Free Market Anarcho-Communism?

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HorrorHiro's picture
HorrorHiro
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Dec 31 2011 05:38
Free Market Anarcho-Communism?

OK I'm fairly sure we all agree Capitalism is wrong but what about the "Free Market" ideal that most if not all Anarcho-Capitalists hold onto? In terms of Communist Anarchism could the "Free Market" theory be compatible? I'm guessing the answer is no but I'm not an Anarcho-Communist so...yeah.

bastarx
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Dec 31 2011 07:12

Communism means the end of markets, free or otherwise. End of discussion.

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Dec 31 2011 07:37

So what exactly are people supposed to do in an ideal Anarcho-Communist society? I still don't trully understand Anarcho-Communism or Anarcho-Capitalism...oh well at least I think I have Anarcho-Syndicalism down!

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Dec 31 2011 08:09

Basically anarcho-communism is anarchism and anarcho-capitalism is not. Anarcho-capitalism can't exist as it's a paradox.

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"Anarcho"-capitalists claim to be anarchists because they say that they oppose government... they use a dictionary definition of anarchism. However, this fails to appreciate that anarchism is a political theory. As dictionaries are rarely politically sophisticated things, this means that they fail to recognise that anarchism is more than just opposition to government, it is also marked a opposition to capitalism (i.e. exploitation and private property). Thus, opposition to government is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being an anarchist -- you also need to be opposed to exploitation and capitalist private property. As "anarcho"-capitalists do not consider interest, rent and profits (i.e. capitalism) to be exploitative nor oppose capitalist property rights, they are not anarchists.

http://infoshop.org/page/AnarchistFAQSectionF1

Check some of the other stuff out on the Anarchist FAQ if you are stuck with some concepts, just browse around
http://infoshop.org/page/AnAnarchistFAQ

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Dec 31 2011 08:23

Thanks Bulmer

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Dec 31 2011 10:44

I have a deja vu here...

So I'll just repeat what I said in another thread.

Yes, communism is the antithesis to market economies. However, not every market system is capitalist; it's been argued before (and people like Kropotkin were involved in that) that under a system of use-rights, or socialist property rights, communism and say, mutualism and other forms of individualism, are not totally incompatible. The point's been raised that you cannot force people into communes or it wouldn't be anarchism - the counter-argument was that non-exploitative economies would be "allowed" to co-exist.

In "market socialism", there would be no wage labor, for example. Any true communist would have lots to criticize, however. For example, there would still be commodities, and as others have argued, a competitive market system under workers' control would lead to workers' "self-exploitation".

I think the AFAQ has a section on what I'm trying to say here... lemme check.

Here you go:
So, the question is whether communist-anarchists are in favour of forcing people to be communists. If their communism is based on voluntary association then, according to the Individualist Anarchists themselves, it is a form of anarchism. Unsurprisingly, we discover that communist-anarchists have long argued that their communism was voluntary in nature and that working people who did not desire to be communists would be free not to be.

This position can be found in Kropotkin, from his earliest writings to his last. Thus we discover him arguing that an anarchist revolution "would take care not to touch the holding of the peasant who cultivates it himself . . . without wage labour. But we would expropriate all land that was not cultivated by the hands of those who at present possess the land." This was compatible with communism because libertarian communists aimed at "the complete expropriation of all those who have the means of exploiting human beings; the return to the community of the nation of everything that in the hands of anyone can be used to exploit others." Following Proudhon's analysis, private property was different from individual possession and as long as "social wealth remains in the hands of the few who possess it today" there would be exploitation. Instead, the aim was to see such social wealth currently monopolised by the capitalist class "being placed, on the day of the revolution, at the free disposition of all the workers." This would "create the situation where each person may live by working freely, without being forced to sell his work and his liberty to others." [Words of a Rebel, p. 214, pp. 207-8, p. 207 and p. 208] If someone desired to work outside of the commune, then that was perfectly compatible with this aim.

http://infoshop.org/page/AnarchistFAQSectionG2#secg21

No mention of markets per se but I think that's kinda implied.

zenkka
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Jan 1 2012 17:23
HorrorHiro wrote:
So what exactly are people supposed to do in an ideal Anarcho-Communist society? I still don't trully understand Anarcho-Communism or Anarcho-Capitalism...oh well at least I think I have Anarcho-Syndicalism down!

that would be odd if you had anarcho-syndicalism down but not anarcho-communism, since anarcho-syndicalism is a tactic to attain anarchist communism.

