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could anarchism work?
Posted: 04 September 2007 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Occam - 03 September 2007 05:16 PM

The first obstacle is the balance between short term self-interest and good of the society.  If the members all recognize that putting the other members of the society first is better for them in the long run, it can work.  If they are only interested in their own needs and desires, the society ceases to exist and it’s just a gaggle of competing individuals.  Second, what does the group do about anyone who is disabled and can’t continue to contribute or children if their parents die?  If everything is privatized each would have to pay for the services supplied.  So, are the disabled and the children allowed to starve and die?  If the community as a whole takes care of them, then government is already forming. 

If a house catches fire, why should the firemen put the fire out if the owner isn’t there to pay them?  If he paid in advance (insurance) who keeps track of all the payments for all the potential services? 

I believe that anarchy can work up to a certain community size, but it’s probably less than, say, fifty.  From then on one needs to have some structure to avoid anarchy turning into chaos.

Occam

with all due respect, as someone who considers himself an anarchist I can tell by that statement that you are not really that familiar with it by any means.

there is no first obstacle because anarchism is not about only being interested in individual needs and desires. likewise, caring for the welfare of others (old, young, disabled, etc) is one of the strongest tenets of anarchism. Peter Kropotkin and Errico Malatesta strongly point to “mutual aid” not only in humans but in the animal world as well to highlight that which the three museketeers proclaimed: all for one, and one for all.

by the way, being an anarchist is inspiring me to choose a new line of employment: fire fighter. what better way to get more involved with my community and do something productive than be a fireman? the idea that anarchists wouldnt have firemen or would only do it on the basis of some capital system is absurd. the principle moral of Anarchism is the Golden Rule. No Anarchist would like for others to allow their house to burn when others could help. Therefore, it would go against being an Anarchist to allow someone elses house to burn if we could help.

heres what I recommend for all of you guys. read the classics. i cant help but notice a very distorted understanding of what Anarchism is about. I like that were having this discussion but its very frustrating for me when I can tell that there is a huge misunderstanding of what it is.

here are some things I highly suggest you all read:

Stateless Socialism: Anarchism by Michael Bakunin
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_Archives/bakunin/stateless.html

The Immorality of the State by Michael Bakunin
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_Archives/bakunin/bakuninimmorality.html

Anarchist Morality by Peter Kropotkin
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/AM/anarchist_moralitytc.html

“Anarchism”, from The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910 by Peter Kropotkin
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/britanniaanarchy.html

On Order by Peter Kropotkin
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/order.html

Mutual Aid by Errico Malatesta
http://www.efn.org/~danr/mal_maid.html

Anarchy by Errico Malatesta
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_Archives/malatesta/anarchy.html

What is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government by Pierre Joseph Proudhon
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/ProProp.html

Notes on Anarchism by Noam Chomsky
http://chomsky.info/articles/1970——.htm

A collection of writings by many Anarchists
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_Archives/index.html

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Posted: 04 September 2007 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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TA, don’t get frustrated, I guess this kinds of things ussually happens on forums: we all have diferents interest and so we have difernents backgrounds.

Regarding anarchism, my bigest doubt is that I tend to think that people don’t care about the long term nor others except they (we) are forced to. I think our ‘natural’ tendency is to care on the sort term, and we need a intelectual effort to do it. It is hard to realize that sometimes is impossible to win in isolation.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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barto,

my frustration centers around misunderstandings of what anarchism is about. thats why i would like others to read the selected essays by some of the most important anarchist thinkers (I didnt even get to others like Rudolph Rocker or Alexander Berkman) before we conjecture on what it can and cant do.

Peter Kropotkin is probably the most important one I would suggest reading, especially for this group. He does alot to tie the ideals of Anarchism to Science and Philosophy.

another great essay by him - and was written in 1898 - is:

Anarchism: its philosophy and ideal
http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/philandideal.html

Those who are persuaded that Anarchy is a collection of visions relating to the future, and an unconscious striving toward the destruction of all present civilization, are still very numerous; and to clear the ground of such prejudices of our education as maintain this view we should have, perhaps, to enter into many details which it would be difficult to embody in a single lecture. Did not the Parisian press, only two or three years ago, maintain that the whole philosophy of Anarchy consisted in destruction, and that its only argument was violence?

