Anarchist economics

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Anarchist economics is the set of theories and practices of economic activity within the political philosophy of anarchism. Anarchists are anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist, with anarchism usually referred to as a form of libertarian socialism, i.e. a stateless system of socialism. [1] [2] [3] Anarchists support personal property (defined in terms of possession and use, i.e. mutualist usufruct) [4] [5] and oppose capital concentration, interest, monopoly, private ownership of productive property such as the means of production (capital, land and the means of labor), profit, rent, usury and wage slavery which are viewed as inherent to capitalism. [6] [7]

Contents

Anarchism is often considered a radical left-wing or far-left movement [8] [9] and much of its economics as well as legal philosophy reflect anti-authoritarian, anti-statist and libertarian interpretations of left-wing and socialist politics such as communism, collectivism, free-market, individualism, mutualism, participism and syndicalism, among other libertarian socialist economics. [10] The majority of anarchist theorists do not consider anarcho-capitalism as a part of the anarchist movement due to the fact that anarchism has historically been an anti-capitalist movement and seen as incompatible with capitalism. [11] [12] Unlike anarcho-capitalists, the free market individualist anarchists retain the labor theory of value and socialist doctrines. [13]

Anarchists argue that characteristic capitalist institutions promote and reproduce various forms of economic activity which they consider oppressive, including private property (as in productive property rather than personal property), hierarchical production relations, collecting rents from private property, taking a profit in exchanges and/or collecting interest on loans. [1] [3] [14] Anarchists see the ruling class, including capitalists, landlords and all other forms of involuntary, coercive hierarchy, socio-economic rulership and social stratification, as the primary rulers of society, with workers' self-management, democratic education and cooperative housing seen as removing such authority. Unlike right-libertarians, anarchists endorse possession - based ownership rather than propertarianism. [15] [16]

Historical overview

Early views

The early English anarchist William Godwin's views on economics could be summarized as follows: "[H]e envisages the possibility of specialization in the various crafts, which would lead to a man's following the task for which he had the greatest aptitude, and distributing his surplus products to whoever may need them, receiving what he himself needs of other things from the surplus produced by his neighbours, but always on the basis of free distribution, not of exchange. It is evident that, despite his speculations on the future of machinery, Godwin's ideal society is based on the economics of handcrafts and cultivation". [17]

For the influential German individualist anarchist philosopher Max Stirner, "private property is a spook which "lives by the grace of law" and it "becomes 'mine' only by effect of the law". In other words, private property exists purely "through the protection of the State, through the State's grace". Recognising its need for state protection, Stirner is also aware that "[i]t need not make any difference to the 'good citizens' who protects them and their principles, whether an absolute King or a constitutional one, a republic, if only they are protected. And what is their principle, whose protector they always 'love'? Not that of labour", rather it is "interest-bearing possession [...] labouring capital, therefore [...] labour certainly, yet little or none at all of one's own, but labour of capital and of the – subject labourers". [18]

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Portrait of Pierre Joseph Proudhon 1865.jpg
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was involved with the Lyons mutualists and later adopted the name to describe his own teachings. [19] In What Is Mutualism?, Clarence Lee Swartz gives his own account of the origin of the term, claiming that "[t]he word "mutualism" seems to have been first used by John Gray, an English writer, in 1832". [20]

Josiah Warren Josiah Warren.jpg
Josiah Warren

Josiah Warren is widely regarded as the first American anarchist [21] and the four-page weekly paper he edited during 1833, The Peaceful Revolutionist, was the first anarchist periodical published. [22] Warren termed the phrase "Cost the limit of price", with "cost" here referring not to monetary price paid but the labor one exerted to produce an item. [23] Therefore, "[h]e proposed a system to pay people with certificates indicating how many hours of work they did. They could exchange the notes at local time stores for goods that took the same amount of time to produce". [21]

Warren put his theories to the test by establishing an experimental "labor for labor store" called the Cincinnati Time Store where trade was facilitated by notes backed by a promise to perform labor. The store proved successful and operated for three years after which it was closed so that Warren could pursue establishing colonies based on mutualism. These included Utopia and Modern Times. Warren said that Stephen Pearl Andrews' The Science of Society, published in 1852, was the most lucid and complete exposition of Warren's own theories. [24]

In Europe, an early anarcho-communist was Joseph Déjacque, the first person to describe himself as "libertarian". [25] Unlike and against Proudhon, he argued that "it is not the product of his or her labor that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature". [26] [27] [28]

Economics in organized mass social anarchism

Mikhail Bakunin Bakunin Nadar.jpg
Mikhail Bakunin

The anti-authoritarian sections of the First International proclaimed at the St. Imier Congress (1872) that "the aspirations of the proletariat can have no purpose other than the establishment of an absolutely free economic organization and federation, founded upon the labour and equality of all and absolutely independent of all political government" in which each worker will have the "right to the enjoyment of the gross product of his labours and thereby the means of developing his full intellectual, material and moral powers in a collective setting". This revolutionary transformation could "only be the outcome of the spontaneous action of the proletariat itself, its trades bodies and the autonomous communes". [29] Due to its links to active workers' movements, the International became a significant organization. Karl Marx became a leading figure in the International and a member of its General Council. Proudhon's followers, the mutualists, opposed Marx's state socialism, advocating political abstentionism and small property holdings. [30] [31]

In 1868, following their unsuccessful participation in the League of Peace and Freedom (LPF), Russian revolutionary Mikhail Bakunin and his collectivist anarchist associates joined the First International (which had decided not to get involved with the LPF). [32] They allied themselves with the federalist socialist sections of the International, [33] who advocated the revolutionary overthrow of the state and the collectivization of property. A similar position was adopted by the Federation of Workers of the Spanish Region in 1882 as articulated by anarchist veteran of the First International Josep Llunas i Pujals in his essay, "Collectivism". [29] The collectivist anarchists advocated remuneration for the type and amount of labor adhering to the principle "to each according to deeds". [34]

Peter Kropotkin Peter Kropotkin circa 1900.jpg
Peter Kropotkin

By the early 1880s, most of the European anarchist movement had adopted an anarcho-communist position, advocating the abolition of wage labour and distribution according to need. Ironically, the "collectivist" label then became more commonly associated with Marxist state socialists who advocated the retention of some sort of wage system during the transition to full communism. Anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin attacked this position in his essay, "The Collectivist Wages System", which was reprinted in his book The Conquest of Bread in 1892. Cafiero explains in Anarchy and Communism (1880) that private property in the product of labor will lead to unequal accumulation of capital and therefore the reappearance of social classes and their antagonisms; and thus the resurrection of the state: "If we preserve the individual appropriation of the products of labour, we would be forced to preserve money, leaving more or less accumulation of wealth according to more or less merit rather than need of individuals". [26]

Anarchism economics in practice: the Spanish Revolution

In the strong anarchist movement in Spain, the debate between collectivism and anarcho-communism was revived: "This double base, both industrial and rural, had turned the libertarian communism of Spanish anarcho-syndicalism in somewhat divergent directions, the one communalist, the other syndicalist. The communalism was expressed in a more local, more rural spirit, one might almost say: more southern, for one of its principal bastions was in Andalusia. Syndicalism, on the other hand, was more urban and unitarian in spirit – more northerly, too, since its main center was Catalonia". [35]

Spanish anarchist theoreticians were somewhat divided on this subject. A section of them had given their hearts to Peter Kropotkin and his erudite yet simplistic idealization of the communes of the Middle Ages which they identified with the Spanish tradition of the primitive peasant community. Their favorite slogan was the "free commune". Mikhail Bakunin was the founder of the Spanish collectivist, syndicalist and internationalist workers' movement. Those anarchists tended to follow him and his disciple Ricardo Mella. [35] They were concerned with economic unification and believed that a long transitional period would be necessary during which it would be wiser to reward labor according to the hours worked and not according to need. They envisaged the economic structure of the future as a combination of local trade-union groupings and federations of branches of industry. [35]

In 1932, the Spanish anarchist theoretician Isaac Puente published an outline of anarcho-communism and its ideas were taken up by the Saragossa congress of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo in May 1936. [35] The Spanish anarchist economist Diego Abad de Santillan published an influential treatise on economics, El Organismo Economico de la Revolucion (The Economic Organization of the Revolution). [35] He saw the following:

