Free Market Anarcho-Communism?

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Jan 5 2012 10:55
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Well, get some sleep, but I will take issue with this:

I can't sleep. That's the issue with insomnia. No big deal though. The diners will open in about an hour here and I don't have anything to do tomorrow. My hope is to fall asleep by noon and hopefully get a quick nap if not more.

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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.

Yes, but mutualism gave anarchism terms like possession and occupancy and use. Mutualism emphasized the necessity to have a sound social landscape based on reciprocity and mutual aid. Mutualism gave a whole lot of gems outside of silly market talk than most anarchists realize. Not to mention mutualism, arguably, gave us the first anarchist trade unions.

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Jan 5 2012 11:17
Jordan wrote:
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?

Can't speak for Chilli, but at least to my knowledge central planning done democratically by the people themselves to fulfill the needs of the commune is a central tenant of communism.

I see nothing controversial about it - "central planning" in conjunction with "dictating" is used mainly by bourgeois ideologues who see it as an attack on "individual liberty" (aka commodity production).

The point is, there would be no "dictatorship".

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 11:21
Railyon wrote:
Jordan wrote:
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?

Can't speak for Chilli, but at least to my knowledge central planning done democratically by the people themselves to fulfill the needs of the commune is a central tenant of communism.

I see nothing controversial about it - "central planning" in conjunction with "dictating" is used mainly by bourgeois ideologues who see it as an attack on "individual liberty" (aka commodity production).

The point is, there would be no "dictatorship".

On what scale are you imagining that this will happen?

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Jan 5 2012 11:22
Railyon wrote:
Can't speak for Chilli, but at least to my knowledge central planning done democratically by the people themselves to fulfill the needs of the commune is a central tenant of communism.

I see nothing controversial about it - "central planning" in conjunction with "dictating" is used mainly by bourgeois ideologues who see it as an attack on "individual liberty" (aka commodity production).

The point is, there would be no "dictatorship".

Since we're getting into it...

I don't see why there's a need for planning (especially 'central' planning) so long as everyone has access to the means of production and all surplus is stockpiled freely. Need something? Go grab it. You could get a bike as easily as you could pick an apple from a tree.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 11:24
Birthday Pony wrote:
Railyon wrote:
Can't speak for Chilli, but at least to my knowledge central planning done democratically by the people themselves to fulfill the needs of the commune is a central tenant of communism.

I see nothing controversial about it - "central planning" in conjunction with "dictating" is used mainly by bourgeois ideologues who see it as an attack on "individual liberty" (aka commodity production).

The point is, there would be no "dictatorship".

Since we're getting into it...

I don't see why there's a need for planning (especially 'central' planning) so long as everyone has access to the means of production and all surplus is stockpiled freely. Need something? Go grab it. You could get a bike as easily as you could pick an apple from a tree.

What about all of those people who are too young, too sick or too old to produce things themselves?

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Jan 5 2012 11:29

Go grab something from the stockpiles. If you're too young, weak, or sick to do that have a someone do it for you.

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Jan 5 2012 11:29
Jordan wrote:
On what scale are you imagining that this will happen?

Depends on what you mean by that, are you talking size of a commune or am I on the wrong track?

If you mean scale in an overarching sense, I think most communists would agree with the notion "globally".

Birthday Pony wrote:
I don't see why there's a need for planning (especially 'central' planning) so long as everyone has access to the means of production and all surplus is stockpiled freely. Need something? Go grab it. You could get a bike as easily as you could pick an apple from a tree.

I see no contradiction in that.

The point of communism is to directly produce according to needs.

I see that more as a minimum though, and I figure production necessary to cover the minimal requirements would be done according to a plan, the rest (surplus) would be handled the way you describe it.

That said, I have yet to uncover how a communist society would function; I'm more preoccupied with the road to the wall.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 11:32
Birthday Pony wrote:
Go grab something from the stockpiles. If you're too young, weak, or sick to do that have a someone do it for you.

What makes you think there will be said stockpiles if people are just going to be left to use the means of production for their own production without any sort of co-ordination?

Secondly, how are needs going to be defined?

Thirdly, should the wellbeing of these people not be premised on something a little more solid than that?

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Jan 5 2012 11:36

Everyone needs the necessities. And the current means we have for producing necessities makes it really hard to produce for yourself. Ever tried cooking for one, let alone planting for one? If anyone produces there will be surplus. Go stockpile it and let everyone freely take it.

This already happens on a massive scale, but the commodities we produce are held captive by capitalists, sold to others, and stockpiled by those with the wealth to do so. In the absence of private property it's nearly impossible to produce without surplus, especially when production becomes as much a social event as going to the bar. Adding central planners just adds unnecessary hierarchy.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 11:36
Railyon wrote:
Jordan wrote:
On what scale are you imagining that this will happen?

