File: secJ5.html

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anarchism 9.5-1
  • links: PTS
  • area: main
  • in suites: woody
  • size: 12,192 kB
  • ctags: 493
  • sloc: makefile: 40; sh: 8
file content (3283 lines) | stat: -rw-r--r-- 202,907 bytes parent folder | download
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<html>
<HEAD>

<TITLE>J.5 What alternative social organisations do anarchists create?</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<p>
<h1>J.5 What alternative social organisations do anarchists create?</h1>
<p>
Anarchism is all about <b><i>"do it yourself,"</i></b> people helping each other out
in order to secure a good society to live within and to protect, extend
and enrich their personal freedom. As such anarchists are keenly aware of 
the importance of building alternatives to both capitalism and the state 
in the here and now. Only by creating practical alternatives can we
show that anarchism is a viable possibility and train ourselves in 
the techniques and responsibilities of freedom:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"If we put into practice the principles of libertarian communism within
our organisations, the more advanced and prepared we will be on that
day when we come to adopt it completely."</i> [C.N.T. member, quoted by 
Graham Kelsey, <b>Anarchosyndicalism, Libertarian Communism and the 
State</b>,p. 79]
</blockquote><p>
By building the new world in the shell of the old, we help create the
environment within which individuals can manage their own affairs and
develop their abilities to do so. In other words, we create <b><i>"schools of
anarchism"</i></b> which lay the foundations for a better society as well as
promoting and supporting social struggle against the current system.
Make no mistake, the alternatives we discuss in this section are not
an alternative to direct action and the need for social struggle - they
are an expression of social struggle and a form of direct action. They
are the framework by which social struggle can build and strengthen the
anarchist tendencies within capitalist society which will ultimately 
replace it.
<p>
Therefore it is wrong to think that anarchists are indifferent to making
life more bearable, even more enjoyable, under capitalism. A free society
will not just appear from nowhere, it will be created be individuals and
communities with a long history of social struggle and organisation. For 
as Wilheim Reich so correctly pointed out:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Quite obviously, a society that is to consist of 'free individuals,'
to constitute a 'free community' and to administer itself, i.e. to
'govern itself,' cannot be suddenly created by decrees. It has to 
<b>evolve</b> organically."</i> [<b>The Mass Psychology of Fascism</b>, p. 241]
</blockquote><p>
And it is this organic evolution that anarchists promote when they create
anarchist alternatives within capitalist society. The alternatives anarchists
create (be they workplace or community unions, co-operatives, mutual banks,
and so on) are marked by certain common features such as being self-managed,
being based upon equality and decentralisation and working with other groups
and associations within a confederal network based upon mutual aid and
solidarity. In other words, they are <b>anarchist</b> in both spirit and 
structure and so create a practical bridge between what is and what is 
possible.
<p>
Therefore, anarchists consider the building of alternatives as a key 
aspect of their activity under capitalism. This is because they, like
all forms of direct action, are "schools of anarchy" and also because
they make the transition to a free society easier. <i>"Through the
organisations set up for the defence of their interests,"</i> in Malatesta's
words, <i>"the workers develop an awareness of the oppression they suffer and 
the antagonism that divides them from the bosses and as a result begin to
aspire to a better life, become accustomed to collective struggle and
solidarity and win those improvements that are possible within the 
capitalist and state regime."</i> [<b>The Anarchist Revolution</b>, p. 95] By 
creating viable examples of <i><b>"anarchy in action"</i></b> we can show that 
our ideas are practical and convince people of anarchist ideas by "good 
examples." Therefore this section of the FAQ will indicate the alternatives 
anarchists support and <b>why</b> we support them.
<p>
The approach anarchists take to this activity could be termed <b><i>"social
unionism"</i></b> -- the collective action of groups to change certain aspects
(and, ultimately, all aspects) of their lives. This "social unionism"
takes many different forms in many different areas (some of which, not
all, are discussed here) -- but they share the same basic aspects of
collective direct action, self-organisation, self-management, solidarity 
and mutual aid. These "social unions" would be a means (like the old labour
movement) <i>"of raising the morale of the workers, accustom them to free 
initiative and solidarity in a struggle for the good of everyone and 
render them capable of imagining, desiring and putting into practice 
an anarchist life."</i> [Errico Malatesta, <b>The Anarchist Revolution</b>, 
p. 28]
<p>
As will quickly become obvious in this discussion (as if it had not
been so before!) anarchists are firm supporters of <b><i>"self-help,"</i></b> 
an expression that has been sadly corrupted (like freedom) by the right 
in recent times. Like "freedom", "self-help" should be saved from
the clutches of the right who have no real claim to that expression. 
Indeed, anarchism was created from and based itself upon working class
self-help -- for what other interpretation can be gathered from the famous
slogan of the <b>First International</b> that <i>"the emancipation of 
the working class must be the task of the working class itself"</i>? So,
Anarchists have great faith in the abilities of working class people to
work out for themselves what their problems are and act to solve them.
<p>
Anarchist support, and promotion, of alternatives is a <b>key</b> aspect
of this process of self-liberation, and so a key aspect of anarchism. 
While strikes, boycotts, and other forms of high profile direct action
may be more sexy than the long and hard task of creating and building
social alternatives, these are the nuts and bolts of creating a new
world as well as the infrastructure which supports the "high profile"
activities. Hence the importance of highlighting the alternatives anarchists
support and build. The alternatives we discuss here is part of the process 
of building the new world in the shell of the old -- and involve both
combative organisations (such as community and workplace unions) as well
as more defensive/supportive ones (such as co-operatives and mutual banks).
Both have their part to play in the class struggle, although the combative
ones are the most important in creating the spirit of revolt and the 
possibility of creating an anarchist society (which will be reflected in
the growth of supportive organisations to aid that struggle).
<p>
We must also stress that anarchists look to "natural" tendencies
within social struggle as the basis of any alternatives we try to
create. As Kropotkin put it, anarchism is based <i>"on an analysis of 
<b>tendencies of an evolution that is already going on in society</b>, and 
on <b>induction</b> thereform as to the future."</i> It is <i>"representative . . . 
of the creative, instructive power of the people themselves who aimed at 
developing institutions of common law in order to protect them from the 
power-seeking minority."</i> In other words, anarchism bases itself on those 
tendencies that are created by the self-activity of working class people
and while developing within capitalism are <b>in opposition</b> to it -- such 
tendencies are expressed in organisational form as trade unions and 
other forms of workplace struggle, cooperatives (both productive and 
credit), libertarian schools, and so on. For anarchists, anarchism is 
<i>"born among the people - in the struggles of real life and not in the 
philosopher's studio"</i> and owes its <i>"origin to the constructive, creative 
activity of the people . . . and to a protest - a revolt against the 
external force which hd thrust itself upon [communal] . . . institutions."</i> 
[<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets</b>, p. 158, p. 147, p. 150, 
p. 149] This <i>"creative activity"</i> is expressed in the organisations 
created in the class struggle by working people, some of which we
discuss in this section of the FAQ. Therefore, the alternatives 
anarchists support should not be viewed in isolation of social struggle
and working class resistance to hierarchy - the reverse in fact, as these
alternatives are almost always expressions of that struggle.
<p>
Lastly, we should note that this list of alternatives does not list all the 
forms of organisation anarchists create. For example, we have ignored 
solidarity groups and organisations which are created to campaign against or
for certain issues or reforms. Anarchists are in favour of such organisations
and work within them to spread anarchist ideas, tactics and organisational
forms. However, these interest groups (while very useful) do not provide a
framework for lasting change as do the ones we highlight below although we 
stress that anarchists do not ignore such organisations and struggles (see 
sections <a href="secJ1.html#secj14">J.1.4</a> and <a href="secJ1.html#secj15">J.1.5</a> for more details on anarchist opinions on such 
"single issue" campaigns).
<p>
We have  also ignored what have been called <i>"intentional communities"</i>. This 
is when a group of individuals squat or buy land and other resources within 
capitalism and create their own anarchist commune in it. Most anarchists 
reject this idea as capitalism and the state must be fought, not ignored. 
In addition, due to their small size, they are rarely viable experiments 
in communal living and nearly always fail after a short time (for a good 
summary of Kropotkin's attitude to such communities, which can be taken 
as typical, to such schemes see Graham Purchase's book <b>Evolution & Revolution</b>, pp. 122-125). Dropping out will not stop capitalism and 
the state and while such communities may try to ignore the system, they 
will find that the system will not ignore them -- they will come under 
competitive and ecological pressures from capitalism whether they like 
it or not.
<p>
Therefore the alternatives we discuss here are attempts to create anarchist
alternatives within capitalism and which aim to <b>change</b> it (either by 
revolutionary or evolutionary means). They are based upon <b>challenging</b>
capitalism and the state, not ignoring them by dropping out. Only by a 
process of direct action and building alternatives which are relevant to
our daily lives can we revolutionise and change both ourselves and society.
<p>
<a name="secj51"><h2>J.5.1 What is community unionism?</h2>
<p>
Community unionism is our term for the process of creating participatory 
communities (called "communes" in classical anarchism) within the state. 
<p>
Basically, a community union is the creation of interested members of a 
community who decide to form an organisation to fight against injustice 
in their local community and for improvements within it. It is a forum 
by which inhabitants can raise issues that affect themselves and others 
and provide a means of solving these problems. As such, it is a means 
of directly involving local people in the life of their own communities
and collectively solving the problems facing them as both individuals
and as part of a wider society. Politics, therefore, is not separated
into a specialised activity that only certain people do (i.e. politicians).
Instead, it becomes communalised and part of everyday life and in the
hands of all.
<p>
As would be imagined, like the participatory communities that would
exist in an anarchist society, the community union would be based
upon a mass assembly of its members. Here would be discussed the
issues that effect the membership and how to solve them. Like the
communes of a future anarchy, these community unions would be
confederated with other unions in different areas in order to
co-ordinate joint activity and solve common problems. These 
confederations, like the basic union assemblies themselves, would
be based upon direct democracy, mandated delegates and the
creation of administrative action committees to see that the
memberships decisions are carried out.
<p>
The community union could also raise funds for strikes and other 
social protests, organise pickets and boycotts and generally aid 
others in struggle. By organising their own forms of direct action 
(such as tax and rent strikes, environmental protests and so on) 
they can weaken the state while building an self-managed 
infrastructure of co-operatives to replace the useful functions 
the state or capitalist firms currently provide.
<p>
So, in addition to organising resistance to the state and capitalist
firms, these community unions could play an important role in
creating an alternative economy within capitalism. For example,
such unions could have a mutual bank or credit union associated
with them which could allow funds to be gathered for the creation
of self-managed co-operatives and social services and centres. In
this way a communalised co-operative sector could develop, along
with a communal confederation of community unions and their 
co-operative banks. 
<p>
Such community unions have been formed in many different countries
in recent years to fight against particularly evil attacks on the 
working class. In Britain, groups were created in neighbourhoods across 
the country to organise non-payment of the conservative government's 
community charge (popularly known as the poll tax). Federations of these
groups and unions were created to co-ordinate the struggle and pull
resources and, in the end, ensured that the government withdrew the
hated tax and helped push Thatcher out of government. In Ireland,
similar groups were formed to defeat the privatisation of the water
industry by a similar non-payment campaign.
<p>
However, few of these groups have been taken as part of a wider strategy
to empower the local community but the few that have indicate the potential
of such a strategy. This potential can be seen from two examples of
community organising in Europe, one in Italy and another in Spain.
<p>
In Italy, anarchists have organised a very successful <b>Municipal Federation
of the Base</b> (FMB) in Spezzano Albanese (in the South of that country). This
organisation is <i>"an alternative to the power of the town hall"</i> and provides
a <i>"glimpse of what a future libertarian society could be"</i> (in the words of
one activist). The aim of the Federation is <i>"the bringing together of all
interests within the district. In intervening at a municipal level, we
become involved not only in the world of work but also the life of the
community. . . the FMB make counter proposals [to Town Hall decisions],
which aren't presented to the Council but proposed for discussion in
the area to raise people's level of consciousness. Whether they like
it or not the Town Hall is obliged to take account of these proposals."</i>
[<i>"Community Organising in Southern Italy"</i>, pp. 16-19, <b>Black Flag</b> 
no. 210, p. 17, p. 18]
<p>
In this way, local people take part in deciding what effects them and their
community and create a self-managed "dual power" to the local, and national,
state. They also, by taking part in self-managed community assemblies,
develop their ability to participate and manage their own affairs, so
showing that the state is unnecessary and harmful to their interests.
In addition, the FMB also supports co-operatives within it, so creating
a communalised, self-managed economic sector within capitalism. Such a
development helps to reduce the problems facing isolated co-operatives
in a capitalist economy -- see section <a href="secJ5.html#secj511">J.5.11</a> -- and was actively done
in order to <i>"seek to bring together all the currents, all the problems
and contradictions, to seek solutions"</i> to such problems facing co-operatives
[<b>Ibid.</b>].
<p>
Elsewhere in Europe, the long, hard work of the C.N.T. in Spain has also
resulted in mass village assemblies being created in the Puerto Real
area, near Cadiz. These community assemblies came about to support
an industrial struggle by shipyard workers. As one C.N.T. member explains,
<i>"[e]very Thursday of every week, in the towns and villages in the area,
we had all-village assemblies where anyone connected with the particular 
issue [of the rationalisation of the shipyards], whether they were 
actually workers in the shipyard itself, or women or children or
grandparents, could go along. . . and actually vote and take part 
in the decision making process of what was going to take place."</i> 
[<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism in Puerto Real: from shipyard resistance to
direct democracy and community control</b>, p. 6]
<p>
With such popular input and support, the shipyard workers won their 
struggle. However, the assembly continued after the strike and
<i>"managed to link together twelve different organisations within the
local area that are all interested in fighting. . . various aspects
[of capitalism]"</i> including health, taxation, economic, ecological and
cultural issues. Moreover, the struggle <i>"created a structure which
was very different from the kind of structure of political parties,
where the decisions are made at the top and they filter down. What
we managed to do in Puerto Real was make decisions at the base
and take them upwards."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>]
<p>
In these ways, a grassroots movement from below has been created, with
direct democracy and participation becoming an inherent part of a local
political culture of resistance, with people deciding things for 
themselves directly and without hierarchy. Such developments are the
embryonic structures of a world based around direct democracy and
participation, with a strong and dynamic community life. For, as
Martin Buber argued, <i>"[t]he more a human group lets itself be represented 
in the management of its common affairs. . . the less communal life there 
is in it and the more impoverished it becomes as a community."</i> [<b>Paths 
in Utopia</b>, p. 133]
<p>
Anarchist support and encouragement of community unionism, by creating
the means for communal self-management, helps to enrich the community
as well as creating the organisational forms required to resist the
state and capitalism. In this way we build the anti-state which will
(hopefully) replace the state. Moreover, the combination of community 
unionism with workplace assemblies (as in Puerto Real), provides a
mutual support network which can be very effective in helping winning
struggles. For example, in Glasgow, Scotland in 1916, a massive rent
strike was finally won when workers came out in strike in support of
the rent strikers who been arrested for non-payment.
<p>
Such developments indicate that Isaac Puente was correct to argue that:
<p><i><blockquote>
"Libertarian Communism is a society organised without the state and 
without private ownership. And there is no need to invent anything or
conjure up some new organization for the purpose. The centres about 
which life in the future will be organised are already with us in 
the society of today: the free union and the free municipality [or
Commune]. 
<p>
"<b>The union</b>: in it combine spontaneiously the workers from factories 
and all places of collective exploitation. 
<p>
"And <b>the free municipality</b>: an assembly with roots stretching back 
into the past where, again in spontaneity, inhabitants of village 
and hamlet combine together, and which points the way to the solution 
of problems in social life in the countryside.
<p>
"Both kinds of organisation, run on federal and democratic principles, 
will be soveriegn in their decision making, without being beholden to 
any higher body, their only obligation being to federate one with 
another as dictated by the economic requirement for liaison and 
communications bodies organised in industrial federations. 
<p>
"The <b>union and the free municipality</b> will assume the collective 
or common ownership of everything which is under private ownership 
at present [but collectively used] and will regulate production and 
consumption (in a word, the economy) in each locality. 
<p>
"The very bringing together of the two terms (communism and 
libertarian) is indicative in itself of the fusion of two ideas: 
one of them is collectivist, tending to bring about harmony in the 
whole through the contributions and cooperation of individuals, 
without undermining their independence in any way; while the other 
is individualist, seeking to reassure the individual that his 
independence will be respected."</i> [<b>Libertarian Communism</b>, 
pp. 6-7]
</blockquote><p>
The combination of community unionism, along with industrial unionism
(see <a href="secJ5.html#secj52">next section</a>), will be the key of creating an anarchist society,
Community unionism, by creating the free commune within the state,
allows us to become accustomed to managing our own affairs and seeing
that an injury to one is an injury to all. In this way a social power
is created in opposition to the state. The town council may still be
in the hands of politicians, but neither they nor the central government
can move without worrying about what the people's reaction might be,
as expressed and organised in their community unions and assemblies.
<p>
<a name="secj52"><h2>J.5.2 Why do anarchists support industrial unionism?</h2>
<p>
Simply because it is effective, expresses our ideas on how industry will 
be organised in an anarchist society and is a key means of ending 
capitalist oppression and exploitation. As Max Stirner pointed out the
<i>"labourers have the most enormous power in their hands, and, if they
once become thoroughly conscious of it and used it, nothing could withstand
them; they would only have to stop labour, regard the product of labour as
theirs, and enjoy it. This is the sense of the labour disturbances which
show themselves here and there."</i> [<b>The Ego and Its Own</b>, p. 116] 
<p>
Libertarian workplace organisation is the best way of organising and 
exercising this power. However, before discussing why anarchists support 
industrial unionism, we must point out that the type of unionism anarchists 
support has very little in common with that associated with reformist or 
business unions like the TUC in Britain or the AFL-CIO in the USA (see 
<a href="secJ5.html#secj53">next section</a>).
<p>
In such unions, as Alexander Berkman points out, the <i>"rank and file
have little say. They have delegated their power to leaders, and 
these have become the boss. . . Once you do that, the power you
have delegated will be used against you and your interests every
time."</i> [<b>The ABC of Anarchism</b>, p. 58] Reformist unions, even if
they do organise by industry rather than by trade or craft, are
top-heavy and bureaucratic. Thus they are organised in the same
manner as capitalist firms or the state -- and like both of these,
the officials at the top have different interests than those
at the bottom. Little wonder anarchists oppose such forms of 
unionism as being counter to the interests of their members. The
long history of union officials betraying their members is proof
enough of this.
<p>
Therefore anarchists propose a different kind of workplace organisation,
one that is organised in a totally different manner than the current,
mainstream, unions. We will call this new kind of organisation <b><i>"industrial 
unionism"</i></b> (although perhaps industrial syndicalism or workplace
assemblies may be a better, less confusing, name for it).
<p>
Industrial unionism is based upon the idea that workers should directly 
control their own organisations and struggles. As such, it is based
upon workplace assemblies and their confederation between different
workplaces in the same industry as well as between different workplaces
in the same locality. An industrial union is a union which organises all 
workers in a given type of industry together into one body. This means 
that all workers regardless of their actual trade would ideally be in 
the one union. On a building site, for example, brick-layers, plumbers, 
carpenters and so on would all be a member of the Building Workers 
Union. Each trade may have its own sections within the union (so 
that plumbers can discuss issues relating to their trade for 
example) but the core decision making focus would be an assembly 
of all workers employed in a workplace. As they all have the same 
boss it is logical for them to have the same union.
<p>
However, industrial unionism should <b>not</b> be confused with a closed 
shop situation where workers are forced to join a union when they 
become a wage slave in a workplace. While anarchists do desire to 
see all workers unite in one organisation, it is vitally important 
that workers can leave a union and join another. The closed shop 
only empowers union bureaucrats and gives them even more power
to control (and/or ignore) their members. As anarchist unionism has
no bureaucrats, there is no need for the closed shop and its voluntary
nature is essential in order to ensure that a union be subject to 
"exit" as well as "voice" for it to be responsive to its members wishes.