"Our ideal is the commune which is associated, federated, integrated into the total economy of the country, and of other countries in a state of revolution." To replace the single owner by a hydra-headed owner is not collectivism, is not self-management. The land, the factories, the mines, the means of transport are the product of the work of all and must be at the service of all. Nowadays the economy is neither local, nor even national, but world-wide. The characteristic feature of modern life is the cohesion of all the productive and distributive forces. "A socialized economy, directed and planned, is an imperative necessity and corresponds to the trend of development of the modern economic world." [35]

Santillan was to play an important part in the Spanish Revolution. He became a member of the central committee of the anti-fascist militia, a member of the Catalan Economic Council and Economics Minister of the Catalan government. [35] Anarchist historian George Woodcock reports the following:

For several months the armed forces in these regions were mostly anarchist controlled militia units. The factories were largely taken over by the workers and run by C.N.T. committees, while hundreds of villages either shared out or collectivized the land, and many of them attempted to set up libertarian communes of the kind advocated by Kropotkin. The beginnings of collectivization seem to have been similar in villages and factories. The landlords in the villages had fled, the Civil Guards had been killed or chased away, and the village syndicate would transform itself into a popular assembly in which every villager could participate directly in the affairs of the community. An administrative committee would be elected, but this would operate under the constant supervision of the population, meeting at least once a week in full assembly to hasten the achievement of free communism. In the factories the process was similar, with a workers' committee becoming responsible to the general assembly of the syndicate, and technicians (in a few cases the former owners or managers) planning production in accordance with the workers' views. [17]

Theoretical economic systems

In a chronological and theoretical sense, there are classical—those created throughout the 19th century—and post-classical anarchist schools–those created since the mid-20th century and after.

Classical theoretical economic systems

Mutualism

Mutualism is an anarchist school of thought which can be traced to the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who envisioned a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market. [36] Integral to the scheme was the establishment of a mutual-credit bank which would lend to producers at a minimal interest rate only high enough to cover the costs of administration. [37] Mutualism is based on a labor theory of value which holds that when labor or its product is sold, in exchange it ought to receive goods or services embodying "the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility". [38]

Some mutualists believe that if the state did not intervene as a result of increased competition in the marketplace, individuals would receive no more income than that in proportion to the amount of labor they exert. [39] Mutualists oppose the idea of individuals receiving an income through loans, investments and rent as they believe these individuals are not laboring. Some of them argue that if state intervention ceased, these types of incomes would disappear due to increased competition in capital. [40]

Although Proudhon opposed this type of income, he expressed: "[...] I never meant to [...] forbid or suppress, by sovereign decree, ground rent and interest on capital. I believe that all these forms of human activity should remain free and optional for all". [41] Insofar as they ensure the workers right to the full product of their labor, mutualists support markets and private property in the product of labor. However, they argue for conditional titles to land, whose private ownership is legitimate only so long as it remains in use or occupation (which Proudhon called "possession"). [42]

Proudhon's mutualism supports labor-owned cooperative firms and associations [43] for "we need not hesitate, for we have no choice [...] it is necessary to form an ASSOCIATION among workers [...] because without that, they would remain related as subordinates and superiors, and there would ensue two [...] castes of masters and wage-workers, which is repugnant to a free and democratic society" and so "it becomes necessary for the workers to form themselves into democratic societies, with equal conditions for all members, on pain of a relapse into feudalism". [44]

Evolution
What Is Property?, influential anarchist work by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Proudhonpropietat.JPG
What Is Property? , influential anarchist work by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

As a term, "mutualism" has seen a variety of related uses. Charles Fourier first used the French term mutualisme in 1822, [45] although the reference was not to an economic system. The first use of the noun "mutualist" was in the New-Harmony Gazette by an American Owenite in 1826. [46] In the early 1830s, a labor organization in Lyons, France called themselves the Mutuellists. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was involved with the Lyons mutualists and later adopted the name to describe his own teachings. [19]

In What Is Mutualism?, Clarence Lee Swartz gives his own account of the origin of the term, claiming that "[t]he word "mutualism" seems to have been first used by John Gray, an English writer, in 1832". [20]

By 1846, Proudhon was speaking of mutualité in his writings and used the term mutuellisme at least as early as 1848 in his "Programme Révolutionnaire". In 1850, William Batchelder Greene used the term "mutualism" to describe a mutual credit system similar to that of Proudhon. Also in 1850, the American newspaper The Spirit of the Age, edited by William Henry Channing, published proposals for a "mutualist township" by Joshua King Ingalls [47] and Albert Brisbane, [48] together with works by Proudhon, [49] Greene, Pierre Leroux and others.

For American anarchist historian Eunice Minette Schuster, "[i]t is apparent...that Proudhonian Anarchism was to be found in the United States at least as early as 1848 and that it was not conscious of its affinity to the Individualist Anarchism of Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews...William B. Greene presented this Proudhonian Mutualism in its purest and most systematic form". [50]

Mutualists argue that free banking should be taken back by the people to establish systems of free credit. They contend that banks have a monopoly on credit, just as capitalists have a monopoly on land. Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist and author of Studies in Mutualist Political Economy . [51] Carson holds that capitalism has been founded on "an act of robbery as massive as feudalism" and argues that capitalism could not exist in the absence of a state. He says that "[i]t is state intervention that distinguishes capitalism from the free market". [52] As Robert Graham notes, "Proudhon's market socialism is indissolubly linked to his notions of industry democracy and workers' self-management". [53] K. Steven Vincent notes in his in-depth analysis of this aspect of Proudhon's ideas that "Proudhon consistently advanced a program of industrial democracy which would return control and direction of the economy to the workers". For Proudhon, "strong workers' associations [...] would enable the workers to determine jointly by election how the enterprise was to be directed and operated on a day-to-day basis". [54]

Collectivist anarchism

Collectivist anarchism is a revolutionary [55] doctrine that advocates the abolition of both the state and private ownership of the means of production. Instead, it envisions the means of production being owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers themselves. For the collectivization of the means of production, it was originally envisaged that workers will revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production. [55] Once collectivization takes place, workers' salaries would be determined in democratic organizations based on the amount of time they contributed to production. These salaries would be used to purchase goods in a communal market. [56]

This contrasts with anarcho-communism, where wages would be abolished and where individuals would take freely from a storehouse of goods "to each according to his need". Notwithstanding the title, Mikhail Bakunin's collectivist anarchism is thus seen as a blend of individualism and collectivism. [57]

Criticism of Marxism and relationship with other anarchist classical currents
Mikhail Bakunin with fellow members of the International Workingmen's Association in Basel Basel 1869.png
Mikhail Bakunin with fellow members of the International Workingmen's Association in Basel

The collectivist anarchists at first used the term "collectivism" to distinguish themselves from the mutualism of the followers of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the state socialists associated with Karl Marx. Mikhail Bakunin wrote that "we shall always protest against anything that may in any way resemble communism or state socialism", which Bakunin regarded as fundamentally authoritarian ("Federalism, Socialism, and Anti-Theologism", 1867). [58]

The dispute between Bakunin and Marx highlighted the differences between anarchism and Marxism. Bakunin argued—against certain ideas of a number of Marxists—that not all revolutions need be violent. He also strongly rejected Marx's concept of the "dictatorship of the proletariat", a concept that vanguardist socialism including Marxism–Leninism would use to justify one-party rule from above by a party claiming to represent the proletariat. [59] Bakunin insisted that revolutions must be led by the people directly while any "enlightened elite" must only exert influence by remaining "invisible...not imposed on anyone...[and] deprived of all official rights and significance". [60] He held that the state should be immediately abolished because all forms of government eventually lead to oppression. [59] Bakunin has sometimes been called the first theorist of the "new class", meaning that a class of intellectuals and bureaucrats running the state in the name of the people or the proletariat—but in reality in their own interests alone. Bakunin argued that the "[s]tate has always been the patrimony of some privileged class: a priestly class, an aristocratic class, a bourgeois class. And finally, when all the other classes have exhausted themselves, the State then becomes the patrimony of the bureaucratic class and then falls – or, if you will, rises – to the position of a machine". [61] Bakunin also had a different view as compared to Marx's on the revolutionary potential of the lumpenproletariat and the proletariat. As such, "[b]oth agreed that the proletariat would play a key role, but for Marx the proletariat was the exclusive, leading revolutionary agent while Bakunin entertained the possibility that the peasants and even the lumpenproletariat (the unemployed, common criminals, etc.) could rise to the occasion". [62] Bakunin "considers workers' integration in capital as destructive of more primary revolutionary forces. For Bakunin, the revolutionary archetype is found in a peasant milieu (which is presented as having longstanding insurrectionary traditions, as well as a communist archetype in its current social form – the peasant commune) and amongst educated unemployed youth, assorted marginals from all classes, brigands, robbers, the impoverished masses, and those on the margins of society who have escaped, been excluded from, or not yet subsumed in the discipline of emerging industrial work...in short, all those whom Marx sought to include in the category of the lumpenproletariat". [63]

