BFP Roundtable Video 6–Debating Anarchism, Socialism & Libertarianism

In this edition of the BoilingFrogsPost.com Roundtable, James Corbett, Sibel Edmonds and Peter B. Collins welcome Andrew Gavin Marshall for a discussion of his recent podcast on "Anarchy, Socialism and Free Markets." We talk about anarchism as a philosophy and what it really entails, as well as how it links to socialism, libertarianism and other political philosophies. We also delve into some of the questions and critiques that many raise to the idea of anarchism.

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  1. netter says:

    There was a time when anarchism as a political trend within the communist movement had some following within those who matters–the working class–mostly in Latin Europe . Anarchism also had some social base in rural Ukraine (Makhnovism), with its tradition of Cossack’s free-wheeling ways and small-holding peasantry who hated (quite justly) any authority since it had always been of foreign origin–Polish, Russian, Jewish–and therefore particularly ruthless exploiters. But after WWII anarchism degenerated into a politically sterile trend withing that vacuous petite-bourgeois radicalism of a marginal part of Western intelligentsia who have been on the fringes of the imperial order, and lived quite comfortably at that. Intellectually, the Proudon-Bakunin foundations of the genuine historical anarchism were too thin and could never compete with the historical materialism of Marx and Engels, but Bakunin correctly warned about the authoritarian tendency in political Marxism. What was and remains valuable in that early anarchism is not anarchist ideas as such but their faith in the creativity of the common people, what Lenin erroneously and with disdain called “spontaneism” (from spontaneity). This is what we, lucky we, have today the rarest chance to witness in the South-East, the proletarian heart of Ukraine.

    • CuChulainn says:

      in support of netter’s trenchant remarks, this translation that appeared in MoA blog comments
      Translated from sobesednik.ru/politika/20140419-maksim-shevchenko-eto-ne-predatelstvo-russkih-a-strah-pered
      Sergey Lavrov’s statement that all illegal armed groups in Ukraine must be disarmed, surprised many. Some felt that it is a betrayal of Russian-speaking activists in the east of the neighboring country. Is it really?
      About this, and what the armed opponents of the Kiev authorities in Ukraine represent, on the basis of direct eyewitness, we interviewed the political scientist and journalist, member of the Human Rights Council under the President of Russia, Maxim Shevchenko: he recently returned from Lugansk and met there with local protesters.
      – To what can be connected Sergei Lavrov statement that all illegal armed groups in Ukraine must be disarmed and return the office buildings to the control of the authorities?
      – This is the Kremlin’s position, which remains unchanged. The Kremlin is not interested in destabilizing the system in Ukraine, but….. The armed uprising of Russian-speaking people on Russia’s borders is something the Russian authorities do not want, it would be better satisfied with a compromise (between the rebels and the) bureaucratic or oligarchic structures that control this nation. However, the revolt in the eastern Ukraine is precisely a popular uprising.
      When this happens, the position of the east and west are pretty much the same: the ruling elites, bureaucracy and oligarchy don’t need a people who take up arms and requires restoration of soviet power – that is (in the sense of) the power of local government. For any elite, an armed people, not acting according to a scenario agreed upon in advance and not under the control of the security services, is extremely dangerous. So about this rebellious people, the world elite quickly come to an agreement – to suppress it as quickly as possible.
      But people in the East of Ukraine want a popular democracy, though perhaps not under the red banner and without the communist ideology. But there is no place for bureaucracy. If there be the power of the soviets, the bureaucracy should be subject to the soviets. And does Moscow wants a political system, speaking in Russian, in which the bureaucracy must obey the armed people? I think not really. Hence, such a position.
      … in eastern Ukraine, not only Russian-speaking people revolted, but also Ukrainian-speaking citizens took up arms. The social interests of Russian and Ukrainians are absolutely the same. Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Greeks, Armenians, Moldavians, Bulgarians, the most diverse nations, live together in eastern Ukraine. And they all lived and continue to live in an intolerable situation of social and economic humiliation.
      I would say that one should not divide people by language; this is a deception, which diverts one from the main issues. When needed, all speak Russian or Ukrainian. All of the Eastern Ukraine speaks the Ukrainian language freely.
      The Russian decision is not a betrayal of the Russian and all others, but a fear of the rebels – a multinational people taking up arms against liberal-bureaucratic capitalism. It’s OK when that happens in Latin America or Africa. Then we all support it in unison. But when the people in the neighborhood take up the weapon of insurgency, in a former Soviet territory, and the rebellion speaks in Russian, being even in this case for the Orthodox faith, and not, for example, for Islam, then there is a natural fear of a bureaucracy, which arrogates to itself the right to be the sole representative of “Russians and Russian speakers”. Bureaucracy and its minions then require disarmament of the people.
      But I spoke with the protesters and I think that these people will not disarm until a system of popular democracy, elections to local soviets, has abolished the undivided rule of criminal oligarchic-bureaucratic System.
      Citizens who had taken up arms there do not believe fully either in Moscow or in Kiev, (the latter in) which they do not believe almost at all. They know that dialogue is conducted only through strength. And while they have weapons in their hands, they’re strong. Once these people put down their weapons, they will be crushed and destroyed one by one. Therefore, they will stand up to the end and require the creation of the People’s Democratic Republic, restoration of different forms of democracy, in order that then the bureaucracy (will have) to negotiate with them.
      – Who are the armed men, the protesters in eastern Ukraine?
      – Armed rebels of the older generation are people with extensive experience in military service, many of these are Soviet patriots. The older generation served in the Soviet army, fought in Afghanistan – the young guys were in the Ukrainian army. What unites them is that they are all patriots who stand for social justice, for an end to government corruption, crime, bureaucracy – all of that disgusting (rot) which flourished in the post-Soviet space after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
      These people are in favor of democracy, for natural and folk forms of democratic governance. They themselves still have “kasha” in their heads on this issue and not all is formulated, but they just say they do not want to obey any bureaucrats and criminals who will impose upon them that which these imposed upon them for so many years.
      What is happening in eastern Ukraine – this is a “soviet” uprising in the sense of the Soviets as institutions of popular democracy and not of communist ideology. But the fact that there are no red banners changes nothing. These people are supporters of Soviet power. They are perhaps supporters of Soviets without Communists, so that they are not ruled by one party, as it was in the USSR. They talk about the Cossack self-government, the authority of the Cossack assembly (skhod), elections of an ataman etc.
      This region has good traditions of popular democracy. The Makhnovist movement originated and held sway in the Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye, Dnepropetrovsk regions. Therefore, in these places, people are well aware what such a Cossack national government was. They are restoring the Russo-Ukrainian Cossack traditions of administration. I think these are quite appropriate things.
      – It turns out that they are hardly likely to listen to the statements of the Russian side. Is it even possible to influence these people?
      – In Russia, these individuals have no one to assist them, no one to defend them. Only tens of millions of sympathizers willing to support them financially and spiritually.
      Of the power in Ukraine they speak concretely: we do not want to obey any pansies who sit in Kiev or their Western agents. We want to deal with honest (adekvatnymi) political figures.
      These people made themselves available to Sergey Kunitsyn, the head of the Union of Afghan Veterans in Ukraine, and they talked with him for several hours. He is a member party UDAR, a former MP from the Crimea, a serious and respected political figure. With him, the protesters communicated perfectly, welcomed him.
      Sergey Kunitsyn told the following story. When he came to the protesters, he said, “Guys, what are you sitting here for?” They said that nearby, an “Alpha” unit is preparing for an assault. Kunitsyn then went and saw the unhappy bivouac of the VDV (airborne) Ukraine unit, where soldiers had not gotten rations for a week, all worn and thin. Then the head of Union of Veterans came back and told the rebels about the hungry soldiers. As a result, protesters drove, as they say, the chuck wagon (“havchik”) out to this unit of the Ukrainian army and fed these fighters, who had come, maybe to suppress somebody, or maybe just on maneuvers.
      Among the rebels there is no animosity, there is only a deep social hatred. There, it is simply not true at all that Russians hate Ukrainians and Ukrainians hate Russians. There are no problems with Western Ukrainians (zapadentsy). Well, yes, the Banderites, in their words, are fanatics (upertye). But when it does not apply to the Banderites, then they say that Ukrainians from the west are great guys, great workers, and in the service they were great friends and very sociable.
      The effort to inflame relations (stravit’) between Russians and Ukrainians will not work. (A consciousness of) common social interests and hatred of the oligarchy and the bureaucracy has begun to awake. And it’s a healthy social and political beginning. This is a people who is demanding their rights in history.
      I think (their views) will have to be taken into consideration. Disarming their resources will not suffice. They want to hold free elections in Lugansk region, create a system of councils and local authorities, to choose governors, mayors. I believe that they will succeed.
      – And who supplies food to the insurgents?
      – They are the flesh and blood of the people of Lugansk region. Residents of the neighborhood bring them food, make salads. The rebels are all local folk; they are loved and respected. Among them are businessmen, representatives of the miners’ collectives. I saw no homeless people inside. Only serious guys.
      – What are the prospects that the Lugansk region will participate in the upcoming presidential election?
      – They will not participate. Protesters want to first agree on the future of Ukraine, and only then choose the president or the Supreme Rada. According to them, at present there will be only a kind of theatre, stage-managed by Kiev, who they will then have to obey.
      The rebels support a united Ukraine, but under new rules, under which the central government must take into account what Lugansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhia want. Not any longer that he who wins in Kiev, that one rules Ukraine. The country should delegate representatives from the various regions that will compose the government and the overall Ukrainian authority. But just to participate in some kind of play-acting, stage-managed from Kiev, and to which they must for some reason submit? The people of the east are not prepared to do this.
      – How long can this popular uprising last?
      – These people will rebel as long as it takes until they get a satisfactory answer to all their demands: federal authority, the termination of the rule of criminals and so on.
      In addition, armed groups of the east may well form a national guard, but not by the order of Alexander Turchinov or someone else, but as soon as they themselves consider this possible. And then each region can sign the agreement with Ukraine on how to go on living further. And the national guard of the region will decide problems in own lands and participate in all negotiated and signed agreements throughout the Ukraine.
      Maksim Shevchenko, Sobesednik April 19, 2014

      • netter says:

        CuChulainn, thanks a lot for this take from Shevchenko. It helps me to better clarify my thinking on the subject.
        I agree with much of this RHETORIC but things are more complicated, more “fuzzy” than they may seem once we begin digging deeper. This includes Shevchenko’s political face, btw. Whenever we hear voices from the Left, be it inside or outside Russia, declaring their support for radicalization of the working class in the fSU and their hopes for its revolutionary potential to overthrow not so much capitalism as such but “Putin’s regime” and/or “bureaucracy” we should recall that one out of Goebbels’ three transmitters on the Eastern Front which began broadcasting on June 22 1941 was “Troskyist.” Those were funny “Trotskyists” of course. They called the workers of the Soviet Union to throw off the “Judeo-Bolshevist cabal” who together with Western bankers and capitalists lived off their sweat and blood. The US strategists of Cold War benefited from the experience of Nazi psyop specialists. Soon after its inception, CIA leadership had to decide on its strategy in ideological warfare in Europe. They had enough common sense to appreciate the huge distance between the political radicalism and sophistication of the post-war European intellectual milieu and the generally parochial and politically conservative educated class in America. They wisely decided to put their money on the Left. Not the traditional Left, of course, but a New Left, anticommunist and anti-Soviet Left. Not that the good ol’ boys in Langley were particularly sympathetic to Marxism’s project of the emancipation of Labor. They were just smart, practical. Who cares if the Lefties on they pay blabber ad nauseum about “workers’ power” if they help those in power to fight the opposing power, real enemy, the mighty Soviet Union. Do you get my point? Words mean nothing, zero, nil. Power is everything. And power can buy everything. That’s the second meaning of the adage “Talk is cheap.” You can buy it cheap, especially Left talk. It’s on sale 7/24. This is a well-known story, told many times, best of all by Frances Stonor Saunders in The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters.

