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The form of the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of Oppressed Nations
September 29, 2009 11:00 PM   Subscribe

I have proposed, in the past, that the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of Oppressed Nations should disperse the Amerikkkans throughout the Third World instead of allowing them to remain in occupied North America. Here are some of my reasons.

The Maoist Internationalist Movement, covered here in 2003 and 2005, went under in 2008. A successor group, the It's Right to Rebel! Forum, also went dark that year. But never fear: the product of all these wonderful developments in revolutionary science, Maoism Third-Worldism, has arrived!

It brings with it a Hate Amerikkka beat (more) that would make Mao himself bob his head. The new leader of revolutionary science draws political cartoons.

The movie reviews continue, too: "Heterosexual patriarch with XY chromosomes and strategically ambiguous patriarch with XX chromosomes have a trivial romance problem while children and Third World people are oppressed" You'll be surprised to learn that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a pro-Maoist movie. They also get festive by celebrating KKKolumbus Day.

And if you're looking for factional infighting with another completely irrelevant communist group, how about a scathing piece on Bob A-FAKE-ian, or maybe the Maoist Third-Worldist delinking of the Maoist Internationalist Movement itself?

Hat tip to Something Awful Forums.
posted by shii (93 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
These guys are sitting on a comic goldmine. They've simply GOT to monetize it.
posted by codswallop at 11:07 PM on September 29, 2009 [11 favorites]


The extra K is for extra krazy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:14 PM on September 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


The revolution will be fought in tighty-whiteys!
posted by fatbird at 11:16 PM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bob Avakian himself could easily be made the subject of a similar post.
posted by stammer at 11:17 PM on September 29, 2009


And could forget their cogent exposé of The Powerpuff Girls as "a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise"?
posted by zer0render at 11:20 PM on September 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


* who could (ARGH!)
posted by zer0render at 11:21 PM on September 29, 2009


"Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?"
"Fuck off! We're the People's Front of Judea!"
posted by Rangeboy at 11:40 PM on September 29, 2009 [9 favorites]


If they spell America that way just imagine how they spell Micro$oft!
posted by Artw at 11:45 PM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ulrika-ka-ka-ka!
posted by pracowity at 11:49 PM on September 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dear aspiring creative types: having the syntho-voice deliver your (for lack of a better word) material is no longer "fresh."
posted by nanojath at 11:50 PM on September 29, 2009


In related news, everything made with this tool sucks. But not in that sucks-enough-to-be-funny way. Just regular old sucks.
posted by nanojath at 11:51 PM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Joseph McCarthy was right.
posted by philip-random at 12:06 AM on September 30, 2009


Like Batman and Spiderman, the Powerpuff Girls also fight crime in a one-on-one way. Although it would be no problem for the Powerpuff Girls to build homes for all the homeless and organize food production for the hungry--because we've seen their speed in building crazy mutant monkey bases and laboratories--they still prefer to fight the relatively minor violence of crime one case at a time instead of resolving its roots or eliminating much larger sources of violence.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.


Awesome theoretical analysis, absolutely.
posted by Wolof at 12:34 AM on September 30, 2009


yeah, they're the crazy ones. why can't they just browse linklogs and use ubuntu like the rest of us?

it's amazing how creative subversion and contestation of western "cosmopolitans'" apathy and self-delusion is turned into internetjokememe without missing a beat these days! i mean really; there's something real fascinating going on here and the best you can do is try to one-up each other for internet points? i guess other people will do the more difficult work of rooting through this development and situating it historically/philosophically/etc.

these neo/postmodern/surrealist-Maoists deserve way more respect--if not simply for having any principles at all--than every one of ya'll, who can't think about anything except as a means to an ironic end.

my prediction: you will die unhappy and without personalities.
posted by parkbench at 1:03 AM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


But I don't want my backyard full of Bush voters.
posted by rodgerd at 1:23 AM on September 30, 2009


my prediction: you will die unhappy and without personalities.

Admirable. I don't know what your particular grievance is this early morning, comrade, but it isn't really us.
posted by nanojath at 1:23 AM on September 30, 2009


(Also: Aligning with the guy responsible for the mass-murder that was the Great Leap Forward? Fuck those guys.)
posted by rodgerd at 1:24 AM on September 30, 2009


In related news, everything made with this tool sucks.

I dunno Deadpan Inc. can be pretty funny. (blog)
posted by delmoi at 1:32 AM on September 30, 2009


my prediction: you will die unhappy and without personalities.

I certainly intend to die as I have lived.
posted by atrazine at 1:32 AM on September 30, 2009 [9 favorites]


...
these neo/postmodern/surrealist-Maoists deserve way more respect--if not simply for having any principles at all--than every one of ya'll, who can't think about anything except as a means to an ironic end.

my prediction: you will die unhappy and without personalities.


See, now THAT'S how you do funny!
posted by From Bklyn at 1:38 AM on September 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


these neo/postmodern/surrealist-Maoists deserve way more respect--if not simply for having any principles at all--than every one of ya'll, who can't think about anything except as a means to an ironic end.

Dude. It's a little naked computer graphic model guy in his underpants proposing a massive program of enforced population displacement and other human rights abuses. Read that last sentence again if you like.

it's amazing how creative subversion and contestation of western "cosmopolitans'" apathy and self-delusion is turned into internetjokememe without missing a beat these days!

