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On communism, spirituality, and statehood.

communism Christianity statehood spirituality Soviet era Socialism morality theology philosophy pacifism

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#1
caltrek

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The idea for this topic came about from this post from PhoenixRu originally placed in the Socialism/Communism Discussion Thread:

 

 

Small continuation to previous post, another good (this time modern) book on the same topic:

 

Boris Kagarlitsky - Between Class and Discourse. How Left Intellectuals Serve Capitalism

 

I don't know was it translated to English or not. The main idea is not much different from Perry Anderson: left-wing intelectuals will eventually have to choose between calm and safe digging in "discourses" and rude dangerous struggle taking place in real world.

 

Another interesting opinion: author writes about Russia and modern Russian “communists” which are flirting with ideas of "spirituality" and "statehood". At first glance, it may seem the direct antipode to agenda of Western leftists. But, essentially, this is the same behavior: fear of real struggle, search for a safe niche, betrayal of themselves and the class that they supposedly represent.

 
 
What particularly caught my interest was the "flirting with ideas of 'spirituality'"  clause, hence the theme of this thread.
 
In the past, I have discussed "spirituality" as a concept. It is a tricky concept, because for some it implies a belief in God.  Certainly, when English speaking Christians speak of "spirituality" they usually have some sort of reference to a God that they believe exists.  So spirituality means something like "being closer to God."   Still, there is a sense of meaning of the word that has nothing to do with God, ghosts, angels, or any other such metaphysically dubious notions.  That is to say a form of spirituality which, while highly subjective, has more to do with peace of mind or even "happiness".  
 
In this latter meaning of the world, it is entirely possible to believe ardently in "scientific socialism" and also be concerned with "spirituality."  Just as it is entirely possible to believe in "scientific socialism" but also be concerned with "morality". 
 
All of this leaves open the question of whether such a concern with "spirituality" is a good thing or a bad thing.  Certainly, an overly obsessive concern with one's personal happiness at the expense of not treating others with simple justice can have obvious negative social consequences. I would argue that a concern with "spirituality" can be socially beneficial in that many pursue the goal of spiritual achievement through acts of voluntaristic charity.  Certainly, those acts of charity can postpone "the revolution" in that it can soften the harsher aspects of reality that is faced within a capitalistic system.  Yet, a spiritual orientation is not "capitalistic" per say.  On the contrary, it is the very foundation of communism (note the lower case "c" as opposed to the "Communism" of the Soviet era).  In a very profound sort of way, Christ was a communist.  Sadly, many modern day Christian followers are nothing if not highly hypocritical.   
 
Enough said, for now.
 
Any comments, criticisms, questions, observations, agreements.disagreements, etc?

  • Alislaws likes this

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
PhoenixRu

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Since this thread was born from my post, I must clarify: by "spirituality" i meant very specific, officially imposed spirituality, the ideology focusing on the unique historical / cultural / mental / spiritual features of Russian people, which makes us all one team and so on... In other words, the resurrection of ideological zombie which was already dead in early 20th century.


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#3
caltrek

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@ Phoenix,

 

Thank you for that clarification.  It helps me enormously to begin to understand Mr. Kagarlitsky's thesis.

 

It also helps me to understand the juxtaposition you used regarding "spirituality" and "statehood".

 

In the U.S we have notions of the separation of the church and state.  I wish I could say that all issues in that regard have been completely worked out.  As I am sure you can appreciate, that statement would be very far from the truth.  State sponsored "spirituality" is certainly very different than the kind of religious "spirituality" of which I wrote.  One is compulsory, the other more oriented to notions of morality and happiness quite apart  from official state policy.


  • Alislaws likes this

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#4
PhoenixRu

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The mustread article for Caltrek (and others, of course), to get the idea of what is "spirituality and statehood".

 

Vladislav Surkov: Putin's Long state

 

This article is, in fact, the summary of desired (but far from being dominant) ideology of our current elite. It contains some rational ideas and wise conclusions, combined with reactionary archaic and eastern servility:

 

Nation, whatever it meant, precedes statehood, and determines its form, limits the imagination of theorists, forcing practitioners to certain actions. It is a powerful attractor, which inevitably lead without exception political trajectory. To begin in Russia can be anything – from conservatism, with socialism, with liberalism, but to finish will have approximately one and the same. That is what, in fact, is.
 
