Can I be an anarchist and desire wealth as well?

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buena_exposiva's picture
buena_exposiva
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Jun 9 2009 21:58
Can I be an anarchist and desire wealth as well?

I was wondering would it go against anarchist ideals for one to want to desire greater wealth. I'm not ungrateful for what I have and yes I have much more than most people in this world but in comparison to others around me I don't have much at all. I do come from a pretty poorish background well poor in the states anyway, so is it wrong that I desire more, should I try and get myself out of this mentality to want more?

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Jun 9 2009 22:05

The whole point of being an anarchist is to want more - otherwise why on earth would you take the side of the smallest movement around against the entire might of capitalism? As long as you're on the right side when it counts, earn away dude cool.

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Jun 9 2009 22:07
buena_exposiva wrote:
I was wondering would it go against anarchist ideals for one to want to desire greater wealth. I'm not ungrateful for what I have and yes I have much more than most people in this world but in comparison to others around me I don't have much at all. I do come from a pretty poorish background well poor in the states anyway, so is it wrong that I desire more, should I try and get myself out of this mentality to want more?

As Rob has said anarchism is about wanting more. In a society which is fair and where the aim is to help people rather than divide them then hopefully almost everybody will have what they need and what they want as well.

Boris Badenov
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Jun 9 2009 22:10

if by wealth you mean capital, which is the only real kind of wealth in this society, then no.
if you mean stuff, you can own as much as you want, it doesn't make you more or less of an anarchist.
similarly, if by desiring more, you mean desiring more than the poverty of life under capitalism, that is an admirable desire; if you mean desiring more commodities, that is a normal desire (although perverted by capitalist fetishizing) and it doesn't make you less of an anarchist.

Skips
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Jun 10 2009 06:48

I think it depends on how you earn your money to buy stuff. If you become a buy to let landlord and charge your tenants stupid amounts and treat them like crap, I think that is pretty wrong. If you are the head of a multinational corporation who has the power to hire and fire 'peasants' then fuck you ghetto bitch. black bloc

Like the others said. Anarchism is about wanting more for yourself and the majority and seeking equality. I guess it is very attractive atleast historically to the poorest ppl and for good reason.

Zeronowhere
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Jun 10 2009 08:53

Well, one could be both an anarchist and capitalist, so there's no real danger of ceasing to be an anarchist merely by wanting more wealth. Anyways, no, I don't really see how there's any real problem with wanting more wealth, hell, it's fairly rational to want it when wealth is as important to comfort, security and fulfilling interests as it can be today.

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Jun 10 2009 09:02
Vlad336 wrote:
if you mean desiring more commodities, that is a normal desire (although perverted by capitalist fetishizing)

Being perverted by capitalist fetishizing is way less fun than it sounds. sad

Zeronowhere wrote:
Well, one could be both an anarchist and capitalist

What?

Zeronowhere
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Jun 10 2009 09:27
Quote:
What?

I just realized that that was rather unclear. I meant capitalist in the sense of being a member of the capitalist class, which doesn't necessarily mean that you can't be an anarchist.

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Tojiah
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Jun 10 2009 09:33

Probably meaning this? The Adventures of the Anarchist Banker.

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Jun 10 2009 09:41
Zeronowhere wrote:
Quote:
What?

I just realized that that was rather unclear. I meant capitalist in the sense of being a member of the capitalist class, which doesn't necessarily mean that you can't be an anarchist.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by capitalist class but there is a contradiction here I think. You can't believe that exploitation is wrong and then actively carry it out.

Zeronowhere
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Jun 10 2009 09:54

I don't see why not. I don't think Engels did either.

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Jun 10 2009 11:27

Engels was no anarchist - according to Max Nettlau, Engels was an amateur capitalist, probably because Engels experimented with capitalist management in a factory he owned.

I consider that anarchism and capitalism as irreconcilable, and I am against any effort to reconcile the two

Zeronowhere
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Jun 10 2009 12:15
Jacque wrote:
Engels was no anarchist - according to Max Nettlau, Engels was an amateur capitalist, probably because Engels experimented with capitalist management in a factory he owned.

Perhaps, but was Engels against capitalism and the exploitation resulting from such? I'd say yes. I was not calling Engels an anarchist, because the post I was responding to only specified 'exploitation'.

