Reading Recommendations for a Fellow Anarchist

481 posts / 0 new
Last post
ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 12 2012 16:43
Reading Recommendations for a Fellow Anarchist

Hi, I have recently met a number of people who are pretty hardcore Anarcho-Communists and have been a little confused by their views, so I am wondering if anyone here could recommend any basic reading for me which would answer my particular question(s). I have already read, though quite a few years ago now, a lot of Kropotkin (I am in the process of re-reading The Conquest of Bread at the moment). I've also read a lot of other anarchist writings, but not many communistic ones.
My main question to communists is as follows: If I make something myself and want to keep it for myself, why should I be forced to share it with the community?
I know this is really basic stuff, which is why I am asking for any really basic readings. All I've heard from people so far is a strange argument which goes something along the lines of: "Oh you never made anything yourself really, everyone assisted you throughout your life, your mother gave birth to you, therefore you owe everyone, etc..." This seems a bit ridiculous to me. The only other explanation I can think of is the "Jesus-argument" ("share everything because that's a nice thing to do") which is just as silly. Is there any better explanation?

redsdisease
Offline
Joined: 31-12-10
Aug 12 2012 20:10
ComradeAppleton wrote:
My main question to communists is as follows: If I make something myself and want to keep it for myself, why should I be forced to share it with the community?
I know this is really basic stuff, which is why I am asking for any really basic readings. All I've heard from people so far is a strange argument which goes something along the lines of: "Oh you never made anything yourself really, everyone assisted you throughout your life, your mother gave birth to you, therefore you own everyone, etc..." This seems a bit ridiculous to me. The only other explanation I can think of is the "Jesus-argument" ("share everything because that's a nice thing to do") which is just as silly. Is there any better explanation?

I don't think that saying "you've never made something 'yourself'" is silly. Almost every single act of productive labor that we do is only possible because of the labor of countless other members of our society.

Say you want to make something all by yourself, maybe something simple, like a box for your garden. It really only requires two basic materials: boards and nails. However, you have to go through several processes just to get to the point where you have those two materials: felling the tree, milling the lumber, forging the nails, all of which are specialized tasks. Of course all of these tasks require tools: saws, mills, hammers, ovens, anvils, which have to be constructed. Their construction requires raw materials, some of which must be extracted from the earth using mines, which must be dug and supported. And, of course, all of these steps require knowledge which must not only be discovered, but also taught. Only under capitalism does the absurd notion that, after all of that, hammering a few of those boards together into a rectangle means that you "made it yourself."

And, what the hell, I also think that sharing is a nice thing to do. What kind of dick thinks that's silly?

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 12 2012 20:28

Sorry, maybe I worded my question rather poorly. What I meant is not that I did it all by myself without anyone else working. You used a good example - with the board and nails to make a box in the garden. Well if I traded something for the board and nails or got them as a gift, then I don't owe anyone anything. Nobody owns any part of my box, I own the whole box.
This is why I was asking if anyone has a good explanation for why it should not be so. I ask because I recently befriended a number of people who oppose private property rights in things that someone makes themselves. I've always been a anti-political person and prefer to oppose the current geopolitical paradigm by staying independent in my small way. Then here I meet these people who seem sensible (they oppose the state, religion, aristocracy, current ownership titles to means of production, etc), but they tell me that if I have my own garden, fence it off, and grow my own food there then that is an illegitimate act (because I don't intend to share the produce of my garden).
I just don't see how a free anarchistic society would remain free and anarchistic if I wasn't allowed to produce things for myself. I mean it's not like I'm hurting anyone.

wojtek
Offline
Joined: 8-01-11
Aug 12 2012 20:54

Lol, course you can have your own box/ garden. One has to differentiate between personal and private (exploitative) property. I think this is what you're looking for:

http://infoshop.org/page/AnarchistFAQSectionI5#seci57

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 12 2012 21:15

Thanks man. I totally accept the voluntary principle. People should get more educated - be anarchist first and communist second. Otherwise we'll have a million little Lenins running around. I personally detest the state/capitalist system, but the communist system has even less appeal to me.
It's just depressing that 90% of the time when I put my views forward I get criticized by Anarcho-Communists and instead all these "AnCaps" come over and tell me how right I am. As if just because I don't want to kill people it makes me some kind of statist/capitalist exploiter...
I think the reason for all this is that there is too much revolutionary zeal and too little actual problem-solving. People never get off their ass to actually find solutions to problems; they just talk about "revolution" all the time.

