Submitted by klas batalo on February 3, 2018

I'm looking for the most historically relevant anarchist economic theory and proposals, and actual attempts probably as well from various revolutions.

Kropotkin, "The Conquest of Bread" - 1892
Emile Pouget, "Syndicalism and the co-operative commonwealth."
Isaac Puente, "Libertarian Communism" - 1932
Maximov, "Program of Anarcho-Syndicalism" - 1934
De Santillan, "After the Revolution" - 1936/37
Souchy, "Collectivizations: The constructive achievements of the Spanish Revolution" - 1937
Tom Brown, "Syndicalism" - 1943
Leval, "Libertarian Socialism: a Practical Outline" - 1959
Leval, "Collectives in the Spanish Revolution" - 1975 (1971 in French?)
Dolgoff, "The Anarchist Collectives" - 1974
Solfed, "The Economics of Freedom" - 2003
Iain McKay,"The Economics of Anarchy" - 2009
Abraham Guillen, "Anarchist Economics" & "Principles of Libertarian Economy" *Would like to know dates on these.

Are there any others? I think it's important for anarchists to actually have a balance sheet on this stuff.

Khawaga

5 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Great list and thanks for compiling. The only other text I can think of is The Accumulation of Freedom. I haven't read that collection yet, but may be the only 21st century text on anarchists economics?

adri

5 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

Great list and thanks for compiling. The only other text I can think of is The Accumulation of Freedom. I haven't read that collection yet, but may be the only 21st century text on anarchists economics?

I actually have that; it's actually a collection of different essays on different topics, and not just about anarchist economics or how exactly a libertarian socialist society would function. It talks about the history of libertarian socialist thinking (Mutualism, Collectivism, and Communism), present-day capitalism (the financial crisis), democratic workplace organization, ways of resisting capitalism, etc. I'm not sure if that's something to include in this list, but I'd still recommend it.

Khawaga

5 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ah, thanks for the correction. I bought the book for the essays on economics, so that's likely where my confusion comes from.

klas batalo

5 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Draft Declaration of the (Makhnovist) Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine adopted on October 20, 1919 at a session of the Military Revolution­ary Soviet.

Pg. 368
https://libcom.org/files/NestorMakhnoAnarchysCossack.pdf

This is basically the program of the RIAU.

http://www.ditext.com/arshinov/appendix.html

paul r

5 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I haven't read this text, but it and the comment attached to it may be relevant:

http://libcom.org/history/abraham-guillen-anarchist-economics

klas batalo

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://zabalazabooks.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/resolution_on_libertarian_communism_cnt.pdf

klas batalo

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/3bk4c0

MT

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/3bk4c0

Does anyone know which tradition is this close to? Also, is there an English translation of the whole 200p. book?

Karetelnik

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Novomirsky was close to the French anarcho-syndicalists (especially Pouget) and belonged to the anti-intellectual wing of the Russian anarchist movement (he regarded the intelligentsia as an exploiting class).

There is no English translation of his book, which was republished in Russia in 2013.

syndicalist

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Karetelnik

Novomirsky was close to the French anarcho-syndicalists (especially Pouget) and belonged to the anti-intellectual wing of the Russian anarchist movement (he regarded the intelligentsia as an exploiting class).

There is no English translation of his book, which was republished in Russia in 2013.

Some time ago, I recall some of us had a conversation on the origins of the term "anarcho-syndicalist". It sees to be that Novomirsky was the first to use the phrase in the early 1900s.

maltesto

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Nothing more recent about innovation or consumption?

infektfm

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

She isn't necessarily an anarchist, but the late Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom has an immense body of work that basically dismisses the state/market dichotomy and both theoretically and empirically vindicates democratic management of commons. She is not anti-state or anti-market, it seems, but her work is something anarchists should grapple with.

infektfm

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

(and by empirical vindication, I mean she actually spent her life studying democratically managed common resources in the real world)

Joseph Kay

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

infektfm

She isn't necessarily an anarchist, but the late Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom has an immense body of work that basically dismisses the state/market dichotomy and both theoretically and empirically vindicates democratic management of commons. She is not anti-state or anti-market, it seems, but her work is something anarchists should grapple with.