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Jan 1 2012 20:46

Free market anarcho communism ? If you desire such ideas to be compatible communism, your probably an anarcho capitalist and perhaps don't know it (im assuming you don't know it as why else would a AnCap post on these forums if not to troll). Are they compatible, no.

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Jan 2 2012 03:39
the croydonian anarchist wrote:
Free market anarcho communism ? If you desire such ideas to be compatible communism, your probably an anarcho capitalist and perhaps don't know it (im assuming you don't know it as why else would a AnCap post on these forums if not to troll). Are they compatible, no.

I was wondering if the 2 would be compatible in the slightest. Like I'v said before I still for the most part don't fully understand Anarcho-Communism as well as Anarcho-Capitalism. But I do identify with aspect of Anarcho-Communism.

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Jan 2 2012 04:39
HorrorHiro wrote:
I was wondering if the 2 would be compatible in the slightest. Like I'v said before I still for the most part don't fully understand Anarcho-Communism as well as Anarcho-Capitalism. But I do identify with aspect of Anarcho-Communism.

Capitalism is a system of private ownership. It needs commodities (goods that have an "exchange value," or can be measured in worth by money), and a very rigid and defined division of labor.

Communism is a syetm of common ownership, which requires a system of free production and consumption based on the real needs of human beings, and a network of free people sharing responsibilities across industries and trades.

If you can think of any way these two systems could possibly ever co-exist, let us know, but it seems pretty obvious to me that where ever one exists, the other cannot.

robbo203
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Jan 2 2012 12:11

This whole "free market anti-capitalist" idea is an utter absurdity and we should have nothing to do with it. Granted capitalism cannot just be equated with the market, it is undeniable that that the market is absolutely central to capitalism. Marx's opening sentence in Capital springs to mind here - the wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails presents itself as an immense accumulation of commodities. Exactly. A commodity is something that is bought and sold. On a market.

Calling for an allegedly stateless free market is endorsing what lies at the very heart of capitalism - commodity production. It is giving ideological succour to capitalism and by extension, the need for a state.

I find it alarming the extent to which - and the ease with which - these free marketeers have been able to fraudulently appopriate terms such as libertarianism and anarchism. The rot needs to be stopped right here. If you advocate a market in any shape or form there is no way you can legiitimately claim to be an anarchist or socialist or communist. Period.

There is this point too. How the hell are you ever going to achieve such a hypothetical society? Some free marketerrs profess to be opposed to the wages system. Now the wages system signifies, above all else, the separation of the producers from the means of production. The implication would seem to be, then, that these free marketeers would like to reastablish the historiic connection (such as it was) between the workers and the means of production as for instance in the case of artisans owning their own tools (which completely overlooks how the technology of production has become much more socialised and large scale since and thus not so readily amenable to individual appropaition and use) Nevertheless, it is by such means that these free marketeers presumably hope to negate the existence of a class system and hence the need for a state to oversee and administer such a system

But how? How exactly do you do this? Here we see an insoluble contradiction at the very heart if the free market anti capitalist project. The "free and voluntary" market exchanges these people fetishise and uphold are themselves based on the principle of private property and the respect for other people's private property. At present, such property in the form of capital or means of production is hugely concentrated (and becoming ever more concentrated) in the hands of the capitalist class. How can you advocate respect for property rights upon which a free market is necessarily predicated, on the one hand AND on the other hand, imply that the capitalists need to be strippped of their near exclusive ownership of the means of production in order for a fully functioning anbd classless free market non capitalist economy to exist at all. These two things simply do not add up. The exproporation of the capitalists' ill gotten gains means precisely oiverriding - and disrespecting - the property rights of the capitalists quite "legitimately" acquired by them under a regime of market capitalism

There is no way in which capitalism is going to evolve into an egalitarian classless free market economy of its own accord anyway. Setting up worker coops and the like, while fine in itself , is not an answer; these will always remain essentially peripheral to the capitalist economy. Insofar as coops do make it into the big time, they do so by moving ever closer to the model of the conventional capitalist firms and increasingly selling out on their previously espoused egalitarian principles and ethos. The capitalist Mondragon empire , that ruthless exploiter of cheap Polish labour and the owner of a chain of rip-off Eroski supermarkets, is a salutory lesson in that regard.

Not only that, even if a level economic playing field could somehow be magicked into existence and everyone set about voluntarily exchanging their products in this free market utopia, pretty soon inequalities would begin to emerge. Winners and loser are inevitable in a system of market competition and it is equally inevitable that the winners would then go on to capitalise (in every sense of the word) on their intial advantages and that capital would become increasingly concentrated. How are you going to stop that.? Conjure up a state to pass legislation to break up monopoloistic or anti-competitive practices. Well, if you did that then you would clearly be back to capitalism wouldnt you?

