Is this communism, in your opinion? Is it true to "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need"?

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plasmatelly
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Sep 29 2011 20:20

yourmum wrote -

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you are talking consent, not dissent. what would happen if someone truly cant come to terms with your decision? would he go do it anyways for the sake of the decision making process being democratic? would he leave your group or would you cast him out because he doesnt respect a democratic vote? would you take him out of the decision for the sake of the group? would you force him to do what the majority wants? do you even vote about stuff that concerns all or just the ones willing to participate?

Sorry Captain, you're living in a world of what-if's! I don't think you can possibly be thinking on class lines if you're opposed to group decisions. What about strike votes? How do you reach any level of consensus. But probably more importantly, if it's ok to disagree so much - which I think it is, too - how come you can't take differing opinions lightly? wink

A discussion on this kind of stuff is always excellent but, sorry Ultra voting on what you imagine represents communism best - at least from where we are now - is far too prescriptive. Personally I go along heavily with from-each-according-to line. I think there's always room for the dissenters - but only if they don't interfere with the rudimentary ground rules to libertarian communism, not employing, exploiting, owning more than you can live in/work on, solidarity, mutual aid... you know the gig.

yourmum
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Sep 29 2011 20:24

well maybe you lack the experience that my what-ifs are on your door-step faster then you can say one-two-crazy when consent is falling apart. what makes you think i dont take other views lightly? did i threaten anyone? lol

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Sep 29 2011 20:37
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did i threaten anyone? lol

No, but you fight a corner! laugh out loud I'm aware of avoiding the dictatorship of the majority (where often - but shouldn't ever - majority is found by 1 or 2 personalities..) But surely the society we want to build doesn't just concentrate on the fine details of equal say, but also builds the self-awareness, confidence and mutual respect that would facilitate and celebrate people who say NO when Ian Bone says YES!?

yourmum
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Sep 29 2011 20:41

please dont use slang and ian bone, i dont understand fighting a corner and i have no clue about ian bone. majority is found by a tiny minority? that doesnt sound very logical to me.

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Sep 29 2011 21:18

Yourmum, I'm not sure English is your first language (from post 35 mostly) so I'm not going to have a go about the gendered nature of using "he" to refer to humans generally.

However, I am curious if you've ever been in an anarchist organisation? If you've been, I'd be very surprised how you think anarchists can organise without voting or democracy?

yourmum
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Sep 29 2011 21:38

well im quite suprised how anarchists keep going on about democracy and call themselves anarchists at the same time. back in the time when i was in an organization we never had the need to vote on something because we discussed untill consent was reached. if someone didnt agree he didnt have to take part in it. im sure thats how you handle things too despite the voting. and no - english being my first language would be a bit embarassing. picking he or she or one or all is of no concern, if you understand the meaning of the sentence you will understand too that its general meaning is not about gender. where i come from anarchist is a male form too btw, anarchistin is the female version, you can count yourself lucky there is no female form for it in your language at all, now if that doesnt make your jaw drop i dont know what will!

Baronarchist
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Sep 29 2011 21:43
yourmum wrote:
well im quite suprised how anarchists keep going on about democracy and call themselves anarchists at the same time. back in the time when i was in an organization we never had the need to vote on something because we discussed untill consent was reached. if someone didnt agree he didnt have to take part in it. im sure thats how you handle things too despite the voting. and no - english being my first language would be a bit embarassing. picking he or she or one or all is of no concern, if you understand the meaning of the sentence you will understand too that its general meaning is not about gender. where i come from anarchist is a male form too btw, anarchistin is the female version, you can count yourself lucky there is no female form for it in your language at all, now if that doesnt make your jaw drop i dont know what will!

Your aware the obligations to a democratic decision are self-assumed ones right?

yourmum
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Sep 29 2011 21:50

yeah so is voting a king.

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Sep 29 2011 21:55

To be honest, in North London SF most of our decisions are reached by consensus: someone suggests a motion, we accept or tweak it based on concerns raised, and usually it proceeds unopposed. Sometimes, however, someone will say they disagree but not enough to continue debate as they recognise they'd be in a minority if it went to a vote anyway.

And that works pretty well in a local with 15 active members, with an average of 10 or so coming to each meeting. However, this doesn't work for national decisions. While SF's voting system (one local, one vote) has a lot of room for consensus type negotiation, majoritarian voting is fundamental to how we operate nationally.

NL raised one motion last year in regards to national strategy (a far more complex issue than an individual not taking part in an action) and we lost. Badly. And probably for the best.