<p>
As Albert Meltzer argues, the closed shop means that <i>"the [trade union] 
leadership becomes all-powerful since once it exerts its right to expel 
a member, that person is not only out of the union, but out of a job."</i> 
Anarcho-syndicalism, therefore, <i>"rejects the closed shop and relies on 
voluntary membership, and so avoids any leadership or bureaucracy."</i> 
[<b>Anarchism: Arguments for and against</b>, p. 56 -- also see Tom Wetzel's 
excellent article <i>"The Origins of the Union Shop"</i>, part 3 of the series 
<i>"Why does the union bureaucracy exist?"</i> in <b>Ideas & Action</b> no. 11, 
Fall 1989 for a fuller discussion of these issues] Without voluntary 
membership even the most libertarian union may become bureaucratic and 
unresponsive to the needs of its members and the class struggle (even
anarcho-syndicalist unions are subject to hierarchical influences by
having to work within the hierarchical capitalist economy although 
voluntary membership, along with a libertarian structure and tactics, 
helps combat these tendencies -- see section <a href="secJ3.html#secj39">
J.3.9</a>).
<p>
Obviously this means that anarchist opposition to the closed shop has
nothing in common with boss, conservative and right-wing libertarian
opposition to it. These groups, while denouncing coercing workers into
trades unions, support the coercive power of bosses over workers without
a second thought (indeed, given their justifications of sexual harassment
and other forms of oppressive behaviour by bosses, we can imagine that 
they would happily support workers having to join <b>company</b> unions to 
keep their jobs -- only when bosses dislike mandatory union membership 
do these defenders of "freedom" raise their opposition). Anarchist
opposition to the closed shop (like their opposition to union bureaucracy) 
flows from their opposition to hierarchy and authoritarian social 
relationships. The right-wing's opposition is purely a product of their 
pro-capitalist and pro-authority position and the desire to see the worker 
subject only to <b>one</b> boss during working hours, not <b>two</b> (particularly 
if this second one has to represent workers interests to some degree). 
Anarchists, on the other hand, want to get rid of all bosses during 
working hours.
<p>
In industrial unionism, the membership, assembled in their place of 
work, are the ones to decide when to strike, when to pay strike pay, 
what tactics to use, what demands to make, what issues to fight over 
and whether an action is "official" or "unofficial". In this way the 
rank and file is in control of their unions and, by confederating with 
other assemblies, they co-ordinate their forces with their fellow workers. 
As syndicalist activist Tom Brown makes clear:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The basis of the Syndicate is the mass meeting of workers assembled
at their place of work. . . The meeting elects its factory committee
and delegates. The factory is Syndicate is federated to all other
such committees in the locality. . . In the other direction, the
factory, let us say engineering factory, is affiliated to the District
Federation of Engineers. In turn the District Federation is affiliated
to the National Federation of Engineers. . . Then, each industrial
federation is affiliated to the National Federation of Labour . . .
how the members of such committees are elected is most important. 
They are, first of all, not representatives like Members of Parliament
who air their own views; they are delegates who carry the message of
the workers who elect them. They do not tell the workers what the
'official' policy is; the workers tell them.
<p>
"Delegates are subject to instant recall by the persons who elected
them. None may sit for longer than two successive years, and four
years must elapse before his [or her] next nomination. Very few will
receive wages as delegates, and then only the district rate of wages 
for the industry. . . 
<p>
"It will be seen that in the Syndicate the members control the
organisation - not the bureaucrats controlling the members. In a
trade union the higher up the pyramid a man is the more power he
wields; in a Syndicate the higher he is the less power he has.
<p>
"The factory Syndicate has full autonomy over its own affairs. . ."</i>
[<b>Syndicalism</b>, pp. 35-36]
<p></blockquote>
As can be seen, industrial unionism reflects anarchist ideas of
organisation - it is organised from the bottom up, it is decentralised
and based upon federation and it is directly managed by its members
in mass assemblies. It is anarchism applied to industry and the needs
of the class struggle. By supporting such forms of organisations, 
anarchists are not only seeing "anarchy in action", they are forming
effective tools which can win the class war. By organising in this
manner, workers are building the framework of a co-operative society
within capitalism. Rudolf Rocker makes this clear:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"the syndicate. . . has for its purpose the defence of the interests of
the producers within existing society and the preparing for and the 
practical carrying out of the reconstruction of social life . . .
It has, therefore, a double purpose: 1. As the fighting organisation 
of the workers against their employers to enforce the demand of the
workers for the safeguarding of their standard of living; 2. As the
school for the intellectual training of the workers to make them
acquainted with the technical management of production and
economic life in general."</i> [<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 51]
</blockquote><p>
Given the fact that workers wages have been stagnating (or, at
best, falling behind productivity increases) across the world as 
the trade unions have been weakened and marginalised (partly
because of their own tactics, structure and politics) it is clear that
there exists a great need for working people to organise to defend
themselves. The centralised, top-down trade unions we are accustomed
to have proved themselves incapable of effective struggle (and, indeed,
the number of times they have sabotaged such struggle are countless 
- a result not of "bad" leaders but of the  way these unions organise
and their role within capitalism). Hence anarchists support industrial
unionism (co-operation between workers assemblies) as an effective 
alternative to the malaise of official trade unionism. How anarchists 
aim to encourage such new forms of workplace organisation and struggle 
will be discussed in the <a href="secJ5.html#secj53">next section</a>.
<p>
We are sure that many radicals will consider that such decentralised, 
confederal organisations would produce confusion and disunity. However,
anarchists maintain that the statist, centralised form of organisation
of the trades unions would produce indifference instead of involvement,
heartlessness instead of solidarity, uniformity instead of unity, and
elites instead of equality, nevermind killing all personal initiative
by lifeless discipline and bureaucratic ossification and permitting
no independent action. The old form of organisation has been tried
and tried again - it has always failed. The sooner workers recognise
this the better.
<p>
One last point. We must note that many anarchists, particularly 
communist-anarchists, consider unions, even anarchosyndicalist ones, as 
having a strong reformist tendency (as discussed in section 
<a href="secJ3.html#secj39">J.3.9</a>). 
However, all anarchists recognise the importance of autonomous class 
struggle and the need for organisations to help fight that struggle. 
Thus anarchist-communists, instead of trying to organise industrial 
unions, apply the ideas of industrial unionism to workplace struggles. 
In other words, they would agree with the need to organise all workers 
into a mass assembly and to have elected, recallable administration 
committees to carry out the strikers wishes. This means that such
anarchists they do not call their practical ideas "anarcho-syndicalism" 
nor the workplace assemblies they desire to create "unions," there are 
<b>extremely</b> similar in nature and so we can discuss both using the term
"industrial unionism". The key difference is that many (if not most) 
anarcho-communists consider that permanent workplace organisations that 
aim to organise <b>all</b> workers would soon become reformist. Because of
this they also see the need for anarchist to organise <b>as anarchists</b>
in order to spread the anarchist message within them and keep their
revolutionary aspects at the forefront (and so support industrial
networks -- see <a href="secJ5.html#secj53">next section</a>). 
<p>
Therefore while there are slight differences in terminology and practice,
all anarchists would support the ideas of industrial unionism we have
outlined above. 
<p>
<a name="secj53"><h2>J.5.3 What attitude do anarchists take to existing unions?
</h2><p>
As noted in the <a href="secJ5.html#secj52">last section</a>, anarchists desire to create organisations 
in the workplace radically different from the existing trade unions.
The question now arises, what attitude do anarchists generally take to 
these existing unions?
<p>
Before answering that question, we must stress that anarchists, no matter
how hostile to trade unions as bureaucratic, reformist institutions, <b>are</b>
in favour of working class struggle. This means that when trade union
members or other workers are on strike anarchists will support them
(unless the strike is totally reactionary -- for example, no anarchist
would support a strike which is racist in nature). This is because almost 
all anarchists consider it basic to their politics that you don't scab and 
you don't crawl (a handful of individualist anarchists are the exception).
So, when reading anarchist criticisms of trade unions do not for an
instant think we do not support industrial struggles -- we do, we 
are just very critical of the unions that are sometimes involved.
<p>
So, what do anarchists think of the trade unions?
<p>
For the most part, one could call the typical anarchist opinion toward 
them as one of "hostile support." It is hostile insofar as anarchists 
are well aware of how bureaucratic these unions are and how they 
continually betray their members. Given that they 
are usually little more than "business" organisations, trying to sell 
their members labour-power for the best deal possible, it is unsurprising 
that they are bureaucratic and that the interests of the bureaucracy 
are at odds with those of its membership. However, our attitude is 
"supportive" in that even the worse trade union represents an 
attempt at working class solidarity and self-help, even if the attempt 
is now far removed from the initial protests and ideas that set the union 
up. For a worker to join a trade union means having to recognise, to some
degree, that he or she has different interests from their boss. There is no
way to explain the survival of the unions other than the fact that there
are different class interests, and workers have understood that to promote
their own interests they have to organise on class lines. 
<p>
No amount of conservatism, bureaucracy or backwardness within the unions 
can obliterate the essential fact of different class interests. The very 
existence of trade unions testifies to the existence of some level of 
basic class consciousness -- even though most trade unions claim otherwise
and that capital and labour have interests in common. As we have argued,
anarchists reject this claim with good reason, and the very existence of
trade unions show that this is not true. If workers and capitalists have
the same interests, trade unions would not exist. Moreover, claiming that
the interests of workers and bosses are the same theoretically disarms
both the unions and its members and so weakens their struggles (after all,
if bosses and workers have similar interests then any conflict is bad
and the decisions of the boss must be in workers' interests!).
<p>
Thus anarchist viewpoints reflect the contradictory nature of business/trade
unions -- on the one hand they are products of workers' struggle, but on 
the other they are <b>very</b> bureaucratic, unresponsive and centralised and 
(therefore) their full-time officials have no real interest in fighting 
against wage labour as it would put them out of a job. Indeed, the very
nature of trade unionism ensures that the interests of the union (i.e.
the full-time officials) come into conflict with the people they claim
to represent. 
<p>
This can best be seen from the disgraceful activities of the TGWU with 
respect to the Liverpool dockers in Britain. The union officials (and 
the TUC itself) refused to support their members after they had been 
sacked in 1995 for refusing to cross a picket line. The dockers 
organised their own struggle, contacting dockers' unions across the 
world and organising global solidarity actions. Moreover, a network 
of support groups sprung up across Britain to gather funds for their
struggle (and, we are proud to note, anarchists have played their role
in supporting the strikers). Many trade unionists could tell similar
stories of betrayal by "their" union.
<p>
This occurs because trade unions, in order to get recognition from 
a company, must be able to promise industrial pieces. They need to
enforce the contracts they sign with the bosses, even if this goes
against the will of its members. Thus trade unions become a third
force in industry, somewhere between management and the workers and
pursuing its own interests. This need to enforce contracts soon ensures
that the union becomes top-down and centralised -- otherwise its
members would violate the unions agreements. They have to be able 
to control their members - which usually means stopping them
fighting the boss - if they are to have anything to bargain with 
at the negotiation table. This may sound odd, but the point is that 
the union official has to sell the employer labour discipline and 
freedom from unofficial strikes as part of its side of the bargain.
Otherwise the employer will ignore them. The nature of trade unionism
is to take power away from out of local members and centralise it
into the hands of officials at the top of the organisation.
<p>
Thus union officials sell out their members because of the role trade 
unions play within society, not because they are nasty individuals 
(although some are). They behave as they do because they have too much 
power and, being full-time and highly paid, are unaccountable, in any real 
way, to their members. Power -- and wealth -- corrupts, no matter who you 
are. (also see Chapter 11 of Alexander Berkman's <b>What is Communist 
Anarchism?</b> for an excellent introduction to anarchist viewpoints on 
trade unions).
<p>
While, in normal times, most workers will not really question the nature
of the trade union bureaucracy, this changes when workers face some threat.
Then they are brought face to face with the fact that the trade union
has interests separate from theirs. Hence we see trade unions agreeing to
wage cuts, redundancies and so on -- after all, the full-time trade union 
official's job is not on the line! But, of course, while such a policy
is in the short term interests of the officials, in the longer term it goes
against their interests -- after all, who wants to join a union which rolls
over and presents no effective resistance to employers? Little wonder
Michael Moore has a chapter entitled <i>"Why are Union Leaders So F#!@ing
Stupid?"</i> in his book <b>Downsize This!</b> -- essential reading to realise how
moronic trade union bureaucrats can actually be. Sadly trade union 
bureaucracy seems to afflict all who enter it with short-sightedness, as 
seen by the countless times the trade unions have sold-out their members -- 
although the chickens do, finally, come home to roost, as the bureaucrats 
of the AFL, TUC and other trade unions are finding out in this era of 
global capital and falling membership. So while the activities of trade
union leaders may seem crazy and short-sighted, these activities are
forced upon them by their position and role within society -- which
explains why they are so commonplace and why even radical leaders end
up doing exactly the same thing in time.
<p>
Few anarchists would call upon members of a trade union to tear-up their 
membership cards. While some anarchists, particularly communist anarchists 
and some anarcho-syndicalists have nothing but contempt (and rightly so) 
for trade unions (and so do not work within them -- but will support trade 
union members in struggle), the majority of anarchists take a more pragmatic 
viewpoint. If no alternative syndicalist union exists, anarchists will work 
within the existing unions (perhaps becoming shop-stewards -- few anarchists 
would agree to be elected to positions above this in any trade union, 
particularly if the post was full-time), spreading the anarchist message and 
trying to create a libertarian undercurrent which would hopefully blossom 
into a more anarchistic labour movement.
<p>
So most anarchists "support" the trade unions only until they have created 
a viable libertarian alternative. Thus we will become trade union members
while trying to spread anarchist ideas within and outwith them. This means
that anarchists are flexible in terms of their activity in the unions. For
example, many IWW members were "two-carders." This meant that as well 
as being members of the IWW, they were also in the local AFL branch in 
their place of work and turned to the IWW when the AFL hierarchy refused 
to back strikes or other forms of direct action. Anarchists encourage 
rank and file self-activity, <b>not</b> endless calls for trade union 
bureaucrats to act for us (as is unfortunately far too common on 
the left).
<p>
Anarchist activity within trade unions reflects our ideas on hierarchy and
its corrupting effects. We reject totally the response of left-wing social 
democrats, Stalinists and mainstream Trotskyists to the problem of trade
union betrayal, which is to try and elect and/or appoint 'better' officials. 
They see the problem primarily in terms of the individuals who hold the posts.
However this ignores the fact that individuals are shaped by the environment
they live in and the role they play in society. Thus even the most left-wing
and progressive individual will become a bureaucrat if they are placed
within a bureaucracy -- and we must note that the problem of corruption
does not spring from the high-wages officials are paid (although this is a 
factor), but from the power they have over their members (which partly 
expresses itself in high pay). 
<p>
Any claim that electing "radical" full-time officials who refuse to take 
the high wages associated with the position will be better is false. The 
hierarchical nature of the trade union structure has to be changed, not 
side-effects of it. As the left has no problem with hierarchy as such,
this explains why they support this form of "reform." They do not actually
want to undercut whatever dependency the members has on leadership, they 
want to replace the leaders with "better" ones (i.e. themselves or members 
of their party) and so endlessly call upon the trade union bureaucracy to 
act <b>for</b> its members. In this way, they hope, trade unionists will see
the need to support a "better" leadership -- namely themselves. Anarchists, 
in stark contrast, think that the problem is not that the leadership of the 
trade unions is weak, right-wing or does not act but that the union's 
membership follows them. Thus anarchists aim at undercutting reliance on
leaders (be they left or right) by encouraging self-activity by the rank
and file and awareness that hierarchical leadership as such is bad, not 
individual leaders.
<p>
Instead of "reform" from above (which is doomed to failure), anarchists work 
at the bottom and attempt to empower the rank and file of the trade unions. 
It is self-evident that the more power, initiative and control that lies with 
the rank & file membership on the shop floor, the less it will lie with the 
bureaucracy. Thus anarchists work within and outwith the trade unions in order 
to increase the power of workers where it actually lies: at the point of 
production. This is usually done by creating networks of activists who 
spread anarchist ideas to their fellow workers (see next section -- 
<a href="secJ5.html#secj54">"What are Industrial Networks?"</a>). 
<p>
These groups <i>"within the unions should strive to ensure that they [the trade 
unions] remain open to all workers of whatever opinion or party on the sole
condition that there is solidarity in the struggle against the bosses. They 
should oppose the corporatist spirit and any attempt to monopolise labour or 
organisation. They should prevent the Unions from becoming the tools of the 
politicians for electoral or other authoritarian ends; they should preach and 
practice direct action, decentralisation, autonomy and free initiative. They 
should strive to help members learn how to participate directly in the life 
of the organisation and to do without leaders and permanent officials.
<p>
"They must, in short, remain anarchists, remain always in close touch with
anarchists and remember that the workers' organisation is not the end but
just one of the means, however important, of preparing the way for the
achievement of anarchism."</i> [Errico Malatesta, <b>The Anarchist Revolution</b>,
pp. 26-27]
<p>
As part of this activity anarchists promote the ideas of Industrial
Unionism we highlighted in the <a href="secJ5.html#secj52">last section</a> -- namely direct workers
control of struggle via workplace assemblies and recallable committees 
-- during times of struggle. However, anarcchists are aware that economic
struggle (and trade unionism as such) <i>"cannot be an end in itself, since
the struggle must also be waged at a political level to distinguish the
role of the State."</i> [Errico Malatesta, <b>Life and Ideas</b>, p, 115] Thus,
as well as encouraging worker self-organisation and self-activity, 
anarchist groups also seek to politicise struggles and those involved 
in them. Only this process of self-activity and political discussion
between equals <b>within</b> social struggles can ensure the process of
working class self-liberation and the creation of new, more libertarian,
forms of workplace organisation.
<p>
The result of such activity may be a new form of workplace organisation 
(either workplace assemblies or an anarcho-syndicalist union) or a reformed, 
more democratic version of the existing trade union (although few anarchists
believe that the current trade unions can be reformed). But either way,
the aim is to get as many members of the current labour movement to become
anarchists as possible or, at the very least, take a more libertarian and 
radical approach to their unions and workplace struggle. 
<p>
<a name="secj54"><h2>J.5.4 What are industrial networks?</h2>
<p>
Industrial networks are the means by which revolutionary industrial unions 
and other forms of libertarian workplace organisation can be created. 
The idea of Industrial Networks originated with the British section of the
anarcho-syndicalist International Workers' Association in the late 1980s. It 
was developed as a means of promoting anarcho-syndicalist/anarchist ideas 
within the workplace, so creating the basis on which a workplace movement
based upon the ideas of industrial unionism (see section <a href="secJ5.html#secj52">J.5.2</a>) could grow 
and expand.
<p>
The idea is very simple. An Industrial Network is a federation of
militants in a given industry who support the ideas of anarchism and/or 
anarcho-syndicalism, namely direct action, solidarity and organisation 
from the bottom up (the difference between purely anarchist networks
and anarcho-syndicalist ones will be highlighted later). In other words, 
it would <i>"initially be a political grouping in the economic sphere, aiming 
to build a less reactive but positive organisation within the industry.
The long term aim. . . is, obviously, the creation of an anarcho-syndicalist
union."</i> [<b>Winning the Class War</b>, p. 18]
<p>
The Industrial Network would be an organisation of groups of anarchists
and syndicalists within a workplace united into an industrial basis. They
would pull their resources together to fund a regular bulletin and other
forms of propaganda which they would distribute within their workplace
and industry. These bulletins and leaflets would raise and discuss issues
related to work and how to right back and win as well as placing workplace
issues in a social and political context. This propaganda would present
anarchist ideas of workplace organisation and resistance as well as general
anarchist ideas and analysis. In this way anarchist ideas and tactics 
would be able to get a wider hearing and anarchists can have an input <b>as
anarchists</b> into workplace struggles.