You once again demonstrate that there are none so utterly conventional and predictable than those who burble interminably about contesting and subverting the mainstream.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:03 AM on September 30, 2009 [12 favorites]


these neo/postmodern/surrealist-Maoists deserve way more respect--if not simply for having any principles at all--than every one of ya'll, who can't think about anything except as a means to an ironic end.

On some level, I'm sympathetic to Communists. I think that capitalism is an ugly, brutal force that eats human souls and leaves empty shells in its place and turns fertile swathes of culture into barren deserts.

But we all know that "power to the people" means "power to me and my friends who know what's good for the people." Is forced collectivism and "re-education" (which is a euphemism for "punishment until you agree to shut up and follow") really better? Hint: no, it's even worse.

No wonder everyone's laughing. We should be relieved that these sociopaths are issuing Talking Baby video manifestos instead of real action. Of course, they can't take any real action because the organization is probably 15 grubby people who secretly hate each other and are all planning to purge one another once they start the Revolution.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:51 AM on September 30, 2009 [13 favorites]


But we all know that "power to the people" means "power to me and my friends who know what's good for the people." Is forced collectivism and "re-education" (which is a euphemism for "punishment until you agree to shut up and follow") really better? Hint: no, it's even worse.

Mikhail Bakunin once said, when the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called "the People's Stick."

But anyway, the abject failure of 'communism' in Russia doesn't mean we shouldn't try and move towards socialism/communism now (In the sense of a more equal society with less emphasis on private property). The Soviet Union was only ever communist in name, and sadly they've probably permanently damaged the word communism, it will forever be associated with the atrocities committed in the USSR, China etc.

I would put this all in a more eloquent way, but I'm off to mobilise the proletariat.
posted by knapah at 3:25 AM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I should add that I don't approve of this nutjob lot either.
posted by knapah at 3:25 AM on September 30, 2009


Mikhail Bakunin once said, when the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called "the People's Stick."

Pfft. Amateur. Watch how the teabaggers do it and learn, commie.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:05 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing is, a blonde cartoon guy in a pair of tightie-whities is one of the more reasoned and even-handed people I've had talk to me about Maoist revolution.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:07 AM on September 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


Also: the program with which they made that cartoon - Xtranormal - looks very, very cool.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:08 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


But anyway, the abject failure of 'communism' in Russia doesn't mean we shouldn't try and move towards socialism/communism now (In the sense of a more equal society with less emphasis on private property)

Funny how the common denominator in much of the world's misery is a lack of respect for people's property rights.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:12 AM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Mikhail Bakunin once said, when the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called "the People's Stick."

Someone should tell this to Royal Mail; they seem to be using this very strategy for managing customer dissatisfaction. You still have to queue for 30-45 minutes to send a parcel, but are constantly reminded that you're in "the People's Post Office". Presumably the nostalgia for a kinder pre-Thatcherite age of brown-suited quasi-socialism would make it easier to accept shoddy service.
posted by acb at 4:18 AM on September 30, 2009


Funny how the common denominator in much of the world's misery is a lack of respect for people's property rights.

That's funny, I think most of the world's misery is based on the exploitation of western owned property in developing countries leading to gross inequality, mass starvation, and the continued subjugation of the 'third world' - oh, and an international structure which prioritises the security of states over human beings. To have private property is to deny everyone the right to an equal share of the world's potential, to have public/common property is to allow people to work within a fairer framework.

And I'm not talking about state-owned collective farms or anything here, but the shared use of land by people for their collective benefit. States are part of the problem, the reification of private property is another.
posted by knapah at 4:24 AM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


But anyway, the abject failure of 'communism' in Russia doesn't mean we shouldn't try and move towards socialism/communism now (In the sense of a more equal society with less emphasis on private property).

Yeah, just a little bit of communism -- I'll pull out, honey.
posted by Faze at 4:24 AM on September 30, 2009


Funny how the common denominator in much of the world's misery is a lack of respect for people's property rights.

Yeah, that's totally what happened in Iraq. If only those Iraqis had respected our property rights, rather then continually trying to blow them up, things would have turned out so much better!
posted by delmoi at 4:34 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, just a little bit of communism -- I'll pull out, honey.

Seriously sweetheart, it won't hurt a bit, you might even like it.

but you're probably right, a more equal society would be a terrible thing...
posted by knapah at 4:37 AM on September 30, 2009


Although it would be no problem for the Powerpuff Girls to build homes for all the homeless and organize food production for the hungry...they still prefer to fight the relatively minor violence of crime one case at a time instead of resolving its roots or eliminating much larger sources of violence.

Not true. There was that story arc where they teamed up with Jimmy Carter to build low-cost, energy-efficient housing all across the multiverse. "Crisis in Infinite Home Depots" I think it was called.

Spoiler: Earth-3 Billy Carter saves the universe, but is ultimately killed by Mojo Jojo
posted by PlusDistance at 4:48 AM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


These fellows have a strong grip on the way the world works and a sublime understanding of history and human nature.
posted by fleacircus at 5:34 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


there's something real fascinating going on here

Greetings, comrade! You've come to the right place.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:36 AM on September 30, 2009


If they spell America that way just imagine how they spell Micro$oft!

I hate how the intentional misspelling makes this sort of thing downright unreadable, i.e. "President Bu$h of united $tates of ameriKKKa."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:07 AM on September 30, 2009


Wow, it sounds so reasonable. Are you guys sure this is comedy, or maybe the preponderance of Americans on this bourgeois website means we are laughing like the man who whistles in the graveyard?