The anti-authoritarian sections of the First International proclaimed at the St. Imier Congress (1872) that "the aspirations of the proletariat can have no purpose other than the establishment of an absolutely free economic organization and federation, founded upon the labour and equality of all and absolutely independent of all political government" in which each worker will have the "right to the enjoyment of the gross product of his labours and thereby the means of developing his full intellectual, material and moral powers in a collective setting". This revolutionary transformation could "only be the outcome of the spontaneous action of the proletariat itself, its trades bodies and the autonomous communes". [29] A similar position was adopted by the Workers' Federation of the Spanish Region in 1882 as articulated by anarchist veteran of the First International Jose Llunas Pujols in his essay, "Collectivism". [29]

The difference between collectivist anarchism and anarcho-communism is that collectivist anarchism stresses collective ownership of productive, subsistence and distributary property while anarcho-communism negates the concept of ownership in favor of usage or possession with productive means being a possession not owned by any individual or particular group. [15] [64] Anarcho-communists believe that subsistence, productive and distributive property should be common or social possessions while personal property should be private possessions. [16] Collectivist anarchists agree with this, but they disagree on the subject of remuneration—some collectivist anarchists, such as Mikhail Bakunin, believe in the remuneration of labor while anarcho-communists such as Peter Kropotkin believe that such remuneration would lead to the recreation of currency and that this would need a state. [65]

The Anarchist FAQ compares and contrasts collectivist anarchism with communist anarchism this way:

The major difference between collectivists and communists is over the question of "money" after a revolution. Anarcho-communists consider the abolition of money to be essential, while anarcho-collectivists consider the end of private ownership of the means of production to be the key. As Kropotkin noted, "[collectivist anarchism] express[es] a state of things in which all necessaries for production are owned in common by the labour groups and the free communes, while the ways of retribution [i.e. distribution] of labour, communist or otherwise, would be settled by each group for itself." [66] Thus, while communism and collectivism both organise production in common via producers' associations, they differ in how the goods produced will be distributed. Communism is based on free consumption of all while collectivism is more likely to be based on the distribution of goods according to the labour contributed. However, most anarcho-collectivists think that, over time, as productivity increases and the sense of community becomes stronger, money will disappear. [67]

Anarcho-communism

Anarcho-communism, also known as anarchist communism and occasionally as free communism or libertarian communism, [68] is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, markets, money, capitalism and private property (while retaining respect for personal property) [69] and in favor of common ownership of the means of production, [70] [71] direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". [72] [73] Some forms of anarcho-communism such as insurrectionary anarchism are strongly influenced by egoism and radical individualism, believing anarcho-communism is the best social system for the realization of individual freedom. [74] [75] [76] [77] [ excessive citations ] Most anarcho-communists view anarcho-communism as a way of reconciling the opposition between the individual and society. [78] [79] [80] [81] [82] [ excessive citations ]

The abolition of wage labor is central to anarchist communism. With distribution of wealth being based on self-determined needs, people would be free to engage in whatever activities they found most fulfilling and would no longer have to engage in work for which they have neither the temperament nor the aptitude. [82] Anarcho-communists argue that there is no valid way of measuring the value of any one person's economic contributions because all wealth is a collective product of current and preceding generations. [83]

Evolution and role in early 20th century revolutions
The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin, an influential work which presents the economic vision of anarcho-communism La conquete du pain.jpg
The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin, an influential work which presents the economic vision of anarcho-communism

Anarcho-communism developed out of radical socialist currents after the French Revolution, [26] [84] but it was first formulated as such in the Italian section of the First International. [85] An early anarcho-communist was Joseph Déjacque, the first person to describe himself as "libertarian". [25] Unlike Proudhon, he argued that "it is not the product of his or her labor that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature". [26] [27]

Anarcho-communism as a coherent, modern economic-political philosophy was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International by Carlo Cafiero, Emilio Covelli, Errico Malatesta, Andrea Costa and other ex Mazzinian republicans. [85] Out of respect for Mikhail Bakunin, they did not make their differences with collectivist anarchism explicit until after Bakunin's death. [86] The collectivist anarchists sought to collectivize ownership of the means of production while retaining payment proportional to the amount and kind of labor of each individual, but the anarcho-communists sought to extend the concept of collective ownership to the products of labor as well.

While both groups argued against capitalism, the anarchist communists departed from Proudhon and Bakunin, who maintained that individuals have a right to the product of their individual labor and to be remunerated for their particular contribution to production. As Malatesta put it, "instead of running the risk of making a confusion in trying to distinguish what you and I each do, let us all work and put everything in common. In this way each will give to society all that his strength permits until enough is produced for every one; and each will take all that he needs, limiting his needs only in those things of which there is not yet plenty for every one". [87] The theoretical work of Peter Kropotkin took importance later as it expanded and developed pro-organizationalist and insurrectionary anti-organizationalist sections. [88]

During the Russian Revolution, anarchists such as Nestor Makhno worked to create and defend anarcho-communism in Ukraine from 1919 before being conquered by the Bolsheviks in 1921. A commander of the peasant Revolutionary Insurgent Army of Ukraine, Makhno led a guerrilla campaign opposing both the Bolshevik "Reds" and monarchist "Whites". The revolutionary autonomous movement of which he was a part made various tactical military pacts while fighting various forces of reaction and organizing the Makhnovshchina, an anarchist society committed to resisting state authority, whether capitalist or Bolshevik. [89] [90]

After successfully repelling Austro-Hungarian, White and Ukrainian nationalist forces, the Makhnovist militia forces and anarcho-communist territories in Ukraine were eventually crushed by Bolshevik military forces. In the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican Liberal Party was established and during the early 1910s led a series of military offensives leading to the conquest and occupation of certain towns and districts in Baja California with the leadership of anarcho-communist Ricardo Flores Magón. [91] Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread , which Flores Magón considered a kind of anarchist bible, served as basis for the short-lived revolutionary communes in Baja California during the Magónista Revolt of 1911. [91]

To date, the best-known examples of an anarcho-communist society (i.e. established around the ideas as they exist today and achieving worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon), are the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution [92] and the Makhnovshchina during the Russian Revolution. Through the efforts and influence of the Spanish anarchists during the Spanish Revolution within the Spanish Civil War starting in 1936, anarcho-communism existed in most of Aragon, parts of the Levante and Andalusia as well as in the stronghold of anarchist Catalonia before being crushed by the combined forces of the regime that won the war, Hitler, Mussolini, Spanish Communist Party repression (backed by the Soviet Union) as well as economic and armaments blockades from the capitalist countries and the Spanish Republic itself. [93]

Post-classical theoretical economic systems

Participatory economics

Michael Albert, contemporary anarchist economist proponent of the parecon system NLN Michael Albert.jpg
Michael Albert, contemporary anarchist economist proponent of the parecon system

Participatory economics, often abbreviated parecon, is an economic system proposed by activist and political theorist Michael Albert and radical economist Robin Hahnel. For Albert, "participatory economics and participatory society provide a worthy, viable, and even necessary and potentially sufficient anarchist revolutionary vision". [94] It uses participatory decision making as an economic mechanism to guide the production, consumption and allocation of resources in a given society. Proposed as an alternative to contemporary capitalist market economies and also an alternative to centrally planned socialism, it is described as "an anarchistic economic vision". [95]