Sometimes there are two conflicting ideas that can't be rectified through consensus. One has to lose and, in my opinion, it's far better to have the record of disagreement (thus allowing the organisation to return to the losing proposal if the winning one doesn't work out the way the organisation planned). Voting---direct democratic, delegatory majoritarian voting---is necessary for that.

Alexander Roxwell
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Sep 29 2011 22:01
LBird wrote:
ultraviolet wrote:
Is it true to "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need"?

I would answer "Yes!", ultraviolet.

The solution to the 'free rider' problem is simple.

"Ability" and "Need" are socially-determined, by democratic methods.

There won't be any 'individuals' deciding their 'ability' to only sit on their arse all day, yet deciding on their 'need' for a top-of-the-range Porsche.

Every 'each' has a vote. You get outvoted? That's your 'abilities' and 'needs' re-defined by your fellow Communists.

We have to bring together production and consumption, and that is a social task, not individual taste.

emphasis mine

Certainly you mean "by your fellow workers" rather than "by your fellow communists" don't you?

yourmum
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Sep 29 2011 22:18

why would you need a record for that, you can just setup another vote after the learning process of the failure of the majoritys suggestion has settled down. so NL wasnt happy about the decision but they tagged along anyways? must not have been a life and death matter if you ask me. i can get a bit more thought provoking: if the majority decides someone needs to go on the electrical chair would you blame him for being a bad democrat wanting to break free and not care about the majoritys opinion? would you say if hitler was democratically elected (which was more or less the case) people are wrong to oppose the will of the majority and try to blast him apart with a bomb? sorry i have to bring on those nasty questions but you see this is about my belief too.

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Sep 29 2011 23:23

I don't want to go to far into this because it seems to me this has been done to death, since the beginning of political theory (let alone democratic political theory) but all your points their yourmum still seem, to me at least, to be within the remit of democracy? Consensus decision making is basically one form of direct democracy isn't it? What you seem to have a problem with (and rightly so) is representative democracy (which, contrary to direct democracy, requires one to vote from a set of options rather than discussion).

Just to stress again, I see your point/s, but I think they are still problems located on the plain of democracy (rather than fundamentally upturning it). The biggest problem of course is (for me at least), tyranny of the majority. I was just wondering what you thought could be done to avoid this yourmum? (not a trick question, I have a few ideas, but nothing consolidated yet).

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Sep 29 2011 23:26

sorry just to but in I just saw you mentioned that Hitler was basically democratically elected. No he wasn't. This really gets my back up and is used by a variety of anti-democratic movements to justify some pretty dodgy politicals (it is often a favourite of fundamentalist religious movements for instance). This is a really flawed argument, there were many extra-political historical contingencies that bought Hitler into power (undemocratically sending all the opposition to the prison camp was surely one of them?).

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Sep 29 2011 23:35

Just a further qualification. I'm not saying Hitlers rise was wholly un-democratic, but I think it is lazy to suggest it was wholly democratic (it wasn't even wholly democratic in regards to German democracy at the time, let alone as an exhaustive example of why we should dump democracy as a concept).

P.S. English is my first language, but looking back on my posts it looks like it could be my third. Sorry for that one people... embarrassed

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Sep 30 2011 06:59

Also, languages aside, what's the term when one side brings Hitler/Nazis into an argument--basically meaning they've made the argument so reductionist as to be pointless?

Also, this has been raised before, but how would you deal with issues of strikes? If my workplace calls a strike and one worker doesn't want to to strike, would we say that's okay because "if someone didnt agree he didnt have to take part in it." Would it be against anarchism to have a picket line that sought to prevent that person from coming into work?

Communist politics are collectivist and while directly democratic communism is the only system that can protect true individuality, it is based on collective decision making. Sometime you lose, but that okay since--as we're directly democratic--they'll be other times we're on the winning side.

To always place the individual above the collective will is not only impossible in any political-economic system, but the arguments around doing so are predominantly liberal, not communist.

LBird
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Sep 30 2011 07:23
Arbeiten wrote:
sorry just to but in I just saw you mentioned that Hitler was basically democratically elected. No he wasn't.

Just some info, Arbeiten.

1932 November German General Election result:

Nazis: 33.1%

Communists and Socialists: 37.3% (16.9% & 20.4%)

The Nazi vote had actually fallen, since the July election earlier that year, from 37.8%, whilst the Communists' had risen.

Of course, the Communists and Socialists hated each other more than they did the Nazis, and remained split.

But the truth is, more Germans voted for the Left than for the Nazis, and the Nazi vote was falling.

