What would an anarchist society look like?

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Zazaban
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Sep 20 2008 19:32
What would an anarchist society look like?

Simply, how would an anarchist society look?

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jura
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Sep 20 2008 20:46

Cute, fluffy, with red and black stripes.

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PartyBucket
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Sep 20 2008 23:32

Hopefully, not all that different. I dont want to live in a cave or a hole in the ground or any of that shit.

woundedhobo
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Sep 21 2008 01:24

anarchy means without a ruler, so I assume majority rule/voting is also unacceptable. That leaves us with consensus as a political model. So I am assuming that cities will have to go, same for big factories with more than 50 people.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 21 2008 03:54

consensus is minority rule (in extreme one person vetoing hundreds) , which is far more autocratic than majority votes. this is why afaik no anarchist pre-60s gave it the time of day, especially in actual revolutionary attempts like ukraine, spain etc.

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Bilan
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Sep 21 2008 04:03

Anarchism doesn't necessitate consensus at all. It is, as said, a product of the post-60's era, and the liberal influence on anarchism that occured then which brought that in.
In most cases, it would be majority rule which would be used. For anarchists, the point is that consensus is desirable, but reality determines that that isn't always possible, or practical.

Anarchist society would like: Self-managed industry - "Factory Committees", workers councils/syndicates, etc - , abolishment of the state in favour of egalitarian structures, etc. Can't really be arsed going into much more depth than that.

kuro
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Sep 21 2008 12:45

"Anarchism is the belief that through social revolution, the current form of government is to be replaced with self-managing community collectives, united through delegation and federation. Running things at the lowest possible level, anarchists, like socialists, agree with the notion of ‘bottom up’ but are wary of the 'up' part. Underpinning this society would be principles of interconnectedness & solidarity, egalitarianism, volunteerism/free association, sustainability, respect, liberty & co-operation. Systems of production and distribution would be managed by their participants. Through mutual aid, communities would aim to provide the resources necessary for all to develop as fully as possible their faculties, as well as to fully encourage creativity, expression and contribution. All would belong and have a direct impact in the community through a platform of direct/participatory democracy, creating a level of social cohesion and custom that would eliminate the necessity for authoritarian/oppressive institutions."

Thoughts?

Dave B
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Sep 21 2008 14:37

I myself do not have a problem with as much decentralisation and autonomy in production as possible. It is not just a ‘ethical’ or ‘political’ position but as much a purely practical one.

I would have no wish or desire, nor I should I, for instance to participate in a decision on street lighting plans in some town in Peru or whatever. Some decisions however will be felt as effecting everyone, lets say seal hunting, killing animals for their fur or turning butterfly sanctuaries into speedway circuits or an airport or something.

Ultimately there will have to be a mechanism whereby some decisions or general policy will have to be taken by everybody. It will in fact be impossible for anything but a small number of decisions to be taken democratically by everybody, or the majority, as there will be too many of them and we will be spending all our time voting.

So it will have to be decentralised.

Even with majoritarian decisions it will in my opinion be necessary or inevitable to take into consideration the strongly held views of a minority. I may well prefer to do something one way rather than another but vote the other way to appease the more strongly held convictions of others for the sake of harmony. It is nothing more than how we behave in groups or families.

In free access socialism democratic decisions or the dreaded ‘state’ would only effect production or how and what we produced. Choices about how much we consume or where and how much we work would be personal or individual ones, unlike in Anarchist Parecon.

There has been an interesting alternative proposed for democratic decision making called ‘Demarchy’ a review of which appeared in Social Anarchism, Number 21, 1995-96, pp. 18-51.
.

I have not read it for a while but a summary might be;

Quote:
“Demarchy is based on random selection of individuals to serve in decision-making groups which deal with particular functions or services, such as roads or education. Forget the state and forget bureaucracies. In a full-fledged demarchy, all this is replaced by a network of groups whose members are randomly selected, each of which deals with a particular function in a particular area.”

http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/95sa.html

I actually came up with the proposition on independently on my own only to be informed that the idea had been kicking around for a while.

Thus, this is how I put it on our list.

