Re: Capitalism, Private Property, etc (was Re: Sweatshops)

From: Travas Gunnell (
Date: Wed Apr 18 2001 - 22:19:20 MDT

--- "J. Goard" <> wrote:

> Left-anarchists feel they can make this distinction
> between "possessions"
> and "property" because they don't understand the
> productive role played by
> the wise alignment of capital by entrepreneurs.
> What a left-anarchist
> calls "exploitation" is really just making wealth by
> correctly deciding
> what most needs to get done rather than by doing the
> getting-done. But the
> former is just an example of the latter, a skill
> that happens to be
> exceedingly rare and therefore carries a high price.

Again, from the FAQ:

I.4.7 What are the criteria for investment decisions?

Obviously, a given society needs to take into account
changes in consumption and so invest in new means of
production. An anarchist society is no different. As
G.D.H Cole points out, "it is essential at all times,
and in accordance with considerations which vary from
time to time, for a community to preserve a balance
between production for ultimate use and production for
use in further production. And this balance is a
matter which ought to be determined by and on behalf
of the whole community." [Guild Socialism Restated, p.

How this balance is determined varies according to the
school of anarchist thought considered. All agree,
however, that such an important task should be under
effective community control. The mutualists see the
solution to the problems of investment as creating a
system of mutual banks, which reduce interest rates to
zero. This would be achieved "[b]y the organisation of
credit, on the principle of reciprocity or mutualism.
. .In such an organisation credit is raised to the
dignity of a social function, managed by the
community; and, as society never speculates upon its
members, it will lend its credit . . .at the actual
cost of transaction. " [Charles A. Dana, Proudhon and
his "Bank of the People", p. 36] This would allow
money to be made available to those who needed it and
so break the back of the capitalist business cycle
(i.e. credit would be available as required, not when
it was profitable for bankers to supply it) as well as
capitalist property relations. Under a mutualist
regime, credit for investment would be available from
two sources. Firstly, an individual's or cooperatives
own saved funds and, secondly, as zero interest loans
from mutual banks, credit unions and other forms of
credit associations. Loans would be allocated to
projects which the mutual banks considered likely to
succeed and repay the original loan.

Collectivist and communist anarchists recognise that
credit is based on human activity, which is
represented as money. As the Guild Socialist G.D.H.
Cole pointed out, "The understanding of this point [on
investment] depends on a clear appreciation of the
fact that all real additions to capital take the form
of directing a part of the productive power of labour
and using certain materials not for the manufacture of
products and the rendering of services incidental to
such manufacture for purposes of purposes of further
production." [Guild Socialism Restated, p. 143]
Collectivist and Communist anarchists agree with their
Mutualist cousins when they state that "[a]ll credit
presupposes labor, and, if labor were to cease, credit
would be impossible" and that the "legitimate source
of credit" was "the labouring classes" who "ought to
control it" and "whose benefit [it should] be used"
[Charles A. Dana, Op. Cit., p. 35]

Therefore, in collectivism, investment funds would
exist in the confederations of collectives, community
"banks" and other such means by which depreciation
funds could be stored and as well as other funds
agreed to by the collectives (for example, collectives
may agree to allocate a certain percentage of their
labour notes to a common account in order to have the
necessary funds available for new investment). In a
communist-anarchist society, the collectives would
agree that a certain part of their output and activity
will be directed to new means of production. In
effect, each collective is able to draw upon the sums
approved of by the Commune in the form of an agreed
claim on the labour power of all the collectives. In
this way, mutual aid ensures a suitable pool of
resources for the future from which all benefit.

