Stoicism and the Left

I have noticed quite a lot of despair amongst our ranks, and it is no wonder considering how absolutely vile and hostile to the small man the current system of Global Neoliberalism (Late Capitalism) is. I find myself sometimes slipping into said despair, until I realise that it is completely counterproductive, and that is exactly what Porky wants.

There are ways of looking at life that can help numb said despair, by allowing for it to be transformed into productive forces. Stoicism is the king of philosophies in this regard.

How do you feel about undertaking a Stoic approach to life along with your political and economic view, my comrade? I think it would be beneficial. Here are some quotations to give you an idea of the philosophy if you are not yet aware of it:

― Epictetus

― Epictetus

― Epictetus

― Seneca

― Seneca

― Seneca

― Meditations (VII, 68, 3), Marcus Aurelius

― Marcus Aurelius

― Marcus Aurelius

― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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I tried reading some Epictetus last year while I was stuck being a lowly wageslave, but ultimately found it unsatisfying.

The question I would ask is, while Stoicism works for achieving inner peace and harmony with nature, it did not seem to support efforts to change the world, either individually or collectively. It is therefore the philosophy of the slave, or the disempowered worker, for those with no power to change the system or organize against it.

Stoicism might be great if you're stuck with a shit life or a shit job, but I don't see it being compatible with a socialist/anarchist message of collective revolution or change.

Stoicism was the first reactionary philosophy made against the first revolutionary philosophy, Platonism. It's the lifestyle choice of the Greek slave-owners who rationalized themselves as living in accordance with 'reason' in order to justify their own society. Just going off of that image you posted:
Stoicism is a load of garbage, it's a ruling class way of telling the lower classes to be content with their lot, blame themselves for being miserable and never try to change anything. It should be stricken from people's minds and ridiculed for all eternity for espousing its brand of self-help bullshittery.

Stoicism is basically proto-protestantism from what it sounds like :p

Hi Yui-poster. I agree very very much with your post. It's just like the Chinese philosophy and other philosophies that existed in pre-industrial times right? I am ignorant about Plato. Would a simple browse of the internet encyclopedias of philosophy fill me on how it is 'revolutionary'?
Any books to read on him? Or should I just read the guy for myself? Plato>Aristotle?


How many forms of late capitalism is there exactly? And why has every single generation claim to be living it?

For the most part I would say so, although Legalism isn't too bad.
Unlike most philosophers, Plato is easily understood by just reading his own works. If you're wanting to get into his political philosophy and how it was revolutionary in the time of Ancient Greece, simply check out The Republic:
This can also be of assistance:
Politically and personally, yes, despite Aristotle having some merit in systematizing things.

Stoicism is shit. It is unable to produce content for its values; Nietzsche and Hegel both BTFO'd it with different logic.

The stoic can't expand upon their criteria for truth.

Have you read Plato's Republic? Do you know anything of Zeno of Citium's response (also called 'The Republic')?

It did not survive time, but Plutarch and Peter Kropotkin gave synopses of his thought:

— Plutarch, On the Fortune of Alexander, 329A–B

— Peter Kropotkin, in "Anarchism" article in Encyclopedia Britannica (1910) "The Historical Development of Anarchism", as quoted in Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings (1927), p. 288.

A polemic by "Cassius the Skeptic" against Zeno's Republic is paraphrased by Diogenes Laertius:

— Laërtius 1925b, § 32–33.

Needless to say, you are a moron who knows nothing about what he professes to be an expert on.

if that were true everything would be a reaction.

Reactionary = reactionary to ideas of actual structural change

Stoicism is, by itself, reactionary to structural change, since it suggests we are never victims.

No where did I imply that.

No where does it suggest that. It suggests that it's useless to feel emotional pain over something you cannot control. We can only control our reaction to others' actions. What's better: feeling sorry that we are victims, or taking action and embodying change?

Thats some new level of retardation i have yet to witness.

Why not both?

People don't seem to realize this, but having an occasional amount of empathy for yourself is healthy.

It relieves grief and can be used constructively.

He kinda was, given in what society he lived.

For example: he was against slavery, the subjugation of woman; he was for some kind of socialized production and so on.