Free-market anarchism

Free-market anarchism, based on the economic theories of mutualism and individualist anarchism, is a revival of such free-market anarchist theories. It encompasses diverse economic theories like those proposed by individualist anarchists and libertarian socialists such as the Europeans Émile Armand, Thomas Hodgskin, Miguel Giménez Igualada and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, or the Americans Stephen Pearl Andrews, William Batchelder Greene, Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker and Josiah Warren, among others; [96] [97] [98] [99] [ excessive citations ] and various anti-capitalists, left-libertarians and left-wing market anarchists such as Kevin Carson, [100] [101] [102] Gary Chartier, [103] [104] Samuel Edward Konkin III, [105] [106] and Chris Matthew Sciabarra. [107]

Anarcho-capitalism advocates the elimination of the public sector in favor of a laissez-faire economic system [108] [109] and is associated with individuals such as David D. Friedman [110] and Murray Rothbard. [111] In an anarcho-capitalist society, law enforcement, courts and all other security services would be funded through the marketplace rather than through confiscatory taxation and money would be privately and competitively provided in an open market. Anarcho-capitalism developed from Austrian School economics, study of law and economics and public choice theory. [112] Since employers are generally categorised as rulers in political sociology and always in anarchist theory, anarchists do not associate anarcho-capitalism with anarchist thought. The belief in the need of a police force, a kind of centralised law enforcement, to prevent crime, whether privatised or not, has been criticised by anarchists as constituting a state since police are a group with a monopoly on force. The majority of anarchist theorists do not consider anarcho-capitalism as a part of the anarchist movement due to the fact that anarchism has historically been an anti-capitalist movement and see it incompatible with capitalism. [2] [11] [113] [12] [ excessive citations ] While inspired by individualist anarchists such as Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker, both espoused mutualism and criticised wage labour. [114] [115] Rothbard argued that individualist anarchism is different from anarcho-capitalism and capitalism because the individualist anarchists retained the labor theory of value and socialist doctrines. [116] [117]

The Really Really Free Market movement is a horizontally organized collective of individuals who form a temporary market based on an alternative gift economy. The movement aims to counteract capitalism in a proactive way by creating a positive example to challenge the myths of scarcity and competition. The name itself is a play on words as it is a reinterpretation and re-envisioning of free market, a term which generally refers to an economy of consumerism governed by supply and demand. [118]

Issues and proposals

Anarchist criticism of capitalism

Emma Goldman famously denounced wage slavery by saying: "The only difference is that you are hired slaves instead of block slaves" Portrait Emma Goldman.jpg
Emma Goldman famously denounced wage slavery by saying: "The only difference is that you are hired slaves instead of block slaves"

The authors of An Anarchist FAQ state that anarchists have long recognised that capitalism is by its very nature hierarchical. [1] The worker is subjected to the authority of the boss during working hours (sometimes outside work too). They state: "This hierarchical control of wage labour has the effect of alienating workers from their own work, and so from themselves. Workers no longer govern themselves during work hours and so are no longer free". [1] So this is why capitalism, "by treating labour as analogous to all other commodities denies the key distinction between labour and other "resources"—that is to say its inseparability from its bearer—labour, unlike other "property", is endowed with will and agency. Thus when one speaks of selling labour there is a necessary subjugation of will (hierarchy)... Creative, self-managed work is a source of pride and joy and part of what it means to be fully human. Wrenching control of work from the hands of the worker profoundly harms his or her mental and physical health". [120] They also establish the following:

[...] capitalism itself was created by state violence and the destruction of traditional ways of life and social interaction was part of that task. From the start, bosses spent considerable time and energy combating attempts of working people to join together to resist the hierarchy they were subjected to and reassert human values. Such forms of free association between equals (such as trade unions) were combated, just as attempts to regulate the worse excesses of the system by democratic governments. Indeed, capitalists prefer centralised, elitist and/or authoritarian regimes precisely because they are sure to be outside of popular control (see section B.2.5). They are the only way that contractual relations based on market power could be enforced on an unwilling population. Capitalism was born under such states and as well as backing fascist movements, they made high profits in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Today many corporations "regularly do business with totalitarian and authoritarian regimes – again, because it is profitable to do so." Indeed, there is a "trend by US corporations to invest in" such countries... Perhaps unsurprisingly, as such regimes are best able to enforce the necessary conditions to commodify labour fully. [1]

For the influential German individualist anarchist philosopher Max Stirner, "private property is a spook which "lives by the grace of law" and it "becomes 'mine' only by effect of the law". In other words, private property exists purely "through the protection of the State, through the State's grace". Recognising its need for state protection, Stirner is also aware that "[i]t need not make any difference to the 'good citizens' who protects them and their principles, whether an absolute King or a constitutional one, a republic, if only they are protected. And what is their principle, whose protector they always 'love'? Not that of labour", rather it is "interest-bearing possession [...] labouring capital, therefore [...] labour certainly, yet little or none at all of one's own, but labour of capital and of the – subject labourers". [18] French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon opposed government privilege that protects capitalist, banking and land interests as well as the accumulation or acquisition of property (and any form of coercion that led to it) which he believed hampers competition and keeps wealth in the hands of the few. The Spanish individualist anarchist Miguel Giménez Igualada sees "capitalism is an effect of government; the disappearance of government means capitalism falls from its pedestal vertiginously...That which we call capitalism is not something else but a product of the State, within which the only thing that is being pushed forward is profit, good or badly acquired. And so to fight against capitalism is a pointless task, since be it State capitalism or Enterprise capitalism, as long as Government exists, exploiting capital will exist. The fight, but of consciousness, is against the State". [14]

Within anarchism there emerged a critique of wage slavery which refers to a situation perceived as quasi-voluntary slavery, [3] where a person's livelihood depends on wages, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. [121] [122] It is a negatively connoted term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor by focusing on similarities between owning and renting a person. The term "wage slavery" has been used to criticize economic exploitation and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops), [123] and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy. [124] [125] [126] Libertarian socialists believe that if freedom is valued, then society must work towards a system in which individuals have the power to decide economic issues along with political issues. Libertarian socialists seek to replace unjustified authority with direct democracy, voluntary federation and popular autonomy in all aspects of life, [127] including physical communities and economic enterprises. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labor and slavery in the context of a critique of societal property not intended for active personal use, [128] [129] Luddites emphasized the dehumanization brought about by machines while later Emma Goldman famously denounced wage slavery by saying: "The only difference is that you are hired slaves instead of block slaves". [130] Goldman believed that the economic system of capitalism was incompatible with human liberty. "The only demand that property recognizes", she wrote in Anarchism and Other Essays, "is its own gluttonous appetite for greater wealth, because wealth means power; the power to subdue, to crush, to exploit, the power to enslave, to outrage, to degrade". [131] She also argued that capitalism dehumanized workers, "turning the producer into a mere particle of a machine, with less will and decision than his master of steel and iron". [131]

Noam Chomsky contends that there is little moral difference between chattel slavery and renting one's self to an owner or "wage slavery". He feels that it is an attack on personal integrity that undermines individual freedom. He holds that workers should own and control their workplace. [132] Many libertarian socialists argue that large-scale voluntary associations should manage industrial manufacture while workers retain rights to the individual products of their labor. [133] As such, they see a distinction between the concepts of "private property" and "personal possession". Whereas "private property" grants an individual exclusive control over a thing whether it is in use or not and regardless of its productive capacity, "possession" grants no rights to things that are not in use. [134]

In addition to anarchist Benjamin Tucker's "big four" monopolies (land, money, tariffs and patents) that have emerged under capitalism, neo-mutualist economist Kevin Carson argues that the state has also transferred wealth to the wealthy by subsidizing organizational centralization in the form of transportation and communication subsidies. He believes that Tucker overlooked this issue due to Tucker's focus on individual market transactions whereas Carson also focuses on organizational issues. The theoretical sections of Studies in Mutualist Political Economy are presented as an attempt to integrate marginalist critiques into the labor theory of value. [135] Carson holds that "arising as a new class society directly from the old class society of the Middle Ages, [capitalism] was founded on an act of robbery as massive as the earlier feudal conquest of the land. It has been sustained to the present by continual state intervention to protect its system of privilege without which its survival is unimaginable". [136] Carson coined the pejorative term "vulgar libertarianism", a phrase that describes the use of a free market rhetoric in defense of corporate capitalism and economic inequality (see economic liberalism and right-libertarianism). According to Carson, the term is derived from the phrase "vulgar political economy", which Karl Marx described as an economic order that "deliberately becomes increasingly apologetic and makes strenuous attempts to talk out of existence the ideas which contain the contradictions [existing in economic life]". [137]

