Free Market Anarcho-Communism?

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Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 16:02

The only suggestion that could be made that I think that is credible, is to suggest that by 'central' there is a suggestion that what is being referred to is 'central government' aka the State and that by suggesting that a commune or confederation of communes is "central government" planning is obviously a contradiction. That would be incredibly anal though, especially as I made it clear that I was talking at planning by communes, so that's obviously not what I meant. (see: The Principle of Charity).

And representative democracies engaged in central planning etc. so to infer that central planning is necessarily undemocratic is wrong.

If you were going to go down that line of argument I could just come up with a new term. "Regional planning" which suggests both "central planning" and "communal planning" or "confederation of communes planning". I then restate my argument in those terms. The points will still apply and it will get us no further. The point of terms is to convey meaning and my meaning is clear, not to indulge in your essentialist fantasies about the "true" meanings of words.

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Chilli Sauce
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Jan 5 2012 16:11
Quote:
Edit: Still think they both fail on the account of economic knowledge in supply and demand and the lack of flexibility.

Those are just statements. No one has elaborated in any great detail about exactly how they would envision production (and really, this is about social organisation as well--which can't be separated from production--and hence the IWA example) would be organised post-capitalism, so you're not in a position to accuse anyone's ideas of "lack of flexibility".

In all honesty here mate, I think you're being a pedant and a contrarian and basically strawmanning with this line of argumentation.

FWIW, I know Joseph Kay/libcom.org group has written about "push" and "pull" notions of organising production and how these relate to "economic knowledge in supply and demand" in relation to Parecon and Co-ops. Maybe start there:

Quote:

Participatory planning – push or pull?

We do want there to be rational, social planning of production, but we do not believe this can work at the level of annual quotas. This is problematic even at the level of a single factory, let alone total global output. Production to quotas is what’s known as ‘push production’ building to a plan and ‘pushing’ this output into stockpiles whether it is being consumed or not. This would also have the problem that there would be an incentive for productivity improvements to be kept in-firm so that quotas could be met – and income earned – more easily. The logic of exchange, however fair carries with it this kind of atomising tendency that works against solidarity. This point is developed below with relation to remuneration.

In contrast, we propose ‘pull production’, which means production is in response to consumption; as safety stocks are consumed this triggers production orders to replenish them, ‘pulling’ goods through the supply chain. As you note, this is not the invisible hand of the market, not least because there is no money, prices or exchange. Our criticism of central planning is not simply that it excludes the majority from input into the plan (although this criticism is correct, as far as it goes), but that the whole concept of rationally planning quotas for something as dynamic as a society of billions is fundamentally flawed, both practically and epistemologically.

Consequently, we see rational social planning taking place though the setting of priority sectors and goods/services, from essential through to luxury. The exact production volumes are then determined locally in response to consumption, with either/or allocation of resources determined by the relative priority of the industries, goods or services in question. In this way macro-order in terms of actual production volumes is emergent and not designed, although it will emerge according to the priorities of the socially decided plan (unlike the emergent order of markets, which simply reflects purchasing power and what it is profitable to produce, not what is needed, or the emergent order of biological evolution, which reflects nothing but reproductive fitness).

The means by which we think this process of social planning should happen are very similar to yours, by means of council structures with mandated, recallable or rotating boards/delegate councils dealing with resource allocation decisions according to the social plan’s priorities. There may be other ways this could be done incorporating technology (like everyone being able to access a database to update their individual preferences, automatically updating the social plan). However such a large-scale database would be unprecedented, and in any case there are probably benefits to face-to-face discussions in councils rather than atomised individual choices. We’re open minded to better means, but a council structure seems a good point of departure.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 16:17
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
Edit: Still think they both fail on the account of economic knowledge in supply and demand and the lack of flexibility.

Those are just statements. No one has elaborated in any great detail about exactly how the would envision production (and really, this is about social organisation as well--which can't be separated from production--and hence the IWA example) would be organised post-capitalism, so you're not in a position to accuse anyone's ideas of "lack of flexibility".

In all honesty here mate, I think you're being a pedant and a contrarian and basically strawmanning with this line of argumentation.

Seeing as I didn't start the arbitrary questioning of terms when others obviously realised what I meant by it I don't see how I can be the 'pedant'. Yes I did add the central demarcation to my post when I questioned you. That's what I thought you meant. I later explained what I meant by it and you seemed to confirm, then pulled your dummy out again for some reason when you didn't like what I said about your thesis. I think this is a pointless diversion tactic on your behalf.

. I still think that that "pull theory" of planning would still suffer from all of my criticisms of it. I still think it would be structurally monolithic, inflexible and lack the required economic knowledge. And yes, I've yet to explain what I mean by those criticisms, but seeing as you won't even accept the terms of the argument there is no point of my even writing any more to you.

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Ethos
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Jan 5 2012 16:18
Jordan wrote:
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.

My intention wasn't to use a circular argument, I just tend to repeat myself.