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Holy shit I didn't know this was where everybody got that from. Well it has staying power I'll give it that. Doesn't make it necessarily true, pretty much anybody's bitten somebody's head off at some point.
Depends which man. Typhoid Mary wasn't terribly concerned where hypochondriacs would be.
That attitude isn't what got us this internet, or the weekend. If Stoicism is about bettering oneself, this seems to be kind counterproductive.
Theoretically but the people in charge have got conquering them down to a science so it's pretty damn difficult for some and probably effectively impossible for others. Several actually, interrogation, advertising, politics…
I take that roughly to mean 'focus on the here and now and be sensible' which is generic and not terribly helpful but not untrue.
Sounds feels-over-facts. And if I know not where I wish to sail, no wind is favorable. I guess you could take this to mean 'If you're sitting in the middle of the ocean and don't know where you are, row or follow what wind your gut or heart tells you is favorable,' but again that seems more common sense than philosophy.
If taken to extremes, this seems like it would end in the 'I don't need to improve the anatomy it's my art style' argument of DeviantFart infamy.
A Christian Hindu Buddhist psychonaut therapist Shintoist Scientologist person who reads The Secret person who reads my other self-help book which is better than the others because I say so lifecoach therapy group writer blues musician activist neopagan person capable of successfully acting on rational self-interest animal or person conditioned via Pavlovian methods person getting their shit together recovering addict sensible person scientist philosopher socialist Stoic is someone who etc. It really sounds like some dicksucking quote on the back jacket of a pop self-help book m8

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Possibly. Probably at least partially. Don't know anybody who doesn't have reason to lie about it when I ask them how much of my unhappiness is my fault, either out of personal or political bias or out of ulterior motives. That's kinda life. I'd say it's a better idea to work on what you can, and try to think of ways to change or live with what makes you unhappy.
Define 'social duty.' Some people believe they don't have as much duty to society because they believe society has been lax in what they see as its duty to them. Some of them are even right, it looks like.
Shit's probably fucked. So you won't mind if I try to fix it anyway, or if I enjoy the ride.
I'd say it's more Golden Mean, to live one's life without ever having experienced some of the fun things it has to offer that are harmless in moderation seems wasteful to me. Humans need to blow off steam. As long as you can afford it and don't fall for the more is better meme, I think having a drink or a wank or a fancy meal once in a while would actually improve many people's lives. Having a few less might improve or have improved Paul Reubens' or Jason Russel's lives.
If you're an introvert the former is true but the latter is nice because it means not worrying about starving to death, and also not having to interact with people for most of one's waking life.
Some philosophies never really come up. Consider how many people have strong feelings on political issues, and how few of them seem to have any control over the issues they have strong philosophical beliefs about. Many philosohpical tenents never get a shot at being lived. That doesn't mean they should be abandoned or forgotten.
That could get pretty insane and/or pathetic after a certain point but yes, it is generally good to plan based on what you can actually control or reasonably expect to happen.
Impossible unless you follow something like Obliteration of Self or INGSOC where the individual is totally subsumed to the group, or something else where they likewise don't matter. Even an ascetic would probably not want their eyes put out because they don't want to lose the ability to see. And you can't have a plan for enduring every possible loss.
Ideally yes. A few distractions or hobbies, when enjoyed responsibly aren't the worst thing in the world though.
Please clarify.
To a point, yes. After that point the moderation itself becomes a form of excess and hindrance.
Yes overall. Again, I think a few trinkets or hobbies will help both the group and the individual more than hurting them, overall.
Whether you condider yourself one or not, some people are. I'd say a better peice of advice would be 'don't be a sucker,' 'don't become a statistic,' or 'don't be a victim if you can help it by excercising some common sense and simple, basic personal safety precautions' but I guess those sound less pithy.
Please clarify.
Meaningless and nature is not universally good. For instance, I prefer to toilet paper to my hand or to a leaf that if I pick the wrong one I get a rash in a sensetive place. Central heat is nice too. And telecommunications can be nice. Written language too.
Ideally yes. Past a certain point though, you just have meltdowns/periods every week or two.

Stoicism has some good foundations and solid points. Like many other drugs it's a decent painkiller when used responsibly and in moderation, but it's a pacification drug at the dosage and frequency that Porky's forcing everybody to ingest.

Read Badiou's communist translation of Plato's Republic:

Holy shit I didn't know this was where everybody got that from. Well it has staying power I'll give it that. Doesn't make it necessarily true, pretty much anybody's bitten somebody's head off at some point.

Recall, Epictetus was a slave, and as a heuristic for social situations especially where you are the underdog it's very true

[webm related]

It seems more an injunction to stop taking it so personal and figure out why they're saying it

It fits in with a lot of the other injunctions in that it appears to be geared towards avoiding panic in desperate situations

Therefore, what can be changed need not be accepted

The dosage would depend on the level of pain

What makes a medicine from a toxin is the dosage, yada yada

But yeah, pretty much spot on

I agree with the OP. However I don't think that one should pursue a stoical outlook uncritically or wholly identify oneself as a "stoic". Instead it might be useful to apply a kind of dialectical approach in order to produce a kind of synthesis between a stoic outlook and a revolutionary position.

Examining the historical context in which Stoicism arose, as yuiposter pointed out, it could convincingly be argued that it historically occupied a reactionary role of the ideology of the slavemaster convincing the slave to be satisfied with his lot (though I'm not very knowledgeable in this regard), despite the original sentiments of its progenitors (such as Zeno) - indeed, ideologies often end up fulfilling a quite different societal role than their originators might have expected or intended.

