Technology

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-8750-
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Apr 25 2009 23:39
Technology

I have been toying with the concept of anarchism for a while, and I have a couple questions.

If we lived in an anarchist society, how would we still have people like doctors working, and would we still be producing technology like computers? (And how?)

Also, how does the education system work in an anarchist society (who does the teaching/what gets taught)?

Sorry if these have been asked before.

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Apr 26 2009 01:08

Don't have time to reply properly, but this has been discussed before a bit, i'll chip in a bit.

Briefly, we'd still have doctors, in fact we'd have more of them if we needed them, as medical education would be more accessible to those who wished to pursue it. That said, with a better health system, run by the workers, based on need not profit, and with generally better living conditions, our general health would be much better and we may have less need for doctors. Ideally of course the better health care gets, the less need there is for it, because people should be less ill wink

There's a few medical students and nurses posting on here over the years.
And as regards education, there a few people who are teach or work in education - we've school teachers, uni lecturers, postgrads, community educators, special-needs teacher, teaching assistants etc on here.

Education generally, again run by workers, and students, would be much more open, though we'd still have testing, though the testing would be that which met the needs of those engaged in education, i.e. testing a genuine understanding of concepts/skills being studied rather than the prescriptive meaningless graph-generating testing we have nowadays to meet the needs of bosses and states that need to produce the net generation of workers.

We'd still need education, and we'd still need teachers/lecturers to ensure workers have the skills to perform the tasks that communities need done - we'd still need doctors, nurses, pilots, train-drivers for example - and they need skills, generally taught by people who have experience of those roles.

Without the prescriptive narrow curriculum in schools though education would be much more open and more free - with students able to explore things of genuine interest to them - teachers would then fulfill the role more of a facilitator, simply helping students get the most out of the things that interest them without much of the coercion that currently goes on in schools.

Organise!, 'the UK's best and sexiest anarchist group', has it's new Education Worker's News bulletin coming out next week which you might wanna grab a copy of to get an anarchist perspective on education workers, but I'm biased wink

slothjabber
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Apr 26 2009 10:08

I used to know some trainee teachers, and one of them told me about an inspiring lecture they'd had; she came out it of saying "I see it now, we're not doing it to teach children, we're doing it to help them learn." One of those 'encapsulation of the point' moments. It made perfect sense to her once it was expressed like that. So even under capitalism there can be a recognition (if not the actuality) that the real value of education is not 'filling empty vessels' (or testing them to see how full they are) but allowing young people an environment where they can develop their own understanding, their own social and intellectual and physical skills. Under socialism, we might really be able to make that a reality instead of a dream.

Some people would still be interested in biology, I'm sure, just as they are now. Some people may be driven to try to help alleviate other people's problems, as they are now (actually I think this very likely as we'll pretty much be forced to care more about other people than we do now). I very much doubt there are many people who go into medicine just for the pay, so the lack of 'pay' as such shouldn't be a barrier to those people wo want to study medicine particularly to do so. Skill specialisation wouldn't be forbidden (who would do the forbidding, in all seriousness?) but it wouldn't be enforced either.

Likewise, some people would still be interested in electrical and electronic engineering, logic problems and maths games. Why shouldn't they then go and work primarily with computer systems? They might have to move, to be fair, because there isn't going to be a computer-parts factory on every street-corner. But I'm pretty firmly of the opinion that we'll still be using these things after the revolution (probably running Linux though wink )

If any of them (computer engineers or medical personel) want to do a bit of (non-)market gardening on the side, or occassionally get a bit of light relief by driving a minibus or criticising the theory of relativity or taking part in archaeological excation or even having a game of football or any other thing they might find enjoyment or intellectual stimulation in, I don't see that as being a problem.

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Apr 26 2009 10:34

word smile

Alderson Warm-Fork
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Apr 26 2009 14:32

I agree with what people have already said, but would add a couple of points.