Economics as anarchist strategy

Economic secession has been variously defined by sources. In its narrowest sense, it is abstention from the state's economic system—for instance by replacing the use of government money with barter, local exchange trading systems, or commodity money (such as gold). As such, "anarchists can often be found advocating for mass refusal and the withdrawal of our participation-sometimes in the form of general strikes; sometimes as in the case of the illegalists, in the forms of direct expropriations – with the support and participation of social movements or not; sometimes in the forms of occupations and the taking of space; and still other times in advocating for creating alternatives to capitalist relations in the here and now; and so on". [138]

Some anarchists believe that it is not radical political activity that will transform society, but radical economic activity that will make true change. [139] They regard boycotts, consumer advocacy and class action lawsuits to be merely liberal actions that do not address the core problem which is capitalism itself. Italian anarcho-communist Errico Malatesta argued that "each victory, however small, gained by the workers against their exploiters, each decrease of profit, every bit of wealth taken from the individual owners and put at the disposal of all, shall be a progress – a forward step towards Anarchism". [140]

Participatory economics addresses the division of labor question by advocating balanced job complexes wherein all workers at a production facility share in all aspects of labor, i.e. everyone takes part in labor, management, maintenance and all related work to ensure equality and that skills are shared amongst workers. Some anarchists contend that changing personal consumption habits to minimize (or eliminate) involvement in the prevailing capitalist economy is essential to practicing anarchism in their lives. Withdrawing from the system by living on scavenged, stolen, or scammed resources is often touted by individuals and groups influenced by the Situationists such as CrimethInc. as a viable means of survival and non-participation in the system. [141]

Anarchist value theory

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's mutualism [142] and American individualist anarchists such as Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker [143] adopted the liberal labor theory of value of classical economics, but they used it to criticize capitalism—instead favoring a non-capitalist market system. [144]

Egoist anarchist Max Stirner did not adhere to anything close to the labor theory of value and affirmed that the only real base for possession is might over it. [145]

Collectivist anarchism, as defended by Mikhail Bakunin, defended a form of the labour theory of value when it advocated a system where "all necessaries for production are owned in common by the labour groups and the free communes...based on the distribution of goods according to the labour contributed". [146]

Anarcho-communism, as defended by Peter Kropotkin and Errico Malatesta, rejected the labor theory of value and exchange value itself, advocated a gift economy and to base distribution on need. [147]

Ethics of pricing

Sample labor for labor note for the Cincinnati Time Store, scanned from Equitable Commerce (1846) by Josiah Warren LaborNote.JPG
Sample labor for labor note for the Cincinnati Time Store, scanned from Equitable Commerce (1846) by Josiah Warren

Josiah Warren termed the phrase "Cost the limit of price", with "cost" here referring not to monetary price paid but the labor one exerted to produce an item. [23] This understanding of cost is congruent with that of the classical economist Adam Smith who said: "The real price of every thing, what every thing really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it". However, Warren reached different conclusions as he believed that goods and services should trade according to how much labor was exerted to produce them and bring them to market, instead of according to how individuals believed them to be subjectively worth. Therefore, "[h]e proposed a system to pay people with certificates indicating how many hours of work they did. They could exchange the notes at local time stores for goods that took the same amount of time to produce". [21] To charge more labor for something that entailed less labor was "cannibalism", according to him. [148] Moreover, he believed that trading according to "cost the limit of price" would promote increasing efficiency in an economy, as he explains in Equitable Commerce:

If cost is made the limit of price, every one becomes interested in reducing COST, by bringing in all the economies, all the facilities to their aid. But, on the contrary, if cost does not govern the price, but every thing is priced at what it will bring, there are no such co-operating interests. If I am to have my supply of flour at cost, then, any facility I can afford to the wheat grower, reduces the cost to me, and it does the same for all who have any portion of the wheat, I am promoting all their interests while pursuing my own...Now if the wheat were NOT TO BE SOLD TO us AT COST, but at "whatever it would bring" according to our necessities, then none of us would have any interest in affording facilities, repairing breaches, nor in any other way co-operating with the producer of it. The same motive would act in the production, preservation, and use of every thing." [149]

Workers issues and anarcho-syndicalism

Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement. [150]

Anarcho-syndicalists seek to abolish the wage system, regarding it as "wage slavery" and state or private ownership of the means of production, which they believe lead to class divisions. Not all seek to abolish money per se. Ralph Chaplin states that "the ultimate aim of the General Strike as regards wages is to give to each producer the full product of his labor. The demand for better wages becomes revolutionary only when it is coupled with the demand that the exploitation of labor must cease". [151]

Additionally, anarcho-syndicalists regard the state as a profoundly anti-worker institution. They view the primary purpose of the state as being the defence of private property and therefore of economic, social and political privilege, even when such defence denies its citizens the ability to enjoy material independence and the social autonomy which springs from it. [152] In contrast to other bodies of thought (Marxism–Leninism being a prime example), anarcho-syndicalists deny that there can be any kind of workers' state, or a state which acts in the interests of workers, as opposed to those of the rich and powerful. Reflecting the anarchist philosophy from which it draws its primary inspiration, anarcho-syndicalism holds to the idea that power corrupts. [153]

Although anarcho-syndicalism originated close to the beginning of the twentieth century, it remains a popular and active school of anarchism today and has many supporters as well as many currently active organizations. Anarcho-syndicalist trade unionists, being social anarchists, vary in their points of view on anarchist economic arrangements from a collectivist anarchism type economic system to an anarcho-communist economic system. [154]

Concept of wage slavery

Wage slavery refers to a situation perceived as quasi-voluntary slavery, [3] where a person's livelihood depends on wages, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. [121] [155] It is a negatively connoted term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor by focusing on similarities between owning and renting a person. The term "wage slavery" has been used to criticize economic exploitation and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops) [156] and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy. [124] [125] [126] The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical society to perform otherwise unfulfilling work that deprives humans of their "species character" [157] not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social stigma and status diminution. [158] [159] [160]

The exchange of money and debt for work traces back to the disintegration of the "playful" [161] work in hunter-gatherer gift economies and the establishment of prostitution as a "fundamental feature of human civilization". [162] Similarities between wage labor and slavery were noted in ancient Rome by Cicero [163] while the pervasive practice of voluntary slavery in Medieval Russia indicates the previous historical coexistence of slavery and voluntary choice. [164] Before the American Civil War, Southern defenders of African American slavery invoked the concept of wage slavery to favorably compare the condition of their slaves to workers in the North. [165] [166] With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labor and slavery in the context of a critique of societal property not intended for active personal use [128] [129] while Luddites emphasized the dehumanization brought about by machines. Emma Goldman famously denounced wage slavery by saying: "The only difference is that you are hired slaves instead of block slaves". [119]

The introduction of wage labor in 18th-century Britain was met with resistance—giving rise to the principles of syndicalism. [167] [168] [169] [170] [ excessive citations ] Historically, some labor organizations and individual social activists have espoused workers' self-management or worker cooperatives as possible alternatives to wage labor. [125] [169]

Collectivizations and workers control

For Proudhon, mutualism involved creating "industrial democracy", a system where workplaces would be "handed over to democratically organised workers' associations [...] We want these associations to be models for agriculture, industry and trade, the pioneering core of that vast federation of companies and societies woven into the common cloth of the democratic social Republic". [171] He urged "workers to form themselves into democratic societies, with equal conditions for all members, on pain of a relapse into feudalism". This would result in "[c]apitalistic and proprietary exploitation, stopped everywhere, the wage system abolished, equal and just exchange guaranteed". [172]

Workers' control can be contrasted to control of the economy via the state such as nationalisation and central planning (see state socialism) and private control of the means of production as found in capitalism. A worker cooperative is a cooperative owned and democratically managed by its worker-owners. This control may be exercised in a number of ways. A cooperative enterprise may mean a firm where every worker-owner participates in decision making in a democratic fashion, or it may refer to one in which managers and administration is elected by every worker-owner and finally it can refer to a situation in which managers are considered and treated as, workers of the firm. [173]

