Working and consumption under anarchism?

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Mike Harman
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Jul 17 2019 10:39
kib wrote:
So my very first post I took half an hour to write has been flagged by some algorithm as inappropriate. Great. Let's see if I can rephrase this without setting off the nanny cam.

It should be visible now and you've been freed from algorithmic moderation. Also good post.

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Noah Fence
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Jul 17 2019 13:57
kib wrote:
The issue that I think may be the most pressing here isn’t a sociological shift, it’s a psychological one based on sociological influence. I believe emotionally healthy people *like* to work. I think we’re born hardwired to enjoy feeling productive and useful, to feel that in a valuable, personal, understandable way, we’re contributing. Take a three year old who’s been treated kindly, included in his family as a valuable member capable of doing good things for others as well as himself, you’re looking at an enthusiastic little sh1t who wants to be a part of it all.

So the question isn’t so much *should* people be allowed to take before they contribute, with some expectation that no one contributes anything til their height stabilizes, it’s *how* do we shape a society in which contribution is an expected, comfortable norm that feels good to people right from the start. A society in which almost from the moment you're born, you see yourself without any analytical thought about it as a valuable, useful part of the whole. And how do we create that healthy seminal environment for children, that first-shaping environment, when we ourselves don't feel that way about work or family and the norm is to treat children like they're some sort of useless pets (or pests, depending on your family).

I'm not advocating child labor here, just some sort of meaningful participation. How do we create a world, given the mess we’re currently in, where everyone gets to participate and enjoy it, and no one has to look at work like it’s a punishment meagerly rewarded - if they’re lucky - with the marginal gifts of food and shelter.

Kib That’s an excellent point. Thanks.

zugzwang
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Jul 18 2019 00:14
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I was actually meaning compensating in a general sense which could also include things like job rotation, telling others to take time off, etc.

Also when does something become a wage in your opinion? Is a ration of a scarce item a wage? What if a cafeteria notices there are shortages of pizza slices, sandwiches and cups of soup so they decide to give each person a ticket that they can spend on either a pizza slice, sandwich or cup of soup?

In anarchist Spain some of the collectives had systems where each member was entitled to a certain amount of points which could be exchanged for different goods. They used this method instead of rationing because it gave people the choice to spend their rations on what they actually needed. Was this a wage?

Is what Kropotkin is advocating here a wage since it is asking people to work 4 or 5 hours a day to receive all that the community produces?

Those aren't wages, at least not in the capitalist sense of workers selling their labour-power for money (reproducing their wages in the commodities they make, which get sold/are realized in money, in addition to a surplus), which workers then exchange for stuff they need. Rationing, giving out a definite amount of some goods, really shouldn't characterize all of communist society (except in special cases when something's scarce etc.) Marx argued for labour vouchers coming out of capitalist society, but not as a permanent feature of socialist society, and that was also the 1800s. It again seems strange to me that we're concerned about shortages of stuff, when we have an abundance now, and "laziness"/people not wanting to work, when workers are being thrown out of the production process and made superfluous by technology etc.

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Lucky Black Cat
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Jul 18 2019 02:01

Trying to catch up on this thread after not peeking at it since my post @ #33. I only read up to post #60 (sorry to those who posted after).

explainthingstome wrote:
I don't know if I would say that I am extremely convinced of what I say in this thread. But I do kind of believe in most of what I've said. I'm open to changing my mind, as that would make things less complicated for me. However...

I feel that a lot of the answers that have been given here aren't convincing enough to make me change my views. One example is the answer that labour will be like leisure just because wage labour will dissappear. My answer to that is that people do non-wage work today (taking out the dishes, mowing the lawn, cleaning the room etc) and are often not particurarily thrilled about doing it. How would you respond to this argument?

I for one am really lazy about cleaning my apartment. I spend nearly all my free time working on other things that are meaningful to me (mainly the youtube channel and things related to that project) and I deeply resent needing to take time away from that to wash a damn dish! Luckily my boyfriend (and only roommate) gives as few fucks about mess as I do, so it's ok.

In terms of implications for a communist society, I see your point, that various types of work will, for some or perhaps most people, not have an inherent satisfaction to it.

Even still, I'm confident that free access will work just fine, though I'm more skeptical when it comes to whether we can achieve this immediately after workers seize the means of production. I think perhaps we might need a transitional phase, though I'm hoping we can avoid that.

My question for you is: Do you think it makes sense to begin with a communist (free access) society, see how that goes and, if we run into problems like serious shortages, then it's only at that point when we introduce labor vouchers?

This is what makes sense to me, and I also don't think that labor vouchers would be the only solution we should try if such a scenario did arise. I'd hope that different communities would experiment with different ways of tackling this problem, and then through trial and error we could see what is working.

Edit: I should have said different regions, not different communities.

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Lucky Black Cat
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Jul 18 2019 00:56

Hey Ugg. I have various disagreements with your post, but you also make points that I like, and I especially think these two things are important:

Ugg wrote:
1. I think it's good to tell people that libertarian communists have a bunch of different ideas about how we could handle these issues and don't always agree. That way people don't feel that in order to be a libertarian communist they need to agree with us on everything.

