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Visions of the future?

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Yorkie Bar
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Feb 12 2010 19:34
Visions of the future?

This thread is a split from http://libcom.org/forums/theory/my-vision-socialist-society-06022010, at Steven.'s request.

I'll start out by briefly explaining why I don't think any 'vision' of a future socialist society is a useful part of revolutionary theory in the modern world. I'll then deal with some defences of such 'visions' offered in the thread above, and in one other thread referred to in that thread, to avoid anyone having to repeat themselves here as far as possible.

As revolutionaries, we are part of a minority of workers who advocate the complete destruction of modern social life, and its re-creation as communism, as a life of human community rather than human alienation. This event is implicit in the day to day struggles of the working class. The position of workers drives them to struggle against capitalism, and this struggle against the alienation of life implies the opposite - wholeness, the non-alienation of real, direct human life. This is what I would describe as communism, "the real movement that abolishes the present state of things".

There is no reason why this abolition couldn't become complete, at some far off point in the future - "when the strength of the state fails, when we forsake our economy and break all bonds of bourgeois citizenship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Capital comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!"*

While an end to human alienation can only be a good thing, we have no idea under what circumstances it might take place - what the material circumstances will be, what political and social conditions will be like, and what sort of working class we will be when and if the time comes. We literally have no clue. So really, any 'vision' we might have about such an event, let alone what comes after, is pretty much guesswork made from the standpoint of total ignorance. This being the case, they aren't likely to be very useful to our heirs when the time comes and the final destruction of capitalism is at hand.

I'll now go ahead and address the criticism that was made of my opinions on two other threads, http://libcom.org/forums/theory/my-vision-socialist-society-06022010 and http://libcom.org/forums/announcements/new-system-07062009

radicalgrafiti wrote:
and what we do isn't about what the state or bosses think, we'd be better off if they didn't notice us until it was to late for them to act.
Raskolnarchy wrote:
Do you seriously believe that revolutionary ideas are only valuable when they leave bosses shaking in their boots? Because I'm reasonably certain most capitalists wouldn't give two flying fucks about most of the discussions in these forums, that doesn't mean they aren't useful.

This is in response to my comment that the ruling classes aren't particularly bothered about 'visions' of the far future. This was actually in response to cantdo's use of Hollywood dialogue ("daring to dream" wink ); of course ideas can be valuable without being threatening to bosses. Communist theory is mostly built on bourgeois socialism and political economy (and philosophy) after all.

radicalgrafiti wrote:
being a communist/anarchist is imagining something better.

I would argue that being a communist/anarchist is doing something about it rather than just imagining.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
No offence but i think thats taking things a bit too far. I think its quite important to think about how particular workplaces might be run in a communist society. Personally when i'm argueing about anarchism with someone, asking them where the work and discussing how anarchism would make that better are pretty important ways of getting the ideas across.

If I was talking to someone about how anarchism could make their workplace better I'd be talking about organising, workplace resistance etc., not about the distant future. Any given workplace might be completely abolished in twenty years, and I doubt we'll see the end of capitalism before then.

allybaba wrote:
Surely by workers discussing different communist futures, does the opposite of pacifying them and makes them less inclined to be passive in the shitty reality?
Raskolnarchy wrote:
Also could you please expand on how this type of discussion pacifies workers?
themediumdog wrote:
one big driver of the size and force of socialist/communist movements has been the fact that they had, at their center, an inspiring vision of how the future could look.
cantdocartwheels wrote:
mass organisations back in the day liek the CNT and the IWW didn;t shy away from having detailed ideas on how they wanted society to operate. People weren't just members of those organisations because of their strategy, but because of the ideals and models of society they proposed.

Firstly, I think it's pretty obvious that talking about 'jam tomorrow' is a tried and tested way of distracting people from the very pressing lack of jam today. That's what I meant by my patronising comment about these sorts of beliefs pacifying workers. As I was recently reminded during a discussion of the recent AF NDM, being a radical means never using the third person wink.

Secondly, I don't think that visions of the future actually contribute to the class struggle. In as much as they have been a part of real movements and organisations in the past (and present) I think they have acted in an entirely negative way. If workers come to see communism as a distant ideal or 'vision' that we are striving towards, then we consciously place it outside of our own lives, our own daily actions - in doing so, we disconnect it from the class struggle, from real communism.

'Visions' of communism in the far future are equally atractive to the proletarian and his boss. Star Trek is a TV show about a future with no money or property - but it is not radical, because all it offers is an idealised vision of a make-believe future. The 'visions' offered in Kropotkin's Fields Factories and Workshops Tomorrow or Dauve's For a World Without Moral Order are equally starry-eyed and equally improbable. Communism now is both stranger and more glorious than these stale ideas.

*Apologies to J. R. R. Tolkein

Boris Badenov
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Feb 12 2010 19:57

On the matter of "visions of the future," I very much agree with Pannekoek:

Workers Councils, Part 1 wrote:
Nowadays the conception of the workers themselves master of the means of production, themselves directing their labor, arises ever more strongly in their minds.
This new organisation of labor we have to investigate and to clarify to ourselves and to one another, devoting to it the best powers of our mind. We cannot devise it as a phantasy; we derive it from the real conditions and needs of present work and present workers. It cannot, of course, be depicted in detail; we do not know the future conditions that will determine its precise forms. Those forms will take shape in the minds of the workers then facing the task. We must content ourselves for the present to trace the general outlines only, the leading ideas that will direct the actions of the working class. They will be as the guiding stars that in all the vicissitudes of victory and adversity in fight, of success and failure in organisation, keep the eyes steadily directed towards the great goal. They must be elucidated not by minute descriptions of detail, but chiefly by comparing the principles of the new world with the known forms of existing organisations.
When the workers seize the factories to organize the work an immensity of new and difficult problems arises before them. But they dispose of an immensity of new powers also. A new system of production never is an artificial structure erected at will. It arises as an irresistible process of nature, as a convulsion moving society in its deepest entrails, evoking the mightiest forces and passions in man. It is the result of a tenacious and probably long class struggle. The forces required for construction can develop and grow up in this fight only.
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cantdocartwheels
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Feb 13 2010 09:10

So basically this arguement rests on four reductionist assumptions
1) Communism is somehow a ''natural'' process (anti-organisational nonsense)
2) ''The workers'' are apparetly so befuddled and stupid that even imagining a better future will simply leave them ''pacfified'' in a sea of confusion unable to deal with todays reality.
3) There is some sort of limit on human imagination that makes us supposedly incapable of actually imagining a socialist society.
4) That people are incapable of reasoning and applying the basic principle of cause and effect to see how actions in the present might effect outcomes in the future

Quote:
This is what I would describe as communism, "the real movement that abolishes the present state of things".

Thats not a description of anything,

Quote:
If I was talking to someone about how anarchism could make their workplace better I'd be talking about organising, workplace resistance etc., not about the distant future. Any given workplace might be completely abolished in twenty years, and I doubt we'll see the end of capitalism before then.

