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 Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?

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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Fri May 23, 2008 10:21 pm

I think it is possible to organise very efficient participatory processes that allow people to have as much input as they want to at times that suit them. But there is a need to delegate things to smaller numbers of people to move things along from day to day. Large committees are very inefficient - up to 8 is o.k. and up to 12 is possible. There are break-off points.

I agree WBS that people have lives to lead - so it is all the more important to use the time people put into communal work really effectively.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Fri May 23, 2008 10:53 pm

yes but all those meetings wbs have been with too few people, if its spread around and people are clued in it wouldn't be so hard.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Fri May 23, 2008 10:54 pm

ever watch tribes and yerman points out how much free time (the men) have.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Fri May 23, 2008 11:49 pm

chekov wrote:
Akrasia wrote:
Howareya Chekov,

Did you ever hear from that Ireland on Sunday 'journalist' again?

She emigrated to New York and robbed us of her talents. Crying or Very sad

Quote :
It's all great, in theory at least, but my gripe (as with PARECON which I discussed with Pax somewhere else Wink
) is that there's meetings and meetings and elections and more
elections and committtees and so on and so forth, and it seems to me
that most people actually don't want that level of detail and
responsibility in their lives. I know I don't, and I'm hugely
profoundly interested in engaging across a range of areas in my own
life, professional and personal.This isn't an absolute barrier to
successful implementation, certain technologies make it easier, but...
having spent a goodly portion of my life to date trying to get people
involved in all manner of campaigns and groups the simple fact is that
people don't necessarily want to.

Personally, I generally can't stand meetings and avoid them wherever possible. I don't, however, see anarchism as requiring a huge number of meetings though. The important meetings which decide policies would, in most cases, only need to happen infrequently. In between times, most of the operational decisions would be taken by delegates within their mandates, only requiring meetings when problems arose. In terms of specialist areas of decision making and policy formation, I can imagine that only those with a particular interest would attend in normal circumstances. What's important is not that everybody attends and has their say in every decision that affects them, because much of the time people aren't that bothered by the details of how the sewerage is organised or stuff like that. What's important is that everybody affected has the realisable ability to have their opinion counted when they feel that it's important.

In any case, I think you are missing a big part of the picture by limiting your view to voluntary campaign meetings and so on. A very large proportion of jobs in our society currently consist of an endless litany of completely pointless meetings which lack direction, purpose, decision making power and attendance is compulsorary. If you take that reality from modern capitalist institutions into account, I'd expect that anarchism would have a positive balance sheet in comparison to our current society's requirements for meetings. The meetings would be less pointless too and, without the structural hierarchies, you wouldn't find that most meetings were dominated by a bigwig wittering on about half-thought out crap, which is my overwhelming recollection of my time in corporations. NGOs are, if anything, even worse.

Interestingly a lot of what you're proposing sounds like a beefed up version of the status quo.

Still, I wonder, when you say: What's important is not that everybody attends and has their say in every decision that affects them, because much of the time people aren't that bothered by the details of how the sewerage is organised or stuff like that.

How does that work in practice? Because what defines which decisions affect people or not and who decides upon them? Okay, if it's the people involved themselves that sounds like we're actually moving back towards the current situation where, as we know, a smallish number of motivated people engage and the vast majority are either indifferent or happy enough to leave it up to representatives. Look at those who are members of unions in workplaces. I work in one of my employments in a highly unionised environment. I doubt 1/50th of those who are members attend meetings except when there is a direct implication/threat, and it's not for want of trying. If that's true about something that relates directly to employments, one of the fundamental aspects of life in a capitalist society why should we expect things to be different under anarchism (or socialism of the more statist sort - and BTW my criticisms apply equally to that, I'm not trying to get on anarchism's case here).


I'm not at all certain that the following is correct. A very large proportion of jobs in our society currently consist of an endless litany of completely pointless meetings which lack direction, purpose, decision making power and attendance is compulsorary

That's not my experience of business or the public service. Some, surely, but far from most. This isn't to say a strong healthy does of participation and representation by workers wouldn't be an excellent thing in all those contexts, i.e. corporations (none of which couldn't be introduced by a sufficiently reformist left programme), but I wouldn't overstate the situation either. And the positive balance sheet only exists because anarchism has yet to be implemented anywhere in a rigorous fashion sufficient for analysis.

But where we really run into problems is when we have competing organisations which have both arrived entirely democratically at a point where actions by one will cause problems for the other. Who decides where to go from there? And because those shade into economics the issue of democracy/participation can become moot. Nor are these entirely novel issues, the Eastern bloc economies wrestled with them - albeit in a slightly different form - for decades before finally giving up. They faced entirely similar problems as regards demand, production and supply (within a non-capitalist) economy and simply found it impossible to order it in any serious fashion. Obviously anarchism would attempt to shape the societal structures in such a way as to ameliorate the problems found under statism, but... the simplification of societal structures that communism brought is at least partially suggestive of some of the outlines of an anarchist project in contrast to the pluralism (in the sense of many producers whether private, cooperative, state) of a mixed economy.