Nevertheless Anarchists have been spoken of so much lately, that part of the public has at last taken to reading and discussing our doctrines. Sometimes men have even given themselves trouble to reflect, and at the present moment we have at least gained a point: it is willingly admitted that Anarchists have an ideal. Their ideal is even found too beautiful, too lofty for a society not composed of superior beings.

But is it not pretentious on my part to speak of a philosophy, when, according to our critics, our ideas are but dim visions of a distant future? Can Anarchy pretend to possess a philosophy, when it is denied that Socialism has one?

This is what I am about to answer with all possible precision and clearness, only asking you to excuse me beforehand if I repeat an example or two which I have already given at a London lecture, and which seem to be best fitted to explain what is meant by the philosophy of Anarchism.

You will not bear me any ill-will if I begin by taking a few elementary illustrations borrowed from natural sciences. Not for the purpose of deducing our social ideas from them-far from it; but simply the better to set off certain relations, which are easier grasped in phenomena verified by the exact sciences than in examples only taken from the complex facts of human societies.

Well, then, what especially strikes us at present in exact sciences, is the profound modification which they are undergoing now, in the whole of their conceptions and interpretations of the facts of the universe.

There was a time, you know, when man imagined the earth placed in the center of the universe. Sun, moon, planets and stars seemed to roll round our globe; and this globe, inhabited by man, represented for him the center of creation. He himself-the superior being on his planet-was the elected of his Creator. The sun, the moon, the stars were but made for him; toward him was directed all the attention of a God, who watched the least of his actions, arrested the sun’s course for him, wafted in the clouds, launching his showers or his thunder-bolts on fields and cities, to recompense the virtue or punish the crimes of mankind. For thousands of years man thus conceived the universe.

You know also what an immense change was produced in the sixteenth century in all conceptions of the civilized part of mankind, when it was demonstrated that, far from being the centre of the universe, the earth was only a grain of sand in the solar system-a ball, much smaller even than the other planets; that the sun itself-though immense in comparison to our little earth, was but a star among many other countless stars which we see shining in the skies and swarming in the milky-way. How small man appeared in comparison to this immensity without limits, how ridiculous his pretensions! All the philosophy of that epoch, all social and religious conceptions, felt the effects of this transformation in cosmogony. Natural science, whose present development we are so proud of, only dates from that time.

But a change, much more profound, and with far wider reaching results, is being effected at the present time in the whole of the sciences, and Anarchy, you will see, is but one of the many manifestations of this evolution.

——-

Anarchism is an ideal, a philosophy. It is not a concrete set of instructions or a manual, or a Utopia. It is largely centered around humanity’s social behavior. Its central themes is found in humanity already and has been there for as long as we can tell. Again, Kropotkin in Anarchist Morality:

And when we study closely the evolution of the animal world, we discover that the aforesaid principle, translated by the one word Solidarity, has played an infinitely larger part in the development of the animal kingdom than all the adaptations that have resulted from a struggle between individuals to acquire personal advantages.

It is evident that in human societies a still greater degree of solidarity is to be met with. Even the societies of monkeys highest in the animal scale offer a striking example of practical solidarity, and man has taken a step further in the same direction. This and this alone has enabled him to preserve his puny race amid the obstacles cast by nature in his way, and to develop his intelligence.

A careful observation of those primitive societies still remaining at the level of the Stone Age shows to what a great extent the members of the same community practice solidarity among themselves.

This is the reason why practical solidarity never ceases; not even during the worst periods of history. Even when temporary circumstances of domination, servitude, exploitation cause the principle to be disowned, it still lives deep in the thoughts of the many, ready to bring about a strong recoil against evil institutions, a revolution. If it were otherwise society would perish. For the vast majority of animals and men this feeling remains, and must remain an acquired habit, a principle always present to the mind even when it is continually ignored in action.

It is the whole evolution of the animal kingdom speaking in us. And this evolution has lasted long, very long. It counts by hundreds of millions of years.

Even if we wished to get rid of it we could not. It would be easier for a man to accustom himself to walk on fours than to get rid of the moral sentiment. It is anterior in—animal evolution to the upright posture of man.

