At 01:42 AM 8/25/2011, Michael Balter wrote:
>... Socialism is not something that can be 
>achieved simply by a mass uprising and then 
>sorting things out later, but must be the result 
>of conscious decisions that are made before, 
>during, and after such a revolution. We also 
>have the example of the mass uprisings in 
>Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, etc. These are not going 
>to lead to socialism, as I think we all realize, 
>but simply the overthrow of dictatorships. A 
>necessary first step, but far from the end game.

If this is true, then what is the quantity of 
socialist consciousness (whatever that may be), 
or of individuals said to be bearers of socialist 
consciousness, needed to achieve a qualitative 
change in the structure of the society?

The presumption of "consciousness," "conscious 
decisions," "class consciousness" and the like as 
some sort of prerequisite for societal 
transformation stumbles into quite the morass. 
And it is an age old dilemma that every 
revolutionary socialist wrestles with: Is there a 
critical mass (the tipping point)? Does every 
single worker (or whoever) need to be "conscious" 
for a transformation to succeed? If not, how many?

Doesn't that whole framework smack of reductionism? How to "re-frame" it?

Who determines when an individual has achieved consciousness / enlightenment?

Or, Is the consciouness of a "class" a sort of 
emergent property that comes into being 
independent of the consciousness of each 
individual component (worker, cell, etc.)? If so, 
what are the conditions for its emergence and can 
we (we? who's we?) make predictions from it?

A corollary question is, "Will we know it when we see it?"

Consciousness is not a passive reflection of a 
static totality but an active engagement with 
that totality of which it, itself, is dynamically a part.

Can a political party or some other institution 
be the repository of such consciousness? (We know 
that Lenin, in "What Is To Be Done?" believed 
that to be the case. He changed his view, somewhat, later.)

Is such consciousness "imputed" only 
after-the-fact, sort of like "potential energy"? (Lukacs)

Does it even matter to the outcome if it were 
possible for WE (or anyone) to figure this out?

Evelyn Fox Keller writes in her wonderful 
biography of Barbara McClintock, "one must have 
the time to look, the patience to 'hear what the 
material has to say to you,' the openness to 'let 
it come to you.' Above all, one must have 'a 
feeling for the organism.' ... a longing to 
embrace the world in its very being, through reason and beyond.

"For McClintock, reason - at least in the 
conventional sense of the word - is not by 
itself adequate to describe the vast complexity 
- even mystery - of living forms. Organisms 
have a life and order of their own that 
scientists can only partially fathom. ... The 
category "Organism," for McClintock, is "a code 
word - not simply a plant or animal ('Every 
component of the organism is as much of an 
organism as every other part') - but the name of 
a living form, of object-as-subject. With an 
uncharacteristic lapse into hyperbole, she adds: 
'Every time I walk on grass I feel sorry because 
I know the grass is screaming at me.' " (Evelyn 
Fox Keller, "A Feeling for the Organism: The Life 
and Work of Barbara McClintock," W.H. Freeman & Co., 1983, pp.198-200.)

There is no independent observation that stands 
outside and apart from what is being observed. 
There can be no "true" consciousness that 
doesn't, at the same time, enter, become part of, 
and transform it ... and thereby one's consciousness of what one is observing.

Including this.


Ring the bells that still can ring,  Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in.
~ Leonard Cohen