Friday, January 9, 2015

Paul Goodman on "the only safe polity"

From the collection Drawing the Line Once Again:

...I sometimes am superstitiously afraid to belong to the same tribe and walk the same ground as our statesmen. 
But no. Men have a right to be crazy, stupid, and arrogant. It's our special thing. Our mistake is to arm anyone with collective power. Anarchy is the only safe polity. 
It is a common misconception that anarchists believe that "human nature is good" and so men can be trusted to rule themselves. In fact we tend to take the pessimistic view; people are not to be trusted, so prevent the concentration of power. Men in authority are especially likely to be stupid because they are out of touch with concrete finite experience and instead keep interfering with other people's initiative and making them stupid and anxious. And imagine what being deified like Mao Tse-Tung or Kim Il Sung must do to a man's character. Or habitually thinking about the unthinkable, like the masters of the Pentagon. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Baginski in Mother Earth

In the very first volume of the anarchist journal Mother Earth, published in 1906, Max Baginski writes:
The gist of the anarchistic idea is this, that there are qualities present in man, which permit the possibilities of social life, organization, and co-operative work without the application of force.

Franz Oppenheimer on historical class rule

Oppenheimer on the "fairy tale" used to defend class rule (excerpt from The State):
This assumed proof is based upon the concept of a “primitive accumulation,” or an original store of wealth, in lands and in movable property, brought about by means of purely economic forces; a doctrine justly derided by Karl Marx as a “fairy tale.” Its scheme of reasoning approximates this: 
Somewhere, in some far-stretching, fertile country, a number of free men, of equal status, form a union for mutual protection. Gradually they differentiate into property classes. Those best endowed with strength, wisdom, capacity for saving, industry and caution, slowly acquire a basic amount of real or movable property; while the stupid and less efficient, and those given to carelessness and waste, remain without possessions. The well-to-do lend their productive property to the less well-off in return for tribute, either ground-rent or profit, and become thereby continually [8]richer, while the others always remain poor. These differences in possession gradually develop social class distinctions; since everywhere the rich have preference, while they alone have the time and the means to devote to public affairs and to turn the laws administered by them to their own advantage. Thus, in time, there develops a ruling and property-owning estate, and a proletariate, a class without property. The primitive state of free and equal fellows becomes a class-state, by an inherent law of development, because in every conceivable mass of men there are, as may readily be seen, strong and weak, clever and foolish, cautious and wasteful ones. 
This seems quite plausible, and it coincides with the experience of our daily life. It is not at all unusual to see an especially gifted member of the lower class rise from his former surroundings, and even attain a leading position in the upper class; or conversely, to see some spendthrift or weaker member of the higher group “lose his class” and drop into the proletariate. 
And yet this entire theory is utterly mistaken; it is a “fairy tale,” or it is a class theory used to justify the privileges of the upper classes. The class-state never originated in this fashion, and never could have so originated. History shows that it did not; and economics shows deductively, with a testimony absolute, mathematical and binding, that it could not. A simple problem in elementary arithmetic shows that the assumption of an original accumulation is totally erroneous, and has nothing to do with the development of the class-state.

William Bailie on the anarchist tendency

From the preface to his biography of Josiah Warren:
Anarchism is not a cult, nor a party, nor an organization. Neither is it a new idea, nor a reform movement, nor a system of philosophy. It is not even a menace to the social order, nor yet a plotting for the destruction of kings and rulers. Indeed, the social order has often been in danger either from false alarms or from its own weight since the fabric first arose.

Anarchism is none of these things. It teaches not violence, nor does it inculcate insurrection. Neither is it an incipient revolution. None the less has its place in the life of our times. Modern Anarchism, in a word, is primarily a tendency—moral, social, and intellectual. As a tendency it questions the supremacy of the State, the infallibility of Statute laws, and the divine right of all Authority, spiritual or temporal. It is, in truth, a product of Authority, the progeny of the State, a direct consequence of the inadequacy of law and government to fulfill their assumed functions. In short, the Anarchist tendency is a necessity of progress, a protest against usurpation, privilege, and injustice.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tucker on competition

Benjamin Tucker on competition:

The supposition that competition means war rests upon old notions and false phrases that have been long current, but are rapidly passing into the limbo of exploded fallacies. Competition means war only when it is in some way restricted, either in scope or intensity,—that is, when it is not perfectly free competition; for then its benefits are won by one class at the expense of another, instead of by all at the expense of nature’s . 

Proudhon the Politician

Of the experience, he writes:
As soon as I set foot in the parliamentary Sinai, I ceased to be in touch with the masses; because I was absorbed by my legislative work, I entirely lost sight of the current events... One must have lived in that isolator which is called a National Assembly to realize how the men who are most completely ignorant of the state of the country are almost always those who represent it.

Proudhon's Free Market Socialism

From Iain McKay's introduction to Property is Theft!: A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology:
Such claims [that Proudhon's market socialism is not truly socialism] are premised on a basic misunderstanding, namely that markets equate to capitalism. Yet this hides the key defining feature of capitalism: wage-labour. Thus capitalism is uniquely marked by wage-labour, not markets (which pre-date it by centuries) and so it is possible to support markets while being a socialist.