Worker coops, mutualism vs. communism

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Mike Harman
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Dec 10 2007 16:13
sam sanchez wrote:
I believe I was replying to Carousel in that last one.

I couldn't find the post you were replying to, although it did seem a little out of style for Capricorn.

Either way, the 99% remaining of that post awaits your response.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 10 2007 16:13

Anarcho, I think you're taking my comments out of context quite a bit:

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We have always made a distinction between expropriating capitalist property and respected the wishes of those who do not wish to join a commune

And at what point did I say the (petite bourgeoisie) ex-bosses would be forced to join the collective? I merely stated that their businesses should be collectivized right along with corporations. If after that they want to go live on a farm and grow all there own food--and as you point out they don't employ anyone is the process--so be it.

NCWob wrote:
Libertarian means, my mutualist friend, that one opposes all structures of hierarchy and coercive authority. In a libertarian society one would not be free to exploit labor any more than he/she would be free to rape. Authority, coercion and hierarchy should be challenge and--i'm no pacifist--a time comes when it should be challenged violently.
anarcho wrote:
Sorry, but have you read any Proudhon? If you had, you would discover that he opposed hierarchy within the workplace and advocated workers' co-operatives to end both that and the exploitation of labour. This is a key aspects of his ideas and to suggest otherwise is simply a joke!

This was a response to the question of whether libertarians would be willing 'to repress a free market' and to the notion that 'the petite-bourgeoisie needs us as much as we need them'--i.e. in support of the employer/employee relationship. Once again, if you re-read what I wrote, you will recognize I was stating the fact that libertarians do not argues that anyone should be able to do whatever what they want (employ or rape), only that systems of hierarchy should opposed and toppled and replaced with horizontal decision making structures.

Finally, I do agree with you, it is impractical to think that in a post-revolutionary society all community's will set up their social and economic system in the exact same way. We should be free to try out different methods and learn from one another. That being said, I do still reject to the market as a means to distribute resources and view it as a contradiction to the notions of anarchism or communism.

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sam sanchez
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Dec 10 2007 16:15
Mike Harman wrote:
Sam Sanchez wrote:
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And they only have an exchange value because someone "needs" them.

No. Need is irrelevant unless you have some cash. You can need something like your life depends on it (literally) but not get it unless you have money. Only needs backed by effective demand (i.e. cash) get satisfied in a market economy.

I think you've misunderstood capricorn's point here - I assume that copy of Capital is still sitting on your shelf untouched?

When commodities are produced, the only way that capitalists can convert them into money is if someone buys them, hence why "needs" was put in scare quotes. In other words commodities that aren't bought have no exchange value. Profit is based on the total aggregate of goods sold - so if I produce 5 million copies of Victoria Beckham's autobiography, at a cost of £2 each, sell 100 copies at £10 each, then pulp the rest, I didn't make £800. Whether people need food more than shit books is irrelevant in this example.

Capricorn is talking about the actual process by which goods are produced, bought and sold, you're talking about the 'invisible hand of the market' which ignores the productive process entirely. The idea that parecon could exist independently of any particular 'polity' is a symptom of this as well. Seriously, Capital - even Chapter 1 of Volume 1 would be a start.

Lets put it this way, I fail to see how Parecon is incompatible with an anarchist polity. But this post isn't about parecon, so we probably shouldn't go on too much.

As for the rest of it, I'm not sure what point you are making, and how it disagrees with what I am saying at all...

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 10 2007 16:22

Dear Carousel,

Carousel wrote:
Quote:
The point is that the capitalist commodity is produced to make profit first

Some people "need" to make a profit more than Egyptians "need" to eat.

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Or like Egypt is producing shit loads of cotton as a cash crop, but hardly grows food anymore.

Their values dictate they "need" cotton more than food. You think food is a special right?

Fuck You.

sam sanchez wrote:
Because everybody should have what they need to live. Nobody should be starving. Everyone from soppy liberals to extreme lefties agrees on that one. Its a bad thing for people not to have food, or clothes, or housing and entertainment, and if you disagree then you are so far from the ethical viewpoint of the rest of the human race as to not be worth replying to.

And yes, you can always ask "why?" like an annoying little child, but if your intent on acting like all ethical judgements are stupid then you can't object to communists planning to put their ideas into action if they can. After all, to say that there is something wrong with communism would be to make an ethical judgement, wouldn't it?

Eat it.

Carousel
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Dec 10 2007 16:27
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everybody should have what they need to live

Within the law. One last time, Sam, you just want a different law. That’s all.

