Friday, 24 May 2013

Notes on Anarcho-Communism

"Kill Capitalism.Kill the market.Kill the economy".

 Goes back to at least  the Diggers in English civil war.

No state.  No market.No Money.No private property(which is a social relationship different from mere possession). No wage system.No bosses.No landlords.No money.
No markey.No rent, No profit,No intellectual property, No debt.
Only necessary minimal voluntary work.No wage labour.  Worker self management in what work exists. No market in land.Gift or barter economies.No market competition.

Without money
no taxes
no wages
no wage labour
no compulsory work
no profit
no consumerism.
no advertising
no over production?

absentee ownership leads to
wage labour
wage slavery
capitalist work ethic

a profit driven money economy leads to
which leads to
environmental degradation
sexism that sells
animal testing.

Debt is a form of social control.One capitalist society is founded on.

Capitalism tries to co-opt feminism,by telling them to be a boss and so feminism can become pro-capitalist.
Capitalism feeds consumerism which plays on body image/sex sells.
Capitalism works on sweatshops often due to sexism worked by women which is another way that  makes sweatshops and anti-capitalism a feminist issue.
 Capitalism and Patriarchy do not necessarily go together insofar as Patriarchy is older than Capitalism. But Capitalism feeds on Patriarchy well and vice versa.

Anarcho-Communists oppose having to work x hrs just to live somewhere.It's essentially having to work to earn a right to live,to eat,to shelter etc.You have to buy a right to exist as a human being in society.That's pretty sad.

If a place involves production for society then the group is responsible for it.Land is not sold or bought. Vacant land could be used by anyone. There's collective usage and personal possessions.
 Anarcho-Collectivism potentially sees Anarcho-Communism as an end state to process to. There maybe could be labour vouchers for luxuries preventing over accumulation.

Marx. There's nothing necessarily anti-Marxist about Anarcho-Communism. We filter out the rubbish in Marx and keep the good stuff of which there is a lot.

Why no state?(some economic based arguments)-- In a society with money , those who have most will have most voice,most influence,most respect and most power.Those with the least will have the least voice ,least influence,least power and not even be able to survive.

In a society with money those who have the most economic influence will have the most political influence and so it's very likely the state will be captured by capitalist interests and bend it's decisions to suit the requirements of the capitalist economy.

Role of The State: The state is the maintainer of Capitalism.It's twin purposes are to prevent the overthrow of capitalism(by way of police,army, ideological apparatus like the media ) and to prevent it's collapse from capitalist greed e.g. bailouts.

Laws are influenced by those with the most money(the capitalists) and are market focused-focused on maintaining and extending the influence of the market. The G8 and it's equivalents exist to coordinate policies for global capitalism.

 There was a state before capitalism but there has never been a free market capitalism and there never could be. Capitalism developed with help from the state and  requires state protection and enforcement.The irony of so called free market policies and programs is that massive resistance to the consequences of them requires police state levels of suppression- practically Fascism.

Politicians: A free marketeer is a potential dictator or police state thug. The rightwing is only the more blatant 'honest' political represensation of capitalism and the capitalist.

The 'left' or centre 'left' parties and politicians are more subtle and manipulative.As with all manipulators,lie to their face with a smile and feined kindness and stab them in the back with malice. The right is better at appealing to those deluded by capitalist mythology while the 'left'/centre 'left' appeals more to those who want reforms but fear revolution but veils it in a benevolent skin. When the mask slips the 'left'/centre 'left' can be revealed as just as capitalist as the rightwing but just better at hiding it or making ideologically driven apologetics and justifications which 'seem reasonable'.

Reforms:- Reforms are breadcrumbs.They can be rolled back anytime if it suits those in power.They are implemented to prevent dissent and revolution.They alter the society capitalism is working in but do not alter the fundamental relations of capitalism otherwise the state would not allow it.State healthcare(and welfare) was accepted since it prevented revolution even if it did lessen the burden of wage slavery.However state welfare is capitalist in that it pushes capitalist work ethic and wage slavery.It's complict too.

Anarcho-communists begrudingly prefer state healthcare,state welfare etc to privatized alternatives. We do so however well aware and fully admitting the problems these institutions have, such as being hierarchical,capitalist etc. state healthcare,state welfare etc  is closer to communism than privatized alternatives.

Rejection of the market. The abolition of a market economy.Trade itself is not evil but the consequences and implications of the social context in which it is carried out can be. simple A to B trades are not immoral generally speaking.

Currency and the market divide people into classes based on contributions and wealth. Money leads to division and ranking of people according to wealth they have .As well as the ownership of means of production(which creates Capitalist vs proletariat), money divides people into groupings too.
It leads to profit driven society. If profit is focus of society then those who do not make profit nd who do not have money are seen as lesser.In a world where you need money to survive you need wage slavery(wages,compulsory work)those without end up homeless ,starving.A society with money will inevitably have inequality,crime,homelessness,starvation,poverty,consumerism,environmental degradation,

Mutualism. There could be market socialism or non-capitalist markets since capitalism has not always existed while markets have.So Mutualism is a valid form of anarchism.However it would have to not involve capitalist types of relations.

Anarcho-Communism is the rejection of mutualism and market socialism as not sufficiently radical enough though we need not be anti-mutualism or syndicalism. They reject anarcho-syndicalist goals of wages based on contribution.Economic contributions are not measurable since they are a collective product. Any system with wage labour and private property requires a state.

Even in an anarchist society(say Mutualism) with wages based on contribution,those who didn't work would starve,there could be poverty,inequality,overaccumulation,consumerism,environmental degradation,waste etc. Anarcho-Communism denies these possibilities but abolished the need for them or the possibility of them.

