cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

Tag: socialism

Kerala and Cuba as socialist developement models

Joseph Th.
-powers that be
-Millenium Goals
-many models of development failing, but Kerala and Cuba succeeded, what lessons can we learn from them?
1. centrality of social institutions, interventionist state as actor / public distribution system
2. institutionalized way of organizing people
3. culture of revolution, social values transformed. but is transformation of consciousness sustainable?
-these models must adjust to neoliberal globalization. growth problematic: cannot produce jobs for themselves. inequality, poverty
-privatization of education and health–accessibility compromised
-agriculture in crisis: in decline in Kerala; not used as a means to grow food, but of producing cash crops for export
-food security issues. Cuba: organic farming, but still imports food (one of its major expenditures, therefore making its national security precarious)
-can there be human development with agriculture? (educated people don’t want to be peasants, want to be urbanites)
-we see that povery CAN be radically reduced, if not eradicated

Henry Veltmeyer
-human development does not require capitalism; neoliberalism inherently incapable of human development
-socialism can provide more appropriate framework for it
-difference in way system set up to design new society on “full equality”
-Amartya Sen: expansion of choice/opportunity and freedom to exercise these
-operational grassroots: poor act for themselves in local contexts, decentralized (key feature of new paradigm of sustainable human development)
-bring state back in, but it must protect people’s rights to make own choices. “humanist marxist theory” vs. UNDP policy
-means of free development of each are means of free development for all, achieved through social liberalist conceptions institutionalized as principles: freedom, equality and solidarity
-formal and legal right to choose, as long as doesn’t overstep on others
– food, work, housing and dignity are provided by state, not by market
-idea of human development as engagement of all in struggle; change in consciousness -> New Man/Woman. predicated on cultural revolution for realization of individualism
1. how to maintain revolutionary consciousness and ethic?
2. action of freedom/equality/solidarity as organizational principles and core values
3. public action: agency of state plus people power (popular participation in public policy). civil society

Mark R.
equity trumps freedom

-Amartya Sen’s capability approach
-civic engagement bringing about change bottom up; maybe voluntary more effective than state-driven
-cuban CDRs
-How might Costa Rica’s success been if it had had to put so much of its energy and money towards military like Cuba did?
-individualism vs solidarity as organizing principles of society? collective action can be based on self-interest
-mothers go hungry to feed their children -> self interest or altruism? maybe the distinction is not so clear.

All roads…

So I’m reading about Erich Fromm on Wikipedia because I have a brain crush on him when I see this:

Political ideas and activities

Fromm’s most well-known work, Escape from Freedom, focuses on the human urge to seek a source of authority and control upon reaching a freedom that was thought to be an individual’s true desire. The culmination of Fromm’s social and political philosophy was his book The Sane Society, published in 1955, which argued in favor of humanistic and democratic socialism. Building primarily upon the early works of Karl Marx, Fromm sought to re-emphasise the ideal of personal freedom, missing from most Soviet Marxism, and more frequently found in the writings of libertarian socialists and liberal theoreticians. Fromm’s brand of socialism rejected both Western capitalism and Soviet communism, which he saw as dehumanizing and bureaucratic social structures that resulted in a virtually universal modern phenomenon of alienation.

I’m seeing a lot of socialism, rejection of both Soviet communism and Western capitalism, and getting very hot and bothered. I continue:

He became one of the founders of socialist humanism, promoting the early writings of Marx and his humanist messages to the US and Western European publics. In the early 1960s, Fromm published two books dealing with Marxist thoughts (Marx’s Concept of Man and Beyond the Chains of Illusion: my Encounter with Marx and Freud). In 1965, working to stimulate the Western and Eastern cooperation between Marxist humanists, Fromm published a series of articles entitled Socialist Humanism: An International Symposium. In 1966, the American Humanist Association named him Humanist of the Year.

At this point I am realizing I need to read this book Socialist Humanism: An International Symposium… As the thought sinks in, I turn to my bookshelf and realize it’s already sitting there. In fact, I had picked it up after volunteering at a book fair.

It’s been happening recently that some of the different subjects that interest me (health, justice and social change, love, understanding reality, understanding people, the role of intellectual pursuit, the role and methodology of education, learning what is good and positive, deciding what is the best moral way to live, how to go about doing this, knowing what limitations exist and what goals are attainable and worthy of pursuit, et cetera) converge when I find a piece that links two, forming an organic, completed loop. The link is socialism. Thus far this is only in a nebulous, vague sense, as I am only arriving at it vicariously and without looking at it directly. Even so, I am always one to appreciate such serendipity. I suspect this will be my next area of study.

Gramscian organic intellectuals


Intellectuals and Education

Gramsci gave much thought to the question of the role of intellectuals in society. Famously, he stated that all men are intellectuals, in that all have intellectual and rational faculties, but not all men have the social function of intellectuals. He claimed that modern intellectuals were not simply talkers, but directors and organisers who helped build society and produce hegemony by means of ideological apparatuses such as education and the media. Furthermore, he distinguished between a ‘traditional’ intelligentsia which sees itself (wrongly) as a class apart from society, and the thinking groups which every class produces from its own ranks ‘organically’. Such ‘organic’ intellectuals do not simply describe social life in accordance with scientific rules, but rather articulate, through the language of culture, the feelings and experiences which the masses could not express for themselves. The need to create a working-class culture relates to Gramsci’s call for a kind of education that could develop working-class intellectuals, who would not simply introduce Marxist ideology from without the proletariat, but rather renovate and make critical of the status quo the already existing intellectual activity of the masses. His ideas about an education system for this purpose correspond with the notion of critical pedagogy and popular education as theorized and practised in later decades by Paulo Freire in Brazil, and have much in common with the thought of Frantz Fanon. For this reason, partisans of adult and popular education consider Gramsci an important voice to this day.