<p>
Traditionally, many syndicalists and anarcho-syndicalists advocated the 
<b><i>One Big Union</i></b> strategy, the aim of which was to organise all workers into 
one organisation representing the whole working class. Today, however, most 
anarcho-syndicalists and all social anarchists advocate workers assemblies 
for decision making during struggles (the basic form of which we discussed
in section <a href="secJ5.html#secj52">J.5.2</a>). The role of the anarchist group or anarcho-syndicalist 
(or revolutionary) union would basically be to call such workplace assemblies,
argue for direct workers control of struggle by these mass assemblies, promote
direct action and solidarity, put across anarchist ideas and politics and 
keep things on the boil, so to speak.
<p>
This support for industrial networks exists because most anarcho-syndicalists 
recognise that they face dual unionism (which means there are more than one 
union within a given workplace or country). This was the case, historically, 
in all countries with a large anarcho-syndicalist union movement - in Spain 
and Italy there were the socialist unions along with the syndicalist ones 
and so on). Therefore most anarcho-syndicalists do not expect to ever get 
a majority of the working class into a revolutionary union before a
revolutionary situation develops. In addition, anarcho-syndicalists 
recognise that a revolutionary union <i>"is not just an economic fighting 
force, but also an organisation with a political context. To build such 
a union requires a lot of work and experience"</i> of which the Industrial
Networks are but one aspect. [<b>Ibid.</b>]
<p>
Thus industrial networks are intended to deal with the actual situation
that confronts us, and provide a strategy for moving from our present
reality toward out ultimate goals. Where one has only a handful of
anarchists and syndicalists in a workplace or scattered across several 
workplaces there is a clear need for developing ways for these fellow 
workers to effectively act in union, rather than be isolated and
relegated to more general agitation. A handful of anarchists cannot 
meaningfully call a general strike. But we can agitate around specific 
industrial issues and organise our fellow workers to do something about 
them. Through such campaigns we demonstrate the advantages of 
rank-and-file unionism and direct action, show our fellow workers 
that our ideas are not mere abstract theory but can be implemented 
here and now, attract new members and supporters, and further develop 
our capacity to develop revolutionary unions in our workplaces. 
<p>
Thus the creation of Industrial Networks and the calling for workplace 
assemblies is a recognition of where we are now -- with anarchist ideas
very much in the minority. Calling for workers assemblies is not
an anarchist tactic per se, we must add, but a working class one developed
and used plenty of times by workers in struggles (indeed, it was how the
current trade unions were created). It also puts the onus on the reformists 
and reactionary unions by appealing directly to their members as workers 
and showing their bureaucrat organisations and reformist politics by 
creating an effective alternative to them.
<p>
A few anarchists reject the idea of Industrial Networks and instead support
the idea of <b><i>"rank and file"</i></b> groups which aim to put pressure on the current
trade unions to become more militant and democratic (a few anarcho-syndicalists
think that such groups can be used to reform the trade-unions into libertarian,
revolutionary organisations -- called <i>"boring from within"</i> -- but most reject
this as utopia, viewing the trade union bureaucracy as unreformable as
the state's). Moreover, opponents of "rank and file" groups argue that
they direct time and energy <b>away</b> from practical and constructive activity
and instead waste them <i>"[b]y constantly arguing for changes to the union
structure. . . the need for the leadership to be more accountable, etc., 
[and so] they not only [offer] false hope but [channel] energy
and discontent away from the real problem - the social democratic 
nature of reformist trade unions."</i> [<b>Winning the Class War</b>, p. 11]
<p>
Supporters of the "rank and file" approach fear that the Industrial Networks
will isolate anarchists from the mass of trade union members by creating
tiny "pure" syndicalist unions or anarchist groups. But such a claim is 
rejected by supporters of Industrial Networks. They maintain that they 
will be working with trade union members where it counts, in the 
workplace and not in badly attended, unrepresentative branch 
meetings. So:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"We have no intention of isolating ourselves from the many workers who
make up the rest of the rank and file membership of the unions. We 
recognise that a large proportion of trade union members are only
nominally so as the main activity of social democratic [i.e. reformist]
unions is outside the workplace. . . <b>We aim to unite and not divide
workers.</b>
<p>
"It has been argued that social democratic unions will not tolerate this
kind of activity, and that we would be all expelled and thus isolated.
So be it. We, however, don't think that this will happen until. . .
workplace militants had found a voice independent of the trade unions
and so they become less useful to us anyway. Our aim is not to 
support social democracy, but to show it up as irrelevant to the
working class."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 19]
</blockquote><p>
Whatever the merits and disadvantages of both approaches are, it seems 
likely that the activity of both will overlap in practice with Industrial 
Networks operating within trade union branches and "rank and file" groups 
providing alternative structures for struggle. 
<p>
As noted above, there is a slight difference between anarcho-syndicalist
supporters of Industrial Networks and communist-anarchist ones. This is to
do with how they see the function and aim of these networks. While both
agree that such networks should agitate in their industry and call and 
support mass assemblies to organise resistance to capitalist exploitation
and oppression they disagree on who can join the network groups and what
they aims should be. Anarcho-syndicalists aim for the Industrial
Networks to be the focal point for the building of permanent syndicalist
unions and so aim for the Industrial Networks to be open to all workers
who accept the general aims of the organisation. Anarcho-communists,
however, view Industrial Networks as a means of increasing anarchist
ideas within the working class and are not primarily concerned about
building syndicalist unions (while many anarcho-communists would
support such a development, some do not). 
<p>
These anarchists, therefore, see the need for workplace-based branches
of an anarchist group along with the need for networks of militant 
'rank and file' workers, but reject the idea of something that is one 
but pretends to be the other. They argue that, far from avoiding the 
problems of classical anarcho-syndicalism, such networks seem to emphasise
one of the worst problems -- namely that of how the organisation
remains anarchist but is open to non-anarchists. 
<p>
But the similarities between the two positions are greater than the 
differences and so can be summarised together, as we have done here.
<p>
<a name="secj55"><h2>J.5.5 What forms of co-operative credit do anarchists support?</h2>
<p>
Anarchists tend to support must forms of co-operation, including those
associated with credit and money. This co-operative credit/banking takes
many forms, such as credit unions, LETS schemes and so on. In this 
section we discuss two main forms of co-operative credit, <i><b>mutualism</b></i>
and <i><b>LETS</i></b>.
<p>
Mutualism is the name for the ideas associated with Proudhon and his <b>Bank 
of the People</b>. Essentially, it is a confederation of credit unions in
which working class people pool their funds and savings. This allows 
credit to be arranged at cost, so increasing the options available to
working people as well as abolishing interest on loans by making increasing
amount of cheap credit available to working people. LETS stands for Local 
Exchange Trading Schemes and is a similar idea in many ways (and apparently
discovered independently) -- see <b>Bringing the Economy Home from the
Market</b> by V.G. Dobson for a detailed discussion on LETS. 
<p>
Both schemes revolve around creating an alternative form of currency and 
credit within capitalism in order to allow working class people to work 
outwith the capitalist money system by creating <i>"labour notes"</i> as a 
new circulating medium. In this way, it is hoped, workers would be able 
to improve their living and working conditions by having a source of 
community-based (very low interest) credit and so be less dependent on
capitalists and the capitalist banking system. Some supporters of mutualism
considered it as the ideal way of reforming capitalism away. By making
credit available to the ordinary worker at very cheap rates, the end of 
wage slavery would soon occur as workers would work for themselves by 
either purchasing the necessary tools required for their work or, by their
increased bargaining power within the economy, gain industrial democracy
from the capitalists by buying them out.
<p>
Such ideas have had a long history within the socialist movement, originating
in the British socialist movement in the early 19th century. Robert Owen
and other Socialists active at the time considered the idea of labour
notes and exchanges as a means of improving working class conditions within
capitalism and as the means of reforming capitalism into a society of
confederated, self-governing communities. Indeed, <i>"Equitable Labour Exchanges"</i> 
were <i>"founded at London and Birmingham in 1832"</i> with <i>"Labour notes and the
exchange of small products"</i> [E.P. Thompson, <b>The Making of the English
Working Class</b>, p. 870] Apparently independently of these early attempts 
in England at what would later be called mutualism, P-J Proudhon arrived 
at the same ideas decades later in France. In his words, <i>"The People's Bank 
quite simply embodies the financial and economic aspects of the principle 
of modern democracy, that is, the sovereignty of the People, and of the 
republican motto, 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.'"</i> [<b>Selected Writings of 
P-J Proudhon</b>, p. 75] Similarly, in the USA (partly as a result of Joshua
Warren's activities, who got the idea from Robert Owen) there was extensive
discussion on labour notes, exchanges and free credit as a means of protecting 
workers from the evils of capitalism and ensuring their independence and
freedom from wage slavery. When Proudhon's works appeared in North America,
the basic arguments were well known.
<p>
Therefore the idea that mutual banking using labour money as a means 
to improve working class living conditions, even, perhaps, to achieve
industrial democracy, self-management and the end of capitalism has a long
history in Socialist thought. Unfortunately this aspect of socialism became
less important with the rise of Marxism (which called these early socialists
<i>"utopian"</i>) attempts at such credit unions and alternative exchange schemes
were generally replaced with attempts to build working class political 
parties. With the rise of Marxian social democracy, constructive socialistic 
experiments and collective working class self-help was replaced by working 
within the capitalist state. Fortunately, history has had the last laugh 
on Marxism with working class people yet again creating anew the ideas of 
Mutualism (as can be seen by the growth of LETS and other schemes of
community money).
<p>
<a name="secj56"><h2>J.5.6 What are the key features of mutual credit schemes?</h2>
<p>
Mutualism, as noted in the <a href="secJ5.html#secj55">last section</a>, is a form of credit co-operation, 
in which individuals pull their resources together in order to benefit 
themselves as individuals and as part of a community. LETS is another form 
of mutualism which developed recently, and apparently developed independently
(from its start in Canada, LETS has spread across the world and there are
now hundreds of schemes involved hundreds of thousands of people). Mutual 
banks and LETS have the following key aspects:
<p><ol>
	1) Co-operation: No-one owns the network. It is controlled by
	   its members directly.<br>
	2) Non-exploitative: No interest is charged on account balances
	   or credit. At most administrative costs are charged, a result
	   of it being commonly owned and managed.<br>
	3) Consent: Nothing happens without it, there is no compulsion
	   to trade.<br>
	4) Money: They use their own type of money (traditionally called
	   "labour-notes") as a means of aiding "honest exchange".<br>
</ol><p>
It is hoped, by organising credit, working class people will be able to
work for themselves and slowly but surely replace capitalism with
a co-operative system based upon self-management. While LETS schemes
do not have such grand schemes, historically mutualism aimed at 
working within and transforming capitalism to socialism. At the very
least, LETS schemes reduce the power and influence of banks and finance
capital within society as mutualism ensures that working people
have a viable alternative to such parasites.
<p>
This point is important, as the banking system and money is often
considered "neutral" (particularly in capitalist economics). However,
as Malatesta correctly argues, it would be <i>"a mistake to believe . . .
that the banks are, or are in the main, a means to facilitate
exchange; they are a means to speculate on exchange and currencies,
to invest capital and to make it produce interest, and to fulfil
other typically capitalist operations."</i> [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 100]
<p>
Within capitalism, money is still to a large degree a commodity which
is more than a convenient measure of work done in the production
of goods and services. As a commodity it can and does go anywhere in
the world where it can get the best return for its owners, and so it
tends to drain out of those communities that need it most. It is the
means by which capitalists can buy the liberty of working people and
get them to produce a surplus for them (wealth is, after all, <i>"a power 
invested in certain individuals by the institutions of society, to
compel others to labour for their benefit."</i> [William Godwin, <b>The 
Anarchist Writings of William Godwin</b>, p. 130]. From this 
consideration alone, working class control of credit and money 
is an important part of the class struggle as having access to 
alternative sources of credit can increase working class options 
and power. 
<p>
Moreover, credit is also an important form of social control -- 
people who have to pay their mortgage or visa bill are more pliable, 
less likely to strike or make other forms of political trouble. And, 
of course, credit expands the consumption of the masses in the face 
of stagnant or falling wages while allowing capitalists to profit 
from it. Indeed, there is a link between the rising debt burden on 
households in the 1980s and 1990s and the increasing concentration 
of wealth. This is <i>"because of the decline in real hourly wages and 
the stagnation in household incomes, the middle and lower classes 
have borrowed to stay in place; they've borrowed from the very rich
who have gotten richer. The rich need a place to earn interest on 
their surplus funds, and the rest of the population makes a juicy 
lending target."</i> [Doug Henwood, <b>Wall Street</b>, pp. 64-65]
<p>
Little wonder that the state (and the capitalists who run it) is so 
concerned to keep control of money in its own hands  or the hands
of its agents. With an increase in mutual credit, interest rates 
would drop, wealth would stay more in working class communities,
and the social power of working people would increase (for people 
would be more likely to struggle for higher wages and better
conditions -- as the fear of debt repayments would be less).
<p>
Therefore, mutualism is an example of what could be termed 
<b><i>"counter-economics"</i></b>. By counter-economics we mean 
the creation of 
community-based credit unions that do not put their money into 
"Capital Markets" or into capitalist Banks. We mean finding ways 
for workers to control their own retirement funds. We mean finding
ways of using money as a means of undermining capitalist power
and control and supporting social struggle and change.
<p>
In this way working people are controlling more and more of the
money supply and using it ways that will stop capital from using
it to oppress and exploit the working class. An example of why
this can be important can be seen from the results of the existing
workers' pension fund system. Currently workers pension funds are 
being used to invest in capitalist firms (particularly transnationals 
and other forms of Big Business) and these companies use the invested 
money to fund their activities. The idea is that by so investing, 
workers will receive an adequate pension in their old age. 
<p>
However, the only people actually winning are bankers and big companies. 
Unsurprisingly, the managers of these pension fund companies are 
investing in those firms with the highest returns, which are usually 
those who are downsizing or extracting most surplus value from their 
workforce (which in turn forces other companies to follow the same 
strategies to get access to the available funds in order to survive). 
<p>
Basically, if you are lending your money to be used to put your 
fellow worker out of work or increase the power of capital, 
then you are not only helping to make things harder for others 
like you, you are also helping making things worse for yourself. 
No person is an island, and increasing the clout of capital over 
the working class is going to affect you directly or indirectly. 
And, of course, it seems crazy to suggest 
that workers desire to experience insecurity, fear of downsizing 
and stagnating wages during their working lives in order to have 
slightly more money when they retire.
<p>
This highlights one of the tricks the capitalists are using against 
us, namely to get us to buy into the system through our fear of old age. 
Whether it is going into lifelong debt to buy a home or lending our 
money to capitalists, we are being encouraged to buy into something 
which we value more than what is right and wrong. This allows us to 
be more easily controlled by the government. We need to get away 
from living in fear and stop allowing ourselves to be deceived 
into behaving like "stakeholders" in Capitalistic and Plutocratic 
systems. As can be seen from the use of pension funds to buy
out firms, increase the size of transnationals and downsize
the workforce, such "stakeholding" amounts to trading in the
present </b>and</b> the future while others benefit.
<p>
The real enemies are <b>not</b> working people who take part in such
pension schemes. It is the people in power, those who manage the 
pension schemes and companies, who are trying to squeeze every 
last cent out of working people to finance higher profits and stock
prices -- which the unemployment and impoverishment of workers on 
a world-wide scale aids. They control the governments of the world. 
They are making the "rules" of the current system. Hence the 
importance of limiting the money they have available, of creating 
community-based credit unions and mutual risk insurance 
co-operatives to increase our control over our money and create our
own, alternative, means of credit and exchange (as presented as
mutualism) which can be used to empower ourselves, aid our struggles
and create our own alternatives. Money, representing as it does the 
power of capital and the authority of the boss, is not "neutral" and 
control over it plays a role in the class struggle. We ignore such
issues at our own peril.
<p>
<a name="secj57"><h2>J.5.7 Do most anarchists think mutual credit is sufficient 
to abolish capitalism?</h2>
<p>
The short answer is no, they do not. While the Individualist Anarchists
and Mutualists (followers of Proudhon) do think that mutual banking is
the only sure way of abolishing capitalism, most anarchists do not see 
mutualism as an end in itself. Few think that capitalism can be 
reformed away in the manner assumed by Proudhon. Increased access to
credit does not address the relations of production and market power 
which exist within the economy and so any move for financial transformation 
has to be part of a broader attack on all forms of capitalist social power 
in order to be both useful and effective (see section <a href="secB3.html#secb32">B.3.2</a> for more 
anarchist views on mutual credit and its uses). So, for most anarchists, 
it is only in combination with other forms of working class self-activity 
and self-management that mutualist institutions could play an important 
role in the class struggle. 
<p>
By creating a network of mutual banks to aid in creating co-operatives, union 
organising drives, supporting strikes (either directly by gifts/loans or 
funding food and other co-operatives which could supply food and other 
essentials free or at a reduction), mutualism can be used as a means of 
helping build libertarian alternatives within the capitalist system. Such 
alternatives, while making life better under the current system, also can 
play a role in overcoming that system by being a means of aiding those in 
struggle make ends meet and providing alternative sources of income for 
black-listed or sacked workers. Thus Bakunin's comments:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"let us co-operate in our common enterprise to make our lives a little
bit more supportable and less difficult. Let us, wherever possible,
establish producer-consumer co-operatives and mutual credit societies which,
though under the present economic conditions they cannot in any real or
adequate way free us, are nevertheless important inasmuch they train the
workers in the practices of managing the economy and plant the precious 
seeds for the organisation of the future."</i> [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, 
p. 173]
</blockquote><p>
Therefore, while few anarchists think that mutualism would be enough
in itself, it can play a role in the class struggle. As a compliment to
direct action and workplace and community struggle and organisation,
mutualism has an important role in working class self-liberation. For 
example, community unions (see section <a href="secJ5.html#secj51">J.5.1</a>) could create their own
mutual banks and money which could be used to fund co-operatives and
support strikes and other forms of social struggle. In this way a 
healthy communalised co-operative sector could develop within capitalism,
overcoming the problems of isolation facing workplace co-operatives
(see section <a href="secJ5.html#secj511">J.5.11</a>) as well as providing a firm framework of support
for those in struggle.
<p>
Moreover, mutual banking can be a way of building upon and strengthening 
the anarchistic social relations within capitalism. For even under 
capitalism and statism, there exists extensive mutual aid and, indeed, 
anarchistic and communistic ways of living. For example, communistic 
arrangements exist within families, between friends and lovers and 
within anarchist organisations.
<p>
Mutual banking could be a means of creating a bridge between this 
alternative (gift) "economy" and capitalism. The mutualist alternative
economy would help strength communities and bonds of trust between 
individuals, and this would increase the scope for increasing the scope 
of the communistic sector as more and more people help each other out 
without the medium of exchange - in other words, mutualism will help 
the gift economy that exists within capitalism to grow and develop.
<p>
<a name="secj58"><h2>J.5.8 What would a modern system of mutual banking look like?</h2>
<p>
The mutual banking ideas of Proudhon could be adapted to the conditions of
modern society, as will be described in what follows. (Note: Proudhon is
the definitive source on mutualism, but for those who don't read French,
there are the works of his American disciples, e.g. William B. Greene's
<b>Mutual Banking</b>, and Benjamin Tucker's <b>Instead of a Book by a Man 
Too Busy to Write One</b>).
<p>
One scenario for an updated system of mutual banking would be for a
community barter association to begin issuing an alternative currency
accepted as money by all individuals within the system. This "currency"
would not at first take the form of coins or bills, but would be
circulated entirely through transactions involving the use of barter-cards, 
personal checks, and "e-money" transfers via modem/Internet. Let's call 
this currency-issuing type of barter association a "mutual barter 
clearinghouse," or just "clearinghouse" for short. 
<p>
The clearinghouse would have a twofold mandate: first, to extend credit
at cost to members; second, to manage the circulation of credit-money within 
the system, charging only a small service fee (probably one percent or less)
which is sufficient to cover its costs of operation, including labour costs
involved in issuing credit and keeping track of transactions, insuring
itself against losses from uncollectable debts, and so forth.
<p>
The clearinghouse would be organised and function as follows. Members 
of the original barter association would be invited to become
subscriber-members of the clearinghouse by pledging a certain amount of
property as collateral. On the basis of this pledge, an account would be
opened for the new member and credited with a sum of mutual dollars
equivalent to some fraction of the assessed value of the property pledged.
