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+2 votes
Sorry guys, another dumb question, again, new to the whole anarchy scene. So I understand why we wouldn't need an entertainment industry, but why would it be totally impossible for people to create and distribute films and the like, just like today? Another recent post asked a similar question and one answer said it would function the same, just worker controlled. Is that right? I see how it would function under, say, anarcho capitalism. I can kind of see how it would function under a left anarchic society. I guess I just need some clarification. I know I have already asked a similar question, but this is more about the mechanics of it all. Thanks guys!
by (240 points)
No need to apologize or refer to your questions as dumb. I enjoyed thinking about and answering this one.
Because* the centralized 'industry' you refer to is based on profit - which should become irrelevant as soon as you utter the word 'anachist'.  :)
Without profit driving it, the centralizing aspect withers under the incessant brownian-motion of our curiosities.
People told stories, and sung songs, and played silly games long before any industrial revolution; we still do today, even if it's drowned out by the mass-market cacophony; we still will when industrial capitalism is a bloated corpse ripening in the sun.  We will create and we will share our creations and share in the creations of others - but we do it at a _personal_ level, a million little songs sung in a million little tongues, not the One Song blared into a billion empty ears.
Now, tell me a story ...  :)

* and also because of the much deeper reasons given by flip and okapy.

2 Answers

+3 votes
Television and film tend to imply a normality to the world as it is. Capitalism wins so hard right now because nobody naturally considers that the world doesn't have to look this way. It's so incredibly implied by every aspect of society that one encounters in their every day lives, entertainment definitely included, that it forecloses the possibility before it happens in ones' mind. So for example when I watch Modern Family it is implicit that wealthy heteronormative* people are what families consist of in modern time. These things carry an ideology, a lens through which to look at the world, even if they don't try to.

When exposed to the entertainment industry, especially when one grows up with it and is exposed to it a lot, those images and concepts are what the world seems like. When I encounter reality, those images act as a conduit between me and that reality, tainting what I think about the reality, based on how far it is from the normality I've been conditioned with from the entertainment industry. So if I watch X-Files and I hear about how terrible the FBI is due to some scandal or some leaked document, I will be hesitant to be hostile to them because, according to the X-Files, there are plenty of good FBI agents and the FBI itself isn't the bad guy.

In addition, such things imply a passive stance. The information comes centralized from somewhere else and our role is merely to receive it and, at most, think about it. Most of my interaction with this society is based on this: receiving orders, receiving information, receiving attitudes and opinions. The 21st century has stepped up its game in that now we are free to make posts on facebook that our friends see, and to say whatever our hearts desire into the facebook status box. But in a pluralistic, democratic society, our thoughts are categorized into opposing categories based on media-hyped 'issues' and, no matter how strong of an opinion we have, at most it's just hot air.

Social interaction in present times often consists of commenting on entertainment. Nothing WITHIN us is part of this interaction, it's the thing itself, the show or movie, that we talk about.

In the matter of 'art', as in films or tv that one could call art and not mindless entertainment, I think that the fact that such a category exists, SEPARATE from everything else in the world, shows how destitute this society is. I want art and poetry in every and any aspect of my life, not crystallized moments presented in mass consumption form.

*heteronormative: meaning that the typical activities and lifestyles of heterosexual people are what everyone should do, regardless of whether they are hetero or not. Gay marriage, for example, is often considered heteronormative.
by (4.0k points)
Wow, awesome answer, quite comprehensive. That last part really made me think about art. It really got me thinking about art in an anarchic society. Thanks a bunch. Thinking about it more, i'm starting to see how art would function under an anarchic society, and how it would be superior. I think i'll make a post about it, as this website has allot of kind and respectful folk, always ready for a discussion. Thank you very much. I'm really learning allot.
Thanks for the nice comments, but to be honest most of my answer is pretty much copy/paste from the Situationists (particularly Guy Debord's book "Society of the Spectacle") and some over-hyped quotes from Michel Foucault about art. Check them out if you want more thoughts in this vein.
+4 votes
I could adress the question with some "situationnist" quotes or any smart criticism of spectacle, but as flip already adressed some good points concerning the question of "entertainement", I'd rather focus on the industrial aspect.

The question seems to imply many others.

The main being to me : why, as anarchists, would we need industry if we don't need capitalism ?

Is there anything like an "anarchist industry", or "communist industry" (In the anti-authoritarian meaning of the term), or "non-capitalist industry" ?

 It sounds like a big oxymoron to me.

As far as I'm concerned, the problem of such theories (mainly supported by anarcho-syndicalists) is that it generally degenerated into a form of radical reformism.

The aims of the Charter of Amiens, even being not clearly anarchist, were to overthrow capitalism, free society from exploitation and alienation through a movement being totally independent from the state and political parties.

The less that we could say is that these prerogatives have been clearly revised downwards. In the best of case, now a day, the "program" of anarcho-syndicalists and "revolutionnary syndicalists" can be sum up to "self-management of the production". For the needs of propaganda, there is often words like "revolution" or "general strike" that are spread, but as "long term goals" always postponed indefinitely. The revolution is never on the agenda, and nothing is said on how we could concretly procede to the "expropriation of capitalists", to quote the very words of the Charter of Amiens.

Again, the problem -to me- is that this production, and the industry are not neutral, and that through the capitalist industry (or any kind of its sectors ) contain and reproduce the ideology of commodity and the model of capitalist production, in other words : the economy.

So the major criticism that the perspective of a "self-managed industry" can be adressed is that it would inexorably tend to reproduce both the economy of capitalism (even in a "alternative model") and and therefore power.

Also, a very good critic that I have read in a text by Peter Gelderloos is that theories of "self-managed economy" or "worker controlled economy" (generally linked to anarcho-syndicalism, "revolutonnary syndicalism", libertarian communism or Communist Councilism) is that they tend to give a prominent place to decisions of economic nature : just like in capitalism.

This is what the political economy is all about !

I would also say that big problem with industry is that it supposes
a certain level of centralisation.

Contrary to what the liberal ideologies promotes, the spirit of production as it have been thought since the begining of the industrial revolution (in Europe as in the US) requires centralization in the very heart of the process of production.

Who will decide what is to product on an industrial level, especially when it's not about producing raw materials, or "products of first necessity" (if such an expression would still have sense in a world without bosses that tends to produce and organize scarcity and starvation) but also streamline "cultural products" ?

The very question seems to me : is it reasonable to pretend we could somehow have something like "anarchist chain work" ? Because, until today, there have been no such thing like an industry without chain work and streamline productions (as far as I know).

We could say that, in a certain way, it was experienced in the revolutionnary spain by members of the CNT and other anarchists taking part to the republican governement for the so called "necessity of war". But then it was adressed many criticism as long as the workers were still exploited in a very rough way, the principle of industry tending to reproduce hierarchy and not encouraging any kind of "rotation of tasks", with the "self-managers" on the one hand (especially the union representatives of the CNT, supposedly mandated to represent the workers, but as always tending to act like bureacrats because of their position), and the managed ones on the other hands.

A history of that period have been made in Michael Seidman's "Workers against work", you can read it here :

So, at the risk of sounding rethoric, the question you ask make me ask myself : why whould we have an entertainment industry or any kind of industry at all ? Why would we need it ?
by (2.2k points)
I'm glad you gave this answer okapy. I sometimes avoid critiques of a things' foundations if I can help it, in that it seems like a way of dodging the question. But I think both of our answers make for a good response to this question.