So it's possible to argue that Hitler was elected due to 'politics', rather than due to 'democracy', because of a flawed system and internecine politics by his enemies.

Nevertheless, he was 'democratically elected'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_federal_election,_July_1932

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_federal_election,_November_1932

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Sep 30 2011 07:29

I'm gratified that anyone would carry my quote from one thread to another...

ultraviolet wrote:
Comrade RedHughes raises the point that communism means that "scarcity as a social phenomenon" is overcome -- by that they mean that "society, our collective activity, will redefine needs so that our existence will no longer be dominated by scarcity. [...] If you instead have a society where people get satisfaction from each other directly, through hanging out, collective play, rituals, self-improvement, whatever, then you can have a society of abundance without any increase in the physical, material means of production." I think this is a good point. But the answer to the question of how to distribute goods/services remains.)

...

Woman from Anarchist Black Cat forum wrote:
there are basically two types of communist systems that use credits.
1 = everyone gets an equal number of credits as an allowance.
2 = credits are distributed according to need... there is an "average" level that most people get, but those with special needs get more.

Well...

I would first say that any system in which credits exist would have to be a system where scarcity exists "as a social phenomena". What else are you rationing besides scarce goods?

One might say that Scarcity is overcome when those things needed for biological survival are more available than one's capacity to consume them - more food than you need to eat, a variety places one might sleep and gain shelter from the element, a variety of clothes one might wear, etc. And when those thing needed for survival as a social being are abundant - love, recognition, knowledge, useful, "productive" activity and such are freely available.

Now, such a society might still not have unlimited material resources but the point is no one would "need", socially, to consume much than an average share of these resources - measured as material goods.

Now, an "unsocialized" individualized might, hypothetically, decide they had to take some inordinate amount of some social good - they could stuff food into sack from the collective dining hall, remove one of the large bottles of oil intended for the common meal and hide in unused storage area or whatever. Sure, it's possible. The person would just be unsocialized. It would be an usual phenomena, outside ordinary behavior. Those within a communist society would "deal" with these unusual cases on a case-by-case basis. This contrasts with the "criminals" of today - who are socialized and in fact responding to the constant scarcity organized by this society.

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Sep 30 2011 08:20

I just would like to clarify that my concern isn't so much with greedy individuals overconsuming. (I doubt that would be a problem except in rare cases, as RedHughs says.) My concern is with people who are not selfish and who desire to consume within limits that respect society... but who are unable to measure the impact of their consumption choices and so unable to make decisions which, when scaled up by 7 billion, cause problems. Let's say most people want to eat beef four times a week. This is not a glutonous desire (although I object to it for animal rights reasons, but that's a separate issue). With all the cows that would take, the impact from the methane emissions and soil erosion would be disastrous.

So scarcity as a social phenomenon may have indeed been abolished. But as RedHughes said

Quote:
Now, such a society might still not have unlimited material resources but the point is no one would "need", socially, to consume much than an average share of these resources - measured as material goods.

Agreed... but I think we still need to measure environmental impact of what we consume so we know if that average share of resources is environmentally sustainable or not.

Until we invent and implement the greenest of green technologies that eliminates all environmental sustainability concerns, we will still have the need to measure the environmental impact of our consumption. Scarcity may not exist as a social phenomena, but environmental limits still exist.

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Sep 30 2011 12:18

Yeah LBird I know he won the election of 1932, but I still think 'Hitler was democratically elected' without recourse to wider extra-political historical and social events, is a weak argument. I don't think there is anything 'basic' about the connection between Nazi Germany and the multifarious practices of democracy.

yourmum
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Sep 30 2011 12:23

well can some admin get busy here and strip the democracy discussion out of this thread? chilli you are mixing up two things: one is being part of the picket line, you surely dont want to force anyone taking part in the picket line when you voted on doing a picket line or would you? the other is preventing someone from destroying the purpose of the picket line as means to put pressure on the capital side itself, that is a question of power. if a majority wants to work and the minority can still shut the place down because they have the power to - would you blame them? for example in modern capital enterprises with highly specialised internal software development a few key workers can shut down the whole business activity of thousands of workers in minutes and nobody can do a thing about it.. would you tell them not to if they lost a vote on going on strike?

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Sep 30 2011 17:55
ultraviolet wrote:
So scarcity as a social phenomenon may have indeed been abolished. ......................................................

Scarcity may not exist as a social phenomena, but environmental limits still exist.