Incidentally, I simply can't see how we can move to this proposed structure from where we are today, at least not in a way which wouldn't take centuries.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Fri May 23, 2008 11:51 pm

cactus flower wrote:
I think it is possible to organise very efficient participatory processes that allow people to have as much input as they want to at times that suit them. But there is a need to delegate things to smaller numbers of people to move things along from day to day. Large committees are very inefficient - up to 8 is o.k. and up to 12 is possible. There are break-off points.

I agree WBS that people have lives to lead - so it is all the more important to use the time people put into communal work really effectively.

Well one thing that strikes me very forcibly is how the stratification and regimentation in our societies in the workplace is perhaps quite deliberately structured in such a way as to exclude family/social(in the broad sense) life/involvement (quite apart from communal work) which is something many many of us would like to prioritise.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 12:07 am

WorldbyStorm wrote:


How does that work in practice? Because what defines which decisions affect people or not and who decides upon them? Okay, if it's the people involved themselves that sounds like we're actually moving back towards the current situation where, as we know, a smallish number of motivated people engage and the vast majority are either indifferent or happy enough to leave it up to representatives. Look at those who are members of unions in workplaces. I work in one of my employments in a highly unionised environment. I doubt 1/50th of those who are members attend meetings except when there is a direct implication/threat,
In anarchism, everyone in a community or organisation has an equal say in the decisions that are made. They might decide to abstain from participating in the mundane meetings if others are doing a decent job and they're not that interested, But in the important votes, many more people are going to want to participate, and they'll be entitled to. That's the difference. It might take 10 votes to sway a decision on what colour to paint the local wall, But it would take 100 votes to decide a vote on whether or not to have a wall in the first place because more people will care.

Representative democracy grants the same people the right to decide everything from the mundane, to the life changing on the basis of one vote. Direct democracy allows everyone with an interest in any issue that affects them to have an equal say.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 12:32 am

Is it possable that anarchism can only function under a certain sized society? My own take on working anarchism might be the US before the expansion from the east coast to the center.

Lots of very small independent communities and hamlets. Very little or no law for hundreds of miles and only your neighbours to help you out if you had any trouble.

Is this not anarchy in its purest form?


When the populations reach a certain point this anarchist way cannot cope any longer and something else emerges.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 1:30 am

Akrasia wrote:
WorldbyStorm wrote:


How does that work in practice? Because what defines which decisions affect people or not and who decides upon them? Okay, if it's the people involved themselves that sounds like we're actually moving back towards the current situation where, as we know, a smallish number of motivated people engage and the vast majority are either indifferent or happy enough to leave it up to representatives. Look at those who are members of unions in workplaces. I work in one of my employments in a highly unionised environment. I doubt 1/50th of those who are members attend meetings except when there is a direct implication/threat,
In anarchism, everyone in a community or organisation has an equal say in the decisions that are made. They might decide to abstain from participating in the mundane meetings if others are doing a decent job and they're not that interested, But in the important votes, many more people are going to want to participate, and they'll be entitled to. That's the difference. It might take 10 votes to sway a decision on what colour to paint the local wall, But it would take 100 votes to decide a vote on whether or not to have a wall in the first place because more people will care.

Representative democracy grants the same people the right to decide everything from the mundane, to the life changing on the basis of one vote. Direct democracy allows everyone with an interest in any issue that affects them to have an equal say.

Are they? That seems a bit aspirational to me. What evidence is there that it's true? Nor does it account for the fact that more directly participative polities can often be subject to something close to whims. Consider the grim history of 'propositions' in California.

I think Johnny's point is possibly close to the truth (although it also happens to be an intellectual root for right libertarianism). A smaller polity perhaps will be suitable for such processes. Okay, we could try to rearrange our societies in that sort of a structure - how I can't quite imagine without recourse to totalitarian, or at least coercive, measures.

But again, how do we get from here to there? How would the effective dismantling of our own society with its IFA's and Oireachtas, corporations, corner shops, media, etc, etc take place, and how would the construction of the new begin?
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 4:09 am

WorldbyStorm wrote:
Consider the grim history of 'propositions' in California.

Just to weigh in on only this example. A much more interesting Californian example, (perhaps in this context) is the participative regulatory process of utilities which involved workers and consumers and local representatives and where decisions were made by public debate in a public forum*. The one before Enron and deregulation.

You had consumer groups and workers participating together to not only regulate but to co-ordinate spending and pricing and profit levels of utilities. Profits and investments of private companies were capped, and companies were forced to reduce prices for the poor, fund environmental investments, and open themselves to financial inspection. These consumer and worker groups were manned by regular people who ended up being in many ways more expert than the 'experts'. The process produced low prices and high unionised worker wages. And relative to the deregulation era, good environmental outcomes. It actually worked for decades.

And as regards motivations, well our current economy is entirely based upon people being motivated by things that affect them in financial terms. Outside some instances people certainly respond as they are affected. If people are affected by a decision as regard pricing within an Anarchistic or Libertarian socialist society then (going by examples of today) they'll surely respond. Outside that, such structures as ebay shouldn't actually work according to mainstream economics but of course it does as people don't completely correspond to 'homo economus'.

*
http://www.democracyandregulation.com/
[url=http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Regulation-Public-Essential-Services/dp/0745319424]Democracy And Regulation:How the Public can Govern Essential Services[/url] (by Greg Palast (Author), Jerrold Oppenheim (Author), Theo MacGregor (Author))
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 4:35 am

WBS wrote:
Are they? That seems a bit aspirational to me. What evidence is there
that it's true? Nor does it account for the fact that more directly
participative polities can often be subject to something close to
whims. Consider the grim history of 'propositions' in California.