Jordan wrote:
"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."

Precisely. This entails a difference between central planning and de-centralized planning. Which means that when you refer to them as the same, i.e when you call them both "central planning", you are committing the fallacy of equivocation. Your beef isn't with central planning, but with planning per se.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 16:26
Ethos wrote:
Jordan wrote:
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.

My intention wasn't to use a circular argument, I just tend to repeat myself.

Jordan wrote:
"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."

Precisely. This entails a difference between central planning and de-centralized planning. Which means that when you refer to them as the same, i.e when you call them both "central planning", you are committing the fallacy of equivocation. Your beef isn't with central planning, but with planning per se.

I think personally you're mistaking the difference between economic or centralised planning and a command economy.

Edit: Either way, I don't think this conversation has any significance (nor is it equivocation, as equivocation is confusing concepts/meaning not using words in a way contrary to usual. I outlined my usage of it earlier. If you want to challenge that, then fine.) it doesn't have any play on my thesis.

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Ethos
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Jan 5 2012 16:41
Jordan wrote:
Ethos wrote:
Jordan wrote:
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.

My intention wasn't to use a circular argument, I just tend to repeat myself.

Jordan wrote:
"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."

Precisely. This entails a difference between central planning and de-centralized planning. Which means that when you refer to them as the same, i.e when you call them both "central planning", you are committing the fallacy of equivocation. Your beef isn't with central planning, but with planning per se.

I think personally you're mistaking the difference between economic or centralised planning and a command economy.

Edit: Either way, I don't think this conversation has any significance (nor is it equivocation, as equivocation is confusing concepts/meaning not using words in a way contrary to usual. I outlined my usage of it earlier. If you want to challenge that, then fine.) it doesn't have any play on my thesis.

Primarily because your "thesis" is against planning, not centralized or de-centralized planning.

I'm not accusing you of using, "words in a way contrary to usual" (nice strawman), I am accusing you of committing the fallacy of equivocation by virtue of the fact that you used the term "central planning" to refer to two different (key term) types of economies.

If you have a beef with planning that's fine (and also a different conversation), just don't pretend central and de-centralized planning are the same thing.

As for the significance of the conversation, I agree, but the same could be said of every conversation on the internet.

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Chilli Sauce
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Jan 5 2012 16:41

Yeah Ethos, don't mess with his "thesis". I think this argument has probably run it's course by now, so I'll stop trying to "dictate" logic to Jordan. Ethos, I'll be with you in spirit if you want to keep running round in circles with this one...

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jura
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Jan 5 2012 16:51

Birthday Pony, I think you might be interested in Marx's critique of Gray, Bray, Proudhon and Darimon in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and the first volume of Grundrisse. He basically shows why mutualism (i.e. a society based on independent producers exchaning equivalents on a free market, but supposedly without exploitation, finance, big corporations and all the other "evil" stuff) as a recipe for organizing all of society wouldn't work. And it's not really a matter of markets being immoral or inherently involving power relations - it simply can't work. According to Marx, either you keep independent private producers and a market, but then you also need money, credit and ultimately sales and purchases of labor-power (and thus exploitation), or you socialize production and run it consciously and collectively, but then there's obviously no room for independent private producers. The whole argument is difficult to contain in a post, so read the whole thing if you're interested.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 17:16

This would be equivocation:

P1. Some dogs have brown hair.
P2. My dog is some dog.
Conclusion: Therefore, my dog, has brown hair.

There are actually two different uses of the concept of some there.

This is not equivocation (nor a logical fallacy):
P1. "Cat" means "barking animal"
P2. "Barking animal" makes"barking sounds".
Conclusion: Therefore a "Cat makes barking sounds".

I'm arguing, at best, that your argument against me is the second example, that i'm misusing the terms, rather than equivocation.

Edit: I spotted a mistyping of the second example, so I amended it. Putting this statement in so it doesn't look like I'm being dishonest about it. tongue

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Chilli Sauce
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Jan 5 2012 17:11

Jura! Like the avatar!

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Ethos
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Jan 5 2012 17:15
Jordan wrote:
This would be equivocation:

P1. Some dogs have brown hair.
P2. My dog is some dog.
Conclusion: Therefore, my dog, has brown hair.

Oh for fucks sake. That's not equivocation. Here, read up:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inference

Jordan wrote:
There are actually two different uses of the concept of some there.

This is not equivocation (nor a logical fallacy):
P1. "Cat" means "barking animal"
P2. "Barking animal"s making "barking sounds".
Conclusion: Therefore a "Cat makes barking sounds".

I'm arguing, at best, that your argument against me is the second example, that i'm misusing the terms, rather than equivocation.

And here is the article on equivocation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation

IEP writes:

"Equivocation

Equivocation is the illegitimate switching of the meaning of a term during the reasoning."
http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Equivocation

As when you refer to decentralized planning as centralized planning. They can't both have differences, as you have admitted, and yet be the same.

I think I'm gonna take a lesson from Chilli Sauce.

