Fully Automated Luxury Individualist Anarchism @EBBerger

“So instead of redressed communism, how about a new hyperstitional configuration: fully automated individualist anarchism. Instead of using the mass industrial system as its launching point (which is, at the end of the day, little more than a symptom of capitalism’s repression of technoscientific development, not its apex), this mode of insurrectionary technopolitics will look towards an as-yet unformed productive system whose genesis lies in the shops, garages, basements, and pop-up labs in anonymous urban zones and boring suburbs (and not to mention already-existing spaces such as Italy’s Emilia-Romagna China’s Shenzhen!) An intellectual lineage can even be crafted, beginning perhaps with Marx’s observations on technology and scientific knowledge in the Grundrisse, but augmented through Hayekian knowledge problems and positive-liberty philosophies. Fully automated individualist anarchism even comes with ready-made slogans. Instead of “all power to the Soviets”, how about “all power to the general intellect”? Instead of a “world to win”, why not a “future to design”? We have targets for immediate action, be the creation of knowledge commons or the setting-up of funding systems for technological development, so why let the Marxists and technocrats claim anti-work politics for their own?
After all, it is at this late stage, as sclerotic capitalism teeters on the precipice of its fragile plateau and the climate slides from bad to worse, that we can safely say that anarchism must be a futurism, and that the future must be anarchist. Let’s get to work.” https://c4ss.org/content/47950

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9 Responses to Fully Automated Luxury Individualist Anarchism @EBBerger

  1. Connor Owens says:

    I know you consider your self a “market” anarchist, but this is effectively a call for what Murray Bookchin termed post-scarcity anarchism in the 1960s and what’s more recently been termed solarpunk anarchism: a moneyless commons economy, automation of as much dull and dirty and dangerous labour as possible, but based on human-scale technologies, decentralised scales, and cooperative networks of small producers instead of centralised mass production and heavy-industry.

  2. Erik Gershwin says:

    This is has little to nothing to with “individualist anarchism”, if any anarchist is to be cited in this piece it should be Peter Kropotkin.

    Isn’t Stephen Marglin the guy who wrote that little book “The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community” in which he argued.that markets transactions destroy community?
    And what is this “Hayekian knowledge problems” bullshit? Errico Malatesta (in what Turcato called his “Method of freedom”) and Kropotkin were making the similar criticisms ages before Hayek, even James C.Scott, Scott by the way is not a fan of “free markets” (he wrote a whole book on it), he even critizes the price-mechanism in the book you seem to be citing (“Seeing like a State”).

    Why are you citing Hayek the poster child for “negative freedom” and the father of neoliberalism in a piece about positive freedom?

    • edmundberger says:

      Hi Erik, thanks for dropping me a line! I would disagree that this has little to do with individualist anarchism. I’m very familiar with the work of both Kropotkin and Bookchin, and while I admire some of their output (particularly “Factories, Fields, and Workshops – Bookchin’s municipalism leaves me a little dry), I am far more interested in going towards a far more molecular level than either of their systems. This is the importance of a framework of positive freedom: the maximization of agency for the individual, the increasing of as many options as possible, which seems to follow the path of not only an anarchy of distribution, but an anarchy of production as well. Of course individuals are not atomized and exist in social and material ecosystems that always shape the form and direction these option vectors take, and collective action is a necessity. But beginning analyses/infrastructure design/praxis at the level of the social and not the individual simply recreates the fundamental disjunction that has undermined both the actuality of modernity and the various attempts to exit it during the twentieth century. And this brings us right to the crux of the matter in your comment, which is my reference to knowledge problems and Hayek.

      You seem to be conflating two different arguments here: the economic calculation problem (ECP) posed by Mises in the 1920s, and the knowledge problem developed by Hayek in the late 1950s. They’re often conflated directly together – and I suppose it’s understandable to a degree, as Hayek did include elements of the ECP as an addition aspect of his knowledge problem. But the difference between the two is what is immediately relevant here. Mises unveiled his ECP in the 1920s as a critique of Otto Neurath’s “calculation-in-kind” scheme for planning economies; Hayek’s knowledge problem arrived three decades later, towards the end of the 1950s, and only after the first rounds of information theory and cybernetics made their debut. Mises argued that planning could never occur because producers could never have real knowledge and/or anticipate the movement of supply and demand, which is best represented by the ebbs and flows of price signals. Hayek, by contrast, is making a much wider argument about the nature of, communication, and organization of knowledge. Namely, he argues that any bid for long-term planning will be mored by inefficiency and a lack of resiliency in that it will never be able to access the full scope of knowledge needed for planning, which is embedded in shifting, mutable networks and within the drives and desires of individual agents.

