Orlando Hawkins


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Why is a political philosophy like Anarcho-Syndicalism not seen as an alternative to a capitalistic democracy?

Anarcho-Syndicalism is only one school of anarchist thought (philosophy). Despite the litany of anarchist schools of thought, the entire philosophy of anarchism, at its core, have values that would simply embarrass capitalistic values? Capitalism is essentially based on competition, profit motive, production, materialism, consumption, wage slavery, greed, etc. All of which leads to the current issues that we see now in the U.S. and perhaps in other countries influenced by U.S. capitalism.

Here are some(not all) basic principles of anarchism:opposition to aggression, opposition to hierarchies,environmentally friendly(don't believe me on this one, read Murray Bookchins "Ecology of Freedom"), pacifism, liberation, bartering (there are a lot more but the list goes on). It is usually assumed that those who opposed the government and/or state, are automatically going to be chaotic due to the fact that they have no ideology to keep them grounded, when in fact the very principles of anarchism 1) can serve as a basis for morality 2) does not advocate unjustified violence.

I am well aware of the constant misconceptions about anarchism (being that its based off violence and chaos). I am also aware that such a notion like the "Propaganda of the Deed" will be used as a way to suggest that anarchism is no different than terrorism.

What I am simply trying to say is that it is generally agreed that a capitalistic, democratic society is not a great system for one to maximize their well-being. Socialism and Communism is usually also criticize but something like anarcho-syndicalism, which for those who are going to research this, does not only support worker rights but also the only anarchist schools of thought that can actually work in a technological advanced society. If education is to be a natural right, if people are going to value cooperation, solidarity over individualization and competition, why not anarcho-syndicalism?

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      Oct 11 2011: Yes, my intent is to be bias and for two reasons: 1)Just about any discourse about anarchism will be met with a bias as well due to many negative and false misconceptions and the fact that no one who really has studied it meets it with preconceived notions. 2) Most conversations I have with individuals who embrace capitalism tends to glorify it. They tend to ignore or justify the negative aspects of it and how it is really at the core of many of the worlds ills (this is not to say that there are not other reasons) but capitalistic tendencies are pretty much in every major issue. In laymans terms, everything is about money.

      Not to play semantics but you knew exactly what I was implying when I mentioned capitalism is based on greed. Anyhow many cultures, religions and traditions will tell you that anything in excess is bad. the Oracle of Delphi stated "nothing in excess". The Bhagavad-Gita from the Hindu religion stated "That person who lives completely free from desires, without longing..attains peace". Jewish tenets have stated that "Give me neither poverty nor riches" and Taoist have stated "he who knows he has enough is rich". It is evident, even from these ancient traditions, that "excessive self-indulging" eventually leads to distastes (i.e. the current economic crisis). You may be correct that perhaps at times having more is better, but when one identifies themselves by their possessions, which is what most people do, then problems arise and I believe this is something that capitalism, by its very nature, creates.

      Perhaps I was not clear in what i said and I take fault at that, but yes I am saying that capitalism is purely based off "excessive self-interest". To be realistic, just about everyone seeks some sort of personal self-interest (getting food, shelter, etc). But most of this is based off the society and culture they are in. It seems those who do not suffer affluenza have a better sense of well-being than those who do.
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          Oct 11 2011: Excellent question. As you suggested lets start peeling through the rhetoric.

          You are right in regards to money being the a symbolic representation of resources. You are also correct in regards to resources needing to be allocated efficiently (and there are many ways of doing so outside of what we are doing now but more on this later). This is where I disagree with you (in a sense). Money is a symbol and it is by this very symbol that many lives are destroyed. Think of money in terms of ideas and how ideas, if given credence, can profoundly influence our worldviews. The problem does not lie with money itself (as a material piece of printed paper) but the very idea, its symbolic nature. I often tell people that a dollar bill is a dollar bill and it will instantly lose its value if I was to burn it or rip it into pieces. It is the very idea of money, that people are killing other individuals for, that is the cause of poverty. It is a motivator into evil deeds.

