Money and its abolition

Submitted by Mike Harman on October 2, 2007

Been reading Dolgoff's "The Anarchist Collectives", and he quotes the textile branch of the CNT thus:

In a viable social order, money only as a symbol to facilitate exchange of goods and services will have to be adapted to the revolutionary economy, preserving all its invaluable advantages (the product of the economic experience of generations). It is to be used solely as the most efficient means of conducting transactions yet developed

*

Dolgoff in the footnotes

Incidentally, this opinion is in harmony with Malatesta's statement that after the abolition of the state and capitalism, with the coming of abundance, and pending the full realization of an anarchist society, money will still remain "the only means (apart from the most tyrannical dictatorship or the most idyllic accord) so far devised by human intelligence to regulate production and distribution automatically." (Life and Ideas, p. 101).

Now I've read Life and Ideas but don't remember that bit, will have to see if I can find the context. Looks like a holdover from Proudhon (and Bakunin's collectivism) to me, and not a good one. fwiw Dolgoff in the rest of the book tends to make a virtue out of the preservation of money in the collectives as well.

Now I think we can all understand why money would remain during periods of massive upheaval - it's very central to people's lives and it's a symbol which denotes a whole series of social relations not yet thrown off. In the same way the formal abolition of a particular currency and it's replacement with labour notes or whatever wouldn't necessarily mean the end of capitalist social relations either. However this defence of money by Malatesta and Dolgoff as some kind of neutral 'measure of stuff' (Dolgoff later goes on to liken the revolutionary transformation of money to the rise of the metric system), divorced from the social relations that created it, seems very, very poor to me and almost a denial of communism's potential.

Mark.

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Malatesta's statement in context...Malatesta

It is customary in [anarchist] circles to offer a simplicist solution to the problem [of money] by saying that it must be abolished. And this would be the solution if it were a question of an anarchist society, or of a hypothetical revolution to take place in the next hundred years, always assuming that the masses could become anarchist and communist before the conditions under which we live had been radically changed by a revolution.

But today the problem is complicated in quite a different way. Money is a powerful means of exploitation and oppression; but it is also the only means (apart from the most tyrannical dictatorship or the most idyllic accord) so far devised by human intelligence to regulate production and distribution automatically.

For the moment, rather than concerning oneself with the abolition of money one should seek a way to ensure that money truly represents the useful work performed by its possessors [ ... ]

Let us assume that a successful insurrection takes place tomorrow. Anarchy or no anarchy, the people must go on eating and providing for all their basic needs. The large cities must be supplied with necessities more or less as usual.

If the peasants and carriers, etc. refuse to supply goods and services for nothing, and demand payment in money which they are accustomed to considering as real wealth, what does one do? Oblige them by force? In which case we might as well wave goodbye to anarchism and to any possible change for the better. Let the Russian experience serve as a lesson.

And so?

The comrades generally reply: But the peasants will understand the advantages of communism or at least of the direct exchange of goods for goods.

This is all very well; but certainly not in a day, and the people cannot stay without eating for even a day. I did not mean to propose solutions [at the Bienne meeting]. What I do want to do is to draw the comrades' attention to the most important questions which we shall be faced with in the reality of a revolutionary morrow.

Umanità Nova, October 7, 1922

Malatesta also

What seems essential to me is that all money actually in circulation, industrial shares, title deeds, government securities and all other securities which represent the right and the means for living on the labour of others should immediately be considered valueless and also, in so far as it is possible to do so, destroyed.

Umanità Nova, April 18, 1922

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In that case it looks to me like Dolgoff was selectively quoting Malatesta to find some kind of precedent for that CNT statement - which explains why I had no memory of this from Life and Ideas. Yet another example of necessities being made into virtues.

Deezer

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, to be fair for all of Dolgoff's better qualities he never really was a great writer or hot on critical analysis but perhaps you'll find that despite this Malatesta's position in full (as quoted above) actually does apply pretty well to the situation in Spain during the revolution. That is it appears that he would most likely have agreed with the use of money "as a symbol to facilitate exchange" in the period and context in which the CNT texile branch made their statement.

As opposed, of course, to what may have been possible in a post-revolutionary situation but how people gauge what is actually possible changes as their power and confidence changes and if the CNT, the broader libertarian communist movement and the working class had advanced the revolution further then I'd suggest that the debate (because despite this one extract there were a number of experimental approaches to methods of exchange during the revolution and civil war) and practice regarding exchange would more probably have developed in a direction you would have been more happy with. Either way your criticism is one that cannot be advanced with much legitimacy due to the fact that the revolution was not actually successful despite some early and extremely significant revolutionary transformations.

Generalisations and lack of context to attack the CNT, on the basis of a statement from one section, quoted by Dolgoff who you have already made clear is an unreliable source, seems to be yet another example of your need to produce cack handed attacks on anarcho-syndicalism in general. I really don't see the relevance of "Yet another example of necesities made into virtues" on the basis of this extract from Dolgoff's book or the CNT textile branch statement.

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, to be fair for all of Dolgoff's better qualities he never really was a great writer or hot on critical analysis but perhaps you'll find that despite this Malatesta's position in full (as quoted above) actually does apply pretty well to the situation in Spain during the revolution.

The spirit in which Malatesta's full statement is made, yeah. If we're to condemn workers in Spain for not abolishing money in it's totality (despite plenty of attempts to do so in one form or another), then you'd have to condemn workers for any period of heightened class struggle where it's got to the point of occupations/self-management. However, that's clearly not the way that SD is using it in that extract - especially given he then goes on to quote de Santillan's "after the revolution" positively on the same subject. If I get time I'll type more out if necessary.

As opposed, of course, to what may have been possible in a post-revolutionary situation but how people gauge what is actually possible changes as their power and confidence changes and if the CNT, the broader libertarian communist movement and the working class had advanced the revolution further then I'd suggest that the debate (because despite this one extract there were a number of experimental approaches to methods of exchange during the revolution and civil war) and practice regarding exchange would more probably have developed in a direction you would have been more happy with.

I criticised the out-of-context meaning of Malatesta's statement, and Dolgoff's use of it. The textile union statement is crap, but I'm well aware there were far better theoretical and practical approaches to this question within the CNT during that period and wouldn't put it forward as representative (although neither is it isolated by any means). I didn't say anything about the CNT in general or the textile union in particular apart from those quotes, and that you'd characterise this as a generalisation and 'attack' by me, rather than something repeated from an oft-cited work on the collectives is either a very poor misreading or knee-jerk defensiveness.

Either way your criticism is one that cannot be advanced with much legitimacy due to the fact that the revolution was not actually successful despite some early and extremely significant revolutionary transformations.

What criticism is this in particular? Where did I say the revolution was successful? I made no criticism of either the CNT or the textile union in particular in my original post and I'd appreciate you not attributing stuff to me I've not said.

Generalisations and lack of context to attack the CNT, on the basis of a statement from one section, quoted by Dolgoff who you have already made clear is an unreliable source, seems to be yet another example of your need to produce cack handed attacks on anarcho-syndicalism in general.

Now you're just being silly. I've made no attempt to 'attack the CNT' here, just found some very questionable historical method in a book I'd hoped would be rather better.

If anything I'd say Dolgoff's misrepresentation of Malatesta's attitude to money in these passages (and his own celebration of money as neutral measure of goods) constitutes far more of an attack (a word you found it necessary to use twice in one sentence) than my highlighting of it. And yes his willingness to bend the historical record to make excuses for every dodgy statement by a CNT branch would be an example of "Yet another example of necessities made into virtues"

Deezer

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So, Dolgoff's "willingness to bend historical record to make excuses for every dodgy statement by a CNT branch" is "yet another example of necessities made into virtues" on the part of who exactly? Sorry if I'm wrong but I read that as a criticism being leveled at more than just Dolgoff or Malatesta. Also while in your original post you specifically refer to the quote coming from the "textile branch of the CNT" in your second post it becomes a CNT statement, not one made by a particular "branch".

Your original problem was the defence of keeping money even as a symbol of exchange (and on this we agree), you later dropped the criticism of Malatesta given the full passage the quote was taken from so forgive me if this still read as a more general attack on (criticism of if you prefer) the CNT as opposed to simply a criticism of Dolgoff. And I know I really must check what I've typed before hitting "post comment" to avoid unnecessary repetition of the same word in the one sentence - it seems to cause needless offence.

And sorry also not having realised that you expected Dolgoff to be a particularly good writer, and that that was the main source of your gripe as opposed you being put out by a defence of the CNT textile branch quote about keeping money. "Collectives" is certainly interesting but its not what I'd call particularly robust or 'professional'.

MJ

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If we actually get rid of capital and the state, are you really going to sit around whinging about how people shouldn't be trading stuff for chits?

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Boulcolonialboy

So, Dolgoff's "willingness to bend historical record to make excuses for every dodgy statement by a CNT branch" is "yet another example of necessities made into virtues" on the part of who exactly?

Post '36 formalist anarcho-syndicalists (and the many others who do the same thing with other traditions - see the Russia 1917 thread).

Sorry if I'm wrong but I read that as a criticism being leveled at more than just Dolgoff or Malatesta. Also while in your original post you specifically refer to the quote coming from the "textile branch of the CNT" in your second post it becomes a CNT statement, not one made by a particular "branch".

Dolgoff quotes other CNT writers saying similar things (although more selectively than the textile branch, so given his treatment of Malatesta I'll treat those with some caution) - again it's him trying to present it as a general CNT position, not me.

Your original problem was the defence of keeping money even as a symbol of exchange (and on this we agree), you later dropped the criticism of Malatesta given the full passage the quote was taken from so forgive me if this still read as a more general attack on (criticism of if you prefer) the CNT as opposed to simply a criticism of Dolgoff.

Well I'd say it's a criticism of those who defend the CNT along similar lines, rather than of the CNT itself, within the limits of a less than 200 word post of course. I think we both have some criticisms of the CNT in one way or another, to accept the totality of what that organisation did including joining the Republican government and sending strikers back to work in July 1937 would be stupidity - but differ on the extent to which this was a crisis of leadership or a structural issue.

And sorry also not having realised that you expected Dolgoff to be a particularly good writer, and that that was the main source of your gripe as opposed you being put out by a defence of the CNT textile branch quote about keeping money.

Again, I have a less of a criticism of the CNT branch itself than people defending it after the fact. Same as I think modern day Leninists are worse than Lenin ideologically since they at least have the benefit of hindsight.

"Collectives" is certainly interesting but its not what I'd call particularly robust or 'professional'.

So it seems. I may try Bolloten next along that particular trajectory.

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MJ

If we actually get rid of capital and the state, are you really going to sit around whinging about how people shouldn't be trading stuff for chits?

What do you think capital is?

Deezer

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

MJ

If we actually get rid of capital and the state, are you really going to sit around whinging about how people shouldn't be trading stuff for chits?

What do you think capital is?

No MJ, hopefully once we've got rid of capital and the state we'll be abandoning money and developing a system of production and distribution on the basis of "from each according to ability to each according to need". What with being Libertarian Communists and all like.

