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  •  Well, I think this has now become repetition (0+ / 0-)

    of our points, which inevitably seems to happen in these kinds of discussions.

    Again, I've read of tribal social structures which were clearly egalitarian and horizontal (anarchic) so I don't know what you base your opinion on.

    Graeber, for example, is just one source of information about anarchist tribal societies, and he describes several in his writings. Other sources corroborate this view.

    And as to natural tendencies in how people govern themselves, I think that is fraught with complexity, but by and large I think humans do lean that direction, but that isn't the only basis to favor anarchic living arrangements.

    Anarchism is the only form of self-management of society that eliminates the key causes of corruption and exploitation, and allows the existence of a free society based on equality and egalitarianism, which in the long run will be necessary if humans are to keep from destroying themselves and the planet. And it is the only social arrangement that respects the human right to live in a state free of dominance, exploitation, and slavery by exogenous, unjustified authoritarianism.

    It balances the needs of the community with the needs of individuals, and eliminates the opportunism that other systems invite and foster.

    As to mechanism to bring this about, that has been thoroughly discussed over the decades. The authoritarian grip on society is very strong at the moment, and breaking people free from the social conditioning from years of capitalist propaganda is not going to be easy. We're lied to about history and capitalism in the schools from an early age, kept preoccupied with little time for self education, dominated by corporate media, given a narrow latitude of electoral choices, and people tend to respond to this by turning off to political debate, which in any case is hard to come by unless people read widely (on the internet).

    This is why major changes come at times in history when societies are disrupted by collapse and discord. Times like that will come again, inevitably. But there are other approaches. Anarchists often talk about carving out the eggshell from the inside, by creating, for example, a co-op movement that fosters worker owned and managed businesses. As more people wake up to the enormous disadvantages of capitalism, and realize we don't need to resort to Bolshevik forms of authoritarian socialism if we want alternatives (which Americans, in particular, have been brainwashed to believe is the only form of socialism), anarchism will begin to become known again, and in fact the popularity of anarchism is on the rise.

    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

    by ZhenRen on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 12:50:38 PM PDT

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    •  To add to this... (0+ / 0-)

      One reason I find anarchism worth studying is I believe it is important for people to have some understanding of what kind of society and sociopolitical structure they favor. If we don't discuss and get a grasp of our options, we have no favored default position to which to compare our current system. How can we understand, for example, the extremely unfair, exploitative nature of wage labor practiced in capitalism if we don't know of other social arrangements?

      This is one reason people don't revolt against the system. They don't think there are other viable choices, and the minute socialism is mentioned they think of the faux communist regimes like the former USSR, China, Cuba, etc, which were widely influenced by Lenin and Stalin and are highly authoritarian and oppressive.

      Anarchism answers this, but most people today are completely ignorant about anarchism, thanks to years of cold war propaganda (which the new generations were not exposed to as much, and thus far more open to socialism than older generations).

      I find studying alternatives to capitalism highly useful and necessary, because it provides a contrast to help me understand the real nature of capitalism. So, even if anarchist society doesn't come about in my lifetime, I am enriched by knowing there is another way of living that would be far superior, and this gives me insights into human rights, authoritarianism, justice, economics, without which I would be rather clueless in my political understanding.

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 01:09:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, I actually think we're getting somewhere (0+ / 0-)

        I have to run for now, but I will write you a long reply tomorrow!  See you then...

      •  Study history as well as alternative systems (0+ / 0-)

        Most people don't "favor" any particular society or sociopolitical system.  They simply are born into one.  Then they make the best life they can for themselves given where they are.  They would be puzzled by your question of comparing wage labor to other systems simply because no other systems exist and their imperative is to live and flourish in the one to which they are born.

        There are many reasons people don't revolt against the system.  First of all, they do rebel and revolt all the time, in productive and unproductive ways.  Secondly, it is hard to make said revolts contest the system in general because people feel they have a role within the system as is.  It is when they lose that sense entirely that they are more willing to contemplate alternatives.  

        If people want to understand why and how capitalism exists, it is important as well to study the history of how it came into being.  It was a crazy, drawn-out, unplanned, "anarchic" (excuse the word choice) tale, as much of world history is.  History teaches us some vital lessons.  Social systems have never been selected in an abstract void.  Free individuals never were in a position to step back from the world, debate the options, and make a selection of how to live in a way that would be best for them and their fellows.  Reality has always been there forcing us to graft our systems around its contours.  The closest we have come to enduring social justice is representative democracy, and it was a long, bloody struggle just to implement that!

