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Parenting pioneer Dr Spock’s radical politics
09.22.2013
03:33 pm

Topics:
Activism
Class War

Tags:
socialism
Vietnam
Dr. Benjamin Spock

Dr Spock
 
Dr. Benjamin Spock is best-known for writing the baby bible, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. A drastic departure from the parenting techniques du jour, Spock opposed the strict schedule and limited affection espoused by prior child experts. He promoted such crazy techniques as “cuddle your baby,” “feed it when it’s hungry,” and “let it sleep when it’s tired,” all with a friendly, nonjudgmental tone. His primary advice for parents was, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

Spock was actually the first pediatrician also trained in psychology, and of course, countless medical doctors and psychologists have confirmed his infant-centered parenting over the years. In fact, that’s why people no longer try and toilet-train 3-month-olds with suppositories. Seriously, it was common practice to attempt to toilet train three-month-old babies, and in the 30’s, it was even recommended that suppositories be used to regulate infant bowels. I can’t imagine a more agonizing Sisyphean futility than dangling an infant over the toilet (I assume you’d have to dangle them), but suppositories for a baby sounds nightmarish.

Despite Spock’s groundbreaking work, his critics often insisted that his methods were too soft, and instilled no discipline in babies, who would never become diligent and upstanding citizens without proper baby-molding. This was certainly exacerbated by Spock’s outspoken radical politics.

Joining SANE (The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy) in 1962, Spock was a dedicated anti-war activist from the start. After both a statement of support and a very public donation to draft-resistors, he was convicted of conspiracy to counsel, aid, and abet resistance to the draft in 1968. (He was sentenced to two years in prison, but it was overturned in appeals.)

Spock also marched with Martin Luther King, and many activists encouraged him to run as King’s Vice-Presidential running-mate, though neither had any interest in the presidency at the time. That changed in 1972, however, when Spock ran for POTUS on The People’s Party ticket; his platform positions included a guaranteed living wage, socialized health care, and the repeal of laws restricting abortion, homosexuality, and marijuana use.

Dr. Spock actually completely embraced the politicization of his parenting philosophy, and even published a book, Spock on Vietnam with the referential image of a Vietnamese toddler on the cover.
 
protest poster
Protesting the war with Dr. Spock. This event was co-sponsored with the New York Council for a SANE Nuclear Policy, Women Strike for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Student Peace Union
 
What’s more, while he was adamant that his baby book be regularly revised (acknowledging that he didn’t have all the answers, and he had made mistakes) Dr. Spock never budged from his political principles. From his 1994 book, Rebuilding American Family Values: A Better World for Our Children:

The Permissive Label: A couple weeks after my indictment [for ‘conspiracy to counsel, aid and abet resistance to the military draft’], I was accused by Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, a well-known clergyman and author who supported the Vietnam War, of corrupting an entire generation. In a sermon widely reported in the press, Reverend Peale blamed me for all the lack of patriotism, lack of responsibility, and lack of discipline of the young people who opposed the war. All these failings, he said, were due to my having told their parents to give them “instant gratification” as babies. I was showered with blame in dozens of editorials and columns from primarily conservative newspapers all over the country heartily agreeing with Peale’s assertions.

While the baby-boomers of late seem to be under the impression that millenials are entitled little pansies raised by helicopter parents, it behooves us to get some historical perspective and remember that every generation is under the impression that they’re the last of the rugged cowboys.

Here’s Spock addressing his legal charges, careful to avoid incriminating himself or admitting guilt, ending his statement with a shout-out to the kids.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Albert Einstein was a Socialist
05.01.2013
06:55 am

Topics:
Class War
Politics
Thinkers

Tags:
Albert Einstein
socialism

image
 
Another May Day related post, comrades!

Albert Einstein’s famous essay on socialism was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review in May 1949. It’s as relevant in 2014 as it was then, perhaps in light of Thomas more so.

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

—Albert Einstein

See also:
Why Socialism? This Guy Einstein is an Idiot (a rebuttal)

The Question of Socialism (and Beyond!) Is About to Open Up in These United States

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Great Dictator’ speech set to contemporary imagery


 
Ironic that a man not known much for speaking should have given one of the greatest speeches in history. Here’s Charlie Chaplin’s moving oration from The Great Dictator set to contemporary imagery.

I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor – that’s not my business – I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.

We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish…

Soldiers – don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you – who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate – only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers – don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written ” the kingdom of God is within man ” – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfill their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Vile Republican policies set the stage for socialist revolution in America


 
If you can watch this without feeling really (really) shitty about what America has become—or just sobbing—then you must be a fucking Republican.

I was so enraged when I watched this that I felt like my teeth were going to break. (Florida governor Rick Scott can thank his lucky stars he was not in my office at the time. The nicest thing I’d like to do to him is spit right in his face).