          Now relate this symbol w/a system or ideology that is based off(and if based is not the right word lets go with values) production, materialism and unregulated consumption and what do you have?

          There is something about language and ideas that have a big influence on our behaviors and it seems that these political and corporate leaders have found a way to use that to their advantage. I have heard, I believe it was from Chomsky, that the public relations industry way of practicing democracy was to get the general public to engage in meager affairs, trivial matters, while those at the top, those in power will be the ones to engage in important matters, matters vital to our lives. Chomsky stated that James Madison once said at the continental congress "the role of government is to preserve the power of the opulent minority against the majority". the way of doing this is having control of the public mind and their values.

          To answer your last question: unhealthy competition, which by its nature is cutthroat.
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          Oct 12 2011: Thanks for the link. That was all very interesting and I'll admit, it caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting the response about the "tyranny of the majority", which can be equally dangerous.

          Now in regards to your question to me its really a matter of the political system that you are in. The link that you gave me made sense and I could understood the perspective. For the sake of Democracy and a system in which there are social and economic classes (I'm not sure capitalism was established during Madison's time but I could be wrong) the tyranny of the majority would have to be defended and yes, in this circumstance, the leaders at the top would have to be protected in some way. But you also have to realize the historical period in which this was talked about (women had no right to vote, slavery was going on, Native Americans were losing their land). In other words individuals at this time honestly had no business to engage in politics or try to rule given that most were illiterate (with very few exceptions) or had other concerns that required their time. Yes the would know their own interest better than the politician but how would a revolution look like during this time? The problem I have with this is that Madison's statement gives a justification for a lot of things that are going on now in our modern world. Since the general public (due to having access to public education) has gotten a lot smarter. The government cannot be as arbitrary as they were before so now everything is a systematic process. Its all about control of the public mind as opposed to outright force. This was established by Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays and supported by Woodrow Wilson with the establishment of the public relations industry. There are many ways to go about this: through the media (corporate lobbying and propaganda model), through religion and politics (evangelical influence on politics[you see this w/Nixon, Regan and Bush Sr and Jr]). There are many ways to justify power
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          Oct 13 2011: sorry for the long response:
          Yes, a moderate does of "healthy competition" I would be ok with because not all forms of competition is bad. I do believe that some competition will bring about new innovations and can at time maximize ones potential. But the competition, the one America embraces is not healthy for the simple fact that its cutthroat, imperialistic and is about stepping on other people toes, without any disregard for them. I really think this will only impede progress but then again how do you define progress? If you ask me it all comes down to who's interest will it serve?

          As far as how to decrease or put an end to unhealthy competition, the answer to me is simple: do not base your life off a system that only allows only a select few to prosper at the expense of everyone else. If you ask me this is all a conscious choice. An ecological anarchist by the name Murray Bookchin stated that "Hierarchy is not merely a social condition; it is also a state of consciousness, a sensibility toward phenomena at every level of personal and social experience". In other words, we accept it, almost willingly. He goes on to talk about how, what he calls, organic societies have a high sense of internal unity and an egalitarian outlook, not just with individuals but with nature. That sounds great to me.
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    Oct 11 2011: this false dichotomy is decades old. capitalism has nothing to do with the state or with democracy. anarchy and capitalism is not contradictory, and there is a thought, voluntaryism or anarcho-capitalism that exactly teaches that. it does not only exist, but actually has ethical and philosophical foundations older than modern day left anarchism. modern anarchism heavily builds on views of marx, while the right-anarchism builds upon the work of 18th-19th century thinkers.
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      Oct 11 2011: Great response, but I would have to disagree with most of what you said (except for you claim about modern anarchist movements, in which you are completely correct on but I will have to say that is not truly anarchism).