Yeah Ostrom was an advocate of 'polycentrism', i.e. states and markets and self-governing commons all overlapping and coexisting. But she's definitely worth reading (if a bit dry at times, she's using some neoclassical/game theoretical economics to subvert its usual conclusions), and takes seriously the institutional requirements for commons regimes to succeed. If your anarcho senses bristle at 'institutions', this is basically the norms and rules of self-governing commons. They're summarised in this blog post, and some of them are pretty anarchish:

1. Define clear group boundaries.

2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.

3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.

4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.

5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.

6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.

7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.

8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.

klas batalo

5 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

thanks for those additions anarcho

klas batalo

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What would an anarchist society look like?
http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secIcon.html

How could an anarchist economy function?
http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secI4.html

klas batalo

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AFAQ

A short summary of Spanish Anarchist visions of the free society can be found in chapter 3 of Robert Alexander's The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War (vol. 1).

servius

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Haven't given this a read, but it looks relevant: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/wayne-price-workers-self-directed-enterprises-a-revolutionary-program

klas batalo

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://zabalazabooks.net/1936/07/19/economics/

klas batalo

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"Spanish Anarchist Sketches of a Libertarian Society" is a good overview of various thinkers by Robert Alexander.

Method of Freedom

4 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There is an academic book about 400 pages long called Political Economy from Below: Economic Thought in Communitarian Anarchism, 1840-1914 published by Routledge

klas batalo

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://www.reddit.com/r/Anarchy101/comments/6i2ynu/how_cntfai_managed_to_organize_the_workers_during/

Posted a bit on reddit about some good libcom hosted articles/books.

read mostly guillamón, level, peirats, souchy for first hand accounts on political, economic, and social matters.

auntibalas

3 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hi folks -- I am currently adding items to a reading list on anarchist economics over at ASN/Anarchist Studies Network:

http://anarchist-studies-network.org.uk/ReadingLists_Economics

Also just transcribed a couple of articles by G.P. Maximoff on "Anarchist Economics" -- really mainly a commentary on Kropotkin's Conquest of Bread written in the heat of the Spanish Revolution...

Pierre Besnard's work is missing here. I'm working slowly on a translation of his Le Monde nouveau, which seems to me a peer of Santillán's After the Revolution, though I am aware there was some dispute between them (I'm trying to get an understanding of that).

Is anyone familiar, BTW, with Christian Cornelissen's work in this area? (See the ReadingList)

klas batalo

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

After quite sometime digging into books on the Spanish Revolution I'm finally confident I've figured out how distribution/ consumption was managed across the collectivized areas. It was pretty much so:

In the cities workers were issued state money (the peseta) based on hourly wage vs piece work as had been standard before.

In the agrarian towns local money was usually produced equivalent to the peseta.

In cases where “money was abolished” each male head of household was given a producers’ card / consumer pass / family ration book. It was like a credit card organized according to a point system equivalent to the peseta and with it coupons "vouchers" could be used to obtain consumer items. It also allotted them housing, use of public services, and voting power in the workplace / commune.

If there was abundance, consumer goods were distributed freely according to need, with families taking precedent.

klas batalo

3 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also in other anarchist free territories like Ukraine and Manchuria they also still used fiat money with minimum wages and mutual banks.

klas batalo

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.elcosaco.org/revolucion-social-espanola-i/

This is also good

It explains that they did not collectivize the banks, and neither seized them nor smashed the state.

Agent of the I…

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo,

It sounds like you could write up a very good piece that pulls together all the research you looked into and provide an outline of that aspect of the Spanish Revolution. I would be interested in reading such a thing.

But thanks for providing a listing of all your sources. This is all certainly useful for those of us interested.