No, this whole "free market anti-capitalist" thing is a complete dead end a complete distraction from the struggle to create a truly classless stateless libertarian economy based on the common ownership of the means of producing wealth

Robin

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Jan 2 2012 12:39

Robin, thank you. You went to the effort of explaining fully when I, and perhaps others, could not be bothered to. Agree with you on every count. Never seen it put so well and now I understand in more detail how impossible anarcho capitalism is.

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Jan 2 2012 13:34

Yeah, that was a post and half! Well put.

robbo203
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Jan 2 2012 20:53

Well, thanks for that guys wink

I guess that would be Part One of the case against the anarcho-capitalists - that anarcho capitalism is an utter absurdity, incapable of realisation.

There is however a Part Two - that is, a rebuttal of their claim that a non market anarcho communist society is possible . I wrote something a few years back for the World in Common journal http://www.cvoice.org/cv3cox.htm. Ive recently started working on a much more detailed and (hopefully) more cogently argued rebuttal of the so called economic calculation argument. I would really appeciate it if people could come back with some useful criticism of that original article, some pointers as to where I could go with some of the ideas presented therein. Its so easy to miss the odd blindingly obvious point when you are working right up at the coalface so to speak

Cheers

Robin

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Jan 2 2012 21:37

robo wrote -

Quote:
Calling for an allegedly stateless free market is endorsing what lies at the very heart of capitalism - commodity production.

Commodity production? Do you not mean the accumulation of surplus value?

Great post btw.

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Jan 2 2012 22:09

Well Marx does begin Capital with a discussion of the commodity in as much as accumulation of surplus value is embodied in commodity production.

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Jan 2 2012 23:05

Mmm, commodity production is more central to capitalism that extraction of surplus value . After all plenty of enterprises can and do exist in capitalism where surplus value is not extracted (co-ops, partnerships and owner run businesses with no employees). No enterprise in capitalism exists without commodity production. Surplus extraction (including surplus value extraction) is the fundamental feature of class society. Though in really existing capitalism, rather than theoretical abstractions, surplus extraction and commodity production usually go hand in hand.

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Jan 3 2012 00:01

Let's not conflate free market anarchism to anarcho-capitalism. Bear in mind that most syndicalist theory is greatly indebted to Proudhon. At the time that communists were arguing for peasant autonomy, Proudhon was living in an industrial society fighting for worker autonomy from the get go.

That said, I'm an anarcho-communist, but I understand and accept that mutualism and the like are anarchist theories. The problems I have with them have to do with logical consistency or applicability, whether or not it would actually work. But make no mistake, it is most certainly an anarchist philosophy, and one I would be glad to see come into fruition given the course history has already taken.

Anarcho-capitalism on the other hand offers very little to anarchist theory at all, and does more retroactive defining than anything else. It supports hierarchy and wage slavery, two things market socialism does not. Period.

Laborers producing commodities in exchange for the full value of their labor implies no hierarchy nor state. Personally, I'm a communist because either market socialism would lead to communism anyway, or it would have to be destroyed all over again depending on the distribution of capital at the beginning. Regardless, anarcho-communism is already a minority. Let's not make it smaller by alienating people who identify with the ideas of Proudhon.

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Jan 3 2012 00:40
Birthday Pony wrote:
Regardless, anarcho-communism is already a minority. Let's not make it smaller by alienating people who identify with the ideas of Proudhon.

I don't know, I always got the feeling AnComs are the mainstream.

Maybe that's got to do with region, I'm pretty sure you'll find more individualists in the US than over here and so on.

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Jan 3 2012 06:49

Here we identify as anarchists and that's about it. And in the midwest we tend to be pragmatists more than any other anarchist circle, so we pick and choose from a lot of anarchist stuff when it comes to day-to-day organizing and such.

Still, my critique of individualist anarchism has nothing to do with it being authoritarian in nature. It's either sloppy, inconsistent, impossible, or dumb, but I've never thought that a worker run co-op selling shit in a market screams of oppression. Most self-styled anarchist communist co-ops do this. And yes, yes, we live in capitalism, what can we expect, etc., etc. I just don't see it as so horrifying.

