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pollinator
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Just a thought - James C Scott "Two Cheers for Anarchism" (he is a Yale professor and raises sheep : ) and this from Toby Hemenway
http://www.permaculturevoices.com/liberation-permaculture-by-toby-hemenway-pvp126/
 
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Wow there has been a lot of posts since last night!   Here's a start:

The first part of this quote is from me, and David Livingston's response.

"I'm not sure what to say to your posts on this subject Gilbert, but, perhaps, I should begin with the hope that you can think outside the boundaries of the dominant culture when you try to imagine an anarchic society."
As a friend of mine once told me me if you want to go there you had best off not starting from here  I believe that like life its self societies evolve usually in ways we cannot imagine nor guess . and while "anarchy " might be an interesting thought experiment it like every other imposed attempt at regulation of society will fail due to the complexities of us humans .

David



I appreciate your sentiments, David, however, I still hold to this view, based on my personal observations of Gilbert's posts in this thread.  I did not mean any offense to Gilbert, but if it was taken that way by him, then I do apologize.   Perhaps my perspective of my own imaginings of an anarchic society jade me in the hopes that others share this vision of a very changed world for the better, where egalitarianism, mutual aid, and the belief in our fundamental interconnectedness are the foundation of culture while making a living as a wage slave under a (police) state system where wealth (albeit a false wealth based on imposed debt) is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands goes the way of the dinosaur.  

While society has somehow created the fertile ground that has sprouted the present rise of the extreme conservative right, and has shown that even many left leaning (social oriented) politicians tend to make decisions which are detrimental to society, to point out that perhaps we should go in the opposite direction is bound to gain opposition on many fronts; however, to say that humans are too complicated and are bound to fail when asked to cooperate, seems to me like a reality not worth manifesting.

Anarchy is not a thought experiment, but  multitudinous branches of our present culture, based on our day to day choices and associations which find us seeking freedom, justice, peace, community, and equality.  This last thing that society needs is imposed regulations! --What you suggest in the last sentence is the opposite of anarchy.  In anarchy, people agree upon the rules; they are not imposed.
 
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I'm not offended; and I think you'd be surprised how far out of the box my thinking is. But it might not be out of the box in the exact same direction as your own!
 
Roberto pokachinni
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It's funny that you mention that where the rulers lived might have been destroyed. Actually, archaelogical evidence suggests that immediately prior to the noted period of relatively peaceful and egalitarian coexistence, the people of Çatalhöyük did indeed suffer under the tyranny of masters and apparently found it prudent to abolish them. They deconstructed the rulers' manors and the gods' temples and instead reorganized their social structures into more anarchic forms that flourished and remained stable for dozens of generations.

 I would like to read more about this, Evan.  Can you direct me towards that end?
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I'm glad to hear it Gilbert.  I have a lot of respect for you and what you are doing with your place in Denver, and I have appreciated discussions with you in the past, and I was... perhaps a bit surprised at some of what seemed to be your perspectives... but perhaps you are simply playing devil's advocate to provoke thought, discussion, and deeper meaning here... ?  Or maybe I'm just reading it all wrong.  LOL .
 
nancy sutton
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I wonder if it would be fair to say that 'civilization', i.e., large agglomerations of humans in cities (or societies), inevitably attract sociopaths... the lure of and potential for huge power would prove to be irresistible.   It seems that history might demonstrate this.
 
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David Livingston wrote:Everyone wants to live there lives in peace i do not think that this is a unique view of anarchists


Indeed. What makes anarchists relatively unique is our insistence that allowing others to live their own lives in peace is the surest way of safeguarding our own ability to live our own lives in peace. A core anarchist insight is seeing others' freedom not as a threat to one's own freedom, but instead as it's essential prerequisite.  As Mikhail Bakunin put it: "The freedom of all is essential to my freedom. I am truly free only when all human beings, men and women, are equally free. The freedom of other men, far from negating or limiting my freedom, is, on the contrary, its necessary premise and confirmation."

David Livingston wrote:So yes a society that "appears" not to have had a heiracy   existed but [...] "But, again, even if there were no historical precedents, we shouldn't let that stop us from endeavoring to make tomorrow better than today" I agree with you so lets take the garden or your land as a metaphore  . What the first thing you do ? You observe what works well ( what do we mean by well ? ) Do you as a permaculturalist want to change everything ?


Nope, not everything. As has been pointed out a few times in this thread already, many everyday interactions are already conducted on the basis of mutual consent. Anarchists seek to expand this sphere of freely chosen and mutually beneficial interactions to encompass an ever larger portion of our society. We observe that voluntary cooperation works well and therefore we seek to encourage it and not to interfere with it to the extent that it exists. We observe that domination and control over others tends to have negative side-effects at best, and at worst has resulted in colossal catastrophic destruction and holocaust. We therefore encourage its removal wherever it has taken root and seek to replace it with voluntary associations.

David Livingston wrote:Its a lot of work . Nope you plants stuff see what works what does not you remove try elsewhere or another plant etc etc you work with the land and nature . In essence I see this as socialism Working with others as opposed to competition where the devil takes the hindmost . Co-operation above all not isolation .


I'm in favor of libertarian socialism in the tradition of Benjamin Tucker, author of State Socialism and Anarchism, how far they agree and wherein they differ, an essay I'd highly recommend and which Tucker concludes with this quote:

Ernest Lesigne wrote:There are two Socialisms.
One is communistic, the other solidaritarian.
One is dictatorial, the other libertarian.
One is metaphysical, the other positive.
One is dogmatic, the other scientific.
One is emotional, the other reflective.
One is destructive, the other constructive.
Both are in pursuit of the greatest possible welfare for all.
One aims to establish happiness for all, the other to enable each to be happy in his own way.
The first regards the State as a society sui generis, of an especial essence, the product of a sort of divine right outside of and above all society, with special rights and able to exact special obediences; the second considers the State as an association like any other, generally managed worse than others.
The first proclaims the sovereignty of the State, the second recognizes no sort of sovereign.
One wishes all monopolies to be held by the State; the other wishes the abolition of all monopolies.
One wishes the governed class to become the governing class; the other wishes the disappearance of classes.
Both declare that the existing state of things cannot last.
The first considers revolutions as the indispensable agent of evolutions; the second teaches that repression alone turns evolutions into revolution.
The first has faith in a cataclysm.
The second knows that social progress will result from the free play of individual efforts.
Both understand that we are entering upon a new historic phase.
One wishes that there should be none but proletaires.
The other wishes that there should be no more proletaires.
The first wishes to take everything away from everybody.
The second wishes to leave each in possession of its own.
The one wishes to expropriate everybody.
The other wishes everybody to be a proprietor.
The first says: ‘Do as the government wishes.’
The second says: ‘Do as you wish yourself.’
The former threatens with despotism.
The latter promises liberty.
The former makes the citizen the subject of the State.
The latter makes the State the employee of the citizen.
One proclaims that labor pains will be necessary to the birth of a new world.
The other declares that real progress will not cause suffering to any one.
The first has confidence in social war.
The other believes only in the works of peace.
One aspires to command, to regulate, to legislate.
The other wishes to attain the minimum of command, of regulation, of legislation.
One would be followed by the most atrocious of reactions.
The other opens unlimited horizons to progress.
The first will fail; the other will succeed.
Both desire equality.
One by lowering heads that are too high.
The other by raising heads that are too low.
One sees equality under a common yoke.
The other will secure equality in complete liberty.
One is intolerant, the other tolerant.
One frightens, the other reassures.
The first wishes to instruct everybody.
The second wishes to enable everybody to instruct himself.
The first wishes to support everybody.
The second wishes to enable everybody to support himself.
One says:
The land to the State.
The mine to the State.
The tool to the State.
The product to the State.
The other says:
The land to the cultivator.
The mine to the miner.
The tool to the laborer.
The product to the producer.
There are only these two Socialisms.
One is the infancy of Socialism; the other is its manhood.
One is already the past; the other is the future.
One will give place to the other.

Today each of us must choose for the one or the other of these two Socialisms, or else confess that he is not a Socialist.

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Hi David

lets take the garden or your land as a metaphore  . What the first thing you do ? You observe what works well ( what do we mean by well ? ) Do you as a permaculturalist want to change everything ? Its a lot of work . Nope you plants stuff see what works what does not you remove try elsewhere or another plant etc etc you work with the land and nature . In essence I see this as socialism Working with others as opposed to competition where the devil takes the hindmost . Co-operation above all not isolation .