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 17:32
Ethos wrote:
Jordan wrote:
This would be equivocation:

P1. Some dogs have brown hair.
P2. My dog is some dog.
Conclusion: Therefore, my dog, has brown hair.

Oh for fucks sake. That's not equivocation. Here, read up:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inference

Jordan wrote:
There are actually two different uses of the concept of some there.

This is not equivocation (nor a logical fallacy):
P1. "Cat" means "barking animal"
P2. "Barking animal"s making "barking sounds".
Conclusion: Therefore a "Cat makes barking sounds".

I'm arguing, at best, that your argument against me is the second example, that i'm misusing the terms, rather than equivocation.

And here is the article on equivocation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation

IEP writes:

"Equivocation

Equivocation is the illegitimate switching of the meaning of a term during the reasoning."
http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Equivocation

As when you refer to decentralized planning as centralized planning. They can't both have differences, as you have admitted, and yet be the same.

I think I'm gonna take a lesson from Chilli Sauce.

No.
I never used the word de-centralised planning. You used that word then suggested that's what I meant. I never agreed with that. I never switched any terms, you were the one who attempted to switch them. I started off calling what i've clearly defined "central planning" (or for an even better definition: central planning = the creation of a plan to create a defined level of production and allocate resources, confirmed by a central body and with the expectation of it being followed by the entire community) and continued to use said label. You seem to not understand the difference in agency, makes all of the difference here

Plus wikipedia as a philosophy source is a bad idea.

Edit: And look at the example on IEP provided.

"Example:

Brad is a nobody, but since nobody is perfect, Brad must be perfect, too.

The term “nobody” changes its meaning without warning in the passage."

That's exactly the same logic as my some dog example.

Clearly when you bring forward sources that say the complete opposite of what you're saying, but you don't realise it, it shows you have no idea what you're talking about.

snipfool
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Jan 5 2012 17:34
Ethos wrote:
Jordan wrote:
This would be equivocation:

P1. Some dogs have brown hair.
P2. My dog is some dog.
Conclusion: Therefore, my dog, has brown hair.

Oh for fucks sake. That's not equivocation. Here, read up:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inference

Sorry, but I think you may have missed the word 'some' here, which is used in two different senses. Pretty good example of equivocation, I thought. That's all!

Jordan
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Jan 5 2012 18:04
snipfool wrote:
Ethos wrote:
Jordan wrote:
This would be equivocation:

P1. Some dogs have brown hair.
P2. My dog is some dog.
Conclusion: Therefore, my dog, has brown hair.

Oh for fucks sake. That's not equivocation. Here, read up:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inference

Sorry, but I think you may have missed the word 'some' here, which is used in two different senses. Pretty good example of equivocation, I thought. That's all!

Ta. smile

Anyway, now Ethos has demonstrated his lack of understanding of what equivocation is and elaborated his theory that "two objects cannot be both called sandwiches because one has ham and the other doesn't have ham but has cheese", I think we should go back into the conversation about anarcho-capitalism and mutualism.

I personally like Dejacque's reply to Proudhon on the subject; that anarchism should be the rejection of all types of mastery, not just the political. So economic, gender etc as well. Does anybody have a link to that letter? I've seen it before but I tried looking for it today and couldn;t find it.

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Jan 5 2012 18:30
Quote:
I think we should go back into the conversation about anarcho-capitalism and mutualism.

Wait! "Anarcho-capitalism". Did you just equivocate? twisted

robbo203
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Jan 5 2012 23:40
Birthday Pony wrote:
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.

I suppose I had in mind here the opening sentence of Capital about the wealth of those societies in which the capitalism prevails as presenting itself as an immense accumulation of commodities. I should perhaps have qualified this by adding that by this is entailed also the commodification of labour power and a labour market. From that point of view the market principle is the central encompassing one that subsumes wage labour as an aspect of of a fully marketised society. But you are right to say that it is generalised wage labour in particular that points to the existence of capitalism

Birthday Pony wrote:
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.

Yes I know more or less what Mutualism is about although to be honest I was thinking more of contemporary mutualists like Kevin Carsons with his pie-in-the-sky notion of free market anti-capitalism. As for Proudhon, well, to be frank I have some difficulty with reconciling his declaration "property is theft with his mutualistic proposal in which workers or associations of workers carry on production for the purpose of market exchange with the aid of credit banks and so on . Granted Proudhons mutualism is not capitalism but it is very clearly based on private property and this can hardly be denied (even if the scope of private property is narrower than is the case in capitalism). When you think about it logically how can you have market exchange without property? The buying and selling of things is an effectively an exchange of property titles which itself can only meaningfully happen when the means of prpoduction are sectionally or privately owned.

Birthday Pony wrote:
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..

Thats not relevant. Of course Mutualists have been active labor organizers and agitators but that does not mean that mutualism itself is a realisable goal. I am not criticising mutualist insofar as they are active on the industrial front. There are trade unionists whose political views I abhor but I even so I can still acknowlege the useful work they do on the industrial front

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?
Birthday Pony wrote:
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..