The moral sense is a natural faculty in us like the sense of smell or of touch.

——

For the sake of argument, let’s say that humans prefer short term planning over long-term (though I see no difficulties with managing both). thats not a critique of Anarchism. Anarchism is not simply about long-term planning anymore than it is simply about dissolving the state or private property. What I mean is, it is not the act that makes anarchism what it is. It is the reason behind it!

Humans are very social creatures and I am very suspicious of the claim that we need topdown authority to manage our societies, whether it comes in the name of Communism, Fascism or Western Democracy just as much as I am skeptical of the notion that self-management could only work on a small, local level. When I do organizing work I dont see that people dont care. I see that they strongly do care, but that they feel powerless. More than half of registered voters dont vote - and its much higher on state and local levels - and the most popular reason is that they dont feel it will change anything. Its not that they dont want to change things, but that they dont feel like they have the power! Recent polls are showing the public is radically to the left on things like social programs and caring for the needy. There is a deep seeded sense that we should care for others. We are not selfish creatures with no concern for others. We are quite the opposite. There is a reason why the Golden Rule is the golden rule.

Some of the greatest social achievements in human history have been the result of the broadening the powers, especially when the general population is given a say. anarchism is a method that seeks to apply that to every form of life by dissolving topdown authority in place of cooperation, participation, solidarity, collective action, self-management. Its not about doing away with leadership. Its about taking authority away from leadership and leaving leaders the role of delegates who dont “decide” but execute the will of the public they freely represent. We can have people in leadership positions without authority coming from above.

There is no reason to think that workers cannot manage themselves, expand their work, seek newer and more effective tools, equipment, develope partnerships with other industries across town, the country or the globe or anything else. Authority in the topdown sense does not create. It simply uses force to maintain the disparity between classes, to ensure the excessive privileges of an idle class.

Again, Anarchism is not something that has to be conducted in any particular way other than managing from below. There is no reason to think it cannot adapt with experience or change in conditions. There is no manual to refer to, no blueprint, no itemized steps to be carried out in a robotic fashion. It is simply the reflection of a common human desire to be free and work together in an atmosphere without coercion.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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And when we study closely the evolution of the animal world, we discover that the aforesaid principle, translated by the one word Solidarity, has played an infinitely larger part in the development of the animal kingdom than all the adaptations that have resulted from a struggle between individuals to acquire personal advantages…There is no manual to refer to, no blueprint, no itemized steps to be carried out in a robotic fashion. It is simply the reflection of a common human desire to be free and work together in an atmosphere without coercion.

See, this is where I get skeptical about Anarchism as you seem to be defining it. Granted I haven’t had time to do the reading you suggest, so I may be mising key points. But it seems to be based on a certain notion of what is natural in human behavior that suggests no manual or blueprint is needed because it will naturally develop out of human nature. Sounds a lot like the inevitable triumph of Marxism as a natural outcome of Marxist interpretations of history. Or the inevitable triumph of free-market capitalism as a natural outcome of the exact opposite view of human nature you seem to subscribe to. While I like your idea better than the others, I’m no more convinced of your natural and inevitable argument.

I find the first half of the quote above a very unlikley generalization based on the evidence of evolution. While we certainly have evolved to cooperate in groups, conflict is just as entrenched and I see no evidence from history that one or the other tendency will triumph on its own. Effective use of reason will, possibly, lead us to suppress the competitive in favor of the cooperative (though I’m not sure on a societal scale the evidence of history suggests it is as easy as all that). But I don’t think we’re goping to just fall into a libertarian/socialist anrachic utopia based on our innate cooperativity.