As to when investment is needed, its clear that this
will be based on the changes in demand for goods. As
Guilliame points it, "[b]y means of statistics
gathered from all the communes in a region, it will be
possible to scientifically balance production and
consumption. In line with these statistics, it will
also be possible to add more help in industries where
production is insufficient and reduce the number of
men where there is a surplus of production." [Bakunin
on Anarchism, p. 370] Obviously, investment in
branches of production with a high demand would be
essential and this would be easily seen from the
statistics generated by the collectives and communes.
Tom Brown states this obvious point:

"Goods, as now, will be produced in greater variety,
for workers like producing different kinds, and new
models, of goods. Now if some goods are unpopular,
they will be left on the shelves. . . Of other goods
more popular, the shops will be emptied. Surely it is
obvious that the assistant will decrease his order of
the unpopular line and increase his order of the
popular." [Syndicalism, p. 55]

As a rule of thumb, syndicates that produce investment
goods would be inclined to supply other syndicates who
are experiencing excess demand before others, all
other things being equal. Such guidelines and
communication between producers, investment would go
to those industries that actually required them.

As production would be decentralised as far as
possible, each locality would be able to understand
its own requirements and apply them as it sees fit.

This, combined with an extensive communications
network, would ensure that investment not only did not
duplicate unused plant within the economy but that
investments take into account the specific problems
and opportunities each locality has. Of course,
collectives would experiment with new lines and
technology as well as existing lines and so invest in
new technologies and products. As occurs under
capitalism, extensive consumer testing would occur
before dedicating major investment decisions to new
products. In the case of new technology and plant,
cost benefit analysis (as outlined in section I.4.4)
would be used to determine which technology would
produce the best results and whether changes should be
made in plant stock.

Similarly with communities. A commune will obviously
have to decide upon and plan civic investment (e.g.
new parks, housing and so forth). They will also have
the deciding say in industrial developments in their
area as it would be unfair for syndicate to just
decide to build a cement factory next to a housing
cooperative if they did not want it. There is a case
for arguing that the local commune will decide on
investment decisions for syndicates in its area (for
example, a syndicate may produce X plans which will be
discussed in the local commune and 1 plan finalised
from the debate). For regional decisions (for example,
a new hospital) would be decided at the appropriate
level, with information fed from the health syndicate
and consumer cooperatives. The actual location for
investment decisions will be worked out by those
involved. However, local syndicates must be the focal
point for developing new products and investment plans
in order to encourage innovation.

Therefore, under social anarchism no capital market is
required to determine whether investment is required
and what form it would take. The work that apologists
for capitalism claim currently is done by the stock
market can be replaced by cooperation and
communication between workplaces in a decentralised,
confederated network. The relative needs of different
consumers of a product can be evaluated by the
producers and an informed decision reached on where it
would best be used.

Without a capital market, housing, workplaces and so
on will no longer be cramped into the smallest space
possible. Instead, housing, schools, hospitals,
workplaces and so on will be built within a "green"
environment. This means that human constructions will
be placed within a natural environment and no longer
stand apart from it. In this way human life can be
enriched and the evils of cramping as many humans and
things into a small a space as is "economical" can be

In addition, the stock market is hardly the means by
which capital is actually raised within capitalism. As
Engler points out, "Supporters of the system... claim
that stock exchanges mobilise funds for business. Do
they? When people buy and sell shares, 'no investment
goes into company treasuries... Shares simply change
hands for cash in endless repetition.' Company
treasuries get funds only from new equity issues.
These accounted for an average of a mere 0.5 per cent
of shares trading in the US during the 1980s."
[Apostles of Greed, pp. 157-158] And it hardly needs
to be repeated that capitalism results in production
being skewed away from the working class and that the
"efficiency" of market allocation is highly suspect.

Only by taking investment decisions away from
"experts" and placing it in the hands of ordinary
people will current generations be able to invest
according to their, and future generations,
self-interest. It is hardly in our interest to have a
institution whose aim is to make the wealthy even
wealthier and on whose whims are dependent the lives
of millions of people.


At this point, the FAQ continues with "I.4.8 What about funding for basic research?", but I'll stop quoting here and leave that as an exercise for the interested reader...


__________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Yahoo! Auctions - buy the things you want at great prices

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:47 MDT