No, it doesn do anything of the sort. How does saying if ever cooperatives were to achieve a reasonably large share of the economy more and more of them would competing directly against each other, mean that I criticise the advocates of coops as engaging in class struggle. Thats doesnt make sense

Birthday Pony wrote:
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...

To repeat Im not saying that "mutualist principles" - although they are hardly principles unique to mutualists - such as engaging in rent strikes and offering militant resistance towards the state are a bad thing at all. Nor am I saying workers should not form cooperatives and so on. These are all good and useful things to do although we should not exaggerate their potential. Capitalism is never going to be transformed or transcended from within by workers setting up cooperatives and engaging in market exchanges. Worker co-cops, by the very nature of capitalism and the its inherently skewed distribution of capital assets will remain peripheral to the system, they tend to become bigger only by watering down or jettisoning their erstwhile egalitarian principles (e.g. Mondragon)

What I am critical of is not so called mutualistic principles as such mutualism itself as an end goal referring to the kind of society which mutualists seek to bring about. The expropriation of factories after the revolution is all very well but it is the relationship between these factories that I am trying to focus attention on here. Insofar as these remain under sectional ownership by groups of workers rather than become the common property of society as whole then you have the potential there for the whole thing to seriously unravel as these different groups come to compete against each other - as they will - on the basis of market exchange, Before long that will lead us. I believe, back to capitalism. This is putting aside the equally vexed question of how workers are going to come to a position to be able expropriate the means of production. If they are in position to do that then why not move forward and make the means of production the common property of all? Why linger with a system of market exchange that is mutualism?

Birthday Pony wrote:
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)....

Not quite sure what you are saying here. I dont like mutualism as an ideal but that does not mean I hold that mutualism is capitalism. Does the idea of sale on a market imply hierachy? Not in itself no. But sale on a market leads to economic inequalitiers which solidiy into hierarchies over time. Of course other factors come into play but all the same the market competitve process is itself a factor contributing to and reinforcing hierarchy

Birthday Pony wrote:
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.
.

I would disagree with that. I subscribe to the disproportionality theory of economic crises and I believe disproportional or uneven growth would happen under a mutalist system too. It is inherent in the nature of a market economy

Birthday Pony wrote:
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..

Im not quite sure what to make of this or indeed how it might square with Proudhon's point that "property is theft". How is theft a precedent for property?. When you steal something you are attempting to assert de facto ownership over it - that is to make it your property. And in order for it to be called theft surely that presupposes it belongs to someone else in the first place

On reciprocity ,well the point is that this is not the same thing as market exchange or at least in the sense of price making markets. Im with Karl Polanyi on this and his threefold typology of "forms of integration" - Price making markets, reciprocitty and redistribution. An anarcho communist socviety i would argue is fundamentally based on a system of generalised reciprocity

Birthday Pony wrote:

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...

But I dont say mutualism is capitalism . I specifically made this point that it is not capitalism for the reason that you pointed out - it lacks a system of generalised wage labour

What I say is :

1) There is no way in which capitalism is going to evolve this side of a revolution via workers coops and other mutualistic intiatives towards what mutualism itself needs in order to function and to eliminate the necessity for wage labour i.e, a level economic playing field

2) There is no good reason whatsoever for retaining a system a market exchange after a revolution has been effected and class ownership of the means of production has been eliminated

3) If such a system of market exchange is retained after the revolutiuon it will mean an inevitable drift back towards capitalism. Market competition necessarily entials winners and losers. The winners will consolidate their gains at the expesne of the rest and inevitably economic inequalities will arise that will herald a return to capitalism and wage labour

4) Mutualism is actually an impediment to the revolutionary cause notwithstanding its anti-capitalist stance, It entrenches and reinforces precisely the notion of markets and commodification upon which capitalism depends. Not only that ,mutualism leaves itself wide open to being coopted by capitalism as we have seen in the case of coops. A revoltuonary outlook requires that we break fundamentally with the pro market mind set that shores up capitalism inadvertently or otherwise

Birthday Pony wrote:
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.

And what are the pros and cons of mutalism in your view?

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Jan 6 2012 00:55
Jordan wrote:
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.

That's not what I was saying. Basically I was just claiming that there's already enough abundance to provide everyone on the planet with a house, food, and clothes. The only thing stopping this is capitalist property rights enforced by the state. Once we do away with that, nothing stops us from stockpiling and distributing goods as we see fit.

My idea of how this works is largely based on the distribution models I already see in my community, so it makes a large number of assumptions about the culture or work and the social attitude towards people in need. I do not like blueprinting such things onto others as "the way" to go. I'm sure there are plenty of other schemes that would get the exact same thing done.

From my experience where I live, there's not really a need for central planning. Most people on my block go to enough meetings a week anyway, and we probably wouldn't go to another one where the majority of the time we won't even be discussing things we produce or consume. It's much easier for people to just call someone up and ask for some of their extra widgets than it is to hold one giant meeting where we decide how many people need widgets.

