The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Anarchism and Communism

| 74 Comments

A comrade—or perhaps I should say a “fellow worker”— on Facebook asked a series of excellent questions about the differences between anarchism and communism.  I thought the questions were good enough to deserve their own post.  There is nothing academic about this issue.  Trumpism is creating both outrage and disorientation.  We’re seeing mass protests triggered by Trump’s reactionary, racist, anti-immigrant anti-working class policies; we’re seeing the Democrats attempt to turn all of this outrage into support for war drives against Russia; we’re seeing anarchist groups—maybe led by provocateurs, maybe not—attempt to substitute themselves for the masses by committing individual acts of violence.  We need to ask: what is our end game?  What are we fighting for?  A President Pence?  Raise your hand if you think that’s a good idea.  Back to the attacks on living standards and human rights, and the wars of the last 16 years, that put us into a position where a Trump could win an election?  Even if possible, that would only create conditions for a Trump v2, which would be worse.

If our goal is, as I think it should be, the revolutionary reconstruction of society based on human need rather than individual profit, then it is worth taking some time to look at where we’re trying go, and to me, the questions I was asked strike to the heart of that.  So, let’s begin:

Isn’t “true” communism ultimately a state-less organization of cooperative and planned labor and distribution, without coercement or, again, the state?
IF this premise is correct (and again, please correct me), then how is this fundamentally different from a form of anarchism?

Yes, that is fundamentally correct.  The difference is this: Marxists believe that, as the state exists to protect property, capitalist property relations must be destroyed first; efforts to destroy the state while capitalist property relations still exist strike me as implausible—which is to say, I don’t know how anyone would go about it—and catastrophic if it were to happen. While capitalists still have their wealth and privileges (ie, property) they would simply use these to secure the armed forces to protect them, which is, in essence, the state. Whereas once the mechanisms of the state (military, police, jails &c) are in the hands of the working class, these mechanisms can be used to enforce the expropriation and to protect the working class from counter-revolution.

You might argue that, in the first case, the armed masses themselves would prevent counter-revolution. But this requires organization, and once you have organized armed bodies prepared to do violence over property rights, you have—the state.

Also, in my understanding, socialism is a mid-point in the path toward communism, right? Where the state still exists but is truly of, by, for the people/laborers?

That is also my understanding, yes.

If it’s the function of ownership protection, except instead of protecting the capitalists’ ownership but rather the proletariats’ ownership, then, isn’t the belief it’ll “whither away” naive? Because state involves power, and no one ever allows their power to just be voted away. Is this where “permanent revolution” comes in? (Seriously asking, here.)

The state exists to enforce property rights on behalf of a definite social class. When property is in the hands of the working class, it exists to protect those rights and prevent capitalist restoration. But what happens later, when there are no capitalists? When everyone is working class, no one is working class; and if there are no classes, then there is no one for the state to protect property from. Why, then, would it continue to exist? Certainly, some forms of organization must still exist, because we live in a complex society that requires coordination; indeed, this ability to planfully coordinate the economy in the interests of all is one of the strengths of communism. But I can think of no reason why this coordination would require armed force, or coercion of any kind.

Does that answer your questions?

skzb

Author: skzb

I play the drum.

74 Comments

  1. Just sent this post to some friends of mine with whom I was having the communism vs anarchism discussion earlier today; always nice to get another perspective on such things.

    Incidentally, when I shared it I made the comment that I’m not entirely on the same page with you politically, and suddenly realised that I could extend the metaphor to say that we’re at least in the same book. A cursory google sadly reveals this is by no means the first time someone’s thought of that, but it was a nice feeling of creativity when I thought of it. I should write more, maybe I’ll someday get that feeling again coupled with the joy of it actually managing to be relatively original…

  2. I think this post could use some kind of anarcho-syndicalist or Makhnovist counterpoint, but I’m not qualified to deliver it…. Maybe if we invoke Noam Chomsky’s name in vain or something.

  3. This (the posts subject) was one of the key insights that I got from somewhere in the discussions over the past year. Thanks for highlighting this.

  4. I think if you look at one position and not the others you deserve what you get, the fact that the democrats ran someone unpopular and didn’t care that they were turning a blind eye to half the country gave rise to Trump, it gets even better though, instead of reaching out to the disenfranchised of the last 3 decades, they insult them and try to convince them they are racist. add into that the obvious lies of mainstream media and polls and this is what happens. be ready for Trump to win in 2020 because all I see is Dems and liberals, whether it really is dems or liberals, the perception is catching hold, and the riots and problems they are causing is not winning anyone to their side. there are smart ways to win and there are bad ways, so far, the opposition is being obstructionist and aiding in the destruction of a system that may not be perfect but I don’t see anyone leaving for greener pastures. If this country is important, then invest time with everyone in this country, not just those that share the other sides views. Everyone wants to be included and so far I see illegal aliens getting more attention than citizens who’ve lost faith in their country.

  5. Which of these will occur first?

    2nd coming of Christ
    An equivalent of the Star Trek economy
    Marxian communist society

  6. skzb

    Pretty sure all three would have to happen at once for a hardened apologist for capitalism to shake himself free of his prejudices.

  7. skzb:lol
    Oneill:While you are being sarcastic for some reason, I’ll go ahead and give my list. The 2nd coming won’t happen as the 1st never did.
    We don’t have much information about what the Star Trek economy is. All we see are shiny ships and a few people in them. If, however, you mean a post-scarcity economy with an existent State structure of some sort, then sure, that would happen prior to a full end state Marxian communist society. We already have the means to be post scarcity in a number of areas (like food to pick a non trivial one) but are hampered by the inefficiencies inherent to using a greed driven pseudo random process as a means of allocation.

  8. skzb- “..a hardened apologist for capitalism ..”

    I would think I’ve posted here enough for you to have a better or at least more nuanced understanding off my beliefs. Oh, well, Marx understood the power of markets, you apparently do not. I also think Marx would have taken 150 years worth of new knowledge and information and built upon it- including revising views not borne out by future events.

    Others are stuck waiting for the 2nd Coming.

  9. Oneill:Marx understood that capitalistic pseudo-free markets are a perfectly fine mechanism for bootstrapping out of feudalism. Once that process is accomplished (infrastructure created, populace educated, …) more fine grained tools can be brought into play.
    Marx was somewhat ahead of his time in that (this is my thought here) the necessary infrastructure and theoretical economic/mathematical underpinnings to support a post capitalistic system have really only started to become available now.

