How does Anarchism deal with conflict within its societies? - Page 2 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14347621
Matt24 wrote:
Well, yes, it all depends on how disputes can be settled when two firms do not agree. It is true they may need diplomacy to survive on their business. But that still puts me off, as I imagine much wheeling and dealing going on behind closed doors, and I wouldn't trust a private enterprise on that. Maybe to compensate the loss of clients from X decision, the losing firm will demand from the other a payment of X. I don't know, that's at least how I imagine it. However, it may well be that I'm just overly-pessimistic of new ideas.

Hi Matt and welcome.
I just want to make one point here. Insurance companies today already do this wheeling and dealing on a regular basis. In most cases car accidents do not involve the courts as they are dealt with peacefully by competing institutions. It is only when they cannot agree then they go to their arbitration institution, the court. There is nothing stopping this arbitrator from actually being another private institution (or multiple competing ones).
#14347671
Voluntarism wrote:In the absence of religious, genocidal or political wars
what like the genocide of the native Americans by Ayn Rands non-agressive objectivst settlers

There has been a lot of good research that shows that in the absence of any Government mandated policing and judicial system people will naturally devise their own emergent, self-ordering arrangements.
In the absence of government people create government. But of course nineteenth century White settlers with pre neolithic population levels don't require the same level of bureaucracy as 21st century New York.
#14347756
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?
#14347759
mum wrote:Hi Matt and welcome.
I just want to make one point here. Insurance companies today already do this wheeling and dealing on a regular basis. In most cases car accidents do not involve the courts as they are dealt with peacefully by competing institutions. It is only when they cannot agree then they go to their arbitration institution, the court. There is nothing stopping this arbitrator from actually being another private institution (or multiple competing ones).


Thanks for welcoming me.

I understand your point, of course insurance companies can do it. But I believe we're talking about intrinsically different issues. Here we are talking about dispute-solving organisations which need to represent and be fair to all sectors of society.

Car insurance companies do not face the same issue, as I believe most of their clients are in a good economic position. Most have probably paid enough to the company to cover most costs. At least that's how I see it.
#14351246
Husky wrote:Nice thread Matt, I've enjoyed reading the questions and answers.


Thanks! I hope users keep contributing to the thread.

It is indeed exhausting work to explain one's views (either supporting or dismissing Anarchism in this case), but engaging in the discussion allows you to strengthen (or weaken!) your political and economic ideology, if you know what I mean.

Anarchism is growing on me, yet I'm still wary of its effectiveness.
#14351384
Anarchism is an impossible (but useful) ideal, since you need a monopoly on force to lay down a consistent set of laws, even if such laws are highly libertarian.

Limiting what the state can do to its citizens over time is possible, as a sort of asymptote to anarchy.

However, even this requires not only that you have the right property conception in place, but that the populace are inclined to voluntarily converge on it due to the material conditions of the time. These conditions revolve around what each person can do. The more people can easily provide for themselves with the least toil in a way that utilizes the most maximally available and easily accessed resources, the more freedom is possible, and the closer you can trend to the ideal of anarchy (which you can never quite reach). This requires technological change centered around three things: the automation of labor, miniaturization of the means of production needed for people to have the majority of the things they want, and the ability to use a small set of very common resources to produce these things (the newer allotropes of carbon are highly promising for this purpose). With these things in place, people have an escape valve from other people's poor management of the resources needed for life; the prime cause of intra-society conflict.

Without much further fulfillment of these technical goals, you are playing liberation on hard mode, and are basically just hoping for everyone to agree with you because they should.
#14351850
Technology wrote:Limiting what the state can do to its citizens over time is possible, as a sort of asymptote to anarchy.

However, even this requires not only that you have the right property conception in place, but that the populace are inclined to voluntarily converge on it due to the material conditions of the time.


I absolutely agree with this.

