Hierarchy and anarcho-capitalism

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Nov 14 2007 04:39
Hierarchy and anarcho-capitalism

A (ahem) "anarcho-capitalist" forum I was arguing on came up with this argument, concerning the social anarchist opposition to hierarchy, and the criticism of capitalism as hierarchical.

Quote:
The only way to get around hierarchy is if everybody agrees. (i.e., coercing someone that disagrees into going along with an idea is a hierarchy of its own) If that were the case, there would be no need for any political philosophy, be it ancap, ansoc, conservatism, etc. Political philosophy is the topic of "who gets what" when there's DISAGREEMENT over who gets what.

It's not that humans aren't "built" to agree. It's the fact that the entire field of political philosophy is the topic of what do, given a disagreement. If your theory assumes the possibility of (eventual) complete agreement, it's not a political philosophy at all!

However you answer the more fundamental question of "what should people do when they disagree about how some scarce, apppropriable resource should be used?" you are going to create a hierarchy. If the more needing person should get the resource, that's a hiearchy. If the resource is used however the majority decides, that's a hiearchy.

What do people think about this argument. I tried the following reply, but i;d be grateful for help or feedback on how good the argument is, cos i hate to lose to smug free market types:

sam sanchez wrote:
In reply to the comment on hierarchy in the "true anarchists read this first bit".

There is a difference between hierarchy and just not getting the decision you want.

Hierarchy is a systematic, organised division of people in a ranked way, so that they are divided into superiors and subordinates. These are INSTITUTIONAL ROLES, where it is the job of some to give orders, and of others to take them (whilst perhaps giving them to others further down the chain).

There is a hierarchy between bosses and workers, because bosses give the orders, and workers take them. Its just the same as the state, there is a hierarchy between the state and its subjects, because the government makes the laws, and the subjects obey them. If you want to stay within the area of the workplace, you have to take orders from above. If you want to stay within the area of the state, you have to do the same.

Now, compare this to a democratic workplace assembly. Sure, sometimes a minority get outvoted on an issue, and have to decide between quiting, striking or going along with the majority. Other times it will be a different minority. But they all have an equal say. There is no institutional division between order givers and takers, managers and executants etc.

Now, you are right in one sense of the word to say that there is always hierarchy, in that there is always some people who don't get there way, and may have to do something they don't like, or else face some sanction, even if just non-cooperation (which can be just as coercive in its effects).

But when classical anarchists talk about hierarchy, they atlk about an institutional structure.

Now, it doesn't take a genius to tell the difference between hierarchical and horizontal social structures.

HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURE:
Organised in a pyramid. It is the institutional role and exclusive right of those at the top to give orders to those lower down

Boss
|
V
Upper Management
|
V
Lower management
|
V
Manual Workers

(The | and V is supposed to look like an arrow)

Those further down the chain take orders from those higher up, and have no institutional influence on the decisions of those further up.

Now compare this to a workplace ran by a democratic assembly of all who work there (lets no get into side issues of feasibility or efficiency right now). Everyone has a say, everyone has a vote, no one has any more power, and there is no systematic division into those whose job it is to command and those whose job it is to obey.

Now, can you not admit, at the very least, that there is a real difference in organisational structure between the management of a capitalist firm, and the self-managed firm I have described? If so, then we don't need to quibble over words. Social Anarchists call structures like the capitalist management structure described "hierarchy" and call the self-managed structure "non-hierarchical".

(P S Sorry if I went on a bit. I'm trying hard to get an idea across)

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MJ
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Nov 14 2007 05:12

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkOj282VD-Q

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 14 2007 13:04
presumably they've failed to notice that if the most needy getting priority is 'hierarchical' then the needy being denied for lack of purchasing power or having to rely on charity is a damn sight more so edit: but they're not against hierarchy of course, being capitalists.
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Nov 14 2007 23:29

You handled it pretty well...the misconception is that social anarchism supposes an absence of social conflict or questions of allocation when in fact it is a practical idea for how these very conflicts and questions can be solved without mass violence or the institutionalized threat of mass violence (the state).

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Nov 14 2007 23:51

I also think you handled it quite well. If you really want to have some fun, check out retailworker.org. Sadly, it is an IWW run site, but it is chock-full of 'libertarian' nutjobs who are trying to pollute the working class dialog with their anarcho-capitalist slop. Out of curiosity, has anyone had any luck converting any 'free-market anarchist' types?