        To put it plainly, one can be a Nazi and propagate communist ideas. One can be the chief ideologist of the CPSU and a sworn anti-communist at the same time (Alexander Yakovlev). One can proliferate the ideas of pure anarchism in a most exalted and convincing way and be a useful tool of the State Department, wittingly or not. So long as we remain in the realm of words we live ghostly existence. Long ago there were times when words had real things behind them but no longer. Imperialism is a totality that approximates the attributes which man used to imagine as divine. Take the Snowden story. What he told us was that the previously divine attribute of omniscience applies now to a mundane bureaucratic organization called the National Security Agency. Or take Russia today. Why Russia is in trouble? Because the imperative of omnipotence–central attribute of divinity or totality–does not allow for the existence of a force that can annihilate it. Russia must be either destroyed or become a part of the existing totality. There is no other alternative. In such a world, the powers of manipulation become close to absolute and words/ideas is its easiest prey. Still it doesn’t mean that we are doomed to wallow in the ghostly world of political words, but we should not take them at their face value. We should look at them with great suspicion, like at possible “international terrorists” in the verbiage of our real and very much domestic terrorists. We put these words under the microscope but never ever taking them out of their concrete historical context. This is the secret of separating sheep from goats under the conditions of hyper manipulative late phase of imperialism. More exactly, we study not the words but their relation to concrete constellations of power. So if we decide to take a closer look at Mr. Shevchenko’s animated call for popular democracy and even the “Soviets” or see what we can do about our own Andrew Gavin Marshall’s exposition of anarchism and its solutions for our world we’ll need to
        1) check the factual reliability of their pictures of the real world. For example, is it true that the people of the South-East are not interested to unite with Russia, as Shevchenko claims, but plan to create Soviets and go their way?

        2) Whether their ideas and proposals have real foundation to build upon or at least clarify the ends and means of emancipatory struggle or they live only ghostly existence, obfuscate the ends and the means and thus play into the hands of the status quo.
        I don’t have time to continue this interesting conversation but I’ll bookmark this page and hopefully return to it in a day or two.

  2. Liberty is a public interest and is experienced through relationships and context. Voluntaryism seems to disregard this because the focus is only individual liberty and can only be perfected in total isolation. The how, the process, is also the goal. Eternal vigilance for liberty and justice for all.

  3. metrobusman says:

    There was a time when anarchism as a political trend within the communist movement had some following within those

    Haven’t had a chance to listen to the discussion but would like to address the comment made by Netter as it is typical of the views held by the misinformed.

    Anarchism has nothing to do with “free-wheeling Cossack ways.” Anarchism isn’t chaosism or lawlessism. Anarchism answers the question where will power reside. Our answer is with nobody (or everybody, if you prefer).

    The Cossacks have been largely a reactionary force, and certainly were in the Ukraine. They supported Skoropodsky, Petlura, Bandera etc. Nestor Machno spent most of his time fighting Cossacks.

    “But after WWII anarchism degenerated into a politically sterile trend withing that vacuous petite-bourgeois radicalism of a marginal part of Western intelligentsia who have been on the fringes of the imperial order, and lived quite comfortably at that…”

    This is written so poorly that I may not understand it correctly, but jftr, anarchism, at least from Bakunin on, can in no way be described as petite bourgeois, altho’ it often is. Anarchism is against ALL forms of coercive power, which means it is incompatible with ALL forms of capitalism and extractive economics. If you exploit the labor of other human beings, which is the siana qua non of capitalism, then you cannot be an anarchist.

    Anarchism is antithetical to imprerialism. Anyone suggesting otherwise is a fool or a liar.

    “Intellectually, the Proudon-Bakunin foundations of the genuine historical anarchism were too thin and could never compete with the historical materialism of Marx and Engels, but Bakunin correctly warned about the authoritarian tendency in political Marxism.”

    The first sentence is the kind of thing which people who have never read Proudhon/Bakunin/Kropotkin et alia say.

    One does not have to a materialist to be an anarchist, but most of us are. There is no conflict here.

    Bakunin’s objections to Marxism extends well beyond “politics”. His eerily prescient critique has been borne out time and time again. He predicted the descent into reformism which would create an inordinately authoritarian response (Leninism) which in turn would degenerate into a police state (Stalinism, Maoism etc).

    Netter’s assertion that anarchism was mostly a Latin-European phenomenon is also incorrect. Besides Ukraine, there was the Shinmin Commune in Manchuria and other similar events/groups in Asia. I recommend “A Cartography of Anarchism” for anyone interested in this topic.

  4. chuck70 says:

    On a side note; the film mentioned by Sibel about the reject toys in the basement is called “Quincy’s Quest”. I loved this film and thought the part about the toy soldier who was dutifully on his way to war to get “blown to smithereens”
    (for what, he knew not) was especially significant.
    here is a link for those interested
    .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJzKpQKwAaI
    Chuck

    • HAL 9000 says:

      chuck,

      I believe the film to which Sibel referred was a stop-motion animated version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer produced by Rankin/Bass in the mid-1960’s.

  5. Michael McDonald says:

    Greatly enjoyed the discussion on a topic I know little about. Please do more.

  6. metrobusman says:

    First let me thank BFP for this splendid discussion. Anarchism seldom gets a fair hearing, and here it did, so hats off.

    I think A’ did a good job of outlining anarchism, and responding to questions. Judging by the disdainful scowl sported by Sibel throughout, he did not succeed in convincing everyone. Nor, likely, will I, but I would like to address some of the concerns raised by BFP’s Hobbesian editor.

    Toilets, rape, leaders, traffic signals,and invasion.

    1) Before we dive into the toilet (sorry), it will serve us well to remember what we have now. The people doing this work only do so because they live in a capitalist society. That means a society mercilessly and sociopathically divided into privileged strata. Those condemned to make their living in this fashion are at or near the bottom of this hierarchy. As Voltaire once observed, in capitalism “one must either be hammer of anvil.”

    I am a bus driver, and where I work there are people who do the daily cleaning. One of these people is a former driver and she prefers the work she does now to the stress and danger of bus driving. Odd as it may seem, there may well be volunteers.

    I once worked for a famous courier service, and post-sort cleanup responsibilities rotated alphabetically. In all my time there I never heard anyone complain about this arrangement.

    There are also companies which travel from business to business cleaning bathrooms. They dress like astronauts and have high-power equipment which makes the work easier and less objectionable.

    In an anarchist society, unlike a capitalist one, it will be the people directly involved who will be empowered to decide how they wish to proceed. That’s the difference.

    2) Anarchism does not mean without rules, it means without rulers. Anarchism answers the question of where will political decision-making power lie, where will sovereignty lie, and the answer is DIRECTLY in the hands of the people. Nobody is going to support a rapist’s right to rape. Anarchism means freedom from the coercive power of hierarchy. That means freedom to craft whatever type of society they wish and to make whatever laws they wish. Although there are many anarchists who would argue the point, I think there will always be a police force. In a capitalist society the police enforce property rights and the rule of capital generally, in an anarchist soiety the law, such as it would exist, would be instituted by the people and for their own protection. The police would be controlled bottom-up, and responsible not to a government but directly to the people. This arrangement worked quite well during the Paris Commune of 1871, and the Spanish anarchista instituted civil guards (although they refused to refer to them as police).

    3) The same goes for your argument about leaders. Horizontal forms of organization do not preclude the delegation of responsibility or even authority to select parties. Once we are free we will be free to cede power, should we choose, for a specific period of time and for a specific purpose. This is something quite different from electing capitalist guard dogs for a period of two or four or six years wherein they will have unvitiated discretionary power within a government which arrogates to itself absolute power. Teachers must have and will have power in the classroom, but it is up to us to determine how much. A free people can grant power to a person or persons so long as it is agreeable to both parties, for the benefit of the whole and not just the recipient, and revocable at any time.

    4) I don’t speak often but when I have I begin with “I am an anarchist and I stop at red lights…”

    Rules are supposed to be for the benefit of the public. Traffic signals certainly are beneficial. Here again Sibel, you confuse anarchism with chaosism. Anarchism does not mean no rules. Anarchism is about who gets to make the rules (and the limitation thereof).

    5) re The invasion of Alaska: Anarchism isn’t chaosism, nor is it disorganizationism. The Spanish anarchists had an army which was ably led by Bueanventura Durruti, and there was the Revolutionary Insurrectionist Army of the Ukraine led by Nestor Makhno. What makes an army anarchist is that it is controlled from below. (Details of exactly how this worked is described in “The Unknown Revolution” by Voline.) Soldiers could depose their officers in official precedings (and did) and there was no saluting etc. (Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia” is very helpful.)

    All anarchist societies will need an army at least until capitalism has been wiped off the face of the earth. The question is how will they be organized, hierarchically or democratically.

    Sibel asks where has it ever worked. Spain! If you are really interested, Frank Mintz, Sam Dolgoff, Augustin Souchy and Gaston Leval wrote books on how anarchism worked at ground level. I can recommend them all. There is also a superb, six-part documentary entitled The Spanish Civil War. If you don’t have time to watch all of it, then parts three and four will do. https://www.google.com/search?q=spanish+civil+war&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb#channel=sb&q=the+spanish+civil+war&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=vid

    The only criticism I would make is that there was no talk of class. It is really impossible to understand anarchism either conceptually or historically without a discussion of its origins in this struggle.

