Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.


+1 vote
Last night I asked a question about Libertarian Socialism and Mutualism, namely about how labor would be tracked in a worker run economy that still maintains a form of currency. I was informed by dot that if I did not explain how this pertained to Anarchy my question would be removed and I didn't have a chance to respond (I posted the question around 10 and dot asked me at around 2, according to the site, we must be in different time zones, sorry I didn't have a chance to get back to you in time before you deleted it, if you're reading this, sorry). dot said that this wasn't a "Libertarian Socialist/Mutualist website" so I guess i'm just confused as to why these wouldn't be considered forms of Anarchy. They are stateless and non- hierarchical so I don't see why they aren't forms of Anarchy. Am I using the wrong definition of the term? I'm confused. Thanks.
by (240 points)
like i asked in your other question, in this "libertarian socialist society" you speak of, how does the currency get created? because the only currencies i know of get created and regulated by hierarchical organizations (banks, governments, federal reserve, the IMF, etc.), in the form of debt and interest, as numbers on computers.

Currency would be created, and backed, according to the community (decentralized planning). This would be done by the community through direct horizontal democracy, in a Libertarian Socialist society. As for mutualism, they operate through mutual-credit banking . These institutions would lend to the producers at a minimal interest rate, just high enough to cover administration. A labor theory of value that holds that when labor or its product is sold, in exchange, it must  receive goods or services embodying "the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility". Is a central part of Mutualism . For Mutualism, I would urge you to check out some of the writings Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. For Libertarian Socialism, I would recommend some Noam Chomsky and Mikhial Bakunin.

"Currency would be created, and backed, according to the community (decentralized planning)."

what community? how do they create it? how do they back it? what form does it take (i.e. numbers representing debt on computers)? how does that money work with other decentralized communities?

none of the stuff you mentioned interests me because it doesn't get to the root of the money system and the way it functions in our lives. when any interest comes into play, however small, it automatically necessitates more money coming into the system. the money system would not function at all without a continual expansion of "goods" and "services" while we live on a planet with finite materials, and way more "goods" and "services" than we already need in many places, with people suffering and dying just to attempt to continue that expansion.

think of a "community" of real people, starting with no currency, and then somehow creating a money supply, increasing that supply, charging interest, and so on, and try to imagine how that might work without the same problems that arise today.
It's being backed and taking into account debt etc... would be subjective to the community, they would decide. Mutualists don't want to just abolish currency and start over, they want to transition, keeping some of the currency infrastructure of currency, while modifying certain things, like the dismantling of private property.
what does "backing" mean?

nothing "backs" the money system today (other than peoples' belief in it, and hierarchical institutions forcing everyone to use this abstract concept which they control). even the paper dollar bills only account for less than 2% of all the "money" in existence.

i desire the abolition of money (according to how it functions today), and so i have no inclination to perpetuate anything remotely like it.
Note: I also want to abolish currency, I disagree with Libertarian Socialism/Mutualism.

So say a community wants to back a currency with gold, they would. This may be a poor economic decision, but they may do that if they wish? Sure. Alot of aspects of these economies may be poor, part of the reason why I am against them.
hmmm, then i guess i don't understand the question, or why you find it relevant on this site.

regarding the backing by gold, what does that really mean when you get down to it? if people wanted to exchange their numbers on computers for a bar of gold, they could? i don't see how that changes anything. it still maintains a belief in the abstract, the disconnected, the quantification of life, and a mindset of scarcity.

edited to add:

sure, some group of people, somewhere could get together and do something like that (create a currency, say it is "backed" by gold). i wouldn't try to stop them, but i'd have no interest in joining them, or in needing their money so i could survive.
Well my original question was how they would track labor when currency is still in circulation, but dot led me to believe that these weren't real forms of Anarchy and that confused me.
to me, "tracking labor" for currency doesn't seem like anarchy.

it sounds like a function of hierarchical thinking and systems.

i don't desire the "tracking of labor" - whether someone else of me, or me of them.
Well to abolish the wage system and have each worker entitled to what they produce, like if I flip five burgers I get paid for five burgers, not a wage, the amount of burgers flipped would need to be tracked by something. Maybe tracked isn't the right word.
i don't see any fundamental difference between your description and what i experience today.
probably i shouldn't have deleted your question FT.

but i've been cleaning up the site and getting grumpy -- which your continuing to use the tag ANARCHY doesn't make any better, btw.

i myself don't consider anarchy to be any kind of socialist, because i define socialism as "Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy." and Proudhon might have been the first person to claim the label anarchist, but that doesn't mean that he's my role model, nor do i think he should be yours. mutualism could be anarchistic, i guess? but it's not necessarily (the overlap of mutualism and an-cap is foggy and disturbing...).

but mostly i was grossed out by your first question, and am also by this one. the idea of tracking people's labor is pretty much exactly why i don't find socialism or mutualism appealing in any way.

but i suppose there could be anarchists who come here who would be interested in talking about this, and perhaps i should let them address this question. worst case scenario is at least then i know who to stay away from.
It's fine. I'm not a Mutualist either, I was just curious how they would tackle the issue. I just wondered how they would know who get's paid what in a worker run society.

As for Anarchy, I usually just define Anarchy as stateless, and without rulership, and I think Mutualism fits.

Again, Not a Mutualist, just curious how they would tackle this issue.

1 Answer

0 votes
Maybe I can address both questions a bit: In a non-capitalist society, individual compensation for labor makes sense as a means of decentralizing and individualizing some aspects of the economy. It also creates some safeguards, in cases where the real difficulties of determining "need" and "ability" might make communist systems of production and consumption at least potentially subject to some forms of exploitation. Different communities are probably going to have different levels of tolerance for disagreements on those matters, and different levels of energy for the sort of constant course-corrections that will be necessary for an economy without individual compensation to function smoothly. Anarchists can probably accommodate individual and local differences in both instances, and that may certainly be more pleasant than all trying to get on the same page about not just the necessities of life, but all of the other sorts of production, distribution and consumption that we can expect to go along with heightened degrees of individual flourishing. We'll grow and be more free together, but it doesn't mean we'll all do it in the same ways. So there may be times when the logical thing to do is to uncouple ourselves from one another economically, so that we can explore individual means of reconnecting through commerce.

All of our labels can be terribly abused, but presumably "mutualism" traces back to Proudhon and the argument behind the claim that "property is theft." The heart of that argument is that no individual should have the privilege of using the fruits of social cooperation to control the lives of other people, and that's true in both economic and political realms. Capitalism is the systematic appropriation of what we do together (Proudhon's "collective force") for the benefit of a few. Governmentalism is the same process ("exploitation") in a different social realm. Some of the things that get called "mutualism" don't pay as much attention to the question of "collective force," but anything worthy of the name ought to start with a rejection of that privilege-to-exploit, and then address the question of how all those social fruits, now expropriated from us by capitalism and governmentalism, might be directed to meet collective needs. And it's only really after that's taken care of, and we have society established on at least a quasi-collective basis, that these questions of individual compensation and individualized consumption can really get free play—and then precisely as a supplement to the sort of economy we are more accustomed to think of in an anarchist society.
by (450 points)