Communism and Syndicalism

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syndicalistcat
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Dec 12 2006 19:46

sam:
"Money isn't neccessary to tell what people want. I should be obvious that any shop assistant will order more of the things that are always out of stock, and reduce the order for things that are always left on the shelf! This would be true whether people pay for goods or just come and take them free of charge."

This is mistaken. That's because you need to first answer the question: How do you know what to produce? You're already assuming an answer to that question above. in order to know what to produce, we have to know what people's priorities are, what they most prefer. That's because we can't produce everything that everyone might want. This is especially so if you are imagining that people do not have a limit on what they can request from the distribution centers, defined in terms of a numeric quantity that is their personal budget.

To see this, let's suppose that you propose that the way the distribution centers ("shops") get their goods is by simply sending in everyone's requests for what they would like produced. How do we know this will all add up to a do-able plan? In fact there is no way to know ahead of time. What if communities put in all sorts of requests for new construction, health clinics, schools, new houses...but when we total it, we see we don't have enough materials and/or people with construction skills? What if it turns out that to produce all the stuff that people have requested, we'd have to work 15 hour days, 7 days a week?

What's needed here is a way to send this information about social costs back to everyone and have people pare down their requests, based on their own sense of priorities. But this presupposes we have some way of comparing importance of outputs and resources across the whole economy. You tell me how we're going to do that without a measure of people's preferences? It also presupposes that each person and community has a finite limit on what they can request. How is that to be expressed?

t.

petey
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Dec 12 2006 21:09
revol68 wrote:
You can't buy a fucking car with a ration coupon for a house.

and that blooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwws

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Lazy Riser
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Dec 12 2006 21:54

Hi

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oh my dim witted fool, ration books are not money, because money is a fucking universal commodity, whilst rations are rations of certain things. You can't buy a fucking car with a ration coupon for a house.

The joke's on you comrade. Any privately owned object, including coupons, can take the place of the “universal commodity” in the Marxist sense. Ration coupons are swapped, saved and used as currency like cigs on the inside.

Even Pannekoek's labour time book-keeping doesn’t escape the rule of value, albeit without its money form. Much to Bordiga’s delight no doubt.

Love

LR

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Dec 12 2006 22:20

Using labor time as the social accounting index will lead to inefficiency. That's because it treats as equivalent value all kinds of work effort. But some kinds of work capacity are more expensive for the society to produce...take a lot more labor to create the ability in people. Think of teaching people to be surgeons. This means that a society using labor-time money will tend to over-consume expensive forms of labor, and will therefore not be able to allocate time to develop labor capacity efficiently.

t.

afraser
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Dec 12 2006 22:43
sam sanchez wrote:
Money isn't neccessary to tell what people want. I should be obvious that any shop assistant will order more of the things that are always out of stock, and reduce the order for things that are always left on the shelf! This would be true whether people pay for goods or just come and take them free of charge.

Ah, but money is necessary for that: prices convey information to producers - what share of resources to devote to producing one article instead of another. Looking at empty shelves is not enough, accounting of relative demand against cost of production is required. In the absence of prices, you require an alternative information mechanism, such as the highly elaborate planning information flow that Parecon has.

Skraeling
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Dec 12 2006 22:47
revol68 wrote:
Except CNT members set up workplace and community assemblies across much of Spain in the days of the revolution, these weren't limited to CNT members.

It is a myth that anarcho syndicalism just means the union takes over the running of the workplace.

Huh? How do you explain this then? (I can only give examples of the early French CGT cos it's the only one i know heaps about):

Amédée Dunois: “The workers’ trade union is not simply an organisation of struggle, it is the living germ of future society, and future society will be what we have made of the trade union."

Ridley in his careful and excellent book 'Revolutionary Syndicalism in France': “The syndicalist utopia was, in fact, the CGT writ large."

And finally, the CGT’s 1906 charter, the Charter of Amiens, which has been called the “most definitive statement” of syndicalist methods, stated that the union held a dual dimension: the union was not only an instrument of day-to-day resistance against capitalism, but also the fundamental unit of a post-capitalist society.

one could say the French CGT were not proper anarcho-syndicalists, true, they were revolutionary syndicalists, but their leadership consisted mostly of anarchists, and i thinks its fair the CNT was largely modelled on the CGT.