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you can't object to communists planning to put their ideas into action

I object to nothing. Communism is ideologically incapable of putting "ideas into action", because selective incentive rehabilitates exchange relations.

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sam sanchez
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Dec 10 2007 16:30

A different law? If you mean different rules, well yeah. Your point? And what's this shit about "selective incentive"? Half the time I really don't understand what your on about.

Carousel
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Dec 10 2007 16:46
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A different law? If you mean different rules, well yeah. Your point?

Ha ha. These "rules", what's the difference between them and The Law then? Don't tell me, no "Police" either, just a bunch of people who enforce the rules.

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And what's this shit about "selective incentive"?

It's all you've got to make people act other than coercion. But seeing as you've not followed up Catch's advice on Marx, I hardly think you'll get around to Olson.

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sam sanchez
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Dec 10 2007 16:50

What has anybody got to get people to act? People will act if they want to. And I fail to see how it would reintroduce exchange relations anyway. You can't just state these things without argument.

And I'm not against law if law is synonymous with rules. I'm more interested in who gets to make them, and the structure of the institutions in society. Every society has rules, and if you are trying to defeat anarchist communism by saying it claims to be against rules, but actually has them, then you are attacking a straw man.

Mike Harman
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Dec 10 2007 17:04
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As for the rest of it, I'm not sure what point you are making, and how it disagrees with what I am saying at all...

The market - the realm of consumption - can only be dealt with if you look at it as part of the process of production - Capital deals with this pretty well. In most of your posts you talk about money, exchange, the market, prices etc. as ahistorical abstractions rather than looking at the underlying social relationships which they represent, I think this is connected to your penchant for mutualism and parecon.

Carousel
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Dec 10 2007 17:07
Quote:
You can't just state these things without argument.

Is it against the rules?

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What has anybody got to get people to act?

You'd be surprised. For large groups providing non-excludable goods to every member of the group, in order to act and deliver those goods the members have either to be selectively incentivised (that is given something more than the group objective) or coerced. Otherwise, one would have to assume they are acting irrationally. There is a compelling mathematical proof in the Olson book, but also I believe it because I profit daily from applying the logic.

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Every society has rules, and if you are trying to defeat anarchist communism by saying it claims to be against rules, but actually has them, then you are attacking a straw man.

Christ, why would I want to defeat "anarchist communism"? It's like punching a kid in a wheelchair.

capricorn
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Dec 10 2007 17:15

Isn't a "carousel" the American for what we in England call a "merry-go-round". In other words, where you go round and round without getting anywhere?

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Khawaga
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Dec 10 2007 17:28
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Isn't a "carousel" the American for what we in England call a "merry-go-round". In other words, where you go round and round without getting anywhere?

Bingo!

petey
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Dec 10 2007 17:57

when lazy says,

Carousel wrote:
Their values dictate they "need" cotton more than food.

i'd like to know who "they" are. i have a teensy suspicion that it's the moneymen behind the plantations, not the laborers out in the fields nor the egyptian end-users in their homes. beyond that rather big point, though, he's right. the man can speak for himself, but i don't think he's intending this:

sam sanchez wrote:
if your intent on acting like all ethical judgements are stupid

he's intending that communists haven't provided any compelling standard to show why communist ethical judgements in the matter of the hierarchy of needs are qualitatively-different-
in-a-superior-way from anyone else's. capitalists need to eat, sleep, and shit, too. and while you may think that a weekly professional-quality back rub is a luxury, i neeeeeeeeeeeeeed it. i fucking howl with relief, and afterward experience life more fully and happily. today i can coax someone to do that with money (if my wife isn't so inclined), but under a communist system how can i be sure to have this need satisfied? there are plenty of reasons to work towards an egalitarian economics, but having needs better satisfied is a shaky one to start from.

mikus
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Dec 10 2007 18:05

How about having our class' needs satisfied?

Carousel
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Dec 10 2007 18:07
Quote:
i'd like to know who "they" are. i have a teensy suspicion that it's the moneymen behind the plantations, not the laborers out in the fields nor the egyptian end-users in their homes.

As for the labourers, at home and abroad, if they want an imported TV, they'd better get to work exporting. In the UK, we'd rather have foreign holidays than grow our own food, or print off enough money for the NBS.

Quote:
How about having our class' needs satisfied?

Sentimentalism. Once again the individual is absorbed into the collective, as if their behaviour is analogous. Victorian clockwork economics mixed with a kind of religious sacrifice ethic.

mikus
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Dec 10 2007 18:15
Carousel wrote:
Quote:
How about having our class' needs satisfied?