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Nov 14 2007 23:51

Did you get a response, btw?

Antieverything
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Nov 15 2007 04:01
Quote:
Out of curiosity, has anyone had any luck converting any 'free-market anarchist' types?

It's a hobby of mine, actually...I generally direct them to mutualist ideas from Proudhon and Tucker (Kevin Carson's www.mutualist.org is a fantastic resource for the free-market types). It is astoundingly easy to break down the classical liberal fallacy that some sort of natural form of private property precedes the state when the capitalist mode of private property (exclusive and in perpetuity) couldn't possibly exist without some form of institutionalized violence preceding it. I've never failed on that account...though to be fair I've dealt with some very intelligent, open-minded types...the sort of American ('right') libertarian with sympathy for social justice issues.

ethical_anarhist
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Nov 15 2007 09:17

It's quite weird to hear anarchists talking about "converting" anybody, but i have started out having some an-cap sympathies, and now i cannot see why... q;-)

With that said i cannot really agree that there is such a huge difference between capitalism and majoritarianism (which is quite often promoted in libertarian socialist crowd), and even worse than both of these are "hidden hierarchies" (which cannot be drawn out with the arrow pointing downwards). This was one of the biggest criticisms of Liberal Feminist groups of 60s, and still exists in many "non-hierarchical" organisations today. People must "know" those who actually get stuff done in those groups, to get anything accomplished.

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Nov 15 2007 09:29

well i think formal, non-hierarchical organisation as advocated by most libertarian communists is a means of preventing the informal hierarchies of knowledge and presteige etc you get in more structureless 'non-hierarchical' groups.

i'm not sure how you don't see much difference between capitalism and workers' control... can you elaborate?

ethical_anarhist
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Nov 15 2007 09:43
Joseph K. wrote:
i'm not sure how you don't see much difference between capitalism and workers' control... can you elaborate?

Sorry for the confusion, i have said "majoritarianism" not "worker's control", i believe they are quite different, and in no way linked to each other (except in the minds of some people). Majoritarianism is a type of dictatorship where the minority is oppressed, worker's control over the means of production and over their own lives is any system which allows for such control. While it is true that majority of the world are indeed workers (by one definition or another), it isn't true that majoritarianism is the only way for them to get control over their lives.

Hope this clears this misunderstanding up.

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Nov 15 2007 10:12

ok cheers. i still disagree a bit though, while i don't think there'd need to be votes on everything all the time which could largely be left up to those carrying out tasks, i can't see a better way for workers across a whole industry or beyond to say, determine long-term plans (like transitioning to renewable energy say) than majority voting. i don't think the minority is 'oppressed' because there's nothing structural about them not getting their way, it's purely contingent and next time they may be part of the majority. i just think not always getting your way is part and parcel of being social beings, since the meeting of our needs is inextricably bound up with the actions of others.

ethical_anarhist
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Nov 15 2007 10:27

Ok, here is a hypothetical situation then. You have a vote on whether or not change to renewable resources. 60% vote 'no'. What do you do? (Sorry if this has been discussed too many times before, please trust me, i'm not trolling, but honestly wanting to know the answer).

The way i envision the world i would say that the vote would be indicative, and would allow for 40% to learn who they are and thus beginning to implement the solution that they see as necessary. The criticism of that is (of course) that sometimes issues aren't that simple and you either do something or don't... in which case there will be oppression of somebody no matter which system you use.

Anarcho
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Nov 15 2007 10:47

Well, I would suggest the following argument.

For Murray Rothbard, both "hierarchy" and "wage-work" were part of "a whole slew of institutions necessary to the triumph of liberty" (others included "granting of funds by libertarian millionaires, and a libertarian political party"). He strenuously objected to those "indicting" such institutions "as non-libertarian or non-market". [Konkin on Libertarian Strategy]

What part of an-archy did he not understand? An-archy, against archy -- including hierarchy!

Compare that to Proudhon, With "machinery and the workshop, divine right -- that is, the principle of authority -- makes its entrance into political economy. Capital . . . Property . . . are, in economic language, the various names of . . . Power, Authority." Thus, under capitalism, the workplace has a "hierarchical organisation." [System of Economical Contradictions, pp. 203-4] Hence his, and subequent anarchist, support for self-management.

