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sudo wrote (edited )

The only thing I'd possibly disagree with on this chart is the gun control one. Norway, despite its social democratic features, is a capitalist country; as such, it is in the best interests of the Norwegian proletariat to overthrow the Norwegian government and implement a transitional socialist government, with the aim of eventually becoming a communist government. To do this requires guns. Gun control makes it far more difficult for the proletariat to arm itself, so it should be opposed in any capitalist country. Once there is no longer a need for revolution, and once the material conditions that lead to most mass shootings no longer exist, and once the government has adequate mental health facilities and resources for all its citizens; if mass shootings are still an issue after all of that, then we could discuss implementing gun control. Otherwise, it should be opposed.

Other than that, I agree with the message of this chart. Social democratic capitalist countries like Norway are far from perfect, but they are still far better than full capitalist countries like the USA.

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indi wrote

To do this requires guns.

Are you sure that isn't just old-school thinking?

Revolution by armed insurrection may be the "traditional" way to overthrow an aristocracy, but an informed, educated people who are able to communicate freely among themselves may be able to organize a peaceful revolution. It may just be my own perspective colouring things, but when I look around at what is happening in the world today, I see a slow - admittedly very slow - awakening by the average person to just how unjust most of the systems in place are. I've even seen some writers characterize things like Brexit and Trump and the rise of the alt-right as misguided reactions to seeing the injustice. If that's true, then in time it may be possible to get more people to understand that the right way to end the injustice is to transition toward socialism (and once we're there, we can start to talk communism and anarchy).

The idea of revolution carried out by a bunch of gun-totin' folk just seems so 19th century passé. Not just aesthetically, but practically: if guns are necessary to fight the establishment, you're going to lose... because they'll have much better weapons than you will. This isn't the 19th century anymore; the difference in firepower between what individuals can wield versus what a state-supplied army can is much bigger.

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sudo wrote

Yeah, I'm sure it isn't old school. The bourgeoisie ultimately hold all political power, and they aren't going to give it up without a fight. If a communist candidate is running for public office and they have a real chance of winning, then the bourgeoisie will do anything they can to sabotage the communist's campaign. At first, they might try a propaganda campaign to discredit the communist. If that doesn't work, they may try to invent a scandal, or forge some documents to disqualify the communist from the race. They may try to bribe the candidate into maintaining the status quo. They may try to assassinate the candidate while making it look like an accident. They may "cook the books" to make it look like the communist lost the election when they really won (like in Russia in 1996), or, as a last resort, they may initiate a military coup to physically remove the communist from power. No matter what, the bourgeoisie will not allow communists to peacefully usurp their power. That means we have to do so forcefully.

if guns are necessary to fight the establishment, you're going to lose... because they'll have much better weapons than you will.

Not necessarily. Weapon technology is only one variable to consider in who will win a war. An army with 40-year old weapons could still beat an army with modern weapons if the first army vastly outnumbers the second. Che Guevara and Mao Zedong have both written a lot about guerrilla warfare and protracted people's war, both of which are strategies for a people's army to defeat a better-armed state army (and both of their strategies succeeded). One thing to consider is that if a revolution is about to happen, a huge percent of the population sympathizes with the communists. This will likely include several people in the army, who will defect to the revolutionaries, and who may bring military equipment with them. For an extreme example, look at Russia right before the February revolution. The Tsar decided to send in the military to suppress the anti-war protests. Upon arriving, the soldiers immediately joined the protesters. The Tsar's own military turned against him, leaving him virtually powerless. When it comes to revolutions, the size of each army is more important than the military technology.

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indi wrote

If a communist candidate is running for public office and they have a real chance of winning, then the bourgeoisie will do anything they can to sabotage the communist's campaign. At first, they might try a propaganda campaign to discredit the communist. If that doesn't work, they may try to invent a scandal, or forge some documents to disqualify the communist from the race. They may try to bribe the candidate into maintaining the status quo. They may try to assassinate the candidate while making it look like an accident. They may "cook the books" to make it look like the communist lost the election when they really won (like in Russia in 1996), or, as a last resort, they may initiate a military coup to physically remove the communist from power.

I don't disagree that the aristocracy will try all those things. My objections is that those things cannot possibly work if the proletariat is informed, educated, and able to communicate freely among themselves. If the people are mad enough about the government that they're willing to take up arms and shoot their way into power... then they'll surely be mad enough to ignore propaganda and other bullshit ploys. A candidate or two can be disqualified, discredited, or even assassinated, but - again, if the people are serious enough about change to go to war over it - the movement can still prevail.