The new member would agree to repay this amount plus the service fee
by a certain date. The mutual dollars in the new account could then be
transferred through the clearinghouse by using a barter card, by writing a
personal check, or by sending e-money via modem to the accounts of other
members, who have agreed to receive mutual money in payment for all
debts. 
<p>
The opening of this sort of account is, of course, the same as taking out
a "loan" in the sense that a commercial bank "lends" by extending credit
to a borrower in return for a signed note pledging a certain amount of
property as security. The crucial difference is that the clearinghouse
does not purport to be "lending" a sum of money that it <b>already has,</b> as
is fraudulently claimed by commercial banks. Instead it honestly admits
that it is creating new money in the form of credit. New accounts can
also be opened simply by telling the clearinghouse that one wants an
account and then arranging with other people who already have balances to
transfer mutual money into one's account in exchange for goods or
services. 
<p>
Another form is that associated with LETS systems. In this a number of 
people get together to form an association. They create a unit of exchange
(which is equal in value to a unit of the national currency usually),
choose a name for it and offer each other goods and services priced in
these units. These offers and wants are listed in a directory which is
circulated periodically to members. Members decide who they wish to
trade with and how much trading they wish to do. When a transaction is
completed, this is acknowledged with a "cheque" made out by the buyer 
and given to the seller. These are passed on to the system accounts
administration which keeps a record of all transactions and periodically
sends members a statement of their accounts. The accounts administration
is elected by, and accountable to, the membership and information about
balances is available to all members.
<p>
Unlike the first system described, members do not have to present property
as collateral. Members of a LETS scheme can go into "debt" without it,
although "debt" is the wrong word as members are not so much going into
debt as committing themselves to do some work within the system in the
future and by so doing they are creating spending power. The willingness
of members to incur such a commitment could be described as a service to
the community as others are free to use the units so created to trade
themselves. Indeed, the number of units in existence exactly matches
the amount of real wealth being exchanged. The system only works if 
members are willing to spend and runs on trust and builds up trust 
as the system is used. 
<p>
It is likely that a fully functioning mutual banking system would
incorporate aspects of both these systems. The need for collateral may be
used when members require very large loans while the LETS system of
negative credit as a commitment to future work would be the normal
function of the system. If the mutual bank agrees a maximum limit for
negative balances, it may agree to take collateral for transactions
that exceed this limit. However, it is obvious that any mutual banking
system will find the best means of working in the circumstances it
finds itself.
<p>
<a name="secj59"><h2>J.5.9 How does mutual credit work?</h2>
<p>  
Let's consider an example of how business would be transacted in the new
system. There are two possibilities, depending on whether the mutual
credit is based upon whether the creditor can provide collateral or
not. we will take the case with collateral first.
<p>
Suppose that A, an organic farmer, pledges as collateral a certain plot 
of land that she owns and on which she wishes to build a house. The land 
is valued at, say, $40,000 in the capitalist market. By pledging the land, 
A is able to open a credit account at the clearinghouse for, say, $30,000 
in mutual money (a ratio of 3/4). She does so knowing that there are 
many other members of the system who are carpenters, electricians, 
plumbers, hardware dealers, and so on who are willing to accept mutual 
dollars in payment for their products or services.
<p>
It's easy to see why other subscriber-members, who have also obtained
mutual credit and are therefore in debt to the clearinghouse for mutual
dollars, would be willing to accept such dollars in return for their goods
and services. For they need to collect mutual dollars to repay their
debts. But why would someone who is not in debt for mutual dollars be
willing to accept them as money? 
<p>
To see why, let's suppose that B, an underemployed carpenter, currently
has no account at the clearinghouse but that he knows about the
clearinghouse and the people who operate it. After examining its list of
members and becoming familiar with the policies of the new organisation,
he's convinced that it does not extend credit frivolously to untrustworthy
recipients who are likely to default. He also knows that if he contracts
to do the carpentry on A's new house and agrees to be paid for his work in
mutual money, he'll then be able to use it to buy groceries, clothes, car
repairs, and other goods and services from various people in the community
who already belong to the system. 
<p>
Thus B will be willing, and perhaps even eager (especially if the economy
is in recession and regular money is tight) to work for A and receive
payment in mutual dollars. For he knows that if he is paid, say, $8,000
in mutual money for his labour on A's house, this payment constitutes, in
effect, 20 percent of a mortgage on her land, the value of which is
represented by her mutual credit. B also understands that A has promised
to repay this mortgage by producing new value -- that is, by growing
organic fruits and vegetables and selling them for mutual dollars to other
members of the system -- and that it is this promise to produce new wealth
which gives her mutual credit its value as a medium of exchange. 
<p>
To put this point slightly differently, A's mutual credit can be thought
of as a lien against goods or services which she has guaranteed to create
in the future. As security of this guarantee, she agrees that if she is
unable for some reason to fulfil her obligation, the land she has pledged
will be sold for mutual dollars to other members. In this way, a value
sufficient to cancel her debt (and probably then some) will be returned to
the system. This provision insures that the clearinghouse is able to
balance its books and gives members confidence that mutual money is sound.
<p>
It should be noticed that since new wealth is continually being created,
the basis for new mutual credit is also being created at the same time. 
Thus, suppose that after A's new house has been built, her daughter, C,
along with a group of friends D, E, F, . . . , decide that they want to
start a collectively owned and operated organic restaurant (which will
incidentally benefit A, as an outlet for her produce), but that C and her
friends do not have enough collateral to obtain a start-up loan. A,
however, is willing to co-sign a note for them, pledging her new house
(valued at say, $80,000) as security. On this basis, C and her partners
are able to obtain $60,000 worth of mutual credit, which they then use to
buy equipment, supplies, furniture, advertising, etc. and lease the
building necessary to start their restaurant. 
<p>
This example illustrates one way in which people without property are able
to obtain credit in the new system. Another way -- for those who cannot
find (or perhaps don't wish to ask) someone with property to co-sign for
them -- is to make a down payment and then use the property which is to be
purchased on credit as security, as in the current method of obtaining a
home or auto loan. With mutual credit, however, this form of financing
can be used to purchase anything, including capital goods.
<p>
Which brings us to the case of an individual without means for providing
collateral - say, for example A, the organic farmer, does not own the
land she works. In such a case, A, who still desires work done, would
contact other members of the mutual bank with the skills she requires.
Those members with the appropriate skills and who agree to work with
her commit themselves to do the required tasks. In return, A gives
them a check in mutual dollars which is credited to their account and
deducted from hers. She does not pay interest on this issue of credit
and the sum only represents her willingness to do some work for other
members of the bank at some future date.
<p>
The mutual bank does not have to worry about the negative balance, as
this does not create a loss within the group as the minuses which have
been incurred have already created wealth (pluses) within the system
and it stays there. It is likely, of course, that the mutual bank
would agree an upper limit on negative balances and require some form
of collateral for credit greater than this limit, but for most exchanges
this would be unlikely to be relevant.
<p>
It is important to remember that mutual dollars have no <b>intrinsic</b> value, 
since they can't be redeemed (at the mutual bank) in gold or anything else. 
All they are promises of future labour. Thus, as Greene points out in
his work on mutual banking, mutual dollars are <i>"a mere medium for the
facilitation of barter."</i> In this respect they are closely akin to the
so-called "barter dollars" now being circulated by barter associations
through the use of checks and barter cards. To be precise, then, we
should refer to the units of mutual money as "mutual barter dollars." But
whereas ordinary barter dollars are created at the same time that a barter
transaction occurs and are used to record the values exchanged in that
transaction, mutual barter dollars are created <b>before</b> any actual barter
transaction occurs and are intended to facilitate <b>future</b> barter
transactions. This fact is important because it can be used as the basis
for a legal argument that clearinghouses are essentially barter
associations rather than banks, thrifts, or credit unions, and therefore
should not be subject to the laws governing the latter institutions.
<p>
<a name="secj510"><h2>J.5.10 Why do anarchists support co-operatives?</h2>
<p>
Support for co-operatives is a common feature in anarchist writings. Indeed,
anarchist support for co-operatives is as old as use of the term anarchist to
describe our ideas is. So why do anarchists support co-operatives? Basically
it is because a co-operative is seen as an example of the future social
organisation anarchists want in the present. As Bakunin argued, <i>"the
co-operative system. . . carries within it the germ of the future economic
order."</i> [<b>The Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 385]
<p>
Anarchists support all kinds of co-operatives - housing, food, credit unions
and productive ones. All forms of co-operation are useful as they accustom
their members to work together for their common benefit as well as ensuring
extensive experience in managing their own affairs. As such, all forms of
co-operatives are useful examples of self-management and anarchy in action
(to some degree). However, here we will concentrate on productive 
co-operatives, i.e. workplace co-operatives. This is because workplace
co-operatives, potentially, could <b>replace</b> the capitalist mode of production
with one based upon associated, not wage, labour. As long as capitalism
exists within industry and agriculture, no amount of other kinds of
co-operatives will end that system. Capital and wealth accumulates by 
oppression and exploitation in the workplace, therefore as long as wage
slavery exists anarchy will not. 
<p>
Co-operatives are the <i>"germ of the future"</i> because of two facts. Firstly, 
co-operatives are based on one worker, one vote. In other words those who do 
the work manage the workplace within which they do it (i.e. they are based 
on workers' self-management in some form). Thus co-operatives are an example 
of the "horizontal" directly democratic organisation that anarchists support 
and so are an example of "anarchy in action" (even if in an imperfect way)
within the economy. In addition, they are an example of working class 
self-help and self-activity. Instead of relying on others to provide work, 
co-operatives show that production can be carried on without the existence 
of a class of masters employing a class of order takers.
<p>
Workplace co-operatives also present evidence of the viability of an anarchist
"economy." It is well established that co-operatives are usually more 
productive and efficient than their capitalist equivalents. This indicates
that hierarchical workplaces are <b>not</b> required in order to produce
useful goods and indeed can be harmful. Indeed, it also indicates that
the capitalist market does not actually allocate resources efficiently
(as we will discuss in section <a href="secJ5.html#secj512">J.5.12</a>). 
So why should co-operatives be more efficient?
<p>
Firstly there are the positive effects of increased liberty associated
with co-operatives. 
<p>
Co-operatives, by abolishing wage slavery, obviously increases the liberty 
of those who work in them. Members take an active part in the management 
of their working lives and so authoritarian social relations are replaced 
by libertarian ones. Unsurprisingly, this liberty also leads to an increase 
in productivity - just as wage labour is more productive than slavery, so 
associated labour is more productive than wage slavery. Little wonder 
Kropotkin argued that <i>"the only guarantee not to be robbed of the fruits 
of your labour is to possess the instruments of labour. . . man really 
produces most when he works in freedom, when he has a certain choice in 
his occupations, when he has no overseer to impede him, and lastly, when 
he sees his work bringing profit to him and to others who work like him, 
but bringing in little to idlers."</i> [<b>The Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 145]
<p>
There are also the positive advantages associated with participation
(i.e. self-management, liberty in other words). Within a self-managed, 
co-operative workplace, workers are directly involved in decision
making and so these decisions are enriched by the skills, experiences 
and ideas of all members of the workplace. In the words of Colin
Ward:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"You can be <b>in</b> authority, or you can be <b>an</b> 
authority, or you can <b>have</b> authority. The first 
derives from your rank in some chain of
command, the second derives special knowledge, and the third from
special wisdom. But knowledge and wisdom are not distributed in 
order of rank, and they are no one person's monopoly in any 
undertaking. The fantastic inefficiency of any hierarchical 
organisation -- any factory, office, university, warehouse or 
hospital -- is the outcome of two almost invariable characteristics.
One is that the knowledge and wisdom of the people at the bottom
of the pyramid finds no place in the decision-making leadership
hierarchy of the institution. Frequently it is devoted to making
the institution work in spite of the formal leadership structure,
or alternatively to sabotaging the ostensible function of the
institution, because it is none of their choosing. The other is
that they would rather not be there anyway: they are there
through economic necessity rather than through identification
with a common task which throws up its own shifting and
functional leadership.
<p>
"Perhaps the greatest crime of the industrial system is the way
it systematically thwarts the investing genius of the majority
of its workers."</i> [<b>Anarchy in Action</b>, p. 41]
<p></blockquote>
Also, as workers also own their place of work, they have an interest 
in developing the skills and abilities of their members and, obviously, 
this also means that there are few conflicts within the workplace. 
Unlike capitalist firms, there is no need for conflict between bosses 
and wage slaves over work loads, conditions or the division of value 
created between them. All these factors will increase the quality,
quantity and efficiency of work and so increases efficient utilisation of
available resources and facilities the introduction of new techniques and
technologies.
<p>
Secondly, the increased efficiency of co-operatives results from the benefits
associated with co-operation itself. Not only does co-operation increase
the pool of knowledge and abilities available within the workplace and
enriches that source by communication and interaction, it also ensures that 
the workforce are working together instead of competing and so wasting
time and energy. As Alfie Kohn notes (in relation to investigations of 
in-firm co-operation):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Dean Tjosvold of Simon Frazer. . .conducted [studies] at utility companies,
manufacturing plants, engineering firms, and many other kinds of organisations.
Over and over again, Tjosvold has found that 'co-operation makes a work force
motivated' whereas 'serious competition undermines co-ordination.' . . . 
Meanwhile, the management guru. . . T. Edwards Demming, has declared that
the practice of having employees compete against each other is 'unfair [and]
destructive. We cannot afford this nonsense any longer. . . [We need to]
work together on company problems [but] annual rating of performance, 
incentive pay, [or] bonuses cannot live with team work. . . What takes
the joy out of learning. . .[or out of] anything? Trying to be number one.'"</i>
[<b>No Contest</b>, p. 240]
</blockquote><p>
(The question of co-operation and participation within capitalist firms will
be discussed in section <a href="secJ5.html#secj512">J.5.12</a>).
<p>
Thirdly, there are the benefits associated with increased equality. Studies 
prove that business performance deteriorates when pay differentials become 
excessive. In a study of over 100 businesses (producing everything from 
kitchen appliances to truck axles), researchers found that the greater the 
wage gap between managers and workers, the lower their product's quality. 
[Douglas Cowherd and David Levine, <i>"Product Quality and Pay Equity,"</i>
<b>Administrative Science Quarterly</b> no. 37 (June 1992), pp. 302-30] Businesses 
with the greatest inequality were plagued with a high employee turnover 
rate. Study author David Levine said: <i>"These organisations weren't able to 
sustain a workplace of people with shared goals."</i> [quoted by John Byrne in 
<i>"How high can CEO pay go?"</i> <b>Business Week</b>, April 22, 1996]
<p>
(In fact, the negative effects of income inequality can be seen on a national
level as well. Economists Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini conducted a
thorough statistical analysis of historical inequality and growth, and found
that nations with more equal incomes generally experience faster productive
growth. [<i>"Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?"</i>, <b>American Economic Review</b>
no. 84, June 1994, pp. 600-21] Numerous other studies have also confirmed 
their findings. Real life yet again disproves the assumptions of 
capitalism - inequality harms us all, even the capitalist economy which
produces it).
<p>
This is to be expected. Workers, seeing an increasing amount of the value
they create being monopolised by top managers and a wealthy elite and not
re-invested into the company to secure their employment prospects, will
hardly be inclined to put in that extra effort or care about the quality
of their work. Managers who use the threat of unemployment to extract
more effort from their workforce are creating a false economy. While they
will postpone decreasing profits in the short term due to this adaptive 
strategy (and enrich themselves in the process) the pressures placed
upon the system will bring a harsh long term effects - both in terms of 
economic crisis (as income becomes so skewed as to create realisation 
problems and the limits of adaptation are reached in the face of 
international competition) and social breakdown.
<p>
As would be imagined, co-operative workplaces tend to be more egalitarian 
than capitalist ones. This is because in capitalist firms, the incomes of
top management must be justified (in practice) to a small number of
individuals (namely, those shareholders with sizeable stock in the firm), 
who are usually quite wealthy and so not only have little to lose in 
granting huge salaries but are also predisposed to see top managers as
being very much like themselves and so are entitled to comparable incomes.
In contrast, the incomes of top management in worker controlled firms
have to be justified to a workforce whose members experience the relationship
between management incomes and their own directly and who, no doubt, are
predisposed to see their top managers as being workers like themselves
and accountable to them. Such an egalitarian atmosphere will have a positive 
impact on production and efficiency as workers will see that the value
they create is not being accumulated by others but distributed according
to work actually done (and not control over power). In the Mondragon 
co-operatives, for example, the maximum pay differential is 14 to 1 
(increased from 3 to 1 in a response to outside pressures after much
debate, with the actual maximum differential at 9 to 1) while (in the
USA) the average CEO is paid over 140 times the average factory worker
(up from 41 times in 1960).
<p>
Therefore, we see that co-operatives prove (to a greater or lesser extent)
the advantages of (and interrelationship between) key anarchist principles
such as liberty, equality, solidarity and self-management. Their application,
whether all together or in part, has a positive impact on efficiency and
work -- and, as we will discuss in section <a href="secJ5.html#secj512">J.5.12</a>, the capitalist market 
actively <b>blocks</b> the spread of more efficient productive techniques instead 
of encouraging them. Even by its own standards, capitalism stands condemned 
- it does not encourage the efficient use oof resources and actively places 
barriers in the development of human "resources."
<p>
From all this its clear to see why co-operatives are supported by anarchists.
We are <i>"convinced that the co-operative could, potentially, replace capitalism
and carries within it the seeds of economic emancipation. . . The workers
learn from this precious experience how to organise and themselves conduct
the economy without guardian angels, the state or their former employers."</i>
[Michael Bakunin, <b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 399] 
Co-operatives give us a useful insight 
into the possibilities of a free, socialist, economy. Even within the 
hierarchical capitalist economy, co-operatives show us that a better 
future is possible and that production can be organised in a co-operative 
fashion and that by so doing we can reap the individual and social 
benefits of working together as equals.
<p>
However, this does not mean that all aspects of the co-operative movement 
find favour with anarchists. As Bakunin pointed out, <i>"there are two kinds
of co-operative: bourgeois co-operation, which tends to create a privileged 
class, a sort of new collective bourgeoisie organised into a stockholding 
society: and truly Socialist co-operation, the co-operation of the future 
which for this very reason is virtually impossible of realisation at 
present."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 385] In other words, while co-operatives 
are the
germ of the future, in the present they are often limited by the 
capitalist environment they find themselves and narrow their vision to
just surviving within the current system.
<p>
For most anarchists, the experience of co-operatives has proven without
doubt that, however excellent in principle and useful in practice, if they
are kept within the narrow circle of "bourgeois" existence they cannot
become dominant and free the masses. This point is argued in Section 
<a href="secJ5.html#secj511">J.5.11</a>
and so will be ignored here. In order to fully develop, co-operatives must
be part of a wider social movement which includes community and industrial
unionism and the creation of a anarchistic social framework which can 
encourage <i>"truly Socialist co-operation"</i> and discourage <i>"bourgeois
co-operation."</i> As Murray Bookchin correctly argues, <i>"[r]emoved from
a libertarian municipalist [or other anarchist] context and movement
focused on achieving revolutionary municipalist [or communalist] goals
as a <b>dual power</b> against corporations and the state, food [and other
forms of] co-ops are little more than benign enterprises that capitalism
and the state can easily tolerate with no fear of challenge."</i> [<b>Democracy
and Nature</b> no. 9, p. 175]
<p>
Therefore, while co-operatives are an important aspect of anarchist ideas and
practice, they are not the be all or end all of our activity. Without a
wider social movement which creates all (or at least most) of the future
society in the shell of the old, co-operatives will never arrest the growth
of capitalism or transcend the narrow horizons of the capitalist economy.
<p>
<a name="secj511"><h2>J.5.11 If workers really want self-management, why aren't there more producer co-operatives?</h2>
<p>
Supporters of capitalism suggest that producer co-operatives would spring 
up spontaneously if workers really wanted them. Their argument is that
co-operatives could be financed at first by <i>"wealthy radicals"</i> or by
affluent workers pooling their resources to buy out existing capitalist
firms; then, if such co-operatives were really economically viable and
desired by workers, they would spread until eventually they undermined
capitalism. They conclude that since this is not happening, it must be
because workers' self-management is either economically unfeasible or is
not really attractive to workers or both (see, for example, Robert Nozick, 
<b>Anarchy, State, and Utopia</b>, pp. 250-52).