 What we observe is everything.  Not just what works well, but everything, in as much detail as possible... but mostly we simply notice how complex it all is and try to understand the flow of energies through the area, particularly if it has a lot of wild or feral elements which are the main learning tools.  We notice that somethings are not working well if we want to produce certain plants, or we want a solar efficient house nearby.  It is going to be a lot of work.  But the work, is THE WORK; and as such, it is a joy.  

Yes you work with the land, and with nature.  And as such, we work with the basic principles of humanity and nature, which are inherently nurturing, cooperative, peaceful, generous, and just.  Occasional nature can be brutal, but there is a renewal in it's brutality.  I've seen an owl strike a rabbit, and heard that rabbit scream, but I know that the owl lives on.  Sometimes a mudslide will take out a village; or an earthquake will turn a region into rubble; but the Earth is in a constant state of change... we just see it's landforms as static in our way.  The same is true of humanity (problems are bound to erupt every once in a while... our static nature is a myth; we are dynamic evolving constantly), but, like in nature, these disastrous occurrences have long spans of time between them, and in the case of murder, or war, or other calamity, are particularly easier to handle as peaceful people are not in a perpetual state of shock/flight-and-fight/ anxiety (which is a constant over much of the dense urban or war torn or resource ravaged globe in the present global scenario) and as such are more able to make wise decisions and react according to well thought out plans.

In many valleys catastrophic fires are based in 300 year cycles.  Some are 150 year cycles.  Some rivers flood every 10 years, but have an extraordinary flood every 75 years.  The cycles of humanity are not known at this time.  History... or the written modern version of it, has abolished this sort of knowledge base.  Only tribal cultures contain this sort of historical knowledge; wisdom.  We will have to rebuild a culture of wisdom, of history of all.  

So you work with the land and nature, yes, and humanity which is part of nature, and is by and large a peaceful place, and like you said a place of cooperation.  Cooperation in terms of equal sharing of resources is more Anarchistic than it is Socialist when we think of socialism as a strain of communism.  Indeed, when we think of working with others, we hope that that is all we are doing (as opposed to having someone, external to that mutual transaction 'ordering' things from above), and when we think of the survival of the fittest model-the supposed Darwinian model-it's opposition towards cooperation is exemplified by the anarchist book Mutual Aid, by Peter Kropotkin, which states (from the amazon summary):  "cooperation is as important as competition, and has led to the highest achievements of the human race. Examining animals, indigenous societies, medieval cities, and the modern era, Kropotkin demonstrates the importance of cooperation and collective enterprise to evolution and survival, and as a means to social justice".     The amazon link  
 
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We do observe. We observe that voluntary interactions are to the mutual benefit of all parties involved, we observe that power attracts the corruptible,  we observe that monopolies don't work. We observe that there will always be psychopaths, but giving them access to our wallets and paying them respect and giving them special rights that the rest of us don't have is a poor way of stopping them. We observe that we have more in common with the poor people in the middle east caught in the crossfire between our governments and their dictator and the people who wants to be the next dictator, than we have with any of the people who try to rule us and them. We observe that the American military is the biggest polluter in the world and placing our faith in the American government or the European governments or any other for that matter to solve the worlds problems might not be the most efficient way to solve our problems.

I am not scared of hierarchies as long as they are voluntary. I don't subscribe to a socialist point of view, but but do think that less enforced hierarchy will lead to more equality (of outcomes too), and less government mandated "cooperation" will lead to more real cooperation, because we need each other, because we are social beings.
 
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@Nancy S.:"I wonder if it would be fair to say that 'civilization', i.e., large agglomerations of humans in cities (or societies), inevitably attract sociopaths... the lure of and potential for huge power would prove to be irresistible. "

@Dawn H: "I am not scared of hierarchies as long as they are voluntary. "

I think Daniel Quinn might agree, but don't know for sure.

Always thought the following example was interesting:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ani-kutani
 
nancy sutton
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Just watched 'War Dogs' ... and listened to Leonard Cohen's song... "Everybody Knows'...  
 ... and it seemed apropos of this discussion.  
 
evan l pierce
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:In practice, I tend to agree with you folks; our government is oppressive, our economic system benefits the 0.01%, and the best thing to do is set up  local communities of voluntary cooperation.


To this short list of best things to do, I would add: to set up, expand the scope of, and make more resilient our global networks too, not just our local communities. Our ability to communicate more rapidly over greater distances, and to reproduce and share bits of knowledge at zero marginal cost to vast numbers of minds, enables a rich, blossoming, diverse plethora of ever-evolving ideas and technologies.

And here I am using the word "technology" in the broad sense of "a way of doing something" as opposed to the narrower connotation of mere gadgetry. This broader definition is inclusive of permaculture ideas like polyculture guilds and natural building techniques, along with consensus processes and even language.

We cannot afford not to use, protect, and further develop the free, open, global internet, (and we must make it freer and more open and more global) if we are to solve the most wicked of global problems that we face.

Additionally, increasing our global interconnectedness can help to mitigate some of the risks of runaway localism and counterbalance the dangers of local communities by enabling more freedom of exit and opportunities to find alternatives that more closely align with one's values.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:I'm a Distributist


Cool! I appreciate the contributions of those within the distributist tradition, especially the work of Dorothy Day. I would consider myself a distributist as well, at the very least in the broad sense of being an advocate for distributed systems.

Centralized systems are inherently fragile, and even merely decentralized systems, while more resilient, are still inferior to distributed systems.



I sympathize strongly with the basic tenet of the distributist tradition: the widest possible dispersion of active ownership of productive property.

In many ways the wide dispersion of personal computer ownership, our global interconnectedness via the internet, and the immense social utility embodied by this distributed access to knowledge, is a triumph of distributism and a boon to global anarchy. It could be and needs to be better: more of a distributed mesh infrastructure of peer-to-peer nodes than the current model of relatively few internet service providers, more consistent and distributed use of encryption to thwart surveillance and fraud alike, more widely distributed ownership of the means of designing, producing, powering, and repairing these connectivity devices, and eventually something like a distributed reputation net that can enable us as individuals to make more informed decisions regarding how and with whom we interact based on peer review, (thus removing opportunities for sociopathy and domination.)

Imagine being able to more quickly and effectively determine the trustworthiness of a stranger with whom you are considering interacting, based on information generated by peer reviews and made legible by algorithms determined by your personal custom preferences: (weighted by how much you trust the opinions of the peers doing the reviewing, and whether or not restoration was achieved.) Unapologetic and repeatedly offensive thieves, fraudsters, government enforcers, and other sociopaths would soon find their pool of potential victims drying up. The more risk-averse might avoid them entirely while those who feel more prepared to accept the risks might give the statistically less trustworthy another chance to redeem themselves.

Imagine crowdfunding a universal basic income through a cryptocurrency/exchange-network that automatically redistributes a micropercentage of every transaction made in the currency back to the users, (a voluntary "tax" with zero administrative costs because the open-source code does the redistribution automatically, a cost even the most selfish will pay because the use-value of a currency/network rises in proportion to the number of active users.)

Imagine freely downloading an open-source file and 3d-printing a part with which to repair your bicycle or drip irrigation line or whatever. Harnessing the benefits of our global collective knowledge while simultaneously localizing production, shortening distribution chains, and eliminating waste by retooling from a supply-push to a demand-pull economic model.

The seeds of these technologies are already present in the soil of our global culture, and with a little time and effort we will grow them to meet more and more of our needs and eventually make the "necessary evil" of government even more unnecessary.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:I'm a Distributist, not least because there are actual historic models of it working;


Please tell me more. I'd love to learn more about these historic models of working distributism.

Why isn't distributism a far more prevalent social form? Could it be that those who seek to maintain control over others find widely dispersed ownership of productive property a threat to their power? Could it be that for distributist ideals to be fully realized we will have to abolish power relations or at least develop better ways to route around them?

Gilbert Fritz wrote:there are actual historic models of it [distributism] working; not vague examples from archeological studies in dead civilizations or anthropological studies in primitive tribes.



There are many actual historic and modern day models of anarchy working too, at a variety of scales, from local consensus-based communities to the global open-source and p2p movements, in addition to the noted anthropological and archaeological findings.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:I'm a Distributist



So, in a Distributist small town, somebody is murdered. Each person has a theory as to what happened, but there are many different possibilities and potential culprits. What happens next? I'd like the Distributist here to trace out a plausible scenario. (Which does not include "this would never happen in a Distributist society.")