    It took a lot of theoretical and mechanical work to give the Wright brothers the necessary tools to put everything together and produce manned heavier than air flight. Failures before that did not mean that manned heavier than air flight was not possible; it just meant the tools were not there.

  10. I struggle a bit with the notion that the military/police/jails exist only to protect private property – quite possibly because of an (unwanted) inability to shake free of my prejudices. It seems to me that any functional society must rely on a shared set of rules which apply to all, and that members of the society must agree to and accept sanctions linked to the violation of shared rules (laws). In my view, the problem with our military/police/jails today is that they do not even try to apply common rules equally across different classes. But I have trouble envisioning a system where coercion is absent in any form. What if Boy 1 and Boy 2 both fall in love with Girl 3, and are tempted to use violence to hurt their rival? Shouldn’t there be a rule against violent acts, in addition to a strong moral norm? If Boy 1 were to punch Boy 2 unprovoked, shouldn’t he face consequences, and shouldn’t those consequences be the same as would apply to Boy 2, if Boy 2 had thrown the unprovoked punch? I guess what I’m saying is that people can have all their needs met – food, creative work, healthcare, etc. – and be good people, and still do ‘bad’ things from time to time … in which case there seems to be an obvious need for laws, and for law enforcement. I think the challenge is to define a minimal set of decent laws and to figure out a good way to ‘watch the watchers’ – not a good way to eliminate both rules and watchers.

  11. Argentum:I think the general answer is that aspects of the State that are needed won’t wither away until they are no longer needed.
    So, many aspects of policing deal with property crimes and would mostly go away.
    Many crimes against people are motivated by property issues and these would generally also go away. Likewise, better mental health care would take away another large segment.
    For what is left, is a permanent police force needed? Could a rotating group of citizens do just as well? Interesting issues to work out if we ever get there.

  12. Yeah, I don’t want to fall into the trap of obsessing with future details to the point of present inaction. I really like the idea of a rotating group of police, actually.

  13. Problem — “this ability to planfully coordinate the economy in the interests of all is one of the strengths of communism” is perhaps the most completely disproven bit of economic theory ever. Planned economies are horribly inefficient and mostly product the wrong things.

    By the way — how do you have a planned, centrally-managed economy without a state?

  14. I’m sure that Google and Amazon’s server farms could easily be re-purposed for that. Changing the code would be trivial… just take out the current emphasis on making a profit and it would run like clockwork.

  15. … and you can hardly say that Capitalism displays any efficiency at all in producing and distributing the goods that are actually needed. Our current system produces a huge excess of useless junk and piles it all on a tiny minority of the population while leaving millions with an inadequate supply of food, shelter and medicine. It is efficient in producing profit for a few, not in supplying the needs of the many.

  16. dd-b:It’s certainly been shown that the ways that have been gone about doing planning in the past didn’t turn out great. As larswyrdson mentions, we now have access to some very useful technologies/knowledge bases that could be re-purposed.
    At a high level, if you took Amazon and added in feedback mechanisms to communicate to the producers more directly (since they would all be one system) and added in means of distributive control things would get very interesting. Clearly, there would be a lot of work involved, but that is a fine thing.
    Obviously you need a state for quite some time to start with. When could you do without one? I don’t know and that isn’t something we need to figure out to get to step 2. Note that a state doesn’t need to be an entrenched, self-enriching police apparatus.

  17. “It’s certainly been shown that the ways that have been gone about doing planning in the past didn’t turn out great”

    Blood of the Horse, what an understatement.

  18. “I’m sure that Google and Amazon’s server farms could easily be re-purposed for that.”

    They could be repurposed for various things. It’s only a question who gets to repurpose them, and what they choose.

    This is a new technology and we don’t know what it will allow, yet.

    Whatever form it will take, people do have the choice to opt out. If they don’t like whatever the internet turns into, they can just not use it. Live by barter. Grow vegetables in your back yard. Play your guitar to local audiences. The internet is voluntary, just as big government, the industrial revolution, iron, money, and bronze were voluntary.

    Oh, wait.

    As I remember it, the novel 1984 included the vivid image of people getting up in the morning in time to take their required teleconference exercise class, each of them exercised with a webcam pointing at him, so the exercise leader could watch them all and make sure they were participating adequately. That made no sense with the technology Orwell had available. But we could do it today if somebody who had the authority wanted us to.

    We don’t know yet how this stuff could get repurposed, or who will have the clout to choose what to do with it.

  19. jethomas- we are talking about a working class revolution here. Of all the many possible wrong turns such a thing might take, I don’t think mandatory exercise is likely to be high on the list.

  20. The only things a planned economy did for Russia was transform it from a third-rate power, defeat Nazi Germany when the rest of Europe failed to do so, and achieve an explosion of technical, scientific and economic growth to propel Russia literally into space and superpower status. So, a modest contribution. And that started around 100 years ago; the human race has made even more progress since then.

  21. I think the point is that a state powerful enough to do this sort of mass redistribution by force (and, barring a stupefyingly obvious post scarcity situation a la https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkjbMoj0JY4, force will be needed with some) is powerful enough for a Great Leap Forward… and Orwell’s Sweating to the Oldies. It doesn’t matter if it is through malice, stupidity, misguided altruism, or even just blind luck – the reason doesn’t matter, only the result. One cannot either outline nor enforce what and how much will be going from where being given to whom and why with server farms and feedback mechanisms. Fallible people will still be writing this code and executing redistribution.

    I have a thought experiment about the farmers of the world uniting into a charity of sorts, growing staple grains on a volunteered percentage of their lands for even distribution to everyone on the planet. The only way I saw this working without the possibility of it devolving into a cartel was if no money whatsoever is involved… and from what I can see the technology needed to do that doesn’t exist yet.

    Kragar – There should be a word for something that dry. All I can think of is brutal, with an emphasis on the first syllable, but I’m no wordsmith.

  22. Nathan: it’s a question of which mound of skulls is higher: the one the Leap Forward produces; the one Reaction produces or the one letting a moribund system collapse produces. (Skulls need not not be taken as literal, at least not in every case.)