Also the anarcho-communist critique is that if money existed, if wages were necessary to live, if work was compulsory to live(wage slavery) then this would have problematic complications and lead to many of the problems an anarcho-communist society could avoid e.g. a  society with money could still have massive accumulation and so a wealth divide/inequality or have consumerism.

anarcho-communism favours production and distribution for need only, "From each according to their needs".The basic necessities of life would and should be freely available.

Working for a wage even with worker self management just means the workers are wage slaves to each other. The problem of wage slavery is  more correcly, the compulsion in needing to work for a wage at all.The compulsion that you either work or starve i.e. the existence of the wages system, of wages being necessary are themselves the problem.

Anarcho-Syndicalism or marxist or mutualism lays the blame on the capitalists ownership of the means of production but if the workers own and run the factory,  wage slavery still exists just it has changed form. So wage slavery is tied to wages not wage labour though of course that worsens the situation.The class struggle is only ended by worker self management.

Is an anarcho-communist society possible? I believe so. Is it likely? I don't know.I don't believe it's guaranteed to happen but I also don't think we can rule it out and say it will never happen. Is it necessary? without doubt!

So regardless of whether it's likely it's necessary and so there must always  be a push towards it no matter how small those steps are. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Anarchism criticism of Anti-Bedroom tax Federation.

Britain, Anarchists Federation Scotland: Stitched up: The Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation

Date Tue, 14 May 2013 13:58:36 +0300

Déjà vu: the poll tax campaign which the Trotskyist Militant tendency also tried to lead.
The first Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax conference took place on 27th April in Glasgow, its aim to unite local groups across the country into one campaign with greater strength and resources. I’m surprised it hasn’t received more coverage and criticism. I suspect that’s because people are holding their tongues and focusing on organising locally and in other campaigns. However, I would argue that we need to discuss what’s happening nationally so that we can be more effective in challenging the Bedroom Tax, and any government cuts, but also to ensure that a campaign like this is controlled by working class people themselves.---- Here’s what I’ve written previously: ----

The old authoritarian Left, after having lost much of its credibility, recognises the importance of the anti-Bedroom Tax campaign and has been trying as usual to put itself in a position of leadership in order to control it and regain political influence and power. Tommy Sheridan, out of prison for perjury, is back in the media spotlight as the face of the anti-Bedroom Tax campaign and, after everything he’s done, still manages to muster enthusiastic support from his fan club. He briefly got himself elected secretary of the interim committee of the West of Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, before being forced to resign because of his divisive role. But don’t count him out just yet.

Well, that was a bit of an understatement. What in fact happened at the Glasgow conference was that the West of Scotland federation effectively became a national federation. Tommy Sheridan was elected the chairperson and, coincidentally, members of the Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) and SWP gained positions as secretary and deputy chairperson respectively. These, just to remind you, were the same parties that backed each other up previously in manipulating things in the West of Scotland federation and in putting forward Dave Sherry, one of those high-ranking SWP members who covered up a rape in the party, as speaker on the last march against the Bedroom Tax in Glasgow, 30th March. Sherry gave another speech at the conference. There were over 200 people there on the day, although it’s unclear how many of those were voting delegates. In any case, out of all those present only one person actually voted against the officers during the election or seemed to have an alternative proposal. Furthermore, amendments to the pre-written founding statement were not allowed. And to cap it all, speeches were given arguing for the necessity of a workers’ party and that we should look, funnily enough, to the example of the Militant tendency’s influence in Liverpool council in the 1980s as to how local government should be run.*

This is all bad news. It is incredibly cynical to use a grassroots campaign meeting, presumably meant to attract people from different groups or none, as an opportunity for your own party political broadcast. That Sheridan has taken such a central position within this new organisation shows, as though any more proof were needed, the extent to which he’s willing to go to trample over any independent attempts at organising and promote himself. As a politician, he is so toxic and divisive that his latest ego trip is his way of saying a big fuck you to the rest of the Left, and leads him to actively compete with any other organisation he can’t control. As for the structure of the federation, the steering committee is meant to consist of 60 elected members from across Scotland. That’s sounds democratic, right? The problem is that the national federation’s officer positions appear to be permanent rather than rotated, there is no mention of recallability for the members from local groups, and it seems likely that the parties will between them be able to engineer things in enough local groups to marginalise any differences in the steering committee – after all, this is what’s happened so far. And, just to be clear, a real federation doesn’t ‘steer’ things from the centre but co-ordinates what groups have already decided and told their spokespersons. It all starts to look like a small group of party activists deciding things among themselves and then passing on these instructions to the ‘foot soldiers’ - without whom there wouldn’t be a “federation” in the first place. That’s not a federal structure, it’s a party structure.

But this is an important point. It’s not just party hacks who were at this conference or who will be involved in the “federation”. Most of the people will be those who are genuinely concerned by the Bedroom Tax or are directly affected themselves. And I am certainly not criticising them. The number of people attending the first conference was certainly impressive.

It is argued by some that anarchists only denounce things and retreat into ‘pure’, small-scale initiatives with little influence or give up entirely. I would dispute this, but were it ever to be true it would be a mistake. We need to be where people are. What we share even with the parties mentioned above is the aim to defeat the Bedroom Tax: to pressure local authorities, housing associations and government, and to physically prevent evictions if necessary. In campaigns like this it would naive to think that we can avoid working with other political groups we often disagree with.

However, It would equally naive to suggest that divisions aren’t ever meaningful and can simply disappear. There is a line. Pro-feminism isn’t an add-on or a separate issue, it has to be advocated by us in everything we do. We need to oppose sexism wherever we encounter it or we are hypocrites. And we should always argue for directly democratic structures. This isn’t some sort of luxury; it increases the participation and popular base of organisations, making them stronger and more radical, and ensures that a struggle like this has a positive long-term effect on class solidarity and empowerment.