<p>
David Schweickart has decisively answered this argument by showing that 
the reason there are not more producer co-operatives is structural:  
<p><blockquote>
<i>"A worker-managed firm lacks an expansionary dynamic. When a capitalist
enterprise is successful, the owner can increase her profits by
reproducing her organisation on a larger scale. She lacks neither the
means nor the motivation to expand. Not so with a worker-managed firm. 
Even if the workers have the means, they lack the incentive, because
enterprise growth would bring in new workers with whom the increased
proceeds would have to be shared.  Co-operatives, even when prosperous, 
do not spontaneously grow. But if this is so, then each new co-operative
venture (in a capitalist society) requires a new wealthy radical or a new
group of affluent radical workers willing to experiment. Because such
people doubtless are in short supply, it follows that the absence of a
large and growing co-operative movement proves nothing about the viability
of worker self-management, nor about the preferences of workers."</i> 
[<b>Against Capitalism</b>, p. 239]
</blockquote><p>
There are other structural problems as well. For one thing, since their
pay levels are set by members' democratic vote, co-operatives tend to be
more egalitarian in their income structure.  But this means that in a
capitalist environment, co-operatives are in constant danger of having
their most skilled members hired away. Moreover, there is a difficulty in
raising capital: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Quite apart from ideological hostility (which may be
significant), external investors will be reluctant to put their money into
concerns over which they will have little or no control -- which tends to
be the case with a co-operative. Because co-operatives in a capitalist
environment face special difficulties, and because they lack the inherent
expansionary dynamic of a capitalist firm, it is hardy surprising that
they are far from dominant."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p 240]
</blockquote><p>
In addition, co-operatives face the negative externalities generated
by a capitalist economy. The presence of wage labour and investment capital
in the economy will tempt successful co-operatives to increase their flexibility
to adjust to changes in market changes by hiring workers or issuing shares
to attract new investment. In so doing, however, they may end up losing their
identities as co-operatives by diluting ownership or by making the co-operative
someone's boss:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"To meet increased production, the producer co-operatives hired outside
wage workers. This created a new class of workers who exploit and profit
from the labour of their employees. And all this fosters a bourgeois
mentality."</i> [Michael Bakunin, <b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 399]
</blockquote><p>
Hence the pressures of working in a capitalist market may result in 
co-operatives pursuing activities which may result in short term gain or
survival, but are sure to result in harm in the long run. Far from
co-operatives slowly expanding within and changing a capitalist environment 
it is more likely that capitalist logic will expand into and change the
co-operatives that work in it (this can be seen from the Mondragon 
co-operatives, where there has been a slight rise in the size of wage 
labour being used and the fact that the credit union, since 1992, has 
invested in non-co-operative firms). These externalities imposed upon 
isolated co-operatives within capitalism (which would not arise within a 
fully co-operative context) block local moves towards anarchism. The idea 
that co-operation will simply win out in competition within well developed
capitalist economic systems is just wishful thinking. Just because a 
system is more liberatory and just does not mean it will survive in an
authoritarian economic and social environment.
<p>
There are also cultural problems as well. As Jon Elster points out, it is
a <i>"truism, but an important one, that workers' preferences are to a large
extent shaped by their economic environment. Specifically, there is a 
tendency to adaptive preference formation, by which the actual mode of
economic organisation comes to be perceived as superior to all others."</i>
[<i>"From Here to There"</i>, in <b>Socialism</b>, p. 110] In other words, people 
view "what is" as given and feel no urge to change to "what could be." 
In the context of creating alternatives within capitalism, this can 
have serious effects on the spread of alternatives and indicates the 
importance of anarchists encouraging the spirit of revolt to break 
down this mental apathy.
<p>
This acceptance of "what is" can be seen, to some degree, by some
companies which meet the formal conditions for co-operatives, for
example ESOP owned firms in the USA, but lack effective workers' control. 
ESOP (Employee Stack Ownership Plans) firms enable a firms workforce
to gain the majority of a companies shares but the unequal distribution 
of shares amongst employees prevents the great majority of workers from
having any effective control or influence on decisions. Unlike real
co-operatives (based on "one worker, one vote") these firms are based
on "one share, one vote" and so have more in common with capitalist
firms than co-operatives.
<p>
Moreover, we have ignored such problems as natural barriers to entry
into, and movement within, a market (which is faced by all firms) and 
the difficulties co-operatives can face in finding access to long term 
credit facilities required by them from capitalist banks (which would 
effect co-operatives more as short term pressures can result in their 
co-operative nature being diluted). As Tom Cahill notes, the <i>"old co-ops
[of the nineteenth century] also had the specific problem of . . . 
<b>giving credit</b> . . . [as well as] problems . . . of <b>competition
with price cutting capitalist</b> firms, highlighting the inadequate
reservoirs of the under-financed co-ops."</i> [<i>"Co-operatives and
Anarchism: A contemporary Perspective"</i>, in <b>For Anarchism</b>, edited 
by Paul Goodway, p. 239]
<p>
In addition, the <i>"return on capital is limited"</i> in co-operatives [Tom
Cahill, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 247] which means that investors are less-likely
to invest in co-operatives, and so co-operatives will tend to suffer
from a lack of investment. Which also suggests that Nozick's argument
that <i>"don't say that its against the class interest of investors to
support the growth of some enterprise that if successful would end
or diminish the investment system. Investors are not so altruistic.
They act in personal and not their class interests"</i> is false 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
pp. 252-3]. Nozick is correct, to a degree -- but given a choice between
high returns from investments in capitalist firms and lower ones
from co-operatives, the investor will select the former. This does
not reflect the productivity or efficiency of the investment --
quite the reverse! -- it reflects the social function of wage
labour in maximising profits and returns on capital (see <a href="secJ5.html#secj512">next section</a> for more on this). 
In other words, the personal interests of investors will generally 
support their class interests (unsurprisingly, as class interests 
are not independent of personal interests and will tend to reflect 
them!).
<p>
Tom Cahill outlines the investment problem when he writes that 
the <i>"financial problem"</i> is a major reason why co-operatives failed
in the past, for <i>"basically the unusual structure and aims of
co-operatives have always caused problems for the dominant sources
of capital. In general, the finance environment has been hostile
to the emergence of the co-operative spirit. . ."</i> And he also 
notes that they were <i>"unable to devise structuring to <b>maintain 
a boundary</b> between those who work and those who own or control. . . 
It is understood that when outside investors were allowed to have 
power within the co-op structure, co-ops lost their distinctive 
qualities."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 238-239] Meaning that even <b>if</b>
co-operative do attract investors, the cost of so doing may be
to transform the co-operatives into capitalist firms.
<p> 
Thus, in spite of <i>"empirical studies suggest[ing] that co-operatives are
at least as productive as their capitalist counterparts,"</i> with many
having <i>"an excellent record, superior to conventionally organised firms
over a long period"</i> [Jon Elster, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 96], co-operatives are more
likely to adapt to capitalism than replace it and adopt capitalist 
principles of rationality in order to survive. All things being equal,
co-operatives are more efficient than their capitalist counterparts - but
when co-operatives compete in a capitalist economy, all things are <b>not</b>
equal.
<p>
In spite of these structural and cultural problems, however, there has been 
a dramatic increase in the number of producer co-operatives in most Western 
countries in recent years. For example, Saul Estrin and Derek Jones report 
that co-operatives in the UK grew from 20 in 1975 to 1,600 by 1986; in 
France they increased from 500 to 1,500; and in Italy, some 7,000 new
co-operatives came into existence between 1970 and 1982 [<i>"Can Employee-owned 
Firms Survive?"</i>, Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Hamilton 
College (April, May, 1989)]. Italian co-operatives now number well over 
20,000, many of them large and having many support structures as well
(which aids their development by reducing their isolation and providing
long term financial support lacking within the capitalist market). 
<p>
We have already noted the success of the Mondragon co-operatives in Spain,
which created a cluster of inter-locking co-operatives with its own credit
union to provide long term financial support and commitment. Thus, in Europe 
at least, it appears that there <b>is</b> a rather <i>"large and growing co-operative 
movement,"</i> which gives the lie to Nozick's and other supporters of 
capitalism arguments about co-operatives' lack of economic viability 
and/or attractiveness to workers. 
<p>
However, because co-operatives can survive in a capitalist economy it does 
not automatically mean that they shall <b>replace</b> that economy. Isolated
co-operatives, as we argued above, will more likely adapt to capitalist
realities than remain completely true to their co-operative promise. For
most anarchists, therefore, co-operatives can reach their full potential
only as part of a social movement aiming to change society. As part of
a wider movement of community and workplace unionism, with mutualist banks
to provide long terms financial support and commitment, co-operatives 
could be communalised into a network of solidarity and support that 
will reduce the problems of isolation and adaptation. Hence Bakunin:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"We hardly oppose the creation of co-operative associations; we find
them necessary in many respects. . . they accustom the workers to
organise, pursue, and manage their interests themselves, without
interference either by bourgeois capital or by bourgeois control. . .
[they must] above all [be] founded on the principle of solidarity and
collectivity rather than on bourgeois exclusivity, then society will
pass from its present situation to one of equality and justice without
too many great upheavals."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 153]
</blockquote><p>
Co-operation <i>"will prosper, developing itself fully and freely, embracing
all human industry, only when it is based on equality, when all capital
. . . [and] the soil, belong to the people by right of collective
property."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>]
<p>
Until then, co-operatives will exist within capitalism but not replace it
by market forces - only a <b>social</b> movement and collective action can
fully secure their full development. As David Schweickart argues: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Even if worker-managed firms are preferred by the vast majority, and 
even if they are more productive, a market initially dominated by capitalist 
firms may not select for them. The common-sense neo-classical dictum that only 
those things that best accord with people's desires will survive the struggle 
of free competition has never been the whole truth with respect to anything; 
with respect to workplace organisation it is barely a half-truth."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 240]
</blockquote><p>
This means that while anarchists support, create and encourage co-operatives
within capitalism, they understand <i>"the impossibility of putting into 
practice the co-operative system under the existing conditions of the 
predominance of bourgeois capital in the process of production and 
distribution of wealth."</i> Because of 
this, most anarchists stress the need for more combative organisations 
such as industrial and community unions and other bodies <i>"formed,"</i>
to use Bakunin's words, <i>"for the organisation of toilers against the
privileged world"</i> in order to help bring about a free society. 
[Michael Bakunin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 185]
<p>
<a name="secj512"><h2>J.5.12 If self-management is more efficient, surely capitalist firms will be forced to introduce it by the market?</h2>
<p>
While it may be admitted that co-operatives cannot reform capitalism away
(see <a href="secJ5.html#secj511">last section</a>), many supporters of "free market" capitalism will claim 
that a laissez-faire system would see workers self-management spread within 
capitalism. This is because, as self-management is more efficient than
wage slavery, those capitalist firms that introduce it will gain a
competitive advantage, and so their competitors will be forced to 
introduce it or go bust. While not being true anarchistic production, 
it would (it is argued) be a very close approximation of it and so 
capitalism could reform itself naturally to get rid of (to a large degree) 
its authoritarian nature.
<p>
While such a notion seems plausible in theory, in practice it does not 
work. Free market capitalism places innumerable barriers to the spread of 
worker empowering structures within production, in spite (perhaps, as we
will see, <b>because</b>) of their more efficient nature. This can be seen 
from the fact that while the increased efficiency associated with workers' 
participation and self-management has attracted the attention of many 
capitalist firms, the few experiments conducted have failed to spread.
This is due, essentially, to the nature of capitalist production and
the social relationships it produces.
<p>
As we noted in <a href="secD10.html">section D.10</a>, 
capitalist firms (particularly in the west) 
made a point of introducing technologies and management structures that 
aimed to deskill and disempower their workers. In this way, it was hoped 
to make the worker increasingly subject to "market discipline" (i.e. easier 
to train, so increasing the pool of workers available to replace any specific 
worker and so reducing workers power by increasing management's power to fire 
them). Of course, what actually happens is that after a short period of 
time while management gained the upper hand, the workforce found newer 
and more effective ways to fight back and assert their productive power 
again. While for a short time the technological change worked, over
the longer period the balance of forces changed, so forcing management to
continually try to empower themselves at the expense of the workforce.
<p>
It is unsurprising that such attempts to reduce workers to order-takers 
fail. Workers' experiences and help are required to ensure production
actually happens at all. When workers carry out their orders strictly and
faithfully (i.e. when they "work to rule") production threatens to stop.
So most capitalists are aware of the need to get workers to "co-operate" 
within the workplace to some degree. A few capitalist companies have
gone further. Seeing the advantages of fully exploiting (and we do mean 
exploiting) the experience, skills, abilities and thoughts of their employers 
which the traditional authoritarian capitalist workplace denies them, some
have introduced various schemes to "enrich" and "enlarge" work, increase 
"co-operation" between workers and their bosses. In other words, some 
capitalist firms have tried to encourage workers to "participate" in
their own exploitation by introducing (in the words of Sam Dolgoff) <i>"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."</i>
[<b>The Anarchist Collectives</b>, p. 81] The management and owners still have
the power and still reap the majority of benefits from the productive
activity of the workforce. 
<p>
David Noble provides a good summary of the problems associated with
experiments in workers' self-management within capitalist firms:
<p><blockquote><i>
"Participant in such programs can indeed be a liberating and 
exhilarating experience, awakening people to their own untapped 
potential and also to the real possibilities of collective worker 
control of production. As one manager described the former pilots 
[workers in a General Electric program]: 'These people will never 
be the same again. They have seen that things can be different.' 
But the excitement and enthusiasm engendered by such programs, as 
well as the heightened sense of commitment to a common purpose, can 
easily be used against the interests of the work force. First, that 
purpose is not really 'common' but is still determined by management 
alone, which continues to decide what will be produced, when, and 
where. Participation in production does not include participation 
in decisions on investment, which remains the prerogative of 
ownership. Thus participation is, in reality, just a variation of
business as usual -- taking orders -- but one which encourages
obedience in the name of co-operation.
<p>
"Second, participation programs can contribute to the creation
of an elite, and reduced, work force, with special privileges
and more 'co-operative' attitudes toward management -- thus at
once undermining the adversary stance of unions and reducing
membership . . .
<p>
"Thirds, such programs enable management to learn from workers
-- who are now encouraged by their co-operaative spirit to
share what they know -- and, then, in Taylorist tradition,
to use this knowledge against the workers. As one former pilot
reflected, 'They learned from the guys on the floor, got their
knowledge about how to optimise the technology and then, once
they had it, they eliminated the Pilot Program, put that 
knowledge into the machines, and got people without any
knowledge to run them -- on the Company's terms and without
adequate compensation. They kept all the gains for themselves.'"
. . .
<p>
"Fourth, such programs could provide management with a way
to circumvent union rules and grievance procedures or
eliminate unions altogether. . ."</i> [<b>Forces of Production</b>,
pp. 318-9]
<p></blockquote>
Therefore, capitalist-introduced and supported "workers' control" is 
very like the situation when a worker receives stock in the company 
they work for. If it goes some way toward redressing the gap between 
the value of that person's labour, and the wage they receive for it, 
that in itself cannot be a totally bad thing (although, of course,
this does not address the issue of workplace hierarchy and the
social relations within the workplace itself). The real downside of 
this is the "carrot on a stick" enticement to work harder -- if you 
work extra hard for the company, your stock will be worth more. 
Obviously, though, the bosses get rich off you, so the more you 
work, the richer they get, the more you are getting ripped off. It 
is a choice that anarchists feel many workers cannot afford to make -- 
they need or at least want the money - but we believe that the stock 
does not work for many workers, who end up working harder, for less. 
After all, stocks do not represent all profits (large amounts of which 
end up in the hands of top management) nor are they divided just among 
those who labour. Moreover, workers may be less inclined to take direct 
action, for fear that they will damage the value of "their" company's 
stock, and so they may find themselves putting up with longer, more 
intense work in worse conditions.
<p>
However, be that as it may, the results of such capitalist experiments 
in "workers' control" are interesting and show <b>why</b> self-management
will not spread by market forces (and they also bear direct relevance 
to the question of why <b>real</b> co-operatives are not widespread within 
capitalism -- see <a href="secJ5.html#secj511">last section</a>).
<p>
According to one expert <i>"[t]here is scarcely a study in the entire 
literature which fails to demonstrate that satisfaction in work is 
enhanced or. . .productivity increases occur from a genuine increase
in worker's decision-making power. Findings of such consistency, I
submit, are rare in social research."</i> [Paul B. Lumberg, cited by
Hebert Gintis, <i>"The nature of Labour Exchange and the Theory of
Capitalist Production"</i>, <b>Radical Political Economy</b> 
vol. 1, p. 252]
<p>
In spite of these findings, a <i>"shift toward participatory relationships
is scarcely apparent in capitalist production. . . [this is] not
compatible with the neo-classical assertion as to the efficiency of
the internal organisation of capitalist production."</i> [Herbert Gintz,
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 252] Why is this the case?
<p>
Economist William Lazonick indicates the reason when he writes that 
<i>"[m]any 
attempts at job enrichment and job enlargement in the first half of the 
1970s resulted in the supply of more and better effort by workers. Yet 
many 'successful' experiments were cut short when the workers whose work 
had been enriched and enlarged began questioning traditional management 
prerogatives inherent in the existing hierarchical structure of the 
enterprise."</i> [<b>Competitive Advantage on the Shop Floor</b>, p. 282]
<p>
This is an important result, as it indicates that the ruling sections within 
capitalist firms have a vested interest in <b>not</b> introducing such schemes, 
even though they are more efficient methods of production. As can easily be 
imagined, managers have a clear incentive to resist participatory schemes 
(and David Schweickart notes, such resistance, <i>"often bordering on sabotage, 
is well known and widely documented"</i> [<b>Against Capitalism</b>, 
p. 229]). As
an example of this, David Noble discusses a scheme (called the Pilot
Program) ran by General Electric at Lynn, Massachusetts, USA in the 
late 1960s:
<p><blockquote><i>
"After considerable conflict, GE introduced a quality of work life
program . . . which gave workers much more control over the machines
and the production process and eliminated foremen. Before long, by
all indicators, the program was succeeding -- machine use, output
and product quality went up; scrap rate, machine downtime, worker
absenteeism and turnover when down, and conflict on the floor
dropped off considerably. Yet, little more than a year into the
program -- following a union demand that it be extended throughout
the shop and into other GE locations -- top management abolished
the program out of fear of losing control over the workforce. 
Clearly, the company was willing to sacrifice gains in technical
and economic efficiency in order to regain and insure management
control."</i> [<b>Progress Without People</b>, p. 65f]
<p></blockquote>
However, it could be claimed that owners, being concerned by the 
bottom-line of profits, could <b>force</b> management to introduce 
participation. By this method, competitive market forces would 
ultimately prevail as individual owners, pursuing profits, 
reorganise production and participation spreads across the 
economy. Indeed, there are a few firms that <b>have</b> introduced 
such schemes, but there has been no tendency for them to spread. 
This contradicts "free market" capitalist economic theory which 
states that those firms which introduce more efficient techniques 
will prosper and competitive market forces will ensure that other 
firms will introduce the technique. 
<p>
This is for three reasons. 
<p>
Firstly, the fact is that within "free market" capitalism 
<b>keeping</b> 
(indeed strengthening) skills and power in the hands of the workers 
makes it harder for a capitalist firm to maximise profits (i.e. 
unpaid labour). It strengthens the power of workers, who can use
that power to gain increased wages (i.e. reduce the amount of
surplus value they produce for their bosses).
<p>
Workers' control basically leads to a usurpation of capitalist 
prerogatives -- including their share of revenues and their
ability to extract more unpaid labour during the working day. 
While in the short run workers' control may lead to higher 
productivity (and so may be toyed with), in the long run, it 
leads to difficulties for capitalists to maximise their profits. 
