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Communists in the Anarchist Utopia

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Neodoxy Posted: Thu, Aug 2 2012 4:15 AM

As per requested:

http://mises.org/Community/forums/p/30265/482424.aspx#482424

1. Post Politics

Now I think that a very interesting, and possibly essential idea for anarchism is the idea of "post politics", that is the achievement of "political", social/collective goals through voluntary behavior. It's theoretically possible that the left/right spectrum, in terms of its modern base values, could continue even in the absence of the state. Of course their mode of organization and action would look totally different, mostly revolving around boycotts, collective subsidies, and "community" firms, but they would still be around and free to serve and work however they want.

This fits in perfectly with Wheylous' current thread about Molyneux's stance on the provision of certain "collective" goods, or merely ones which are not traditionally provided for by the market. I call this the law of political demand which is very simple, that the disappearance of the state will only cause "political demands" which are directly involved with the state to disappear, while other ones remain. For instance, the desire for good politicians, or a stronger involvement with the U.N will disappear, but support for the poor will not. This means that people will attempt to find a solution to the problem through free market means, and it's important to note that, just as with the particular structure any one market will take, we cannot determine a priori what structure these political demands will take.

2. Leftist Anarchism, the Common Ground and Chance for Realization

At any rate, this fits in with what I see the possible existence of what we currently call "leftist anarchists" within the voluntaryist society, and it's important to note that this, apart from being inoffensive to even the strictest anarcho-capitalist, also logically forces leftist anarchists to agree to the voluntaryist social structure:

The basic idea of organization within leftist anarchism is through direct democratic organization of life and production through personal ownership of consumer's goods and communal ownership over property and the means of production with the possibility of secession from any one community at any time. If this arrangement came about through the transfer of private property to these groups, or if these groups created these societies (communes) or industries (syndicates) then voluntaryists cannot complain. In order for the leftist anarchist society to come about in the first place the ideology must be massively popular throughout society, or popular within pockets. If it is popular throughout society then it should be easy for the masses to begin pooling money together and buying out land and companies for the eventual organization of people into egalitarian societies.

If society does not believe in leftist anarchism, then there is no hope for their plans to be realized, if society is convinced by these anarchists then the advent of the leftist anarchist society is inevitable. However, the only situation in which leftist anarchism can favorably be fostered in is within a voluntaryist society, where they are not subject to taxes and they don't have to compete with state protected firms. This means that in the most likely case-scenario, where only a very small portion of society agrees with the communists, they can separate from society and enact their supposedly grand ideas where they can be seen by all and they can begin to gain ground. If they are certain about the efficiency of their ideas, then this is their best option, if they are uncertain of their ideas, then if their societies fail, then the capitalist society is there to fall back on. We know that capitalism can work, their ideas have scarcely if ever truly been tried, and certainly not on a massive and truly modern scale, therefore not only does the voluntaryist society give them the best conditions in which they can operate, but it also prohibits the harm that the syndicalists can do to overall society if they are indeed wrong.

Finally, the more destructive the leftist anarchist believes capitalism to be, the less threatening and more beneficial the voluntaryist society is. When compared to the degradation caused by the capitalist society, the utopia that is the communistic way of life will take on an even more appealing light within the voluntaryist society. Therefore the more destructive capitalism is the swifter will be the change to the leftist anarchist society so long as a few examples can be put into place after anarchy is achieved.

This means that no matter how relatively radical or moderate the leftist anarchist is, he has to concede to the voluntaryist, he must accept the doctrine of "anarchism without adjectives", because although all except those leftist anarchists who might have some reservations about the practicality of their doctrines would prefer the immediate transformation into a communist society, the fact is that combining the forces of both sides is likely to bring a faster realization of their desire, than sticking to their guns would.

3. Positive Aspects of Leftist Anarchism

Now I think it's important to flesh out certain things. The first is that, of course, I am a voluntaryist and a capitalist. I think that an entirely anarcho-communist society would be destined for collapse but I also accept I could be wrong.

With all of this said I think that leftist anarchism could actually have its own small niche within the voluntaryist society because it plays into several of the basic needs of man. In the modern industrial economy it is next to impossible for many people to achieve what they truly want, which is social status and acceptance from others. I'm not saying that these are universal and that there aren't ways to get around these desires, but the fact is that from and evolutionary standpoint we are hardwired to desire these things. Humans evolved in intensely social settings, and indeed relatively communistic ones. You survived both by caring for others and by getting along with people and accepting societal norms. You also wanted to be the biggest, strongest, and most desirable, to have status and importance. That's how you got mates, food, and avoided abuse by others. In social settings it's impossible not to see the invisible pull that the desire for acceptance has upon people, and within most people's private lives it is practically omnipresent.

