Monday, March 27, 2006

Save me

Thanks to Stuart commenting on the peice before last.

My reply is slightly convoluted, so I'll make it here rather than in the comment box.

ISTR William Morris stating: Peter sober needs protecting from Peter drunk. That's as fine an expression of a communitarian ethic as you'll find. The obvious danger is, inm saying people need to be protected from themselves inspite of their expressed preferrence ("No, leave me, I'm fine, I can walk") is that it turns into a nasty authoritarianism.

Obviously, the first point is that in a democratic society that ethic would be carried out by the community upon themselves - organically, to use a slightly dangerous term - rather than by an alien élite.

Secondly, this is in line with marx' Aristotelianism - and the notion of a Good. Free development implies a Good that we aspire to and can live by - which in turn implies a bad that we may want to prevent.

In essence, I see socialism as being the acknowldgement that the individual only can grow through a community, and having a community committed to helping that individual grow. The community cannot be some alien state, but the lived experience of all its individual members.


Blogger DespairToWhere said...

Agreed with all that, I think!

12:34 PM  
Blogger DespairToWhere said...

PS A utopian/dystopian novel I read recently that deals with these sorts of issues in an interesting way is Marge Piercy's "Woman on the Edge of Time". (I'm surprised I didn't hear about it when I was in the spgb actually, as it is largely about a future communist utopia.) It's a bit like William Morris's News From Nowhere, and probably inspired by it, only in this novel the women aren't reduced to serving breakfast and fluttering their eyelashes.

Anyway, there was an interesting point made about how this future utopia dealt with violent crime, especially murder. The usual lefty, libertarian answers were given -- they try to understand what went wrong, give help, nurture them, help them integrate back into society when safe to do so, etc, etc. But then the "visitor" asks, but what if they keep doing it anyway, despite everything? The communist from the future then replies, Oh, then we just kill them. No point being a damn fool about it.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Lo Stuart,

Interestingly, that was Shaw's response - if you'll recall from my talk - he compared it to killing a dangerous animal - if they're not capable of behaving like a human...

Personally, I'd hope tehre's a better way (exile to an island for one thing). But it would be utopian to declare socialism would act in eitehr way...

1:27 PM  

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