I
think Johnny's point is possibly close to the truth (although it also
happens to be an intellectual root for right libertarianism). A smaller
polity perhaps will be suitable for such processes. Okay, we could try
to rearrange our societies in that sort of a structure - how I can't
quite imagine without recourse to totalitarian, or at least coercive,
measures.

But again, how do we get from here to there? How
would the effective dismantling of our own society with its IFA's and
Oireachtas, corporations, corner shops, media, etc, etc take place, and
how would the construction of the new begin?

Personally, I think that more people would want a say in important issues. Whether they actually would or not, is not really important. The point is that the choice is available. An issue to factor into this process is whether people are happy or not (are things functioning the way we want them to). If things are good and efficient, less people will care enough to exercise their votes. If things seem to be going belly-up, more will naturally tend to wish to change the operation of the system. It should also be recognised that at the start and setting up point of such a system is when the most meetings and voting will need to occur, after that it becomes a tuning process where the voting and meetings become less frequent as people get on with living their lives.

The question of fickle and whimsical voting etc. has arisen. That's really only an issue in a capitalist dictatorship. Apathy and anger frequently temper an infrequent right to exercise one's voting rights. In an anarchist system, as I said earlier, ideas evolve, and fickle and whimsical voting would be absorbed by the non whimsical portion. Any tempering that the whimsical section would have would encourage a positive outcome rather than a negative, like it does now.

Changing to an anarchist system is not as complex as it might seem. There are two essentials that are prerequisite: there must be a will to do so and it must be possible to achieve self-sufficiency:

Ireland is currently very far from being self-sufficient. Nonetheless, self-sufficiency is not some impossible pipe dream. In as little as seven or eight years we could be self-sufficient. When I say self-sufficient, I'm on about more than the ability to merely feed ourselves. Education is the key. We need doctors etc. Hence the figure of seven to eight years. Train enough people (factoring into this figure the amount of folks who'll want to leave Ireland, change their minds about their chosen vocations, etc.) to be self-sufficient and the problem of self-sufficiency evaporates. This is a problem that's only unsolvable in the capitalist dictatorship we currently find ourselves in. Need and absolute dependency are artificially manufactured by our capitalist dictatorship. The promises we get that tell us the health service will get better, housing will be available for everyone, an efficient transport infrastructure will someday be realised, etc. are merely carrots on the end of a stick.

The will to become an anarchist society is a different issue. As an anarchist I cannot dictate my will and demand that others conform themselves to it (like the current capitalist dictatorship demands). However, it's my belief and indeed it's the belief of many other anarchists, that once all the options are on the table and understood, that people in general will choose the anarchist option. I think this is a logical way to perceive the issue; the anarchism model is a very natural ordering system to fall into, should the system itself be inclined to change.

As for the problem of the self-elected elites within our society. That's not as big a problem as it might seem. They either get with the programme or they can fend for themselves. On the other hand, should they try to impose their wants on us, they could and they would be shot.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 5:55 am

" What Jesus patently fails to realise - its the meek who are precisely the problem"*




*Reg -Chief Representative of the People - Peoples Front of Judea - Ad 33 - Saturday Afternoon - around teatime!
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 12:05 pm

Hermes wrote:
WBS wrote:
Are they? That seems a bit aspirational to me. What evidence is there
that it's true? Nor does it account for the fact that more directly
participative polities can often be subject to something close to
whims. Consider the grim history of 'propositions' in California.

I
think Johnny's point is possibly close to the truth (although it also
happens to be an intellectual root for right libertarianism). A smaller
polity perhaps will be suitable for such processes. Okay, we could try
to rearrange our societies in that sort of a structure - how I can't
quite imagine without recourse to totalitarian, or at least coercive,
measures.

But again, how do we get from here to there? How
would the effective dismantling of our own society with its IFA's and
Oireachtas, corporations, corner shops, media, etc, etc take place, and
how would the construction of the new begin?

Personally, I think that more people would want a say in important issues. Whether they actually would or not, is not really important. The point is that the choice is available. An issue to factor into this process is whether people are happy or not (are things functioning the way we want them to). If things are good and efficient, less people will care enough to exercise their votes. If things seem to be going belly-up, more will naturally tend to wish to change the operation of the system. It should also be recognised that at the start and setting up point of such a system is when the most meetings and voting will need to occur, after that it becomes a tuning process where the voting and meetings become less frequent as people get on with living their lives.

The question of fickle and whimsical voting etc. has arisen. That's really only an issue in a capitalist dictatorship. Apathy and anger frequently temper an infrequent right to exercise one's voting rights. In an anarchist system, as I said earlier, ideas evolve, and fickle and whimsical voting would be absorbed by the non whimsical portion. Any tempering that the whimsical section would have would encourage a positive outcome rather than a negative, like it does now.