Why would such a system require chits for 'trading stuff', and what do you mean by trading anyway? Can people accumulate chits in your trade system? How do you work out the relative values for exchange of traded items? Is it going to be fine for certain industries to set higher prices than others for the commodities they produce or services they provide? For instance workers at electrical power plants raise the price of our electricity with threats of cutting everyone else off - hence re-introducing income stratification? This is probably related to catch's question.

MJ

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

MJ

If we actually get rid of capital and the state, are you really going to sit around whinging about how people shouldn't be trading stuff for chits?

What do you think capital is?

A mode of production in which people have to sell their labor-power to survive.

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MJ

Mike Harman

MJ

If we actually get rid of capital and the state, are you really going to sit around whinging about how people shouldn't be trading stuff for chits?

What do you think capital is?

A mode of production in which people have to sell their labor-power to survive.

I think "trading stuff for chits" is close enough, in the same way the existence of massive benefits systems in Europe during the 20th Century didn't stop it from being capitalism.

afraser

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We can all agree that abolishing money would be good if it could be done - but a defence of how that would work in practice is needed first. And I'm sceptical such a defence could be written.

This was the subject of a good Anarkismo article and discussion last year with posts by Tom Wetzel and others who are also on this forum.

Part of the problem in discussions like this may be with definitions:

Ilan Shalif

The concept of "money" in class society, developed from the exchange of comodities can be streched to lot of directions... When a person is alocated a sum of work invested products and services, the process is so different from the function of money in the modern capitalist system that is better not to use it in this context.

But some people (probably most of the others posting on this thread) would say that it is is better to call that kind of thing "money".

And Parecon has "accounting money" and "indicative prices" which some (most) people would say is money. Peter Staudenmeir's Libertarian Municipalism borrows that too for large scale economic decisions. Even the SPGB would retain accounting information, although with more numerous and complex measures than simple price.

So we get people talking at cross purposes - some talking of abolishing money when they are only intending to abolish some of the present uses of money (interest, exchange), others talking about really abolishing money altogether (but they tend not to give practical details unfortunately).

Randy

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I am favorably disposed towards the abolition of money (in part cause it sounds so super dooper radical). But yeah, if we could manage a libertarian scheme for social ownership of everything bigger than a house--like, say, the means of production--I wouldn't care if folks traded smaller items for tokens.

capricorn

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Surely the point is that we're no calling for the abolition of money as such, ie while leaving everything else unchanged, even the isolated slogan "abolition of money" could misleadingly suggest this. That wouldn't work and would lead to chaos. To be clear we should say that what we want is to see set up a system for producing and distributing wealth which doesn't require money. Which would be one based on the means of life being owned in common -- communism in its proper sense. If the means for producing what we need are owned in common so would be the product and the "problem" would then be not to sell it but how to share it ought: giving and taking would replace buying and selling and so money would simply become redundant and disappear (into the museum of antiquities, as William Morris or somebody once put it).
As to Spain, perhaps what happened there briefly in 1936 is not a model for revolution today but what happens when capitalist ownership and control of land and industries collapses. Obviously, the workers don't just sit there and starve but organise to keep production going even if this involves (as it did) production for sale.
As to Parecom, it's always struck me as a load of bollox: a utopian scheme for the self-management of a market economy, for the self-exploitation of workers. If workers get that far they'd surely go the whole hog and set up communism.

MJ

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If capital is abolished, money-capital will be abolished too -- it's like saying we have to kill the animal, and also its lungs.

If the means of production/distribution of everything needed to sustain life and civilization are not owned, they can't be sold.

I find it likely that here or there, groups will develop currencies or chits or tokens or trophies or Chuck E Cheese , and use them to internally allocate personal luxury possessions. Having this kind of accounting system might even help provide a firewall to ensure that people aren't producing and hoarding luxury/hobby/art/game etc goods at the expense of social production for needs. Would these pseudo currencies pose a threat to communism? Not unless communism sucks. Would they be "capital"? Probably not, though there'd be a grey area if masochists and other fetishists wanted to alienate their labor in exchange for them.

RedHughs

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well,

An Anarchist collect connected to the CNT had to use money to manage production because Spain as a whole still had a market economy during the civil war. The problem is naturally that this put the CNT (or at least folks like Dolgoff) in the role of defending the existence of money.

The thing that makes this apologism untenable is that money is not a particularly effective way to manage an economy unless you have a working class - unless you have a group which is actually disciplined by the need to go out and earn money. Medieval European and Chinese Society had and contemporary African society has well developed market economies but these don't create efficiency since a laborer can go back to their land if there's a good harvest or if the enterprise works them too hard.

The alternative to the market is some kind of central distribution system. Modern computer systems make this much more practical currently than such a thing would be in the 1930's (I've mentioned a wiki-spreadsheet model but many other schemes could be done).

Red

Sotev

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think that during the chaos that is a prolonged insurrection all sorts of practices will spring forth: looting, common kitschens, token-exchange markets.
Since there will be neither state nor an organised democratic decision-making mechanism, the abolition of money-capital will be a matter of enough people - a critical mass - taking whatever they need: hotels, houses, cars etc etc, AND producing for "free", producing directly for the community of struggle. Workers in revolt shouldn't have the "right" to possess what they produce, only the "right"- in this context, the concrete (armed) ability - to satisfy their needs and wishes.
An example: if the state forces cut the power in the city (black out), it would be absolutely necessary for hospitals and other places of importance (food storages etc) to continue operating. Which means 1)looting large quantities of petroleum and the necessary equipment 2) setting up whatever structure is necessary to bring back power to hospitals.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The thing is, you can't abolish exchange. Exchange is not the same thing as market exchange. Even in a planned non-market economy there is exchange. Exchange occurs if a person doesn't make everything they consume. Assuming the elimination of the class system, this means workers aren't subordinated to bosses and self-manage the industries where they do work to produce what is socially useful to others.

Let's say Jack works driving a bus and doing transportation planning and Maria designs and makes shirts. Jack wears shirts Maria makes. Maria rides the bus Jack drives. There is an exchange going on here. It's inherent to a social economy where people do things for the benefit of others.

How do we know that the things we are all working to produce are the best use of our time and resources? For anything that we spend our time producing, we could have spent our time producing something else. If Raul builds houses, he can't work building hospitals at the same time. The materials and worker time we use building houses could have been used to do other things. This is the idea of a social opportunity cost. The social opportunity cost of building the houses is that we give up every other thing that could have been made by those workers and using those resources.

This suggests we need some way to measure the social costs, and the benefits that are provided so that we can evaluate our options as far as what we are going to put our resources into producing. To do this requires some scale of benefit and of cost for the various alternatives. This presupposes some sort of social accounting unit in terms of which we can measure the benefits provided and the costs of doing so.

The relative importance to people of the various things we might produce, the desires that they have for these things, provides a basis of value of these things...that is, of use-value or utility. The social accounting unit that we use to measure social opportunity costs should correspond to, should in face be a measure of, the desires of the people for the various possible things we could produce. When we measure benefits or costs in terms of a social accounting unit that is a measure of desire or utility or importance to people, this is a price.

To not have prices would be to not be measuring the costs and benefits of the various possible things we could produce. How then do we ensure that the economy operates in a way that is socially accountable, effective in doing what people want?

To start talking about getting everybody into some meeting to decide what to produce is a non-solution to this problem. When we talk about production, we're talking about production for millions of people in a complex industrial society.

Having prices and thus a social accounting unit to measure value or importance to people of the various possible uses of our labor and resources does not require a market economy. Because it doesn't require a market economy, the mere fact that prices exist, and thus social accounting money exists, does not show that capital exists. That's because money-capital doesn't exist if the capital/wage-labor relationship doesn't exist. This requires that there be factor markets where a possessor of money-capital can hire the various factors -- labor power, equipment, land, etc. -- and markets where the commodities produced can be sold for a profit.

Since the liberation of the working class from class oppression doesn't require the "abolition of money", why should we be advocating it?

Devrim

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

The thing is, you can't abolish exchange.

Here speaks Parcon.

Devrim

Volin

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Syndicalistcat brings up a lot of interesting points, why don't you argue against them Dev?

Devrim

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Volin

Syndicalistcat brings up a lot of interesting points, why don't you argue against them Dev?

Because I don't think they are at all interesting. It is wrong in its basic premise, "Exchange occurs if a person doesn't make everything they consume". Most importantly though, I don't think that anybody takes these ideas at all seriously except him, and a few American leftist intellectuals.

He would produce long post backing up his arguments, and I would be obliged to respond.

Basically, then it is because I have got better things to do with my time, and energy, and energy than to respond to Parecon nonsense that virtually nobody believes anyway.

Devrim

MJ

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Good thing everyone believes in left communism!

Devrim

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MJ

Good thing everyone believes in left communism!

No, I don't think that they do. I am aware that the ideas that we hold in general are confined to tiny minorities. The point is that the Parcon ideas are held by even tinier minorities.

I don't think that they convince many people, we have had the arguments on here before about and lots of things in the analysis were shown to be quite ridiculous, and I also don't have the time to argue with people who care about it passionately.

Most importantly though, I don't think it is worth taking these ideas seriously as it gives them a credibility they don't deserve.

Devrim

Randy

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hurry, hurry hurry! Step right up! Parecon vs left communism in the political slugfest of the century(s)! Wait, no, come back, this will be fun... where are you all going?...

Platformism, now that's gripping stuff the masses are begging to hear about. ;)

Being serious for a moment, I am okay with what MJ describes (assuming i understand correctly), folks trading personal items for tokens. But the parecon plan uses markets to control social production, and I find the argument that this incredibly complex plan removes the worst aspects of markets, unconvincing. It might well be an improvement on capitalism, I'm not sure (did i mention the plan is incredibly complex?). But I think it falls short of libertarian communist ideals.

Edit: rather than dismissing cat out of hand, I should have said i disagree that exchange cannot be abolished, and that i think this is the fundamental difference between social production under communism and parecon.

OliverTwister

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What i don't get is how ParEcon is supposed to be a check on the "coordinator class". If anything belief in the "coordinator class" should logically carry through to the idea of communism and the abolition of exchange.

a "coordinator class" could manipulate their way through parecon and its "checks and balances" like politicians do with democracy. In fact it would be their nature to do so.

redtwister

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree with Devrim in general in his reticence, as well as his disagreement, but I will take a slightly different tack. Here's my reply, but don't expect some interest on my part in taking up any objections by syndicalistcat or afraser. They have stated their positions, I will attempt to articulate mine and our arguing over it will be little more than a cock fight (take that as you will.)