Struggle doesn;t make your workplace better, being on strike isn;t a good thing. If all anarchism had to offer was struggle why the hell would anyone be interested in it.
Likewise theres nothing intrinsically communist about going on strike.

Last call centre i worked in, me and a couple of workmates had quite lengthy conversations about how useless our job was and by extension how pointless large chunks of the economy were, and yeah how we would like to see a world without fucking telesales. But no doubt according to your logic that pacified us and we should have been dong more ''struggling'' roll eyes

Frankly i think your ideas are just nonsense, looking at history the two biggest anarchist movements the CNT and the IWW at their height put forward specific ideas of what sort of society they would like to see. They were big movements whose members, especially in the CNT genuinely beleived in a very specific vision of an anarchist society.
If we look at the revolutionary wave around 1917, this happened because people beleived in a set vision of a new society, one relating to how they saw their workplaces and communities and not some vague abstraction about ''abolishing the present state of things and being nice to each other for a change'' or some similar gibberish
One of the reasons bolshevism continues to hold currency as a stronger movement than libertarian socialism is because bolshevism does set out a clear vision of society (albeit a shit social democratic one), and anarchists just run around like headless chickens talking about the evils of blueprints and how they'd be authowitarian and thus have no competing vision to offer.

gypsy
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Feb 13 2010 10:52
BigLittleJ wrote:
This thread is a split from http://libcom.org/forums/theory/my-vision-socialist-society-06022010, at Steven.'s request.

I would argue that being a communist/anarchist is doing something about it rather than just imagining.

I don't see why you can't do both? Btw thanks for starting the thread your arguments against are interesting. I can see where you are coming from, although I don't agree with your argument.

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Steven.
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Feb 13 2010 15:05

yes, I disagree with the initial post quite strongly as well, but not got time to respond fully now. I will hopefully get the time Monday or Tuesday...

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 13 2010 15:14
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Struggle doesn;t make your workplace better

er, what?

Boris Badenov
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Feb 13 2010 15:51
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Frankly i think your ideas are just nonsense, looking at history the two biggest anarchist movements the CNT and the IWW at their height put forward specific ideas of what sort of society they would like to see. They were big movements whose members, especially in the CNT genuinely beleived in a very specific vision of an anarchist society.

Specific ideas doesn't mean there was anything even resembling an utopian blueprint though. The workers in Spain and the CNT most definitely learned from trial and error rather than from some "a very specific vision."

Initially, when the continuation of production was the most pressing task, there was little formal co-ordination between different workshops and factories. This lack of co-ordination caused many problems as Leval points out: "Local industries went through stages almost universally adopted in that revolution . . . [I]n the first instance, committees nominated by the workers employed in them [were organised]. Production and sales continued in each one. But very soon it was clear that this situation gave rise to competition between the factories. . . creating rivalries which were incompatible with the socialist and libertarian outlook. So the CNT launched the watchword: 'All industries must be ramified in the Syndicates, completely socialised, and the regime of solidarity which we have always advocated be established once and for all."
http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/wsm/rbr/rbr7/spain.html

As for the historical IWW, their ultimate goal may have been to overthrow capitalism and the wage system, but most of their propaganda was aimed at promoting direct action and radicalizing the workforce. By organizing industrially the structure of the new society emerges, "within the shell of the old," as the saying goes. That was the crux of the I. W. W. position; no mad schemes trying to detail the minutiae of how workers councils will manage the future society.
This attitude was reflected even in the IWW's culture, epitomized by songs like "Dump the bosses off your back" and "Preacher and the slave" (the pie in the sky song).

Quote:
If we look at the revolutionary wave around 1917, this happened because people beleived in a set vision of a new society,

This is a bit exaggerated if not false. The only people who believed in a set vision were the bolshies, and this is exactly why they remained "out of step" with the revolution, as Trotsky himself admitted, until they hijacked it by force. The soviets were born out of mass working class organization yes, managed and administered by the workers according to their needs and wants in a rational and orderly manner, but to make of this a "set vision of a new society" is a bit far off. The material conditions of the present dictate the direction of society, not any "set vision."

Quote:
one relating to how they saw their workplaces and communities and not some vague abstraction about ''abolishing the present state of things and being nice to each other for a change'' or some similar gibberish

This is a bit of a false dichotomy. To criticize utopian "blueprintism" is not to adovcate anti-organisationalism and "being nice to each other for a change."

Quote:
One of the reasons bolshevism continues to hold currency as a stronger movement than libertarian socialism is because bolshevism does set out a clear vision of society (albeit a shit social democratic one), and anarchists just run around like headless chickens talking about the evils of blueprints and how they'd be authowitarian and thus have no competing vision to offer.

So we should be more like the bolseviks then? ffs.
Also nice anarchist strawman there; it's not like the trots are already doing a great job at coming up with those.
Bolshevism is by far the more utopian ideology, just like any sort of reformism. To think that capitalism can be managed and transformed to serve the workers is what "set visions" usually amount to.
If in anarchist Barcelona a cab driver refused payment it wasn't because the CNT decreed it in their "set vision," it was the product of the "convulsion moving society in its deepest entrails" that Pannekoek talks about in the above quote, a complete and relatively spontaneous break with the logic of capital. This can never be planned through meaningless abstractions and visions. This is why if we utterly and absolutely reject reformism of any kind, "we must content ourselves for the present to trace the general outlines only, the leading ideas that will direct the actions of the working class."
Also unless you mean this

Quote:
Struggle doesn;t make your workplace better, being on strike isn;t a good thing.

as another way of saying that we must abolish classes rather than just fetishize struggle (in which case the phrasing is rather problematic), it is a pretty mental thing to say.

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 13 2010 20:14

@cantdo

First of all, all four of the points upon which you claim my arguments are based are blatant strawmen:

Quote:
1) Communism is somehow a ''natural'' process (anti-organisational nonsense)

That's patently not what I said. I don't think natural is a useful word to use here, which is why I haven't used it. I don't really see how anything I have said can be interpreted as anti-organisational. As you know I am a member of a formal anarchist-communist organisation, so I don't see why you make this assumption.

Quote:
2) ''The workers'' are apparetly so befuddled and stupid that even imagining a better future will simply leave them ''pacfified'' in a sea of confusion unable to deal with todays reality.

Once again, that's not what I said. I said that focussing on a hypothetical society in the far future means we lose focus on the here and now. I think that's self-evident.

Quote:
3) There is some sort of limit on human imagination that makes us supposedly incapable of actually imagining a socialist society.

Once again, I didn't say that. Obviously you can imagine a future socialist society, the question I'm asking is whether it's useful, from a revolutionary point of view, to do so. I refer to several examples of 'imaginings' of a socialist society in my original post, so I don't see how you can conclude that.