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syndicalistcat
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Dec 12 2006 23:09

The identification of the union as the future structure of a socialized economy is more typical of early syndicalism. The CNT in the '20s began to develop the idea that they needed to address a worker's whole life, not just the job, and began to advocate neighborhood organization and broader social struggle, as in the 1931 rent strike in Barcelona. The anarchist-communalist influence was clear in the CNT's 1936 Zaragoza program where the free municipality was seen as the main base component of the libetarian society, along with the industrial federations rooted in the workplace assemblies. The free municipalities were to be geographic bodies, based on village or neighborhood assemblies. In the actual revolution very few free municipalities were actually constructed, but the CNT didn't have the opportunity to fully implement its pre-war program.

t.

Skraeling
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Dec 12 2006 23:10
syndicalistcat wrote:
I think the word "communism" is totally useless for communicating with ordinary folks, at least here in the USA.

to most (as least in New Zealand), communism does mean the USSR, and so does socialism for that matter, and anarchism means to most chaos & disorder & bombs, and feminism means being anti-male and PC, and so on. So then why not drop all these terms? I find it a bit rich when anarchists claim communists should not use the term communism given what anarchism means to most. And what about anarchist communists? Should they follow the lead of the AF and drop the communist bit from their organisation's name?

Quote:
So, I don't care if I'm not a "communist." I think that an effective economy requires a way of measuring how strongly people desire various possible outcomes from social production. I think this requires some sort of interactive social process of negotiation between people as workers and as consumers/users of the products.

under communism, as i understand, there would be a continual process of negotiation and planning to meet people's needs. which would involve both the community and the workplace. and i think you can meet people's needs without resorting to money. after all, human being have done this for most of their history. some sort of statistical bureau(s) would need to be set up to keep statistics on production and distribution, and all this could easily be done without money or some form of wage system. communism is not impossible.

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Dec 12 2006 23:23

in regard to terminology, i think the thing is to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding. this is why i think it is a mistake to lean on ideological buzzwords like "anarchism", "communism", "socialism", if avoidable. Better to explain what it is we're for in plain, concrete language. I use "syndicalism" for purposes of talking with leftists but even it is subject to multiple interpretations, as we've discussed here. I don't use it for purposes of communication with people who aren't already radicals because nobody has heard the term (at least not in the USA). Instead I talk about developing self-managing mass organizations in struggles as prefiguring, or setting the stage for, transition to a society based on economic and poliitical self-management.

In regard to this business about how "statistical bureaus" are the answer to the information problem (the problem of information about people's priorities), i think that is just hand-waving. see my arguments earlier in this thread.

t.

Skraeling
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Dec 12 2006 23:29
syndicalistcat wrote:
The identification of the union as the future structure of a socialized economy is more typical of early syndicalism. The CNT in the '20s began to develop the idea that they needed to address a worker's whole life, not just the job, and began to advocate neighborhood organization and broader social struggle, as in the 1931 rent strike in Barcelona.

nope, the French CGT had a dual structure, it was composed of syndicates and bourses. Bourses were community based organisations, a kind of combination of ateneos and free municipalities in Spain, they were modelled by their founder Ferdinand Pelloutier on anarchist communist theories (and its anarchist communism, not anarcho-communalism or some such liberal dribble) and were explicity supposed to become centres of working class mutual aid in the community.

Even though the French CGT had a very strong communalist dimension, they still saw the union (which was both a workplace and community organisation) as the future germ of the future society. and i am sure this was a strong influence on the Spanish CNT. So what if the CNT thought in more holistic terms and begun to address all aspects of life? That's got no relation to whether they thought the union was in itself the future society. in fact, if they thought the union should encompass all aspects of life, including free municipalities, then it is all the more reason for the union taking over, er sorry, self managing, all aspects of life?

Quote:
The anarchist-communalist influence was clear in the CNT's 1936 Zaragoza program where the free municipality was seen as the main base component of the libetarian society, along with the industrial federations rooted in the workplace assemblies. The free municipalities were to be geographic bodies, based on village or neighborhood assemblies. In the actual revolution very few free municipalities were actually constructed, but the CNT didn't have the opportunity to fully implement its pre-war program.

that's cos the CNT (leadership and militants) repressed the revolution, or put it on the back burner, after they had started it!!! to me, revolution is not about implementing a programme of some party or organisation or union anyway.