Well anyway, thanks again and good luck on your road to Anarchy smile

Book O'Dead's picture
Book O'Dead
Offline
Joined: 31-07-12
Aug 13 2012 01:58
ComradeAppleton[... wrote:
My main question to communists is as follows: If I make something myself and want to keep it for myself, why should I be forced to share it with the community?
[...]

Your premise is defective. Socialism, communism or anarchism are not about "forcing" you or anyone else to share their birdhouse with the community. Rather, it is about acknowledging that all productive property is the product of social labor and by rights belongs to society.

As Marx said:

Quote:
We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence.

Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.

Or do you mean the modern bourgeois private property?

But does wage-labour create any property for the labourer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labour, and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labour for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labour. Let us examine both sides of this antagonism.

To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.

Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power.

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 13 2012 05:05
Book O'Dead wrote:
Your premise is defective. Socialism, communism or anarchism are not about "forcing" you or anyone else to share their birdhouse with the community. Rather, it is about acknowledging that all productive property is the product of social labor and by rights belongs to society.

Well I certainly don't acknowledge that all capital belongs to society. Capital should belong to whoever made it. Isn't that more fair? I mean as long as communism is voluntary I have no problem with it, but I wish someone explained to me how some complete stranger from another part of the country or globe can have any claim on something I made.

What I was getting at with my initial post is the fact that a couple people (who said they are Anarcho-Communists) told me I'm not legitimately allowed to own my own land and produce everything for myself (or trade with people). I mean in some abstract Marxian world capital could be "social power" or whatever, but in reality someone has to have control over it right? So why can't I have control over my own capital?

Anyway I don't want to ramble on too much, but this is all quite amazing to me because I consider myself an anarchist.

qbbmvrjsssdd's picture
qbbmvrjsssdd
Offline
Joined: 28-11-11
Aug 13 2012 07:30

You're right, if you bake a cake and you genuinely worked for and earned all the ingredients that went into making it, no one can justly eat that cake without impinging on your right to the cake. But if you made the cake with ingredients that you did not work for, you'd be no better than a capitalist, whose cake (capital) was made with the ingredients (labor) of others.
If you built an entire cake factory with your own sweat, and set it into motion with no one's labor but your own, that cake factory as well as all the cakes made in it, would rightly belong to you. But if you lived in a communist society, no one would buy your cakes, and they'd all go stale, and you'd be reduced to poverty, ha ha ha ha, fool!

Book O'Dead's picture
Book O'Dead
Offline
Joined: 31-07-12
Aug 13 2012 07:31
ComradeAppleton wrote:
Book O'Dead wrote:
Your premise is defective. Socialism, communism or anarchism are not about "forcing" you or anyone else to share their birdhouse with the community. Rather, it is about acknowledging that all productive property is the product of social labor and by rights belongs to society.

Well I certainly don't acknowledge that all capital belongs to society. Capital should belong to whoever made it. Isn't that more fair? I mean as long as communism is voluntary I have no problem with it, but I wish someone explained to me how some complete stranger from another part of the country or globe can have any claim on something I made.

What I was getting at with my initial post is the fact that a couple people (who said they are Anarcho-Communists) told me I'm not legitimately allowed to own my own land and produce everything for myself (or trade with people). I mean in some abstract Marxian world capital could be "social power" or whatever, but in reality someone has to have control over it right? So why can't I have control over my own capital?

Anyway I don't want to ramble on too much, but this is all quite amazing to me because I consider myself an anarchist.

No one makes capital by themselves. Capital is a product of social labor, not in "some abstract Marxian world", but in the here and now. Capital is the accumulation of uncompensated labor.

You can't be much of an anarchist if you're so concerned about possessing wealth and excluding others from sharing it with you; a true anarchist is not a propertarian.

To paraphrase Marx, communism deprives no one from enjoying the fruits of their labor; it deprives them of the right to use it in order to exploit others.

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 13 2012 08:06
Book O'Dead wrote:
You can't be much of an anarchist if you're so concerned about possessing wealth and excluding others from sharing it with you; a true anarchist is not a propertarian.

You seem to be conflating anarchism with communism. Neither one implies the other by any means. I don't think I need to be a communist in order to be an anarchist. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is not the right idea to base a community on in my opinion.