Gilbert Fritz wrote:Some seem to be "anarchists" of the anarcho-capitalist sort, and others of the anti-civ egalitarian tribe sort.


For the record, I am neither. I sympathize with the anarcho-transhumanist goal of increasing both social and material freedom. And in the mutualist and individualist anarchist tradition, I advocate markets, not capitalism.

nancy sutton wrote:I wonder if it would be fair to say that 'civilization', i.e., large agglomerations of humans in cities (or societies), inevitably attract sociopaths... the lure of and potential for huge power would prove to be irresistible.   It seems that history might demonstrate this.


Small agglomerations of humans in tribes or families can attract and enable sociopaths too. While the potential scope and scale of power in small local communities may be reduced, the potential intensity of immediate, attentive, local forms of domination can still be terribly destructive of individual life and liberty. Rather than abandoning the benefits of civilization, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we must engage with society and build better systems at every scale. More and deeper connections are what will strengthen our defenses against sociopathy.
 
Dawn Hoff
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For the record, I am neither. I sympathize with the anarcho-transhumanist goal of increasing both social and material freedom. And in the mutualist and individualist anarchist tradition, I advocate markets, not capitalism.


Can you please explain what the difference between free markets and capitalism is?
 
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Dawn Hoff wrote:Can you please explain what the difference between free markets and capitalism is?


The word "capitalism" was initially used as a pejorative by socialists and anarchists like Proudhon, who used it to describe what they opposed: an economic system wherein the state intervenes on behalf of the owners of capital, at the expense of other factors of production, especially labor.

More recently, classical liberals, like Mises and Friedman, attempted to redefine "capitalism" as a synonym for what they supported: free markets.

These two conflicting uses of the term have rendered it almost useless for productive discussion.

Modern liberals and socialists use the term to describe the currently-existing system of corporate privilege, which they oppose, and mostly take the classical liberals and right-libertarians at face value when they equate capitalism with free markets. So basically they end up opposing free markets because they think that what we have now is a free market, or at least a close-enough approximation thereof. Right-libertarians don't lessen this confusion much by using the term ahistorically and often contribute to the confusion by defending certain aspects of the currently-existing non-free market, lionizing big businesses as if they were a product of free market competition, instead of a product of state subsidies and interventions that minimize competition, externalize costs, decrease diseconomies of scale, and increase economies of scale.
 
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evan l pierce wrote:

Dawn Hoff wrote:Can you please explain what the difference between free markets and capitalism is?


The word "capitalism" was initially used as a pejorative by socialists and anarchists like Proudhon, who used it to describe what they opposed: an economic system wherein the state intervenes on behalf of the owners of capital, at the expense of other factors of production, especially labor.

More recently, classical liberals, like Mises and Friedman, attempted to redefine "capitalism" as a synonym for what they supported: free markets.

These two conflicting uses of the term have rendered it almost useless for productive discussion.



I do wish the folks that created the term had been a bit smarter and named what they were describing more accurately, or at least used the terms already available such as mercantilism. Corporatism is one alternative I see used a lot.

To me, capitalism is simply the systemic use of capital, and that's how I use it. That can occur under a socialist system (fascism being an example of that combination) as well as in a free market system. If you buy a hammer only to use it to build things for you, that is not capitalism. But if you buy that hammer and use it to build things that you sell to others then that hammer is a piece of capital equipment and thus you are a capitalist. Typically when I am referring to my desired economic system I will say free market capitalism instead of just capitalism.

So anyway, there's a third definition of the term that if accepted would clear things up, but it won't, so it only muddies things further
 
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I'll answer the questions above as soon as I can; I feel it is going to be rather involved, and at the minute I'm too busy digging in the dirt! But I'll try to get back on it over the weekend.
 
Dawn Hoff
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evan l pierce wrote:

Dawn Hoff wrote:Can you please explain what the difference between free markets and capitalism is?


The word "capitalism" was initially used as a pejorative by socialists and anarchists like Proudhon, who used it to describe what they opposed: an economic system wherein the state intervenes on behalf of the owners of capital, at the expense of other factors of production, especially labor.

More recently, classical liberals, like Mises and Friedman, attempted to redefine "capitalism" as a synonym for what they supported: free markets.

These two conflicting uses of the term have rendered it almost useless for productive discussion.

Modern liberals and socialists use the term to describe the currently-existing system of corporate privilege, which they oppose, and mostly take the classical liberals and right-libertarians at face value when they equate capitalism with free markets. So basically they end up opposing free markets because they think that what we have now is a free market, or at least a close-enough approximation thereof. Right-libertarians don't lessen this confusion much by using the term ahistorically and often contribute to the confusion by defending certain aspects of the currently-existing non-free market, lionizing big businesses as if they were a product of free market competition, instead of a product of state subsidies and interventions that minimize competition, externalize costs, decrease diseconomies of scale, and increase economies of scale.


Then I think we agree. I am trring t wean myself off of the habit of trying to convince socialists that Capitalism isn't the problem, since I understand that our definitions of the word differs. I have also come to the understanding that yes we have capitalism now (i.e. private ownership of the means of production), but not free markets. The latter is the problem IMO. Americans eating chickens fed with corn, batterred in corn and fried in corn oil is the result of too much government intervention - not too little. Externalisation of costs leads to pollution etc. But yes - it is important to either define our terms clearly from the beginning - or be careful to use a language that we know the recipient of our message understands
- and I too get tired of hearing libertarians praise McDonalds or Walmart... or Monsanto... it is not productive.
 
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Is government the problem? Or is it like that hammer... depends on who is swinging it.   In a real democracy, supposedly we, the voters, choose representatives who legislate what we want (per polls, gun regulation, single payer medical, etc,. etc)... but many of us already know that the deliberately-designed political processes let the plutocrats 'write' the laws to minimize competition, and enhance their profits.  Big Ag used the hammer of government to enact the obscene corn subsidies. .... 'we' citizens almost used the hammer of government to tie the hands of Monsanto... but, again, 'we' seem to be too few.   But, maybe that says more about uneducated, or lazy, voters, than the idea of inherently bad 'government'.  

Per Piketty, unfettered (free to buy politicians and elections) capitalism has, historically, and will inevitably continue, to concentrate more and more wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer, with the unavoidable ending of democracy.  So, I think Dunbar's number of 150 may be the optimal human 'tribe'.. where everyone knows what is going on...no 'uneducated' people in that small group! : )   Maybe anarchism has a problem in wanting total individual freedom, while we know that most of us cannot survive without some community.  (Per Graeber, 'mutual obligation' worked pretty well for centuries, prior to 'civilization'.)

*capitalism - an economy targeted at increasing plutocrats' profits (typically via usury).  (Which economists' 'magical thinking' determines will benefit all.) - socialism - an economy targeted at the 'best for the most' (ala Bentham).  I think modern capitalism started when the plutocrat class (rentier) officially came to power with the formation of the Bank of England around 1700 (to loan the king $ for wars).  

As earlier mentioned, let's get a new word - that everyone can comprehend... 'corporatism' is pretty good "corporatism vs cooperativism" (or a better word? - for laughs, 'christianism', ala Acts 4: 32 etc :).  Average person doesn't understand 'distributivism', and still think 'anarchism' is bomb throwing (just look at the Berkley riot)  I think it is all in the education, which is all in the 'words / labels'.  



 
John Weiland
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@nancy s.: "I think it is all in the education, which is all in the 'words / labels'."

And one has to be ever careful how much 'agenda' is being pushed with words and labels that emanate from supposedly unbiased educational bodies.  

“The people of our culture don’t want to acknowledge that the tribe is for humans exactly what the pod is for whales or the troop is for baboons: the gift of millions of years of natural selection, not perfect – but damn hard to improve upon.” – Daniel Quinn
 
Dawn Hoff
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That's the problem Nancy - not everybody wants gun regulation or single payer medical...

"We the people" actually elected Donald Trump (regardless of whether he won them majority vote) - whether you like it or nit. "We the people" in the U.K. voted for Brexit, and "We the people" in France will probably choose Le Penn... "We the people" is 51% (of those who vote) forcing the other 49% (plus those who didn't vote) to do what they want. Regardless of whether that the is gun regulation or building a wall...

