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Let 100 Flowers Bloom — Without Cracking Down

by Anitra Nelson on March 9, 2015

In the 7th Annual Wheelwright Lecture, in September 2014, Leo Panitch let forth against the likes of David Harvey and Wolfgang Streek — including many in the audience — and stated the following, available in the Journal of Australian Political Economy:

It is important we not get hysterical and start predicting the “end of capitalism” in the hope this will help get the left past “the stark choice between impossible reform and improbable revolution”. This overlaps with the kind of environmentalism that tells us we have only 5 or 10 years left to prevent ecological catastrophe, which is often in fact demobilising. And if a new fascism were really on the verge of closing the space that liberal democracy allows for freedom of association and free speech, then all forces on the left would be obliged to engage in popular-front style cross-class alliances to defend that space. This would severely restrain any new socialist strategy and mobilization until the threat was defeated. We should therefore be wary of unnecessarily frightening ourselves, while nevertheless carefully examining the nature, and monitoring the growing strength, of the radical right in the current conjuncture. We need time for long term mobilization, and for building the political organisations that are capable of putting the end of capitalism back on the human agenda.

I find it hard not to interpret this as saying, ‘We, the organised Left, decide what to do and how to do it. Rabble, get back in your place. Follow us: we will save you.’

Panitch’s position begs the question: how have most Left thinkers and activists over the last couple of centuries defined their economic and political project, strategies and agenda? It is hard to ignore that, even if our vision — ending capitalism — is radical, this kind of reformist approach has always seemed the most feasible option.

This reformist strategy is a ‘one step at a time along the long road and we will reach our destination’ approach. Typically it has meant national campaigns and broadening state management of key resources along socialist values of broader and more equal access, either directly or through redistributing incomes. So social democratic — Keynesian, nationalising and Third Way — governments have come to power with such promises and programs.

Sooner or later such social democrats fail because they operate within a market economy; a capitalist state working for the masses, for workers, runs counter to the smooth running of capitalism. There is class, even if it is a peculiarly open and mobile form of class. There is capitalism, and capitalism is a fragile beast.

Stronger and more enduring anti-capitalist models have centred on public ownership of the means of production, planned socialism framed as nationalist revolutions with complicated international positions, politically and economically. Managerial planning and forceful defence, internally as well as externally, has given all such experiments an authoritarian, even dictatorial and totalitarian character.

Without revolutionising the economy and polity by substituting monetary and market-based principles with direct control over production, community-based governance, the planned socialist (or communist) model has, sooner or later, disintegrated into state capitalism. Meanwhile counter-currents invariably fight politically for democracy of a market-based variety reintroducing liberal through to social democratic models.

It is not a matter of social democratic states balancing the books better or being more economically savvy, efficient or smart. The capitalist state cannot redistribute incomes without taking from the rich — from the owner–managers of the system — and/or by running up debts. Indeed private saving, investments and assets are implicit debts so of course they surround us. The system is the system is the system.

Poster Panitch -lowresAfter decades resisting incorporating environmental concerns into the majority Left’s ‘materialist’ perception of reality, we now face a runaway decay of nature on a planetary scale. This seems like an ideal platform for the Left. If socialism once seemed like the only way of saving humanity, it is now the only way of saving the human species per se. Unlike Panitch & Co., the Right readily understands — in their rejection of climate change — our time has come.

And, just as the capitalist Right has lost the day, so has the right within the Left. The reformists have little to offer but more of the same failed ways ‘forward’. We must now let 100 flowers bloom without taking fright as to what is revealed, without cracking up, without cracking down. We are, after all, fighting for the future of our children and grandchildren, for our species. I put forward one key radical alternative to consider: non-market socialism. Please, defy Panitch, and respond with yours.

When I raise non-market socialism — a world beyond money where we collectively produce and exchange on the basis of social and environmental values — many agree that money and markets are bizarre and outdated institutions. But others assail me with a barrage of dismissals. The main one is: societies have always traded.