So, <i>"given that profits depend on the integrity of the labour exchange, 
a strongly centralised structure of control not only serves the 
interests of the employer, but dictates a minute division of labour 
irrespective of considerations of productivity. For this reason, 
the evidence for the superior productivity of 'workers control' 
represents the most dramatic of anomalies to the neo-classical
theory of the firm: worker control increases the effective amount 
of work elicited from each worker and improves the co-ordination of
work activities, while increasing the solidarity and delegitimising
the hierarchical structure of ultimate authority at its root; hence
it threatens to increase the power of workers in the struggle over 
the share of total value."</i> [Hebert Gintz, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 264]
<p>
So, a workplace which had extensive workers participation would 
hardly see the workers agreeing to reduce their skill levels, 
take a pay cut or increase their pace of work simply to enhance 
the profits of capitalists. Simply put, profit maximisation is not 
equivalent to technological efficiency. By getting workers to 
work longer, more intensely or in more unpleasant conditions can 
increase profits but does not yield more output for the <b>same</b> 
inputs. Workers' control would curtail capitalist means of 
enhancing profits by changing the quality and quantity of work. 
It is <b>this</b> requirement which also aids in understanding why 
capitalists will not support workers' control -- even though 
it is more efficient, it reduces the ability of capitalists to 
maximise profits by minimising labour costs. Moreover, demands 
to change the nature of workers' inputs into the production 
process in order to maximise profits for capitalists would 
provoke a struggle over the time and intensity of work and 
over the share of value added going to workers, management 
and owners and so destroy the benefits of participation. 
<p>
Thus power within the workplace plays a key role in explaining 
why workers' control does not spread -- it reduces the ability
of bosses to extract more unpaid labour from workers.
<p>
The second reason is related to the first. It too is based on 
the power structure within the company but the power is related to 
control over the surplus produced by the workers rather than the 
ability to control how much surplus is produced in the first place
(i.e. power over workers).
<p>
Hierarchical management is the way to ensure that profits
are channelled into the hands of a few. By centralising power,
the surplus value produced by workers can be distributed in 
a way which benefits those at the top (i.e. management and 
capitalists). Profit maximisation under capitalism means the
maximum profits available for capitalists -- <b>not</b> the maximum
difference between selling price and cost as such. This difference
explains the strange paradox of workers' control experiments
being successful but being cancelled by management. The paradox 
is easily explained once the hierarchical nature of capitalist
production (i.e. of wage labour) is acknowledged. Workers' control, 
by placing (some) power in the hands of workers, undermines the 
authority of management and, ultimately, their power to control the 
surplus produced by workers and allocate it as they see fit. Thus, 
while workers' control does reduce costs, increase efficiency and 
productivity (i.e. maximise the difference between prices and costs) 
it (potentially) reduces profit maximisation by undermining the 
power (and so privileges) of management to allocate that surplus 
as they see fit. 
<p>
Increased workers' control reduces the capitalists potential to 
maximise <b>their</b> profits and so will be opposed by both management
<b>and</b> owners. Indeed, it can be argued that hierarchical control
of production exists solely to provide for the accumulation of
capital in a few hands, <b>not</b> for efficiency or productivity 
(see Stephan A. Margin, <i>"What do Bosses do? The Origins and
Functions of Hierarchy in Capitalist Production"</i>, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 178-248). This is why profit maximisation 
does not entail efficiency and can actively work against it.
<p>
As David Noble argues, power is the key to understanding capitalism,
<b>not</b> the drive for profits as such:
<p><blockquote><i>
"In opting for control [over the increased efficiency of workers'
control] . . . management . . . knowingly and, it must be assumed,
willingly, sacrificed profitable production. Hence [experiences
such as] the Pilot Program [at GE] . . . illustrates not only the
ultimate management priority of power over both production and
profit within the firm, but also the larger contradiction between
the preservation of private power and prerogatives, on the one
hand, and the social goals of efficient, quality, and useful
production, on the other . . . 
<p>
"It is a common confusion, especially on the part of those trained
in or unduly influenced by formal economics (liberal and Marxist
alike), that capitalism is a system of profit-motivated, efficient
production. This is not true, nor has it ever been. If the drive
to maximise profits, through private ownership and control over
the process of production, it has never been the end of that 
development. The goal has always been domination (and the power
and privileges that go with it) and the preservation of 
domination. There is little historical evidence to support the
view that, in the final analysis, capitalists play by the rules
of the economic game imagined by theorists. There is ample
evidence to suggest, on the other hand, that when the goals
of profit-making and efficient production fail to coincide 
with the requirements of continued dominance, capital will
resort to more ancient means: legal, political, and, of need
be, military. Always, behind all the careful accounting, lies
the threat of force. This system of domination has been
legitimated in the past by the ideological invention that
private ownership of the means of production and the pursuit
of profit via production are always ultimately beneficial to
society. Capitalism delivers the goods, it is argued, better,
more cheaply, and in larger quantity, and in so doing, fosters
economic growth . . . The story of the Pilot Program -- and
it is but one among thousands like it in U.S. industry --
raises troublesome questions about the adequacy of this 
mythology as a description of reality."</i> 
[<b>Forces of Production</b>, pp. 321-2]
</blockquote><p>
Hierarchical organisation (i.e. domination) is essential to 
ensure that profits are controlled by a few and can, therefore, 
be allocated by them in such a way to ensure their power and
privileges. By undermining management authority, workers'
control undermines that power to maximise profits in a certain
direction even though it increases "profits" (the difference
between prices and costs) in the abstract. As workers' control 
starts to extend (or management sees its potential to spread) 
into wider areas such as investment decisions, how to allocate 
the surplus (i.e. profits) between wages, investment, dividends, 
management pay and so on, then they will seek to end the project
in order to ensure their power over both the workers and the
surplus they, the workers, produce. In this they will be supported 
by those who actually own the company who obviously would not 
support a regime which will not ensure the maximum return on 
their investment. This maximum return would be endangered by 
workers' control, even though it is technically more efficient,
as control over the surplus rests with the workers and not a
management elite with similar interests and aims as the owners -- 
an egalitarian workplace would produce an egalitarian distribution
of surplus, in other words (as proven by the experience of
workers' co-operatives). In the words of one participant of
the GE workers' control project -- <i>"If we're all one, for 
manufacturing reasons, we must share in the fruits equitably,
just like a co-op business."</i> [quoted by Noble, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 295]
Such a possibility is one no owner would agree to.
<p>
Thirdly, to survive within the "free" market means to concentrate 
on the short term. Long terms benefits, although greater, are 
irrelevant. A free market requires profits <b>now</b> and so a firm 
is under considerable pressure to maximise short-term profits 
by market forces (a similar situation occurs when firms invest 
in "green" technology, see <a href="secE5.html">section E.5</a>).
<p>
Participation requires trust, investment in people and technology and 
a willingness to share the increased value added that result from workers'
participation with the workers who made it possible. All these factors 
would eat into short term profits in order to return richer rewards in the 
future. Encouraging participation thus tends to increase long term
gains at the expense of short-term ones (for it ensures that workers
do not consider participation as a con, they must experience <b>real</b>
benefits in terms of power, conditions and wage rises). For firms within 
a free market environment, they are under pressure from share-holders 
and their financiers for high returns as soon as possible. If a company 
does not produce high dividends then it will see its stock fall as 
shareholders move to those companies that do. Thus the market 
<b>forces</b> 
companies (and banks, who in turn loan over the short term to companies) 
to act in such ways as to maximise short term profits. 
<p>
If faced with a competitor which is not making such investments (and
which is investing directly into deskilling technology or intensifying
work loads which lowers their costs) and so wins them market share, or
a downturn in the business cycle which shrinks their profit margins 
and makes it difficult for the firm to meet its commitments to its 
financiers and workers, a company that intends to invest in people 
and trust will usually be rendered unable to do so. Faced with the 
option of empowering people in work or deskilling them and/or using 
the fear of unemployment to get workers to work harder and follow 
orders, capitalist firms have consistently chosen (and probably 
preferred) the latter option (as occurred in the 1970s).
<p>
Thus, workers' control is unlikely to spread through capitalism because
it entails a level of working class consciousness and power that is
incompatible with capitalist control. In other words, <i>"[i]f the
hierarchical division of labour is necessary for the extraction of
surplus value, then worker preferences for jobs threatening capitalist
control will not be implemented."</i> [Hebert Gintis, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 253]
The reason why it is more efficient, ironically, ensures that a
capitalist economy will not select it. The "free market" will 
discourage empowerment and democratic workplaces, at best reducing 
"co-operation" and "participation" to marginal issues (and management 
will still have the power of veto).
<p>
In addition, moves towards democratic workplaces within capitalism is an
example of the system in conflict with itself -- pursuing its objectives
by methods which constantly defeat those same objectives. As Paul Carden
argues, the <i>"capitalist system can only maintain itself by trying to
reduce workers into mere order-takers. . . At the same time the system
can only function as long as this reduction is never achieved. . . [for]
the system would soon grind to a halt. . . [However] capitalism constantly
has to <b>limit</b> this <b>participation</b> 
(if it didn't the workers would soon
start deciding themselves and would show in practice now superfluous the
ruling class really is)."</i> [<b>Revolution and Modern 
Capitalism</b>, pp. 45-46]
<p>
The experience of the 1970s supports this thesis well. Thus "workers' 
control" within a capitalist firm is a contradictory thing - too little
power and it is meaningless, too much and workplace authority structures
and short-term profits (i.e. capitalist share of value added) can be 
harmed. Attempts to make oppressed, exploited and alienated workers 
work if they were neither oppressed, exploited nor alienated will 
always fail.
<p>
For a firm to establish committed and participatory relations internally,
it must have external supports - particularly with providers of
finance (which is why co-operatives benefit from credit unions and
co-operating together). The price mechanism proves self-defeating to
create such supports and that is why we see "participation" more fully
developed within Japanese and German firms (although it is still along
way from fully democratic workplaces), who have strong, long term
relationships with local banks and the state which provides them with
the support required for such activities. As William Lazonick notes,
Japanese industry had benefited from the state ensuring <i>"access to
inexpensive long-term finance, the sine qua non of innovating 
investment strategies"</i> along with a host of other supports, such as
protecting Japanese industry within their home markets so they
could <i>"develop and utilise their productive resources to the point 
where they could attain competitive advantage in international
competition."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 305] The German state provides its
industry with much of the same support.
<p>
Therefore, "participation" within capitalist firms will have little or
no tendency to spread due to the "automatic" actions of market forces.
In spite of such schemes being more efficient, capitalism will not
select them because they empower workers and make it hard for capitalists
to maximise their short term profits. Hence capitalism, by itself, will 
have no tendency to produce more libertarian organisational forms within 
industry. Those firms that do introduce such schemes will be the exception 
rather than the rule (and the schemes themselves will be marginal in most 
respects and subject to veto from above). For such schemes to spread, 
collective action is required (such as state intervention to create the 
right environment and support network or -- from an anarchist point of 
view -- union and community direct action). 
<p>
However such schemes, as noted above, are just forms of self-exploitation, 
getting workers to help their robbers and so <b>not</b> a development 
anarchists seek to encourage. We have discussed this here just to be 
clear that, firstly, such forms of structural reforms are <b>not</b> 
self-management, as managers and owners still have the real power, 
and, secondly, even if such forms are somewhat liberatory, market forces 
will not select them (i.e. collective action would be required).
<p>
For anarchists <i>"self-management is not a new form of mediation between
workers and their bosses . . . [it] 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."</i>
[Sam Dolgoff, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 81] Hence our support for co-operatives, unions
and other self-managed structures created and organised from below by 
and for working class people. 
<p>
<a name="secj513"><h2>J.5.13 What are Modern Schools?</h2>
<p>
Modern schools are alternative schools, self-managed by students, teachers
and parents which reject the authoritarian schooling methods of the
modern "education" system. Such schools have a feature of the anarchist
movement since the turn of the 20th century while interest in libertarian
forms of education has been a feature of anarchist theory from the beginning.
All the major anarchist thinkers, from Godwin through Proudhon, Bakunin 
and Kropotkin to modern activists like Colin Ward, have stressed the 
importance of libertarian (or "rational") education, education that 
develops all aspects of the student (mental and physical -- and so termed
"integral" education) as well as encouraging critical thought and mental 
freedom. The aim of such education is, to use Proudhon's words, ensure
that the <i>"industrial worker, the man [sic!] of action and the intellectual 
would all be rolled into one"</i> [cited by Steward Edward in <b>The Paris 
Commune</b>, p. 274]
<p>
Anyone involved in radical politics, constantly and consistently challenges 
the role of the state's institutions and their representatives within our 
lives. The role of bosses, the police, social workers, the secret service, 
middle managers, doctors and priests are all seen as part of a hierarchy 
which exists to keep us, the working class, subdued. It is relatively 
rare though for the left-wing to call into question the role of teachers. 
Most left wing activists and a large number of libertarians believe that 
education is good, all education is good, and education is always good. 
As Henry Barnard, the first US commissioner of education, appointed in 
1867, exhorted, <i>"education always leads to freedom"</i>.
<p>
Those involved in libertarian education believe the contrary. They
believe that national education systems exist only to produce citizens
who'll be blindly obedient to the dictates of the state, citizens who
will uphold the authority of government even when it runs counter to
personal interest and reason, wage slaves who will obey the orders of
their boss most of the time and consider being able to change bosses
as freedom. They agree with William Godwin (one of the earliest critics
of national education systems) when he wrote in <b>An Enquiry Concerning
Political Justice</b> that <i>"the project of a national education ought to be
discouraged on account of its obvious alliance with national government
. . . Government will not fail to employ it to strengthen its hand
and perpetuate its institutions. . .Their views as instigator of a 
system will not fail to be analogous to their views in their political 
capacity."</i> [cited by Colin Ward, <b>Anarchy in Action</b>,
p. 81]
<p>
With the growth of industrialism in the 19th century schools triumphed, 
not through a desire to reform but as an economic necessity.  Industry 
did not want free thinking individuals, it wanted workers, instruments 
of labour, and it wanted them punctual, obedient, passive and willing 
to accept their disadvantaged position. According to Nigel Thrift, many 
employers and social reformers became convinced that the earliest 
generations of workers were almost impossible to discipline (i.e. to get 
accustomed to wage labour and workplace authority). They looked to children, 
hoping that <i>"the elementary school could be used to break the labouring 
classes into those habits of work discipline now necessary for factory 
production. . . Putting little children to work at school for very 
long hours at very dull subjects was seen as a positive virtue, for 
it made them habituated, not to say naturalised, to labour and fatigue."</i> 
[quoted by Juliet B. Schor in <b>The Overworked American</b>, p. 61]
<p>
Thus supporters of Modern Schools recognise that the role of education 
is an important one in maintaining hierarchical society -- for government
and other forms of hierarchy (such as wage labour) must always depend on 
the opinion of the governed. Franciso Ferrer (the most famous supporter 
of Modern Schooling due to his execution by the Spanish state in 1909) 
argued that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Rulers have always taken care to control the education of the people. They
know their power is based almost entirely on the school and they insist on
retaining their monopoly. The school is an instrument of domination in the
hands of the ruling class."</i> [cited by Clifford Harper, <b>Anarchy: A Graphic 
Guide</b>, p. 100]
</blockquote><p>
Little wonder, then, that Emma Goldman argued that the <i>"modern method of 
education"</i> has <i>"little regard for personal liberty and originality of 
thought. Uniformity and imitation is [its] motto"</i> and that the school 
<i>"is for the child what the prison is for the convict and the barracks 
for the solder - a place where everything is being used to break the 
will of the child, and then to pound, knead, and shape it into a being 
utterly foreign to itself."</i> [<b>Red Emma Speaks</b>, p. 118, p. 116] 
<p>
Hence the importance of Modern Schools. It is a means of spreading
libertarian education within a hierarchical society and undercut one
of the key supports for that society -- the education system. Instead
of hierarchical education, Modern schools exist to <i>"develop the
individual through knowledge and the free play of characteristic
traits, so that [the child] may become a social being, because
he had learned to know himself [or herself], to know his [or her]
relation to his fellow[s]. . . "</i> [Emma Goldman, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 121]
It would, in Stirner's words, be <i>"an education for freedom, not 
for subservience."</i>
<p>
The Modern School Movement (also known as the Free School Movement)
over the past century has been an attempt to represent part of this
concern about the dangers of state and church schools and the need 
for libertarian education. The idea of libertarian education is that 
knowledge and learning should be linked to real life processes and 
personal usefulness and should not be the preserve of a special 
institution. Thus Modern Schools are an attempt to establish an 
environment for self development in an overly structured and 
rationalised world. An oasis from authoritarian control and as 
a means of passing on the knowledge to be free. 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The underlying principle of the Modern School is this: education is
a process of drawing out, not driving in; it aims at the possibility
that the child should be left free to develop spontaneously, directing
his [or her] own efforts and choosing the branches of knowledge 
which he desires to study. . . the teacher . . . should be a sensitive
instrument responding to the needs of the child . . . a channel 
through which the child may attain so much of the ordered knowledge
of the world as he shows himself [or herself] ready to receive and
assimilate"</i>. [Emma Goldman, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 126]
</blockquote><p>
The Modern School bases itself on libertarian education techniques.
Libertarian education, very broadly, seeks to produce children who 
will demand greater personal control and choice, who think for
themselves and question all forms of authority:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"We don't hesitate to say we want people who will continue to develop.
People constantly capable of destroying and renewing their surroundings 
and themselves: whose intellectual independence is their supreme power, 
which they will yield to none; always disposed for better things, eager 
for the triumph of new ideas, anxious to crowd many lives into the life 
they have. It must be the aim of the school to show the children that 
there will be tyranny as long as one person depends on another."</i> 
[Ferrer, quoted by Clifford Harper, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 100]
</blockquote><p>
Thus the Modern School insists that the child is the centre of gravity 
in the education process -- and that education is just that, <b>not</b>
indoctrination:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"I want to form a school of emancipation, concerned with banning from the
mind whatever divides people, the false concepts of property, country and
family so as to attain the liberty and well-being which all desire. I will
teach only simple truth. I will not ram dogma into their heads. I will not
conceal one iota of fact. I will teach not what to think but how to think."</i>
[Ferrer, cited by Harper, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 99-100]
</blockquote><p>
The Modern School has no rewards or punishments, exams or mark -- the 
everyday <i>"tortures"</i> of conventional schooling. And because practical 
knowledge is more useful than theory, lessons were often held in factories, 
museums or the countryside. The school was also used by the parents, and 
Ferrer planned a Popular University.
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Higher education, for the privileged few, should be for the general 
public, as every human has a right to know; and science, which is 
produced by observers and workers of all countries and ages, ought 
not be restricted to class."</i> [Ferrer, cited by Harper, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 100]
</blockquote><p>
Thus Modern Schools are based on encouraging self-education in a
co-operative, egalitarian and libertarian atmosphere in which the
pupil (regardless of age) can develop themselves and their interests
to the fullest of their abilities. In this way Modern Schools seek
to create anarchists by a process of education which respects the
individual and gets them to develop their own abilities in a 
conducive setting. 
<p>
Modern Schools have been a constant aspect of the anarchist movement
since the later 1890s. The movement was started in France by Louise
Michel and Sebastien Faure, where Franciso Ferrer became acquainted
with them. He founded his Modern School in Barcelona in 1901, and
by 1905 there were 50 similar schools in Spain (many of them funded
by anarchist groups and trade unions and, from 1919 onward, by the 
C.N.T. -- in all cases the autonomy of the schools was respected). In 
1909, Ferrer was falsely accused by the Spanish government of leading an 
insurrection 
and executed in spite of world-wide protest and overwhelming proof of his 
innocence. His execution, however, gained him and his educational ideas 
international recognition and inspired a Modern School progressive 
education movement in Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Germany, 
Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Argentina, Brazil, 
Mexico, China, Japan and, on the greatest scale, in the USA.
<p>
However, for most anarchists, Modern Schools are not enough in themselves
to produce a libertarian society. They agree with Bakunin's argument
that <i>"[f]or individuals to be moralised and become fully human . . .
three things are necessary: a hygienic birth, all-round education,
accompanied by an upbringing based on respect for labour, reason,
equality, and freedom and a social environment wherein each human
individual will enjoy full freedom and really by, <b>de jure</b> and <b>de 
facto</b>, the equal of every other.