    Without a Revolution, Russia would eventually have been predated on by outsiders and in the fullness of time, their local accomplices/successors/imitators. Reaction sooner or later leads to one of the other two, but with added bloodshed and loss of time/opportunity.

    Needless to say, most people, including yours truly, are not volunteering to be one of the skulls in the name of progress.

  23. “Of all the many possible wrong turns such a thing might take, I don’t think mandatory exercise is likely to be high on the list.”

    Why not? Healthcare is expensive. We would be healthier if we ate well and exercised. We owe it to society to eat healthy food and exercise.

    It’s largely possible to enforce healthy food by not allowing unhealthy food to be made and sold. There would still be some made illegally, but it needn’t be a large part of the economy as it is today.

    Signing people up for mandatory exercise classes is not hard when everyone has his own webcam and internet access. There is no good reason for an advanced society to fail to provide anyone with a webcam and internet access. Without webcams, people could do illegal things like armed robbery without a record from the victim to show what happened. It would become expensive and chancy to apprehend criminals and determine justice. The right to 24/7 internet access is one of the fundamental rights of citizens.

    Of course citizens have an obligation to get sufficient exercise. If they don’t do that, they become a burden on society with unnecessary medical expenses.

    It’s easy for this to become a theme in any advanced society which is not particularly libertarian.

    A society which decides you have the right to injure yourself however you like, that addictive drugs are *just* *fine* if you want to get addicted to them, etc will not do anything like that. But any society which cares for its members might.

  24. hooo I just posted a comment and it didn’t go through. I wonder why not? I’m trying again to see what happens.

  25. Privateiron, to argue that, one would have to prove (at least) three things – that the system we have is indeed moribund, that it will die bloody before obvious post-scarcity technology (free power, free transport, AI, etc.) is available, and that the blood spilled in its death would be greater than what socialist mismanagement or violent revolution would produce. I personally can’t see it… although I’m sure quite a few here might disagree with me.

    Also, looking at the percentage of the world population dying from hunger over the last few decades, it appears to me that we’re already on the right track in that regard, moribund system notwithstanding.

    As to your second paragraph, that seems to me to be speculation, and not necessarily accurate considering Russia’s history regarding outside predation pre-Revolution.

  26. Nathan S.:Yes, of course, softaware has flaws. That’s why there is work involved. In case you hadn’t noticed a number of companies are making quite a lot of profit from software.
    None of these things are going to happen on day 1. “Free markets” are not magic, contrary to how they are presented.

  27. Steve, I don’t believe in magic, and I didn’t mean to imply defense of the terrible aspects of “free market” economy, nor even of its ideal incarnation, whatever fresh hell that might be. I am only trying to state some reasons I disagree with many here: Glossing over the historical failures of and deaths due to failed planned economies, in the current system – whatever you choose to label it – world death rates from hunger and war are in steady decline, and a strong march towards technologies that can persuade even the most stodgy, selfish ancap that free power/healthcare/food/shelter isn’t a terrible thing is in progress.

    I don’t believe we are talking at purely cross purposes – although I could be wrong, it’s certainly not without precedent. I think we both believe a society where “to each according to his needs” is a good thing, but we disagree on the means to that end. I personally cannot think of societal planning, bureaucratic meddling, revolution, and/or expansion of state power as means to achieve this nirvana as desirable or even effective compared with an situation – to me, inescapable – where most people, over time, realize the absurdity of denying it.

  28. Nathan:OK, fair enough. I think most people would like to achieve a better society without a violent revolution. As skzb has mentioned, though, revolutions happen, despite people’s desires, as a function of historical societal failure.
    If we can agree on the general shape of a better society (a generalized we there), that is certainly a step towards getting there.

  29. “Of all the many possible wrong turns such a thing might take, I don’t think mandatory exercise is likely to be high on the list.”

    If you say it’s relatively unimportant, OK. If you say it’s unlikely, I disagree.

    Healthcare is important and expensive. It would be so much cheaper if people maintained their health by eating healthy foods and exercising. The citizens have a responsibility to exercise and stay healthy. We can cut way down on tobacco products by not planting tobacco. We can cut way down on unhealthy foods by not raising them and not selling them. But antisocial citizens will not exercise unless they are supervised.

    If they live in dormitories then they can be hauled out to exercise together. But if they live separately, they can be offered rewards and punishments connected to exercise in front of their webcams, where their coaches can watch them and shout encouragement.

    This is plausible for any regime that cares about its citizens’ health.

  30. ““Free markets” are not magic, contrary to how they are presented.”

    Yes!

    They depend heavily on history kept in the minds and records of individual sellers.

    They traditionally didn’t depend on prices to tell them how much to produce. That’s mostly silly. By the time a price change percolated back to them it might be months out of date. They tended to look at last year’s data, and previous years’ data, and get a sense of the shift in demand from month to month. Going by last year and guessing how well the economy is doing etc, they produce a bit more or a bit less this month this year. They tend to produce a bit more, because they don’t want to tell their sales force to go out and do a better job of sales if they won’t actually have the product to move in case it happens. Then when they produce a bit too much they look for a place to dump it, preferably above cost. Export to another country, or another region, or sell cheap to a marginal business that has no effective brand name.

    Try to run a free market to do something new, where there isn’t much history to go on, and it gets pretty chaotic. That works best when the new market is so profitable that they can hardly lose. Lots of chaos, lots of little companies trying to compete and failing, you can’t be sure how much you’ll be able to produce because your suppliers can’t be sure how much they can give you. But probably whatever you do make will sell at a handsome price. After awhile things stabilize and become predictable, or they fail to.

    There’s no magic there. After a few years of stability or slow growth, you could do about the same with bureaucrats making similar decisions. Once you have a predictable pattern of slow growth, you can maintain it until something unexpectedly disrupts it.

  31. jethomas5

    There is no magic only “headology”

    Just ask Jack Horner

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQa11RMCeSI

    he has made several dinosaur species disappear

    of particular note is the importance of ego around 3:38ish

  32. so wait my dino comment is ok but my fairly detailed and at least to my minded reasonably argued reply to the actual topic is not? err.

