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Do anarchists think it's more useful to work towards higher wages or a lower cost of living?

0 votes
Higher wages would be great, but the cost of living could possibly cost more to take advantage of higher wages.
This is hardly a question beyond labor/social reform, but I think it's still relevant as far as attaining short-term goals go.
asked Sep 4, 2014 by anonymous
Since 1936 I have fought for wage increases.
My father before me fought for wage increases.
Now I have a TV, a fridge, a Volkswagen.
Yet my whole life has been a drag.
Don’t negotiate with the bosses. Abolish them.
(May '68 graffiti)

2 Answers

+5 votes

:)  There are a couple of very good threads here about anarchists pursuing non-anarchistic (ie. reformist) projects; (and i can't find them at present).
Ingrate's comment about "pure snowflakes of anarchy" here  ( http://anarchy101.org/7933/should-anarchists-support-boycotts )  speak well to the utopian vs. the lived world.

So, that out of the way, we will play the mug's game.  Governments have no real influence over cost of living (or wages for that matter); so working toward a lower cost of living, within a reformist state, is simply delusional.  Higher wages sound nice, but as you noted, the cost of living _always_ manages to creep up enough to eat the increase and then some.  Bank interest on savings is ground down below the rate of inflation.
It is a mug's game because it is fixed; standard accepted business practices require mindless actions that result in the above noted consequences, class conformity locks in the above noted mindless actions.  It is a false dichotomy:  no matter what we choose, we lose.

So we need to find the outs, the loopholes, the in-betweens unseen.  The free-cycle, grey-market, black-market, back-alley deals; the under-table, handshake, hoodwink-and-nudge  cash jobs.
And we should probably find ways to let other people know that they have good reason to slip underneath the corporate/state's gaze - that their actions aren't criminal, but sensible and ethical.

Now, if you can use a reformist project to fuck with an established power structure, for no other reason than because it is there (to be fucked with) - well, have fun then.
answered Sep 5, 2014 by clodbuster (1,950 points)
+1 vote

It's more useful and much more satisfying to me to continually remove things in my life from the realm of money and into the realm of giving and receiving (clodbuster gave some good examples, and I would add "gift circles" as another, one which has been very transformative for me personally).

Money is based on scarcity, on debt and interest, on never-ending growth, and the numbers (all of them - wages and costs - although not proportionately) will always go up as a result of believing in those concepts. More of it is "created" constantly in the form of future debt and interest to be "earned" and paid, and that requires more "goods" and "services" to fill it up, sucking the life and the uniqueness out of almost everything we do and create and tearing up the earth in its wake. In my view, it is both a symptom and a cause of much of the disconnection, misery and alienation in the world. Only a fundamentally different way of looking at life and interacting with others will change things, not some minor dicking around with the numbers. What can bring about that change in individuals or in society generally is somewhat of a mystery to me....but I do think that as the monetary system continues to break down under the weight of it's own false premises, there will be more people open and willing to directly receive from and give to one another.
answered Sep 11, 2014 by bornagainanarchist (8,490 points)
edited Sep 11, 2014 by bornagainanarchist
Much good stuff here, bo@.

you speak of gifts well here.  one thing i've found interesting is that the true gift needs to be freely given, and _freely_received_.  this is the part i've always struggled with - i'm happy to give away, but it pains me to accept any gift from another.  This is the fiery brand of 'charity' rearing its ugly head again - we'll try any slight to avoid the tender mercies of the poorhouse, or avoid the social stigma of 'not pulling our own weight' or 'paying our own way'.  Fuck this!  
We need (i need) to relearn to accept a gift truely - to share in the joy that the giver creates in the giving, to share with them the joy of a gift received.  The beauty of the true gift is that it is totally irrational - it makes absolutely no fucking difference what the objective 'value' of the gift is, be it a sprig of daisies or a shotgun or an acre of wheat - to give is to step into another place, and to ask the other to step there with you; the exchange of the material places us both into a place ethereal.
Thank-you for sharing your personal challenges, cb (I've had many of them myself), and for the kind words.

I've come to believe recently that a big part of the separation that is embodied by the money system is our inability to receive freely. The idea that it is better to give than to receive is a foolish notion, imo. If everyone is going around giving as the ultimate "good" in life, it lessens all those who would be receiving. I think it was Auden who said "We are all here on earth to help others.; what on earth the others are here for, I have no idea".

I like your description of "stepping into another place". You crystallized well what I felt to be fumbling around saying. I think the more we are open to receive the unique gifts of others, the more connection we'll feel, and we'll be able to more easily let go of abstract concepts like money which foster separation and standardization.