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Indeed he claims that liberalism requires in order to function a self-regulated labour market ; something that requires motivation through hunger, and thus requires that too little solidarity would remain to keep people from hunger and/or social exclusion, unless they'd participate in the labour market.

Hence the Enclosures, and the methods (ranging from sophisticated propaganda to brute force) used by the "liberalisers" to destroy embeddedness and continuity in community life.  I am very glad to see Polanyi mentioned here... been meaning to bring him up.

Bookchin writes extensively on, for example, the cognitive dissonance of Soviet Marxism -- socialism tied to disembeddedness, Taylorism and forced collectivisation -- and refers us to the Spanish anarchist communes as one strong (and largely obscured and "forgotten" -- selectively?) historical episode of embedded social action.  Hornborg writes extensively about the difference between gift-exchange economies (and nuanced multi-stratum economies) and the corrosive effect of universal currency as the absolute arbiter of value.

Perhaps the difference in social life can be best understood by a simple anecdote.  In the highland vilages in Peru (I believe this story is from Peru, someone may wish to correct me) the village wiseman or shaman has a responsibility to pay for the adulthood rites of every adolescent.  He must do this even if it means stripping his household granary bare of every last kernel.  He must spend whatever it takes to see the kids into adulthood properly.  But at the moment when he has exhausted his resources, the other households will pitch in and lend him more corn and other goods (seed and food corn being the traditional form of stored wealth).

The history of these loans and expenditures gets very tangled, especially as the "wiseman" role may rotate to some other individual or family.  After a couple of decades -- let alone a generation or two -- it gets hard to remember who loaned whom how much in what season of which year.  And this is just the point -- as the village elders explained to a visiting Anglo, the point is to make sure that everyone is, or has been, indebted to everyone else at one time or another.  This web of mutual obligation enforces mutual gratitude and a kind of entanglement (cf Mae Wan Ho on the physics of life and entanglement, or K Barad's new book) which, like glue, holds the community together.

This is utterly foreign to the formal money economy in which all debts are accounted for down to the last penny and interest is charged -- and failure to repay on time and with correct interest can lead to confiscation of all one's worldly goods (in the bad old days it could lead to jail or indentured service, aka slavery).  The formal money economy is conceptually based on a relationship of hostility or predation between individuals positioned as adversaries -- a cartoon Darwinism with no notion of symbiosis -- not on a network structure of symbiosis and mutual entanglement which sees human relations as like the root structure of a tree that holds the tree upright... or the complex network of mangrove swamp that protects a coastline from erosion, or the unimaginably complex life of the soil that produces our food.

Theories of cartoon Darwinism -- if I may simplify a bit myself here for the sake of brevity -- usually seem to originate with people who either have recently committed theft, are the beneficiaries of theft that their parents or grandparents committed, are planning to commit theft, or imagine they could succeed grandly if they only were given a chance to commit theft.  These theories aggrandise, naturalise, and justify a predacious rather than commensalist attitude to our fellow human beings, much as "the mandate of Heaven" justifies and rationalises the absolute power of kingship.  The irony o.c. is that even predators, in the real (not human fantasy) world, are fully embedded along with their prey in a complex interdependence; and (as noted above) capitalism's predatory and simplifying mechanisms (profit maximisation via robotic rationality) if unchecked would inevitably lead it to unravel the social fabric entirely (not to mention the biotic fabric that sustains it) and create a wasteland both literally and culturally.  Which, alas, it seems well on its way to achieving in our own time...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jul 5th, 2007 at 12:23:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't the Spanish anarchist communes also involve forced collectivisation?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 5th, 2007 at 12:27:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
good question!  though MB cites them approvingly he seems to think that every reader is familiar with their history (though at the same time suggesting that they've been unfairly neglected and forgotten by Left scholars) and I am still wading through his essay and have not yet followed the trail back to secondary, let alone primary, sources.

his admiration for the Spanish anarchists is expressed in his manifesto/provocation "Listen, Marxist!" in which he excoriates the sectarian Left with vigour and (imho) considerable accuracy;  also in his responses to critics of the essay.  his takedown of industrial-cornucopian socialism and critique of the mature Marx's  obsession with the factory strike me as insightful...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jul 5th, 2007 at 09:05:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that is a blast from the past.

I haven't thought about Bookchin in a long, long, time.  Used to run into him (occasionally) and Sam Dolgoff (always) at the Workman's Circles meetings in NYC in the 70s.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:09:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
he comes off as rather testy and cantankerous in the lengthy Intros to his republished works;  what was he like in person?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:31:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was some years ago but as I recall:  testy and cantankerous.  I think the many defeats and betrayal,s mitigated by a very few victories, that happened over the years took their toll.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh god not this again.

The relationship between the landowners and land laborers was more than complex in Spain during the 1920s and 1930s.

Yes, there was land seizures and 'forced' collectivization.  Mostly it was land taken from absentee landlords and given to the people who worked on it.  It was "collectivizied" but they worked it as they always had under the direction of an elected body generally based on anarcho-syndicalist lines.  That was what the FAI/CNT were all about, after all.  Effectively what happened is the landlords were replaced by a local board.

