBI and CIA have a greater loyalty to the organization than they do to the welfare of the country.”

    Hey, you can’t have it both ways. (Well OK, you can. But it isn’t completely reliable.)

    You are assuming that the conspirators who are corrupting the process in favor of a particular political view, are loyal to their own goals and not the FBI. But the normal FBI agents are loyal to the FBI and care more about the FBI’s reputation than about doing their jobs.

    I may be naive, but I think that the conspiracy members will tend to believe they are doing nothing wrong, and that their fellow FBI agents should agree that they are doing nothing wrong. They will tend to release hints and actual evidence on the assumption that the FBI agents they release them to will agree that they are fine fellows doing what’s right.

    Note as a similar example Abu Ghraib, where the perps and their friends used evidence as screen savers and sent it home to civilians they expected would approve, etc.

    Mussolini’s goons bragged about force-feeding castor oil to their political enemies, they thought it was a fine joke. US interrogators joked about exposing puritanical muslims to naked women, dabbing them with menstrual blood, etc. El Salvador’s deaths squads did not try to hide their actions, except when they killed priests or especially nuns. They thought they were doing the right thing, and that patriotic citizens should agree. Citizens who did not agree were at best fellow-travelers with the enemy, who did not deserve full respect.

  35. If these are experienced black ops guys, they will keep the information tightly compartmentalized. That is how all black ops are done. They will not brag at the bar or to their fellow FBI, etc. They know better than that. Even if they let slip a hint, that is not evidence of anything. IF somebody in the FBI might want to investigate, he won’t be allowed to based on some excuse.

    Spooks do what they are told and their superiors know who they can trust with “special” tasks.

    Even if an ops guy comes clean on his death bed, it is just one more crazy conspiracy guy that the media ignores.

    It would take the media to do a proper investigation and make the stories public to have any effect. But the media is controlled from above. And if a rogue reporter gets too close, he can always have a spectacular accident to send a message.

    Look what happened to the Russian who was poisoned with Polonium 210. Very obviously an assassination by Russia, but nothing was done about it.

  36. The strange thing about discussions regarding a socialist President is that they always assume this figure to be some sort of Messiah, dropped into position from the heavens outside of any political context. Whereas for a genuine socialist party to come into power would require a massive and deeply radicalized political movement; in other words, the power of the masses, which so many liberals fear (“the mob! the mob!”). At that point, the authority of this individual is not the same as that of a current Democrat or Republican; in fact, even to get to this point has probably already required many clashes with the status quo.

  37. You need to ask yourself why the “liberal” may be afraid of the “genuine socialist.” It isn’t because the “genuine socialists” are seeking economic justice. Liberals are all for that. It is because someone like myself, who has worked hard all their lives to pay for their house, is afraid that the “genuine socialist” will give that house to some party flack and kick him out on the street. That is not economic justice, it is rationalized stealing.

    You do need to take most of the money from the very rich and redistribute that somehow in a useful fashion. The wealthy have too much money and are using it to cause harm. Use the money to make co-ops and such. Build free housing for the poor.

    Unfortunately, history isn’t kind in supplying examples of such a thing being done. “Genuine socialism” can become just as corrupt as capitalism. It is all a problem with centralized power, not the type of politics. Centralized power will always become corrupt. It doesn’t matter what they call themselves.

    But you are right that for any change to happen, there needs to be substantial pressure from the masses for reform. That is starting to happen, but it is slow and not too effective as yet.

  38. That is a nice rose colored explanation. The trouble is, once a revolution starts, throw all your plans, definitions and moral values out the window. Too many people will go around simply looting and killing and claim it is all in the name of “genuine socialism.”

    I really do not want to experience that. To be at the mercy of the lowest common denominator.

  39. The one successful working class revolution in history–October, 1917–was defined by extreme discipline, lack of looting, and, in essence, no violence whatsoever. If you are going to point to the Russian Revolution and make the claim that the degeneration that followed is inevitable based on one example; I don’t think you then get to ignore what actually happened during the revolution.

  40. OK. Is that the April revolution? But then why did the Bolshevik revolution in October (peaceful at first) degenerated into a war between factions? WWI sure messed things up but that can’t be the only reason. The Bolsheviks needed to suppress dissent. So the iron fist came out. And with it all the bad excesses.

    There is no reason it would be much different here.

  41. “It is because someone like myself, who has worked hard all their lives to pay for their house, is afraid that the “genuine socialist” will give that house to some party flack and kick him out on the street. That is not economic justice, it is rationalized stealing.”

    You worked hard all your life for capitalists in a capitalist system, and now you think you deserve something. They paid you in stolen goods, and you think you deserve clear title.

    If you had worked hard for the Nazis while they were in power, and they paid you in stolen art treasures, how much of that would you deserve to keep after the Nazis were gone?

    Unless capitalism is morally right, the wealth you grab under capitalism is not really yours and you cannot expect to keep any of it under a new system — any new system. You do not deserve any of it. They had no right to trade it to you, and you had no right to accept it.

    If you insist on keeping property that you stole under capitalism, how can we have a system with only one class of people? It’s understandable that you would want to hold onto your riches and be separate from the proletariat, but that puts you on the wrong side of the class struggle. Morally, you must become a prole.

    “You do need to take most of the money from the very rich and redistribute that somehow in a useful fashion.”

    Lots of people think that. “Take most of their wealth from the people who are richer than *me*, but leave me alone.” This is the spirit of compromise that prevents the new system from getting started. There can be no compromise with people like you. Either you side with the revolution or you side against it. And if you side against it you can expect no mercy whatsoever.

    “… afraid that the “genuine socialist” will give that house to some party flack and kick him out on the street.”

    When you talk this way you reveal that you want to judge the revolution. That is not how it works, my friend. The revolution judges you. It is not your place to decide that somebody is just a party flack. When you reveal that you do not fully favor the revolution, you compromise your standing in the new order. You do not want to go there.

  42. I’m not really moving around. I am still explaining “Liberal” fears of “genuine socialism.”

    My point is that there is no reason to expect a revolution in this country to remain peaceful. We have lots of factions willing to use a gun to get what they want. Revolution is an opportunity for them as well.

    To gloss over the problems of the Russian Revolution with a superficial answer doesn’t help to get at a solution as to how to avoid similar problems. I know you are tired of hearing that. But the question remains unanswered.

    Probably because there is no answer and there is no reliable way to avoid problems and excesses in an armed revolution to establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat”. You are willing to suffer these excesses for that goal. I am not.

    There will be lots of people full of anger, looking for payback. There will be lots of unnecessary killings and robbing going around. Do you really believe it would be any different?

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