      Capitalism, in PRINCIPLE, has nothing to do with the state or democracy. But in practice much of what is going on in the modern world is a result of the influence of capitalism and democratic governments. l'll give you two example: The honest truth is everything is about capitalism and democracy nowadays. One example is the media. What most people do not know is that Business leaders lobby to major news corporations (or major media outlets). Whoever can pay the most money to these media outlets have control of the information that filters to the general population. In other words, news is money and whoever has the most money, has control over the public mind/opinion. This sort of systematic indoctrination can only occur in democratic societies due to the fact that democratic societies are by their very nature, less violent than a totalitarian society. Tree harvesting is another example. Tree's are now commodities and the result is within the past 8,000 yrs, human activities have reduced the amount of the earths forest by 46% and since 1950 60%. Now these losses have mainly occurred in less developed countries(Latin America, Africa, etc), with mainly American democratic and capitalistic influence.

      Also, at least in the U.S., the word anarchism carries a lot of negative, metaphysical baggage. There are so many misconceptions about anarchism that anyone advocating for it is thought to be delusional. The media and educational systems try with their best efforts to equivocate anarchism with violent movements. The truth of the matter is, the government fear anarchist. This is evident by the G-20 summit protest in Pittsburgh, the protest in Seattle in 1999 and the shut down of anarchist websites: http://indymedia.us/or/2005/04/6029.shtml
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        Oct 11 2011: capitalism has a precise definition. if a society fails to implement it, it is not capitalism's problem. capitalism does not teach that 30-50% of people's income, or 50% of GDP should be taken away. capitalism does not teach that money, defense, law enforcement, schooling, health care, many types of insurance and such things should be monopolized. capitalism does not teach certain types of businesses should be subsidized, others should be taxed, limited, choked or banned. these are anti-capitalistic sentiments, and this pretty much the trend today. in your anti-capitalism, you are quite the mainstream. sorry for delivering bad news :)
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          Oct 11 2011: No offense taken and I have heard this argument before in a different form.

          Anyhow according to you, what exactly is the issue then? How "should" capitalism look like because nothing you have stated sounds anything like what is practiced? Also I think your really missing the point that I am trying to make. I understand the position that you are coming from, believe me I do, but to totally omit capitalistic tendencies (or the motivation of obtaining a money) from any responsibility regarding education, health care, wars, etc I really think is absurd.

          Now I have endless criticisms about capitalism, I can really go on all day, but this is really not the reason as to why I posed the question. Now if your interested in answering I just want to know the reasons as to why something like anarcho-syndicalism is never embraced as a social, political, economic or whatever movement when, if really understood, perhaps is the best way for one to live? And what, if anything is appealing about Capitalism, Socialism and Communism that would make a philosophy like anarchism seem absurd and those realistic? Perhaps the answer goes beyond that of political systems and is actually rooted in psychology, biology, etc. I am open to anything.
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        Oct 12 2011: the issue is initiation of aggression either by force or fraud. and my type of capitalism is exactly the lack of it.

        your question about appealing versus absurd is strange. socialism (the state version) and communism can't work. btw how communism differs from anarcho-syndicalism? in my eyes, an-synd is a form of communism. capitalism is largely proven itself workable during the industrial revolution, when it multiplied wealth and eliminated poverty in rapid rate.
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          Oct 17 2011: @Krisztian Pinter: If by Communism you mean community then there really is not difference between the two. But if you mean communism in the sense of having a dictator who calls all the shots (like soviet Russia for example) then the correlation between communism and an-synd is to totally misconstrue the entire philosophical notions of anarchism (which I do not personally think you are doing).