2. Libertarian communism should be possible with or without scarcity and so we should be prepared for both.

Re #1: Like I said I think this is a really good point! But what you describe is not communism.

I suppose it could fit under the wider umbrella of socialism (a system with socially owned means of production), but the standard definition of communism necessitates free access.

For the record, I would also consider communism as falling under the wider umbrella of socialism, but it's distinct.

Re #2: I think this is important, considering global warming and the havoc that will cause. It's likely that after the revolution, we will inherit a world of scarcity, and we'll need to adapt to that. "Luxury communism" may have to wait many generations.

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explainthingstome
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Jul 18 2019 12:52

Lucky Black Cat: "My question for you is: Do you think it makes sense to begin with a communist (free access) society, see how that goes and, if we run into problems like serious shortages, then it's only at that point when we introduce labor vouchers"

Yes, that makes sense if you ask me. Also, if free access doesn't work out we could just stop producing a lot of the non-essential items. See my second last paragraph in post #40.
___

I feel that I have gotten everything that I wanted so I'm probably not going to post anything else on this thread. I thank Lucky Black Cat and Noah Fence in particular for replying to me.

But I have two things that I want to say to the few who think that hostile or condescending posts are worth writing or upvoting:

1) As communism is not a religion with Marx or Bordiga as prophets incapable of error, quoting parts of "scripture" that are not argumentative but merely statements is not a good reply to any argument or question.

2) Just because a bad person was in favour of X it doesn't mean that X is bad.

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Agent of the In...
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Jul 18 2019 16:33

Labor vouchers make no sense whatsoever and aren't even practical. I understand the reasons made for implementing it but when you think about it's application in a socialist society, it doesn't seem to square with the principals or nature of such a society. In a socialist society, production will be planned to meet the needs of the entire community, and a lot of thought and effort will go into doing that. I think all socialists (excluding marketeers) recognise that essential fact, even collectivists who believe in 'from each according to ability, to each according to contribution'. So why then do we need some mechanism (in this case, labor vouchers) having a role in determining how goods and services are distributed after the fact?

Sure, we will need to deal with the possibility of scarcity in the future, but in what way are labor vouchers a fix to that problem other than being an unnecessary burden? What if it just brings along a whole heap of problems unto society?

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Auld-bod
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Jul 19 2019 12:18

The phrase ‘luxury communism’ is a bit of a contradiction. If luxury means a choice of costly surroundings, possessions, food, etc., implying this kind of material consumption is a fruition of communist desires, where capitalist values move into a communist future, and human pleasure supposedly correlates to the price paid.

I do not wish to suggest that communism should or will be austere, only that the word luxury, and its meaning, would be redundant. Rather than cost, the hallmark of free communism should be quality.

P.S.
LBC like your video.

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Lucky Black Cat
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Jul 20 2019 06:26

Thanks, Auld-bod. Perhaps I'm choosing the wrong word. I was riffing off the "Fully Automated Gay Luxury Space Communism" meme. My intended meaning of "luxury" was anything that is desired but is far beyond what is needed for survival and practical functioning.

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Lucky Black Cat
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Jul 20 2019 08:23

Hm, I just realized that there are many things that qualify as "desired but is far beyond what is needed for survival and practical functioning" which would be easily obtainable even in a situation of scarcity. Like playing soccer/football: you just need a field and a ball.

So I should change my intended meaning to: anything that is desired but is far beyond what is needed for survival and practical functioning, and requires a significant amount of resources to produce.

I realize that's not the greatest definition, either, since any amount of resources, however small, could qualify as significant. So I need a better word there, but can't think of the right one.

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Auld-bod
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Jul 20 2019 08:31

LBC #70

Yes, I can be a bit of a pedant at times. Sorry. It crossed my mind that words like luxury can be very relative, probably the majority of working class people worldwide would consider decent sanitation and medical services luxurious living.

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Lucky Black Cat
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Jul 22 2019 04:13
Auld-bod wrote:
probably the majority of working class people worldwide would consider decent sanitation and medical services luxurious living.

Yes, tragically and outrageously sad

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Ivysyn
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Jul 22 2019 22:21

I think if you are going to use deprivation of the means to life to make people work then the set up won't be much different to wage labor. I think people will do labor because an "Anarchist", or "libertarian communist" society would be one based on collective participation to provide each person with a decent life. This is just as people compete with and screw each other over in a capitalist society based on competition and exploitation.

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Ugg
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Jul 24 2019 03:13
zugzwang wrote:
Those aren't wages, at least not in the capitalist sense of workers selling their labour-power for money (reproducing their wages in the commodities they make, which get sold/are realized in money, in addition to a surplus), which workers then exchange for stuff they need. Rationing, giving out a definite amount of some goods, really shouldn't characterize all of communist society (except in special cases when something's scarce etc.) Marx argued for labour vouchers coming out of capitalist society, but not as a permanent feature of socialist society, and that was also the 1800s. It again seems strange to me that we're concerned about shortages of stuff, when we have an abundance now, and "laziness"/people not wanting to work, when workers are being thrown out of the production process and made superfluous by technology etc.