Failing that, then, a blueprint and a manual is necessary to make progress towards the goal. The absence of one is a major flaw in anarchism. Deliberate rational action is the only way I see such a system developiong, if it can, and to argue that such a method is antithetical to the core ideals of anarchism is just to sidestep the very real pragmatic questions people like Barto and myself have. I am sympathetic with the goal but skeptical of the method, or lack thereof. And I am highly skeptical of the idea that it is somehow a more natural expression of human nature than any other system.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Complete anarchism always deteriotates into democracy, via tyrrany, oligarchy etc.  People try to get a bigger slice of the pie and they gang up.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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brennen,

pardon my grammatical error. the portions in italics were quotes of Kropotkin. so your above quote is a mixture of what he said and what i wrote. i just wanted to point that out. my bad.

also, I think you are misunderstanding me. I am saying Anarchism is itself not a blue print or manual. Im not suggesting that we shouldnt use some general form of blueprint or manual (like having our goals spelled out and working to achieve them), but that Anarchism is not a detailed plan where, you know, you say to yourself, “Okay, so we completed step one, now lets refer to the manual for what step two is.” Its not like following the instruction on how to assemble some large piece of furniture. The notion that we should just let go and everything will work out fine is bullshit and that is in no way what im suggesting. Yes, we need to organize, plan, and work cooperatively to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves.

Keep in mind that Kropotkin wrote that either in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Its scientific value was limited to its times. Kropotkins writings on “mutual aid” are seen largely as the precursor to Sociobiology (though im not even sure EO Wilson was aware of Kropotkin - I know Robert Trivers wasnt untill after his writings on reciprocal altruism). What he was observing as a natural scientist in Siberia and as a social commentator was what he called “mutual aid.” That we are a social species - like many others (monkeys, ants, marmots, birds, etc).

Its not really a radical observation to note that we have general behaviors that define our species and mutual aid or the golden rule is obviously one of them (how else could you explain it appearing frequently not only in the animal kingdom but throughout human history; how many different civilizations have had some moral similar to the Golden Rule?). When looking at things like Capitalism or top-down management we (should) see that it runs counter to these “moral sentiments.” The executive leaders at Starbucks - who exploit poor labor conditions in Africa - would not like to be treated in the manner that their laborers are treated. Therefore, the consistent Anarchist would abolish such a system. If any system within our grasps to alter treats others in a way that we would not like to be treated we ought to abolish that system with something that reflects the golden rule. The principle was one of the ringing tones in The Declaration of Independence that Thomas Jefferson wrote: “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

I dont think cooperation really hinders competiveness in any way. I am talking about free associations, so there are bound to be different associations doing the same work and the product of respecting peoples individual desires to associate with group A over group B would promote some form of competiveness. Even within free associations I doubt that competiveness would be erased. I dont see any problem with having competition without resorting to tyranny, exploitation or violating the golden rule.

I absolutely agree that some general blue print is needed to meet a goal. But I think you are misunderstanding what Im saying by what im saying does not operate on a blue print or manual, and that is Anarchism as an ideal. There is no blueprint to follow for other forms of philosophies on how to incorporate them into our daily lives, etc. So yeah, if a group of peoples build structures along the lines of Anarchism (i.e. AK Press, an anarchistic run publisher and book distributor) they will undoubtedly use some general blueprint in order to meet their goals. They will organize, they will hold meetings and plan, they will establish goals and have some form of checks and balances system that allows the participants to observe and manage their work, etc. The Italian anarchist, Errico Malatesta, said they would set up their goals and, obviously, work on the most pressing needs first (what he said was the welfare of the most vulnerable, the sick, young and old).

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Posted: 04 September 2007 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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narwhol - 04 September 2007 02:08 PM

Complete anarchism always deteriotates into democracy, via tyrrany, oligarchy etc.  People try to get a bigger slice of the pie and they gang up.

while that certainly is a danger and something we should always be on guard against, it is still no excuse to become or remain apathetic to the problems we face. wouldnt you agree?

again, its just like what I quoted Thomas Jefferson on, from the DOI:

“whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The moral of that statement says, the possibility of tyranny will always be there but it is our duty - I would prefer not to use the word “right” since it might imply tolerance from some higher authority - to be on guard against it and if it materializes we ought to abolish it.

Another metaphor I have used to explain the struggle of life is an athelete. To gain such a skill you have got to have a desire, you got to practice, you have to train, workout, and once you reach a certain level you cant just sit back and slack off. You have to maintain your skill by continuing your practicing and training.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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brennen,

I dont know about how you feel in regards to natural behaviors exhibited by animals, but as a vet (I doubt you feel that all animals can be domesticated, or that pitt bulls are no more likely to turn on someone than another breed of dog) and evolutionist I hope im not incorrect in assuming you are. am i?

cuz for humans I cant help but see that we share the basic concepts of right and wrong, and, for me personally, I think building a society based on mutual agreements is more just, effective and productive than basing it on some form of law coming down and carried out from above. because unless those at the bottom have a direct say in making and forging those bonds, justice will always be a tool for one class to use against another.