Logically, this argument is weak. Haven’t societies always involved violence, patriarchy and hierarchy? Does that stop us having a vision of, and struggling for, a society without violence, patriarchy and hierarchy?

Just as significantly, trading has had a subordinate — marginal rather than driving —role in all other, i.e. non-capitalist, societies. There principles ruling use-rights to the means of production and forms of exchange have generally been framed in political, cultural and religious ways. So societies might always have engaged somewhat in both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ exchanges but this is neither trade nor production for trade as we know it in capitalism, using money and prices as terms of exchange.

The question is: does trade and, in particular, production for trade, make sense? I will ignore all the illogicality around prices, which is enough to bury capitalism on its own. Instead, I simply point to another fatal flaw: becoming more sustainable will mean degrowing advanced economies. All economies based on production for trade involve a general equivalent, money as we know it. To the extent that its value or buying power is unstable, so is the economy. Therefore, capitalists, workers and dependents all derive security from a continuously growing economy. Any individual or collective producing for trade must account for a buffer, profit, again implying growth. Sustainability and capitalism are impossible. In fact, capitalism has bred unsustainability. Please, Panitch don’t tell us not to panic.

The next charge nonmarket socialists face is that people have always exchanged. Yes, they have, and people exchange under non-market socialism, just not on the basis of market principles and monetary values, prices. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with exchange. Exchange is not trade; trade is market-based exchange. Sure, exchange is minimised under non-market socialism in as much as moving stuff from one place to another is environmentally — and effort-wise — costly. Nor do we support exchange as a practice of exploitation.

Nonmarket socialists advocate producing for our collective selves and this involves exchanges, but on the basis of social and environmental values. Indeed owning the Earth, reclaiming it, and collectively governing it for simple reproduction of our basic needs according to environmental criteria for sustainability seems like the only way forward.

How will we continue to live otherwise?

Anitra Nelson
Anitra Nelson is an activist scholar, currently a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, author of Marx’s Concept of Money: The God of Commodities (1999), co-editor of Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies (2011, Pluto Press) and Honorary Associate Professor at RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research.
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  • March 9, 2015 at 9:36 am

    “Sustainability and capitalism are impossible”.. So true. Although I think a distinction needs to be clearer in what you say between trade and production for trade. I think it is possible to say that humans have traded for a very long time before exploitation developed around that. And production for trade is the accelerant. Trade of an used surplus which I guess is looking at “the Gift”, usufruct without the apparent need for immediate reciprocity is a crucial aspect of developing an alternative that is, as you say matter of urgency and panic. I think Peter Linebaugh is one person (as was Elinor Ostrom) who is looking at this in a very interesting way. ” Scarcely a society has existed on the face of the earth that has not had commoning at its heart. “Neither the state nor the market,” say the planetary commoners. These essays kindle the embers of memory to ignite our future commons.”
    In Australia Green ban movements looked for another way of making decisions without those “wise MEN” telling everyone what to do as I am sure you would be aware of.

  • March 9, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    I think your distinction between ‘trade’ and ‘production for trade’ might run parallel to my ‘exchange’ and ‘production for trade’. The point I think needs to be accepted is that living sustainably requires as much direct and locally made and shared production as possible, collective sufficiency with sharing not trading. Yes green bans were great and a green-red alliance is logical and what we need.