Quote:
4) That people are incapable of reasoning and applying the basic principle of cause and effect to see how actions in the present might effect outcomes in the future

That isn't what I said. In fact, my post above explicitly draws a connection between actions in the here and now (the class struggle today) and in the far future (the possibility of the eventual total dissolution of capitalism).

Also, I think you're being deliberately obtuse when you write:

Quote:
Struggle doesn;t make your workplace better, being on strike isn;t a good thing. If all anarchism had to offer was struggle why the hell would anyone be interested in it.
Likewise theres nothing intrinsically communist about going on strike.

I would have thought it would be obvious, given the context, that when I use terms like 'struggle' I refer specifically to class struggle. Clearly there's nothing revolutionary about my struggle to get out of bed in the morning in time for my first lecture, or in my struggle to find the keyhole to let myself in to my bedroom after a night's drinking. However, class struggle is clearly a good thing, for workers at any rate, in that it produces real gains (like higher wages, or fewer redundancies, or better conditions, etc.).

But I'm pretty convinced that you actually understood what I was saying, and are just being facetious.

As to the rest:

Quote:
Frankly i think your ideas are just nonsense, looking at history the two biggest anarchist movements the CNT and the IWW at their height put forward specific ideas of what sort of society they would like to see. They were big movements whose members, especially in the CNT genuinely beleived in a very specific vision of an anarchist society.

I don't think "the CNT and the IWW did it" is really an argument.

Quote:
If we look at the revolutionary wave around 1917, this happened because people beleived in a set vision of a new society, one relating to how they saw their workplaces and communities

I think this is just bollocks.

Quote:
One of the reasons bolshevism continues to hold currency as a stronger movement than libertarian socialism is because bolshevism does set out a clear vision of society (albeit a shit social democratic one), and anarchists just run around like headless chickens talking about the evils of blueprints and how they'd be authowitarian and thus have no competing vision to offer.

I don't think that's an accurate characterisation of anarchism; there have been plenty of anarchist or anarchist-y 'visions' of future societies, from SolFed's Economics of Freedom to Kropotkin's Fields, Factories and Workshops tomorrow.

I'm not really sure what to make of your post, it's extremely aggressive in it's criticism of my positions, which is fair enough - you obviously strongly disagree with them - but it ends up not addressing my arguments whatsoever. Instead, you caricature my position, call me a reductionist and anti-organisational, and then argue that the CNT did it so it must be OK.

@allybaba

Quote:
I don't see why you can't do both? Btw thanks for starting the thread your arguments against are interesting. I can see where you are coming from, although I don't agree with your argument.

I tried to touch on this in my OP:

Quote:
If workers come to see communism as a distant ideal or 'vision' that we are striving towards, then we consciously place it outside of our own lives, our own daily actions - in doing so, we disconnect it from the class struggle, from real communism.

I think viewing communism as an imagined society distances it from our own real lives, which is where, imho, we find real communism (in the form of class struggle).

@Steven.

Quote:
yes, I disagree with the initial post quite strongly as well, but not got time to respond fully now. I will hopefully get the time Monday or Tuesday...

I assumed you would. Looking forewords to your response, tho.

~J.

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madlib
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Feb 14 2010 06:51
Quote:
As revolutionaries, we are part of a minority of workers who advocate the complete destruction of modern social life, and its re-creation as communism, as a life of human community rather than human alienation. This event is implicit in the day to day struggles of the working class.

How so? The proletariat's "historical goal" has been survival, not self-abolition. I don't disagree with your general hypothesis at all, but I don't really see any evidence that proves communism is manifested in class struggle. Frankly, I think that's a bit obtuse on your part. To highlight the imaginations and values of communists as only ever being exactly that and then substantiating that by supposing our imagination and values are implicitly manifested in class struggle seems reactionary (no offense). What you're proposing isn't that different from what you're arguing against. What does it matter if we pretend our values and strange ideas will produce a free, vividly defined society or if those same values/ideas are implicitly at the heart of the struggle which will presumably produce that world? Is there a difference?

A (communist ideology) does not equal B (dissolution of capitalism), but A equals C (class struggle)? You're basically saying that communism is inherent in the pursuit of self-interest respective of the proletariat's economic function, or more generally the subjectivity of the working class. If this is so, then why does the working class tolerate the Left? Why has several centuries of capital organizing human beings and the resulting conflict not produced the "implicit event" you mentioned? Why are revolutionaries - or more specifically, communists - a minority? Etc.

That's what I'm seeing. Feel free to set me straight. smile

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 14 2010 13:06
Eyedea wrote:
The proletariat's "historical goal" has been survival, not self-abolition.

I think we, as workers, have needs that go beyond just surviving. There's a difference between surviving and living, after all.

Quote:
I don't disagree with your general hypothesis at all, but I don't really see any evidence that proves communism is manifested in class struggle. Frankly, I think that's a bit obtuse on your part. To highlight the imaginations and values of communists as only ever being exactly that and then substantiating that by supposing our imagination and values are implicitly manifested in class struggle seems reactionary (no offense).

Well, what I call the class struggle is workers struggling to assert their human needs, against the inhuman power of capital. What I call communism is the triumph of our human needs over capital. As such, I see the two terms as synonymous. So I don't just suppose that the imaginations and values of communists manifest themselves in the class struggle; to me it's self evident.

Quote:
What you're proposing isn't that different from what you're arguing against. What does it matter if we pretend our values and strange ideas will produce a free, vividly defined society or if those same values/ideas are implicitly at the heart of the struggle which will presumably produce that world? Is there a difference?

It matters, imho, because if you pretend that your 'vision' will get us to communism, which it can't, then you end up doing nothing but 'envisioning'; on the other hand, if you think that the class struggle is the wellspring of communist practice, then you'll concentrate on that. So it's a question of focus.

Quote:
You're basically saying that communism is inherent in the pursuit of self-interest respective of the proletariat's economic function, or more generally the subjectivity of the working class. If this is so, then why does the working class tolerate the Left? Why has several centuries of capital organizing human beings and the resulting conflict not produced the "implicit event" you mentioned? Why are revolutionaries - or more specifically, communists - a minority? Etc.

I guess because as of yet, for a variety of reasons which I don't fully understand or want to go in to right now, the working class has never fully realised its revolution. We've resisted capital, but never totally demolished it. I mean, I don't see communism or the class-struggle as inevitable - just possible.

Quote:
That's what I'm seeing. Feel free to set me straight.

Well, I don't know about that, but hopefully I've made myself a bit clearer.

~J.

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cantdocartwheels
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Feb 14 2010 14:04
Joseph Kay wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Struggle doesn;t make your workplace better

er, what?

sorry, poorly worded, i mean you can go on strike for higher wages or better conditions, but your still a wage slave, being paid 50p mre and hour or having a few more breaks doesn;t stop call centre work being absolute shit.
Thus while class struggle is inevtable and contains the seeds of a better world, we shouldn;t simply equate communism with making capitalism a bit more bearable by just saying ''communism is class struggle''.