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Jan 3 2012 10:38
Birthday Pony wrote:
Let's not conflate free market anarchism to anarcho-capitalism. Bear in mind that most syndicalist theory is greatly indebted to Proudhon. At the time that communists were arguing for peasant autonomy, Proudhon was living in an industrial society fighting for worker autonomy from the get go.

That said, I'm an anarcho-communist, but I understand and accept that mutualism and the like are anarchist theories. The problems I have with them have to do with logical consistency or applicability, whether or not it would actually work. But make no mistake, it is most certainly an anarchist philosophy, and one I would be glad to see come into fruition given the course history has already taken.

Anarcho-capitalism on the other hand offers very little to anarchist theory at all, and does more retroactive defining than anything else. It supports hierarchy and wage slavery, two things market socialism does not. Period.

Laborers producing commodities in exchange for the full value of their labor implies no hierarchy nor state. Personally, I'm a communist because either market socialism would lead to communism anyway, or it would have to be destroyed all over again depending on the distribution of capital at the beginning. Regardless, anarcho-communism is already a minority. Let's not make it smaller by alienating people who identify with the ideas of Proudhon.

Agreed, free market anarchism cannot simply be equated with anarcho-capitalism . The difference amounts to one of having their hearts in the right place but not, Im afraid, their head.

Neverthless , free market anarchism and this whole mutualist tradition needs to be fundamentally opposed for the reasons I touched on in my earlier post above. However much it hankers after a post capitalist world and abhors wage slavery, it elevates and reinforces what is the absolutely central organisational principle of capitalism itself - the market and commodity production. It is thus founded upon a basic contradiction. Respect for private property upon which any kind market is based, leaves it totally incapable of dealing with the enormous concentrations of capital in the hands of the capitalist class. You can only strip that class of its ill gotten gains, not by respecting their property rights, but by denying them those rights. This involves a supplementary contradiction for anarchists in particular - how do you do that without confronting the whole issue of the state?

This is the stark truth which anarchsts in the mutualist tradition have yet to face up to. Capitalism is not going to conveniently evolve in the direction they desire. On the contrary all the evidence shows that capitalism is headed in the exact opposite direction - it is becoming more unequal in the distribution of capital assets, not less. So where does that leave our mutualist except stranded in limbo with nothing but a utopian dream to cling onto?

Look, I dont mind workers trying as a temporary expedient under capitalism to form their own cooperative businesses along mutualistic lines and whatnot. In fact , that has a lot to recommend itself as a survival strategy under capitalism. What I do mind is when people start getting carried away with all this , fostering delusions that this is the way to go and that capitalism is somehow going to yield and give away in the face of some mutulist tsunami. Thats bonkers franlky. Its just aint gonna happen like that. Worker coops by the very nature of the system are doomed to remain peripheral to it. Indeed, once they start growing, as I said , they will soon enough be co-opted by the system and become just another capitalist business like Mondragon. They will stop being worker coops in everything but name. Not only that, becuase we are talking about a systrem of market competition we are talking of coops themselves competing with each other and increasingly putting each other out of business in the ruthless pursuit of profit - that is, if they ever reach the point of becoming a socially significant phenonemon, able to overcome the enormous structural constainst that capitalism imposes on the distribution of capital and its built in tendency to reproduce unequal outcomes. So much for the great Cause of Labour they trumpet, eh?

Not only that, its the fact that this free market anarchism distracts attention form the one goal we should all have in common, whatwever tradition or tendency we come from, and the one goal that is really worth pursing in a political landscape littered with carcasses of bankrupt ideas - namely, anarchocommunism. More than ever this is an idea whose time has come. Free market anarchism and its even more dotty cousin - neoclassical-based "Market Socialism" - are for all their good intention reactionary backward looking ways of looking at the world. They uphold what is an essentially unrealisable vision of the future and so inadvertely reinforce capitalism by default

Free market anachism needs to be opposed just as resolutely and unequivocally as anarcho-capitalism in my opinion. The difference between them is akin to the difference between capitalist political parties claiming to be "socialist" and capitalist political parties claiming streadfastly to oppose socialism. They both end up administering capitalism and therefore having to dance to the tune of capital - even if they come to this from ]seemingly quite different ideological bases.

And so it will be with our free market anarchist. All they can effectively offer for all their pious wishes to the contrary is more of the same. More capitalism. We need to break from that mindset radically and completely and right now. To linger around around a set oif ideas that can offer us nothing in practice is to waste time when we have such little time left to transform a world that has seemingly gone starking raving mad

Robin

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Jan 3 2012 11:08

Wow. Yes. Nice post Robbo.

