The Importance of Mutuality in the Realm of Tradition 1

By Chris Shaw

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Tradition is the conception of a solid society of recognised rules and customs with distributed classes of people. Generally seen as the lower and higher orders, society actually has much more complex relations of heredity and hierarchy, which take on different realms and situations. While tradition is certainly seen as the maintenance of certain orders, even in authoritarian circumstances, the reality is that forms of paternalism and natural order require acceptance by said lower orders, who are in fact important blocs of power that do not necessarily find themselves within authoritarian, top-down enforced relations but rather in localised variations of political dispute and argumentation, that can lead to forms of retribution (both violent and non-violent) to maintain mutualities. These mutualities are the real acceptance of such relations which form the backbone of actual tradition. Hierarchies are variable and can be open to acceptance, in the same way forms of property system are open to challenge instead of reliant on pure acceptance[1]. They require voluntary agreement in the realm of the social, otherwise such relations do take on an authoritarian character.

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Is Anarchism Worth It? 3

By Chris Shaw

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This question comes as a result of the lack of cohesiveness amongst the adherents of anarchism. Anarchists, while professing a common universality of values and beliefs, act as roving tribes when it comes to meetings between their different ideological sects. None seem to coalesce around any unifying concept, with each trying to outdo the other in how left-wing, anti-racist or intersectional they are. That’s all well and good for debate stages and internet forums, but it hardly builds a movement that can be politically and socially strong and that can challenge prevailing power structures. It leads to the question of whether anarchism, as the according ideology to so many beliefs, is really worth the time, the activism, the commitment that it is given.

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The Civil Society/State Dichotomy Reply

By Chris Shaw

Gramsci rightly identifies that in the modern political environment, simply recognising actors as either public or private, in the realm of states or markets respectively, is problematic. Unfortunately the crux of international political economy has accepted this modernist doctrine, tacitly deifying the rationalist discourses of action and modernity which underlie such conceptions. For a large bulk of IPE, as well as other social sciences such as economics and political science, this is the held belief. Rationalism guides human action, which inevitably means a continuous desire for capital accumulation, the expansion of capitalist cultural doctrines, and the belief that the individual is entirely the scope of investigation.

But of course this public/private discourse is far too simplistic to truly understand the extent of social relations and arrangements which provide governance and institutionalisation. Gramsci noted that in the public sphere, there exists a dialectic of civil society (the collection of organic institutions that range from the mannerisms of society to the voluntary governance arrangements such as townhalls and churches) and the state (which is perceived as the mechanism of implementation, mainly reliant on coercion and top-down infrastructure). The way a functioning public government works is by reconciling these two (seemingly non-reconcilable) sides. Thus most modern states, particularly those in the Global North, rely on the combination of a coercive state framework and a civil society infrastructure which legitimises the coercive practices and top-down authority. Thus states, to a large degree, rely on not just pure monopolised violence, but also on legitimising ideologies which allow it to create discourses and frameworks that may well have been rejected by civil society in its capacity to be a separate sphere of public government.

Equally, the private side of this dialectical equation is in many ways constructed by these statist and domineering discourses. The development of a capitalist mechanism of accumulation, grounded in private property and the control of the means of production, came almost entirely from the state’s mandate of it. Large scale ownership of production outlets and the relations of wage labour, where artificial economic classes were created, are entirely developments of the state in its accumulation of land during the enclosures, its encouragement of state credit through the development of central banking, and its destruction of the organic feudal relations which preceded this capitalist construction. This is not to say that private property relations cannot exist without the state. A multitude of tribal forms of property as well as elements in the feudal system proves this to be false. However, the extent to which private property relations inform modern society, and the importance this is given, is a creation of statist dynamics, which is justified both through coercion (as seen in the enclosures) and the development of a justificatory doctrine (modernist concepts of rational human action and the deification of a business class) which brings civil society onside.

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Borders Between the Anarchists 4

By Chris Shaw

I’ve heard it contended that when it comes to a multiplicitous anarchist social order, where anarcho-communists and anarcho-capitalists could live side by side in their own distinct communities, such an order would be practically impossible due to ancoms refusing to recognise the existence of property relations, as it is assumed ancoms deny the capacity for individual ownership of property as defined in the term “private property”. And because ancap economic theory is defined by a recognition of private property, the two communities could not exist together.

This is based on some erroneous assumptions from the outset. First, that ancoms do not recognise individual property. They do, as do nearly all socialist variants of anarchism. They make a distinction between private property and individual property, with the former being seen as representing the ability to separate production and control by removing the capacity for worker-control. This is an important distinction as ancom economics is based on confederations of production and workers, which if we take Kropotkin’s economic theories, means many small firms and workshops organised together in communities of production and consumption, with value being measured by use and socially necessary labour inputted. Within this, individual property is recognised, but economic property is held in common.

The second assumption is that social borders existing between Ancapistan and Ancomistan are themselves a form of private property. Surely by having something like a private city, with members of it joining by contractual means, there is an inherent recognition of sociality in the realm of property. Or is private property, collectively part of a larger structure developed through voluntary means, now itself a form of private property.

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