Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

How could new (and old) technologies be developed and improved in a system of Anarchy?

+1 vote
asked Oct 17, 2011 by Quetzelcoatl (130 points)
edited Oct 27, 2011 by Quetzelcoatl
Can you define "technological advancement"? And how do you define "technology"? Do you refer to simply increasing technical complexity, and increasing it via division of labor, specialization, standardization, stratification, and centralization, or, do you refer to higher energetic inputs/outputs, more moving-parts, more bells-and-whistles, shiner gadgets, etc?
I presume, anon, that you mean 'a state (i.e., condition) of anarchy'. An "anarchist state" is something of a contradiction of terms. If you reformulate your question to address Autumn Leaf Cascade's queries, you will undoubtedly receive several potentially helpful answers. This matter is of great theoretical and practical importance to several schools of anarchism.
Hi me again (no longer anonymous).

Alright so let me clarify myself:

Firstly by "technological advancement" I mean the progressive move forward in regards to our technology for the benefit of people. Aka the move from horse and carriage to automobiles and airplanes as means of transport, improvements in healthcare that took us from leeches and bleeding to X-rays and open heart surgery, and generally the improvement and creation of thousands of vital technologies in society today (or not so vital but awesome technologies like the internet and rocket ships).

My question is how can technologies be improved, or new technologies be created in a state of anarchy (and yes I do mean a 'condition' of anarchy not an organized monitored state).

Also now that I have further explained myself I'm also curious how public services like healthcare, libraries, public transportation, garbage collection etc could exist under the rule of anarchy.

2 Answers

+2 votes
 
Best answer

Q: How could technological advancement exist in an Anarchist state?
A: By people developing technologies.

Whereas now technological development is subsumed to the needs of the economy, funded by the government, given its first practical application in military, surveillance, etc., in anarchy the government and the capitalist system would not exist.

One could easily argue that technology is so heavily shaped by the forces of state-capital that it would not exist in anarchy. So what would happen to it? Much of it might be destroyed. Some existing technologies might be re-purposed, reappropriated, redeveloped. Some new technologies (though arguably it makes little sense to call them "technologies" if they are not formed by the state-capital) might be developed that would not have seen the light of day under this present system.

It is important to mention here that one anarchist critique of technological advancement is that it has little to nothing to do with the "benefit of people" as you put it. Largely it is geared toward the interests of government (military effectiveness, surveillance, social control, etc) and profit (hence life-saving medical care costing tens of thousands of dollars). The abolition of the state and capital, many anarchists argue, would allow technology to actually be put to people's benefit. Others argue that the abolition of technology would be to the benefit of the earth, its ecosystems, and the human species.

Finally, in response to the question of public services, some anarchists point out that all of these systems can be (and historically have been, see for example anarchists in Spain in '36) run by collectives of people managing things themselves without statist or capitalist arrangements between them. Others argue that the shape of public services is largely created by the state-capital (as are the needs for these services), so these services would be largely or entirely abolished. Instead of being publicly transported, we would travel. Instead of being given health care, we would learn healthier relationships to our bodies, including their illnesses and deaths. Instead of garbage collection we would have an ecosystemic relation to the land. Instead of libraries... well, libraries are pretty fucking cool.

(And by the way, anarchy may indeed "rule" in the vernacular sense, but "under the rule of anarchy" is a ridiculous concept.)

[edited for italics]

answered Oct 27, 2011 by anok (19,540 points)
edited May 11, 2015 by anok
(Ok first off, for the sake of not having my vernacular being commented on again, I am referring to if anarchy were to happen on a large scale. I don't know how to better describe it than that.)

Moving right along, I'd like to address some of the points you've made, because I still feel there are things missing here.
One, as I stated above, I am NOT referring to self-serving, economic-based technologies, nor the war machine of governments. I am not talking about how can we make money off these technologies, I am talking about how can these things exist and continue to be produced in an anarchist system.

My problem with Spain as an example is that they were organized. If you're organized, you aren't really an anarchist. You may be anti-government, but it isn't a state( state of being, not formal state) of true anarchy.

As for "travel" as opposed to public transit, this is not really an answer. Would we walk everywhere? In addition a healthier relationship we may develop, but how would such a relationship be possible? What would we eat? Would we farm, or hunt? What about treating diseases and ailments?  Both require some means of technology. As for garbage collection, even if we assume that somehow all waste becomes biodegradable once anarchy "takes over", what would we do with all the garbage already here?

I suppose my question is: Must we revert back to a pre-industrialized state for anarchy to be possible?

(Also, there is nothing in the definition of "technology" that refers back to the state. Therefore calling them "technologies" very much makes sense. I do agree that many new "technologies" would have the "potential" to come about in this system, but who would design and build them and how would they be shared with the public? It is these questions which keep me tentatively on the side of anti-government and from acceptiong "true" anarchy)
"If you're organized, you aren't really an anarchist."

I'm sorry, what?

*deep breath*

1) The point of not calling it "technology" is not purely semantic. These hypothetical "anarchist technologies" might be entirely beyond the shape of anything we know or can conceive of. The very ways of thinking about technology that we currently hold to are statist and capitalist.

2) How can these things exist and continue to be produced in an anarchist system? It probably shouldn't be seen as a continuance, nor dealing with the same things.

3) Anarchists do self-organize, but maybe you're right that the total triumph of anarchy means the end of all organization. In that case, anarchy certainly means the end of technology as we know it.

4) Must we revert back to a pre-industrialized state for anarchy to be possible? No. The idea of going backwards in time is ridiculous, so for anarchy to be possible we would have to go beyond industrialism. Or perhaps anarchy's time is not an historical progression beyond the present (so, not a future), but rather some kind of a break with historical progression.

5) Who would design them? People.
Who would build them? People.
How would they be shared with the public? Though communication.
As for the details, and the answers to the questions about travel, food, etc, etc, the answer is we don't know. If you want to find out, ya gotta do it!

+2 votes
In the environment of anarchy, money no longer would control the motive or means by which technologies are developed.  No push to manipulate to increase sales, no reasons to jeopardize the environment, no reason not to fix and replace outdated technologies.  No reason not to achieve the same high quality standard for all products.

More parts would be replaceable or recyclable.  No more throw away mentality in society created by profit driven concepts.  Technology would be based more on questions of sustainability, overall benefit, safety, efficiency, and problematic maintenance.

People and society could benefit from technology without commercialism, status, and the intent of user addictions.  Maybe there would be a move away from entertainment to more practical technologies but probably not.
answered Jun 2, 2012 by afunctionalworld (2,090 points)
...