Salvoechea

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If you read spanish I'd recomend:

La autogestión viva. Proyectos y experiencias de la otra economía al calor de la crisis. Carlos Taibo y José Luis Carretero
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/cPath/21_33/products_id/5144

Economia anarquista. Una visión global
Deric Shannon, Anthony J. Nocella II y John Asimakopoulos.
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/products_id/5609

Autogestión para tiempos de crisis. Anastasio Ovejero Bernal.
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/cPath/21_33/products_id/59508

Adiós al capitalismo. Autonomía, sociedad del buen vivir y multiplicidad de mundos. Jérôme Baschet.
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/cPath/21_33/products_id/5699

¿Por qué el decrecimiento? Un ensayo sobre la antesala del colapso
Carlos Taibo.
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/cPath/21_33/products_id/5339

Las empresas recuperadas. Hacia la comprensión de la autogestión obrera real. José Luis Carretero
https://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/NOMA/article/viewFile/NOMA1010140487A/26014

And If you read catalan, two hits:

Els factors econòmics de la revolució. Joan P. Fábregas
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/products_id/58949

This guy was in charge of the section of economy of catalonia, and he was responsible for the decree of collectivization. This book is a kind of balance.

Les col·lectivitzacions a Barcelona (1936-1939) Antoni Castells Duran
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/products_id/2510

Other about the spanish civil war:

Trabajan para la eternidad. Colectividades de trabajo y ayuda mutua durante la Guerra Civil en Aragón
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/products_id/3260

Colectividades agrarias en Andalucía: Jaén (1931-1939)
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/products_id/2329

Campesinos y revolución en Cataluña
http://www.lamalatesta.net/product_info.php/products_id/213

In Spain there're quite a lot of material being published about local history, which is very interesting. It gives a vision of how stuff really works

Ivysyn

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is a pretty good short text on the matter by a Russian Anarcho-syndicalist historian.

http://aitrus.info/node/2595

klas batalo

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is from SPGB/WSM type perspective but I actually think these folks have really put good work and time into trying to think things through in some cases more than contemporary anarchists have:

http://mailstrom.blogspot.com/2012/02/socialist-blueprint-part-1.html
http://mailstrom.blogspot.com/2012/02/socialist-blueprint-part-2.html

The above is a re-edited collection of posts on the discussion website RevLeft from Robin Cox of the World In Common group.

Talisa

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Good thread. I've noticed in past libcom discussions, a couple people saying that anarchism (at least in its communist form) cannot have an economic system, because economics is about managing scarce resources and communism is the abolition of scarcity. Therefore, if coming from an anarcho-communist perspective, we should never speak of anarchist economics.

To me it seems like a bad idea. It's already hard enough to communicate anarchist views to people who don't yet agree. If someone is curious about anarchist economics and we have to say "Actually there will be no economics" we just will confuse them, and we make anarchism seem unrealistic.

Also, I don't even know if I agree with the premise. Scarce resources is just a fact of life, communism or not.

Talisa

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

double post

klas batalo

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

my whole point in this thread is helping us develop a more complete understanding of what was attempted in the past, and why it may have failed, and of basic models / vision to explain to everyday people. thanks for your comments Talisa.

ajjohnstone

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"... is helping us develop a more complete understanding of what was attempted in the past, and why it may have failed..."

On my regular internet travels to various American 'progressive' websites i frequently come across articles and comments that are very sympathetic to co-operatives.

I find any criticism of them falls on deaf ears although i keep reminding them that they are not some sort of abstract theoretical critiques but we have near-on 300 years of empirical evidence to study on why they have either failed to bring socialism any closer or supplant the prevailing version of capitalism and remain on the fringes of capitalism, supplying a niche market.

Advocates of coops appear blind because within us all there is the desire to be our own boss, even though it means that the hardest task-masters will be ourselves. ( Also the most demanding employer is frequently the self-made person)

Nevertheless, there exists this romantic emotional attachment to creating and running a co-op that defies any challenge. There may be other reasons for the defensive attitudes but no matter how comradely i counter the enthusiasm for co-ops, in many cases, it becomes treated as a personal affront to their integrity.

Mike Harman

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Quite old now but we did a long exchange with one of the proponents of 'parecon' nearly a decade ago: http://libcom.org/library/participatory-society-or-libertarian-communism

I think parecon is an example of a bad (almost dystopian) approach to imagining a future society.

The more interesting thing for me is people trying to think through the first six weeks or six months of an insurrection and how existing infrastructure could or could not be used. This is what a lot of Kropotkin's writing was about at the time - questions like how to feed revolutionary Paris in 1905 or whatever.