I know that in my country (Denmark) 30% of the voters votes for the extreme right wing nationalist party - and the left wing keeps saying "not my government", but as long as they support government, and believe in democracy - it is theirs, because those are the rules.

You may say that those people were duped by propaganda - I don't think I disagree. But that is the nature of democracy... and if you start sorting the voters into who is intelligent or educated enough to vote... well then we are back at fascism, which was what we were trying to prevent right? I seriously cannot see a good end to any of this.
 
Dawn Hoff
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You can always use force to protect yourself - you cannot use force preemptively.

I don't think most anarchists imagine that we will be a world of fierce individualists. I think most of us agree that community and cooperation is imperative to human survival and prosperity. What we argue is that the cooperation need to be voluntary.
 
nancy sutton
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Perhaps, Dawn, post-collapse, we will be forced to choose 'community' for survival... and if there are enough tribal groups, we can choose the one that 'fits', (or can stand us :) and the fierce individual can leave to happily go it alone.  People seem to have done this in real historical collapses (see 'A Paradise Built in Hell')...at least in No America.. how long it would persist, is another question.  And Europe, with it's history .....you'd know better ?.   (But a person can hope, anyway, while being totally present in the here and now .... enriching my soil, starting seeds, making season extenders, capturing rain, etc. ... sharing my three magic words... hugging whomever crosses my path....prepping for whatever the future holds, and eating today.)

BTW, I wasn't suggesting that only the predetermined 'educated' should be allowed to vote... just that we are all denied the 'truth' by our MSM.
 
Dawn Hoff
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BTW, I wasn't suggesting that only the predetermined 'educated' should be allowed to vote... just that we are all denied the 'truth' by our MSM.


I didn't mean to suggest that - sorry if it came across like that. What I meant was that this is the fundamental problem with democracy: 50% of the population is statistically less intelligent or less educated than the rest - yet it only requires 51% of the population to rulle the rest...
 
evan l pierce
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Ron Helwig wrote:Typically when I am referring to my desired economic system I will say free market capitalism


As a fellow earnest advocate of freedom and markets, I implore you to abandon use of the term "capitalism" in conjunction with "free markets." You may not go so far as to adopt the term "anti-capitalism," (although I think there are good reasons to do so,) and by all means continue to use "corporatism" as a descriptor for the unfree markets we have now. However, the task of building support for a stateless society is difficult enough without hitching one's rhetorical wagon to a term as contentious, historically pejorative, and at best etymologically orthogonal to our mutual cause as "capitalism" is.

One might claim that "anarchism" or "free market" are contentious terms that have been used pejoratively as well, but insofar as their etymology goes they accurately describe what we desire.

"Capitalism" originally meant roughly the same bad thing it still means to most people, - exploitation of the many by a relative few owners of capital. In either a grave strategic error or a conspiracy of obfuscation, some self-proclaimed free market advocates have been attempting futilely to co-opt/redefine "capitalism" for the past few decades. This muddying of the waters has resulted in significant confusion, alienation, and backlash from many of the systemically oppressed folks who have the most to gain from markets freed from the distorting effects of coercion and privilege.

There is nothing special about capital, as opposed to any other factor of production, that warrants emphasizing it when advocating for freed markets.

Plain ol' "free market" is a pretty accurate and concise descriptor, and remains neutral on the relative importance of different factors of production. This neutrality matters because whether land, labor, or capital is most important to any given enterprise is highly context dependent, and truly freed markets would reflect this dynamic variability. In fact, it is the existence of state intervention, rather than its absence, that tends to systematically disproportionately reward capital at the expense of labor.

I typically prefer "freed markets" to further emphasize that right now the markets we have are anything but free.

Ron Helwig wrote:the systemic use of capital ... can occur under a socialist system (fascism being an example of that combination...)


As the rise of actual, literal, overt fascists, (like the Trump, Bannon, etc. gang,) is a serious and pressing threat to liberty in the world these days, I think it is especially important not to let such misuse of the term "fascism" stand uncorrected. Fascists have opportunistically used "socialist", "capitalist", "left," "right," and "third-way" rhetoric in their recruiting efforts, but actual, literal, historical fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:I'll answer the questions above as soon as I can; I feel it is going to be rather involved, and at the minute I'm too busy digging in the dirt!


I feel you on busy-ness digging in the dirt. There are so many things I feel like I need to say, and at the same time there are so many things I need to grow and build. Balancing theory and praxis is an ongoing challenge. One of the things I like most about these permies forums and permaculture folks generally is their tendency to spend a lot of time "being the change" they wish to see in the world, rather than just talking about it. I really appreciate your efforts in this regard, and while it seems like we may disagree about the necessity/utility of the state, I think distributist insights have much to contribute to the discussion and I am grateful for the input you find the time to add.

I'd also be curious what you and any other folks here think about the work of Elinor Ostrom?

In particular, Gilbert, your earlier statement that "in practice [you] tend to agree ... but in theory..." reminds me of the adage of "Ostrom's law," which says basically: "A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory."

It seems like Ostrom's observations and insights with regard to "state," "market," "public," "private," and "commons governance" have a lot to add to this discussion. When I find the time I hope to elaborate on them and also to address some other recent points.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I've got some time, so I'll take a break from digging and planting to add my thoughts to this thread. Everything here is my opinion, language to the contrary notwithstanding. And everyone on Permies is perfect. I welcome any criticism or question about my opinions. And, this is more like a collection of musings rather then my final answer on these topics; I'm still studying and thinking about these topics a lot. This is my best shot at an answer to date.

First, I think that scale is everything when talking about economics and politics. Paul Wheaton is in a sense a "dictator" of the Labs. Yet this is tolerable because anyone who does not appreciate this can head out. I realize this is only an analogy; but I think that a village of 2000 people ruled by a king would probably be more free then a nation of 200 million ruled by representative democracy.

Second, I think that idealism in thought is valuable; we should spend time discussing what an ideal system would look like. But we should temper this by realizing that in the real world, the ideal is rare or non-existant. There are no perfect societies, because we are not perfect human beings (except for we permies, of course; we are all perfect here. ) Idealistic attempts to realize an ideal society have lead to lots of bloodshed over the last hundred years.

Third, my approach to property, politics, and economics are informed by Catholic social teaching. I believe, strongly, in the right to own property. However, I do not hold that this is an absolute right. All goods are given for the Human race as a whole. Individual people should use and tend land or other goods in a system of private property, because this benefits the common good. It is more efficient then a totally communal system. At the same time, however, I think an ideal system would include a large amount of commons. In fact, ownership might be 90% communal, though management might be more individual.

Fourth, all communities have what I would call rules. In primitive societies such as a hunter-gatherer band or a farming village, they may be unwritten. In any case, every society has unwritten rules over and above their written ones. These rules, written and unwritten, are, in a small community, enforced by the community members themselves. Imagine a small village, with no government to speak of, and no written law. There is a murder, and the murderer is found out. I would guess the murderer had better take a hike, even though there is not a policeman in sight.

Fifth, I am against any concentration of power; economic or political. But I think that economic power is actually the more dangerous of the two. Consider this. Let's say there was a King who in theory had absolute power over a town; he has a band of 200 armed men, and levies taxes to support them. However, there are 5000 villagers, and every one of them owns a substantial amount of productive property. Furthermore, the 200 armed men are largely drawn from the town population. In this situation, if the king becomes too oppressive, the villagers can draw on their resources to oppose him.

However, imagine a town where one factory owner controls all the means of production and all the wealth; he doles out a daily allowance of food, fuel, and water to the townsfolk. Everyone in town has a vote in theory, but the government of the town has no control over the economic side of things; they can't tax the factory owner. That owner has more power, by a huge factor, then the king did.

Sixth, since all property is for the common good, I hold that the owners of that property can pass laws regulating its use. Paul Wheaton, as owner of Wheaton Labs, can set rules for his land; for instance, he does not allow smoking. Similarly, I hold that the many land owners or managers as a group can set rules for land use in their community. If one property holder decides to burn tires all day on his land, the neighboring owners have a right to stop him. Similarly, as mentioned in number 4 above, they have the right to uphold the "rules" of the community.

Seventh, as communities develop and increase in size, they generally set up a "government" of some sort to enforce the rules. An analogy could help. Let's say I have a broken, dangerous  balcony in my house. If I am the only one living there, I don't have to even lock the door leading to it. If there are a few people in the house, I could mention it to them all. If it is a big apartment complex, I'd better put up some bars on the balcony door; and if it opens off of a street with a thousand people a minute walking by, I might hire someone to keep people out of it.

