I feel that some clarification and further elaboration of my views is in order. I think that misunderstandings are best to be avoided and I want to do my part to eliminate whatever misunderstandings may exist surrounding my beliefs. First off, it must be clear that I am still very much opposed to capitalism, the wage system, bosses, money and relationships based on property and ownership. I am still a radical anarcho-communist and I strive for a society of egalitarianism, cooperation, mutual aid, moneylessness, sharing, fraternity and mutual support.
Please do not interpret my calls for “left/right anarchist unity” to be any form of “justification” of capitalism, for I am still very much against it. If pressed to put a label on my beliefs, I would consider my views to be a form of “free market anarcho-communism”. What I mean by this is that I advocate a new society of statelessness, free association, voluntary association and individual initiative. I advocate a society where each individual can choose for themselves how they live their lives, how and with whom they associate with others, and where each individual can decide for themselves which kind of social, economic, cultural and political systems they use for themself and their life. This means, one can choose to live their life in a capitalist, collectivist, mutualist or communist way, if that is their choice.
Also, the other people with whom they work with are also doing so on their own free choice as well. As a result of this freedom of association and freedom of choice, there will naturally be a number of different social and economic systems springing up into existence. Because individuals are all so unique and diverse, and because there are billions of individuals out there, within a stateless non-aggressive society there will probably be thousands upon thousands of different social, economic, cultural and political systems co-existing out there side-by-side. So, in any given region or city you would have a few buildings or plots of land being used by individuals organizing it in a collectivist way, which would be right next to a few buildings or plots of land being used by individuals organizing it in a mutualist way, which would be right next to a few buildings or plots of land being used by individuals organizing it in a capitalist way, which would be right next to a few buildings or plots of land being used by individuals organizing it in an anarcho-communist way, and so forth and so forth.
Such a situation would not come about by mandate or by force, it would be the most likely result of a greater social context of statelessness, free association and free choice. Such a situation would most likely naturally spring up if individuals are left to choose for themselves how they personally want to live their lives and what they want to support. This view is called “free market anarchism” and it is also called “panarchy”. This view is elaborated upon here on this web-site: http://www.panarchy.org/ Now, such a society would also be based upon the social construct called “private property”. You may ask “how can a proclaimed anarcho-communist support private property?” It’s simple, what I advocate is for the various anarcho-communist associations to collectively own their private property together, as a group. Within the anarcho-communist group there would be no “private property” or “ownership”, it would be a society of sharing and cooperation. However, for those people outside of said anarcho-communist group, it would be treated as private property.
“Private property” is a social system to determine who is using what, and is a quick and easy way for strangers to tell what group/association/person is using what. That is all it is, it a tool for free association, a tool to quickly sort things out among strangers. In life, not everyone wants to associate or work with everyone else. Some people really, really do not want to be around certain other people. And as far as strangers go, a lot of people really need to get to know other people before they feel at all comfortable with sharing, working or living with strangers. The implications of “no property” is this – a stranger or asshole walks into your home, a stranger or asshole uses all your stuff, a stranger or asshole sleeps in your bed, a stranger or asshole uses your TV or computer when you want to use it, a stranger or asshole takes the clothes off your back to wear them themselves, and a stranger or asshole eats all the food in your refrigerator. That is Authority, that is coercion, domination and slavery. That is being forced at gunpoint to support and interact with people that you do not want to interact with. Even worse – that is interfering with and interupting your preferences and your personal life in order to associate with people you do not want to associate with. I see no reason to FORCE people to sacrifice their personal lives to help people whom they personally do not want to help. That is brutal self-sacrifice and authority right there.
Yes, I am aware of the classical anarchist distinctions between “private property” and “personal possessions”. And, in fact, I whole-heartedly agree with the “anti-private property” stance taken within it. The reason that I hold this belief is that I see the classical anarchist definition of “private property” as being in reality just another form of Authority or Boss-based relationships, which is something that I think that all anarchists should be opposed to on principle. However, I also find the free market anarchist definition and stance on “private property” as ALSO being of value, for this social construct can provide an autonomous sphere where individuals can choose to organize their affairs and live their lives to their chosing. Yes, I do think that in general individuals should choose to transform their “private property” into “collective property” or “personal possessions”, but I also think that this should be done in a thoughtful and mindful way with special attention being paid to make sure that personal self-sacrifice is avoided and some kind of greater pain is accomplished through the process.
Money can also be of use for individuals and/or groups who want to trade and get stuff from other people and groups who are not of the same anarcho-communist background and understanding as you are. Rather than negotiating complex bartering or sharing systems each time it comes up with strangers who are not anarcho-communist, the quickest and easiest way to make economic dealings across these lines is to use something as a medium that all parties involved find valuable – money. However, like I said, I also advocate voluntary anarcho-communist associations and groups and I hope to see an eventual anarcho-communist society. Therefore, attention should also be paid to how these anarcho-communist associations would be organized, what the social and interpersonal dynamics are like within these associations and how anarcho-communists behave in general. It is for this reason that I think that each anarcho-communist association should be comprised of individuals who both like and trust each other and are on the same page politically. Without these prerequisites I think that anarcho-communist associations would eventually fall apart, fracture and fail. I think that people need to be able to trust one another, enjoy one another and be able to connect with each other on a deep and meaningful way, otherwise there would be no foundation through which sharing, cooperation and the lack of “property” between people can take place in a way that is non-coercive and nobody feels slighted or ripped off.