  • Ken Blackman
    March 10, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Capitalism has always cannibalised its own foundations, sucking into its maw greater resources and greater consumer power: natural resources; the feudal workforce; colonialism; women; mortgages and credit for proles; the global market… Totally unsustainable ecologically.
    But the question for socialists, with the atmospheric carbon count passing 400 ppm. is – as Anitra demands – is there time? Time to undermine and overthrow this? Time to build the world anew, with justice and fairness?
    There are many in the Australian Greens and the wider green movement whose hearts are socialist but whose heads are more realistic: we have to build communities that can survive the coming storm for which capitalism is largely responsible, and we will perforce need to adopt and adapt many capitalist forms, structures and processes to do that in time. At least there’s some chance that, out of this probably brutal and messy twenty-first century we’ll evolve many socialist answers to impending challenges: non-market socialism may be one. Yet there’s as much chance that Hobbesian ‘answers’ will prevail, and capitalism will become the least of humanity’s concerns. Today, revolutionary socialists (along with liberals) are the true romantics! For now, we need true conservatives – creative, pragmatic… with a vision that prioritises sustainable answers to questions society has never faced before.

  • March 11, 2015 at 12:31 am

    We are missing group. It is all of our histories, in dispossesing us of lands, group lands, in the recorded histories of conquering colonising of the patriarchal parasitism, our groups have been split up, and we have been driven to live en mass and forgotten we are an ape animal that has been persuaded it is not an animal that lives group!.

    Just as David Graeber describes, exchange never ever existed but within groups there was gift economies, and between alienated groups there were sport, competitive exchanges. But ones main livelihood then was gained from group family nurture in large groups on large land sizes that were yharvested or foraged to sustain the group. (Hunter gathering is a male focussed term, it wasnt hunter gathering at all! it was gathering every day, fishing and catching if you were lucky once a week, and hunting an animal if you were lucky every 2 weeks.)

    Even in early times when people came into the system after having been dispossesed of large groups enmeshed into thousands of peoples cities and towns and states and coutries formed out of villages, we didnt exchange barter or swap even then but the main economy then was we had relationships with our neighbours that were more cohesive and bonded because we were always under debt to each other and bonded to what we owed in the favours we did for each other.

    The solution as I see it for our quest for fairness rightness all fed, justice peace and happiness to regain the love that is missing and to form a cohesive happy future society is to restore the autonomous group and links to larger group nations that form out of small groups.

    Matriearchies mostly, rooted in gift economies, from out of the mother comes all humans, from the mother comes the learning of all nurture. It is not divisive either. Everyone look down at their chests, all have nipples, all are forms of female, no need to be divided at all. Besides it is now known that what we know of as Matriarchies nurture the best in all their peoples and nor one side over another.

    We would do well to study the areas in the world where people who live on little live long lives eat well enough look after each other and are happy and find out what their sectret is!

    Because that reality goes way against the expected notions of western thoughts!

    But, that perspective bears out wjhat all westerners know that after youve paid for your life, which can be pretty cheap, the best things in life are free!

    That just leaves stuff! we think of as important, but clearly its not, it just life interesting. So it turns out its not so important a thing that Buckminster Fuller who coined a word “ephemeralism” which he described it as is the ability of technological advancement to do “more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing” what he’s really talking about there is being able to do increasingly less and less important things for nothing!. EOS and the Venus project and many others Star trek thinkers are under that delusion also.

    Basically as a small example, you dont need the bother of the dentist or his tech if you dont eat the sugar. And, bicycles, motorbikes, cars, vans, buses, trains, and aeroplanes, are much less important than the richness of living close to each other and only ever having to walk. Same goes for music tech, when you can learn to play with each other, and same for communication tech, and writing and telling stories instead of having the tv or cinema.

    The best life isnt as expensive as we think.

    As “cavemen” it turns out, we could be the happiest. Steady state. Theres no need to always be having to grow! Creative interests are what makes life interesting, and why not pursue them as long as theyre “one planet” but theyre aids, not replacements for the most important things. Which are free!!!!!!

    • March 15, 2015 at 10:28 am

      Yes, Frank, capitalism is money making more money and beggar the planet, including humans! What we need to be doing is growing natural economies, living simply and experimenting in a range of ways — as you have — to form other ways of producing, exchanging and consuming.

