Smash Capitalism - buy Amazon

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raw
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Dec 5 2006 09:03
Smash Capitalism - buy Amazon

Is it just me or don't people think it is beyond the pale that a so-called Libertarian Communist website has a massive link to Amazon? I mean people laugh at yer squatter man for making anarchists look confused on the BBC website but equally what would the press say when they see a supposedly radical web forum with the amazon link - advertising xmas shopping!! FFS!

And yeah, sure we all might buy a gift at xmas or even shop on amazon for books but I would never mixed that up with radical politics!! Because its not.

This leads me a question regarding the running of this website - a so-called community -- run by a few. It fact this isn't a libertarian community site as all we can do is make suggestions on the feedback thread. Why should a minority of people decide how this web site is run when there are over 2,500 subscribers on it. Is it because of a meritocracy? Is it because these 10 individuals "own" the site (means of communication) so they decide on things.

Its just a little bit dodgy that the "owners" to this very "public" tool are replicating the structure of a capitalist society. And I'm not piss taking on this one - I'm serious - its actually affecting things for the worst. And like some of the Admins have said in the past that they hated the lifestylists(us) for burning people out and disillusioning them by our stunts..etc when only a small fraction of the said 2,500 actually come back and post!!

discuss

Raw

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 09:13
raw wrote:
And yeah, sure we all might buy a gift at xmas or even shop on amazon for books but I would never mixed that up with radical politics!! Because its not.

exactly, i'm gonna be buying people a book here and there (and myself sometimes), might as well bung 5% to libcom's coffers rather than amazon's. unfortunately capitalism exists and we have to find the server costs somewhere, if you have any better ideas please post 'em up.

Also,

raw wrote:
smash libcom!

i trust this post was made out of genuine concern with no ulterior motives?

john
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Dec 5 2006 09:53
raw wrote:
Is it just me or don't people think it is beyond the pale that a so-called Libertarian Communist website has a massive link to Amazon?

revol has already stated his misgivings about this. I do admit, it did look a bit strange when I first saw it. In particular, it looks like we're completely buying into the commercialization and religious connotations of public holidays. Couldn't the advert just say 'shopping', or 'book shopping', or 'buy books here and send some surplus-value libcom's way' , or something?

raw wrote:
This leads me a question regarding the running of this website - a so-called community -- run by a few. It fact this isn't a libertarian community site as all we can do is make suggestions on the feedback thread. Why should a minority of people decide how this web site is run when there are over 2,500 subscribers on it. Is it because of a meritocracy? Is it because these 10 individuals "own" the site (means of communication) so they decide on things.

Its just a little bit dodgy that the "owners" to this very "public" tool are replicating the structure of a capitalist society.

Apparently this is a topic that gets raised every couple of months, or so. Which for some people means we don't need to discuss it because it's been done to death, but personally I think it does suggest a bit of a contradiction at the heart of libcom.

ftony
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Dec 5 2006 10:00

personally, i'm not totally sure about it. in a way though, it's a bit like internet skipping - nicking stuff (in this case a bit of cash) from someone (amazon) who doesn't really need it in order to get a bit back from capitalism.

however, as many people here have said, skipping is completely useless and therefore 'real' revolutionaries should never do it. tongue wink

[ouf! ftony is feeling rude because he won't be back on libcom all day and so won't suffer the consequences w00t w00t! smile ]

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 10:01
john wrote:
Apparently this is a topic that gets raised every couple of months, or so. Which for some people means we don't need to discuss it because it's been done to death, but personally I think it does suggest a bit of a contradiction at the heart of libcom.

well my take, and i don't know about the others, is that libcom isn't and isn't trying to be a model of a future society. it's a resource for workers in struggle run by a small group of people in their spare time (and from work black bloc ), with no pretensions to being 'the new society in the shell of the old'. I mean, 'after the revolution' will all websites be wikis?

that said, there would certainly be adverse consequences of coming to depend on such sources of funds, and i think we should avoid such dependency at all costs, at the moment it's the odd bit here and there to top up the coffers. like i say, any fundraising ideas you have, post 'em up. or if you can organise gigs and give us a cut, great! or set up a standing order if you use the site regularly (even a couple of quid a month) ...

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revol68
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Dec 5 2006 10:08

Fuck i hate agreeing with that knob raw but no matter his motives the issue he raises is one that jars with me.

Thankfully I can disagree with him about the libcom collective, it isn't meant to be a fecking Soviet, that doesn't mean to say it shouldn't have some feedback or participation mechanisms.