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Jan 4 2012 09:59
robbo203 wrote:
...free market anarchism and this whole mutualist tradition needs to be fundamentally opposed for the reasons I touched on in my earlier post above. However much it hankers after a post capitalist world and abhors wage slavery, it elevates and reinforces what is the absolutely central organisational principle of capitalism itself - the market and commodity production.

That's news to me, and also, I might add, not true in a historical sense. The most consistent definition of capitalism throughout the entire discourse of it has been its dependence on wage slavery. That is not to say there is nothing else to it, but you're going to have to make a much better case for why commodity production (which I don't really understand what you mean by it, btw) is the central feature of capitalism as opposed to, say, Mutualist socialism.

Quote:
It is thus founded upon a basic contradiction. Respect for private property upon which any kind market is based, leaves it totally incapable of dealing with the enormous concentrations of capital in the hands of the capitalist class. You can only strip that class of its ill gotten gains, not by respecting their property rights, but by denying them those rights. This involves a supplementary contradiction for anarchists in particular - how do you do that without confronting the whole issue of the state?

You know what Mutualism is, right? You know Proudhon's famous quote, "property is theft," right? You're going to have to back way the fuck up and explain how you jump from commodity production to "mutualists support private property." In order to explain that, you're going to have to undo a great deal of Anarchist history, so I wish you luck.

Quote:
This is the stark truth which anarchsts in the mutualist tradition have yet to face up to. Capitalism is not going to conveniently evolve in the direction they desire. On the contrary all the evidence shows that capitalism is headed in the exact opposite direction - it is becoming more unequal in the distribution of capital assets, not less. So where does that leave our mutualist except stranded in limbo with nothing but a utopian dream to cling onto?

What? Seriously, what? Mutualists have been active labor organizers and agitators, I don't exactly see them, from the historical standpoint, as people gazing at their navel contemplating about the evolution into socialism from capitalism.

Quote:
Look, I dont mind workers trying as a temporary expedient under capitalism to form their own cooperative businesses along mutualistic lines and whatnot. In fact , that has a lot to recommend itself as a survival strategy under capitalism. What I do mind is when people start getting carried away with all this , fostering delusions that this is the way to go and that capitalism is somehow going to yield and give away in the face of some mutulist tsunami. Thats bonkers franlky. Its just aint gonna happen like that. Worker coops by the very nature of the system are doomed to remain peripheral to it. Indeed, once they start growing, as I said , they will soon enough be co-opted by the system and become just another capitalist business like Mondragon. They will stop being worker coops in everything but name. Not only that, becuase we are talking about a systrem of market competition we are talking of coops themselves competing with each other and increasingly putting each other out of business in the ruthless pursuit of profit - that is, if they ever reach the point of becoming a socially significant phenonemon, able to overcome the enormous structural constainst that capitalism imposes on the distribution of capital and its built in tendency to reproduce unequal outcomes. So much for the great Cause of Labour they trumpet, eh?

This is the paragraph I least understand, as it seems to critique Mutualists for not participating in class struggle and then goes on to critique them for class struggle. I'm going to back waaay up and explain this.

Mutualism takes as the basis of possession occupancy and use, which is the basis for things like factory occupations and work-ins, and also a common strain even throughout anarcho-communist discourse. If you're having trouble grasping the difference between occ/use and capitalist property I'd be more than happy to discuss it on another thread.

Now what is the revolution (the overthrow of capitalism) if not a simultaneous embrace of things like expropriation of land, factories, and homes, and rent strike along with militant resistance towards the state and those who are at the losing end of such actions? Each one of these things are compatible with, if not based on, Mutualist principles.

Furthermore, if working in a co-op is simply a survival mechanism under capitalism that is insufficient, and anarcho-communists make up the majority of anarchists, are all the self-styled anarchist spaces simply run by Mutualists, or is this a critique that reches beyond Mutualism into the whole Anarchist movement. As someone who has been around plenty of anarchist run spaces, my guess is that this model is something all Anarchists do, not one that is unique to Mutualists.

Quote:
Not only that, its the fact that this free market anarchism distracts attention form the one goal we should all have in common, whatwever tradition or tendency we come from, and the one goal that is really worth pursing in a political landscape littered with carcasses of bankrupt ideas - namely, anarchocommunism. More than ever this is an idea whose time has come. Free market anarchism and its even more dotty cousin - neoclassical-based "Market Socialism" - are for all their good intention reactionary backward looking ways of looking at the world. They uphold what is an essentially unrealisable vision of the future and so inadvertely reinforce capitalism by default.

