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How would building and organizing large infrastructure work without hierarchy(centralization)?

0 votes
Please explain. Basically, how would people agree to build and airport and maintain it without some hierarchy?

I ask this because someone told me that they aren't a collective socialist for the reason that some form of leadership hierarchy is needed to build and maintain large infrastructure. They said it can't be managed on a macroeconomic scale, like capitalism can.
asked Sep 8, 2016 by anonymous

the question seems to make the assumption that large infrastructure projects would be desirable or necessary in a world without institutional hierarchies. which implies the persistence of mass (and i mean mass) society.

i am not sure that maintaining mass society is possible without the institutional hierarchies that co-created/co-depend on it. so i think the question remains in the realm of (accepting) the status quo, rather than questioning what creates and underlies that status quo.

2 Answers

+5 votes
I feel absolutely a-okay with a potential anarchist future where the infrastructure needed to build an airport is non-existant. Really, if you think about it, airports are the easy bit - a large enough level field and (maybe) a building or two. If we can't muster enough organization to pull that together, then there is no way we will maintain fleets of airplanes, continue to extract the fossil fuels they run on, etc.

Snarkiness aside, why couldn't anarchists build an airport and maintain serviceable airplanes? What makes it so that capitalism does so? Markets? If so, that is invented and/or monetized needs. If there was a need and desire there is no reason some anarchists might not choose to build and maintain an airport, though I will admit that I find a hard time reconciling the building of airports and the maintaining of air travel with an anarchy I want to be involved with, and I bet things would get uncomfortable when the airport anarchists collectively decided that they needed to expand their airport into the farmlands of the next collective over who perhaps want to keep growing kale and fava beans for the masses (never mind any individualists and egoists - they are just loose cannons, and I am sure that collective immanent domain trumps their desire to live where the new landing strip should go).

What will happen when, due to expanded flights on Libertarian Air, the LibAirCollective realizes they need more fuel and that that fuel exists in a place where the residents don't have a mutual aid and trade agreement? Maybe those residents don't like the potential risks to their water quality that comes with resource extraction and the infrastructure (trains? pipelines? freeways? another airport?) required to transport said resources....

I diverge from the actual intent of your question, but I do so because I think your framing  (or maybe more accurately that of the person you were talking to who is focused on macroeconomics) deserves to be challenged on the level of assuming that an anarchist world would look anything like this one, or that we would be striving to maintain things like air travel, which are in and of themselves products of capitalism.

This anarchist suspects that it would be ultimately more desirable to abandon many technologies taken for granted in modern industrial civilization (airborne travel is in that list). Then again, I am not so interested in convincing folks who are not anarchists of the righteousness of my perspective, especially if I would need to water down my beliefs to meet their cynicism about things like collectives, or terms I feel emnity towards, such as socialism. Forget it. I am not trying to win converts.
answered Sep 8, 2016 by ingrate (19,840 points)
edited Sep 9, 2016 by ingrate
I upvoted this answer because the first paragraph makes an incredibly good point: what's so necessary about airports? They're a very recent invention, and most people don't use them on a regular basis. There are a ton of different technologies that exist that aren't in any way necessary to live an enjoyable life.

I fucking hate cars. If they had never been invented, then people wouldn't need to use them! Life would be easier if it wasn't for cars, and people wouldn't have to work as much paying for all the expenses they entail. Now adays, people think it's weird if they see you walking places. I got accused by a lady of robbing her house just because I like to go for walks.
This question also made me think about how anarchists do organize. I have helped with some anarchist projects over the years where my level of activity and/ordegree of engagement with that project might bet me pinned as having a "leadership" role, and I don't necessarily think there is anything wrong with that in and of itself. I think this sort of attitude would apply well to the building of infrastructure like airports, etc. even if it is something I personally have no desire to see for many reasons.

I think it becomes a problem when that role becomes static and relations stratify. Relationships almost always have dynamics of power and hierarchy wrapped up in them, and to pretend that anarchists are somehow free of these dynamics is ridiculous.
The same is the issue with institutions and organizations: institutions and organizations don't necessarily compromise the freedom of anyone, but when they become resistant to change, feel like the walk-of-the-dead when attending them, and become resistant to disbanding, then that is when they need to be destroyed (and of course, the resistance to disbanding will prevent this).
0 votes
Any project of any size can emerge from a network of independent, self-employed individuals with no employees. Just think of all the people involved, from the lowliest laborer to the top engineer, as single-person contractors and contractees with reciprocal engagements that are all very, very short-term.

My vision of anarchy is simply the absence of coercion. In the relationships among those engaged in the airport project: no sticks, only carrots. It would be great to see a big project like an airport come together without any bosses or employees, just people who can and want to help make it happen.

Let's not confuse this with teamwork. I hate teamwork. There is no fusion of goals and responsibilities. Individual goals and responsibilities are clear. Everybody has to find a way to be useful in order to be appreciated. It all adds up to make the functioning airport.

