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Cake day: Feb 07, 2020

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Great quote. Great talk. Thank you.

There is a minor spelling error with the name in the title, according to the youtube link you’ve shared: “Cade Crockford” --> “Kade Crockford”



I remember some simpleton arguing with me about democracy in Russia vs France. I bet Tutanota is not blocked in France. Blah. But the yellow vests! Some people just don’t see the big picture. Sometimes an absence of protests is not a good sign.

Russia has not had a truly democratic culture in ages. Can they embrace democracy in a more real way moving forward? Yes. Is Russia today more democratic than France? Not a chance.

Remember people: democracy means shared power. That’s what it really means.



Avoid discord at any cost.

Why?

Because discord does strong fingerprinting instead of the traditional cookies for identifying people. That’s bad for privacy.

I don’t mind the concept of having chat, but who gets to provide that chat can make or break the feature. If it’s some creepy, invasive group like the people behind Discord, it’s a hard pass for me.


I stand by what I said.

Firstly, I was talking about the USSR and not the modern day Russia.

But even with modern day Russia, which in some ways has become more politically liberalized, yea, there is no comparison and France is more democratic.

The fact that there is something like the Yellow Vest movement is in and of itself proof. Where is the Russian Yellow Vest movement? It’s nowhere. Why not? Because Russians are habitually more afraid of their government. They’re trained to be afraid from birth, like dogs, like caged animals.

What happens when Russians rise up? They quickly find themselves intimidated, in jail, or dead. How many journalists got shot in recent years in France for publishing things against the government’s interests? None that I know of.

What worker protections exist on the books in France vs Russia? Compare them. Which country is better? Which country is more likely to follow their own laws?

So yea, France is the winner here.


how do you feel about communist states that have highly centralized governments that may not be as democratic as they should be?

It’s like asking about water that’s not as wet as it should be. :)

Communism would maximally empower every individual (or it would distribute the power broadly instead of concentrating it in the elite). How would that empowerment happen if you don’t have a say in any important strucutural matter?

That some of these governments had the temerity to associate themselves with communism is upsetting.

Socialism and communism are great ideas, and the Soviet Union has damaged these ideas by their cynical weaponization of the ideas. I don’t believe the damage is permanent, it can heal, but we now have to take a step back and try to heal from all the anti-democratic nonsense that the Soviet Union has associated with the ideas of socialism and communism.

Socialism and communism cannot be forced. The people have to evolve organically toward better and better democracies, toward more and higher quality enfranchisement, and it’s not only a political thing. It’s a cultural and even a spiritual thing too. A person has to master their fear at least to some extent, because power is never given, it’s only taken. That means if we want to distribute the power more broadly, the various people who are looking to enfranchise themselves have to grab power, not ask for it, but grab it. But to avoid restarting a cycle of power concentration, they have to grab this power with the idea of also sharing it and not hoarding it. This requires wisdom in addition to courage. It’s a process and the process is going on right now.


socialism: a state where the workers control the means of production (like the soviet union or china)

Go back in time and ask any worker in the Soviet Union or China if they control the means of production. The sense of alienation in the USSR was even stronger than in any capitalist country, because your ultimate boss was even further removed from you.

Where you’d have less alienation as a worker is if you were in a worker coop. In a worker coop you vote on how to dispose of the means of production, you’re a worker and an owner at the same time, and you have a say in the company’s direction and the various administrative matters. The USSR was not a country of worker coops. Neither was China.

The USSR was an exceptionally hierarchical setup, and democracy there was a sham, so what control could the workers speak of? None. It was non-existent. At least if the democracy in the USSR were real, there’d be that very coarse level of control via your elected representatives.

There were historically a few rare exceptions, so in fact the USSR did have a few worker coops here and there, but those were the exceptions and not the rule.

Realistically a country like France, with very strong worker protections and a much more functional democracy and a culture of routinely speaking truth to power and active resistance, is much closer to a worker-enfranchising country than something like the Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union the culture was one of fear and non-resistance and with all the important elections being “unanimous” the Soviet “democracy” was a sham.


Just curious, how do you feel about communist states that have highly centralized governments that may not be as democratic as they should be?

Narratives are sometimes hijacked by the people in power. It also didn’t help when Marx talked about the idea of a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” So due to some unforced and some forced errors, the notion of communism got perverted from what it was originally meant to be.

Marx should have never included “dictatorship” of any kind as an intermediate step, imo.

At the same time, the Soviet and Chinese apparatchiks were corrupt and they used the rhetoric of “communism” in a completely cynical manner. In the USSR “communism” was a perpetually receding promise, like a carrot that was forever moving away from the donkey. They had a “communist party.” But they’ve never called their socioeconomic order “communism.” I think the situation is similar in China, where they have a communist party, but they probably wouldn’t call their socioeconomic order “communism.”

The “USSR” stood for “the United Soviet Socialist Republics.” So it’s in the name too. There was enough honesty there not to call their order “communist.” But, considering how rigged the elections were in the USSR, I guess they never gave any (or many) actual fucks about either socialism or communism. It was just a convenient label that the people believed in.

The USSR had nearly free public transportation, and all kinds of free sports and hobby clubs for the youths, and a much more relaxed culture around property so that you could fish or gather mushrooms in a forest without worrying about permissions and licensing. So there were some upsides even from their authoritarian and admittedly fucked up (not enough freedom of conscience, speech, etc.) way of doing things.

We shouldn’t fear the labels like “a communist” or “a socialist” but instead we should look at the concrete policies promoted by the people who either self-identify or are identified by the others as “a socialist,” etc… If you like a policy, you can support said policy.

For me democracy is non-negotiable (I’m pro-democracy), and I take the idea of distributed power pretty seriously. I don’t believe the power can ever become perfectly distributed, so I am not an anarchist myself, but to me, the more distributed, the better, and distribution of power (or its concentration) is a spectrum.


How do you define communism?

If we take it to be the maximal distribution of power, I think we all here believe in that (distributed systems) to some extent.

Distributed systems do work. Communism is just another distributed system.

That said, we don’t really need to worry about communism. Things aren’t going to become hyper-distributed anytime soon.

Distributing the worldly power is not a bad thing. That’s all we need to know for now.


Arch, effectively (started as Antergos). In the past I’ve used Gentoo.


Generally if something is going to affect my life in a structural way, I want to have a say in that something. So if a group’s primary aim is political activism, then I am less inclined to favor special protections for the discussions of said group.

Of course, determining the intent of a group is not easy, and not all that is potentially dangerous is going to materialize into a real danger, so dealing with a lot of false positives can be counterproductive too.

If in doubt, I lean toward freedom of speech (and thought, and conscience).

Like many people, I don’t want to live in a toxic society, but trying to discipline and control every little thing can in and of itself become toxic and oppressive.

Every rhetorical or conceptual device we use to protect the vulnerable can be (and already has been) hijacked and weaponized against our own interests. So for example, the corporate interests use weaponized identity politics when they deliberately select minority talking heads to promote the views of the exploiter class to the masses. Every good thing we have developed has also been used in evil ways. Promoting morality generally makes people behave better but it also makes people more (intellectually and emotionally) exploitable by those who cynically weaponize morality for private gain.

So the more we make ourselves sensitive to abuse, the more effective the weaponized forms of “sensitivity” will also become.

I don’t see any obvious or easy solutions to any of these problems. It all seems like a balancing act to me.