OOTW on logistics:

https://libcom.org/blog/disaster-communism-part-3-logistics-repurposing-bricolage-22052014

AWW's Insurrection and Production: https://libcom.org/blog/insurrection-production-29082016

ajjohnstone

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Michael Albert of Parecon has a new book out
Practical Utopia

I'll let him blow his own horn

https://zcomm.org/zblogs/practical-utopia/

Agent of the I…

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ajjohnstone

I find any criticism of them falls on deaf ears although i keep reminding them that they are not some sort of abstract theoretical critiques but we have near-on 300 years of empirical evidence to study on why they have either failed to bring socialism any closer or supplant the prevailing version of capitalism and remain on the fringes of capitalism, supplying a niche market.

I find that when folks on the Left (or in general) defend firmly entrenched beliefs - such as those advocates of co-operatives - it is often because they have invested so much into it, whether doing research and being convinced that it provides the best path to socialism, or being involved with it on a practical level, or some combination of both. That's how they develop an emotional attachment to such things, which as you say, "defies any challenge". They haven't invested in nearly as much into the history of the labor and socialist movement. Unfortunately, it's not enough to simply remind them of the nearly "300 years of empirical evidence". What I don't see enough from anarchist/libertarian socialists are attempts to develop new ways to encourage people to engage with that history. I mean, it's nice to have critiques of such things, but in addition to that, there is a need to find ways to connect people to that history, and in which how that history is presented isn't an afterthought.

Other defenses of co-ops I've come across involves accusations of sectarianism and "we can do both" type arguments that totally misses the point.

ajjohnstone

Michael Albert of Parecon has a new book out
Practical Utopia

I'll let him blow his own horn

Ever since that debate with libcom, I've almost completely forgotten about him and there's rarely a day when the "practical utopia" of parecon have crossed my mind.

Agent of the I…

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

After reviewing this thread, I've noticed no one has provided 'Ideas on Social Organisation', a pamphlet written by James Guillaume. It is definitely not the "best", far from it, but it is one of the earliest economic proposals. I think Guillaume later abandoned this - even collectivism altogether - probably because of how certain aspects of it clearly didn't make sense as well as critiques from anarchist communists.

ajjohnstone

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"...there is a need to find ways to connect people to that history, and in which how that history is presented isn't an afterthought..."

On my exchanges on those US "progressive" websites, i usually offer a link to Eugene Debs, simply to recall a bit of historical perspective for liberals and leftists since he has been moreorless deleted from history, as has most labour events with the exception of the occasional book by Zinn and others.

Yesterday in a comment I linked to https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/s7h546 since it was a new bit of info for me.

Mike Harman

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

With co-ops I think the discussion gets held up on a couple of things.

Co-ops, for some particular types of industry, can be a way for particular groups of workers to improve their conditions under capitalism (either more control over organisation of work, or higher wages, or both). Similarly housing co-ops work for some people to lower the cost of housing compared to private renting or the often inaccessible routes of social housing or getting an individual mortgage.

But they're not always that, here's the Economist of all places singing the praises of co-ops as a way to avoid class conflict: http://libcom.org/library/co-operatives-all-together noting that there are plenty of co-ops with high wage differentials, temporary staff with no stake in the co-op etc.

Then there's co-ops as a way to transform the economy in some kind of socialist direction, I think this comes out of seeing capital as something which involves individual capitalists (who are not present in a co-op) rather than a social relation based on wage labour, the commodity form, private property. Co-ops do nothing to disrupt the latter - the firm is the private property of the co-op members, it pays wages, produces commodities, competes with other firms, same as any other firm.

At a similar time to the Parecon exchange, we also did this one on co-ops, haven't re-read it for a long time, but fwiw: https://libcom.org/library/co-ops-or-conflicts

The Labour Party is floating co-ops recently, so this is becoming a current discussion again in a way. The New Socialist is pro-Corbyn but tends to be a bit more critical than other places. I think the fact that the Labour Party is floating top-down implementation of co-ops to rescue the economy ought to be cautionary for people pushing them as somehow revolutionary:

https://newsocialist.org.uk/labours-alternative-models-of-ownership-report/

ajjohnstone

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We forgot to mention former Conservative prime minister David Cameron's promotion of the co-op.

https://www.thirdsector.co.uk/cameron-announces-bill-consolidate-cooperatives-law/policy-and-politics/article/1113066

klas batalo

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

My own sketch of a vision:

Anarchists fight for a world where the community and workers manage social and economic life. We fight for this now but ultimately believe it will take a social revolution to win.