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Feb 14 2010 14:11

well struggle means forming direct social relations of solidarity amongst co-workers, an embryonic human community in the shell of capitalism, however fleeting. so in that sense communism is 'the real movement.'

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cantdocartwheels
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Feb 14 2010 15:14
Quote:
1) Communism is somehow a ''natural'' process (anti-organisational nonsense)''

That's patently not what I said. I don't think natural is a useful word to use here, which is why I haven't used it. I don't really see how anything I have said can be interpreted as anti-organisational. As you know I am a member of a formal anarchist-communist organisation, so I don't see why you make this assumption.

Was more at vlads post tbh, where he quotes pannekoek who explicitly uses the word natural. I know your a member of the AF whose main aim is to spread agit prop about anarchist communism, that just makes your economistic arguements here even more illogical. I mean I assume you're not also one of the ''apolitical IWW'' type, which would at least make sense in terms of your line of arguement.

Quote:
2) ''The workers'' are apparetly so befuddled and stupid that even imagining a better future will simply leave them ''pacfified'' in a sea of confusion unable to deal with todays reality.

Once again, that's not what I said. I said that focussing on a hypothetical society in the far future means we lose focus on the here and now. I think that's self-evident.

I can;t see how this arguement is anything more than a reductionist assumption that people are somehow too stupid to do two things at once.

Quote:
''3) There is some sort of limit on human imagination...''

Once again, I didn't say that. Obviously you can imagine a future socialist society, the question I'm asking is whether it's useful, from a revolutionary point of view, to do so. I refer to several examples of 'imaginings' of a socialist society in my original post, so I don't see how you can conclude that.

'' any 'vision' we might have about such an event, let alone what comes after, is pretty much guesswork made from the standpoint of total ignorance.''

''4) That people are incapable of ''....

That isn't what I said. In fact, my post above explicitly draws a connection between actions in the here and now (the class struggle today) and in the far future (the possibility of the eventual total dissolution of capitalism).

Your basically argueing that we are nable to imagine revolution as a process taking us from capitalism to communism that there is some sort of imaginative missing link in our thinking.
You quite explicitly say that imagining the future impedes acting today because it only leads to people seeing communism as a far off dream. Thus you sare saying people are incapable of reasoning cause and effect.
You are also effectively saying that we are unable to use our subjective experience to inform our imagination, that for some bizarre reason a vision of a future society would be utterly removed from our desires and experiences in our day to day lives.

Quote:
I don't think "the CNT and the IWW did it" is really an argument.

Personally i think looking at times when anarchism was actually mass movement rather than a fringe one is a pretty relevant arguement.

Quote:
I don't think that's an accurate characterisation of anarchism; there have been plenty of anarchist or anarchist-y 'visions' of future societies, from SolFed's Economics of Freedom to Kropotkin's Fields, Factories and Workshops tomorrow.

a better example of a vision of a future society might be
http://zinelibrary.info/files/After%20the%20Revolution.pdf
or
http://flag.blackened.net/liberty/libcom.html

Generally tho anarchists don;t have a vision of society n any detail. If you ask a member of the SP how they would like to see hospitals run then chances are they can point to the NHS, then go on from there about how it could be more democratic. Its shit and its fndamentally social democratic but it is at least an answer. Ask an anarchist, and they'll most likey give you some vague bollocks about co-operatives being nice and how hierarchy is kinda bad, or they'll spout some mental shit about how we'll all be doctors after the revolution or we won;t need hospitals or something equally bonkers.
As far as i'm concerned if you dont have a socialist vision of society that you'd actually like to see replace capitalism, your politics in practice will equate to little more than those of either a) mainstream trade unionism or b) anti-capitalist summit protest. One look at the way apolitical syndicalism in Britain was swallowed up by bolshevism after the war shows exactly what happens when you dont actually go around talking about the sort of society you want to see, someone else will do that talking for you.

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 14 2010 15:27
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Personally i think looking at times when anarchism was actually mass movement rather than a fringe one is a pretty relevant arguement.

well that's the thing isn't it. it made sense for the CNT to publish visions of what they were trying to do because they were millions strong and actually launching attempted revolutionary general strikes all over the place. it's somewhat less pressing when we consider it an achievement to publish 4 issues of a nespaper and 4 issues of a magazine in a year. i mean i'm not opposed to 'visions' per se, it can be an interesting thought experiment and may provide a point of departure for others in future.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
As far as i'm concerned if you dont have a socialist vision of society that you'd actually like to see replace capitalism, your politics in practice will equate to little more than those of either a) mainstream trade unionism or b) anti-capitalist summit protest. One look at the way apolitical syndicalism in Britain was swallowed up by bolshevism after the war shows exactly what happens when you dont actually go around talking about the sort of society you want to see, someone else will do that talking for you.

well there's a difference between having explicitly revolutionary objectives and being driven by the motive of a future paradise, erected in intricate detail in your imagination.

Deezer
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Feb 14 2010 15:53
BigLittleJ wrote:
We've resisted capital, but never totally demolished it. I mean, I don't see communism or the class-struggle as inevitable - just possible.

Er, class struggle is inevitable surely while comunism is not. One being the result of the tension between capital and the proletariat and the other ultimiately being in our best interests but not a predestined historic mission of our class. I mean class struggle happens even when the ruling class are 'winning'.

I actually reckon that the lack of a willingness to discuss possible visions (note possible and plural) for the future is pretty closely linked to the lack of any real connection between the liberatian communist movement and ongoing class struggle, a lack of militancy in the working class and the nature of those disputes which are occurring (defensive and reationary).

We need (as a class/members of the working class) to build better and stronger forms of organisation and clarify some sort of sense of what we are actually struggling for. Both are essential.

Boris Badenov
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Feb 14 2010 16:44
cantdo wrote:
Was more at vlads post tbh, where he quotes pannekoek who explicitly uses the word natural.

What P. actually says is this:
"It arises as an irresistible process of nature, as a convulsion moving society in its deepest entrails, evoking the mightiest forces and passions in man. It is the result of a tenacious and probably long class struggle"

This is a metaphor. He is not actually saying that communism is literally like a volcano exploding, but there is an element to the social revolution that is entirely spontaneous and unaccountable to vision-makers. This is corroborated by basically all accounts of large scale "social unrest" that we have (from Guibert de Nogent's 12th century descriptions of the medieval commune movement to Orwell's account of the Spanish revolution).

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Feb 14 2010 18:15
Deezer wrote:

I actually reckon that the lack of a willingness to discuss possible visions (note possible and plural) for the future is pretty closely linked to the lack of any real connection between the liberatian communist movement and ongoing class struggle

Exactly. If libertarian communism would inform any actual workers' movement you would have more ideas on how an actually socialist economy might function, some more practical than others. As it is today, libertarian communism is the lot of a few minuscule organizations. To ask why these have no grand vision to offer to "the masses" is ridiculous, not to mention that it assumes a certain level of sanctimonious vanguardism. If communism has any chance whatsoever it is as the living practice of the working class, not as that elitist "leadership of ideas" horseshit.

