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could anarchism work?
Posted: 06 September 2007 07:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Alon - 06 September 2007 12:36 PM

The problem is that the concept of capital does exist. It’s independent of the economic system used: mines, railways, aqueducts, and hospitals are all universal examples of capital. You can argue that it’s less important than labor (which Adam Smith does) or that today’s neoliberals overemphasize outside capital investment (which Joseph Stiglitz does, though his main argument is that the Asian countries wrecked by the IMF have enough locally generated capital), but you can’t just wish capital away.

Well, I am not ready to swear that the concept of capital exists in nature and it is not a human concept and cultural artifact, but I must admit that it has deep roots in our view. We feel ‘natural’ that the capitals owners were rewarded for the use of their capitals. Frankly, if the existance of capital is not natural, at least, I cannot see of alternatives:

Prevent the ownership of goods, according to what we had seen, doesn’t seem a suitable solution. Don’t let the people make decision on a business based on the capital they owned in the business, well, I think it would dry the capital (and we need capital, defining capital as an amount of goods saved in the past and used today for production) from business, taking into account the way we thing and act. So, I guess we should deal with capital: control it, prevents its abuses and try to develop more stable forms of capital… you mention Stiglitz, I found just wonderfull this book: Rethinking the East Asia Miracle (2002).

A coop form of management doesn’t preclude any of the problems of traditional corporate hierarchy.

Well, I guess it because, sooner or later, we face the situation in which a worker states: “I am more trained, more skilled and make more important decision than the rest… I want a higher salary”. Of course, this is not a moral judgment (I could be this worker), just a intuitive idea of the way we act.

The dynamic, individualist cities have always needed to chip in to subsidize the planned communes, the idyllic rural areas, and the farms.

Well, here the exact situation is happening: the rural areas (I don’t know if idilic or not) subsidize the hughe cities (well, not hughe if compared with the USA). This happens because the argentinian industry imports more added value than the value it adds, and the argentinian countryside is terrible productive. Simply, the economic structure here is: the farm produces money, and the industry produces employment, being the latter subsidize by the former. Anyway, this is not to contradict you (at the end, is the same who subsidize who, after all, it happens because the state forced one sector to support another, based on social importante).

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Posted: 06 September 2007 11:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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TA,
I guess we’ll have to disagree both about the relative strength and implications of humans’ cooperative and harmful behavioral tendancies, and also about why we disagree. You think I’m jaded because I’ve been blinded to any alternative to the system presently in place. I don’t buy that. I’m reasonably familiar with a wide variety of systems that have been tried historically, and I draw a different lesson than you do from their examples. Ultimately, I think Doug’s right about the need for a government to provide services on a scale and with a (theoretical, at least) independance from narrow individual and group interests that the market or loose coalitions of individuals cannot or will not do. I think the system needs a great deal of change, but I don’t see “do[ing] it without the state” as a realistic approach. Anyway, since we’re aiming for the same general things in terms of how human lives are lived, we can probably find a pretty wide common ground despite our differences about methods. I appreciate the effort you go to to provide ideas and information I’m certainly not seeing much of elsewhere. I’ll try to do a bit more reading and see if I can be a more informed “critic.” FWIW, I love Chomsky, though I think he’s living in dreamland much of the time. He’s not a marginalized voice just because of the flaws and blindness of he rest of us, but because of his own flaws and blindness. Anyway, I’m trying to learn to love having my ideas challenged so I don’t get to complacent, so I appreciate your insightful and polite way of doing so, even if I’m not sold on the idea.

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Posted: 07 September 2007 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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Well, I am not ready to swear that the concept of capital exists in nature and it is not a human concept and cultural artifact

It doesn’t… but neither do the concepts of society, economy, equality, and standard of living. Attempts to trace social institutions to nature have generally been laughable; about the only two that have been are xenophobia and patriarchy.

Still, there are hard rules of social science. Marvin Harris claims that they can explain every seemingly irrational cultural practice. Even if you don’t accept his view, and I don’t, it is a pretty robust fact that those rules are independent of what humans believe. For example, contrary to what romantics and cultural conservatives believe, total wars are not won or lost based on concepts like willpower and determination, but based purely on who has greater industrial production that can be harnessed to the war effort. For another example, laissez-faire capitalism and socialism have never failed to fail, regardless of how good the intentions involved were (and those of Adam Smith and Karl Marx were noble).

It’s just like how in biology, enzymes always work in a certain way, and organisms evolve based on neo-Darwinian principles. It’s hard to impossible to derive those directly from physics, so they can be called organic artifacts, but they’re still inviolable.

Well, I guess it because, sooner or later, we face the situation in which a worker states: “I am more trained, more skilled and make more important decision than the rest… I want a higher salary”. Of course, this is not a moral judgment (I could be this worker), just a intuitive idea of the way we act.

It’s not always that. Even when those attitudes are absent, failure can result from bad management. The kibbutzes didn’t fail because kibbutzniks got greedy, but because their planned mode of economic activity could never hold a candle to the dynamism of Tel Aviv and Haifa. Every form of organization has its own pathologies. Hierarchy’s is that it likes to judge success by easily quantifiable results: SATs, profits, election results, kill ratios. Those results can be gamed fairly easily by someone sufficiently sociopathic, who is willing to overwork his employees and get all the credit for the added productivity. Egalitarianism’s is that it lacks any mechanism to determine success and failure, and no central leadership to steer changes when the situation so demands.

Well, here the exact situation is happening: the rural areas (I don’t know if idilic or not) subsidize the hughe cities (well, not hughe if compared with the USA). This happens because the argentinian industry imports more added value than the value it adds, and the argentinian countryside is terrible productive. Simply, the economic structure here is: the farm produces money, and the industry produces employment, being the latter subsidize by the former.

I honestly don’t know how it works in Argentina, but in other developing countries, similar things have happened, and still money would flow outward from the cities to the country. For example, take Uruguay. Its leather production was incredibly productive, so the value of the currency was determined by its strong primary exports, ensuring there was no way industry could develop in Montevideo. The US, Japan, and Israel had instituted tariffs on imported manufactured goods to ensure they could develop manufacturing; Uruguay never did. So economic production was centered in Uruguay’s rural areas, but it never brought real development; as soon as the first world found alternatives to leather, the economy collapsed even more spectacularly than Detroit’s did when GM began to outsource factores to Mexico. The same is going to happen to Saudi Arabia fairly soon.

Conversely, in Malaya, the country kicked out its biggest city for political reasons, so Singapore and Malaysia developed alongside each other. Without any agriculture or natural resources to produce fake prosperity, it never needed tariffs to grow; up until about a year and a half ago, the Singapore dollar was undervalued, so Singapore could easily export to the traditional first world while protecting its own industries from cheap imports. Meanwhile, Malaysia struggled to turn Kuala Lumpur into a productive city. Right now, Singapore’s GDP per capita is about twice and half again Malaysia’s.

Something similar happened in Hong Kong, and is happening in Latvia (the city-state of Riga, essentially; there are about as many Latvians in Riga metro as outside it) and Estonia (the city-state of Tallinn). Neoliberals like to pretend the success of those countries means the IMF model of development works, but the same policies of low taxes and an environment friendly to foreign investment have utterly failed everywhere outside city-states.

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Posted: 07 September 2007 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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Alon - 07 September 2007 12:01 AM

Still, there are hard rules of social science. Marvin Harris claims that they can explain every seemingly irrational cultural practice. Even if you don’t accept his view, and I don’t, it is a pretty robust fact that those rules are independent of what humans believe. For example, contrary to what romantics and cultural conservatives believe, total wars are not won or lost based on concepts like willpower and determination, but based purely on who has greater industrial production that can be harnessed to the war effort.

I don’t agree with Harris’s vision, also (could he explain ear rings?). The thing about war and industrial production makes sense, but in this picture, how the vietnam war could fit?. While I tend to agree with the claim that industrial power is a key factor in a war, I’d say that there are other variables, like inner tolerance to bodybags (I mean… political reasons). You can loose a war winning all battles.

For another example, laissez-faire capitalism and socialism have never failed to fail, regardless of how good the intentions involved were (and those of Adam Smith and Karl Marx were noble).

I tend to think that Marx was more sucesfull showing the troubles that finding a solution. As I see it, marxism maked a lot of sense in the begining of the industrial revolution, when the living standard of the workers was terrible, and as still are in many places around the world. As TA sayd, a lot of things we enjoy today (the limited workhour, paid vacations, and so on) emerged because the fight of anarchist and comunist in the begining of 20th century.

In my opinion, Adam Smith gave us a good model to understand how certain economical process behave in certain conditions. I think there is plenty of evidence to support the claim that the market could not regulate itself beyond any point of imbalance (the 30’s depression is a good example of this), but the existance of the invisible hand is, at least, argueble.

It’s not always that. Even when those attitudes are absent, failure can result from bad management. The kibbutzes didn’t fail because kibbutzniks got greedy, but because their planned mode of economic activity could never hold a candle to the dynamism of Tel Aviv and Haifa. Every form of organization has its own pathologies.

Well, bad management could occur everywhere, everytime. I recognize the need for certains decision to be made quickly, but I don’t understand the supporters of egalitarism claim that every decision should be made in an assembly.

Something similar happened in Hong Kong, and is happening in Latvia (the city-state of Riga, essentially; there are about as many Latvians in Riga metro as outside it) and Estonia (the city-state of Tallinn). Neoliberals like to pretend the success of those countries means the IMF model of development works, but the same policies of low taxes and an environment friendly to foreign investment have utterly failed everywhere outside city-states.

We had over 10 years a cheap dollar and open economy with no import taxes. The cheap dollar was mantained using international credits, and eventually the situation collapsed. Then, the new goverment devaluated the currency against dollar and stablished two meassures: taxes to agro exportations with no added value (so, if you export leather, you should pay around 20% of taxes, but if you export leather clothes, you don’t pay anything), and new taxes to importations (this is not a new idea: it was the case during the majority of argentinian history, and was used, as you said, in many other countries ). The taxes to primary exportations has the double benefit of funding the state and encourages added value, which creates employments. Taking into account that the argentinian agro is quite competitive and the internacional price of commodities rose this years, it worked prety weel so far, creating employment and developing the industry, which is ,still, very dependand on importations.  The continuous agroculture exportation tend to raise the peso value, but the goverment actively act toward a expensive dollar (buying all the dollar on the market), protecting the industry and giving enough margin to the agro exportation to be so heavely taxed.

So, for this reason, the IMF politics were terrible for us: open economy, and friendly environment to foreign capitals just brought speculative capitals and it proved to be a very ciclical economical structure. Now we don’t enjoy a cheap dollar, but the industrial development is not threaten. Of course, the IMF claims the goverment must let the peso to raise, and don’t protect national industry.

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Posted: 08 September 2007 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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To be quite honest about this, communism has never really been Marxist in its practice anyway.  However, I think a Marxist government would collapse much sooner after its inception than the interventionist left-wing fascist states that existed in the soviet era did.  The word fascist in that last sentence sounds strange, but when you actually look at what they did, I think it can rightly be called fascism.

Either way, this thread seems to have dispensed somewhat with anarchism per se, but how about a democracy, with an anarchic streak to it; does anyone think that would work.

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Posted: 08 September 2007 06:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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At one time a few years ago when I still headed the Hitteon Faith we were going to buy a whole town and do just that; have our own government with our own police force and courts and they (religion members) found just such a town in two states for sale (West Virginia and New Mexico) and we would have purchased them had I not announced the religion was fake.

But I have a confession to make; when I first started the religion back in 1977 I believed that perhaps God was really directing me to establish a new religion that would be positive and would not discriminate against anybody as I felt even though I set out to invent it that God actually put the thoughts in my head and everything I wrote in the Q;R’Beth were indeed coming from God, but several years later I came to the conclusion that I imagined God was directing me and I was still under the illusion there was a god because of my previous experiment being so ingrained by the Christian religion. I was at grips with this secret for years afraid to tell anyone for fear they would have labeled me weak and still brainwashed by the theist as I thought it would have made me out to be a fool that the theist had such power to convince someone that indeed God exist and God has a plan for you.

But now I consider myself totally atheist and no way am I to be convinced that God exist.

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Posted: 09 September 2007 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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I actually have a rather higher opinion of you as a result of that confession and at least you still knew that you were just making it up when you wrote the Q’R'Beth.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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narwhol - 08 September 2007 11:16 AM

To be quite honest about this, communism has never really been Marxist in its practice anyway.

That’s true in theory too. That was what Bakunin, Kropotkin and others were saying to Marx. Bakunin more than others was radically opposed to Marx. He warned of the “Red Bureaucracy” that would completely undermine Communism. The whole Bolshevism, Stalinism, etc was warned of by Bakunin nearly fifty years before it materialized.

