Paradigm wrote:Anyone who's ever had roommates can understand how possessions work. At my house, we have different rooms, and certain personal affects that we can all claim as our own, but there are also things we share, like the oven, microwave, toilet, shower, refrigerator, etc. The point of possessions is that it doesn't require some legal code to work it out. Social conventions are perfectly fine for that purpose. Anarchists seek to extrapolate these kinds of relations to society in general.
Well, it is true that social conventions sometimes prevent the necessity of establishing the property of objects. But by no means are they enough. I share a TV with my family and we all regard it as a common possession, but that does not mean there are not disputes over who has the right to use it at a given time. Now imagine if we shared it with the WHOLE neighbourhood/community. It would be a mess!
Indeed, you could argue a TV is not the best example of a common property. What if we talked about a factory, for example. How could one know who has the right to work in it at a given time? Let's say thirty different people can work at this factory, and monthly profits are divided accordingly. Now, what would happen if a farmer wanted to work in there (arguing that his monthly harvest was damaged by the droughts) and that he has a right to be part of the factory? What will be decided: to add him as a worker, lowering everybody else's monthly payment; or to disregard him as he owns means of production somewhere else (on his land)? And who will decide it?
You could argue that all the members of the factory can establish certain rules, just like a modern-day cooperative does, for all these problems. Yet the worrying aspect is, there is no one to exert control. Who can stop an ambitious worker which wants to own the factory himself? Just think about it, it is plausible under anarchist conditions where authority is always contested. This man (just like today's political demagogues) could argue that current workers are mismanaging the business and getting more income than they deserve. Who knows, he might be backed by a part of the community and boom. There is nobody to stop him from claiming a collective possession as his own. True, he would need support from the community to succeed. But can we really assume people to be so independently rational?
The idea of "investing" in technology is a rather capitalist notion. Innovation is a natural outgrowth of the inherent creative capacities of humans. People enjoy being creative, and that creativity is stifled by jobs that force people to be cogs in the machine. As anarchists, we seek a society which frees people to pursue their creative passions.
I do not believe investing in technology is a capitalist notion. It is inherent to capitalism, of course, but it is one of the many reasons why goods can now be produced at a massive scale. Let's say in our anarchist world of collectively-managed industries, someone devises a new machine to produce shoes twice as fast as they do in the present. Maybe thanks to this piece of machinery, an excess surplus of shoes would be generated with the same quantity of labour (even trading some with other communities, for example). What would happen if a cooperative faced the issue of investing (buying) this machinery? Would members agree to do so? It is kind of obvious that due to that fostered "community feeling", they wouldn't want to get rid of any members/workers. But is this good for the economy of the community? Aren't they losing a big chance to increase their wealth, as they would be able to trade some of these shoes with other villages? Mind you, this is just a silly hypothetical example, but you could well apply it to any other industry and any other technological opportunity. There is a reason why not many cooperatives become big. I'm not saying that makes them worse: for instance, I agree machines make people cogs. But these are partly the reason why we've managed to make many products accesible to most of society.
The problem is that you're looking at co-ops within the context of capitalism. I'm talking about have an economy that is itself cooperative, not one based on profit. Things like economic downturns and layoffs would be obsolete ideas within such an economy.
Uhm, I don't think so. Economies are always about the exchange of goods and services and function basically the same without considering the system underlying the exchange. Even if we're talking about a communal economy, I ask you to consider the following situation. The village next to our community, with whom we trade goods and services, can't exchange the cereals they usually harvest because of a recent drought/flooding whatever. We would love to help them according to our principles, but we need cereals to feed our population. As the villagers can't buy our wood for their cereals, the producers of wood will have an excess of wood (which can't be traded in our community market) and they can't sell any cereals in exchange for what they need. In other words, the producers of wood have no "income" and can spend nothing. Thus, the producers of meat won't sell as much meat as they thought they would, so they too spend less and the circle goes on and on and on. Eventually, the circle will get to our shoe-making cooperative. Do you think they sold many shoes? No, and the fact is that members will receive very little (as there are actually lots of members). Which leaves the shoe-makers nearly in a bad economic state, as they wasted time and resources in making shoes but did not receive any income. In that case, the cooperative should've "dismissed" some workers, but they could not. If they had, the members left would've received a higher payment and the others would arguably have set off to find a better job, and nobody would've wasted their labour.
Part of the thrust of capitalism has been to isolate people from each other more and more. Part of the work of revolutionaries is counteract this and connect people with one another. The Black Panthers managed to do this brilliantly back in their heyday, with community policing and free breakfast programs. So yes, the current system is very much stacked against such cooperation, but that is precisely what we seek to fight against.
Yes, but no matter how cooperative these communities can be, there is always the possibility and the risk that some present or future members might not be so. There are selfish people all around us. They might be encouraged to be so in our society, but I've witnessed selfish children who continued to be the same in adult life - no matter how many times they were told that "sharing is good" or the likes.
No, they don't need to be reimbursed if they actually live in these communities. All they have to do is have an interest in their community's safety. Plenty of neighborhood watch programs already exist, and they are comprised of volunteers. And as I mentioned, this would be in combination with addressing the root causes of crime, so there would be less violence to worry about.
It is possible for this to work in small settlements, as there is not much to care for and people know each other well. But when I think about a town or a city doing this, I just can't see it happening! Nobody would have enough volunteers to watch over the whole place, and the community does not even know each other. I speak from my experience of country and urban life. At home in the city I don't even know my neighbours, while in the country everybody knows who you are.
I don't claim that violence would be abolished once and for all. That'd be silly. But it'd be equally silly to ignore the social factors that increase violence, such as socioeconomic inequality.
I absolutely agree with you that violence is mainly caused by socioeconomic inequality, although it is not the only cause. But I've already expressed my reservations about an anarchist system reducing this inequality. People are just too self-centered, even if you can bond them close, there will always be others seeking to improve their position and take advantage over the rest.
See, you're still thinking in terms of capitalist property relations. Anarchists seek to create a society based on mutual aid. As Kropotkin meticulously documented, mutual aid was the original form of exchange in human societies, and has continued to play some role in all human societies even when it is de-emphasized compared to other forms of exchange. While some anarchists advocate outright abolishing money and replacing it with mutual aid, there can also be community credit systems that operate on the basis of mutual aid, as was the case in many Medieval towns. When we speak of equality, we don't mean that everyone will literally have the same amount of stuff at any one time, but rather that the goods of society will circulate in an egalitarian manner. We seek to abolish a society based on accumulation and replace it with one based on mutual aid. Toward that end, we seek to overthrow the violent power of the state, which makes the current system of accumulation possible in the first place.
I actually really like the idea of mutual aid. However, I don't understand if these exchanges based on mutual aid are supposed to replace market exchanges. Do the two parties engaged in the exchange settle the issue? Wouldn't it become like a market based on barter then? Maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way, but I kind of imagine mutual aid somewhere along the lines of "Hey, can anybody give me a sheep?", "Sure. But what can you give in exchange?", "Would this hammer be ok?", "Of course!".
The community credit systems sound very similar to the mutual-credit organisations that Proudhon talked about. Is there any difference I'm missing between them?