Notes on Ideas on Social Organization
by The Anarchist Spectacle :
These notes are meant to be read after reading Ideas on Social Organization by James Guillaume. They add a 21st century refinement to his ideas for a future society.
1. By corporation, Guillaume means the equivilent to an industrial union. The word had a different meaning at the time than it does today.
2. By exchange, Guillaume means the transfer of goods from one actor to another. By buying, Guillaume means the subtraction of a worker's labour vouchers for the good that the worker wants.
3. By selling, Guillaume means the swapping of the producers goods or the giving of a service by the service provider in exchange for labour vouchers.
4. Guillaume says that the system of labour vouchers will gradually transition into a system where goods are given purely on the basis of need or desire. This transition will happen as the good is no longer in need of any form of rationioning.
5. The purpose of the labour vouchers is not to maintain renumeration or a currency system, but instead as a rationing mechanism for goods that are not abundant enough to be given out without regulation.
6. In the context of the 21st century, the Communal Statistical Commission would simply be a computer program that connects to the different producer's collectives via the internet. It. would likely simply called the Communal Statistics Program. In the time of Guillaume, the lack of information age technology necessitated a human composed commision.
7. In a similar fashion to the Communal Statistical Commision, the Bank of Exchange would have a drastically simplified mechanism in the 21st century. There would be no need to send delegates to convey estimated levels of economic demand. Workers at their various workplaces could simply use computers that are connected to the internet to convey their production levels. People in their homes would simply fill out a form on a computer on a regular basis to indicate their estimated consumption levels.
8. Labour vouchers would certainly not be paper or physical in todays world. Instead we could store the worker's vouchers in a large distributed computer database that is connected via the internet. This way, we could leverage the technology that used by debit cards and simply have a worker swipe a card whenever they obtain a good or service.
9. Once the scarcity of goods becomes low due to the advances in production from collectivization, the communes could simply have a combined voucher pool that each worker subtracts from when they take something. It would make sense to retain labour vouchers in this limited way, because of the enhancement of precision it would create for economic planning. The vouchers would evolve from being a rationing mechanism into a purely statistical device for economic planning.
10. In the section on security, Guillaume talks about how there would be a "Communal Police" so to speak. He admits in the same sentence that the word has a bad connotation, but it seems likely he merely could not think of an alternative phrase. A better term would be the "Communal Safety Committee". As Guillaume states, all physically able people in the commune would participate in this Communal Safety Committee. It seems obvious to me that violent crimes would not be punished, but rather the perpetrator of the act would rehabilitated. Guillaume indicates this intention in the last sentence of the security section. "Criminals being an exception, they will be treated like the sick and the deranged; the problem of crime which today gives so many jobs to judges, jailers, and police will lose its social importance and become simply a chapter in medical history."
11. Guillame uses exlusively masculine pronouns, but this is not due to a sexist attitude, but rather due to language and writing conventions of the 1870s. It should be noted that the usage of the masculine pronoun as gender neutral among anarchists was the norm until language began to be analyzed further by the anarchist movement in the 20th century. The same can be said of the terms "men" and "man", which refer accordingly to the terms "people", and "person".
Originally posted at https://subversionnews.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/collectivist-anarchism-reexamined/