Sentimentalism. Once again the individual is absorbed into the collective, as if their behaviour is analogous. Victorian clockwork economics mixed with a kind of religious sacrifice ethic.

Nope, because workers are stronger together than separate.

And workers are already sacrificed to the "collective" (i.e. a certain form of social organization over which they have no power). All we want to do is turn that collective society to our own use.

And I don't give two shits about the ethics of it.

petey
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Dec 10 2007 18:20
Carousel wrote:
Quote:
i'd like to know who "they" are. i have a teensy suspicion that it's the moneymen behind the plantations, not the laborers out in the fields nor the egyptian end-users in their homes.

As for the labourers, at home and abroad, if they want an imported TV, they'd better get to work exporting.

well, it's not the laborers who'll be doing the exporting...

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Nate
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Dec 10 2007 18:36

Carousel is a troll.

Of the mountain of material suggested in this thread, anyone recommends like say the 2 best pieces? We've got a shower of co-ops in Minnesota and a surprising number of folk who think they're like a viable alternative alone, like a strategic option for our class. It's weird. So weird I sometimes don't know how to respond other than by changing the subject.

Carousel
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Dec 10 2007 18:38
Quote:
Carousel is a troll.

Here we go again. Retreat into your little "communist club" and assume anyone who calls your failures as a movement to account is deliberately baiting you. A characteristic psychological trait of the milieu.

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because workers are stronger together than separate.

Maybe, but to act together they need to be incentivised separately.

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it's not the laborers who'll be doing the exporting

Maybe not, but they will enjoy the international exchange stability of their currency.

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sam sanchez
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Dec 10 2007 18:53

You can't mathmatically prove things about human nature, Carousel. Have you been reading game theory? People who don't work won't have any friends, cos everyone will know that they are scrounging shits, and therefore no women will want to sleep with them? Hows that for incentives? Even now everyone hates benefit cheats, and the unemployed and retired have the highest rates of depression.

In any case, there are plenty of reasons for working. 70% of lottery winners keep on working, cos they get bored as shit otherwise. A huge amount of the work done in this society is voluntary work.

Your problem is, you've been tricked by the idea of homo economicus. We are not "rational maximisers", we are social creatures who most of all want to maximise social status. In this society that pretty much means getting more money, but there are societies which work differently. For example, in hunter gatherer societies people will willingly share the spoils of their hunt, because they get to be heroes, and anyway nobody would have anything to do with them if they don't. The american indian potlatch ceremonies are a prime example of the competitive instinct turned on its head. Tribes competed for status by seeing who could give away the most stuff. One could see a similar dynamic operating between firms in a communist society. And those that underperformed would be put under pressure by the federations and communes that they are part of.

You could have a situation where people publically pledge to do a certain amount of work (the amount to their discretion) and everyone would know whether they did it, and so people would work because they would want to have high status, to be admired and so on.

In anyway, there is no sense to your idea of "coercion" in a situation of voluntary collectivisation. If you want to be part of the commune, you abide by the agreed rules (which you have an equal say in making), otherwise you are free to go and try to be self-sufficient or find other like-minded people. Therefore there would be nothing wrong with communes saying, "you do a certain amount of work, or you don't get to be part of the commune".

Actually, there is an interesting book called "Anarchy, Community and Liberty" by Michael Taylor, who has evidence to show that certain types of communism can make it work. Those based on a strong face-to-face community, with participatory democracy and so on manage it. The Kibbutz managed it, the Hutterites (not that I'm a big fan) have been doing it for hundreds of years, and interestingly, while the kids often try life outside, over 80% return, so they must like it there.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 10 2007 18:55
Quote:
Once again the individual is absorbed into the collective,

Mikus makes a good point:

Quote:
workers are already sacrificed to the "collective" (i.e. a certain form of social organization over which they have no power). All we want to do is turn that collective society to our own use.

But to re-iterate: The economy is inherently social. I assume you understand this simple fact, but if need be and you ask nicely I will elaborate on this basic truism. As such, co-operation is always going to be more effective than competition and 'individual incentives,' therefore, it makes logical and practical sense to bring the economy under collectivized democratic control and distribute the fruits of that economy in the same manner. Once again, if you look back over the thread I and others have given a myriad of reason why people will work outside of the fear of starvation or the mindless consumption of consumer goods.

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Nate
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Dec 10 2007 19:01
Carousel wrote:
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Carousel is a troll.