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Dec 5 2006 10:10

I mentioned gigs before and got a rather brisk repsonse about how our working class heroes are far too swept up in fighting on the cyber front to organise them, this however misses the point, you don't organise them yourself, you get other sympathetic peeps with the resources and contacts to do it for you, you just turn up with some leaflets or whatever.

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 10:16

i think there's actually a gig in the works. i don't know the exact cashflow situation but i think server costs alone are now in excess of £1,000/year. it may well be possible to raise running costs without resort to amazon, i'll have to find out the numbers and get my accounting head on.

that said, i still buy stuff from amazon on a not-infrequent basis, and it seems like a missed opportunity not to take the 5%. is it the very fact of 'collaboration' that pisses people off or the prominent advertising of it? I mean there's also the deal with frontline books, if that's any less capitalist, and i'm sure we'd be happy to set up similar arrangements with other independent publishers.

john
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Dec 5 2006 10:22
Joseph K. wrote:
any fundraising ideas you have, post 'em up. or if you can organise gigs and give us a cut, great! or set up a standing order if you use the site regularly (even a couple of quid a month) ...

on a related note, do you know libcom's paypal link is broken?

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 10:23

nope, i'll tell someone who knows how to fix it, cheers!

john
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Dec 5 2006 10:26
Joseph K. wrote:
well my take, and i don't know about the others, is that libcom isn't and isn't trying to be a model of a future society. it's a resource for workers in struggle run by a small group of people in their spare time (and from work black bloc ), with no pretensions to being 'the new society in the shell of the old'.

but aren't all these things what most people here reject about "professional" trade unions?

distinction between means and ends, organizing on behalf of workers (rather than workers organizing for themselves), exclusivity of decision-making ...

raw
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Dec 5 2006 10:31

Look, if I had a stake in the site and so did many more people then a £1,000 a year is peanuts - I've organised gigs that have made in excess of £8,000 in one nite but would I give money to something which is structured in this way? Would other people?

And I don't get this wait 'til the revolution crap thats been spouted about. So does this mean somehow we are magically gonna change once a revolutionary event occurs - or are we somehow part of that process by our activities in the here and now. How are we gonna survive without capitalism and hierachy if we don't make attempts to develop ways of existing now that doesn't rely on these structures.

How much more useful would such a web forum be if people had a stake in the site that wasn't one of passive user?

Raw

p.s. my tagline like everyone elses is a joke

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Dec 5 2006 10:32

well, i'm not negotiating on your behalf to sell you out to your boss, but other than that, just like a trade union wink

I mean what other model do you suggest? giving all members a vote on everything/for representatives? psuedo-democratic transparency like indymedia? a big wiki?

i mean as far is i can tell the problems with the current approach are less than those with the others, where informal hierarchies, wooly compromises and procedural deadlock tend to be prevalent. i mean do you object to AK press not polling their readers on who to publish?

john
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Dec 5 2006 10:37
Joseph K. wrote:
what other model do you suggest?

some kind of deliberative process, followed by a vote, between regular posters, on issues of contention.

someone advocating the construction of an anarchist society wrote:

I think we should create an anarchist society, because that way we could have some control over our own lives.

someone influenced by JosephK's analysis of the participatory potential of libcom wrote:

well, as far is i can tell the problems with what he have at the moment are less than those we would have under anarchism: informal hierarchies, wooly compromises and procedural deadlock is likely to be prevalent.

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 10:38
raw wrote:
How much more useful would such a web forum be if people had a stake in the site that wasn't one of passive user?

well people are encouraged to contribute stuff in line with the aims and purposes of the site. the forums are one of the liveliest parts of the site and are nothing but the contributions of the user community. a lot of the news submissions are written by users and people also submit stuff to the library. i mean i only registered 8 months ago and now i'm an admin, scorn that as meritocracy if you like (a fallicious term which defers to who determines the 'merit'), but what are you actually advocating?

I also have a fair bit of experience with 'non-hierarchic' groups which end up as a tyranny of the obsessed. given as i seem to be able to fob my boss off with 2 hours work as a day's, i guess that would make me king, which is a far worse idea than the current setup, imho.

john
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Dec 5 2006 10:39
Joseph K. wrote:
do you object to AK press not polling their readers on who to publish?

I don't object to them not polling (and, likewise, I don't object to libcom's current organization). If they did poll readers, though, that would be an improvement (and likewise for libcom).