  33. “The Communist Manifesto had, as its object, the proclamation of the inevitable impending
    dissolution of modern bourgeois property. ”

    Pg 5 in my pdf copy from https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/index.htm

    sorry what? the marxist state exists to protect property?

    do you mean the dictatorship of the proletariat?

    or the state for itself as the USSR turned into?

  34. “Yes, that is fundamentally correct. The difference is this: Marxists believe that, as the state exists to protect property, capitalist property relations must be destroyed first; efforts to destroy the state while capitalist property relations still exist strike me as implausible—which is to say, I don’t know how anyone would go about it—and catastrophic if it were to happen. While capitalists still have their wealth and privileges (ie, property) they would simply use these to secure the armed forces to protect them, which is, in essence, the state. Whereas once the mechanisms of the state (military, police, jails &c) are in the hands of the working class, these mechanisms can be used to enforce the expropriation and to protect the working class from counter-revolution.”

    -capitalists cannot have their “…wealth and privileges…” without the state they are the same structure.

  35. “…Whereas once the mechanisms of the state (military, police, jails &c) are in the hands of the working class…”

    if the state is destroyed none of these things are, the people already have control of themselves and and their society.

    “these mechanisms can be used to enforce the expropriation and to protect the working class from counter-revolution.”

    -using the mechanisms of the state to enforce property only enforces the state which is a criterion of aristocrats for their own purpose, any revolution that leaves the state intact, and by extension money and banking is destined to fail as it maintains the fundamental dependencies of aristocracy, rent seeking, market power and monopoly of violence to the state

  36. “…and once you have organized armed bodies prepared to do violence over property rights, you have—the state.”

    -Only if you a prior i assume that the state exists, many forms of property no one would even think to debate “my laptop is mine” “my apartment is mine” it is only when we come to abstract inventions of property like my apartment belongs to the state or to landlord that the difficulty begins, but most could be resolved with rational argument(for social benefit) and appeals to basic empathy(which the technocrats and capitalist abhor and propagandize against except in the form of those TV shows that glorify the agents of the state(bones. csi, ncis etc) where human decency and understanding is always present,
    forgiveness of wrong doing, much as if the state is family, of course only if you are in the right gang). If you maintain the state the only armed bodies likely to exist are the police, military and other collaborators and boosters of the capitalist state, this leaves you in a post revolutionary position of samurai where arbitrary power and state power initiated

    arbitrarily violence buy individuals is likely. This protects no one except capitalists.

  37. “If it’s the function of ownership protection, except instead of protecting the capitalists’ ownership but rather the proletariat’s’ ownership, then, isn’t the belief it’ll “whither away” naive? Because state involves power, and no one ever allows their power to just be voted away. Is this where “permanent revolution” comes in? (Seriously asking, here.)”

    “The state exists to enforce property rights on behalf of a definite social class. When property is in the hands of the working class, it exists to protect those rights and prevent capitalist restoration. ”

    -which will enforce them as you describe in you opening statement as it is a construction of capitalism all parts of it’s structure(police, military, bureaucracy ) are 100% committed to maintaining the position of capital, the very apparatus you want to control is the mechanism of counter revolution.

  38. “In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”

    “They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle,from a historical movement going on under our very eyes. The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of communism.
    All property relations in the past have continually been subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.
    The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favour of bourgeois property.
    The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.
    In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
    We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence.
    Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is stilldestroying it daily.
    Or do you mean the modern bourgeois private property?”

    -what Marx actually said

    -let us be clear bill gates and mark zuckerberg have property more than most African countries, the have an influxes of property more than many African countries the only way to protect actual humans from this sort of power is the devolution to a world without money as a method of exchange we can do better.

  39. “boring fucking politics will get us all shot, right wing left wing you can stuff the lot, keep your fucking labels I don’t

    see the point..anarchy and freedom is what it want want want want want…”

    -Crass

    “…we’re seeing anarchist groups—maybe led by provocateurs, maybe not—attempt to substitute themselves for the masses by committing individual acts of violence.”

    Citation needed,
    there have been no acts of anarchist violence since arguably the bombing of Litton persisting in the capitalist narrative that anarchist are insane bomb throwing psychopaths is one of the reasons socialists have no credibility.

    I applaud you thought to spin off disagreements around the role of the working classes involvement in Nazism in to a more general discussion of how to approach the class warfare most of us are subjected to

  40. I don’t know why that would not all just post as one but there is the polemic ish retort

    also an argument against authority buy someone much more attractive than I am

  41. Just another Easterner- if you wait for someone to answer you, you might find the dialog more interesting.

  42. larswyrdson

    well I am and I would if there was dialog, but so far your it 🙁

  43. sorry to be clear I could not post that whole polemic, I tried 3 (three) times so I posted it in parts and that worked.

    ask steve why it failed.

  44. Just another Easterner:The dissolution of the State can be thought of in more recent terms as a post-singularity event. It is difficult to describe from this side of history as we have no experience with the context in which it would happen. We can make broad generalizations, but mostly we are like the blind men and the elephant.
    The key piece is that anarchists want to get rid of the State first and then see what happens rather than let events take their natural course.

    From your specifics:
    “sorry what? the marxist state exists to protect property?
    do you mean the dictatorship of the proletariat?
    or the state for itself as the USSR turned into?”

    The USSR, as it ended up, was not a Marxist state. The initial State under Socialism would serve many of the same functions that the current State performs. It wouldn’t need to protect private property for the benefit of individuals as all private property would be held by the State.

    “-Only if you a prior i assume that the state exists, many forms of property no one would even think to debate “my laptop is mine” “my apartment is mine”…”

    In that example, the laptop is personal property, not private nor public. (We’ll assume the non-scarcity of laptops as a resource for the moment.) The apartment would most likely not be owned by you. You could inhabit as long as needed but when you left, the reallocation would revert to the State.

    ” the very apparatus you want to control is the mechanism of counter revolution.”

    Yes, that’s what the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat” means. The People need to protect their property from reactionary counter-revolution. You can see this in current events as the crony capitalists merrily want to drill and mine in national parks–they want to transform public property back into private property.

  45. skzb

    Back in town, getting caught up. Sorry to those of you who had posts held up by the software; I’ve put them through. Meanwhile, excellent discussion.

  46. Steve Halter

    OK lets start with you arguing that counter revolution is inherent in the mechanism of proletarian revolution if the dictatorship of the proletariat means counter revolution.. err yes the peasants are revolting, come see the violence inherent in the state.A++ would be revolted again.