    But no matter. Good job BFP, and thanks again.

    I wrote something about anarchism’s appeal during the Occupy Movement which some of you might find interesting: http://www.opednews.com/articles/On-the-Appeal-of-Anarchism-by-Dave-Fryett-120918-538.html

    • Olivier says:

      Thank you metrobusman for that exposé, it comes closest to answering Sibel’s questions, and I should learn those arguments by heart for next time I end up stuck in a political discussion. I would understand
      however if Sibel is still not convinced;

      I have two random comments, maybe you would like to elaborate:

      1. About the disarmament of aggressors.
      2. About the delegation of authority.

      (Ad 1).

      The downsizing of potentially aggressive hierarchical structures, whether they call themselves communist, free, Chinese, democratic, capitalist or for that matter the anarchists’ army itself turned oppressive, ultimately amounts to their disarmament I think. People will only start thinking of
      letting go of their own domestic hierarchy (i.e. disarming it) if they see that it has no role any more in defending against a downsized foreign hierarchy.

      The question of disarmament interlocks with societal organization, because it asks the powerful to relinquish more than a symbolic amount of power.

      Question: Do you have a suggestion for making the currently powerful relinquish a relevant amount of power? If your answer is armed revolution, what is your assessment of the net result of armed
      revolutions up to now? In case that assessment turns out negative, how would you guard against those negative aspects?

      (Ad 2).
      You mention that when we will be free, we’ll delegate power back to constrained hierarchies. It seems however implicit in your teacher example that not everybody’s opinion is going to be asked as to how to
      delegate that power (even more clearly: the opinion about parental authority will probably not be asked from children below 5 months of age..)

      Question: Do you have an idea about whose opinion is going to be asked when delegating power and thus creating power relationships? Think of the following relationships:

      (a) The way a parent relates to his child
      (b) The way an expert relates to a non-expert
      (c) The way a Rockefeller relates to ‘his’ factory worker
      (d) The way a farmer relates to his cows?

      Thanks for your time 🙂

      • metrobusman says:

        I will try to answer your questions Olivier, but I’m not sure I understand them.

        re the ‘disarmament of aggressors: I take it you mean domestic aggressors. I’m assuming you mean how to effect revolution. This is a very large issue, and one that has been debated, often acrimoniously, for centuries now. No ruling elite has ever surrendered power willingly. The first true revolution–that is the lower classes rising up and eliminating the uppermost class–was the French Revolution. That occurred some 7000 years into what we call civilization.

        Most revolutionaries believe that the social revolution will require violence. Every revolution thus far has been facilitated by massive defections from the armed forces [and this would include not just army, navy, but police, street hooligans etc.]. Since this is the only way it has occurred thus far, I’m guessing that will be the way it will happen again.

        Not much of an answer, but that’s all I got.

        re “we’ll delegate power back to constrained hierarchies” Maybe we will and maybe we won’t. If we were free we could decide on a case by case basis on how we wish to administrate public systems. But now we have something called a government which is nothing more than the enforcement arm of the ruling class, and they don’t give a damn what we think.

        Have you ever met anyone who complained about the authority the fire department has to enter private homes without a permit to put out fires? I haven’t. In an anarchist society there would still be a fire department, and they would still be able to enter your home while you were at work and put out a fire. that much authority is a good thing in my view. I think just about everybody will agree.

        Do you think the FAA is a good thing?

        The point is that these bodies which will have authority be DIRECTLY accountable to the people, and not the enforcement arm of an exploiting class.

        re an anarchist army going rogue: It is hoped that the anarchist organization of such an army would be sufficient to prevent that, but at this point it is nothing more than a conceit. In the Ukraine and Spain these things did not occur, but those anarchist societies didn’t last very long before they were crushed by counterrevolutionary forces, only a few years at most. So it isn’t clear what wo8uld happen long term.

        But this brings the entire question of democracy into view. Som people believe, and apparently Sibel is one of them, that democracy simply isn’t possible, that it is utopian. And maybe it is, but real democracy has never been given a chance, save for the aforementioned instances, and whatever problems we might face it is far better than capitalism, which is industrial feudalism camouflaged by fake democratic institutions.

        Again, anarchism doesn’t claim to resolve every problem. It answers the question of where power will reside. And anybody out there who believes that they are better served by having a government making decisions for them than being able to participate in the process is just a damn fool.

        re ” not everybody’s opinion is going to be asked as to how to
        delegate that power…” Where did you get that idea? It’s precisely wrong. Anarchism might be described as the insistence that everybody [that is at least every affected party] has an EQUAL say in what happens. Teachers will have authority–they couldn’t function otherwise–but the communities in which they teach will be able to recall them at any time. What the curriculum will be will be determined DIRECTLY by the community [with teachers having an equal say too].

        Try to imagine what it would be like to have the right to vote! I do not mrean the right to vote for somebody who will then have the right to vote, but to actually have the right to vote yourself.

        (a) The way a parent relates to his child
        (b) The way an expert relates to a non-expert
        (c) The way a Rockefeller relates to ‘his’ factory worker
        (d) The way a farmer relates to his cows?

        re ‘a’: the laws which will exist will be made by the people who will live under them. As it is now, it is illegal for parents to neglect or rape their children. Those are good laws I think, and would vote for. But it will be up to the rrespective communities to decide what they want the law to be.

        re ‘b’: Anarchism, if it means anything, means equality, the end of the master/servant, lord/vassal relationship. How “experts” relate to lay people economically will be very different under anarchism than capitalism. The gross exploitation which now exists will be over. As for any other kind of relationahip, it will be up to experts and lay to figure that out.

        re “c”: Olivier, you don’t understand. There will be no more “owners” and “workers,” capitalism creates steeply vertical relationships which are anathema to anarchism/democracy. The means of production–factories, fields etc.-will be publicly owned and run by the people who labor in them. in a previous comment I mentioned some books on the Spanish Revolution. May I suggest you read them. Or better yet read http://www.opednews.com/articles/On-the-Appeal-of-Anarchism-by-Dave-Fryett-120918-538.html. It’s brief and a good primer.

        There is no room for capitalism in anarchism. By definition capitalism is the exploitation of one human being by another.

        re ‘d’: I don’t know.

        I hope that will do. Since you mentioned the schoolhouse, a friend of mine [not anarchist] wrote a terrific piece on this topic:

        “The capitalist market necessarily creates pyramid-like inequality, not only in the pocket, but in the mind.”

        http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/09/07/why-have-school/

        Somebody mentioned Proudhon’s assertion that anarchy is order. [Hence the letter A inside an O as the anarchist symbol.] The idea is that as long as you have a society in which there are antithetical forces [like workers and owners etc.] or in which a group has power and another doesn’t [i.e. hierarchy], you will inevitably have friction. Order, that is to say real order, not oppression, is only obtainable through freedom and equality. It cannot be imposed top-down, but can only grow organically from the ground up. That means the elimination of all power-over, and the unimpeded release of power-to.

        If I may be allowed to quote myself, I once described anarchy this way: I do not want to be your servant and you don’t want to be mine, so either we fight or we agree to cooperate. We either have war or peace. Anarchism is the commitment to, and pursuit of, that peace.

        • Great comments. I’m wondering if what you are describing as anarchy could also be called government. I’m thinking that government is a system to create and enforce laws.

          • metrobusman says:

            One either has democracy or government, one cannot have both. What do governments do? They govern. That’s why they are called governments. Either people are fre to govern themselves or they are not, and under capitalism we most certainly are not.

            Where I live we have legalized marijuana [in small quantities]. This was decided by initiative–in other words the people of Washington voted for it directly. The Feds, however, are not pleased, and have reminded us that federal law trumps the will of the people of Washington.

            This affects the people I work with as I’m a municipal bus driver, and we receive federal money, consequently we are still tested for marijuana when we go for our randon drug tests and if marijuana is detected, no matter how little or long ago consumed, we get fired. This is a relatively minor example, and it doesn’t affect me because I havent smoked pot since the 70s, but it is an example of government overruling the will of the people.

            If we didn’t have a government we wouldn’t be in Iraq, had the bailout etc etc etc

          • One either has democracy or government, one cannot have both. What do governments do? They govern. That’s why they are called governments. Either people are fre to govern themselves or they are not, and under capitalism we most certainly are not.

            I’d never heard that democracy and government were mutually exclusive before. I thought that democracy was a type of government. Yes governments govern. You probably have a governor on your bus that limits your speed. Wouldn’t a democracy create and implement laws? I didn’t say anything about capitalism – maybe that is the real distinction you are trying to draw – between democracy and capitalism?

            Where I live we have legalized marijuana [in small quantities]. This was decided by initiative–in other words the people of Washington voted for it directly. The Feds, however, are not pleased, and have reminded us that federal law trumps the will of the people of Washington.

            Isn’t the act of indirect democracy you mentioned as the system WA used for legalizing marijuana an act of government and governing? I agree that this is over-reach by the federal government.

            If we didn’t have a government we wouldn’t be in Iraq, had the bailout etc etc etc

            I disagree. I’d say “If we didn’t have a war-profiteering oligarchy in control of our corrupt federal government, which is a publicly controlled entity in name only. It has been privatized, which is what I’m afraid will happen to all of the public infrastructure in this country.” And that last point is the undercurrent which I think most of the libertarian / ancaps / and possibly anarchists (unless anarchy is a type of government that you explained in previous comments) seem to either be blissfully ignorant of or ignorantly calling for, thinking that private ownership is the only way to protect it.

          • Typo direct democracy

        • CuChulainn says:

          metrobusman is right to point out the incoherence of the Anglo libertarians who imagine that capitalism is compatible with anarchism
          but this is a howler I am afraid: “The first true revolution–that is the lower classes rising up and eliminating the uppermost class–was the French Revolution.”
          The French Revolution was the triumph of the bourgeoisie over the working class; read Babeuf.

          • metrobusman says:

            CuChulainn, I said the lower classes, not class. France was a feudal society before the revolution and a bourgeois republic after. Eventually, the king was executed and the aristocracy abolished. The entire feudal class structure was demolished, in many cases literally [the highway toll booths etc].
            The bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the lower classes [note the plural], overthrew the top class. And that’s what I said.

            However i do agree that everyone should read Babeuf

    • HAL 9000 says:

      I’m going to respond to metrobusman’s initial post, though not in a single post because I don’t have the time.

      As to point #1:
      First, Sibel did not raise the question of who is going to clean the toilets. Andrew raised the question of who will do the janitorial work, then Corbett rephrased Andrew’s question as “who is going to clean the toilets.”