This all leads to the question: can and should anarchists and anyone with a commitment to genuine grassroots organising be involved in the Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation?

My mind isn’t made up on this, but I think there are a few options:

1. If it becomes clear that this federation is a lost cause, and just another in a long-line of front groups then we could ignore it and concentrate on making the local community groups we’re already involved in as successful, as influential and participative as possible. At the same time we should continue to be actively a part of regional federations like that of Edinburgh & Lothians, which has taken a much more positive direction since it’s much more diverse, hasn’t yet been captured by party socialists, and recognises the need for directly democratic decision-making. We shouldn’t take that for granted, but make sure that we build on this beginning.

2. Let’s get one thing straight: anarchists love federations (the clue’s in our name). We want to federate everything, and build a collective power from below, rather than have weaker isolated groups. So, we definitely support the idea of an actual national federation. Despite all its problems, if this federation is the only cross-Scotland organisation in town and continues to attract local groups and working class people (which is what it was designed to do) then perhaps we need to be involved. But that would require us actively arguing for important changes in the structure, processes and current officers. Sheridan needs to be ousted, and Sherry refused a platform altogether. That all sounds like an uphill struggle. On the other hand, Trotskyists and their ilk will always try to dictate and manipulate. They’re the ones who call the A to B marches on Saturdays, who set up the ‘national federations’ and open ‘coalitions’, choose the speakers and speak to the media. We can either complain about this or challenge it with a co-ordinated response.

3. However, it may be that we can be involved in national organising and avoid much of the authoritarian Left. The No2BedroomTax campaign seems to have originally been part of the West of Scotland federation but is now independent of it. It seeks to support and link anti-Bedroom Tax groups throughout Scotland, and also seems to have a commitment to grassroots democracy and skepticism of politicians very unlike the Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation. I’m sure they’re not interested in sectarian battles between left groups, but want to extend the campaign and have an impact. So, as far as I can see, this is a much more positive initiative. They’ve called a Day of Protest against the tax for the 18th May in Glasgow.

I’m much more inclined towards a mix of options 1 and 3. But I know from my own experience that the Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation is trying to involve groups from across the country in their own organisation, and that many don’t see or aren’t aware of it being dominated by the Sheridan crowd. At the moment, that’s really unfortunate. The key points are to fight the tax without sacrificing or undermining other fundamental principles, not to surrender control of the campaign to the authoritarians, to be where working class people are, and to take our arguments to them

Kropotkin Quotes.

 It is futile to speak of liberty as long as economic slavery exists

Not only has a coercive system contributed and powerfully aided to create all the present economical, political and social evils, but it has given proof of its absolute impotence to raise the moral level of societies; it has not been even able to maintain it at the level it had already reached. If a benevolent fairy could only reveal to our eyes all the crimes that are committed every day, every minute, in a civilized society under cover of the unknown, or the protection of law itself, — society would shudder at that terrible state of affairs.

ANARCHISM (from the Gr. ἅν, and άρχη, contrary to authority), the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government — harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being. In a society developed on these lines, the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover all the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the state in all its functions. They would represent an interwoven network, composed of an infinite variety of groups and federations of all sizes and degrees, local, regional, national and international temporary or more or less permanent — for all possible purposes: production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary arrangements, education, mutual protection, defence of the territory, and so on; and, on the other side, for the satisfaction of an ever-increasing number of scientific, artistic, literary and sociable needs. Moreover, such a society would represent nothing immutable. On the contrary — as is seen in organic life at large — harmony would (it is contended) result from an ever-changing adjustment and readjustment of equilibrium between the multitudes of forces and influences, and this adjustment would be the easier to obtain as none of the forces would enjoy a special protection from the state.

The means of production being the collective work of humanity, the product should be the collective property of the race. Individual appropriation is neither just nor serviceable. All belongs to all. All things are for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men have worked in the measure of their strength to produce them, and since it is not possible to evaluate every one's part in the production of the world's wealth.
All things are for all.
Here is an immense stock of tools and implements; here are all those iron slaves which we call machines, which saw and plane, spin and weave for us, unmaking and remaking, working up raw matter to produce the marvels of our time. But nobody has the right to seize a single one of these machines and say, "This is mine; if you want to use it you must pay me a tax on each of your products," any more than the feudal lord of medieval times had the right to say to the peasant, "This hill, this meadow belong to me, and you must pay me a tax on every sheaf of corn you reap, on every rick you build."
All is for all! If the man and the woman bear their fair share of work, they have a right to their fair share of all that is produced by all, and that share is enough to secure them well-being. No more of such vague formulas as "The Right to work," or "To each the whole result of his labour." What we proclaim is The Right to Well-Being: Well-Being for All!
But a greater evil of the present system becomes more and more marked; namely, that in a system based on private appropriation, all that is necessary to life and to production — land, housing, food and tools — having once passed into the hands of a few, the production of necessities that would give well-being to all is continually hampered. The worker feels vaguely that our present technical power could give abundance to all, but he also perceives how the capitalistic system and the State hinder the conquest of this well-being in every way.

for, who would sell his labor power for less than it is capable of bringing in, if he were not forced thereto by the threat of hunger?
And those essential traits of the system are also its most crushing condemnation.

Governmental Communism, like theocratic Communism, is repugnant to the worker.

It is only by the abolition of the State, by the conquest of perfect liberty by the individual, by free agreement, association, and absolute free federation that we can reach Communism — the possession in common of our social inheritance, and the production in common of all riches.


Why I oppose Bolsheviks and their apologists.