    “…The dissolution of the State can be thought of in more recent terms as a post-singularity event.”

    um NO ray can go take his huge bullshit google money and go die, there is no singularity it’s total bullshit that has never even slightly existed. he is a scam artist that has been stringing people along at least as long as the flying car guy it’s all nonsense.

    “Yes, that’s what the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat” means. The People need to protect their property from reactionary counter-revolution. You can see this in current events as the crony capitalists merrily want to drill and mine in national parks–they want to transform public property back into private property.”

    if there is no state and no protection of private property but your wanted military units(police, army etc) the capitalist cannot pay for anything and have no military to mobilize against the workers in counter revolution, on the other hand if you maintain a military and police force you have something to deploy against workers when they disagree with your dictates stalin would love you, people that love freedom however will fight you as they should because you are a counter revolutionary.

    the state and capital are the same did you miss what marx asserted

    “In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”

    I am no marxist but I do think he had the right of most of it, the commie manifesto describes in large part what is happening now, again FFS again

    Yah see this is where things go wrong

    “…The apartment would most likely not be owned by you…” that is counter revolutionary and I think you need a visit to my fist.

    you could make an argument that for the benefit of all I should give up my 4 bedroom apartment in favor of the parents with 3 children but not if you throw me out on the streets, you need to find me a comparable place with room for my cat preferably on the ground floor so it’s easy for him to go out.

    crony capitalism does not exist without capital which is what I am insisting on socialism fails because it presumes the state and because it presume money, any organization that presumes those things is inherently capitalist and counter revolutionary

    any other concussion is silly and wrong also your a commie if you think that people can organize themselves without violent state intervention…

    no really your a commie if you think that, if you don’t think they can there is another name for you.

    also sorry about the Yortub link thing I just meant to leave the ascii not a frame of some sort, good to know in future

  47. “no really your a commie if you think that, if you don’t think they CAN’T there is another name for you.”

    fixed

  48. “um NO ray can go take his huge bullshit google money and go die, there is no singularity it’s total bullshit that has never even slightly existed. he is a scam artist that has been stringing people along at least as long as the flying car guy it’s all nonsense.”

    You misunderstand. Kurzweil is simply one instance of the singularity concept. The concept is that there is something that occurs that is of sufficient complexity that it is very difficult to predict what happens once the event is past. For example, it would be difficult to have predicted the exact form of Capitalism we currently have from the position of a feudal serf in the 13th century.

  49. “you could make an argument that for the benefit of all I should give up my 4 bedroom apartment in favor of the parents with 3 children but not if you throw me out”

    That isn’t what I said at all. I said that you can occupy the apartment as long as it is needed. You built a strawman there.

  50. “any other concussion is silly and wrong also your a commie if you think that people can organize themselves without violent state intervention…
    no really your a commie if you think that, if you don’t think they CAN’T there is another name for you.”

    I’m not clear on what you are arguing here but:
    1) commie isn’t an insult if that is what you are attempting.
    2) I didn’t make any assertion that the current state wouldn’t most likely act violently to support the benefit of the current holders of capital.

  51. “you could make an argument that for the benefit of all I should give up my 4 bedroom apartment in favor of the parents with 3 children but not if you throw me out”

    That isn’t what I said at all. I said that you can occupy the apartment as long as it is needed. You built a strawman there.

    why do socialist insist on quoting out of context it’s like they have no original thoughts or anything to say for them selves, it is you that is creating the strawman

    I say you must make an argument of social benefit and that it is resolvable and rational

    what I said

    “Yah see this is where things go wrong

    “…The apartment would most likely not be owned by you…” that is counter revolutionary and I think you need a visit to my fist.

    you could make an argument that for the benefit of all I should give up my 4 bedroom apartment in favor of the parents with 3 children but not if you throw me out on the streets, you need to find me a comparable place with room for my cat preferably on the ground floor so it’s easy for him to go out.”

    what you qoute is what I said and partial at that since you leave out that you don’t care if I become homeless or not I disagreed with your assertion that some third party should be in control of my living space, that they should by arbitrary fiat take my life away from me without resistance or compensation see my assertion that that is where it all goes wrong. I assert that giving ownership by the force of the state is counter revolutionary and I would and should buy all means resist you.

    again the state is the agent of property the agent of aristocracy any system that empowers that state is a capitalist state, since it fundamentally includes all of the elements of aristocracy, abstract property, rent seeking and enforcement by violence that is the nature of capitalism in all it’s forms

    On the other thing I corrected myself into error

    no really your a commie if you think that, if you don’t think they CAN, there is another name for you.”

    My brain failed after I had said it correctly

    in case you missed it the other name you could be called is fascist

  52. “The concept is that there is something that occurs that is of sufficient complexity that it is very difficult to predict what happens once the event is past. For example, it would be difficult to have predicted the exact form of Capitalism we currently have from the position of a feudal serf in the 13th century.”

    Um. Yes. And we can’t predict when this singularity will happen, or how it will happen when it does.

    So to me discussion of this does not sound like it can be scientific. There’s no experimental evidence, no experiment, we can’t predict it from historical data, it’s entirely theoretical.

    It might easily be possible to look at the current state of things and show that it is not sustainable. It will have to change into something else. But what will it change into? How could we possibly know?

    So for example, Marx predicted that capitalism as he understood it was unsustainable and would have to change. It did change. Among other things the USA got the Federal Reserve which has prevented the worst banking excesses, and has had major failures only during the Great Depression, the Greenspan era, the crash of 2007-8, and the Obama years.

    We got the giant-corporation oilgopoly/oilgarchy stage which itself is unsustainable.

    It might be possible to predict that socialism is the only stable end-state, the only climax ecosystem possible.

    But in practice, often systems never reach a stable end-state but just keep cycling among unsustainable states.

    Arguing that something will happen that we don’t understand but which has some particular characteristics, might turn out a lot like arguing that the Second Coming will come.

  53. Just another Easterner:lol. Then I shan’t quote you. In no aspect of the system I described would you ever be homeless.
    I never said anything about any form of rent seeking. You seem to delight in making things up that I haven’t said.
    In case you hadn’t noticed, many people here will not object to the label “commie” although that particular phrasing carries a lot of US associated baggage. I’ll simply laugh at your attempt to label anything skzb or I said as needing to be labeled fascist.