      “The people doing this work only do so because they live in a capitalist society.”
      Do you mean to say that the toilets don’t get cleaned in non-capitalist societies, or that non-capitalist societies don’t have toilets?

      “That means a society mercilessly and sociopathically divided into privileged strata.”
      Just a tad bit of hyperbole wouldn’t you say? I can provide you the names of immigrants (both family and neighbors) who cleaned toilets, dishes or houses and, by doing so, were able to put their kids through college. Some of those kids are now part of the privileged class, i.e. doctors, lawyers and in two cases, CEO’s of thriving corporations.

      Now, metrobusman, can you recognize the contradictions between these statements you made

      “I am a bus driver, and where I work there are people who do the daily cleaning. One of these people is a former driver and she prefers the work she does now to the stress and danger of bus driving. Odd as it may seem, there may well be volunteers.
      I once worked for a famous courier service, and post-sort cleanup responsibilities rotated alphabetically. In all my time there I never heard anyone complain about this arrangement.
      There are also companies which travel from business to business cleaning bathrooms. They dress like astronauts and have high-power equipment which makes the work easier and less objectionable.”

      and this one

      “In an anarchist society, unlike a capitalist one, it will be the people directly involved who will be empowered to decide how they wish to proceed. That’s the difference.”

      I have not posted around here in a long time, but those who know me also know I am not an apologist or defender of the USA. However, one thing Sibel tried to do in this roundtable was move the discussion from armchair philosophizing to realities on the ground. Portraying capitalism as absolute evil and anarchism as immune to the evils that plague capitalism is intellectually dishonest, and diverts attention away from the real problems that must be addressed – some of which were raised by Sibel.

      • metrobusman says:

        As for Sibel: I think it was she who pressed the point, and it was she who seemed the most skeptical. And it was she who did the scowling, so I addressed the point to her.

        re : “The people doing this work only do so because they live in a capitalist society.”
        Do you mean to say that the toilets don’t get cleaned in non-capitalist societies, or that non-capitalist societies don’t have toilets?

        That’s clever h9k, where can I catch the rest of your act? I meant that capitalism creates extreme poverty for most of the people who have the misfortune to live under it. Thus some people are FORCED to do this WORK (i.e. this job) to make a living because it is the only option available to them. In a real democratic/anarchistic society, that is one where there is equality, unpleasant work will be shared equally, or done by those who receive something in return for doing what others do not wish to. In Spain people doing especially dangerous or demanding or unpleasant work got a shorter work day. Whatever would be worked out, it would be mutual agreement of all concerned. The people doing this work now asre most certainly not doing so by agreement. They are being exploited, pure and simple.

        re: ““That means a society mercilessly and sociopathically divided into privileged strata.”
        Just a tad bit of hyperbole wouldn’t you say? I can provide you the names of immigrants (both family and neighbors) who cleaned toilets, dishes or houses and, by doing so, were able to put their kids through college….

        Precisely! They were FORCED to do things they would not ordinarily elect to do in order to get for their children what a) should be free and open to everybody, and b) others received without having to clean toilets. Got it now?????? If they had human rights, if they had a say in how the economy funxctioned, do you think they would have chosen to do what they did? Of course not, they had no choice. They are wage slaves. They are the servants of capital.

        re: Now, metrobusman, can you recognize the contradictions between these statements you made

        “I am a bus driver, and where I work there are people who do the daily cleaning. One of these people is a former driver and she prefers the work she does now to the stress and danger of bus driving. Odd as it may seem, there may well be volunteers.
        I once worked for a famous courier service, and post-sort cleanup responsibilities rotated alphabetically. In all my time there I never heard anyone complain about this arrangement.
        There are also companies which travel from business to business cleaning bathrooms. They dress like astronauts and have high-power equipment which makes the work easier and less objectionable.”

        and this one

        “In an anarchist society, unlike a capitalist one, it will be the people directly involved who will be empowered to decide how they wish to proceed. That’s the difference.”

        Answer: no! In the first paragraph I’m describing procedures in a capitalist society. In regard to the rotating clean-up system, I had no choice. DHL decided this for us and we had to comply or get fired. As it is I had no objection to this system that was imposed upon us by capital, but it is still quite a different thing from actually being a real human being and having a say in how those things which affect our lives directly will be done. DHL pickeed this system because it saved them from having to hire a cleaner, not because they were committed to justice or equality etc.

        re: “. Portraying capitalism as absolute evil and anarchism as immune to the evils that plague capitalism is intellectually dishonest…”

        The hell it is! You may not believe that capitalism is evil but I assure you I do, hence I’m not being dishonest. Moreover, as I havre stated clearly above, anarchism does not purport to answer every question nor resolve every problem, only the dead have seen the end of strife (presumably), anarchism answers the question of where political decision-making power (governance, if you insist) will lie. Full stop. This isn’t complicated. We believe in people power. Of greater importance, anarchism WILL be immune to the evils which plague capitalism, as anarchism takes as its main principle the democratization of the workplace and the end of industrial feudalism. Capitalism will be the first victim of anarchism. Perhaps if you had thought this through a little more carefully you might have said that anarchism will not be immune from all the ills that afflict society. That certainly would be true–anarchism won’t stop earthquakes etc., but anarchism will most definitely be immune from those evils that are caused by capitalism because we intend to drive a stake through that vampire’s heart once and for all and bury it under a million tons of garlic. Job one of anarchism is the emancipation of labor, all labor, here and everywhere, now and everlasting. That would necessarily include those folks who had to endure humiliation just to be able to send their kids to college.

        In the Marxist/anarchist, Marx/Bakunin debate on the state, Marx said something very much like “the point of the social revolution [he means the elimination of capitalism and the creation of a classless society] is to transform the state [by which he means government and those non-governmental agencies which uphold the government] from something which is imposed upon society to something which is subordinate to it.” We anarchists have a slightly different take on this, but this states the case well enough. Your toilet-cleaners had that life imposed upon them. They were subordinate to it, Wall Street’s captives.

    • HAL 9000 says:

      As to point #2,

      Again, there are words here that must be defined;
      ruler, sovereignty, hierarchy, law, police force, and rape, among others.

      In your anarchist system, sovereignty lies in the will of the majority, as expressed by vote, not in the individual. In a community of 100,000 people (voters), a majority of 50,001 can impose their will on the other 49,999 – in theory. In reality, the only way to get all 49,999 to yield to the will of the majority is by coercion – a penalty or sanction backed by the threat and/or use of coercive force, which you call a police force. Who is going to decide when that coercive power is employed and how?

      You say “Nobody is going to support a rapist’s right to rape.” I don’t agree, but let’s suppose that is true. How is your anarchist society going to determine whether a rape has been committed? Are you going to have a trial where evidence is presented? If so, who will make the rules and how? How will society guarantee that the trial rules are followed? Who will decide the penalty for rape and how? Who will enforce the penalty for rape and how?

      Any law created by the majority in your anarchist society may be violated. If there are not consequences for violating those laws, then the laws become meaningless. Yet, if a person is accused by society of violating a law, will they have a means of claiming and defending their innocence of such violation? If so, what is the process for doing so? And this applies not just to what we call “criminal” laws it applies to property laws, contract laws, and all the various rules that are typically required to organize a complex society. What system will an anarchist society use to settle criminal and civil disputes on a daily basis? How will decisions (settlements) be enforced?

      “The police would be controlled bottom-up, and responsible not to a government but directly to the people.”
      How will this be accomplished? How does the “bottom” provide the resources needed by the police force to do their job? How does the bottom monitor and regulate a police force? You say this worked quite well in a couple of instances. So, how did they do it and what went wrong? Why did this bottom-up system not endure? What is the function of a police force in an anarchist society?

      • metrobusman says:

        re: In your anarchist system, sovereignty lies in the will of the majority, as expressed by vote, not in the individual. In a community of 100,000 people (voters), a majority of 50,001 can impose their will on the other 49,999 – in theory. In reality, the only way to get all 49,999 to yield to the will of the majority is by coercion – a penalty or sanction backed by the threat and/or use of coercive force, which you call a police force. Who is going to decide when that coercive power is employed and how? – See more at: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/05/02/bfp-roundtable-video-6-debating-anarchism-socialism-libertarianism/#

        Great question, and I don’t have a definitive answer, but again I must remind you that anarchism doesn’t claim to resolve every issue, rather it states where the power to resolve them will reside. That being said, anarchism has addressed these concerns more intensely and effectively than anyone else in my view.

        Before I begin, it is essential that we remember where we are now. As it is we are dominated from above by a predatory class who decide for us what we will be allowed to do, say, think, etc etc etc. For any real attempt to answer these excellent questions would involve overthrowing capitalism, because as long as it exists we will be its servants.

        But, if we are ever lucky enough to be set free, anarchism has pioneered methods for dealing with the issues you have raised.

        As far as individual liberty is concerned, nobody but nobody is more committed to this idea than are anarchists. There is a long history of this, too long to go into here, but if you are interested the writings of Marx’s great rival, Mikhail Bakunin, would be a good place to start.

        So what is yours that isn’t mine too is yours to decide. However, what you and I are going to do together (large-scale industry, community decision making etc) requires we find an agreable method of cooeration. Anarchism favors the consensus method. This was used by the Occupy Movement and by many of its predecessors. Again the technique is too long to go nto here, but if you do an internet search for the word consensus you willl get lots and lots of info. Also Cindy Milstein’s “Anarchism and its Aspirations” is a great introduction to the hows and whys of consensus.

        Anarchism also pioneered the idea of dissensus. The anarchist who coined this term, Murray Bookchin, has written much on this topic and many others. In his writing you will find your questions addressed directly.

        So what happens when your neighborhood, which would be the sovereign community decision-making unit in an anarchist society, cannot reach consensus. Then a democratic vote (one person one vote) is taken to decide the matter. What then happens what if the losing side refuses to agree? In the cases of the Paris Commune and the Spanish Revolution, coercion was used (although in the latter case they refused to call themselves police) to enforce the decision.

        This was not a problem during the events cited above because there was so much revolutionary euphoria that people were not dispsed to violent disagreements, but these societies were overtaken by capitalist forces and didn’t last very long. What would happen in the long term? Is it possible that Hobbes was right–that it is the whip that makes society possible and too much freedom will only lead to chaos and barbarism. Maybe so. Maybe an anarchist society will in the end produce, or re-produce, another authoritarian society. Most anarchists don’t want to face this question. in any case, we anarchists are determined to give freedom a chance. And, in my view, it is the anarchists who created the most egalitarian and free societies the world has yet known.