To be clear, I'm not saying there can never be a situation where we'll have to take power by force. What I'm saying is that so long as they don't use force, we shouldn't have to either. If it get to the point where they're attempting an armed coup... then yes, definitely, we'll have to fight back. But so long as there exists - even if just as theatre - a peaceful way for a unified proletariat to seize power, our strategy should be to use it. Arms should only be considered after they've taken all peaceful options away, not preemptively on the assumption that they might.

An army with 40-year old weapons could still beat an army with modern weapons if the first army vastly outnumbers the second.

This is what really bothers me about this line of thinking. If we really do vastly outnumber the aristocracy, armed conflict should be unnecessary. We don't live in the world of Che Guevara or Mao Zedong anymore. We live in societies that are much better educated, much better informed, and much more able to connect, communicate, and organize than the populations of their countries were. And we live in societies were the aristocracy is already afraid of us - that's why they're trying so hard to keep us confused with Faux News, economic hardship, and dazzling, distracting, commercial product junk. Running elections and maintaining a pretence of democracy is no longer optional; they need to keep up at least a show of being under the people's control in order to prevent us from getting serious about exercising it. So what we need to do is get serious about exercising it.

The other thing that bothers me about that line of thinking is that it doesn't scale. Technology is not linear, it's exponential. A thousand years ago, a well-equipped army could be overrun by a group a thousand times larger only armed with 4000 year-old weaponry (it would be a case of primitive gunpowder weaponry like fire lances against huge numbers of bronze swords, bows, and chariots); five hundred years ago, a well-equipped army could be overrun by a group a thousand times larger only armed with 400 year-old weaponry (muskets and longbows against huge numbers of primitive gunpowder fire lances, rockets, and bombs); a hundred years ago, a well-equipped army could be overrun by a group a thousand times larger only armed with 40 year-old weaponry (primitive tanks and aircraft against huge numbers of rifles and primitive machine guns). As time goes on, though, the bracket narrows. A well-equipped army a hundred years ago (a WW1 army) would flatten a group a thousand times larger if they were only armed with flintlocks.

If you extrapolate forward, that means that there will come a time when a well-equipped army could be overrun by a thousand-fold larger group armed only with 4 year-old weaponry... but the army would obliterate a thousand-fold larger group armed with 10 year-old weaponry. Obviously we're not there yet... but we're close. Guns are already pretty passé; a single person in control of enough sophisticated, autonomous drones could wipe out an army of a thousand armed with even the most powerful, military-grade guns. And as technology advances, it could get to the point where a single person could wipe out an army of billions (for example, by creating a virus that only they are immune to, then releasing it).

Even today, technology has advanced to the point that the tactics you're talking about are iffy... but in a few decades we could be at the point where they are completely unworkable. Holing up in a jungle? Please. A single satellite pass or drone overfly and you'll be spotted, and then they could just bomb you out with chemical weapons. Hiding in the cellars of supporters right in the cities? Come on. Police could simply sweep suspected houses with sniffers that can pick up little bits of DNA like dead skin cells - or they could check the hands of suspects for molecular traces of gun oils or explosives. They could plant bugs the size of sand grains everywhere and use AI to suss out key people or words, so that no secret planning is possible. And so on and so forth.

That's all science fiction now, but may not be for long.

So you do you beat all that? The answer is simple: don't give them justification to treat you as combatants. Plotting to overthrow the aristocracy by violence is painting a bulls-eye on your face; you're giving them the justification they need to violently suppress you. But organizing a non-violent political movement? They can't move against you without tipping their hand and revealing themselves to be an illegitimate dictatorship... which would spell their doom.

Armed revolution may have made sense in the past, but I don't see a future where it is going to be possible for a people to murder their way into a better world. Guns are not going to help us. Education, communication, and the sharing of information is what's going to win the day.

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DissidentRage wrote (edited )

I think you have valid concerns, but there is one overarching point that needs to be maintained in your mind:

So you do you beat all that? The answer is simple: don't give them justification to treat you as combatants.

By opposing them you will always be treated as a combatant, regardless of means. They will always scale to violence if it is necessary to maintain control. There is no threshhold where they will decide not to use violence unless they know they will lose. A well-educated and agitated populace in a capitalist state with a well-developed military will not be enough to coerce them. If all peaceful means fail, they will with absolute certainty resort to overt violence. It is inevitable.