Can you be clear on whether you think scarcity as a social phenomena or not ? If you would say that scarcity must be defined in terms of humans actual opportunity to 'consume' the resource, i.e socially, then it would be ok to say that scarcity would have been eliminated if people could eat 4 ( but no more) beefsteaks a week or whatever. If you don't think its a social phenomena, then just because people can eat that amount of beefsteaks a week or whatever would not mean you have eliminated scarcity. It would just be saying you have successfully made a rule that restricts peoples freedoms to eat more than 4 beefsteaks a week and hence just dodging the problem and not actually trying to solve it, not that you could, because 'scarcity' would be describing physical limits determined by the environment.

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Sep 30 2011 20:17
the croydonian anarchist wrote:
ultraviolet wrote:
So scarcity as a social phenomenon may have indeed been abolished. ......................................................

Scarcity may not exist as a social phenomena, but environmental limits still exist.

Can you be clear on whether you think scarcity as a social phenomena or not ? If you would say that scarcity must be defined in terms of humans actual opportunity to 'consume' the resource, i.e socially, then it would be ok to say that scarcity would have been eliminated if people could eat 4 ( but no more) beefsteaks a week or whatever. If you don't think its a social phenomena, then just because people can eat that amount of beefsteaks a week or whatever would not mean you have eliminated scarcity. It would just be saying you have successfully made a rule that restricts peoples freedoms to eat more than 4 beefsteaks a week and hence just dodging the problem and not actually trying to solve it, not that you could, because 'scarcity' would be describing physical limits determined by the environment.

As RedHughes describes it, yes, I think we can and should abolish scarcity as a social phenomenon, and that communism would achieve this. Our basic physical needs are provided for, and our social/emotional needs are provided for mainly through community interaction and satisfying "work" (in quotes to indicate that the boundary between work/leisure is getting fuzzier), and not through consumption.

At least this is my understanding of what RedHughes describes.

So I agree with this. But I think despite the social phenomenon of scarcity being abolished, there is still environmental limits. So certain goods/services will still be scarce in that they will be limited, but we won't experience this as scarcity because we feel such satisfaction with our lives. Therefore, the acknowledgement of environmental limits and thus the limits on our consumption does not contradict the acceptance of the view that scarcity as a social phenomena is abolished.

That's why I can say that yes, scarcity is abolished as a social phenomena, and yet also say, there are limits and we need measurement to avoid surpassing those limits. This might seem paradoxical, but I don't think it's contradictory.

As for "restricting people's freedom" -- I don't think that having limits on our consumption is a restriction on our freedom, or at least it's (1) not a restriction that can be avoided, and (2) not a restriction that need be coercive. If we democratically decide on what our consumption limits are, and if we make people's quota/limit flexible according to need, I think this gives us plenty of freedom. And then people are free to choose how to "spend" their quota. If someone really wants to drive a car everyday, they can, but they'll have less carbon emissions quota leftover for other things. And they are free to make such choices!

Setting a quota for how much car driving each person can do, however, IS a restriction on freedom. It's an attempt to limit carbon emissions, but it forbids people from deciding for themselves how to limit their carbon emissions. Maybe it's important to some people to drive a lot, and they balance that out by eating 100% vegan (which has less carbon emissions). It makes more sense for people to have carbon emission quotas (flexible according to need).

RedHughs
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Sep 30 2011 19:35

OK,

"Viewed from the outside", "abolishing scarcity on a social level" would just mean that nothing would be scarce compared to the amount of it people needed or wanted. So if everyone wants four steaks per week but society can't "afford" for some reason, you haven't abolished scarcity.

But I think the big point is that I did not say that rationing and credits would be the only planning mechanism that would be involved in a new society.

In fact, it seems like a lot of discussion involves the implication that a future society would be like present bourgeois society where either people "do want they want" - make atomized decisions without regard to others or people are controlled or regulated externally by law or money or credits. It is essentially the assumption that community would not exist.

In fact, a communist society, a communist community, would involve a lot of planning and thought for its maintenance. It is simply that this planning wouldn't be based on imposing laws, credits and external management devices on people. A social system where people make enjoying each other's company in one fashion or another the main "consumption" would be a social system where people would have a lot of time to discuss and plan for maintaining the situation of everyone having "everything they wanted". For example, if some of the people wanted to ride fancy, super-light bicycles, rather than rationing the output of the factory, you could set-up a bicycle-making workshop where each person could put as much or as little effort into their personal bike as they wanted (with a lot of help from those most specialized in this, of course). Oppositely, rather than rationing particular rare food items, one could have a collective cook-house where appealing, nutritious meals that had a low portion of rare items would be prepared. Etc, etc.