Why? Ask your friend, why must there be a hierarchy? Why must someone give orders for others to follow? Why can't that person just post "wanted" adds on the internet for immediate solutions to the particular problems that arise? All so-called employers must see themselves as customers for unique services ; all active persons as solution-providers.

Look, if the project has to be forced top-down it isn't right. If it's right it would happen without authority.
answered Sep 15, 2016 by Syrphant (570 points)
Ingrate: just thought of a neat way to express my feelings on teamwork.

Imagine a table too heavy for one person to lift; you and I work together to move the table. In the end, the table is moved as the result of a combined effort that could be seen as teamwork.

But how are we going to look at this?

(a) the team moved the table. the team did the work and deserves the praise and pride.  Neither of us feels fully responsible for any accomplishment.

(b) you moved your side of the table; I moved my side of the table. You could not have accomplished your goal without my help; I could not have accomplished my goal without your help, but our goals were distinct -- yours to move your side of the table, me to move mine. Both of us feel fully responsible for individual accomplishments and each of us feels grateful to the other for helping.

Point of view (a) is a total waste of an opportunity for individuals to feel dignity.

syrphant, in your last example, one can take a point of view that both a) and b) occurred. one can feel a sense of connection and shared accomplishment and a sense of individual accomplishment. i don't see it as an either/or situation.

i disagree with your notion that your goals were distinct ("you moved your side, i moved mine") because as you both move your sides of the table, you must adjust, balance, steer, make eye contact with another, feel and sense the combined movement of your efforts, etc. as you move with the other person....much different than each lifting and carrying their side independently of the other. you also share the goal of moving the table from one spot to another.

edited to add....

tthe idea of "deserving praise and pride" doesn't resonate with me. "deserves" according to who? it sounds as if some authority exists which determines who deserves something, and who doesn't. the word "deserve" itself smacks of authority to me.

bornagainanarchist: I suppose you are right. In my simple example the attitudes a) and b) coexist and both parties recognize the existence of the team as a third party without losing sight of the relationship of mutual support between the team's two members and between each member and the team.

But let's complicate the example now: the table is too heavy for two persons to move; you and StrawDog join the effort. Together we move the table up a staircase and through a narrow door -- an effort in which the delegation of strategic-thinking and coordination to one person is useful. A leader naturally emerges. In this case there is a serious risk that attitude (a) dominates to the total exclusion of attitude (b).

With attitude (b) there is simply a more complex division of labor where one person's individual responsibility and achievement includes planning and coordination. This activity helps the others achieve their respective individual goals. Still each person retains the sense of personal worth and this feeling comes from looking into the eyes of the others individually (not determined by any authority). There is a sense of equality and reciprocal esteem because each member recognizes that every member has achieved a personal goal, that each member has benefitted in her individual achievement from the labor of every other as an individual partner in a sort of labor exchange. The equality is maybe in the idea of specialization -- of the uniqueness of each particular task (moving this side, moving that side, directing...) that each member has performed equally well.

In this case attitude (a) could dominate through the idea that the person to whom the role of coordinator and planner was delegated actually represents that third party undeniably created by the collaboration - the team or collective. The idea that this person thinks and speaks for the team and that the team has moved the table with the individuals acting as its tools... I find this unsettling and see it as a very common problem.  For some reason I can't explain, it is attitude (b) that is lacking in society and results in widespread feelings of irrelevance, unimportance, alienation.
 I don't challenge the truth of perspective (a) in its simple sense, I only notice that without (b) we tend to fall into situations of hierarchy and general acceptance of submission to authority.
And while I don't deny that a team emerges inevitably from productive interaction, I don't think it is right for any team members -- alone or as a group -- to even try to subjugate the team's free will to any sort of management structure or government. Not by voting, not by consensus, not by delegating or seizing power.  The team just happens. It is not really existing on the same plane of perspective as the members. No member or members can decide what the team should do. Only encourage other members individually to make and pursue specific personal goals of value to others.

Imagine that the organs or cells in my body decided to do a coup d'├ętat and form a government. Then I wouldn't really exist as a living thing with a free will. No, my cells can't decide my actions and I can't decide theirs. Sometimes they agree voluntarily to pursue objectives that I have suggested/requested. Sometimes they don't. Also vice-versa.

To take away the free will of another being is like reversible murder. Sometimes reversible murder is OK, if it is about reversibly murdering a parasite or predator. So those who usurp the will of the team even democratically are killing the team.

We should just concern ourselves with the things on our level of perspective in time and space. Let Mother Earth or the Great Oneness of the Universe take care of herself. Just take care of each individual individually in your Dunbar number ;)

(not preaching or trying to affect your opinions in any way, please understand, just getting my two-cents in.)
i like doing stuff and creating with other people.....playing music or games, growing/foraging/cooking/eating food together, staring at birds and stars, talking for hours, even moving a table....let perspectives a) and b) merge until we don't even think about them any more....
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