  • March 11, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Having studied the way we have evolved money as a set of practices, relations and dominating value — my PhD published by Routledge, Marx’s Concept of Money: The God of Commodities (1999), is still on numbers of course reading lists worldwide — I think the problem is that most people don’t realise that money is not a neutral tool. Indeed, I think these people are the naive romantics. To talk about monetary economies as realism or practical is to confuse a whole world of socially constructed market exchange value with material use values. For instance, the way monetary relationships work within markets is pseudo-mathematical in as much as the unit of value is continuously changing in its practical as well as social meaning. Also, as Piketty shows, the inevitable outcomes are deep inequalities. We are better off accounting directing in use values and basic human needs all the while enhancing Earth’s already eroded sustainability. This can be done in small local economies, based around collective sufficiency, related to one another like cells across arable areas of Earth. We don’t need to operate with money; we do need to live sustainably.

    • Pineaux
      March 17, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Is there a place where I can read your thesis for free? Where I don’t have to pay money for it? It looks interessant. Upload it to Kickass Torrents. I’ll download it.

      • Pineaux
        March 17, 2015 at 10:15 am

        Goddamn dutch auto-complete. I meant interessant=interesting

      • Pineaux
        March 17, 2015 at 10:19 am

        Or, by e-mail: peenofreeman[at]gmail[dot]com. I understand if you’d get in trouble with routledge if you’d post a tracker on Kickass torrents.

  • March 11, 2015 at 7:42 am

    It is not that green bans were great that was my point. I think it is decision making that is the focus of your article. The precis you give of Panitch view is what you are rightly challenging. Green bans and the way the NSW BLF in particular made decisions – with community meetings, officials with limited tenure, social and environmental ideas to the fore and the fact that members from many walks of life supported this framework – is surely an example of what can be done, even if its not Lenin and Trotsky saying this is what you will do!! Linebaugh’s work on the commons, David Graeber of what money is are trying to show a different way that has been tried. It is not romantic, or if it is its a romance we should embrace. Necessary utopias I think.
    The Greek government is perhaps trying to create some space to do this, with its support of the people who have had to move from urban areas because of job destruction with things like free wifi etc etc being small examples ofcreating that local space for alternatives. And you have written about Marinaleda in Spain

  • March 12, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Yes … the Greek, and various Latin American, governments are also trying to respond to conditions at the grassroots, and to open more space for participatory democracy.

  • Pineaux
    March 13, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Anita, I understand your approach to the problems the world faces. I understand the reason why you would advocate a money-less system, but I can’t shake certain thoughts. So let me share them with you:

    First off: I believe money is used as a tool to describe social relations. I agree with you that money is also a social construct, it is not necessarily a historical imperative. Money goes where real power subsides. What I mean by this is that entities with a lot of money, are entities with social power. Social power comes from having something that others do not, it can be a skill, ownership of land, legalised use of force, weapons, ideas or people. All these things -and many more- create power, because they create the conditions for controlling the behaviour of others (in positive or negative ways).
    In other words: money is not power; Power creates money, and with money it is possible to grow your power.

    Having said that, I believe trade in a market-based system is not something that is created by the powerfull people. It exists because the weak(er) want something they do not possess. In a non-trade world people in scandinavia cannot drink coffee. Coffee cannot be grown in Scandinavia, the same goes for tabacco and other geospecific commodities. However, people in scandinavia want coffee and are therefore prepared to give something valuable they have in return. They are prepared to do this at a high cost, because they want their coffee. If they did not have money, they would trade gold, or oil or wood.
    There are two conditions in which trade would be impossible and both are – in my opinion – highly undesireable: (1) deprivation of information: If people in scandinavia did not know of the existence of coffee, they would not desire it. (2) deprivation of freedom: If people in scandinavia were not allowed to trade. Both conditions do historically create the gift-economies or communitarian societies.
    Even in modern times this is true: In Cuba – where private trade is limited and embargo’s limit government-controlled trade – there has been, since the end of the soviet union, a more and more communitarian lifestyle, a lot the food on the island is created locally with almost no use of oil-based technologies such as tractors, pesticides and fertilizers. That is a monumental achievement and I think the world can learn a lot from their experiences. But, the conditions for these societal changes are not something to be jealous off. They have deprivation of information (all forms of international and national information are controlled by the government) and deprivation of freedom (both by their internal government and by international trade embargo’s).

