CLAME means 'Click My Name' - if someone says it, click their name!

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  • May 22 @ 3:01am
The last philosophy class I took in college was Roots of Contemporary Philosophy, with Marek Bielecki, who was easily the most challenging professor I've had for philosophy. He said something that I've been thinking about a lot this weekend, which is 'Sartre wasn't an existentialist, because one can't be an existentialist and a communist.'
Sartre's contributions to existentialism are far more famous than his contributions to communism, but it is true that toward the end of his life he became extremely involved in communism. (I don't use the term Marxist, because Marx couldn't himself identify with what was called Marxism during his life, so that makes the term seem sort of silly.)
Bielecki said so many extremely far-out and bold things in the class, that I doubt I'll live long enough to tackle them all, but the claim about existentialism and communism seems more and more sound the more I think about it.
Communism is economic post-modernism. That is to say, it values the strength of people working together, to the point where the individual is forgotten amongst the 'greater picture.' To the existentialist, there is no whole picture outside of the individual. The existentialist doesn't desire to be part of something bigger than himself/herself, because according to existentialism, the individual is the most authentic, most significant worldview possible.
Let's say you and I try to work together on something. We can produce synergy by working together, and we can construct something really important, but the one thing we can never surpass is our alterity. My experience and your experience are never, ever, going to be the same, and that is the foundation we build our lives on.
It's interesting to note, that Fromm said that the reason love is such a significant factor in life, is because it's the most perfect balance possible between being an individual and being part of a team. I think that's one of the most brilliant things I've ever heard.
A lot of people talk about how communism 'didn't work' or 'doesn't work.' To me, this statement is so over-simplified I'm insulted on behalf of communists. It's generally understood that no political/economic system is perfect. Communism works great in some ways and doesn't work very well at all in other ways, just like any other political/economic system. However, what I think is truly sickening about people who say these types of things, is that they suggest (perhaps even imply) that communism 'doesn't work' because it's human nature to be miserly or that ideas of community, sharing, egalitarianism, etc. simply will never find universal support. What a horrible thing to say. Rather, I'd like to suggest that the shortcomings of communism stem from the irrepressible individual. Sooner or later, it becomes impossible to ignore that when I look out into the world, I don't see the same thing as you do. No matter how much propaganda communism can throw at me, the fact remains that no amount of devotion to the cause will change the fact that I am truly, totally, intrinsically alone.
So what does that leave us with? Capitalism: a formula for managing economy by regulating greed and competition? No. The alterity of the human condition doesn't give way to hostility to everyone else, or at least it shouldn't. In fact, one might even argue that to be antagonistic toward others is less existential. Two working against each-other can disregard the significance of the individual just as easily as two working with each-other. Furthermore, ask any wage slave, capitalism doesn't necessarily appreciate individuality. I worry that I'm not being fair toward capitalism. Does capitalism need greed to survive?
I remain an anarchist, and a primitivist. I think to truly appreciate the alterity of life, one can't be boxed within a society. Furthermore, I have hardly any faith that sprawling consumption of the Earth's resources will be able to compose itself before some sort of huge catastrophe. This is my estimation based on what I know about history. Perhaps I'm no better than the anti-communist who feels greed can't be controlled. Then again, I think human greed can be maintained and irradiated, but the greed of an organization, especially one given liberty to become its own body, concerned with self-preservation, can only be stopped with the destruciton of the organization.
So then why don't I go live out in the woods? I don't know. I think about it sometimes. Derrick Jensen once said people will fight to the death to defend the place where they get their food and water, whether that means the woods or the grocery store. I certainly don't get my food from the woods. Perhaps I'm a big fat hyppocrite.
However, what I truly value, that I fear a primitivist life could not afford, is the opportunity to create, to make art and humanity, and to interact with others to share ideas. I have always felt that art is the most important part of the human experience, because art is the only tool we have to comprehend the human experience, and if we're not willing to look at the human experience, then nothing else we do can truly have meaning. 'The unexamined life is not worth living.'
So perhaps I'm looking for a human experience that not only recognizes alterity, but also stresses the importance of creativity. I don't know where to find that on a political scale. I feel I've achieved it with my personal life, and honestly, that might be good enough. It would be nice if a society could encourage a more authentic life from people, but as long as it doesn't discourage authenticity, at least people can discover it themselves. Perhaps worrying about the political label of a people is a waste of time.

Also, I used zero photoshop in this picture. I took it in a car at night with the dome light on using a cell-phone camera, and it came out all painting-like. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Comments

Eric says:
Some interesting ideas presented here. I've always said that communism can indeed function in a society where there is no potential for abuse of the system. Of course, that sort of applies to any system.
Posted: May 22nd, 2011 - 1:14pm -
Hodges says:
Great pic, I just couldn't read through everything cuz my kids are coming at me from all angles at the moment.
Posted: May 22nd, 2011 - 2:17pm -
snuffsmcshuggy says:
Great pic . . . . and nicely said - you've defo made me question a few things!
Posted: May 22nd, 2011 - 3:41pm -
Dschonn says:
None of that is anything I've ever thought about before.

When I was in college, several people told me to take some philosophy courses, but I never got around to it.
Posted: May 22nd, 2011 - 11:25pm -
Site closed!
Unfortunately, Moustache May can't last forever.. the site is closed until 2011.