Bolsheviks shooting anarchists

Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman
We have just received the following letter from our comrades Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, who are now stranded in Stockholm. This letter gives us the truth about the terrible persecution of Anarchists in Russia. We ask all Anarchist and Syndicalist papers to republish this letter, and we hope comrades in this country will help us in pushing the sale of this issue, of which we have printed a much larger number than usual.
Dear Comrades, - The persecution of the revolutionary elements in Russia has not abated with the changed political and economic policies of the Bolsheviki. On the contrary, it has become more intense, more determined. The prisons of Russia, of Ukraine, of Siberia, are filled with men and women - aye, in some cases with mere children - who dare hold views that differ from those of the ruling Communist Party. We say “hold views” advisedly. For in the Russia of to-day it is not at all necessary to express your dissension in word or act to become subject to arrest; the mere holding of opposing views makes you the legitimate prey of the de facto supreme power of the land, the Tcheka, that almighty Bolshevik Okhrana, whose will knows neither law nor responsibility.
But of all the revolutionary elements in Russia it is the Anarchists who now suffer the most ruthless and systematic persecution. Their suppression by the Bolsheviki began already in 1918, when - in the month of April of that year - the Communist Government attacked, without provocation or warning, the Anarchist Club of Moscow and by the use of machine guns and artillery “liquidated” the whole organisation. It was the beginning of Anarchist hounding, but it was sporadic in character, breaking out now and then, quite planless, and frequently self-contradictory. Thus, Anarchist publications would now be permitted, now suppressed; Anarchists arrested here only to be liberated there; sometimes shot and then again importuned to accept most responsible positions. But this chaotic situation was terminated by the Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party, in April, 1921, at which Lenin declared open and merciless war not only against Anarchists but against “all petty bourgeois Anarchist and Anarcho-Syndicalist tendencies” wherever found. It was then and there that began the systematic, organised, and most ruthless extermination of Anarchists in Bolshevik-ruled Russia. On the very day of the Lenin speech scores of Anarchists, Anarcho-Syndicalists, and their sympathisers were arrested in Moscow and Petrograd, and on the following day wholesale arrests of our comrades took place all over the country. Since then the persecution has continued with increasing violence, and it has become quite apparent that the greater the compromises the Communist regime makes with the capitalist world, the more intense its persecution of Anarchism.
It has become the settled policy of the Bolshevik Government to mask its barbaric procedure against our comrades by the uniform charge of banditism. This accusation is now made practically against all arrested Anarchists, and frequently even against mere sympathisers with our movement. A mighty convenient method, for by it any one may be secretly executed by the Tcheka, without hearing, trial, or investigation.
Lenin’s warfare against Anarchist tendencies has assumed the most revolting Asiatic form of extermination. Last September numerous comrades were arrested in Moscow, and on the 30th of that month the Izvestia published the official statement that ten of the arrested Anarchists had been shot “as bandits.” None of them had received a trial or even a hearing, nor were they permitted to be represented by counsel or be visited by friends or relatives. Among the executed were two of the best-known Russian Anarchists, whose idealism and lifelong devotion to the cause of humanity had stood the test of Tsarist dungeons and exile, and persecution and suffering in various other countries. They were Fanny Baron, who had escaped from prison in Ryazan several months previously, and Lev Tchorny, the popular lecturer and writer, who had spent many years of his life in the Siberian katorgafor his revolutionary activities under the Tsars. The Bolsheviki did not have the courage to say that they had shot Lev Tchorny ; in the list of the executed he appeared as “Turchaninoff,” which - though his real name - was unknown even to some of his closest friends.
The policy of extermination is continuing. Several weeks ago more arrests of Anarchists took place in Moscow. This time it was the Universalist Anarchists who were the victims - the group which even the Bolsheviki had always considered most friendly to themselves. Amongst the arrested were also Askaroff, Shapiro, [Not our London comrade, A. Shapiro, of Golos Truda] and Stitzenko, members of the Secretariat of the Moscow section of the Universalists, and well known throughout Russia. These arrests, outrageous as they were, were at first considered by the comrades as due to the unauthorised action of some over-zealous Tchekist agent. But information has since been received that our Universalist comrades are officially accused of being bandits, counterfeiters, Makhnovtsy, and members of the “Lev Tchorny underground group.” What such an accusation means is known only too well to those familiar with Bolshevik methods. It means razstrel, execution by shooting, without hearing or warning.
The fiendishness of the purpose of these arrests and accusations is almost beyond belief. By charging Askaroff, Shapiro, Stitzenko, and others with “membership in the Lev Tchorny underground group,” the Bolsheviki seek to justify their foul murder of Lev Tchorny, Fanny Baron, and the other comrades executed in September; and, on the other hand, to create a convenient pretext for shooting more Anarchists. We can assure the readers unreservedly and absolutely that there was no Lev Tchorny underground group. The claim to the contrary is an atrocious lie, one of the many similar ones spread by the Bolsheviki against the Anarchists with impunity.
It is high time that the revolutionary Labour movement of the world took cognizance of the blood and murder régime practised by the Bolshevik Government upon all politically differently minded. And it is for the Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists, in particular, imperative to take immediate action toward putting a stop to such Asiatic barbarism, and to save, if still possible, our imprisoned Moscow comrades threatened with death. Some of the arrested Anarchists are about to declare a hunger strike to the death, as their only means of protest against the Bolshevik attempt to outrage the memory of the martyred Lev Tchorny after they had foully done him to death. They demand the moral support of their comrades at large. They have the right to demand this, and more. Their sublime self-sacrifice, their lifelong devotion to the great cause, their unswerving steadfastness, all entitle them to it. Comrades, friends, everywhere ! It is for you to help vindicate the memory of Lev Tchorny and at the same time save the precious lives of Askaroff, Shapiro, Stitzenko, and others. Do not delay or it may be too late. Demand from the Bolshevik Government the alleged Lev Tchorny documents they pretend to have, which “involve Askaroff, etc., in the Lev Tchorny group of bandits and counterfeiters.” Such documents do not exist, unless they be forgeries. Challenge the Bolsheviki to produce them, and let the voice of every honest revolutionist and decent human being be raised in world-wide protest against the continuance of the Bolshevik system of foul assassination of its political opponents. Make haste, for the blood of our comrades is flowing in Russia.
Stockholm, January 7, 1922.
[In our next issue we will publish another letter from Emma Goldman, dealing with the bomb incident at Moscow, which the subject of a letter in our issue of October last.]
[Historical footnote: “In September 1921, the Cheka shot the Anarchist poet, Lev Chernyi, and Fanya Baron. Chernyi had been active in the Moscow Black Guard and was a member of the Underground Anarchists, the group responsible for the Leontiev Street bombing of the Moscow Communist headquarters in 1919, but he personally had played no part in the incident. Fanya Baron’s record as an‘ideological’ anarchist was untainted by terrorism of any sort.” Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists, p232-233]
From: Freedom (London), January 1922.