ONE QUARTER of American children are living in poverty. In the richest country in the history of the world.

One out of four. HOW is this possible? (Hint: It has a lil’ sumpthin’ sumpthin’ to do with the top 1% having most of the wealth and wealth-producing assets and the entire system being rigged for their exclusive benefit. You can probably work the rest of it out yourself.)

It’s not for some “mysterious” reasons that we’re in this situation. The people who decided to give the super-rich tax cuts while these kids got doomed to such impoverished childhoods HAVE FIRST AND LAST NAMES.

And ADDRESSES.

23.7 trillion dollars for Wall Street and fuck all for these kids?

They don’t vote. Yet.

These kids aren’t dumb, imagine what attitudes they’re going to have towards “the system” (and Republicans!) in another decade? Could even the most callous free-marketeer blame them?

They are being shaped now. Their eyes seem wide open to me.

It’s almost funny—-I said “almost”—to ponder that it’s the likes of “conservatives” Rick Scott, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, Michigan governor Rick Synder—-NOT TO MENTION THE ENTIRE REPUBLICAN PARTY—who history will see as being the ones who set in motion the policies that saw a generation of American children raised in Dickensian poverty. Polices that, historically, will be seen to have set the stage for inevitable socialist uprising in America. (Doubt what I am saying? Let’s talk again in 2021, ‘kay?).

If even 60 Minutes is running stories like this one, how much longer will it take before there are massive demonstrations and rioting in the streets?

This country needs another WPA like it did in during the FIRST Great Depression and it needed it three years ago. I don’t know about where you live, but here in Los Angeles, the roads sure have a hell of a lot of potholes that need fixing (it’s becoming a disgrace). Do you reckon that the fathers of any of these children would turn a state roads job down?

How much longer can the center hold? Is it even worth it to try to keep it together any longer?
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
THIS is what America has become, a cruel, cruel society

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Why Socialism? This Guy Einstein is an Idiot (a rebuttal)
05.01.2011
07:58 am

Topics:

Tags:
Albert Einstein
idiots
socialism
ditto heads

image
 
This man Einstein is an idiot. He obviously hasn’t heard Rush Limbaugh and other “Ditto Heads” on the radio explain the dangers of socialism.

The thought of people working to benefit all of society is a sick joke. People should work to benefit only themselves, that is what Jesus would have wanted.

Einstein has some strange idea that “the individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society.”

The idea that we all depend on each other and that individuals grow and prosper in a compassionate and humane society is totally stupid. We all know that socialism is bad because the rich cannot get fabulously wealthy at the expense of the rest of society.

If the rich can’t get super richer then who is going to buy all of those yachts and mansions?

A society where all prosper is not what America is all about. Leave that to Europe and the rest of the world. America needs to support their super rich by showing we care about their interests above our own. That is what it means to be free.

Einstein is one of those educated idiots Rush has warned us about. Let’s not fall for his brand of economics.

I am really glad I live in a country where nearly all of the wealth has been transferred to the banks and the already super rich. That is what freedom is all about. This guy Einstein doesn’t understand the real world.

Hell, this guy Einstein probably thinks things are relative and that God’s word isn’t absolute. Next he’ll be saying that we should all be Buddhists or something.

This tongue in cheek rebuttal of Einstein’s famous essay “Why Socialism?” was written by Grant Lawrence and originally appeared on OpEd News in 2009

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Beautiful Failure on Film: Fanny Kaplan’s Unsuccessful Assassination Attempt on Lenin

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“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” That common platitude seems entirely apropos today, on the 92nd anniversary of the attempted assassination of Communist Russian leader Vladimir Lenin by young Fanya Yefimovna “Fanni” Kaplan.

The Ukranian-born Kaplan was born in 1890 to a Jewish family and joined the Socialist Revolutionaries (or Esers) early on in life. At 16, she was busted for her involvement in a terrorist bomb plot and sent to one of Tsar Nicolas II’s Siberian prison for 11 years. Kaplan’s brutal tenure there was cut short after the February Revolution led by Lenin.

But her disillusionment with the leader came hard and fast, as Lenin’s Bolsheviks sought and succeeded to dissolve the elected Constituent Assembly, a key instrument of democracy during the revolution. Lenin’s move in 1917 to put all power in the hands of the workers councils—or Soviets—convinced Kaplan to take matters into her own hands.

As portrayed in the clip below from Mikhail Romm’s 1939 propaganda film Lenin in 1918, Kaplan got three or so shots off after the leader spoke at a Moscow factory. Lenin, who was 48 years old at the time, was hit in the shoulder and jaw—he survived, but the injuries were thought to contribute to his death by stroke 6 years later.

Fanny was shot dead five days after the attempt at age 28, and within a few hours the Red Terror—a four-year program of mass arrest and execution of counterrevolutionary enemies of the state—had begun.
 

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment