How does “democritizing the economy” differ from “free markets?”
It doesnt depending on what context you refer to the two. Have you ever read Adam Smith? One of the things Noam Chomsky hit the nail on the head in his “Government in the Future” speech was that Classical Liberalism and Libertarian Socialism are much more related than modern Capitalism is to Classical Liberalism. Peter Kropotkin also pointed this out though he made a point that Wealth of Nations should have been Wealth of People.
I guess where the two are different in modern terms is free market is more about institutions - the corporation, which is not managed democratically in any way - and not about people, the workers. When I talk about democratizing the economy I am talking directly about changing how the economy is currently managed.
Brennen, I think the comments that there always be cheaters, etc is moot to say the say least. Because, what does the existing structures do to resolve it? Absolutely nothing. I would even say that it perpetuates it. the prevailing economic structures breeds cheating, greed more than I could possibly imagine Anarchism/Libertarian Socialism doing so.
It sounds like you’re essentially talking about the socialist ideal of workers owning the means of production, in which case how do we get there without nationalisation of industries, which hasn’t proven especially effective and still involves a coercive state?
You do it by not going through the state. The examples you refer to that “involves a coercive state” is precisely what the Anarchists warned of. What Kropotkin called Authoritarian Communism and what Michael Bakunin called the “Red Bureaucracy.” Maybe it’s necessary to have a historical understanding of the modern state and how it came about. It was basically an authoritarian take-over or perversion of ideas and movements quote similar to Anarchism.
I’m sorry you dont like the vagueness. But, really, how can you honestly expect some finely detailed set of instructions? Thats not how any progressive movement has succeeded. Slavery or womens rights were not achieved by some group having a manual that says, first step is to do this and that. What you are expecting is impossible to give. All we can do is be clear on our ideals, our goals and desire to work together to achieve that. Honestly, if we want to avoid the corruption that has plagued us that is all we can do. We cant submit the movements to an institution or manual otherwise we will witness nothing but a hostile takeover from greedy, power-hungry folks. Yes, of course we would still have greed, selfishness and thirst for power, but how can you contain that with institutions of power? You cant. The only way to do that is to dissolve those institutions and replace them with free associations that are reduced to the most basic element: be clear on our ideals, our goals and desire to work together to achieve that.
I think you guys are too jaded about humanity and I think it is due in large to the depravities the modern structure of society has nurtured. You dont see what life can be, but what it currently is, and where you would like to see a new world you ask for a blueprint that cant be given and you dont like that there is not a manual to refer to. To a degree I can understand. There is discomfort in not having some kind of security blanket to rely on. Uncertainty is frightening. Trust me, I get it.
In my state, Texas, the state murders people left and right. Some indigent minority shoots a gas station clerk in the face and gets injected with a butt load of toxins for it. We dont seem to ask why middle class and rich folks arent robbing gas stations and shooting the clerks in the face. We dont seem to stop and think that addressing the systemic factors of society that breeds poverty and exploitation helps foster the enviornments for those at the bottom rings of society to resort to drugs, violence, prostitution and crime.
I like to use quotes because these men articualte my thoughts in a way that really inspire me. Im sure you can see how they inspire me.
First, is from Peter Kropotkin:
When we ask for the abolition of the State and its organs we are always told that we dream of a society composed of men better than they are in reality. But no; a thousand times, no. All we ask is that men should not be made worse than they are, by such institutions!
It is often said that Anarchists live in a world of dreams to come, and do not see the things which happen today. We do see them only too well, and in their true colors, and that is what makes us carry the hatchet into the forest of prejudice that besets us.
Far from living in a world of visions and imagining men better than they are, we see them as they are; and that is why we affirm that the best of men is made essentially bad by the exercise of authority, and that the theory of the “balancing of powers” and “control of authorities” is a hypocritical formula, invented by those who have seized power, to make the “sovereign people,” whom they despise, believe that the people themselves are governing. It is because we know men that we say to those who imagine that men would devour one another without those governors: “You reason like the king, who, being sent across the frontier, called out, ‘What will become of my poor subjects without me?’”
Ah, if men were those superior beings that the utopians of authority like to speak to us of, if we could close our eyes to reality, and live, like them, in a world of dreams and illusions as to the superiority of those who think themselves called to power, perhaps we also should do like them; perhaps we also should believe in the virtues of those who govern.
With virtuous masters, what dangers could slavery offer? Do you remember the Slave-owner of whom we heard so often, hardly thirty years ago? Was he not supposed to take paternal care of his slaves? “He alone,” we were told, “could hinder these lazy, indolent, improvident children dying of hunger. How could he crush his slaves through hard labor, or mutilate them by blows, when his own interest lay in feeding them well, in taking care of them as much as of his own children! And then, did not ‘the law’ see to it that the least swerving of a slave-owner from the path of duty was punished?” How many times have we not been told so! But the reality was such that, having returned from a voyage to Brazil, Darwin was haunted all his life by the cries of agony of mutilated slaves, by the sobs of moaning women whose fingers were crushed in thumbserews!
If the gentlemen in power were really so intelligent and so devoted to the public cause, as panegyrists of authority love to represent, what a pretty government and paternal utopia we should be able to construct! The employer would never be the tyrant of the worker; he would be the father! The factory would be a palace of delight, and never would masses of workers be doomed to physical deterioration.
I dont see man as some brutish creature who needs force to control him, but I see the concept of that as a propaganda tool used to justify that control. And I think Kropotkin made a great point when he noted that if men needed the rule by others to keep them in line because we would be beasts without them, then how come the beasts are trusted to choose these rulers? And if it was truly a better system then why has there been such a long and bitter cry to dismantle these institutions and replace them with free associations???
But the last quote comes from the American Socialist, Eugene Debs. Brennen, this quote is high on my mind when I hear the requests for a master plan or some leader. Like Debs, I dont like the request because it seems to undermine the very essence of the change being seeked:
“I am not a Labor Leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition.”