Yes, it meant the large landlords went over to Franco in a body.

Yes, it may have been a mistake but on the other hand there was widespread dissatisfaction, hunger, and it was maintained - at the time - the landlords were letting the land lie fallow because they couldn't make the estates pay.  

Ultimately the problem was ownership of the land was concentrated in too few hands relative to the number of people whose existence depended on access to that land.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 01:56:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ultimately the problem was ownership of the land was concentrated in too few hands relative to the number of people whose existence depended on access to that land.  

what do you mean, "the problem was" ?

:-)

it still is The Problem, the irreducible problem.  the commons privatised into the hands of an elite who often find it more "profitable" to create scarcity by various means -- diverting subsistence productivity to cash cropping for wealthy foreigners, allowing prime farmland to lie uncultivated (while we spend megajoules cultivating marginal and inaccessible land, clearing rainforest to get more land), etc.

seems to me from my very limited understanding of the events in Spain that they were somewhat parallel to those documented more recently in "The Take" -- workers occupying and restarting factories that had been closed down by the owners.

hmmm random musings... whether by overproduction, market glut and the resulting need to foster a kind of hot-house consumerism, or by the shutting down and idling of essential resources, it seems like capitalism produces perverse incentives that decouple productivity from any sane relationship to human need...  lurching from one inappropriate extreme to another (kind of like a hyped-up climate with too much heat injected into it)...   when people produce for themselves, productivity is intimately tied to need:  you don't make 20 pairs of shoes if you only need one, and you don't make glittery high heels if you need barn shoes.    and you certainly don't grow ethanol crops for the car if your kids need real food.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:39:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's no shortage of land.

All you need is a whole bunch of money.

Of course the poor ain't got no money .... but there's no helping some people.

8-p

I prefer the term "predatory capitalism," I find it more descriptive.  And in a broad sense every economic system is "capitalism" as every economic systems needs to defer immediate gratification and invest for the future.  

Which leads to the odd fact predatory capitalism devalues the future.  The most advanced (sic) capitalist nation - the US - has a creaky, falling apart, infrastucture.  Jane Jacobs noted, in one of her books, a city works better the more storefront space there is along the streets.  Yet in most US cities the street spaces are minimized to maximize near-term rents.  Modern corporations, the poster boy for Taylor's ideas, are notorious for seeking the immediate.  

Another odd fact is the take-over of supposedly non-profitable factories by the workers succeeds more often than it fails.  It seems without the cash draw of absentee owners and the dumping of the "professional" management things go along much better.  

These are odd only because they go against Modern and Approved Management Techniques© as taught in all the chic business schools.

And who am I to argue with a Harvard?


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:30:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't there and the history of the Anarchist movement during the civil war is not something that really gets talked about much in Spain. A cursory google search  reveals very different accounts of what it was like. Anarchist sources paint it like a paradise where there was no coercion and landowners were allowed to not join the communes but eventually chose to. Communist sources excoriate the Anarchists for being economically naive and bringing economic ruin to the countryside and paralysis to the Republican rearguard. Let's not even go into what rightist sources say.

I don't know whether Ken Loach's Land and Freedom is faithful to Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, which I haven't read, but forced collectivisations and the shooting of landowners who wouldn't join the collective are depicted. To be honest, knowing how quickly Spaniards were to kill their neighbours over political differences, old grievances, or nothing at all, I would be very surprised if the "Spanish Revolution" as it is called in English had been peaceful and non-coercive in the countryside as the Anarchist propaganda depicts it.

Any suggested reading?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:26:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Homage to Catalonia is a classic 'take' by a master of English prose and is worth reading.  If you can find a copy The Spanish Collectives by Sam Dolgoff will give the FAI/CNT view.  I'll have to roust through my library and see what else is there.  I don't know what the standard Marxist and Fascist texts are & I really don't care.  

I would be very surprised if the "Spanish Revolution" as it is called in English had been peaceful and non-coercive in the countryside as the Anarchist propaganda depicts

Hum.  How can I put this?

From what I've heard, directly from FAI/CNT people who were there at the time ... you don't have to be surprised.  Neither was it the bloodbath depicted by all Right Thinking people either.  From what I've been able to gather the local history of interaction(s) between the landlord(s) and the general populace of an area counted far more than ideological/political position.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I second ATinM in saying that Homage to Catalonia is a very good read.

From browsing the "policy" chapter, Orwell himself doesn't talk about landowners being shot ; only priests. But he certainly talks about land seizures. (I'm not sure how and why an self-respecting Anarchist would recognise property rights dating from feudal times, anyway)

And reading the book puts a different emphasis on the way Stalinists source are to be believed about revolutionary behaviour ; or on how propaganda was impressive at the times : he notes an accusation that the Fascists used live children to build barricades, a "most unhandy thing to build barricades with"...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 07:10:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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