File: secI3.html

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anarchism 9.5-1
  • links: PTS
  • area: main
  • in suites: woody
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  • ctags: 493
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<html>
<HEAD>

<TITLE>I.3 What could the economic structure of anarchy look like?</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<h1>I.3 What could the economic structure of anarchy look like?</h1>
<p>
Here we will examine possible frameworks of a libertarian-socialist
economy. We stress that it is <b>frameworks</b> rather than framework 
because it is likely that any anarchist society will see a diverse 
number of economic systems co-existing in different areas, 
depending on what people in those areas want. <i>"In each locality,"</i> 
argued Spanish anarchist Diego Abad de Santillan, <i>"the degree of 
communism, collectivism or mutualism will depend on the conditions 
prevailing. Why dictate rules? We who make freedom our banner, cannot 
deny it in economy. Therefore there must be free experimentation, 
free show of initiative and suggestions, as well as the freedom of 
organisation."</i> [<b>After the Revolution</b>, p. 97] 
<p>
In general we will highlight and discuss the four major schools of 
anarchist economic thought: Individualist anarchism, mutualism, 
collectivism and communism. It is up to the reader to evaluate 
which school best maximises individual liberty and the good life. 
There may, of course, be other economic practices but these may 
not be libertarian. In Malatesta's words:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Admitted the basic principle of anarchism -- which is that no-one
should wish or have the opportunity to reduce others to a state
of subjection and oblige them to work for him -- it is clear that
all, and only, those ways of life which respect freedom, and
recognise that each individual has an equal right to the means
of production and to the full enjoyment of the product of his
own labour, have anything in common with anarchism."</i> [<b>Life and
Ideas</b>, p. 33]
</blockquote><p>
In addition, it should be kept in mind that in practice it is 
impossible to separate the economic realm from the social and 
political realms, as there are numerous interconnections between 
them. Indeed, as we well see, anarchist thinkers like Bakunin 
argued that the <i>"political"</i> institutions of a free society would
be based upon workplace associations while Kropotkin placed
the commune at the heart of his vision of a communist-anarchist
economy and society. Thus the division between social and economic
forms is not clear cut in anarchist theory -- as it should be
as society is not, and cannot be, considered as separate from
or inferior to the economy. An anarchist society will try to
integrate the social and economic, embedding the latter in the
former in order to stop any harmful externalities associated
economic activity being passed onto society. As Karl Polanyi
argued, capitalism <i>"means no less than the running of society
as an adjunct to the market. Instead of the economy being  
being embedded in social relations, social relations are
embedded in the economic system."</i> [<b>The Great Transformation</b>,
p. 57] Given the negative effects of such an arrangement,
little wonder that anarchism seeks to reverse it.
<p>
Also, by discussing the economy first we are not implying that 
dealing with economic domination or exploitation is more important 
than dealing with other aspects of the total system of domination, 
e.g. social hierarchies, patriarchal values, racism, etc. We follow 
this order of exposition because of the need to present one thing 
at a time, but it would have been equally easy to start with the 
social and political structure of anarchy. However, Rudolf Rocker
is correct to argue that an economic transformation in the
economy is an essential aspect of a social revolution. In his
words:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"[A] social development in this direction [i.e. a stateless
society] was not possible without a fundamental revolution in 
existing economic arrangements; for tyranny and exploitation
grow on the same tree and are inseparably bound together. The
freedom of the individual is secure only when it rests on
the economic and social well-being of all . . . The personality
of the individual stands the higher, the more deeply it is
rooted in the community, from which arise the richest sources
of its moral strength. Only in freedom does there arise in
man the consciousness of responsibility for his acts and
regard for the rights of others; only in freedom can there
unfold in its full strength that most precious of social
instinct: man's sympathy for the joys and sorrows of his
fellow men and the resultant impulse toward mutual aid
and in which are rooted all social ethics, all ideas of 
social justice."</i> [<b>Nationalism and Culture</b>, pp. 147-8]
</blockquote><p>
The aim of any anarchist society would be to maximise freedom 
and so creative work. In the words of Noam Chomsky: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"If it is correct, as I believe it is, that a fundamental element of 
human nature is the need for creative work or creative inquiry, for 
free creation without the arbitrary limiting effects of coercive 
institutions, then of course it will follow that a decent society 
should maximise the possibilities for this fundamental human 
characteristic to be realised. Now, a federated, decentralised 
system of free associations incorporating economic as well as 
social institutions would be what I refer to as anarcho-syndicalism. 
And it seems to me that it is the appropriate form of social 
organisation for an advanced technological society, in which 
human beings do not have to be forced into the position of tools, 
of cogs in a machine."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
So, as one might expect, since the essence of anarchism is opposition 
to hierarchical authority, anarchists totally oppose the way the current 
economy is organised. This is because authority in the economic sphere 
is embodied in centralised, hierarchical workplaces that give an elite 
class (capitalists) dictatorial control over privately owned means of 
production, turning the majority of the population into order takers 
(i.e. wage slaves). In contrast, the libertarian-socialist "economy" 
will be based on decentralised, egalitarian workplaces (<i>"syndicates"</i>) 
in which workers democratically self-manage <b>socially</b> owned means of 
production. Let us begin with the concept of syndicates. 
<p>
The key principles of libertarian socialism are decentralisation,
self-management by direct democracy, voluntary association, and
federation. These principles determine the form and function of both 
the economic and political systems. In this section we will consider 
just the economic system. Bakunin gives an excellent overview of 
such an economy when he writes: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The land belongs to only those who cultivate it with their own 
hands; to the agricultural communes. The capital and all the
tools of production belong to the workers; to the workers' 
associations . . . The future political organisation should be 
a free federation of workers."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchy</b>, p. 247]
</blockquote><p>
The essential economic concept for libertarian socialists is <i><b>workers'
self-management</b></i> (sometimes termed  workers' control). This is
essential to ensure <i>"a society of equals, who will not be
compelled to sell their hands and their brains to those who
choose to employ them . . . but who will be able to apply their
knowledge and capacities to production, in an organism so 
constructed as to combine all the efforts for procuring the
greatest possible well-being for all, while full, free scope
will be left for every individual initiative."</i> [Kropotkin,
<b>Kropotkin: Selections from his Writings</b>, pp. 113-4] 
<p>
However, this concept of self-management needs careful explanation, 
because, like the terms <i>"anarchist"</i> and <i>"libertarian,"</i> "workers' 
control"</i> is also is being co-opted by capitalists to describe 
schemes in which workers' have more say in how their workplaces 
are run while maintaining wage slavery (i.e. capitalist ownership,
power and ultimate control). Needless to say, such schemes are
phoney as they never place <b>real</b> power in the hands of workers. 
In the end, the owners and their managers have the final say (and
so hierarchy remains) and, of course, profits are still extracted 
from the workforce. 
<p>
As anarchists use the term, workers' self-management/control 
means collective worker ownership, control and self-management 
of all aspects of production and distribution. This is achieved 
through participatory-democratic workers' assemblies, councils
and federations, in both agriculture and industry. These bodies
would perform all the functions formerly reserved for capitalist
owners, managers. executives and financiers where these activities
actually related to productive activity rather than the needs
to maximise minority profits and power. These workplace assemblies
will be complemented by people's financial institutions or 
federations of syndicates which perform all functions formerly 
reserved for capitalist owners, executives, and financiers in
terms of allocating investment funds or resources.
<p>
This means that an anarchist society is based on <b><i>"workers'
ownership"</i></b> of the means of production. 
<p>
<i>"Workers' ownership"</i> in its most limited sense refers merely to 
the ownership of individual firms by their workers. In such firms, 
surpluses (profits) would be either equally divided between all 
full-time members of the co-operative or divided unequally on the 
basis of the type of work done, with the percentages allotted to 
each type being decided by democratic vote, on the principle of 
one worker, one vote. However, such a limited form of workers'
ownership is rejected by most anarchists. Social anarchists argue
that this is but a step in the right direction and the ultimate
aim is <b>social</b> ownership of all the means of life. This is
because of the limitations of firms being owned solely by their
workers (as in a modern co-operative).
<p>
Worker co-operatives of this type do have the virtue of preventing 
the exploitation and oppression of labour by capital, since workers 
are not hired for wages but, in effect, become partners in the firm.
This means that the workers control both the product of their labour
(so that the value-added that they produce is not appropriated by a 
privileged elite) and the work process itself (and so they no longer
sell their liberty to others). However, this does not mean that all 
forms of economic domination and exploitation would be eliminated if 
worker ownership were confined merely to individual firms. In fact, 
most social anarchists believe this type of system would degenerate 
into a kind of <i>"petit-bourgeois co-operativism"</i> in which worker-owned 
firms would act as collective <i>"capitalists"</i> and compete against each 
other in the market as ferociously as the real capitalists used to. 
This would also lead to a situation where market forces ensured that 
the workers involved made irrational decisions (from both a social 
and individual point of view) in order to survive in the market. As 
these problems were highlighted in section I.1.3 
<a href="secI1.html#seci13">(<i>"What's wrong with 
markets anyway?"</i></a>), we will not repeat ourselves here.
<p>
For individualist anarchists, this <i>"irrationality of rationality"</i> is 
the price to be paid for a free market and any attempt to overcome this
problem holds numerous dangers to freedom. Social anarchists disagree. 
They think co-operation between workplaces can increase, not reduce, 
freedom. Social anarchists' proposed solution is <b>society-wide</b> ownership 
of the major means of production and distribution, based on the anarchist 
principle of voluntary federation, with confederal bodies or co-ordinating 
councils at two levels: first, between all firms in a particular industry; 
and second, between all industries, agricultural syndicates, and people's 
financial institutions throughout the society. As Berkman put it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Actual use will be considered the only title [in communist anarchism] -- 
not to ownership but to possession. The organisation of the coal miners, 
for example, will be in charge of the coal mines, not as owners but as 
the operating agency. Similarly will the railroad brotherhoods run the 
railroads, and so on. Collective possession, co-operatively managed in 
the interests of the community, will take the place of personal ownership 
privately conducted for profit."</i> [<b>ABC of Anarchism</b>, p. 69]
</blockquote><p>
While, for many anarcho-syndicalists, this structure is seen as enough,
most communist-anarchists consider that the economic federation should 
be held accountable to society as a whole (i.e. the economy must be
communalised). This is because not everyone in society is a worker (e.g.
the young, the old and infirm) nor will everyone belong to a syndicate 
(e.g. the self-employed), but as they also have to live with the results 
of economic decisions, they should have a say in what happens. In other
words, in communist-anarchism, workers make the day-to-day decisions 
concerning their work and workplaces, while the social criteria behind
these decisions are made by everyone.
<p>
In this type of economic system, workers' assemblies and councils 
would be the focal point, formulating policies for their individual 
workplaces and deliberating on industry-wide or economy-wide issues 
through general meetings of the whole workforce in which everyone 
would participate in decision making. Voting in the councils would 
be direct, whereas in larger confederal bodies, voting would be 
carried out by temporary, unpaid, mandated, and instantly recallable 
delegates, who would resume their status as ordinary workers as soon 
as their mandate had been carried out. 
<p>
<b><i>"Mandated"</i></b> here means that the delegates from workers' assemblies and
councils to meetings of higher confederal bodies would be instructed, 
at every level of confederation, by the workers who elected them on 
how to deal with any issue. The delegates would be given imperative 
mandates (binding instructions) that committed them to a framework of 
policies within which they would have to act, and they could be recalled 
and their decisions revoked at any time for failing to carry out the 
mandates they were given (this support for mandated delegates has
existed in anarchist theory since at least 1848, when Proudhon 
argued that it was <i>"a consequence of universal suffrage"</i> to ensure
that <i>"the people . . . do not . . . abjure their sovereignty."</i> 
[<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, p. 63]). Because of this right of 
mandating and recalling their delegates, workers' councils would 
be the source of and final authority over policy for all higher 
levels of confederal co-ordination of the economy. 
<p>
A society-wide economic federation of this sort is clearly not 
the same thing as a centralised state agency, as in the concept 
of nationalised or state-owned industry. As Emma Goldman argued,
there is a clear difference between socialisation and 
nationalisation. <i>"The first requirement of Communism,"</i> she 
argued, <i>"is the socialisation of the land and of the machinery 
of production and distribution. Socialised land and machinery 
belong to the people, to be settled upon and used by individuals 
and groups according to their needs."</i> Nationalisation, on the 
other hand, means that a resource <i>"belongs to the state; that is, 
the government has control of it and may dispose of it according
to its wishes and views."</i> She stressed that <i>"when a thing is
socialised, every individual has free access to it and may
use it without interference from anyone."</i> When the state
owned property, <i>"[s]uch a state of affairs may be called
state capitalism, but it would be fantastic to consider it
in any sense communistic."</i> [<b>Red Emma Speaks</b>, pp.360-1]
<p>
Clearly, an anarchist society is based on free access and a
resource is controlled by those who use it. It is a decentralised, 
participatory-democratic (i.e. self-managed) organisation whose 
members can secede at any time and in which all power and initiative 
arises from and flows back to the grassroots level (see 
<a href="secI6.html">section I.6</a> for a discussion on 
how social ownership would work in
practice). Anarchists reject the Leninist idea that state 
property means the end of capitalism as simplistic and confused. 
Ownership is a juridical relationship. The <b>real</b> issue is one of 
management. Do the users of a resource manage it? If so, then we 
have a real (i.e. libertarian) socialist society. If not, we have 
some form of class society (for example, in the Soviet Union
the state replaced the capitalist class but workers still 
had no official control over their labour or the product of 
that labour).
<p>
A social anarchist society combines free association, federalism and 
self-management with communalised ownership. Free labour is its basis 
and socialisation exists to complement and protect it. 
<p>
Regardless of the kind of anarchy desired, anarchists all agree 
on the importance of decentralisation, free agreement and free 
association. Kropotkin's summary of what anarchy would look like 
gives an excellent feel of what sort of society anarchists desire:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by 
obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the 
various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the 
sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the 
infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilised being. 
<p>
"In a society developed on these lines . . . voluntary associations . . . 
would represent an interwoven network, composed of an infinite variety of 
groups and federations of all sizes and degrees, local, regional, national 
and international temporary or more or less permanent -- for all possible
purposes: production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary
arrangements, education, mutual protection, defence of the territory, and 
so on; and, on the other side, for the satisfaction of an ever-increasing
number of scientific, artistic, literary and sociable needs. 
