Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Anarchism without adjectives - an idea I gone and had.

Here's my idea, with a intro covering what I know about communism. If it's wrong the rest will be wrong!


Here is what I know about communism:

  • A communist society is a stateless, classless, propety-less society. 
  • In a communist society distribution of stuff would not be based on exchange but on mutual aid.
  • Communists believe in consensus decision making, where anyone who will be impacted by a decision gets a say in making it. 
It isn't much but I'm hoping I'm right to say that this is a very basic overview of what it is about.

Anarchism without adjectives

Why could market anarchists benefit from some communism?

Market anarchism is based on non-exploitative, free markets. This works fine when all parties within a deal are happy and consent to it. It doesn't have a very efficient method built in for handling negative externalities though. Say a workers co-op builds a factory and sets off producing goods for sale on a free market. What happens when their business pollutes the river that runs past it? The river that people use as a drinking supply 50 miles down stream? Sue them? Boycott them? hmmm... I'm not very convinced that these are really terribly effective solutions!

It would actually be much more efficient (for everyone) in cases where pollution was likely to be a risk to involve everyone in the decision making process in the beginning. That sounds awfully complicated and burdensome, I hear market anarchists cry! I'm not sure if the people relying on clean drinking water will care if it's a hassle though! It's in everyone's interest to live in a world where they have a say in issues that will really impact them. Only an asshole pollutes a river and then says "sue me". It's not about what we can force people to do, it's not about threatening to destroy the factory unless they get everyone's permission to build it, at the end of the day its about not being assholes. I think the likelihood of avoiding the kind of psychopathic behaviour that we see displayed in capitalist markets would be greatly reduced in a freed market anyway but beyond just economic incentives to be an asshole or the lack of them a post revolution society which operates with markets would benefit from rooting the values of consensus decision making in its culture and taking great offence when it was ignored when it shouldn't have been.

Why could anarcho-communism benefit from some markets?

What market anarchists have traditionally been concerned about is whether people would be truly free to associate/ disassociate with communities in a anarcho-communist society. I think that discussion has been had too many times and anarcho-communists are very clear that people would be entirely free. Instead what I'd be a bit worried about, in an anarcho-communist society, would be potential for a bureaucratic burden of consensus decision (due to blurred lines over who was truly affected by a decision and who just liked sticking their oar in at every opportunity) that could risk sucking up too much of everyone's time and energy.

What if my neighbour has a vegetable garden and is willing to barter some of her produce with some fruit I grew in my garden. There is pretty much zero risk of negative externalities. Do I want everyone who felt hungry in the neighbourhood that day to feel like they get to say in the decision? Obviously I'm displaying why I haven't embraced full communism yet but not really no! I'm an introvert, I don't like having to be around other people all the time and I don't speak up in meetings much. Markets, where used appropriately, could effectively be used to lighten the load of what must be decided upon communally and what people should feel free to decide on individually.

Am I being ridiculous or have I hit on something vaguely interesting?