"

Quote:
The theory of statistical sampling is well established and is based
on mathematical fundamental first principals not on empirical
evidence ie it is true. Ignoring people lying and not responding
etc. a sample of 5000 people randomly selected from a population of
say 50 million in a yes /no issue there will be a 99% chance that
the (%) voting figures (of the sample or poll) will be within +/-2%
of how the total population would have responded.

Ballpark figures and it is probably better than that .

The history of exit poll data discussed at length on this election
fraud issue, despite the major potential problem of lying and the
actual one of non response/participation in the order of 50%, has a
really impressive record. Non participation is an important issue as
a poll will then only tell you what people who are prepared to
answer a poll are thinking. In opinion polls normally in excess of
60% refuse to respond.

This is a shocking thing to say but it is true, there is no need for
200 million people to vote as a poll of 20,000 (properly organised
under correct criteria) will give you exactly the same result every
time. Science uses this principal all the time it is embedded in the
theory of experimentation. We wouldn't have (to have a) lying and non
participation problem in our system in a secret (or non secret) poll.

(On a complex issue like nuclear power where everyone could not
possibly spend their time in understanding all the complex and
technical information they would need to make a `rational' decision )

In the democratic process why couldn't we do it on a jury type
system but with big juries . If there is a complex subject to be
decided we get the experts to provide reports etc and argue amongst
themselves and get a Jury of 10,000 ordinary people randomly
selected to go through all the evidence.

The stats people would tell us what sample size was needed to
achieve levels confidence required etc. You could put all sorts of
safe guards in if you wanted, the ability to cancel the decision if
a majority and (or) over 30% ? of a plebiscite voted against it .
You could also (democratically) skew the sample population to
balance local versus global interests etc. A delegate or executive
committee could (perhaps) just pass these Jury votes on the nod or
not, or whatever.

In practice most if not all would just go through or the jury
investigation be repeated or expanded.

You could even be given (everyone) the option to vote on every
single issue or just tick one box that says " I agree with all jury
decisions unless stated otherwise" or a non vote would be considered
a yes to the jury vote.

If you had a voting population of 30,000,000 and jury of 3,000 we
could make 10,000 decisions a year by each person only having to
vote once.

What goes onto the agenda is another issue. The required sample size
(of the poll) as a % of the population drops dramatically as the
population size increases eg with 10 million you might need 1,000
whereas as for 100 million you would need 5,000.

Even at a local level , lets say a constituency of 50,000, we could
have weekly "parliaments" of say 1000 randomly selected constituents
voting on resolutions put forward by another body. That way I
wouldn't have to spend more than 2% of mine time voting which would
be too much for me but close
enough to 0%."

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/WSM_Forum/message/34108

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Global Dissident
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Sep 21 2008 21:24

Hopefully different enough that it would be beyond our ability to recall the former society's existence.

woundedhobo
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Sep 22 2008 01:45

I don't see how you can equate anarchy with small D. democracy (majority rule without elected decision-makers). We all know that in this situation minorities end up being ruled by majorities and often times facing severe repression.

I agree with you about consensus in community situations. I have known an authoritarian personality that openly admitted he blocks until he gets his way. I guess I was referring to anarchy as a situation where there is a group of people that are on the same page without coercion.

I think the best we can do is go with majority and super majority rule at the workplace and neighborhood /regional level, but have a framework where minorities are able to leave and there are many choices of communities, each with its own emphasis, values, style of doing things. And also situations where the minority does not have to go along with the majority. I'm thinking of a sales tax on products that are not necessary and the revenue goes into a controversial program, although they are regressive and that still deals with money.

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cantdocartwheels
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Sep 22 2008 06:54

I never understand these sort of weird 'direct democray'' ideas that seem to srping forth from anarchism whenever the subject of production isbrought up. Production isn't ''decided'' upon, its planned out as a response to market demand. Thus a chain of burger bars would be run by their staff who would have detailed lists of all the profucts they used in a day, a week a month and so on, would relay this information to a central depot whose staff would dispatch deliveries and make orders to factories accordingly. The factory and depot between them would look at data for previous months and produce goods accordingly to meet the demand previusly shown with some surplus. I don;t see why we need a ''neighbourhood meeting'' or any meeting outside the workplaces involved to decide how many thousands of curly and non-curly fries you might be making.

