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Re: SpamAssassin and OHA (was: [ox-en] SpamAssassin (was: OHA/ODA in English))

Hi Casimir,

The key problem seems to be the meaning of 'community'. I think somewhere 
implied in your idea of community is something I believe either impossible 
or undesireable - I''m not sure which, because we have no definition yet 
apart from the one which gradually emerges from your email..

On Tue, 16 Dec 2003, Casimir Purzelbaum wrote:

* Ref.: »Re: SpamAssassin and OHA (was: [ox-en] SpamAssassin (was: OHA/ODA in English))«
*        Graham Seaman 	(2003-12-15  18:11)

Internal discipline is based upon 'rules' as well as external
discipline is based on 'laws'.  And I was going for a "fantasy"
;-) against rules here.  How would you call, for instance, an
instinct?  Is this internal discipline?  I'm not trying to say,
that people should forget about thinking'n all and follow their
so-called instincts instead.  What I'm trying to say here, is
that reason and feeling could evolve generally to a degree, where
they work without rules, discipline, punishment or control.
Along with the conditions of life that are the basis for this or
that way of interaction in society and reflections about it.

This sounds dangerously close to wanting a 'new man', on the model of the 
Critique of the Gotha Program (and Soviet and related history).
One of the appeals of free software itself is exactly that it doesn't need
a 'new man'; people can do it for their own human/selfish reasons.
The problem with the older approach is that either you wait for the
new man to evolve in this society - which won't happen, because the
society is wrong for it - or you create e temporary rule-bound society
'just for the time being' where you wait for the new man to evolve.
But the 'time being' ends up being permanent.
I don't know how to deal with the contradiction in what you are
saying here:  free software is appealing... because it does not
need a 'new man', but what is the positive aspect of being
appealing?  (there are lots of other things that are not
appealing even though they do not need a 'new man' either).

Well, the whole mailing list is predicated on the idea that 
selbstentfaltung is appealing, isn't it? And part of the point of 
Selbstentfaltung is that it doesn't need abnormally altruistic or 
otherwise specially evolved creatures to happen...

then you say, nothing new could evolve within this society...
(reminds me of one of the eternal arguments about the new-ness of
the free-software-phenomenon: there was nothing new in it, they
say, because scientists and artists had it all the time etc.)

The social context has 'evolved' if you want to use 'evolve' in a
metaphorical sense. But people didn't need to evolve spiritually or
in any other way to write free software - perfectly ordinary, normal
people can do it. 

But the question now is generalizing to other aspects of life, and
the real generalization certainly hasn't been automatic so far.

ok. The way I see it is: society is split into groups and
individuals.  It is *split*, not merely structured or the like.
And this is why it is not a community.

Ah. First part of the definition: 

1.a community does not have splits, but structure.

 That individuals are
being part of several groups does not remedy this split, on the
contrary, it leads to the formal internalisation of conflicts and
to the concepts of "deconstruction", doubting that there was such
a thing as the individual in the first place: they analyze the
individual down to it's different roles along the lines of its
relationships to different groups of society.  Those roles are as
contradicting each other as the interests of the groups are.  If
there was no community, but only groups, then there was no
"individual as such" at all.  What we see as an individual would
merely be the incarnation of (more or less) contradicting roles.

I guess you're talking about a structuralist/Althusserian idea of people
as supports (traeger) of functions, which seems to have merged with
Foucault and now be taken for granted by a large part of the
(ex)post-modernists. But you're taking the Althusserian view as factually
given, and seeing it as an objective base mirrored by post-modernist 
theory. So in fact you end up agreeing with the post-modernists, but
by a roundabout route... But now what are the 'groups' that individuals
are split into? Not Marxist classes, presumably, which is where this 
approach started, since you say individuals can be members of several.

Did Edward Thompson's book 'Poverty of Theory' ever make it to Germany? 
I've always liked his insistence on showing that historically people
have always refused to be simple role-fillers...

I cannot say that this view was wrong.  It might even be
increasingly true ;-( But I do think that it is very limited.


The formal internalisation of conflicts is just the first step.

Oh, suddenly I'm lost. First step? To what? 

(It is comparable with the formal subsumption of labour by

Oh, right, we're back in Althusser country. But now it's become a 
regrettable but necessary first step; bring on the negation of the 

But it already indicates that human society does
develop towards being *a* community rather than representing the
mostly unrelated "co"-existence of communities.  Hence, formal
internalisation is a prerequisite for "real internalisation" of
conflicts, which does not split, but structure.

Which turns out to be real community. Now we have two definitions:
1. Community is structured, not split
2. Community members internalise conflicts. 
and a corollary:
2b. Internalisation structures, but does not split.