    I fail to see how the abolition of money would be the prerequisite to the abolition of power-of-the-few. I see myself as an erratic social-anarchist. One who hopes for a better world. But even in the most prominent social-anarchistic utopian ideals I see big problems. I see small groups of locally-living communities being cruched by other vertically organised groups or individuals with social power. I see leaders within these communitarian societies, who gain more and more power, by binding people to themselves, by taking ownership of increasingly larger parts of collectively owned goods, lands or tools. I see the impunity of the use of violence between groups and within. I see the destruction of trust between groups and individuals.

    So, to summarize my question to you: How would you propose to create such a non-market capitalist system without forcing it upon people who want to drink their coffee?

  • March 16, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Not having a market or money doesn’t mean no exchange or no coffee, rather exchange based on other — sharing, social and environmental — principles.

    Those people wanting to drink coffee in a use-value (or ‘natural’) non-market socialist economy list coffee amongst their community’s wants, secondary to their non-basic/essential needs. They arrange with a community or set of communities who are able to provide them with coffee — they communicate using an Internet notice board of wants, needs and potential suppliers — to supply them as part of a mutually agreeable ‘compact’ (vs monetary contract). This compact might involve multiple parties and agreements on a range of products and work exchanges over years. The compact is a work-in-progress, flexible to new or unforeseen challenges, but serious in terms of an expected commitment to mutual interests and obligations.

    Your idea that weak people create the power of the strong has something going for it — especially if an alternative such as rotating leadership characteristic of non-market socialism exists — but in capitalism an elite structure is inbuilt and has become highly developed over the centuries. Your concept of the social construction of power would suggest black people are weaker than white people and in patriarchal situations women are weak compared to strong men and there’s always going to be powerful people and powerless people so that’s that. It’s a hell of a lot more complicated that that.

    A non-market socialist mode of production cannot operate by brute force as capitalism does. Competition and private property amount to force through exclusion and submission. Commons and sharing rely on cooperation and solidarity.

    Your idea that money accumulates where it is most deserved needs rethought. Even the pro-capitalist Piketty (in Capital 2014) is appalled that in 2013 we had over 140 billionaires (p. 433) over half of whom can be considered as having got where they are due to inherited wealth (p. 443). I could go on and on…

    It is funny that you should pick the example of coffee. To get some idea of the way capitalist practices keep you supplied with coffee, read ‘Mugged: Poverty in Your Coffee Cup’ by Charis Gresser and Sophia Tickell (2002, Oxfam) or J Valkila’s (2009) ‘Fair Trade organic coffee production in Nicaragua — Sustainable development of a poverty trap?’, Ecological Economics, Vol. 68: 3018-25. A recent, 2014, review of fair trade coffee by Carly Williams (Journal of the National Centre for Sustainability, June 2014 Vol.1 No.2) concludes: ‘Models such as fair trade act as a point that can be massaged to allow the existing system to work better, but as long as the dominant paradigm is embedded in global market capitalism, envisaging an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable future for the coffee industry at the scale we currently desire is difficult.’

    I have lived in residential cooperatives and have seen conflicts and challenges better dealt with in them than in other kinds of households, social organisations or workplaces. I prefer the rough and tumble of community-based grassroots organisations of an Occupy or non-violent network kind to those in mainstream political parties. However, I understand your concerns about how things might end up. In fact, we do not argue that ending money ends life’s challenges. We simply argue that going beyond money is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for a socialist (anarch0-communist) revolution.

