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Economics for Democratic Socialism Drexel University Spring Quarter 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Economics for Democratic Socialism Drexel University Spring Quarter 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Economics for Democratic Socialism Drexel University Spring Quarter 2009

2 Libertarian Socialism? Not everyone who hates the government loves capitalism. P.-J. Proudhon, known as a founder of anarchism, said Property is Theft. The idea is that capitalist property is exploitative, and cannot exist without a strong state to enforce it. (Proudhon was also notoriously antisemetic).

3 Anarchism 1 Anarchism advocates the abolition of all domination of one person by another, including government. There may be some disagreement about timing. –Philosophic anarchists expect government eventually to be eliminated. –Revolutionary anarchists say: now. A fairly common argument (from Proudhon) is that once artificial restraints such as government are removed, natural human solidarity will emerge. There seems to be no basis in experience for this romantic view.

4 Anarchism 2 Anarchist tendencies have emerged from a number of political movements: –American abolitionism: Garrison –Individualist anarchism: Benjamin Tucker The Russian Terrorist Party –Anarcho-Communism: Bakunin, Kropotkin Labor Unions –Anarcho-syndicalism Anarchists reject majority rule because the minority is dominated by the majority.

5 Anarcho-Communism The synthesis of anarchism and communism is based on the idea that small-scale local communities would control nonhuman means of production, on a basis of consensus, and that larger-scale organization would be coordinated by agreement or, if necessary, markets. (Kropotkin: The Conquest of Bread) This may be said to be utopian in the sense of Martin Buber: proposals for social organization as if human aspiration were a determinant. (Paths in Utopia) Labor Zionism -- a highly successful collectivist movement, in many ways -- was strongly influenced by Anarcho-Communism.

6 Anarcho-Synicalism The Anarcho-Syndicalists advocated that labor unions take over control of production and build up a new state by their federation. Some anarcho-syndicalists envisioned society as constituted from the bottom up by a very complex system of voluntary organizations. (Giovanni Baldelli, Social Anarchism) A related tendency, Guild Socialism, advocated something like a return to the structure of the medieval city, with the unions transforming themselves into guilds and constituting a state (and an economic plan) from the bottom up. (G. D. H. Cole, Guild Socialism Restated).

7 Individualist Anarchism American individualist anarchism was not pro- capitalist. Tucker attacked government measures to suppress labor unions in his time and defended the labor unions as voluntary associations of individual workers. Thus individualist anarchism was closer to anarcho-syndicalism than to the anarcho- capitalism that emerged from free-market thinking in the 1960s.

8 Libertarian The word libertarian was synonymous with anarcho-communism about (JOSEPH DEJACQUE, Le Libertaire, New York, ) In about 1960, extreme free-market conservative coined the word for the first time (so far as they knew) for their own tendency. Needless to say, anarchists are more than a little bitter about this act of theft.

9 Anarchism 3 In a very few instances, anarchist groups have found themselves in control of territory in the context of civil war. 1.The Makhnovchina in the Ukraine. 2.Catalonia in the Spanish Civil War. They did make some compromises, arguably unavoidable in wartime, but lost anyway.

10 Minarchist Libertarian Socialism One useful idea from free-market libertarians is the distinction of anarchism and minarchism. A minarchist is a libertarian whose aim is to reduce domination or command relations to their least practical extent, rather than doing away with them. (The least practical extent could still be pretty comprehensive, but thats not what minarchists suppose.) One strategy is to have many power centers, each limited and balanced by the others. In practice, anarcho-syndicalists and social anarchists seem minarchist, rather than strictly anarchist.

11 A Sketch of Guild Socialism 1 In a local community, the workers in various activities organize themselves into guilds to administer their production, and the guilds into a guild congress. Those who produce public goods are grouped as the civil guilds. Councils are formed for other functions, such as health, cultural, collective (public utilities) and consumers cooperative societies. It follows that there must be, in the Society,as many separately elected groups of representatives as there are distinct essential groups of functions to be performed.

12 A Sketch of Guild Socialism 2 These groupings are federated to form the local commune and they send representatives to a communal council. At the same time, the local guilds for coal mining, leather- working, wind-power generation, and so on, are federated into regional, national and perhaps international guilds for these purposes. Similarly, health councils, cultural councils, consumers coops, and so on have their own regional, national, and perhaps international federations. The regional or national commune is simultaneously a federation of the communes at the next lower level and the guilds and functional federations at its own level.

13 A Sketch of Guild Socialism 3

14 Supply and Demand The Guilds Congress concerns itself with the adjustment of supply and demand. Prices and targets of production are determined by negotiation among the various guilds and councils. In case of impasses, decisions are arbitrated by the next, more inclusive council. For example, if the auto production guild and the steel guild disagree on prices and production targets for steel, the issue would be arbitrated by the Communal Council. In this way, in effect, the Guilds Congress generates an economic plan by negotiation.

15 Anarchism The civic services are funded by direct transfers between the industrial and civic guilds. (Again, by negotiation). Thus, no taxation of individuals. Since individuals are not taxed, the commune is indeed not a state as Schumpeter uses the term. (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, p. 169)

16 Markets? Cole, writing before 1920, did not envision a role for markets. Indeed, he wanted no material incentives for production, the workers being put on their honor to do their best. However, markets could play a big role, especially if enterprises were free to determine their outputs locally, while prices were negotiated at the level of the national commune.

17 Assessment 1 The dispersion of power into many groups might secure the greatest possible individual liberty consistent with equality and more or less efficient production. Perhaps there would be a practical approximation of "unanimous direct democracy" or of equity in the sense of non-envy. But can we be sure of these things? If negotiation is costly, the approximation to efficiency might be rather poor. There would be a lot of negotiation.

18 Assessment 2 There are real-world precedents. It seems that medieval city-states were (at least in some cases) composed by their guilds somewhat in this way. However, this picture is postrevolutionary. Precisely because it envisions the reconstitution of the state from below, it presupposes that the capitalist state no longer exists. Unless we suffer a quite general social collapse (which God forbid!) it seems unlikely to be relevant.

19 Summary Capitalism and liberty march together only on the town square, not on the highway. For one (older) sort of libertarian, capitalism requires state- enforced property, and so a strong state; both should be rejected. However, the rejection of all compulsory organization poses problems for predictably efficient use of resources. Some compromises seem inevitable. Guild socialism provides one instance of a carefully thought-out set of compromises.

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