Here we go again. Retreat into your little "communist club" and assume anyone who calls your failures as a movement to account is deliberately baiting you.

Done.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 10 2007 19:15
Carousel wrote:
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it's not the laborers who'll be doing the exporting

Maybe not, but they will enjoy the international exchange stability of their currency.

..grasping at straws..

Carousel
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Dec 10 2007 19:19
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You can't mathmatically prove things about human nature, Carousel.

As if there is such a thing. You can prove things about likely behavior, so that it becomes quite easy to get people to do some things.

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The economy is inherently social

Of course.

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As such, co-operation is always going to be more effective than competition and 'individual incentives,'

It doesn’t follow. Besides, co-operation isn’t the opposite of competition. Is a pacemaker in competition or co-operation with the other runners?
.

petey
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Dec 10 2007 19:28
ncwob wrote:
But to re-iterate: The economy is inherently social.

i don't think anyone's denying this. my own little point is that since this is true, we've got to look at a quality of experience wherein everybody has max control over their work/life conditions, as the starting point for an egalitarian economics. starting from the idea that communism or parecon or whatever will do a better job than a money economy at satisfying wants and needs a: is way unproven and b: gets into problems of who gets to determine the hierarchy of wants and needs.

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sam sanchez
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Dec 10 2007 19:34

In response to this thread I've been reading a book which refers to many studies about the effect of pay incentives in the workplace. I'll tell you about one of them, but I can do more if you like.

A meta-analysis of 330 comparisons from ninety-eight studies was conducted in the mid 1980s by Richard A Guzzo ("The Effects of Psychologically based incentive programs: a meta-analysis" Pesonnel Psychology 38, 1985). Statistical tests indicated that schemes that promised higher pay for higher performance had no significant effect on performance overall. Financial incentives were also virtually unrelated to the number of workers who were absent or who quit over a period of time. By contrast, training programs had a far greater positive impact on productivity than anything involving higher payment.

Carousel
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Dec 10 2007 19:41
Quote:
A meta-analysis of 330 comparisons from ninety-eight studies was conducted in the mid 1980s by Richard A Guzzo ("The Effects of Psychologically based incentive programs: a meta-analysis" Pesonnel Psychology 38, 1985). Statistical tests indicated that schemes that promised higher pay for higher performance had no significant effect on performance overall. Financial incentives were also virtually unrelated to the number of workers who were absent or who quit over a period of time. By contrast, training programs had a far greater positive impact on productivity than anything involving higher payment.

Ha ha. I sort of do this for a living, and I’m telling you that the “higher pay” in the above study was not worth the extra effort and responsibility entailed. Training programmes work well when you’ve got a well conditioned, anxious, work force who like to pretend that a life of glamour and excitement isn’t fun. Try offering them a choice between an extra five grand or a week on a self-esteem raising training course, see where that gets you.

Whilst we’re at it, these “management studies” are written to appeal to middle managers who run around saying “hey look I can motivate these people without paying them”. Anyone who falls for it, well, they’re not the sort that retire early.

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sam sanchez
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Dec 10 2007 22:41

The metastudy included various levels of incentive, and did consider the possibility that those schemes that did best offered bigger incentives, but found that the evidence didn't match. These are peer reviewed studies, they can't just get away with biased methods without getting slated by other researchers.

Basically you have set up an unfalsifiable (read, unscientific) hypothesis. If we provide you with empirical evidence of our case, you discount it, on the basis that you know it can't be true, because you have decided that you already know how people tick and what motivates them. I'll add some more examples, not for your benefit, since you have decided in advance that if it disagrees with your preconceinved notions then it must be wrong. But it might help other people see how wrong you are.

Edwin A Locke found that people who were paid on a piece-rate basis did not even turn out more work than those who were paid only for their particiaption ("towards a theory of task motivation and incentives" organisational behaviour and human performance 3 (1968))

Another piece of research showed the effect when an incentive scheme was removed on a group of welders. It found that at first performance declined, but then over time it improved until productivity was higher than before. (Rothe, Harold F, "output rates among welders: productivity and consistency following removal of a financial incentive system" journal of applied psychology 54 (1970): 245-54).

Interestingly, since you say that this sort of thing is aimed at middle managers, there are similar studies examining the performance of higher manages (I suppose this must therefore be aimed at shareholders or something?): The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (in America) implemented performance related pay for mangers. Even the man who designed the scheme thought it was a failure. Researchers at the university of California at Irvine found that "the implementation of merit pay had no significant effect on organizational performance. (pearce et al "managerial compensation based on organisational performance" academy of management journal 28 (1985) 261-78)

Quote:
Try offering them a choice between an extra five grand or a week on a self-esteem raising training course, see where that gets you.