In traditional forms of worker cooperative, all shares are held by the workforce with no outside or consumer owners and each member has one voting share. In practice, control by worker owners may be exercised through individual, collective or majority ownership by the workforce, or the retention of individual, collective or majority voting rights (exercised on a one-member one-vote basis). [173] A worker cooperative therefore has the characteristic that the majority of its workforce own shares, and the majority of shares are owned by the workforce. [174]

Nevertheless, anarcho-communism has been critical of workers ownership of large means of production for the following reasons: "Whereas the syndicalist alternative re-privatizes the economy into "self-managed" collectives and opens the way to their degeneration into traditional forms of private property – whether "collectively" owned or not – libertarian municipalism politicizes the economy and dissolves it into the civic domain. Neither factory or land appear as separate interests within the communal collective. Nor can workers, farmers, technicians, engineers, professionals, and the like perpetuate their vocational identities as separate interests that exist apart from the citizen body in face-to-face assemblies. "Property" is integrated into the commune as a material constituent of its libertarian institutional framework, indeed as a part of a larger whole that is controlled by the citizen body in assembly as citizens – not as vocationally oriented interest groups". [175]

Forms of exchange

Anarchist economist Kevin Carson manifests that "[l]ocal currencies, barter networks and mutual credit‐clearing systems are a solution to a basic problem: a world in which there is a lot of work to be done, but there is simply no money around to bring the people and the work together". [176]

Labor notes and local exchange trading systems

Labour notes are an alternative currency based on exchange of hours of labor. Josiah Warren is widely regarded as the first American anarchist. [21] Josiah Warren termed the phrase "Cost the limit of price", with "cost" here referring not to monetary price paid but the labor one exerted to produce an item. [23] Therefore, "[h]e proposed a system to pay people with labour notes indicating how many hours of work they did. They could exchange the notes at local time stores for goods that took the same amount of time to produce". [21]

Credit and banking

William Batchelder Greene, American individualist anarchist activist and theorist for free banking Wbg-masonicportrait.png
William Batchelder Greene, American individualist anarchist activist and theorist for free banking

In a session of the French legislature, Proudhon proposed a government-imposed income tax to fund his mutual banking scheme, with some tax brackets reaching as high as 3313 percent and 50 percent, which was turned down by the legislature. [177] This income tax Proudhon proposed to fund his bank was to be levied on rents, interest, debts and salaries. [178] [179] Specifically, Proudhon's proposed law would have required all capitalists and stockholders to disburse one sixth of their income to their tenants and debtors and another sixth to the national treasury to fund the bank. [180] This scheme was vehemently objected to by others in the legislature, including Frédéric Bastiat; [180] the reason given for the income tax's rejection was that it would result in economic ruin and that it violated "the right of property". [181] In his debates with Bastiat, Proudhon did once propose funding a national bank with a voluntary tax of 1%. [182] Proudhon also argued for the abolition of all taxes. [183]

During the episode known as the Spanish Revolution, contemporary anarchist theorist Peter Gelderloos reports the following:

[...] For better or worse, the Spanish revolutionaries also experimented with Peasant Banks, Labor Banks, and Councils of Credit and Exchange. The Levant Federation of Peasant Collectives started a bank organized by the Bank Workers Union to help farmers draw from a broad pool of social resources needed for certain infrastructure- or resource-intensive types of farming. The Central Labor Bank of Barcelona moved credit from more prosperous collectives to socially useful collectives in need. Cash transactions were kept to a minimum, and credit was transferred as credit. The Labor Bank also arranged foreign exchange, and importation and purchase of raw materials. Where possible, payment was made in commodities, not in cash. The bank was not a for-profit enterprise; it charged only 1% interest to defray expenses. Diego Abad de Santillan, the anarchist economist, said in 1936: "Credit will be a social function and not a private speculation or usury... Credit will be based on the economic possibilities of society and not on interests or profit... The Council of Credit and Exchange will be like a thermometer of the products and needs of the country."[52] In this experiment, money functioned as a symbol of social support and not as a symbol of ownership – it signified resources being transferred between unions of producers rather than investments by speculators. Within a complex industrial economy such banks make exchange and production more efficient, though they also present the risk of centralization or the reemergence of capital as a social force. Furthermore, efficient production and exchange as a value should be viewed with suspicion, at the least, by people interested in liberation. There are a number of methods that could prevent institutions such as labor banks from facilitating the return of capitalism, though unfortunately the onslaught of totalitarianism from both the fascists and Communists deprived Spanish anarchists of the chance to develop them. These might include rotating and mixing tasks to prevent the emergence of a new managing class, developing fragmented structures that cannot be controlled at a central or national level, promoting as much decentralization and simplicity as possible, and maintaining a firm tradition that common resources and instruments of social wealth are never for sale.

Peter Gelderloos, Anarchy Works [184]

Gift economy

Watercolor by James G. Swan depicting the Klallam people of chief Chetzemoka at Port Townsend, with one of Chetzemoka's wives distributing potlatch Klallam people at Port Townsend.jpg
Watercolor by James G. Swan depicting the Klallam people of chief Chetzemoka at Port Townsend, with one of Chetzemoka's wives distributing potlatch

In anthropology and the social sciences, a gift economy (or gift culture) is a mode of exchange where valuable goods and services are regularly given without any explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards (i.e. no formal quid pro quo exists). [185] Ideally, voluntary and recurring gift exchange circulates and redistributes wealth throughout a community and serves to build societal ties and obligations. [186] In contrast to a barter economy or a market economy, social norms and custom governs gift exchange, rather than an explicit exchange of goods or services for money or some other commodity. [187]

Traditional societies dominated by gift exchange were small in scale and geographically remote from each other. As states formed to regulate trade and commerce within their boundaries, market exchange came to dominate. Nonetheless, the practice of gift exchange continues to play an important role in modern society. [188] One prominent example is scientific research, which can be described as a gift economy. [189]

Contrary to popular conception, there is no evidence that societies relied primarily on barter before using money for trade. [190] Instead, non-monetary societies operated largely along the principles of gift economics and in more complex economies on debt. [191] [192] When barter did in fact occur, it was usually between either complete strangers or would-be enemies. [193]

Free shops

Inside Utrecht Giveaway shop, where the banner reads: "The earth has enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed" Give away shop utrecht inside.jpg
Inside Utrecht Giveaway shop, where the banner reads: "The earth has enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed"

The anarchist 1960s countercultural group The Diggers [194] opened free stores which simply gave away their stock, provided free food, distributed free drugs, gave away money, organized free music concerts, and performed works of political art. [195] The Diggers took their name from the original English Diggers led by Gerrard Winstanley [196] and sought to create a mini-society free of money and capitalism. [197]

Peer-to-peer

The concept has inspired new structures and philosophies in many areas of human interaction. P2P human dynamic affords a critical look at current authoritarian and centralized social structures. Peer-to-peer is also a political and social program for those who believe that in many cases, peer-to-peer modes are a preferable option. Anarchist scholar Uri Gordon has said that "the collaborative development of free software like the Linux operating system and applications such as OpenOffice clearly approximate an informational anarchist communism. Moreover, for anarchists it is precisely the logic of expropriation and electronic piracy that enables a radical political extension of the cultural ideals of the free manipulation, circulation and use of information associated with the "hacker ethic" (Himanen 2001). The space of illegality created by P2P (peer-to-peer) file-sharing opens up the possibility, not only of the open circulation of freely-given information and software as it is on the Internet today, but also of conscious copyright violation. The Internet, then, enables not only communist relations around information, but also the militant contamination and erosion of non-communist regimes of knowledge—a technological "weapon" to equalise access to information, eating away at intellectual property rights by rendering them unenforceable". [198]

P2P is a specific form of relational dynamic, based on the assumed equipotency of its participants, organized through the free cooperation of equals in view of the performance of a common task, for the creation of a common good, with forms of decision-making and autonomy that are widely distributed throughout the network. There are three fundamental aspects of social P2P processes:

  1. Peer production: the collaborative production of use value is open to participation and use to the widest possible number (as defined by Yochai Benkler, in his essay Coase's Penguin). [199]
  2. Peer governance: production or project is governed by the community of producers themselves, not by market allocation or corporate hierarchy.
  3. Peer property: the use-value of property is freely accessible on a universal basis; peer services and products are distributed through new modes of property, which are not exclusive, though recognize individual authorship (i.e. the GNU General Public License or the Creative Commons licenses).