I mean this society is structured and restructured to maintain artificial scarcity at many, many levels - the US uses and abuses zoning regulations against anyone living "off-grid", US drug companies intentionally produce extremely expensive drugs which offer cancer patients only a few more month of life etc. A communist society would be opposite organized to give everyone the feeling that they were secure and so avoid scarcity and competition.

And, if we go back to hundreds of hypothetical examples in the twenty+ threads currently on this same topic, we can see almost all of them are isolated from the picture of reorganizing social relations rather managing capitalist production and consumption differently. I mean, I don't know where to begin if someone thinks we would have to ration tickets to rock concerts...

Think Different! or something folks...

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Sep 30 2011 20:44

Imagine a region where usually there isn’t snow but this year there is a lot of snow in winter. The demand leaps up for new car tires because now we need winterized ones.

Let’s say we don’t want to increase our work time. So we either have to endure the shortage of car tires or transfer labor from other industries. If we are going to transfer labor, we don’t know which industries to transfer it from (...what do we produce less of in order to make enough tires?). To know which industries to transfer labor from, we need to have meetings each time something like this happens to debate and vote on what industries to transfer labor from or whether we perhaps want to raise our average labor hours instead.

It doesn't sound like much if we're just talking about an unexpected rise in demand for winter tires, but it becomes very complicated, time consuming, and practically impossible when we consider that fluctuations in demand will occur for various goods at any given time, and when we remember that there are hundreds of thousands of goods to consider for reduction, and we'll all have different opinions on what should be reduced and by how much.

Some might then suggest we develop a bureaucracy to make that decision based on their own assessment of what is most important. Not only is this undemocratic, but these will be their own judgments and we will often end up lowering production of X to meet demand for Y, when in fact X is more desired than Y.

With personal consumption limits (based on need) and measurement/“prices” we have a built in solution to these problems. Consumption limits means we will prioritize our consumption and lower our demand for the things we least want. That will free up labor in those industries for which we have lowered our demand, and will ensure the labor is transferred from making stuff that isn’t too important to us, rather than from stuff that is, and also ensures that when we do reduce production, we don't reduce it so much that there isn't enough for those who really want those things.

Another problem with not having consumption quotas or measurement/prices is ripple effects. Let’s say we do decide to increase our average work time so that we can increase production of the tires without lowering production of other things. But now there is a shortage of rubber to make other stuff that uses rubber – rain-boots, raincoats, dildos, tires for wheelchairs, basketballs, insulation coating for electrical wiring, etc. What should we reduce production of? Or should we reduce production of everything a little bit? This is information we don’t know because, again, if there are no measurement/prices and no personal consumption quotas, we can’t raise the price when something becomes scarce so that people reduce demand for the things they want least, which would then tell us where to lower production. Without this information we will sometimes end up lowering production for X to meet demand for Y even though we want X more than Y. Again, the solution might seem easy and obvious when just dealing with the tire issue, but imagine having long meetings every week where we had to debate this for several goods, each with their own ripple effects based on dozens of inputs.

(We could say that we could just increase production of rubber, but this becomes less simple when we are dealing with finite or semi-renewable resources. We can't unlimitedly increase how much we cut down trees to produce wood/paper products. It's also a problem when dealing with stuff that has a high impact on the environment. We don't want to unlimitedly increase production of stuff that is toxic. So my point is that even if we're willing to put in the extra labor to meet demand of non-limited consumption* 100%, we will still run up against environmental limits.)

Edit:
* I'm not saying we will decide to consume an unlimited or greedy amount. Of course we will self-impose limits even if there are no limits placed on us. By unlimited I mean that there is no socially/democratically determined limit or quota.

Let's consider again situations where production for X is lowered to meet demand for Y, even though more people would prefer X. Another issue with this is that the people who consume X will not necessarily be the people who most want X. If there’s a shortage, people will get X on a first come / first serve basis, rather than it going to whoever wants or needs it the most. That's not fair and it's not distribution according to need. If we wanted to distribute according to need, we'll have to have more meetings to decide who should and shouldn't get the stuff for which there is a shortage of.

Simpler solution is if people have consumption quotas (based on need), they will prioritize consumption, so that something they would have consumed on a limitless budget won’t be consumed on a limited budget. And if “prices” rise with scarcity, it means that those who want something most (as indicated by their willingness to “pay” more for it) will be the ones who get it. Thus we decide automatically what would have taken many long meetings to decide.