Technology wrote:These conditions revolve around what each person can do. The more people can easily provide for themselves with the least toil in a way that utilizes the most maximally available and easily accessed resources, the more freedom is possible, and the closer you can trend to the ideal of anarchy (which you can never quite reach). This requires technological change centered around three things: the automation of labor, miniaturization of the means of production needed for people to have the majority of the things they want, and the ability to use a small set of very common resources to produce these things (the newer allotropes of carbon are highly promising for this purpose). With these things in place, people have an escape valve from other people's poor management of the resources needed for life; the prime cause of intra-society conflict.


I'm not sure I understand this part though. Are you arguing that for a true anarchist society to develop there needs to be no machines, no technological advantages? Because it sounds impossible to impede technological advancements. Moreover, it would not be the end of the matter; for the creation of capital will always exist as long as resources can be privately owned (especially land).

Oh, and one more thing: what exactly do you mean by the "automation of labor"?
#14351863
Matt24 wrote:I'm not sure I understand this part though. Are you arguing that for a true anarchist society to develop there needs to be no machines, no technological advantages? Because it sounds impossible to impede technological advancements.


I'm saying the exact opposite. The solving of those technical problems through technological advances is exactly what can bring about the material conditions necessary to allow society closest to a position you might call anarchy (though I don't believe anarchy can actually reached; only approached, as "no rulers" constitutes an intrinsically impossible absolutism).


Matt24 wrote:Moreover, it would not be the end of the matter; for the creation of capital will always exist as long as resources can be privately owned (especially land).


Yes, there will probably still be market processes going on (though capitalism in its current state cannot continue), but the base of the system being predicated on technological distributism in the most basic things needed to survive (food, water, etc) means that whatever else is going on is less exploitative, since people aren't as dependent on it for their survival.


Matt24 wrote:Oh, and one more thing: what exactly do you mean by the "automation of labor"?


All labor can eventually be automated and done by machines. We are in somewhat of a renaissance of artificial intelligence right now, but we don't know when this goal can reasonably be achieved. Projections based on equating the synapses of a human brain to bits, show that Moore's Law (which will have to move again to a new computer architecture to continue, after silicon transistors) allows brain replication by as early as 2029 (see Ray Kurzweil. The notion of "the Singularity" is a bit of a non-concept, but as far as predictions of progress have gone he hasn't done bad on the timeline so far).

This may be optimistic, but hard AI isn't even required for automating most menial work. So much progress has been made already and more is in the works (I can get together some examples if you are doubtful). This presents a problem for capitalism, of course, since automation brings cost reduction, but if you replace enough workers, eventually being that these workers are also consumers, they will not have enough disposable income to buy products, and the circular flow of the economy will break down. The way around this is for the state to provide a Basic Income guarantee while you continue to automate and advance in other ways.

As the information becomes worldwide and accessible instantly, know-how can decentralize (largely already achieved). As solar panels become cheaper and are made with more abundant resources, battery tech advances, and the extra gains in reducing household power requirements are made, energy can be decentralize. As agriculture progresses to the indoor space, it can make use of vertical space and reduce area requirements, while advancements on hydroponics and aeroponics increase the yields per same area. As the current Model T 3D printing capacity advances, and what can be made with what materials, smaller scale personal production will become possible for most of the small things people need to live. As AI advances, the personal robot will arrive and people will be able to support themselves, or re-enter the market by letting their robot to produce for somebody else's project.

All in all, such technologies make a decentralized society possible because they allow self-reliance to be more trivial and sustainable, and therefore allow an escape valve from capitalism or socialism. By spreading out private property, you fulfill the precept of distributism, and by advancing what said property is actually capable of you make people less continuously dependent on monopolized systems. Doing that can help reduce conflict, because people's survival becomes less predicated on the conflicting interests created when people are divided between a dependent class and a class that manages and controls the things the dependent class needs to live.
#14351884
Technology wrote:I'm saying the exact opposite. The solving of those technical problems through technological advances is exactly what can bring about the material conditions necessary to allow society closest to a position you might call anarchy (though I don't believe anarchy can actually reached; only approached, as "no rulers" constitutes an intrinsically impossible absolutism).