Quote:
We need (as a class/members of the working class) to build better and stronger forms of organisation and clarify some sort of sense of what we are actually struggling for. Both are essential.

what do "better" and "stronger" forms mean and how do we go about building them?

Boris Badenov
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Feb 14 2010 18:54
cantdocartwheels wrote:
One look at the way apolitical syndicalism in Britain was swallowed up by bolshevism after the war shows exactly what happens when you dont actually go around talking about the sort of society you want to see, someone else will do that talking for you.

Jesus fuck cantdo, no offense mate but you're starting to sound like Dundee United. Pre-1917 British syndicalism was most certainly not apolitical. The success of the Bolseviks in imposing their centralising policies on pretty much the entire British left has nothing to do with apoliticism and everything to do with 1) people lacking genuine information on the Russian situation and letting their "visions of society" get the better of them and wanting to believe that the Bolsheviks were really revolutionary (this was also true of the anarchists, like Guy Aldred for example, who only gradually came to realize the truth about bolshevism) and 2) the wartime boom collapsing, leading to massive unemployment and a workers' movement that was, unlike before, largely on the defensive, and able to be manipulated by the empty electioneering of the now bolshevized parties.

Spikymike
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Feb 14 2010 19:26

I think I am in general agreement here with BL and Vlad (and of course good old Pannekoek) but on the specific point BL makes about the effect of focussing on a future vision distracting from effective action in the class struggle now it is probably only the SPGB as an organisation that in anyway fits into that category.

For most other groups in the LibCom mould visioning future societies is a fairly preripheral activity.

The fact is that our role as pro-revolutionaries in the current situation can only be a largely negative one by comparison with the leftists of all varieties, because we don't as a political tendency have any desire to run society on behalf of anyone and cannot therefor compete in terms of alternative blueprints for running society, which in practice only end up being radicalised versions of class society.

This point about the 'negative' role of pro-revolutionaries (which doesn't mean we never do anything positive as such in the class struggle) has I think been made in different ways by 'Monsieur Dupont' in the past and by 'Internationalist Perspective' today probably better than me.

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 14 2010 22:44
cantdo wrote:
I know your a member of the AF whose main aim is to spread agit prop about anarchist communism, that just makes your economistic arguements here even more illogical.

I don't think my argument is economistic; for one thing I think being working class is as much determined by your political position as your economic one. For instance, a politician who owned no property would still, imo, be ruling class. I don't think that ideas and theory are useless or that communism is inevitable; quite the reverse. I don't think this is incompatible with my stated position above; I simply think that our efforts as revolutionaries (agitprop etc.) should focus on present day struggles and issues, not futuristic visions.

cantdo wrote:
I can;t see how this arguement is anything more than a reductionist assumption that people are somehow too stupid to do two things at once.

I don't think people are unable to do both at once, but I do think that there is a conflict between seeing communism as a vision of the future and seeing it in the class struggle in the present. Obviously people do do both at once (the CNT and the IWW for example were clearly involved in the class struggle and in envisioning a communist future).

Quote:
''3) There is some sort of limit on human imagination...''

Once again, I didn't say that. Obviously you can imagine a future socialist society, the question I'm asking is whether it's useful, from a revolutionary point of view, to do so. I refer to several examples of 'imaginings' of a socialist society in my original post, so I don't see how you can conclude that.

'' any 'vision' we might have about such an event, let alone what comes after, is pretty much guesswork made from the standpoint of total ignorance.''

Exactly. I didn't say that we couldn't imagine a communist revolution. I said that what we imagined would be guesswork, rather than anything that could help revolutionaries in the future.

cantdo wrote:
Your basically argueing that we are nable to imagine revolution as a process taking us from capitalism to communism that there is some sort of imaginative missing link in our thinking.

The missing link is not imagination, it's knowledge of what conditions will be like in the far future. We simply don't know what it will be like then. We can imagine, but that's it - we can't know, it's pure speculation.

cantdo wrote:
You quite explicitly say that imagining the future impedes acting today because it only leads to people seeing communism as a far off dream. Thus you sare saying people are incapable of reasoning cause and effect.

I don't think anyone is capable of deriving a detailed knowledge of future events just from cause and effect, no.

cantdo wrote:
You are also effectively saying that we are unable to use our subjective experience to inform our imagination, that for some bizarre reason a vision of a future society would be utterly removed from our desires and experiences in our day to day lives.

I think a vision of the future is self-evidently removed from things happening in the present.

Quote:
As far as i'm concerned if you dont have a socialist vision of society that you'd actually like to see replace capitalism, your politics in practice will equate to little more than those of either a) mainstream trade unionism or b) anti-capitalist summit protest.

Yes, because everyone knows that summit protesters and trade unionists are never SPs or utopian dreamers or anything. Honestly, where are you even getting this from? I can trivially think of arguments against both mainstream trade unionism and spectacular summit protests without having to talk about some grand vision of the communism that we'll have in two hundred years. If I couldn't, I'd sound like a right prat arguing with anyone:

Fellow worker: "I think we shouldn't go on strike because the union says so"

Me: "we should totally wildcat because there's this glorious socialist future that's gonna happen a few hundred years down the road, allow me to tell you what it will look like"

Fellow worker: "go away, strange crazy person, we're trying to have a sensible conversation here"

Deezer wrote:
Er, class struggle is inevitable surely while comunism is not. One being the result of the tension between capital and the proletariat and the other ultimiately being in our best interests but not a predestined historic mission of our class. I mean class struggle happens even when the ruling class are 'winning'

Good point, sorry, that is what I meant. Must learn to use words good.

Deezer wrote:
I actually reckon that the lack of a willingness to discuss possible visions (note possible and plural) for the future is pretty closely linked to the lack of any real connection between the liberatian communist movement and ongoing class struggle, a lack of militancy in the working class and the nature of those disputes which are occurring (defensive and reationary).

We need (as a class/members of the working class) to build better and stronger forms of organisation and clarify some sort of sense of what we are actually struggling for. Both are essential.

I broadly agree, but I'd say what we're "actually struggling for" are the thing we have a hope of achieving right now. I mean, we need to be realistic here - I'd love it if the working class in Britain was a combative, organised, well-oiled machine of death*, ready to smash the state and dismantle capitalism, but it just isn't. What we're actually struggling for at the moment is mostly self defence against the attacks that are currently reigning down on us from all sides - redundancies, cuts to welfare, below-inflation pay raises and so on - if we're lucky, maybe some positive demands for better pay and conditions.

*apologies to Tim Schafer

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Feb 15 2010 09:38
Vlad336 wrote:

Jesus fuck cantdo, no offense mate but you're starting to sound like Dundee United.