Eighth, this "government" only becomes a problem when it takes on a life of its own and oppresses the people for its own advantage. Mind, some of the people may think they are oppressed in any case. The murderer driven from the village above, or the tire burner whose operation was shut down by the land community, probably feel annoyed, to put it mildly, just as a GAPPER on Wheaton Labs might feel annoyed if he is not allowed to smoke. But a rule that is not enforced is not a rule. Of course, any community can overstep its bounds; a community might pass a rule stating that nobody within it could read, and all books were banned. This would be an abuse of power. But in general, those who enjoy the benefits of a community should follow the rules for the common good, just as should GAPPERS on the Labs. I don't see that there is a huge difference between a mob of villagers chasing out a murderer, and a policeman locking one up, except that in the second case the murderer may get a fair trial. If you don't like either, I'm not sure there are any working communities without enforced rules of some sort. Medieval Iceland is sometimes pointed out as an example of anarchy in action, but its sagas are full of retributive justice being dealt out, often with the support of the Althing. So long as "government" is an actual extension of the community, I'm OK with it. In these USA, the federal government is a separate entity ruling for its own benefit.

Ninth, for government to be an actual extension of the community, a few conditions have to be met, I think. Among others, there must be widespread private ownership "control" of productive property; the community has to be below a certain size; and it greatly helps if the community has a homogenous culture.

Point 1; productive property. If those who control productive property are many, there will be many checks on absolute power. Those who do not control productive property feel they have nothing to loose, and will either be apathetic or follow demagogues who promise them sustenance. Those who own much more productive property then the rest have disproportionate economic and political power. I'm not arguing for exact economic equality, which would be impossible, but for a rough equality; a state like ours where a few control the land and capital lends itself to oppressive political power. Also, there is a difference between wealth (carrots, say) and productive property (a garden plot, compost bin, and tool shed.) A large amount of carrots owned by one person is not a danger to the state. A large percentage of the farmland owned by one person is.

Point 2; scale. Once a community gets too big, natural relationships and local knowledge start to break down. It becomes too hard to hold government accountable. The very size of the thing lends itself to oppression. People become faceless entities, and bureaucratic structures grow in an attempt to replace the old local, personal knowledge with statistical knowledge. I'm not sure what this size is, but I guess it is smaller then almost all nation states today. That does not mean that autonomous regions could not form federations for mutual benefit; but they would have to be true federations.

Point 3; culture. Another way of saying this is that if everyone operates by the same internal rules, chances for coercion and conflict greatly decrease. For instance, there are communities in India where some feel it is wrong to kill cows, and others disagree. And this disagreement becomes a symbol of the many other differences between the two cultures there, and violence ensues. I'm not saying that a group with cultural differences can't form a healthy community without oppression; but I am saying it is difficult. And most traditional societies, particularly the ones with little government, seem to have had homogenous cultures. The more different the cultures become, the more one needs a strong central government to keep folks in line. And of course it would be nice if we could all just get along; but see my second point above. And, just for the record, I absolutely reject any attempts to achieve a homogenous culture by wiping out people with differing views. I think that the different subcultures can and should, as they naturally do, gravitate into different local enclaves. This preserves them all to their mutual benefit. For more on this, read Christopher Alexander in  A pattern Language.

As the community becomes more equal in property ownership, smaller, and more homogenous, government becomes more and more a simple extension of the people. But I can't see how a very large, diverse community with unequal access to capital can hold together without a government. In other words, I see no hope for the USA to become an ideal community of the type I would like.

Tenth, there are, even here in the USA, some small town communities where the local government is still an extension of the people. I think just about any type of government, given the three conditions above, can be a true extension of the people.

Eleventh, some hope that technology will allow us to be free, and create some sort of large scale citizens government of the world. As a fan of Wendell Berry, I doubt this. I think there are a million local solutions for everything, but no global ones. Thinking globally actually reinforces the sort of detached, ungrounded actions that have got us into this mess. In the end, the only solution is love; love of a particular place, particular people, particular culture, particular trees and streams and meadows.

Twelfth, the nearest approach to my ideal so far in history that I know of were the European guilds, peasantries, and common land (and even they fell far short.) Guilds were mutual support organizations composed of individual craftsman. Unlike modern labor unions, each member was an owner. The guild not only aided individual craftsmen who fell on hard times, and set quality standards, but limited the size to which each shop could grow. Each master could only take on a certain maximum number of apprentices at one time; each shop could only be open for the same number of hours; no shop could undersell another. This made sure that productive property stayed well divided. They had considerable political power, which was a check on the power of kings and other rulers; while not perfect, they were a lot better then the current situation, and they could provide some ideas with applicability to the modern world. In short, they valued cooperation above competition, but made sure that hard work would still be rewarded. (The only way a master would become richer then others was to sell a better product, and thus draw more customers.) The European common land ensured that all had access to at least a little productive property. Each peasant had certain rights; they could pasture a certain number of animals, gather firewood and building material, and harvest wild food. There was no danger that this source of wealth could be lost due to individual hard times. Similarly, while peasant's individual plots were rented from the lord of the manor, the rents were nominal and tenure hereditary. And due to social circumstances, a lord who decided to drive all his peasants off the land in a bad year for failure to pay rent would find himself in difficulties next year.  Some sources from the time suggest that medieval peasants and craftsmen actually worked less then we do today, particularly as these systems grew in strength and freedom over time. There were flaws in this system, but considering the rough and tumultuous time it grew up in, and the oppressive slave systems it grew out of, it is impressive. There was a fair amount of individual liberty, backed up by economic freedom.

In summary; I think scale is everything; I think that goods have a common, universal destination and that private ownership is more akin to stewardship for the community; because of this, I disagree with libertarian theories that reject the state a such; I hold that every community past and present has "rules" of some sort; I hold that a rule which is not enforced is not a rule; therefore I hold that communities, for both these reasons, can enforce rules on themselves. I hold that communities can delegate this enforcing to something commonly called government; but that there is a large risk that this government will become an individual entity and rule for its own ends. I hold that the best checks on this would be widespread ownership of productive property (capital and land); small, autonomous communities; and commonly shared culture and values. I do not think that technology can help us to this end; neither do I trust anything "global." I think we can use the medieval European model as a source of some ideas, but do not advocate recreating it as such. I have relatively little hope that such a system will come to be on any large scale.

What then should we do? Well, I'm going to go repair my cold frame, dig in some biochar, and plant cabbages! The only person I can control is myself. The only community I can heal is mine.
 
evan l pierce
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So much still to say, but here's a start...

nancy sutton wrote:Average person... still think[s] 'anarchism' is bomb throwing


How many bombs have been dropped on people by self-proclaimed governments throughout history? It would seem that the supporters of government have a much bloodier record. Considering we consistently oppose the systematic terrorism entailed in governing others, to paint anarchists as "bomb-throwers" is clearly ridiculous.

nancy sutton wrote:Average person doesn't understand 'distributivism'


Maybe the average person hasn't seen the concept illustrated clearly (I realize I'm posting this image again, please pardon my emphasis,)



Distributed systems have some characteristics that make them especially important in the context of permaculture. They are integrated rather than segregated, and multi-functionality is dispersed throughout: each element serving multiple functions and each function serving multiple elements.

Arguably, growing/building globally distributed networks is good permaculture praxis on the societal scale and deeply aligned with our ethics of care for the planet, all people, and the future. Likewise, abolishing the harmful practice of ruling over others would be making "the least change for the greatest effect" in terms of social permaculture.

nancy sutton wrote:I think it is all in the education, which is all in the 'words / labels'.


Words and labels are some of the most potent ways we can attempt to share ideas, but images and living examples can clarify as well.

Whether or not systems of organization are labelled "anarchist" is not nearly as important as the degree to which they are, in practice, based on consent and truly voluntary interaction.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:scale is everything when talking about economics and politics.


While scale has many effects that we can and should analyze, I would argue that a deeper and more fundamental dynamic is in play: the fact that individual minds exist and only have relatively limited and imperfect connections to each other. In other words, vital knowledge about your core needs and desires, your thoughts and feelings and ongoing experience of the world, is almost entirely inaccessible to everyone but you.