        Untold millions have fought and died to end serfdom, end slavery, establish property rights, establish voting rights, and establish some semblance of democracy.  So those of us who study history are loathe to give up the few restraints we spent so much blood to gain on the 1% for what appears to be a pipe dream...  For example, if we declared New York anarchy today, what would the 1% do?  Join us?  Give us their wealth?  No, man, they'd do just what they did to Occupy.  They'd crush us, laugh about us over stuffed prawns on 5th Ave, take in a Broadway show and keep donating to Bloomberg.  

        Like you, I believe that America is prisoner to a cascade of idiotic authoritarian and self-immolating impulses.  It's a unilateral capitalist economic superpower in the initial phases of its inevitable decline.  As it starts to sink, panic has set in as the 1% desperately try to maintain their world pre-eminence by extracting as much wealth from the laborers of the world as they can while keeping the home population docile and lulled by the illusion that their fates are tied to the fortunes of the Wall Street financial elite.

        Occupy Wall Street indeed.  I supported it and still do.  But the outcome will not be anarchy.  At best, it will be a more socialistic system, and that's definitely an endeavor that I support.  And it is achievable in coming decades.  Hey, it's a start.  

    •  OK, here goes (0+ / 0-)

      I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but I have to disagree.

      Graeber is an anarchist first and an anthropologist second.  Other sources do not corroborate his view.  In fact, he has been roundly criticized for over-emphasizing the horizontal nature of tribal societies and neglecting their vertical aspects.  
      These vertical aspects are sometimes atypical of those found in Western societies and thus more difficult for us to identify and ascertain, but they are nonetheless present.  For example, many "horizontal" societies do, as it turns out, have an informal vertical power structure that takes time and patience to discern.  They are also prone to sexual oppression, literally beating and raping wayward females into submission.  They also tend to view outsiders as "others" to be suspected, resisted, and slaughtered on occasion.

      What kind of model is this?

      Across over a hundred years of anthropology, and around the world today, all human societies have always contained hierarchies and institutions of repression and violence.  

      There is nothing "natural" about anarchism.  We evolved over millions of years in a cruel and unyielding natural world, carving out a barely subsistence existence as bands of tribal nomads.  Social life was grueling and fraught with internal and external violence.  Death was always around the corner, and life was difficult, marked by malnutrition, disease and desperation.

      Since the dawn of "modern civilization", as its shadow side became evident, thinkers have dreamed of reverting to a "better" natural state.   I argue that no such state ever existed.  Life is tough and ugly now, and it was tougher and uglier before modern times.  What is there to go back to?

      Anarchism hasn't been proven to do anything.  Who is to say it can eliminate corruption and exploitation?  What if I were to argue that we are all free individuals, and that human beings in our fickle hearts are always, always capable of evil?  No social form or nice plan or another can weed that out of us, no matter how hard we try.  

      You say anarchism will provide "a state free of dominance", etc.  First of all, anarchism is supposed to provide no state at all, it is supposed to smash the state.  But perhaps you meant "state" figuratively here?  In that case, people of good will around the world have long struggled against dominance and exploitation.  I fail to see why they have to be anarchists, or indeed what anarchism has necessarily to do with those struggles.

      All systems work to "balanc[e] the needs of community with the needs of individuals".  And this includes nation-states as they exist today.  There's nothing unique to anarchism in working toward that goal.  

      Places of the world that have turned anarchic have fallen into economic ruin and turned prey to warlords and psychopaths.  Somalia, Liberia, Haiti are all fine examples of what happens when the nation-state weakens and anarchy is established.  

      If the goal of anarchism (as has been consistently held, up to and including Graeber) is to smash the state, there is no evidence good will come of the smashing.  There is ample evidence that poverty and misery will follow.

      I do agree with you that people are not educated well.  You are also right that myths of authoritarian control are too strong in many places, particularly in America.  A better, braver education ought to be more widely available.  But we appear to disagree on the means and the end of fighting that authoritarian impulse.  Take Oklahoma.  You can spread education as much as you want and offer anarchist solutions, but what do you do when a vast majority of the population says "No thanks"?  The fact is, most people are not as thoughtful or educated as you and I, and perhaps never will be.  Not everyone may be up for or at all interested in participating in the radical public sphere anarchists imagine.  What then?