    Does this make my position clearer?

  • Pineaux
    March 17, 2015 at 9:45 am

    To begin with, I want to pay my respects, not every writer takes so much time to answer comments, especially when the comment is critical in tone.

    That being said, I think you misjudged my position in almost all my remarks.

    I am not suggesting in any way, as you say it, that black people or women are naturally weaker than white men. I said that power is gained from having something others lack. I have named examples of things that I think create power (property, skills, legaliseert use of force, weapons, ideas and people), if you had analyses these things, you would have noticed that I named things people can acquire. I haven’t said anything about inherent weaknesses. To me patriarchy is the perfect example of power that is gained by exclusive ownership and cultural ideas. The same goes for racism.

    White european people were the lucky few to be on a continent that had all these perfect conditions to grow in power, they had information flows into the continent by global trade for thousands of years, they had stable surroundings with little Earthquakes, Storms and other horrible disasters. They had all the animals like horses and other livestock, they had all the good cereal grains (which can be stocked). They had all the horrible diseases (to make them immune) and highly evolved weapon technology. White people weren’t born superior to all the other ‘uncivilised people’, they had acquired superiority. When I say superiority, I don’t, in any way, mean that they were ethically or morally superior, put they were superior in power, because of the resources they had to excert their power.

    Racism is an added cultural phenomenon used to further legitimize (making their power morally justifiable – to them) the differences which they saw between the two groups. I think people are naturally inclined to justify their own succes on their being i.e. their intelligence, their strength, their skills. Others who fail are then grouped together. Next the “succesfull” group looks for what sets them apart from the “failed” group in a totally arbitrary way. The proces is finishes by attributing their succes on the things that sets them apart. In case of White men, it is that they have a white skin and not black. In the case of paternalism, it is that men tend to be more muscled, have a dick and no breasts.

    When you claim that: “… in capitalism an elite structure is inbuilt and has become highly developed over the centuries. “, are you saying that you believe that it has been the same elite (people/families/group) all these centuries? because I do believe capitalism has an inbuilt elite structure and they are called capitalists, but they are not necessarilly from centuries-old hereditary brood lines or secret societies. They are there because they acquired something that other people do not have and wish to pay dearly for. If money did not exist, then people would pay with time, gold, sex or any other thing the capitalist would accept in return.
    Which brings us to a side problem. Money has a characteristic that a non-market system does not: Money does not discriminate. Let’s say, that in a non-market system I would want your advise. In return I would give you something of mine. What if You wouldn’t want what I had to offer? You would deny your advise on these grounds. Where with money we wouldn’t have that problem.

    Now on the hereditary accumulation of money: I see this problem, but it is not the answer to the problem. If money had not existed these people would have inherited lands, gold, and other valuable goods. I am appalled by it too, but I am also appalled by Piketty. Not because I don’t believe that getting rich by having investing capital is way more profitable than working for it, I thought that was a given; but because piketty is a dangerous to the egalitarisme cause. His book is catchy and seems radical but his axioms and economics are sloppy and I fear it is written with the goal to make a splash. I fear that, at some point in the near future a pro-capitalist libertarian will destroy his work. Just like what happened to John Rawl’s theory of justice when Robert Nozick beat it to pulp in his “Anarchy, State and Utopia”. Not to say that I agree with Nozick.
    Now to get back to why hereditary wealth accumulation is a consequence of the problem at hand, but not the problem, is because it does not explain how this wealth was acquired before it was heredited. Now having money is , of course, also a resource which can be used to exert power and can thus be used to acquire more power and more wealth. I do not see the difference between money and other forms of property in this sense.

