Worker coops, mutualism vs. communism

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 11 2007 00:11

Zara -

Yeah, I was thinking about that, when I referred to the 'petite bourgeoisie' I meant it in relation to small business owners, not the self-employed or independent farmers. My mistake, I should have been more specific.

I apologize then, at the point you jumped in the thread and the points you made it appeared you were defending Proudhon and mutualism. As to your question, the debate between anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism can often get bogged down in semantics. My personal opinions on the matter is that anarcho-syndicalism--radical unions that seek to take over the means of production--is a method in the struggle against capitalism. Anarcho-communism--bringing the entire economic system under direct democratic and horizontal control--is the end goal of that struggle.

zarathustra
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Dec 11 2007 06:33

Well, but there is a difference between collectivism and communism. Anarcho-syndicalism can obviously be communist, but it has tended towards collectivism.

Anarcho
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Dec 11 2007 09:44
ncwob wrote:
Anarcho, I think you're taking my comments out of context quite a bit:
Quote:
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?

Sorry, but we were talking about the petit-bourgeoisie who, by definition, are not bosses. They are the self-employed, i.e., artisans and peasants. You know, the social class which predominated in Proudhon's France and to whom his tailored his ideas...

So, in context, to state that the petit-bourgeoisie will be expropriated is to say that they will be forced to collectivise. If you meant that small bosses will be expropriated along with big ones, well, no problem with that. But what you said implied that everyone would be in a commune, which is just wishful thinking (at least initially).

ncwob wrote:
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.

Which is correct. If someone wants to be self-employed, not be a member of a commune, then that is fine. They would become a petit-bourgeois in that case...

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.

Given that mutualists do not advocate a employer/employee relationship, you are seriously misrepresenting their position. After all this discussion is about mutualism and communism so I took it for granted we were discussing mutualist ideas and mutualists are against having bosses.

NCWob wrote:
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.

Again, this is a discussion about mutualism and communism. Mutualists are against systems of hierarchy in the workplace so to suggest that they are is simply wrong. If you are going to discuss mutualist ideas, then do not discuss positions which they do not hold!

NCWob wrote:
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.

Which I agree with. However, the point remains -- if you are discussing mutualism then do not bring up positions they do not support. It gets confusing, to say the least. For example, to talk about bosses when discussing mutualism makes no sense as Proudhon was for workers' co-operatives. To say that the petit-bourgeoisie will be expropriated makes no sense when that term refers to the self-employed and not small capitalists.

I am glad to see, though, that my worries are down to misunderstandings and the confusions which result from them.

Anarcho
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Dec 11 2007 09:46
zarathustra wrote:
Well, but there is a difference between collectivism and communism. Anarcho-syndicalism can obviously be communist, but it has tended towards collectivism.

Most anarcho-syndicalist unions, and most anarcho-syndicalists, have proclaimed that they aimed for anarcho-communism. The FORA and CNT certainly did. I'm not aware that any have explicitly aimed for collectivism, at least not after communism replaced collectivism as the main form of revolutionary anarchism in the 1880s/90s.

Anarcho
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Dec 11 2007 10:04
zarathustra wrote:
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.

No one would stop them -- libertarian communism is voluntary and individuals and groups are able to do their own thing, so mutualists would be able to experiment along with the communists.

As for the mass anarcho-syndicalist unions, most were explicitly aiming for anarcho-communism. The anarcho-communist groups usually worked within them. There were no real contradiction in the positions. The CNT aimed for anarcho-communism, so did the FAI.

zarathustra wrote:
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.

CNT policy was for libertarian communism. The 1936 congress reaffirmed this position. Like Malatesta and other anarcho-communists, the CNT was aware that the degree of communism immediately application would vary according to objective circumstances. In other words, there is no real contradiction between libertarian communism and supporting mutualist or collectivist policies in the short term.

zarathustra wrote:
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.

Actually, collectivism was replaced by communism in most syndicalist unions by the 1890s and after. The CNT, for example, was explicitly aiming for libertarian communism since 1919 and the 1936 congress re-affirmed that. That some kind of transtition period was recognised does not change that. Malatesta and other anarcho-communists also recognised that possibility.

So I would suggest not raising some kind of fundamental difference between the two positions when there is none.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 11 2007 16:18
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I am glad to see, though, that my worries are down to misunderstandings and the confusions which result from them.

You are correct. That 'petite' before 'bourgeoisie' had caused a great deal of misunderstandings in the past as well, but glad we got it cleared up.

zarathustra
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Dec 11 2007 22:38

I know that most anarcho-syndicalist unions called for libertarian communism, but as far as I can see, they only rarely actually meant communism (e.g. no money, no exchange, "from each according to ability; to each according to need"). Instead of the communist principle "from each...etc." they advocated the collectivist principle "from each according to his ability; to each according to his effort." Michael Albert (whose Parecon stuff I can't stand) did a cool talk on economic allocation from an anarchist perspective, which is knocking around the internet somewhere as an MP3 file.

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Nate
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Dec 12 2007 01:20

I could be wrong but I think "petty bourgeois" is kind of a catch-all category. For instance:

Quote:
Petit-Bourgeoisie, lit., “little city-folk” – the small business people, sometimes extended to include the professional middle-class and better-off farmers.

Petty-bourgeois

1) The class of small proprietors (for example, owners of small stores), and general handicrafts people of various types.

This group has been disappearing since the industrial revolution, as large factories or retail outlets can produce and distribute commodities faster, better, and for a cheaper price than the small proprietors. While this class is most abundant in the least industrialized regions of the world, only dwindling remnants remain in more industrialized areas.

These people are the foundation of the capitalist dream (aka “the American dream”): to start a small buisness and expand it into an empire. Much of capitalist growth and development comes from these people, while at the same time capitalism stamps out these people more and more with bigger and better industries that no small proprieter can compete against. Thus for the past few decades in the U.S., petty-bourgeois are given an enourmous variety of incentives, tax breaks, grants, loans, and ways to escape unscathed from a failed business.

2) Also refers to the growing group of workers whose function is management of the bourgeois apparatus. These workers do not produce commodities, but instead manage the production, distribution, and/or exchange of commodities and/or services owned by their bourgeois employers.

While these workers are a part of the working class because they receive a wage and their livelihood is dependent on that wage, they are seperated from working class consciousness because they have day-to-day control, but not ownership, over the means of production, distribution, and exchange.

http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/p/e.htm

Seems to me that the important bit is whether or not people buy others' labor power.