More to the point, I know I'm no expert, but how is it possible to let everyone enjoy the full fruits of their labor without allowing them to keep 100% of what they earned as their own property? It seems a contradiction to say that you keep all you make, but you also have to make sure others get to take some of it.

Melancholy of Resistance's picture
Melancholy of R...
Offline
Joined: 2-11-11
Aug 13 2012 08:19

Yes, yes they do imply each other. You really should read wojtek's link.

JoeMaguire's picture
JoeMaguire
Offline
Joined: 26-09-03
Aug 13 2012 09:43
ComradeAppleton wrote:
More to the point, I know I'm no expert, but how is it possible to let everyone enjoy the full fruits of their labor without allowing them to keep 100% of what they earned as their own property? It seems a contradiction to say that you keep all you make, but you also have to make sure others get to take some of it.

The premise is that both mental and physical labour is socialised. Producing things in isolation is not a rational way to mass produce things for a society. Therefore "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is a totally rational way to produce and distribute goods between workplace collectives. This is not a mad scheme to hold things socially produced in common for eternity.

You could have personally acquired the raw materials through the distribution of goods, but the only reason you would produce your object in the manner your suggesting is if you had an artistic or hobby rational behind it.

I suspect the rational driving you line of arguement is your misunderstanding over how goods are acquired in the here and now, hence your previous post about capital belonging to the person. You see, presently labour produces, and capital acquires this and distributes it irrationally and unevenly. We want to abolish capital, and ensure an equalitarian manner of distribution. Therefore if you were a mechanic or plumber, you could have picked up your required item due to services rendered, or you would have to put in a claim for it if you worked in said workplace when goods are distributed.

cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
Offline
Joined: 15-03-04
Aug 13 2012 12:32

I think the mainproblem here is that you've abstracted production from reality.

Most goods produced for personal use are mass produced consumable items (a pint of milk, a t-shirt, a mobile phone, a spoon etc), goods that you would 'make yourself' (eg a sculpture,a painting, a homemade cake, a necklace made of shells you found on the beach) are generally produced from raw materials/produts that were previously mass produced (clay, paper, flour etc).

No-one would make anyone share those goods once they had been distributed to individuals. Firstly there is no material need to do so since such goods can generally produced in relative abundance according to demand, secondly it would be irrational since no-one even wants to 'share' your amateur doodlings. In short if you want to bake your neighbours a cake thats all well and good, but no-ones going to be banging on your door demanding an equal slice and a chance to see your nude etchings of your partner. This would in any rational society constitute a form of sanctionable personal harrasment.

Now there are goods which are not in ''absolute abundance'', to which supply is limited.
For example; tickets to a critically acclaimed cultural event, a long distance plane flight, a whole side of tuna, a holiday log cabin.
In a capitalist society such goods are mostly priced, often making such goods the preserve of those who can afford them. Without a price mechanism such ''luxury'' goods would logically have to be booked/rationed in some fashion. Eg you can have x amount of tickets/plane flights per year. You can also wait for or pool things like holiday homes etc

In short the only goods a communist society would force you to ''share'' or at least place some limit on your personal consumption of are those small number of largely non-consumable 'luxury items'' which by their nature are in limited supply.

Book O'Dead's picture
Book O'Dead
Offline
Joined: 31-07-12
Aug 13 2012 15:06
ComradeAppleton wrote:

You seem to be conflating anarchism with communism. Neither one implies the other by any means. I don't think I need to be a communist in order to be an anarchist. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is not the right idea to base a community on in my opinion.

It's you who are confusing anarchism with individualistic selfishness and exclusion. Is that your definition of anarchism?

Quote:
More to the point, I know I'm no expert, but how is it possible to let everyone enjoy the full fruits of their labor without allowing them to keep 100% of what they earned as their own property? It seems a contradiction to say that you keep all you make, but you also have to make sure others get to take some of it.

Communism does not propose that individuals keep 100% of what they produce; it never has. What communism proposes is that whereas all wealth is the product of social labor it must, by rights, belongs to all of society.

Judging by your words you seem to feel that sharing what you help to create somehow makes you poorer instead of making you and others richer.

Communism, anarchism--I use the terms indifferently--is about solidarity, cooperation and mutual aid.

If you're serious about wanting to learn, that is, if you're not just maliciously trolling to see if you can get a rise out of someone here, I recommend you study some of the fundamentals of Marxian economics and sociology.