<p>
"Does this environment exist? No. Then it must be established. . . 
[otherwise] in the existing social environment . . . on leaving
[libertarian] schools they [the student] would enter a society
governed by totally opposite principles, and, because society is 
always stronger than individuals, it would prevail over them . . .
[and] demoralise them."</i> [<b>The Basic Bakunin</b>, p, 174]
<p>
Because of this, Modern Schools must be part of a mass working class
revolutionary movement which aims to build as many aspects of the new 
world as possible in the old one before, ultimately, replacing it. 
Otherwise they are just useful as social experiments and their impact 
on society marginal. Little wonder, then, that Bakunin supported the 
International Workers Association's resolution that urged <i>"the various 
sections [of the International] to establish public courses . . . 
[based on] all-round instruction, in order to remedy as much as possible 
the insufficient education that workers currently receive."</i> [quoted by 
Bakunin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 175] 
<p>
Thus, for anarchists, this process of education is <b>part of</b> the class 
struggle, not in place of it and so <i>"the workers [must] do everything 
possible to obtain all the education they can in the material circumstances 
in which they currently find themselves . . . [while] concentrat[ing] their 
efforts on the great question of their economic emancipation, the mother 
of all other emancipations."</i> [Michael Bakunin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 175]
<p>
Before finishing, we must stress that hierarchical education (like the media), 
cannot remove the effects of actual life and activity in shaping/changing
people and their ideas, opinions and attitudes. While education is an 
essential part of maintaining the status quo and accustoming people to 
accept hierarchy, the state and wage slavery, it cannot stop individuals
from learning from their experiences, ignoring their sense of right and
wrong, recognising the injustices of the current system and the ideas that
it is based upon. This means that even the best state (or private) education 
system will still produce rebels -- for the <b>experience</b> of wage slavery and
state oppression (and, most importantly, <b>struggle</b>) is shattering to the 
<b>ideology</b> spoon-fed children during their "education" and reinforced by
the media. 
<p>
For more information on Modern Schools see Paul Avrich's <b>The Modern
School Movement: Anarchism and education in the United States</b>, 
Emma Goldman's essay <i>"Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School"</i> in
<b>Anarchism and Other Essays</b> and A.S Neil's <b>Summerhill</b>. For a good
introduction to anarchist viewpoints on education see <i>"Kropotkin and
technical education: an anarchist voice"</i> by Michael Smith in <b>For 
Anarchism</b> and Michael Bakunin's <i>"All-Round Education"</i> in <b>The Basic 
Bakunin</b>. For an excellent summary of the advantages and benefits 
of co-operative learning, see Alfie Kohn's <b>No Contest</b>.
<p>
<a name="secj514"><h2>J.5.14 What is Libertarian Municipalism?</h2>
<p>
In his article <i>"Theses on Libertarian Municipalism"</i> [in <b>The Anarchist
Papers</b>, Black Rose Press, 1986], Murray Bookchin has proposed a
non-parliamentary electoral strategy for anarchists. He has repeated
this proposal in many of his later works, such as <b>From Urbanisation to
Cities</b> and has made it -- at least in the USA -- one of the many 
alternatives anarchists are involved in. The main points of his argument 
are summarised below, followed by a brief commentary. 
<p>
According to Bookchin, <i>"the proletariat, as do all oppressed sectors of
society, comes to life when it sheds its industrial habits in the free 
and spontaneous activity of <b>communising,</b> or taking part in the 
political life of the community."</i> In other words, Bookchin thinks that
democratisation of local communities may be as strategically important, 
or perhaps more important, to anarchists than workplace struggles. 
<p>
Since local politics is humanly scaled, Bookchin argues that it can be
participatory rather than parliamentary. Or, as he puts it, <i>"[t]he 
anarchic ideal of decentralised, stateless, collectively managed, and 
directly democratic communities -- of confederated municipalities or 
'communes' -- speaks almost intuitively, and in the best works of 
Proudhon and Kropotkin, consciously, to the transforming role of 
libertarian municipalism as the framework of a liberatory society. . . "</i> 
He also points out that, historically, the city has been the principle
countervailing force to imperial and national states, haunting them as 
a potential challenge to centralised power and continuing to do so 
today, as can be seen in the conflicts between national government and
municipalities in many countries.
<p>
But, despite the libertarian potential of urban politics, "urbanisation"
-- the growth of the modern megalopolis as  a vast wasteland of suburbs,
shopping malls, industrial parks, and slums that foster political apathy
and isolation in realms of alienated production and private consumption --
is antithetical to the continued existence of those aspects of the city
that might serve as the framework for a libertarian municipalism. <i>"When
urbanisation will have effaced city life so completely that the city no
longer has its own identity, culture, and spaces for consociation, the
bases for democracy -- in whatever way the word in defined -- will have
disappeared and the question of revolutionary forms will be a shadow game
of abstractions."</i> 
<p>
Despite this danger, however, Bookchin thinks that a libertarian politics
of local government is still possible, provided anarchists get their act
together. <i>"The Commune still lies buried in the city council; the
sections still lie buried in the neighbourhood; the town meeting still lies
buried in the township; confederal forms of municipal association still
lie buried in regional networks of towns and cities."</i> 
<p>
What would anarchists do electorally at the local level? Bookchin
proposes that they change city and town charters to make political
institutions participatory. <i>"An organic politics based on such radical
participatory forms of civic association does not exclude the right of
anarchists to alter city and town charters such that they validate the
existence of directly democratic institutions. And if this kind of
activity brings anarchists into city councils, there is no reason why such
a politics should be construed as parliamentary, particularly if it is
confined to the civic level and is consciously posed against the state."</i> 
<p>
In a latter essay, Bookchin argues that Libertarian Muncipalism <i>"depends
upon libertarian leftists running candidates at the local level, calling
for the division of municipalities into wards, where popular assemblies
can be created that bring people into full and direct participation in
political life . . . municipalities would [then] confederate into a
dual power to oppose the nation-state and ultimately dispense with it
and with the economic forces that underpin statism as such."</i> [<b>Democracy
and Nature</b> no. 9, p. 158] This would be part of a social wide 
transformation, whose <i>"[m]inimal steps . . . include initiating Left 
Green municipalist movements that propose neighbourhood and town 
assemblies - even if they have only moral functions at first - and
electing town and city councillors that advance the cause of these 
assemblies and other popular institutions. These minimal steps can
lead step-by-step to the formation of confederal bodies. . . Civic
banks to fund municipal enterprises and land purchases; the fostering
of new ecologically-orientated enterprises that are owned by the 
community. . ."</i> [<b>From Urbanisation to Cities</b>, p. 266]
<p>
Thus Bookchin sees Libertarian Muncipalism as a process by which the
state can be undermined by using elections as the means of creating
popular assemblies. Part of this process, he argues, would be the 
<i>"municipalisation of property"</i> which would <i>"bring the economy <b>as
a whole</b> into the orbit of the public sphere, where economic policy
could be formulated by the <b>entire</b> community."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b> p. 235] 
<p>
Bookchin considers Libertarian Muncipalism as the key means of
creating an anarchist society, and argues that those anarchists
who disagree with it are failing to take their politics seriously.
<i>"It is curious,"</i> he notes, <i>"that many anarchists who celebrate the
existence of a 'collectivised' industrial enterprise, here and there, 
with considerable enthusiasm despite its emergence within a thoroughly
bourgeois economic framework, can view a municipal politics that entails
'elections' of any kind with repugnance, even if such a politics is
structured around neighbourhood assemblies, recallable deputies, radically
democratic forms of accountability, and deeply rooted localist networks."</i> 
[<i>"Theses on Libertarian Municipalism"</i>]
<p>
In evaluating Bookchin's proposal, several points come to mind. 
<p>
Firstly, it is clear that Libertarian Muncipalism's arguments in
favour of community assemblies is important and cannot be ignored.
Bookchin is right to note that, in the past, many anarchists placed
far too much stress on workplace struggles and workers' councils
as the framework of a free society. Many of the really important
issues that affect us cannot be reduced to workplace organisations,
which by their very nature disenfranchise those who do not work
in industry (such as housewives, the old, and so on). And, of
course, there is far more to life than work and so any future
society organised purely around workplace organisations is
reproducing capitalism's insane glorification of economic activity,
at least to some degree. So, in this sense, Libertarian Muncipalism 
has a very valid point -- a free society will be created and
maintained within the community as well as in the workplace.
<p>
Secondly, Bookchin and other Libertarian Muncipalists are totally
correct to argue that anarchists should work in their local communities.
As noted in section <a href="secJ5.html#secj51">J.5.1</a>, many anarchists are doing just that and
are being very successful as well. However, most anarchists reject
the idea that using elections are a viable means of <i>"struggle toward
creating new civic institutions out of old ones (or replacing the
old ones altogether)."</i> [<b>From Urbanisation to Cities</b>, p. 267]
<p>
The most serious problem has to do with whether politics in most cities
has already become too centralised, bureaucratic, inhumanly scaled, and
dominated by capitalist interests to have any possibility of being taken
over by anarchists running on platforms of participatory democratisation. 
Merely to pose the question seems enough to answer it. There is no such
possibility in the vast majority of cities, and hence it would be a waste
of time and energy for anarchists to support libertarian municipalist
candidates in local elections -- time and energy that could be more
profitably spent in direct action. If the central governments are too
bureaucratic and unresponsive to be used by Libertarian Municipalists,
the same can be said of local ones too.
<p>
The counter-argument to this is that even if there is no chance of such
candidates being elected, their standing for elections would serve a
valuable educational function. The answer to this is: perhaps, but would
it be more valuable than direct action? And would its educational value,
if any, outweigh the disadvantages of electioneering mentioned in sections
<a href="secJ2.html#secj22">J.2.2</a> and <a href="secJ2.html#secj24">J.2.4</a>, such as the fact that voting ratifies the current system? 
Given the ability of major media to marginalise alternative candidates, we
doubt that such campaigns would have enough educational value to outweigh
these disadvantages. Moreover, being an anarchist does not make one immune
to the corrupting effects of electioneering (as highlighted in section 
<a href="secJ2.html#secj26">J.2.6</a>). History is littered with radical, politically aware movements 
using elections and ending up becoming part of the system they aimed to
transform. Most anarchists doubt that Libertarian Muncipalism will be
any different -- after all, it is the circumstances the parties find 
themselves in which are decisive, not the theory they hold (the social
relations they face will transform the theory, not vice versa, in other
words).
<p>
Lastly, most anarchists question the whole process on which Libertarian
Muncipalism bases itself on. The idea of communes is a key one of anarchism 
and so strategies to create them in the here and now are important. However, 
to think that using alienated, representative institutions to abolish
these institutions is mad. As the Italian activists (who organised a 
neighbourhood assembly by non-electoral means) argue, <i>"[t]o accept power
and to say that the others were acting in bad faith and that we would
be better, would <b>force</b> non-anarchists towards direct democracy. We
reject this logic and believe that organisations must come from the
grassroots."</i> [<i>"Community Organising in Southern Italy"</i>, pp. 16-19, 
<b>Black Flag</b> no. 210, p. 18]
<p>
Thus Libertarian Municipalism reverses the process by which community
assemblies will be created. Instead of anarchists using elections to
build such bodies, they must work in their communities directly to
create them (see section J.5.1 - <a href="secJ5.html#secj51">"What is Community Unionism?"</a> for
more details). Using the catalyst of specific issues of local interest,
anarchists could propose the creation of a community assembly to discuss
the issues in question and organise action to solve them. Instead of
a <i>"confederal muncipalist movement run[ning] candidates for municipal
councils with demands for the institution of public assemblies"</i> [Murray
Bookchin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 229] anarchists should encourage people to
create these institutions themselves and empower themselves by
collective self-activity. As Kropotkin argued, <i>"Laws can only <b>follow</b> 
the accomplished facts; and even if they do honestly follow them - which 
is usually <b>not</b> the case - a law remains a dead letter so long as there 
are not on the spot the living forces required for making the <b>tendencies</b> 
expressed in the law an accomplished <b>fact</b>."</i> [<b>Kropotkin's Revolutionary 
Pamphlets</b>, p. 171] Most anarchists, therefore, think it is far more
important to create the <i>"living forces"</i> within our communities directly
than waste energy in electioneering and the passing of laws creating or
"legalising" community assemblies. In other words, community assemblies 
can only be created from the bottom up, by non-electoral means, a process
which Libertarian Muncipalism confuses with electioneering. 
<p>
So, while Libertarian Muncipalism <b>does</b> raise many important issues
and correctly stresses the importance of community activity and
self-management, its emphasis on electoral activity undercuts its
liberatory promise. For most anarchists, community assemblies can
only be created from below, by direct action, and (because of its
electoral strategy) a Libertarian Municipalist movement will end up 
being transformed into a copy of the system it aims to abolish.
<p>
<a name="secj515"><h2>J.5.15 What attitude do anarchists take to the welfare state?</h2>
<p>
Currently we are seeing a concerted attempt to rollback the state within
society. This has been begun by the right-wing in the name of "freedom,"
"individual dignity and responsibility" and "efficiency." The position
of anarchists to this process is mixed. On the one hand, we are all in
favour of reducing the size of the state and increasing individual
responsibility and freedom, but, on the other, we are well aware that
this process is part of an attack on the working class and tends to
increase the power of the capitalists over us as the state's (direct)
influence is reduced. Thus anarchists appear to be on the horns of a 
dilemma -- or, at least, apparently.
<p>
So what attitude <b>do</b> anarchists take to the welfare state and the current
attacks on it? (see <a href="secJ5.html#secj516">next section</a> for a short 
discussion of business based welfare)
<p>
First we must note that this attack of "welfare" is somewhat selective.
While using the rhetoric of "self-reliance" and "individualism," the
practitioners of these "tough love" programmes have made sure that the
major corporations continue to get state hand-outs and aid while attacking 
social welfare. In other words, the current attack on the welfare state 
is an attempt to impose market discipline on the working class while 
increasing state protection for the ruling class. Therefore, most 
anarchists have no problem in social welfare programmes as these can 
be considered as only fair considering the aid the capitalist class
has always received from the state (both direct subsidies and protection
and indirect support via laws that protect property and so on). And,
for all their talk of increasing individual choice, the right-wing
remain silent about the lack of choice and individual freedom during
working hours within capitalism.
<p>
Secondly, most of the right-wing inspired attacks on the welfare state
are inaccurate. For example, Noam Chomsky notes that the <i>"correlation 
between welfare payments and family life is real, though it is the 
reverse of what is claimed [by the right]. As support for the poor has 
declined, unwed birth-rates, which had risen steadily from the 1940s through 
the mid-1970s, markedly increased. 'Over the last three decades, the rate of
poverty among children almost perfectly correlates with the birth-rates among
teenage mothers a decade later,' Mike Males points out: 'That is, child
poverty seems to lead to teenage childbearing, not the other way around.'"</i>
[<i>"Rollback III"</i>, <b>Z Magazine</b>, April, 1995] The same can be said for
many of the claims about the evil effects of welfare which the rich
and large corporations wish to save others (but not themselves) from.
Such altruism is truly heart warming.
<p>
Thirdly, we must note that while most anarchists <b>are</b> in favour of 
collective self-help and welfare, we are opposed to the welfare state. 
Part of the alternatives anarchists try and create are self-managed and 
communal community welfare projects (see <a href="secJ5.html#secj516">next section</a>). Moreover, in the 
past, anarchists and syndicalists were at the forefront in opposing state
welfare schemes (introduced, we may note, <b>not</b> by socialists but by
liberals and other supporters of capitalism to undercut support for
radical alternatives and aid long term economic development by creating
the educated and healthy population required to use advanced technology
and fight wars). Thus we find that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Liberal social welfare legislation. . . were seen by many [British
syndicalists] not as genuine welfare reforms, but as mechanisms of 
social control. Syndicalists took a leading part in resisting such 
legislation on the grounds that it would increase capitalist discipline 
over labour, thereby undermining working class independence and 
self-reliance."</i> [Bob Holton, <b>British Syndicalism: 1900-1914</b>, 
p. 137]
</blockquote><p>
Anarchists view the welfare state much as some feminists do. While they
note the <i>"patriarchal structure of the welfare state"</i> they are also
aware that it has <i>"also brought challenges to patriarchal power and
helped provide a basis for women's autonomous citizenship."</i> [Carole
Pateman, <i>"The Patriarchal Welfare State"</i>, in <b>The Disorder of Women</b>,
p. 195] She does on to note that <i>"for women to look at the welfare state
is merely to exchange dependence on individual men for dependence on
the state. The power and capriciousness of husbands is replaced by the
arbitrariness, bureaucracy and power of the state, the very state that
has upheld patriarchal power. . . [this] will not in itself do
anything to challenge patriarchal power relations."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 200]
<p>
Thus while the welfare state does give working people more options than
having to take <b>any</b> job or put up with <b>any</b> conditions, this relative
independence from the market and individual capitalists has came at 
the price of dependence on the state -- the very institution that 
protects and supports capitalism in the first place. And has we have
became painfully aware in recent years, it is the ruling class who has 
most influence in the state -- and so, when it comes to deciding what
state budgets to cut, social welfare ones are first in line. Given that
state welfare programmes are controlled by the state, <b>not</b> working class
people, such an outcome is hardly surprising. Not only this, we also
find that state control reproduces the same hierarchical structures
that the capitalist firm creates. 
<p>
Unsurprisingly, anarchists have no great love of such state welfare schemes 
and desire their replacement by self-managed alternatives. For example, 
taking municipal housing, Colin Ward writes:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The municipal tenant is trapped in a syndrome of dependence and resentment,
which is an accurate reflection of his housing situation. People care about
what is theirs, what they can modify, alter, adapt to changing needs and
improve themselves. They must have a direct responsibility for it.
<p>
". . .The tenant take-over of the municipal estate is one of those obviously
sensible ideas which is dormant because our approach to municipal affairs
is still stuck in the groves of nineteenth-century paternalism."</i> [<b>Anarchy
in Action</b>, p.73]
</blockquote><p>
Looking at state supported education, Ward argues that the <i>"universal education
system turns out to be yet another way in which the poor subsidise the rich."</i>
Which is the least of its problems, for <i>"it is in the <b>nature</b> of public
authorities to run coercive and hierarchical institutions whose ultimate
function is to perpetuate social inequality and to brainwash the young
into the acceptance of their particular slot in the organised system."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 83, p. 81]
<p>
The role of state education as a means of systematically indoctrinating
the working class is reflected in William Lazonick's essay <i>"The
Subjection of Labour to Capital: The rise of the Capitalist System"</i>:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The Education Act of 1870. . . [gave the] state. . . the facilities. . .
to make education compulsory for all children from the age of five to
the age of ten. It had also erected a powerful system of ideological
control over the next generation of workers. . . [It] was to function
as a prime ideological mechanism in the attempt by the capitalist class
through the medium of the state, to continually <b>reproduce</b> a labour
force which would passively accept [the] subjection [of labour to
the domination of capital]. At the same time it had set up a public
institution which could potentially be used by the working class for
just the contrary purpose."</i> [<b>Radical Political Economy</b> Vol. 2, p. 363]
</blockquote><p>
Lazonick, as did Pateman, indicates the contradictory nature of welfare
provisions within capitalism. On the one hand, they are introduced to help 
control the working class (and to improve long term economic development).
On the other hand, these provisions can be used by working class people as 
weapons against capitalism and give themselves more options than "work or 
starve" (the fact that the recent attack on welfare in the 
UK -- called, ironically enough, <b>welfare to work</b> -- involves losing 
benefits if you refuse a job is not a surprising development). Thus we 
find that welfare acts as a kind of floor under wages. In the US, the 
two have followed a common trajectory (rising together and falling 
together). And it is <b>this</b>, the potential benefits welfare can have 
for working people, that is the <b>real</b> cause for the current capitalist 
attacks upon it.
<p>
Because of this contradictory nature of welfare, we find anarchists like
Noam Chomsky arguing that (using an expression popularised by South American 
rural workers unions) <i>"we should 'expand the floor of the cage.' We know 
we're in a cage. We know we're trapped. We're going to expand the floor, 
meaning we will extend to the limits what the cage will allow. And we intend 
to destroy the cage. But not by attacking the cage when we're vulnerable, 
so they'll murder us. . . You have to protect the cage when it's under 
attack from even worse predators from outside, like private power. And 
you have to expand the floor of the cage, recognising that it's a cage. 