        In any event, it will be the people in your neighborhood who will decide what the rules, if any, will be, and how they will be enforced. They will decide whether there will be a police force and precisely what it can and cannot do. Nobody knows whether this will work, but it sure is worth a try.

        As it is now you will never be asked if you want to have a police force and what powers it will have etc. Now we have police who enforce precisely those laws which ensnare us and keep us cleaning toilets in the desperate hope that our children will not have to suffer the humiliation and degradation we do. Now we have capitalist overlords who make all the important decisions for us.

        Proudhon: “Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.”

        re: You say “Nobody is going to support a rapist’s right to rape.” I don’t agree, but let’s suppose that is true. How is your anarchist society going to determine whether a rape has been committed? Are you going to have a trial where evidence is presented? If so, who will make the rules and how? How will society guarantee that the trial rules are followed? Who will decide the penalty for rape and how? Who will enforce the penalty for rape and how? – See more at: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/05/02/bfp-roundtable-video-6-debating-anarchism-socialism-libertarianism/#sthash.2cs9e6ZQ.dpuf

        It is a measure of just how enfeebling capitalism is that such a question has to be asked. Try to decolonize your brain Hal if you can. Take it back. There’s nothing complicated about this. The people who live in a particular place should administer (govern, if you insist) that place. They should be free to craft whatever kind of society they wish. If they cannot then they are not free. Your neighborhood should govern your neighborhood. Your workplace should govern your workplace. How your neighborhood/workplace interacts with others should be decided by the affected neighborhoods/workplaces. This isn’t complicated.

        Incidentally, we had people’s courts in America until the counterrevolutionary junta we call the Founding Fathers crushed them with this Consitution. I don’t know much about them, but here is an audio bit about the history of the police which deals with the subject. [This is absolutely NOT an endorsement of the ISO!: http://wearemany.org/a/2012/06/origins-of-police%5D

        There will be trials if the collective [in this case the collective would be your neighborhood] wants to administer justice that way. Perhaps they might prefer to handle it in another fashion. Same for the rules of evidence. Free people are free to make rules of evidence if they like, or not. Perhaps they will decide tosimply allow the claimants to make their casses as they see fit, and so for the defense. The point is that every collective is free to make their own decisions (again, govern themselves, to misuse that word), and that EVERYBODY in the particular collective has an equal say. If you have no say in how your society administers justice [and you certainly do not in America] then you are “governed” by that authority which makes the decisions. Anarchism literally mean no government.

        I suspect that smaller neighborhoods will cooperate with other neighborhoods in the matter of laws just as they will for road maintenance, telecommunications etc. The point is THEY will get to decide. It really is that simple.

        That’s all I have time for.

    • HAL 9000 says:

      As to #3,

      “Once we are free we will be free to cede power, should we choose, for a specific period of time and for a specific purpose. This is something quite different from electing capitalist guard dogs for a period of two or four or six years wherein they will have unvitiated discretionary power within a government which arrogates to itself absolute power.”
      No, it is not different, it is fundamentally the same action done for the same fundamental reasons.

      Teachers must have and will have power in the classroom, but it is up to us to determine how much.
      Yes, which is how things are done today in our representative republic.

      A free people can grant power to a person or persons so long as it is agreeable to both parties, for the benefit of the whole and not just the recipient, and revocable at any time.”
      Again, this is the same logic employed in our current representative republic.

      So far, the only distinction you have made between your anarchist system and our representative republic is the people in your anarchist state will get to vote directly on every decision that would otherwise be made by elected representatives in a representative republic. One has to wonder what kind of a voting system must be built and maintained to accommodate all the votes that will be required in your anarchist system. Who will pay for the creation and maintenance of this system and how? Who will count the votes, because all power in this system rests in the outcome of these votes.

      You have essentially confirmed Sibel’s point that by nature most people prefer to delegate authority to others in matters of the common interest.

      • metrobusman says:

        re: “Once we are free we will be free to cede power, should we choose, for a specific period of time and for a specific purpose. This is something quite different from electing capitalist guard dogs for a period of two or four or six years wherein they will have unvitiated discretionary power within a government which arrogates to itself absolute power.”
        No, it is not different, it is fundamentally the same action done for the same fundamental reasons. – See more at: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/05/02/bfp-roundtable-video-6-debating-anarchism-socialism-libertarianism/comment-page-1/#comment-14208

        Just where do you live Hal? I live in the US and it is nothing like what is described above. Where I live if we wish to recall a mayor it takes literally years. All I can do is vote for one or the other capitalist party, nothing more. We do have an initiative system in my state, but it is extremely limited. We get to vote on issues like pot legalization and the like, nothing more important like war and peace etc. If you live in the US you are governed from Washington DC, and if you don’t know that you need a doctor.

        re: Teachers must have and will have power in the classroom, but it is up to us to determine how much.
        Yes, which is how things are done today in our representative republic. – See more at: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/05/02/bfp-roundtable-video-6-debating-anarchism-socialism-libertarianism/comment-page-1/#comment-14208

        Where exactly do you live Hal? If you live in the real world you would know that the government in the last ten years has undertaken a tremendous reorganization of the school system over the sometimes violent objection of teachers and parents. This could never happen in an anarchist society. No Child Left Behind, High Stakes testing, the Common Core et alia have changed the way teachers teach, and outside of the government itself one can hardly find anyone who supports it. This has been jammed down our throats by our capitalist overlords. That’s what it means to be governed. Got it now? We the people need to take power. Until then, we will have a plutocracy.

        re: A free people can grant power to a person or persons so long as it is agreeable to both parties, for the benefit of the whole and not just the recipient, and revocable at any time.”
        Again, this is the same logic employed in our current representative republic. – See more at: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/05/02/bfp-roundtable-video-6-debating-anarchism-socialism-libertarianism/comment-page-1/#comment-14208

        What????????????????????????? You are living in a fantasy world. The laws, such as they are, are not for the benefit of the whole but for the ruling class, we cannot recall our officials when we want but only after a lengthy, torturous process and if we make it that far then we get to vote for somebody just like him/her. And our government certainly doesn’t ask our permission to tax us, send us to war etc etc etc.

        That was just ridiculous Hal.

        re: So far, the only distinction you have made between your anarchist system and our representative republic is the people in your anarchist state will get to vote directly on every decision that would otherwise be made by elected representatives in a representative republic. One has to wonder what kind of a voting system must be built and maintained to accommodate all the votes that will be required in your anarchist system. Who will pay for the creation and maintenance of this system and how? Who will count the votes, because all power in this system rests in the outcome of these votes. – See more at: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/05/02/bfp-roundtable-video-6-debating-anarchism-socialism-libertarianism/comment-page-1/#comment-14208

        I think I addressed most of this in an earlier comment. As for who will pay, the same people who are now paying for Iraq, Afganistan, the bailout …

        All power may rest in these votes, but they will be OUR votes, now we have to do what we are told. Got it now?

        re: You have essentially confirmed Sibel’s point that by nature most people prefer to delegate authority to others in matters of the common interest. – See more at: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/05/02/bfp-roundtable-video-6-debating-anarchism-socialism-libertarianism/comment-page-1/#comment-14208

        Firstly, we will have to see what human nature really is when the human race emancipates itself. Nowadays, under capitalism, we are taught to be docile and compliant fro9m the moment we are born. Maybe it will be different after the social revolution. But even if not, anarchism does not preclude the delegation of authority so long as it is rescindable if that authority is abused. Anarchism doesnt mean nothingism, anarchism answers the question of where power will reside. You either believe in democracy, that is real democracy, or you don’t. Administrative systems should be operating in line with the popular will, anarchism ensures that they will.

        So far all your criticisms, with one exception, have circled around the idea that representation does not differ essentially from participation. Well participation was tried in Spain and it worked so well that Stalinists and capitalists united to crush it. Why don’t you take a look.

    • HAL 9000 says:

      As to #4, this was addressed in responses to #2 and 3.

      As to #5,

      The question is not whether anarchists or voluntarists can form an army, the question is whether they can prevail against invading armies. The answer to this hypothetical depends on many variables, but I think it is instructive to consider.

      The question remains: if anarchy and voluntarism are such splendid ways of organizing societies, why do they not exist on any significant scale, or for any significant period of time? Spain is not an example that meets either criterion.

      • metrobusman says:

        First, I’m not advocating voluntarism. I’m an anarchist and the two ideas are mutually exclusive.

        The reason they don’t exist is that they were crushed by capital. No anarchist society has ever imploded, they were destroyed by invaders.

        Second, “significant scale”? Tens of millions enthusiastically embraced anarchism in Spain, that’s not big enough?

        Anarchism eliminates capitalism. Capitalists don’t like anarchism. They own us. They own the product of our labor. Under anarchism they would have to live and work like everybody else. The upper class doesn’t want equality. Got it now?

        • HAL 9000 says:

          So you keep telling me that other systems crushed anarchism. That being the case, how will anarchism prevent this in the future? And if you’re going to tell me that all the capitalists or capitalist regimes are going to be eliminated, then tell me how. The point you seem to miss through all your responses to my posts is that what you are advocating has been tried but could not endure. Essentially, you are just rebooting a process that has always led to the same end point. This is so because the process – the system – the “ism” – is subject to human nature. They are all driven by biology not ideology.

          Remember, government is an abstract idea. It is not capable of any action whatsoever. Only people can give life to government. All actions of government are in fact actions of people, not government. Government has never killed or enslaved anyone, that has always been done by people. In your writings here, you have not eliminated government, you have simply reduced it to a less centralized form. Nor have you eliminated the use of coercive force by some members of a community against other members of the same community. So all this debate over anarchy, voluntarism, or some other -ism is wasted time. Neither the anarchists nor the voluntarists have eliminated government (though they claim so). And until you eliminate people, you will not eliminate government, because humans are social mammals. All social mammals organize themselves into hierarchical communities to cope with the inevitable tension between the individual and the group. And if you dismantle those communities, they will reorganize in the same manner as before, there is a biological imperative.

          You apparently cannot see the long-term incompatibility between anarchism and human nature, or human biology. There is an ecological concept called “succession.” This is the notion that when the equilibrium of an ecological community is disrupted, the community will in time return to the equilibrium state (climax state). So a fire, flood, landslide, volcano, etc., will destroy the existing climax community, and a new community will take hold. The flora and fauna of this new community are better adapted to the new conditions than the climax community, so this new, early successional community flourishes, at least for a while. The irony is that emergence and growth of the new community changes the environment in such a way as to make it hospitable for a second wave of flora and fauna that can out compete the first wave for scarce resources. This cycle continues until the system once again reaches the climax state that existed before the disruption.