<p>
"Moreover, such a society would represent nothing immutable. On the 
contrary -- as is seen in organic life at large - harmony would (it 
is contended) result from an ever-changing adjustment and readjustment 
of equilibrium between the multitudes of forces and influences, and 
this adjustment would be the easier to obtain as none of the forces 
would enjoy a special protection from the State."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's 
Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 284]
</blockquote><p>
If this type of system sounds <i>"utopian"</i> it should be kept in mind 
that it was actually implemented and worked quite well in the 
collectivist economy organised during the Spanish Revolution of 
1936, despite the enormous obstacles presented by an ongoing civil 
war as well as the relentless (and eventually successful) efforts 
of Republicans, Stalinists and Fascists to crush it (see Sam 
Dolgoff's <b>The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-management 
in the Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939</b> for an excellent introduction).
<p>
As well as this (and other) examples of 
<b><i>"anarchy in action"</i></b> there 
have been other libertarian socialist economic systems described in 
writing. All share the common features of workers' self-management, 
co-operation and so on we discuss here and in 
<a href="secI4.html">section I.4</a>. These texts 
include <b>Syndicalism</b> by Tom Brown, <b>The Program of Anarcho-Syndicalism</b> 
by G.P. Maximoff, <b>Guild Socialism Restated</b> by G.D.H. Cole, <b>After 
the Revolution</b> by Diago Abad de Santillan, <b>Anarchist Economics</b> and 
<b>Principles of Libertarian Economy</b> by Abraham Guillen, <b>Workers 
Councils and the Economics of a Self-Managed Society</b> by Cornelius 
Castoriadis among others. A short summary of Spanish Anarchist visions
of the free society can be found in chapter 3 of Robert Alexander's
<b>The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War</b> (vol. 1). Also worth reading 
are <b>The Political Economy of Participatory Economics</b> and <b>Looking 
Forward: Participatory Economics for the Twenty First Century</b> by 
Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel which contain some useful ideas. 
<p>
Fictional accounts include William Morris' <b>News from Nowhere</b>, 
<b>The Dispossessed</b> by Ursula Le Guin, <b>Women on the Edge of Time</b> 
by Marge Piercy and <b>The Last Capitalist</b> by Steve Cullen.
<p>
<a name="seci31"><h2>I.3.1 What is a <i>"syndicate"</i>?</h2>
<p>
As we will use the term, a <i>"syndicate"</i> (often called a <i>"producer
co-operative,"</i> or <i>"co-operative"</i> for short, sometimes <i>"collective"</i> 
or <i>"producers' commune"</i> or <i>"association of producers"</i> or <i>"guild 
factory"</i> or <i>"guild workplace"</i>) is a democratically self-managed 
productive enterprise whose productive assets are either owned by 
its workers or by society as a whole. It is a useful generic term 
to describe the situation aimed at by anarchists where <i>"associations 
of men and women who . . . work on the land, in the factories, in the 
mines, and so on, [are] themselves the managers of production."</i> [Peter
Kropotkin, <b>Evolution and Environment</b>, p. 78] 
<p>
It is important to note that individuals who do not wish to join 
syndicates will be able to work for themselves. There is no <i>"forced 
collectivisation"</i> under <b>any</b> form of libertarian socialism, because 
coercing people is incompatible with the basic principles of anarchism. 
Those who wish to be self-employed will have free access to the productive 
assets they need, provided that they neither attempt to monopolise more 
of those assets than they and their families can use by themselves nor 
attempt to employ others for wages 
(see <a href="secI3.html#seci37">section I.3.7</a>). 
<p>
In many ways a syndicate is similar to a co-operative under capitalism.
Indeed, Bakunin argued that anarchists are <i>"convinced that the co-operative
will be the preponderant form of social organisation in the future, in
every branch of labour and science."</i> [<b>Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 153] Therefore, 
even from the limited examples of co-operatives functioning in the 
capitalist market, the essential features of a libertarian socialist
economy can be seen. The basic economic element, the workplace, will be a
free association of individuals, who will organise their joint work
co-operatively. To quote Bakunin again, <i>"[o]nly associated labour,
that is, labour organised upon the principles of reciprocity and
co-operation, is adequate to the task of maintaining . . . civilised
society."</i> [<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 341]
<p>
<b><i>"Co-operation"</i></b> in this context means that the policy decisions related to
their association will be based on the principle of "one member, one
vote," with "managers" and other administrative staff elected and held
accountable to the workplace as a whole. Workplace self-management does
not mean, as many apologists of capitalism suggest, that knowledge and
skill will be ignored and <b>all</b> decisions made by everyone. This 
is an obvious fallacy, since engineers, for example, have a greater
understanding of their work than non-engineers and under workers'
self-management will control it directly. As G.D.H. Cole argues:
<p><blockquote> 
<i>"we must
understand clearly wherein this Guild democracy consists, and especially
how it bears on relations between different classes of workers included in
a single Guild. For since a Guild includes <b>all</b> the workers by hand and
brain engaged in a common service, it is clear that there will be among
its members very wide divergences of function, of technical skill, and of
administrative authority. Neither the Guild as a whole nor the Guild
factory can determine all issues by the expedient of the mass vote, nor
can Guild democracy mean that, on all questions, each member is to count
as one and none more than one. A mass vote on a matter of technique
understood only by a few experts would be a manifest absurdity, and, even
if the element of technique is left out of account, a factory administered
by constant mass votes would be neither efficient nor at all a pleasant
place to work in. There will be in the Guilds technicians occupying
special positions by virtue of their knowledge, and there will be
administrators possessing special authority by virtue both of skill an
ability and of personal qualifications."</i> [G.D.H. Cole, <b>Guild Socialism
Restated</b>, pp. 50-51] 
</blockquote><p>
The fact that some decision-making has been delegated in this 
manner sometimes leads people to ask whether a syndicate would not 
just be another form of hierarchy. The answer is that it would not be
hierarchical because the workers' assemblies and their councils, open 
to all workers, would decide what types of decision-making to delegate, 
thus ensuring that ultimate power rests at the mass base. Moreover,
<b>power</b> would not be delegated. Malatesta clearly indicates the 
difference between administrative decisions and policy decisions:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Of course in every large collective undertaking, a division of 
labour, technical management, administration, etc. is necessary. 
But authoritarians clumsily play on words to produce a <b>raison d'etre</b> 
for government out of the very real need for the organisation of work. 
Government, it is well to repeat, is the concourse of individuals
who have had, or seized, the right and the means to make laws and to
oblige people to obey; the administrator, the engineer, etc., instead
are people who are appointed or assume the responsibility to carry out
a particular job and so on. Government means the delegation of power, 
that is the abdication of initiative and sovereignty of all into the 
hands of a few; administration means the delegation of work, that is 
tasks given and received, free exchange of services based on free 
agreement . . . Let one not confuse the function of government with 
that of an administration, for they are essentially different, and if 
today the two are often confused, it is only because of economic and 
political privilege."</i> [<b>Anarchy</b>, pp. 39-40]
</blockquote><p>
Given that power remains in the hands of the workplace assembly, it
is clear that the organisation required for every collective endeavour
cannot be equated with government. Also, never forget that administrative
staff are elected by and accountable to the rest of an association.
If, for example, it turned out that a certain type of delegated 
decision-making activity was being abused, it could be revoked by 
the whole workforce. Because of this grassroots control, there is 
every reason to think that crucial types of decision-making activity
which could become a source of power (and so with the potential for 
seriously affecting all workers' lives) would not be delegated 
but would remain with the workers' assemblies. For example, powers 
that are now  exercised in an authoritarian manner by managers 
under capitalism, such as those of hiring and firing, introducing 
new production methods or technologies, changing product lines, 
relocating production facilities, determining the nature, pace 
and rhythm of productive activity and so on would remain in the
hands of the associated producers and <b>not</b> be delegated to anyone.
<p>
New syndicates will be created upon the initiative of individuals within 
communities. These may be the initiative of workers in an existing
syndicate who desire to expand production, or members of the local
community who see that the current syndicates are not providing adequately
in a specific area of life. Either way, the syndicate will be a voluntary
association for producing useful goods or services and would spring up
and disappear as required. Therefore, an anarchist society would see
syndicates developing spontaneously as individuals freely associate to 
meet their needs, with both local and confederal initiatives taking place. 
(The criteria for investment decisions is discussed in 
<a href="secI4.html#seci48">section I.4.8</a>).
<p>
What about entry into a syndicate? In the words of Cole, workers syndicates
are <i>"open associations which any man [or woman] may join"</i> but <i>"this does not 
mean, of course, that any person will be able to claim admission, as an 
absolute right, into the guild of his choice."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 75] This means 
that there may be training requirements (for example) and obviously <i>"a man 
[or woman] clearly cannot get into a Guild [i.e. syndicate] unless it needs 
fresh recruits for its work. [The worker] will have free choice, but only 
of the available openings."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>] Obviously, as in any society, an 
individual may not be able to pursue the work they are most interested 
(although given the nature of an anarchist society they would have the 
free time to pursue it as a hobby). However, we can imagine that an anarchist 
society would take an interest in ensuring a fair distribution of work and 
so would try to arrange work sharing if a given work placement is popular.
<p>
Of course there may be the danger of a syndicate or guild trying to
restrict entry from an ulterior motive. The ulterior motive would, of
course, be the exploitation of monopoly power vis-a-vis other groups in
society. However, in an anarchist society individuals would be free to
form their own syndicates and this would ensure that such activity is 
self-defeating. In addition, in a non-mutualist anarchist system, 
syndicates would be part of a confederation (see 
<a href="secI3.html#seci34">section I.3.4</a>). It 
is a responsibility of the inter-syndicate congresses to assure that 
membership and employment in the syndicates is not restricted in any 
anti-social way. If an individual or group of individuals felt that 
they had been unfairly excluded from a syndicate then an investigation 
into the case would be organised at the congress. In this way any 
attempts to restrict entry would be reduced (assuming they occurred 
to begin with). And, of course, individuals are free to form new 
syndicates or leave the confederation if they so desire (see 
<a href="secI4.html#seci413">section I.4.13</a> 
on the question of who will do unpleasant work, and for more 
on work allocation generally, in an anarchist society).
<p>
To sum up, syndicates are voluntary associations of workers who manage
their workplace and their own work. Within the syndicate, the decisions
which affect how the workplace develops and changes are in the hands of
those who work there. In addition, it means that each section of the
workforce manages its own activity and sections and that all workers
placed in administration tasks (i.e. <i>"management"</i>) are subject to 
election and recall by those who are affected by their decisions. 
(Workers' self-management is discussed further in section I.3.2 -- 
<a href="secI3.html#seci32"><i>"What is workers' self-management?"</i></a>). 
<p>
<a name="seci32"><h2>I.3.2 What is workers' self-management?</h2>
<p>
Quite simply, workers' self-management (sometimes called <i>"workers'
control"</i>) means that all workers affected by a decision have an equal
voice in making it, on the principle of <i>"one worker, one vote."</i> That
is, workers <i>"ought to be the real managers of industries."</i> [Peter
Kropotkin, <b>Fields, Factories and Workshops Tomorrow</b>, p. 157] As noted
earlier, however, we need to be careful when using the term <i>"workers'
control,"</i> as the concept is currently being co-opted by the ruling elite,
which is to say that it is becoming popular among sociologists, industrial
managers, and social-democratic union leaders, and so is taking on an
entirely different meaning from the one intended by anarchists (who
originated the term).
<p>
In the hands of capitalists, <i>"workers' control"</i> is now referred to by 
such terms as <i>"participation,"</i> <i>"democratisation,"</i> "co-determination,"</i> 
<i>"consensus,"</i> <i>"empowerment"</i>, <i>"Japanese-style management,"</i> etc. As Sam
Dolgoff notes, <i>"[f]or those whose function it is solve the new problems of
boredom and alienation in the workplace in advanced industrial capitalism,
workers' control is seen as a hopeful solution. . . . a solution in which
workers are given a modicum of influence, a strictly limited area of
decision-making power, a voice at best secondary in the control of
conditions of the workplace. Workers' control, in a limited form
sanctioned by the capitalists, is held to be the answer to the growing
non-economic demands of the workers."</i> [<i>"Workers' Control"</i> in <b>The
Anarchist Collectives</b>, p. 81]
<p>
The new managerial fad of <i>"quality circles"</i> -- meetings where workers 
are encouraged to contribute their ideas on how to improve the company's
product and increase the efficiency with which it is made -- is an example
of "workers' control" as conceived by capitalists. However, when it comes
to questions such as what products to make, where to make them, and
(especially) how revenues from sales should be divided among the workforce
and invested, capitalists and managers don't ask for or listen to 
workers' "input." So much for "democratisation," "empowerment," and
"participation!" In reality, capitalistic "workers control" is merely an
another insidious attempt to make workers more willing and "co-operative" 
partners in their own exploitation.
<p>
Hence we prefer the term <b><i>"workers' self-management"</i></b> -- a concept which
refers to the exercise of workers' power through collectivisation and
federation (see below). Self-management in this sense <i>"is not a new form
of mediation between the workers and their capitalist bosses, but instead
refers to the very process by which the workers themselves <b>overthrow</b>
their managers and take on their own management and the management of
production in their own workplace. Self-management means the organisation
of all workers . . . into a workers' council or factory committee (or
agricultural syndicate), which makes all the decisions formerly made by
the owners and managers."</i> [Dolgoff, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 81] As such, it means 
<i>"a transition from private to collective ownership"</i> which, in turn, 
<i>"call[s] for new relationships among the members of the working 
community."</i> [Abel Paz, <b>The Spanish Civil War</b>, p. 55] Self-management 
means the end of hierarchy and authoritarian social relationships in 
workplace and their replacement by free agreement, collective 
decision-making, direct democracy, social equality and libertarian 
social relationships. 
<p>
Therefore workers' self-management is based around general meetings 
of the whole workforce, held regularly in every industrial or agricultural 
syndicate. These are the source of and final authority over decisions 
affecting policy within the workplace as well as relations with other 
syndicates. These meeting elect workplace councils whose job is to 
implement the decisions of these assemblies and to make the day to day 
administration decisions that will crop up. These councils are directly 
accountable to the workforce and its members subject to re-election and 
instant recall. It is also likely that membership of these councils will 
be rotated between all members of the syndicate to ensure that no one 
monopolises an administrative position. In addition, smaller councils 
and assemblies would be organised for divisions, units and work teams 
as circumstances dictate. 
<p>
In this way, workers would manage their own collective affairs
together, as free and equal individuals. They would associate
together to co-operate without subjecting themselves to an 
authority over themselves. Their collective decisions would
remain under their control and power. This means that 
self-management creates <i>"an organisation so constituted that 
by affording everyone the fullest enjoyment of his [or her] 
liberty, it does not permit anyone to rise above the others
nor dominate them in any way but through the natural influence
of the intellectual and moral qualities which he [or she]
possesses, <b>without this influence ever being imposed as
a right and without leaning upon any political institution
whatever.</b>"</i> [<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 271]
Only by convincing your fellow associates of the soundness
of your ideas can those ideas become the agreed plan of the
syndicate. No one is in a position to impose their ideas 
simply because of the post they hold or the work they do.