No, dundee beleives that the IWW should be more apolitical and that L&S should be the political leadership of ideas. Also dundee is obsessed with realism and ''tactics for today'', thats his whole schtick.Most of the more mental stuff he spouts isn't about his views on a future society, its about his organising model to resist capitalism which he actually disconnects quite heavily from an idealised society because he thinks we need to be hard headed or some such excuse for not being particularly anarchist.
Anyways while i think dundee is obviously wrong about a lot of things.,saying anything associated with him is wrong just echoes all the shit anarchists who won;t do anything the SWP do because its associated with them, so not only are you incrrect but also its a pretty pointless line of arguement all round. Stick to argueing the actual politics.

Quote:
Pre-1917 British syndicalism was most certainly not apolitical.

Compared to anarcho-syndiclaism it obviously was apolitical. Generally what we would historicaly perceive as anarcho-syndicalism remained attatched to a much smaller immigrant minority eg rocker and the east end immigrant jewish populaton.

Quote:
The success of the Bolseviks in imposing their centralising policies on pretty much the entire British left has nothing to do with apoliticism and everything to do with 1) people lacking genuine information on the Russian situation and letting their "visions of society" get the better of them and wanting to believe that the Bolsheviks were really revolutionary

Yes as i was saying, its because they didn;t have a strongly expressed vision of an anarchist society. If they had had a clearer more popularised idea of the society they wanted to see then they would have not all gone and joined the communist party which is what large chunks of the syndiclaist movement did. On the continent, the anarcho-syndiclaist organisations had a much clearer set of ideas, and were able to form their own network and resist simply being swallowed up by the 3rd international.

ps will answer bljs post as soonas i can

Boris Badenov
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Feb 15 2010 15:47
cantdocartwheels wrote:
No, dundee beleives that the IWW should be more apolitical and that L&S should be the political leadership of ideas. Also dundee is obsessed with realism and ''tactics for today'', thats his whole schtick.Most of the more mental stuff he spouts isn't about his views on a future society, its about his organising model to resist capitalism which he actually disconnects quite heavily from an idealised society because he thinks we need to be hard headed or some such excuse for not being particularly anarchist.

Yes he is a realpolitiker par excellence; what I meant is that he too thinks the bolsheviks' tactics and strategy were superior and so had to be supported by anarchists who weren't "counterrevolutionary," without allowing for the possibility that the former actually secured their support through sheer force and anti-worker violence, not a "leadership of ideas." This is the kind of mental argument I saw emerging in your last post; sorry if I was wrong. Point is, to praise the bolsheviks for succeeding in molding the European left, including many anarchists, to their interests is ultimately to praise "might is right" and "ignorance is bliss," not a certain "vision of society."

Quote:
Anyways while i think dundee is obviously wrong about a lot of things.,saying anything associated with him is wrong just echoes all the shit anarchists who won;t do anything the SWP do because its associated with them

What exactly do the SWP do except spread idiotic lies and give support for nationalist and/or liberal politics?
Yes Dundee United is dead wrong about everything and so are the SWP, despite some people's stupid fantasies that trots are somehow more "in touch" with workplace struggles. This is not anarchist do-nothingism; anyone with half a brain can realize it.

Quote:
Compared to anarcho-syndiclaism it obviously was apolitical. Generally what we would historicaly perceive as anarcho-syndicalism remained attatched to a much smaller immigrant minority eg rocker and the east end immigrant jewish populaton.

You're wrong. The East End radicals were absolutely not the only group of workers to embrace a "pure" anarco-syndicalism. British syndicalism is notoriously understudied, so it is easy to assume that it didn't exist beyond some vague slightly-more-radical-than-the-norm "trade union consciousness." But as Bob Holton has showed, for example, in pre and post WW1 Merseyside "anarchist groups had existed for some years. As early as 1907 a resolute anarcho-syndicalist network was growing up in Liverpool, drawing on English, Spanish and Jewish anarchist opinion in the locality." *

Quote:
Yes as i was saying, its because they didn;t have a strongly expressed vision of an anarchist society.

And I'm saying that they did, and they assumed it was the same one that the Bolsheviks had. Only later did most of them bother checking up on the facts, to realize of course that the anarchist vision of "all power to the soviets" was not in fact what was happening in Russia. Vision-based idealism is precisely what led many anarchists to support the murderous regime of Lenin and Trotsky; those who didn't were either ridiculed as "sectarians" or even denounced as "reactionary," even though all European leftists were equally in the dark as to what was really going on in Russia.

Quote:
If they had had a clearer more popularised idea of the society they wanted to see then they would have not all gone and joined the communist party which is what large chunks of the syndiclaist movement did.

Again you are putting the horse before the cart. If they had remained grounded in class struggle rather than let themselves be carried away with sweet promises of utopia by the bolsheviks, they would not have joined said parties. It was because of an idealism divorced from reality that some, if not most as you say, ended up like they did.
To illustrate this, think of Loach's Land and Freedom and how absolutely naive and gullible the young IBer was at the beginning thanks to the "visions" spoon-fed to him by The Daily Worker and co.
If you think suspending disbelief for the sake of waxing poetic on what the future will look like is a worthwhile task for the working class, then you only need remind yourself that most people who go down that road end up as useful idiots.

Quote:
On the continent, the anarcho-syndiclaist organisations had a much clearer set of ideas, and were able to form their own network and resist simply being swallowed up by the 3rd international.

It would be false however to assume that only in Britain did some anarchists fall for bolshie propaganda. This was the case throughout Western Europe.

_____________________________
*Bob Holton, "Syndicalism and Labour on Merseyside 1906-14"

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Feb 15 2010 16:21

i obviously agree with cantdo on the importance of workers organisations having their own revolutionary politics, both to resist class collaboration and co-option by political parties. but i don't think that's the same thing as 'having a vision' in the sense of a fully workerd out description of a functioning libertarian communist society. the IWA's 'system of free councils' is good enough for me, encapsulating the gist of it with the details to be filled in by the millions/billions who would have to make it a reality.

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Feb 15 2010 16:23
Joseph Kay wrote:
the IWA's 'system of free councils' is good enough for me, encapsulating the gist of it with the details to be filled in by the millions/billions who would have to make it a reality.

I fully agree.

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D
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Feb 15 2010 17:29

I think this kind of depends on what is meant by 'vision'. A definite utopian blueprint of how society will be/function is clearly ridiculous but

having ideas/principles of how a socialist society should/would be is very important. Tbh I dont really see how you can be an anarchist communist if you have no ideas on what a socialist society should/would be like

radicalgraffiti
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Feb 15 2010 19:46
BigLittleJ wrote:
radicalgrafiti wrote:
being a communist/anarchist is imagining something better.

I would argue that being a communist/anarchist is doing something about it rather than just imagining.

If your an anarchist comunist then you are aiming for a specific kind of society, not just "doing something", and this has an infuluence on what kind of things we do.

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Feb 15 2010 19:54
Quote:
"when the strength of the state fails, when we forsake our economy and break all bonds of bourgeois citizenship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Capital comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!"*

I like this.