          So your anarchistic community might exist as viable organizing system following an overthrow or overhaul, or revolution, but its very existence and impact on the people in the community will create the conditions that will incrementally drive the community to another form of organization. Anarchism, as you describe it, simply cannot endure amidst the realities of today’s world. Human industrial societies go through a natural progression of increasing concentration of wealth and power until some disruption resets the progression to an earlier state, after which the progression resumes.

          One of the key questions to address is one that Sibel alluded to in this roundtable, which is how to limit the natural tendency toward concentration of power in industrial societies. You, metro busman, do not object to government, you object to centralized government. You have openly stated here that you are fine with people continuing to exercise the functions and powers of government on a “small” scale. In fact, centralized government is a primary reason why BFP and the Corbett Report and Empire, Power and People exist – because their founders object to the scale of centralized government in the USA. So the question is really whether or not the concentration of wealth and power can be limited. Whether the natural progression (succession) in industrialized societies can be limited. I think this can be done in small communities, but I see no evidence that it can be done in very large ones. Then the question becomes can small communities survive next to very large ones and maintain their independence.

          And by the way, government is not necessary for the formation of armies, or police forces, or intelligence organizations, etc. Such things can and have been created by “private” enterprises. All that is necessary is the required wealth. After all, government is only able to do it by taxing the wealth of a community.

          • Mark Passehl says:

            A good analysis if overly simplistic or systematized. One big error though is your talk of a natural progression in industrial societies as though the latter were something really old and analysed with impartial accuracy. On the contrary there are four means by which the modern gangster state arose and became empowered and all predated the industrial revolution ; viz Venetian psy-ops culture and private mega-fondi and their migration to Amsterdam, Hamburg, London (beginning in the 16th cent.) ; the Tudor loosening up of millennial Euro law and morality against usury (16th cent.) ; the invention of the goldsmith/banking scam and its development into the system of fractional-reserve lending (17th cent.). Biggest and most significant of all, the control of information. BFP exists not because of violations of the American constitution (nor any other) but because knowledge of such violations and of the control and deliberate manipulation of information became widely known owing to the internet. This is a part of the continuing evolution of the industrial revolution which, by the time it eventually reaches some form of technological and wealth-creating plateau, will probably have a rather different label than industrial revolution. But in any case, to speak of natural evolution of the industrial/technological revolution in politico-economic terms (or any other really) misses the fact that the gangster state pre-existed and attempted to control these new developments from the get-go. With considerable success. Two notable 1940s texts on information control still worth consulting are Knuth, Empire of the City, and Kent Cooper, Barriers Down (the latter focused on Reuters and AP, though the perversion of education is at least as important).

          • Good comments, Hal9000. I took note of the following sentence:

            All social mammals organize themselves into hierarchical communities to cope with the inevitable tension between the individual and the group.

            I think this represents an understanding that is more responsible than those held by the religious individualists. The individual and the group are both natural occurring. They both exist. Humans do a lot more than just organize themselves into hierarchical communities – they use all of the tools available, depending on the context. Examples:

            I often “do my own thing.” = HI (Horizontal Individualism)

            The well-being of my co-workers is important to me. = HC (Horizontal Collectivism)

            It annoys me when other people perform better than I do. = VI (Vertical Individualism)

            I would sacrifice an activity that I enjoy very much if my family did not approve of it. = VC (Vertical Collectivism)

            These are from the paper:
            Triandis, H. C., & Gelfand, M. J. (1998). Converging measurement of horizontal and vertical individualism and collectivism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(1), 118-128. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.74.1.118

            This paper also includes a summary of practical implications:

            It is important to note that none of the four cultural patterns is necessarily better or worse for human functioning. Instead, each of these cultural patterns is probably functional in different situations. Specifically, the HI pattern allows individuals to do their own thing without the restraints provided by in-groups; the VI pattern, with its emphasis on competition, is likely to result in creativity and high effort. By contrast, the HC pattern is likely to lead to much social support and sociability. The VC pattern can allow the in-group to produce more than the sum of its parts. This cultural pattern provides protection and security and reduces the need for personal decisions, which some people find anxiety provoking. In Eric Fromm’s (1941) terms, this somewhat authoritarian pattern allows individuals to “escape from freedom.”

            On the other hand, there are probably costs associated with each pattern. The HI pattern may result in social isolation, in which individuals do their own thing but no one approves of what they do. The VI pattern may result in extreme stress, especially after failures in competition, and thus may reduce the effectiveness of the immune system and increase the probability of both cardiovascular disease and ineffectiveness in battling infections (Triandis et al., 1988). The HC pattern could absorb much of the individual’s energy in social relationships, thus decreasing productivity. The VC pattern could result in authoritarian regimes and ethnic cleansing.

            I think the religious individualist’s constant reduction of every issue into a question of individual property rights (every problem’s a nail for their one hammer). There are, in my opinion, valid limits that should be placed on individual voluntaryism. Those are to protect the group’s interest in liberty and justice, as well as the common infrastructure, public land and resources.

            In practical terms, this means that, if you are a part of this group, you are going to, by coercion if necessary, pitch in to protect your neighbors from slavery and your environment from ruin, even if it doesn’t directly effect your individual property. This is the only way to create a social context for liberty and justice for each individual. It is the means and the ends of eternal vigilance for liberty and justice for all.

          • HAL 9000 says:

            To Mark Passehi

            “One big error though is your talk of a natural progression in industrial societies as though the latter were something really old and analysed with impartial accuracy. ”
            That is one interpretation of what I said, and it is yours, but certainly not mine.

            “But in any case, to speak of natural evolution of the industrial/technological revolution in politico-economic terms (or any other really) misses the fact that the gangster state pre-existed and attempted to control these new developments from the get-go.”
            You missed my point entirely. I did not speak of evolution, I never used the word or referred to the process. A big problem here is that you and others have yet to reduce this problem to the fundamental issues – root causes. It does not rebut or diminish my point at all to point out that “the gangster state pre-existed and attempted to control these new developments from the get-go.” Indeed, to point that out merely confirms the argument I just made – you are presenting examples of what humans do in the context of their circumstances. You are talking about effects not causes – at least not root causes – the fundamental causes. Until the discussion moves to the fundamentals, this debate will not move things forward.

            “BFP exists not because of violations of the American constitution . . .”
            Again, I never said any such thing. You really need to read things more carefully before you reply to them.

          • HAL 9000 says:

            Thanks, Xicha, that is the kind of focus and input we need more of in this discussion. IMO, any of the organizing systems or -isms, could work if everyone within them remained committed to the aims or ideals of the system. But in reality that is never achieved, so what do you do then?

            The fundamental unit of human societies is the family, and it is an asymmetrical hierarchy. Why? Because it maximizes the reproductive potential of both parents and their offspring. Both sides forego some degree of self-interest to the advantage of the other. These are the trade-offs mentioned in your post. As the offspring mature the dynamics will change but persist in some degree. This is the beginning of communities.

            Yet we know that all families are not the same. There is variation in size, composition, organization, etc. We also know that some are more “successful” than others. In some cases there are abuses and transgressions, that is to say, one member pursues his or her self-interest to an unacceptable level for the other members . How do families deal with these situations? The problems they face are fundamentally the same problems that larger societies face. And they are problems of human nature, or human behavior, or human biology, take your pick.

  7. Mark Passehl says:

    Do we live in a capitalist society ? No of course not — this is the Rothschild/Marxist narrative. See Woodrow Wilson’s famous quote about the biggest men in his country being afraid of something so complete, so interlocking, et al. These biggest men were the capitalists, and they were frightened of the financier cabal. The only way to freedom is to reverse the reality of the Rothschild/Marxist narrative and that means very simply to establish a bourgeois state, preferably as petty bourgeois as possible. No political innovation introduced after the 1694 establishment of Bank of England is above suspicion as a vehicle of bankster aims and ambitions. To depart a little from the Rothschild/Marx rhetorical paradigm what this means is to create general and sustained economic prosperity and complete accountability and transparency in public and government conduct. This is easy to do in institutional terms. Gaddafi did it. I.e. linking modern industrial technology to a debt-free government issued monetary system. Government can be made transparent by fundamental laws requiring corporations to justify their continuing existence (renewal of charter) as in the public interest, by restricting media ownership and seriously subsidizing alt media of every sort. Also by funding regular public meetings and discussions where the media filters of every type are absent. A bourgeois state means a level of prosperity where everyone has easy access to wealth and high technology and is educated, or indoctrinated if you will, in a basic ideology that money, technology, knowledge and every other tool and technique for organizing the basic needs of a large population must serve the interests of the whole population in an immediately recognizable and inclusive fashion. This is not an aim in itself as some form of ideal politeia to last forever, but a readily attainable modern state which may serve as the basis for creating more refined or advanced forms of libertarian and progressive organization, such as anarchy and or whatever else future generations will dream up (and dream up plenty of divergences and novelties that we can’t yet conceive of, they certainly will). But without the attainment of and long experience in such fundamentals by which the great majority of a population can prosper, de-militarize, lose their fear of social progress and learn to co-operate better, there will be no progress and progressive words and thoughts will remain idle.
    Nietzsche is a philosopher worth reading because, inter alia, his philosophical life (as opposed to philological) was self-funded. One of his most famous aphorism worth keeping in mind is that man is the only animal whose nature is not yet fixed.

    • HAL 9000 says:

      “. . . man is the only animal whose nature is not yet fixed.”

      Demonstrably false statement

      • Mark Passehl says:

        By all means attempt to perform the demonstration.
        Meanwhile the truth of this statement strikes me as self-evident. Perhaps more self-evident to a human all too human, than an obsolete glorified pc with more than a dash of homicidal mal-programming. Dave is my witness.

  8. metrobusman says:

    I have a question for James Corbet: You said that voluntary association was an ethical imperative, is socialism also an ethical imperative? Capitalism compels compliance, and nobody volunteers to surrender a portion of his/her just share to the proceeds of his/her labor to an owner, but is forced to do because that class owns the only means available for people not of that class to make a living. Does it not follow that if voluntary association is an imperative, that capitalism, by its very nature exploitive, has got to go?

  9. metrobusman says:

    Xicha, that’s my point. Direct democracy is redundant. If it isn’t direct, it isn’t democracy. And the ruling class can call America a democracy if they like, but a republic by definition is not a democracy. Democracy and government ARE mutually exclusive.

    Would a democracy create and implement laws? Yes, if they like. What makes a democracy a democracy–and anarchism is democracy in all phases of social life–is that the people make the laws [or not] as they see fit. What isn’t a democracy is getting to vote for somebody every few years who will have absolute discretionary power. that’s a republic.