Because each of us, as individuals, is having a different, unique, externally unknowable experience, any government over an individual at any scale higher than that selfsame individual is the point where government ceases to be an extension of will and becomes a tyrannical imposition. The distributist impulse towards diffusing power down to ever smaller scales, when taken to its obvious and necessary conclusion, is anarchy.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:Imagine a small village... There is a murder, and the murderer is found out. I would guess the murderer had better take a hike...


Only to come to another small village where news of his being a murderer has not yet spread so he can continue his killing spree?!

Gilbert Fritz wrote:I do not think that technology can help us to this end; neither do I trust anything "global."


A world of small villages disconnected from global networks would effectively enable sociopaths and predators, who would only need to continue moving from place to place in order to find new victims.

This is exactly why we need global interconnection! This is precisely the sort of social problem that has technological solutions. Globally distributed reputation networks would stop such a murderous sociopath dead in their tracks by empowering the next individual they come across with knowledge of their misdeeds. Individuals with the freedom to choose would probably interact with someone reliably reputed of murder only with great caution, if at all.

As technology is defined as "the use and knowledge of techniques and processes for producing goods and services," to reject technological solutions is to reject basically all solutions.

Perhaps you are using some definition of technology that arbitrarily excludes things like written language and cold frames. But if so, I would argue that the burden is on you to justify why and where you draw the lines of your particular definition.

Instead of rejecting technology wholesale, I would argue that we need the freedom to develop and choose to use better technologies: to engage with and expand our knowledge of techniques and processes, in order to address and solve the many local and global problems we face, (especially those caused by the thoughtless or malicious use of certain techniques and processes.)

One of the best things about the permies forums is that we're a global network sharing our use and knowledge of techniques and processes. Permies are all about technological solutions!

Gilbert Fritz wrote:Thinking globally actually reinforces the sort of detached, ungrounded actions that have got us into this mess.


No, actually it is the failure to think globally that is the problem. The problem is failing to realize our inextricable interconnectedness as coinhabitants of this planet: that we all breathe the same atmosphere, that we are all part of a deeply interwoven biosphere, that we're all in this together. It is willfully blinding oneself to anything other than the most local immediate context that is the problem.

Whether they are domestic abusers enabled by patriarchal power structures on a local scale, or imperial warmongers who throw bombs at people using remote control planes on a global scale, it is our responsibility to stand against oppression in all its forms.

Dawn said something earlier that bears repeating:

Dawn Hoff wrote:We observe that there will always be psychopaths, but giving them access to our wallets and paying them respect and giving them special rights that the rest of us don't have is a poor way of stopping them. We observe that we have more in common with the poor people in the middle east caught in the crossfire between our governments and their dictator... than we have with any of the people who try to rule us and them.



Gilbert Fritz wrote:In the end, the only solution is love; love of a particular place, particular people, particular culture, particular trees and streams and meadows.


Of course we love particular people and particular places. But we must not restrict our empathy to only our immediate family or tribe. We must instead empathize with all minds, (not as collectivist abstractions like nations or cultures, but as living thinking individuals.) Love is what enables us to see others' freedom as our own.

It is because we love our neighbors as ourselves that we work towards abolishing all power relations.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Only to come to another small village where news of his being a murderer has not yet spread so he can continue his killing spree?!



Why, in an era of small villages, would they trust an outsider? Besides, I didn't suggest he should; I merely was pointing out that the mob is exercising "governmental functions."

I believe technology should always be human scale; global networks don't seem to be at that scale. And, in the only era we know of where we could think globally, we've done more damage then ever before.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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This conversation is getting complicated; we could talk all day about economics and technology; but the main point is about Community. Can communities enforce their will against individuals?

I think there really are such things as communities, which have the right and duty to protect themselves against individuals. This right can be abused, and often is, but abuse does not take away use.

I base this view on the communality of human goods. We are but stewards of our wealth, particularly land, and must use them for the common good. Just as one must follow the house rules in somebody else's house, or leave, one must follow the community rules, or leave. Communities can delegate this rule enforcing role to government; this only becomes a problem when the government takes on a life of its own. (Which it often does.)

Do you anarchists think communities can not enforce rules? Or that governments can never be an extension of the community? Or both? Or do you disbelieve in communities as such?

I think we should start another thread about technology if we want to discuss that.
 
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I was more or less living the life of an anarchist for decades before I thought at all about the word, or even had more than a nebulous description of the concepts. I'll give some examples...

One time, a person stabbed me in the ankle with a dagger. I didn't call the police. I didn't call an ambulance. I went home and put a bandage on it, and forgot about it until today.

One time I woke up in the middle of the night, and my home was on fire. I didn't call the fire department. I went into the backyard, nude, grabbed the garden hose, turned it on high, dragged it through the house spewing full blast,  into the room that was engulfed, and put out the fire.

One time, a person was stealing tools from my truck. I didn't call the police... I left a note in my tool-box in several languages that said, "Cursed be for stealing from someone that is poorer than you are. I'll change the curse to a blessing if you return what you have taken." Nearly every item was returned.

Several times in parking lots, people have crashed into my car. We didn't call the police. I looked at my car, and they looked at theirs, and we said something to each other like, "This damage to my car was pre-existing." "Yup, mine too!" And we have peacefully went our separate ways.

One time a person threatened my life with a meat cleaver. Another time that person beat me. I didn't call the police. I arranged my life to never spend time with that person again.

One time, a person was trying to blackmail and extort me. I didn't go to the police. I didn't sue them.  I published the details to the world. No more blackmail.

One time, at work, I sliced a 2 inch gash through my biceps.  I didn't call an ambulance, or OSHA. I didn't file a workman's comp claim. I went home, put butterfly bandages over it, and went back to work a few days later.

One time, on the street,  I was threatened by a stranger with a shotgun. I ran away FAST. I didn't call police, and haven't told anyone about it until today.

Several times in my life, I saw women neglecting and/or abusing their children. I didn't call child protective services.  I moved in with them, then raised and protected the children. That's the only viable option I could see, because the abuse of CPS tends to be much worse.

If I slip and fall in a parking lot, I don't go on a rant about suing the store for not maintaining the parking lot, I remind myself to be more careful on the ice.

I don't get marriage licenses when I hook up with a new partner. It's not something that I would ever consider doing.

If I see someone driving erratically, it wouldn't occur to me to call 911 to report it. And even if someone that was with me suggested it, I would actively encourage them to mind their own business. If I saw a "stranger" lurking around the school, the last thing in the world that I would do is ask police to go bother them.

I have never looked at a sex-offender registry. And never will. I have disabled every government notification on my cell phone that I can. No amber alerts. No disaster alerts. Etc...

When the University Extension Office contacts me and tells me they want to give money to me, or want me to teach a class, or whatever, I tell them to go away and leave me alone, because their programs and salaries are paid for with money that is taken from me against my will. If they try to give me "Free" publicity on their web site, I ask that they remove my name from it, because the cost of "free" is too high for me to bear.

Whenever possible, I eat non-licensed, non-inspected, and non-taxed foods and wines. I like my mechanics, masseuses, and medicine-women to be non-licensed, and uncertified. A lot of this is due to the can-do attitude of unlicensed people. They haven't been conditioned to operate inside a narrowly prescribed box.

Because I don't rely on government to protect me or my loved ones, (they only do paperwork after the danger is past), I live my life armed. A close examination of most of the photos that I post of myself on this forum will show a pistol on my hip. Here's an example in high resolution, suitable for zooming.




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nancy sutton
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Since wealth is the other side of the power/authority/hierarchy coin, and I think 'absolute power corrupts absolutely' (in all realms - political, economic and religious),  I'll just drop this in here... it is David Graeber giving a detailed overview of his book, 'Debt: the First 5000 Years', at Google, no less... I think knowing where 'money', 'markets, 'usury', etc originated is very helpful.  I found it very interesting.... as he is an avowed, in-the-trenches anarchist and global radical. (120 mins)

 
evan l pierce
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Nancy, thanks for posting that David Graeber video. I find a lot of value in Graeber's work. That said, here's a critical review of his book, Debt: The First 5000 Years, entitled Debt: The Possibilities Ignored

Joseph, while I have nothing but respect for your steadfast and conscientious rejection of the state and state-connected organizations, I just want to clarify that an anarchist ethical orientation in no way obligates you to refuse to seek medical help when injured, nor does being an anarchist mean never alerting your neighbors to potential threats to their safety, nor does it mean never asking for help to put out a fire. I'm sure you didn't mean to imply these things, and I'm not at all saying "you should've done X instead," but just because calling the cops is almost always a bad idea doesn't mean that we can't cooperate with our friends and neighbors to share knowledge, protect one another, and work together to solve problems. Anarchy does not equal isolated individuals having to solve all their problems alone.