          @Tee Cee and Krisztian Pinter: This next question is more about personal interest as opposed to stating that the two of you are incorrect but how was poverty eliminated during the Industrial revolution? Didn't create more poverty? I am sure in the U.S. there were many impoverished families. Plus the working and living conditions were horrible. This is one of the reasons as to why anarchism was really big in the U.S. during the 19th century. But am really interested in getting another perspective.
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        Oct 17 2011: orlando, we all know how much workers in 1900 suffered. we are told about it, we are taught about it. but nobody tells you what was life like before that. what was the life of a peasant before. we are not told that people migrated into cities in large numbers. because child labor at that time was the norm. working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week was the norm. lack of healthcare was the norm. lack of schooling was the norm. life was actually better in the cities, where those "heartless" "blood sucking" capitalists "pushed" poor people into "wage slavery". people stood in queues to be "enslaved" there. it was much better than their previous lives.

        and how smart that word is. "impoverished". implying that they had a better life, but lost it. no, they never had. there were not impoverished, they were just poor. but people a hundred years earlier were poorer. and people yet another hundred years earlier were even poorer. our lives continuously get better and better for a good hundred thousand years at least.
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          Oct 17 2011: This really is a matter of how one see's progress. I will agree to you on one point: the rise of agriculture and industrialism did have an influence on technology and the standards of living. I would be a fool to deny this but at the same time it depends on how you measure progress and the means in which it came about.

          I am well aware of how life was way before the workers of the 1900s. To make a judgement about it is really a matter of perspective. How do you measure the overall happiness of individuals who lived during the per-industrial period? Some people were content in their homes. Most people actually did not want to go to the cities but had not choice but to send themselves and their children to go work due to a growing economic system in which farming was not the norm. You are correct in the sense that for some people cities did provide a better life than staying at home but if the end result is wage slavery, pollution, etc then how is that a better alternative?

          What bothers me is how you equate well-being with economic system in which one is living in. All because one is poor does not mean that their lives aren't better. Hunter-gather societies are a great example of this and they are truly the original affluent society (many anthropologist state this. You can also read Michael Bells "Consumption and Materialism"). As I stated before, health care and technology did get better with the rise of industrialized societies. So once again this is really a matter of how you measure progress and what means it came about. But if you ask me, some of the more poorer societies were indeed the happiest. Buddhist live humble lives, have precepts that are full of wisdom and yet they have more of a sense of well-being and are perhaps even healthier than those who live in capitalistic societies.
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        Oct 17 2011: actually what is "economic system in which farming was not the norm"? it was the norm. and people changed it. people didn't want it anymore. they wanted industrialization. just like the hunter gatherers gave up on hunting, and started agriculture on their own. because it provided them more stable supply of food, less risk, more comfort. and the same is true for every similar leap forward. people chose progress, because it was the key to a better life. if being a hunter gatherer would have been so cool, they never would've given up that lifestyle. it is always a possibility to continue the old way.

        today, it is kind of a western trend to say economic development and social development is different. it is not. economy is not the stock market, it is not the derivative market. or more precisely, not only those. the economy contains everything that is scarce. our time is scarce. our labor is scarce. an opera singer, a painter are all part of the economy. the art they produce is an economic good. just as the doctor's labor, and the healthcare that results. these are inside what we call economy. economic progress means we need to work less to get more and better goods and services.

        but if you believe in "natural" lifestyle, you are free to practice it. buy a piece of land, and start living as they lived 200 years ago. give up sanitation, processed food, electricity, natural gas, modern division of labor. if you think technology stands between you and happiness, don't hesitate any more, and drop that evil baggage.
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          Oct 17 2011: So I take it as if you totally missed the part in which I said I did agree with you in the sense that industrialized societies did have an influence on technological advancement and social progress?

          As mentioned before, I never stated that people did not want to move to the city to obtain a better lifestyle. As a matter of fact I said this "You are correct in the sense that for some people cities did provide a better life than staying at home". What I brought into question was the injustice, the atrocities and the over-all working conditions. In that sense staying at home as opposed to being exposed to those conditions would have been better for most individuals but a growing "economic" system would have made that nearly impossible. Secondly, I never said progress was bad but there are better alternative to bring about this progress, than by means of imperialism, working people 80 hours a week, forcing 5 year olds to work, human trafficking, etc.