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I consider that anarchism and capitalism as irreconcilable, and I am against any effort to reconcile the two

Well, yes, in the sense that 'anarcho-capitalism' is an oxymoron. Not in the sense that one cannot be an anarchist if one owns a factory.

Edit: It really does seem that this thread is drifting off-topic, perhaps mainly because there wasn't much debate on the original query.

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Jun 10 2009 12:20

I consider private ownership of the means of production (ie; to be an employer that owns a factory) to be completely incompatible with anarchism

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Jun 10 2009 12:29

Anarchism is ABOUT getting paid. Getting that paper.

Just make sure you're getting that cash money from working or from crime. Otherwise you're well bourgeois nahmean?

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Jun 10 2009 12:47

grin

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Jun 10 2009 14:00
Jacque wrote:
I consider private ownership of the means of production (ie; to be an employer that owns a factory) to be completely incompatible with anarchism

the number of people who actually own, and can do what they want with, 'the means of production' these days must be pretty small, and certainly pretty small as a proportion of the actual productive assets that exist and in relation to the amount of labour that's exploited through their usage - i think any analysis of how things work today needs a far more nuanced view of the contradictions at play within all of this - marx made some great comments about it (in relation to the role the credit system plays in it all)

The capital, which in itself rests on a social mode of production and presupposes a social concentration of means of production and labour-power, is here directly endowed with the form of social capital (capital of directly associated individuals) as distinct from private capital, and its undertakings assume the form of social undertakings as distinct from private undertakings. It is the abolition of capital as private property within the framework of capitalist production itself.

This is the abolition of the capitalist mode of production within the capitalist mode of production itself, and hence a self-dissolving contradiction, which prima facie represents a mere phase of transition to a new form of production. It manifests itself as such a contradiction in its effects. It establishes a monopoly in certain spheres and thereby requires state interference. It reproduces a new financial aristocracy, a new variety of parasites in the shape of promoters, speculators and simply nominal directors; a whole system of swindling and cheating by means of corporation promotion, stock issuance, and stock speculation. It is private production without the control of private property

Aside from the stock-company business, which represents the abolition of capitalist private industry on the basis of the capitalist system itself and destroys private industry as it expands and invades new spheres of production, credit offers to the individual capitalist; or to one who is regarded a capitalist, absolute control within certain limits over the capital and property of others, and thereby over the labour of others. The control over social capital, not the individual capital of his own, gives him control of social labour

Expropriation extends here from the direct producers to the smaller and the medium-sized capitalists themselves. It is the point of departure for the capitalist mode of production; its accomplishment is the goal of this production. In the last instance, it aims at the expropriation of the means of production from all individuals. With the development of social production the means of production cease to be means of private production and products of private production, and can thereafter be only means of production in the hands of associated producers, i.e., the latter's social property, much as they are their social products. However, this expropriation appears within the capitalist system in a contradictory form, as appropriation of social property by a few; and credit lends the latter more and more the aspect of pure adventurers

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Jun 10 2009 14:20
Zeronowhere wrote:
I don't see why not. I don't think Engels did either.

That's neither here nor there. Firstly he was not an anarchist and secondly, and more importantly there is a strong element of hypocrisy.
If being an anarchist is about anything it is about refusing exploitation and as such you cannot actively participate in it. In the same vein you can't have an anarchist in the KKK because they'd be actively working against anarchist principles.

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Jun 10 2009 14:22
Jack wrote:
You are white and from Somerset.

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Jun 10 2009 14:34

JRoc's a better rapper though.

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Jun 10 2009 14:40
Quote:
I was wondering would it go against anarchist ideals for one to want to desire greater wealth.

No theres nothing wrong with wanting more. Historically anarchists have always supported and instigated strikes and other types of direct action for higher pay, lower rent and better conditions because anarchism is largely about the majority of society wanting more than what capitalism can possibly give us, and that starts with not accepting ''our lot'' but by organising and fighting back.
Equally anarchists don;t beleive in being happy with scarcity, we want all the best things in life for everyone. Basically anarchists think every child in a shanty town in india should have access to housing, music, healthcare, good quality food, an x box, a good education and so on, we don;t think theres anything to be gained in celebrating poverty.

Zeronowhere
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Jun 10 2009 14:39
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That's neither here nor there. Firstly he was not an anarchist and secondly, and more importantly there is a strong element of hypocrisy.