<p>
Most anarchists think that it is likely that purely administrative 
tasks and decisions would be delegated to elected individuals in
this way, freeing workers and assemblies to concentrate on important 
activities and decisions rather than being bogged down in trivial 
details. As Bakunin put it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Is not administrative work just as necessary to production as
is manual labour -- if not more so? Of course, production would
be badly crippled, if not altogether suspended, without efficient
and intelligent management. But from the standpoint of elementary
justice and even efficiency, the management of production need
not be exclusively monopolised by one or several individuals.
And managers are not at all entitled to more pay. The co-operative
workers associations have demonstrated that the workers themselves,
choosing administrators from their own ranks, receiving the same
pay, can efficiency control and operate industry. The monopoly
of administration, far from promoting the efficiency of production,
on the contrary only enhances the power and privileges of the
owners and their managers."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 424]
</blockquote><p>
What is important is that what is considered as important or trivial, 
policy or administration rests with the people affected by the decisions 
and subject to their continual approval. Anarchists do not make a 
fetish of direct democracy and recognise that there is more important
things in life than meetings and voting! While workers' assemblies
play the key role in self-management, it is not the focal point
of <b>all</b> decisions. Rather it is the place where all the important
policy decisions are made, administrative decisions are ratified
or rejected and what counts as a major decision determined. Needless
to say, what is considered as important issues will be decided
upon by the workers themselves in their assemblies.
<p>
A self-managed workplace, like a self-managed society in general,
does not mean that specialised knowledge (where it is meaningful)
will be neglected or not taken into account. Quite the opposite.
Specialists (i.e. workers who are interested in a given area of
work and gain an extensive understanding of it) are part of the
assembly of the workplace, just like other workers. They can
and have to be listened to, like anyone else, and their expert
advice included in the decision making process. Anarchists do
not reject the idea of expertise nor the rational authority 
associated with it. As we indicated in 
<a href="secB1.html">section B.1</a>, anarchists 
recognise the difference between being <i><b>an</b></i> authority (i.e. 
having knowledge of a given subject) and being <i><b>in</b></i> authority 
(i.e. having power over someone else). We reject the latter
and respect the former:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such
a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority
of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads,
I consult that of architect or engineer. For such or such
special knowledge I apply to such or such a <b>savant</b>. But I
allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect  nor the 
<b>savant</b> to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them
freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence,
their character, their knowledge, reserving always my
incontestable right of criticism and censure. . . If I
bow before the authority of specialists and avow a readiness
to follow, to a certain extent and as long as may seem to
me necessary, their indications and even their directions,
it is because their authority is imposed upon me by no
one, neither men nor by God . . . I bow before the authority
of special men [and women] because it is imposed upon me
by my own reason."</i> [Bakunin, <b>God and the State</b>, pp. 32-3]
</blockquote><p>
However, specialisation does not imply the end of self-management,
but rather the opposite. <i>"The greatest intelligence,"</i> Bakunin
argued, <i>"would not be equal to a comprehension of the whole.
Thence results, for science as well as industry, the necessity
of the division and association of labour."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 33]
Thus specialised knowledge is part of the associated workers
and not placed above them in positions of power. The other
workers in a syndicate can compliment the knowledge of the 
specialists with the knowledge of the work process they have 
gained by working and so enrich the decision. Knowledge is 
distributed throughout society and only a society of free 
individuals associated as equals and managing their own 
activity can ensure that it is applied effectively (part of
the inefficiency of capitalism results from the barriers to
knowledge and information flow created by the hierarchical
workplace).
<p>
A workplace assembly is perfectly able to listen to an engineer,
for example, who suggests various ways of reaching various goals
(i.e. if you want X, you would have to do A or B. If you
do A, then C, D and E is required. If B is decided upon, then
F, G, H and I are entailed). But it is the assembly, <b>not</b> the 
engineer, that decides what goals and methods to be implemented.
As Cornelius Castoriadis puts it, <i>"[w]e are not saying: people
will have to decide <b>what</b> to do, and then technicians will
tell them <b>how</b> to do it. We say: after listening to technicians, 
people will decide what to do <b>and</b> how to do it. For the <b>how</b> 
is not neutral -- and the <b>what</b> is not disembodied. What and 
how are neither <b>identical</b>, nor <b>external</b> to each other. A
'neutral' technique is, of course, an illusion. A conveyor
belt is linked to a type of product <b>and</b> a type of producer
-- and vice versa."</i> [<b>Social and Poliitical Writings</b>, vol. 3,
p. 265]
<p>
However, we must stress that while an anarchist society would
"inherit" a diverse level of expertise and specialisation
from class society, it would not take this as unchangeable.
Anarchists argue for <b><i>"all-round"</i></b> (or integral) education as
a means of ensuring that everyone has a basic knowledge or
understanding of science, engineering and other specialised
tasks. As Bakunin argued, <i>"in the interests of both labour
and science . . . there should no longer be either workers
or scholars but only human beings."</i> Education must <i>"prepare
every child of each sex for the life of thought as well as
for the life of labour."</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p. 116 and
p. 119] This does not imply the end of all specialisation 
(individuals will, of course, express their individuality 
and know more about certain subjects than others) but it 
does imply the end of the artificial specialisation developed 
under capitalism which tries to deskill and disempower the 
wage worker by concentrating knowledge into hands of management.
<p>
And, just to state the obvious, self-management does not imply
that the mass of workers decide on the application of specialised
tasks. Self-management implies the autonomy of those who do the 
work as well as collective decision making on collective issues.
For example, in a self-managed hospital the cleaning staff
would not have a say in the doctors' treatment of patients just
as the doctors would not tell the cleaners how to do their work
(of course, it is likely that an anarchist society will <b>not</b>
have people whose work is simply to clean and nothing else, 
we just use this as an example people will understand). All
members of a syndicate would have a say in what happens in the 
workplace as it affects them collectively, but individual workers
and groups of workers would manage their own activity within that 
collective.
<p>
Needless to say, self-management abolishes the division of labour
inherent in capitalism between order takers and order givers. It
integrates (to use Kropotkin's words) brain work and manual work
by ensuring that those who do the work also manage it and that a
workplace is managed by those who use it. Such an integration of
labour will, undoubtedly, have a massive impact in terms of
productivity, innovation and efficiency. As Kropotkin argued,
the capitalist firm has a negative impact on those subject
to its hierarchical and alienating structures:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The worker whose task has been specialised by the permanent
division of labour has lost the intellectual interest in his
[or her] labour, and it is especially so in the great
industries; he has lost his inventive powers. Formerly, he
[or she] invented very much . . . But since the great factory
has been enthroned, the worker, depressed by the monotony of
his [or her] work, invents no more."</i> [<b>Fields, Factories and
Workshops Tomorrow</b>, p. 171]
</blockquote><p>
Must all the skills, experience and intelligence that very 
one has be swept away or crushed by hierarchy? Or could it 
not become a new fertile source of progress under a better
organisation of production? Self-management would ensure
that the independence, initiative and inventiveness of 
workers (which disappears under wage slavery) comes to the
fore and is applied. Combined with the principles of 
<i>"all-round"</i> (or integral) education (see 
<a href="secJ5.html#secj513">section J.5.13</a>)
who can deny that working people could transform the
current economic system to ensure <i>"well-being for all"</i>?
And we must stress that by <i>"well-being"</i> we mean well-being 
in terms of meaningful, productive activity in humane 
surroundings and using appropriate technology, in terms 
of goods of utility and beauty to help create strong, 
healthy bodies and in terms of surroundings which are 
inspiring to live in and ecologically integrated.
<p>
Little wonder Kropotkin argued that self-management and the 
<i>"erasing [of] the present distinction between the brain workers 
and manual worker"</i> would see <i>"social benefits"</i> arising from <i>"the 
concordance of interest and harmony so much wanted in our times 
of social struggles"</i> and <i>"the fullness of life which would result 
for each separate individual, if he [or she] were enabled to enjoy 
the use of both . . .  mental and bodily powers."</i> This is in 
addition to the <i>"increase of wealth which would result from 
having . . . educated and well-trained producers."</i> [<b>Fields, 
Factories and Workshops Tomorrow</b>, p. 180]
<p>
It is the face-to-face meetings that bring workers directly into the 
management process and give them power over the economic decisions that 
affect their lives. In social anarchism, since the means of production 
are owned by society as a whole, decisions on matters like how to 
apportion the existing means of production among the syndicates, 
how to distribute and reinvest the surpluses, etc. will be made 
by the grassroots <b>social</b> units, i.e. the community assemblies 
(see 
<a href="secI5.html#seci52">section I.5.2</a>), 
not by the workers' councils. This does not 
mean that workers will have no voice in decisions about such matters, 
but only that they will vote on them as "citizens" in their local 
community assemblies, not as workers in their local syndicates. As 
mentioned before, this is because not everyone will belong to a 
syndicate, yet everyone will still be affected by economic decisions 
of the above type. This is an example of how the social/political 
and economic structures of social anarchy are intertwined.
<p>
Lastly, the introduction of workers' self-management will be a product 
of two processes. 
<p>
Firstly, the class struggle will help workers gain experience of managing 
their own affairs. Struggles to resist oppression and exploitation in the 
workplace will mean that workers will have to organise themselves to manage those struggles. This will be an important means of accustoming them to 
make their own decisions. By participating in the structures created to 
conduct the class war, they will gain the skills and experience needed 
to go beyond class society. The process of struggle will ensure we can
manage our own working time when we take over the means of life and 
abolish wage slavery.
<p>
Secondly, today workers <b>do</b> manage their own working time to a considerable
extent. As we have argued before, the capitalist may buy a hour of a 
workers' time but they have to ensure that the worker follows their
orders during that time. Workers resist this imposition and this results
in considerable shop-floor conflict. Frederick Talyor, for example,
introduced his system of <i>"scientific management"</i> in part to try and
stop workers managing their own working activity. As David Noble notes,
workers <i>"paced themselves for many reason: to keep time for themselves,
to avoid exhaustion, to exercise authority over their work, to avoid
killing so-called gravy piece-rate jobs by overproducing and risking
a pay cut, to stretch out available work for fear of layoffs, to
exercise their creativity, and, last but not least, to express their
solidarity and their hostility to management."</i> These were <i>"[c]oupled 
with collective co-operation with their fellows on the floor"</i> and 
<i>"labour-prescribed norms of behaviour"</i> to achieve <i>"shop floor control
over production."</i> [<b>Forces of Production</b>, p. 33] In other words,
workers naturally tend towards self-management anyway and it is this
natural movement towards liberty during work hours which is combated
by bosses (who wins, of course, depends on objective and subjective
pressures which swing the balance of power towards labour or capital).
<p>
Self-management will built upon this already existing unofficial
workers control over production and, of course, our knowledge of
the working process which actually doing it creates. The conflict 
over who controls the shop floor -- either those who do the work or 
those who give the orders -- creates two processes that not only
show that self-management is <b>possible</b> but also show how it can
come about.
<p>
<a name="seci33"><h2>I.3.3 What role do syndicates play in the <i>"economy"</i>?</h2> 
<p>
As we have seen, private ownership of the means of production is the
lynchpin of capitalism, because it is the means by which capitalists 
are able to exploit workers by appropriating surplus value from them. 
To eliminate such exploitation, social anarchists propose that social 
capital -- productive assets such as factories and farmland -- be owned 
by society as a whole and shared out among syndicates and self-employed 
individuals by directly democratic methods, through face-to-face voting 
of the whole community in local neighbourhood and confederal assemblies, 
which will be linked together through voluntary federations. It does 
<b>not</b> mean that the state owns the means of production, as under 
Marxism-Leninism or social democracy, because there is no state 
under libertarian socialism. (For more on neighbourhood and community 
assemblies, see sections <a href="secI5.html#seci51">I.5.1</a> 
and <a href="secI5.html#seci52">I.5.2</a>).
<p>
Production for use rather than profit/money is the key concept that
distinguishes collectivist and communist forms of anarchism from market
socialism or from the competitive forms of mutualism advocated by
Proudhon and the Individualist Anarchists. Under mutualism, workers
organise themselves into syndicates, but ownership of a syndicate's
capital is limited to its workers rather than resting with the whole
society. The workers' in each co-operative/syndicate share in the
gains and losses of workplace. There is no profit as such, for in
<i>"the labour-managed firm there is no profit, only income to be
divided among members. Without employees the labour-managed firm
does not have a wage bill, and labour costs are not counted among
the expenses to the subtracted from profit, as they are in the
capitalist firm. . . [T]he labour-managed firm does not hire labour.
It is a collective of workers that hires capital and necessary
materials."</i> [Christopher Eaton Gunn, <b>Workers' Self-Management in
the United States</b>, pp. 41-2] 
<p>
Thus mutualism eliminates wage labour and unites workers with the
means of production they use. Such a system is socialist as it
is based on self-management and workers' control/ownership of
the means of production. However, social anarchists argue that
such a system is little more than <i>"petit-bourgeois co-operativism"</i> 
in which the worker-owners of the co-operatives compete in the 
marketplace with other co-operatives for customers, profits, raw 
materials, etc. -- a situation that could result in many of the 
same problems that arise under capitalism (see sections 
<a href="secI3.html">I.3</a> 
and <a href="secH7.html">H.7</a>). 
Moreover, social anarchists argue, such a system can
easily degenerate back into capitalism as any inequalities that
exist between co-operatives would be increased by competition,
forcing weaker co-operatives to fail and so creating a pool
of workers with nothing to sell but their labour. The successful
co-operatives could then hire those workers and so re-introduce
wage labour.