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indi wrote

By opposing them you will always be treated as a combatant, regardless of means. They will always scale to violence if it is necessary to maintain control. There is no threshhold where they will decide not to use violence unless they know they will lose. A well-educated and agitated populace in a capitalist state with a well-developed military will not be enough to coerce them. If all peaceful means fail, they will with absolute certainty resort to overt violence. It is inevitable.

That may be true... or it may not.

If you assume it's true and prepare for a bloody fight... you will get one, whether it really was true or not. And with all the things I mentioned, there is a very good chance you will lose, if not completely then at least badly enough to push your eventual victory back a few years (which could happen over and over). Even if you do win the battle, you will just be the latest bloody coup to seize power, which will put you on the shakiest of ground. Your new order may survive, or it may not, but if it does it will be bucking the historical trend.

If you assume it's not true and you're wrong, then you will have prepared a peaceful movement only to have it met with violence. At that point, you win. Even if you lose in the short term, you win in the long term. Regimes that use violence to suppress peaceful opposition never last. They will just build up more and more resentment until eventually either the population en masse will be inspired to join you in a now-very-much-justified violent revolution, or rots and dies under the weight of its own hypocrisy and illegitimacy as empires are wont to do.

If you assume it's not true and you're right, you win. You get a revolution, and no blood needs to be spilled. That would be a revolution to be proud of.

So the strategy that wins is to build a non-violent revolution. Note that I'm not advocating absolute non-violence; I'm advocating non-violent tactics for as long as reasonably practical: if the regime actually does respond with violence then you can justifiably respond in turn. But until that happens, threatening violence is counterproductive. I question the reasoning of anyone who advocates building a better world through murder.

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DissidentRage wrote

That may be true... or it may not.

Historically it always has been.

If you assume it's true and prepare for a bloody fight... you will get one, whether it really was true or not.

How does attitude affect the outcome? That's like saying you can improve your odds of getting a job you applied to online by being more positive.

If you assume it's not true and you're wrong, then you will have prepared a peaceful movement only to have it met with violence. At that point, you win.

That's assuming the media apparatus and historians don't whitewash your struggle, and that the opposition doesn't utterly snuff out any adherents who actually have a chance of acting on the ideas. Observe any number of peaceful protests where adherents were tried, beaten or even killed, only to have the memory of the public look favorably still on the oppressors, or at least have the message of the protesters scrubbed of any nuance that goes against official narrative. Most of the public in the US probably does not know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a self-described democratic socialist.

I question the reasoning of anyone who advocates building a better world through murder.

It must be anticipated is all I'm saying. Human history is filled with countless examples of rulers being unrepentant dicks to the people below them. Who's to say it's going to be any different now just because some governments are more "civilized"?

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indi wrote

Historically it always has been.

I've already explained why history is a poor guide for what might happen in the future.

But I could make the point in a much more pithy way by pointing out that, historically, no armed revolution has ever produced an anarchist society that lasted for more than a couple years.

How does attitude affect the outcome?

I've already explained that, too. It's not "attitude", it's preparing for a fight that's the problem. I don't mean "mentally preparing", I mean literally preparing. If you prepare for a fight against a state, then even if the state has no other beef with you, the state will treat you like an enemy.

That's assuming the media apparatus and historians don't whitewash your struggle, and that the opposition doesn't utterly snuff out any adherents who actually have a chance of acting on the ideas. Observe any number of peaceful protests where adherents were tried, beaten or even killed, only to have the memory of the public look favorably still on the oppressors, or at least have the message of the protesters scrubbed of any nuance that goes against official narrative.

I've also already explained why that reasoning doesn't fly. If you have an educated, informed population, propaganda doesn't work. Most propaganda is based on logical fallacies, so a population trained in spotting them are less vulnerable (this is the reason why I advocate for teaching reasoning skills in early education). And of course, there's the issue of outright lying, but that's mitigated by modern communication technologies that allow people to either record what actually happened, or get the various stories of what happened directly from the people who were there.

Once again, you're looking at history but ignoring the future. It was easy in the past for regimes to spin or outright rewrite incidents, and control the story the public heard. Even when there wasn't straight-up state media, media outlets tended to be controlled by state collaborators. But that's no longer true; now anyone can publish whatever they please, and reach everyone. States no longer control the message, and that's arguably what's caused all the populist chaos of the last few years. The "media apparatus" is dying; the Internet - the land of anarchic, free communication - is killing it. We're not there yet, but that's where we're going.