The first point is neither here nor there (Engels opposed exploitation and thought it was wrong as much as any other socialist). As for the 'hypocrisy', the 'element of hypocrisy' doesn't mean that he isn't against exploitation any more than performing wage labour would mean supporting wage labour.

Quote:
If being an anarchist is about anything it is about refusing exploitation and as such you cannot actively participate in it.

Really? Last I recalled, it was about opposing hierarchal authority, rather than living a certain way (ie. being exploited rather than exploiting). You could have an anarchist in the KKK, it's just that they wouldn't really be able to say that they are anarchists, would have to pretend to be racists, and generally do stuff that I doubt many people would take much pleasure in doing. If they actually believed in the stuff the KKK promotes, then sure, they wouldn't be anarchist, but if Kropotkin had suddenly decided to join the KKK for kicks, he wouldn't suddenly stop being an anarchist as soon as he joined.

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Bob Savage
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Jun 10 2009 14:39

Nah he wouldn't dare step to me.

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Jun 10 2009 20:35

Thanks. Now I don't feel guilty in wanting more than I have even though I have more than most but I'll probably stay poor anyway wink

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Jun 10 2009 20:48
Zeronowhere wrote:
Quote:
If being an anarchist is about anything it is about refusing exploitation and as such you cannot actively participate in it.

Really? Last I recalled, it was about opposing hierarchal authority, rather than living a certain way (ie. being exploited rather than exploiting).

So exploiting people doesnt put you in a position of authority? confused

Angelus Novus
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Jun 10 2009 21:20
jef costello wrote:
If being an anarchist is about anything it is about refusing exploitation and as such you cannot actively participate in it.

Do you have a bank savings account? If so, a few things you should know:

1. When you deposit money, It doesn't just sit there. Rather:

2. Banks lend money.

3. Some of this money will undoubtedly be lent to enterprises engaging in exploitation.

4. Hence, "your" money plays a role in the valorization process (however tiny).

Welcome to capitalism, where social production is mediated by money.

I think what you originally meant to say is that you think that people whose primary source of livelihood derives from exploitation cannot be anarchists. I still disagree with this, but at least it's a plausible argument, as opposed to what you said, which implies that we should all become primitivists and shit in the woods.

Boris Badenov
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Jun 10 2009 21:31

who the hell is a worker exploiting by having a bank account? other workers? obviously not; he/she is merely facilitating their own exploitation because they have no other choice, just as they have no other choice but to go to work everyday. That is a pretty specious example, AN, if by exploitation you mean class exploitation (which is the only meaningful way to talk about exploitation unless you're some hippie mental who thinks that exploitation is only when workers in some third world country are forced to work for evil western corporations). I don't think Jef was talking about opting out of capitalism and "shitting in the woods."

Quote:
people whose primary source of livelihood derives from exploitation cannot be anarchists. I still disagree with this

why? don't you think you're much more likely to side with the capitalists if you're a capitalist yourself?

Angelus Novus
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Jun 10 2009 22:00
Vlad336 wrote:
who the hell is a worker exploiting by having a bank account? other workers? obviously not

No? So when your bank uses your money to make a loan to a profit-making enterprise employing wage laborers, no labor is being exploited?

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he/she is merely facilitating their own exploitation

Hey, a shareholder is also just "facilitating" exploitation. Especially if they're not a majority shareholder, which case they don't even have direct influence in how the exploitation is conducted.

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because they have no other choice, just as they have no other choice but to go to work everyday.

What "choice" does the capitalist have? Selling his ownership to somebody else to become a wage worker? What moralism.

Alternately, he could be convinced that such personal moralism, like green consumerism or "socially responsible investing", is total bullshit, and decide the only real option is to get rid of the whole fuckin' system.

But according to you, he's not allowed to come to the last conclusion, since that would violate some anarchist moral code.

Quote:
That is a pretty specious example, AN, if by exploitation you mean class exploitation (which is the only meaningful way to talk about exploitation)

And in capitalism, exploitation is mediated by commodity-exchange. We aren't discussing a system of personal domination like antique slavery or feudalism.

Quote:
I don't think Jef was talking about opting out of capitalism and "shitting in the woods."