So your criticism here is that Mutualism isn't anarcho-communism. While this is true, it doesn't do much in the way of seeming relevant aside from asserting that anarcho-communism is relevant and Mutualism is not.

Quote:
Free market anachism needs to be opposed just as resolutely and unequivocally as anarcho-capitalism in my opinion. The difference between them is akin to the difference between capitalist political parties claiming to be "socialist" and capitalist political parties claiming streadfastly to oppose socialism. They both end up administering capitalism and therefore having to dance to the tune of capital - even if they come to this from ]seemingly quite different ideological bases.

Until I can see some evidence that you even know what Mutualism is or what Mutualists support, I'm going to have a hard time believing this statement has an validity beyond a nice personal opinion.

Quote:
And so it will be with our free market anarchist. All they can effectively offer for all their pious wishes to the contrary is more of the same. More capitalism. We need to break from that mindset radically and completely and right now. To linger around around a set oif ideas that can offer us nothing in practice is to waste time when we have such little time left to transform a world that has seemingly gone starking raving mad

Really, this just brings me back to my confusion about what you mean by commodity production. If this definition, courtesy of wikipedia, is accurate, then I've got some questions.

Commodity production is the production of wares for sale. It is a type of production in which products are produced not for direct consumption by the producers, as in subsistence production, but are surplus to their own requirements and are produced instead specifically with the intention of sale in the market, usually to obtain income.

First of all, how is this the definitive feature of capitalism outside of reasoning like this: everything I don't like is bad, and everything that is bad is capitalism, therefore everything I don't like is capitalism? Does the idea of sale on a market imply hierarchy? I would say that it most certainly does not, and the road to hierarchy and exploitation has much more to do with a number of social and political interaction than simply raw economic factors (just as economy has less to do with raw economic facotrs). If labor is receiving the full yield of its product (which it is impossible for it to not with occ/use), how does the capitalist business cycle continue? There is no overproduction due to exploitation of laborers, only overproduction in the most benign sense. To read Mutualism as an economic theory alone is to alienate a great deal of Mutualist work outside of the US (and I have much more spite for Mutualism in the US than I do Mutualism et al). You negate the golden rule, reciprocity, and a whole slew of useful theorhetical approaches to the relationship between property and theft, namely that theft is the precedent for property and not the other way around.

All your post has done is assert that Mutualism is not your cup of tea, and therefore since you don't like it, it must be capitalism. Then you mutilate a great deal of Anarchist history (history without which we may not be having this conversation right now and this board may not exist) as the support for your claims. Quite frankly, this is what Misesians sound like when you say you're anything but a capitalist and they conflate it to statism.

If you want to discuss the pros and cons of Mutualism, I'd be more than happy to share some of my critiques of it as well. But first, I'd like to know that you even know what it is.

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Jan 4 2012 11:30

BP, without getting into too much depth, I think you're conflating mutualism (at least embodied in worker co-ops as anarchist institutions) as an anarchist necessity under capitalism (in a s much as we want to run our own spaces without, ya know, employing people) and as a revolutionary strategy or a blue print for for a future society.

You assert that bringing goods to market doesn't necessitate hierarchy, but markets are not only non-democratic, they inevitably lead to power imbalances and economic competition. None of those things can be said to live up the anarchist ideal, regardless of what Proudhon thought.

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Jan 4 2012 22:19

You're going to have to walk me through how that happens, and it is a much different claim than saying Mutualists support capitalism or capitalist property, which is markedly false.

Second, I'm not saying Mutualism is necessary in any way, but I am saying that most of the things people here envision as part of the class struggle, revolution, and then the end result are compatible with if not rooted in Mutualism. Not knowing what you're talking about doesn't make you a communist bad ass, it makes you an ass hole that's closer to a Stalinist.

Look, I'm not a Mutualist, but we shouldn't be throwing bricks through a Mutualist run coffee shop's window because we think markets suck, when as far as we know wage slavery is the main thing oppressing us. We have yet to see a market society free from the state and wage slavery, and a desire for theoretical purity isn't going to drive me to torch anything.

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Jan 4 2012 23:39

Walk you through what? How markets lead to power imbalances, competition, and aren't democratic?

They're based on exchanging goods and services for money (or labour notes or whatever)--goods and services that other people/groups will be selling. There's your competition, right there. Some people will sell more, others will sell less, some people will make better quality product, have better access to tools, soil, resources and will outsell others and, thus, a power imbalance will develop. Finally, markets, by their nature keep production and distribution from being democratically planned. I don't really know what more to say. I could explain how bottom-up non-competitive delegatory structures of industry wide producers, combined with planned consumption (based on previous consumption and expected demand) are democratic, but I imagine that would be patronising.

