In the soul of man under socialism


Oscar Wilde argues that humanity would do better under socialism than the way society is currently organised. We should abolish government because, in government, whether a monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy or even democracy, the individual is always under the authority of someone- the prince, the rich, the pope or the mob.

In his view, machines should do mundane work like mining, cleaning our streets and all, that man should aspire to being, not having. In writing about machines, he thinks they should benefit the common weal unlike now when one person owns a machine that does the work of hundreds living them unemployed and starving.

I am tempted to agree with his thoughts on journalism. Most of the journalistic work is horrible. It is meant for the mob and the mob as a group is not intelligent.

Whether his proposals are workable is a different matter altogether.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

11 thoughts on “In the soul of man under socialism

  1. judyt54 says:

    I think that’s what the communes of the 60s and 70s were about: lilies of the field, tending their own crops and having a “common pot”. Many if not most of them were college kids, or drop outs, or highly intelligent something or others–there were hundreds of them, usually in the warmer areas of the country, and they lived in tents or abandoned places, and most of them fell apart when it was discovered that not everyone was doing their part. They were surprised. The rest of us weren’t.
    Good intentions, yeah. They were the ‘flower children”, songs were written about and by them, and they named their kids things like Sky and Whisper and Moonrise. Lot of early 50 year olds walking around today with names like that…=)
    Walden Pond was that way. Thoreau and Alcott tried it 150 years ago, it was a terribly serious, short lived disaster.

    Journailsm tends to rise to the lowest level, and education has a lot to do with it. If an erudite, carefully crafted book isn’t read, it goes in the remainder pile or the library. It’s the junk books that sell, and always have. And THOSE have been around from nearly the beginning. I have an attic full of that stuff, some going back to the mid-and late 1800s, written by women with names like “Mrs. J.C. Warren” for women, with a few men like Joseph C. Lincoln contributing as well; short, romance type novels geared to gently titilate and laden with sanctimony.
    Those are what sells, even now. Great volumes of not very much, but easy reads. Romance novels, Terry Brooks type stuff, Vampire novels.

    It may be meant for the mob, but the mob buys the books. think about that.

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    • makagutu says:

      Yes, the masses buy the books, that’s the crazy bit. And they continue to be published in their thousands every single passing day.

      How to make the commune work I think would be the toughest challenge. How does everyone do their part? And how is this to be measured? How do we value the work of the artist?
      Another thing Wilde mentioned was abolition or rather reorganisation of the family and I have seen some of the same in feminist literature.
      Abolition of private property.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jim- says:

    Somehow we think we have a solution for everyone else. Frankly I would have to go into agreement with myself and take one for the team to believe socialism is a good thing for me personally. Although it would probably work for the rest of society.

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  3. Tish Farrell says:

    Some of these notions re machines doing the work and the community reaping a fair share of the rewards as joint owners of enterprises is being aired by the proponents of work being done by AI robots. I think Yanis Varoufakis has had a bit to say on this. But post-Covid-19 who knows what kind of ‘rule’ we’ll end up with. It’s not looking too good so far.

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  4. Hmmm. Obviously the machines have to get good enough to do all the work. Until then, someone has to do it.

    Even once the machines are good enough, something has to stop people from using resources wastefully, which implies authority of some type.

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  5. I’m not sure socialism or anarchy would help things. Aren’t they effectively handing the economy and government to the mob? A system is only as good as its ability to prevent misuse.

    Right now, all economic systems and governments suffer from the same problem: poor decisions. They unjustly enrich, or they unjustly empower individuals over others. People should be looking for systems which reduce the impact of poor decisions (or eliminate them altogether).

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    • makagutu says:

      I know anarchy has a myriad of problems & each system is open to abuse. But I think we need to challenge the current system we live under

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    • basenjibrian says:

      The other difficulty is “poor decisions” is not necessarily a term that can be universally defined or applied. The appalling decisions of Islamic State appeal to too many people, and to them their murderous theocracy implements very good decisions.

      It’s the old dilemma of “what is morality” applied to structure a polity.

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      • makagutu says:

        the other difficulty is what if the poor decisions actually benefit some segment of society and not other. who arbitrates or how do we address this?

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    • flemingway61 says:

      There is not a form of left-anarchism or revolutionary socialism which states as its aim the strengthening of the state. This is a consistent fallacy propogated against socialism, the aim of which, ultimately, is the “withering away of the state”. The state is necessary, in the final analysis, to maintain the status quo where there is inequality and class division. So capitalism, despite everything the right-wing claim to say about “big government” desperately needs the state and its various institutions for its very survival. We see this in times of economic crises, when private banks and corporations look to the state to save them. We also see it most obviously through how the state maintains an army and police whose force is used in the interests of expanding / defending profit making markets and private property respectively. The aim of many socialists (and not all socialists and anarchists agree with each other on this) is to take control the state in order to use its institutions to implement socialist law and as a necessary to dismantling the state altogether. For a clear exposition on how reformist socialists, revolutionary socialists and anarchists define the state and its purpose etc., a good starting point is Lenin’s ‘State and Revolution’ which was written during the Russian Revolution in 1917. It’s freely available here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/

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  6. flemingway61 says:

    “All hail, then, to the mob, the incarnation of progress!” – James Connolly, https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1910/lnr/02.htm

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