With this in mind we can see that the average man is simply not naturally inclined for the modern industrial economy. Employees aren't necessarily treated poorly, but they're not treated well, why would they be? They're nothing more than a cog in a machine, an infinitesimally small speck upon the panacea that is the modern economy, stretching over the entire earth and consisting of 7 billion people. In such an economy, unless you are indeed in the 1 percent, YOU DO NOT MATTER. You lack acceptance within the modern workplace, you do not have ideal status, unless you're at the very top of the work pile, and even then it's easy to look at other people within your society who have a greater status than you do and be jealous. This is the sort of thing which spawns "speculative consumption", and other "Keep of with the Joneses" sorts of behaviors. You want mates, you want influence, and you want power, but it's near impossible to wield much influence within such a vast world and the entire structure is in no way set up to grant acceptance.

Within this chaotic and implicitly dystopian worldview it's easy to see the appeal of the communist vision of small, workforces and communities, ones where everyone knows everyone else and is cared for by everyone else, where the influence is less on output and more on an enjoyable work experience and general wellbeing. Perhaps only in these small communities where the security which supposedly comes from communism, with knowing ones place and feeling accepted, respected, and important, can the average man who can't find true joy in himself, find joy in this world.

In this way I can see syndicalist type firms, and communistic communities as possibly having a big role to play, but I cannot truly predict this, only society can. The firms would cut nominal wages in return for real wages and the psychic profit resulting from working in such a nice work environment. The communist societies would have a similar arrangement.

That's what I have to say about that.

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Bogart replied on Thu, Aug 2 2012 1:14 PM

I do not believe that given the "Calculation Problem" that any Communist society can exist in the long term.  The society will either abandon what they are doing and increasingly respect private property rights and that pricing system that private property rights create, or the society will fail to provide for increasinly higher order wants and desires that is held together by an increasingly ruthless oligarchy. 

And when the folks try to practice communal ownership in the midst of an anarchy (the complete respect for private property rights and nonaggression) then the ability of the commune to satisfy the wants and desires of people versus the society at large will be dramatic.  I can not see people in the commune staying their for long absent force.

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I agree with a lot of your thoughts, but others are a bit eh.

I would like to see more work on how we could have anarchy without adjectives, though. I mean AnCaps living next to AnSyns, etc. Because as soon as there is a conflict over each other's property, there are no clear ways of solving it. Arguably, the defense agencies will intervene, but I haven't read anything on the matter.

Either way, I think communism is unstable on a larger scale and for a prolonged period of time. Maybe pockets of people, but maybe not even that...

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Autolykos replied on Fri, Aug 3 2012 10:50 AM

With all due respect, I think anarcho-communists would be quite at odds with anarcho-capitalists, as they'd be inciting and engaging in behaviors that anarcho-capitalists consider to be aggression.

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Neodoxy replied on Fri, Aug 3 2012 2:28 PM

Alright... Triple response time y'all...

Bogart,

"I do not believe that given the "Calculation Problem" that any Communist society can exist in the long term."

This is quite possibly true of a large communist society, but we know that communes can exist, at least from an economic standpoint, within the capitalist society.

"I can not see people in the commune staying their for long absent force."

I can see people doing so for the above reasons, but in many ways the deciding factors will be how much can communes appeal to people's inherent needs while keeping real wages as high as possible.

Wheylous,

"as soon as there is a conflict over each other's property, there are no clear ways of solving it. Arguably, the defense agencies will intervene, but I haven't read anything on the matter."

Society at large will have to decide upon a property norm, whether or not they agree with the communists or the capitalists will decide this conflict.

"Either way, I think communism is unstable on a larger scale and for a prolonged period of time. Maybe pockets of people, but maybe not even that..."

There is no inherent reason why fairly large communes (tens of thousands people) cannot exist within a large modern society (tens of millions of people). It may be the case, but this comes down to individual choice, not economic law.

"With all due respect, I think anarcho-communists would be quite at odds with anarcho-capitalists, as they'd be inciting and engaging in behaviors that anarcho-capitalists consider to be aggression."