Where do I sign up?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:15 AM on September 30, 2009


But anyway, the abject failure of 'communism' in Russia doesn't mean we shouldn't try and move towards socialism/communism now

yes, actually it does - we need to come up with a social vision that isn't based on 19th century economic thought or any kind of economic thought by itself - not to mention that we need to try something that hasn't been an abject failure - as there is yet to have been an attempt at communism that didn't result in some kind of 'communism' like russia's

every time it's been tried it's been a disaster - time to try something else
posted by pyramid termite at 6:47 AM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aligning with the guy responsible for the mass-murder that was the Great Leap Forward? Fuck those guys.

Say what you like about the tenets of Maoism, at least it's an ethos.

you will die unhappy and without personalities

Unhappy, schmunschmappy, as long as I die on a bed made from the shattered skeletons of my enemies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:52 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Funny how the common denominator in much of the world's misery is a lack of respect for people's property rights.

Tell that to the indigenous people whose property we've confiscated over and over for the past 500 years.
posted by blucevalo at 7:18 AM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bob Avakian himself could easily be made the subject of a similar post.

I've run into the Revolutionary Communist Party a few times, and it just gets funnier and funnier to ask them what Bob Avakian is doing with their money.

"So, how's Bob Avakian liking France? I hear the climate there is nice this time of year. How much wine are you buying for him this month?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:20 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


...turned into internetjokememe without missing a beat these days!

People whose idea of a trenchant critique of capitalism includes spelling things with extra "k"s forfeit the right to be taken seriously.
posted by steambadger at 7:25 AM on September 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


Tell that to the indigenous people whose property we've confiscated over and over for the past 500 years.

Is that somehow not a seizure of property owned by someone else? I can't tell if you're being witty or obtuse.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:40 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


these neo/postmodern/surrealist-Maoists deserve way more respect--if not simply for having any principles at all--than every one of ya'll, who can't think about anything except as a means to an ironic end.

Two points:

1. No, they don't deserve respect. They are absurd. Did you read the "(500) Days of Summer" review? Here's a brief excerpt:
The specific claim (in the Mikko Myrskylä et al. Letter "Advances in development reverse fertility declines" in Nature, August 6, 2009) of a reversal of fertility declines in "highly developed countries" and fertility's increasing (but not necessarily above replacement levels) with futher "development" (HDI) after reaching a threshold of "development" is interesting for various reasons, but the notion that having children is to some extent independent of "economic development," living standard increases, health improvement, education and skills development, and improvement of females' conditions, is not surprising to this reviewer in the least.
2. Most members of metafilter actually can and do think about other things, but when presented with such a rich target for mockery, happily indulge.

my prediction: you will die unhappy and without personalities.

Lighten up, Francis.
posted by adamrice at 7:57 AM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is that somehow not a seizure of property owned by someone else? I can't tell if you're being witty or obtuse.

It seems to me that most of the folks who go on about the "taking of other people's property" and the sanctity of property rights have no objection to our having seized virtually all of our land from indigenous people, which is the basis of much of the United States' history, not to mention the history of the entire Western Hemisphere. Manifest destiny and all that horseshit.

Maybe you're the grand exception to the rule who thinks we should give all their land back to them and bow out.
posted by blucevalo at 8:02 AM on September 30, 2009


"Funny how the common denominator in much of the world's misery is a lack of respect for people's property rights."

Right. If AIDS patients in South Africa would just do a little bit better in respecting patent law, they'd come down with An Incredible Doughnut Surplus instead.
posted by klangklangston at 8:09 AM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


If AIDS patients in South Africa would just do a little bit better in respecting patent law, they'd come down with An Incredible Doughnut Surplus instead.

Anyone who thinks intellectual property is or should be treated exactly as real property probably isn't paying attention. But good job on reading "much" as "all".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:12 AM on September 30, 2009


"as there is yet to have been an attempt at communism that didn't result in some kind of 'communism' like russia's"

Well, no. Communism existed long before the USSR; the USSR wasn't entirely communist; the USSR wasn't ready for communism; the USSR's bad governance had more to do with a legacy of Czarist authoritarianism than anything inherent to communism (specifically, the form of governmental organization and the norms of state to citizen relations); Leninism and Stalinism were both distinct from straight Marxist communism, meaning that there's a legitimate claim to be made that it was those deviations that doomed it; small scale communism, whether religious or private, has a successful history of over 2000 years; the USSR was nominally socialist, and was simply controlled by the "Communist Party," but socialism is part of every government in the world, to varying degrees.

I realize that the real subject of this post is LolMIMnotes—which is fine, they're hilarious—but the hatred of communism in this country is more superstition than fact.
posted by klangklangston at 8:16 AM on September 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


the organization is probably 15 grubby people who secretly hate each other and are all planning to purge one another once they start the Revolution

Ding ding ding ding ding ding!

At least, that's true of the person I know who's been involved with various incarnations of MIMnotes.

I have no beef with mocking this shit. But this shit is exactly as representative of "communism" as an idea as Fred Phelps is representative of "religion" as an idea.

People might want to note that the countries where communist regimes have engaged in brutal purges and outright massacres are the countries where the preceding capitalist or feudal or theocratic regimes also engaged in brutal purges and outright massacres. Totalitarianism of any economic flavor tends toward that, y/y?
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:26 AM on September 30, 2009


but the hatred of communism in this country is more superstition than fact.