Skraeling
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Dec 12 2006 23:33
revol68 wrote:
Skraeling wrote:
revol68 wrote:
Except CNT members set up workplace and community assemblies across much of Spain in the days of the revolution, these weren't limited to CNT members.

It is a myth that anarcho syndicalism just means the union takes over the running of the workplace.

Huh? How do you explain this then? (I can only give examples of the early French CGT cos it's the only one i know heaps about):

Amédée Dunois: “The workers’ trade union is not simply an organisation of struggle, it is the living germ of future society, and future society will be what we have made of the trade union."

Ridley in his careful and excellent book 'Revolutionary Syndicalism in France': “The syndicalist utopia was, in fact, the CGT writ large."

And finally, the CGT’s 1906 charter, the Charter of Amiens, which has been called the “most definitive statement” of syndicalist methods, stated that the union held a dual dimension: the union was not only an instrument of day-to-day resistance against capitalism, but also the fundamental unit of a post-capitalist society.

one could say the French CGT were not proper anarcho-syndicalists, true, they were revolutionary syndicalists, but their leadership consisted mostly of anarchists, and i thinks its fair the CNT was largely modelled on the CGT.

well a) none of those posit that the union is the only unit

true, but they are arguing that the CGT is the fundamental unit of the revolution, and that the future society will the CGT writ large. fairly conclusive evidence methinks.

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Dec 12 2006 23:41

yeah, but the bourse grouped workers -- union members -- on a community basis. similar to the district assemblies of the Knights of Labor in the USA. that is NOT the same as the CNT concept of free municipalities because these were precisely to include non-workers as well as workers.
Thus in Aragon where a number of free municipalitiies were constructed, they were assemblies of the entire adult population of the village.

The CNT believed it was necessary to try to involve in struggle the mass of the people, including those not actually engaged in direct employment with an employer, especially given the large informally employed population in Spain. for example, large numbers of women were involved in the rent strike, as well as children, it went beyond union members. similarly at that time CNT had a campaign agaisnt a liberal law banning street vendors.

t.

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Dec 12 2006 23:54

skraeling: "to me, revolution is not about implementing a programme of some party or organisation or union anyway."

The idea of an actually liberating social transformation happening completely spontaneously is a complete pipedream. it will never happen. a social transformation has to be done as a conscious effort of millions of people, which means that the direction of change has to first become prefigured in mass practice on a large scale, and will be reflected in visionary thinking about where we want to go, and in the strategic and programmqatic commitments of organizations.

t.

Skraeling
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Dec 13 2006 03:22
revol68 wrote:
if you look at the actual history of anarcho syndicalism you would see that your claims are formalist bullshit based on some a and p's the CGT had. I mean loads of old TUC unions have quite revolutionary aims in their constitution and banners, it don't mean shit though.

My claims aren't formalist bullshit, two out of three points i made aren't based on the CGT constitution, and thus arent formalist. One was a quote from an anarcho-syndicalist militant called Dunios, the other was a summing up about the CGT from a very careful scholar of the CGT in Frederick Ridley.

the actual practice of the CGT before 1914 was reformist so never had a chance to test out their aims and principles. then a lot of the CGT leadership sided with the war.

looking at the actual practice of the CNT in 36-37, then it didnt really attempt to become the fundamental organisation of the revolutionary society, but that was because it decided to collaborate with the republican bourgeoisie, repress the revolution, and fight fascism instead. Then it forced workers to work harded and longer for that war effort, against the wishes of many Spanish workers (see Seidman's book). The CNT's practice during 36-37 was little to be proud of. It played an objectively counter-revolutionary role after its leaders joined the govt. (And yeah, this paragraph is a wind up)

I'm just a dumb idiot of a communist who knows nothing, aboslutely nothing (obviosuly) of the grand revolutionary proletarian movement of anarcho-syndicalism, but isn't it a pretty basic tenet of anarcho-syndicalism that the new society is to be built in the shell of the old, and one of the most important and essential vehicles for that building is the anarcho-syndicalist revolutionary union? Revol, do you (largely) agree with that or are u going to utterly, utterly dismiss it in your normal absolutist and arrogant fashion? I can't wait...