      Your last paragraph is much better.  Devising anti-authoritarian practices and projects in our world is a vital and welcome task.  But perhaps it portends a society, for now still ensconced in the nation-state, that can and will drift in a more benevolent direction?  A recent Pew poll of young Americans even showed that they viewed socialism more positively than capitalism.  The future may not be anarchism, and it may never be anarchism, and we may find it most effective to keep up the painful task of chiseling and re-chiseling the world as it is to become something more like the world as it could be.  

      •  Hmmm (0+ / 0-)

        Ye gads...

        Graeber is an anarchist first and an anthropologist second.  Other sources do not corroborate his view.  In fact, he has been roundly criticized for over-emphasizing the horizontal nature of tribal societies and neglecting their vertical aspects.  
        I would say Graeber is first an anthropologist, and second an anarchist. Most of his writings are from an anthropological perspective. And I find it interesting that few people ask what political system is favored by most anthropologists. Would an anthropologist with a typical capitalist worldview allow capitalism to influence his or her conclusions? Certainly no less than anarchism influences Graeber.

        But Graeber isn't the only anthropologist with this view. I provided below 2 sources I found online in seconds that corroborate the widely held view that hunter gatherer societies were more or less horizontal  in leadership and egalitarian in approach. One is a basic online university course.

        It's time to start citing your sources, because my reading indicates you're way off base. And I'm perceiving a tendency you have to exaggerate the support for your conclusions (to put it kindly). Cite your sources.

        Here's an article for you:

        http://www.psychologytoday.com/...

        In each of these societies, the dominant cultural ethos was one that emphasized individual autonomy, non-directive childrearing methods, nonviolence, sharing, cooperation, and consensual decision-making. Their core value, which underlay all of the rest, was that of the equality of individuals.
        We citizens of a modern democracy claim to believe in equality, but our sense of equality is not even close that of hunter-gatherers. The hunter-gatherer version of equality meant that each person was equally entitled to food, regardless of his or her ability to find or capture it; so food was shared. It meant that nobody had more wealth than anyone else; so all material goods were shared. It meant that nobody had the right to tell others what to do; so each person made his or her own decisions. It meant that even parents didn't have the right to order their children around; hence the non-directive childrearing methods that I have discussed in previous posts. It meant that group decisions had to be made by consensus; hence no boss, "big man," or chief.

        If just one anthropologist had reported all this, we might assume that he or she was a starry-eyed romantic who was seeing things that weren't really there, or was a liar. But many anthropologists, of all political stripes, regarding many different hunter-gatherer cultures, have told the same general story. There are some variations from culture to culture, of course, and not all of the cultures are quite as peaceful and fully egalitarian as others, but the generalities are the same.

        From a Cultural Anthropoloy 101 online text:

        http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/...

        How long have states been around?
        Most people in the world today live in a state-organized society. States are recognizable because their governments use population controls, such as a census and citizenship, and impose taxation, which is used to support a permanent military and police, and to support a system of laws and judges. In addition, members of a state have differential access to resources. As typical as states might seem to most people today, they have only existed for about 5,500 years and they have only been widespread for the last few centuries.

        Why would the question "take me to your leader" be unusual for some people?
        In Star Trek, when the crew of the Enterprise lands on a strange planet, their first question of the natives is usually some variant of "Take me to your leader." In a similar way, the first Europeans who arrived in the New World during the 16th and 17th centuries asked the same question. This question reflects their (and our) natural assumption that in any group there is a leadership office. But what anthropologists know, and the 16th and 17th century explorers found out, is that this question can often lead to some confusion, because for societies with some forms of social or political organization there is no office of leadership. Among bands and tribes, there may be influential individuals (called big men or village heads by anthropologists), but there is no office of leadership they fill. Any authority these individuals have comes from their power of persuasion, not from the authority of the office. Remember how there was anxiety among the press and the citizens during the United States presidential election of 2000 because there was a delay in determining the winner (the press frequently called the one-month delay a "Constitutional Crisis"). The anxiety stemmed from the assumption of all Americans that at all times there is someone who is President. Anthropologists know that this assumption is not universal.

        So, as you can see, these two sources suggest your views are not as mainstream as you imply. So I'd like to know what your sources are.
        These vertical aspects are sometimes atypical of those found in Western societies and thus more difficult for us to identify and ascertain, but they are nonetheless present.  For example, many "horizontal" societies do, as it turns out, have an informal vertical power structure that takes time and patience to discern.  They are also prone to sexual oppression, literally beating and raping wayward females into submission.  They also tend to view outsiders as "others" to be suspected, resisted, and slaughtered on occasion.

        What kind of model is this?