... and, it's worth noting, much more nastiness and criminality has been perpetrated in the name of American anti-communism than the local communists could ever hope to have mustered.

To that end I have always been a firm supporter of the WCC (the World Communist Conspiracy) and can't wait until the last banker has been strangled with the intestines of the last boy scout (or whatever) ...




... he said, tongue firmly in cheek.
posted by philip-random at 8:26 AM on September 30, 2009


"Anyone who thinks intellectual property is or should be treated exactly as real property probably isn't paying attention. But good job on reading "much" as "all"."

OK, you want me to treat your glib assertion as serious? Where do you want to start? With Leviathan, and Hobbes pointing out that people will always want to take other people's property and protect their own? Or with Locke, who unintentionally argues that prosperity only comes from either an infinite amount of property through which each person can mix their labor, or common property by which all can profit? How about Rousseau, and his Origin of Inequality:
The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.
Or the apt Proudhon: "Property is theft."
posted by klangklangston at 8:33 AM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you have a point or are you just ranting?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:34 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Far more misery is caused by people valuing their property rights over the suffering, the human rights, of others.

Also, you brought your intellectual penknife to a gunfight.
posted by klangklangston at 8:36 AM on September 30, 2009


Also, you brought your intellectual penknife to a gunfight.

Undeserved smugness isn't an argument.

Far more misery is caused by people valuing their property rights over the suffering, the human rights, of others.

If you can point out how a stable, sensible system of private property ownership and title recordation has harmed people, please do so. Owning property isn't depriving anyone of their human rights. Corrupt governments and other types of thugs do immense harm when they displace people from property that those people have a legitimate claim to. An absent or laughable amount of private property protection bears part of the responsibility for all sorts of evils, from continued deforestation in Brazil to the redistribution of once-productive land to cronies in Zimbabwe.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:41 AM on September 30, 2009


If you can point out how a stable, sensible system of private property ownership and title recordation has harmed people, please do so. Owning property isn't depriving anyone of their human rights.

Every "stable, sensible system of private property ownership" that currently exists in the world (except for Iceland perhaps) has, at its core, the seizure of someone's home and lands by armed thugs. I own my house right now, but I own it because the land it sits on was seized from the Massasoit in 1630 or so. My ancestors had the "right" to seize land from the Massasoit granted to them by a king who was installed by a bunch of aristocrats whose ancestors had seized their land from Saxons, who had seized their land from Angles.

If you are going to hold communism accountable for Stalin (which is reasonable), it also makes sense to hold property ownership accountable for Lord Jeffrey Amherst.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:58 AM on September 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


"If you can point out how a stable, sensible system of private property ownership and title recordation has harmed people, please do so."

If it was sensible, it wouldn't harm people. If you can't start out your paragraph without a fallacy, there's not much point in reading the rest, is there?

Otherwise, slavery. Boom, done.
posted by klangklangston at 9:01 AM on September 30, 2009


Owning property isn't depriving anyone of their human rights. Corrupt governments and other types of thugs do immense harm when they displace people from property that those people have a legitimate claim to.

Brings to mind Robert Anton Wilson's rather anarchistic position on private property. If there were no police force or army to enforce that which is ultimately just scratchings on bits of paper (deeds, legal docs etc), would your neighbors still respect your right to call that chunk of what was once common land yours? In other words, if you've made good use of that land (ie: "improved" it and contributed to the collective well-being by doing so, it's unlikely that any rational man is going to deny you your moral/ethical right to it). However, if you've been thoughtless, mean, greedy, exploitative etc about it (ie: a bad neighbor), then f*** you.
posted by philip-random at 9:04 AM on September 30, 2009


Yes, seizure of those lands was wrong for the same reason seizing a person's property is wrong today. Unfortunately, we're too far in the future to make rectification of those errors by return of that property - we must rely instead on some other method. That doesn't count against the fact that today disregard for private property leads to bad societal and individual outcomes.

If it was sensible, it wouldn't harm people. If you can't start out your paragraph without a fallacy, there's not much point in reading the rest, is there?

What's a fallacy? "Sensible" refers to the ease of administration of title records. The US system is a mess and could be improved.

Otherwise, slavery. Boom, done.

I think it's obvious from context that I'm talking about real property (and I did distinguish it from intellectual property above). But if you want to make that argument, slavery is fundamentally a disregard of the slave's indivisible and unassignable quasi-property interest in their own person.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:05 AM on September 30, 2009


Well, no.

a list of the common excuses isn't really a rebuttal - a rebuttal would be to show me a country, (not a small collective or co-op) where communism, (not some kind of socialism/capitalism hybrid) actually worked

and claiming the russians weren't real communists is a form of this
posted by pyramid termite at 9:15 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


blucevalo: Those natives didn't count. They didn't believe in property rights.
posted by absalom at 9:17 AM on September 30, 2009


pyramid termite: define 'worked', it would be fairly easy to argue that practically no system of government has ever 'worked'. They have all led to terrible social inequality, the use of force to subjugate the people to the power of the state, war and disaster.
posted by knapah at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2009


Have they got a flag?
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite: define 'worked'

define "define"

---

i think it's also worth pointing out that one possible reason for anti-communist paranoia surviving to this day is because there are some on the left who STILL absolutely refuse to admit the historical evidence that communism doesn't work
posted by pyramid termite at 9:34 AM on September 30, 2009


Unfortunately, we're too far in the future to make rectification of those errors by return of that property

Are we?