Courses don't have to be about self-esteem. They can be about real skills which improve your work life and make it more fulfilling, or enable you to move on to more creative and fulfilling work. A more relevant question would be, would they move to a less empowering and creative job for a 5000 raise. I doubt it myself.

Interestingly, I have another study for you on this issue: In a survey of more than 50,000 utility company applicants over a period of thirty years, pay was ranked 6th out of 10 factors people looked for in a job, well behind "type of work" (jurgensen "jo prefernces (what makes a job good or bad)?" journal of applied psychology 63)

zarathustra
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Dec 10 2007 22:46
ncwob wrote:
A mutualist IWW who supports the employer/employee relationship, no less. To be fair EdWob, i'd rather have them be exposed to our ideas, and hey, we can always use the dues money;)

Excuse me? I assume you're not talking about me. If so, I'm confused. By petty-bourgeois I meant self-employed workers, entrepreneurs, artisans, farmers (particularly), etc. etc.

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anyway one last point to our mutualist acquaintance:
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But the 'libertarian' bit in 'libertarian communism'

Libertarian means, my mutualist friend, that one opposes all structures of hierarchy and coercive authority.

I'm not a mutualist.

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In a libertarian society one would not be free to exploit labor any more than he/she would be free to rape. Authority, coercion and hierarchy should be challenge and--i'm no pacifist--a time comes when it should be challenged violently.

I agree with all that. Viva la revolucion. However, you don't address the point I made: if you are libertarians how are you going to stop workers who have taken over their workplaces and industries from steering clear of your communist utopia, as workers have always tended to do, and which is why anarcho-communism was mainly championed by tiny propaganda groups on the periphery of the mass anarcho-syndicalist movement. I do not know the exact details of the CNT's Zaragossa congress, but I know they were influenced by Isaac Puente's widely circulated pamphlet "Libertarian Communism," which did not in fact champion communism but rather collectivism. I'm a collectivist. Collectivism was the mainstream of anarcho-syndicalist thought and practice, even if communism did win over many anarchist militants. Just look at Abraham Guillen's pamphlet "Anarchist Economics" for a good exposition of the collectivist practices of the Spanish working class.

zarathustra
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Dec 10 2007 23:01
capricorn wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
I doubt they'll voluntarily collectivize. So force them...

That is the idea. And not only the petty-bourgeoisie, but the entire parasitic 'owning' class.

Not sure I agree entirely with this. Of course the majority working class will have to force the current owning class to hand the means of production back to the community, but the "petty-bourgeoisie"? Who are they anyway today, but small shopkeepers, self-employed tradesmen, small farmers who often work as hard and earn as little as other producers in paid employment. I see most of them as having just as much an interest in getting rid of capitalism as waged and salaried workers.

Bingo. Exactly. But what will they do come the glorious day? Either they will have a part in the revolution, or they will join the forces of reaction. Revolution as unity and multiplicity and all that. Thats why Proudhon proffered to say "working classes" rather than "working class."

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On a different point, I can understand why our mutualist friends want to defend the "petty-bourgeoisie" since it was precisely amongst this group in France in the mid-19th century that Proudhon's ideas arose and flourished.

And why not? Everybody but the exploiters should have a place in the cooperative commonwealth of the future.

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It was their idea of how they would have liked the market economy to have developed instead of the way it was developing and inevitably did finally develop. They wanted to stop the clock, even to turn it back.

I don't know much about the mutualists, but I'm not sure that's fair.

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It's rather surprising that these ideas still survive today when the "petty-bourgeoisie" of 150 years ago has long ceased to exist and can never be resurrected.

No, I think it makes perfect sense. The radical petty-bourgeois in America have turned to "right libertarianism", expressing themselves through such diverse movements as the anti-IRS campaigns and states rights movements, as well as being violently opposed to the Federal government. The radical petty-bourgeois have, I think, bet a lot on the current presidential campaign of Senator Ron Paul. This can either be seen as the dying gasp of the petty-bourgeois or the beginning of something more profound - either for reaction or revolution.

The "left-libertarians" such as the mutualists, are getting in there and pushing their own perspective. Mutualist thought should also, I wouldn't wonder, speak the individualism and distrust of authority that seems to be part of the American character, as well as love of honest work, celebration of the entrepreneur, etc.

So anyway. They're working people too. There's plenty of room for all sorts, I say.