Just a brief comment: I have criticized the American left on a number of
grounds,  including the continued insistence of segments of it that Cuba
represents some kind of positive model for socialists. Numerous members of
this list have taken me to task for my criticisms of Cuba, yet that
government violates at least numbers 2, 3, and 4 of these socialist
principles. So, Herb should not be so surprised. By the way many leftists,
although I think fewer now, continue to endorse the demagogic and
anti-democratic Hugo Chavez, despite his hearty endorsement of the butchery
by the Assad regime in Syria.


On Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 11:36 PM, herb fox <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

>    1. Let me say that Michael Balter's list in large measure is what i
>    have understood most of the socialist oriented persons on this list would
>    endorse or most of it is what all of the socialist oriented persons on
>    this list would endorse.  That is why his attacks on"leftists," whom he has
>    characterized as endorse everything about offshore self identified socialist
>    societies and whom he accuses of being the main reason we don't have a
>    lively socialist movement with reasonable popular support, have surprised
>    me.
>    2. As for Marx's role:  (a) His analysis of capitalism is amazingly
>    accurate given when he wrote it; and has been endorsed by quite a few
>    capitalists.  (b) His relegating the actual structure of the socialist
>    society to be the task of the victorious proletariat, whom he took to be
>    eventually virtually the entire population, is about as democratic as one
>    can get.  (c) The concept of "the withering away of the state" (which i
>    believe was in Engel's writings) i have always taken to be essentially the
>    removal of all its coercive functions, because that is the natural response
>    to M & E's analysis that in all previous social orders the state has been
>    primarily an instrument of repression and control.  I certainly endorse the
>    concept of the withering away of large standing armies, the FBI, CIA,
>    massive institutional means of imprisonment, etc, simply because when
>    world-wide socialism comes to be, there will be no need for them.
>    3. As for the actual content of his list, the mirror image of Michael's
>    items 2, 3, and 4 constitute a critique of present-day corporate capitalism
>    in the U. S.  Specifically we have under the guise of a two-party system a
>    monopoly by those parties against the introduction of a third party and a
>    unity of those two parties against Michael's item #1 while supporting the
>    small corporate capitalist minority.  Regarding #3, the lack of public
>    discourse on socialism is consciously maintained by several means among
>    which the moneyed control of the media is most obvious.  Obviously #4 is
>    directly applicable with a change of polarity to our present society,
>    wherein a dictatorship of the capitalists mainly prevails.
>    4. I do believe that applying our energies to #s 2, 3, and 4 as
>    critiques of our own society (with proper change of polarity) is the most
>    constructive thing for "leftists" to do at this time.  Through those
>    activities confidence in the current system is eroded and one is able to
>    open minds to the acceptance of #1.  The slogan that i have adopted (from
>    David Gil of Brandeis) is "There can be no democracy without socialism and
>    no socialism without democracy."
>    5. Of course, there is much that could be discussed about #1, but i
>    have confidence that the details of economic and social organization will be
>    worked out in a democratic society in which former capitalists are
>    emancipated from their holdings, given the opportunity to learn a useful
>    trade, work at it for decent wages, and vote and be voted for without being
>    able to buy elections.
> herb
> On 8/18/2011 7:37 AM, Michael Balter wrote:
> I'm going to assume that Michael G. is not asking me to lay out some very
> detailed program or plan for the kind of socialism I would like to see, for
> the simple reason that no one here could really do so in realistic terms. So
> here are just a few basic principles, from which much else follows. There is
> nothing very original in this, of course.
>  1. I think the means of production, as generally understood, should be
> socialized and private ownership of them outlawed (factories, utilities,
> corporations, etc., particularly any that are vital to social functioning.)
> But I would not extend that to small businesses such as small stores,
> restaurants, shoeshine parlors, etc etc. Where to draw the line would
> probably have to be a source of continuous discussion.
>  2. I think that multiple parties must be allowed to function, and to
> participate in elections to representative bodies at local, state, and
> national levels (speaking of the US.) I am firmly opposed to any one-party
> system such as we have seen in pretty much every so-called Communist country
> to date. The details of how to make such elections fair (eg how to fund the
> elections and parties so that all had an equal or reasonable chance to
> compete) would obviously have to be worked out.