    Since you want to apply labels, which label are you wanting to apply to yourself? Anarchist or libertarian? It is a little difficult to tell.

  54. jethomas5:Yes, that’s essentially what I said, except that there are, in fact, experiments that can be tried. That’s called replacing/changing the economic system. It’s just that the experiment is fairly hard to run. We can predict what will happen–we may be right or wrong. From this side of the experiment we can’t know with certainty what the result will be.

  55. “I said that you can occupy the apartment as long as it is needed.”

    Who gets to decide how long the proletariat needs you to occupy that apartment?

    In Israel where a great big part of the land is owned by an organization and not by individuals, people can get 75-year leases. They can fix up their homes however they like for themselves, but they can’t expect their grandchildren to hold that land. (The organization is specifically organized to make sure that Jews have the land and not anybody else. Something more than 70% of Israel is land that non-Jews are forbidden to rent.)

    Anyway, a 75-year lease at least makes it clear how long you can occupy the apartment. When it’s “as long as the proletariat needs you to live there” or possibly “as long as you personally feel you need to live there” that’s much less precise.

  56. jethomas5:I was implying that you could occupy the apartment as long as you needed to occupy the apartment. Since we do not have a housing shortage, I don’t see any reason that anyone would be kicked out of their current housing.
    Some current housing might be unsafe and then people could be directed to safe housing. Also note that this (not being kicked out of a place in which you are living) is a different matter than the high end capitalist who has a number of vacation homes.
    Also, note that simple answers to complex questions will often have holes and that I am not, of course, in charge of housing matters.

  57. skzb

    Steve: It’s worth taking a moment to point out that “Commie” and “fascist” are coming from someone who said, “any system that empowers that state is a capitalist state.” My point is not that this is nonsense; my point is to consider the form of the nonsense.

    “Commie” is a term from the history of red baiting and McCarthyism and carries the context of using the force of the State as well as the force of private property to repress the fight for equality.

    “Fascist” refers to the naked rule of the bourgeoisie under conditions of the defeat of the working class, backed by ultra-nationalism usually justified by some form of racialism. To say that anyone using the word “Commie” is a fascist would be entirely wrong, sloppy, unscientific, and closer to the truth than saying support for a workers state is fascist.

    “Capitalism” refers to a system of commodity exchange in which the exploitation of labor is used to amass capital for the expansion of production as well as accumulation of private weath; a state may by capitalist or monarchial or slave-holding &c in its content; it may also be Bonapartist or democratic or libaral repubulican &c in its form. Saying that any system that empowers the state is a capitalist state has exactly as much meaning as saying that anything that is liquid at room temperature is water.

    In other words, as used above, we have “Commie” and “Fascist” and “Capitalist” ripped out of any scientific context. These words, as being used, mean nothing, they all reduce themselves to “things I don’t like” and carry with them an iron determination to never, under any circumstances, actually try to understand the objective basis of, well, *anything.*

    The point where someone has demonstrated a commitment to not understand is the point where further argument is an exercise in futility.

  58. I think it might help the conversation if skzb stopped assuming that the world is simply a shadow of Amber, sorry, the U.S.

    It isn’t. I suspect that the Republicans may depose Trump in favour of Pence, which will be a major problem for those in the US who are not white, wealthy, straight Christian males.

    For the rest of the world, however, it would be brilliant by comparison. Trump is capable of nuking anywhere as a PR stunt to put his ratings up, but with luck those nukes wouldn’t be dispatched at his nominal allies, though after his Sweden fantasy I may be being overly optimistic.

    So, living in a bit of the rest of the world, I’m hoping that Trump’s militaristic obsession won’t work for him, and that Pence doesn’t want to start WW III. Hope is all I have now…

  59. skzb

    Stevie: Did this go into the wrong post? If you want to put it in the right place, I’ll delete this one.

  60. Nathan S.: ” I personally cannot think of societal planning, bureaucratic meddling, revolution, and/or expansion of state power as means to achieve this nirvana as desirable or even effective compared with an situation – to me, inescapable – where most people, over time, realize the absurdity of denying it.”

    I wanted to explore this a bit more. I think that an entrenched frozen bureaucracy as we saw develop behind Stalin is a bad thing. I don’t think there is much disagreement there.
    Revolutions happen when conditions get bad enough. Breaking out of the eternal cycle of a small percentage garnering power/resources to themselves until they have to be removed is one of the points. Revolutions don’t have to be violent–most people, over time, realizing the absurdity of denying that “to each according to his needs” is a good thing would be a revolution in itself.

    One thing I find interesting (and disconcerting) is the detachment many people feel from government. The government is the people and the people are the government should be the ideal. It shouldn’t even be a radical thought–
    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    It is fairly clear that people aren’t experiencing that currently and the general detachment from government is a problem. The representatives aren’t representing very well. This all goes to speak to your comment on the expansion of state power. If the people are the State and so hold all the power, this could be called either an expansion or simply the state of how things should be.

  61. “I was implying that you could occupy the apartment as long as you needed to occupy the apartment. Since we do not have a housing shortage, I don’t see any reason that anyone would be kicked out of their current housing.”

    Current reasons include:

    The land is needed for some better public use. They might need to flood your valley to make a reservoir or lake, they might need to put a power plant or airfield there, etc.

    The land is needed for some giant commercial venture. Another World Trade Center. A giant medical complex. Etc. In theory government is not supposed to eminent domain for capitalists, but in recent years that’s happened increasingly.

    Your lease has run out and your landlord does not want you.

    Your landlord wants to tear down your building and construct something more profitable. Sometimes he is not allowed to break leases to do that, and may find no better method than to burn the building down.

    There are lots of ways it can go in practice today. In a good society, if your apartment is needed for an important purpose, wouldn’t it be better that you not continue to live there?

    Maybe it isn’t so much that you live there as long as you need to, as that the proletariat lets you live there as long as the proletariat needs to let you live there….

    “Also, note that simple answers to complex questions will often have holes and that I am not, of course, in charge of housing matters.”

    Yes. Not to quibble over details. Just, I think it’s an important distinction how much you get individual rights that over-ride the public good. The public good as determined by somebody-or-other. somebody who gets to decide what the public good is.