Now this sounds even more difficult for me to understand (lol). I was referring to technology as capital that can be acquired for the production of the goods a society needs. Since the existence of private capital means the ruling of one class over another (ruling class which will necessarily allow for the creation of an "authority" to guard this system of production, i.e. the Government), it follows that were there no capital goods (no technology, in other words) there would be no authority (either politically or economically) in power. Hence, the only way of having an anarchist society would be this one.

But you are saying the exact opposite: that technology can lead to an anarchist utopia. Am I thinking about it wrongly then? Would you mind explaining your point of view again? How is the fact that having even more capital goods will free society from any form of authority?


Technology wrote:All labor can eventually be automated and done by machines. We are in somewhat of a renaissance of artificial intelligence right now, but we don't know when this goal can reasonably be achieved. Projections based on equating the synapses of a human brain to bits, show that Moore's Law (which will have to move again to a new computer architecture to continue, after silicon transistors) allows brain replication by as early as 2029 (see Ray Kurzweil. The notion of "the Singularity" is a bit of a non-concept, but as far as predictions of progress have gone he hasn't done bad on the timeline so far).

This may be optimistic, but hard AI isn't even required for automating most menial work. So much progress has been made already and more is in the works (I can get together some examples if you are doubtful). This presents a problem for capitalism, of course, since automation brings cost reduction, but if you replace enough workers, eventually being that these workers are also consumers, they will not have enough disposable income to buy products, and the circular flow of the economy will break down. The way around this is for the state to provide a Basic Income guarantee while you continue to automate and advance in other ways.

As the information becomes worldwide and accessible instantly, know-how can decentralize (largely already achieved). As solar panels become cheaper and are made with more abundant resources, battery tech advances, and the extra gains in reducing household power requirements are made, energy can be decentralize. As agriculture progresses to the indoor space, it can make use of vertical space and reduce area requirements, while advancements on hydroponics and aeroponics increase the yields per same area. As the current Model T 3D printing capacity advances, and what can be made with what materials, smaller scale personal production will become possible for most of the small things people need to live. As AI advances, the personal robot will arrive and people will be able to support themselves, or re-enter the market by letting their robot to produce for somebody else's project.

All in all, such technologies make a decentralized society possible because they allow self-reliance to be more trivial and sustainable, and therefore allow an escape valve from capitalism or socialism. By spreading out private property, you fulfill the precept of distributism, and by advancing what said property is actually capable of you make people less continuously dependent on monopolized systems. Doing that can help reduce conflict, because people's survival becomes less predicated on the conflicting interests created when people are divided between a dependent class and a class that manages and controls the things the dependent class needs to live.


Ok, I understand what you mean by automation. But as I said above, I can't see how better and more advanced technology implies decentralization. In fact, aren't you concentrating even more and more power on corporations and weakening (if not extinguishing) the power of labourers?

Unless you were thinking in terms of anarcho-communism.
#14351902
Technologies don't have to be decentralizing, but things like desktop manufacturing/3D printing, new developments in uses for common materials (see all the things graphene can do), more compactified agricultural techniques are.

Growing your own food, for example, frees you from dependance on corporations, and any technology that makes that easier, makes such a thing more likely to be possible by more people. Solar panels are an example of decentralizing technology. Right now, corporations make the panels, but once you have them you are less dependent from the grid (and can even sell power), and don't have to pay a constant charge, tying you into dependance. We know it's already possible to make solar panels from carbon - which is highly abundant - so in the future you won't even need to buy the panels if you can locally source carbon and use some desktop manufacturing successor to current 3D printers to create graphene layers and print cells.

On automation: Corporations automating industries does weaken labor power, but only in the current paradigm where labor is dependent on corporations. As you achieve better AI and automation processes, you can engage in lights out manufacturing with less and less human labor, which means that the monetary cost for items would start to plummet, eventually becoming zero when you have robots which can do pretty much any valuable economic task that a human can do, including building other robots. Once you can close the loop like that, you can produce any item for no monetary cost; only an energy and available resources costs, which means that we can achieve superabundance, and public facilities no longer have to exist at the largesse of the capitalist class. You could have each community have cooperatively owned automated facilities for raw goods, and also personal robot ownership by each person as private property. Each person is enfranchised to superproductive, easily replicable capital.