>  3. Complete freedom of speech and political organization so that no one
> could suppress the speech or political freedom of another on the alleged
> basis that they were counter-revolutionaries, capitalist roaders, etc.
>  4. It would follow from all of this that society should be organized for
> the greatest good of all and not the benefit of a small elite, capitalist or
> socialist, although constant debate and vigilance would be needed to insure
> this happened given the political freedoms mentioned above. But any kind of
> top down repression or "dictatorship of the proletariat" is ultimately
> counter-productive and deadly to socialist prospects.
>  There, that wasn't so hard, was it? And none of it is particularly
> original, as these sentiments will be shared by many leftists. All of the
> above is reflected in many statements I have made over the years on this
> list, so Michael G's comment that I have been silent on these issues during
> my "pontifications" is not only untrue but gratuitous.
>  MB
> On Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 12:53 PM, Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>>   Of course, socialism/communism as foreseen by Marx may never happen, and
>> certainly there is no point in simply counting on it. Does this need to be
>> said? Here?
>>  As far as I can see socialism cannot coexist with a state anything like
>> those we know. The state might "wither away" through expanding
>> democratically to include everyone in the decision making functions (by some
>> means other than periodic or constant votes).  It's not what whoever want
>> socialism  should take for granted but must figure out how to achieve if
>> real socialism is to have any chance to arise.
>>  But, Michael B., why not say what "tenets of Marxism" you support, or,
>> more simply, what you mean by socialism? In all your pontifications, I don't
>> believe you have.
>>  Best,
>> Michael
>>  On Aug 17, 2011, at 12:12 PM, Michael Balter wrote:
>> I consider Amy Goodman good company, late or not.
>>  Marx spoke of the withering away of the state, but that doesn't mean
>> it's ever going to happen. I think we should meditate on whether or not this
>> is one tenet of Marxism that we should dispense with, or at least not count
>> on too seriously.
>>  MB
>> On Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 8:55 PM, Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>>> Marx did not deal primarily with natural resource limitations in his
>>> rather vague but nonetheless straightforward and decipherable thoughts about
>>> what socialism/communism would mean. But he did speak clearly of the
>>> "withering away of the state." Worth meditating on?
>>>  More immediately, the FCC is apparently investigating BART for
>>> violating federal communications law, and at the most recent demonstration
>>> BART did not repeat its cell-phone -shutting down action, which has brought
>>> widespread and immediate condemnation from many sources. I'm glad to see
>>> that Amy Goodman and Michael Balter are on board, if late.
>>>  Best,
>>> Michael
>>>  On Aug 17, 2011, at 10:54 AM, Michael Balter wrote:
>>>  I hope that under Michael G.'s socialist system we will all get free,
>>> unlimited cell phone access, with no governments shutting it off when they
>>> don't like what people might be saying.
>>>  MB
>>>  [image: Truthdig] <>
>>> San Francisco Bay Area’s BART Pulls a Mubarak
>>> Posted
>>> on Aug 16, 2011
>>> By Amy Goodman
>>> What does the police killing of a homeless man in San Francisco have to
>>> do with the Arab Spring uprisings from Tunisia to Syria? The attempt to
>>> suppress the protests that followed. In our digitally networked world, the
>>> ability to communicate is increasingly viewed as a basic right. Open
>>> communication fuels revolutions—it can take down dictators. When governments
>>> fear the power of their people, they repress, intimidate and try to silence
>>> them, whether in Tahrir Square or downtown San Francisco.
>>> Charles Blair Hill was shot and killed on the platform of the Bay Area
>>> Rapid Transit (BART) system’s Civic Center platform on July 3, by BART
>>> police officer James Crowell. BART police reportedly responded to calls
>>> about a man drinking on the underground subway platform. According to
>>> police, Hill threw a vodka bottle at the two officers and then threatened
>>> them with a knife, at which point Crowell shot him. Hill was pronounced dead
>>> at the hospital.