Just look at what's happening in the world today. In many cities, we're actually getting police to wear frickin' body cameras to record everything they're doing! Yes, yes, yes, there are still problems we're dealing with, like cops "forgetting" to turn them on or just "losing" the footage. But these are the early days, and we're already seeing cops being held to account by what their cameras captured. That is the future; a future where information is trivially captured, stored, and shared, and the excuses of the state for hiding crimes will no longer fly. Again, we're not there yet, but that's where we're going.

Most of the public in the US probably does not know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a self-described democratic socialist.

In my opinion, the US is a poor example of modern social progress. Most of the public in the US doesn't know their head from their asshole.

But for those of us who aren't chin-deep in our colons, the truth is out there, and we can get it if we want. We can find King's speeches. We can even view videos of them. We can access his writings freely. We can talk directly to the people who knew him and marched with him. All of those things were either totally impossible or very difficult just 30 years ago. It was easy for states to spread stories of King being a free-market capitalist because the average person couldn't track down the evidence to refute it... now it's pretty much a click away for everyone - hell, with a smartphone, you can literally fact check the claim as you're hearing it, wherever and whenever you are.

That's all new stuff, and we haven't perfected the art yet. Most people still haven't figured out how to use the Internet properly, and the end up trapped in ideological bubbles (and companies like Facebook and Google are not helping; quite the opposite). We're still figuring all this out... and it's possible that I'm wrong and we'll never figure it out, and the future is one where we all live in balkanized ideological echo chambers. But that doesn't seem sustainable to me. I believe that it may take a generation or two, but we'll figure this instantaneous access to all information thing out, and when we do, states beware.

It must be anticipated is all I'm saying. Human history is filled with countless examples of rulers being unrepentant dicks to the people below them. Who's to say it's going to be any different now just because some governments are more "civilized"?

I'm not sure we're actually disagreeing. You say "anticipated", but that's a vague word with two very different meanings. I can anticipate an attack by recognizing the possibility and choosing a different route to avoid it... or I can anticipate an attack with a preemptive strike while walking directly into it.

To be clear, I am not an idiot; I am well aware that states can and have reacted violently to having their authority challenged. I am also not saying anything even remotely like that governments have become more "civilized". I know what governments are and what they have done... and what they might do in the future.

What I am saying is that populations today have tools to monitor and control their governments that they didn't have in the past. In the past, guns (or the threat of guns) were the only practical tool to keep a government in check. The average person either wasn't educated enough to get into power or understand what power was doing, or informed enough to keep tabs on power. That's changing. We're still not there, but in the future with initiatives like open government and open data, the average citizen could keep close tabs on the minutia of what's going on in the halls of power. Even today, we're already exercising more control over our governments than people only a few generations ago could have dreamed of. I see no signs of that trend slowing down.

I am not saying that governments today are more "civilized", I am saying that we are civilizing governments; we are forcing "good" behaviour on them. They are not any better or different (in principle) than they've ever been. What's changed is that we have the tools now to keep government on a much tighter leash.

And following the trends and considering foreseeable future technological developments, as time goes on we'll get even more and better control over our governments. Which means that when the day comes when we decide we no longer need them - or, at the very least, we decide we no longer like the way they're currently working (supported by mercenary capitalism, for example) - we may... and I stress may... be able to use the control we have to get what we want non-violently.

What I am saying is that should be our goal. That's what we should work toward. We should not be blind to the possibility that the government will respond violently, but we should not assume that's inevitable. If they do... and only if they do... then we should start considering adding violence to our tactics. But violence should not be a tactic in our playbook unless and until they use it first. We should not start collecting guns until they use them first.

It's the difference of "anticipating" violence between considering the possibility of violence... versus expecting violence. It's the difference between choosing a path without violence, knowing that if that path becomes blocked you will have to change to a new path where you resort to force... versus choosing a path where you believe violence is inevitable. It's the difference between "we may never need guns, so let's not bother with them until and unless we do"... versus "we'll probably need guns, so let's start stockpiling them now". Choosing the latter path will provoke the government so you will almost certainly never end up with a non-violent revolution that way. Choosing the former path may lead to a non-violent revolution... but if the government does respond with violence, there's no expiration date on a revolution, so you'll always have plenty of time to prepare for war in response.

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christobal wrote

Pretty much my first though reading those news as well.