The community would only be voting on a number of issues that affected them as a community such us say the location of various public amenities and so on or the location of a sewage plant or stuff like that. However, while we might all have a vote in a town to decide where the plant is, you don;t all have a vote on what bacteria and chemicals should be used to treat the sewage, simply because most of us are not qualified to do so, that decision would be made by the workers at the plant with the consultation perhaps of a few university science labs. The idea that we would spend all our time voting on every minor issue is one that as people have noted on this thread, comes out of post-60's liberal notions of consensus and referendums, its generqall idea couched in terms of abstract principles and is most definitely not a problem basd on any real practical concerns of everyday life.

Ariege
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Sep 22 2008 06:57

Diverse. So diverse in fact that even to imagine one anarchist model or society is hopefully foolish. This is good because it means there'll be space for me to get away from people who want to practice consensus decision-making, from people who want "demarchy", from people who want things to go on pretty much as before, from people who decide that the food of the new society will be pot noodles and that actually factories are a really good idea.
Personally I hope the world might become big again (as opposed to "it's a small world") with a new flowering of bioregional cultures and a generalised healthy suspicion of anyone from as far away as the next big city who decides that they really are the world's greatest expert in agricultural techniques or whatever.
Two more things about this: I don't believe that this kind of world would necessarily involve an abandonment of appropriate high technology - there's not much that's useful that can't be done on a small scale with good networking, and secondly, the moment some townie technocrat decides that things must be improved out in the provinces you find yourself nearing the moment of decision for this new "anarchist society"...... there's going to be blood on the carpet and people who started off calling themselves anarchists or libertarian communists are going to end up being jacobins or bolsheviks......... oh plus a few of them are going to end up dead trying to get me to fill out their fucking paperwork.

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madashell
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Sep 22 2008 07:43
woundedhobo wrote:
I don't see how you can equate anarchy with small D. democracy (majority rule without elected decision-makers). We all know that in this situation minorities end up being ruled by majorities and often times facing severe repression.

Do you have any specfic examples of this? Not getting your own way does not constitute "repression".

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cantdocartwheels
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Sep 22 2008 07:54
Quote:
Diverse. So diverse in fact that even to imagine one anarchist model or society is hopefully foolish. This is good because it means there'll be space for me to get away from people who want to practice consensus decision-making, from people who want "demarchy", from people who want things to go on pretty much as before, from people who decide that the food of the new society will be pot noodles and that actually factories are a really good idea.

roll eyes When it comes to say making hyperdermic needles, or cartons of orange juice or shoes or computers or railway track what methods of production do you imagine we should use other than factories and assembly line based workshops?
If you don't like pot noode then don;t eat it, products will only ever be produced if their is a demand for them whaever society we live in,

yuda
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Sep 22 2008 08:13
woundedhobo wrote:
I agree with you about consensus in community situations. I have known an authoritarian personality that openly admitted he blocks until he gets his way.

I hav e been involved in a group that had a similar personality, we ended moving to consensus minus one. It was basically either that or to fracture the group. Other groups I have been involved in have had in their constitution a three quarter majority on any impass that couldn't be over come after three attempts. Consensus is fine and all good as long as all parties are willing to use it wisely if not, if groups still want to use it then they have to be willing compromise.

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madashell
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Sep 22 2008 08:18

Edit: weird double post

Ariege
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Sep 22 2008 10:41
Quote:
When it comes to say making hyperdermic needles, or cartons of orange juice or shoes or computers or railway track what methods of production do you imagine we should use other than factories and assembly line based workshops?
If you don't like pot noode then don;t eat it, products will only ever be produced if their is a demand for them whaever society we live in,

