Lib-commies: Where we often disagree: Part 1: Democracy vs Liberty

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boomerang
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May 6 2014 16:04
Lib-commies: Where we often disagree: Part 1: Democracy vs Liberty

Mainstream discussion assumes political opinions can be divided on a spectrum from left to right.

Finding this inadequate, some use "the political compass" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_compass, which uses two dimensions.
* Wealth Equality (left) and Wealth Inequality (right)
* Power Equality (bottom) and Power Hierarchy (top)

Lib-commies clearly fall at the bottom left corner - wealth equality and power equality. (I know these terms are not such good descriptions, but I chose them because they're brief.)

So, that's where we agree. Yes, we agree on more than that, like using direct action in struggle, but I'm talking about where we agree in terms of the kind of social structures we're advocating to replace capitalism and the state with.

After years of conversations with anarchists, I've identified three other dimensions relating to the kind of social structures we hope will be created post-revolution. And I've noticed there is a lot of disagreement among us when it comes to these.

I'd like to have a discussion about these other dimensions. But one at a time, so that the threads are easier to follow.

So, first let's discuss: Democracy vs. Liberty
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All anarchists want to abolish the state. But what comes after the state? A lot of anarchists advocate for a society where we use direct democracy in our local communities to come to collective decisions. For larger populations - cities and regions - we use a combination of direct democracy and democratic councils of mandated recallable delegates. Majority rules, and the majority makes the rules. (Some pro-democracy anarchists advocate using super-majorities, but the basic principle still applies.)

There are also many anarchists who are anti-democracy. They view democracy as a threat to liberty. For example, a community could democratically decide to forbid alcohol. There is also worries about the tyranny of the majority. These anarchists want a society of maximum personal liberty. If people (or even one person) in the community don't like what you're doing, they can try to persuade you or take direct action to stop you (use their liberty to stop what they see as the misuse of yours). To get things done in society, instead of coming to a collective decision, we find like-minded folks who want to take on the same project, and we do it ourselves.

To be clear, this is not an "either-or" choice. You can fall anywhere along the spectrum from the most extreme on each end: "Majority Rules in All Things and the Right to Violently Coerce Those Who Don't Conform" to "Personal Liberty in All Things Even When Doing Harm to Others" I think I'd place myself somewhat in the middle, with a leaning towards democracy.

boomerang
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May 6 2014 16:02

Did an edit that will take a while to show up, because it's the OP. Here it is, edited part in bold

If people (or even one person) in the community don't like what you're doing, they can try to persuade you or take direct action to stop you (use their liberty to stop what they see as the misuse of yours).

boomerang
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May 7 2014 15:04

Mods - if you're reading this - can you move it to the "Theory" forum? Maybe it will get better response there. (Should have put it there in the first place, wasn't thinking)

Ummagumma
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May 25 2014 02:38

Before you move to a discussion about Liberty versus Democracy it might be better to define some terms. I was surprised to see the term "Lib-commies" used and was drawn to your post like a moth to a flame.

Liberalism and Communism are political theories so vastly different that it is impossible to perceive of them in the likeness and similarity of kin and kind! I can only take it that your understanding of both philosophies is so limited, or, more dishearteningly, you are so tainted with political prejudice as to use this emotive term, deliberate and sinister in its challenge, to evoke a response from those you hold in disdain.!

Wealth Equality and Power Equality are not the defining tenets that link Liberalism and Communism, on the contrary, Liberalism contends that the State facilitates, arbitrates and bind in contract an individual to it. Within this construct, the Rule of Law enshrines a dedication by the State to be Guarantor of an Individuals "Inalienable rights". The Law and Democratic processes are merely the facilities through which an individual can interact with the State. Liberals like Mill and Locke spoke of Equality of opportunity NOT "Wealth Equality". How disappointing that you're unaware of that!

Conversely, Communism rejects the State as the most immediate instrument of power and as the moral, social, political, legal and economic guarantor of human civilization. Marx and Engels were very clear on this, The State was the facility through which economic, political and social deconstruction could be delivered, the State as the inevitable instrument of its own demise, or as Marx declared "Self destruction".

The rest of your post is little more than an Intrigue and thinking point for laymen because the context in which it is presented is flawed , confused and therefore redundant.

Best Wishes

PS. I am inclined to think that when you use the term "Liberal" you are actually referring to some hybrid version of "Libertarianism"...I strongly recommend that you define terms before proceeding.

redsdisease
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May 25 2014 03:01
Ummagumma wrote:
Liberalism and Communism are political theories so vastly different that it is impossible to perceive of them in the likeness and similarity of kin and kind!

While I, and pretty much everyone on this site, would agree, I think that you need to re-read the OP a little more closely...

boomerang
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May 25 2014 03:13

This is a funny response! The name of this site is Libcom. Do you think it stands for liberal-communism? Why haven't you written to the admin to complain about their contradictory politics of liberal-communism!

You can't seriously come to a site called Libcom, and then when I use the term lib-commie, think I'm using that as shorthand for liberal-communism?

Libertarian-communism. Of course that's what I mean. That's what this website is about.