        I notice you qualified your assertion by stating "many horizontal societies" rather than "all" of them. This depends on what kind of tribes to which you're referring. I was referring to early hunter gatherer tribes. You may be referring to later agrarian tribes. Agrarianism introduced a lot of changes in social tendencies, such as division of labor, and hierarchy became more common. When I refer to early societies, I'm referring to pre-agrarian peoples. Hunter gatherers. And while there may be subtle forms of hierarchy in any group, that is far different from formal hierarchy, in which people are under the control of a formal authority.  
        Across over a hundred years of anthropology, and around the world today, all human societies have always contained hierarchies and institutions of repression and violence.  
        Citations, please. My reading doesn't reflect your assertions at all. I think you're making assumptions, and stating them as if fact. Much of your claims take on a tone of exaggeration. See below for more on this, and why I have come to this conclusion.
        There is nothing "natural" about anarchism.  We evolved over millions of years in a cruel and unyielding natural world, carving out a barely subsistence existence as bands of tribal nomads.  Social life was grueling and fraught with internal and external violence.  Death was always around the corner, and life was difficult, marked by malnutrition, disease and desperation.
        Actually, this isn't at all true. I remember one study in which aborigines in Australia who had left traditional tribal environments and went to live and work in  a large city. The researchers had them go back to their natural tribal habitat in order to observe the differences in health, stress, hours of work, leisure time, etc. The researchers were surprised to discover the subjects worked less, had more time for play, were less stressed, and happier, in the tribal environment. And some studies have indicated hunter gatherers had less "diseases of civilization". The reason life was often shorter is due to trauma, not necessarily to disease. The fact that humans had migrated to every continent, with a world population of millions during paleolithic times, indicates we adapted and survived very well.

        You've bought into some myths, so I'd like to see your sources to corroborate your ideas.

        Since the dawn of "modern civilization", as its shadow side became evident, thinkers have dreamed of reverting to a "better" natural state.   I argue that no such state ever existed.  Life is tough and ugly now, and it was tougher and uglier before modern times.  What is there to go back to?
        Strawman argument. I'm not arguing we return to a primitive way of life. While there are anarcho-primitivists who might have such a view, most anarchists don't advocate any such thing. In fact, anarchists argue that humans are complex, with traits of cooperation as well as competitiveness, and that the notion we should create a society that accentuates the worst of human traits is the worst path we could take. It is far better to adopt a system that accentuates our better traits. There is quite a bit of writing on anarchism that delve into these topics, so I urge you to do some reading. I can't write all of this out for you, and I'm just scratching the surface in this response. I'm not going to give you links which delve into these issues you raise and answer thoroughly your criticisms, because I have concluded you aren't open-minded to viewing anything that doesn't confirm your bias, and getting together the links takes time and work.
        Anarchism hasn't been proven to do anything.  Who is to say it can eliminate corruption and exploitation?  What if I were to argue that we are all free individuals, and that human beings in our fickle hearts are always, always capable of evil?  No social form or nice plan or another can weed that out of us, no matter how hard we try.  
        Oh my... Now you're the one asserting a natural tendency toward anti-social behavior.  I thought you were arguing that the notion that humans have natural tendencies which should be reflected in sociopolitical organization is a fallacy? It seems it is not I, but you, who is basing a favored social structure on notions of natural, innate genetic tendencies, only that you're arguing we're so evil that we need hierarchy to keep us all in control, as if people who end up as leaders (Bush, Thatcher, Nixon, Cheney, Rumsfeld) are so better evolved than the rest of us that we can't organize well without them.

        The fact is, there have been anarchist societies in history who managed their lives quite well. Peasant anarchist villages in medieval  times, the anarchist region during the Spanish Civil War, the Paris Commune, anarchism in Makhnovist Ukraine, and other examples. Spain, in particular, was very indicative that anarchism will work on a large scale, and it lasted for nearly three years.