A society based on exchange is one in which relations between individuals are indirect. Exchange and money go hand-in-hand because you need a medium that represents the abstract form of the worth of those goods, which can persist between exchanges between private producers, is universally recognized as nothing other than the bearer of value. Exchange is nothing if not the ability of A to sell to F to get money to then buy something from B, who sold something to E to get something from D, who bought something from F and sold something to A, etc. Exchange is the negation of A having to have what B wants in order to trade one use-value for another. Where this process becomes the dominant social form, where labor and the means of production themselves take the form of commodities, i.e. items produced to be exchanged, money must also be omnipresent and developed to its final form, as universal medium, as pure representation of value. Only at this point do we see the development of the highest form of value: capital.

To abolish capital is to abolish exchange and money because it is to abolish the ability to buy and sell human labor, the product of human labor, and to abolish human labor as private labor, asserting directly and consciously social labor as the new form of labor, hence freely associated producers. Exactly the "automatic" nature of money indicates its dominance over us, the dominance of a thing, a social product of human activity, over human beings.

that's the best I can do from work in a very condensed manner.

To propose some positive conception of communism abstractly is nonsense. The abolition of these relations will be a practical task because it will require understanding the concrete struggles and material capacities on which an alternative will be built. In the absence of revolutionary struggles, to pose today's material and social basis as the foundation of some vision of the future is nonsense.

This is why Malatesta as I understand him is not worrying himself overmuch about the future, though he is certainly looking at Russia. His question is, practically faced with the possibility of smashing the state and taking social power, do we really expect money to disappear all of a sudden? On this, he is not saying anything explicitly different from Marx in the Critique of the Gotha Program, frankly.

There may be other issues in the conception of the tasks of the revolution, but Malatesta neither argues that money is going away like magic nor that its abolition is not essential. Rather, the revolution against capital is both practical, i.e. dealing with real people in real circumstances, and at the same time has certain concrete tasks which cannot wait lest capital re-grown on that foundation.

Its good stuff, but then I have always like Malatesta so I am not surprised.

However, I think that claiming that this is an argument between left communism and parecon misses the point. In fact, it wrongly diminishes its centrality to communist politics.

It is an argument between communists and and non-communist radicals (under whatever latest fashion: Proudhonism, Social Democracy, Market Socialism, Parecon, etc. etc. etc.) I think it is what differentiates Malatesta from Dolgoff on this, as Dolgoff is not simply a 'bad writer' but on politically opposite sides of the fence from Malatesta, at least here (I am only vaguely familiar with Dolgoff, so I cannot extend my comment beyond this one point).

Chris

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Pretty much agree with redtwister's post here. Just to add that, as Devrim alludes to, syndicalistcat's post starts from the wrong premises:

Exchange occurs if a person doesn't make everything they consume.

Production is already highly social and interdependent - it's impossible for someone to make everything they consume, or to measure their contribution to production. While I think there will have to be some accounting of production and natural resources, especially at first (a starting point would be Kropotkin's work in Conquest of Bread and Fields Factories and Workshops and given only lip-service to in capitalist society), this has nothing to do with a market or any form of currency. I also found the idea of effort ratings (and etc.) abhorrent when I read a bit of parecon stuff.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Because I don't think they are at all interesting. It is wrong in its basic premise, "Exchange occurs if a person doesn't make everything they consume". Most importantly though, I don't think that anybody takes these ideas at all seriously except him, and a few American leftist intellectuals.

He would produce long post backing up his arguments, and I would be obliged to respond.

Basically, then it is because I have got better things to do with my time, and energy, and energy than to respond to Parecon nonsense that virtually nobody believes anyway.

I find ultra-leftism or so-called "left communism" completely irrelevant, and sectarian in practice.

In my experience I find that ordinary people i discuss these ideas with tend to agree with the idea of the coordinator class, that the managers and elite professionals, both at work and elsewhere, they perceive as bosses, as people with power over them. I also find that most people i discuss with find it absurd to suppose that the old Soviet Union was capitalist. That idea is an concoction of certain leftist intellectuals with a dogmatic attachment to the 19th century Marxist labor/capital two class model.

oliver:

What i don't get is how ParEcon is supposed to be a check on the "coordinator class". If anything belief in the "coordinator class" should logically carry through to the idea of communism and the abolition of exchange.

The program for the elimination of the power of the coordinator class lies in the dissolution of the hierarchical detail division of labor that creates a relative monopolization of the design and conceptualization work and decision-making into the hands of a few. This requires redesigning the jobs and work organization so as to create jobs where design/conceptualization/decision-making tasks are re-integrated with the doing of the work.

In the pre-capitalist artisan these things were integrated together. the planning of production, of the product and methods and tools, had historically been the work of the artisans who possessed the technology of production (know how) in their heads, and passed this on thru craft tradition.

My view is that "abolition of exchange" isn't possible, and that abolition of *market* exchange, and market governance of social production, can't happen without a system of social planning....something that anarchists often fail to consider. Often anarchists come up with ideas of unilateral decision-making of production groups and social units that would in fact regenerate market relations. and your reply depends on being able to define clearly what a communist mode of production would be and how it would be viable.

In case you didn't notice, I didn't use the word "parecon". So your comment is not actually replying to what I said. And I have no idea what you mean by "checks and balances." I don't actually advocate "checks and balances," as this term is understood in reference to governace, since i would advocate that the local neighborhood assemblies, and citywide and regional congresses of delegates unify "legislative and executive" functions together.

What participatory planning does advocate is that there is a separate role in the economy, separate channels for self-management, for people as workers and as consumers. It's not so clear why "communism" would not need such a distinction. In fact the CNT's libertarian communist program of May 1936 did in fact provide for such a distinction. The "free municipalities" were to be the channels for consumer input. In fact one of De Santillan's disagreements with the program that they didn't adopt his proposal that the worker self-management organizations -- industrial federations and worker congresses -- would not have exclusive authority to make the social plan. In reality De Santillan's proposal was a form of central planning.

The idea that there should be this separate role was thus not invented for the first time by Hahnel and Albert and the other advocates of participatory planning. It was advocated for the first time actually by the British guild socialists before World War I, who were a group of British radical intellectuals influenced by the British syndicalism of that era.

Randy:

Being serious for a moment, I am okay with what MJ describes (assuming i understand correctly), folks trading personal items for tokens. But the parecon plan uses markets to control social production, and I find the argument that this incredibly complex plan removes the worst aspects of markets,

Nope. There are no markets in participatory economics. It proposes a planned economy.

redtwiser:

A society based on exchange is one in which relations between individuals are indirect. Exchange and money go hand-in-hand because you need a medium that represents the abstract form of the worth of those goods, which can persist between exchanges between private producers, is universally recognized as nothing other than the bearer of value. Exchange is nothing if not the ability of A to sell to F to get money to then buy something from B, who sold something to E to get something from D, who bought something from F and sold something to A, etc.

Here chris confuses exchange with market exchange. Let us assume a classless, stateless society. The means of production are not private property but are owned in common by everyone, which means that their use has to be accountable to the society as a whole.

We're talking about a complex industrial society with tens, indeed hundreds, of millions of people. the bicycle Jack rides may be made by people a thousand miles away, or on the other side of an urban region of millions of people. how is this relation anything but indirect?
it is an exchange of labor. Jack does certain things that benefit other people. Other people do things that benefit Jack, such as make the bicycle he rides.

To abolish capital is to abolish exchange and money because it is to abolish the ability to buy and sell human labor, the product of human labor, and to abolish human labor as private labor, asserting directly and consciously social labor as the new form of labor, hence freely associated producers. Exactly the "automatic" nature of money indicates its dominance over us, the dominance of a thing, a social product of human activity, over human beings.

Money as a social accounting unit used to measure social opportunity costs doesn't presuppose markets. Your assertion -- for which you provide no argument -- is mistaken.

To abolish capital, as i pointed out, is to abolish factor markets, where possessors of money-capital can rent or buy the things needed to produce, and presupposes commodity markets where the products are sold, to expand the capital. But neither money nor exchange presuppose markets as the means to allocate factors in production (labor power, machinery, land etc).

To propose some positive conception of communism abstractly is nonsense. The abolition of these relations will be a practical task because it will require understanding the concrete struggles and material capacities on which an alternative will be built. In the absence of revolutionary struggles, to pose today's material and social basis as the foundation of some vision of the future is nonsense.

To suppose that the working class will spontaneously come up with a solution to how to abolish the class system without a history of discussion of the conditions that need to be accomplished to do this is utter nonsense.

But the understanding of these conditions for class liberation is not an "abstract" exercise in the sense that it is based on the develop of hypotheses that are tested in the context of the class struggle. It is thru the examination of the experience of the class that we can develop an understanding of what has to happen for the class system to be eliminated.

The emphasis on the coordinator class hierarchy, and the theory of this in terms of the logic of capitalism in breaking down the old unity of conception and execution in artisanal labor, is based on the experience of the past century of both capitalist development and the emergence of "communist" regimes where the capitalists were expropriated but a new ruling class emerged on the top.

catch:

this has nothing to do with a market or any form of currency. I also found the idea of effort ratings (and etc.) abhorrent when I read a bit of parecon stuff.

When replying to ME it's best if you actually respond to what I say, not what someone else says. in any event, neither I nor the advocates of "parecon" advocate markets, so this comment is simply irrelevant to the reasons I gave for the continued need for money as a social accounting unit.

the fact is, a society managed by the working class that emerges from capitalism will in fact need to require work effort as a condition of consumption entitlement, if only to avoid free riders. A variety of libertarian communists in the past, such as Makhno, Isaac Puente, the CNT program of the '30s, have agreed with this.

Experience of actual situations where workers have taken over collective management of industries, in Spain in the '30s or Argentina today, always show that in cases where some worker steals from the collective or slacks off, this creates resentment and the workers deal with this in some way. Now, this suggests that workers in general are unlikely to share your unconcern with major variations from the level of effort of colleagues. I personally did not advocate "effort ratings" above, so again you're not responding to me, but someone else. But I think that, as I say, it is unlikely that workers would be completely indifferent, as you suppose, to significant lack of the effort that people believe someone is capable of. This doesn't mean that workers have to continuously engage in "effort ratings" but it does suggest that rules, or some system, would be evolved for dealing with the sort of situation i refer to.

lem

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

if exchange is products that are alienated from us, then isn't the end result going to turn on what a hegelian identity in difference is?

Devrim

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

I find ultra-leftism or so-called "left communism" completely irrelevant, and sectarian in practice.

I don't think that you really have any idea what left communism is, or even what the word sectarianism means.

In my experience I find that ordinary people i discuss these ideas with tend to agree with the idea of the coordinator class, that the managers and elite professionals, both at work and elsewhere, they perceive as bosses, as people with power over them. I also find that most people i discuss with find it absurd to suppose that the old Soviet Union was capitalist. That idea is an concoction of certain leftist intellectuals with a dogmatic attachment to the 19th century Marxist labor/capital two class model.

So you are a little of a persuasive speaker, who speaks to people who believed the general line of the bourgeoisie in the US that the USSR was communist, and they agreed with you. I don't know if you have noticed, but you are posting somewhere where most people think that your nonsense about the coordinator class is not only nonsense, but also reactionary. If that makes everyone who posts here who believes that the USSR was capitalist a 'leftist intellectual', that is your judgement.