      If this sounds like it undercuts the Austrian celebration of the large corporate firm (as the spectrum spanning Schumpeter to Mises to Hayek was want to do), it is because it is true: Kevin Carson relies heavily on Hayek’s arguments in “Organization Theory” to critique both the dominant way of organizing the means of production, as well as the Austrian apologia for it (the ECP arguments of Mises in particular). Also, it may sound a bit like Scott’s descriptions of metis in “Seeing Like a State. This isn’t accidental either. Scott spoke on this relationship at a talk given on the subject at the Cato Institute (yes, *that* Cato Institute), while in his book he wrote that

      >Any attempt to completely plan a village, a city, or, for that matter, a language is certain to run afoul of the same social reality. A village, city, or language is the jointly created, partly unintended product of many, many hands. To the degree that authorities insist on replacing this ineffably complex web of activity with formal rules and regula­tions, they are certain to disrupt the web in ways that they cannot pos­sibly foresee. This point is most frequently made by such proponents of laissez-faire as Friedrich Hayek, who are fond of pointing out that a command economy, however sophisticated and legible, cannot begin to replace the myriad, rapid, mutual adjustments of functioning mar­kets and the price system.

      Scott also clarifies elsewhere that “the conclusions that can be drawn from the failures of modern projects of social engineering are as applicable to market-driven standardization as they
      are to bureau­cratic homogeneity.” I fully agree with this statement (as well as Marglin’s arguments about the destructive nature of capitalist market economies), and argue in no way for the kind of market economy advocated by the Austrians. Nonethless, I (like Carson and others) see no problem in using legitimate insights that can be gleamed in their writings. So when you write that

      >And what is this “Hayekian knowledge problems” bullshit? Errico Malatesta (in what Turcato called his “Method of freedom”) and Kropotkin were making the similar criticisms ages before Hayek, even James C.Scott, Scott by the way is not a fan of “free markets” (he wrote a whole book on it), he even critizes the price-mechanism in the book you seem to be citing (“Seeing like a State”).

      I’m having a hard time seeing this as anything other than a bugaboo on sourcing, that I neglected to draw on the appropriate canon (Malatesta, Kropotkin, Bookchin) – ironic given that two of the people you cite (Carson and Scott) also speak positively of Hayek.

      • Erik Gershwin says:

        The “Market” as an impersonal, dis-embedded and autonomous mechanism has never existed, it’s just an old Ricardian myth that was picked up by people on left and the right. I doubt that the “market”, even less so the one that you envision, would ever exists in a stateless society, seeing as markets were created by, and are maintained by states.

        And you guys seem to completely ignore/blind to the fact that a great chunk of our economic transfers, even today does not involve markets at all, it mostly operate through different gift economies (most of these even go beyond “exchange”/”exchangism”) like the household economy, communal and civic associations.

        It’s weird that you would use the word “molecular” so much, Bookchin used that word a lot (I don’t care much for some of his latter stuff either).

        Individualists were never interested in either post-scarcity or decentralized/human-scaled production, that would mostly a communist anarchist (another anarchist that one could cite would be libertarian communist Colin Ward, whose work Carson uses a lot).

        Since you seem to have read a fair bit of philosophy I find your use of “methodological individualism” really surprising. I was almost sure that you had read some Pierre Bourdieu.

        Having read a fair bit of James C.Scott’s work (beyond the books) and having met the man himsrlf, I can assure you that he’s no fan of Hayek, he was just pointing that Hayek made a similar point as well. ,If you read a few pages further or read his “The Art of Not Being Governed” he also says that he gets all of inspiration from Proudhon and Kropotkin.

        Since you seem to have seem to reading a lot of stuff, did you read beginner contemporary anarchist stuff like David Graeber’s “Debt:The First 5,000 Years”? If you didn’t already read that book I really recommend that you do.

        and If you want some serious on economics I recommend Tony Lawson’s book “Economics and Reality”, I have a lot of disagreement with it but it’s really good.

        P.S: Kevin Carson seems to identify as an anarchist without adjectives now and he’s not that obsessed with “markets” now since he read Scott, Ostrom and Graeber.

      • edmundberger says:

        I still don’t see much here other than splitting hairs about proper name dropping from the anarchist canon – which is ultimately rather uninteresting to me. Your comment about methodological individualism really drives this home, as any reader of my writings – be it here, or at C4SS, or elsewhere – will know that I draw on a more materialistic conflict theory based approach than any Austrian orthodoxy. I’m none too worried about dogmas.

  3. smirkpretty says:

    “All power to the general intellect.” Has a nice ring to it. I can see all the ways it could go wrong, though more importantly, the ways it could go right (or left, as the case may be)

    • dmf says:

      never quite sure what “general” intellect can be/mean in terms of actual human doings, often reminds me of pipedreams like Esperanto.

      • edmundberger says:

        In this instance just a term for treating knowledge as something other than a commodity to accumulate, something locked away through monopoly privilege.

      • dmf says:

        ah commons (public) not in-common (hive), thanks I was hearing echoes of Bifo but now I’ve got it.

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