>>> Hill’s killing sparked immediate and vigorous protests against the BART
>>> police, similar to those that followed the BART police killing of Oscar
>>> Grant on New Year’s Day 2009. Grant was handcuffed, facedown on a subway
>>> platform, and restrained by one officer when another shot and killed him
>>> with a point-blank shot to the back. The execution was caught on at least
>>> two cellphone videos. The shooter, BART officer Johannes Mehserle, served
>>> just over seven months in jail for the killing.
>>> On July 11, major protests shut down the Civic Center BART station. As
>>> another planned protest neared on Aug. 11, BART officials took a measure
>>> unprecedented in U.S. history: They shut down cellphone towers in the subway
>>> system.
>>> “It’s the first known incident that we’ve heard of where the government
>>> has shut down a cellphone network in order to prevent people from engaging
>>> in political protest,” Catherine Crump of the ACLU told me. “Cellphone
>>> networks are something we’ve all come to rely on. People use them for all
>>> sorts of communication that have nothing to do with protest. And this is
>>> really a sweeping and overbroad reaction by the police.”
>>> The cellular-service shutdown, which was defended by BART authorities who
>>> claimed it was done to protect public safety, immediately drew fire from
>>> free-speech activists around the globe. On Twitter, those opposed to BART’s
>>> censorship started using the hashtag #muBARTak to make the link to Egypt.
>>> When the embattled Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak shut down cell service
>>> and the Internet, those in Tahrir Square innovated workarounds to get the
>>> word out. An activist group called Telecomix, a volunteer organization that
>>> supports free speech and an open Internet, organized 300 dial-up phone
>>> accounts that allowed Egyptian activists and journalists to access the
>>> Internet to post tweets, photos and videos of the revolution in progress.
>>> “We were very active—Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria—trying to keep the
>>> Internet running in these countries in the face of really almost
>>> overwhelming efforts by governments to shut them down,” Telecomix activist
>>> Peter Fein told me. “Telecomix believes that the best way to support free
>>> speech and free communication is by building, by building tools that we can
>>> use to provide ourselves with those rights, rather than relying on
>>> governments to respect them.”
>>> Expect hacktivist groups to support revolutions abroad, but also to
>>> assist protest movements here at home. In retaliation for BART’s cellphone
>>> shutdown, a decentralized hacker collective called Anonymous shut down
>>> BART’s website. In a controversial move, Anonymous also released the
>>> information of more than 2,000 BART passengers, to expose the shoddy
>>> computer security standards maintained by BART.
>>> The BART police say the FBI is investigating Anonymous’ attack. I
>>> interviewed an Anonymous member who calls himself “Commander X” on the
>>> “Democracy Now!” news hour. His voice disguised to protect his anonymity, he
>>> told me over the phone: “We’re filled with indignation, when a little
>>> organization like BART ... kills innocent people, two or three of them in
>>> the last few years, and then has the nerve to also cut off the cellphone
>>> service and act exactly like a dictator in the Mideast. How dare they do
>>> this in the United States of America.”
>>> *
>>> Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.*
>>> *Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international
>>> TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is
>>> the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback
>>> and now a New York Times best-seller.*
>>> © 2011 Amy Goodman
>>> Distributed by King Features Syndicate
>>>  --
>>> ******************************************
>>> Michael Balter
>>> Contributing Correspondent, Science
>>> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>>> New York University
>>> Email:  [log in to unmask]
>>> Web:
>>> NYU:
>>> ******************************************
>>>  “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that
>>> there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
>>>                                                   --John Kenneth
>>> Galbraith
>>  --
>> ******************************************
>> Michael Balter
>> Contributing Correspondent, Science
>> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>> New York University
>> Email:  [log in to unmask]
>> Web:
>> NYU:
>> ******************************************
>>  “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that
>> there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
>>                                                   --John Kenneth Galbraith
>  --
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> New York University
> Email:  [log in to unmask]
> Web:
> NYU:
> ******************************************
>  “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there
> is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
>                                                   --John Kenneth Galbraith

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is
no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                  --John Kenneth Galbraith