And I was all excited that this thread had finally gotten a couple responses!

Well, thanks for the chuckle. smile

(Sorry if I sounded annoyed... I'm not, just amused!)

Ummagumma
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May 25 2014 07:34

You have managed to ignore every point made and avoid any responsibility for the confusion you have engaged and sewn. I suspect that is because you are devoid of a response.

You commented..

"Lib-commies clearly fall at the bottom left corner - wealth equality and power equality. (I know these terms are not such good descriptions, but I chose them because they're brief"

Trying to attribute ownership of this nonsense comment to anyone but yourself to avoid scrutiny would not only be dishonest but downright mischievous. Own your words!

I suggest you actually go and read something by Locke, Mill or Hobhouse...and perhaps by Marx Engels, Trotsky and Lenin before engaging in such nonsense as that which you posted above. If you had bothered to read anything by these authors and political philosophers you would NOT be pigeon holing both philosophies at the "Bottom left" of the political spectrum nor asking "What comes after the State".

I am glad you can laugh, unfortunately the jokes on you.

These forums may be vehicles for learning so maybe, just maybe, you might identify an opportunity to expand your understand of the tenets essential to the philosophies you have confused and ask a few questions.

I commend you on planting the roots of excitement even if it was overtly narcissistic, and I in encourage you to foster your excitement for further learning such that you might avoid embarrassment when next you post something attributable to your own ignorance and prejudice rather than fact.

Feel free to answer any point I made or extrapolate there upon...I am sure we can ramp up the excitement for you!

Cheers and Best Wishes
UMMA

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Noah Fence
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May 25 2014 08:25

Ummagumma - I've been looking for someone to give me lessons in being a condescending twat - just wondered if you could help? I'd be so very grateful.

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jonthom
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May 25 2014 09:02

@Ummagumma: the "lib" in "libcom" is short for "libertarian" (as in "libertarian communism"). the entirety of your posts have been about liberalism. which is not part of, and in fact opposed to, libertarian communism.

Fleur
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May 25 2014 13:54

Ummagumma

I fear the only confusion sewn is in your own head, having come to a site, which has been around for ten years, which is a site for libertarian communists. We are not liberals. Libertarian communist is another term for anarchists. Incidentally, we do "own our words," libertarian being a word used by anarchists to identify themselves for an awful long time before right-wing,free-market capitalists decided to steal it and use it for themselves.
If you would like to engage with us, which you are very welcome to if you do not behave in a condescending and rude way, I would suggest you take a look at this site and get a grasp on the politics we actually have. This is quite clearly a libertarian-communist site, it's a really big site and is full of libertarian communist materials. You won't find a lot of Mill or Locke because they weren't libertarian communists. We have however, collectively, read an awful lot of Marx and probably don't need a lecture of his opinions on the role of the state.
I can only assume that you're not familiar with the concept of the political compass, to which Boomerang was referring to in the OP you totally misread. So here's a picture. Libertarian communists fall i the bottom left corner.

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boozemonarchy
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May 25 2014 14:28
bommerang wrote:
To be clear, this is not an "either-or" choice. You can fall anywhere along the spectrum from the most extreme on each end: "Majority Rules in All Things and the Right to Violently Coerce Those Who Don't Conform" to "Personal Liberty in All Things Even When Doing Harm to Others" I think I'd place myself somewhat in the middle, with a leaning towards democracy.

Yea, I'd probably place myself somewhere near you. I think that position is essentially the idea that folks who are not directly and substantially affected by decisions don't need included in votes and such. Like, people who aren't paramedics can fuck off if they think they get included in the decision making process for making the "on-call" schedule. However, people making decisions that harm others can be told to fuck off. Also, people like Umma can be told to fuck off unilaterally by whomever is nearest the keyboard.

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Noah Fence
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May 25 2014 14:54
Quote:
Also, people like Umma can be told to fuck off unilaterally by whomever is nearest the keyboard.

Hehehe!

boomerang
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May 25 2014 14:57
bozemananarchy wrote:
boomerang wrote:
To be clear, this is not an "either-or" choice. You can fall anywhere along the spectrum from the most extreme on each end: "Majority Rules in All Things and the Right to Violently Coerce Those Who Don't Conform" to "Personal Liberty in All Things Even When Doing Harm to Others" I think I'd place myself somewhat in the middle, with a leaning towards democracy.

Yea, I'd probably place myself somewhere near you. I think that position is essentially the idea that folks who are not directly and substantially affected by decisions don't need included in votes and such. Like, people who aren't paramedics can fuck off if they think they get included in the decision making process for making the "on-call" schedule. However, people making decisions that harm others can be told to fuck off.

Holy crap, a real response to the OP! I love it. Hopefully you'll start a trend. smile

bozemananarchy wrote:
Also, people like Umma can be told to fuck off unilaterally by whomever is nearest the keyboard.

As for Ummagumma, it's a brand new account made shortly before making the post, and they have only posted on this thread. I think they are just a very creative troll. Good trolling, Ummagumma! Now fuck off.

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May 25 2014 22:36
boomerang wrote:
There are also many anarchists who are anti-democracy. They view democracy as a threat to liberty. For example, a community could democratically decide to forbid alcohol. There is also worries about the tyranny of the majority.