The anarchist and libertarian movements need to embrace decentralizing technologies for this to happen, of course.
#14352219
Technology wrote:Technologies don't have to be decentralizing, but things like desktop manufacturing/3D printing, new developments in uses for common materials (see all the things graphene can do), more compactified agricultural techniques are.

Growing your own food, for example, frees you from dependance on corporations, and any technology that makes that easier, makes such a thing more likely to be possible by more people. Solar panels are an example of decentralizing technology. Right now, corporations make the panels, but once you have them you are less dependent from the grid (and can even sell power), and don't have to pay a constant charge, tying you into dependance. We know it's already possible to make solar panels from carbon - which is highly abundant - so in the future you won't even need to buy the panels if you can locally source carbon and use some desktop manufacturing successor to current 3D printers to create graphene layers and print cells.

On automation: Corporations automating industries does weaken labor power, but only in the current paradigm where labor is dependent on corporations. As you achieve better AI and automation processes, you can engage in lights out manufacturing with less and less human labor, which means that the monetary cost for items would start to plummet, eventually becoming zero when you have robots which can do pretty much any valuable economic task that a human can do, including building other robots. Once you can close the loop like that, you can produce any item for no monetary cost; only an energy and available resources costs, which means that we can achieve superabundance, and public facilities no longer have to exist at the largesse of the capitalist class. You could have each community have cooperatively owned automated facilities for raw goods, and also personal robot ownership by each person as private property. Each person is enfranchised to superproductive, easily replicable capital.

The anarchist and libertarian movements need to embrace decentralizing technologies for this to happen, of course.


Now I wholly understand your point of view. Thanks for the clarification.

It sounds like a beautiful utopia. Having a robot to liberate you from the need of having to do any kind of work is heaven on earth. However, I still have my reservations over whether this is possible in our world or could only happen in science fiction novels. I'm no scientist, but can 3D printers really create any industrial gadget we know? Can it make such diverse goods as mattresses, beds, telephones, computers, cars, and so on? Delivering services is also another matter. Can anybody really devise a machine to cut your hair? And even if you COULD have machines to do all these things, wouldn't you end up having to buy a bazillion different ones for making every good/service you need?

But that's not what baffles me the most. I really wonder HOW you could distribute these machines throughtout the whole of society when labourers receive no income (as they've been replaced for robots). What's going to keep the seller producing the machines? And even if somehow there was strong demand for these products, with decreasing costs, it would be much easier for the producer to sell the goods the machine creates (at almost no cost) instead of selling the machine itself, which is going to decrease his future sales.

I'm sorry if I seem too confrontative, but I try to be as critical of every economic system (and political too) almost as much as I am critical of capitalism. To be honest, your idea of anarchism has been the most intriguing one I've come across so far in this thread. I would really love to live in that society. I would have time to do nothing for the rest of my life
#14352257
Distribution happens like in the Jetsons and Futurama - work an hour a day/week cutting people's hair or transporting stuff around. The real price of everything under technology's future would be so cheap that the purchasing power of an hour of your labour would be massively bigger just like the purchasing power of an hour of our labour today is massively greater than in Victorian England times (which itself was massively bigger than 400 years prior).
#14352348
Technology wrote:On automation: Corporations automating industries does weaken labor power

Its actually the other way around. More automation increases worker power. More automation allows the individual worker to produce more. His value for the firm is much larger and the jobs require certain skills which makes the worker harder to replace. Sure there are fewer workers per firm, but on an individual level, workers are more powerful.