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 10:43

john, this isn't a society, it's a website with a pretty specific political purpose, a partisan purpose in the class war. i think libcom's strength is that it isn't just another vague lefty-liberal site trying to please everyone but wears its (tiny minority out of 60 million people) politics on its sleave. I mean its a website, which you visit voluntarily - was kropotkin un-anarchist for not consulting his readers on the content and structure of his
works? would it have been better if he'd have formally consulted :?

john wrote:
some kind of deliberative process, followed by a vote, between regular posters, on issues of contention.

perhaps someone with experience of the tolling gang can speak up, i've only heard second hand stories.

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Dec 5 2006 10:46
john wrote:
Joseph K. wrote:
do you object to AK press not polling their readers on who to publish?

I don't object to them not polling (and, likewise, I don't object to libcom's current organization). If they did poll readers, though, that would be an improvement (and likewise for libcom).

ok cheers for clarifying. i'm not sure if a poll would be preferable to the present informal judgements of what regular users want (based on threads like this of course). if it was binding that could cause all sorts of problems with who gets the franchise, and if it was advisory it could cause all sorts of shit if it wasn't enacted. i'm open minded on the idea though, but i always found the admins pretty open to suggestions/input before i was one, maybe that experience wasn't typical?

Also, anyone is welcome to start a thread with proposals, and if there's a lot of support and feasible to implement its pretty likely we'll do it (haha now i'm advocating lobbying (H))

john
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Dec 5 2006 10:49
Joseph K. wrote:
john, this isn't a society

I'm sorry, but this argument can be applied to virtually every instance of political activity.

JK wrote:
was kropotkin an-anarchist for not consulting his readers on the content and structure of his
works? :?

the question isn't about the expression of individuals' arguments, it's about the medium through which they are expressed. If we are serious about the creation of a non-hierarchical society then surely we have to put those ideas into practice in our own day-to-day practice (obviously as much as is plausible under present conditions).

JK wrote:
perhaps someone with experience of the tolling gang can speak up, i've only heard second hand stories.

ok, whatever happened in the infamous tolling gang episode, do we take from that that any attempt at unhierarcical deliberation is doomed to fail, and so give up?

john
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Dec 5 2006 10:52
Joseph K. wrote:
i always found the admins pretty open to suggestions/input before i was one, maybe that experience wasn't typical?

I've had no particularly bad experience either, but isn't that beside the point?

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 10:54
john wrote:
the question isn't about the expression of individuals' arguments, it's about the medium through which they are expressed. If we are serious about the creation of a non-hierarchical society then surely we have to put those ideas into practice in our own day-to-day practice (obviously as much as is plausible under present conditions).

ok, so in a libertarian communist society is every website a wiki? i mean libcom is already fairly non-hierarchic insofar as nobody can really give anyone else orders to follow (bannings would be neccessary under any system of running a forum so they don't really count). its certainly not like boss-worker, politician-party activist, bureaucrat-shop steward, or at least if it turns out to be i won't be fucking happy! tongue

And i should note i don't see libcom as my politcal activity per se. irl struggles/campaigns i'm involved in it is of course direct-democratic, non-hierarchic as much as possible.

john
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Dec 5 2006 11:01
Joseph K. wrote:
ok, so in a libertarian communist society is every website a wiki?

I don't know, is it? It would seem reasonable to me to expect that a publicly used and created resource should have a degree of open deliberation between those people using it and creating it regarding the content of it.

jk wrote:
i mean libcom is already fairly non-hierarchic insofar as nobody can really give anyone else orders to follow (bannings would be neccessary under any system of running a forum so they don't really count). its certainly not like boss-worker, politician-party activist, bureaucrat-shop steward

yes, this is true. In fact, in practical terms, the only issue of contention that I can really think of is who and when to ban people. I think there should be an e-disciplinary committee, that is open to all people averaging at least 5 posts per week for the previous 4 weeks, to decide on these issues as they arise.

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 11:05
john wrote:
I think there should be an e-disciplinary committee, that is open to all people averaging at least 5 posts per week for the previous 4 weeks, to decide on these issues as they arise.

ok thats a concrete proposal. i don't know about the techincalites and i haven't thought it through yet, but its something practical to discuss.

ticking_fool
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Dec 5 2006 11:12

I really don't get how LibCom is supposed to be unlibertarian. Do you let anyone who wanders into a social centre for a cup of tea make decisions about how the kitchen is run, or whether to renegotiate the rent, or relocate the squat before eviction or whatever? Because you appear to be asking for the equivalent from a website.