<p>
Some Mutualists recognise this danger. Proudhon, for example,
argued for an <i>"ago-industrial federation"</i> which would <i>"provide
reciprocal security in commerce and industry"</i> and <i>"protect the
citizens . . . from capitalist and financial exploitation."</i> In
this way, the <i>"agro-industrial federation. . . will tend to
foster increasing equality . . . through mutualism in credit
and insurance . . . guaranteeing the right to work and to
education, and an organisation of work which allows each
labourer to become a skilled worker and an artist, each
wage-earner to become his own master."</i> Thus mutualism sees
<i>"all industries guaranteeing one another mutually"</i> and
<i>"the conditions of common prosperity."</i> [<b>The Principle of
Federation</b>, p. 70, p. 71 and p. 72] It seems likely that
this agro-industrial federation would be the body which
would fix <i>"after amicable discussion of a <b>maximum</b> and
<b>minimum</b> profit margin"</i> and <i>"the organising of regulating
societies. . . to regulate the market."</i> [<b>Selected Writings
of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon</b>, p. 70]
<p>
Thus, some Mutualists are aware of the dangers associated with
even a self-managed, socialistic market and create support
structures to defend workers' self-management. Moreover, it 
is likely that industrial syndicates would be linked to mutual
banks (a credit syndicate). Such syndicates would exist to
provide interest-free credit for self-management, new syndicate
expansion and so on. And if the experience of capitalism is
anything to go by, mutual banks will also reduce the Business
cycle as its effects as <i>"[c]ountries like Japan and Germany
that are usually classifies as bank-centred -- because banks
provide more outside finance than markets, and because more
firms have long-term relationships with their banks -- 
show greater growth in and stability of investment over time
than the market-centred ones, like the US and Britain. . .
Further, studies comparing German and Japanese firms with
tight bank ties to those without them also show that firms
with bank ties exhibit greater stability in investment over
the business cycle."</i> [Doug Henwood, <b>Wall Street</b>, pp. 174-5]
<p>
In addition, supporters of mutualism can point to the fact that 
existing co-operatives rarely fire their members and are far more 
egalitarian in nature than corresponding capitalist firms. This 
they argue will ensure that mutualism will remain socialist, with 
easy credit available to those who are made unemployed to start 
their own businesses again.
<p>
In contrast, within anarcho-collectivism and anarcho-communism, 
society as a whole owns the social capital, which allows for the 
elimination of both competition for survival and the tendency for 
workers to develop a proprietary interest the enterprises in which 
they work. As Kropotkin argued, <i>"[t]here is no reason why the 
factory . . . should not belong to the community. . . It is evident 
that now, under the capitalist system, the factory is the curse of 
the village, as it comes to overwork children and to make paupers 
of its male inhabitants; and it is quite natural that it should be 
opposed by all means by the workers. . . But under a more rational 
social organisation, the factory would find no such obstacles; it 
would be a boon to the village."</i> Needless to say, such a workplace 
would be based on workers' self-management, as <i>"the workers . . . 
ought to be the real managers of industries."</i> [<b>Fields, Factories 
and Workshops Tomorrow</b>, p. 152 and p. 157] This <i>"socially organised 
industrial production"</i> (to use Kropotkin's term) would ensure a 
decent standard of living without the problems associated with a 
market, even a non-capitalist one. It would enable goods to be either 
sold at their production prices (or labour-cost) so as to reduce 
their cost to consumers or distributed in accordance with communist 
principles (namely free); it facilitates efficiency gains through 
the consolidation of formerly competing enterprises; and it eliminates 
the many problems due to the predatory nature of competition, including 
the destruction of the environment through the <i>"grow or die"</i> principle, 
the development of oligopolies from capital concentration and 
centralisation, and the business cycle, with its periodic recessions 
and depressions, and the turning of free people into potential
wage slaves.
<p>
For social anarchists, therefore, libertarian socialism is based 
on decentralised decision making within the framework of 
communally-owned but independently-run and worker-self-managed 
syndicates (or co-operatives):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"[T]he land, the instruments of work and all other capital may
become the collective property of the whole of society and be
utilised only by the workers, on other words, by the agricultural
and industrial associations."</i> [Bakunin, <b>Michael Bakunin: Selected 
Writings</b>, p. 174]
</blockquote><p>
In other words, the economy is communalised, with land and the means 
of production being turned into communal <i>"property."</i> The community
determines the social and ecological framework for production while the
workforce makes the day-to-day decisions about what to produce and how 
to do it. This is because a system based purely on workplace assemblies
effectively disenfranchises those individuals who do not work but live with
the effects of production (e.g., ecological disruption). In Howard Harkins'
words, <i>"the difference between workplace and community assemblies is that
the internal dynamic of direct democracy in communities gives a hearing 
to solutions that bring out the common ground and, when there is not
consensus, an equal vote to every member of the community."</i> [<i>"Community
Control, Workers' Control and the Co-operative Commonwealth"</i>, pp. 55-83, 
<b>Society and Nature</b> No. 3, p. 69]
<p>
This means that when a workplace joins a confederation, that workplace is
communalised as well as confederated. In this way, workers' control is
placed within the broader context of the community, becoming an aspect of
community control. This does not mean that workers' do not control what 
they do or how they do it. Rather, it means that the framework within which
they make their decisions is determined by the community. For example,
the local community may decide that production should maximise recycling
and minimise pollution, and workers informed of this decision make
investment and production decisions accordingly. In addition, consumer
groups and co-operatives may be given a voice in the confederal congresses 
of syndicates or even in the individual workplaces (although it would
be up to local communities to decide whether this would be practical or
not). In these ways, consumers could have a say in the administration
of production and the type and quality of the product, adding their
voice and interests in the creation as well as the consumption of
a product.
<p>
Given the general principle of social ownership and the absence of a
state, there is considerable leeway regarding the specific forms that
collectivisation might take -- for example, in regard to methods of
surplus distribution, the use or non-use of money, etc. -- as can be seen
by the different systems worked out in various areas of Spain during the
Revolution of 1936-39 (as described, for example, in Sam Dolgoff's <b>The
Anarchist Collectives</b>). 
<p>
Nevertheless, democracy is undermined when some communities are poor 
while others are wealthy. Therefore the method of surplus distribution 
must insure that all communities have an adequate share of pooled revenues 
and resources held at higher levels of confederation as well as guaranteed 
minimum levels of public services and provisions to meet basic human needs.
<p>
<a name="seci34"><h2>I.3.4 What relations would exist between individual syndicates?</h2>
<p>
Just as individuals associate together to work on and overcome common
problems, so would syndicates. Few, if any, workplaces are totally
independent of others. They require raw materials as inputs and consumers
for their products. Therefore there will be links between different
syndicates. These links are twofold: firstly, free agreements between
individual syndicates, and secondly, confederations of syndicates (within
branches of industry and regionally). Let's consider free agreement
first.
<p>
Anarchists recognise the importance of letting people organise their own
lives. This means that they reject central planning and instead urge
direct links between workers' associations. In the words of Kropotkin,
<i>"[f]ree workers would require a free organisation, and this cannot
have any other basis than free agreement and free co-operation, without
sacrificing the autonomy of the individual."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary
Pamphlets</b>, p. 52] Those directly involved in production (and in
consumption) know their needs far better than any bureaucrat. Thus
voluntary agreement is the basis of a free economy, such agreements
being <i>"entered by free consent, as a free choice between different
courses equally open to each of the agreeing parties."</i> [Peter
Kropotkin, <b>Anarchism and Anarchist Communism</b>, p. 52] Without the
concentration of wealth and power associated with capitalism,
free agreement will become real and no longer a mask for hierarchy. So
anarchists think that <i>"[i]n the same way that each free individual has
associated with his brothers [and sisters!] to produce . . . all that 
was necessary for life, driven by no other force than his desire for 
the full enjoyment of life, so each institution is free and self-contained, 
and co-operates and enters into agreements with others because by so 
doing it extends its own possibilities."</i> [George Barrett, <b>The Anarchist
Revolution</b>, p. 18] An example of one such agreement would be orders for
products and services.
<p>
This suggests a decentralised economy -- even more decentralised than
capitalism (which is <i>"decentralised"</i> only in capitalist mythology, as 
shown by big business and transnational corporations, for example) -- 
one <i>"growing ever more closely bound together and interwoven by free and
mutual agreements."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 18] For social anarchists, this would take
the form of <i>"free exchange without the medium of money and without profit, 
on the basis of requirement and the supply at hand."</i> [Alexander Berkman,
<b>ABC of Anarchism</b>, p. 69]
<p>
Therefore, an anarchist economy would be based on spontaneous order as 
workers practised mutual aid and free association. The anarchist economy 
<i>"starts from below, not from above. Like an organism, this free society grows 
into being from the simple unit  up to the complex structure. The need 
for . . . the individual struggle for life . . . is . . .sufficient to set 
the whole complex social machinery in motion. Society is the result of the 
individual struggle for existence; it is not, as many suppose, opposed to 
it."</i> [George Barrett, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 18]
<p>
In other words, <i>"[t]his factory of ours is, then, to the fullest extent 
consistent with the character of its service, a self-governing unit, managing 
its own productive operations, and free to experiment to the heart's content 
in new methods, to develop new styles and products. . . This autonomy of 
the factory is the safeguard. . . against the dead level of mediocrity, 
the more than adequate substitute for the variety which the competitive 
motive was once supposed to stimulate, the guarantee of liveliness, and
of individual work and workmanship."</i> [G.D.H. Cole, <b>Guild Socialism 
Restated</b>, p. 59]
<p>
This brings us to the second form of relationships between syndicates,
namely confederations of syndicates. If individual or syndicate
activities spread beyond their initial locality, they would probably
reach a scale at which they would need to constitute a confederation. 
At this scale, industrial confederations of syndicates are necessary to
aid communication between workplaces who produce for a large area. No
syndicate exists in isolation, and so there is a real need for a means by
which syndicates can meet together to discuss common interests and act on
them. Thus confederations are complementary to free agreement. Bakunin's 
comments are very applicable here:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"[A] truly popular organisation begins from below, from the association,
from the commune. Thus starting out with the organisation of the lowest
nucleus and proceeding upward, federalism becomes a political institution
of socialism, the free and spontaneous organisation of popular life."</i> 
[<b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, pp. 273-4]
</blockquote><p>
Given that Bakunin, like many anarchists, considered that <i>"the
federative Alliance of all working men's [sic!] associations . . .
[would] constitute the Commune,"</i> the political institutions
of anarchy would be similar to its economic institutions. Indeed,
Bakunin argued for a <i>"free federation of agricultural and industrial
associations . . . organised from the bottom upwards"</i> to be the
basis of a revolution (in 1905 and in 1917, revolutionary workers
and peasants did exactly that, we should note, when they created
<b>soviets</b> -- Russian for councils -- during their revolutions).
Hence Bakunin's comments on <i>"political"</i> institutions and
federalism are applicable to a discussion of economic institutions.
[<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, p. 170 and p. 172]
<p>
A confederation of syndicates (called a <i>"guild"</i> by some libertarian
socialists, or <i>"industrial union"</i> by others) works on two levels: within
an industry and across industries. The basic operating principle of these
confederations is the same as that of the syndicate itself -- voluntary
co-operation between equals in order to meet common needs. In other words,
each syndicate in the confederation is linked by horizontal agreements
with the others, and none owe any obligations to a separate entity above
the group (see section A.2.11, 
<a href="secA2.html#seca211"><i>"Why are anarchists in favour of direct
democracy?"</i></a> for more on the nature of anarchist confederation). 
<p>
Kropotkin's comments on federalism between communes indicate this
(a syndicate can be considered as a producers' commune):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Commune of tomorrow will know that it cannot admit any higher
authority; above it there can only be the interests of the Federation,
freely accepted by itself as well as other communes. . ."</i> [<b>Words of 
a Rebel</b>, p. 83]
</blockquote><p>
Nor need federalism conflict with autonomy, as each member would
have extensive freedom of action within its boundaries:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Commune will be absolutely free to adopt all the institutions
it wishes and to make all the reforms and revolutions it finds
necessary."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 83]
</blockquote><p>
Moreover, these federations would be diverse and functional. Economic
federation would a produce a complex inter-networking between
associations and federations. In Kropotkin's words:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Our needs are in fact so various, and they emerge with such rapidity,
that soon a single federation will not be sufficient to satisfy them
all. The Commune will then feel the need to contract other alliances,
to enter into other federations. Belonging to one group for the
acquisition of food supplies, it will have to join a second group
to obtain other goods, such as metals, and then a third and a fourth
group for textiles and works of art."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 87] 
</blockquote><p>
As such, the confederations reflect anarchist ideas of free association
and decentralised organisation as well as concern for practical needs:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Anarchists are strenuously opposed to the authoritarian, centralist 
spirit . . . So they picture a future social life in the basis of 
federalism, from the individual to the municipality, to the commune, 
to the region, to the nation, to the international, on the basis of 
solidarity and free agreement. And it is natural that this ideal 
should be reflected also in the organisation of production, giving 
preference as far as possible, to a decentralised sort of organisation; 
but this does not take the form of an absolute rule to be applied in 
every instance. A libertarian order would be in itself, on the other 
hand, rule out the possibility of imposing such a unilateral solution."</i> 
[Luigi Fabbri, <i>"Anarchy and 'Scientific Communism"</i>, pp. 13-49, <b>The 
Poverty of Statism</b>, Albert Meltzer (ed.), p. 23]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, a confederation of syndicates would be adaptive to its members
needs. As Tom Brown argued, the <i>"syndicalist mode of organisation is 
extremely elastic, therein is its chief strength, and the regional 
confederations can be formed, modified, added to or reformed according 
to local conditions and changing circumstances."</i> [<b>Syndicalism</b>, p. 58]
<p>
As would be imagined, these confederations are voluntary associations and 
<i>"[j]ust as factory autonomy is vital in order to keep the Guild system alive 
and vigorous, the existence of varying democratic types of factories in
independence of the National Guilds may also be a means of valuable
experiment and fruitful initiative of individual minds. In insistently
refusing to carry their theory to its last 'logical' conclusion, the
Guildsmen [and anarchists] are true to their love of freedom and varied 
social enterprise."</i> [G.D.H. Cole, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 65]
<p>
As we noted, in the <a href="secI3.html#seci33">last section</a>, 
inter-workplace federations are not
limited to collectivist, syndicalist and communist anarchists. Proudhon,
for example, suggested an <i>"agro-industrial federation"</i> as the structural
support organisation for his system of self-managed co-operatives. As
the example many isolated co-operatives have shown, support networks
are essential for co-operatives to survive under capitalism. It is no
co-incidence that the Mondragon co-operative complex in the Basque
region of Spain has a credit union and mutual support networks between
its co-operatives and is by far the most successful co-operative
system in the world.