Depends on what you mean by that, are you talking size of a commune or am I on the wrong track?

If you mean scale in an overarching sense, I think most communists would agree with the notion "globally".

Birthday Pony wrote:
I don't see why there's a need for planning (especially 'central' planning) so long as everyone has access to the means of production and all surplus is stockpiled freely. Need something? Go grab it. You could get a bike as easily as you could pick an apple from a tree.

I see no contradiction in that.

The point of communism is to directly produce according to needs.

I see that more as a minimum though, and I figure production necessary to cover the minimal requirements would be done according to a plan, the rest (surplus) would be handled the way you describe it.

That said, I have yet to uncover how a communist society would function; I'm more preoccupied with the road to the wall.

The scale at which democratic decisions are made to centrally plan the economy is what I'm asking you. Do small working groups do it? Is it done at the level of the commune (how big do you imagine the commune will be if that's the case)? What about goods that are only producible at a larger scale? Do we need federation level planning? Bioregional level planning? Global planning?

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Jan 5 2012 11:42
Jordan wrote:
What makes you think there will be said stockpiles if people are just going to be left to use the means of production for their own production without any sort of co-ordination?

Coordination doesn't need central planning. Making a bike is tough, and doing it with a few people is more likely what will happen. So a bunch of folks that love making bikes will open a shop, let's call it "free bikes here." You know you can go ahead and get bikes there. So you go ahead and get bikes there. Meanwhile the neighbors up the road run a kick-ass permaculture garden. You know you can get fruits there.

And this is all raw economy, which says little to nothing. Any economic solution will interact with the social and political tone of the community in which it takes place. That's why anarchism isn't just an economic, social, or political philosophy. It's an ideology in the broadest sense. Cooperation doesn't require institutions, centralization, or any formal relationship. Not that any of those things are bad, but to blueprint them onto any and all anarchist societies disregards a great deal of other factors.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 11:44
Birthday Pony wrote:
Everyone needs the necessities. And the current means we have for producing necessities makes it really hard to produce for yourself. Ever tried cooking for one, let alone planting for one? If anyone produces there will be surplus. Go stockpile it and let everyone freely take it.

This already happens on a massive scale, but the commodities we produce are held captive by capitalists, sold to others, and stockpiled by those with the wealth to do so. In the absence of private property it's nearly impossible to produce without surplus, especially when production becomes as much a social event as going to the bar. Adding central planners just adds unnecessary hierarchy.

After a certain amount of time of cooking for yourself, you begin to know how much you need and it becomes easier to do so without producing excess. The same is the case for growing food etc. Collecting surplus in the case of vegetables etc. also takes time and effort. It's easier to just let it rot into the ground and throw your excess food into compost heap or feed it to chickens or a number of other things than take it to a central depot. Don't you think that over time production will be optimized by the producers to be as efficient as possible unless other principles are at work?

And just to be clear: i'm not taking a particular view point here, i'm just questioning your assumptions. I have my own opinions on the matter, i'm just more interested in what other people think at the moment

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Jan 5 2012 11:53
Jordan wrote:
Don't you think that over time production will be optimized by the producers to be as efficient as possible unless other principles are at work?

Efficient for who becomes the question (and efficient in what manner), and in the case of gardening it really is near impossible to produce for one.

The problem is the same for central planning too, however. If people don't want to produce for anyone but themselves and they have the ability to, what are you going to do other than kick them out of the commune? And if everyone does that, communism isn't going to work. The idea is that one joined a commune knowing exactly what that entails. You produce for yourself and everyone around you (I imagine it at the scale of a city more or less, with any more cooperation being more of a federation than as direct as a commune).

And there's always the possibility of pick-up and delivery for stockpile depot.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 11:59
Birthday Pony wrote:
Jordan wrote:
Don't you think that over time production will be optimized by the producers to be as efficient as possible unless other principles are at work?

Efficient for who becomes the question (and efficient in what manner), and in the case of gardening it really is near impossible to produce for one.

The problem is the same for central planning too, however. If people don't want to produce for anyone but themselves and they have the ability to, what are you going to do other than kick them out of the commune? And if everyone does that, communism isn't going to work. The idea is that one joined a commune knowing exactly what that entails. You produce for yourself and everyone around you (I imagine it at the scale of a city more or less, with any more cooperation being more of a federation than as direct as a commune).

And there's always the possibility of pick-up and delivery for stockpile depot.

By who?

And the point is that your idea of the communist maxim is fundamentally flawed. It isn't the of the means of production that are distributed from each according to his needs, it's the products of production that are to be distributed from each according to their ability to each according to their needs. And that socialisation of costs within the community needs to be the central idea of any communist community. It isn't just random surplus that ends up in the hands of the members of the community. It must involve deliberate creation of surplus to enable goods to be distributed to those who need them. People will have to go out of their way to produce for other people.