I didn't bother to read the rest of your post as I know you can rant on about nonsense endlessly.

Devrim

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

devrim:

who speaks to people who believed the general line of the bourgeoisie in the US that the USSR was communist, and they agreed with you.

i didn't say i explain the coordinator class in terms of the USSR or the "Communist" countries. I said, if you pay attention, that i was talking about their own experience, and thus of the role of the coordinator class in mature capitalism.

I could say that you're a bullshit artist. but exchanging insults proves nothing either way.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

one more point:

So you are a little of a persuasive speaker, who speaks to people who believed the general line of the bourgeoisie in the US that the USSR was communist, and they agreed with you.

Here you are suggesting that i believe that the USSR was communist, or that my critique of communism, as people here understand it, and my critique of "Communism" (the coordinatorist societies, or Leninist politics), is the same. You're lying since you know this is false. In American English the word "communism" is in fact used to refer to the countries that were run by Communist Parties. It's the popular term for that mode of production. But i don't confuse that mode of production with what anarchists and other anti-capitalist radicals historically meant by "communism".

Devrim

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Here you are suggesting that i believe that the USSR was communist, or that my critique of communism, as people here understand it, and my critique of "Communism" (the coordinatorist societies, or Leninist politics), is the same. You're lying since you know this is false.

Here you are calling me a liar. That is quite a serious accusation. I, after all, am only saying that your politics are confused.
Are you denying that you said that the economies in Eastern Europe were not capitalist, and were run by a coordinator class? Are you denying that you have also referred to this system as 'State socialism', or 'communism'?
Of course, I can dig out the references, but I'd rather you were honest about it than I had to bother with the work.

In American English the word "communism" is in fact used to refer to the countries that were run by Communist Parties. It's the popular term for that mode of production. But i don't confuse that mode of production with what anarchists and other anti-capitalist radicals historically meant by "communism".

You know this is an absolutely nonsense argument. In Turkish, more than in English, the word 'anarşist' has the implication of chaos, and disorder. I often hear parents accuse their children of being 'anarşists'. I may even use it myself sometimes. I wouldn't use it in a political discussion with anarchists though.

i didn't say i explain the coordinator class in terms of the USSR or the "Communist" countries. I said, if you pay attention, that i was talking about their own experience, and thus of the role of the coordinator class in mature capitalism.

I presume that we are talking about peple with a lot of experience of the 'communist' countries then.

I could say that you're a bullshit artist.

Yes, of course you could. It would be a little impolite. However, I will let others judge on the truth of it.

but exchanging insults proves nothing either way.

Please continue. I don't think that I have thrown any direct insults at your person so far, nor am I likely to do so.

However, in your defence you don't really understand what 'exchange' means anyway.

On the other hand you have accused me of being a 'liar', and a 'bullshit artist'.

Carry on though, at least it is slightly more entertaining than your second hand political garbage.

Devrim

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

devrim:

Are you denying that you said that the economies in Eastern Europe were not capitalist, and were run by a coordinator class? Are you denying that you have also referred to this system as 'State socialism', or 'communism'?

I may have referred to the *politics* of state socialism. I generally do not refer to the system that existed in the USSR as "state socialism". And i don't believe i've referred to it as "Communism" on libcom either, except in contexts where I'm talking about the popular meaning of the term in the USA.

The system that existed in the USSR was certainly not capitalist. And it was indeed run by a coordinator ruling class.

Kotz and Weir's book "Revolution from Above" about the Russian transition to capitalism supports my view of the USSR. Their clear analysis of the old Soviet economy shows it be non-capitalist. They refer to the ruling class in the old USSR as "the Party/State elite" but their analysis of who they are and what the basis of their class power was fits in with the coordinator class theory.

What you seem not to understand is that the coordinator class existed not only in the old Soviet Union but in mature capitalism. It's just that its the dominant class in one mode of production and an intermediate class in the other, and the two systems also have different dynamics, and Kotz and Weir describe these differences very clearly.

petey

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

I could say that you're a bullshit artist.

Yes, of course you could. It would be a little impolite. However, I will let others judge on the truth of it.

i judge, dev, that you have mastered a from of insult that is not vulgar but still vicious. to tell a person that you won't bother to read their posts, that they rant on, that their ideas are quite ridiculous, that they don't deserve credibility, that nobody takes them seriously, is to call a person a bullshit artist without using the phrase. volin was right: s-cat has raised interesting ideas, why not parry them? perhaps this exchange has happened before and i missed it? is there a thread you could point to?

Devrim

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

I may have referred to the *politics* of state socialism. I generally do not refer to the system that existed in the USSR as "state socialism". And i don't believe i've referred to it as "Communism" on libcom either, except in contexts where I'm talking about the popular meaning of the term in the USA.

So what you are saying is that you didn't refer to it that way except when you did. I would just remind you that only two minutes ago you called me a liar over this, which I personally think is very insulting.

Kotz and Weir's book "Revolution from Above" about the Russian transition to capitalism supports my view of the USSR. Their clear analysis of the old Soviet economy shows it be non-capitalist. They refer to the ruling class in the old USSR as "the Party/State elite" but their analysis of who they are and what the basis of their class power was fits in with the coordinator class theory.

Well the case is obviously proven then. The fact that you can dig up two intellectuals who agree with you confirms this.

What you seem not to understand is that the coordinator class existed not only in the old Soviet Union but in mature capitalism. It's just that its the dominant class in one mode of production and an intermediate class in the other, and the two systems also have different dynamics, and Kotz and Weir describe these differences very clearly.

You seem not to understand that there were not two modes of production, which sort of makes any other points you may have on this issue somewhat irrelevant.

Devrim

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

newyawka

is there a thread you could point to?

There's a long thread on parecon here: http://libcom.org/forums/thought/parecon-0 - don't remember exactly how it went. Will come back on the rest of this later.

petey

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

cheers catch.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So what you are saying is that you didn't refer to it that way except when you did. I would just remind you that only two minutes ago you called me a liar over this, which I personally think is very insulting.

Now you're trying to twist my words in a sneaky way. As should be perfectly obvious, i don't use the word "communism" to refer to the system that existed in the Soviet Union unless i am talking about the common American English usage, or using the word in that sense. But I have never used the word that way here on libcom. In American English, "communism" refers to the system that existed in the Soviet Union. Neither you nor I can do anything about that. You don't get to run your own language. And the meanings of words as used by a particular group of people is determined by the dominant use.

What you're trying to suggest is that I think that communism, as understood by people here, is what existed in the USSR, and that's a blatant lie. I've never said or implied any such thing. Dishonesty as a rhetorical method by left-communists is not unique to you in my experience.

You can assert that the Soviet Union was capitalist or that the moon is made of bleu cheese or any other crap you want...providing a cogent case for it is something else again.

thank you, newyawka.

Devrim

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What you're trying to suggest is that I think that communism, as understood by people here, is what existed in the USSR, and that's a blatant lie.

No, it is not what I suggested at all. What I said was that you believe the USSR wasn't capitalist, and that you have referred to it as 'State Socialist', and 'Communist'. I believe all of this is true. To be honest, I am not really interested in what you label your theories. The idea that it was not capitalist is enough for my point.

and that's a blatant lie. I've never said or implied any such thing. Dishonesty as a rhetorical method by left-communists is not unique to you in my experience.

This on the other hand is just slander. So far on this thread you have called me/accused me of:

lying

[being] a bullshit artist

twist[ing your] words in a sneaky way

and

Dishonesty

Really, what is this sort of slander for? Is the idea that you throw enough of it at the wall, and something will stick? It is not the way that I like to conduct discussions.

And what is it for? Because I say that your ridiculous theories about a coordinator class, and the USSR not being capitalist, which nobody except yourself, and a few middle class American intellectuals have put forward since the seventies, are not worth discussing.

As I said before, if you want to continue throwing insults, and bear in mind that it is completely unprovoked, feel free to do so.

I am perfectly happy to let others reading the thread judge.

Devrim

Randy

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

newyawka

...s-cat has raised interesting ideas, ...

I read where he claimed that monetary exchange (on a macro level) was somehow not market economics. I did not find that especially interesting.

Edit: added link after the fact (of course)

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

randy:

I read where he claimed that monetary exchange (on a macro level) was somehow not market economics.

1. i gave an argument to show that an economy without exchange isn't possible.

2. i gave an argument to show that an economy that can't measure social opportunity costs won't be viable for people, it can't give them what they want. A measure of social opportunity costs presupposes putting things on a common scale of evaluation, and that means prices.

now you could try to answer the arguments. that you don't find the issue "interesting" isn't relevant to whether what i say is true or not.

one other point: I don't use the phrase "monetary exchange." that's because this might be misleading. in the sort of economic arrangment i suggest, there would not be private ownership of means of production. thus when a production group produces, say, shirts, and people use some part of their consumption entitlement to acquire one of these shirts, there is no money that goes as income to the production group from the buyer. that's because the workforce is remunerated by the society as a whole for their socially useful work efforts.

devrim said this in a previous post in this thread, speaking of me:

who speaks to people who believed the general line of the bourgeoisie in the US that the USSR was communist, and they agreed with you.

this attributes to me the view that the USSR was communist. and i have never said any such thing and devrim knows it.

A more accurate view would be the followng: the word "communist" has two meanings. One meaning is the historical sense of a classless, stateless society, as described in vague terms by historical authors such as Kropotkin, Berkman, Marx, etc. There is also a contemporary meaning the term has in general usage in the USA. Here it refers to the political tradition that goes back to the Bolsheviks, especially Leninist politics in its various forms, and also it refers to the social formation that existed in the various countries run by Communist Parties. Thus the word "communism" has two meaings. One of these meanings survives in a certain radical political subculture, an ingroup meaning. The other is a more popular meaning. "Communism" in the popular meaning refers to the social formation that i call coordinatorism. "Communism" in this sense is not communist in the older meaning. "Communism" in the popular American usage, ie. the coordinatorist economy, is neither capitalist nor communist, in the older sense of "communist."

I really don't think this is too hard to understand.

capricorn

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Whatever the former USSR was, it can't have been communist as they still had money, banks, etc. etc, etc.

Devrim

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

devrim said this in a previous post in this thread, speaking of me:

who speaks to people who believed the general line of the bourgeoisie in the US that the USSR was communist, and they agreed with you.

this attributes to me the view that the USSR was communist. and i have never said any such thing and devrim knows it.

A little more restrained in his accusations of lying now, but they are still there. Let's just reread that post again:

Devrim

syndicalistcat

In my experience I find that the idea of the coordinator class[/b], that the managers and elite professionals, both at work and elsewhere, they perceive as bosses, as people with power over them. I also find that most people i discuss with find it absurd to suppose that the old Soviet Union was capitalist. That idea is an concoction of certain leftist intellectuals with a dogmatic attachment to the 19th century Marxist labor/capital two class model.