The ability to hear and understand people, to see through him, to the depth of choices is a unique and superior dignity of the state Putin. It adequately to the people, passing him, and therefore not subject to the destructive forces from counter-currents of history. Therefore, it is effective and durable.
 
In the new system, all institutions are subordinate to the main task of trusting communication and interaction of the ruler with the citizens. The different branches of government converge to the personality of the leader, regardless of value, not in themselves, but only to the extent that provide a connection with him. In addition to them, bypassing formal structures and elite groups are informal ways of communication. And when the stupidity, backwardness, corruption or create a disturbance in the lines of communication with the people taken energetic measures to restore hearing.

 

This is indeed the zombie from XIX century, the naive attempt to resurrect the ideology of Tsarism: society is based on "trust" between Monarch and His people, other social institutions are secondary.  

 

The forecast:

 

The modern model of the Russian state begins with trust and trust is kept. This is its fundamental difference from Western models, cultivating distrust and criticism. And this is its strength.
 
Our new state in the new century will be a long and glorious history. It will not break. Will come in its own way, to take and to hold prizes in the top League of geopolitical struggle. It sooner or later will have to accept all those demands that Russia "changed behavior". Because it just seems that they have a choice.

 

What can I say? Though I am sure (almost, excluding force-majors like new WW) that Russia will not break and our "partners" will have to swallow this. At the same time, i highly doubt our real future will resemble this vision of mr.Surkov.


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#5
caltrek

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From the cited source:

 


The ability to hear and understand people, to see through him, to the depth of choices is a unique and superior dignity of the state Putin. It adequately to the people, passing him, and therefore not subject to the destructive forces from counter-currents of history. Therefore, it is effective and durable.

 

First reaction of mine: what an unbelievably arrogant and self deluded comment.  I suspect it is rooted in the Marxist habit of analyzing people according to their economic and thus "materially based" circumstances.  Admittedly, a powerful tool of analysis. However, one that often excludes much of value.  More to the point, like any tool, one that can be poorly applied and thus cause great harm if not utilized correctly.

 

There were also comments of interest regarding the "deep state".   As I have argued before, the cohesive instrument holding this "deep state" in place, especially in regards to internal opposition to Trump,  is the U.S. Constitution.

 

Sadly, there is also a "deep state" that in the past allied itself with fascists across the globe. The two " deep states" should not be equated, although it is easy to see why that mistake of confusion might be made by an outsider .

 

I should also comment concerning that the cited article seems to have been composed in a language other than English and then translated into English.  The translation leaves something to be desired and renders it hard to understand.  As it is, it comes across more as poetry than analysis:  vaguely suggestive rather than clear and precise. 


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#6
PhoenixRu

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I should also comment concerning that the cited article seems to have been composed in a language other than English and then translated into English.  The translation leaves something to be desired and renders it hard to understand.  As it is, it comes across more as poetry than analysis:  vaguely suggestive rather than clear and precise. 

 

I can not judge the quality of translation, but in Russian this text sounds the same "vaguely poetic". And I understand why: some concepts are just too scandalous to be voiced "clearly and precisely" as you demand :) Being the leading (or self-proclaimed leading) official ideologist, you can not just say "the very existence of democracy is irrelevant for us" or "we need the properly functioning repressive machine". Instead, you'll have to hide these thoughts behind long and vague metaphors.


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#7
caltrek

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I can not judge the quality of translation, but in Russian this text sounds the same "vaguely poetic". And I understand why: some concepts are just too scandalous to be voiced "clearly and precisely" as you demand

 

 

Point of clarification: I am not "demanding" - just noting. Poetic expression has its virtues.

 

 

Being the leading (or self-proclaimed leading) official ideologist, you can not just say "the very existence of democracy is irrelevant for us" or "we need the properly functioning repressive machine". Instead, you'll have to hide these thoughts behind long and vague metaphors.

 

 

Yes, with me having an image of being a defender of democracy, I hope you can understand why I don't have much enthusiasm for this line of reasoning. 

 

I do appreciate your helping me to read in between the lines, as translation quality might make that more difficult.  I also appreciate at least a glimpse into what may (or may not) be the "official ideology."  As you present it, it would seem to be the equivalent of saying: "we no longer give a shit what the masses think as their (your) wishes are no longer relevant." 

 

Yes, the need to "hide behind long and vague metaphors" indeed.


  • Alislaws likes this

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






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