Saturday, June 21, 2008

Socialism doesn't mean compassion, it means justice

There's a distinct difference between the concepts. Compassion assumes that in order to get something, some state, that's more just you have to come on bended knee to someone with power who will deign to give it to you or create it for you if he or she feels that you are worthy. Compassion also works in the opposite direction, it encourages people to ask for things as if they're entitled to them, things that the person in question is expected to just give, based on whatever reasoning. Relying on the largesse of folks and changing your attitude in order to be better benighted subjects degrades the person in question and undercuts the idea of self help. Conservatives would say that people should lift themselves up by their bootstraps as an alternative, but the way I see it self help includes pushing for collective justice.

It would be better to see a raised fist than a bleeding heart.

Of course, this attitude can be taken too far, and has been by the Communist movement, who featured a kind of socialist machismo during their heyday culminating in things like the Stakhnovist movement. Named after a purported "super worker" who was able to work inhuman hours at an almost impossible rate, the Stakhnovists were held up as what socialists should imitate within the Soviet Union. Stakhnov himself was reportedly killed by his fellow workers for causing their already back breaking hours to increase.

But I digress.

Point is that the liberal state that distributes funds according to ideas of liberal guilt and bleeding heart principles is a very weak imitation of a true just state of affairs, which would fundamentally transform the economic structure of society so that the problems that the liberal state addresses would be solved once and for all instead of just getting some bandaids and money thrown in their general directions. In fact, socialism opens up the concept of the state having less prominence since the social structure itself would embody the transformation and that can take the place of a large state structure covering up and patching up a fundamentally capitalist society.

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