I realize that the social, political, economic and judicial systems in which Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta and others were referring to are not exactly the same as ours but there is still a huge amount of truth and relevancy to be found there. Anyway, I just wanted to emphasize a point on natural behaviors.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I wasn’t positing it as a problem - for all its problems, I think a republican democracy is about the fairest and best system of government that we will get.  As to being on guard against it, we can do that all we like, but we can’t legislate for the next idiot.  Anarchy is not a sustainable non-system because we are all different and not all of us are tractable.  It is just a laudible dream - and when dreams hit reality, we get a rather nasty wake up call.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 05:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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TA,
Thanks, I did understand I was mixing the quotes. I just did so to emphasize the two points I was challenging.


I absolutely agree that cooperativity is an intrinsic element to human behavior. Clearly we evolved as group-living animals with very complex and sophisticated social behavior, and so our natural history requires we be pretty good at getting along. I just think we also have powerful negative characteristics that lead us to harm one another and treat each other unjustly. I am inclined to think that our ability to control these without a formal system (government, law enforcement, military) of some kind at the scales of current societies are bvery poor. Our innate systems of social controls developed, and work best, in pretty small groups. So I am suspicious of any argument that says we can do without some form of coercive government.

I absolutely agree as well with the general principles you would like to see society organized around, I’m just less convinced it can be achieved in practice. And whenever I read your poosts, and BArry’s when he was here, I have trouble getting enough specific details about how the system (or lack therof) you support would operate to deal with specific issues (crime, firefighting, genocide, fairness in economic interactions, ect). You seem to feel, though as I said my reading is pretty limited so I may be misunderstanding you, that the system would largely be self-correcting because of our innate cooperativity, and I just find that hard to believe. Sociobiology has had a lot of trouble with “cheaters,” and I suspect any cooperativity model that had to organize societies as large and complex as the modern industrial world would as well. Again, I know you’ve put up some lists of good introductions to read, and I hope to get there eventually (after I finish the pile currently next to my desk! :-).

I was a bit confused what you were asking with regard to animal behavior? I did a master’s in animal behavior before I became a vet (woreked wigth primates, mostly), so I’m pretty familiar with the field. And I think the basic principles behind human and other animal behavioral systems are likely the same. I think the most effective way to analyze a behavioral system is to look at the context in which it developed and operates. Humans do step outside of strictly adaptive behavior because we have such a flexible and complex system for generating behavior, but we certainly evolved the system in certain circumstances, and group living requiring a high degree of cooperativity is a key part of these circumstances. Is that what you were asking?

[ Edited: 04 September 2007 05:52 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 04 September 2007 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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I am reading about anarchism these days, going beyond the knowledge I have on the past anarchist movement here.  I’d be happy to find an organization better than the western democracy ( I’d say it is far best than stalinism , but I hope it still could be improved)... but… don’t expect I could read in a couple of busy days what you had red in a lot of time grin be patient… I still cannot figure out how the system could work… but, maybe the key is the following:

When I do organizing work I dont see that people dont care. I see that they strongly do care, but that they feel powerless.

Well, I don’t have figures on this, so I just can talk about anecdotary evidence, and I can image that our diferents perception are based on our diferents evironments.

Following, a couple of anecdotes grin

I’d say that here, the vast majority of people don’t care. Menem, our former president who left the goverment with a hughe financial hole and used this money to, among others non ethical things, still gets a floor of 15% of votes (vote here is obligatory). 15%!!!! And they (his supporters) use to say : “we lived good with Menem”... it is partially true. Those of us who had been lucky enough to stay inside the system lived pretty well (cheap dollar, great spendings, vacations abroads), but it was a high cost: the unemployment reached 15% and external debts was in the sky when he left the goverment… and still he gets this importante percentage of votes.

It is not uncommon to listen the phrase “they had done something” to refer the kidnaped and tortured victims of the last dictatorship. So I find hard to imagine how I would cooperate with this kind of people.