While many anarcho-communists are opposed to trade, some post-left, post-scarcity anarcho-communists and ones with syndicalist sympathies are not opposed to trade. Some support a non-monetary form of trade in the form of post-monetary trade unions and commons. Others such as Tiziana Terranova easily see anarcho-communism being compatible with a non-hierarchical, open access, free association, post-monetary form of trade such as P2P. [200]

Coexistence of economic systems and economic pluralism

French anarchist without adjectives Max Nettlau addressed the issue of the coexistence of different economic systems as follows:

Let me imagine myself for a moment living in a free society. I should certainly have different occupations, manual and mental, requiring strength or skill. It would be very monotonous if the three or four groups with whom I would work (for I hope there will be no Syndicates then!) would be organized on exactly the same lines; I rather think that different degrees or forms of Communism will prevail in them. But might I not become tired of this, and wish for a spell of relative isolation, of Individualism? So I might turn to one of the many possible forms of "equal exchange" Individualism. Perhaps people will do one thing when they are young and another thing when they grow older. Those who are but indifferent workers may continue with their groups; those who are efficient will lose patience at always working with beginners and will go ahead by themselves, unless a very altruist disposition makes it a pleasure to them to act as teachers or advisers to younger people. I also think that at the beginning I should adopt Communism with friends and Individualism with strangers, and shape my future life according to experience. Thus, a free and easy change from one variety of Communism to another, thence to any variety of Individualism, and so on, would be the most obvious and elementary thing in a really free society; and if any group of people tried to check this, to make one system predominant, they would be as bitterly fought as revolutionists fight the present system. [201]

French individualist anarchist Émile Armand argued for a pluralistic economic logic when he said: "Here and there everything happening – here everyone receiving what they need, there each one getting whatever is needed according to their own capacity. Here, gift and barter – one product for another; there, exchange – product for representative value. Here, the producer is the owner of the product, there, the product is put to the possession of the collectivity". [61]

At the time of the Spanish Revolution led by the anarcho-syndicalist trade union CNT and by the FAI, the issue of the coexistence of different economic systems was addressed. Daniel Guérin in Anarchism: From Theory to Practice reports the following:

Spanish anarcho-syndicalism had long been concerned to safeguard the autonomy of what it called "affinity groups." There were many adepts of naturism and vegetarianism among its members, especially among the poor peasants of the south. Both these ways of living were considered suitable for the transformation of the human being in preparation for a libertarian society. At the Saragossa congress the members did not forget to consider the fate of groups of naturists and nudists, "unsuited to industrialization." As these groups would be unable to supply all their own needs, the congress anticipated that their delegates to the meetings of the confederation of communes would be able to negotiate special economic agreements with the other agricultural and industrial communes. On the eve of a vast, bloody, social transformation, the CNT did not think it foolish to try to meet the infinitely varied aspirations of individual human beings. [202]

Commune, federalism and economic democracy

Anarcho-communism has been critical of a simple call for worker's ownership of workplaces and their administration as cooperatives. Murray Bookchin has put it this way "what of the syndicalist ideal of "collectivized" self-managed enterprises that are coordinated by like occupations on a national level and coordinated geographically by "collectives" on a local level?...Here, the traditional socialist criticism of this syndicalist form of economic management is not without its point: the corporate or private capitalist, "worker-controlled" or not – ironically, a technique in the repertoire of industrial management that is coming very much into vogue today as "workplace democracy" and "employee ownership" and constitutes no threat whatever to private property and capitalism...In any case, "economic democracy" has not simply meant "workplace democracy" and "employee ownership." Many workers, in fact, would like to get away from their factories if they could and find more creative artisanal types of work, not simply "participate" in "planning" their own misery. What "economic democracy" meant in its profoundest sense was free, "democratic" access to the means of life, the counterpart of political democracy, that is, the guarantee of freedom from material want. It is a dirty bourgeois trick, in which many radicals unknowingly participate, that "economic democracy" has been re-interpreted as "employee ownership" and "workplace democracy" and has come to mean workers' "participation" in profit sharing and industrial management rather than freedom from the tyranny of the factory, rationalized labor, and "planned production", which is usually exploitative production with the complicity of the workers". [175]

A common call within anarchism is for a confederal form in relationships of mutual aid and free association between communes as an alternative to the centralism of the nation-state. Peter Kropotkin thus suggested: "Representative government has accomplished its historical mission; it has given a mortal blow to court-rule; and by its debates it has awakened public interest in public questions. But to see in it the government of the future socialist society is to commit a gross error. Each economic phase of life implies its own political phase; and it is impossible to touch the very basis of the present economic life – private property – without a corresponding change in the very basis of the political organization. Life already shows in which direction the change will be made. Not in increasing the powers of the State, but in resorting to free organization and free federation in all those branches which are now considered as attributes of the State". [203]

As such, "no community can hope to achieve economic autarchy, nor should it try to do so unless it wishes to become self-enclosed and parochial, not only "self-sufficient." Hence the confederation of communes—the Commune of communes—is reworked economically as well as politically into a shared universe of publicly managed resources. The management of the economy, precisely because it is a public activity, does not degenerate into privatized interactions between enterprises; rather it develops into confederalized interactions between municipalities. That is to say, the very elements of societal interaction are expanded from real or potential privatized components to institutionally real public components. Confederation becomes a public project by definition, not only because of shared needs and resources. If there is any way to avoid the emergence of the city-state, not to speak of self-serving bourgeois "cooperatives", it is through a municipalization of political life that is so complete that politics embraces not only what we call the public sphere but material means of life as well". [175]

Economic democracy as proposed by Takis Fotopoulos [204] and Bookchin [205] is a socioeconomic philosophy that proposes to shift decision-making power from corporate shareholders to a larger group of public stakeholders that includes workers, customers, suppliers, neighbors and the broader public. No single definition or approach encompasses economic democracy, but most proponents claim that modern property relations externalize costs, subordinate the general well-being to private profit and deny the polity a democratic voice in economic policy decisions. [206] In addition to these moral concerns, economic democracy makes practical claims, such as that it can compensate for capitalism's claimedly inherent effective demand gap. [207]

Proponents of economic democracy generally argue that modern capitalism tends to hinder or prevent society from earning enough income to purchase its output production. Corporate monopoly of common resources typically creates artificial scarcity, resulting in socio-economic imbalances that restrict workers from access to economic opportunity and diminish consumer purchasing power. [208] Economic democracy has been proposed as a component of larger socioeconomic ideologies, as a stand-alone theory and as a variety of reform agendas. For example, as a means to securing full economic rights, it opens a path to full political rights, defined as including the former. [206]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anarcho-capitalism</span> Political philosophy and economic theory

Anarcho-capitalism is an anti-statist, libertarian political philosophy and economic theory that seeks to abolish centralized states in favor of stateless societies with systems of private property enforced by private agencies, based on concepts such as the non-aggression principle, free markets and self-ownership. An anarcho-capitalist philosophy extends the concept of ownership to include control of private property as part of the self, and, in some cases, control of other people as private property. In the absence of statute, anarcho-capitalists hold that society tends to contractually self-regulate and civilize through participation in the free market, which they describe as a voluntary society involving the voluntary exchange of goods and services. In a theoretical anarcho-capitalist society the system of private property would still exist, as it would be enforced by private defense agencies and/or insurance companies that were selected by property owners, whose ownership rights or claims would be enforced by private defence agencies and/or insurance companies. These agencies or companies would operate competitively in a market and fulfill the roles of courts and the police, similar to a state apparatus. Some anarcho-capitalist authors have argued that slavery is compatible with anarcho-capitalist ideals.

Individualist anarchism is the branch of anarchism that emphasizes the individual and their will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems. Although usually contrasted with social anarchism, both individualist and social anarchism have influenced each other. Mutualism, an economic theory sometimes considered a synthesis of communism, market economy and property, has been considered individualist anarchism and other times part of social anarchism. Many anarcho-communists regard themselves as radical individualists, seeing anarcho-communism as the best social system for the realization of individual freedom. Some anarcho-capitalists claim anarcho-capitalism is part of the individualist anarchist tradition, while others disagree and claim individualist anarchism is only part of the socialist movement and part of the libertarian socialist tradition. Economically, while European individualist anarchists are pluralists who advocate anarchism without adjectives and synthesis anarchism, ranging from anarcho-communist to mutualist economic types, most American individualist anarchists of the 19th century advocated mutualism, a libertarian socialist form of market socialism, or a free-market socialist form of classical economics. Individualist anarchists are opposed to property that violates the entitlement theory of justice, that is, gives privilege due to unjust acquisition or exchange, and thus is exploitative, seeking to "destroy the tyranny of capital,—that is, of property" by mutual credit.