Skraeling
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Dec 13 2006 03:25
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi

Quote:
it doesnt see the anarcho-syndicalist union as being central to events. Your thoughts here seem to me closer to council communism still.

Proper communists see council communism (in Pannekoek’s tradition) as workers' self-management of a market economy. Syndicalist even.

Love

LR

i missed this, ho ho quite funny and true. i'm either not a proper communist (quite probable) or else i'm putting my council communist hat on in this thread and having a bit of mirth! (also very probable). Or else i'm doing both (also quite probable).

Skraeling
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Dec 13 2006 03:37
syndicalistcat wrote:
skraeling: "to me, revolution is not about implementing a programme of some party or organisation or union anyway."

The idea of an actually liberating social transformation happening completely spontaneously is a complete pipedream. it will never happen. a social transformation has to be done as a conscious effort of millions of people, which means that the direction of change has to first become prefigured in mass practice on a large scale, and will be reflected in visionary thinking about where we want to go, and in the strategic and programmqatic commitments of organizations.

t.

I agree with you that revolution cannot occur completely spontaneously, but what i was getting at is that it is dangerous to see revolution as the rigorous point by point step by step implementation of a detailed programme, because that would most likely lead to authoritarianism and a top-down, reality must fit the programme, way of doing things.

I see revolution as a complex, on going, multi-faceted process and movement involving thousands if not millions of organisations being formed and reformed to meet people's needs. Revolution cannot be straightjacketed into a formal programme and especially the activity of one organisation eg. a union. What is important to me is to focus on the self-activity of people, and not on the schemes and programmes of small elite groups writing their irrelevant manifestos in the back rooms (ho boy, i am having me some fun in this thread)

anyways, thanks for the info on the free municipalities, i had heard of them before, but forgot the details, and assumed they were a union initiated and controlled thing, obviously they weren't.

makaira
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Dec 13 2006 06:14

.

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sam sanchez
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Dec 13 2006 17:01
syndicalistcat wrote:
sam:
"Money isn't neccessary to tell what people want. I should be obvious that any shop assistant will order more of the things that are always out of stock, and reduce the order for things that are always left on the shelf! This would be true whether people pay for goods or just come and take them free of charge."

This is mistaken. That's because you need to first answer the question: How do you know what to produce? You're already assuming an answer to that question above. in order to know what to produce, we have to know what people's priorities are, what they most prefer. That's because we can't produce everything that everyone might want. This is especially so if you are imagining that people do not have a limit on what they can request from the distribution centers, defined in terms of a numeric quantity that is their personal budget.

Money doesn't tell you what to produce in the first instance. You just make stuff and see if people buy or not. Then in future yo use information about what people bought in the past.

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sam sanchez
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Dec 13 2006 17:08
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi

Whatever sam. If I’m in town your shop will be permanently empty of Pot Noodles and your electricity supply will be compromised by my powerful hydroponic apparatus. Unless you’re issuing ration books or something, which are just money with a different name.

Love

LR

It is perfectly possible to produce enough pot noodle for you to gorge yourself all you wish.

In any case this is a false problem. There may be few thing people ar capable of having an unlimited desire for, but in most cases this does not apply. Nobody is going to horde so much furniture that their house becomes unusable, for example, or takeso much food that they cannot possibly consume it. To suggest that people would consume in an unlimited manner is like saying that if buses had a fixed charge for all journeys, people would ride past their desired stop jut because they could. Furthermore, it ignores the possibility that the tedency towards consumption on a grand scale in our society may have a lot to do with individuals compensating for the alienating effects of capitalism, and hierarchy in general.

Battlescarred
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Dec 13 2006 17:13

Hmmmm......and what do you compensate for? (Only joking, of course)

Black Flag
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Dec 13 2006 17:18

Howdy all.I would like to ask about the platform.Basically I consider myself to be an anarcho-communist.However I am not sure if the platform is good or not.I have read it(the 1926 version)and I have read the letters between malatesta and makhno and cannot yet make up my mind.I must say that both of them put forward good arguments but as I say I cannot decide ,probably coz they were writing decades and decades ago, not sure.Another thing, are all anarcho-syndicalists platformists?can you be a non syndicalist and yet still agree with the platform?

Battlescarred
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Dec 13 2006 17:19

Dunno, are you worried about that (only joking of course)

Black Flag
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Dec 13 2006 17:21

howdy.I'll be brief:the platform good or bad?