The only problem is a transition problem: unschooled workers lose their jobs and their power does decrease. But this is temporary. Once the labor market has adapted you will find workers on the whole working in better conditions and better wages.
#14352451
Matt24 wrote:It sounds like a beautiful utopia. Having a robot to liberate you from the need of having to do any kind of work is heaven on earth. However, I still have my reservations over whether this is possible in our world or could only happen in science fiction novels. I'm no scientist, but can 3D printers really create any industrial gadget we know? Can it make such diverse goods as mattresses, beds, telephones, computers, cars, and so on? Delivering services is also another matter. Can anybody really devise a machine to cut your hair? And even if you COULD have machines to do all these things, wouldn't you end up having to buy a bazillion different ones for making every good/service you need?


3D printers now are in a sort of "Ford Model T" stage. Key patents (to do with laser printers I believe) are expiring this year, which should help kick things off a bit more.

That's of course for the cheaper home market. NASA has already printed rocket parts from sintered metal powder and tested them, so as the print resolutions get higher, stronger and more detailed constructions are possible. There's nothing stopping printing electronics with electrically conductive ink into a 3D object as you make it. Stuff like that is being improved now.

Does it mean you can make everything? No. Printed solar cells, robot parts and electronics is certainly possible as a development path, so you could print most of the things you'd need in your home. You'd be limited by the size of the printing bay, so there will still be bigger projects, and there must be primary industry to produce powders for printers. As people start to own robots (the parts of which can be printed, and the software downloaded), they can send these to work in the remaining capitalistic processes in the primary sector (or they could be socialized, we'll have to see).


Matt24 wrote:But that's not what baffles me the most. I really wonder HOW you could distribute these machines throughtout the whole of society when labourers receive no income (as they've been replaced for robots). What's going to keep the seller producing the machines? And even if somehow there was strong demand for these products, with decreasing costs, it would be much easier for the producer to sell the goods the machine creates (at almost no cost) instead of selling the machine itself, which is going to decrease his future sales.


There has to be a transition period from current capitalism. This is one of the reasons why I'm distinctly a (materialist) libertarian and not an anarchist. I advocate that the government eventually puts in place some sort of Basic Income Guarantee to keep people being able to buy into the economy with disposable income, and let companies keep innovating automation and be taxed (I favor low corporation taxes but high income taxes on salaries). The government should also have its own advancement programs and put more money into AI research.

Once you get to the stage where you can ask a general purpose robot to monitor the machine creating other general purpose robots, then it becomes massively easy to spread general purpose robots about, because the cost of the labor is effectively zero. The government (which would need way less tax money and coercion to run the more the automation loop is closed) could set up local automated machine and vertical agriculture facilities, which it should (in my libertarian distributist opinion) give ownership of directly to the community using its resources (the subsidiarity principle).

So, in the short run companies are going to want to hang onto machines, but in the long run (so long as you keep the circular flow of the economy going), bringing the labor cost towards zero also means the government can run on very very low tax revenue (though this shouldn't be used to make it bigger than it needs to be), and can increase its productivity every time it directs machine labor to produce more machines. If we make sure to fight back against patent laws, we can decentralize this system more and more to the control of communities and individuals relying on it. Once communities are directing these systems they will be self-dependant.

Yes, it's weird hearing a libertarian say the government should do things, but then I believe that technological unemployment and the material conditions needed to achieve a distributist libertarianism which doesn't invoke the follies of full property collectivization in left forms, and monopolization of resources in right forms, requires that the government redistribute incomes to allow the economy to smooth over the gap, and I still support mostly low regulations in standard libertarian fashion for much of the economy for the same reason. The government will likely need to help advance technology through publicly funded science also.

This puts me in a weird position. It almost makes me the Leninist of "right wing" property-rights anarchism, at least compared to those principled ancaps. I've never been against institutions and services though. I'm against coercive systems, but I don't believe (although I am a liberal-capitalist in effect) in "utopian capitalism", (any more than for socialism), so I don't think you can just cut the state to pieces or get everyone to ignore it. The state exists for a reason, and so has to be minimized through providing people with the material support they need without it having to be administered through force against other human beings, and that requires a technological solution + a philosophical solution. As many people as possible have to win with these developments, and that requires a society in which people can control their own resources and communities can support their people without taking so much from other communities. You can't just privatize everything and expect prosperity to magically spring out of the market, any more than you can expect giving all property to whoever administers it in the name of the people will.