You can start by reading K.Marx's Value Price and Profit and Wage Labor and Capital.

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 13 2012 16:18

This has been enlightening. I guess most of my experience of communism has to do with my history. I'm Polish and my family pretty much got screwed by the communist regime there. Let me give an example. My great-grandfather owned a shoe shop where he made and sold shoes. The communists took that away from him because "private" production was not allowed. They then decided that his house was too big for the size of his family and they stuck three other families into his own house! So he ended up living with his family in one room... Hopefully none of you are advocating this sort of thing where some ruling body gets to decide what is fair and what is not and constant redistribution takes place.

As for my anarchism, I rather like the definition that anarchists are those who oppose external rule and only recognize voluntary associations and agreements as valid. That doesn't have anything to do with communism though - after all you could have lots of anarchists who don't want to share their capital with other people or let others onto their land or into their associations.

Spikymike
Offline
Joined: 6-01-07
Aug 13 2012 16:47

I suppose someone should mention that Kropotkin was an anarchist and a communist though in it's original meaning and not the distorted authoritarian 'communism' associated with the old Russian block that included Poland. (A system which most here would prefer to describe as 'state capitalism').

And yes do read the short introductory texts by Marx recomended here remembering that whatever else they disagreed about the anarchist Bakunin held such analysis in high regard.

qbbmvrjsssdd's picture
qbbmvrjsssdd
Offline
Joined: 28-11-11
Aug 13 2012 21:19
ComradeAppleton wrote:
Hopefully none of you are advocating this sort of thing where some ruling body gets to decide what is fair and what is not and constant redistribution takes place.

No however expropriations would take place in the transition to communism, though any body that claims to have a governing monopoly on the expropriation process would not be communist, because communist expropriation is subjected to democratic mass action. In the case of your grandfather though, if there was an actual housing shortage then the people who occupied his home would have a right to occupy it because of genuine need, but that right does not emanate from any centralized communist regime. I think it's a good thing to ask, also, why do some people have capital at their disposal while others are nothing more than wage-laborers? It's not just individual initiative that begets personal wealth, it's also material, historical conditions. I think that communism will involve a lot of disputes over who deserves what at some points, and there will be struggles between the governing bodies of the communes and individual dissenters on a number of occasions. But society has to be first and foremost subjected to democratic processes, even if the majority becomes overbearing, in order to learn and become free.

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 13 2012 21:53

Personally I just don't understand why communist are such absolutists. I think we all agree that a great majority (if not all) of past and current property titles are illegitimate. But that does not mean the solution to this problem is collectivization and the elimination of the concept of property titles! In fact, I can think of nothing worse than living in a commune where my voice is just one of many in some democratic process (that is what I feel like right now). I honestly couldn't care less whether I get ordered about by one powerful capitalist, or by a mass of communists. Both are equally bad for my well being. I abhor all authority, period.

This is really why I posted here in the first place. I wanted to know what the arguments are for collectivization of property, and also how people who claim to be 'anarchists' can forbid me from doing anything at all (other than by mutual, contractual agreement). For me property is an essential element of self-expression and anarchy basically means 'minding my own business' in all affairs. So how can anarcho-communists have a right to mind their business, but also to mind my business!?

Book O'Dead's picture
Book O'Dead
Offline
Joined: 31-07-12
Aug 13 2012 22:39
ComradeAppleton wrote:
Personally I just don't understand why communist are such absolutists. I think we all agree that a great majority (if not all) of past and current property titles are illegitimate. But that does not mean the solution to this problem is collectivization and the elimination of the concept of property titles! In fact, I can think of nothing worse than living in a commune where my voice is just one of many in some democratic process (that is what I feel like right now). I honestly couldn't care less whether I get ordered about by one powerful capitalist, or by a mass of communists. Both are equally bad for my well being. I abhor all authority, period.

This is really why I posted here in the first place. I wanted to know what the arguments are for collectivization of property, and also how people who claim to be 'anarchists' can forbid me from doing anything at all (other than by mutual, contractual agreement). For me property is an essential element of self-expression and anarchy basically means 'minding my own business' in all affairs. So how can anarcho-communists have a right to mind their business, but also to mind my business!?

You're perfectly entitled to your opinion. But your defense of private property is fetishistic and reactionary. Your views may have been useful in the 19th and 20th Centuries, when it was still possible for many more people to acquire capital, but today it is no longer so. Private property is obsolete and must therefore be abolished in favor of a more healthy arrangement.