I don't understand 2. Do you mean 'internalise conflicts' or 'internalise
rules'? Since you're presenting this as positive, I assume you can't
really mean 'internalise conflicts', which to me at least feels a very
uncomfortable thing to do, and not a recipe for a happy life at all. On
the other hand, 'internalising rules' would just be self-repression, which
is what I was objecting to in the mail before this one..

holiday, etc; they would like to see the number of planes increased. Some
people are in the first group (under the flightpath) some in the second
(use the airport), and some in both. The conflict is structural, and not
due to human nature. People in both groups have the conflict internally,

This is a good example for what I'm trying to say.

The conflict cannot be solved ceteris paribus ("all other things
remaining equal").  Therefor there can only be a formal
internalisation of this (and every) particular conflict.  The key
aspect is the particular character of the conflict.

The whole of all such particular conflicts does develop as a
bundle of contradictions that, in the end, put under threat the
existence of society as such.  Hence, they will have to be

IMO, particular conflicts will always exist. They do not by themselves put
under threat the existence of society (anything involving nuclear weapons
is an exception to that rule). If they do put under threat the existence
of society, it must be because they are the outward expression of some
underlying, non-particular conflict. Without that they would just be a
shapeless mass, and so self-cancelling. But it seems you are saying
the opposite: somehow the appearance (the particular conflicts) causes the
underlying contradiction (essence) to come into being. This seems odd to

 The formal internalisation is a prerequisite,  the
real internalisation is the realisation of the reconciliation of
those contradictions (of which the conflicts are only the
surface, the appearance).

So we have another part of the definition of community:

3. real internalisation is the realisation of the reconciliation of those 

I'm getting more and more lost now, this level of abstraction is making it
hard for me to relate back to any concrete examples. 

You are saying: In a community, internalisation (the real kind, not what
people normally mean by the word) reconciles contradictions which arise
from particular conflicts. 

This sounds rather like the old Beatles song:

You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead

and leaves me with the feeling that this community will need a lot of
self-repression, since conflicts are not to be solved in reality, but
within the members of the community ( a solution 'in reality' might be,
for example, invention of a pollution-free, low-power-consumption, quiet,
airplane. Ok, not necessarily very real, but for me a better goal than
trying to 'internalise the conflict' ;-)

<snipped references to William Morris>

This is not true for what I (ostentatively ;-) call "community".
-- Because there is groups and individuals and roles with
conflicting interests regarding the airport, there is no such
thing as a "community" between the people that are related to the
airport in one way or other.

In my more conventional sense of 'community' there is some kind of
community between me and my immediate neighbours, in spite of these
conflicting interests. The conflict is only one very minor aspect of the
totality. Conflict over the airport in no way structures our lives or
links up with other conflicts between us (naturally we do not include
any airline owners, who would not live in an area under a flight path).
Living near the airport does (to a small extent) make us a community,
just as living anywhere else - close together - would.

...but when you begin to qualify this assertion of the right to
do as you please by adding "as long as you don't interfere with
other people's rights to do the same," the exercise of some
kind of authority becomes necessary.  

Yes.  The proclamation of _rights_ already reflects that there
are unreconcileable conflicts that can only formally be
internalised -- on the level of the rule- or law-making society
(which therefor cannot qualify as a community).

OK, a rule-making society cannot be a community by your definition!

4. 'community' has never existed, and will be a new phenomenon.
5. 'community' will not have rules

If individuals are not to coerce others, there must somewhere
be an authority which is prepared to coerce them not to coerce;
and that authority must clearly be collective....

How does this work in free software?  Or in a bowling club or
what-have-you?  -- Yes, you do have all cases, I know.  But among
others there already are (and I dare say, always have been)
relations without the need of a formal authority, where the
community just *is* the community and by harming it you simply
leave it -- you leave it as a matter of fact, not of coercion or
authority or rule.

This means, you only coerce, if you have an interest to do that,
if you have an interest in alienating yourself from that
community.  If, however, for example, your life depends on that
community, you have no interest in leaving it and you will not do
it -- regardless of whether there are "rules" or not.

Rules and/or authority are only needed, if society is inherently
unstable.  If it does itself permanently (re-)produce incentives
of de-stabilisation, rules and/or authority are needed as a
counter-weight. Rules are an instrument of stabilisation of
society.  Communism, on the other hand, can only be an
*inherently* stable society -- where rules had nothing to
"counter-weigh", because conflicts would be "really", not
"formally" internalised.

You are assuming that 'communist society' is a self-sufficent,
homogenous, monad.
Society is part of an environment - and so has potential conflicts
over resource usage
Society is made up of many people, who will not all think the same way - 
and so has potential conflicts over ideas 
Society is made up of societies - the world is 3 dimensional, people
cannot all be close to one another. There may not be nations, but 
will be localities

Marx expected communism to be not the end, but the beginning of history:
conflict over real issues, not conflicts over idiotic class issues 
disguised as something else.

I think I prefer this idea of a possible future to one of an inherently
stable society where all conflicts are resolved by internalisation. It
sounds too much like the Stepford Wives (



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