A lot of these fears seem to stem from a misconception about what it means to give people (as opposed to states) political power. Having political power does not mean that any one person will win all, the majority or any of the decisions within a community. It means that the person has the same access to that political power should s/he decide to use it.

Quote:
These anarchists want a society of maximum personal liberty. If people (or even one person) in the community don't like what you're doing, they can try to persuade you or take direct action to stop you (use their liberty to stop what they see as the misuse of yours)

I'm gonna steer clear of the language used here ("misuse" of liberty), but I will say that in order to have a maximum amount of personal (negative) liberty instead of a maximum amount positive liberty (or maximum amount of both, or a leveled amount of both) there has to be some justificatory argument(s) which would yield a situation in which it would be correct to allow personal liberty to reign over positive liberty. It seems that if we're operating under communist principles a lot of these concerns disappear (not all, for sure, but many). I'll give you an example: if we're operating under a system that doesn't recognize property, on what basis can the "personal liberty" anarchist justify a desire to, say, own piece of land and work it alone without any collective interfering (thereby maximizing at least one aspect of personal liberty)? On what basis can s/he drill for oil on "his/her" land and give the environment and the rest of the world the middle finger?

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Chilli Sauce
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May 26 2014 10:26

UMMA you are most definitely a troll, but on the slim chance you're not, I'm not going to recommend you read massive philosophical treatises before I deem it acceptable for you to respond. Instead, here's a short introductory text that will let you know what libertarian-communism and the libcom, the site, are about:

http://libcom.org/library/libertarian-communism-introduction

boomerang
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May 26 2014 23:24
Ethos wrote:
I'll give you an example: if we're operating under a system that doesn't recognize property, on what basis can the "personal liberty" anarchist justify a desire to, say, own piece of land and work it alone without any collective interfering (thereby maximizing at least one aspect of personal liberty)? On what basis can s/he drill for oil on "his/her" land and give the environment and the rest of the world the middle finger?

Yes, personal liberty used in this way is a problem for the community. But I don't think most anti-democracy anarchists are clamoring for individual property rights. Or even if most of them are, there are other criticisms of democracy they make that aren't so easy to knock down.

In my OP I mentioned a democratic decision to forbid alcohol. A real life example comes from the kibbutz in Israel. These are communes that for decades used direct democracy, delegates, and abolished the wage system - and some still operate this way. It was common practice for individuals who wanted to go to post-secondary school, to have to get their program of study approved by the kibbutz. Sometimes people were denied being able to study what they wanted, because the types of skills/knowledge gained in that program wasn't seen as useful to the kibbutz community.

Who knows what sort of crazy democratic decisions people might come to in their communities.

The general rule is "you only get to vote on something if you're affected." I fully agree. But there's often decisions where there's varying degrees of being affected. Like with the kibbutz example. The person most affected is obviously the individual who wants to go to post-secondary school. But the rest of the kibbutz IS affected by that decision, too, just to a lesser degree, because the certain skills are needed, others not so much. So it can be argued that the community gets a say - which is exactly what happened.

I'm in favor of (direct) democracy, but I do have fears of it overstepping itself into personal liberty.

I'm still developing my ideas on this, so I hope others will jump in the conversation. Even Umma - if they're willing to stay on topic. smile

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May 27 2014 02:01
boomerang wrote:
The general rule is "you only get to vote on something if you're affected." I fully agree. But there's often decisions where there's varying degrees of being affected. Like with the kibbutz example. The person most affected is obviously the individual who wants to go to post-secondary school. But the rest of the kibbutz IS affected by that decision, too, just to a lesser degree, because the certain skills are needed, others not so much. So it can be argued that the community gets a say - which is exactly what happened.

I think this example deals with a level of economic isolationism that almost no anarchists would promote.

Some anarchists also like to amend that "general rule" to say something along the lines of, "...to the degree one is affected". In any case, I'll deal with your example without using any of these two points I've highlighted:

Of course all decisions affect others to some extent. So, unless the community is facing dire straits, I don't see how claiming that it isn't useful to the community should work as justification for denying a particular individual from, say, attending schooling s/he desires. One reason why some anarchists (myself included) promote adopting a democratic decision making procedure is because it maximizes of both negative and positive liberty and for this procedure to not do so, again, sans dire straits, would be to violate its own reasons/principle. So, this example of the kibbutz is suspect at best. A democracy can also vote to elect a tyrant in the same way that any one person can murder another, but if it does so it does so only from the application side of the spectrum. There's nothing in the principles on which democracy is based that would justify this action.

Edit:

I forgot to address your alcohol example directly. I think it's quite simple: there may be no justification for a community banning consumption, as in there will be some sort of repercussion for mere consumption or possession, but there's also nothing in any particular individuals personal liberty that justifies the community making it for her/his personal enjoyment when the rest of the community has decided that it's undesireable. So long as the means of production remain open to that individual, and engaging in consumption is only detrimental (or beneficial, which ever way you're looking at it) to that individual s/he can go ahead and make her/his own poison.