          As I mentioned before, I really do not know where you are formulating your ideas because you are simply misconstruing what I'm really saying and I've pointed out where I agreed with you at. You stated that" its a western trend to say economic development and social development is different" (these are your exact words). Now look at what I said "the rise of agriculture and industrialism did have an influence on technology and the standards of living" and I stated "As I stated before, health care and technology did get better with the rise of industrialized societies". So what exactly is the point your making? What I'm saying is that there are other"just" and "moral" alternatives to this, which is why I brought up an-synd. If I suggested that we live in primitive societies, I would have brought up anarcho-primitivism. I was looking at the values and principles of hunter-gathers and Buddhist, not living conditions. We can adopt these principles in our modern world, that would only serve to improve ones overall well-being.
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        Oct 18 2011: orlando, you still use this doublethink. you say that people in the cities during the industrial revolution were "forced" to work 80 hours, children were forced to work, etc, so it was bad. but you also say you understand that this was widespread that time. serfs and peasants, or even people in the cities before the ind.rev. lived the same way, more to that, even worse. these are two contradictory statements. you can't blame something on the ind.rev. that was widespread before it, and was shrinking during it.

        by the same logic, someone in an imaginary future could say that the free internet era was disastrous, because people suffered many sicknesses, cancer, flu pandemics, heart attack, etc. but since the internet is regulated and strictly overwatched, we managed to get rid of these hardships. would you accept such a reasoning?
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          Oct 18 2011: If you look at what I say more as a conversation and acknowledging the truth, instead of scoring debate points you'll get what I'm trying to say. Since there were thousand and thousands of individuals living within the cities, to state that "everyone" was forced to work would have been totally false. I have no problem acknowledging that people wanted to go to the cities to improve their lives, since it perhaps was the only opportunity for them to make something of themselves. I also know many people were forced to work (80 hours a week was just a guess) due to the growing economic system. These individuals and there families were at one point growing their own food, trading and supporting themselves. then all of a sudden their food supply deepened on how much of an income they made and how many mouths they had to feed. This is not a contradiction but an acknowledgement of what really happened in history.

          Secondly, I never once said that they serfs, peasants etc had it worse. I said it depends on how you measure progress. Also I said that it is true that medicine and technology did improve during the industrial revolution. To determine if people had it worse as I stated before is all a matter of perspective.

          I'm interested by your comment about how the industrial revolution allowed poverty to decrease and things just got a lot "better". Aside from technology and medicine what actually improved during the industrial revolution? Just about all accounts of it was bad, from working conditions to the environment? So what actually was glorious during this time? Secondly your going to have to come up with a better example for your free internet era being disastrous. the evidence is on my side about what I'm saying, there is no evidence to support people getting sick, obtaining cancer and the flu because of the internet. So if you think that the reasoning I"m coming from you really have to go over everything I said.
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        Oct 18 2011: i give up. your thinking is framed in a way that it is impossible for me to get through. people are not forced to work. they work to get stuff. even the cavemen worked, peasants definitely worked, serfs too. they were not "forced" to work. they had to work in order to survive. it did not change during the ind.rev and it has not changed since. "force" implies conscious action. we have to work not because someone wants us, but because nature does not give us what we want.

        what was changed is the productivity of people. with new tools and machines, one work hour produced more goods than before. so people could gradually work less and have more. quality clothing, lighting, medicine, quality food, heating, better housing, and later cars, phones, cellphones, computers became affordable to the average people.

        i recommend you a quick tour through http://gapminder.org . you can check how child survival, gdp per capita, longevity and other numbers changed from 1800 to 1900.
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          Oct 18 2011: Ok, I get what you are saying and perhaps it was my fault for using forced in the wrong context. What I was saying was that if a family was self-sufficient (like growing their own food) and then all of a sudden a growing economic system changes that self-sufficiency into a reliance on labor then that would in a way force them to join the work force. Im not saying someone had a gun to their head and forced them to work, what I'm saying is if I was able to grow my food sale and trade them to support my family and all of a sudden I cant do that anymore and now I have to work in order to have a weekend meal, that's a big change.But I do like how you framed it "worked in order to survive" which is what I'm talking about.