Regarding education, there's a history of anarchists being involved in various 'alternative' sorts of schools, trying to build a non-authoritarian culture of learning.

Lots of info and links as: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_schools

Regarding technology, bear in mind that technology, and innovation more generaly, is a 'public good' - i.e. something that benefits a lot of people who weren't involved in producing it and who can't be prevented from benefitting from it. It is typically thought, from basic economic theories, that markets have a problem with public goods - if people produce only for profit, then they will under-produce public goods (like technology).

At the moment, intellectual property laws function to shoe-horn technology into being a private good that can be privately owned, and they have many harmful effects. One notable effect is secrecy - any innovator has a strong incentive to keep their knowledge a secret and delay its publication, and generally to stop anyone else from sharing it.

For most of science's history, and still to an extent nowadays, the motivation for new ideas has tended to work in the opposite direction: because people's desire is for glory and 'self-fulfilment' or some such, they have a strong incentive to publish as quickly as possible, and put their ideas into the public domain for others to use. E.g. Darwin was rushed into publishing Origin of Species because he was scared someone else would beat him to it.

This is obviously one advantage of the non-profit system, which would hopefully be preserved and expanded in an anarcho-communist society.

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Apr 26 2009 23:20
Alderson Warm-Fork wrote:
Regarding technology, bear in mind that technology, and innovation more generaly, is a 'public good' - i.e. something that benefits a lot of people who weren't involved in producing it and who can't be prevented from benefitting from it. It is typically thought, from basic economic theories, that markets have a problem with public goods - if people produce only for profit, then they will under-produce public goods (like technology).

At the moment, intellectual property laws function to shoe-horn technology into being a private good that can be privately owned, and they have many harmful effects. One notable effect is secrecy - any innovator has a strong incentive to keep their knowledge a secret and delay its publication, and generally to stop anyone else from sharing it.

Very much so, though there is a move toward more open science and technology through the likes of PLoS, it's far from perfect, but there are some researchers who genuinely do their stuff for 'good' wink

Quote:
For most of science's history, and still to an extent nowadays, the motivation for new ideas has tended to work in the opposite direction: because people's desire is for glory and 'self-fulfilment' or some such, they have a strong incentive to publish as quickly as possible, and put their ideas into the public domain for others to use. E.g. Darwin was rushed into publishing Origin of Species because he was scared someone else would beat him to it.

This is obviously one advantage of the non-profit system, which would hopefully be preserved and expanded in an anarcho-communist society.

I'm not sure Darwin's case is comparable to the intellectual property laws and say patent issues you'd previously been alluding to.
It was much more ego than anything else, not necessarily profit motive. Darwin didn't particularly make much money from his science, he was independently wealthy generally.
It was much more the fact that he'd been working mind-numbingly on amassing evidence in support of his burgeoning theory for 20yrs, while Wallace hadn't done even close to the amount of empirical research, but had of course come to the same conclusions as Darwin.
So the motive was simply one of 'credit', not secrecy per-se. darwin simply wanted to have as much evidence behind him to back up[ his theory because of the various objections he anticipated it facing, which indeed it did.
I'm not certain a communist society would ever get rid of 'ego' or simply wanting credit for work done wink

Rum Lad
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Apr 26 2009 23:15

Anyone read Paulo Freire, 'The Pedagogy of the Opressed'? Pretty swish for what's wrong with education and what the liberational potential of education can be.

http://www.marxists.org/subject/education/freire/pedagogy/

-8750-
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Apr 27 2009 01:15

Wow, lots of great response, cheers for that!

Being a teaching student myself, I see as you said slothjabber, that the purpose of teaching is to give students the skills needed to learn by themselves, and support them through the process. Although it isn't happening as much as it should, its gaining popularity among new teachers, but older generation teachers were taught to teach in a very strict, classic fashion. Its a good stepping stone towards a free school, as Top mentioned.

Now my question is what motivates people to do work and what happens to those who chose not to do anything?