Emergency response services need not remain under centralized monopolistic control; we can develop and use networks and communications technologies to coordinate effective responses to a variety of emerging situations. Buoy is an excellent example.

Developing mutual aid networks that can serve as effective alternatives to state-monopolized services is a critical part of the anarchist project: things like growing and sharing food, medicine, and seeds, building and maintaining shelters, protecting people, resolving disputes, and expanding and increasing our shared knowledge and understanding of the universe.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:Why, in an era of small villages, would they trust an outsider?



A world of such xenophobic and disconnected small villages would enable tyranny. Victims of abusive power relations in their home village would have even less opportunity to escape if the other villages in which they might seek refuge are walled off from "outsiders."

Gilbert Fritz wrote:I believe technology should always be human scale; global networks don't seem to be at that scale.



Humans are a globally distributed species. What exactly is "not human scale" about humans communicating with each other?

Global networks and communications technologies effectively shrink formerly unfathomable distances down to more human-accessible scales, enabling us to find commonalities with each other, overcome our fears, share solutions to our problems, and form truly voluntary communities. Even as we are threatened by rulers, their armies and borders intended to keep us fearful, isolated, and disconnected from each other, we nevertheless increasingly have the means at our fingertips to transcend their walls and to communicate with one another all over the world!

But the centralized systems that so many of us depend upon, (not just for communication but also to varying degrees for food, energy, medicine, shelter, security, dispute resolution, etc.) are inherently fragile and often harmful. We need to instead build systems that are more decentralized, more distributed, more peer-to-peer, more horizontally networked, and, critically, rooted in consent and mutual aid.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:And, in the only era we know of where we could think globally, we've done more damage then ever before.



Seemingly local actions often have wider, even global, consequences.

Failing to consider or care about the consequences of one's actions outside of the arbitrary boundaries of one's own nation/tribe/community, in short, failing to think globally enough, seems to be a root cause of much of the war, poverty, and environmental destruction in the world.

We have not yet even begun to think globally.

William Gillis wrote:Your Freedom Is My Freedom: The Premise Of Anarchism

Sometimes words are just words — interchangeable and discardable — but sometimes a word belies a knot in our thought, tightly wound and tensely connected. “Anarchy” is one such word.

Centuries ago the English peasantry rose up to overthrow the king and radically remake society. The vanguard of this revolution, the levellers and the diggers, sought to demolish the feudal hierarchy, to revise property and the division of land. In their revolt they were joined by opportunists who sought the overthrow of the king to assert their own power. Naturally these factions clashed. It was in this civil war that the word “anarchy” was leveraged to great effect. Those with the audacity to explicitly oppose anyone ruling over anyone were characterized as desiring “anarchy,” and when this happened the idealistic rebels were forced to backpeddle, to stumble and prevaricate on a trap built into their very language.

The word “anarchy” originates in the Greek word “an-archia” (“without rulership”). Over the last couple millennia it has grown two simultaneous associations: 1) the absence of domination and constraint and 2) a war of competing would-be-rulers. The latter redefinition inspired by the constant conflict between princes and small lords that it was felt had gripped Europe during the Middle Ages in the absence of a single ruler. While the first definition is clearly the better fit to the word’s etymology the latter signified something more properly akin to “spas-archy” or *fractured* domination than the absence of domination. But in practice these two definitions grew to be lumped together as the same thing, functionally serving as an orwellianism. Like a more condensed version of the phrase “freedom is slavery” the invocation of “anarchy” thus served to write out of our language the ability to speak of a world that wasn’t characterized by domination. To desire the end of domination was thus transmuted into merely desiring a different, more decentralized, configuration of domination.

This perspective mirrors that of our rulers and would-be-rulers who cannot conceive of anything besides rule-or-be-ruled. It’s the fascistic or authoritarian perspective in which there exists nothing besides the game of power. If rulership is all there is — if it is inescapable — then the “without rulership” of “an-archy” signifies a senseless and incoherent concept, and the word should, in the authoritarian mind, be reassigned to more productively characterize a less centralized set of power relations.

This reframing of anarchy in terms of centralization rather than domination is an obvious trick because decentralized expressions of rulership or interpersonal domination can clearly be quite severe. Parental abuse of children, partner abuse, sexual violence, community ostracization, and many other informal power dynamics of social capital are often far more visceral and constraining in many people’s actual lives than war, taxes, and police repression. Exploitation at the hand of the thief or bandit, the mugger or rapist, the brigand and minor warlord, is hardly any different than at the hand of a cop or bureaucrat.

Centralization and decentralization each have their own efficiencies and inefficiencies when it comes to domination and constraint. Centralization allows one to take advantage of certain economies of scale, but decentralization can allow more intimate and attentive abuse. It makes little sense to quibble over whether the decentralization of the Rwandan genocide made it more efficient at horror than Third Reich. Decentralization may be a necessary condition of liberation, but it alone is hardly sufficient — the real issue is domination itself.

Similarly, domination can be quite sharply constraining even without a clearly defined hierarchy. Two people can chain each other down, sometimes without either ever getting an advantage. Indeed we often interact in ways that are mutually oppressive. More complex or balanced dynamics of domination that defy description in terms of a simple hierarchy do not necessarily diminish the domination at play.

For those of us who seek the abolition of such dynamics altogether, who strive in the direction of a world entirely without domination, without rulership over one another, it is impossible to avoid a contest over the definition of anarchy. Language channels and focuses our thoughts; a definition determines what can be expressed succinctly and what presumptions we will gravitate towards. So it was like a thunderclap when in the nineteenth century someone finally declared that “Anarchy is order, government is civil war” and a movement promptly grew like wildfire. We declared ourselves “anarchists” as a provocation, but also as a corrective. Because we will never be able to make serious headway towards freedom unless the concept itself is conceivable.

Unfortunately just as the term “anarchy” has been saddled with negative associations, so too has our concept of “freedom” become muddied in ways that often keep us chained. In wider society “freedom” is often used in very loose ways; if we dislike something we’ll characterize the absence of it as “freedom from” it. This “freedom” refers to nothing more than negation of a given thing. And obviously “not” can never coherently function as a general ideal — “negation” is meaningless when not paired with some specific concept. The absence of one thing always means the presence of another thing.

Thus is this sense of “freedom” invoked by authoritarians of all colors. The soldiers and the cops beating us are said to “protect our freedom” — which is to say a freedom from disruption, the freedom to exist in a certain state of affairs, no matter how noxious. The “freedom” to maintain a certain static culture or set of traditions, “free” from change and challenge. This sort of freedom is never anything more than the securing and preserving of some kind of identity, some specific static world. Thus does the conservative quite seriously declare that two gay men holding hands in the public square violates his freedom.

To survive conflicts of such “freedoms” a number of systems of detente have been proposed. The most common today is a propertarian resolution wherein the world is physically divided up and within each clearly demarcated bubble owners may structure things according to their unique desires or identities.

There are certainly many practical upsides to giving everyone their own garden to play in! But — as an abstract — the negative concept of “freedom” obscures the positives to collaboration as well as the innate arbitrariness and constraint of static identity.

To worship a notion of freedom as isolation from outside forces would leave us all chained in prisons, frozen statues walled off and incapable of engagement and development. This notion of freedom as rigor mortis — the “freedom” of the coffin — is innately authoritarian. But it’s also deeply arbitrary. It’s not clear which authority or identity we should adopt. There are many different corpses we might strive to reduce ourselves to, forever “free” of further external influence. What mere “freedom from” deprives from us is active agency. True freedom is of course not about retreating from or walling off outside influences but rather having *choice* in our interactions with the world.

Not a single isolated “choice” of a certain identity or role, but continual, engaged, active choice, every moment of our lives.

When we truly live we are hurricanes of self-reflection, pulling in knowledge and influences from the wider world — the universe wrapping in on itself in a self-awareness that expands the scope of what is possible. To truly be free — liberated of constraints — can only mean to have more options. Not confined within some arbitrary box, but radiating ever outward into the world.

Note that such freedom *isn’t* a zero sum game. Every single person can remake the world. Creation and discovery are not exclusive acts. A society where every person was equally unleashed, to discover titanic insights or create profoundly moving art, would not be a gray world of mediocrity because impact and influence is not a scarce good. We can each be heroes, we can each change everything, we can each bring more options into the world.