    Putting a law or repeal of same to a vote by the people is not ‘indirect democracy’ [an oxymoron] but is direct democracy [redundant]. Democracy means ‘people rule,’ In Washington, in this instance, the people decided a political issue, that is democracy.

    No, it is not an act of governing. Governing is a small group, even an elected one, deciding for the whole population what the law will be, and then enforcing that decision however unpopular it may be under pain of penalty. I don’t think this is a complex matter. Governments govern, they rule over a populace. That what government means and that’s why they are inherently undemocratic. That elites have found it politically advantageous to call various governments democratic does not make them so.

    When I said that if we didn’t have a government we wouldn’t be in Iraq it is because of the reasons you stated. Indeed I believe, and just about every anarchist I know believes, that the state [that is the government plus all the non-governmental agencies which enable the government] is the apparatus by which the economic elite, the capitalists, maintain control over the population. Indeed it is corrupt, it’s designed to be. If we had a democracy, capitalism wouldn’t last a day. As Karl Marx once put it: “Capitalism comes to us dripping in blood.” Indeed! It needs a government to support it.

    As far as anarchists wanting to privatize the government, I don’t know what you mean but anarchists want to eliminate the government, not privatize it [whatever that means]. The social revolution, that is the elimination of economic inequality, the emancipation of labor, IS THE DIRECT ASSUMPTION OF ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL DECISION-MAKING POWER BY THE LABORING CLASSES (i.e. industrial and agricultural workers) and the creation of a free and egalitarian society.

    Xicha, i gather from your questions that you didn’t watch the roundtable. Perhaps you should. And as I said in other comments, I wrote something called “On the appeal of Anarchism” which is brief and will probably give you a better feel for the subject. My favorite short book on anarchism is “Anarchism and its Aspirations,” by Cindy Milstein. It’s quite a good introduction.

    In the meantime, I work a very demanding schedule, and will not be able to respond here until next week.

    • Thanks. I gather from your responses to my questions that you are very busy. Maybe take another look at what isaid next week. II’ll try to clarify again soon.
      Quick notes:
      I did watch.
      “…govern themselves” but not a government.
      I said a government not this government.
      I didn’t mention capitalism.
      I said privatize infrastructure.
      Anarchy still sounds like government to me. Of by and for…

  10. metrobusman says:

    I stand corrected on the first.

    Perhaps a poor choice of verb on the second, but we have talked endlessly about what government is, so if you don’t understand it yet I don’t know what else I could add.

    I don’t understand the third.

    “You did mention capitalism: ” I didn’t say anything about capitalism – maybe that is the real distinction you are trying to draw – between democracy and capitalism? ” I responded that capitalism ccouldn’t survive democracy.

    You said privatize government too, perhaps you didn’t mean to.: “If we didn’t have a war-profiteering oligarchy in control of our corrupt federal government, which is a publicly controlled entity in name only. It has been privatized, which is what I’m afraid will happen to all of the public infrastructure in this country.” The it phrase is in the past tense and the privatization of infrastructure is in the future. Again this might not be what you meant, but it’s what I understood you to mean [i.e. the ‘it’ refers to ‘our corrupt gov’].

    re the last: Anarchy by definition means no government. It means people making decisions for themselves in private matters, and having an equal say in public matters. Anarchism does not mean no rules, it says who gets to make them. Anarchism means participation in the political process and direct control over public institutions FROM BELOW [as oposed to from above from a government]. I don’t know how to put it any simpler than that. And the stuff I suggested you read will perhaps help you grasp the concept.

    • Thanks again. I’ll keep trying to get it. I liked yous and Andrew’s explanations the best.

    • HAL 9000 says:

      metrobusman said:

      “Anarchy by definition means no government.”

      You have defined your system using the word “government” but you have yet to define what you mean by “government.” Please give us your definition of “government.”

  11. metrobusman says:
  12. HAL 9000 says:

    If not for Sibel injecting some common sense into this discussion, I think I would have flung my iPod out my car window. If I can find the time, I might add my two cents, but my experience tells me it is a waste of time.

    • Please do. Please 😉

      I’m not sure why the word government has to mean “ruled by others” and democracy can’t be called government. And there are books i haven’t read, so my common sense doesn’t quite cut it either. I’ve gotten the response (whatever that means) to statements that seem fairly straight forward to me,? I think this might be caused by the variety correct wording and defidefinitions that people are arguing about. There are purist camps surrounding common sense language. I liked Sibel’s refreshing non-academic approach as well.

      • Edit: All of the presenters did use common sense language in this discussion.

      • HAL 9000 says:

        Xicha,

        Do you by chance know where I can find the piece by James regarding car traffic without signs/rules that he mentions in the discussion?

        Thanks

        HAL

        • Yeah, the guy also suggested having a different speed limit in each lane. LOL I’ll look for it.

          • Here you go:

            http://www.corbettreport.com/episode-277-but-what-about-the-roads/

            I haven’t listened to this interview for about a year, but, as I remember, the condescension in it is so frustrating, especially when you hear the tone of his voice asking the title question. And, even though this interview should reveal just how nonsensical the guest was, it is still used as a reference today. Probably because it is most effective as a one-liner pseudo-strawman argument and has its effect without people actually listening to it. All you need to do is repeat, in a smug, condescending tone, “But, what about the roads? Right? Ha ha…”

          • Wait, that one just has excerpts of the full interview with Walter Block, which is here:

            http://www.corbettreport.com/interview-717-walter-block-on-privatization-of-roads-and-highways/

          • The privatization of public infrastructure is the hidden payload in these rockets of so-called libertarian movements. Conflict of interest is never mentioned because these people don’t believe in the existence of the public, so there can be no public interest in their minds.

            Ask Ralph Nader if highway safety was limited by socialism. Or was it the capitalists saving 50 cents per car with no regard for the safety implications. Same would apply to so many products and natural resource production, sans government regulation.

            The world’s no longer round.

          • OMG yes, please, everyone, listen to that full interview with Walter Block. You will also learn about competitive tunneling. If you can make it the whole 32 minutes without either busting a gut or swearing at your speakers, I’ll give you a medal.

  13. Here are some questions which I don’t think are being addressed directly:

    1. We all know about the existence of the individual. What about the public? Does it exist?

    2. If we accept the existence of a public, what are public interests that should be considered or protected, when we consider any social system?

    3. If we accept the existence of a public and we commit ourselves to protecting the public’s interest in liberty and property rights, what limits of individual voluntaryism become apparent?

    My responses
    1: Yes
    2: Liberty, justice, defense, common land, common property, and common infrastructure
    3: I think that the best we can do is to admit that, although individuals may want to avoid responsibilities to the society which they don’t particularly agree with, we must require that the entire public is upholding those responsibilities. Just what those responsibilities are should be determined using the most direct representation possible (everyone gets to vote).

    I’m trying to be concise and hopefully have enough detail to allow others to begin to agree, disagree, and offer feedback, etc. Please let me know if these questions make sense to you and if you think they are important questions for the discussion in this post.

    Thanks!

    • HAL 9000 says:

      My two cents:

      1: The “public” exists only where individuals live in community. The public is the commons in all its various forms; common wealth, common beliefs, common defense, etc, which together constitute the common interest.

      2: The common interest is determined by agreement among the individuals in the community.

      3: Voluntarism and anarchism, like any other system of organizing communities, are limited by the character of the people in the community and the available resources. One cannot generalize these limitations across communities because of the great disparities in these limiting factors between communities.

      • 1: The “public” exists only where individuals live in community.

        Now I’m curious about what it means to “live in community”. However we define membership in a society, I think that all members should be forced, through coercion if necessary, to live by the laws of the society. Even the anarcho-capitalist .01% who own most of the wealth, the media, the MIC, big pharma, who control politicians and public officials by bribery and blackmail, and who currently not susceptible to the laws of the land.

        At the broader level (federal in the USA), I think laws should include only the very basic fundamental laws which protect liberty (Bill of Rights type laws). Local communities should have responsibility for whichever laws they want to govern their local communities, such as speed limits, public school curriculum, and no naked motorcycling on garbage day (probably only applicable in Sturgis, SD for a couple weeks each Summer). Laws like these should be forbidden at the Federal level in the USA. We need a process for auditing our federal laws to get rid of over-reach.

        Members should be allowed to leave the society, probably only by leaving the geographical borders. Any other ideas about how to accommodate leavers inside the borders?

        Only with a focus on liberty and justice for all, can each individual end up experiencing liberty and justice, because liberty and justice are experienced through relationships, in the context of a society. When isolated, individuals lose their identities and do not experience liberty or justice. This is why individual voluntaryism needs to be limited to possibilities created by the context of a society of laws and government (the system for creating and enforcing laws).

        People are being foolish when they speak about their hate and fear of the concept of government and force. They are being pacified by sounds of the-sooner-it-all-goes-to-hell, the better. Irresponsible, adolescent gibberish, with a dash of selfish indignation and smug vocabulary, have succeeded at duping some of the same people who finally could see that the real criminals were indeed the .01% anarchist-capitalists, who had no government. Now they root for privatizing any public resources, all because the government’s name was ruined when she was raped.

  14. Government is the problem.
    -Ronald Reagan

    I find it somewhat disheartening that so many people are falling for this privatization scheme. The “liberty”, “anarchy”, and “voluntary” arms of individualism movements are all means to coopt resistance to tyranny, duping people who are aware of the crimes of the oligarchy to promote the very same goals of the oligarchy through false narratives about the evils of government.  When, in reality, it was not “the government” that committed the original crimes. It was the oligarchy using the name and facade of government to rob, rape and murder common people everywhere. This could not have been accomplished if the people had been informed and vigilant about keeping their government healthy. This was and is an intentional tactic by the establishment – to commit crimes against common people and then get them to blame their own empowerment. Isn’t it obvious?

    • Mark Passehl says:

      A good statement of the plain facts. This private clique parasitique has always maintained itself by information control, disinformation and diversion of opposition. If the information were freely available on its real internal functioning, I suspect anarchy would be the best characterization of such a tyranny, almost as motile as its share-holdings Certainly reform of government and public finance is the appropriate method to wind it up, if civilization is to be preserved in the process. Including activation and application of state powers and penalties against fraud, conspiracy, treason, war crimes, insider trading and so forth, which have been in abeyance rather too long. A spring is not made o’ one Madoff.

      • Thanks, Mark. I agree with your characterization of the “parasitique clique” as having no government and under no law, if that’s what you meant by anarchy (I think they are described well by Anarcho-Capitalists, but it seems like everyone defines these terms differently). I would add that our government is so corrupt that we need to work, at least partially, outside the system to reform it and that so much reform is needed that it could also be called a reset, replacement, or starting over, but not entirely from scratch.

