- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Good Ol' Austen.

Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist party, Uk ) on April 06, 1999 at 10:59:58:

In Reply to: That's because 'socialism' is a definitionism posted by Joel Jacobson on April 05, 1999 at 16:58:37:

: Both of you in this case are using a word ("socialism" in this case) in both the expressive and communitative functions of language. Actually, as you are both offering public reports of mental states internal to yourselves what we have is two "socialism"s with the same verbal sound. "Socialism" in both your cases is merely an external manifestation of a personal and internal state. It is neither representative of anything in the physical world or of the world of social ideas ("restroom", on the other hand, is both such a social idea and an object of the physical world). Expressive and communicative language adds nothing to reasonable discourse and simply leads to a nihilistic antagonism when used in such a fashion.

Well, if you're gonna come over all Austenian upon us, you shoudl remind folks that making the speech acts you list, includes satisfying the speech act conditions (the usual example being : 'I declare this university open' requires that one is allowed (i.e a chancellor) to declare a university open).

If folks are making declaratives, then that presumes that they have the power/right to make declaratives.

In the context of 'socialism' people make declaratives as of their right as members of society, trying to fix an idea with meaning, as such it is an act of power, who has the right to finally settle the meaning of teh signifyier. Come the day when the word is no longer subject to contestation, like restroom, it eventually simply referrs to the agreed entity. Hence Habermas' notion that come a classless society the distortions inherrent in the language of class society would disapear.

: A note to the rest of the board: this situation is, generally, what I refer to when I use the term definitionism. Both these people have offered arguements using words refering to individual mental situations and, thus, can never be accurately conveyed to other individuals. For instance, "socialism" and "capitalism", until all different sides have advanced beyond the propagandistic usage of these terms, will always be definitionisms. "borg" correctly, to her/him, identified "socialism" with "sovietism" and the responder also correctly, to him/her, identified "socialism" as a future "best" state of the world.

Right, but such differences of interpretation will occur whenever a power struggle breaks out- its a support strike, no its secondary action, its a mercy mission, no its imperialism, its a poll tax, no its a community charge, etc.

There is a way out though- each side defines its idea, sets it out,d escribes it, offers evidence and logic for their understanding, offers empirical roofs and disproofs, etc. Its called scientific metholdology, its called philosophy, its called apealling to mutual values and understandings, and working from there.

Is Borgs definition of socialism reasonable- well, yes, because of teh past actions y some 'socialists' socialism ahs come to mean any form of satat ownership and intervention, is t'other blokes reasonable, yes, because we can go back further in history, and find teh origin of teh word, we can find out its intentions, etc.

: As terms like "capitalism" and "socialism" possess no socially relevant meaning they are useless for arguementative or informative discourse.

Not so, certainly we can give a reasonable definition of capitalism, or if you prefer, the process of capital production, and we could arrive at a common and understood definition of socialism, most socialist parties try to in their platform. What you are saying is: some words are contested territory, but, rather than try and agree a meaning, or sort the matter out, we shouldn't use these terms at all- that is effectively a call to end the debate...

: Phrases like "abolish capitalism" and "avoid socialism" are not only socially meaningless, but when attempted in social discourse produce pure babble.

Given that I have repeatedly demonstrated what I call capitalism, and teh processes that i mean to abolish, I don't think it is babble, you udnerstand fulkl well what, precesely, I mean when referring to capitalism, but yet you try to hide behind badly applied linguistic theory.

: They are completely and utterly devoid of any possible social meaning and anyone using them is simply babbling by attempting to apply internal mental states to the external world, an idealistic mistake of the first magnitude.

That is materialism of the most vulgar and mechanical simplicity- when george stevenson designed the rocket, before it had been built, there was no referrent object, there was no Steam Train to make people understand, it existed only in his mind, and he had to try and communicate the idea. Likewise Genetically Modified Food now, only people differ on what it means, what it implies.

Surely the whole point of debate is to try and stabilise such meanings, not opt out of debate once and for all.

Again- capitalism is a synechdoche of the society wherein capital production is the most significant process.

Socialism: the society of common and democratic control of production.

Rather than hiding behind linguistoic sophistry, why not try and explode the empirical models, deny the processes described, because the logical conclusion of your stance seems a vapid mystified void of non-communication.

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