I also advocate anarcho-communist associations comprised of people who are committed to pushing the envelope in developing anarcho-communist theory and practice. I want to always be thinking of, developing and creating BETTER anarcho-communism, an anarcho-communism that is more efficient and effective at meeting people’s real-life wants and needs. I want to develop anarcho-communism so that is can make people more happier
more satisfied, smarter, more creative and more productive then before. It is for this reason that I take such keen interest in things like Taking Children Seriously (www.tcs.ac) and Non-Violent Communication (www.cnvc.org), for these things are at the fore-front at developing new and better anarcho-communist theory and practice.
I think that very often many self-proclaimed “anarchists” in reality want a violent, enforced, and imposed form of “anarcho-communism”. I think that oftentimes “anarcho-communism” is viewed as something that will be democratically mandated upon everyone through a majority vote scenario, and everyone would be forced to live a life of sharing and “cooperation” whether they want to or not. This in my opinion is not a form of “anarcho-communism” or “voluntary communism” at all, it is instead a directly democratic participatory conformist workers’ State. This is the view-point that seems to come about when “free association” is not given great importance as a prime anarchist principle. It is because of the lack of attention paid to the principles of free association and voluntary cooperation that I am drawn to “free market anarchism”, a belief system that in many ways exalts these principles to the exclusion of all others and does not inherently proscribe any way of life for people outside of these two principles.
A question that you might ask me now is “what is to be done with poor people and the fact that everyone’s necessities need to be met?” My answer to this is that these still can all be met and provided for, albeit through completely voluntary and non-aggressive associations. This means that charities, mutual aid societies, sharing groups, communes, cooperatives and other forms of free association can and should exist and grow to meet people’s needs. To force anybody to provide for the needs or wants of another is a form of slavery, and this totally runs counter to the fundamentals of anarchism.
Now you may respond that if voluntary anarcho-communist associations exist side-by-side with capitalist and corporate ones, the latter form would eventually grow and crush the former economically or will at the very least jerk the anarcho-communist associations around thereby for all intents and purposes eliminating the autonomy of the anarcho-communist associations. I would agree with you here, and this is why I support the existence, creation and development of various technologies and material systems of self-sufficiency and sustainability. D.I.Y. shit, basically. What anarcho-communist associations need to do is gain material and economic INDEPENDANCE from all other associations out there, including capitalist ones. Anarcho-communist associations should be growing their own food, making their own materials, providing their own energy, and producing their own goods to be shared among themselves and whomever else they wish to voluntarily give them to. If economic and material independance is acheived for anarcho-communist associations, there would be no need to ever worry or think about other forms of organization that exist out there, if you don’t want to. Practically, it could manifest itself with having an anarcho-communist organized power-plant in one part of the city, an anarcho-community series of gardens or farmland in another part of the city, anarcho-communist factories or work-shops in other parts of the cities, and anarcho-communist communes and free skools in still other parts of the city. These could be networked or federated with each other so as to support and re-inforce each other and so as to provide all the necessities and wants of people through anarcho-communist organized means without any need to dependant upon capitalist (or other) sources for these. Also, with the greater no-State context that all this would exist in, building codes and zoning would not exist to restrict the areas where all these things could exist in.
Would going off the grid and getting self-sufficient cause the members of the various anarcho-communist associations to become isolated and detached from people who live and work in other social-economic systems? Not necessarily. See, if you will be living and working within a greater social context of diversity and pluralism, then chances are you will see and interact with people who live otherwise everyday. They could be your next door neighbor, they could live a few blocks away, you could run into them on the street. If you want, you living an anarcho-communist life with other anarcho-communists could be not all that different from people of distinct ethnicities and cultures living together in “Chinatowns”, “little Italys”, etc in big cities. Being an anarcho-communist and living and organizing as such can very well be a big and important part of your identity, but you can still choose to interact with people of other persuasions, and even dabble in a little bit of collectivist, mutualist, capitalist, etc. relationships on the side yourself, if you want. Or you could only be a part of orthodox seperatist anarcho-communist communities that only allow members who choose to live and organize in anarcho-communist ways, to the exclusion of all others. It’s all up to you.
What about capitalist, corporate or other associations eventually growing in strength and size and attacking, invading or stealing from you or your association(s) with the aid of a private defense agency or private army? Well, if that ever occurs, then they will be behaving in a state-like and aggressive manner, and this would be roundly condemned by everyone within the greater non-state free market system that all these various associations exist within. One of the foundation principles of free market anarchism is non-aggression/non-initiation of force, and if the capitalists or ANYONE violates that principles, whatever the reason, then they would be condemned by all and fought back against in self-defense. Anyway, I can go on and on about my thoughts on this stuff, I think about it all the time after all. But, I should probably stop now and give you a chance to absord all of this.