In this proper light there is no inherent conflict between the freedom of individuals because freedom is a larger and more general phenomenon. To fire a gun at your neighbor’s head would gravely deprive the world of possibility. True freedom is not predicated on the imprisonment of others but rather their liberation.

In our muddied and corrupted language it’s often easy to mistake power and freedom as the same thing. Yet unlike power — which is a kind of directed capacity, a relation between distinct entities — freedom resists disentanglement. To slice the world apart into arbitrary selves and arbitrary structures is to curtail what is possible. Rulership is always a relation of constraint. Domination over another person is often assumed to expand the capabilities of the ruler at the expense of the ruled, in practice power usually constrains both. On some occasions the ruler does expand their personal freedom at the cost of overall freedom but the anemic and arbitrary sense of self required for such a trade-off is its own prison.

To divorce yourself from the spark of freedom in another is to identify with something other than freedom — to reject the active spark that gives you life as an actor in this world and consign it to death in the name of some happenstance idol. Ultimately you can either value freedom or some random dead static thing. Some specific state of affairs rather than motion and agency. To identify with freedom, to truly live, to embrace possibility, is to reject and overcome all walls, including those between one another.

Your freedom is my freedom because freedom tolerates no divisions, accepts no adjectives, belongs to no one. There is simply freedom or constraint. Liberation or rulership. This common empathy in liberty is the foundation that makes anarchy a coherent idea, that makes a world without rulership conceivable.

Anarchism is more sweeping and more ambitious than any of the political platforms it is often compared with. As you can see we can never make a simple list of demands because our aspirations are ultimately infinite. By declaring ourselves for the abolition of rulership itself we have created a space for striving; the furthest particulars will always be unsettled. Anarchism does not represent a final state of affairs, but a direction, a vector pointing beyond all possible compromises. As the old saying goes we don’t want bread or even the bakery, we want the stars too. And anarchists have gone in many directions, exploring many concerns and dynamics.

However there are some unavoidable conclusions to our embrace of freedom.

Most famously we oppose the state. Government is defined by its monopoly on coercion — it cannot act but through aggression, every law or edict it passes is imposed by a centralized apparatus of violence. The state is in short a forcible simplification of human relations, a system caught up in feedback loops that strengthen its tyranny. Rather than building tolerable and fluidly responsive agreements from the ground up, the state imposes one rigid vision from the top down. Its monopoly on overwhelming violence provides a shortcut to accomplishing things that bypasses full negotiations; not only does this approach suppress freedom in the name of expediency it encourages everyone to do the same. Once the state exists it presents a tool that cannot be ignored — if you want to get a given task done the state makes it enticing to do it through competing for, seizing, and directing the state’s coercion. Nearly everyone becomes invested in expanding the power of the state so that it can assure or enact their desires.

The state that is so often defended as a means of solving collective action problems is itself a catastrophic collective action problem, with mass murderous consequences. The state suppresses us all, chains us in service to a limited number of tasks, inherently simplistic directives that can never fully reflect our complex array of desires. The state rules us, but it always seems easier to fight for control of the state, to struggle to win the lottery for its hamfisted power, than to dissolve its chains.

States formed historically from brutal domination and have persisted so virally because they are mistakes hard to unmake. Nevertheless at different points enlightened people throughout history have successfully dissolved states — to varying degrees and with varying permanence. In our era it lies before us to dissolve not just one state but the entire global ecosystem of cancerous power systems (both formal nationstates and the smaller state-like entities they encourage from corporations to gangs to cliques) and establish a more decentralized and responsive society with not just a few token checks and balances against power, but countless social structures acting as antibodies and an entire populace committed to fighting its emergence.

There are many possible norms, instincts, and patterns of organization that impede and check relations of domination, but those that worked in the past have atrophied in our society and those approaches that show new promise are — like any radical change — challenging to establish and popularize.

This is obviously no trivial task, statism is reinforced not merely through the violent threat of the police but through a culture that embraces domination and an infrastructure that encourages centralized social relations. The state nurtures organizational and technological forms in its image — simplistic and centralized — so as to more easily engage with them, and its heavy hand distorts economic relations in similar directions, encouraging hierarchy and monopoly.

We are not allowed to create or interact except in ways that are easily visible to and controllable by the state. You are either forced to work under the state itself or under a business reflective of it and compliant to it. Everyone else is shuffled into a pool of desperate “unemployed” or given welfare under intense constraints — we are in countless ways barred from providing for ourselves rather than begging before a boss or bureaucrat. Under the guise of “public quality” individuals are violently suppressed for selling tamales or cigarettes, and most collective endeavors that treat all participants as equals are banned unless they can grease enough hands and jump through enough red tape. We have been systematically dispossessed of almost all means of living out from under the thumb of one tyrant or another by centuries of genocide, slavery, and imperialism. Repeated theft in countless arenas has concentrated control into the hands of the few and curtailed our opportunities.

This ecosystem of power also nurtures a psychology of brutal competition, not only among those who seek its power, but also among those it represses, twisting them into seeing the world as it does, in terms of power rather than freedom. It violently simplifies our relations with one another into centralized structures and encourages us to struggle to dominate one another.

Statism isolates. Its centralization is just another way to say that power severs and impedes our connectivity. Instead of distributed resilient social networks statism stokes hierarchy and segregation, giving us each fewer options in our relations with others and holding back what is possible on the whole.

This point about connectivity is an important one that strikes deeper than the specific problems of centralization. It’s not enough to not be imprisoned or held down by clear chains, you have to have channels by which to act in the world. A wall has the same effect as a chain. It’s not enough to be able to say “no” to a handful of options, we must have more options to choose from — deeper and richer in their scope and impact on the world around us.

And just as it severs our capacity to connect in direct ways, power cuts us off from truth. It encourages manipulation and constraints on the flow of information, which necessarily oppresses us all because a lack of accuracy means a lack of agency. The less grounded our models of the world are the less actual choice we truly have to act within it, the more futilely our actions grasp at empty air rather than connecting and moving the world. A lie is often a complex knot that binds and ignorance can seem to provide complex options, but simple truths open real possibilities.

This focus on deeper realities rather than abstract or ‘practical’ rules of thumb is, incidentally, why we are called radicals. “Radical” stems from “radix” the Latin word for root, and signifies not necessarily an *extreme* position but rather a view that gets to the fundamentals of things. To be a radical is to seek to identify and address the most basic, the most deeply rooted dynamics. To start from the foundations. The radical is only an extremist from the perspective of a world that has abandoned earnest inquiry and lost sight of the most basic truths.

Ours is sadly a world of “good enough”, of the “practical”, of the immediate at the expense of all else. We have all seen what such a world creates. Misery and encircling mutual enslavement. Too often we worship and cling to the barest of impressions, the most superficial of identities and common banners. We look for quick fixes again and again, hoping to solve myriad social problems and conflicts with the blunt instrument of the state, ignoring the collateral damage and deepening crises such means create. We recoil from the longer, harder, more painstaking path of building a new world in the shell of the old — of spreading and nourishing new relations, projects, norms, and technologies that increasingly make unsustainable our world’s instruments of domination — a path that requires complex resistance, continual struggle, with no easy resolution, no comforting collusion.

Our world is gripped in shortsightedness, not just in means but in its ends. We are caught up in a myopia that obscures the freedom to be found in others, that tells us to identify with the limits set for us — to see freedom as another flavor of domination, and tyranny as liberation from the complexities of true engagement. It tells us that we are the clothes we happen to wear and not the conscious act of choice between them. It pleads with us to believe that freedom is a thing impossible, incoherent, irreconcilably fractured.

Anarchism is not and has never been a proclamation that if we overthrow a given state — wherever the extent of that state is to be drawn — utopia will immediately result. Anarchism is not a claim about “human nature” or a simplistic reflex of negation. Anarchism is daring to see beyond the suffocating language of power.

Anarchism is the lifting of our eyes beyond our immediate preoccupations and connecting with one another. Seeing the same spark, the same churning hurricane, same explosion of consciousness, within them that resides within us. Anarchism is the recognition that liberty is not kingdoms at war, but a network interwoven and ultimately unbroken — a single expanse of possibility growing every day. Anarchism is the realization that freedom has no owners. It has only fountainheads.

 
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