It is not uncommon in poor or midle income countries to have, in the rich part of the cities, poor people beging. The last major candidate in buenos aires won the election promising he would get ride of these people.

Well, I could continue with this anecdotes. I don’t want to prove anything, just I want to explain why, in the absence of rigorous statistics, I tend to think that people only care about their inner circle, and still a goverment which forcefully gets a portion of your incoming to help the poor people is needed. But, again, I only have anecdotal evidence to support my claims, based mainly on what I see on my dayly life.

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Posted: 04 September 2007 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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brennen,

im not dodging you. just out of time for today

see you tomorrow

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Posted: 05 September 2007 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I absolutely agree that cooperativity is an intrinsic element to human behavior. Clearly we evolved as group-living animals with very complex and sophisticated social behavior, and so our natural history requires we be pretty good at getting along. I just think we also have powerful negative characteristics that lead us to harm one another and treat each other unjustly. I am inclined to think that our ability to control these without a formal system (government, law enforcement, military) of some kind at the scales of current societies are bvery poor. Our innate systems of social controls developed, and work best, in pretty small groups. So I am suspicious of any argument that says we can do without some form of coercive government.

I agree that we have “negative characteristics” but I think your view that we are unable to manage them with societal organization coming from the bottom is most likely a product of existing social structures; that there is a false impression that we need top-down authority. Almost like Stockholm Syndrome. I realize we have “negative characteristics” but one thing you have to keep in mind is how our social enviornments effect our characteristics. The possibility of a child having “problems” is greater if raised in some overly-dysfunctional home as opposed to the child that is raised in a healthy, loving, caring, fair enviornment. You got to wonder to what degree Capitalism escalates those negative characteristics. that’s why, for me, it’s not much of a dispute to choose between predatory capitalism and libertarian socialism.

Listen, I dont doubt there would be difficulties, but I cant forsee them with any sense of clarity to be able to tell you what they would be or how we should respond other than we would have to work cooperatively to address them the best we can without resorting to some form of tyranny. Sure, there would be lessons learned with experience, but, again, no one is really in the position to be able to say what those are. I also dont doubt that we would need some form of government, law enforcement or military or even a judicial system, but I do strongly doubt - and reject - that it has to be administered from above without a strong mandate of the general public overseeing it and the same goes for the economy. I see no reason why corporate executives should have the sole right to close themselves up in meetings and make the decisions for the company while racking away huge salaries and bonuses while keep wages and benefits low. for as long as I have been working I have never - not once - been informed in departmental meetings of changes in benefits that were to my favor. Every single one has been at our expense and I cant help but notice that the upper echelons simultaneously get a pay increase or new bonus or incentive.

You seem to feel, though as I said my reading is pretty limited so I may be misunderstanding you, that the system would largely be self-correcting because of our innate cooperativity, and I just find that hard to believe.

I already said that our problems would not be self-correcting just because we cooperate. However, I do feel that cooperative planning and managing of our affairs does make improvements; it doesnt produce perfection, but with anything, the level of justice achieved has GENERALLY always been higher when the level of involvement is higher. I have pointed this out many times in terms of Democracy and politics. And, another however would be that while there are “cheaters” I would hardly categorize them as anywhere near a majority or large sum. But, I think youre missing the point: I am not talking about Utopia, but exploring ways to alter our Dystopia, and I feel Anarchism offers the best solution because it seeks to broaden the powers of management and nurture the cooperative aspects of our species.

Sociobiology has had a lot of trouble with “cheaters,” and I suspect any cooperativity model that had to organize societies as large and complex as the modern industrial world would as well. Again, I know you’ve put up some lists of good introductions to read, and I hope to get there eventually (after I finish the pile currently next to my desk! grin.

Yeah, no doubt. But, again, its the allegory of the child raised in a harmful or healthy enviornment. I am sure, as a Vet, you would know that Pit Bulls are dangerous dogs but the danger they pose is heavily increased depending on the enviornment it comes from. All I am talking about in advocating Anarchism is improving society, not creating a Utopia where all of our problems will be erased with cooperation. I do think that with bottom-up planning and cooperation that we can do better than our current system of injustice and exploitation.