  62. jethomas5:I was discussing apartments under socialism, so the profit motive portions go away. It is certainly possible that the place you are living would be a great place to put some sort of infrastructure that would be beneficial to society. In that case, I would expect you to be provided with a set of comparable choices in which to live. There would never be a throw people out into the cold option.
    Some set of people always need to make large scale decisions. What the exact size of that set is will depend on a number of factors. If the profit motive is removed, then decisions should be much more open and that set should very much include the people affected.

  63. “If the people are the State and so hold all the power, this could be called either an expansion or simply the state of how things should be.”

    I want to imagine how that could work.

    Say we had something like an internet where everybody could say what they wanted society to do, with no worry about people cheating to get extra influence.

    Say we had a consensus that our top priorities were that everybody gets enough healthy food, clean water, unpolluted air, shelter, clothing, healthcare, internet, etc.

    Then we all say what we want to be more and better, and what we could get by with less of. That list might go something like:

    8% sitcoms
    7% fireworks
    6% healthcare
    5% beer
    4% space travel
    4% scientific research
    3% new housing places we need it
    and hundreds of other priorities.

    (Maybe a good society would show that our military spending fills a sublimated need for fireworks, and then when we don’t get to see enough fireworks from it we keep spending more….)

    The list of things we could use less of might include

    3% housing in places we don’t need it
    2% collard greens
    2% broccoli
    etc.

    So after we say what we want, then somebody has the job of figuring out how to get it. This is a complex technical problem. Many goals benefit from more energy; how much more energy should we try for? When we do mining, the more energy we have the poorer the grades of ore are practical to mine. With plenty of energy you can have enough of everything.

    We can get a little more beer by replacing some of the collard greens and broccoli with wheat etc but it isn’t obvious how to make better beer.

    Sitcoms don’t need a lot of resources so it’s easy to make a lot more of them. Making them better is very hard. Etc.

    Figuring out how to get the most of what people want is a job for experts. We don’t have any guarantees about it. Some stupid free market experts say that markets will do it. No, they won’t. They assume that whatever relatively free markets give them is a good solution compared to any other theoretical approach because they have never tried anything else to compare, and they want to believe,

    How do we choose our experts? I’m not clear how to do that either. It’s hard to find somebody who’s competent. Will there be people who try to get more of what they want because they think they deserve a bigger say? Probably. Say that somebody bribes the experts by providing them with compliant women or whatever, because they want the economy to provide them with more gem-quality diamonds. Say the experts use complicated computer simulations to decide. It isn’t easy to make plausible simulations which will predict more diamonds as a side effect of making more of other things people want. It isn’t at all obvious that trying to follow those simulations will actually have the results predicted. But people are likely to bribe the deciders anyway. You bribe the powerful people and then if they don’t give you what you paid for, you bribe them again….

    It looks to me like we have some unsolved technical problems. It might be possible to solve those better than ever before. People who need to plan can probably do better than a market in futures contracts….

    But making the people be the government isn’t enough. The people can say what they want. But it still takes experts to actually create what the people want. Somebody has to make a lot of decisions competently, and those people might be corruptible iondependent of their competence.

  64. I don’t have time for a more comprehensive post right now, all I can say is that if you have a solution for people/government divide that doesn’t involve reduction of federal and increase of local powers, or if you can give me specifics on how a “the people are the State” scenario would function, I’m curious. I’ve heard references to the latter abstract before, yet no actual hard details. Without these, without contingencies, without transition and operations plans… well, history shows this leads to Very Bad Things ™.

    Oh, and realizing the absurdity doesn’t necessarily only mean that everyone has agreed that “according to needs” is good, it can also mean that the people who disagree have accepted it won’t cost them anything… technology essentially removing the first and more controversial part of that maxim completely.

  65. jethomas5:Yes.
    Nathan S.:I’ve got a beautiful secret plan I will unveil in 30 days. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
    There are a number of ways it could be organized. Our current system was a compromise that was largely put into place to get slaveholders on board. Something that replaces it with a much more participatory form of democracy seems like a good direction. The Wsie Democracy movement and Demarchy both look interesting. (There are many more).

  66. Heh, yeah didn’t mean to imply I wanted a earthshattering, thousand page long treatise that’ll change the world, it was more rhetorical. Obviously those questions are extremely difficult, and perhaps unsolvable.

    I have looked into Wise Democracy, and for the love of everything sacred I swear their website reads like it was made by an unholy spawn of a crystal-rubbing new ager and a slimy corporate middle executive’s drug-fueled romp:

    “Dynamic Facilitation … the ability for one person to reliably evoke the spirit of choice-creating in a group of people or a meeting. This allows them to face ill-defined, emotionally charged, impossible-seeming issues and achieve unanimous perspectives through win/win shifts and breakthroughs.”

    I don’t believe in hell, but attending a meeting run by whomever wrote that…

  67. Yeah, the website was a tad bizarre. Some of the ideas seemed interesting.

  68. ““Capitalism” refers to a system of commodity exchange in which the exploitation of labor is used to amass capital for the expansion of production as well as accumulation of private weath; a state may by capitalist or monarchial or slave-holding &c in its content; it may also be Bonapartist or democratic or libaral repubulican &c in its form. Saying that any system that empowers the state is a capitalist state has exactly as much meaning as saying that anything that is liquid at room temperature is water.

    In other words, as used above, we have “Commie” and “Fascist” and “Capitalist” ripped out of any scientific context. These words, as being used, mean nothing, they all reduce themselves to “things I don’t like” and carry with them an iron determination to never, under any circumstances, actually try to understand the objective basis of, well, *anything.*”

    While your attempt to attack me personally instead of attacking my argument are indead irritating your assertion of the lack of scientific basis for my arguments that fascism capitalism and socialism all serve the same end of a state system that takes from the many and gives to the few is supported by nothing at all, certainly not history or reality.
    Your definition of Capitalism is shall we say interesting, stemming from I assume ideal Adam Smith reality as to how capital will be allocated in some sort of ideal manner to support the objectives and needs of society. That never happened which is why there have been numurous revolutions and revolts agaist the capital class.