However Stoicism at its core contains nothing that is anathema to materialism or a revolutionary position. Stoicism suggests a kind of acceptance of the world as-it-is; however as Marxists (I can't speak for anarchists) we understand that the world is in a state of perpetual change and development. Because of this the reality of the world is not purely those conditions which exist in the present instant, but the potential for future change which may be instigated by a subjective factor, i.e. a revolutionary movement. On the other hand, we also realise that a socialist society cannot be wished into existence or brought about instantly - it requires a certain set of material conditions as well as a certain period of activity (that is, the practical matters of bringing about a revolution) before it can be brought into being. A stoical conclusion that can be drawn from this is that it's pointless to pine for socialism and lament that it doesn't exist now, because that's not a productive outlook. What is productive is the recognition that change and development are a fundamental part of reality and that there is a tremendous potential for positive change, dependent upon both the material conditions and the subjective factor.
Indeed, the concept that socialism can, without basis, be suddenly brought into being by this or that would be philosopher is utter utopianism and in direct opposition to the materialist view of society; Marxists understand that the potential for socialism is predicated on certain material (and political) conditions which are outside the influence of any one individual, though as mentioned the political conditions may be altered by revolutionaries combining their strength.

Moreover a very great source of unhappiness amongst humans in general arises from a discord between their ideals and wishes of what reality should be, and the actual conditions in which they live; in some sense unhappiness arises from a denial (if unconscious) of the actually existing conditions. A stoic would understand that this denial is foolish and unproductive, and that those conditions are a part of the world (at least in the present moment), and should be accepted - along with the possibility of those conditions changing in the future. Of course there is a clear Marxist explanation, i.e. that these unfulfilled ideals and wishes are the result of ruling ideology in a given society giving rise to beliefs and expectations not in accord with the actual conditions, and that this ideology - spooks which have no independent existence beyond the minds of human beings, and which arise from the material conditions in which those human beings find themselves - should be discarded in favour of a materialist view of the actually existing conditions of the world. Of course as Marxists we also recognise that consciousness is dictated by condition (rather than the other way round); the human mind is not some pure, untainted agent free from and above the effects and tendencies introduced by the material conditions in which it exists. Indeed, the stoical principle that one shouldn't allow conditions beyond one's own control to cause one emotional distress might be extended to include internal conditions present within one's own mind; that is, the understanding that unhappiness (and other emotions) is a direct result of the present conditions of the external world is an application of a Stoic outlook made with a materialist understanding of the nature of the mind.

At first glance this might appear to be in direct opposition to the Stoic concept that unhappiness is purely a choice made by an unbiased mind. However it is important to note that the effect of material conditions on the consciousness of an individual is not a deterministic, mechanical process, and if one makes oneself aware of it (in the same manner that one can become aware that their consciousness is unconsciously influenced by the dominant ideology of bourgeois society and consciously strive against it), one can recognise that their unhappiness is a result of their material conditions and strive against it too. This is also why it's important not to look at historical Stoicism uncritically, and instead view it through a materialist lens in order to determine how it's been affected by the historical conditions of its development and whether its core principles may be re-understood through a materialist lens in order to produce a productive outlook.

Indeed, if a dialectic understanding of reality is applied to a Stoic outlook, Stoicism can in fact be argued to be a very productive personal outlook for revolutionaries to hold, and when its core principles are re-understood with a modern materialist understanding, it does not appear (to me at least) that Stoicism is wholly incompatible with a revolutionary position or with Marxist materialism. On the contrary, the Stoic acceptance of the world as it is (and, as a revolutionary addendum, as it has the potential to become) and rejection of ideals and wishes (i.e. spooks) which have no independent reality beyond the minds of humans, and which themselves arise from the conditions in which humans find themselves, is very much in the spirit of Marxist materialism, and can be a very useful way for revolutionaries not to succumb to despair at the reality of capitalism and to look with optimism to the future.


I really want to read this but I get an error report and don't really know what to do with this link. suggestions? also should I read the 'real' Republic first?

Hippies should go and stay go

Sometimes the site is down, try again. Also it is blocked in certain countries, so you might need a proxy. Always: read both. You can do a comperative reading, side by side, page by page, paragraph by p. to see what was changed and revealed as essence. Or just read one at a time, the order doesn't really matter. Obviously Badiou aims at saving the text for this generation of commies so if u lazy, or lack devotion/time just read the new version.

Re-read OP.
It says all suffering is the fault of the self, and never of anyone else IE implying that there is no point in changing the world (if it's not DIRECTLY controllable).


user you may have just inspired me to a very ambitious project. Thank you.