Jeff stated, literally, that one cannot participate in exploitation and be an anarchist. But we all participate in exploitation. So logically,
the only option is to go shit in the woods.

Quote:
why? don't you think you're much more likely to side with the capitalists if you're a capitalist yourself?

So are we talking about the likelihood of capitalists being anarchists, or whether they can be? Make up your mind. And what does "can" even mean in this context? "Can" in the sense of being able to exist at all, or "can" in the sense of allowable? I get the sense that Jeff means the latter. Does the anarchist police go door to door inspecting people's revenue sources and accordingly revoke their "anarchist credentials" if they aren't engaged in good old honest wage-labor?

BillJ
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Jun 10 2009 22:53

I agree with Angelus Novus here. Anarchism (or communism, etc.) is a theory about society which sees a necessity for abolishing the state and capitalism. It springs from a social reality in which both of those things exist, and are reproduced by the members of the society.

Any person who invests capital to turn a profit could also come to the realization that capitalist social relations necessitate misery for most people, and come to the conclusion that they should be gotten rid of. He would then be an anarchist (or whatever) -- there is no mystery here. It certainly isn't impossible for him to advocate the abolition of capitalism and the state while making his living employing means of production and labor-power, it's just unlikely.

It's also important here to point out that "capitalist" typically refers to what someone does (i.e. buys means of production and labor-power, applies them in a production process in order to produce surplus-value, then realize it in money on the market), while anarchist refers to what someone thinks or advocates. There is no way to "live out" your anarchist beliefs in a capitalist society -- the state still defines and regulates your permitted and forbidden behavior, and you certainly need money to purchase your necessities, unless you've found some clever ways around this like eating trash and hopping trains. You are thus compelled to either sell your labor-power to someone who plans to use it for profit-making, or you are the someone buying labor-power. Neither of these things make one more or less of an anarchist, just more or less likely to become one. So, one could certainly be an anarchist and a capitalist, and his life would be a little better as well, and he'd have more money and time for whatever anarchist activities he's up to, etc.

This all sounds like a moral problem, i.e. "exploitation is wrong so anarchists can't do it." Sorry, but saying something is "wrong" and therefore one shouldn't do it does not explain anything about anything -- it just reveals whatever morality you are partial to. And there are plenty of people with the opposing morality.

The point should not be to morally condemn anything, but to explain the society we live in. Why exploitation takes place, why it is a necessity for profits, and why it implies a shitty life for the vast majority -- this is enough reason for it to be gotten rid of. Who cares if it's wrong, right or anything else? Leave those questions to priests and philosophers.

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jef costello
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Jun 10 2009 22:55
Angelus Novus wrote:
jef costello wrote:
If being an anarchist is about anything it is about refusing exploitation and as such you cannot actively participate in it.

Do you have a bank savings account? If so, a few things you should know:

1. When you deposit money, It doesn't just sit there. Rather:

2. Banks lend money.

3. Some of this money will undoubtedly be lent to enterprises engaging in exploitation.

4. Hence, "your" money plays a role in the valorization process (however tiny).

Welcome to capitalism, where social production is mediated by money.

I think what you originally meant to say is that you think that people whose primary source of livelihood derives from exploitation cannot be anarchists. I still disagree with this, but at least it's a plausible argument, as opposed to what you said, which implies that we should all become primitivists and shit in the woods.

So it's ok to be a capitalist exploiter because 'that's the way it is'?
If you're going to get technical I talked about 'directly' participating in exploitation. Would you be happy to treat someone as a comrade when they'd just fired someone for organising a strike? As someone (oisleep?) pointed out there are fewer capitalists of the Engels type around, which blurs the boundaries, but that means what I say needs refining, not that someone should accept capitalism.
I'm not talking about primitivism I'm saying that there are levels of participation which are not acceptable. Workers' and bosses' interests are opposed, which means bosses can be in our organisations.

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Jun 10 2009 23:22
BillJ wrote:
There is no way to "live out" your anarchist beliefs in a capitalist society

You can at least refrain from purposefully engaging in activity that runs counter to those beliefs?

BillJ wrote:
You are thus compelled to either sell your labor-power to someone who plans to use it for profit-making, or you are the someone buying labor-power. Neither of these things make one more or less of an anarchist, just more or less likely to become one.

But one might continue in the former condition, and still call oneself an anarchist, with a straight face, not in the latter.