Quote:
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.

They're not. And my guess would be since there are people like you (and me) that are concerned about those at risk of starving that those people would be more than willing to make sure those at risk of starving get their basic groceries and other necessities. If none of those folks are willing to drive delivery (distribute) things to those who can't pick them up themselves, then we've got a much larger social problem than any economic scheme can fix.

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Jan 6 2012 01:29
robbo203 wrote:
Yes I know more or less what Mutualism is about although to be honest I was thinking more of contemporary mutualists like Kevin Carsons with his pie-in-the-sky notion of free market anti-capitalism.

Read this blog:
http://libertarian-labyrinth.blogspot.com/
There's what I think of when I think mutualist. Guy is a historian, and there's a lot of stuff on Dejacque, an anarcho-communist in France and contemporary of Proudhon, and he's got a pretty fair criticism of what passes for "mutualism" these days.

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As for Proudhon, well, to be frank I have some difficulty with reconciling his declaration "property is theft with his mutualistic proposal in which workers or associations of workers carry on production for the purpose of market exchange with the aid of credit banks and so on . Granted Proudhons mutualism is not capitalism but it is very clearly based on private property and this can hardly be denied (even if the scope of private property is narrower than is the case in capitalism). When you think about it logically how can you have market exchange without property? The buying and selling of things is an effectively an exchange of property titles which itself can only meaningfully happen when the means of prpoduction are sectionally or privately owned...

That's just not true of exchange at all from any standpoint, economic, social, anthropological, historical. Native Americans had some trade (although markedly different from that which capitalist mythology likes to suggest), and they are simultaneously noted for being a society without private property. Property is a much more loaded term than "this is mine."

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To repeat Im not saying that "mutualist principles" - although they are hardly principles unique to mutualists - such as engaging in rent strikes and offering militant resistance towards the state are a bad thing at all. Nor am I saying workers should not form cooperatives and so on. These are all good and useful things to do although we should not exaggerate their potential. Capitalism is never going to be transformed or transcended from within by workers setting up cooperatives and engaging in market exchanges. Worker co-cops, by the very nature of capitalism and the its inherently skewed distribution of capital assets will remain peripheral to the system, they tend to become bigger only by watering down or jettisoning their erstwhile egalitarian principles (e.g. Mondragon)

You're missing what I'm saying. I'm saying that the theory of possession put forward by mutualists is the root of forming co-ops, with intention to participate in a market or not. Occ/use is the most eloquent basis for LTV, expropriaion, and a whole host of things that subvert capitalist property that I have yet to read.

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What I am critical of is not so called mutualistic principles as such mutualism itself as an end goal referring to the kind of society which mutualists seek to bring about. The expropriation of factories after the revolution is all very well but it is the relationship between these factories that I am trying to focus attention on here. Insofar as these remain under sectional ownership by groups of workers rather than become the common property of society as whole then you have the potential there for the whole thing to seriously unravel as these different groups come to compete against each other - as they will - on the basis of market exchange, Before long that will lead us. I believe, back to capitalism. This is putting aside the equally vexed question of how workers are going to come to a position to be able expropriate the means of production. If they are in position to do that then why not move forward and make the means of production the common property of all? Why linger with a system of market exchange that is mutualism?

Because why not would be, I guess, what mutualists say. But as I've said elsewhere on this thread, I think the social structures necessary for mutualism to be successful would lead to communism anyway.

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Im not quite sure what to make of this or indeed how it might square with Proudhon's point that "property is theft". How is theft a precedent for property?. When you steal something you are attempting to assert de facto ownership over it - that is to make it your property. And in order for it to be called theft surely that presupposes it belongs to someone else in the first place

http://libertarian-labyrinth.blogspot.com/2011/12/proudhon-property-and-theft-in-1839.html

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(from that post):
The more "energetic" approach is to treat the prohibitions against holding, turning or putting aside much more literally. Instead of assuming that the target of the commandment is abuse, and thus that Proudhon's reading of 1839 is in agreement with his catalog of the forms of robbery in 1840, we can see that holding, turning or putting aside are the very means by which any sort of property, beyond the most transient sort of use or consumption, might be established—and property is theft, in a much more literal and consistent sense than any we find in What is Property?
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On reciprocity ,well the point is that this is not the same thing as market exchange or at least in the sense of price making markets. Im with Karl Polanyi on this and his threefold typology of "forms of integration" - Price making markets, reciprocitty and redistribution. An anarcho communist socviety i would argue is fundamentally based on a system of generalised reciprocity

Proudhon thought so too, probably about the same time as Polanyi.

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What I say is :

1) There is no way in which capitalism is going to evolve this side of a revolution via workers coops and other mutualistic intiatives towards what mutualism itself needs in order to function and to eliminate the necessity for wage labour i.e, a level economic playing field

Mutualism doesn't really say much about evolution versus revolution, and those that do tend to be pretty wishy washy and kind of lame. Regardless, Proudhon was writing at a time of massive insurrection, and spoke very highly of the Paris commune. I'm not sure "evolution" is central to mutualism.