To destroy capitalism isn't going to be fucking easy, plans need to be made. If we don't set out what to do after capitalism is destroyed anything could fucking happen and some army dictator could assume control over the world.
If the state was to disapear over night there would be crime everywhere.

ajjohnstone
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Feb 15 2010 22:04

Spikeymike

Quote:
-" ...about the effect of focussing on a future vision distracting from effective action in the class struggle now it is probably only the SPGB as an organisation that in anyway fits into that category."

I have just been reading John Crump's 1970s resignation letter from the SPGB and he identified an "economic determinist" wing - those members who believed that history would create the conditions that would make the working class realise the necessity of socialism and thus give rise to socialist consciousness

Quote:
"...the SPGB never subscribed to the belief which was popular among so many social democrats before the 1st World War that ‘history’ would bring capitalism to the point where it would be forced to collapse, but it did insist that ‘history’ would bring the working class to the point where it would be forced to become socialist. In other words, the SPGB maintained a commitment to the need for consciousness, but only by reducing consciousness to a level where it was conceived as something which emerged more or less mechanically..."

But i think in regard to this thread , he had in mind the other wing which Crump called the "utopians" and it may be those SPGB members that Spikeymike's reference may be correctly directed towards.

Quote:
"...the implicit assumption of the utopians was that socialism was to be established only when a majority of people had been made convinced of its desirability - by the propaganda efforts of the SPGB...they conceived of the development of socialist consciousness as being essentially a matter of education, of the workers being taught socialist ideas by the Party...their tendency is to present socialism as a universal panacea to which they hope to convert people by sheer force of argument...they’re trying to convince the workers of the need for Socialism via moral persuasion. ‘Socialism’ (like syrup of figs) is good for you. Since for them socialist consciousness does not develop out of the struggles in which workers are involved, they have nothing to on except the hope that sooner or later the “unthinking majority” will wake up..."

I cannot deny there is much truth in what John Crump and Spikeymike says . But , as i see it , there must be an objective in our struggle .

The SPGB has always understood the class struggle to be a basic feature of any exploiting class society, whether or not those involved are aware or not of their historical role.Slaves who refuse to work hard and the slave owner who whips them are both engaged in the class struggle, even if neither consider they belong to one of two separate classes in society with antagonistic interests. So is the modern wage or salary earner who demands better working conditions, higher wages or shorter hours, or who resists having to work harder; or, indeed, who turns up late for work or takes days off. The class struggle—resistance to exploitation by the exploited class—is a daily, permanent feature in any class society. ( see here)

Often , the SPGB are criticised , perhaps with just cause i grant you , of being unable or unwilling to focus on those present struggles . But in defence of the SPGB , many things people take for granted as "just the way things are or has to be" must be challenged and changed to establish socialism. People accept as true the things they hear over and over again. But this "common knowledge " doesn't make it true. Socialists need to show that this "common knowledge" is wrong. People become socialists from their life experiences and meeting socialists is part of that experience. Socialist consciousness involves understanding socialism which means talking about it and sharing ideas about it . As Steve Coleman put it -

Quote:
"when all the grandness of revolutionary rhetoric is brushed aside, it is, at the end of the day, the worker putting the case for the abolition of wage labour to her mates during the lunch break... the man who is known in his local pub as the fellow who is always talking about a world without money - it is these who are doing the real work of giving their fellow workers a taste of the impossible." (see here)

Class struggle without any understanding of where we are going is simply committing ourselves to a never-ending treadmill. Socialism won't emerge spontaneously out of the struggle . That is just as utopian and mechanistical as those Crump identifies in his description of SPGB members .
Some in our party have the view the problem with the SPGB's theory is not because it emphasises education but because it inadequately theorises the relationship between education and struggle/practice. For example, we have had little or nothing positive to say about what workers are to do in the meantime .That is something we in the SPGB have to work on .

Anyways , in my feeble attempt to address part of the problem , i have drafted an "Open Letter" intended for those endeavouring to form new workers parties and new Internationals , hopefully the start of creating a dialogue when so often the SPGB have stood on the side-lines disparaging (perhaps rightly in some cases ) attempts to re-construct workers movements . I'm well aware that sections on parliament and trade unions will make certain Libcom list members balk so no need to go repeating arguments but comments at the blog would be appreciated . And yes , it is probably suffers from empasising a vision of the future rather than focussing on the here and now class fight.

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Feb 15 2010 22:31
Vlad336 wrote:
Joseph Kay wrote:
the IWA's 'system of free councils' is good enough for me, encapsulating the gist of it with the details to be filled in by the millions/billions who would have to make it a reality.

I fully agree.

Yep, me too. In AWSM, we state:

AWSM Aims & Principles wrote:
a classless, stateless society: anarchist communism. That society would be run by a federation of workplace and community councils, with everyone having a say in decisions that affect them. Resources and property would be communally owned and controlled by everyone. Production would be geared to satisfying everyone’s needs, people would give voluntarily according to their ability, and produce would be distributed freely according to need.

I wouldn't want to get much more detailed than that, tbh. I mean, it can be fun to imagine possibilities of how things might be organised in more detail post-revolution (or so others have told me, I don't particularly enjoy it), but I don't see it as being politically productive at all.

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Feb 19 2010 05:53

i think we have to have some specific ideas about what we are aiming at. we can't ask people to buy into a pig in a poke. a conception of what we want to achieve also may affect our mode of organizing. this comes back to the idea of "prefiguring." if we believe that the working class can liberate itself, this assumes it can run its own mass movements/organizations which become the vehicle. if so, we don't want these to be, for example, top-down, not only because they are likely to sell out but also because we don't aim at creating another dismal bureaucratic "socialist" arrangement, with a bureaucratic dominating class.

there are also various actual quandaries or objections to the whole project of a libertarian socialist society, that need to be answered, as part of the "battle of ideas."

I think certain things are basic. Workers directly managing the industries where they work is one very basic objective, for example. But workers managing social production will need to do so in ways that are socially accountable. for example, industries pollute. how is this to be prevented?

and then there is the question of working class gaining power in society without building a new state. this question has bedeviled anarchism since the 19th century.

What we don't need to do is describe the things that will be made or what people will consume or whether people will be spread out over the countryside or concentrated in urban settlements....because these are things people will decide for themselves.

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Feb 19 2010 11:20
Quote:
we have to have some specific ideas about what we are aiming at.

A Model of Socialist Society

Socialists caution against the creation of blueprints . There is no point in drawing up in advance the sort of detailed blueprint of industrial organisation . For a small group of socialists , as we are now , to do so would be undemocratic.We also recognise that there may not be one single way of doing things, and precise details and ways of doing things might vary from one part of the world to another, even between neighbouring communities.
Socialists cannot determine what the conditions will be when socialism is established. As the socialist majority grows, when socialism is within the grasp of the working class, that will then be the proper time for making such important decisions. It is imprudent for today’s socialist minority to be telling people how to administer a socialist society. When a majority of people understand what socialism means, the suggestions for socialist administration will solidify into an appropriate plan. It will be based upon the conditions existing at that time, not today.
We can , however, reach some generalised conclusions based on basic premises and can outline broad principles or options that could be applied. We do not have to draw up a plan for socialism, but simply and broadly demonstrate that it is possible and therefore refute the label of “utopianism” .