  1. This might be the case, it might not be, but as I showed above there's no reason why this must be the case and that a world is conceivable in which they are peaceful
  2. The more aggressive the communists are the more their image with the public is soiled, so if they have any sense they would avoid from using violence. They would also likely be stopped by society at large if it came to that.
  3. If communists believe that their vision is so effective then they should be spending time creating their own communes and proving the efficacy of their vision, not attacking capitalists. A huge point of leftist anarchism is that education must come before revolution, as opposed to marxism which supposedly supports the "top down" revolution of elites who guide the masses, rather than the anarchist vision of a "bottom up" revolution. There is no better way to convince people of the favorable nature of something than giving them a possible and visible example.
  4. It's also important to note that according to the leftist's theories the capitalist society, when left unaided by the welfare state, must degenerate increasingly into chaos and poverty, when this doesn't happen there's  a whole lot of wind taken out of their sails, and increasingly less reason to openly revolt.
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I think you slipped into a couple psychologisms in point 3.Good psychologisms, and onesI happen to agree with, but psychologisims none the less.  Either way, I don't think it takes away from what I am seeing as your overall point,which I think I agree with.

Still though, everything you state is a concession that many libertarian / capitalist types give to radical anarchic leftist types. In other words the "lassaize faire" attitude towards societal organiziation is usally given to these people in discussion - but they still gnash their teeth

To point to a very very lossely,and somewhat infactualy - but in a way to still paint agood  enough "picture" / stereotype

Whatever similarities we think we may share with them I could see most "radical leftists" supporting Barak Obama or Howard Dean over a Ron Paul. Their brains are wired a completely different way, and they are too incorporated into the "mainstream" leftism to risk socially isolating themselves, it would probably be stupid for them to do so.

Furthermore I still think at the root of all leftism is some Platonic Idealistic Brahminism that can not tolerate something that would pass off it's fashions as mere subjective tastes.  It has a system and forces usto fit into it - which, to put superficially, seems to be the reverse way sane "liberalism" looks at the world.  If you buy leftism, you get the Procrustean bed that comes with it.  It has yet to prove that to  me.

 

Thanks for the post.

 

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Aug 6 2012 10:16 AM

Ouch, you response to me didn't address me by name. cheeky

Neodoxy:
This might be the case, it might not be, but as I showed above there's no reason why this must be the case and that a world is conceivable in which they are peaceful

It's conceivable, but I consider it unlikely. My understanding of communism broadly speaking is that it pushes for what it calls "liberation" of the entire proletariat. So as long as there are people who adhere to some variant of communism, I think there's a non-zero probability that they won't stop at forming their own enclaves in an otherwise anarcho-capitalist society.

Neodoxy:
The more aggressive the communists are the more their image with the public is soiled, so if they have any sense they would avoid from using violence. They would also likely be stopped by society at large if it came to that.

I think this is a stronger point than your first one, but the communists may be just as unwilling to back down. Each side could believe that it's right with equal fervor. The question then would be which side is stronger.

Neodoxy:
If communists believe that their vision is so effective then they should be spending time creating their own communes and proving the efficacy of their vision, not attacking capitalists. A huge point of leftist anarchism is that education must come before revolution, as opposed to marxism which supposedly supports the "top down" revolution of elites who guide the masses, rather than the anarchist vision of a "bottom up" revolution. There is no better way to convince people of the favorable nature of something than giving them a possible and visible example.

The anarchist vision is also a moral vision, however. Even if they created their own communes etc., I doubt they'd stand idly by while, from their point of view, their fellow workers are still being oppressed elsewhere. But maybe that's just me.

Neodoxy:
It's also important to note that according to the leftist's theories the capitalist society, when left unaided by the welfare state, must degenerate increasingly into chaos and poverty, when this doesn't happen there's  a whole lot of wind taken out of their sails, and increasingly less reason to openly revolt.

That's mainly according to Marxism, IIRC. Again, the anarchist vision is primarily moral in nature. They're not so much concerned with standard of living, although a constantly rising standard of living would surely impact their ability to gain converts.

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If leftist anarchism is truly voluntary, then it is just one type of social order among many which could exist within a broadly anarcho-capitalist society. Or vice versa: again, if leftist anarchism is truly voluntary, then a competitive market economy could exist within a broadly anarcho-leftist society. The disagreement is not about principles of social organization in the broadest sense, as both agree with purely voluntary social organization. The disagreement is over how people should or might choose to voluntarily organize themselves. Our vision is for a competitive market economy (and this is not only what we prefer, but also what we feel is "natural," in the sense that a voluntarist society will inevitably organize itself in this way), while theirs is for something like a member-owned cooperative. Of course we have good reason to believe that such a cooperative would be uncompetitive vis a vis traditional sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations, but we have no ethical objection to their existence.

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