Battlescarred
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Dec 13 2006 17:29

Why don't you read it thoroughly, read other writings on the subject, and then make up your own mind, we can't do that for you.

makaira
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Dec 13 2006 17:57
Battlescarred wrote:
Why don't you read it thoroughly, read other writings on the subject, and then make up your own mind, we can't do that for you.

and now we've run into a problem that plagues the left. some people like being told what to do.

nastyned
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Dec 13 2006 18:52
Tim wrote:
howdy.I'll be brief:the platform good or bad?

It has it's moments, but I wouldn't take it as a blue print.

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syndicalistcat
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Dec 13 2006 19:23

Sam:
"Money doesn't tell you what to produce in the first instance. You just make stuff and see if people buy or not. Then in future yo use information about what people bought in the past."

If you have an interactive process of people being required to keep their requests for production within a finite budget, so that they will have to pare down their requests for production to what they most prefer, you can measure the strength of desire for particular things by a numeric value, expressed in an accounting unit -- social accounting money. So, in that sense money does provide information about what to produce. If you imagine allowing production groups to produce whatever they want, how do you ensure they produce what people most prefer? Sending things to shops to see what sells is the method of the market. That has a lot of problems like externalities, and it works to the degree it does because people have finite budgets and must make hard choices. If you say, let everyone take whatever they like, you'll have no information at all on what is important to people, and you'll have massive waste. You won't be able to ensure that the production system produces what people most prefer. If people can just request whatever they want without limit, you have no assurances that all the things people might ask for couuld be produced with existing resources, or without requiring 14 hour days, 7 days a week, to produce it.

t.

Mike Harman
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Dec 13 2006 19:43
makaira wrote:
and now we've run into a problem that plagues the left. some people like being told what to do.

Those same people often don't take sensible advice when offered though wink

Tim you'd ve well off reading Arshinov's "The Makhnovist Movement" and Skirda's "Anarchy's Cossack" to put it n some context, and because both of those books are a lot more interesting than discussions on whether the platform is good or not.

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Lazy Riser
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Dec 13 2006 20:58

Hi

Quote:
It is perfectly possible to produce enough pot noodle for you to gorge yourself all you wish.

No doubt. However, it is not economic to produce enough for us all to consume as we wish, because you can’t generate free energy and we would run out of world.

Individual consumption demands regulation for the sake of equality and sustainability. Unless one considers the current basis of human desire to be degenerate or evil, then the satisfaction of our myriad specialised requirements within the context of social reason requires individual private property, in all but name at least.

Quote:
Nobody is going to horde so much furniture that their house becomes unusable, for example, or takeso much food that they cannot possibly consume it.To suggest that people would consume in an unlimited manner is like saying that if buses had a fixed charge for all journeys, people would ride past their desired stop jut because they could.

Even though this assertion doesn’t counter mine, it’s worthwhile pointing out that people would do these things. I would anyway. Besides, if my house is too small, I can just build another floor. If I’ve got too much food, I can throw a party.

Quote:
Furthermore, it ignores the possibility that the tedency towards consumption on a grand scale in our society may have a lot to do with individuals compensating for the alienating effects of capitalism, and hierarchy in general.

People compete with each other for a variety of reasons. The need to be compensated for the alienating effect of hierarchy is a uniquely leftist requirement. Victims, welcome to your comfort zone.

Quote:
One problem Sam, Lazy Risers hard on for commodities isn't to compensate for the alienating effects of capitalism and hieararchy, it's compensate for his micro penis, and so post revolution it won't change, post op however....

I was saying something along the same lines to one of my lovers the other day. So much petty personal drama, not to mention consumption, is caused by a slightly repressed sexual unhappiness or substitute for “strange pussy”. This is the wrong thread isn’t it. Sorry. Um, I tell you what though, there is a connection between being a communist and not getting enough sex.

Love

LR

petey
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Dec 13 2006 21:49
Lazy Riser wrote:
The need to be compensated for the alienating effect of hierarchy is a uniquely leftist requirement.

very true, but
1: my (not "the") issue with hierarchy is why i spend time with left libertarians, yet
2: the fact that i said "my (not "the")" is why i still spend time with right libertarians. they seem to have a keener sense that you shouldn't have to substitute for strange pussy if you don't want to.