This is well out of order:

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Not knowing what you're talking about doesn't make you a communist bad ass, it makes you an ass hole that's closer to a Stalinist.

Desperation is not a becoming quality.

This also,

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we shouldn't be throwing bricks through a Mutualist run coffee shop's window because we think markets suck

is a straw man and half and contradicts about what I and other have said co-ops being a means to keep anarchist spaces open under capitalism (not to mention as a means to work without a boss, although still be exploited by the market). As I said before, I'm not opposed to co-ops, but they're not a revolutionary strategy or a way to run the economy.

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Jan 4 2012 23:58
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Walk you through what? How markets lead to power imbalances, competition, and aren't democratic?

Just for the record, this is the kind of substantive discussion of mutualism I can handle. As long as we're not throwing around the word capitalism like its our job, I'm happy.

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They're based on exchanging goods and services for money (or labour notes or whatever)--goods and services that other people/groups will be selling. There's your competition, right there. Some people will sell more, others will sell less, some people will make better quality product, have better access to tools, soil, resources and will outsell others and, thus, a power imbalance will develop.

Exchange does not necesarrily imply competition. Looking at economy as economy unto itself is pretty faulty, as there can be exchanges within a market that we would still describe as cooperative rather than competitive. Imagine two bookstores selling a certain type of date book. If they live in a social society, it's not impossible to imagine that they'd get in touch and decide they don't want to compete, and go on to sell different date books while referring customers looking for something else to each other's stores.

In order to assume that a certain economic model in and of itself will lead to competition requires us to accept the capitalism maxim that humans are by nature competitive beings that wish to only further their own gain. Parsing out the sociology of a society from the economy requires an alienating social structure.

Furthermore, all else being equal its hard to imagine that a power imbalance will grow out of a market that starts with a roughly equitable distribution. That I sold 15 water melons and now have Y units doesn't negate the fact that now people have my water melons that they can then sell or eat, and that not being able to eat units of money I'll have to go ahead and buy food anyway, leaving us at a roughly even keel.

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Finally, markets, by their nature keep production and distribution from being democratically planned. I don't really know what more to say. I could explain how bottom-up non-competitive delegatory structures of industry wide producers, combined with planned consumption (based on previous consumption and expected demand) are democratic, but I imagine that would be patronising.

In and of themselves, yes, but this requires us to alienate the market from political and social institutions that take place within it. Mutualism is heavily dependent on institutions, such as the trade federation, that are more than empowered to check and balance any inequity or hierarchy in the market place. This is actually the root of my critique of Mutualism: that the institutions it depends upon are not a safeguard against themselves, and it is possible to see hierarchy develop within them, thus negating any good intentions they have.

My other critique is that if that doesn't happen, things will most likely end up communistic anyway, so we may as well just go for the end result right now.

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(we shouldn't be throwing bricks through the windows of mutualist coffee shops) is a straw man and half and contradicts about what I and other have said co-ops being a means to keep anarchist spaces open under capitalism (not to mention as a means to work without a boss, although still be exploited by the market). As I said before, I'm not opposed to co-ops, but they're not a revolutionary strategy or a way to run the economy.

Co-ops with the blessing of the state are not revolutionary. That much we can agree on. Co-ops that occur via expropriation and direct action in conjunction with other class struggle actions are just typical ideas of what it means to be in a state of revolution where we seize the means of production. Not that we would expropriate with the intention of setting up a market economy, but that we would collectivize our workplaces is almost synonymous with seizing the means of production. And doing either of those is completely consistent with Mutualist philosophy.

Mutualists should not be opposed as vehemently as Stalinists or capitalists. Mutualists have yet to systematically murder and exploit other anarchists. That's what I was saying. Collectivized societies in Spain used labor notes while some were much more communistic. Resolving these conflicts can be done outside the realm of class struggle within the movement. Even if tomorrow there's a revolution and we end up in some sort of anarchist society, there will still probably be problems with authoritarianism and hierarchy that we'll have to deal with in our communities. The difference is that Anarchism allows a space for people to deal with these differences without enacting purges or enforcing a hierarchical order. The conflict between Mutualism and Communism can be dealt with similarly.