All anarchists are well aware that opposition to the state while supporting other forms of authority is self-contradictory nonsense. As proven by Rothbard himself, ironically. He argued that the state "arrogates to itself a monopoly of force, of ultimate decision-making power, over a given territorial area." The problems begin for Rothbard when he notes that "[o]bviously, in a free society, Smith has the ultimate decision-making power over his own just property, Jones over his, etc." [The Ethics of Liberty, p. 170 and p. 173]

Opps! And some people take this nonsense seriously... and even suggest it is anarchist or libertarian!

I would suggest reading section F (particularly F.1) an An Anarchist FAQ for a full discussion of "anarcho"-capitalism and its non-anarchist nature.

Anarcho
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Nov 15 2007 10:50

Also, I have never seen an "anarcho"-capitalist coherently explain why dictatorship (as in bosses) is more libertarian than democracy (as in self-management).

But, then, we do have "anarcho"-capitalists who support slave contracts and favour (competitive) monarchies. They really have no clue on how private property reduces freedom and creates hierarchy. But that is what you get when you are utterly ignorant of the genuine anarchist tradition!

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Nov 15 2007 10:54
Quote:
They really have no clue on how private property reduces freedom and creates hierarchy

Yup. It's because they reify property and treat it as a given assumption. This was one of the main mystifications that Marx tried to dispel by linking it to history and social relations.

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Nov 15 2007 21:09
ncwob wrote:
Did you get a response, btw?

The only reply I have got so far is:

Quote:
How would roads work in a non-hierachical society? If nobody is required to follow the "rules" of the road, wouldn't there be chaos?

To which I replied

Quote:
Don't be soft. Its not about there being no rules, its about who makes the rules. For example, a neighbourhood assembly, open to all residents, or a federation thereof, could vote in some rules of the road for their community. "Although the assembled people collectively legislate the rules governing their association, and are bound by them as individuals, they are also superior to them in the sense that these rules can always be modified or repealed. Collectively, the associated "citizens" constitute a political "authority", but as this "authority" is based on horizontal relationships between themselves rather than vertical ones between themselves and an elite, the "authority" is non-hierarchical" [AFAQ]
ftony
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Nov 15 2007 21:29

.

petey
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Nov 15 2007 21:58
Antieverything wrote:
Quote:
Out of curiosity, has anyone had any luck converting any 'free-market anarchist' types?

It's a hobby of mine, actually...I generally direct them to mutualist ideas from Proudhon and Tucker (Kevin Carson's www.mutualist.org is a fantastic resource for the free-market types).

another site is the alliance of the libertarian left (http://all-left.net/) which, despite its name, is a free market site. yet they link to the IWW: is that without the IWW's knowledge?

Antieverything
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Nov 15 2007 22:17

Lots of left libertarians have been involved with or at least supportive of the IWW. Left libertarians in the US sense...individualist anarchists who support the market but feel that the degree of inequality that characterized capitalism would be impossible without constant state intervention to maintain the unequal outcomes caused by past state violence. Some call themselves capitalists, others socialists...often while espousing similar things.

I'd certainly be more willing to work with these folks (with their genuine concern for human freedom) than some raving Maoist or punk-ass "I hate my dad" anarchyist.

I do, however, have a soft spot for mutualism and market socialism.

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Nov 15 2007 23:22
Quote:
yet they link to the IWW: is that without the IWW's knowledge?

It's not like you really have choice of who links to you. That's the purpose of hyperlinks; any web doc can link to any webdoc one-way.

petey
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Nov 16 2007 00:42
Khawaga wrote:
Quote:
yet they link to the IWW: is that without the IWW's knowledge?

It's not like you really have choice of who links to you. That's the purpose of hyperlinks; any web doc can link to any webdoc one-way.

yes i know that, but does the IWW have an opinion on being linked to a site that espouses anarchism through total lassaiz-faire (sp)? if they asked for the link to be removed i'd guess that it would be.

petey
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Nov 16 2007 00:43
Antieverything wrote:
I'd certainly be more willing to work with these folks (with their genuine concern for human freedom) than some raving Maoist or punk-ass "I hate my dad" anarchyist.

I do, however, have a soft spot for mutualism

me too, and me too (i lopped out 'market socialism' because i can't envision what they mean by that)

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Nov 16 2007 00:52
Quote:
yes i know that, but does the IWW have an opinion on being linked to a site that espouses anarchism through total lassaiz-faire (sp)? if they asked for the link to be removed i'd guess that it would be.