That was a really poorly thought out, not to say knee-jerk response, so don't roll your condescending eyes at me! As it happens hyperdermic needles, like a lot of surgical equipment, are not made in huge dark satanic mills and lend themselves very nicely to small workshop based production. The best shoes are known to be hand-made - better for your feet, better for the environment and better for the folks that make them. Computers can very readily be assembled in small workshops and the components can be made in the same way by skilled crafts people. Railway track can be produced in relatively small steelworks shared by a few areas - there is no need and has been no need for half a century or more for steel mills on hundreds of acres with thousands of workers. As for orange juice - well if you want it in cartons, the tetra pack revolution means that juice is best packaged like that on site by the growers, or at most in local co-operatives operated by folks who most definitely do not need to be full time oj packers. None of this is my imagination, what seems to be the product of your fevered imagination is that people would want to go on working in factories and being de-skilled by the production line in order to put juice on your table wherever in the world you live.... here's an idea for you: why not drink the juice of a fruit local to your home?
Now, all that said, my post was about diversity. I did not say "thou shalt not do this or thou shalt not do that" I said that I would be able to avoid the kinds of things I find undesirable if we lived in a diverse world. I won't be eating any pot noodles, don't worry, but more than that I would very much like to live in a community I imagine would be quite different from your ideal home...... good, I guess you'd agree..... I don't want to look at your rolling eyes across a town meeting every Wednesday night thank you very much..... so what do we need? Diversity. Then you can fuck off and work in a factory and wear crap shoes made by people who hate their machines, eat pot noodles, live in a house next to a gigantic steel mill and wonder why, despite the fact that we've had our bloody revolution, everyone's still miserable, the environment is still going down the toilet and nothing, but nothing gets done on time.

woundedhobo
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Sep 22 2008 15:00
Quote:
I never understand these sort of weird 'direct democray'' ideas that seem to srping forth from anarchism whenever the subject of production isbrought up. Production isn't ''decided'' upon, its planned out as a response to market demand. Thus a chain of burger bars would be run by their staff who would have detailed lists of all the profucts they used in a day, a week a month and so on, would relay this information to a central depot whose staff would dispatch deliveries and make orders to factories accordingly. The factory and depot between them would look at data for previous months and produce goods accordingly to meet the demand previusly shown with some surplus. I don;t see why we need a ''neighbourhood meeting'' or any meeting outside the workplaces involved to decide how many thousands of curly and non-curly fries you might be making.

should we include some red pepper in the hamburger?? Should we switch to soy burgers have a lighter impact on Prairie ecology? How big should the burgers be?? lots of decisions to be made by someone.

And let's have a vote on whether or not to beat up our Pakistani classmate because he looks different than us.

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 22 2008 15:04
woundedhobo wrote:
And let's have a vote on whether or not to beat up our Pakistani classmate because he looks different than us.

that's a red herring which isn't going to help what could be an interesting discussion. if a majority of people want to engage in ethnic violence the particular formal decision-making arrangements are the least of your worries.

radicalgraffiti
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Sep 22 2008 15:07

woundedhobo WTF are you talking about?

woundedhobo
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Sep 22 2008 15:19

I'm talking about majority vote democracy.

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Sep 22 2008 16:55
Quote:
As it happens hyperdermic needles, like a lot of surgical equipment, are not made in huge dark satanic mills

er, no, they're made in large specialised factories under sterile conditions, y'know, so patients don't die of infections and so on. how on earth can the production, appropriate labelling and aseptic packaging of the ~150 million hypodermic needles used every year in the UK alone lend itself well to "small workshop based production"?

as for people not wanting to do boring and deskilled work, i would imagine that whilst many things like the above example would have to be produced in factories on production lines of sorts, people wouldn't be bound to the same repetitive task over and over again. they'd have experience of all the different parts of the production process as far as possible and be involved in planning and innovation to whatever extent they could or wanted to. that way people would get to have a far deeper understanding of why what they're doing is important and hopefully end up giving a shit about it rather than hating it due to being confined to the same deskilled and, by itself, meaningless task. there are limits, and some things cannot be contributed to by everyone, e.g. things that require in-depth knowledge or expertise, but overall workplaces would aim to involve all workers in as skilled and interesting work as possible. yeah?