RedHughs
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Sep 30 2011 21:11
Quote:
It doesn't sound like much if we're just talking about an unexpected rise in demand for winter tires, but it becomes very complicated, time consuming, and practically impossible when we consider that fluctuations in demand will occur for various goods at any given time, and when we remember that there are hundreds of thousands of goods to consider for reduction, and we'll all have different opinions on what should be reduced and by how much.

Uh, like Ronald Reagan said, "there you go again", assuming a model of consumption that clearly doesn't relate to the perspective that the primary way that people would be "consumers" would be through "consuming" their own collective company in one form or another.

Or, oppositely, why the fuck would individuals fucking need fucking snow tires? For their fucking private automobiles??? If a new society looks like a society where people primary activities center around individually consuming a thousand and one products then the new society would like the old and could be just as well managed as the old society.

Essentially, the preference all types of consumption would be for freely available collective goods. Transportation would thus be by trains, buses, sailing ships, etc, with an emphasis on having a pleasant journey rather than an absolute minimizing of time. If there's usual snow on some mountain pass a bus is cross, we might just stop and camp till it blows over rather than having herculean effort to make sure we can drive through it. I mean, even under capitalism, cities like Portland OR, that get snow about once a year, just shut down for a couple days rather than investing in snow-plows. A minimum toil society could take "do nothing and let it go away" solutions to many, many things that give modern people conniption fits.

As I said, planning would still necessary for some things. Planning is not as hard as you would claim. Once you have sufficient information and have set your priorities, you balance your input-output functions and adjust for the actual process over time. But keep in mind, a lot of goods allocations would be per-region rather than per-individual. And while some of the planning would involve trade-offs as you describe but other parts would taking advantage of economies of scale and shifting behavior. Again, just our present society makes an effort to make everything has a price, our future would make an effort to make everything people enjoyed on an individual level seem free (admittedly, "free or unavailable"), even if on a collective level some choices about relative preferences would have to be made. The project would be the self-conscious creation of community rather than a random utopia...

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Oct 1 2011 05:15
RedHughs wrote:
Quote:
It doesn't sound like much if we're just talking about an unexpected rise in demand for winter tires, but it becomes very complicated, time consuming, and practically impossible when we consider that fluctuations in demand will occur for various goods at any given time, and when we remember that there are hundreds of thousands of goods to consider for reduction, and we'll all have different opinions on what should be reduced and by how much.

Uh, like Ronald Reagan said, "there you go again", assuming a model of consumption that clearly doesn't relate to the perspective that the primary way that people would be "consumers" would be through "consuming" their own collective company in one form or another.

You're assuming that's what I was assuming. wink

RedHughs wrote:
Or, oppositely, why the fuck would individuals fucking need fucking snow tires? For their fucking private automobiles???

No, it could be for public busses, for transport trucks, and for community automobiles (I imagine various cars could just be laying around all over the place for people to use at will).

I am not assuming a society of high individual consumption. I'm assuming a society where many goods are shared. Durable goods that are not used frequently by someone can be shared... tools in a community tool shed, fancy shoes/dresses/suits for special occassions, DVD libraries, etc., etc., etc.

Nonetheless, I still think the problems I mentioned would arise (although less so than in a society that had much more individual consumption).

RedHughs wrote:
Essentially, the preference all types of consumption would be for freely available collective goods. Transportation would thus be by trains, buses, sailing ships, etc, with an emphasis on having a pleasant journey rather than an absolute minimizing of time. If there's usual snow on some mountain pass a bus is cross, we might just stop and camp till it blows over rather than having herculean effort to make sure we can drive through it. I mean, even under capitalism, cities like Portland OR, that get snow about once a year, just shut down for a couple days rather than investing in snow-plows. A minimum toil society could take "do nothing and let it go away" solutions to many, many things that give modern people conniption fits.

I still think there will be a demand for fast travel (what if my friend is having her baby earlier than expected and I need to rush home? or what if a loved one is on their death bed? etc etc etc)

But let's just put that aside and assume there is no demand for fast travel. Let's scrap my example of the winter snow tires altogether. Nonetheless, there will be ongoing fluctuations in demand for various goods for various unpredictable reasons. We will have to deal with this problem, one way or another.

What I hear you saying is that if there are sometimes shortages, so be it... if people have to wait to get certain goods/services, so be it... if sometimes some of the people who most wanted good X have to go without it while others who did get good X aren't the ones who most wanted it, then so be it. These problems are petty and are not cause for serious concern. It is a welcome trade off if it means we can have a very relaxed, very free society without the hassle of measuring and tracking our consumption, and without the annoyances of our neighbors having control over approving whether our needs warrant extra consumption.

