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Will people really have the same work ethic without an authority to govern them?

0 votes
What is the profit motive in anarchism? It makes no sense as to why people  would work generously. Humans have become greedy. I wish  I could live in an anarchy, I really do. But anarchism has its flaws and one of those includes lack of profit motive.
asked Jan 12, 2012 by waagwaan (140 points)

2 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer

Short answer: Nope, and here's to death of the work ethic along with all authority! :D

Long answer: First of all, you're pointing to several things as the "driving force" of work: work ethic, profit motive, and authority/governance. I find the way you conflate them is unworkable (no pun intended), so I'll rework the terms in a somewhat different framework than yours, but I'm glad you introduced all of these elements because they are interesting and interrelated.

Also, to be forthright, I'm personally not interested in anarchy from the perspective of pros and cons, whether or not it will work, or is a reasonable alternative way of doing things maybe someday after we get enough people or something. To me, anarchy is not reasonable, is not a future or a society or a cause. It is something that people do--or a way of people doing things--which is inherently in conflict with the existent/dominant system (as well as a debatable span of other past and possible systems) and that I like.

The work ethic is a part of that system. It's a morality in which many people believe in the unimpeachable goodness of work (to put it very simply... of course it is more nuanced than that). It's interesting to consider why people have this work ethic. You suggest people have it because of authority/governance, and I think that's part of it. Government institutions do have a significant ability to make people believe these kinds of things; people who believed these things founded the US government and still continue to run it, and Americans seem to believe in this bullshit more than the rest of the people in the world. I think another reason people believe in it is pure stupidity.

The profit motive can't be what motivates people to work, since workers don't profit. Workers get paid a wage; profit is something else, and the fact that profit is systematically produced--and must be--is related to the fact that most people have to work for a wage. It is what motivates the system--and the people who own and run things--to run such that gain is the primary, or sole, interest. So in a way the profit motive is involved in motivating people to work. Or at least shaping what work is. Work wouldn't be what it is if it wasn't for profit motive. But this profit motive isn't as simple as "humans being greedy." Some humans may be greedy, others might not.

One of the funny things about your question is that in the existent/dominant economic system, people do work generously, and not in a greedy way. If people worked in a greedy way, would they allow business owners to profit off of their labor? In fact, to go back to the beginning, we could call the work ethic the system of morality which tricks people into doing this. The work ethic and the profit motive work well together. The work ethic is one of the ways people are tricked into working for another's profit without even noticing this is what is going on, because they believe in work.

You also say that authority or governance is what motivates people to work. One could say this is what stands behind the moral system. It steps in to enforce things if people don't accept their roles and the moral system that largely creates it. In the workplace, people are partly motivated to work by the authority there--the manager or boss. Outside of the workplace, other forms of authority function in ways that enforce the system. The government makes, enforces and adjucates laws that are related to the functioning of the same system including the government itself.

But I've done work where I had no boss or authority figure, and not because I believe what the government tells me. And I've worked even though I have no work ethic. And I've worked even though I've had no chance of profit, just a wage. What motivated me to work? I needed (and need) money to survive because I live in a world that requires it (of nearly everyone), so from a certain perspective one could say that this force is the "bottom line" of the system.

I would destroy the driving forces that make people want to work, as well as this "bottom line" that forces me to have to work. Work isn't freedom, whether or not one submits to it willingly.

Anarchy doesn't rely on generosity nor on anything really. It appears to be something that springs up continually and anywhere (though not always or everywhere), the incessant "no" to government, the will to do and be wildly, that cannot be suppressed. There have certainly been many people who have directed much of their energy to anarchic tasks without a profit motive, work ethic, authority or even generosity.

P.S. In this I'm not calling anarchic activity "work" in order to keep terms distinct and because I think work has a logic that's wholly incompatible with anarchy, but it's also just a word. Anyway I'm definitely not seeing where the lack of profit motive becomes a flaw in anarchy; on the contrary, that's one of my favorite things about anarchy, lol!

[edited for italics]

answered Jan 13, 2012 by anok (21,030 points)
edited May 11, 2015 by anok
+1 vote
Money does not motivte everyone.  I fail  because I would rather do everything for free.  My invention, childrens stories, wellness programs, and even business advertising.  So I fail miserably in this world, but I enjoy the things I do. I usually do mindless or problem solving jobs that allow me to think.

Work is basically energy used for a purpose.  Even all the questions and answers on this website are work of individuals.  It takes time plus energy to accomplish a desired task.

To live a life that has no purpose or direction could be a choice, but what is the fulfillment or joy in a life that does not express itself in some form of energy for some purpose.   

People enjoy gardenning and yard work for the result and pleasure it gives them to create something they consider beautiful.  People here have used a great deal of time studying and thinking to express what we have come to believe are sound and grounded conclusions.  

Whether we go to the store or go to the stream we are working to get what we need to live and thrive.  Our minds are clouded and twisted by the thought of money and working for money.  

The curious thing about this is that probably in a condition of anarchy we all would have by necessessity to work much harder to have less comforts and pleasures of all we can enjoy now with a 40 work week.  Not that working for money is good but to think no matter what form of enviroment of government we live with work is part of that existence.  If you feel strongly about this try to find something you like to use your energy toward and let that motivate you to do something you feel is worth your while and labor.  

This can help a person to think as a practicioner of anarchy.  The first thing we must change s how we see the world, the rest then would becomes easy.
answered May 23, 2012 by afunctionalworld (3,290 points)
A 'cost' or 'expense' is an expenditure of time, money, or resources that are scarce and/or rivalrus.  A 'benefit' is the desired reaping of the costs in the form of saving money, time, or resources.  Another words- The cost I could bear from joining a site and answering a question is the time it takes away from something else I could have done.  The possible benefits- expelling my belief to someone who may get a chance to further his belief in Anarchism.  My very doing so implicates i wish to spend my time doing this because I see it as more desirable in benefits than costs.  So every time people act; they see their costs of compliance outwayed by having gone without having done so and they profit.  

So there is profit in every imaginable aspect in a ruler-less society.  If private property is valued in Anarchism as Ancaps like myself support, people will work to meet the need of others so they can voluntarily exchange with that many others.  We must consume to live, and you must first produce/trade the thing to consume. If there is no profit or money system of profit we cannot see what society values through the price mechanism, and whether too many resources are being used and not reaping enough benefits.  Profit always has and will exist in society, and with a community that embraces no ruling class, working conditions will be much more beneficial to workers and they will produce much more in less time, increasing their profit.

So no, no one would work; but in Anarchism there is profit in all actors whether we like it or not.
If there is a money system, who controls it? How is money "created" and introduced into society? What about the concept of interest? Is it (money) still electronic debt and interest? Because right now, all of it is created by the state and the banking system. And all of that money is created in the form of debt that carries interest (the creation of even more money) and a need for never-ending growth in a linear sense, which is not possible.

If you are suggesting some other sort of money system, how would someone go about implementing it today, in their daily life? Because the way I see things - money being at odds with the natural world, and I reject the concept of it - I can start acting on that belief immediately whenever I move something in my life out of the realm of the money system.

edited: for additional thoughts