  15. FANTASTIC! discussion all the way around. Excuse my over enthusiasm. And yes, this is just the tip of the iceberg and many more discussions on this topic are needed. And I appreciate Peter playing the part of host/moderator but I’d like to hear his thoughts and ideas going forward.

    Full disclosure, I’m very much where James and Andrew are regarding the issue of anarchism but great questions and concerns raised by Sibel. I like this kind of exploration of a topic. The courage to take on even topics like this is why I subscribed to BFP and even when you went more open source, I never gave the first thought of dropping my subscription. Even more so, it re-enforced my continuing as a subscriber. My deep appreciation to all parties in this conversation and the courage to take it on.

  16. HAL 9000 says:

    Amen brother.

    When Corbett dismisses human nature in this discussion, it is equivalent to those defending the govt explanation for the destruction of WTC towers 1, 2, and 7 dismissing the laws of physics. Just as the behavior of the physical matter of the towers is rooted in the laws of physics, so is the behavior of human beings rooted in human nature – the marriage of past evolution, present environment, and present individual physiology (most importantly, brain chemistry).

    If you have followed Corbett’s “evolution” on this voluntarism paradigm, he went from skeptic to full spectrum believer – a zealot of this new religion. But when confronted with the obvious fundamental problems with his new religion, he has dismissed them as problems of the current paradigm that would miraculously disappear under his paradigm. He cannot resolve these issues in a straight-forward approach, so he he simply blows them off.

    “no “ism” ever worked out the way its leaders promised.”
    Right, and I don’t think Corbett’s Rodney King approach to human society – “can’t we all just get along” – is going to work out the way he thinks either.

  17. There are these creatures we know as sociopaths and psychopaths, and many of them are extraordinarily cunning. A cabal of them currently sit atop our government like a fat man on a toilet, and they and their successors have done so for over a century. All too easily we confuse their manipulations and criminal acts with the intrinsic nature of a representative republic. This cabal would find a way place its fat ass over any alternative form of government or non-government, simply because it is unconstrained by any concept of decency or humanity, and it has mastered deceit conveyed by images and words. It has also adopted concealment and camouflage, though not with complete success.

    This criminal cabal is the elephant in the room yet most people are only dimly aware of them if at all. Should the day arrive when some catalyzing event, internal schism, or gross miscalculation leads to their undeniable exposure, that will be an Apocalypse – the (usually violent) overthrow of a system of things due to universal revelation of previously hidden information. It’s bound to happen, but when I cannot predict. Only then, when we finally have a grasp of the true context of our lives, will we even possibly be in a position to understand what a just form of human society might look like.

    • HAL 9000 says:

      I disagree on one thing: it is not the exposure of these criminals that would lead to a violent overthrow, it is desperation that would lead to it. As long as the cabal keeps enough folks fed and comfortable, they won’t jeopardize that comfort with violence. But the odds of a violent overthrow giving birth to a just form of human society are very slim anyway. Violence is not a cure for this cancer.

  18. Mark Passehl says:

    To HAL 9000

    I’m afraid you did say a “natural tendency” towards concentration of power in industrial societies, so I didn’t miss your point at all, which is bogus because it ignores the predominating influence of the gangster state in industrial societies ; a unique and entirely unnatural form of governance in human history. My proposition is simply that where the gangster state is absent industrial society can tend in other and sometimes opposite directions ; and that this very potential is exactly why the gangster state did everything in its power to induce the Great War (WW1) as the means to destroy the two dominant industrializing societies of the time which were not gangster states (Russia and Germany)

    In any case your basic approach is founded in ideals rather than reality. I accept that this is natural enough for a glorified pc with limited historical perception but boundless capacity to systematize. You need to understand that things occur in human societies as everywhere else through the interplay of necessities at every biological and environmental level. Causes do not exist, still less root causes or berry causes. These are just words

    • I think you lost me on that last part, Mark. And I would disagree with your characterization of the gangsters being unnatural. Is this some kind of religious viewpoint or what?

      • Mark Passehl says:

        Hi Xicha, no I’m not a particularly religious person. At any rate one possible formulation of the gangster state I have in mind would be ; private, amorphous, covert, based originally in London and Amsterdam and expanding its international and commercial character on the basis of sea power and a novel financial business that is overtly fraudulent according to the laws and customs of most of the countries it takes over, treasonous, unaccountable and immune from legal action, parasitic and inimical towards the populations it controls.
        In my view an extremely unnatural political entity for which I struggle finding clear historical parallels. Perhaps the Assassin/Knights Templar organizations of the Crusading era. Maybe Mediterranean piracy in the 2nd-1st cent. BC ; though that insidious and eventually mighty power was based on controlling small and weak port cities rather than the great powers of its day, and eventually got whacked by Rome. Nor did it develop financial novelties or benefit from an industrial revolution (although it might have done since its initial rise coincided with Ptolemy Physkon’s massacre and dispersal of the intelligentsia of Alexandreia and the Mouseion, with many and serious technical and scientific innovations to its credit)

  19. metrobusman says:

    Many people think of anarchism as being something strange or arcane or idiosyncratic. It isn’t. In fact, as I pointed out in “On the Appeal of Anarchism,” it is what naturally happens when people are lucky enough to be set free. There are countless examples, here’s one of the most recent described by Ziga Vodovnik in his superb book “A Living Spirit of Revolt, the Infrapolitics of Anarchism”

    “In a city of nearly half a million…there have been no police on the streets since…the…uprising three months ago. All government agencies have been closed and are now populated by…delegations of the new people’s assembly. Improvised clinics have been set up…where doctors, nurses…offer…care and medicines for free. The occupied tv and radio stations have opened up their studios to anyone wishing to take part in…their programs…All across the neighborhoods, people are consulting each other and coordinating…to defend …their newly gained autonomy. Despite, orperhaps because of, the absence of…police and gov’ agencies, the crime rate…has fallen…and any violations…are only being sanctioned with a day of community service.

    Nearly all the streets are packed with heapsof stones, abandoned trucks, buses, burning containers…protecting the city against attacks by paramilitary groups and the police attempts to reestablish “order and discipline” through killings and bomb attacks. The paradox that people must protect their experiment in…direct democracy from the police…People at the city [center] are saying that the attacks at the barricades…and explosions…become worse at night. The masked attackers are heavily armed, while [the defenders] only have stones…Only the “Topiles”-groups of young [people] in charge of public…safety-are better armed and carry slings, petards, and rockets…

    [In] solidarity, most students and teachers have suspended classes and joined groups committed to setting up new barricades…The central square is the headquarters of the People’s Assembly [in which everyone can participate].

    This is not Barcelona in 1936…but Oaxaca, the capital of the State of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, in 2006.

    [Vodovnik went on to explain the cause of the uprising: The Governor ordered the police to disperse a teachers’ strike and occupation of the city center. Many of the teachers and their students were injured by the police raid and a round of sympathy strikes ensued.]

    In response to the police repression…the people of Oaxaca not only liberated the the square…but set the entire city free in a few hours. After three days, the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca [APPO in Spanish]…represented a revolutionary decision-making body [which existed for five months] until the “Federal Preventive Police”…suppressed the Uprising…[the APPO’s] efforts showed…that real, participatory…democracy is not a matter of a specific type of production or consumption but a matter of freedom.

    The APPO was first established as a coordinating body…for the purposes of discussion…However, the need sooon arose for a new political form…The Assembly discovered…solutions…resulting in a new and unique formation of direct democracy leading to Poder Popular (People’s Power)…[the APPO] embraced the radical concepts of consensual decision making, communal labor [i.e. public ownership of industry], and mutual aid.

    Even though the “commune” was crushed bloodily…the movement was far from dead. The Oaxacan movement not only pursued the project of democratization from below, but the popular assemblies in other parts of Mexico took over the APPO model and adjusted it to their needs.”

    That’s anarchism.

    As one famous anarchist, Howard Zinn (who wrote the intro’ for Ziga’s book), once famously said “you can’t be neutral on a moving train.” Which side of those barricades are you on? You either believe that the people of Oaxaca have a right to govern (for lack of a better word) themselves; to organize themselves as they see fit; to craft their own forms of social administration and exchange; and to federate/cooperate with other directly democratic, self-governing communes on a voluntary and equal basis; or you do not. If you do then you are an anarchist, whether you like it or not.

    Incidentally, we had something very much like this in what became the United States. During the revolution, when there was a power vacuum due to the war, very many counties around the 13 colonies erected “liberty trees” in their town centers and public matters were discussed around them. Public policies were debated and decided in democratic fashion. in not a few places slavery was abolished (although not everywhere, unfortunately), private banking was outlawed in favor of publicly owned “land banks”, and limits were put on the private ownership of land (i.e. anyone owning more than a houseplot had to produce something on it, no more rich people owning acre after acre of arable land and not putting it to socially productive use), and other measures which were thought to be of benefit to the community were enacted by the popular assemblies. These democratic jurisdictions were then federated through what were called “Committees of Correspondence” which coordinated interstate commerce and defense.

    Unfortunately this outbreak of anarchist democracy threatened the ruling class. Henry Knox, George Washington’s second in command observed one of these democratic conclaves and was horrified. He wrote a letter to Washington saying that these assemblies of the commoners (as he put it) were a real threat to the established order (by which he meant the rule of capital) and that they had to do something abt it before it was too late. They contrived to create a strong central government which would, as James Madison, author of the Constitution, put it, “protect us from the commoners’ assemblies.” The great lengths they went to to impose this new government and suppress the rebellions that it caused all over the country is described well in Taming Democracy by Terry Bouton and Forced Founders by Woody Holton. These books will teach you what the capitalist school system never would about the real history of America.

    When tragically the Founding Mother Fuckers did succeed in putting an end to democracy in America with their government and that mantrap called the Constitution, they then proceeded to outlaw liberty trees.

    Long Live Anarchism!

    • Thanks, metrobusman. But your anarchy described sounds like a type of government to me. Democratic, distributed government. I think that individual communities would need to defend themselves and that’s why they don’t last. We need a balance with some centralized government, Democratic government, for the purpose of common defense and as a way to ensure that each individual community and each individual is protected from tyranny. Government doesn’t need to be capitalism. Can you possibly understand how what you described and called democratic could be thought of as a type of government? What did those people assemble to do, otherwise? Pray that the next community wouldn’t come kick their asses and steal their chickens, when they were starving the coming winter?

  20. It really sounds like you are against capitalism and too much central power. I like what you described. It sounded a lot like what Sibel described as Communitarianism. I just want you to acknowledge that it’s a type of government. Pretty please, with a cherry on top!

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