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2) There is no good reason whatsoever for retaining a system a market exchange after a revolution has been effected and class ownership of the means of production has been eliminated

Convenience, perhaps. I don't really find the arguments about why very convincing either.

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3) If such a system of market exchange is retained after the revolutiuon it will mean an inevitable drift back towards capitalism. Market competition necessarily entials winners and losers. The winners will consolidate their gains at the expesne of the rest and inevitably economic inequalities will arise that will herald a return to capitalism and wage labour

That one I'm not sure about, especially given the nature of occupancy and use. Possession makes it literally impossible for wage labor to arise, at least justifiably. And the inequality that would occur economically may not actually translate to an inequality in power. That I live in a slightly shittier neighborhood would not effect my say in the democratic institutions required for mutualism to succeed. But like I said, I don't like the dependence on institutions to "protect" freedom, and I see dependence on institutions as a really good way to create an ugly power dynamic.

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4) Mutualism is actually an impediment to the revolutionary cause notwithstanding its anti-capitalist stance, It entrenches and reinforces precisely the notion of markets and commodification upon which capitalism depends. Not only that ,mutualism leaves itself wide open to being coopted by capitalism as we have seen in the case of coops. A revoltuonary outlook requires that we break fundamentally with the pro market mind set that shores up capitalism inadvertently or otherwise

That I whole-heartedly disagree with. Mutualism is infinitely more useful than statist communism. Mutualism is not a raw economic doctrine, but also a set of social and political ethics. Taking such a stance puts you at odds with the likes of Bakunin and Kroptokin, both of whom even considered Ben Tucker (seriously, wtf to them though) an ally, despite his harsh words for them. At the end of the day, mutualism is anti-state. And without a state to enforce capitalist property, there is no way capitalism can reemerge. So even if a mutualist society sprang into being tomorrow due to a midnight revolution tonight, if it ended up being just as oppressive as capitalism there would be absolutely nothing in anyone's way to create a communist society.

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And what are the pros and cons of mutalism in your view?

Over reliance on institutions to safeguard against new emergent systems of hierarchy that are uniquely different than, but perhaps as bad as, the state or capitalism. It's easy to take advantage of institutions, but not easy to overrule a revolutionary culture. A basic cultural paradigm shift would be much harder to overcome than a general basis of legitimacy towards a political institution, and I think communism has a lot more to say towards a revolutionary ethics and cultural outlook than mutualism does. Although both are important to the end cause.

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Jan 6 2012 16:54
Quote:
From my experience where I live, there's not really a need for central planning. Most people on my block go to enough meetings a week anyway, and we probably wouldn't go to another one where the majority of the time we won't even be discussing things we produce or consume. It's much easier for people to just call someone up and ask for some of their extra widgets than it is to hold one giant meeting where we decide how many people need widgets.

That's fine and very romantic and I'm sure would hold true on your block (just like, even under capitalism, if I run out of sugar or whatever I can borrow a cup from my neighbour). However, for things like transport or running hospitals or transporting chocolate from South America or care work or rubbish removal or water purification or disposing of chemicals, you can't just dip in and out of them based on your mood. Think about medicine: "Oh here's just some extra heart medication I've had lying around. Will that be enough to cover you?"

These things need planning and co-ordination and structure and meetings. It's not ideal, but presumably we'll work (as in concerted activity geared toward production) a lot less ATR and meetings won't be such a burden. But meetings are going to be a reality no matter what.

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Jan 6 2012 17:52
Chilli Sauce wrote:
However, for things like transport or running hospitals or transporting chocolate from South America or care work or rubbish removal or water purification or disposing of chemicals, you can't just dip in and out of them based on your mood. Think about medicine: "Oh here's just some extra heart medication I've had lying around. Will that be enough to cover you?"

I'm not doubting that it takes a great deal of planning to run a hospital. What I contest is that everyone in the neighborhood needs to be in on the hospital meetings in order to decide whether or not Mrs. Jones can get her heart meds.

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Jan 6 2012 18:04
Birthday Pony wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
However, for things like transport or running hospitals or transporting chocolate from South America or care work or rubbish removal or water purification or disposing of chemicals, you can't just dip in and out of them based on your mood. Think about medicine: "Oh here's just some extra heart medication I've had lying around. Will that be enough to cover you?"

I'm not doubting that it takes a great deal of planning to run a hospital. What I contest is that everyone in the neighborhood needs to be in on the hospital meetings in order to decide whether or not Mrs. Jones can get her heart meds.

who suggested something so mental apart from you? i really dont believe you ever though anyone advocating planing in this discussion meant that every discussion should be made by everyone

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Jan 6 2012 18:34
Birthday Pony wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
However, for things like transport or running hospitals or transporting chocolate from South America or care work or rubbish removal or water purification or disposing of chemicals, you can't just dip in and out of them based on your mood. Think about medicine: "Oh here's just some extra heart medication I've had lying around. Will that be enough to cover you?"