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Jan 5 2012 09:24

I still disagree with you on markets and I think what you're describing --producers arranging amongst themselves who will sell what -- is (1) taking steps to move beyond the market in the first place and (2) if you're going to go that far as to have distributions planned to that extent, why not just got the whole hog and have the "trade federation" just plan distribution directly and not mediate through exchange on some sort of informally regulated market?

Also, what happens if date book A is far more popular and book seller A outsells bookseller B? Once that happens, it'll be market forces (nothing to do with human nature) that will encourage bookseller B to sell the same book and maybe even do it cheaper to bring in the customers.

Anyway, on this

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Co-ops that occur via expropriation and direct action in conjunction with other class struggle actions are just typical ideas of what it means to be in a state of revolution where we seize the means of production. Not that we would expropriate with the intention of setting up a market economy, but that we would collectivize our workplaces is almost synonymous with seizing the means of production. And doing either of those is completely consistent with Mutualist philosophy.

I agree with it for the most part. This is why the factory takeover movement in Argentina was revolutionary. However, it's "consistent with the mutualist philosophy" only up to a certain point, i.e. " not we would expropriate with the intention of setting up a market economy" which mutualism does in fact advocate.

But the revolutionary strategy is building up class power so we are in a position to take over our workplaces, not to build networks of "mutualist coffee shops" or the development of mutualist banks like Proudhon advocates.

In any case, I find it odd that you're offering such a strident defence of mutualism if you don't actually support it, you recognise the flaws in it, and there's not any existing anarchist organisations that promote it (at least that I'm aware of).

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Jan 5 2012 09:38
Chilli Sauce wrote:
I still disagree with you on markets and I think what you're describing --producers arranging amongst themselves who will sell what --is (1) taking steps to move beyond the market in the first place and (2) if you're going to go that far as to have distributions planned to that extent, why not just got the whole hog and have the "trade federation" just plan distribution directly and not mediate through exchange on some sort of informally regulated market?

That's basically what I think. When all the social institutions, or just social nature of a community, are in place it will either result in communism or the people holding onto power in unions will create new hierarchies that need to be taken down.

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Also, what happens if date book A is far more popular and book seller A outsells bookseller B. Once that happen, it'll be market forces (nothing to do with human nature) that will encourage bookseller B to sell the same book and maybe even do it cheaper to bring in the customers.

"Market forces" are nothing more than humans acting in a manner consistent with the social structure of their environment, but beyond that point I'm not really arguing this. Market socialism doesn't reduce the possibility of other social safety nets coming into play for the benefit of whoever, but then we're just back at the question why not communism?

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In any case, I find it odd that you're offering such a strident defense of mutualism if you don't actually support it, you recognise the flaws in it, and there's not existing anarchist organisations that promote it (at least that I'm aware of).

Mutualism offers the basic theoretical framework for expropriation better than any other socialist theory. Period. Furthermore, much of the salad days of European anarchism are rooted in mutualism, and most early American anarchism (although early American anarchism is almost distasteful).

Regardless, my main point of contention is that people here are claiming that mutualism needs to be opposed in all forms by anarchists, when that's just completely bollocks. Without batting an eye we'll talk up radical (yet still statist) Marxists. In the short time I've posted here I've seen more positive mention of Marx and Marxist theory than any other anarchist board I've posted on, but when it comes to philosophies that are whole-heartedly and devoutly anti-authoritarian some people claim we need to oppose them as vehemently as capitalism. That just does not make any sense.

As a closing note, I took notice of the term "plan distribution" which I found quite odd, which lead me to believe we may have interestingly different views of what communism looks like. But that's probably a topic for another thread. I'm having bouts of insomnia again, so maybe I'll post that tonight.

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Jan 5 2012 10:45

Well, get some sleep, but I will take issue with this:

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Mutualism offers the basic theoretical framework for expropriation better than any other socialist theory. Period.

All anarchist theory advocates expropriation, it's what we do after expropriation that counts and that's where mutualism falls down, so I'm still a bit confused.

Also, I don't know of any type of anarchist communism that doesn't advocate planned production and distribution--it's the structures through which the planning occurs that count.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 10:49
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Well, get some sleep, but I will take issue with this:
Quote:
Mutualism offers the basic theoretical framework for expropriation better than any other socialist theory. Period.

All anarchist theory advocates expropriation, it's what we do after expropriation that counts and that's where mutualism falls down, so I'm still a bit confused.

Also, I don't know of any type of anarchist communism that doesn't advocate planned production and distribution--it's the structures through which the planning occurs that count.

Are you suggesting that central planning (whether that's the dictator or the commune dictating what should be produced) is an inevitable part of (anarchist) communism?