Ariege
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Sep 22 2008 17:52

Wtf is that attitude supposed to be about? I do understand why surgical equipment needs to be sterile & I said small workshop I did not say garden shed.
You are missing the point, completely missing the point. I have been talking about diversity. I tell you right here and now that I do not want to find out "where I am this week" from a fucking colour-coded wall chart that has emerged from some well-meaning fucking committee that purports to represent the interests of several hundred, several thousand or several tens of thousands of workers...... a workplace does not have agency, it cannot aim to do anything..... people do that! Do you understand? I don't want to have a "far deeper understanding" inculcated in me by some fucking workplace merry-go-round, I dream of a different kind of life. And I am not alone.
You may think that you have imagined or even designed an anarchist society, but if so, you have not even begun to take into account the ways in which people will live, love and work if and when a free society comes into existence. I tell you again diversity is the quality I am looking for, diversity that reflects the rich diversity of humanity, the inventiveness of humanity, the wondrous diversity of planet Earth. It may seem easy to tut and dismiss the idea that an advanced medical science and technology could be maintained through networks of small workshops and local cottage hospitals; I guess it would have been easy to dismiss the idea that a computer built in someone's garage would transform the world, or that eventually printing would be a technology available in tens of millions of homes worldwide.
Anyway, the wonderful thing about living in a diverse society would be that I wouldn't have to put up with you explaining how obvious this is or that is, how working class means this, or labour theory of value means that; I wouldn't have to put up with you, and here's the pay-off, you wouldn't have to put up with me. There'd be space for us both and people even more eccentric besides........ the bad thing would be that when your bastardised futurist-industrial society didn't actually work, or fucked-up big time, you'd probably blame the folks who lived differently, instead of admitting that maybe, just maybe, they'd had some reasonable ideas all along.

Dave B
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Sep 22 2008 18:05

On Orange Juice first;

Actually it is not necessarily a ‘good’ idea to squeeze orange juice at the point of production, for example in Brazil, and directly pack it off there. Although that is done to some extent for the local market. What they mainly do for the European market is concentrate the juice in Brazil, by about six fold, in a process that is more efficient than you might expect and ship it over as a concentrate to be diluted again in Europe and packed off.

This actually is a ‘cost’ saving as you don’t have the ‘expense’ of shipping ‘water’ half way around the world and you need less ships, fuel and human effort.

The issue of whether or not we would have small scale and ‘interesting’ production methods as opposed to large scale is again another policy issue that would need to be decided somehow.

There are economies of scale in manufacturing, in the amount of effort required to make things and in the amount of effort required to make the machines that make things.

The balance between spending longer making something in a more pleasurable way, or less making it in a less enjoyable way is something else that would that would need to be worked out.

Working in factories, I have done it most of my life, does not have to be a pain in the arse. Even boring jobs can be interesting if you are allowed to move around and don’t feel stuck in them.

When it comes to majority decision making it is not about the majority imposing its will on a majority and forcing it to live the way the majority wants it to out of spite or something.

If the majority don’t want loud music blaring out until midnight that would not have to mean that there would have to be a blanket ban on late night parties or something. They would just need to arrange things so the two communities would live in different areas.

The issue only becomes critical when the wishes of the majority unavoidably impinge on a minority, and vice versa. Short of conflict resolution by trial by combat the only other solution is by majority voting. This of course cuts both ways and you could be in the minority on one issue and in the majority on another.

It is, in a ‘society’ anyway, an issue of the tyranny of the majority or the tyranny of the minority, which is what we have now.

‘Townie types’ may want to ban fox hunting and badger baiting which country folk, as a minority, may enjoy immensely.

I don’t think it would be a good idea to allow experts to decide things as they may have an agenda of their own. The role of the experts would be to provide technical realistic options that would be decided by the community who would be allowed and seek second opinions.