<p>
If a workplace agrees to confederate, then it gets to share in the
resources of the confederation and so gains the benefits of mutual aid. In
return for the benefits of confederal co-operation, the syndicate's tools
of production become the <i>"property"</i> of society, to be used but not owned
by those who work in them. This does not mean centralised control from the
top, for <i>"when we say that ownership of the tools of production, including
the factory itself, should revert to the corporation [i.e. confederation]
we do not mean that the workers in the individual workshops will be ruled
by any kind of industrial government having power to do what it pleases
with [them]. . . . No, the workers. . .[will not] hand over their hard-won
control. . . to a superior power. . . . What they will do is. . . to
guarantee reciprocal use of their tools of production and accord their
fellow workers in other factories the right to share their facilities [and
vice versa]. . .with [all] whom they have contracted the pact of
solidarity."</i> [James Guillaume, <b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, pp. 363-364] 
<p>
Facilitating this type of co-operation is the major role of
inter-industry confederations, which also ensure that when the members of
a syndicate change work to another syndicate in another (or the same)
branch of industry, they have the same rights as the members of their new
syndicate. In other words, by being part of the confederation, a worker
ensures that s/he has the same rights and an equal say in whatever
workplace is joined. This is essential to ensure that a co-operative
society remains co-operative, as the system is based on the principle of
<i>"one person, one vote"</i> by all those involved the work process.
<p>
So, beyond this reciprocal sharing, what other roles does the
confederation play? Basically, there are two. Firstly, the sharing and
co-ordination of information produced by the syndicates (as will be
discussed in <a href="secI3.html#seci35">section I.3.5</a>), and, secondly, determining the response to
the changes in production and consumption indicated by this information.
As the <i>"vertical"</i> links between syndicates are non-hierarchical, each
syndicate remains self-governing. This ensures decentralisation of power
and direct control, initiative, and experimentation by those involved in
doing the work. Hence, <i>"the internal organisation [of one syndicate] . . .
need not be identical [to others]: Organisational forms and procedures
will vary greatly according to the preferences of the associated workers."</i> 
[<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 361] In practice, this would probably mean that each syndicate 
gets its own orders and determines the best way to satisfy them (i.e. 
manages its own work and working conditions). 
<p>
As indicated above, free agreement will ensure that customers would be 
able to choose their own suppliers, meaning that production units would 
know whether they were producing what their customers wanted, i.e.,
whether they were meeting social need as expressed through demand. If
they were not, customers would go elsewhere, to other production units
within the same branch of production. We should stress that in addition
to this negative check (i.e. <i>"exit"</i> by consumers) it is likely, via
consumer groups and co-operatives as well as communes, that workplaces
will be subject to positive checks on what they produced. Consumer
groups, by formulating and communicating needs to producer groups,
will have a key role in ensuring the quality of production and goods
and that it satisfies their needs (see 
<a href="secI4.html#seci47">section I.4.7</a> for more details
of this).
<p>
However, while production will be based on autonomous networking, the 
investment response to consumer actions would, to some degree, be 
co-ordinated by a confederation of syndicates in that branch of 
production. By such means, the confederation can ensure that resources 
are not wasted by individual syndicates over-producing goods or 
over-investing in response to changes in production (see the 
<a href="secI3.html#seci35">next section</a>). 
<p>
<a name="seci35"><h2>I.3.5 What would confederations of syndicates do?</h2>
<p>
Voluntary confederation among syndicates is required in order to decide 
on the policies governing relations between syndicates and to co-ordinate
their activities. There are two basic kinds of confederation: within all
workplaces of a certain type, and within the whole economy (the federation
of all syndicates). Both would operate at different levels, meaning there
would be confederations for both industrial and inter-industrial 
associations at the local and regional levels and beyond. The basic aim
of this inter-industry and cross-industry networking is to ensure that
the relevant information is spread across the various elemental parts of
the economy so that each can effectively co-ordinate its plans with the
others. By communicating across workplaces, people can overcome the
barriers to co-ordinating their plans which one finds in market systems
(see <a href="secC7.html#secc72">section C.7.2</a>) and so avoid the economic and social disruptions
associated with capitalism.
<p>
However, it is essential to remember that each syndicate within the 
confederation is autonomous. The confederations seek to co-ordinate
activities of joint interest (in particular investment decisions for new
plant and the rationalisation of existing plant in light of reduced
demand). They do not determine what work a syndicate does or how 
they do it. As Kropotkin argued (based on his firsthand experience of 
Russia under Lenin):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"No government would be able to organise production if the workers 
themselves through their unions did not do it in each branch of
industry; for in all production there arise daily thousands of
difficulties which no government can solve or foresee. It is certainly
impossible to foresee everything. Only the efforts of thousands of
intelligences working on the problems can co-operate in the development 
of a new social system and find the best solutions for the thousands of
local needs."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, pp. 76-77] 
</blockquote><p>
Thus Cole's statement:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"With the factory thus largely conducting its own concerns, the duties 
of the larger Guild organisations [i.e. confederations] would be mainly 
those of co-ordination, or regulation, and of representing the Guild in 
its external relations. They would, where it was necessary, co-ordinate 
the production of various factories, so as to make supply coincide 
with demand. . . they would organise research . . . This large Guild 
organisation. . . must be based directly on the various factories 
included in the Guild."</i> [<b>Guild Socialism Restated</b>, pp. 59-60]
</blockquote><p>
So it is important to note that the lowest units of confederation -- the
workers' councils -- will control the higher levels, through their power 
to elect mandated and recallable delegates to meetings of higher
confederal units. <b><i>"Mandated"</i></b> means that the delegates will go to the
meeting of the higher confederal body with specific instructions on how
to vote on a particular issue, and if they do not vote according to that
mandate they will be recalled and the results of the vote nullified.
Delegates will be ordinary workers rather than paid representatives or
union leaders, and they will return to their usual jobs as soon as the
mandate for which they have been elected has been carried out. In this
way, decision-making power remains with the workers' councils and 
does not become concentrated at the top of a bureaucratic hierarchy in 
an elite class of professional administrators or union leaders. For the 
workers' councils will have the final say on <b>all</b> policy decisions, 
being able to revoke policies made by those with delegated 
decision-making power and to recall those who made them:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"When it comes to the material and technical method of production, anarchists
have no preconceived solutions or absolute prescriptions, and bow to what
experience and conditions in a free society recommend and prescribe. What
matters is that, whatever the type of production adopted, it should be the
free choice of the producers themselves, and cannot possibly be imposed,
any more than any form is possible of exploitations of another's labour. . . 
Anarchists do not <b>a priori</b> exclude any practical solution and likewise 
concede that there may be a number of different solutions at different 
times."</i> [Luigi Fabbri, <i>"Anarchy and 'Scientific' Communism"</i>, pp. 13-49, 
<b>The Poverty of Statism</b>, Albert Meltzer (ed.), p. 22]
</blockquote><p>
Confederations (negotiated-co-ordination bodies) would, therefore, be
responsible for clearly defined branches of production, and in general,
production units would operate in only one branch of production. These
confederations would have direct links to other confederations and the
relevant communal confederations, which supply the syndicates with
guidelines for decision making (as will be discussed in 
<a href="secI4.html#seci44">section I.4.4</a>) 
and ensure that common problems can be highlighted and discussed. These 
confederations exist to ensure that information is spread between
workplaces and to ensure that the industry responds to changes in social
demand. In other words, these confederations exist to co-ordinate major
new investment decisions (i.e. if demand exceeds supply) and to determine 
how to respond if there is excess capacity (i.e. if supply exceeds demand). 
<p>
It should be pointed out that these confederated investment decisions 
will exist along with the investments associated with the creation of 
new syndicates, plus internal syndicate investment decisions. We are 
not suggesting that <b>every</b> investment decision is to be made by the
confederations. (This would be particularly impossible for <b>new</b>
industries, for which a confederation would not exist!) Therefore, in
addition to co-ordinated production units, an anarchist society would see
numerous small-scale, local activities which would ensure creativity,
diversity, and flexibility. Only after these activities had spread across
society would confederal co-ordination become necessary.
<p>
Thus, major investment decisions would be made at congresses and plenums 
of the industry's syndicates, by a process of horizontal, negotiated 
co-ordination. This model combines <i>"planning"</i> with decentralisation. Major 
investment decisions are co-ordinated at an appropriate level, with each 
unit in the confederation being autonomous, deciding what to do with its 
own productive capacity in order to meet social demand. Thus we have 
self-governing production units co-ordinated by confederations (horizontal 
negotiation), which ensures local initiative (a vital source of
flexibility, creativity, and diversity) and a rational response to 
changes in social demand.
<p>
It should be noted that during the Spanish Revolution syndicates organised 
themselves very successfully as town-wide industrial confederations of 
syndicates. These were based on the town-level industrial confederation 
getting orders for products for its industry and allocating work between 
individual workplaces (as opposed to each syndicate receiving orders for 
itself). Gaston Leval noted that this form of organisation (with increased
responsibilities for the confederation) did not harm the libertarian 
nature of anarchist self-management:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Everything was controlled by the syndicates. But it must not therefore 
be assumed that everything was decided by a few higher bureaucratic
committees without consulting the rank and file members of the union. 
Here libertarian democracy was practised. As in the C.N.T. there was a
reciprocal double structure; from the grass roots at the base . . .
upwards, and in the other direction a reciprocal influence from the
federation of these same local units at all levels downwards, from the
source back to the source."</i> [<b>The Anarchist Collectives</b>, p. 105]
</blockquote><p>
Such a solution, or similar ones, may be more practical in some situations 
than having each syndicate receive its own orders and so anarchists do not 
reject such confederal responsibilities out of hand (although the general 
prejudice is for decentralisation). This is because we <i>"prefer decentralised 
management; but ultimately, in practical and technical problems, we defer 
to free experience."</i> [Luigi Fabbri, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 24] The specific form of 
organisation will obviously vary as required from industry to industry, 
area to area, but the underlying ideas of self-management and free association 
will be the same. Moreover, in the words of G.D.H Cole, the <i>"essential 
thing . . . is that its [the confederation or guild] function should be 
kept down to the minimum possible for each industry."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61]
<p>
In this way, the periodic crises of capitalism based on over-investment
and over-production (followed by depression) and their resulting social
problems can be avoided and resources efficiently and effectively
utilised. In addition, production (and so the producers) can be freed
from the centralised control of both capitalist and state hierarchies.
<p>
Another important role for inter-syndicate federations is to even
out natural inequalities. After all, each commune will not be 
identical in terms of natural resources, quality of land, 
situation, accessibility, and so on. Simply put, social
anarchists <i>"believe that because of natural differences in
fertility, health and location of the soil it would be
impossible to ensure that every individual enjoyed equal
working conditions."</i> Under such circumstances, it would be
<i>"impossible to achieve a state of equality from the beginning"</i> 
and so <i>"justice and equity are, for natural reasons, 
impossible to achieve . . . and that freedom would thus
also be unachievable."</i> [Malatesta, <b>The Anarchist Revolution</b>,
p. 16 and p. 21] By federating together, workers can ensure 
that <i>"the earth will . . . be an economic domain available 
to everyone, the riches of which will be enjoyed by all 
human beings."</i> [Malatesta, <b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 93] Local
deficiencies of raw materials, in the quality of land,
and, therefore, supplies would be compensated from outside,
by the socialisation of production and consumption. This
would allow all of humanity to share and benefit from economic 
activity, so ensuring that well-being for all is possible.
<p>
Federation would eliminate the possibility of rich and
poor collectives and syndicates co-existing side by side.
As Kropotkin argued, <i>"[c]ommon possession of the necessities
for production implies the common enjoyment of the fruits
of common production . . . when everybody, contributing
for the common well-being to the full extent of his
[or her] capacities, shall enjoy also from the common
stock of society to the fullest possible extent of his
[or her] needs."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>,
p. 59]
<p>
Hence we find the CNT, arguing in its 1936 resolution on
libertarian communism, that <i>"[a]s far as the interchange
of produce between communes is concerned, the communal 
councils are to liase with the regional federations of 
communes and with the confederal council of production 
and distribution, applying for whatever they may need and 
[giving] any available surplus stocks."</i> 
[quoted by Jose Peirats, <b>The CNT in the
Spanish Revolution</b>, vol. 1, p. 107] This clearly followed
Kropotkin's comments that the <i>"socialising of production,
consumption, and exchange"</i> would be based on workplaces
<i>"belong[ing] to federated Communes."</i> [<b>The Conquest of
Bread</b>, p. 136]
<p>
The legacy of capitalism, with its rich and poor areas, its
rich and poor workplaces, will be a problem any revolution
will face. The inequalities produced by centuries will take
time to change. This is one of the tasks of the federation, to 
ensure the socialisation of both production and consumption
so that people are not penalised for the accidents of history
and that each commune can develop itself to an adequate level. 
In the words of the CNT during the Spanish Revolution:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Many arguments are used against the idea of socialisation; 
one of these -- the most delightful -- says that by socialising 
an industry we simply take it over and run it with the consequence 
that we have flourishing industries where the workers are privileged, 
and unfortunate industries where the workers get less benefits but 
have to work harder than workers elsewhere . . . There are 
differences between the workers in prosperous industries and
those which barely survive. . . Such anomalies, which we don't
deny exist, are attributed to the attempts at socialisation. We 
firmly assert that the opposite is true; such anomalies are the 
logical result of the absence of socialisation. 
<p>
"The socialisation which we propose will resolve these problems which 
are used to attack it. Were Catalan industry socialised, everything 
would be organically linked -- industry, agriculture, and the trade 
union organisations, in accordance with the council for the economy. 
They would become normalised, the working day would become more equal 
or what comes to the same thing, the differences between workers of 
different activities would end . . .
<p>
"Socialisation is -- and let its detractors hear it -- the genuine 
authentic organisation of the economy. Undoubtedly the economy has 
to be organised; but not according to the old methods, which are 
precisely those which we are destroying, but in accordance with 
new norms which will make our people become an example to the 
world proletariat."</i> [<b>Solidaridad Obrera</b>, 30 April 1937, p. l2]
</blockquote><p>
However, it could again be argued that these confederations are still
centralised and that workers would still be following orders coming from
above. This is incorrect, for any decisions concerning an industry or plant
are under the direct control of those involved. For example, the steel
industry confederation may decide to rationalise itself at one of its
congresses. Murray Bookchin sketches the response to this situation as
follows: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"[L]et us suppose that a board of highly qualified technicians is
established [by this congress] to propose changes in the steel 
industry. This board. . . advances proposals to rationalise the 
industry by closing down some plants and expanding the operation 
of others . . . Is this a 'centralised' body or not? The answer 
is both yes and no. Yes, only in the sense that the board is 
dealing with problems that concern the country as a whole; no, 
because it can make no decision that <b>must</b> be executed for
the country as a whole. The board's plan must be examined by 
all the workers in the plants [that are affected]. . . . The 
board itself has no power to enforce 'decisions'; it merely 
makes recommendations. Additionally, its personnel are controlled 
by the plant in which they work and the locality in which they 
live."</i> [<b>Post Scarcity Anarchism</b>, p. 267]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, confederations would not be in positions of power over the 
individual syndicates. As Bookchin points out, <i>"[t]hey would have no 
decision-making powers. The adoption, modification or rejection of their 
plans would rest entirely with the communities involved."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 267] No attempt is made to determine which plants produce which 
steel for which customers in which manner. Thus, the confederations of
syndicates ensure a decentralised, spontaneous economic order without 
the negative side-effects of capitalism (namely power concentrations 
within firms and in the market, periodic crises, etc.).
