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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 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.

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