Ariege
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Sep 22 2008 18:51

Dave - Orange juice: I find it questionable whether orange juice, concentrated or not, should be transported to Europe from Brazil and I wonder whether it wouldn't be a whole hell of a lot better for Brazilian people to see to their own calorie needs through sustainable land use rather than to be seeing to the juice needs of Europeans who arguably could be choosing to drink apple juice and citrus juices from the Mediterranean region in season instead.
And no, scale and speed of production do not come down each to a "policy" decision, at least I am strongly suggesting that they should not and could not. In a diverse and free society these decisions should be taken at the appropriate level - bio-regional perhaps, commune or "village" ideally, perhaps in some cases even household. This is what I mean by diversity in this case...... no global or continental decisions should be taken about how to make shoes in every town and thus there will be places that reflect more my vision than the large-scale industrial visions of others. In time perhaps no-one will want to play global commodity games or eat stuff out of season because they can't be arsed to understand their own land and climate.
I would like to raise the issue with regard to the decision-making side of this debate about proximity to the matter in hand. Decision-making must of course include consideration of all of those upon whom the decision will impinge, but the greatest weight in any decision-making process, should arguably rest with those closest to the point of action.
Here is an example: Do we ask a city of millions to cut down on water use and install a comprehensive rainwater harvesting system that would cover most if not all of its adjusted needs or do we take the cheaper and faster option of flooding a distant valley to make another reservoir for the city even though the relative handful of villagers in the valley are stubbornly opposed to the scheme?

Who exactly decides what "society" comprises? If I say that I am not part of your society - I am not a counter-revolutionary understand - I just want to be left alone with my fellow valley-dwellers, or in my stubbornly craft-based neighbourhood or village, who decides to enroll me in your "society" for the sake of making me comply with your policy decisions? Without a willingness to tolerate diversity, we are nothing but fucking bolsheviks.

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Sep 22 2008 21:13
Ariege wrote:
And no, scale and speed of production do not come down each to a "policy" decision, at least I am strongly suggesting that they should not and could not. In a diverse and free society these decisions should be taken at the appropriate level - bio-regional perhaps, commune or "village" ideally, perhaps in some cases even household. This is what I mean by diversity in this case...... no global or continental decisions should be taken about how to make shoes in every town and thus there will be places that reflect more my vision than the large-scale industrial visions of others.

But would it be possible to maintain an advanced society based on "village" decision making, if that is your ideal? It would be impossible for the village to locally manufacture everything it needs, mine the raw materials etc. And cities aren't going to disappear. There would have to be interlinking for purposes of survival, and for a decent quality of life. Though villages could isolate themselves if they wanted to, I don't see what they'd have to gain by doing so.

I also don't see what is wrong with factories if they are socialised and the workers within it are able to access all stages in production and management, positions are rotated, representatives are elected etc. Surely the difference between a workshop and a factory is one of scale if they are fully socialised. The way that Jenni's question about how to solve real problems of high demand without mass production was met with a moral argument about human diversity is strange. Its not like anyone's seriously proposing that every decision about how to run every town is going to involve everyone in the world or the continent. But there would have to be democratic methods of distributing goods between regions, transporting materials and parts around for manufacture etc. That this might involve recallable, rotating committees of delegates and other such arrangements doesnt strike me as contrary to anarchism, but integral to it functioning. Its not like anarchists propose creating a power vacuum, or on the other hand some universal world government that would destroy "diversity" and issue colour-coded charts to every workplace.

And I don't know about you, but I always think dropping loads of f-bombs in conversations between comrades always seems to weaken the argument.

Ariege
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Sep 22 2008 21:51

Well "f-bombs" made me smile. I swear in these forums as I swear in everyday conversation. Do forgive me.

Okay, I said nothing about isolation. I said nothing about village autarky. I am a communist anarchist and I believe in confederation of communities to create an economy based on production for need. I don't believe anything I have written up to now contradicts that.
I do believe that questions of scale and ethos in production matter fundamentally and if you socialise a shit-hole it remains a shit-hole..... oh sorry was that an s-bomb? Fuck..... Now this isn't really central to what I want to get across, which has to do with diversity, but I fervently believe that we could change the way the economy looks and feels much more profoundly than just socialising factories, moreover I think that that would be for the better. An economy of small production units, I believe, would offer the best chances to let people be happy in their work, produce quality stuff of whatever sort, ensure radically democratic management and ecological sustainability. You may choose not to believe that, you're welcome to your view. There are plenty of people who don't want to live and work in your utopia, who will want to have a go at making their own.
Now the question was, what would an anarchist society look like? I merely suggested that it's not so easy to envisage one set of solutions for anarchist societies because I believe that diversity would be essential if we were to have anything recognisably anarchist. You might not see the problem with this or that prescription but that is not an answer to the problems that other people see or the way other people want to live or make the revolution real.
As for Jenni's question, come on, it was less a question than a thinly veiled suggestion that I'm some primitivist who doesn't realise that people can get infections from dirty needles. Jenni might as well have suggested that my ideas on healthcare stretched to trepanning and not a whole lot else.