I honestly think it's less utopian to show there are technical developments which can make individuals and communities less dependent on government for material reasons, than it is to just have faith in the market or the labor theory of value or whatever. It may be aways off, and there will be political battles to be had, but they are battles worth having.
#14352629
Voluntarism wrote:Distribution happens like in the Jetsons and Futurama - work an hour a day/week cutting people's hair or transporting stuff around. The real price of everything under technology's future would be so cheap that the purchasing power of an hour of your labour would be massively bigger just like the purchasing power of an hour of our labour today is massively greater than in Victorian England times (which itself was massively bigger than 400 years prior).


Yes, you must be right. Still, as Technology mentioned, there wouldn't be as many jobs as people seeking one. Even if the purchasing power of the existing workers soared considerably, many would not have a source of income available. So the State would have to jump in there.

By the way, I never thought a realistic economic system underlay the Jetsons! Think I'll never watch that cartoon as a naive child anymore

Nunt wrote:Its actually the other way around. More automation increases worker power. More automation allows the individual worker to produce more. His value for the firm is much larger and the jobs require certain skills which makes the worker harder to replace. Sure there are fewer workers per firm, but on an individual level, workers are more powerful.

The only problem is a transition problem: unschooled workers lose their jobs and their power does decrease. But this is temporary. Once the labor market has adapted you will find workers on the whole working in better conditions and better wages.


That's the thing. From a collective perspective, the power of workers' unions will be close to zero. Yet individually, as you said, the few employees around will enjoy a bigger share in the businesses' profits. Now that I think about it that's kind of nightmar-ish: profits distributed among a fewer number of people (even fewer than in a capitalist system, for there are not as many workers/employees!).

I agree with Technology on this that this new system should not live for long. But you don't think the same, do you? Otherwise, why do you say the labor market would adapt? If the demand for workers diminishes, and the labour force does not decrease, then it follows that the labour market will be in equilibrium at a lower wage, with a smaller number of workers employed. And that's no good in my opinion.
#14352674
Technology wrote:3D printers now are in a sort of "Ford Model T" stage. Key patents (to do with laser printers I believe) are expiring this year, which should help kick things off a bit more.

That's of course for the cheaper home market. NASA has already printed rocket parts from sintered metal powder and tested them, so as the print resolutions get higher, stronger and more detailed constructions are possible. There's nothing stopping printing electronics with electrically conductive ink into a 3D object as you make it. Stuff like that is being improved now.

Does it mean you can make everything? No. Printed solar cells, robot parts and electronics is certainly possible as a development path, so you could print most of the things you'd need in your home. You'd be limited by the size of the printing bay, so there will still be bigger projects, and there must be primary industry to produce powders for printers. As people start to own robots (the parts of which can be printed, and the software downloaded), they can send these to work in the remaining capitalistic processes in the primary sector (or they could be socialized, we'll have to see).

There has to be a transition period from current capitalism. This is one of the reasons why I'm distinctly a (materialist) libertarian and not an anarchist. I advocate that the government eventually puts in place some sort of Basic Income Guarantee to keep people being able to buy into the economy with disposable income, and let companies keep innovating automation and be taxed (I favor low corporation taxes but high income taxes on salaries). The government should also have its own advancement programs and put more money into AI research.

Once you get to the stage where you can ask a general purpose robot to monitor the machine creating other general purpose robots, then it becomes massively easy to spread general purpose robots about, because the cost of the labor is effectively zero. The government (which would need way less tax money and coercion to run the more the automation loop is closed) could set up local automated machine and vertical agriculture facilities, which it should (in my libertarian distributist opinion) give ownership of directly to the community using its resources (the subsidiarity principle).