We propose working class neighbors and tenants create community unions to hold neighborhood meetings and fight for their needs. Neighborhood meetings should be open to every working class person who lives in the neighborhood. As struggle grows they would select delegates by lottery to community councils. This system of neighborhood meetings and community councils would propose solutions to current community issues and in the future would be the source of all policy and economic planning in each community. Each community would coordinate with every other community on a regional and global scale.

We believe groups of a cultural and social nature should similarly fight for their needs by forming unions to defend their interests. Women, people of color, LGBTQ, students and youth could also select delegates by lottery to community councils.

We propose working people create labor unions to fight for their interests. Workers can create committees that win coworkers over to fighting for their needs as a union. When strong, labor unions can call mass meetings of workers to decide on pressing issues in the struggle against their exploitation by bosses. As struggle grows workers in similar industries will see the need to form workers councils with each other in order to coordinate strikes but also seizing the means of production. We think such councils of workers unions in each industry should form cooperatives to ultimately manage production of public and consumer goods in accordance to the needs of community councils.

Each workers cooperative would be run democratically and operate according to a balanced division of labor. Workers cooperatives in productive, mixed, and service industries would select delegates by lottery to their respective councils. Production would be for direct use and distribution would be according to need. Centers for processing needs of the community and community stores would be run as service establishments. Such centers would prepare budgets for investment based on necessary vs optional plans in concert with workers and community councils.

During the transition to such a society there would be rationing according to what is socially possible but the goal would be to move to distribution according to needs as quickly as possible. Allocation of public and consumer goods would operate according to calculation in kind, that is measurement in real quantities. Markets and money prices would be replaced by a system of stock buffering and control to ensure against shortages of consumer goods. Needs would be calculated by direct records of demand from community stores and workers would supply according to pull production responding to consumption. Community councils could prioritize needs when goods are scare by needs testing, lottery, or a points system. All basic needs would be met through universal social services.

klas batalo

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Very important document

http://libcom.org/library/platform-workers-alliance-valeriano-orob-n-fern-ndez

Ugg

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I feel like a lot of libertarian-communists might disagree with me but I really like Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution by "GIK".

https://libcom.org/library/fundamental-principles-communist-production-gik-chapters

I don't agree with everything about their proposal but I think it's important that in a libertarian-communist society we calculate how much time we are generally devoting towards different types of goods and services or "use-values" , how much is available over a certain period to safely be consumed (ie. till the next harvest or shipment of these things) vs. the rate in which we consume those things, or seem to want to consume them.

I think this information, along with lots of other information (ie. how much we want to use scarce or environmentally costly resources) could be used to allow federated workplace and community councils make economic decisions- ie. if a good is in short supply would we be okay switching to producing that thing or is everybody happy the way things are.

Their proposal uses labour-vouchers but even if you disagree with labour-vouchers I think it still has useful information and their proposals could certainly still be used in a society in which all goods and services were free access. I personally believe in some combination of free access, rationing, giving everybody an equal number of credits to purchase different scarce goods and also perhaps extra credits for people who do undesirable or unsafe work.

ajjohnstone

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You might find this essay of interest

https://socialiststandardmyspace.blogspot.com/2018/12/socialism-and-calculation-1987.html

klas batalo

3 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The GIKH piece is certainly inspirational for me. I do think calculations for time are important I just don’t think they should solely factor in determining remuneration.

klas batalo

2 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://www.amazon.com/FUNDAMENTAL-PRINCIPLES-COMMUNIST-PRODUCTION-DISTRIBUTION-ebook/dp/B085LT1NSM

English translation of the Second and a Final Edition in Dutch

R Totale

2 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't have any actual opinion on the content cos I've not listened to it yet, the Final Straw folk just did an interview with Wayne Price about anarchism and Marxist economics, which might be of interest: https://thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org/post/2020/05/10/wayne-price-on-anarchism-marxist-economics/

klas batalo

2 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://archive.org/details/syndicalismcoope00pata/page/n6/mode/2up