Why are 'passive' forums any different from 'non-participatory' menus in a social centre? Why is taking money from Amazon any different to blagging a healthy eating grant to pay for a new cooker?

raw
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Dec 5 2006 11:20
ticking_fool wrote:
I really don't get how LibCom is supposed to be unlibertarian. Do you let anyone who wanders into a social centre for a cup of tea make decisions about how the kitchen is run, or whether to renegotiate the rent, or relocate the squat before eviction or whatever? Because you appear to be asking for the equivalent from a website.

Why are 'passive' forums any different from 'non-participatory' menus in a social centre? Why is taking money from Amazon any different to blagging a healthy eating grant to pay for a new cooker?

Difference is that those that are involved decide. And your examples suggest that individuals have decision making powers. If someone does walk off the street and has an idea which makes sense and resonates then it doesn't matter how long they've been involved. Point is its a collective decision.

Again, if everyone had a chance to discuss how libcom is funded without a small minority deciding to drum of business for Amazon then perhaps we might get some benefits organised or other means.

raw

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 11:21

same here though :?

like the CPE blog for example. and i 'wandered in off the street' and got made an admin.

Jason Cortez
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Dec 5 2006 11:26

I did rise this question with the LibCom collective esp as Amazon are as anti-union as Walmart, Starbucks, McDonalds etc.
And didn't really get much responce. But i don't know maybe it's a necessary evil due to financial constraints.

Quote:
I mean there's also the deal with frontline books, if that's any less capitalist, and i'm sure we'd be happy to set up similar arrangements with other independent publishers.

Is this being followed up? Can independant booksellers afford this? What about AK etc?

john
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Dec 5 2006 11:27

why don't we be all experimental and have a vote on the link to Amazon?

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the button
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Dec 5 2006 11:34
john wrote:
JK wrote:
perhaps someone with experience of the tolling gang can speak up, i've only heard second hand stories.

ok, whatever happened in the infamous tolling gang episode, do we take from that that any attempt at unhierarcical deliberation is doomed to fail, and so give up?

I was involved in the tolling gang pretty much from the start, but my therapist says I shouldn't talk about it. wink

In short: -

* an internet forum is set up that aims to be run by its members as far as possible.
* an internet forum gets hopelessly bogged down & introspective, with thread after thread questioning mods decisions.
* an internet forum with a whole sub-forum devoted to polls. After a series of polls about how the polls should be run, how often they can be run, how long before a decision made in a poll can be overturned, etc.
* an internet forum is trolled to fuck by (some of) the people who are supposed to be running it, using all of the democratic apparatus set out above.
* an internet forum goes down the pan, when none of the trolls want to take on responsibility for running it after the site owner has lost the will to live.

Lovely. smile

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 5 2006 11:37
Jason Cortez wrote:
Is this being followed up? Can independant booksellers afford this? What about AK etc?

i think more is in the works (edit: jack beat me to it), its mostly a technical issue i think, and amazon (of course) make it very easy to set up. i'm not sure if they can afford it, but they'd still make more selling via libcom on a 5% cut than the massive discounts they have to give to amazon etc (whether people would by the cheaper amazon copies is an open question).

john wrote:
why don't we be all experimental and have a vote on the link to Amazon?

we don't have polls atm (yay upgrade wink), but you can do i guess. i mean i don't think any of the admins see it as any more than a necessary evil, and without seeing the finances i can;t judge it's necessity for myself. without wanting to sound like an MP, 'i'll raise these concerns at the next meeting' wink, i mean if we can do without it i'm personally happy to drop the prominent link (still seems silly not to have it set up for 'in the know' posters buying from amazon anyway though).

Thora
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Dec 5 2006 11:38
the button wrote:
I was involved in the tolling gang pretty much from the start, but my therapist says I shouldn't talk about it. wink

In short: -

* an internet forum is set up that aims to be run by its members as far as possible.
* an internet forum gets hopelessly bogged down & introspective, with thread after thread questioning mods decisions.
* an internet forum with a whole sub-forum devoted to polls. After a series of polls about how the polls should be run, how often they can be run, how long before a decision made in a poll can be overturned, etc.
* an internet forum is trolled to fuck by (some of) the people who are supposed to be running it, using all of the democratic apparatus set out above.
* an internet forum goes down the pan, when none of the trolls want to take on responsibility for running it after the site owner has lost the will to live.

Lovely. smile

*desperately tries to resist urge to start an argument...* angry