Placing your narrow individual rights above those of the community to dispose of productive property is what capitalists do every time they defend their criminal, outdated system. They view property in the means of production as personal possession, whereas the rest of us see it as social property.

Marx clearly demonstrated that the social nature of capital has made private property obsolete and anti-social. That's the direction in which social evolution is taking us.

[edit]: As to authority: If the capitalists refuse to voluntarily give up their ownership and control of their wealth and it becomes necessary to "pry it out of their dead, cold fingers", then so be it; they'll have no one else to blame but themselves.

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 13 2012 22:59
Book O'Dead wrote:
Placing your narrow individual rights above those of the community to dispose of productive property is what capitalists do every time they defend their criminal, outdated system. They view property in the means of production as personal possession, whereas the rest of us see it as social property.

Well this is just plain condescending babble. I might as well say that it is your system which is outdated and primitive and criminal (last time full collectivism in the means of production existed and functioned was in the stone age).
You would have to come up with some better argument to persuade people of why it would be beneficial for them to part with the products of their labor. Because all I see right now is that it would definitely be beneficial to you if you were allowed to appropriate the labor of others.

Book O'Dead wrote:
If the capitalists refuse to voluntarily give up their ownership and control of their wealth and it becomes necessary to "pry it out of their dead, cold fingers", then so be it; they'll have no one else to blame but themselves.

And herein lies the rub I suppose. You're not an anarchist at all, but just a simple state communist. Only state communists use murder as a means of attaining their goals and force collectivism on bystanders. Johann Most would be proud of a statement like the one you just made. It's pretty disgusting to call someone who wants to run their own life independently of others a "capitalist" and threaten them with death...

Melancholy of Resistance's picture
Melancholy of R...
Offline
Joined: 2-11-11
Aug 13 2012 23:16
ComradeAppleton wrote:
In fact, I can think of nothing worse than living in a commune where my voice is just one of many in some democratic process (that is what I feel like right now).

So you'd rather your voice carried more weight than other voices?

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 13 2012 23:30
Melancholy of Resistance wrote:
So you'd rather your voice carried more weight than other voices?

I'd prefer to have veto power over any decision which concerns me. I don't want mob rule based on voting, I want anarchy.

PartyBucket's picture
PartyBucket
Offline
Joined: 23-03-08
Aug 13 2012 23:51

Why do all these individualists / propertarians look into the future and decide that it consists entirely of them trying to trade a box of frogs for a cake or something... bUT thE ComMIes WOnT leT thEM!!!!!!1!111!!

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 14 2012 00:02
PartyBucket wrote:
Why do all these individualists / propertarians look into the future and decide that it consists entirely of them trying to trade a box of frogs for a cake or something... bUT thE ComMIes WOnT leT thEM!!!!!!1!111!!

It's probably because every time I meet a communist (and since I moved back to England this happens quite often) they explicitly tell me that I can't have property rights in capital or product. Which makes no sense and is incredibly un-anarchistic. Anarchy is about leaving people alone, not about meddling in their business.

Then again, communists are pretty much the only people individualists can even tolerate nowadays. Most others (in case you haven't noticed smile ) are zombies who just follow their masters' orders, wherever the wind may blow. Half of the population is imperialistic and patriotic, and other other half ignorant and selfish (in a bad consumerist manner). None of these things can be said about the average communist or individualist, so there is at least common ground personality-wise.

qbbmvrjsssdd's picture
qbbmvrjsssdd
Offline
Joined: 28-11-11
Aug 14 2012 00:06

I agree with you that authority, even the authority of a worker's commune, is more often than not undesirable and illegitimate. Communism is not only the collectivization of private property, but also the decentralization of it. This allows for a truly more genuine democratic control over production which would be oriented around the local commune rather than the global corporation, thereby strengthening the power of individuals in collective decision-making and genuinely making things more equal. The point is is that capitalism, which is very much alive and well, needs to be abolished through collective takeover of private property, which is not in the hands of a minority of hard-working anarchists, but gigantic super-corporations.

Book O'Dead's picture
Book O'Dead
Offline
Joined: 31-07-12
Aug 14 2012 00:26
ComradeAppleton wrote:
Melancholy of Resistance wrote:
So you'd rather your voice carried more weight than other voices?