        You say anarchism will provide "a state free of dominance", etc.  First of all, anarchism is supposed to provide no state at all, it is supposed to smash the state.  But perhaps you meant "state" figuratively here?  
        I can't find that statement, but if I used the word "state" I must have meant "condition, state of being", not central state authority.  
        In that case, people of good will around the world have long struggled against dominance and exploitation.  I fail to see why they have to be anarchists, or indeed what anarchism has necessarily to do with those struggles.
        Anarchism is much more comprehensive in ending exploitation than alternatives, like state socialism, or capitalism. In state socialism, there is still central authority and hierarchy, and thus still the exploitation of wage slavery, with the socialist state authority replacing the capitalist boss. In capitalism, exclusive ownership of the means of production robs the workers of the wealth created by their labor, thus wealth is extracted from the majority working class in order to enrich the minority owner class. Anyway, to answer your question would take more time than I'm willing to spend on you at the moment. Do some reading, some thinking, get out of your preconceived notions.
        All systems work to "balanc[e] the needs of community with the needs of individuals".  And this includes nation-states as they exist today.  There's nothing unique to anarchism in working toward that goal.  
        Not true. Capitalism does no such thing. It leaves many people destitute, without homes, food to eat, in complete poverty. It also is undemocratic, since the wealthy class tends to end up with the most concentration of political power, as well as with the highest concentration of wealth. The individual often has no voice at all, and is often at the mercy of the state, in relative powerlessness against enormous forms of coercion and control.
        Places of the world that have turned anarchic have fallen into economic ruin and turned prey to warlords and psychopaths.  Somalia, Liberia, Haiti are all fine examples of what happens when the nation-state weakens and anarchy is established.  
        The countries you mentioned are not anarchic. Anarchism does not replace the central state with disorganization, but rather, with a different kind of organization. And with that comment you've made, I can now see you've not read anything about anarchism, despite your assertions, because anyone with even a little understanding of anarchism would never have made such a ridiculous comment. Somalia isn't anarchic: It has leaders in the form of thugs and strongmen, who rule with violence and brutality.

        Anarchism, on the other hand, uses participatory communities and worker organizations, using direct democracy, and these smaller groups voluntarily group together in federations, to which delegates are sent who are recallable and mandated. All authority comes from the bottom up, without formal hierarchy.  Anarchists would not permit thugs to run around bullying people into submission. If anarchists allowed that, they wouldn't really be anarchists. You see, anarchists will readily defend themselves (using militias) from aggressors. Anarchism removes the state, but replaces the state with an egalitarian social organization which is well able to defend itself from attempts to subjugate it to authority. Anarchist Spain bears this out. They had the best fighting militia in the Spanish Civil War (using largely untrained citizens). Read Orwell's Homage to Catalonia for an introduction to this. He happened to be there, fighting with a Trotskyist communist militia. He ended up wishing he had fought (against the fascists) with the anarchists.

        If the goal of anarchism (as has been consistently held, up to and including Graeber) is to smash the state, there is no evidence good will come of the smashing.  There is ample evidence that poverty and misery will follow.
        Nonsense. In anarchist Spain (1936 - 1938), conversion to anarchism produced increased consumption (people had been hungry before), greater worker satisfaction at the workplace, increased production, increased innovation, universal health care, retirement benefits for all (equal to average wages), increases in standard of living. The reason it didn't last is because the fascists won (they were supplied with far superior weaponry and assistance from Nazi and Italian fascists, while the US, France, and Britain refused to step in to help).

        And that you state there is "ample evidence that poverty and misery will follow" further demonstrates your tendency to make comments you can't support. Cite the evidence which you claim exists. There isn't any credible evidence to support your claim. You're making stuff up.

        I do agree with you that people are not educated well.  You are also right that myths of authoritarian control are too strong in many places, particularly in America.  A better, braver education ought to be more widely available.  But we appear to disagree on the means and the end of fighting that authoritarian impulse.  Take Oklahoma.  You can spread education as much as you want and offer anarchist solutions, but what do you do when a vast majority of the population says "No thanks"?  The fact is, most people are not as thoughtful or educated as you and I, and perhaps never will be.  Not everyone may be up for or at all interested in participating in the radical public sphere anarchists imagine.  What then?
        It's a matter of timing. In the thirties, there were far more anarchists and socialists, but thanks to the cold war, people have been fed decades of propaganda against any form of socialism. But the youth is changing according to surveys, and now are more open to these alternatives to capitalism. Just when you think things won't change, they do.

        "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

        by ZhenRen on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 08:07:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And, I sent you this Kosmail: (0+ / 0-)

          See the thread where you posted your latest comments. I'm sending this to tell you that I'm a working person, and don't have a lot of spare time at any random moment to respond to you in full. There is so much more i could have written, links I could provide which address your criticisms much better than I have time to do.

          I barely scratched the surface. I'm tired, having worked all day, and at the moment just can't marshal the energy to delve into this.

          If you really want better answers, read this:

          An Anarchist Faq

          http://www.infoshop.org/...

          This is an enormous work of well over a thousand pages available online.

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 08:18:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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