I was a bit confused what you were asking with regard to animal behavior? I did a master’s in animal behavior before I became a vet (woreked wigth primates, mostly), so I’m pretty familiar with the field. And I think the basic principles behind human and other animal behavioral systems are likely the same. I think the most effective way to analyze a behavioral system is to look at the context in which it developed and operates. Humans do step outside of strictly adaptive behavior because we have such a flexible and complex system for generating behavior, but we certainly evolved the system in certain circumstances, and group living requiring a high degree of cooperativity is a key part of these circumstances. Is that what you were asking?

Just saying that we do have our particular innate sense of behaviors. We already agree that we are capable of a wide arrange of behaviors, and Im sure you will agree with my above statements that our enviornments certainly do have an effect on it. Upton Sinclair, the infamous Socialist writer who wrote, The Jungle, compiled an anthology of literature called The Cry For Justice. It is works from a wide range of era and cultures and the cry for ending oppression, expanding social particiaption really leaves an impression on you when you first browse through the book. It becomes apparent that the ideas of Anarchism and Socialism are not modern creations. Those labels are just modern uses, but the underlying currents, the emotions and desires have long been present in human society. I have obviously been strongly influenced by these things and look forward to the day when something like Anarchism is achieved. I want nothing for my daughter and our successors to inherit a newer and better world. I dont want to be cursed for our wrecklessness and selfishness; that we allowed countless bodies to be exploited so some idle affluents can bask in the luxury of excessivness and our enviornment degrades so the Fortune 500 can have fat bank accounts.

Again, I dont doubt we would have problems and cheaters, but if we are going to overcome our current problems we have got to be able to address them cooperatively. I got two quotes of heroes of mine I want to share to end this comment:

“The only thing that will redeeom mankind is cooperation.” - Bertrand Russell

“We have today the technical and material resources to meet man’s animal needs.We have not developed the cultural and moral resources or the democratic forms of social organization that make possible the humane and rational use of our material wealth and power.

Conceivably, the classical liberal ideals as expressed and developed in their libertarian socialist form are achievable. But if so, only by a popular revolutionary movement, rooted in wide strata of the population and committed to the elimination of repressive and authoritarian institutions, state and private. To create such a movement is a challenge we face and must meet if there is to be an escape from contemporary barbarism.” - Noam Chomsky

I strongly agree with Chomsky. We have yet to develope the “cultural and moral resources or the democratic forms of social organization that make possible the humane and rational use of our material wealth and power” and that doing so is a “challenge” but we must “meet” that challenge if we want an “escape from contemporary barbarism.”

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Posted: 05 September 2007 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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barto,

Like I said to Brennen, you really ought to keep in mind that current attitudes - like the 15% you refer to - could likely be a product of the existing enviornment; its the proverbial pitt bull raised in a bad enviornment. Or maybe some form of Stockholm Syndrome. If authority administered from above is all youve ever known its like Plato’s allegory of the cave. Maybe I am fooling myself, but I got the feeling that Ive stopped looking at the shadows cast on the wall.

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Posted: 05 September 2007 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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TA,

Thanks for the response. I guess it’s hard to know for certain what form of social organization is optimal, and that’s likely to change with time and circumstances. I get the feeling I’m less optimistic about the influence of environment on our tendency to harm one another than you are. Pit bulls, FWIW, are generally innately dog aggressive regardless of how they are raised. You are correct, however, that they tend not to be aggressive towards humans unless raised to be. So environment affects some traits more than others. As for how much our current social system influences our actual behavioral predispositions, or how much it influences our analysis of these predispositions, I think it’s hard to say. I take from history the lesson that conflict is at its worst and most destructive whenever there is not a strong authority to limit it. I do think this authority can have “a strong mandate from the general public overseeing it,” as you put it, though I still think it necessarily requires some ceding of autonomy to the collective.

Anyway, I recognize that I am also influenced by my personality. I’ve always hated participating in group-managed activities (student government, professional organizations, PTA, etc). Seeking consensus and forming a plan with a group always seems to degenrate into factionalism, with the least intelligent but loudest members obataining disproportionate influence. So my distaste for and impatience with that kind of activity makes it harder for me to appreciate the possibility of basing a society around such ad hoc associations. Just temperment, I guess.

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