Changing to an anarchist system is not as complex as it might seem. There are two essentials that are prerequisite: there must be a will to do so and it must be possible to achieve self-sufficiency:

Ireland is currently very far from being self-sufficient. Nonetheless, self-sufficiency is not some impossible pipe dream. In as little as seven or eight years we could be self-sufficient. When I say self-sufficient, I'm on about more than the ability to merely feed ourselves. Education is the key. We need doctors etc. Hence the figure of seven to eight years. Train enough people (factoring into this figure the amount of folks who'll want to leave Ireland, change their minds about their chosen vocations, etc.) to be self-sufficient and the problem of self-sufficiency evaporates. This is a problem that's only unsolvable in the capitalist dictatorship we currently find ourselves in. Need and absolute dependency are artificially manufactured by our capitalist dictatorship. The promises we get that tell us the health service will get better, housing will be available for everyone, an efficient transport infrastructure will someday be realised, etc. are merely carrots on the end of a stick.

The will to become an anarchist society is a different issue. As an anarchist I cannot dictate my will and demand that others conform themselves to it (like the current capitalist dictatorship demands). However, it's my belief and indeed it's the belief of many other anarchists, that once all the options are on the table and understood, that people in general will choose the anarchist option. I think this is a logical way to perceive the issue; the anarchism model is a very natural ordering system to fall into, should the system itself be inclined to change.

As for the problem of the self-elected elites within our society. That's not as big a problem as it might seem. They either get with the programme or they can fend for themselves. On the other hand, should they try to impose their wants on us, they could and they would be shot.

What about all the people who would want to migrate to Ireland to take part in the anarchist society ? Should they be factored in too ? The elimination of the tiny minority of the self elected elites, by whom I presume you mean the very rich and people like church hierarchies, would not be enough to compensate for the arrival of many of the world's anarchists and others who would would want to come here.

I am also wondering how the economy would be organised and who would own and control the 'means of production'?

The self-sufficiency idea sounds quite similar to what youngdan says. Where are the differences between right wing and left wing libertarianism.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 12:54 pm

WorldbyStorm wrote:
Interestingly a lot of what you're proposing sounds like a beefed up version of the status quo.

You cannnot be serious. We live in a world where decision making power is allocated more or less directly on the basis of how much capital one owns. Most of the big, important decisions are made on the basis of how much money the concerned capitalist will make. Attempts to make one's opinions count against such decisions are just totally ignored unless they are made persistently enough where they have to beat you off the streets.

Equating the completely powerless meetings of trade unions or campaign groups with meetings which have executive decision making powers is just absurd.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 1:13 pm

Quote :
What about all the people who would want to migrate to Ireland to take
part in the anarchist society ? Should they be factored in too ? The
elimination of the tiny minority of the self elected elites, by whom I
presume you mean the very rich and people like church hierarchies,
would not be enough to compensate for the arrival of many of the
world's anarchists and others who would would want to come here.

If Ireland had a sudden epiphany and decided to go anarchist which would involve abolishing private property and collectivising workplaces (including the property of international corporations) It's not an invasion by other anarchists we'd be worried about.

Regarding organisation. Anarchists talk a lot about communities and everyone having a say in the decisions that affect them, but this can be a little bit wooly and vague. In concrete terms, I consider that under anarchism, everyone would live in what are essentially small housing cooperatives and that these would be the primary unit of administration for social and political decision making. Every member of a cooperative has an equal vote and equal ownership over their community. You can move between housing cooperatives freely or set up your own if you can find a few like minded people to assist you.

(workplace cooperatives and consumer councils could decide economic matters)
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 1:52 pm

Hermes wrote:
905 wrote:
With all this behind it, any deliberate attempt to smear anarchism must be very easy.

It's easy to smear any group or person as long as one doesn't get specific.

It'd be very hard to smear anarchists with reference to their actions, collectively or individually.
Conrad found it quite easy, if chekov is to be believed. But that looks very much like an exception rather than a rule.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 1:55 pm

lostexpectation wrote:
oh come on don't be stupid, don't badger people over a name that was changed by their opponents.
Are you going to back that up or not? It seems generally accepted here that anarchy meant lawlessness before it meant a political group, in English anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 4:12 pm

chekov wrote:
WorldbyStorm wrote:
Interestingly a lot of what you're proposing sounds like a beefed up version of the status quo.

You cannnot be serious. We live in a world where decision making power is allocated more or less directly on the basis of how much capital one owns. Most of the big, important decisions are made on the basis of how much money the concerned capitalist will make. Attempts to make one's opinions count against such decisions are just totally ignored unless they are made persistently enough where they have to beat you off the streets.

Equating the completely powerless meetings of trade unions or campaign groups with meetings which have executive decision making powers is just absurd.

If I agreed with your characterisation of our society as consisting exclusively of capital owners on one side and then unions and campaigning groups on the other then I'd doubtless agree with your point, but I don't. I think it's hyperbole based on reductionist readings of this society. You ignore the state which regulates capital to no small degree, you ignore other forms of ownership, you ignore civil society. Nick Cohen is out of favour for obvious reasons but he used to be a sensible and perceptive commentator and no more so than when he wrote:

Quote :
however novel the ability of companies to shift money and jobs around the world, and however restrictive the limits on the autonomy of national governments have become, corporations remain weak. When all is said and done, they are hierarchical associations for the production of profit. They can’t raise armies or levy taxes or enact legislation. Governments can do all three and turn nasty if they have the inclination…
And thats why I think yet more levels of representation, or participation, while no bad thing in themselves don't per se point to new forms of economic or other activity and organisation. Nor would I overstate the situation we're in....capital is a huge part of the mix, but it's not entirely unfettered.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 4:14 pm

Akrasia wrote:
Quote :
What about all the people who would want to migrate to Ireland to take
part in the anarchist society ? Should they be factored in too ? The
elimination of the tiny minority of the self elected elites, by whom I
presume you mean the very rich and people like church hierarchies,
would not be enough to compensate for the arrival of many of the
world's anarchists and others who would would want to come here.