I'd prefer to have veto power over any decision which concerns me. I don't want mob rule based on voting, I want anarchy.

In communism everyone's "veto power" will be expressed through their vote. Their maturity and intelligence will be measured by their willingness and ability to cooperate with an enlightened majority.

Again, let me emphasize: Communism is about creating a cooperative society in which solidarity and mutual aid are the rule, not the exception.

Someone who places their individual property rights above the well-being of their community is no anarchist.

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 14 2012 00:47
Book O'Dead wrote:
Someone who places their individual property rights above the well-being of their community is no anarchist.

This is a very curious statement. I guess people can only get away with saying this since communists have taken over the anarchist movement. What is so anarchist about putting others ahead of yourself (which is what communism really is)? What is so anarchistic about being forced to follow the rules of the "enlightened majority"? This is just more "dictatorship of the proletariat". Dictatorship is fundamentally opposed to anarchy.
Anarchists don't recognize babble like this and rebel against any artificial laws, whether the laws are made by a "enlightened majority" or a "enlightened monarch". Anarchists don't accept any rules they don't want to accept, but they can accept whatever rules they want.

Book O'Dead wrote:
Communism is about creating a cooperative society in which solidarity and mutual aid are the rule, not the exception.

I admire your zeal and I accept your right of living this way. I feel sorry that under present conditions you cannot recognize your ideal and live with fellow communists. If a global revolution was to take place I would certainly gladly take part in it and help overthrow the current regime.
But once the current dictatorship is overthrown I would say "to each his own" and probably I would not choose to live in a purely communistic society.

jonthom's picture
jonthom
Offline
Joined: 25-11-10
Aug 14 2012 01:27

Hm. Some questions:

a) What right do you have to pick a particular piece of land or resources and decide that you, and nobody else, have the right to them?

b) By doing so this puts you in a position of authority as property owner, dictating who can and cannot access "your" resources. In what way is this compatible with anarchism?

c) Without a state or some sort of collectively agreed body (perhaps, even, that dreaded "democracy" you seem so frightened of), how would you go about enforcing said property claims?

d) If the answer to the above is "at the barrel of a gun", how does that make you any better than those nefarious collectivists who are just itching to take away your property? "Only state communists use murder as a means of attaining their goals and force collectivism on bystanders" can just as easily be switched to "Only capitalists use murder as a means of attaining their goals and forcing their notions of property on bystanders" for all the difference it makes.

e) Out of interest, are you American? I ask since I find these arguments somewhat reminiscent of the mythology around the "Old West", with individuals (or small groups) going off into the wilderness to set up their own little farm with nobody to interfere with them. "Anarchy is about leaving people alone, not about meddling in their business," as you put it. (FWIW I doubt this was possible even at the time and even less so now, but that's a different debate.)

---

To be honest I find this line of reasoning tends to rest on a rather paranoid - and rather right wing, "no such thing as society, only individuals" and all that - set of assumptions, mostly centred on ideas of the individual vs. society and the (ridiculous) idea that people could easily just go off and sustain themselves in isolated peace were it not for the villainous communists sending in the Cheka to confiscate your apples or whatever.

For what it's worth, in some hypothetical anarchist society I doubt anyone would object if you wanted to just go off and do your own thing, so long as it didn't adversely impact on others by monopolising or damaging resources people needed (stopping anyone else from taking food from "your" property in a time of hunger, or polluting the water source people rely on or whatever). Doing so would be more than a little selfish anyway, of course.

However, for the life of me I can't understand why you'd want to. We're social animals and only really experience life in relation to others - not simply as a collection of "individuals", but as a society and community, on anything from a tiny local level right up to worldwide. Anything from the doctors who treat you to the teachers who educate you to the people who talk to and debate with you - all of it is the product of a near-infinite number of social interactions between people and groups on a micro and macro scale.

The idea of the world as a set of discrete individuals negotiating with one another through contracts based on property simply doesn't reflect this reality IMO. Ideas of collective ownership, co-operation, participation and mutual aid, people contributing what they're able to and getting the things they need to survive - communism in other words - are to a large extent based on recognising that we're all dependant on one another to a greater or lesser extent, and trying to use that mutual dependance to benefit everyone rather than simply those who hold power, whether that power is based in the state, capital, property or some combination of the three.

In general the whole individual vs society notion strikes me as entirely false.