    You say that: “a non-market socialist mode of production cannot operate by brute force as capitalism does”. Your assumption that capitalism operates on brute force is too simple. One of capitalism’s greatest strengths is that it’s brute force is dispersed and non-focused in nature. This is also one of the greatest problems with people who wish to see capitalism abolished (like me). It is hard to convince most people of this fact because it is a system and therefore it is not individuals or “elitists” who are to be held accountable. They are in some part, but they are mostly invisible in the swarm. Even “weak” people work to the Benefit of the system as a whole.
    To get back to the coffee example: people want their coffee and are responsible -ethically- for the wellfare of the people who produce the coffee, but they don’t feel it that way, they just want coffee. For them the toil, sweat and tears of the coffeefarmer are invisible. They are as Marx calls it, alienated. I have never really believed in fairtrade coffee exactly because of this. I have to trust the fairtrade brand, when they tell me they will save the farmers. There is no way I can check if this is true. The fairtrade brands are essentially selling me a better ethical choice – it is commodity fetishism at it’s purest. So it does not surprise me one bit that fairtrade sucks. On a more fundamental level it is very similar to environmental problems. In the greenhouse debate the powerful make an appeal to the masses, in which they say that if everybody buys a few extra “green” products global warming will be solved. It is a strawman

    I have lived in a residential cooperative in Spain for a few years and I have seen very good problem solving, but I have also seen people leave their homes because things could not be solved. Most of the time, these people were less able to speak up for themselves in a social setting than their counterparts and lost out. Before that, I lived in anarchist squats in the netherlands, things were pretty okay, but organising was always a lot of work. Not only that, but I noticed how people got demoralised by the constant harrasment of police and other authorities and they tended to disappear to other places in the passing of time. I’ve seen almost all those radical anarcho-socialist squatters get integrated into society, nowadays most of them view that time romantically as ” the time when we were rebels”. They now view themselves as “realists”. I view them as “sellouts”

    To conclude why I think abolishing money, or alternative forms of money are the wrong thing to concentrate on: If you abolish money, it will come back in a different form. If you introduce an alternative money system which is not beneficial to powerful people they will not use it. So you will have to enforce it, but how can you enforce rules without becoming a proto-state? And don’t kid yourself, people will always try to gain power and they will succeed if they are not stopped, or do you see that differently? Do you think powerful people are a different species from you and me?
    I’m not trying to destroy your beautiful vision for the world (and I doubt I could), I just think these are essential questions which have to be answered if there is to be a productive future for that vision.

  • March 18, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Thanks. I think that I understand your position a bit better now.

    Besides differences of argument, I think our real sticking point is a difference of sentiment. I don’t think we can eradicate a continuous play for power in society but I don’t feel defeated by that observation or conclusion.

    I do think that certain structures make it easier for certain forms of power to be exercised and maintained. Each mode of production or form of relationship can be compared in positive and negative terms in enabling or disabling power and people’s best and worst characteristics: master/slave; patriarch/woman; feudal lord/serf; capitalist owner–manager/worker–consumer.

    I don’t think that we can keep money and avoid its role in creating inequality. Money has an essential role in the power created and facilitated by capitalist social relations of production. Therefore I think that incorporating money into a socialist transition is fatal because it becomes a counter-revolutionaries playground. Amongst socialists there is general agreement that money has no place in any final stage of communism. Non-market socialists foreground going beyond money as an initial rather than final step on the road to socialism.

    If you think power is the problem then I can see how you think it is irrelevant that we use money or go beyond it.

  • Pineaux
    March 20, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    I do not see economy and politics as two different subjects. I think economy is solidified political convention. Nowadays we pay for everything around us, our houses, our schools, our entertainment, our food, our clothing, our water. Paying for something does not necessarily mean money. People pay for facebook and gmail as well. They pay with information. It feels very cheap to pay with information, but it might just be that people don’t know the value of it. It is analoge to the pioneers of europe who traded worthless glass beads with the indians (I call them indians because it reminds me of european stupidity) for buffalo and beaverhides. The indians couldn’t fathom how much they were ripped off, they had no way of knowing.
    We pay for everyhting and I can imagine time when this was not necessarily true…

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