          Your second paragraph is what I've really been stating all along and this is not a bad thing depending on how you look at it. I see nothing wrong with the quality clothing, improvement in medicine, quality food, heating, better housing. No one is denying that, I never denied that. What I said is this is not maximized within a capitalistic system and that an alternative, such as an-synd is a better alternative to maximize all this to most if not everyone. I'm questioning is how it came about and that it still happens today (but in more systematic and less extravagant way), in which I blamed the economic system. This is where we had a disagreement on and I'm willing to discuss that.

          I simply do not think that a system that maximize consumption, materialism, wage slavery, human exploitation, etc is not a great system to build ones life around from a moral standpoint.

          I'll take a look at that link and if I'm wrong then I'm wrong about what I said in regards to the industrial revolution and i"m willing to correct that.
  • Oct 11 2011: "it is generally agreed that a capitalistic, democratic society is not a great system for one to maximize their well-being."
    Is it? So far a capitalistic, democratic society has provided more than other forms. Sure it has its flaws but it works with human behaviors and its results over other systems seem rather undeniable.

    Maybe "Anarcho-Syndicalism" is an alternative but not a realistic one. A lot of these ideologies ignore basic human behaviors appealing to only certain aspects of humanity that can't be removed from reality.
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      Oct 11 2011: I tend to look at the moral aspect of the two instead of its theories or practices.

      The answer to the question in regards to a capitalistic democracy is yes (at least from my experience). One example are protest. 2)Everyone I have ever talked to: Businessmen, professors, teachers, students, parents, etc state that such a system is not a great one to live by albeit they admit that they do not know any other alternative. In regards to anarchism they state that it sounds good but there are too many conflicting interest for it to ever come about.

      Now what you say is somewhat true. Capitalism has its benefits (I'd be a fool to deny that) but at the same time it has done a lot of damage that is usually ignored or horribly justified. Not only to individuals and other countries but also to the biotic communities of the planet. The fact that corporations are now considered to be individuals allows me to know the profound influence greed has, and this greed, I believe has its foundations in capitalistic ideology, not human nature. Humans obviously have the capacity to be greedy, but it really is a matter of circumstance. There are many cultures (mainly contemplative ones and indigenous ones) that do not value greed, materialism, impermanence, etc...example of these, the African Bushmen, Native Americans, the anarcho-syndicalist and socialist from the Spanish civil war(in which the anarchist actually took over Spain for nearly 6yrs before they met their violent end), Buddhist, Taoist (note that I am not claiming these to be anarchist(except S.C. War) but just examples of how greed is based off the environment that will allow such a trait to be maximized).

      Now you stated that "A lot of these ideologies ignore basic human behaviors" but to be honest anarchism, at least in principle, appeals a lot to basic human behaviors. Before I elaborate more on that I am inclined to ask how exactly does capitalism appeal to basic human behavior w/o being removed too far from reality?
      • Oct 12 2011: If "they" say anarchism "sounds good" you are listening to the wrong people. Look as Somalia and see what a land living under anarchy is like.

        Anarchism is not an economic system like Capitalism. Anarcho-Syndicalism is nearly as bad the more I read about it. I almost sounds like instead of a central government, one has a form of socialist unions that act independently to micromanage production. I can't begin to state how weak that system would be, certainly in terms of trade where there would be no centralized government to provide a uniform currency or property rights. Look to the United States under the Articles of Confederation to glimpse the problems under that system.

        For all this talk about Capitalism being bad, I don't hear people arguing about property rights concerning private ownership. It is a cornerstone and it is more important for a society than many are willing to admit.