So you are a little of a persuasive speaker, who speaks to people who believed the general line of the bourgeoisie in the US that the USSR was communist, and they agreed with you. I don't know if you have noticed, but you are posting somewhere where most people think that your nonsense about the coordinator class is not only nonsense, but also reactionary. If that makes everyone who posts here who believes that the USSR was capitalist a 'leftist intellectual', that is your judgement.

Surely the phrase 'they agreed with you' in my post refers to the section in your post where you claim 'ordinary people... tend to agree with [you]'. i.e . It is talking about your belief in the coordinator class theory.

It is strange that you should accuse me of twisting your words, and then try to pull something like that.

As for believing the lie of the bourgeoisie, the lie is that the USSR was not capitalist. If they call it communist, and you call it by whatever nonsense you are calling it by, it hardly matters.

Very Briefly now back to the argument:

i gave an argument to show that an economy without exchange isn't possible.

...and here it is in all its glory:

The thing is, you can't abolish exchange.

Generally in English that is called an assertion, not an argument.

It is also well backed up, let's see the full paragraph:

The thing is, you can't abolish exchange. Exchange is not the same thing as market exchange. Even in a planned non-market economy there is exchange. Exchange occurs if a person doesn't make everything they consume.

Nonsense.

Devrim

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

I also find that most people i discuss with find it absurd to suppose that the old Soviet Union was capitalist. That idea is an concoction of certain leftist intellectuals with a dogmatic attachment to the 19th century Marxist labor/capital two class model.

Actually no, it was widely a widely held view amongst many people from the left wing of the Bolsheviks leftwards along with Lenin and Trotsky, certainly from 1918 onwards. Unless those are the 'leftist intellectuals' you're referring to.

This requires redesigning the jobs and work organization so as to create jobs where design/conceptualization/decision-making tasks are re-integrated with the doing of the work.

I want to eliminate work as a seperate category from the rest of life, not reorganise it.

My view is that "abolition of exchange" isn't possible, and that abolition of *market* exchange, and market governance of social production, can't happen without a system of social planning....something that anarchists often fail to consider. Often anarchists come up with ideas of unilateral decision-making of production groups and social units that would in fact regenerate market relations. and your reply depends on being able to define clearly what a communist mode of production would be and how it would be viable.

No I think plenty of anarchists and others have discussed the idea of planning. I don't think this should be linked to some form of consumption credits though. Communism is about the elimination of capital, not just markets. A planned economy in no way eliminates capital by itself - this is part explaining of why the USSR was capitalist, and nationalised industries are capitalist.

In case you didn't notice, I didn't use the word "parecon". So your comment is not actually replying to what I said.

You've talked about parecon plenty in the past, I think it's reasonable to take into account previous discussions and wider theoretical context. I don't think Devrim used the word 'left communism' on this thread before you mentioned it either.

Here chris confuses exchange with market exchange. Let us assume a classless, stateless society. The means of production are not private property but are owned in common by everyone, which means that their use has to be accountable to the society as a whole.

No let's not. We have to assume the transformation of the present society, the end of present social relations. If you start your arguments from some kind of a-historical year zero then they have no basis.

We're talking about a complex industrial society with tens, indeed hundreds, of millions of people. the bicycle Jack rides may be made by people a thousand miles away, or on the other side of an urban region of millions of people. how is this relation anything but indirect?
it is an exchange of labor. Jack does certain things that benefit other people. Other people do things that benefit Jack, such as make the bicycle he rides.

Having sex is an exchange of body fluids, so you can't eliminate exchange right?

To abolish capital is to abolish exchange and money because it is to abolish the ability to buy and sell human labor, the product of human labor, and to abolish human labor as private labor, asserting directly and consciously social labor as the new form of labor, hence freely associated producers. Exactly the "automatic" nature of money indicates its dominance over us, the dominance of a thing, a social product of human activity, over human beings.

social opportunity costs

I think this perhaps goes to the heart of the issue, what exactly are these?

To abolish capital, as i pointed out, is to abolish factor markets, where possessors of money-capital can rent or buy the things needed to produce, and presupposes commodity markets where the products are sold, to expand the capital.

No this is simply the surface of capitalist social relations, the underlying processes as described by Marx (use value, exchange value, alienation of labour) are a bit more fundemental.

redtwister

To propose some positive conception of communism abstractly is nonsense. The abolition of these relations will be a practical task because it will require understanding the concrete struggles and material capacities on which an alternative will be built. In the absence of revolutionary struggles, to pose today's material and social basis as the foundation of some vision of the future is nonsense.

Although I agree it's a practical task and there's no blueprint, I think there's some value to looking at the potential of current tendencies (technological, organisational) and their potential application - i.e. I still think the project started by Kropotkin in the Conquest of Bread and Fields Factories and Workshops, and partially taken up by Bookchin, recently Loren Goldner is one deserving of further discussion. Might start a new thread.

The emphasis on the coordinator class hierarchy, and the theory of this in terms of the logic of capitalism in breaking down the old unity of conception and execution in artisanal labor, is based on the experience of the past century of both capitalist development and the emergence of "communist" regimes where the capitalists were expropriated but a new ruling class emerged on the top.

Russia saw many factories remaining under capitalist ownership into 1918, then nationalised by the state, often with the capitalists returning as managers. Very few direct expropriations occurred - one of the big weaknesses of the revolution. Nationalising something doesn't stop it being capitalist.

catch:

this has nothing to do with a market or any form of currency. I also found the idea of effort ratings (and etc.) abhorrent when I read a bit of parecon stuff.

When replying to ME it's best if you actually respond to what I say, not what someone else says. in any event, neither I nor the advocates of "parecon" advocate markets, so this comment is simply irrelevant to the reasons I gave for the continued need for money as a social accounting unit.

Well in the parecon stuff I've read, 'effort ratings' determine how much money you get. From each according to his ability to each according to his effort.

the fact is, a society managed by the working class that emerges from capitalism will in fact need to require work effort as a condition of consumption entitlement, if only to avoid free riders. A variety of libertarian communists in the past, such as Makhno, Isaac Puente, the CNT program of the '30s, have agreed with this.

It's no coincidence that those people were operating under conditions of mass scarcity. The compulsion to work which parecon puts forward, imo leads to a society where 'everyone is proletarian', along with a lot of wasted effort in managerialist group self-assessment - it's quite different from a bit of social opprobrium.

I personally did not advocate "effort ratings" above, so again you're not responding to me, but someone else.

Again, if you put forward a point of view that's been documented in detail elsewhere, then you have to be prepared to deal with that documentation, otherwise we'd have to start every conversation from scratch over and over again. Or do you reject effort ratings entirely then?

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

You can assert that the Soviet Union was capitalist or that the moon is made of bleu cheese or any other crap you want...providing a cogent case for it is something else again.

This was done by many as the time, as I stated earlier, then by the councilists in the '20s and '30s. Then a whole range of people who broke with Trotskyism post war. An overview of some of the main theories was done by Aufheben, four parts, on this site and easy to find. Perhaps you'd like to show where they're wrong

petey

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

Very Briefly now back to the argument:

i gave an argument to show that an economy without exchange isn't possible.

...and here it is in all its glory:

The thing is, you can't abolish exchange.

Generally in English that is called an assertion, not an argument.

It is also well backed up, let's see the full paragraph:

The thing is, you can't abolish exchange. Exchange is not the same thing as market exchange. Even in a planned non-market economy there is exchange. Exchange occurs if a person doesn't make everything they consume.

the man can speak for himself, but that's not the full paragraph, much less the full statement.

The thing is, you can't abolish exchange. Exchange is not the same thing as market exchange. Even in a planned non-market economy there is exchange. Exchange occurs if a person doesn't make everything they consume. Assuming the elimination of the class system, this means workers aren't subordinated to bosses and self-manage the industries where they do work to produce what is socially useful to others.

Let's say Jack works driving a bus and doing transportation planning and Maria designs and makes shirts. Jack wears shirts Maria makes. Maria rides the bus Jack drives. There is an exchange going on here. It's inherent to a social economy where people do things for the benefit of others.

that's an example, not an abstracted argument, but it's more than an assertion.

the upshot is that communists have contempt for parecon. i'm agnostic yet, my interest is in clean argumentation. enough with the pissing.

Randy

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

...
now you could try to answer the arguments. that you don't find the issue "interesting" isn't relevant ...
...

But you are mistaken, a communist's lack of interest in critiquing market economics--on a communist discussion board--is relevant.

I have already provided a link to an article that does an adequate job of critiquing parecon, and pointing out it's market characteristics (a view I held prior to reading the article). I concede that a communist future is dimly defined. I think a more concrete picture would be helpful. But Paecon is not communist, and for me that is a starting point.

capricorn

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't agree that you can't abolish exchange. Surely the word "exchange" implies that one thing is given in return for something else. This can only happen when the two things are separately owned. In other words, where there's some form of private property. So, exchange is essentially an exchange of ownership titles. With communism (in its proper sense of the common ownership by all of the means of production and their products) this doesn't arise. So, abolishing exchange does not mean that everyone has to consume only what they produce (an impossibility anyway since all production demands a degree, often a high degree, of cooperation and so is a collective effort). What it means is that the means of production and the products are there to be used and taken. That's why there will be no need for money in communism. I suppose you could say (if you wanted to, not that I do) that the only exchange that would take place in communism would be to take "according to needs" in exchange for giving "according to ability".

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

randy:

I have already provided a link to an article that does an adequate job of critiquing parecon, and pointing out it's market characteristics

That article has numerous false assertions about participatory economics. Moreover, a number of the things that article proposes would lead straight back to a market economy, such as unilateral decision-making by production groups which assumes a private property-like control over production facilities.

I've already refuted that article here:

http://www.workersolidarity.org/debatingeconomicvision.html

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

capricorn:

I don't agree that you can't abolish exchange. Surely the word "exchange" implies that one thing is given in return for something else. This can only happen when the two things are separately owned. In other words, where there's some form of private property. So, exchange is essentially an exchange of ownership titles.

In order for there to be things that can be used/consumed by people, there has to be the labor to create those things (use-values). If things are available to be freely taken by anyone who wants them, and there is no requirement of work effort, there are several problems with that:

1. how do you ensure that the things made are what people want? what links the desire of people for the objects/activities to their production?

2. there are very likely to be free riders, and you can't ensure this won't undermine the commitment of people to engage in production of things for the benefit of others. In other words, there is no adequate motivations for people to do the work necessary to the production of the things people want. Why wouldn't people who do work effort resent those who don't? And thus i find it unlikely that workers would in general go along with the scheme of everything being free and there being no concept of earning one's entitlement to private consumption goods through work effort.