I mean, I agree with you as a practical matter (and as someone who likes her house). But as a moral matter?

There are a lot of legal matters proceeding around the world about property restoration to individuals and government entities right now. Paintings, for example, that were seized by the German military in World War II being restored to the heirs of the people from whom they were stolen; cultural artifacts being returned from museums to the country of their origin. How far back do we go?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:36 AM on September 30, 2009


I mean, I agree with you as a practical matter (and as someone who likes her house). But as a moral matter?

The moral responsibility endures, at least to the (I assume significant) extent that it is inherited by their descendents. But what other dimension is there besides practicality? Look at the US for a second: it's probably feasible to disburse some lands held by the federal government to various tribes, free of any sort of zoning or other use restriction and pre-cleared of soil degradation, etc. OR built to tribal specs. But that's about as far as you get, especially given the reliance interests of people who have had no interaction with the original inhabitants and haven't done anything morally wrong.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:42 AM on September 30, 2009


"That doesn't count against the fact that today disregard for private property leads to bad societal and individual outcomes."

Or good social outcomes, like the nationalization of Venezuela or Mexico's oil industries, both of which allowed the government to invest in social reforms. Or, since you mentioned Brazil, the appropriation of fallow land by the poor in order to farm.

Why, it's almost like some abrogations of property rights have social utility, yet others don't. Perhaps this is because property rights are negotiated rights, which require an outside enforcement agency in order to adjudicate disputes (hence my mention of Leviathan). In fact, so long as we're wading through the poli sci mud, you should probably start by defining and justifying "rights" instead of making a bunch of Enlightenment assumptions and figuring that everyone shares them.

In any event, trying to make human misery about the lack of respect for property rights is over-broad, requires quite a bit of semantic jiggery-pokery, and so far you've made tautological claims, moved the goalposts, and generally argued like a Randroid.

I mean: What's a fallacy? "Sensible" refers to the ease of administration of title records. The US system is a mess and could be improved." if the US system isn't "sensible," does any sensible system exist outside of your imagination?

"I think it's obvious from context that I'm talking about real property (and I did distinguish it from intellectual property above). But if you want to make that argument, slavery is fundamentally a disregard of the slave's indivisible and unassignable quasi-property interest in their own person."

Sez you. "Real property" as in land or buildings? Then, all lesser property doesn't factor into misery? You either have to make that claim, which I doubt you are, or start again on your justification for rights—it's just as easy to argue, as Locke might, that the only property right that must be respected is the property of excess value created by mixing labor with what is commonly held. At which point, again, we're into semantic gymnastics, as commonly-held property is the minority in our society, and not something that people have equal access to. Or, we're back to saying that there's nothing inherently more assignable about land than there is about life based on common compact.

Finally, since you're the one making the positive claim here, the onus is upon you—you need to define the greatest occurrences of human misery, then show that they incontrovertibly proceed from violations of the right to property (however you've defined it). I'm sure there's plenty of libertarian grant money to help you out with this project.
posted by klangklangston at 9:52 AM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why, it's almost like some abrogations of property rights have social utility, yet others don't.

Yes. Abrogations of some intellectual property rights and some illegitimately acquired "private" property unquestionably does. Some easements and public right-of-ways do. None of this is inconsistent with the argument that disrespect for private property rights has greatly harmed people the world over.

In any event, trying to make human misery about the lack of respect for property rights is over-broad, requires quite a bit of semantic jiggery-pokery, and so far you've made tautological claims, moved the goalposts, and generally argued like a Randroid.

Again, not "all", "much". Congratulations on punching a strawman.

if the US system isn't "sensible," does any sensible system exist outside of your imagination?

Yes. One where title recordation is mandatory and cheap. The changes to get there would be relatively simple and could be done in the US on the state level.

Then, all lesser property doesn't factor into misery?

Of course it does. But it isn't customarily recorded in a title system - which is a precursor for workable enforcement. Personal property is generally addressed by other means.

I'm sure there's plenty of libertarian grant money to help you out with this project.

If you think only libertarians favor protecting property, you're not only wrong, but ignorant. Plenty of decidedly non-libertarian development economists and other development experts, as well as other people of all political stripes, take protection of private property as critical.

Or, since you mentioned Brazil, the appropriation of fallow land by the poor in order to farm.

The instant appropriation of fallow land, including land from other impoverished people, is a great driver of slash-and-burn deforestation.

Finally, since you're the one making the positive claim here, the onus is upon you—you need to define the greatest occurrences of human misery, then show that they incontrovertibly proceed from violations of the right to property (however you've defined it).

Zimbabwe. Chinese dissidents. The Soviet Union. You'll forgive me for not focusing on the "greatest occurrence", because I deliberately didn't say "most" or "all".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:10 AM on September 30, 2009


"a list of the common excuses isn't really a rebuttal - a rebuttal would be to show me a country, (not a small collective or co-op) where communism, (not some kind of socialism/capitalism hybrid) actually worked

and claiming the russians weren't real communists is a form of this
"

No, it's not. It's pointing out that these words mean things and that you don't know what you're talking about. "Communism" is a huge umbrella term, with a lot of different, contentious and often poorly understood examples. The USSR was an attempt at State Communism, but first off, by the Marxist definition, it never got to Communism. It got stuck on Socialism, which precedes Communism. Hence the United Soviet Socialist Republic. It had a Communist Party, which was nominally in charge of moving the USSR to communism, but Russia was a terrible test case from the giddyup. It wasn't industrialized, it was saddled with an authoritarian legacy and in the throes of reactionary dissolution of prior Czarist reforms. It was exactly the last place where Marx would have predicted Communism, for very good reason. The first place he predicted? England. The Bolsheviks were attempting to jump-start Communism, which is why they're better understood as their own ideology. Lenin's writings on what he called "trade unionism" and Menshevism show that his opponents were more the traditional Marxists in their conception. Even then, prior to Lenin truly seizing power, there were nascent Soviets that further complicate the picture.