If Ireland had a sudden epiphany and decided to go anarchist which would involve abolishing private property and collectivising workplaces (including the property of international corporations) It's not an invasion by other anarchists we'd be worried about.

Regarding organisation. Anarchists talk a lot about communities and everyone having a say in the decisions that affect them, but this can be a little bit wooly and vague. In concrete terms, I consider that under anarchism, everyone would live in what are essentially small housing cooperatives and that these would be the primary unit of administration for social and political decision making. Every member of a cooperative has an equal vote and equal ownership over their community. You can move between housing cooperatives freely or set up your own if you can find a few like minded people to assist you.

(workplace cooperatives and consumer councils could decide economic matters)

That would be enormously popular in this country, or indeed any country... Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 4:18 pm

Pax wrote:
WorldbyStorm wrote:
Consider the grim history of 'propositions' in California.

Just to weigh in on only this example. A much more interesting Californian example, (perhaps in this context) is the participative regulatory process of utilities which involved workers and consumers and local representatives and where decisions were made by public debate in a public forum*. The one before Enron and deregulation.

You had consumer groups and workers participating together to not only regulate but to co-ordinate spending and pricing and profit levels of utilities. Profits and investments of private companies were capped, and companies were forced to reduce prices for the poor, fund environmental investments, and open themselves to financial inspection. These consumer and worker groups were manned by regular people who ended up being in many ways more expert than the 'experts'. The process produced low prices and high unionised worker wages. And relative to the deregulation era, good environmental outcomes. It actually worked for decades.

And as regards motivations, well our current economy is entirely based upon people being motivated by things that affect them in financial terms. Outside some instances people certainly respond as they are affected. If people are affected by a decision as regard pricing within an Anarchistic or Libertarian socialist society then (going by examples of today) they'll surely respond. Outside that, such structures as ebay shouldn't actually work according to mainstream economics but of course it does as people don't completely correspond to 'homo economus'.

*
http://www.democracyandregulation.com/
[url=http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Regulation-Public-Essential-Services/dp/0745319424]Democracy And Regulation:How the Public can Govern Essential Services[/url] (by Greg Palast (Author), Jerrold Oppenheim (Author), Theo MacGregor (Author))

I'm afraid you miss my point which is that far from participatory instruments necessarily being progressive in their outcomes they can also be reactionary, as seen in California (actually the lvel of ordinary voter participation in elections for all manner of public offices in the US is much greater than Ireland or the EU. No sign of socialist revolution. And while it is true that capitalism distorts it, that's not the only reason).
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 4:28 pm

Hermes wrote:
WBS wrote:
Are they? That seems a bit aspirational to me. What evidence is there
that it's true? Nor does it account for the fact that more directly
participative polities can often be subject to something close to
whims. Consider the grim history of 'propositions' in California.

I
think Johnny's point is possibly close to the truth (although it also
happens to be an intellectual root for right libertarianism). A smaller
polity perhaps will be suitable for such processes. Okay, we could try
to rearrange our societies in that sort of a structure - how I can't
quite imagine without recourse to totalitarian, or at least coercive,
measures.

But again, how do we get from here to there? How
would the effective dismantling of our own society with its IFA's and
Oireachtas, corporations, corner shops, media, etc, etc take place, and
how would the construction of the new begin?

Personally, I think that more people would want a say in important issues. Whether they actually would or not, is not really important. The point is that the choice is available. An issue to factor into this process is whether people are happy or not (are things functioning the way we want them to). If things are good and efficient, less people will care enough to exercise their votes. If things seem to be going belly-up, more will naturally tend to wish to change the operation of the system. It should also be recognised that at the start and setting up point of such a system is when the most meetings and voting will need to occur, after that it becomes a tuning process where the voting and meetings become less frequent as people get on with living their lives.

The question of fickle and whimsical voting etc. has arisen. That's really only an issue in a capitalist dictatorship. Apathy and anger frequently temper an infrequent right to exercise one's voting rights. In an anarchist system, as I said earlier, ideas evolve, and fickle and whimsical voting would be absorbed by the non whimsical portion. Any tempering that the whimsical section would have would encourage a positive outcome rather than a negative, like it does now.

Changing to an anarchist system is not as complex as it might seem. There are two essentials that are prerequisite: there must be a will to do so and it must be possible to achieve self-sufficiency:

Ireland is currently very far from being self-sufficient. Nonetheless, self-sufficiency is not some impossible pipe dream. In as little as seven or eight years we could be self-sufficient. When I say self-sufficient, I'm on about more than the ability to merely feed ourselves. Education is the key. We need doctors etc. Hence the figure of seven to eight years. Train enough people (factoring into this figure the amount of folks who'll want to leave Ireland, change their minds about their chosen vocations, etc.) to be self-sufficient and the problem of self-sufficiency evaporates. This is a problem that's only unsolvable in the capitalist dictatorship we currently find ourselves in. Need and absolute dependency are artificially manufactured by our capitalist dictatorship. The promises we get that tell us the health service will get better, housing will be available for everyone, an efficient transport infrastructure will someday be realised, etc. are merely carrots on the end of a stick.