Ecology Co-opted by Capitalism.

“Ecology” or “green” issues have therefore now been embraced by individuals and groups right across the political spectrum. Even neo-Nazis claim to be anti-capitalist and to embrace the green perspective. So you will not be surprised to learn that the majority of major transnational corporations — including Shell, Nestle and Coca Cola — have leapt aboard the green bandwagon and are enthusiastically demanding that we all cut our carbon emissions.

So what is going on? Four tendencies, I think, are worth noting.

One is that capitalist corporations are now in the process of “greening” their public image. Something that the Shell corporation has been engaged in for several decades, given its awful record in terms of environmental destruction. It would be difficult to find any major transnational corporation these days that does not proudly acclaim and advertise its ecological sensibility and its “green” credentials.

Secondly, although most people now acknowledge that there is an environmental crisis, efforts are continually being made to convince us that this crisis has nothing to do with the capitalist economy per se. Deep ecologists have long been informing us that it is all due to a lack of spirituality, or that there are too many people, or even that humans are by nature either “aliens” or unwanted “parasites” on earth. Such misanthropic sentiments were long ago critiqued by Bookchin. So according to Jonathan Porritt (an adviser to New Labour on environmental issues) what we need is a suitable marriage between capitalism and spiritualism! Heaven forbid!

Development experts, in contrast, blame ecological problems, like deforestation, on the victims, the poor peasants, who because of their poverty and lack of modern agricultural techniques, are destroying — we are told — the forests. Whereas, of course, the main culprits are the logging companies, the mining corporations such as Vedanta and Rio Tinto, and the expanding ranching enterprises that cater for the increasing demand for meat.
Development experts long ago coined the concept “sustainable development”. This has nothing to do with the conservation of Nature; it is all about sustaining “development”, that is capitalist growth.
What also clouds the issue is the suggestion that global warming and other environmental issues, have nothing to do with an economic system geared to growth and private profit: it is solely due to the actions of individual “consumers”. So we are all being urged to do what we can to “save” the planet.
Thirdly, this laudable concern for the environment by transnational corporations is clearly a front to enable such corporations to seek further opportunities for capitalist expansion, and for generating even more profit. Thus industrial wind farms covering large tracts of the countryside, the increasing production of bio-fuels (at the expense of food production), and the expansion and export of the nuclear industry to all parts of the world, all three initiatives are heralded as great ways of cutting “carbon emissions” and thus helping to save the planet! But at what social and ecological cost? It is noteworthy that each of these initiatives is in the hands of big business, amply subsidised by western governments.
Finally, what we have also experienced in the last decades, as an accompaniment to the advocacy of green capitalism, is the emergence of the concept of “global management”. To safeguard the planet what we therefore need (we are told) is a plethora of conservation experts and eco technocrats to monitor the planet, and to offer advice to governments and transnational corporations on how we can best “save” the planet. But “saving” the planet, as Wolfgang Sachs argued (in “Planet Dialectics” 1999) is in fact little more than a justification for a new wave of state interventions into the lives of ordinary people.
Anarchists need to be wary and critical of each of these four tendencies. We need, therefore, to develop a project that combines socialism (not the radical individualism of Nietzschean aesthetes) and an ecological sensibility (not neo-primitivism) as the likes of Peter Kropotkin, Edward Carpenter and Eliseé Reclus suggested long ago. "

Ecology and its recuperation by capitalists By Brian Morris 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Some Anarchist Faq Economics.

I.4.4 What economic decision making criteria could be used in anarchy?