Quote:
Its not like anarchists propose creating a power vacuum, or on the other hand some universal world government that would destroy "diversity" and issue colour-coded charts to every workplace

Well I should hope not, in which case you agree with my central point and I won't expect to see you outside my workshop in a tank telling me that it really is time to be more rational about my methods of production.

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Sep 22 2008 22:59
Quote:
As for Jenni's question, come on, it was less a question than a thinly veiled suggestion that I'm some primitivist who doesn't realise that people can get infections from dirty needles. Jenni might as well have suggested that my ideas on healthcare stretched to trepanning and not a whole lot else.

ah c'mon now it wasn't that bad. a bit sarcastic at worst. seriously though do you really think it'd be easier, more desirable or space efficient to produce 150 million needles (not counting all the other medical equipment such factories produce today) each year in a network of many small workshops, all requiring identical and stringent sterilisation procedures and so on, than to do this in a couple of larger factories which would, presumably, (a) make worker collaboration easier and give people access to many parts of several complicated production processes and (b) make standardised aseptic techniques easier to enforce since it's all concentrated in a couple of workplaces...?

As Django said nobody here is about killing diversity. it's just that when you think of the enormity of the task of production on a scale that is socially necessary and desirable, mass production is still going to be necessary for many things. I don't think that "if you socialise a shit-hole it's still a shit-hole" is true. Workplaces are shit today because the people who work there have no say and no control over the tasks they spend their lives doing, not because whatever production process they're part of is inherently pointless or boring.
(Edit: of course, many workers today do perform work which is socially pointless and just produces value for capital. I was referring to people who produce things that would still be necessary after the rev'.)

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Django
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Joined: 18-01-08
Sep 22 2008 23:17

Ariege, you said village based production was the "ideal" earlier, i was only responding to that.

I broadly agree with Jenni. A factory is only a location with a lot of equipment and productive capacity, I don't see that because a complex is large its automatically a "shithole". its not like we're saying that changing the nature of work isn't central to the revolutionary project. There's no reason a large-scale facility can't operate in a way that involves workers at every stage, under their control, a completely different ethos to the capitalist factory. Workers would change the fabric of the place accordingly. This is why I suggested the difference between workshops and facories was one of scale. I think overturning commodity production and capital, and producing for need is a pretty radical change in the approach to human activity.

I don't see where you're getting the idea that people are advocating just taking over the capitalist economy and working it as it is. As Jenni says, this is unviable. A huge amount of work in the west is socially useless, and doesnt even produce surplus value for capital. So fundamental change is vital.

Though I'm also an anarchist communist, I'm not pushing a utopia, just what I see as a sensible way of running society which is consistent with people's interests.

Dave B
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Sep 22 2008 23:19

Hi Ariege

Just to make my position clear, although I am no primitivist either I do have some sympathy with or am against the idea that an ideal society or the path to human ‘happiness’ lies with the consumption of mass produced crap. And that the path to human contentment is by having more toys and Humvees to play with. That is to say nothing of the ecology argument, trashing of butterfly habitats and sustainable production etc.

That is my position and not the WSM’s.

Therefore I can understand how people in your position can feel passionately about it.

Perhaps, unfortunately there are two arguments being conflated together here one is the mechanism of how we decide to do things or produce stuff. The other is about what those decisions should be.

I presume you would not wish to impose your ideas on others.

Then there is the other thing that you mentioned about being forced to enroll in the majority decided society. In my vision people will be free to enter into and participate in the ‘majority’ decided production process or not as all work will be voluntary. If you don’t like any of the colour coded work time-tables well you can not bother with any of them.

Unlike in a labour voucher kind of systems there will be no material penalty for not doing so. People who wish to live in wigwams in the woods will just as free to walk into town and pick up their weekly supply of Carlsberg special brew or whatever as anybody else.

