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arhyalon

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04:02 pm: Communism Sucks

I was reminded by John's blog of a sister and brother from Vietnam who used to help with the photography when John and I were working for the St. Mary's Today.

They hated Communism, and, at first, I assumed that Communism, to them, was the local bugaboo, the bad thing that had hurt their country. But, no, they actually meant the economic system. 

I thought they put their finger on what was wrong with it when they said: "Under Communism, all workers are paid the same. A lazy man gets paid the same as a man who works hard. So, no one works hard anymore."

It reminded me of a conversation I had with John long ago, when I talked about how nice it would be if everyone was peaceful and put their weapons aside, and John said merely: what are you going to do in your peaceful society when I refuse? When I attack anyway?



Comments

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From:juliet_winters
Date:July 23rd, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
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I responded to your post with an article on a kibbutz which is privatizing--partially for the same reason your brother and sister gave. "If I work hard I get the same as the person beside me who doesn't work hard."
Simple fairness.
Remember the no-grade systems they tried in schools in the 70s, particularly with the gifted and talented?
I had a no-grade elementary class where most of the kids sat around and did nothing because there were no consequences to not working.
In middle school, the G and T class was serious hard stuff. More like AP high school or first year college. Because it was graded so hard, kids who cared about GPA's dropped out. Other kids, under pressure to do well and lacking much of a moral compass, cheated and none too cleverly at that.
By the time i hit high school gifted classes were after-school affairs with no grades. To keep the parents happy, they vastly lowered the standards for admission, which was okay by me. No grades, but now the incentive was to show up. After school. Instead of goofing off. They had to want to be there, to give something up for the priviledge--not just get out of another class.
So there must be individual consequences for work effort or its lack, in my opinion. There must be some personal incentive.
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From:saintjoi
Date:July 23rd, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
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I think it's often hard for well-intentioned people to realize that some people simply don't mean well. They just don't.

I remember when I first read Atlas Shrugged, and I found myself at first identifying with Dagny Taggart and Hank Reardon, and feeling myself above all those other people who wanted to leech off them without giving them any credit (I have known many leech people, sadly). But then I noticed that same instinct in myself: the blind raging desire that if I couldn't be the best, then I didn't want anyone else to be that good either. That was a terrifying moment, not just to realize that such an evil desire existed, but that it was in me, too.

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” --Solzhenitsyn

God have mercy on me, a sinner.
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From:jordan179
Date:July 23rd, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
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I think it's often hard for well-intentioned people to realize that some people simply don't mean well. They just don't.

Indeed. Not only will many people cheerfully not act in good faith, some will even go out of their way to act in bad faith, even if it winds up hurting themselves more in the long run.

Any social system that fails to have a strategy for dealing with and neutralizing the effects of evil people will fail in practice, no matter how well it would work in theory if everyone was nice or even merely selfish.
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 24th, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)
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One thing I like about my church is the emphasis upon how these baser parts of ourselves are not us unless we accept them. We may notice a tendency in ourselves, but if we don't give into it, don't give it life, we can turn away from it and let it go. We don't have to feel bad about it, unless we listen and act on it.

I also find, as you did above, that such moments are good learning moments. If I notice a base, sinful quality in myself, but I don't make it mine, it still serves to give me a bridge of sympathy to others. I have slightly more sympathy now for the jerks who do listen, because I understand how it could happen.

One does not have to be sympathetic. One could respond "I resisted and you did not, worm!" But I prefer the path that leads to compassion, to loving our neighbor more.

This does not in any way suggest approval...just that we now know how it could happen...we also know, because we ourselves are now an example, how it could be avoided.
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From:annafirtree
Date:July 24th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
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I wrote once here (and a Part II here) about that theme of our truest self being good.

I would probably add that seeing other people as having a fundamentally good spirit, even if they are not choosing to live according to that goodness, helps make it easier to treat them with respect and love.
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From:annafirtree
Date:July 24th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
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The more I have examined my own conscience, the more that I have paid attention to what is going on inside myself, the more I have seen my own potential for nastiness. I think it is only a lack of paying attention that makes people think of humanity as made up of "basically good people" and "basically bad people".
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 25th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC)
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I think you are right. One phenomenon that has always interested me is the good qualities of bad people. You'll look into some horrible guy from history and discover he really loved his family or he was a wonderful gardner or something...even bad people have good impulses. ;-)

My son was asking a lot of questions yesterday about why people listen to evil and I was trying to tell him that the reason was the same as why he does things he shouldn't do...but that we did not need to listen. It was a neat conversation...except for the fact that when he doesn't quite understand something he shows it by asking the exact same question over and over, which can get a bit wearing. (I'm trying to learn to ask him 'what is it you still want to know about this'. ;-)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 24th, 2008 05:32 am (UTC)

Conversation with John

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I'm reminded of something Steven Wright (the comedian) said:

"I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it."

--
Stephen Wright, Ph.D.
www.MeaningAndHappiness.com
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 24th, 2008 12:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Conversation with John

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Exactly the point John made!
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From:temporus
Date:July 24th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
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This reminds me of something my wife told me about from one of her anthropology courses. A tribe (I think it might have been a Native American tribe but cannot be certain) that would kill off someone who wasn't doing their share of labor. Their logic was that it wasn't really a person, for only a demon would consume resources, but not be willing to pull their own weight. So after some prodding to reform, the society simply killed that person off.

Okay, that's unfotrunately vague, and I'm sure there's much more to it. This was something from a course my wife took, not myself, and some years ago now, so I may not have all the details right.

Frankly, living in a capitalistic society, I've seen many a time where the lazy man gets paid the same as a man who works hard. I don't think that's limited to Communism, by any stretch. And I think that there's an inherent fallacy into believing that such a thing is the primary cause for failure of a system. A contributing factor? Possibly. But some people just can't not give it there all. They won't give anything less, even knowing that going further will get them no more than the next guy, nor will it even be appreciated. It's just a part of who they are. I've known a few people like that in my life.

That said, seems to me the current major experiments in communism are slowly coming to a close. I think you'll see it drift off into a minor, localized, philosophy soon enough.
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From:annafirtree
Date:July 24th, 2008 10:02 pm (UTC)
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"when I talked about how nice it would be if everyone was peaceful and put their weapons aside"

Or...
"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them." (Isaiah 11:6)

I agree that we have to be practical rather than idealistic in this life. But that idealism is there for a reason, too; a basic longing for what we used to have, and are promised when Jesus returns. The problem with Communism and absolute pacifism is generally that they expect to accomplish with human means what only God can do.
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 25th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC)
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That is well put, too!

In fact, one could say Communism is an attempt to do through worldly means what can only be done by turning to God. Mankind may some day all live in peace and harmony, but it will be because we are all closer to God, not because of a change in how we shuffle our materials.
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