So, there's all that.

Then, there's also that Communism preceded Marx, and his radical contribution to political science wasn't Marxism or Communism per se, but rather the materialist conception of history. But there had been plenty of Communist movements both pre- and post-Marx that had little to do with him, including the Diggers of England and the Communards of France. Religious communes and co-ops, and Kibitzes, are all non-Marxist Communism, which is why trying to use State Communism as an example of why All Communism doesn't work is inherently flawed.

You're the one engaging in semantic bullshit. There has never been a pure Communist country; there has never been a pure Capitalist country. All modern economies are mixed, and are mixed in different proportion. All of them balance property rights and individuality against collective rights and social good. That's how government works.

Finally, lest some of you get the wrong idea, what I'll say about communism is this: Like how democracy works better the more informed and participatory it is, communism's effectiveness is based on how voluntary and altruistic it is. For that reason, I don't think true state communism will ever work, and certainly not in my lifetime. But that doesn't mean that it can't, or that communism itself is wrong or broken.
posted by klangklangston at 10:15 AM on September 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


But that's about as far as you get, especially given the reliance interests of people who have had no interaction with the original inhabitants and haven't done anything morally wrong.

I'm not sure about how far that holds as an ethical principle. If a museum buys a painting from someone who bought a painting from someone who it turns out was a Gestapo agent who stole it from someone they put into a concentration camp, has the museum done anything morally wrong? And if not, why are courts so diligent about adjudicating these matters, and museums so anxious to settle these claims?

And as a legal principle, it's an interesting thought experiment to contemplate whether ANCSA (the giant settlement of Alaska Native claims) could be successfully challenged in US courts using the precedence of settlements made in cases where property seized during World War II was returned to the heirs of the pre-war owners. ANCSA only dates back to 1971, and some of its fundamental principles relied on land claims made by Russian colonizers in the 19th century.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:34 AM on September 30, 2009


My point here is not that I have a moral obligation to go out and find a Massasoit and give them my house. My point is that the current system of property ownership depends on our drawing a fairly arbitrary line in the sand about how far we go back in sorting out ownership claims. Pretending that that line isn't arbitrary is silly.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:36 AM on September 30, 2009


And as a legal principle, it's an interesting thought experiment to contemplate whether ANCSA (the giant settlement of Alaska Native claims) could be successfully challenged in US courts using the precedence of settlements made in cases where property seized during World War II was returned to the heirs of the pre-war owners.

The island of Adak was in fact returned. I only know this because my uncle was stationed there ...
posted by krinklyfig at 11:12 AM on September 30, 2009


None of this is inconsistent with the argument that disrespect for private property rights has greatly harmed people the world over.

None of it is an argument that that it is either. I mean I could say "Selfishness is the root cause of all suffering" and then I could further say that people wouldn't steal other people's property if they weren't selfish. When you can define terms all willy-nilly you can end up with whatever argument you want.

I mean, rape causes suffering, and then you can go and define rape as a property crime (theft of sexuality).

The obvious argument that property causes suffering is when one person or one group of people own pretty much everything, and use their monopoly to extract all labor and wealth from everyone else. A feudal system would be a perfect example. A feudal master owns all the property and serfs must work and turn over all the product of their work to the master to survive.

In the extreme case, in a capitalist system a small group of people can end up owning everything, and you're returned to the serf situation. I mean, how do the 45,000 people who die each year from lack of health insurance in the US suffer due to lack of respect for private property? It's obvious how they suffer from the selfishness of others.

The idea that we could solve all human suffering if only we filed the right paperwork on our property is absurd.
posted by delmoi at 11:15 AM on September 30, 2009


No, it's not. It's pointing out that these words mean things and that you don't know what you're talking about.

here

i'm tired of arguing over the meaning of words with people - the russians WERE communists according to this definition and anything else is sophistry
posted by pyramid termite at 11:19 AM on September 30, 2009


"Pretending that that line isn't arbitrary is silly."
Agreed - but so is pretending that we don't need a line.

Metafilter: there's something real fascinating going on here and the best you can do is try to one-up each other for internet points.
Metafilter: other people will do the more difficult work of rooting through this development and situating it historically/philosophically/etc.

posted by nickmark at 11:19 AM on September 30, 2009


Right. If AIDS patients in South Africa would just do a little bit better in respecting patent law, they'd come down with An Incredible Doughnut Surplus instead.

AIDS patients in South Africa have not suffered from a patent problem. They have suffered from a Thabo Mbeki problem.
posted by rodgerd at 11:23 AM on September 30, 2009


I lurk on a leftist political board where MonkeySmashesHeaven (and its ilk) comes into constant conflict with softer American and European mainstream liberalism. I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with "Blumpkin Waffle".

You can laugh at Maoists and Thirdworldists all you want to (it is, in fact, quite easy), but they do posit ideas that don't normally come into the often self-satisfied Right-Left discussion. When you have your ideas challenged not from someone at the other end of the political spectrum, but from a further left position than your own, it makes you think a lot more. It makes you have to defend your position in ways you never considered, and by the same token, it lets you see how people further right than you might disagree with things you think are totally reasonable.