3. and if people are likely to prefer the idea that the able-bodied adults earn their entitlement to their finite share of the social product thru work effort, why would they not also have some idea that those who make extra sacrifices for the common good, who work much harder, should get extra material benefit? why would they not be inclined to penalize those workers whose effort they perceive as being way below what that person is capable of? if you look at the experience of worker management in situations like Spain in the '30s or Argentina today, there are occasions when workers have had to deal with this sort of situation, of someone not holding up their end, slacking, or even stealing from the collective. Workers are going to resent a person who does this. And it is very likely they will censure them or penalize them some way. And reducing their remuneration may be one of the methods that workers decide to use. And why would that not be legitimate?

if you grant that it would be legitimate for the collective worker organizations to provide extra benefits to people who make special sacrifices or penalize slackers via reduction in earned entitlement, then you're agreeing that remuneration based on the level of work effort or sacrifice is legitimate. if it's not legitimate for the worker self-management organizations to do this, why not?

moreover, why is this not consistent with a classless society? If it's consistent with a classless society, then banning remuneration for work effort isn't a necessary condition for worker liberation. What then is the motivation for it?

4. Are you saying there is no such thing as personal possessions? That you don't own your clothes, your furniture, etc? Why is it necessary to the liberation of the working class to eliminate personal possessions? Since I think it is obviously not necessary, i also think it highly unlikely the working class would agree to that. I think there is clearly a distinction between the things that we use to make things for each other -- land, buildings where productive activity takes place, equipment, etc. -- and personal possessions.

5. Saying that it is okay for people to just take things they want is an arrangement in which those who are most egotistical and assertive and care least about others become winners -- just like in capitalism! That is not an arrangement that encourages social solidarity.

6. There does not have to be an exchange of money between the production organization and the consumer or user of the product for an exchange to take place. That's because there is a social exchange when people do work for the benefit of others. And this social form of exchange need not involve private ownership of the products of labor by those who produce them, nor of the production facilities used to produce them.

7. In a classless society it is perfectly possible that the workers would want to have a system of incentives, especially in the situation where they are coming out of a revolutionary change and there is still a large hostile minority, and those whose support for the change was perhaps not total, and whose tendencies to free ride, to engage in individualistic me-first behavior, is a potential threat. Thus i think the requirement of work effort to earn a consumption entitlement is very likely as the policy that the majority of the working class revolutionary movement will endorse. This means that workers require of each other that they do work for the common benefit if they are able. And thru this people earn an entitlement to consume the thngs that are purely private consumption goods. This is in addition to the generous level of public goods that we would envision the society to provide without a requirement of work effort.

if it is possible for workers, when in control of production and the society, to require work effort from the able-bodied adults as a condition of getting their consumption entitlement for private consumption goods, then it follows that the "everything for free" scheme isn't a necessary condition for the elimination of the class system and thus the liberation of the working class. What's the motivation for it then?

8. Moreover, people want different things. They have different tastes, they are part of different subcultures. This means they are likely to want the freedom to distribute their consumption entitlement over whatever mix of products they want rather than some one size fits all imposed set of products that are decided by some purely collective process. How do you ensure the investment of resources, including worker time, in producing exactly the mix of things that a hugely diverse population will want? You can't ensure this unless people have a way to make manifest their desires for different things.

And don't talk to me about people taking things for free from distribution centers. That doesn't tell us what people's preferences are. That's because a person might have really wanted X but was forced to settle for Y because that's all that was available. If that's what your scheme would deliver, it will be inadequate for people and they are likely to get rid of your "everything free for the taking" scheme even if you could somehow create it, which I doubt.

In order to know what people would most prefer, people have to have a finite consumption budget and participate in the decision-making process in some way that enables them to make the hard choices of having to choose X rather than Y because they can't have both. What they choose in that context tells us what they most prefer.

And finite consumption budgets are inevitable in any case because there will be only a finite social product. We also want to limit the amount of work we have to do for each other.

Scarcity is inevitable because there will inevitably be things that someone might want that we can't produce. Whenever a group of people spend their time making houses, they can't also be building a health clinic, a new railway line, or anything else. hence there will be things we might want that we can't produce right now because there are other things that are a higher priority for people, and we have finite time and other resources.

Scarcity isn't the same thing as deprivation. There is some confusion about this among some communists. Deprivation means that people's basic needs aren't met. We can eliminate deprivation but that doesn't eliminate scarcity.

Devrim

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

NY, my mistake on the paragraphing. I looked back quickly.
Devrim

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

me: "personally did not advocate "effort ratings" above, so again you're not responding to me, but someone else. "
catch:

Again, if you put forward a point of view that's been documented in detail elsewhere, then you have to be prepared to deal with that documentation, otherwise we'd have to start every conversation from scratch over and over again. Or do you reject effort ratings entirely then?

by "documented elsewhere" you mean someone else's view. So you think it's just fine to attribute to me agreement with what others say just because you want to?

you can read my other post here on the subject of "effort ratings." I think it would be legitimate for the worker self-management organizations to do that if they want but, no, i don't advocate that because i think it is going to too fine a level of detail.

What i do think is likely is that workers would resent slackers and might be inclined to reward in some way people who go out of their way to make extra sacrifices for the common benefit. In fact there is empirical evidence of this from situations where workers have taken over management of industries, in Spain in the '30s or Argentina today. It is also likely they would want to systematize how they deal with this sort of situation.

but this business of "effor rating committees" that Albert and Hahnel sometimes talk about is too detailed a prescription, in my opinion.

me: "In case you didn't notice, I didn't use the word "parecon". So your comment is not actually replying to what I said."

You've talked about parecon plenty in the past,

I'm talking about the word "parecon". I've only used it where i was responding to a critique of the ideas as articulated by Albert. It's his term. Even Robin Hahnel doesn't use it and I don't use that term to refer to what I advocate either.

if you're going to attribute to me what I don't say, then, catch, you're going to have to talk to yourself as i regard that as an illegitimate debate tactic.

lem

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I want to eliminate work as a seperate category from the rest of life

just want to say that i don't think that's IT.

imho the best analyses of what is wrong with work is found in marcuse [existential?] and marx [hegelian?].

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

3. and if people are likely to prefer the idea that the able-bodied adults earn their entitlement to their finite share of the social product thru work effort, why would they not also have some idea that those who make extra sacrifices for the common good, who work much harder, should get extra material benefit?

From each according to their ability, to each according to their effort.

why would they not be inclined to penalize those workers whose effort they perceive as being way below what that person is capable of?

Maybe because the whole point of transforming social relations is to eliminate scarcity, that penny pinching, work ethic mentality which leads to benefit cuts by the right wing etc.

if you look at the experience of worker management in situations like Spain in the '30s or Argentina today, there are occasions when workers have had to deal with this sort of situation, of someone not holding up their end, slacking, or even stealing from the collective.

If these things arise, and were a problem, then they could be dealt with by a general meeting. I don't think you need to have what would amount to surveillance of everyone's working patterns all the time to deal with such cases, and the consequences need not be material.

4. Are you saying there is no such thing as personal possessions? That you don't own your clothes, your furniture, etc?

Not many people exchange underwear, or beds for that matter, so I don't think this helps your argument.

Why is it necessary to the liberation of the working class to eliminate personal possessions?

Not personal possessions, commodities.

8. Moreover, people want different things. They have different tastes, they are part of different subcultures. This means they are likely to want the freedom to distribute their consumption entitlement over whatever mix of products they want rather than some one size fits all imposed set of products that are decided by some purely collective process. How do you ensure the investment of resources, including worker time, in producing exactly the mix of things that a hugely diverse population will want? You can't ensure this unless people have a way to make manifest their desires for different things.

If people want stuff, they'll arrange for it to be made, since the division between production and consumption will be eliminated.

In order to know what people would most prefer, people have to have a finite consumption budget and participate in the decision-making process in some way that enables them to make the hard choices of having to choose X rather than Y because they can't have both. What they choose in that context tells us what they most prefer.

Almost sounds like wage discipline to me. Can't let people have everything they want, it'd be anarchy.

And finite consumption budgets are inevitable in any case because there will be only a finite social product. We also want to limit the amount of work we have to do for each other.

Most people's consumption is finite - there's a limited amount of food, entertainment, consumer products we're able to consume. Yes some people become shopaholics/gluttons etc. but that more than anything is a result of the fucked up society we live in.

Scarcity is inevitable because there will inevitably be things that someone might want that we can't produce. Whenever a group of people spend their time making houses, they can't also be building a health clinic, a new railway line, or anything else. hence there will be things we might want that we can't produce right now because there are other things that are a higher priority for people, and we have finite time and other resources.

And this relates to reward via effort how? The people who work hardest making furniture will have a bigger say over whether a hospital or a railway line gets built? This why 'according to need' has been a fundamental principle of communism from the start, removes all this moralistic crap and deals with the material reality of people's lives.

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

me: "personally did not advocate "effort ratings" above, so again you're not responding to me, but someone else. "
catch:

Again, if you put forward a point of view that's been documented in detail elsewhere, then you have to be prepared to deal with that documentation, otherwise we'd have to start every conversation from scratch over and over again. Or do you reject effort ratings entirely then?

by "documented elsewhere" you mean someone else's view. So you think it's just fine to attribute to me agreement with what others say just because you want to?

You're clearly obsessed with the amount of effort people put into their future jobs in self-managed enterprises. First you say communists are too woolly on the social relationships in a future society, now parecon is "too fine a level of detail".

What i do think is likely is that workers would resent slackers and might be inclined to reward in some way people who go out of their way to make extra sacrifices for the common benefit.

Ostracism and throwing parties are quite common methods. Generally where I've worked people don't do whip 'rounds for people who 'try really hard' though.

In fact there is empirical evidence of this from situations where workers have taken over management of industries, in Spain in the '30s or Argentina today. It is also likely they would want to systematize how they deal with this sort of situation.

There's also emprical evidence of the 'family wage', rationing according to need etc. etc. - these isolated and short-lived experiments had a lot of things imposed by necessity, it's very important not to turn these into virtues.

Deezer

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If things are available to be freely taken by anyone who wants them, and there is no requirement of work effort,

Y'see this is where I just don't agree with your driving premise. There will be a requirement to work according to ability and there does not need to be a system based on the retention of money in place to ensure that we can safeguard against those who 'do nothing'.

And if we can, as I hope we should be aiming to do, reduce the amount of time spent on 'work' surely those who put more effort in will look like fuckin eejits in the eyes of their colleagues - and the idiocy of working harder than anyone else should not really be rewarded.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

catch:

You're clearly obsessed with the amount of effort people put into their future jobs in self-managed enterprises. First you say communists are too woolly on the social relationships in a future society, now parecon is "too fine a level of detail".

I didn't say "parecon is too fine a level of detail." I said that Hahnel & Albert's proposal for "effort rating committees" was. you think it's just fine to play fast and loose with attributions of what other comrades say.

i made a series of arguments in support of remuneration for work effort. You respond with insulting comments like "obsession" but no rational reply. if you're going to engage in insulting distortions of what i say, why don't you just fuck off?