I'm not doubting that it takes a great deal of planning to run a hospital. What I contest is that everyone in the neighborhood needs to be in on the hospital meetings in order to decide whether or not Mrs. Jones can get her heart meds.

So you are in favour planning, then? Or will we not have hospitals ATR?

Second, that's a massive strawman. I mean basic anarchist theory says that decisions should be made first and foremost by the people who are affected by them (Spanish militia members--not the general public--elected their commanders, for example) and that individuals who have a specific knowledge, doctors say, should be deferred to in the relevant situations.

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Jan 6 2012 19:17
Chilli Sauce wrote:
So you are in favour planning, then? Or will we not have hospitals ATR?

More than anything I took issue with the "central" part more than the "planning" part. And the decision making you go on to describe below is not what I would call 'central planning.'

Quote:
Second, that's a massive strawman. I mean basic anarchist theory says that decisions should be made first and foremost by the people who are affected by them (Spanish militia members--not the general public--elected their commanders, for example) and that individuals who have a specific knowledge, doctors say, should be deferred to in the relevant situations.

That's not central. And maybe this is a semantic issue, but my assumption was that people envisioned a democratically elected or even directly democratic central planning board that plans the entire commune's economy. That's what central planning sounds like to me. But it seems you're not saying that.

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Jan 6 2012 19:39

Depends on what you see as "central planning" though.

For "right wing libertarians", it's already central planning if someone else besides them has a say in how things are being done.

I may have used the term central planning in this thread too, but I find my view to be the same as how Chilli's described it. No overmind, if that was the implication people were aiming at.

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Jan 6 2012 20:33

Seems like it was all semantic.

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Jan 6 2012 20:37
Birthday Pony wrote:
robbo203 wrote:
As for Proudhon, well, to be frank I have some difficulty with reconciling his declaration "property is theft with his mutualistic proposal in which workers or associations of workers carry on production for the purpose of market exchange with the aid of credit banks and so on . Granted Proudhons mutualism is not capitalism but it is very clearly based on private property and this can hardly be denied (even if the scope of private property is narrower than is the case in capitalism). When you think about it logically how can you have market exchange without property? The buying and selling of things is an effectively an exchange of property titles which itself can only meaningfully happen when the means of prpoduction are sectionally or privately owned...

That's just not true of exchange at all from any standpoint, economic, social, anthropological, historical. Native Americans had some trade (although markedly different from that which capitalist mythology likes to suggest), and they are simultaneously noted for being a society without private property. Property is a much more loaded term than "this is mine."...

That is true but so is exchange and it is importanr not to confuse market exchange with reciprocity. Native Americans did not traditionally engage in market exchanges within their own societies. Trade was a peripheral thing done with outsiders . They had no private property vis a vis each other and that is why unsurprisingly there were no market exchange relationships . There were various forms of reciprocity between them and of course that famous insititution, the potlatch.

With mutualism however we are definitely talking about market exchange and it is in that context that I am defintiely saying that such exchange must logically imply the existence of private property in the means of production. How could it be otherwise?

Birthday Pony wrote:
Quote:
What I am critical of is not so called mutualistic principles as such mutualism itself as an end goal referring to the kind of society which mutualists seek to bring about. The expropriation of factories after the revolution is all very well but it is the relationship between these factories that I am trying to focus attention on here. Insofar as these remain under sectional ownership by groups of workers rather than become the common property of society as whole then you have the potential there for the whole thing to seriously unravel as these different groups come to compete against each other - as they will - on the basis of market exchange, Before long that will lead us. I believe, back to capitalism. This is putting aside the equally vexed question of how workers are going to come to a position to be able expropriate the means of production. If they are in position to do that then why not move forward and make the means of production the common property of all? Why linger with a system of market exchange that is mutualism?

Because why not would be, I guess, what mutualists say. But as I've said elsewhere on this thread, I think the social structures necessary for mutualism to be successful would lead to communism anyway...

Well if you are seeing mutualism as a kind of transitional stage to communism thats another matter but, like I said, I dont think mutualism in the form of say worker coops is going to make any significant headway inside capitalism. So really you are talking about a post revolutiuonary society. In which case my point still stands - why go for mutualism when you could have communisn. In what sense would it expedite communism by continuing with production for the market?