A Wotsit's picture
A Wotsit
Offline
Joined: 14-11-11
Aug 14 2012 01:08

"Anarchy is about leaving people alone, not about meddling in their business." so we shouldn't meddle in the business of those who oppress and exploit us and just allow them the freedom as an individual to do so?

A society based on anarchy/communism is not going to prevent people from keeping possessions or having a private space, or personal interests and so on. It will hold the means to make those possessions, and the ability to decide how spaces are fairly allocated and shared, in common and allow all of us equal (as possible) access to them. We might just get somewhere close to anarchy/communism by organising against capital and government at a local level where we work and where we live (or occupying new places) in a non-hierarchical way, with an eye to building international and solidarity and mutual aid between disparate working class communities and effective ways of managing the commons and means of production collectively to ensure we all have our individual needs better met and can contribute to the fullest of our abilities.

We as a class (and as working class individuals) have nothing to gain from private property. Everything around us, everything we need to survive or enjoy life is the product of nature, and countless generations of social (re)production, including that which we help to create. Private property is an abstract concept made real by oppression and violence and class divisions, it only exists because some work to survive and some use oppression and exploitation to capitalise on the labour of others. I think you might be be confused about the difference between capital, productive property (the means of production), our individual needs and abilities and the products of our labour (like there is a difference between a toothbrush, a forest and a factory- one you can own in commuism, two you can't). What are you worried that the nasty communists will steal from you? What do you really claim sole ownership to? The ingredients, materials, knowledge, food you ate to work, crop varieties you choose to grow or eat, tools you use etc etc came from the labour of others. The totality of the web of social relations can not be effectively organised by people saying "fuck off! I own this- if you want some or want to use it you gotta give me something in return! Tell you what use my machine to make five and I'll give you one of them" oh dear, looks like we have hierarchy and capitalism when selfish people try and own shit, not anarchy at all. The influence of capital and private property means the things people need are distributed and produced in a way which creates and is characterised by exploitation and alienation. Instead of this anarchy/communism offers people performing to the best of their ability to fit in with a productive society as best they can and help make sure it meets individual and collective needs. Anarchy must abolish private property because claiming you own a part of nature and human existence or the product of other's labour, beyond your social position and own thoughts and actions, is to sow a seed of oppression and exploitation.

Anarchist communists do not want to create a centralised oppressive system. We want people to be more free to choose where they live, who they live with and how they work together to meet their needs and be socially productive. Private property is a barrier to this so we must 'interfere' in those that seek to live by exploiting property and owning (as opposed to just sharing in) the labour of others and the commons.

I'm high and prone to talking shit and better posters than me have tried to explain so that might missed the mark.... but I think you don't understand (some key bits of) anarchism. I think you might just come to see things from an anarchist (communist) perspective (ignore the fact that the term 'communist' is used to refer to a form of totalitarian government, that is like people thinking anarchy means violent chaos) so please do read more on this site- it's great!

ComradeAppleton's picture
ComradeAppleton
Offline
Joined: 12-08-12
Aug 14 2012 06:22

I have nothing against communist per se, I only oppose compulsory communism. For me anarchism is the final expression of individualism. I'm not an anarchist by ideology, I'm an anarchist by pragmatism. Ideologically (if I can even say that) I am an individualist. Individualism is more than an ideology, it is just a way of being. I can't not be an individual after all.

Communism, like any other fixed set of morals, is created to limit the individual. It throws out a whole series of 'thou shalt nots' and 'thou shalts' at every person. In that it is as preachy as christianity, liberalism, conservatism, etc. As Benjamin Tucker used to say about communism: "you either conform to it entirely or you are excommunicated". Individualists just say 'to each his own'. This seems to fit perfectly with the idea of anarchy, but for obvious reasons doesn't sit well with communism.

In conclusion, communists want a regime of collective rule, and individualists want no regime of any rules - just a contractual society. These two visions wouldn't be antithetical if not for the fact that communists seem unable to recognize that others can have a different way of life than they do. Why can't you communists just organize your own communes and leave others well enough alone? Then we could be great allies in the upcoming revolution that we all want smile

In answer to jonthom's last question, no I'm not American. But I spent 7 years living in America, so I'm fairly well acquainted with the culture in different parts of the country (I lived in New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts).

Melancholy of Resistance's picture
Melancholy of R...
Offline
Joined: 2-11-11
Aug 14 2012 09:27

At this point, I'm not sure why people are even bothering any more.