The will to become an anarchist society is a different issue. As an anarchist I cannot dictate my will and demand that others conform themselves to it (like the current capitalist dictatorship demands). However, it's my belief and indeed it's the belief of many other anarchists, that once all the options are on the table and understood, that people in general will choose the anarchist option. I think this is a logical way to perceive the issue; the anarchism model is a very natural ordering system to fall into, should the system itself be inclined to change.

As for the problem of the self-elected elites within our society. That's not as big a problem as it might seem. They either get with the programme or they can fend for themselves. On the other hand, should they try to impose their wants on us, they could and they would be shot.

Coercive - non? I must remember to avoid your militia aroud 2016... But, I have to be honest, if you genuinely believe that people would adopt it as a system 'once all the options are on the table and understood,' I fear you're in for a disappointment. Quite simply the proposals are so far off the scale of what is politically and societally feasible as to be near pointless. Your thoughts about inculcating self sufficiency - and I'm far from certain what you mean and how that links into anarchist political projects - seem to me to be simply not at the races as regards the actual educational structures and curricula and paths actually extant. Which as it happens I have direct personal knowledge of on both sides of the fence at second and third level.

Even the phrase 'capitalist dictatorship' is I'd respectfully suggest so far from the lived experience of most people (including many on the left like myself who want to see it changed profoundly) in this state that it simply undercuts your argument - which has many valid aspects.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 5:55 pm

Quote :
however novel the ability of companies to shift money and jobs around the world, and however restrictive the limits on the autonomy of national governments have become, corporations remain weak. When all is said and done, they are hierarchical associations for the production of profit. They can’t raise armies or levy taxes or enact legislation. Governments can do all three and turn nasty if they have the inclination…

The extent to which corporations remain weak depends imo on the state of a ongoing struggle between the capital and property owning elite and the wider mass of people who don't own capital. Just on this point, it can be observed that over time, and in different places, there is a tussle back and fore between unfettered capitalism and capitalism with a higher level of restraint through democratic constrols and regulation.

We have versions of capitalist society ranging from Sweden, with safety nets in terms of health, housing and education beyond what we could imagine here and at the other extreme Burma, with hundreds of thousands of slave labourers overseen by the army and employed directly by western globalised industries. We saw film of them last week being marched to vote on a referendum consolidating the regime by soldiers at gun point. Since the late 60s / early 70s the neo con / Thatcherite / EU / globalisation projects have exerted a very substantial push back against workers' rights and benefits and along with that we have seen a massive rise in poverty globally. Wealth has been consolidated into the hands of a tiny minority of very wealthy and powerful people in an unprecedented way in the last 20 years. Corporations have exerted a high level of influence on the direction of the EU as a free market rather than a socialised entity. Corporations have privatised war, and the reasons for going to war. The actions of most powerful government on the planet are frequently interpreted in terms of benefit to corporate interest and in the case of people like Rumsfeld and Cheney was quite blatant. In the US even the prisons are privatised.

Globalisation has undermined the Trade Unions, as industry has walked away from unionised states and unions have not yet effectively organised on an international basis. One of the main reasons that Ireland has been able to draw in corporate investment is that the FDI companies are allowed to operate as non union employers. The other is that we are a tax haven, with a historically low level of social investment compared with other european countries. The case of how Ireland's gas resources have been handed over to corporate entities for exploitation was justified by our lack of finance for exploration, but that does not explain our failure to tax successful finds. We are generally supine in front of corporate interests.

I don't think that corporations are all powerful, but that they are very powerful and it is in their interests to constantly jockey for more power. From what I have seen, if they aren't effectively resisted, they achieve it.

I am trying to get a grasp of how anarchists relate to the economic aspects of society: from some posters it seems that this would mean nationalising the factories and other workplaces and reverting away from a globalised economy to a self sufficient localised economy. I assume that would also mean nationalising the banks. The types of pressure to be expected can be seen from Iran, Cuba and Venezuela and perhaps Grenada. If Cuba could hang in for as long as it has, as close as it is the US, I see no reason to say that it wouldn't have a chance.

For an example of how such a project can potentially go horribly wrong, I recommend taking a look at Cambodia under Pol Pot, a nice radical guy with a degree from the Sorbonne.
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 6:13 pm

WorldbyStorm wrote:
I'm afraid you miss my point which is that far from participatory instruments necessarily being progressive in their outcomes they can also be reactionary, as seen in California (actually the lvel of ordinary voter participation in elections for all manner of public offices in the US is much greater than Ireland or the EU. No sign of socialist revolution. And while it is true that capitalism distorts it, that's not the only reason).

Well I've read your other posts too WBS and broadly speaking you seem to be making the argument that because market systems and centrally planned systems naturally erode self-management and solidarity (among other qualities we'd probably both hold dear) that this is the case in libertarian socialist/anarchistic possible economies. I don't think that's really fair to be honest. In fact it's probably counter productive to a critique of those alternatives. Of course reactionary democratic and participatory mechanisms can exist in all systems, but their are ameliorated or not within different contexts and the endogenous preferences affects of those contexts.