There's also emprical evidence of the 'family wage', rationing according to need etc. etc. - these isolated and short-lived experiments had a lot of things imposed by necessity, it's very important not to turn these into virtues.

if you'd paid any attention at all to what I (or Hahnel and Albert) say, you'd have realized i also support the principle of providing for children's needs at social expense, and in general I support the principle of "to each according to need" to some extent. This is not inconsistent with remuneration for work effort for able-bodied adults.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

me: "If things are available to be freely taken by anyone who wants them, and there is no requirement of work effort,"
colonialboy:

Y'see this is where I just don't agree with your driving premise. There will be a requirement to work according to ability and there does not ned to be an elaborate system alog parecon lines in place to ensure that we can safeguard against those who 'do nothing'.

then you disagree with the other communist i was replying to. and the rest of what you say isn't a reply to me, so it is simply irrelevant.

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

catch:

You're clearly obsessed with the amount of effort people put into their future jobs in self-managed enterprises. First you say communists are too woolly on the social relationships in a future society, now parecon is "too fine a level of detail".

I didn't say "parecon is too fine a level of detail." I said that Hahnel & Albert's proposal for "effort rating committees" was. you think it's just fine to play fast and loose with attributions of what other comrades say.

That was a mis-type. However since effort seem to be the only possible way that money would be allocated in this system I'd like to know what your alternative is.

i made a series of arguments in support of remuneration for work effort. You respond with insulting comments like "obsession" but no rational reply.

I defer to Boulcolonialboy's post shortly after mine, puts the point pretty well.

if you'd paid any attention at all to what I (or Hahnel and Albert) say, you'd have realized i also support the principle of providing for children's needs at social expense, and in general I support the principle of "to each according to need" to some extent. This is not inconsistent with remuneration for work effort for able-bodied adults.

I'm aware children's needs are supposed to be provided for at social expense, iirc there's also some kind of guaranteed minimum income for adults isn't there? However you just said that the production of hospitals or railroads should be decided by the same system that rewards people for effort and dismissed communist approaches to this entirely.

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Am I the 'other communist'? I think you need to be more careful about accusing people of misattributing statements if so:

Mike Harman

syndicalistcat

if you look at the experience of worker management in situations like Spain in the '30s or Argentina today, there are occasions when workers have had to deal with this sort of situation, of someone not holding up their end, slacking, or even stealing from the collective.

If these things arise, and were a problem, then they could be dealt with by a general meeting. I don't think you need to have what would amount to surveillance of everyone's working patterns all the time to deal with such cases, and the consequences need not be material.

People are quite capable of deciding if someone's taking the piss, and if they want to put up with it or not. The extent to which this would be likely to happen, and have an impact of total social production, is open, although I think it'd be negligible personally. However you can't claim that societies would need money as a disciplining force to prevent it - there are countless examples in daily life, even in our money-dominated society, where people are motivated, motivate others, (and castigate others in some cases) to pull their weight without recourse to base behavioural methods like financial reward and punishment. It doesn't require an elaborate system of social planning and allocation of 'social opportunity cost' credits for them to do that.

lem

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

on the prision thread, red twister/hughes offered the argument that if society hadn't changed radically enough for crime to be a problem then it wasn't worth much. i think that reasoning applies here instead. are you arguing from human nature cat, or wha?

oh yeah and if crime falls why wouldn't free riding?

Caiman del Barrio

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If a Parecon enthusiast and a left communist insult each other in a forest, does it make a sound?

lem

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

nah it just echoes round libcom for a few years.

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lem

on the prision thread, red twister/hughes offered the argument that if society hadn't changed radically enough for crime to be a problem then it wasn't worth much. i think that reasoning applies here

Yeah definitely.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

catch:

I'm aware children's needs are supposed to be provided for at social expense, iirc there's also some kind of guaranteed minimum income for adults isn't there? However you just said that the production of hospitals or railroads should be decided by the same system that rewards people for effort and dismissed communist approaches to this entirely.

Again, you're trying to attribute to me some automatic agreement with whatever Hahnel and Albert have said (and they don't agree exactly, by the way). So, i will take your comment here as a request.

The idea is that the governance of the economy is rooted in assemblies in workplaces and their elected councils, and federations of these by industry and geographic area. There are also assemblies of people in the local neighborhoods where they live, as residents. And there are city-wide, regional, national, etc congresses of delegates, which are controlled by the assemblies at the base.

People want all sorts of things. Let's suppose that there is a general agreement that health care is something we provide automatically for everyone, carried at social expense. This is what I'd argue for. But that doesn't tell us how the community as a whole decides on the allocation of resources to health care. There are always trade offs. The more resources we make available for health care, the fewer resources we have available for everything else we want. The society as a whole, as well as particular subsets, regions or communities, have only finite budgets. We can think of the budget as the totality of available resources, including the amount of time people want to do work for others.

The various communities thus can have discussions about what proportion of the total social budget they want to go to health care versus other things, such as free public transit for the urban region, or whatever. There would presumably also be people employed by the society in the research and development areas of regional federations and various industries such as health care, public utilities, etc. Proposals are articulated from the bottom up, from the various assemblies to the regional, national etc federations. The worker organizations and research and development groups need to provide us with estimates of the resources needed to fulfill the aims that are proposed by the people.

Given the finite limits of our resources, this is likely to result in adjustments. These adjustments occur because planning is a process of social, negotiated coordination between the end-users, the totality of the people, and the workers who are going to do the work. But once there is agreement between the worker organizations, who are going to do the work, and the various community based organizations, at the appropriate geographic scope, we then have a plan for what is to be done in the area of health care. This can't be decided independently of the rest of the social plan because of the trade offs i referred to.

Even tho health care is provided free to everyone at social expense, the people who do the work are remunerated for their work effort in doing that work. Remuneration, as I've said before, isn't a question of a private exchange between a private worker collective and private buyer. We're talking about a socialized, self-managed economy here, not a market economy. The remuneration provided to the health care workers comes out of the total social budget for the entire economy. This ultimately can only be based on the total work effort of the total workforce. Thus what people get in consumption entitlement for private consumption isn't the same as their total remuneration. That's because their total remuneration -- total income -- is the totality of use values created by the social economy, and some of these are provided as public goods, not private consumption goods. Also, not all consumption entitlements for private consumption goods are remuneration for work effort. Children, people unable to work, etc. also have consumption entitlement for private consumption goods but provided as social expense.

If we look at the experience of the Spanish revolution, in some of the expropriated economy workers remunerated people for work effort but also provided, at common expense, for the needs of children, by giving workers an extra allotment of consumption entitlement for each child.

lem

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

cing as sum1 agreed ill go on.

i think one of the biggest mistakes of the icc from an outside perspective, and the reason they get called loonies, is that they fixate on this change as a shift in morality. this seems to have all sorts of dodgy conotations. rather, a fundamental shift in personality or what it means to be yourself/human.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

catch:

However you can't claim that societies would need money as a disciplining force to prevent it -

I call it providing adequate motivation to ensure that people act in a way consistent with social solidarity in terms of their contribution of work effort. Not providing it encourages anti-social individualism.

My argument for prices -- social accounting money -- isn't based only on motivation. It's based on the need to have a way of measuring social opportunity costs so as to avoid having an economy that is grossly inefficient.

People obsessed with "communism" always make the assumption that providing motivation for work isn't needed. I doubt that most of the working class will be convinced of that in the situation where revolution becomes a real possibility. It's possible that after a self-managed, socialized economy has existed for a couple generations, people will have developed the trust and habits of social solidarity where the concern with work effort could be relaxed. You might say that this corresponds to the difference between the "lower" and "higher" stages of communism.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lem:

are you arguing from human nature cat, or wha?

human nature i do see as the basis of ethics. that's what is called a naturalistic approach to ethics. the importance of self-management and solidarity as aims have a basis in human nature. but the requirement of work effort for private consumption entitlement i don't justify on the basis of "human nature" but on the basis of the historically specific situation of a socialized, worker-run social formation as it emerges from capitalism, and the likely situation we face at that time.

catch:

Am I the 'other communist'?

no, capricorn.

lem

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

human nature i do see as the basis of ethics. that's what is called a naturalistic approach to ethics.

there's is little reason to demand such naturalism, except for the fact it's inventor was a woman. no?

but the requirement of work effort for private consumption entitlement i don't justify on the basis of "human nature" but on the basis of the historically specific situation of a socialized, worker-run social formation as it emerges from capitalism, and the likely situation we face at that time.

slightly vague [nrt]. besides which i would be interested in how many communists envision an immediate shift to higher communism.

the science of communization is surely going to be an actualization of the object of individual/group class consciousness [, the changing of the world]. that object become alive.

communization then will be mediated by its moments of incompleteness. this does not mean that the first mass siezure of workplaces will not result very quickly in higher communization. wh do you argue that conditioning or whatever, will take generations... round peg square hole springs to mind.

that's effortlessly unclear, but i think s-cat will understand.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

yes, lem, i agree that people will change over a period of time if society is re-organized so that we get rid of the dog eat dog, competitive, hierarchical, antagonistic system and replace it with a system based on collective and cooperative decision making and social solidarity. People are creatures of practice, as Marx said.

what recommends naturalism in ethics is that it provides a better theoretical foundation for it than the alternatives.

lem

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

i <3 merleau-ponty still [tho :-? ]. thanks tho

lem

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

catch:

However you can't claim that societies would need money as a disciplining force to prevent it -

I call it providing adequate motivation to ensure that people act in a way consistent with social solidarity in terms of their contribution of work effort. Not providing it encourages anti-social individualism.

Which is a wordy way to say money will need to be used to discpline workers.

People obsessed with "communism" always make the assumption that providing motivation for work isn't needed.

The knowledge that your needs will be catered for is motivation. Productive activity is in itself motivation for countless people even after a full day's paid work. Social standing. I don't think financial motivation is needed. I do think chronic freeloaders would be dealt with via some kind of withdrawal of goodwill, but this would be the exception rather than the norm by which all things would be measured.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

catch:

The knowledge that your needs will be catered for is motivation. Productive activity is in itself motivation for countless people even after a full day's paid work. Social standing. I don't think financial motivation is needed. I do think chronic freeloaders would be dealt with via some kind of withdrawal of goodwill, but this would be the exception rather than the norm by which all things would be measured.

You can assume if you like that people will be all perfectly altruistic and automatically do the work that society needs to have done. How exactly that would be figured out, however, isn't clear. I doubt that the working class will share your assumptions. In particular, you can't prove that your assumptions are correct.

And you've still got no way to measure social opportunity costs. And that means inevitably a grossly efficient economy in terms of providing what people most want.

You speak of one's "needs" being catered for, but actually an effective economy must provide what people most want, not just meet their "needs". And this means it must have some way of allowing people to choose and help plan for a mix of different things that correspond to what they want. This presupposes that people have a finite entitlement to consume and they can spread this across some mix of things up to the limit of their budget. If they have no limit to their budget, and don't have to make choices between trade offs, there will be no way to gain the information about what they most desire.

lem

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

apologies if i'm not wanted on this thread.

but seems a "Hegelian": might say: it'll be higher communism by the time it's international.