These are all preliminaries to dismantling it. Unless people are willing 
to tolerate that level of complexity, they're going to be of no use to 
people who are suffering and who need help, or, for that matter, to 
themselves."</i> [<b>Expanding the Floor of the Cage</b>]
<p>
Thus, even though we know the welfare state is a cage and an instrument
of class power, we have to defend it from a worse possibility -- namely,
the state as "pure" defender of capitalism with working people with
few or no rights. At least the welfare state does have a contradictory 
nature, the tensions of which can be used to increase our options. And 
one of these options is its abolition <b>from below</b>! 
<p>
For example, with regards to municipal housing, anarchists will be 
the first to agree that it is paternalistic, bureaucratic and hardly
a wonderful living experience. However, in stark contrast with the
"libertarian" right who desire to privatise such estates, anarchists
think that <i>"tenants control"</i> is the best solution as it gives us
the benefits of individual ownership <b>along with</b> community (and so
without the negative points of property, such as social atomisation).
And anarchists agree with Colin Ward when he thinks that the demand
for <i>"tenant control"</i> must come from below, by the <i>"collective resistance"</i>
of the tenants themselves, perhaps as a growth from struggles against
rent increases. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 73]
<p>
And it is here that we find the ultimate irony of the right-wing, "free
market" attempts to abolish the welfare state -- neo-liberalism wants to
end welfare <b>from above,</b> by means of the state (which is the instigator
of this "individualistic" "reform"). It does not seek the end of dependency
by self-liberation, but the shifting of dependency from state to charity
and the market. In contrast, anarchists desire to abolish welfare from
below, by the direct action of those who receive it by a <i>"multiplicity
of mutual aid organisations among claimants, patients, victims"</i> for
this <i>"represents the most potent lever for change in transforming the
welfare state into a genuine welfare society, in turning community care
into a caring community."</i> [Colin Ward, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 125]
<p>
Ultimately, unlike the state socialist/liberal left, anarchists reject the 
idea that the case of socialism, of a free society, can be helped by using 
the state. Like the right, the left see political action in terms of the 
state. All its favourite policies have been statist - state intervention 
in the economy, nationalisation, state welfare, state education and so on. 
Whatever the problem, the left see the solution as lying in the extension 
of the power of the state. And, as such, they continually push people in 
relying on <b>others</b> to solve their problems for them (moreover, such 
state-based "aid" does not get to the core of the problem. All it does 
is fight the symptoms of capitalism and statism without attacking their 
root causes -- the system itself). 
<p>
Invariably, this support for the state is a move away from working class 
people, of trusting and empowering them to sort out their own problems. 
Indeed, the left seem to forget that the state exists to defend the 
collective interests of capitalists and other sections of the ruling 
class and so could hardly be considered a neutral body. And, worst of 
all, they have presented the right with the opportunity of stating that 
freedom from the state means the same thing as the freedom of the market 
(and as we have explained in detail in sections <a href="secBcon.html">B</a>, 
<a href="secCcon.html">C</a> and <a href="secDcon.html">D</a>, capitalism is 
based upon domination -- wage labour -- and needs many repressive measures 
in order to exist and survive). Anarchists are of the opinion that changing 
the boss for the state (or vice versa) is only a step sideways, <b>not</b> 
forward! After all, it is <b>not</b> working people who control how the
welfare state is run, it is politicians, "experts" and managers who
do so. Little wonder we have seen elements of the welfare state used
as a weapon in the class war <b>against</b> those in struggle (for example,
in Britain during the 1980s the Conservative Government made it illegal
to claim benefits while on strike, so reducing the funds available to
workers in struggle and helping bosses force strikers back to work faster).
<p>
Therefore, anarchists consider it far better to encourage those who 
suffer injustice to organise themselves and in that way they can change 
what <b>they</b> think is actually wrong, as opposed to what politicians and 
"experts" claim is wrong. If sometimes part of this struggle involves 
protecting aspects of the welfare state (<i>"expanding the floor of the 
cage"</i>) so be it -- but we will never stop there and will use such 
struggles as a step in abolishing the welfare state from below by 
creating self-managed, working class, alternatives. As part of this 
process anarchists also seek to <b>transform</b> those aspects of the welfare 
state they may be trying to "protect". They do not defend an institution 
which <b>is</b> paternalistic, bureaucratic and unresponsive. For example, if 
we are involved in trying to stop a local state-run hospital or school 
from closing, anarchists would try to raise the issue of self-management 
and local community control into the struggle in the hope of going beyond 
the status quo.
<p>
Not only does this mean that we can get accustomed to managing our own 
affairs collectively, it also means that we can ensure that whatever
"safety-nets" we create for ourselves do what we want and not what
capital wants. In the end, what we create and run by our own activity
will be more responsive to our needs, and the needs of the class
struggle, than reformist aspects of the capitalist state. This much,
we think, is obvious. And it is ironic to see elements of the 
"radical" and "revolutionary" left argue against this working class
self-help (and so ignore the <b>long</b> tradition of such activity in
working class movements) and instead select for the agent of their 
protection a state run by and for capitalists!
<p>
There are two traditions of welfare within society, one of <i>"fraternal 
and autonomous associations springing from below, the other that of 
authoritarian institutions directed from above."</i> [Colin Ward, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 123] While sometimes anarchists are forced to defend the latter 
against the greater evil of "free market" corporate capitalism, we 
never forget the importance of creating and strengthening the former. 
A point we will discuss more in section <a href="secJ5.html#secj516">
J.5.16</a> when we highlight the 
historical examples of self-managed communal welfare and self-help 
organisations.
<p>
<a name="secj516"><h2>J.5.16 Are there any historical examples of collective self-help?</h2>
<p>
Yes, in all societies we see working people joining together to practice
mutual aid and solidarity. These take many forms, such as trade and
industrial unions, credit unions and friendly societies, co-operatives
and so on, but the natural response of working class people to the 
injustices of capitalism was to practice collective "self-help" in order
to improve their lives and protect their friends, communities and fellow
workers. 
<p>
Unfortunately, this <i>"great tradition of working class self-help and
mutual aid was written off, not just as irrelevant, but as an actual
impediment, by the political and professional architects of the welfare
state. . . The contribution that the recipients had to make to all
this theoretical bounty was ignored as a mere embarrassment - apart,
of course, for paying for it. . . The socialist ideal was rewritten
as a world in which everyone was entitled to everything, but where
nobody except the providers had any actual say about anything. We 
have been learning for years, in the anti-welfare backlash, what a
vulnerable utopia that was."</i> [Colin Ward, <b>Social Policy: an
anarchist response</b>, p. 3]
<p>
Ward terms this self-help (and self-managed) working class activity
the <i>"welfare road we failed to take."</i>
<p>
Indeed, anarchists would argue that self-help is the natural side 
effect of freedom. There is no possibility of radical social change 
unless people are free to decide for themselves what their problems 
are, where their interests lie and are free to organise for themselves 
what they want to do about them. Self-help is a natural expression of 
people taking control of their own lives and acting for themselves. 
Anyone who urges state action on behalf of people is no socialist 
and any one arguing against self-help as "bourgeois" is no 
anti-capitalist. It is somewhat ironic that it is the right who
have monopolised the rhetoric of "self-help" and turned it into
yet another ideological weapon against working class direct action
and self-liberation (although, saying that, the right generally
likes individualised self-help -- given a strike or squatting
or any other form of <b>collective</b> self-help movement they will be 
the first to denounce it):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The political Left has, over the years, committed an enormous 
psychological error in allowing this king of language ["self-help",
"mutual aid", "standing on your own two feet" and so on] to be
appropriated by the political Right. If you look at the exhibitions
of trade union banners from the last century, you will see slogans
like Self Help embroidered all over them. It was those clever
Fabians and academic Marxists who ridiculed out of existence the
values by which ordinary citizens govern their own lives in favour
of bureaucratic paternalising, leaving those values around to be
picked up by their political opponents."</i> [Colin Ward, <b>Talking
Houses</b>, p. 58]
</blockquote><p>
We cannot be expected to provide an extensive list of working class
collective self-help and social welfare activity here, all we can
do is present an overview. For a discussion of working class self-help 
and co-operation through the centuries we can suggest no better source
than Kropotkin's <b>Mutual Aid</b>. Here we will (using other sources than
<b>Mutual Aid</b>) indicate a few examples of collective welfare in action.
<p>
In the case of Britain, we find that the <i>"newly created working class 
built up from nothing a vast network of social and economic initiatives 
based on self-help and mutual aid. The list is endless: friendly 
societies, building societies, sick clubs, coffin clubs, clothing 
clubs, up to enormous federated enterprises like the trade union 
movement and the Co-operative movement."</i> [Colin Ward, <b>Social Policy: 
an anarchist response</b>, p. 2]
<p>
The historian E.P. Thompson confirms this picture of a wide network
of working class self-help organisations:
<p>
<i>"Small tradesmen, artisans, labourers - all sought to insure themselves
against sickness, unemployment, or funeral expenses through membership
of . . . friendly societies."</i> These were <i>"authentic evidence of 
independent working-class culture and institutions . . . out of 
which . . . trade unions grew, and in which trade union officers were
trained."</i> Friendly societies <i>"did not 'proceed from' an idea: both
the ideas and institutions arose from a certain common experience
. . . In the simple cellular structure of the friendly society, with 
its workaday ethos of mutual aid, we see many features which were
reproduced in more sophisticated and complex form in trade unions,
co-operatives, Hampden clubs, Political Unions, and Chartist
lodges. . . Every kind of witness in the first half of the
nineteenth century - clergymen, factory inspectors, Radical
publicists - remarked upon the extent of mutual aid in the
poorest districts. In times of emergency, unemployment, strikes,
sickness, childbirth, then it was the poor who 'helped every one
his neighbour.'"</i> [<b>The Making of the English Working Class</b>, 
p. 458, pp. 460-1, p. 462]
<p>
Taking the United States, Sam Dolgoff presents an excellent summary
of similar self-help activities by the American working class:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Long before the labour movement got corrupted and the state stepped
in, the workers organised a network of co-operative institutions of
all kinds: schools, summer camps for children and adults, homes for
the aged, health and cultural centres, credit associations, fire,
life, and health insurance, technical education, housing, etc."</i>
[<b>The American Labour Movement: A New Beginning</b>, p. 74]
</blockquote><p>
Dolgoff, like all anarchists, urges workers to <i>"finance the establishment 
of independent co-operative societies of all types, which will respond 
adequately to their needs"</i> and that such a movement <i>"could constitute 
a realistic alternative to the horrendous abuses of the 'establishment' 
at a fraction of the cost."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 74, pp. 74-75]
<p>
In this way a network of self-managed, communal, welfare associations
and co-operatives could be built -- paid for, run by and run for
working class people. Such a network could be initially build upon,
and be an aspect of, the struggles of claimants, patients, tenants,
and other users of the current welfare state (see <a href="secJ5.html#secj515">last section</a>).
<p>
The creation of such a co-operative, community-based, welfare system
will not occur over night. Nor will it be easy. But it <b>is</b> possible,
as history shows. And, of course, it will have its problems, but as
Colin Ward notes, that <i>"the standard argument against a localist and 
decentralised point of view, is that of universalism: an equal service 
to all citizens, which it is thought that central control achieves. 
The short answer to this is that it doesn't!"</i> [Colin Ward, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 6] He notes that richer areas generally get a better service from 
the welfare state than poorer ones, thus violating the claims of
equal service. And a centralised system (be it state or private) will 
most likely allocate resources which reflect the interests and (lack 
of) knowledge of bureaucrats and experts, <b>not</b> on where they are 
best used or the needs of the users. 
<p>
Anarchists are sure that a <b>confederal</b> network of mutual aid 
organisations and co-operatives, based upon local input and control, 
can overcome problems of localism far better than a centralised one 
-- which, due to its lack of local input annd participation will more 
likely <b>encourage</b> parochialism and indifference than a wider vision
and solidarity. If you have no real say in what affects you, why 
should you be concerned with what affects others? Centralisation leads to
disempowerment, which in turn leads to indifference, <b>not</b> solidarity. 
Rudolf Rocker reminds us of the evil effects of centralism when he 
writes:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"For the state centralisation is the appropriate form of organisation, 
since it aims at the greatest possible uniformity in social life for the
maintenance of political and social equilibrium. But for a movement whose
very existence depends on prompt action at any favourable moment and on the
independent thought and action of its supporters, centralism could but be a
curse by weakening its power of decision and systematically repressing all
immediate action. If, for example, as was the case in Germany, every local
strike had first to be approved by the Central, which was often hundreds of
miles away and was not usually in a position to pass a correct judgement
on the local conditions, one cannot wonder that the inertia of the apparatus
of organisation renders a quick attack quite impossible, and there thus
arises a state of affairs where the energetic and intellectually alert
groups no longer serve as patterns for the less active, but are condemned by
these to inactivity, inevitably bringing the whole movement to stagnation.
Organisation is, after all, only a means to an end. When it becomes an end
in itself, it kills the spirit and the vital initiative of its members and
sets up that domination by mediocrity which is the characteristic of all
bureaucracies."</i> [<b>Anarcho-Syndicalism</b>, p. 54]
</blockquote><p>
And, as an example, he notes that while the highly centralised German
labour movement <i>"did not raise a finger to avert the catastrophe"</i> of Hitler's
seizing power and <i>"which in a few months beat their organisation completely 
to pieces"</i> the exact opposite happened in Spain (<i>"where Anarcho-Syndicalism 
had maintained its hold upon organised labour from the days of the First 
International"</i>). There the anarcho-syndicalist C.N.T. <i>"frustrated the
criminal plans of Franco"</i> and <i>"by their heroic example spurred the Spanish 
workers and peasants to the battle."</i> Without the heroic resistance of the
Anarcho-Syndicalist labour unions the Fascist reaction would have dominated
the whole country in a matter of weeks. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 53]
<p>
This is unsurprising, for what else is global action other than the product 
of thousands of local actions? Solidarity within our class is the flower 
that grows from the soil of our local self-activity, direct action and 
self-organisation. Unless we act and organise locally, any wider organisation
and action will be hollow. Thus <b>local</b> organisation and empowerment is
essential to create and maintain wider organisations and mutual aid.
<p>
To take another example of the benefits of a self-managed welfare system,
we find that it <i>"was a continual complaint of the authorities [in the
late eighteenth and early nineteenth century] that friendly societies allowed
members to withdraw funds when on strike."</i> [E.P. Thompson, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 461f] The same complaints were voiced in Britain about the welfare 
state allowing strikers to claim benefit will on strike. The Conservative
Government of the 1980s changed that by passing a law barring those in
industrial dispute to claim benefits -- and so removing a potential support
for those in struggle. Such a restriction would have been far harder (if
not impossible) to impose on a network of self-managed mutual aid 
co-operatives. And such institutions would have not become the plaything 
of central government financial policy as the welfare state and the 
taxes working class people have to pay have become. 
<p>
All this means that anarchists reject totally the phoney choice between 
private and state capitalism we are usually offered. We reject both 
privatisation <b>and</b> nationalisation, both right and left wings (of
capitalism). Neither state nor private health care are user-controlled
-- one is subject to the requirements of poolitics and the other places
profits before people. As we have discussed the welfare state in the
<a href="secJ5.html#secj515">last section</a>, it is worthwhile to 
quickly discuss privatised welfare and 
why most anarchists reject this option even more than state welfare.
<p>
Firstly, all forms of private healthcare/welfare has to pay dividends to 
capitalists, fund advertising, reduce costs to maximise profits by 
standardising the "caring" process - i.e. McDonaldisation - and so on, 
all of which inflates prices and produces substandard service across the 
industry as a whole. According to Alfie Kohn, the <i>"[m]ore hospitals and
clinics are being run by for-profit corporations; many institutions,
forced to battle for 'customers,' seem to value a skilled director of
marketing more highly than a skilled caregiver. As in any other economic
sector, the race for profits translates into pressure to reduce costs,
and the easiest way to do it here is to cut back on services to
unprofitable patients, that is, those who are more sick than rich . . ."</i>
<i>"The result: hospital costs are actually <b>higher</b> in areas where there
is more competition for patients."</i> [Alfie Kohn, <b>No Contest</b>, p. 240]
In the UK, attempts to introduce "market forces" into the National
Health Service also lead to increased costs as well as inflating 
the services bureaucracy.
<p>
Looking at Chile, hyped by those who desire to privatise Social Security,
we find similar disappointing results (well, disappointing for the 
working class at least, as we will see). Seemingly, Chile's private system 
has achieved impressive average returns on investment. However, once 
commissions are factored in, the real return for individual workers 
is considerably lower. For example, although the average rate of return 
on funds from 1982 through 1986 was 15.9 percent, the real return after 
commissions was a mere 0.3 percent! Between 1991 and 1995, the 
pre-commission return was 12.9 percent, but with commissions it 
fell to 2.1 percent. According to Doug Henwood, the <i>"competing mutual 
funds have vast sales forces, and the portfolio managers all have their
vast fees. All in all, administrative costs . . . are almost 30% of
revenues, compared to well under 1% for the U.S. Social Security system."</i>
[<b>Wall Street</b>, p. 305] Although market competition was supposed to lower 
commissions in Chile, the private pension fund market is dominated by a 
handful of companies. These, according to economists Peter Diamond and
Salvador Valdes-Prieto, form a <i>"monopolistic competitive market"</i> rather 
than a truly competitive one. A similar process seems to be taking place 
in Argentina, where commissions have remained around 3.5 percent of 
taxable salary. As argued in section <a href="secC4.html">C.4</a>, such oligopolistic tendencies
are inherent in capitalism and so this development is not unexpected. 
<p>
Even if commission costs were lowered (perhaps by regulation), the 
impressive returns on capital seen between 1982 and 1995 (when the 
real annual return on investment averaged 12.7 percent) are likely 
not to be sustained. These average returns coincided with boom years 
in Chile, complemented by government's high borrowing costs. Because 
of the debt crisis of the 1980s, Latin governments were paying 
double-digit real interest rates on their bonds -- the main investment 
vehicle of social security funds. In effect, government was subsidising 
the "private" system by paying astronomical rates on government bonds.
<p>
Another failing of the system is that only a little over half of 
Chilean workers make regular social security contributions. While many 
believe that a private system would reduce evasion because workers have a 
greater incentive to contribute to their own personal retirement accounts, 
43.4 percent of those affiliated with the new system in June of 1995 did 
not contribute regularly (see Stephen J. Kay, <i>"The Chile Con: Privatizing 
Social Security in South America,"</i> <b>The American Prospect</b> no. 33, 
July-August 1997, pp. 48-52 for details).
<p>
All in all, privatisation seems to be beneficial only to middle-men and
capitalists, if Chile is anything to go by. As Henwood argues, while
the <i>"infusion of money"</i> resulting from privatising social security <i>"has
done wonders for the Chilean stock market"</i> <i>"projections are that as many
as half of future retirees will draw a poverty-level pension."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>,
pp. 304-5] 
<p>
So, anarchists reject private welfare as a con (and an even bigger one 
than state welfare). Instead we try to create <b>real</b> alternatives to 
hierarchy, be it state or capitalist, in the here and now which reflect 
our ideas of a free and just society. For, when it boils down to it, 
freedom cannot be given, only taken and this process of <b>self</b>-liberation 
is reflected in the alternatives we build to help win the class war. 
<p>
The struggle <b>against</b> capitalism and statism requires that 
we build <b>for</b>
the future (<i>"the urge to destroy is a creative urge"</i> - Bakunin) and,
moreover, we should remember that <i>"he who has no confidence in the creative capacity of the masses 
and in their capability to revolt doesn't belong in the revolutionary 
movement. He should go to a monastery and get on his knees and start 
praying. Because he is no revolutionist. He is a son of a bitch."</i> 
[Sam Dolgoff, quoted by Ulrike Heider, <b>Anarchism: left, right, 
and green</b>, p. 12]
<p>
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