Firstly, it should be noted that anarchists do not have any set idea about the answer to this question. Most anarchists are communists, desiring to see the end of money, but that does not mean they want to impose communism onto people. Far from it, communism can only be truly libertarian if it is organised from the bottom up. So, anarchists would agree with Kropotkin that it is a case of not "determining in advance what form of distribution the producers should accept in their different groups -- whether the communist solution, or labour checks, or equal salaries, or any other method" while considering a given solution best in their opinion. [Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 166] Free experiment is a key aspect of anarchism.
While certain anarchists have certain preferences on the social system they want to live in and so argue for that, they are aware that objective circumstances and social desires will determine what is introduced during a revolution (for example, while Kropotkin was a communist-anarchist and considered it essential that a revolution proceed towards communism as quickly as possible, he was aware that it was unlikely it would be introduced immediately -- see section I.2.2 for details).
However, we will outline some possible means of economic decision making criteria as this question is an important one (it is the crux of the "libertarian socialism is impossible" argument, for example). Therefore, we will indicate what possible solutions exist in different forms of anarchism.
In a mutualist or collectivist system, the answer is easy. Prices will exist and be used as a means of making decisions. Mutualism will be more market orientated than collectivism, with collectivism being based on confederations of collectives to respond to changes in demand (i.e. to determine investment decisions and ensure that supply is kept in line with demand). Mutualism, with its system of market based distribution around a network of co-operatives and mutual banks, does not really need a further discussion as its basic operations are the same as in any non-capitalist market system. Collectivism and communism will have to be discussed in more detail. However, all systems are based on workers' self-management and so the individuals directly affected make the decisions concerning what to produce, when to do it, and how to do it. In this way workers retain control of the product of their labour. It is the social context of these decisions and what criteria workers use to make their decisions that differ between anarchist schools of thought.
Although collectivism promotes the greatest autonomy for worker associations, it should not be confused with a market economy as advocated by supporters of mutualism (particularly in its Individualist form). The goods produced by the collectivised factories and workshops are exchanged not according to highest price that can be wrung from consumers, but according to their actual production costs. The determination of these honest prices is to be by a "Bank of Exchange" in each community (obviously an idea borrowed from Proudhon). These "Banks" would represent the various producer confederations and consumer/citizen groups in the community and would seek to negotiate these "honest" prices (which would, in all likelihood, include "hidden" costs like pollution). These agreements would be subject to ratification by the assemblies of those involved.
As Guillaume puts it "the value of the commodities having been established in advance by a contractual agreement between the regional co-operative federations [i.e. confederations of syndicates] and the various communes, who will also furnish statistics to the Banks of Exchange. The Bank of Exchange will remit to the producers negotiable vouchers representing the value of their products; these vouchers will be accepted throughout the territory included in the federation of communes." [Bakunin on Anarchism, p. 366] These vouchers would be related to hours worked, for example, and when used as a guide for investment decisions could be supplemented with cost-benefit analysis of the kind possibly used in a communist-anarchist society (see below).
Although this scheme bears a strong resemblance to Proudhonian "People's Banks," it should be noted that the Banks of Exchange, along with a "Communal Statistical Commission," are intended to have a "planning" function as well to ensure that supply meets demand. This does not imply a "command" economy, but simple book keeping for "each Bank of Exchange makes sure in advance that these products are in demand [in order to risk] nothing by immediately issuing payment vouchers to the producers." [Op. Cit., p. 367] The workers syndicates would still determine what orders to produce and each commune would be free to choose its suppliers.
As will be discussed in more depth later (see section I.4.8) information about consumption patterns will be recorded and used by workers to inform their production and investment decisions. In addition, we can imagine that production syndicates would encourage communes as well as consumer groups and co-operatives to participate in making these decisions. This would ensure that produced goods reflect consumer needs. Moreover, as conditions permit, the exchange functions of the communal "banks" would (in all likelihood) be gradually replaced by the distribution of goods "in accordance with the needs of the consumers." In other words, most supporters of collectivist anarchism see it as a temporary measure before anarcho-communism could develop.
Communist anarchism would be similar to collectivism, i.e. a system of confederations of collectives, communes and distribution centres ("Communal stores").

"As to decisions involving choices of a general nature, such as what forms of energy to use, which of two or more materials to employ to produce a particular good, whether to build a new factory, there is a . . . technique . . . that could be [used] . . . 'cost-benefit analysis' . . . in socialism a points scheme for attributing relative importance to the various relevant considerations could be used . . . The points attributed to these considerations would be subjective, in the sense that this would depend on a deliberate social decision rather than some objective standard, but this is the case even under capitalism when a monetary value has to be attributed to some such 'cost' or 'benefit' . . . In the sense that one of the aims of socialism is precisely to rescue humankind from the capitalist fixation with production time/money, cost-benefit analyses, as a means of taking into account other factors, could therefore be said to be more appropriate for use in socialism than under capitalism. Using points systems to attribute relative importance in this way would not be to recreate some universal unit of evaluation and calculation, but simply to employ a technique to facilitate decision-making in particular concrete cases." [Adam Buick and John Crump, State Capitalism: The Wages System Under New Management, pp. 138-139]
This points system would be the means by which producers and consumers would be able to determine whether the use of a particular good is efficient or not. Unlike prices, this cost-benefit analysis system would ensure that production and consumption reflects social and ecological costs, awareness and priorities. Moreover, this analysis would be a guide to decision making and not a replacement of human decision making and evaluation. As Lewis Mumford argues:

"it is plan that in the decision as to whether to build a bridge or a tunnel there is a human question that should outweigh the question of cheapness or mechanical feasibility: namely the number of lives that will be lost in the actual building or the advisability of condemning a certain number of men [and women] to spend their entire working days underground supervising tunnel traffic. As soon as our thought ceases to be automatically conditioned by the mine, such questions become important. Similarly the social choice between silk and rayon is not one that can be made simply on the different costs of production, or the difference in quality between the fibres themselves: there also remains, to be integrated in the decision, the question as to difference in working-pleasure between tending silkworms and assisting in rayon production. What the product contributes to the labourer is just as important as what the worker contributes to the product. A well-managed society might alter the process of motor car assemblage, at some loss of speed and cheapness, in order to produce a more interesting routine for the worker: similarly, it would either go to the expense of equipping dry-process cement making plants with dust removers -- or replace the product itself with a less noxious substitute. When none of these alternatives was available, it would drastically reduce the demand itself to the lowest possible level." [The Future of Technics and Civilisation, pp. 160-1]
Obviously, today, we would include ecological issues as well as human ones. However Mumford's argument is correct. Any decision making process which disregards the quality of work or the effect on the human and natural environment is a deranged process. However, this is how capitalism operates, with the market rewarding capitalists and managers who introduce de-humanising and ecologically harmful practices. Indeed, so biased against labour and the environment is capitalism that economists and pro-capitalists argue that reducing "efficiency" by such social concerns is actually harmful to an economy, which is a total reversal of common sense and human feelings (after all, surely the economy should satisfy human needs and not sacrifice those needs to the economy?). The argument is that consumption would suffer as resources (human and material) would be diverted from more "efficient" productive activities and so reduce, over all, our economic well-being. What this argument ignores is that consumption does not exist in isolation from the rest of the economy. What we what to consume is conditioned, in part, by the sort of person we are and that is influenced by the kind of work we do, the kinds of social relationships we have, whether we are happy with our work and life, and so on. If our work is alienating and of low quality, then so will our consumption decisions. If our work is subject to hierarchical control and servile in nature then we cannot expect our consumption decisions of totally rational -- indeed they may become an attempt to find happiness via shopping, a self-defeating activity as consumption cannot solve a problem created in production. Thus rampant consumerism may be the result of capitalist "efficiency" and so the objection against socially aware production is question begging.
Of course, as well as absolute scarcity, prices under capitalism also reflect relative scarcity (while in the long term, market prices tend towards their production price plus a mark-up based on the degree of monopoly in a market, in the short term prices can change as a result of changes in supply and demand). How a communist society could take into account such short term changes and communicate them through out the economy is discussed in section I.4.5 ( "What about 'supply and demand'?"). Needless to say, production and investment decisions based upon such cost-benefit analysis would take into account the current production situation and so the relative scarcity of specific goods.
Therefore, a communist-anarchist society would be based around a network of syndicates who communicate information between each other. Instead of the "price" being communicated between workplaces as in capitalism, actual physical data will be sent. This data is a summary of the use values of the good (for example labour time and energy used to produce it, pollution details, relative scarcity and so forth). With this information a cost-benefit analysis will be conducted to determine which good will be best to use in a given situation based upon mutually agreed common values. The data for a given workplace could be compared to the industry as a whole (as confederations of syndicates would gather and produce such information -- see section I.3.5) in order to determine whether a specific workplace will efficiently produce the required goods (this system has the additional advantage of indicating which workplaces require investment to bring them in line, or improve upon, the industrial average in terms of working conditions, hours worked and so on). In addition, common rules of thumb would possibly be agreed, such as agreements not to use scarce materials unless there is no alternative (either ones that use a lot of labour, energy and time to produce or those whose demand is currently exceeding supply capacity).
Similarly, when ordering goods, the syndicate, commune or individual involved will have to inform the syndicate why it is required in order to allow the syndicate to determine if they desire to produce the good and to enable them to prioritise the orders they receive. In this way, resource use can be guided by social considerations and "unreasonable" requests ignored (for example, if an individual "needs" a ship-builders syndicate to build a ship for his personal use, the ship-builders may not "need" to build it and instead builds ships for the transportation of freight). However, in almost all cases of individual consumption, no such information will be needed as communal stores would order consumer goods in bulk as they do now. Hence the economy would be a vast network of co-operating individuals and workplaces and the dispersed knowledge which exists within any society can be put to good effect (better effect than under capitalism because it does not hide social and ecological costs in the way market prices do and co-operation will eliminate the business cycle and its resulting social problems).
Therefore, production units in a social anarchist society, by virtue of their autonomy within association, are aware of what is socially useful for them to produce and, by virtue of their links with communes, also aware of the social (human and ecological) cost of the resources they need to produce it. They can combine this knowledge, reflecting overall social priorities, with their local knowledge of the detailed circumstances of their workplaces and communities to decide how they can best use their productive capacity. In this way the division of knowledge within society can be used by the syndicates effectively as well as overcoming the restrictions within knowledge communication imposed by the price mechanism.
Moreover, production units, by their association within confederations (or Guilds) ensure that there is effective communication between them. This results in a process of negotiated co-ordination between equals (i.e. horizontal links and agreements) for major investment decisions, thus bringing together supply and demand and allowing the plans of the various units to be co-ordinated. By this process of co-operation, production units can reduce duplicating effort and so reduce the waste associated with over-investment (and so the irrationalities of booms and slumps associated with the price mechanism, which does not provide sufficient information to allow workplaces to efficiently co-ordinate their plans - see section C.7.2).
Needless to say, this issue is related to the "socialist calculation" issue we discussed in section I.1.2. To clarify our ideas, we shall present an example.
Consider two production processes. Method A requires 70 tons of steel and 60 tons of concrete while Method B requires 60 tons of steel and 70 tons of concrete. Which method should be preferred? One of the methods will be more economical in terms of leaving more resources available for other uses than the other but in order to establish which we need to compare the relevant quantities.
Supporters of capitalism argue that only prices can supply the necessary information as they are heterogeneous quantities. Both steel and concrete have a price (say $10 per ton for steel and $5 per ton for concrete). The method to choose is clearly B as it has a lower price that A ($950 for B compared to $1000 for A). However, this does not actually tell us whether B is the more economical method of production in terms of minimising waste and resource use, it just tells us which costs less in terms of money.
Why is this? Simply because, as we argued in section I.1.2, prices do not totally reflect social, economic and ecological costs. They are influenced by market power, for example, and produce externalities, environmental and health costs which are not reflected in the price. Indeed, passing on costs in the form of externalities and inhuman working conditions actually are rewarded in the market as it allows the company so doing to cut their prices. As far as market power goes, this has a massive influence on prices, directly in terms of prices charged and indirectly in terms of wages and conditions of workers. Due to natural barriers to entry (see section C.4), prices are maintained artificially high by the market power of big business. For example, steel could, in fact cost $5 per ton to produce but market power allows the company to charge $10 per ton,
Wage costs are, again, determined by the bargaining power of labour and so do not reflect the real costs in terms of health, personality and alienation the workers experience. They may be working in unhealthy conditions simply to get by, with unemployment or job insecurity hindering their attempts to improve their conditions or find a new job. Nor are the social and individual costs of hierarchy and alienation factored into the price, quite the reverse. It seems ironic that an economy which it defenders claim meets human needs (as expressed by money, of course) totally ignores individuals in the workplace, the place they spend most of their waking hours in adult life.
So the relative costs of each production method have to be evaluated but price does not, indeed cannot, provide an real indication of whether a method is economical in the sense of actually minimising resource use. Prices do reflect some of these costs, of course, but filtered through the effects of market power, hierarchy and externalities they become less and less accurate. Unless you take the term "economical" to simply mean "has the least cost in price" rather than the sensible "has the least cost in resource use, ecological impact and human pain" you have to accept that the price mechanism is not a great indicator of economic use.
What is the alternative? Obviously the exact details will be worked out in practice by the members of a free society, but we can suggest a few ideas based on our comments above.
When evaluating production methods we need to take into account as many social and ecological costs as possible and these have to be evaluated. Which costs will be taken into account, of course, be decided by those involved, as will how important they are relative to each other (i.e. how they are weighted). Moreover, it is likely that they will factor in the desirability of the work performed to indicate the potential waste in human time involved in production (see section I.4.13 for a discussion of how the desirability of productive activity could be indicated in an anarchist society). The logic behind this is simple, a resource which people like to produce will be a better use of the scare resource of an individual's time than one people hate producing.
So, for example, steel may take 3 person hours to produce one ton, produce 200 cubic metres of waste gas, 2000 kilo-joules of energy, and has excellent working conditions. Concrete, on the other hand, may take 4 person hours to produce one ton, produce 300 cubic metres of waste gas, uses 1000 kilo-joules of energy and has dangerous working conditions due to dust. What would be the best method? Assuming that each factor is weighted the same, then obviously Method A is the better method as it produces the least ecological impact and has the safest working environment -- the higher energy cost is offset by the other, more important, factors.
What factors to take into account and how to weigh them in the decision making process will be evaluated constantly and reviewed so to ensure that it reflects real costs and social concerns. Moreover, simply accounting tools can be created (as a spreadsheet or computer programme) that takes the decided factors as inputs and returns a cost benefit analysis of the choices available.
Therefore, the claim that communism cannot evaluate different production methods due to lack of prices is inaccurate. Indeed, a look at the actual capitalist market -- marked as it is by differences in bargaining and market power, externalities and wage labour -- soon shows that the claims that prices accurately reflect costs is simply not accurate.
One final point on this subject. As social anarchists consider it important to encourage all to participate in the decisions that affect their lives, it would be the role of communal confederations to determine the relative points value of given inputs and outputs. In this way, all individuals in a community determine how their society develops, so ensuring that economic activity is responsible to social needs and takes into account the desires of everyone affected by production. In this way the problems associated with the "Isolation Paradox" (see section B.6) can be over come and so consumption and production can be harmonised with the needs of individuals as members of society and the environment they live in.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Feminist reading list.