I think that the juvenile aspects of their writing (the United $nake$ of Amerikkka always gets me) are somehwat tongue in cheek, and if you can ignore that much of it then it really does challenge and strengthen positions that you hold.
posted by codacorolla at 12:06 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


"here

i'm tired of arguing over the meaning of words with people - the russians WERE communists according to this definition and anything else is sophistry"


You call my comments sophistry; I call yours tautology. The USSR was communist because communist is defined as countries like the USSR? You'll also note, again, that this definition leaves out myriad communism forms.
posted by klangklangston at 12:27 PM on September 30, 2009


The idea that we could solve all human suffering if only we filed the right paperwork on our property is absurd.

It's a good thing that is not what I said. You take a deliberate misreading (casting "much" as "all", or even "most") performed above you in the thread and run with it. That's not a counterargument.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:35 PM on September 30, 2009


I'm not sure about how far that holds as an ethical principle. If a museum buys a painting from someone who bought a painting from someone who it turns out was a Gestapo agent who stole it from someone they put into a concentration camp, has the museum done anything morally wrong? And if not, why are courts so diligent about adjudicating these matters, and museums so anxious to settle these claims?

No, of course they haven't done anything wrong. But people don't build houses on paintings, and exposure to great works of art (owners often exhibit them after repossession, and if not copies and prints exists) is essentially nonrivalrous.

And as a legal principle, it's an interesting thought experiment to contemplate whether ANCSA (the giant settlement of Alaska Native claims) could be successfully challenged in US courts using the precedence of settlements made in cases where property seized during World War II was returned to the heirs of the pre-war owners. ANCSA only dates back to 1971, and some of its fundamental principles relied on land claims made by Russian colonizers in the 19th century.

Interesting. I'll have to read more about that. Thanks.

My point here is not that I have a moral obligation to go out and find a Massasoit and give them my house. My point is that the current system of property ownership depends on our drawing a fairly arbitrary line in the sand about how far we go back in sorting out ownership claims. Pretending that that line isn't arbitrary is silly.

It's bound to be arbitrary to some degree, but I think using practicality with regard to population concentration, record-keeping, etc. is probably the best shot at fairness versus a hard date. Perhaps municipalities that sit on a particular desirable piece of land with documented former ownership ought to be bound to defray some of the heirs' costs of relocation/construction in a sort of quasi-estate theory.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:41 PM on September 30, 2009


"Again, not "all", "much". Congratulations on punching a strawman."

If you say "much," why not just say "some"? If you're just saying that some misery has been caused by a lack of respect for property rights, why not remain silent rather than say something obvious? You can't fault me for attacking a statement as if it had some meaning by claiming that really, there was nothing there at all to attack.

"Yes. One where title recordation is mandatory and cheap. The changes to get there would be relatively simple and could be done in the US on the state level."

No. In order for you to argue that I can't produce a sensible and stable system that has caused harm, there has to indeed be an example of such a system. Otherwise, it's an empty and absurd statement, like that there's been no system of sensible and sane property rights that hasn't also included unicorns.

"Of course it does. But it isn't customarily recorded in a title system - which is a precursor for workable enforcement. Personal property is generally addressed by other means."

This is where your silliness with language has overtaken you. "Real property" means something specific: land or buildings. It has no requirement of title to exist—land and buildings existed and were owned prior to titling.

"If you think only libertarians favor protecting property, you're not only wrong, but ignorant. Plenty of decidedly non-libertarian development economists and other development experts, as well as other people of all political stripes, take protection of private property as critical."

Who's got the straw man now? You were arguing that "much" (a term of consummate vagueness) misery comes from not respecting property rights. If you were able to prove the implication—that lack of respect for property rights is the cause of even a plurality of human misery—you'd be well funded by libertarians. But pretending to have an authority here to appeal to is silliness, especially when I'm totally prepared to mock the neo-liberal internationalists and Breton Woods establishments.

"The instant appropriation of fallow land, including land from other impoverished people, is a great driver of slash-and-burn deforestation."

Right. AND it's also making it so that people can use the land for sustainable agriculture. It's almost as if arguing from a perspective of privileging property rights ignores the broader context which would allow an individual, society or state to decide on a case-by-case basis.

"Zimbabwe. Chinese dissidents. The Soviet Union. You'll forgive me for not focusing on the "greatest occurrence", because I deliberately didn't say "most" or "all"."

I can't forgive you for not making a case here at all, however. Zimbabwe? Gee, there's no colonial subtext regarding who actually owns the land there at all, right? Chinese dissidents? Why, they're all locked up, reeducated or executed because the government doesn't respect property rights? Hell, because you're such a nancy about "all," a significant plurality of them are? There's no other, better rights basis to oppose their detention? Hell, you could easily say that the Chinese government cares too much about property rights, especially since they've decided to modernize and develop, in that many of the folks they're locking up now are labor leaders who are trying to resist the wave of privatization! Or are those people the cause of their own misery?

I mean, you can't even come up with one specific example from which to argue?