So, in the short run companies are going to want to hang onto machines, but in the long run (so long as you keep the circular flow of the economy going), bringing the labor cost towards zero also means the government can run on very very low tax revenue (though this shouldn't be used to make it bigger than it needs to be), and can increase its productivity every time it directs machine labor to produce more machines. If we make sure to fight back against patent laws, we can decentralize this system more and more to the control of communities and individuals relying on it. Once communities are directing these systems they will be self-dependant.

Yes, it's weird hearing a libertarian say the government should do things, but then I believe that technological unemployment and the material conditions needed to achieve a distributist libertarianism which doesn't invoke the follies of full property collectivization in left forms, and monopolization of resources in right forms, requires that the government redistribute incomes to allow the economy to smooth over the gap, and I still support mostly low regulations in standard libertarian fashion for much of the economy for the same reason. The government will likely need to help advance technology through publicly funded science also.

This puts me in a weird position. It almost makes me the Leninist of "right wing" property-rights anarchism, at least compared to those principled ancaps. I've never been against institutions and services though. I'm against coercive systems, but I don't believe (although I am a liberal-capitalist in effect) in "utopian capitalism", (any more than for socialism), so I don't think you can just cut the state to pieces or get everyone to ignore it. The state exists for a reason, and so has to be minimized through providing people with the material support they need without it having to be administered through force against other human beings, and that requires a technological solution + a philosophical solution. As many people as possible have to win with these developments, and that requires a society in which people can control their own resources and communities can support their people without taking so much from other communities. You can't just privatize everything and expect prosperity to magically spring out of the market, any more than you can expect giving all property to whoever administers it in the name of the people will.

I honestly think it's less utopian to show there are technical developments which can make individuals and communities less dependent on government for material reasons, than it is to just have faith in the market or the labor theory of value or whatever. It may be aways off, and there will be political battles to be had, but they are battles worth having.


Everything starts to take its shape now. I'm getting really fond of your idea of libertarianism.

The transition though from capitalism to technological distributism is what worries me the most. The Government would have a hard task in finding the revenue to re-distribute money in society. We are talking about the vast majority of the population here (in my mind, under such a transition system with technology replacing most labourers, at least 90% of the labour force will be unemployed). Hence the money involved in a redistribution scheme would be considerable. The State will need to start cutting down expenditures before the transition creates an unemployment crisis. If it hastens as soon as possible to reduce costs in public services (say, hiring robots to work as teachers, doctors, nurses, etc.) then maybe the costs involved in maintaining the transition won't be that worrying. But any bad step and the Govt. would find itself having no other choice than using coercive methods to hold back the protests of the unemployed. Which at the same time could destabilize the whole system through a demagogue/communist/nationalist in power. So it becomes really difficult to stay on the right track of our libertarian aim.

That said, libertarian distributism through technology sounds incredibly realistic with all these additions. Nevertheless, even though you disagree, I would still label it a "utopia". The roots of the whole system lie in the possibilities of technology freeing humans from the monopolistic ownership of the means of production (be it the burgoesie or the state). And it's still a long way to go for that. But that's not all: even time is no certainty that this can be achieved. I wanted to show you this article by chess legend Garry Kasparov: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/8adeca00 ... abdc0.html He has been one of the critics of the so-called technological progress of the last decades. He argues that most of the tech innovations from the 90s onwards have had little or no impact on productivity. And if you think about it, he's right. Mobile phones, iPads, GPS... they're nothing but sumptuous goods which don't really alter our dependance on corporations for fulfilling our most basic needs. And at the same time, these items are entirely useless for those corporations too. All in all, they have contributed nothing to our ways of living. If the markets keep driving scientists to devising these unworthy tools, then even if centuries go by we won't get any closer to this technological distributism ideal.
#14352719
Matt24 wrote:Yes, you must be right. Still, as Technology mentioned, there wouldn't be as many jobs as people seeking one. Even if the purchasing power of the existing workers soared considerably, many would not have a source of income available. So the State would have to jump in there.