        Has capitalism itself done a lot of damage or are you concentrating on notable criminals that have stolen money under capitalism? What damage has Capitalism system done? (leave out the criminals)

        Did you know that some Native American tribes practiced forms of slavery? Simple ways of living were not always as peaceful as portrayed in books and movies.
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          Oct 12 2011: Ok, first off, what is going on in Somalia is not anarchism (not in any stretch of the word). Many people tend to associate civil wars, disorder, violence, etc as anarchistic and that is not the case. Are there bad things going on in Somalia? Yes of course. Secondly in order for Somalia to qualify as an anarchist society, everyone within that society has to adopt anarchist principles (in other words be on the same page) which is not the case in Somalia. You should keep in mind that every stateless society or any society without a established government does not qualify it as anarchist societies. That is why I do not qualify the Native Americans or African Bushmen or the Inuits as anarchist.The best example for true anarchist societies would be The Spanish Civil war and Freetown Christiniana which is in Copenhagen, Denmark.

          The only thing I get from what you are talking about is that without some sort of centralized government things are going to be really bad? I understand and I agree to a degree (look at Somalia) but your really missing the point. It depends on the type of system that you want to adopt and anarchism is not at the top of the list with Somalia. w/ Capitalism I am talking about the mindset that it creates among everyone. The fact that a symbol like money can have devastating effects of peoples lives. Don't get me wrong, I am not depriving people of their responsibility. lack of education, profit motive, triviality, ignorance, etc can be explained by living in such a system that does not provide equal opportunity and equal outcome. Ideas have consequences

          Also not once did I ever glorify the Am Indians. I am well aware that they are human like everyone else but this does not prove anything other than that they were human. You can make the same case about them and the environment. Most people think they "preserved" the forests but in all actuality they "managed" it and had 60 reasons for doing so. This proves nothing about anarchism being bad.
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    Oct 12 2011: It's a case of degrees. Rampant capitalism - the mindless pursuit of increasing profits - has failed.

    I think politics is passe. We have the means for true democracy to occur but it will fail for 2 reasons:

    1) Politics is power, not governance, so the current owners of power will not allow it. This preserving of old-ways is being put in place now. (The true power lies with the people/consumers but lacks focus and cohesion at all points).
    2) Most people are only partially informed about most political issues and are not motivated to change this. Also, governments and mass media do nothing to correct this.
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      Oct 17 2011: I could not agree with you more.

      If the general population really realized the power that they really have, things would really be different. I really think that during end of Bush's second term and before Obama really became big, people were starting to realize how the government was full of shit. I was living in Las Vegas at the time and people were protesting a lot. Then all of a sudden Obama says things like "Yes we Can", "Hope", "Change", "Bringing America back to glory" and people all of a sudden jumped on his bandwagon. To the Obama election really was all about making political and cultural history as opposed to finding a remedy for political, economic ans social issues.

      But you are correct, the last thing the media and other forms of government are interested in doing is informing the public about what is really going on.
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    Oct 11 2011: YES i seriously try talking about this and all they can think of is violent anarchist protest and squatters.
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      Oct 11 2011: Exactly and what is bad about this is that we cannot have a serious conversations with anyone who opposes anarchism due to the fact that they already believe that they truly know anarchism due to various media outlets.

      I mean there are violent protest and there squatters but from what I know about anarchism that is not truly anarchism. The only violent anarchist movements that I have ever heard of was those who embraced "Propaganda of the Deed" but this in turn was a result of retribution as opposed to deliberate violence.

      I truly believe that if people seriously knew what anarchism really was, outside of protest, things will be very different
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        Oct 12 2011: im more aline with the strictly non-violent humanist anarchist movement that seems a bit more current.
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          Oct 17 2011: As am I. I think the earlier forms of anarchism really paved the way but they would be impossible to bring about nowadays. But I really do think anarchism is still relevant and can be possible. If your interested you should look up "Freetown Christiana" which is in Copenhagen, Denmark. I usually refer to it because most people who opposed anarchism would state that people cannot live in society in which there is no established government and this is just an example to prove them wrong..

          But I noticed another misconception is that people tend to think that if one argues in favor of anarchism that they are talking about some sort of utopia when no one that I can think of really states this.
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      Oct 19 2011: No worries and thanks for the apology. I understand that you indeed have a life outside of TED and other priorities to attend to.

      The Lowell Mills example was an interesting and I'll look more into that.