Your thesis is bullshit. The more true it is, the emptier a platitude it becomes.
posted by klangklangston at 12:49 PM on September 30, 2009


The problem with Marxists is that they fundamentally argue from a position that privileges theory over the real world. That is, they will contrast their theoretical model of how the world should work with the compromises and injustices of real world Capitalism, and use that to state that Marxism is a superior basis for a society than Capitalism. But when confronted by real-world attempts to implement Marxism, they will retreat into theory. It would be different if they debated theoretical Capitalism with Theoretical Marxism, but they refuse to do so.

In other words, that's why one can never really debate Maxists- they insist on contrasting the theoretical and perfect with the imperfect and real.
posted by happyroach at 12:59 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


The secret joy of capitalism and communism is the joy of blowing things up. Preferably other people's things.
posted by storybored at 1:18 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's more of a Futurist tenet.
posted by Artw at 1:20 PM on September 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


"You once again demonstrate that there are none so utterly conventional and predictable than those who burble interminably about contesting and subverting the mainstream."

very confusing. i am guessing you are white, perhaps middle class.

come to think of it, i'm guessing you might be heterosexual as well. and american? oh, and male! tell me how far off i am here.

otherwise i can't imagine what kind of far-reaching comfort/privilege would lead you to say such a stubbornly ignorant thing. if the fact of your origins & positionality seem incidental to you, and somehow separate from the kind of argument you are making, then you are wearing blinders indeed. please take two advil, read absolutely anything written by absolutely anybody in the last 30 years about race, class, gender, post-colonialism, etc., and get a lot of sleep. your headaches should subside momentarily.

ps. as codacorolla pointed out, their writings are obviously tongue-in-cheek, much like the zapatistas. the fact that any of you take it seriously at all is more indicative of your insecurities and inability to imagine heretical behavior creatively than their legitimacy.

prediction #2: in moments of serious existential or ethical crises, game warden to the events rhino will be unable to take principled action. then something terrible will happen and new ways of thinking will either force themselves into his mind, or--yes, dear reader--he will die unhappy and alone.
posted by parkbench at 1:46 PM on September 30, 2009


AIDS patients in South Africa have not suffered from a patent problem. They have suffered from a Thabo Mbeki problem.

Thabo Mbeki's views on AIDS probably didn't help, but he's been out of power for a while and the new guy is not an HIV skeptic. I also don't think patent laws were actually too much of a problem in terms of getting people drugs, SA didn't recognize the patents and was able to manufacture the drugs on their own.

But the point is, the AIDS epidemic in Africa really has nothing to do with "not respecting people's property rights"

It's a good thing that is not what I said. You take a deliberate misreading (casting "much" as "all", or even "most") performed

So your argument isn't "most" human suffering is caused by disrespecting property rights. Can you give us an actual figure other then "less then 50%, but more then 0%" That's a pretty vague, and frankly uninteresting argument. I mean, what can't you make that claim about. Certainly love causes between 50% and 0% of human suffering. Does that make love a bad thing?
posted by delmoi at 3:07 PM on September 30, 2009


"But the point is, the AIDS epidemic in Africa really has nothing to do with "not respecting people's property rights" "

The AIDS epidemic in SA would be worse if SA had "respected" intellectual property rights.
posted by klangklangston at 4:41 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yes, regarding the underlying argument: If you were told that someone had eaten "much" of a pie, what quantity would they have eaten?
posted by klangklangston at 4:42 PM on September 30, 2009


My point is that the current system of property ownership depends on our drawing a fairly arbitrary line in the sand about how far we go back in sorting out ownership claims. Pretending that that line isn't arbitrary is silly.

It's not arbitrary at all. It's drawn at the minimal comfortable distance from the most recent egregious theft.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:03 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I doubt this will help, but here are some functioning Communist communities. Judging by how much they frighten some of their neighbours, I'd say they're pretty successful.
posted by sneebler at 6:23 PM on September 30, 2009


a rebuttal would be to show me a country, (not a small collective or co-op) where communism, (not some kind of socialism/capitalism hybrid) actually worked

Quoting (I think) Bakunin: It is impossible for the State to be revolutionary; because it is the State.

Marx's most egregious error was imagining that an institution specifically designed to help the privileged hold onto their shit could be adapted to promote socialism.
posted by steambadger at 6:52 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


he will die unhappy and alone

parkbench is on a plane full of xmas passengers - and in the way back seat, he has managed to manipulate himself and lover a into subtle but impassioned sex - just before he and his lover climax the plane's engines stop and the aircraft plummets towards earth

"no, no", his lover moans - "we're going to die"

"ohhh - yes, but we aren't dying unhappy and a-"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:34 PM on September 30, 2009


otherwise i can't imagine what kind of far-reaching comfort/privilege would lead you to say such a stubbornly ignorant thing. if the fact of your origins & positionality seem incidental to you, and somehow separate from the kind of argument you are making, then you are wearing blinders indeed...

prediction #2: in moments of serious existential or ethical crises, game warden to the events rhino will be unable to take principled action. then something terrible will happen and new ways of thinking will either force themselves into his mind, or--yes, dear reader--he will die unhappy and alone.


Just to be clear, I am not mocking people who subvert or contest the mainstream. I am mocking people like you who make pompous and substance-free postings on Metafilter about subverting and contesting the mainstream, while defending laughably ridiculous, and yet also completely inhumane, arguments put forward by little computer men in their underpants. My "positionality" is far from irrelevant to me (though you're not entirely right in your smug guesses about the details of my "positionality").

Perhaps I will die unhappy and alone: it's a risk we all take. Equally, perhaps one day you will learn to hear yourself, and what you are saying.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:07 AM on October 1, 2009


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