Will people that don't do work be pushed aside as they are now and live hard lives?

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Apr 27 2009 03:08

presumably you're not learning to become a teacher for the awesome pay?

-8750-
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Apr 27 2009 04:16

Haha, nope

futility index
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Apr 27 2009 11:42
Quote:
and would we still be producing technology like computers? (And how?)

I think that it would take many years for a post-revolutionary society to get advanced technology back to the level that existed under capitalism. Think about microprocessor manufacturing as it exists now, it relies on a complex web of international component and raw material trade - unless there is a simultaneous, globe spanning anarchist revolution (with no temporary regressions into barbarism/control by gangs) scientific progress and manufacture of high tech equipment will stall for some time.

Skips
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Apr 27 2009 12:44
-8750- wrote:
Wow, lots of great response, cheers for that!

Being a teaching student myself, I see as you said slothjabber, that the purpose of teaching is to give students the skills needed to learn by themselves, and support them through the process. Although it isn't happening as much as it should, its gaining popularity among new teachers, but older generation teachers were taught to teach in a very strict, classic fashion. Its a good stepping stone towards a free school, as Top mentioned.

Now my question is what motivates people to do work and what happens to those who chose not to do anything?

Will people that don't do work be pushed aside as they are now and live hard lives?

Possibly if they don't cooperate. Although there will be more motivation to cooperate as they have a stake in society and real power.

vanilla.ice.baby
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Apr 27 2009 14:05
-8750- wrote:

Now my question is what motivates people to do work and what happens to those who chose not to do anything?

Will people that don't do work be pushed aside as they are now and live hard lives?

People have many motivations for working, both positive (IE they are doing a job they enjoy), and negative (they will starve if they don't work).

In a free society it would be up to individual communities to decide through an ongoing process what actually constitutes "work", and whether there is a division between productive work, and cutural work. Then the community would hopefully have as one of it's functions the role of facilitiating people to choose the roles that best suit them.

No doubt there would be many less pleasant tasks that communities and enterprises decided needed doing, and then they would have to decide how to make sure they are done, this may include a compulsory rota, or a voluntary system...

There would also be many projects that communities and wider federations would decide to intiate, these would be allocated in a variety of ways one way might be the formation of working groups, or the election of committees, or independent syndicates of workers "bidding" for the right to work on the project.

We also have to look out how scarce comodities and services (mobile phones, energy) would be rationed, again different communities and federations would no doubt adopt different methods, as well as different methods of distribution of plentiful resources (foodstuffs, plastics), this might include a clause for exclusion of "noncooperators", people who refuse to participate in society.

Personally I imagine that there would be a few people, especially at first who would refuse to contribute to society and it would be up to the people around them to decide how to deal with it, probably from a range of sanctions including but not limited to restriction of access to scarce goods, and eventually exclusion or confinement as a last resort.

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Choccy
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Apr 27 2009 14:08
-8750- wrote:
Now my question is what motivates people to do work and what happens to those who chose not to do anything?

A lot of people don't like working because a lot of work is total pointless shit and they have no control over how they spend their time. Call centres, accountants, estate agents blah blah blah, all work that is completely fucking worthless and no wonder people resent their jobs.

People are motivated by both things that interest them, and things that need done. Few people get joy out of their work because they either work far too many hours, or because it's so specialised that it becomes monotonous. or because even when they initially enjoy the work, they realise they are being shafted left right and centre by bosses and end up not wanting to get out of bed in the morning wink

slothjabber
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Apr 27 2009 18:27

So when asked if you're becoming a teacher for the stunning pay (in other words, you only work for the material rewards), you reply...

-8750- wrote:
Haha, nope

...so where's the problem? Honestly, you're not some deviant or freak. You have a chosen a career on the basis of non-material reward, because you think you'll get enjoyment and satisfaction from it.

Most of us I think would like enjoyment and satisfaction from what we do. Being able to live at the same time would be nice too.

Logically, I would think that would lead to socialism...