<p>
It should be pointed out that these confederated investment decisions 
will exist along with the investments associated with the creation of 
new syndicates, plus internal syndicate investment decisions. We are 
not suggesting that <b>every</b> investment decision is to be made by the
confederations. (This would be particularly impossible for <b>new</b>
industries, for which a confederation would not exist!) Therefore, in
addition to co-ordinated production units, an anarchist society would 
see numerous small-scale, local activities which would ensure creativity,
diversity, and flexibility. Only after these activities had spread across
society would confederal co-ordination become necessary.
<p>
As one can imagine, an essential feature of these confederations will be 
the collection and processing of information in order to determine how an 
industry is developing. This does not imply bureaucracy or centralised 
control at the top. Taking the issue of centralisation first, the 
confederation is run by delegate assemblies, meaning that any officers 
elected at a congress only implement the decisions made by the delegates
of the relevant syndicates. It is in the congresses and plenums of the
confederation that new investment decisions, for example, are made. The
key point to remember is that the confederation exists purely to
co-ordinate joint activity and share information, it does not take an
interest in how a workplace is run or what orders from consumers it fills.
(Of course, if a given workplace introduces policies which other
syndicates disapprove of, it can be expelled). As the delegates to these
congresses and plenums are mandated and their decisions subject to
rejection and modification by each productive unit, the confederation is 
not centralised. 
<p>
As far as bureaucracy goes, the collecting and processing of information
does necessitate an administrative staff to do the work. However, this 
problem affects capitalist firms as well; and since syndicates are based
on bottom-up decision making, its clear that, unlike a centralised
capitalist corporation, administration would be smaller. 
<p>
In fact, it is likely that a fixed administration staff for the confederation 
would not exist in the first place! At the regular congresses, a particular 
syndicate may be selected to do the confederation's information processing, 
with this job being rotated regularly around different syndicates. In this 
way, a specific administrative body and equipment can be avoided and the 
task of collating information placed directly in the hands of ordinary 
workers. Further, it prevents the development of a bureaucratic elite by 
ensuring that <b>all</b> participants are versed in information-processing 
procedures.
<p>
Lastly, what information would be collected? That depends on the context.
Individual syndicates would record inputs and outputs, producing summary
sheets of information. For example, total energy input, in kilowatts and
by type, raw material inputs, labour hours spent, orders received, orders
accepted, output, and so forth. This information can be processed into
energy use and labour time per product (for example), in order to give an 
idea of how efficient production is and how it is changing over time. For
confederations, the output of individual syndicates can be aggregated and
local and other averages can be calculated. In addition, changes in demand
can be identified by this aggregation process and used to identify when 
investment will be needed or plants closed down. In this way the chronic
slumps and booms of capitalism can be avoided without creating a system
which is even more centralised than capitalism.
<p>
<a name="seci36"><h2>I.3.6 What about competition between syndicates?</h2> 
<p>
This is a common question, particularly from defenders of capitalism.
They argue that syndicates will not co-operate together unless forced to
do so, but will compete against each other for raw materials, skilled
workers, and so on. The result of this process, it is claimed, will be
rich and poor syndicates, inequality within society and within the
workplace, and (possibly) a class of unemployed workers from unsuccessful
syndicates who are hired by successful ones. In other words, they argue
that libertarian socialism will need to become authoritarian to prevent
competition, and that if it does not do so it will become capitalist very
quickly.
<p>
For individualist anarchists and mutualists, competition is not viewed 
as a problem. They think that competition, based around co-operatives and
mutual banks, would minimise economic inequality, as the new economic 
structure based around free credit and co-operation would eliminate 
non-labour (i.e. unearned) income such as profit, interest and rent and 
give workers enough bargaining power to eliminate exploitation. For
these anarchists it is a case of capitalism perverting competition
and so are not against competition itself (see Proudhon's <b>General
Idea of the Revolution</b>, pages 50-1 for example). Other anarchists 
think that whatever gains might accrue from competition (assuming
there are, in fact, any) would be more than offset by its negative 
effects, which are outlined in <a href="secI1.html#seci13">section I.1.3</a>. 
It is to these anarchists 
that the question is usually asked.
<p>
Before continuing, we would like to point out that individuals trying to
improve their lot in life is not against anarchist principles. How could
it be? What <b>is</b> against anarchist principles is centralised power,
oppression, and exploitation, all of which flow from large inequalities
of income. This is the source of anarchist concern about equality --
concern that is not based on some sort of <i>"politics of envy."</i> Anarchists
oppose inequality because it soon leads to the few oppressing the many (a 
relationship which distorts the individuality and liberty of all involved
as well as the health and very lives of the oppressed). 
<p>
Anarchists desire to create a society in which such relationships are 
impossible, believing that the most effective way to do this is by 
empowering all, by creating an egoistic concern for liberty and equality 
among the oppressed, and by developing social organisations which encourage 
self-management. As for individuals' trying to improve their lot, anarchists 
maintain that co-operation is the best means to do so, <b>not</b> competition. 
And there is substantial evidence to support this claim (see, for example,
Alfie Kohn's <b>No Contest: The Case Against Competition</b>).
<p>
Robert Axelrod, in his book, <b>The Evolution of Co-operation</b> agrees and 
presents abundant evidence that co-operation is in our long term interests
(i.e. it provides better results than short term competition). This suggests 
that, as Kropotkin argued, mutual aid, not mutual struggle, will be in an 
individual's self-interest and so competition in a free, sane society would 
be minimised and reduced to sports and other individual pastimes. As Stirner
argued, co-operation is just as egoistic as competition (a fact sometimes
lost on many due to the obvious ethical superiority of co-operation):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"But should competition some day disappear, because concerted effort
will have been acknowledged as more beneficial than isolation, then
will not every single individual inside the associations be equally
egoistic and out for his own interests?"</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1,
p. 22]
</blockquote><p>
Now to the <i>"competition"</i> objection, which we'll begin to answer by 
noting that it ignores a few key points. Firstly, the assumption that
libertarian socialism would <i>"become capitalist"</i> in the absence of a
<b>state</b> is obviously false. If competition did occur between collectives
and did lead to massive wealth inequalities, then the newly rich would
have to create a state to protect their private property (means of
production) against the dispossessed. So inequality, not equality,
leads to the creation of states. It is no co-incidence that the
anarchic communities that existed for millennia were also egalitarian.
<p>
Secondly, as noted in <a href="secA2.html#seca25">section A.2.5</a>, 
anarchists do not consider <i>"equal"</i> 
to mean <i>"identical."</i> Therefore, to claim that wage differences mean
inequality makes sense only if one thinks that <i>"equality"</i> means everyone
getting <b>exactly</b> equal shares. As anarchists do not hold such an idea,
wage differences in an otherwise anarchistically organised syndicate do
not indicate a lack of equality. How the syndicate is <b>run</b> is of far
more importance, because the most pernicious type of inequality from the
anarchist standpoint is inequality of <b>power,</b> i.e. unequal influence on
political and economic decision making. 
<p>
Under capitalism, wealth inequality translates into such an inequality of
power, and vice versa, because wealth can buy private property (and state
protection of it), which gives owners authority over that property and those 
hired to produce with it; but under libertarian socialism, minor or even 
moderate differences in income among otherwise equal workers would not lead 
to this kind of power inequality, because direct democracy, social ownership 
of capital, and the absence of a state severs the link between wealth and
power (see further below). Empirical evidence supports anarchist claims
as co-operatives have a more egalitarian wage structure than corresponding
capitalist firms.
<p>
Thirdly, anarchists do not pretend that an anarchist society will be
<i>"perfect."</i> Hence there may be periods, particularly just after capitalism
has been replaced by self-management, when differences in skill, etc.,
leads to a few people exploiting their fellow workers and getting more
wages, better hours and conditions, and so forth. This problem existed in
the industrial collectives in the Spanish Revolution. As Kropotkin
pointed out, <i>"[b]ut, when all is said and done, some inequalities, some
inevitable injustice, undoubtedly will remain. There are individuals in
our societies whom no great crisis can lift out of the deep mire of egoism
in which they are sunk. The question, however, is not whether there will
be injustices or no, but rather how to limit the number of them."</i> [<b>The
Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 94] 
<p>
In other words, these problems will exist, but there are a number of
things that anarchists can do to minimise their impact. Primarily there
must be a <i>"gestation period"</i> before the birth of an anarchist society, in
which social struggle, new forms of education and child-rearing, and other
methods of consciousness-raising increase the number of anarchists and
decrease the number of authoritarians. 
<p>
The most important element in this gestation period is social struggle. 
Such self-activity will have a major impact on those involved in it
(see <a href="secJ2.html">section J.2</a>). By direct action and solidarity, those involved develop 
bounds of friendship and support with others, develop new forms of ethics 
and new ideas and ideal. This radicalisation process will help to ensure that 
any differences in education and skill do not develop into differences in 
power in an anarchist society. 
<p>
In addition, education within the anarchist movement should aim, among other 
things, to give its members familiarity with technological skills so that they 
are not dependent on <i>"experts"</i> and can thus increase the pool of skilled 
workers who will be happy working in conditions of liberty and equality. 
This will ensure that differentials between workers can be minimised. 
<p>
In the long run, however, popularisation of non-authoritarian methods of 
child-rearing and education are particularly important because, as we have 
seen, secondary drives such as greed and the desire the exercise power over 
others are products of authoritarian upbringing based on punishments and fear 
(See sections B.1.5, <a href="secB1.html#secb15"><i>"What is the mass-psychological basis for authoritarian 
civilisation?"</i></a> and J.6, <a href="secJ6.html"><i>"What methods of child rearing do anarchists 
advocate?"</i></a>). Only if the prevalence of such drives is reduced among the 
general population can we be sure that an anarchist revolution will not 
degenerate into some new form of domination and exploitation. 
<p>
However, there are other reasons why economic inequality -- say, in
differences of income levels or working conditions, which may arise from
competition for <i>"better"</i> workers -- would be far less severe under any form 
of anarchist society than it is under capitalism. Firstly, the syndicates
would be democratically managed. This would result in much smaller wage
differentials, because there is no board of wealthy directors setting
wage levels for their own gain and who think nothing of hierarchy and 
having elites. The decentralisation of power in an anarchist society will 
ensure that there would no longer be wealthy elites paying each other vast 
amounts of money. This can be seen from the experience of the Mondragon 
co-operatives, where the wage difference between the highest paid and lowest 
paid worker was 4 to 1. This was only increased recently when they had to 
compete with large capitalist companies, and even then the new ratio of 9 
to 1 is <b>far</b> smaller than those in American or British companies (in 
America, for example, the ratio is even as high at 200 to 1 and beyond!).
Thus, even under capitalism <i>"[t]here is evidence that the methods of 
distribution chosen by worker-controlled or self-managed firms are more 
egalitarian than distribution according to market precepts."</i> [Christopher
Eaton Gunn, <b>Workers' Self-Management in the United States</b>, p. 45] Given 
that market precepts fail to take into account power differences, this is
unsurprising. Thus we can predict that a fully self-managed economy 
would be just, if not, more egalitarian as differences in power would
be eliminated, as would unemployment (James K. Galbraith, in his book
<b>Created Unequal</b>, has presented extensive evidence that unemployment
increases inequality, as would be expected).
<p>
It is a common myth that managers, executives and so on are <i>"rugged 
individuals"</i> and are paid so highly because of their unique abilities. 
Actually, they are so highly paid because they are bureaucrats in 
command of large hierarchical institutions. It is the hierarchical 
nature of the capitalist firm that ensures inequality, <b>not</b> 
exceptional skills. Even enthusiastic supporters of capitalism 
provide evidence to support this claim. Peter Drucker (in <b>Concept 
of the Corporation</b>) brushed away the claim that corporate organisation 
brings managers with exceptional ability to the top when he noted that 
<i>"[n]o institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or 
supermen to manage it. It must be organised in such a way as to 
be able to get along under a leadership of average human beings."</i> 
[p. 35] For Drucker, <i>"the things that really count are not the 
individual members but the relations of command and responsibility 
among them."</i> [p. 34] 
<p>
Anarchists argue that high wage differences are the result of how capitalism 
is organised and that capitalist economics exists to justify these results by 
assuming company hierarchy and capitalist ownership evolved naturally (as
opposed to being created by state action and protection). The end of
capitalist hierarchy would also see the end of vast differences of income
because decision making power would be decentralised back into the hands of 
those affected by those decisions. 
<p>
Secondly, corporations would not exist. A network of workplaces co-ordinated 
by confederal committees would not have the resources available to pay 
exorbitant wages. Unlike a capitalist company, power is decentralised in
a confederation of syndicates and wealth does not flow to the top. This
means that there is no elite of executives who control the surplus made
from the company's workers and can use that surplus to pay themselves
high wages while ensuring that the major shareholders receive high enough
dividends not to question their activities (or their pay). 
<p>
Thirdly, management positions would be rotated, ensuring that everyone 
gets experience of the work, thus reducing the artificial scarcity 
created by the division of labour. Also, education would be extensive, 
ensuring that engineers, doctors, and other skilled workers would do 
the work because they <b>enjoyed</b> doing it and not for financial reward. 
And lastly, we should like to point out that people work for many reasons, 
not just for high wages. Feelings of solidarity, empathy, friendship with 
their fellow workers would also help reduce competition between syndicates 
for workers. Of course, having no means of unearned income (such as rent 
and interest), social anarchism will reduce income differentials even more.
<p>
Of course, the <i>"competition"</i> objection assumes that syndicates and 
members of syndicates will place financial considerations above all 
else. This is not the case, and few individuals are the economic robots 
assumed in capitalist dogma. Indeed, the evidence from co-operatives 
refutes such claims (ignoring, for the moment, the vast evidence of 
our own senses and experiences with real people rather than the insane 
<i>"economic man"</i> of capitalist economic ideology). Neo-classical 
economic theory, deducting from its basic assumptions, argues 
that members of co-operatives will aim to maximise profit per 
worker and so, perversely, fire their members during good times. 