Good sites:- Feminist test. -feminist terminology. -more formal list of feminist terms.

Good books:-

  • Feminist thought: a more comprehensive introduction By rosemarie tong. Covers from First wave feminist, 2nd onto third wave feminism,postmodern feminism,marxist/socialist feminism, post-colonial feminism and eco-feminism.The only noticeable absence is anarcha-feminism.
  • Feminism is for everybody by Bell Hooks.
  • Feminist Theory from Margin to Center by Bell Hooks.
  • When Feminism is Revolting: Initial Thoughts on Abolition of Gender (2012) by stacy, aka sallydarity
  • Insurrections at the Intersections: Feminism, Intersectionality and Anarchism (2012).Printed in Quiet Rumours, third edition, AK Press, 2012.
  • Anarcha-Feminism or Death! the relevance of anarchism and feminism today (2009)
  • Black Women's Manifesto; Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female By Frances M. Beal.
  • FAQ: What is male privilege?
  • Quiet rumours anarcha-feminist anthology.

Good Articles:-

Race, Gender or Class? The Eternal(ly) Annoying Question

Chivalry vs. Kindness: Which One Enables Rape Culture?-  Chivalry is not just kindness.It's sexism. Be kind instead.

Tackling the Roots of Rape

20+ Examples of Thin Privilege

30+ Examples of Heterosexual Privilege in the US

Why the Ageism Dialogue Belongs in Feminism

101 Everyday Ways for Men to Be Allies to Women By Michael Urbina

Navigating The Difference Between The Appreciation of Beauty and Sexual Objectification

The Feminist Guide To Non-Creepy Flirting

“Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics… Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion…. A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving… There can be no love without justice.”

Judith Butler Explained with Cats

Feminism 101 Homophobia as gendered sexism.As patriarchy.

Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

Socially Constructed Gender Roles: The Root of All Evil

We need new words, but we might need new brains to think of them

What Does 'Boys Will Be Boys' Really Mean?

Push(back) at the Intersections: How About Some -isms with Your Feminism?

Able Normative Supremacy and the Zero Mentality

Feminism Friday: Sexism, Misogyny and Dictionaries

When Worlds Collide: Fandom and Male Privilege

Feminism 101: Listening

  • Feminist Magazines:-