I would actually agree with you on the idea of central planning being wasteful etc.

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Jan 5 2012 12:00
Jordan wrote:
The scale at which democratic decisions are made to centrally plan the economy is what I'm asking you. Do small working groups do it? Is it done at the level of the commune (how big do you imagine the commune will be if that's the case)? What about goods that are only producible at a larger scale? Do we need federation level planning? Bioregional level planning? Global planning?

The size of the commune is an interesting question actually.

I wondered the same thing, and I always come back to the alleged maximum number of people you can know, which is said to be around 500 to 600. I'd have to look that up who made that statement, all I know is that Robert Anton Wilson was often playing with this notion against prejudices (like "you cannot make a statement about a particular group of people on a massive scale because you cannot know every single one of them")

Federation level seems to be the accepted answer to this but to be frank, I am not sure what number of people or regional size that entails.

Production of goods only producible on a "larger scale" is another interesting question, what do you mean by that?

I can't think of anything directly relating to the necessities of life that could not produced in a small scale, I hope we're not talking about tanks? smile

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Jan 5 2012 12:00

I still don't understand the problem. So what if it has the communist maxim wrong? It gets the same thing done. Provide everyone with both the means to produce and receive products and then what's the problem?

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 12:04
Birthday Pony wrote:
I still don't understand the problem. So what if it has the communist maxim wrong? It gets the same thing done. Provide everyone with both the means to produce and receive products and then what's the problem?

Because you can't imagine for one moment that it's right to assume that the unintentional surplus from production by individuals is enough to make sure that all of the people who aren't able to produce receive enough goods, let alone what other care they will need. It's just not on. It premises the life of vunerable people too much on living off of the crumbs of those with all of the power.

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Jan 5 2012 12:11

Like I said, that's the raw economy of it. There's nothing that stops anyone from saying, "hey. we'll probably need a lot of food this year. so we should keep that in mind," or, "hey, i need food. mind growing me some?" And I'd frankly be shocked if people didn't cooperate when it comes to providing things. Why wouldn't they given the ease of the situation? All these people joined a commune, which means they know they've got to produce for each other. I simply don't like blueprinting the idea of central planners. I think its much easier for those in charge of production to know how much they will have or need and then produce it, rather than have a democratic board measure how much they have and need and then dictate a level of production.

I didn't mean to imply that it's strictly surplus from what was intended to be individual production. Only that it's already more than possible to execute this model.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 12:18
Birthday Pony wrote:
Like I said, that's the raw economy of it

The raw economy of it? If the whole system isn't premised on the socialisation of costs within the community (which is the case with communism properly realised), the most vulnerable are getting less of a guarantee of a comfortable existence than they are now. And that's pretty tragic.

These issues might be auxiliary to you, right now, as you are, but they're pretty much going to be the whole issue to those who are at risk of starving etc.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 12:20
Railyon wrote:

Production of goods only producible on a "larger scale" is another interesting question, what do you mean by that?

I can't think of anything directly relating to the necessities of life that could not produced in a small scale, I hope we're not talking about tanks? :)

It depends what the definitions of need are. Oil is required for example to produce many of the medicines we rely on etc.

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Jan 5 2012 12:30
Jordan wrote:
It depends what the definitions of need are. Oil is required for example to produce many of the medicines we rely on etc.

Good point. Now I understand what you mean by large scale.

Tough question - I have no answer to that.

To my understanding, communism presupposes abundance, but what about the stuff that actually is scarce? Would we require some kind of intercommunal trade?

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 12:50
Railyon wrote:
Jordan wrote:
It depends what the definitions of need are. Oil is required for example to produce many of the medicines we rely on etc.

Good point. Now I understand what you mean by large scale.

Tough question - I have no answer to that.

To my understanding, communism presupposes abundance, but what about the stuff that actually is scarce? Would we require some kind of intercommunal trade?

If I was arguing as to the effectiveness or legitimacy of anarchism/libertarian communism, I'd be quick to point out one particular point. That all of these things can be done co-operatively and without the need for them being premised on violence. We can make these arrangements without premising it on a state like organisation, but instead on voluntary co-operation and mutual aid/international solidarity.

As i'm on libcom however, that's not the point i'm making. They still will remain organizational issues and it's something we could do with thinking about. And I think yes, we will need intercommunal trade, though I think it will be possible to move goods around without having to go through formal structures as well.

The problem with what is being advanced as needs is that it differs between different people. There are certain things that are definetly needs. Like clean drinking water. And different things that definetly aren't needs, like jet skis and holidays in the bahamas. In between somewhere, though it gets a bit fuzzy.

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Jan 5 2012 13:26
Jordan wrote:
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?