Reality contradicts these claims, with the <i>"empirical evidence"</i> 
showing that there <i>"has been no tendency for workers to lay-off 
co-workers when times are good, neither in Mondragon nor in [the 
former] Yugoslavia. Even in bad times, layoffs are rare."</i> [David
Schweickart, <b>Against Capitalism</b>, p. 92] The experience of 
self-managed collectives during the Spanish Revolution also 
confirms this, with collectives sharing work equitably in order
to avoid laying people off during the harsh economic conditions
caused by the Civil War. In other words, the underlying assumption
that people are economic robots cannot be maintained -- there
is extensive evidence pointing to the fact that different forms
of social organisation produce different considerations and 
people who are motivated by different considerations.
<p>
Also, we must remember that the syndicates are <b>not</b> competing for 
market share, and so it is likely that new techniques would be shared 
between workplaces and skilled workers might decide to rotate their 
work between syndicates in order to maximise the effectiveness of
their working time until such time as the general skill level in 
society increases. 
<p>
So, while recognising that competition for skilled workers could exist, 
anarchists think there are plenty of reasons not to worry about massive
economic inequality being created, which in turn would re-create the
state. The apologists for capitalism who put forward this argument forget
that the pursuit of self-interest is universal, meaning that everyone
would be interested in maximising his or her liberty, and so would be
unlikely to allow inequalities to develop which threatened that liberty. 
<p>
As for competition for scarce resources, it is clear that it would be in 
the interests of communes and syndicates which have them to share them with
others instead of charging high prices for them. This is for two reasons. 
Firstly, they may find themselves boycotted by others, and so they would be
denied the advantages of social co-operation. Secondly, they may be subject
to such activities themselves at a future date and so it would wise for
them to remember to <i>"treat others as you would like them to treat you 
under similar circumstances."</i> As anarchism will never come about unless
people desire it and start to organise their own lives, it's clear that 
an anarchist society would be inhabited by individuals who followed
that ethical principle. 
<p>
So it is doubtful that people inspired by anarchist ideas would start 
to charge each other high prices, particularly since the syndicates and
community assemblies are likely to vote for a wide basis of surplus
distribution, precisely to avoid this problem and to ensure that
production will be for use rather than profit (see section I.4.10, 
<a href="secI4.html#seci410"><i>"What
would be the advantage of a wide basis of surplus distribution?"</i></a>). 
In
addition, as other communities and syndicates would likely boycott any
syndicate or commune that was acting in non-co-operative ways, it is
likely that social pressure would soon result in those willing to exploit
others rethinking their position. Co-operation does not imply a willingness
to tolerate those who desire to take advantage of you.
<p>
Moreover, given the experience of the period between the 1960s and 1990s
(with rising inequality marked by falling growth, lower wage growth,
rising unemployment and increased economic instability) the impact of
increased competition and inequality harms the vast majority. It is
doubtful that people aware of these tendencies (and that, as we
argued in <a href="secF3.html">section F.3</a>, 
<i>"free exchange"</i> in an unequal society tends to
<b>increase</b>, not decrease, inequality) would create such a regime.
<p>
Examples of anarchism in action show that there is frequently a
spontaneous tendency towards charging cost prices for goods, as 
well as attempts to work together to reduce the dangers of isolation 
and competition. One thing to remember is that anarchy will not be 
created <i>"overnight,"</i> and so potential problems will be worked out 
over time. Underlying all these kinds of objections is the assumption 
that co-operation will <b>not</b> be more beneficial to all involved than
competition. However, in terms of quality of life, co-operation will 
soon be seen to be the better system, even by the most highly paid 
workers. There is far more to life than the size of one's pay packet, 
and anarchism exists in order to ensure that life is far more than 
the weekly grind of boring work and the few hours of hectic consumption 
in which people attempt to fill the <i>"spiritual hole"</i> created by a way 
of life which places profits above people.
<p>
<a name="seci37"><h2>I.3.7 What about people who do not want to join a syndicate?</h2>
<p>
In this case, they are free to work alone, by their own labour. 
Anarchists have no desire to force people to join a syndicate. 
As Kropotkin argued:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Communist organisations . . . must be the work of all, a natural
growth, a product of the constructive genius of the great mass. 
Communism cannot be imposed from above; it could not live even
for a few months if the constant and daily co-operation of all
did not uphold it. It must be free."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary
Pamphlets</b>, p. 140]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, the decision to join a commune will be a free one, with
the potential for living outside it guaranteed for non-exploitative
and non-oppressive individuals and groups. Malatesta stressed this 
when he argued that in an anarchist revolution <i>"what has to be 
destroyed at once . . . is <b>capitalistic property,</b> that is, the 
fact that a few control the natural wealth and the instruments 
of production and can thus oblige others to work for them . . . 
[but one must have a] right and the possibility to live in a 
different regime, collectivist, mutualist, individualist -- as 
one wishes, always on the condition that there is no oppression 
or exploitation of others."</i> [<b>Malatesta: Life and Ideas</b>, p. 102]
<p>
In other words, different forms of social life will be experimented 
with, depending on what people desire. Of course some people 
(particularly right-wing <i>"libertarians"</i>) ask how anarchists can 
reconcile individual freedom with expropriation of capital. All 
we can say is that these critics subscribe to the idea that one 
should not interfere with the <i>"individual freedom"</i> of those in 
positions of authority to oppress others, and that this premise 
turns the concept of individual freedom on its head, making 
oppression a <i>"right"</i> and the denial of freedom a form of it!
<p>
However, right-wing "libertarians" do raise a valid question 
when they ask if anarchism would result in self-employed people 
being forced into co-operatives, syndicates or collectives as 
the result of a popular movement. The answer is no. This is 
because the destruction of title deeds would not harm the 
independent worker, whose real title is possession and the 
work done. What anarchists want to eliminate is not possessions 
but capitalist <i><b>property</b></i>. 
<p>
As Peter Kropotkin made clear:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"when we see a peasant, who is in possession of just amount of land
he can cultivate, we do not think it reasonable to turn him off his
little farm. He exploits nobody, and nobody would have the right
to interfere with his work. . . [W]hen we see a family inhabiting a
house which affords them just as much space as . . . are considered
necessary for that number of people, why should we interfere with
that family and turn them out their house? . . . And finally, when
we see a . . . cutler, or a . . . clothier working with their own
tools or handloom, we see no use in taking the tools or handloom
to give to another workers. The clothier or cutler exploit nobody."</i> 
[<b>Act for Yourselves</b>, pp. 104-5] 
</blockquote><p>
This means that independent producers will still exist within 
an anarchist society, and some workplaces -- perhaps whole 
areas -- will not be part of a confederation. This is natural 
in a free society, for different people have different ideas 
and ideals. Nor does such independent producers imply a 
contradiction with libertarian socialism, for <i>"[w]hat we 
concerned with is the destruction of the titles of 
proprietors who exploit the labour of others and, above 
all, of expropriating them in fact in order to put . . .
all the means of production at the disposal of those 
who do the work."</i> [Malatesta, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 103] 
<p>
Of course, some people may desire to become capitalists, and 
they may offer to employ people and pay them wages. However, 
such a situation would be unlikely. Simply put, why would 
anyone desire to work for the would-be employer? Malatesta 
makes this point as follows: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It remains to be seen whether not being able to obtain 
assistance or people to exploit -- and he [the would-be 
capitalist] would find none because nobody, having a right 
to the means of production and being free to work on his 
own or as an equal with others in the large organisations
of production would want to be exploited by a small 
employer -- . . . it remains to be seen whether these 
isolated workers would not find it more convenient to 
combine with others and voluntarily join one of the 
existing communities."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 102-103]
</blockquote><p>
So where would the capitalist wannabe find people to work 
for him? As Kropotkin argued:
<blockquote><p>
<i>"Everywhere you will find that the wealth of the wealthy springs
from the poverty of the poor. That is why an anarchist society
need not fear the advent of a Rothschild [or any other millionaire]
who would settle in its midst. If every member of the community
knows that after a few hours of productive toil he [or she] will
have a right to all the pleasures that civilisation procures, and
to those deeper sources of enjoyment which art and science offer
to all who seek them, he [or she] will not sell his strength . . .
No one will volunteer to work for the enrichment of your Rothschild."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61]
</blockquote><p>
And, assuming that he did find someone willing to work for him (and
so be governed by him), the would-be capitalist would have to provide 
such excellent conditions and pay such good wages as to reduce his 
profits to near zero. Moreover, he would have to face workers whose 
neighbours would be encouraging them to form a union and strike for 
even <b>better</b> conditions and pay, including workers' control and so 
on. Such a militant workforce would be the last thing a capitalist
would desire.
<p>
However, let us suppose there is a self-employed inventor, Ferguson, who
comes up with a new innovation without the help of the co-operative sector.
Would anarchists steal his idea? Not at all. The co-operatives, which by
hypothesis have been organised by people who believe in giving producers
the full value of their product, would pay Ferguson an equitable amount
for his idea, which would then become common across society. However, 
if he refused to sell his invention and instead tried to claim a patent
monopoly on it in order to gather a group of wage slaves to exploit, no
one would agree to work for him unless they got the full control over 
both the product of their labour and the labour process itself.
<p>
In addition, we would imagine they would also refuse to work for someone
unless they also got the capital they used at the end of their contract
(i.e. a system of <i>"hire-purchase"</i> on the means of production used). In
other words, by removing the statist supports of capitalism, would-be
capitalists would find it hard to "compete" with the co-operative sector
and would not be in a position to exploit others' labour. 
<p>
With a system of communal production (in social anarchism) and mutual
banks (in individualist anarchism), <i>"usury"</i> -- i.e. charging a use-fee for
a monopolised item, of which patents are an instance -- would no longer be
possible and the inventor would be like any other worker, exchanging the
product of his or her labour. As Ben Tucker argued, <i>"the patent monopoly
. . . consists in protecting inventors and authors against competition for 
a period of time long enough for them to extort from the people a reward
enormously in excess of the labour measure of their services -- in other
words, in giving certain people a right of property for a term of years in
laws and facts of nature, and the power to extract tribute from others for
the use of this natural wealth, which should be open to all. The abolition
of this monopoly would fill its beneficiaries with a wholesome fear of
competition which should cause them to be satisfied with pay for their
services equal to that which other labourers get for theirs, and secure 
it by placing their products and works on the market at the outset at 
prices so low that their lines of business would be no more tempting to
competitors than any other lines."</i> [<b>The Anarchist Reader</b>, pp. 150-1]
<p>
So, if someone has labour to sell then they deserve a free society 
to do it in -- as Tucker once pointed out. Such an environment would 
make the numbers seeking employment so low as to ensure that the rate 
of exploitation would be zero. Little wonder that, when faced with a 
self-employed, artisan workforce, capitalists have continually turned 
to the state to create the <i>"correct"</i> market forces (see 
<a href="secF8.html">section F.8</a>).
<p>
Thus while the idea that people will happily become wage slaves may 
be somewhat common place (particularly with supporters of capitalism)
the evidence of history is that people, given a choice, will prefer
self-employment and <b>resist</b> wage labour (often to the death). As
E. P. Thompson notes, for workers at the end of the 18th and 
beginning of the 19th centuries, the <i>"gap in status between a 'servant,' a hired
wage-labourer subject to the orders and discipline of the master,
and an artisan, who might 'come and go' as he pleased, was wide
enough for men to shed blood rather than allow themselves to be
pushed from one side to the other. And, in the value system of the
community, those who resisted degradation were in the right."</i> [<b>The
Making of the English Working Class</b>, p. 599] Over one hundred
years later, the rural working class of Aragon showed the same
dislike of wage slavery. After Communist troops destroyed their
self-managed collectives, the <i>"[d]ispossessed peasants, intransigent collectivists, refused to work in a system of private property, and 
were even less willing to rent out their labour."</i> [Jose Peirats, 
<b>Anarchists in the Spanish Revolution</b>, p. 258] The rural economy
collapsed (see <a href="secI8.html#seci87">section I.8.7</a> 
for more details).
<p>
Therefore, any perception that people will become wage-labourers 
through choice in a free society is based on the assumption what
people accept through necessity under capitalism will pass over, 
without change, into a free one. This assumption is unfounded 
and anarchists expect that once people struggle for freedom and 
taste the pleasures of freedom they will not freely accept a 
degradation back to having a master -- and as history shows, 
we have some evidence to support our argument.
<p>
In other words, with the end of capitalism and statism, a free society 
has no fear of capitalist firms being created or growing again because 
it rejects the idea that everyone must be in a syndicate. Few, if any, 
people would desire to have bosses when they have the choice of being
free (to use an analogy, few people prefer dictatorship to democracy
once the former has been overthrown). Also, without statism to back up 
various class-based monopolies of capitalist privilege, capitalism
could not become dominant. In addition, the advantages of co-operation
between syndicates would exceed whatever temporary advantages existed for
syndicates to practice commodity exchange in a mutualist market.
<p>
<a name="seci38"><h2>I.3.8 Do anarchists seek <i>"small autonomous communities, devoted 
to small scale production"</i>?</h2>
<p>
As we indicated at the start of this section, anarchists see a
free society's productive activity centred around federations of
syndicates. This showes that anarchism rejects the idea of 
isolated communes. Rather, we argue that communes and syndicates
would work together in a federal structure. This would, as
we argue in <a href="secI3.html#seci35">section I.3.5</a>, 
necessitate confederations to
help co-ordinate economic activity and, as indicated in
<a href="secI3.html#seci34">section I.3.4</a>, 
involve extensive links between productive
syndicates and the communes they are part of.
<p>
The idea that anarchism aims for small, self-sufficient, communes 
is a Leninist slander. They misrepresent anarchist ideas on this 
matter, suggesting that anarchists seriously want society based 
on <i>"small autonomous communities, devoted to small scale 
production."</i> In particular, they point to Kropotkin, arguing
that he <i>"looked backwards for change"</i> and <i>"witnessed such 
communities among Siberian peasants and watchmakers in the 
Swiss mountains."</i> [Pat Stack, <i>"Anarchy in the UK?"</i>, <b>Socialist
Review</b>, no. 246, November 2000] 
<p>
While it may be better to cover this issue in section H.2 
(<a href="secH2.html"><i>"What 
parts of anarchist theory do Marxists particularly misrepresent?"</i></a>)
we discuss it here simply because, firstly, it seems to be
a depressingly common assertion and, secondly, it relates
directly to what an anarchist society could look like. Hence
our discussion of these assertions in this section of the FAQ.
Also, it allows us to fill in more of the picture of what a
free society could look like.