    Your attempt to equate anarchist philosphy and political thought with libertarianism, bonapartism and social democrat political thought is simply untrue, as much as trying to associate it with psychopathic bomb throwing is. Objection to state violence in all forms is not a betrayal of the working class or of the people that you so reatily comdem as nazis because of their disadvantage and marginalization(lumpin prolotariate).

    while trotsky is correct as is an obvious analysis that the petty bougoise in the form of the intelectuals and the tradesmen did support the nazi party and provide both propaganda and moral legitimacy , history demonstrates that the money came from the united states primarily, pure capitatalists if there ever where any that where not british.

    but it is still silly to argue and even more rediculous to assert that the working class in germany did not support the nazi party and hitler and it is not slander it is a demonstrable reality, as is clearly evedence by there repeated colaberation before they started the final solution and there continued idealogical and real support after the war was over.

    Selected but relevant quotes from the communist manifesto.

    “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
    Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master‡ and journeyman, in a
    word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”

    “…By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour. By proletariat, the class of modern wage labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live. [Engels, 1888 English edition]”

    “This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry;
    and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.”

    This has been extended to the point that we now have a class system that more resembles the aristacracy of the 17th century more than the class conflict of the late 19th and early 20th centuries

    Commie first used 1940 according to paywalled websters I will have to ask you for citetion for your assertion that my usage of commie. fascist amd capitalist are ripped out of any scientific context, in fact as I have asked for and you have failed to provide a citaion for your assertions in general would give you some credibility.

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/commie

    As for Anarchism I aseed to the words of emma goldman.

    “We who have chosen the path laid down for us by our convictions oppose the organization called the State, on principle, claiming the equal right of all to work and enjoy life.

    When once free from the restrictions of extraneous authority, men will enter into free relations; spontaneous organizations will spring up in all parts of the world, and every one will contribute to his and the common welfare as much labor as he or she is capable of, and consume according to their needs. All modern technical inventions and discoveries will be employed to make work easy and pleasant, and science, culture, and art will be freely used to perfect and elevate the human race, while woman will be coequal with man.

    “This is all well said,” replies some one, “but people are not angels, men are selfish.”

    What about? Selfishness is not a crime; it only becomes a crime when conditions are such as to give an individual the opportunity to satisfy his selfishness to the detriment of others. In an anarchistic society everyone will seek to satisfy his ego; but as Mother Nature has so arranged things that only those survive who have the aid of their neighbors, man, in order to satisfy his ego, will extend his aid to those who will aid him, and then selfishness will no more be a curse but a blessing.

    A dagger in one hand, a torch in the other, and all his pockets brimful with dynamite bombs — that is the picture of the Anarchist such as it has been drawn by his enemies. They look at him simply as a mixture of a fool and a knave, whose sole purpose is a universal topsy-turvy, and whose only means to that purpose is to slay any one and every one who differs from him. The picture is an ugly caricature, but its general acceptance is not to be wondered at, considering how persistently the idea has been drummed into the mind of the public. However, we believe Anarchy — which is freedom of each individual from harmful constraint by others, whether these others be individuals or an organized government — cannot be brought about without violence, and this violence is the same which won at Thermopylae and Marathon. ”

    sorry we are a wordy and thoughtful lot, that are not governed by narrative or state approval, but by our own minds and the compassion and empathy of our experience.

  69. JustAnotherEasterner:I think you are confusing Soviet Stalin bureaucracy with Socialism.

    From your description, Anarchism seems to be a statement of Leave me alone or I’ll kill you. Not sure how that plays out with real people.

    Marathon and Thermopylae are not examples of anarchists, by the way.

  70. Compassion and empathy that extend their aid only to those who will aid in return are neither compassion nor empathy. They are indifference and greed dressed up in a skin of rationalization. Evoking Darwin to cover a callous disregard of the suffering of others is an old rhetorical ploy, used by every form of despot since he first suggested that survival of the fittest was the driving agent of change that leads to evolution of species. To go from that simple and profound insight to elevate greed to the the status of some sort of organizing principle leads to absurdities like the unshakable belief in the “Invisible Hand” that will somehow guide vast networks of selfish, individual actors to maximize markets for the good of all. It also ignores all evidence of nature and society and Darwin’s own view that altruism itself was a powerful survival trait and that “the highest moral achievement is concern for the welfare of all living beings, human and nonhuman.”

    In a world with neither states nor any social contract to replace them, where every individual is free to follow their own inclinations with no regard to the needs of others, some will follow the better angels of their natures, and work together with others for the good of all and share what they have with an open hand to those in need regardless of reward. They will do that because doing so is a powerful instinct for many humans and other species as well. The trait evolved because it provides a significant advantage in survival for any species that invests energy in rearing its young. The more you are able to see the needs of others as your needs, the more of your own energy you are likely to put into providing for your offspring when times are hard; and the more individuals feel this instinct, the more likely there will be some other individual willing to help you and yours when you are the one in need.

    The converse trait also exists, of course, the kind of greed that drives you to acquire for yourself alone and cooperate only when you have personal gain. That is a survival trait as well, provided that the self-interest is not so extreme as to completely exclude even your own offspring and near kin. Sadly, that is a pathology we have all observed.

    In the world you envision, where every individual is free to choose to cooperate or not, based only on their own understanding of their own interests, some will still choose the path of altruism. Some will still choose to form larger, farther thinking cooperatives. Some will still choose to take the long view, building structures and engaging in projects whose benefits they will not personally enjoy. They will do that because it is a potent survival strategy, but also because it is for them an irresistible instinct. They do not feel their own needs any more keenly than the needs of others, or to put it more accurately, they identify the needs of others as a part of their own needs.

    There will be others who follow a strategy of narrow self interest. They will build small things, deal with others in jealousy and suspicion, leave their neighbors to fend for themselves, cooperate only when they see no other choice. If their strategies fail to provide them with all they think they deserve, they may employ violence or coercion to get what they want.

    In the long run, I am quite certain, the altruists will build more lasting and effective structures, will simply out compete the greedy. In the short run, I am equally certain, their struggle will play out in chaos, violence and misery.

    Why not skip all that and go straight to socialism?

  71. Steve Halter — just a reminder, your beautiful secret plan is due in 10 days.

  72. jethomas5:lol, I didn’t say they would be contiguous days. And, in 10 days I should be in Xi’an China.

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