Randy

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

randy:

I have already provided a link to an article that does an adequate job of critiquing parecon, and pointing out it's market characteristics

That article has numerous false assertions about participatory economics. Moreover, a number of the things that article proposes would lead straight back to a market economy, such as unilateral decision-making by production groups which assumes a private property-like control over production facilities.

I've already refuted that article here:

http://www.workersolidarity.org/debatingeconomicvision.html

Thanks for the link. If i ever despair of the communist ideal and wish to get up to speed on parecon, I'll renew my lapsed subscription to Z mag, and read the article. But in the meantime I'm going to go looking for some threads discussing how we might move forward towards libertarian communism.

syndicalistcat

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

randy:

Thanks for the link. If i ever despair of the communist ideal and wish to get up to speed on parecon, I'll renew my lapsed subscription to Z mag, and read the article. But in the meantime I'm going to go looking for some threads discussing how we might move forward towards libertarian communism.

Good luck in pursuing your religious faith.

Randy

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

...Good luck in pursuing your religious faith....

I was raised Southern Baptist. Attaining the socialist faith has been a long journey for me.

I would be the last to deny the aspect of blind faith in human nature attached to my perspective. I do prefer it to your cynicism, however. If we can do no better than markets, I consider the matter of human progress hopeless anyhow.

OliverTwister

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Randy

syndicalistcat

...Good luck in pursuing your religious faith....

I was raised Southern Baptist. Attaining the socialist faith has been a long journey for me.

I would be the last to deny the aspect of blind faith in human nature attached to my perspective. I do prefer it to your cynicism, however. If we can do no better than markets, I consider the matter of human progress hopeless anyhow.

you and me both, brother. on all scores.

capricorn

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't agree that you can't abolish exchange, or, rather, that exchange is an eternal feature of human existence (as taught in economics textbooks and parroted by parecommers). Exchange is not the simple use of some product that you didn't produce yourself. Nobody produces anything themself or ever has - production has always been cooperative and a collective effort; it's only ownership that's been individual. As the word itself implies exchange is the handing over of something in return for something else. Which implies that the things being exchanged are owned by those exchanging them. In other words, that private property exists. So, exchange is the exchange of property titles and a feature only of societies based on private property. In a communist society (in the proper sense of the word as one where the means of production and the products are the common property of all) what is produced is commonly owned and there won't be - can't be - any exchange. Once things have been produced they don't have to be exchanged for something else. Some way does have to be found of sharing them out or of giving people access to them, but that's distribution not exchange.

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

You can assume if you like that people will be all perfectly altruistic and automatically do the work that society needs to have done.

I don't think anything I talked about requires altruism, just intelligent self-interest.

In particular, you can't prove that your assumptions are correct.

Nor yours, part of the reason I usually ignore these discussions.

And you've still got no way to measure social opportunity costs.

I think you'll need to define 'social opportunity costs', it seems like there's some different definitions flying around/

You speak of one's "needs" being catered for, but actually an effective economy must provide what people most want, not just meet their "needs".

Actually I think it's needs that'll be the hardest, certainly during and after any major upheaval. Food, shelter, energy, water, sanitation - most of these systems require on loads of very low paid hard labour, and many are neglected or run-down by capitalism. 'Consumer durable' kinda stuff, which only get replaced every year - ten years - it'll take a lot longer for those to need sorting out than daily food supply and winter fuel. Telephone lines tend not to rot or wilt.

And this means it must have some way of allowing people to choose and help plan for a mix of different things that correspond to what they want. This presupposes that people have a finite entitlement to consume and they can spread this across some mix of things up to the limit of their budget. If they have no limit to their budget, and don't have to make choices between trade offs, there will be no way to gain the information about what they most desire.

TINA.

Mike Harman

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

capricorn

I don't agree that you can't abolish exchange, or, rather, that exchange is an eternal feature of human existence (as taught in economics textbooks and parroted by parecommers). Exchange is not the simple use of some product that you didn't produce yourself. Nobody produces anything themself or ever has - production has always been cooperative and a collective effort; it's only ownership that's been individual. As the word itself implies exchange is the handing over of something in return for something else. Which implies that the things being exchanged are owned by those exchanging them. In other words, that private property exists. So, exchange is the exchange of property titles and a feature only of societies based on private property. In a communist society (in the proper sense of the word as one where the means of production and the products are the common property of all) what is produced is commonly owned and there won't be - can't be - any exchange. Once things have been produced they don't have to be exchanged for something else. Some way does have to be found of sharing them out or of giving people access to them, but that's distribution not exchange.

Yep.

petey

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

capricorn's statement is the lucidest thing i've read on this thread from the non-parecon/non-exchange/communist/whachacallit side. must fly out the door, but one question: is there, in this system, a difference between personal property (in the sense of a thing i use and can (or try to) prevent others from using, and can dispose of) and private property?

Deezer

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So really what we need is a system that allows 'communities' to communicate and prioritise their needs on a federal basis (local, regional up to international), industries to assess and co-ordinate a respond to those needs and a system of distribution that meets those needs.

It seems to me something pretty similar would be needed to get those extra work effort reward based goods out to places where folk could use their extra money to purchase them - so why the fuck do we need it (money) at all?

Apart from setting up some sort of bizarre meritocracy based, it seems to me, either on a few stupid fuckers who don't want to go home (they should probably get free counselling to sort out their home lives rather than get rewarded to buy 'luxury' goods) or possibly on the basis of applying some sort of dubious rank system to the types of work people carry out.

Again altruism is precious little to do with anything, when people see that they have their needs met by the combined labour of their fellows, without some fuckers profiting from it, I do belief that most will put in a fair amount of work in the area best suited to them.

This has always been something that I've found extremely straight forward when explaining it to people I have worked with. There may be variation across workplaces, and there are certainly some types of work we shouldn't be hanging onto, but if you speak to people in public transport, the postal service and who work in power stations the idea that they would run their own industries while their public transport, post, electricity was maintained by other workers doing the same is generally reponded to pretty positively (although with the "how would we ever get there" caveat). If some do continually rip the arse out of it them there is the option of withdrawing goodwill as catch said.

btw I had edited my earlier post quite some time before you quoted a somewhat more poorly phrased version back at me syndicalistcat.

Randy

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree that Capricorn did a good job of stating the obvious. Simply because one declares exchange inevitable, doesn't make it so.

newyawka:

...is there... a difference between personal property ... and private property?

I don' t plan to share my toothbrush after the revolution. Or wear a one-size-fits-all Mao jacket.

The means of production must be socially owned, I think, to achieve anything worth calling communism. (Or, as MJ says, they should not be owned at all, in the sense that they can be bought or sold. "Exchanged".) Factories, farm land. Certainly personal items could remain personal. The gray area between social property and the personal resides somewhere in the vicinity of one's home, i think. At the risk of oversimplifying, if it's smaller than a house it's mine, if it's larger, it''s everyones.

Ilan

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Some comments on the last few days polemics.
First, there is no reasonable common ground when people do not have the same common denominator.
People who are for libertarian communist society based on direct democracy on the whole world scale, have no common base with people who see work place independent as basic principle, or people who have a vague picture of a decentralized world.

People who are for the principle "from each according to ability - to each according to needs" have no common base with people who do not wish or do not believe such system can work.

As one who hold both the world system of multi tier direct democracy and "from each according to ability - to each according to needs" I think that there is a value for people who hold these opinions to discuss that social model.

One point is the abolishing of money
Real money bills that can change hands need a state to back them - so it have no place in a social system - even transitional, when the capitalist class was defeated.

In such a system it is absurd to talk on the dictatorship of the proletariat - as there will not be proletarians who sell their work nor capitalists (and coordinators) that do not contribute work according to ability nor people who get more than they need (exploit others).

For sure there will never be such a plenty for every one just taking what they want... There is limit on the time the people of the world will contribute to produce things and services. There will always be needs "free" in social consumption, and for individual to use as they wish, and there will be limited quota of what people will have to choose from. (Poentas already wrote about it in the 1930s.)

The accounting of every thing will have to be done for both social decisions about the investing of work and alternatives. The amount of time invested in every thing will be measured. The amount of work invested in "luxuries" will be the base for the personal quota. The amount of work contributed by an able body person will enable every one to know if a person "owe" or have surplus. This kind of measuring for grass roots communities will enable for them and society if they need to give more or less to the greater society.

In such a system the decision what to use social work for (production and services) will be according to the needs for them as measured on local and world scale.

For sure there will be some planning and allocation of resources on a large and small scale... but this is one of the tasks the world multi tier direct democracy system is for.

(By the way Dulgof was crap - according to his writings about Israel-Palestine).

Looking for practical answers in writings of texts older than 100 years is ridiculous.

My take about the post capitalist libertarian communist society can be found on: http://ilan.shalif.com/anarchy/glimpses/glimpses.html

jef costello

14 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Boul, why have you got such a thing against people working? Obviously work as it is now is a bad thing but in a post-revolutionary society there will be lots of opportunities for production that will be pleasurable, that people will choose to do.

tatsmaki

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Important Info
tatsmaki (Japan)
(1) British workers staged a demonstration under the banner of "Abolish Money!" at the chance of the G8 leaders' meeting in London.
Thus, they became the standard-bearer in liberation movement of earthmen.
Earthmen should struggle for transition to the new society of gratuitous services in all feilds of human life, following the command by the Creators. Flying saucers suggest the future of Earth.
(2) Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ(the boss of Illuminati), the Pope Benedikt 16th and their many cliques were sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment with hard labor on murder of children more than 50,000 people
- The International Common Law Court in Brussels
(3) According to a cosmo-info from the Creators B.Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu reached the principal agreement on military invasion against Syria on March 20, 2013. Thus, regimes of Israel, the USA, UK and Turkey already have reached the agreement on military invasion of Syria. But such a huge crime is never permitted by the Creators.
(3) H7N9 virus is made in USA
(4) UN Secretary-General Pan Kimun together with a US's representative is continuing to shelve the justifiable demend to send a specialists group for investigation on using chemical weapons by oppositional terrorists groups in Syria in Homsa city in Dec., 2012 and in Areppo city in Mar., 2013.
Russian representative in the UN Vitaliy Churkin stated that this is the try to repeat the scenario on Afganistan and Iraq. That is causing the huge Russian anxiety.
US's imperialism is trying outbreak of a new war in Syria and Iran in the Near East and N. Korea in the Far East, through which the US's dictator J. Rockefeller is aiming at US's conversion into the war economy and the full national Neonazi system. Already 200 forced camps are standby in all States.
But WWⅢis never permitted by the Creators and the Galactic Federation of advanced planets.
The US's East including NYC, Wash. D.C. , FL peninsula and the West's CA State together with Israel sink into the sea as a chain link of the general cleaning of Earth by the Creators.
All are here: http://tatsmaki.blogspot.jp

radicalgraffiti

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

tatsmaki that looks like a buck of conspiracy theory bullshit and really has no reverence to the thread

yourmum

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"We can all agree that abolishing religion would be good if it could be done - but a defence of how that would work in practice is needed first"

fixed that for input.