Until we have machines that essentially are people then people will be wanted. When we do have such machines then watch-out The human race may well go extinct. Haven't really bothered thinking that far into sci fi-ville but technology may well have.

Matt24 wrote:The transition though from capitalism to technological distributism is what worries me the most. The Government would have a hard task in finding the revenue to re-distribute money in society.

Say's Law. Production is consumption, money is the grease. The government is simply confiscating and redistributing goods and services (like it does today) so revenue isn't an issue.
#14353194
Voluntarism wrote:Until we have machines that essentially are people then people will be wanted. When we do have such machines then watch-out The human race may well go extinct. Haven't really bothered thinking that far into sci fi-ville but technology may well have.


I agree: under these conditions, it is not senseless to fear a rebellion of machines (just like those portrayed in science fiction movies!). Yet once again I should point out I'm not a scientist, so I don't know if it is *really* possible for future machines to feel emotions and suddenly protest against the oppression that human beings would have on them.

Regardless; now that I think about it, they could always be programmed for evil purposes, and that IS a scary thought.

Say's Law. Production is consumption, money is the grease. The government is simply confiscating and
redistributing goods and services (like it does today) so revenue isn't an issue.


No please, don't talk about Say's Law!! Those of us who follow Keynes are not really fond of it. Wikipedia explains his arguments better than I could do:
"Keynesian economists, such as Paul Krugman, stress the role of money in negating Say's law: Money that is hoarded (held as cash or analogous financial instruments) is not spent on products. To increase monetary holdings, someone may sell products or labor without immediately spending the proceeds. This can be a general phenomenon: From time to time, in response to changing economic circumstances, households and businesses in aggregate seek to increase net savings and thus decrease net debt. To increase net savings requires earning more than is spent, contrary to Say's Law, which postulates that supply (sales earning income) equals demand (purchases requiring spending). Keynesian economists argue that the failure of Say's Law, through increased demand for monetary holdings, can result in a general glut due to falling demand for goods and services."
#14353227
Getting off track, so will only touch on this briefly. Keynesianism requires Say's Law to be wrong and Keynes attempted but failed to prove that it is wrong. Say's Law (which is really a series of propositions) is by far a truism rather than a theory. Supply is demand because no demand can be met without supply and "demand" itself is essentially unlimited. Any "glut" is simply consumption by someone (the producer) who thought they could trade their production for the production of someone else but it turned out they couldn't - ie people didn't actually want the crap you produced at the price you are asking for it. The only way to solve such a glut is to unemploy factors and destroy the capital that makes the crap people don't want at the price you're asking and redeploy it into things that people do want at the prices you're asking. This is the recession. You have to move supply backwards (ie stop producing crap) in order to move forwards. (Also, any generalised "hoarding of money" can simply be associated with the fact that people have a demand curve for money stock just like any other commodity.)

There are many texts that go into the topic in depth. One that I enjoyed is William Hutt's "A rehabilitation of Say's Law" (1974), else try Tom Sowell's "Say's Law" (1973).

Of relevance to the previous discussion is that Say postulated a situation where all costs of production are at last reduced to zero: "in which case, it is evident there can no longer be rent for land, interest upon capital, or wages on labour, and consequently, no longer any revenue to the productive classes." What will happen then?

What then, I say, these classes would no longer exist. Every object of human want would stand in the same predicament as the air or the water, which are consumed without the necessity of being either produced or purchased. In like manner as every one is rich enough to provide himself with air, so would he be to provide himself with every other imaginable product. This would be the very acme of wealth. Political economy would no longer be a science; we should have no occasion to learn the mode of acquiring wealth; for we should find it ready made to our hands.


Anyway, the simple point was that the government can simply redirect the stream of production and does not need to individually "fund" the supply it diverts because it's ability to demand the diverted goods is only possible if those same goods are actually produced in the first place (ie they cannot distribute flying cars to everyone until the capacity to produce flying cars for everyone exists - and once it can be produced then they can automatically distribute).

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