      In regards to the link about Anarchism in America it would not upload for me. What exactly was it about if you do not mind answering and maybe we can spark a discussion from there. But no I'm not familiar with it
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          Oct 20 2011: That was very, very interesting. I am familiar with just about everything you put on there: Spanish civil war, 1917 bolshevik revolution, Emma Goldman and Sacco and Vanzetti

          If you want to engage in some discourse, let me know any thoughts or questions you have or had about the film, since I think at times I gave good accounts about what anarchism really is and peoples "misconceptions" about it. I'll be happy to respond
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    Oct 18 2011: Thank you Orlando, you've raised an interesting question.

    I have read through the conversation to date and have a couple of thoughts to share. Firstly, you state that implementing Anarcho Syndicalism would require "everyone being on the same page". I find that hugely unlikely. I can't think of any society where everyone is on the same page. Your example of "Freetown Christiana" is interesting but only in a limited way. It exists within the confines of a major city, within a well defined country. It also represents only a tiny fraction of the population of that city and even less of the county as a whole. Nothing about it speaks to interacting with the wider world, or those who choose read a different page as it were.

    Elsewhere, you state that you see greed as a function of Capitalism rather than human nature. I would have to strongly disagree with you. Greed predates Capitalism by a very large margin, as does the desire for personal power and position. If you deny them their place in the human psyche, you deny the opportunity to address them in a meaningful way.

    Lastly, I agree that a change is needed in our social structure. I don't know that Anarcho Syndicalism is the way I would go, but I would be interested in learning more concerning a means of implementing such a paradigm shift in a culture as vast and diverse as the U.S; This is not sarcasm or negativity, but genuine curiosity. How does one affect such a dramatic change on so large a body?
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      Oct 18 2011: Thanks,
      Realistically, in our modern day I do agree. People are indeed individuals and will not agree on everything. What I meant by everyone being on the same page is pretty much at a basic level. For anarchism to come about their would have to be a common agreement stating that this is the type of society that they would want. The other conflict of interest would have to be resolved within the community. But as mentioned, everyone for the most part would have to agree that communist anarchism (for example) is what they want. If one region wants capitalism and the other wants Marxism, this will not work out. Freetown Christiana was just an example to show how a community of individuals is possible in our modern world. Many critics of anarchism would state that people cannot living within a community such as FC without some sort of centralized government.

      Greed does predate Capitalism given that greed is a human characteristic. What I was referring to was that capitalism maximizes this greed. I think its really a matter of circumstance. If we look at this from a psychological (or neuroscience) perspective we have to look at the role ideologies play on the human mind. Not only this but how believing and accepting certain ideologies to be true and giving credence to them impacts the human mind. With capitalism we are taught that conspicuous consumption, materialism, keeping up with the Joneses, competition, wealth etc are things that are to be valued. Believing/accepting this has profound effects. With something like anarchism, where there are various environmental land ethics, principles that could only maximize the common good, this more than likely will allow positive human characteristic to be maximized (I'm not saying utopia but a lot of things we would deem to be negative would not occur at such a high rate). Despite our biological imperatives humans have created many symbolic principles to counteract traits such as domination and power.
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        Oct 21 2011: Hey Orlando and Tee Cee

        I don't think the answer lies in any form of social organization. Historically, in virtually any society I can think of, once past subsitance levels of development, the urge for power and dominance kicked in. It's not about social structures, it's about people.

        The only way I can see to effectively deal with these issues is to educate people from the earliest stages of development. Teach them self-awareness. Millenia of effort have clearly taught us that we can't legislate ethical or moral values. These things must be fostered internally, rather than imposed externally.

        None of which addresses the orginal question. Why don't we consider an Anarcho-Syndicalist form of social structure? Mostly becasue people have never heard of it. It's hard to overcome the knee-jerk fear associated with the word Anarchy if people have only been exposed to one facet of it. Create an educational process which is both accessible and desirable. Let people get used to the idea and start to understand it. Then maybe it will be possible for society as a whole to consider it.