Equally their children when they fall ill will have full access to the handicraft made CAT scanners or whatever else medical science and mass production can offer.

If a ‘minority’ wish to engage in handicraft industries then they will be free to do so. Perhaps these kind of people may set a seminal and practical example for the rest of us futurists about the meaning of life etc and we may join you.

Free access socialism and a democratic, voluntary and co-operative society would remove the structures and incentives for groups, classes or even individuals to oppress and intimidate others.

Ariege
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Sep 23 2008 07:47

I guess what we have had here is a debate polarised through the lens of a forum, and I have probably played more than my full part in that process. I am passionate about these issues and I think that for once I find myself part of a broad and well recognised Anarchist tradition. It will come as no surprise to people that Kropotkin, Bookchin and Colin Ward all influenced the development of my Anarchism.

Jenni, let me put it this way, I am sure that needles or any surgical supplies could be produced to the exacting standards required without huge factories, in workplaces small enough that everyone felt an important part of the team and employed fulfilling skills everyday; where they could make a relatively rapid transition from the workplace to the outside - sterile conditions taken into account of course - and could see the workshop as a human-scaled part of their community rather than the local monster dominating the community. It may be that large scale plants would need to remain in place for a long time after dramatic social change, but I do believe that the transition to a more intimate scale wherever and whenever possible is the best path to take. Just to reiterate, I do believe in diversity, in a different society I'd make the arguments for a different, craft-based if you like, production across the board, I wouldn't make bombs to sabotage big workplaces full of contented workers who just thought that my ideas wouldn't work. As Dave says, one advantage of trying different techniques in a free society would be that over time we could see which worked best and probably reach the most sensible of compromises.
The same arguments could be adduced with regard to all presently mass produced essentials. It may be that pressing need requires mass production to continue provisionally - no sane person is going to shut down the tent factories during a refugee crisis..... "oh I'm sorry your handmade tents will be ready next month." Nevertheless, in the end I'd want the factory gone.... turn it into a dance hall and make better tents using better materials and ten thousand locally developed solutions to suit local people and local conditions.

Okay Django, you see I don't believe that a factory is just a location. In just the same way I don't believe that an economy can be expressed as a series of equations and I don't believe that class is the only crucial consideration with regard to revolutionary change. The places people work and live alter the conditions of life, make certain problems more or less likely, affect us as human beings.... an architectural style can increase hierarchical tendencies, affect health and happiness, empower or disempower; a production system can facilitate learning or effectively put a stop to it. I see quite a lot of evidence on this site that people's thinking stops with taking over the means of production..... there's a comment above about minimal change, the thread about retirement the other day was, to say the least, a little pedestrian..... I worry. It's not like you and I seem so far removed from one another, it's just that I believe that soon enough a free society would have to seek an architecture and scale of everyday life that reflected its values and not the values of a past age; I repeat this is not just an aesthetic argument, but rather one based on practicality and desire.

Dave, you're a little bit easier on blaggers than I'd be frankly. I might give them some brewing kit and the wherewithal to grow barley, I'd certainly argue against giving them special brew! It seems to me that you would have little problem if local areas wanted to explore their own ways of both making decisions and organising production. For me massive decentralisation and local diversity is an essential bulwark of liberty, but also a crucial reflection of the differences between people and bioregions. It simply doesn't make sense producing one kind of roof-bearing assembly in a giant factory when areas have different amounts and kinds of precipitation, not to mention different vernacular styles.... the same can be said of clothes, of crops, of shoes, of boats, of tools and everything else. It wasn't just quaint primitivism that produced the huge diversity of tool patterns in the past, or the range of local costumes, or the range of boats in coastal regions of the British Isles. Conditions vary, people vary, available materials vary. Efficiency needs must take account of ecology and don't be telling me that it makes sense to ship bricks from some vast brickyard in a clay region to a place where stone is readily abundant or somewhere where bale building is the ideal housing solution.

So, again, what will an Anarchist society look like? Diverse. My corner of the new world will in all likelihood look very different to yours and that will be a good thing reflecting the rich variation of human thought, creativity and desire and the innumerable bioregions of Earth. I believe strongly that only such diversity will ensure liberty.