Um, surely it's a good thing that at least some people are going to read the wobbly take?

petey
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Nov 16 2007 00:57
Saii wrote:
Um, surely it's a good thing that at least some people are going to read the wobbly take?

YES OF COURSE IT IS YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN DOES THE IWW WILLINGLY ALLY ITSELF WITH ROTHBARDIANS AND SUCH

Doreen Ellen Be...
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Nov 16 2007 05:45

My stock answer to AnCap blathering is: Ya'll can place an Anarcho- prefix before your Capitalism if you like, but we'll appropriate your sorry asses of your capital comes the revolution all the same.

D2

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Nov 16 2007 11:25
Quote:
YES OF COURSE IT IS YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN DOES THE IWW WILLINGLY ALLY ITSELF WITH ROTHBARDIANS AND SUCH

So getting an incoming link to a site is allying now? If CNN linked to IWW site would they be allied to them as well? As I said, there is not much IWW can do about it. It would seem much much worse if IWW started going after all kinds of groups they don't like that link to them. It is going against what the web essentially is (links and nodes) It's basically a form of censorship that only they most psycho IPR/copyright adherents do. Like law firms, RIAAA, MPAA and captain copyright have done from time to time.

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Nov 16 2007 11:54
ethical_anarhist wrote:
Ok, here is a hypothetical situation then. You have a vote on whether or not change to renewable resources. 60% vote 'no'. What do you do? (Sorry if this has been discussed too many times before, please trust me, i'm not trolling, but honestly wanting to know the answer).

You either continue to argue for it in the future or you drop it. Big deal.

Quote:
The way i envision the world i would say that the vote would be indicative, and would allow for 40% to learn who they are and thus beginning to implement the solution that they see as necessary.

What the fuck does that even mean?

petey
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Nov 16 2007 12:58
Khawaga wrote:
Quote:
YES OF COURSE IT IS YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN DOES THE IWW WILLINGLY ALLY ITSELF WITH ROTHBARDIANS AND SUCH

So getting an incoming link to a site is allying now? If CNN linked to IWW site would they be allied to them as well?

well CNN not being a political organization using some of the same vocabulary to very different ends, the comparison is inapt.
i didn't say that there was "much" the IWW could do about it. if you'd like to use your time more profitably, you could discuss how far the IWW is willing to bend in terms of politics in order to gain exposure, or membership, like with the SSP business. but i suppose i could just ask them myself.

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Nov 16 2007 15:29
Quote:
well CNN not being a political organization using some of the same vocabulary to very different ends, the comparison is inapt.

CNN is a website like anyother. The whole point is that you cannot choose how sites link so why bother? You're the one getting all worked up about it. And for being more profitable with my time... Geez I don't know how I could spend those 15-20 seconds of my time spent typing those posts more profitably. But now that I think about it the opportunity costs must have been huge....

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Nov 16 2007 20:33

If anyone wants to join in in some anarcho-capitalist baiting (or conversion) then you could join in at:

anti-state[dot]com/forum/index.php?board=6;action=display;threadid=4612;start=280

Also, I'm having an argument with some anarcho-caps about whether or not there will be a government in anarcho-capitalism. Its the whole "property is statist" argument. I'm cheating a but by sometimes pasting in bits from articles (especially AFAQ). In any case, anyone who wants to could join in if they have the time and inclination:

anti-state[dot]com/forum/index.php?board=6;action=display;threadid=4612;start=280

You'll have to replace the [dot] with a full stop before pasting it into your browser. I remembered that I should not link to hostile websites.

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Nov 17 2007 11:01
madashell wrote:
ethical_anarhist wrote:
Ok, here is a hypothetical situation then. You have a vote on whether or not change to renewable resources. 60% vote 'no'. What do you do? (Sorry if this has been discussed too many times before, please trust me, i'm not trolling, but honestly wanting to know the answer).

You either continue to argue for it in the future or you drop it. Big deal.

Well, yes it is a big deal. Because when you deal with whether or not you change into the renewable resources you are often talking about the survival of us on this planet.

madashell wrote:
Quote:
The way i envision the world i would say that the vote would be indicative, and would allow for 40% to learn who they are and thus beginning to implement the solution that they see as necessary.

What the fuck does that even mean?

Just what the fuck it says. You see who people are who agree with you, and begin organising with them to change that which you control to renewable resources. This isn't going to be entire society/industry (since there are only 40% of you), but will probably be much better than your "drop it" (read: "defeatist") approach.