<p>
So what do anarchists make of the assertion that we aim for
<i>"small autonomous communities, devoted to small scale 
production"</i>? Simply put, we think it is nonsense (as would be 
quickly obvious from reading anarchist theory). Indeed, it is 
hard to know where this particular anarchist <i>"vision"</i> comes 
from. As Luigi Fabbri noted, in his reply to an identical 
assertion by the leading Bolshevik Nikolai Bukharin, <i>"[i]t 
would be interesting to learn in what anarchist book, pamphlet 
or programme such an 'ideal' is set out, or even such a hard
and fast rule!"</i> [<i>"Anarchy and 'Scientific' Communism"</i>, 
pp. 13-49, <b>The Poverty of Statism</b>, Albert Meltzer (ed.), 
p. 21]
<p>
If we look at, say, Proudhon, we soon see no such argument
for <i>"small scale"</i> production. He argued for <i>"the mines, canals, 
railways [to be] handed over to democratically organised workers' 
associations . . . We want these associations to be models for 
agriculture, industry and trade, the pioneering core of that vast 
federation of companies and societies woven into the common cloth 
of the democratic social Republic."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, 
p. 62] Similarly, rather than dismiss the idea of large-scale 
industry Proudhon argued that <i>"[l]arge industry . . . come 
to us by big monopoly and big property: it is necessary in the 
future to make them rise from the [labour] association."</i> [quoted
by K. Steven Vincent, <b>Proudhon and the Rise of French Republican 
Socialism</b>, p. 156] As Vincent correctly summarises:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"On this issue, it is necessary to emphasise that, contrary to the
general image given on the secondary literature, Proudhon was not
hostile to large industry. Clearly, he objected to many aspects of
what these large enterprises had introduced into society. For
example, Proudhon strenuously opposed the degrading character of
. . . work which required an individual to repeat one minor
function continuously. But he was not opposed in principle to 
large-scale production. What he desired was to humanise such
production, to socialise it so that the worker would not be the
mere appendage to a machine. Such a humanisation of large 
industries would result, according to Proudhon, from the
introduction of strong workers' associations. These associations
would enable the workers to determine jointly by election how
the enterprise was to be directed and operated on a day-to-day
basis."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 156]
</blockquote><p>
Moreover, Proudhon did not see an anarchist society as one
of isolated communities or workplaces. Instead, he saw the
need for workplace and community federations to co-ordinate
joint activities and interests. Economically, there would
be an <i>"agro-industrial federation"</i> would <i>"tend to foster
increasing equality, by organising all public services
in an economical fashion and in hands other than the
state's, through mutualism in credit and insurance . . .
guaranteeing the right to work and to education, and
an organisation of work which allows each labourer to
become a skilled worker and an artist, each wage-earner
to become his own master."</i> This would end <i>"industrial
and financial feudalism"</i> and <i>"wage-labour or economic
servitude."</i> [<b>The Principle of Federation</b>, pp. 70-1]
<p>
The need for economic federation was also required due
to differences in raw materials, quality of land and 
so on. Proudhon argued that a portion of income from 
agricultural produce be paid into a central fund which 
would be used to make equalisation payments to compensate 
farmers with less favourably situated or less fertile land. 
As he put it, economic rent <i>"in agriculture has no other 
cause than the inequality in the quality of land . . . if 
anyone has a claim on account of this inequality . . . 
[it is] the other land workers who hold inferior land. That 
is why in our scheme for liquidation [of capitalism] we 
stipulated that every variety of cultivation should pay 
a proportional contribution, destined to accomplish a 
balancing of returns among farm workers and an assurance 
of products."</i> [<b>The General Idea of the Revolution</b>, p. 209]
<p>
This vision of a federation of workplaces can also be found 
in Bakunin's writings. As he put it, the <i>"future organisation
of society must proceed from the bottom up only, through
free association or federations of the workers, into
their associations to begin with, then into communes,
regions, nations and, finally, into a great international
and universal federation."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1,
p. 176] Bakunin, like Proudhon, considered that <i>"[i]ntelligent
free labour will necessarily be associated labour"</i> as
under capitalism the worker <i>"works for others"</i> and her
labour is <i>"bereft of liberty, leisure and intelligence."</i> 
Under anarchism, <i>"the free productive associations"</i> 
would become <i>"their own masters and the owners of the
necessary capital"</i> and <i>"amalgamate among themselves"</i> 
and <i>"sooner or later"</i> will <i>"expand beyond national
frontiers"</i> and <i>"form one vast economic federation."</i> 
[<b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, pp. 81-3]
<p>
Neither can such a vision be attributed to Kropotkin. While,
of course, supporting decentralisation of power and decision
making as did Proudhon and Bakunin, he did not reject the
necessity of federations to co-ordinate activity. As he
put it, the <i>"commune of tomorrow will know that it cannot
admit any higher authority; above it there can only be the
interests of the Federation, freely accepted by itself
as well as the other communes . . . The Commune will
know that it must break the State and replace it by the 
Federation."</i> For anarchists the commune <i>"no longer means
a territorial agglomeration; it is rather a generic name,
a synonym for the grouping of equals which knows neither
frontiers nor walls . . . Each group in the Commune will
necessarily be drawn towards similar groups in other
communes; they will come together and the links that 
federate them will be as solid as those that attach 
them to their fellow citizens."</i> [<b>Words of a Rebel</b>, 
p. 83 and p. 88]
<p>
Nor did he see an anarchist society as one with an economy 
based purely around the small commune or community. He took 
the basic unit of a free society as one <i>"large enough to 
dispose of a certain variety of natural resources -- it may 
be a nation, or rather a region -- produces and itself
consumes most of its own agricultural and manufactured
produce."</i> Such a region would <i>"find the best means of
combining agriculture with manufacture -- the work in
the field with a decentralised industry."</i> Moreover,
he recognised that the <i>"geographical distribution of
industries in a given country depends . . . to a 
great extent upon a complexus of natural conditions;
it is obvious that there are spots which are best
suited for the development of certain industries
. . . The[se] industries always find some advantages
in being grouped, to some extent, according to the
natural features of separate regions."</i> [<b>Fields, 
Factories and Workshops Tomorrow</b>, p. 26, p. 27 and 
pp. 154-5]
<p>
Kropotkin stressed that agriculture <i>"cannot develop without
the aid of machinery and the use of a perfect machinery
cannot be generalised without industrial surroundings.
. . . The village smith would not do."</i>  Thus he supported 
the integration of agriculture and industry, with <i>"the 
factory and workshop at the gates of your fields and 
gardens."</i> These factories would be <i>"airy and hygienic, 
and consequently economical, factories in which human 
life is of more account than machinery and the making 
of extra profits."</i> A <i>"variety of agricultural, 
industrial and intellectual pursuits are combined 
in each community"</i> to ensure <i>"the greatest sum total
of well-being."</i> He thought that <i>"large establishments"</i> 
would still exist, but these would be <i>"better placed at 
certain spots indicated by Nature."</i> He stressed that
it <i>"would be a great mistake to imagine industry ought
to return to its hand-work stage in order to be combined
with agriculture. Whenever a saving of human labour
can be obtained by means of a machine, the machine is
welcome and will be resorted to; and there is hardly
one single branch of industry into which machinery
work could not be introduced with great advantage,
at least at some of the stages of the manufacture . . .
The machine will supersede hand-work in the manufacture
of plain goods. But at the same time, hand-work very
probably will extend its domain in the artistic finishing
of many things which are now made entirely in the
factory."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 156, p. 197, p. 18, pp. 154-5 
and pp. 151-2]
<p>
Clearly Kropotkin was <b>not</b> opposed to large-scale
industry as such. As he put it, <i>"if we analyse the
modern industries, we soon discover that for some of
them the co-operation of hundred, even thousands, of
workers gathered at the same spot is really necessary.
The great iron works and mining enterprises decidedly
belong to that category; oceanic steamers cannot be
built in village factories."</i> However, he stressed that
this is objective necessity was not the case in many
other industries and centralised production existed
in these purely to allow capitalists <i>"to hold command 
of the market."</i> Once we consider the <i>"moral and physical 
advantages which man would derive from dividing his work 
between field and the workshop"</i> we must automatically 
evaluate the structure of modern industry with the 
criteria of what is best for the worker (and society 
and the environment) rather than what was best for 
capitalist profits and power. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 153]
<p>
Clearly, Leninist summaries of Kropotkin's ideas on 
this subject are nonsense. Rather than seeing 
<i>"small-scale"</i> production as the basis of his vision
of a free society, he saw production as being geared
around the economic unit of a nation or region (<i>"Each
region will become its own producer and its own
consumer of manufactured goods . . . [and] its own
producer and consumer of agricultural produce."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 40]). Industry would come to the 
village <i>"not in its present shape of a capitalist 
factory"</i> but <i>"in the shape of a socially organised 
industrial production, with the full aid of 
machinery and technical knowledge."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 151] 
<p>
Industry would be decentralised and integrated with
agriculture and based around communes, but these
communes would be part of a federation and so 
production would be based around meeting the needs
of these federations. A system of rational 
decentralisation would be the basis of Kropotkin's
communist-anarchism, with productive activity and
a free society's workplaces geared to the appropriate 
level. For those forms of industry which would be
best organised on a large-scale would continue to
be so organised, but for those whose current (i.e.
capitalist) structure had no objective need to be
centralised would be broken up to allow the 
transformation of work for the benefit of both
workers and society.
<p>
Thus we would see a system of workplaces geared to 
local and district needs complementing larger 
factories which would meet regional and wider needs.
Kropotkin was at pains to show that such a system
would be economical, stressing that <i>"[t]his is why 
the 'concentration' so much spoken of is often nothing 
but an amalgamation of capitalists for the purpose of 
<b>dominating the market</b>, not for cheapening the technical 
process."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 154] In other words, that
the structure of modern industry was skewed by the
needs of capitalist profit and power and so it cannot
be assumed that what is <i>"efficient"</i> under a capitalist
criteria is necessarily the best for a free society.
<p>
Kropotkin was well aware that modern industry was shaped
<i>"to suit the temporary interests of the few -- by
no means those of the nation."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 147]
Therefore he made a clear division between economic
tendencies which existed to aid the capitalist to
dominate the market and enhance their profits and
power and those which indicated a different kind of
future. He placed the tendency of industry to spread
across the world, to decentralise itself into all
nations and regions, as a tendency of the second
kind (one often swallowed up by the first, of course). 
As such, he looked at and analysed existing society
and its tendencies. Therefore it cannot be said that 
Kropotkin based this analysis on <i>"look[ing] backwards 
for change."</i> Indeed, the opposite was obviously the 
case. He continually stressed that <i>"the present 
tendency of humanity is to have the greatest possible
variety of industries gathering in each country."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 25-6] 
<p>
Kropotkin backed this claim, as all the claims in his work, 
with extensive empirical evidence and research. In other 
words, he clearly looked to the present for change, charting 
tendencies within modern society which pointed in a
libertarian direction and backing up his arguments
with extensive and recent research. To state otherwise
simply shows an unfamiliarity with Kropotkin's work.
<p>
The obvious implication of Leninist comments arguments
against anarchist ideas on industrial transformation 
after a revolution is that they think that a socialist 
society will basically be the same as capitalism,
using the technology, industrial structure and industry 
developed under class society without change. After all, 
did Lenin not argue that <i>"Socialism is nothing but the 
next step forward from state capitalist monopoly . . . 
Socialism is merely state capitalist monopoly <b>made to 
benefit the whole people</b>"</i>? [<b>The Threatening Catastrophe
and how to avoid it</b>, p. 37] Needless to say, capitalist 
industry, as Kropotkin was aware, has not developed neutrally 
nor purely because of technical needs. Rather it has been 
distorted by the twin requirements to maintain capitalist 
profits and power. The one of the first tasks of a social 
revolution will be to transform the industrial structure, 
not keep it as it is. You cannot use capitalist means for 
socialist ends. As Alexander Berkman correctly argued:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The role of industrial decentralisation in the revolution
is unfortunately too little appreciated. . . Most people
are still in the thraldom of the Marxian dogma that
centralisation is 'more efficient and economical.' They
close their eyes to the fact that the alleged 'economy'
is achieved at the cost of the workers' limb and life,
that the 'efficiency' degrades him to a mere industrial
cog, deadens his soul, kills his body. Furthermore, in 
a system of centralisation the administration of industry
becomes constantly merged in fewer hands, producing a
powerful bureaucracy of industrial overlords. It would
indeed be the sheerest irony if the revolution were to
aim at such a result. It would mean the creation of
a new master class."</i> [<b>The ABC of Anarchism</b>, pp. 80-1]
</blockquote><p>
In other words, it would be a new bureaucracy exploiting and 
oppressing those who do the actual work -- as in private 
capitalism -- simply because capitalist economic structures 
are designed to empower the few over the many. Like the 
capitalist state, they cannot be used by the working class 
to achieve their liberation (they are not created for the 
mass participation that real socialism requires, quite the 
reverse in fact!). While we will "inherent" an industrial
structure from capitalism it would be the greatest possible
error to leave it unchanged and an even worse one to 
accelerate the processes by which capitalists maintain and
increase their power (i.e. centralisation and concentration)
in the name of "socialism." 
<p>
One last factor should be mentioned with regards to the
issue of decentralising production. Kropotkin, as well as 
thinking that <i>"a country with no large factories to bring 
steel to a finished condition is doomed to be backward in 
all other industries,"</i> also saw that a society in
revolution would be thrust back on its own resources
as <i>"[i]nternational commerce will come to a standstill"</i> 
and the economy would be <i>"paralysed."</i> This would force
a revolutionary people if <i>"cut off from the world for
a year or two by the supporters of middle-class rule"</i> 
to <i>"provide for itself, and to reorganise its production,
so as satisfy its own needs. If it fails to do so, it
is death. If it succeeds, it will revolutionise the 
economic life of the country."</i> This would involve
<i>"the necessity of cultivating the soil, of combining
agricultural production with industrial production
in the suburbs of [cities] and its environs."</i> Thus
the danger of the initial isolation of a revolution
was a factor in Kropotkin's ideas on this issue. [<b>The 
Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 190, p. 191, p. 192 and p. 191]
<p>
We are sorry to have laboured this point, but this issue
is one which arises with depressing frequency in Marxist
accounts of anarchism. It is best that we indicate that
those who make the claim that anarchists seek <i>"small
scale"</i> production geared for <i>"small autonomous communities"</i> 
simply show their ignorance of the source material. In
actually, anarchists see production as being geared to
whatever makes most social, economic and ecological sense.
Some production and workplaces will be geared to the local 
commune, some will be geared to the district federation,
some to the regional federation, and so on. It is for
this reason anarchists support the federation of workers'
associations as the means of combining local autonomy
with the needs for co-ordination and joint activity.
To claim otherwise is simply to misrepresent anarchist
theory.
<p>
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