It is reasonable to assume that productive activity would be divided into branches and that production in these branches would be organised by a delegate body. The responsibility of these industries would be to ensure the supply of a particular kind of product either, in the case of consumer goods, to distribution centres or, in the case of goods used to produce other goods, to productive units or other industries.
Since the needs of consumers are always needs for a specific product at a specific time in a specific locality, we will assume that socialist society would leave the initial assessment of likely needs to a delegate body under the control of the local community . In a stable society such as socialism, needs would change relatively slowly. Hence it is reasonable to surmise that an efficient system of stock control, recording what individuals actually chose to take under conditions of free access from local distribution centres over a given period, would enable the local distribution committee to estimate what the need for food, drink, clothes and household goods would be over a similar future period. Some needs would be able to be met locally: local transport, restaurants, builders, repairs and some food are examples as well as services such as street-lighting, libraries and refuse collection. The local distribution committee would then communicate needs that could not be met locally to the bodies charged with coordinating supplies to local communities.

The individual would have free access to the goods on the shelves of the local distribution centres; the local distribution centres free access to the goods they required to be always adequately stocked with what people needed; their suppliers free access to the goods they required from the factories which supplied them; industries and factories free access to the materials, equipment and energy they needed to produce their products; and so on. Production and distribution in socialism would thus be a question of organising a coordinated and more or less self-regulating system of linkages between users and suppliers, enabling resources and materials to flow smoothly from one productive unit to another, and ultimately to the final user, in response to information flowing in the opposite direction originating from final users. The productive system would thus be set in motion from the consumer end, as individuals and communities took steps to satisfy their self-defined needs. Socialist production is self-regulating production for use.

To ensure the smooth functioning of the system, statistical offices would be needed to provide estimates of what would have to be produced to meet peoples likely individual and collective needs. These could be calculated in the light of consumer wants as indicated by returns from local distribution committees and of technical data (productive capacity, production methods, productivity, etc) incorporated in input-output tables. For, at any given level of technology (reflected in the input-output tables), a given mix of final goods (consumer wants) requires for its production a given mix of intermediate goods and raw materials; it is this latter mix that the central statistical office would be calculating in broad terms. Such calculations would also indicate whether or not productive capacity would need to be expanded and in what branches. The centres for each world-region would thus be essentially an information clearing house, processing information communicated to it about production and distribution and passing on the results to industries for them to draw up their production plans so as to be in a position to meet the requests for their products coming from other industries and from local communities. The only calculations that would be necessary in socialism would be calculations in kind. On the one side would be recorded the resources (materials, energy, equipment, labour) used up in production and on the other side the amount of the good produced, together with any by-products.

Stock or inventory control systems employing calculation in kind are, as was suggested earlier, absolutely indispensable to any kind of modern production system. While it is true that they operate within a price environment today, that is not the same thing as saying they need such an environment in order to operate. The key to good stock management is the stock turnover rate – how rapidly stock is removed from the shelves – and the point at which it may need to be re-ordered. This will also be affected by considerations such as lead times – how long it takes for fresh stock to arrive – and the need to anticipate possible changes in demand.

As we have seen , socialism will be a self-adjusting decentralised inter-linked system . A socialist economy would be polycentric , not centrally planned. The problem with a central planning model of socialism is its inability to cope with change. It lacks any kind of feedback mechanism which allows for mutual adjustments between the different actors in such an economy. It is completely inflexible . Socialism does not necessary involve the creation of new layers of administrations but simply the transformation of them . It is not a command economy but a responsive one to provide for a self -sustaining steady state society.
And we can set out a possible way of achieving an eventual zero growth steady state society operating in a stable and ecologically benign way. This could be achieved in three main phases.

1) There would have to be emergency action to relieve the worst problems of food shortages, health care and housing which affect billions of people throughout the world.

2) Longer term action to construct means of production and infrastructures such as transport systems for the supply of permanent housing and durable consumption goods. These could be designed in line with conservation principles, which means they would be made to last for a long time, using materials that where possible could be re-cycled and would require minimum maintenance.

3) With these objectives achieved there could be an eventual fall in production, and society could move into a stable mode. This would achieve a rhythm of daily production in line with daily needs with no significant growth. On this basis, the world community could reconcile two great needs, the need to live in material well being whilst looking after the planet.

A moneyless society can calculate opportunity costs and allocate resources rationally by :-
1) Calculation in kind
2) A self-correcting system of stock control - which identifies quantities of stocks available and provides a reliable indication of consumer demand (via the depletion rates of stocks)
3) The law of the minimum - whereby you economise most on those factors of production that are relatively scarcest
4) A social hierarchy of production goals - which sorts out the allocation of scarce factors where competing demands are placed upon them.

Humans behave differently depending upon the conditions that they live in. Human behaviour reflects society. In a society such as capitalism, people's needs are not met and people feel insecure. People tend to acquire and hoard goods because possession provides some security. People have a tendency to distrust others because the world is organized in such a dog-eat-dog manner. To establish socialism the vast majority must consciously decide that they want socialism and that they are prepared to work in socialist society. The establishment of socialism presupposes the existence of a mass socialist movement and a profound change in social outlook. It is simply not reasonable to suppose that the desire for socialism on such a large scale, and the conscious understanding of what it entails on the part of all concerned, would not influence the way people behaved in socialism and towards each other. In socialism, status based upon the material wealth at one's command, would be a meaningless concept. The notion of status based upon the conspicuous consumption of wealth would be devoid of meaning because individuals would stand in equal relation to the means of production and have free access to the resultant goods and services . Why take more than you need when you can freely take what you need? In socialism the only way in which individuals can command the esteem of others is through their contribution to society, and the stronger the movement for socialism grows the more will it subvert the prevailing capitalist ethos .

Free access to goods and services denies to any group of individuals the political leverage with which to dominate others (a feature intrinsic to all private-property or class based systems through control and rationing of the means of life ) . This will work to ensure that a socialist society is run on the basis of democratic consensus. Decisions will be made at different levels of organisation: global, regional and local with the bulk of decision-making being made at the local level.

Anything less than the demand for full free access socialism does not go far enough. In the final analysis, those who oppose it lack the confidence that either there are sufficient resources on the planet to provide for all , or that human beings can work voluntarily, and co-operate to organise production and distribution of wealth without chaos, and consume wealth responsibly without some form of rationing. In the end , these critics remain fixated to the lazy person, greedy individual critique of human behaviour.

http://mailstrom.blogspot.com/2010/02/open-letter-to-those-describing.html