Monday, November 19, 2012

Values and Socialism

I think that many authors have gone wrong by supporting the kind of values that I've been talking about while, paradoxically, supporting the free market system. To me, this makes no sense. Capitalism is one of the prime sources of the atomization and alienation that exists in today's society. To truly get to the source of this, to change it, requires not just a shift in what some believe is the surface of society, where values exist, but in the material substructure of society itself as well. The two would have to go together. Capitalism produces both alienation and then class society, which adds insult to injury. Class society needs to be abolished by workers taking power, and the bourgeois class overthrown.

But what is behind Capitalism? I think that the capitalist impulse was originally made possibly by the Protestant Reformation and by the damage that it did to European society in destroying values without adequately putting anything in their place. The Reformation can be seen as the idiot cousin of the Renaissance, which tried to reform Medieval society in a much more enlightened way. Instead, you had an auto-da-fe of destruction which allowed a vacuum to arise where instead of engaging the world, "faith" took the place of practical values, and personal enrichment---taken to be the result of personal piety, ironically, taking the place of a more community based identity. This was an identity where people fit into a whole.

Of course, this collective sensibility was contextualized within feudalism, yet I think it would have been possible to overthrow the oppressive features of feudalism without turning the ideal of society into one of isolated beings bumping into one another now and then. Such a thing, with progressive values added, would yield something very close to a socialist ethos, albeit one with a different cultural context.  The values of liberalism aren't a problem as long as the greater context does not threaten social continuity in a deep way, and if these values can co-exist, relatively libertarian features can come into being.

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