Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Justifying Socialism Part 4

Following on parts one,two, and three.

Cooperation, individual responsibility.

In American politics the view from the Right contrasts the idea of individual responsibility with what they see as the state taking care of people, the sort of mommy state. Socialism in their estimation represents the furthest extension of that kind of state. Whether or not that idea is right regarding modern liberalism, it isn't on target regarding socialism. Socialism includes individual responsibility but it also adds responsibility as a member of a community, of a neighborhood, city, state and ultimately country, although not in an abstracted sense but in one that's very real. Think of it as a kind of extension of the feelings for the family in terms of collective survival to a broader sphere, which incidentally does not negate the family sphere itself. In society right now, and in socialist society in the future, we all depend on one another in our capacity as workers and as consumers, as producers and consumers. It's just that this isn't recognized in our current state. We depend on each other all the time through work. If pure competition was how things were structured we'd never be able to make society work because everyone would be undercutting the work of everyone else in the attempt to get ahead.

Mutual responsibility implies individual responsibility. It's easier to just isolate yourself from society, from your neighborhood, town, city, state, and just focus on your individual life than it is to live your life while also paying attention to the communities that you participate in, whether you recognize your participation or not. Socialism represents collective self management. That said, duty and cooperation have their sphere, the individual has his or her sphere, the family has its sphere, personal life has its sphere. Mutual responsibility does not imply that this responsibility takes over all aspects of life. A good socialist society wouldn't coerce maximum social involvement either, but at this point the collective aspects of socialism contrast with how our society is officially structured, making it seem as if forced participation or some sort of forced obedience is the only thing that all of this could mean.

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