If that is what you are saying, I can accept that. I agree with Maletesta and Wayne Price, that during and after revolution, we want a variety of classless and democratic societies, experimenting and implementing a variety of versions of communism and socialism. I personally would prefer to live in a society that measured the labor time and environmental effects of goods and services, and in which everyone had a consumption limit/quota (flexible according to need), as I see that it simplifies and solves certain problems and I don't believe this conflicts or hinders with maximum liberty, demoracy, classlessness, need based distribution, the breaking down of barriers between work and leisure, and other goodies. But to others clearly don't like this idea, and I would support people experimenting with a society in which individual consumption was not limited or measured. I'd probably also want to visit and live in for a while such a society to see what it was like...... and who knows, I might end up preferring it and staying! grin On the other hand, I would be seriously terrified that implementing this non-measurement system on a world wide scale would cause enough discontent among enough people that it could lay the stage for counter-revolution (many people may not be so tolerant of the previously mentioned problems, particularly if shortages made us wait for, say, toilet paper). I would be happy to be proven wrong on this fear. I don't think we can predict it for sure either way, and to stay on the safe side, I would vehemently argue that a non-measurement system be implemented only in small regions at first to see to what extent it works, and only if successful should we think about implementing it on a wider (let alone world wide) scale.

And then there are the environmental concerns... Even if humans don't have a counter-revolution, Nature will if we don't respect its limits, and I don't see how we can do that without measurement. That doesn't necessarily mean we have to measure individual consumption, though, but society must at least measure the aggregate environmental impacts of its production and transportation -- and stay within society-wide (not individual) quotas.

RedHughs wrote:
As I said, planning would still necessary for some things. Planning is not as hard as you would claim.

I agree planning is necessary, and actually desirable for various things -- namely, public goods (health care, shared automobiles, etc.) But goods which are consumed by individuals it's harder to plan in advance for (one critique some people have of parecon is that it expects individuals to plan yearly consumption in advance). Also, planning becomes very difficult not just for individual consumption but for public goods, too, if there is not indicators of the labor time and environmental impact of things.

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CRUD
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Oct 1 2011 05:57

I like Ayn Rands quote where she denounces capitalism, more specifically wage slavery, rent and interest-

"I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

She was a good communist....smile

RedHughs
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Oct 1 2011 08:44

Ultraviolet.

In the future I'm sketching, there is absolutely nothing preventing a planning subcommittee from coming to the conclusion "We require X labor-hours" and "we will produce Y bask of goods". The point I am simply making is that that X labor-hours will significantly less than individuals will spontaneously provide and Y bask of goods will more than the population of the area will feel a need to consume (so the excess recycled/used in the next production cycle etc).

As far as going from input to outputs, this would be a constrained optimization problem and solutions to such problems are well-known and could implemented on a single personal computer.

Quote:
But goods which are consumed by individuals it's harder to plan in advance for

I mentioned the bicycle workshop. At any one point, there would people making general purpose bikes, a supply of such bike already made but also the jigs, custom tubes, and helpful master-craftpersons needed to make whatever custom bike a given individual had any desire for.

You could have a similar setup for clothing workshop, a computer workshop, a cabin-building workshop or whatever. Naturally, when a person has no more use for an item, they will return it so the need to produce lots and lots of stuff would be further lessened. And this system would provide a great deal of flexibility as far as people getting access any kind of common or exotic item they might desire. It wouldn't allow one person to live in their own villa with all the luxuries of Versailles but that doesn't seem like a problem.

Certainly, a lot of general purpose materials - cloth, steel, tools, machinery, would be produced in centralized, automated fashion and large-scale planning would be used for this. And with the constraints of the environment could handle etc being taken into account.

But altogether, it seems rather clear to me that an individual rationing system would only get in the way of this the overall flow of stuff here.

Human directly consume that much. Food, cloth, shelter, tooth brushes, toilet paper, etc. Obviously that would be first priority.

Quote:
What I hear you saying is that if there are sometimes shortages, so be it... if people have to wait to get certain goods/services, so be it... if sometimes some of the people who most wanted good X have to go without it while others who did get good X aren't the ones who most wanted it, then so be it.

Sometimes this discussion gets kind of maddening. If some people want good X a lot, they could just go ask the others who have it for it. It's like you're continually viewing things as if there will be an external decision process it does every change and that a community itself wouldn't just directly change any obvious mis-allocation. "You get your rations on Wednesday and if you're not happy with them, you're SOL" - no, that is not what I said!