Thanks for clarifying; I was just asking because I wasn't sure where you and others were disagreeing with me. I think some of those ideas could still be useful in a totally free access society, even if they aren't always needed. But I also agree that rationing shouldn't characterize all of communist society. Free access might be more efficient and would work better for people's needs.

Lucky Black Cat wrote:
Hey Ugg. I have various disagreements with your post, but you also make points that I like, and I especially think these two things are important:

Thanks smile. I was worried that one opinion I had would overshadow other points I wanted to make that were unrelated lol.

Lucky Black Cat wrote:
Re #1: Like I said I think this is a really good point! But what you describe is not communism.

I suppose it could fit under the wider umbrella of socialism (a system with socially owned means of production), but the standard definition of communism necessitates free access.

For the record, I would also consider communism as falling under the wider umbrella of socialism, but it's distinct.

I've always thought communism meant "to each according to their needs" and that not everything that is distributed according to needs has to be freely available- for example people might not be allowed to just go to the hospital and just get a catscan for fun (I don't know why they would do this but still).

I think people who do bad jobs that make them less happy than others technically have "needs" that we as a society should address in some way if we are trying to maximize the happiness of everyone in the world as much as we can.

Prioritizing the well being of those people can often be done directly by giving more time off, improving job conditions, providing healthcare to treat the physical and mental injuries. But I think there are situations where giving "luxury items" could be effective at mitigating negative aspects of people's jobs while also being better for everyone else.

There is some evidence that things like trips to other countries can improve people's well being. Giving someone with an emotionally stressful job a vacation like this could prevent burnout in a way that other methods can't and would probably mean a lot to those people.

Lucky Black Cat wrote:
Re #2: I think this is important, considering global warming and the havoc that will cause. It's likely that after the revolution, we will inherit a world of scarcity, and we'll need to adapt to that. "Luxury communism" may have to wait many generations.

That's how I feel. I used to not think scarcity was a big deal in the past myself but I've started to change my mind on this. It might take a while or require sacrifices for us to provide everyone in the world with the living standard of someone in Norway, even if communism is multiple times more productive and everyone decides they don't want fancy consumer products.

We have so many goals that may lower how much is available for us as individuals. Lowering the intensity and duration of work, improving work conditions, making communities accessible, expanding healthcare, researching medicine, ending world wide wealth inequality, protecting the environment, democratizing society and the economy, improving consumer safety, etc. Even things like expanding public transportation that would be more efficient in the long haul could require initially large expenditures of resources that involve sacrifice.

This doesn't mean that creating a libertarian communist society isn't possible, it just means we need to make sure we allocate scarce resources and coordinate production in a libertarian communist way.

We can still do that while having totally free access communism.

On the other hand I still think it's very important to point out all the ways libertarian communism could more efficiently provide for our needs much better than capitalism.

Lucky Black Cat wrote:
My question for you is: Do you think it makes sense to begin with a communist (free access) society, see how that goes and, if we run into problems like serious shortages, then it's only at that point when we introduce labor vouchers?

I think many things could start providing many things free access after a revolution. We already have a few free access restaurants in the world, libraries, many countries have free access healthcare and stuff like that. Many stores today could be run like libraries where you can borrow things, sports equipment and other things could be sent to rec centres to be used in common, etcetera. I actually find it hard to think about what things couldn't be made free access, rationed or shared. Maybe I should think harder lol.

If some things are in limited supply I feel like we could use something like the points/credits system that some Spanish anarchist collectives used. Everyone no matter what gets a certain amount of points each day they can spend on limited goods and services.

Is there a particular reason why you said we might consider labour-vouchers instead of a system like that? Maybe it could be a backup plan if we were all wrong and actually no one wants to work lol. But even then I think labour-vouchers should be limited to things like nonessential items while everything else is free access.

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Lucky Black Cat
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Jul 26 2019 04:11

Hey Ugg, sorry I don't have time to respond to your entire post. But I will answer the question you ask at the end.

So, I prefer a free access system, and feel confident it will work well, but am less sure about whether it will work in the early period after workers take control of the means of production.

If it turns out that it's not working in that early period, then I think we should experiment with different solutions as a temporary measure. Labor vouchers would be one solution to try, but not the only option. Another solution we could try is what you mention in your post about giving everyone a limited number of credits/points to spend on scarce goods.

And I agree that, no matter what, essential items should always be free. As Ivysyn said:

Ivysyn wrote:
I think if you are going to use deprivation of the means to life to make people work then the set up won't be much different to wage labor

I would not support a "revolution" where some are deprived of the means of life. (And I think everyone on this thread would agree with that.)

Also, I liked your joke about getting cat-scans just for fun, lol. grin