Anarchist communism is a political philosophy and anarchist school of thought that advocates communism. It calls for the abolition of private property but retention of personal property and collectively-owned items, goods, and services. It supports social ownership of property and the distribution of resources "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anti-capitalism</span> Political ideology and movement opposed to capitalism

Anti-capitalism is a political ideology and movement encompassing a variety of attitudes and ideas that oppose capitalism.

According to different scholars, the history of anarchism either goes back to ancient and prehistoric ideologies and social structures, or begins in the 19th century as a formal movement. As scholars and anarchist philosophers have held a range of views on what anarchism means, it is difficult to outline its history unambiguously. Some feel anarchism is a distinct, well-defined movement stemming from 19th-century class conflict, while others identify anarchist traits long before the earliest civilisations existed.

The nature of capitalism is criticized by left-wing anarchists, who reject hierarchy and advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations. Anarchism is generally defined as the libertarian philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful as well as opposing authoritarianism, illegitimate authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Capitalism is generally considered by scholars to be an economic system that includes private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit or income, the accumulation of capital, competitive markets, voluntary exchange and wage labor, which have generally been opposed by most anarchists historically. Since capitalism is variously defined by sources and there is no general consensus among scholars on the definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category, the designation is applied to a variety of historical cases, varying in time, geography, politics and culture.

Mutualism is an anarchist school of thought and anti-capitalist market socialist economic theory that advocates for workers' control of the means of production, a market economy made up of individual artisans and workers' cooperatives, and occupation and use property rights. As proponents of the labour theory of value and labour theory of property, mutualists oppose all forms of economic rent, profit and non-nominal interest, which they see as relying on the exploitation of labour. Mutualists seek to construct an economy without capital accumulation or concentration of land ownership. They also encourage the establishment of workers' self-management, which they propose could be supported through the issuance of mutual credit by mutual banks, with the aim of creating a federal society.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anarchism in France</span>

Anarchism in France can trace its roots to thinker Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who grew up during the Restoration and was the first self-described anarchist. French anarchists fought in the Spanish Civil War as volunteers in the International Brigades. According to journalist Brian Doherty, "The number of people who subscribed to the anarchist movement's many publications was in the tens of thousands in France alone."

Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful as well as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism, known as anarchists, advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations. While anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, opposition to the state is not its central or sole definition. Anarchism can entail opposing authority or hierarchy in the conduct of all human relations.

Individualist anarchism in the United States was strongly influenced by Benjamin Tucker, Josiah Warren, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lysander Spooner, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Max Stirner, Herbert Spencer and Henry David Thoreau. Other important individualist anarchists in the United States were Stephen Pearl Andrews, William Batchelder Greene, Ezra Heywood, M. E. Lazarus, John Beverley Robinson, James L. Walker, Joseph Labadie, Steven Byington and Laurance Labadie.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to anarchism:

Individualist anarchism in Europe proceeded from the roots laid by William Godwin and soon expanded and diversified through Europe, incorporating influences from individualist anarchism in the United States. Individualist anarchism is a tradition of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and his or her will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems. While most American individualist anarchists advocate mutualism, a libertarian socialist form of market socialism, or a free-market socialist form of classical economics, European individualist anarchists are pluralists who advocate anarchism without adjectives and synthesis anarchism, ranging from anarcho-communist to mutualist economic types.

Free association, also known as free association of producers, is a relationship among individuals where there is no state, social class, hierarchy, division of labour or private ownership of means of production. Once private property is abolished, individuals are no longer deprived of access to means of production, thus enabling them to freely associate without social constraint to produce and reproduce their own conditions of existence and fulfill their individual and creative needs and desires. The term is used by anarchists and Marxists and is often considered a defining feature of a fully developed communist society.

Types of socialism include a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production and organizational self-management of enterprises as well as the political theories and movements associated with socialism. Social ownership may refer to forms of public, collective or cooperative ownership, or to citizen ownership of equity in which surplus value goes to the working class and hence society as a whole. There are many varieties of socialism and no single definition encapsulates all of them, but social ownership is the common element shared by its various forms Socialists disagree about the degree to which social control or regulation of the economy is necessary, how far society should intervene, and whether government, particularly existing government, is the correct vehicle for change.

Social anarchism, also known as left-wing anarchism or socialist anarchism, is the branch of anarchism that sees liberty and social equality as interrelated.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Benjamin Tucker</span> American individualist anarchist (1854–1939)

Benjamin Ricketson Tucker was an American individualist anarchist and self-identified socialist. Tucker was the editor and publisher of the American individualist anarchist periodical Liberty (1881–1908). Tucker described his form of anarchism as "consistent Manchesterism" and stated that "the Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pierre-Joseph Proudhon</span> French politician, philosopher, anarchist and socialist (1809–1865)

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a French socialist, politician, philosopher, and economist who founded mutualist philosophy and is considered by many to be the "father of anarchism". He was the first person to declare himself an anarchist, using that term, and is widely regarded as one of anarchism's most influential theorists. Proudhon became a member of the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1848, whereafter he referred to himself as a federalist. Proudhon described the liberty he pursued as "the synthesis of community and property". Some consider his mutualism to be part of individualist anarchism while others regard it to be part of social anarchism.

Market socialism is a type of economic system involving social ownership of the means of production within the framework of a market economy. Various models for such a system exist, usually involving cooperative enterprises and sometimes a mix that includes public or private enterprises. In contrast to the majority of historic socialist economies, which have substituted the market mechanism for some form of economic planning, market socialists wish to retain the use of supply and demand signals to guide the allocation of capital goods and the means of production. Under such a system, depending on whether socially owned firms are state-owned or operated as worker cooperatives, profits may variously be used to directly remunerate employees, accrue to society at large as the source of public finance, or be distributed amongst the population in a social dividend.

A classless society is a society in which no one is born into a social class like in a class society. Distinctions of wealth, income, education, culture, or social network might arise and would only be determined by individual experience and achievement in such a society. Thus, the concept posits not the absence of a social hierarchy but the uninheritability of class status. Helen Codere defines social class as a segment of the community, the members of which show a common social position in a hierarchical ranking. Codere suggest that a true class-organized society is one in which the hierarchy of prestige and social status is divisible into groups. Each group with its own social, economic, attitudinal and cultural characteristics, and each having differential degrees of power in community decision.

Collectivist anarchism, also called anarchist collectivism and anarcho-collectivism, is an anarchist school of thought that advocates the abolition of both the state and private ownership of the means of production. In their place, it envisions both the collective ownership of the means of production and the entitlement of workers to the fruits of their own labour, which would be ensured by a societal pact between individuals and collectives. Collectivists considered trade unions to be the means through which to bring about collectivism through a social revolution, where they would form the nucleus for a post-capitalist society.

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  77. "Modern Communists are more individualistic than Stirner. To them, not merely religion, morality, family and State are spooks, but property also is no more than a spook, in whose name the individual is enslaved – and how enslaved!...Communism thus creates a basis for the liberty and Eigenheit of the individual. I am a Communist because I am an Individualist. Fully as heartily the Communists concur with Stirner when he puts the word take in place of demand – that leads to the dissolution of property, to expropriation. Individualism and Communism go hand in hand." Archived 2017-09-07 at the Wayback Machine Max Baginski. "Stirner: The Ego and His Own" on Mother Earth . Vol. 2. No. 3 MAY, 1907
  78. "Communism is the one which guarantees the greatest amount of individual liberty – provided that the idea that begets the community be Liberty, Anarchy...Communism guarantees economic freedom better than any other form of association, because it can guarantee wellbeing, even luxury, in return for a few hours of work instead of a day's work." "Communism and Anarchy" Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine by Peter Kropotkin
  79. This other society will be libertarian communism, in which social solidarity and free individuality find their full expression, and in which these two ideas develop in perfect harmony.Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists by Dielo Truda (Workers' Cause) Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine
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Further reading