Jordan, I think you missed this part of my post

Quote:
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.

I think the notion of "central" is a strawman here and, in any case, I refer you to this:

Quote:
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.
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Jan 5 2012 13:31
BP wrote:
Coordination doesn't need central planning.

See, this just feels semantic. What you call "coordination", I call planning. The "central" bit is just a strawman. Unless you feel the directly democratic delegatory structures that I've described are centralised, then use of the term "central planning" is just disingenuous.

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Jan 5 2012 13:45
Chilli Sauce wrote:
BP wrote:
Coordination doesn't need central planning.

See, this just feels semantic. What you call "coordination", I call planning. The "central" bit is just a strawman. Unless you feel the directly democratic delegatory structures that I've described are centralised, then use of the term "central planning" is just disingenuous.

The mechanism of central planning is that there is a particular plan agreed on which every body in that community follows, with a certain level of consumption expected and so production is based on that predicted consumption - even if these decisions had been made democratically, so they had agreed to follow it. If that's not your position, then I apologise, but that's what it seems like you're advocating to me.

A plan could be just something I did at home, on a piece of paper to work out how to do something. That's why I said central planning rather than just planning.

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Jan 5 2012 14:09

Well, it still feels pretty semantic to me, and I think you're really addressing scale rather than hierarchy or bureaucracy. By this logic, federalism (for example, IWA's structure with delagatory conferences that decide on policy) is centralised organisation. Given that it's the oldest and largest anarchist organisation in the world, that seems strange to me.

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A plan could be just something I did at home, on a piece of paper to work out how to do something. That's why I said central planning rather than just planning.

And this, my friend, is the point. In central planning, a central authority (a committee or individual or institution) comes up with the plan. In what I advocate, individual workers' councils propose the plan and then present to the larger grouping (industrial or cross-industry) to be accepted, amended or voted down in favour of another proposal.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 14:17
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Well, it still feels pretty semantic to me, and I think you're really addressing scale rather than hierarchy or bureaucracy. By this logic, federalism (for example, IWA's structure with delagatory conferences that decide on policy) is centralised organisation. Given that it's the oldest and largest anarchist organisation in the world, that seems strange to me.
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A plan could be just something I did at home, on a piece of paper to work out how to do something. That's why I said central planning rather than just planning.

And this, my friend, is the point. In central planning, a central authority (a committee or individual or institution) comes up with the plan. In what I advocate, individual workers' councils propose the plan and then present to the larger grouping (industrial or cross-industry) to be accepted, amended or voted down in favour of another proposal.

I never said anything about heirarchy or beuracracy. It was obvious I was talking about scale. You're the one putting forward the idea that i'm somehow suggesting your plan is undemocratic or illegitimate.

My opposition to planning is that this sort of overall plan doesn't work. Not that it's anti-anarchist or anti-communist.

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Jan 5 2012 14:59

Sorry, didn't mean to put words in your mouth. I guess I took comments like "dictating" a bit more pushy than you meant them. Plus there was this quote from BP:

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Adding central planners just adds unnecessary hierarchy.

And I was conflating your two arguments.

In any case,

Quote:
My opposition to planning is that this sort of overall plan doesn't work.

My IWA example still stands. I mean, democracy is always messy at times, but the sorts of structures I'm talking about have been used in the past to orchestrate mass strikes, build organisations that numbered over a million, and determine the course of social movements. So my personal experience in such organisations and my reading of history are going to put me at odds with your statement.

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Jan 5 2012 15:24
Jordan wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
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.

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?

Equivocation is the name of the fallacy at play here. Centrally planned economy can't mean both an economy planned by a dictator (never the case)/central committee (almost always the case) and an economy planned by a confederation of communes. In one case a central committee makes all the decisions regarding the economy and the workers follow suit, in the other citizens make all the decisions regarding the economy. This obviously isn't an argument for or against centralized or decentralized planning, just pointing out that your usage of the term is incorrect.

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Jan 5 2012 15:43
Ethos wrote:
Equivocation is the name of the fallacy at play here. Centrally planned economy can't mean both an economy planned by a dictator (never the case)/central committee (almost always the case) and an economy planned by a confederation of communes. In one case a central committee makes all the decisions regarding the economy and the workers follow suit, in the other citizens make all the decisions regarding the economy. This obviously isn't an argument for or against centralized or decentralized planning, just pointing out that your usage of the term is incorrect.

Don't agree. Both types of system can come to the same sort of decision - that x plan should be followed - but the difference is how they got there. If you're going to accuse me of equivocating (which I think you're wrong on) I think you should demonstrate it logically, not restate the same thing you already said as a proof for your conclusion.

Edit: Still think they both fail on the account of economic knowledge in supply and demand and the lack of flexibility.