As regards actually getting to such as situation I think that's a different argument. One thing is for sure though, by supporting progression towards New Labour style parties then we only make things much, much worse. Social democracy is dead imho, we need to start again. Anything else is, well, posturing.

And with regard to New Labour and more 'realistic' options, (and with reference to the movement of our own Labour party (and the Greens to be fair) as highlighted in a recent Phoenix) a recent, very interesting article by Monbiot.

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/05/20/nothing-left-to-fight-for/

Quote :
Yes, I worry about what the Tories might do when they get in. I also
worry about what Labour might do if it wins another term. Why should
anyone on the left seek the re-election of the most rightwing
government Britain has had since the second world war?


[....]

Above all, the Labour government has destroyed hope. It has put into
practice Margaret Thatcher’s dictum that “there is no alternative” to a
market fundamentalism that subordinates human welfare to the demands of
business. It has created a political monoculture which kills voters’
enthusasism, and delayed the electoral reforms which would have given
smaller parties an opportunity to be heard. All we are left with is
fear: the fear that this awful government might be replaced with
something slightly worse. Fear has destroyed the Labour party: people
keep supporting it, whatever it does, in trepidation of letting the
other side win.
Save this government? I would sooner give money to the Malarial
Mosquito Conservation Project. Of all the causes leftist thinkers might
support, New Labour must be the least deserving.


Which signifies a change of direction for him...

http://leninology.blogspot.com/2008/05/redistribute-wealth.html

"It
is clear to me that we need a left wing alternative to New Labour. That
must either emerge from a coup inside Labour, which kicks out the
neoliberal impostors that currently run the party, or it will have to
come from people outside of the party.

"Either way the trade
unions must play a central role in the process. I think we need to keep
asking them why they support the government that is attacking them, and
what it would take for them to break from Labour.

"I know that
either option will be hard – and that we’ve already had a few false
dawns – but I don’t believe that staying with New Labour is an option."
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 6:32 pm

cactus flower wrote:
I am trying to get a grasp of how anarchists relate to the economic aspects of society: from some posters it seems that this would mean nationalising the factories and other workplaces and reverting away from a globalised economy to a self sufficient localised economy.

In terms of an ideal situation, I wouldn't agree with "a self sufficient localised economy." approach. That seems to be akin to the fantasy of some Green bio-regionalists which is hardly ever really worked out*. Parecon is closer to the economy I'd support.

* for the reasons why see pages 80-84 below, (or click on "
Green Bioregionalism")


http://www.zmag.org/zparecon/pareconlac.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 7:20 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Quote :
however novel the ability of companies to shift money and jobs around the world, and however restrictive the limits on the autonomy of national governments have become, corporations remain weak. When all is said and done, they are hierarchical associations for the production of profit. They can’t raise armies or levy taxes or enact legislation. Governments can do all three and turn nasty if they have the inclination…

The extent to which corporations remain weak depends imo on the state of a ongoing struggle between the capital and property owning elite and the wider mass of people who don't own capital. Just on this point, it can be observed that over time, and in different places, there is a tussle back and fore between unfettered capitalism and capitalism with a higher level of restraint through democratic constrols and regulation.

We have versions of capitalist society ranging from Sweden, with safety nets in terms of health, housing and education beyond what we could imagine here and at the other extreme Burma, with hundreds of thousands of slave labourers overseen by the army and employed directly by western globalised industries. We saw film of them last week being marched to vote on a referendum consolidating the regime by soldiers at gun point. Since the late 60s / early 70s the neo con / Thatcherite / EU / globalisation projects have exerted a very substantial push back against workers' rights and benefits and along with that we have seen a massive rise in poverty globally. Wealth has been consolidated into the hands of a tiny minority of very wealthy and powerful people in an unprecedented way in the last 20 years. Corporations have exerted a high level of influence on the direction of the EU as a free market rather than a socialised entity. Corporations have privatised war, and the reasons for going to war. The actions of most powerful government on the planet are frequently interpreted in terms of benefit to corporate interest and in the case of people like Rumsfeld and Cheney was quite blatant. In the US even the prisons are privatised.

Globalisation has undermined the Trade Unions, as industry has walked away from unionised states and unions have not yet effectively organised on an international basis. One of the main reasons that Ireland has been able to draw in corporate investment is that the FDI companies are allowed to operate as non union employers. The other is that we are a tax haven, with a historically low level of social investment compared with other european countries. The case of how Ireland's gas resources have been handed over to corporate entities for exploitation was justified by our lack of finance for exploration, but that does not explain our failure to tax successful finds. We are generally supine in front of corporate interests.

I don't think that corporations are all powerful, but that they are very powerful and it is in their interests to constantly jockey for more power. From what I have seen, if they aren't effectively resisted, they achieve it.

I am trying to get a grasp of how anarchists relate to the economic aspects of society: from some posters it seems that this would mean nationalising the factories and other workplaces and reverting away from a globalised economy to a self sufficient localised economy. I assume that would also mean nationalising the banks. The types of pressure to be expected can be seen from Iran, Cuba and Venezuela and perhaps Grenada. If Cuba could hang in for as long as it has, as close as it is the US, I see no reason to say that it wouldn't have a chance.