That split between Authoritarian and Libertarian Communism has an interesting observation and I notice this as occuring not just from the anti-Communist crowd. These conversations are by far not the first time that I have heard “communism doesn’t work, it failed.” Or some equation of Authoritarian Communism (which is an oxymoron in my opinion) with communism as a whole. You know, the Bolshevik takeover of the Russian revolution, the suppression of workers councils, anarchists, etc is supposed to be an example of Communism and not the suppression of communism. Or the Fascist suppression - with large support from foreign governments - of the revolution in Spain was supposed to be proof that Anarchism doesnt work. Or the long list of other suppression of things like the Paris Commune, Sandinistas, etc is somehow an assault or an ideal as a whole. It seems odd that when an idea mutates by some perversion that the original idea failed. If I tie your shoe laces together so you cant walk, it would be absurd to conclude that walking isnt just possible for you or that you are the failure. Or sabotage scientific research and call the theory bogus. Thats what we have for communism/socialism/anarchism.

So when the Soviet Union failed, not only did capitalists say Communism failed, but so did some Communists!! Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union there was a photograph of some grafitti in Russia. The top line said something to the effect (because im paraphrasing from memory) “bring back communism!” Under it it said, “we didnt have communism” and then under that it said “well, bring back what we had!” The point was that it wasnt communism.

Many of us seem to stereotype words with our cultural prejudices. Anarchism is chaos, disorder and violence; and Communism and Socialism is Bolshevism and everyone in their charcoal gray overalls being watched by Big Brother. I think this is even true of anarchists. Take phrases like “state” and “authority.” That’s why Ive repeatedly stressed that anarchism isnt opposed to structure, government, authority, etc; the opposition is about the manner in which society is structured and not that it is. We can read some passages of anarchists and take their words as meaning something they are not really saying because of some combination of misunderstandings based on the words used. So, yeah Bakunin and Kropotkin wanted to do away with the state and authority and that can give some different meanings if you dont see what they are advocating in its place.

Of course anarchism works, we see its principles in effect all over the place. You cant partake in many social rights, freedoms and privileges without doing so thanks to some radicals who struggled for us.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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I went through this line of thinking when I was eighteen.  I wasn’t a communist, it was just that someone said that communism doesn’t work because of human nature.  So I thought it through and decided that you couldn’t really say that, because a) we’ve never really had anything that could genuinely be called communism and b) the some more equal than others version that existed in Russia and allied countries collapsed because of a whole load of other countries trying to collapse it from without.  Not that I cared, because I wasn’t a communist.

However, a few years later, it suddenly struck me that communism really would never work, because of human nature.  You see, it’s human nature to try to collapse it from without.  Wealthy superpower countries will always want to keep trade routes open (on their own terms), that’s why so many places are erecting invisible barriers now to catch up with the incredible bureaucracy involved in getting goods into the US.  And after a period of blocking off trade routes, a pretext for an almighty war is always found to open them all up again.  This has been going on since time immemorial and will always continue.  The Ancient greeks got the celts in from the banks of the danube to force their neighbours to open up trade that they had closed off.  Quite frankly, that is why I don’t think that communism could work - human nature.

That said, if the whole world turned communist it might… (more likely, officials would line their pockets, central planning would destroy countryside and cities and food production and we’d all starve).

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Posted: 05 October 2007 08:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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redmartian89 - 03 September 2007 04:24 PM

In a small community maybe a few hundred, could it work?

Is this possible (in the long term)?

What possible objections can be raised against it?

I’m not sure what your idea of anarchism is but privatization is not the answer. Privatization is profit motivated and removes such services from the public sector. When services are privatized they no longer are able to be directed by voting, hence the name.

All major grass roots movements have started small, hence the name, and ended up big. Civil rights, women’s suffrage, labor unions, the environmental movement, even the course of the Vietnam War by the late 60’s felt the impact of citizen activism and organizing.

When enough people unite, organize and protest, anything is possible! Other countries have done it too…..until the U.S. implimented military force to smash the dissidents….

ehh…....fight the power!

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Posted: 05 October 2007 08:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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Alon - 07 September 2007 12:01 AM

Even if you don’t accept his view, and I don’t, it is a pretty robust fact that those rules are independent of what humans believe. For example, contrary to what romantics and cultural conservatives believe, total wars are not won or lost based on concepts like willpower and determination, but based purely on who has greater industrial production that can be harnessed to the war effort.

Hmm…....like the Vietnam War? Who had the majority of industrialized production capacity, “us” or “them”? Or take Iraq for example? How come we haven’t won then? Consider Afghanistan and why we haven’t found bin Laden yet.

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