Birthday Pony wrote:
Quote:
4) Mutualism is actually an impediment to the revolutionary cause notwithstanding its anti-capitalist stance, It entrenches and reinforces precisely the notion of markets and commodification upon which capitalism depends. Not only that ,mutualism leaves itself wide open to being coopted by capitalism as we have seen in the case of coops. A revoltuonary outlook requires that we break fundamentally with the pro market mind set that shores up capitalism inadvertently or otherwise

That I whole-heartedly disagree with. Mutualism is infinitely more useful than statist communism. Mutualism is not a raw economic doctrine, but also a set of social and political ethics. Taking such a stance puts you at odds with the likes of Bakunin and Kroptokin, both of whom even considered Ben Tucker (seriously, wtf to them though) an ally, despite his harsh words for them. At the end of the day, mutualism is anti-state. And without a state to enforce capitalist property, there is no way capitalism can reemerge. So even if a mutualist society sprang into being tomorrow due to a midnight revolution tonight, if it ended up being just as oppressive as capitalism there would be absolutely nothing in anyone's way to create a communist society..

I dont think youve really addressed the argument I made. The relative benefits of mutualism vis a vis what you call "statist communism" (by which I presume you mean the leninist advocates of state capitalism) are neither here nor there. I would oppose both approaches myself albeit for different reasons

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Jan 6 2012 23:09
robbo203 wrote:
That is true but so is exchange and it is importanr not to confuse market exchange with reciprocity. Native Americans did not traditionally engage in market exchanges within their own societies. Trade was a peripheral thing done with outsiders . They had no private property vis a vis each other and that is why unsurprisingly there were no market exchange relationships . There were various forms of reciprocity between them and of course that famous insititution, the potlatch.

With mutualism however we are definitely talking about market exchange and it is in that context that I am defintiely saying that such exchange must logically imply the existence of private property in the means of production. How could it be otherwise?

Read the blog I posted. For real. Possession is way different from property, and I would venture a guess that most people here support some form of it. And once again, reciprocity was emphasized in mutualism as well.

Quote:
Well if you are seeing mutualism as a kind of transitional stage to communism thats another matter but, like I said, I dont think mutualism in the form of say worker coops is going to make any significant headway inside capitalism. So really you are talking about a post revolutiuonary society. In which case my point still stands - why go for mutualism when you could have communisn. In what sense would it expedite communism by continuing with production for the market?

We pretty much agree on this point, but I would say communes (and there are communes) that exist within capitalism aren't very revolutionary either, and that the revolutionaryness of an idea depends a lot more on how it's carried out. Keep in mind that a good number of the folks who participated in the Paris Commune were Proudhonian.

But on mutualism turning into communism anyway we pretty much agree 100%.

Quote:
I dont think youve really addressed the argument I made. The relative benefits of mutualism vis a vis what you call "statist communism" (by which I presume you mean the leninist advocates of state capitalism) are neither here nor there. I would oppose both approaches myself albeit for different reasons

The key difference is that mutualism is by no means compulsory. Given that mutualists are already a minority within the anarchist movement, I don't really see why they should be opposed so vehemently. And my point is that if mutualism does take hold and ends up being just as shitty as everyone thought it would be, everything about it allows for communism to replace it in an instant. If people have already come far enough left that they're all mutualists to the point where they have a mutualist revolution, I don't think it would be such a stretch to knock 'em a bit down the spectrum into communism.

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Jan 7 2012 00:51
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More than anything I took issue with the "central" part more than the "planning" part. And the decision making you go on to describe below is not what I would call 'central planning.'

BP, I'm glad you've changed your argument, and that you've agreed that it was semantic differences on your behalf.

However, it was the rest of us arguing against your earlier position that any planning qualified as "central planning". See this post.

Quote:
but my assumption was that people envisioned a democratically elected or even directly democratic central planning board that plans the entire commune's economy.

I'm also glad that you acknowledge this was an assumption (on your behalf) and I'd also hope you'd acknowledge the "central planning board" is a strawman, too. What was described to you and Jordan was federal decision making (a la the IWA example), so you've got no excuse for this "central planning board" crap.

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Jan 7 2012 01:01

My last post for the night, but BP I think Jura is right, you need to read Marx. Your assumptions about Marx and those who reference and respect Marx has caused you to strawman again and again and again on the shakiest of assumptions.

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Jan 7 2012 01:53

I'm not too sure about assuming that Marx didn't envisage a council/central board as being part of the democratic process of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in order to make executive decisions etc. (in fact I'd argue that this was the role that he assigned to the State and part of the stress that he made of how similar it was the Atheninan democracy) - if you look at his practice in the first International and his discussions of the DoftheP, he does stress the ability of committees/councils etc. to make "technical" decisions based on democratic mandates and direct decisions from lower down (this clearly isn't some Leninist conception of Democratic Centralism though, they will have still have had to have a bottom up mandate for particular decisions), which anarchists weren't happy about and ideas which I think was leading the Paris Commune towards Oligarchy if something wasn't done about it, but it had survived (at that point though it was crushed anyway so we can never know for sure what would have happened).

I didn't for one minute suggest that you thought that there should be councils though, that wasn't an assumption I made. All I suggested was that it was going through a central body (which would be something along the lines of the Confederation's decision making body, which has instantly re-callable delegates who are responsible for relaying the decisions made by the people they are there to represent rather than the sort of paternalistic 'representation' we have now).