For an example of how such a project can potentially go horribly wrong, I recommend taking a look at Cambodia under Pol Pot, a nice radical guy with a degree from the Sorbonne.

I agree with you completely that the expansion of corporate power must be resisted, but they too can be subject to proper regulation. I'd go for more. I'd think Eric Hobsbawm is correct when he argued recently that:
Quote :

21st-century socialism will be based on the survival of the planet and reconstruction of a society disintegrating under capitalist development.

And:

Quote :
the idea of socialism as a 100 per cent publicly planned collective economy has not survived the end of ‘really existing socialism’ and will not return.

Twenty-first-century socialism will be an economy combining the public and private, non-market and market elements, but one whose object is not maximising economic growth and profit but the survival of the planet and the reconstruction of a human society battered and increasingly disintegrating under the impact of the past half-century of capitalist development. How this is to be achieved is the big question for this century’s socialists.

But the sort of self-sufficiency that is argued above seems to me to be a retrograde step and politically impossible in an Irish context. Who would vote for it? We live in a politically relatively conservative state where the vast bulk of the population votes for centre right parties. The idea that anarchism - let alone strong social democracy - could be a force to reckon with in the land seems to me to be unlikely in the extreme, to put it kindly. Cuba? Too different a situation and context to Ireland, quite apart from which Raul seems to be pushing along the Chinese road of capitalist economic forms led by a 'communist' party...

The answer to economically liberal globalisation to my mind isn't a retreat to nationalism or localism but to develop a better sort of globalisation. In any event we don't have a choice. Global warming isn't going to be tackled by individual polities but by concerted international actions...

and for more on that I'll be cheeky and link to this...

http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/whats-it-all-about-alfie-or-what-is-success-for-leftists-and-progressives-in-this-day-and-age/
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PostSubject: Re: Anarchism - the most misrepresented and misunderstood philosophy?   Sat May 24, 2008 8:01 pm

WBS wrote:
Coercive - non? I must remember to avoid your militia aroud 2016...
But, I have to be honest, if you genuinely believe that people would
adopt it as a system 'once all the options are on the table and
understood,' I fear you're in for a disappointment. Quite simply the
proposals are so far off the scale of what is politically and
societally feasible as to be near pointless. Your thoughts about
inculcating self sufficiency - and I'm far from certain what you mean
and how that links into anarchist political projects - seem to me to be
simply not at the races as regards the actual educational structures
and curricula and paths actually extant. Which as it happens I have
direct personal knowledge of on both sides of the fence at second and
third level.

Even the phrase 'capitalist dictatorship' is I'd
respectfully suggest so far from the lived experience of most people
(including many on the left like myself who want to see it changed
profoundly) in this state that it simply undercuts your argument -
which has many valid aspects.

Not coercive in the least. People are quite free to be part of the system or to ignore it. The only time anyone would need to fear the militia would be if they tried to force us to behave and act as they dictated. That's a helluva lot fairer and more understanding than the current system.

You're correct to a degree with regard to the educational argument. Currently we do not educate half enough people, particularly to third level. Moreso, neither the mechanism nor the will are in place to fix this. I have no doubts whatsoever that this can be tackled and fixed, and indeed that we already have the personnel that could achieve it. Our capacity to educate would have to increase dramatically in order to facilitate self-sufficiency and an anarchist system. To do this is very possible. My seven or eight years might be a little on the optimistic side (particularly if we stick to current curricula and methodologies), let's say fourteen. In fourteen years, everyone would have healthcare when they needed it, everyone would have a home, everyone would have enough to eat and transport would be free, etc. All problems of self-sufficiency can be solved within the time required to educate and train the necessary people. How long would this take within our current system, is it achievable? I don't think so. It only seems so impossible because it is impossible to achieve from within our current model. You seem to know a lot about education: in your opinion, if you had carte blanche over the whole of the educational system, what would be the earliest age at which a student could be graduated from third level? Imagine a whole generation (or as near as is possible to it) educated to this level - imagine the possibilities this would present to the next generation.

What I mean by self-sufficiency is that we take care of all our needs internally, this would include amongst other things, tearing up patenting laws and manufacturing our own medical supplies etc. As Akrasia said, the invasion of anarchists wanting to come to Ireland would be the least of our worries. Knowledge cannot be owned exclusively. If Ireland was invaded for ignoring patenting laws etc. it would be a double edged sword. It could be a spark that might ignite the planet. So whilst there would be a danger from foreign forces who wished to enslave us, it would put them in as much peril as it would place us.

I think the term 'capitalist dictatorship' is very apt. Capitalism and democracy are political opposites. Capitalism seeks to subvert the will of the many to serve the few, whilst democracy seeks to exercise the will of the many. Democracy is wishful thinking on behalf of the many who are ensnared by and up to their necks and their children's necks in debt to capitalists. I'm not trying to invalidate what you've said, my aim is to clarify my own position and I hope my directness isn't considered offensive. In my thinking, education is the key to everything. The current system stifles education imo, it does so at an early age and it does so deliberately (this is probably veering slightly off topic, but nonetheless, education is an absolutely essential facet of anarchism).


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