Further, I'm not saying that there will shortages (your paraphrasing is starting to be rather annoying). Sometimes there will be more of a surplus than others. Some days we won't produce anything because there's already enough. Big difference and one I think I've leaning on since we began this discussion at your invitation...

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Oct 1 2011 23:32
RedHughs wrote:
Further, I'm not saying that there will shortages (your paraphrasing is starting to be rather annoying).

I'm sorry I annoyed you. sad That's how these political debates/discussions tend to go, plenty of misunderstandings, and sometimes paraphrasing is the only way to figure out if you are misunderstanding someone (so that they can correct you if you're wrong)... I rather do this then just assume I know what you mean. I tried to word things in a way to make it clear that this was my interpretation of your views, and that I knew I might not be interpreting accurately:

Quote:
What I hear you saying is [...]
Quote:
If that is what you are saying[...]

I see that I was wrong in my interpretation. However...

RedHughs wrote:
"You get your rations on Wednesday and if you're not happy with them, you're SOL" - no, that is not what I said!

This is a misinterpretation by you of my interpretation of you (wow, that sounds confusing... I just mean I never thought that's what you were saying! smile )

RedHughs wrote:
In the future I'm sketching, there is absolutely nothing preventing a planning subcommittee from coming to the conclusion "We require X labor-hours" and "we will produce Y bask of goods". The point I am simply making is that that X labor-hours will significantly less than individuals will spontaneously provide and Y bask of goods will more than the population of the area will feel a need to consume (so the excess recycled/used in the next production cycle etc).

Good to know! Your ideas are being more clear to me as the discussion progresses.

RedHughs wrote:
As far as going from input to outputs, this would be a constrained optimization problem and solutions to such problems are well-known and could implemented on a single personal computer.

I read the Wikipedia page but struggled to relate it to our conversation about distribution of what is produced. It would mean a lot to me if you could explain the relationship, maybe aided by a simple example to make it clear. I think understanding this is the key to me fully understanding how you propose this system you propose functions. (I hope you're not too annoyed with me / this conversation to want to do this... if you are, don't forget there are many others who are silently following this conversation, or who will read it in the future, who could also benefit from this explanation! smile Hopefully some of them are less annoying than me! wink )

RedHughs
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Oct 2 2011 01:41
ultraviolet wrote:
RedHughs wrote:
In the future I'm sketching, there is absolutely nothing preventing a planning subcommittee from coming to the conclusion "We require X labor-hours" and "we will produce Y bask of goods". The point I am simply making is that that X labor-hours will significantly less than individuals will spontaneously provide and Y bask of goods will more than the population of the area will feel a need to consume (so the excess recycled/used in the next production cycle etc).

Good to know! Your ideas are being more clear to me as the discussion progresses.

RedHughs wrote:
As far as going from input to outputs, this would be a constrained optimization problem and solutions to such problems are well-known and could implemented on a single personal computer.

I read the Wikipedia page but struggled to relate it to our conversation about distribution of what is produced. It would mean a lot to me if you could explain the relationship, maybe aided by a simple example to make it clear. I think understanding this is the key to me fully understanding how you propose this system you propose functions. (I hope you're not too annoyed with me / this conversation to want to do this... if you are, don't forget there are many others who are silently following this conversation, or who will read it in the future, who could also benefit from this explanation! smile Hopefully some of them are less annoying than me! wink )

OK (continuing the discussion of these hypotheticals) the point is that there are in essence "two phases". One would be the large scale production of goods on a centralized basis where all of the tools evolved by corporate and state central planning could be modified and used as needed. The other is the "last mile". The goods produced could be simply deposited in bins (or whatever) and the residents of a region could customize or consume them as needed. The point is the amount of stuff in the bins would in surplus compared to, relative to, what the people in the given area would need. And on a large scale, this surplus would be planned and calculated on an ongoing basis. And certainly, the excess would collected and reused in a variety of fashions.

But after laying all this out, I should be clear it is still just a possibility - a hypothetical which intended as a counter-example for the necessity of a credit rationing systems.

To this model, you could certainly add a global-equivalent-to "craiglist" where individuals in one area would simply directly send needed goods to people in some other area based them just asking...

OK, hopefully that's clear...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The point is that a credit/rationing-system is by-no-means a planning system and a system by-no-means has to depend or even would benefit from a credit/rationing/individual-consumption-controlling system.

Essentially, planning on the social scale and the individual-level "distribution of what is produced" - as mechanisms, as algorithms - don't have to have anything in common. But that isn't a problem.