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What are the different proposed or imagined anarchist economic systems?

+3 votes
(or non-systems for that matter)

Specifically, I am thinking of:
* communism
* mutualism
* collectivism

Which I don't understand the differences between. But also if there have been any others put out there, mention those as well.

We can even talk about market anarchism, which I don't really understand especially since I've heard it said that Tucker's market anarchism was actually anarchist, and quite different from the "anarcho"-capitalism that falls under the same umbrella.
asked Mar 7, 2012 by anok (19,540 points)
a gift economy is the only kind i'm interested in.

abandoning a debt and interest based monetary system issued by the state (or any other entity) is what I would like.

4 Answers

0 votes
Best answer
i am the last person who should be attempting to answer this, but perhaps to prod others...

The chief economic features of full communism may be summarized briefly. Society, now composed entirely of workers except for those who are physically or mentally incapacitated, owns in common the natural and man-made instruments of production. Although differences in personal tastes and many individual idiosyncrasies remain, society is classless because the former owning class has been partly destroyed and partly absorbed into the working class. With surplus value no longer received by anyone, the workers possess the entire product they, assisted by nature and man-made implements, turn out. The more labor produces, the more labor has. Consequently, each is motivated to perform his part in the cooperative undertakings of production in accordance with his full abilities. The increased productivity of society assures each member of getting what he needs, and each therefore consumes in accordance with these needs. The citizen of such a society is unable to store up private possessions in the form of capital or capital funds and finds it unnecessary to store up private possessions of consumer goods.
Paradoxically, economic life assumes at once both fullness and simplicity, on the one hand affording the material basis for higher forms of pleasure and culture and, on the other, permitting leisure and freedom from economic worries, thereby encouraging the pursuit of higher pleasures.

each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market. Integral to the scheme was the establishment of a mutual-credit bank that would lend to producers at a minimal interest rate, just high enough to cover administration. Mutualism is based on a labor theory of value that holds that when labor or its product is sold, in exchange, it ought to receive goods or services embodying "the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility".Mutualists oppose the idea of individuals receiving an income through loans, investments, and rent, as they believe these individuals are not laboring. Though Proudhon opposed this type of income, he expressed that he had never intended "...to forbid or suppress, by sovereign decree, ground rent and interest on capital. I think that all these manifestations of human activity should remain free and voluntary for all: I ask for them no modifications, restrictions or suppressions, other than those which result naturally and of necessity from the universalization of the principle of reciprocity which I propose."
Insofar as they ensure the worker's right to the full product of their labor, mutualists support markets (or artificial markets) and property in the product of labor. However, they argue for conditional titles to land, whose ownership is legitimate only so long as it remains in use or occupation (which Proudhon called "possession"); thus advocating personal property but not private property.
Though Proudhon's mutualism is similar to the economic doctrines of the nineteenth century American individualist anarchists, unlike them, the Proudhonists are in favor of association for large industries. Because of this, mutualism has been retrospectively characterized sometimes as being economic individualism, and another times as ideologically situated between individualist and collectivist forms of anarchism. Proudhon himself described the "liberty" he pursued as "the synthesis of communism and property."

Generally speaking, economic collectivism can refer to two distinct concepts: that property (usually in reference to productive property) be owned by all of society in common, or that possessions be owned by collective groups that use the property. The first concept is related to Communism, communalism and some forms of socialism, while the latter concept is related to forms of socialism based on independent cooperative organizations such as Syndicalism, Guild socialism, libertarian socialism and market socialism. Additionally, capitalist systems that largely consist of either cooperative or corporate ownership structures, with ownership being vested in collective entities of legal owners rather than the producers/users of the property, can be characterized as being collectivist to some degree.
Collectivism in the field of economics holds that some things should be owned by all of society and used for the benefit of all rather than being owned by just individuals or private parties. Central to this view is the concept of the commons, as opposed to private property. Early economic systems such as communalism and tribal societies practiced this form of collectivism. Collectivism can also apply to public ownership over the means of production, while others argue that all valued commodities, like environmental or consumer goods, should be regarded as public goods and placed under public ownership. In health care, collective action by trade unions and other professional bodies throughout Europe in the early twentieth century established mutual sickness funds and contracts with doctors and hospitals enabling workers to be assured of access to health care and sometimes sick pay collectively funded by all the members of the trade union or profession.
Collectivism in economics may or may not involve a state as a manager and steward of collective property. For instance, company property in corporations is usually managed by specialized managers, despite being owned in some cases by hundreds of shareholders.
answered Mar 9, 2012 by dot (50,920 points)
the following quotation is from an an-cap book.

"Imagine a society with no government. Individuals purchase law enforcement from private firms. Each such firm faces possible conflicts with other firms. Private policemen working for the enforcement agency that I employ may track down the burglar who stole my property only to discover, when they try to arrest him, that he too employs an enforcement agency.

There are three ways in which such conflicts might be dealt with. The most obvious and least likely is direct violence-a mini-war between my agency, attempting to arrest the burglar, and his agency attempting to defend him from arrest. A somewhat more plausible scenario is negotiation. Since warfare is expensive, agencies might include in the contracts they offer their customers a provision under which they are not obliged to defend customers against legitimate punishment for their actual crimes. When a conflict occurred, it would then be up to the two agencies to determine whether the accused customer of one would or would not be deemed guilty and turned over to the other.

A still more attractive and more likely solution is advance contracting between the agencies. Under this scenario, any two agencies that faced a significant probability of such clashes would agree on an arbitration agency to settle them-a private court. Implicit or explicit in their agreement would be the legal rules under which such disputes were to be settled."
I don't like what you said on collectivism because you seem to not be talking about Anarcho-collectivism, but just collectivism, which is pretty damn broad.
i look forward to you pointing out the differences for us.
0 votes
The most important is the revolutionary anarcho-surrealist economy:

With the proletariat glazing the entirety of its centipede, after the abandonment of all authoritarian and exploitative fashionabilities and artifacts, a new dawn will ignite and the human peanut butter of the collective liberating willpower shall fortify longstanding passions for libertyness, equalityness, and fractal anemones, dispelling the twilight of man's inebriation to man, carefully aroused from the decentralized upside-down federation of free breakfast brigades and common hand salute stations. No longer shall, "this is mine and that is yours" reign, but rather, socially-necessary twice-pickled madness shall go unpunished and the individually rational absurdism of self-actualization repressed by the patriarchal capitalist state shall flip-flop-flip out from the depths of the species essence back onto the open plains, where the buffalo might perchance once more skate anew. All trade shall be solely for worthless baubles and trinkets and all goods durable or consumable shall travel through the gift economy, though randomized in reception by dice and by coin. All shall weekly expropriate the necessities from the hunted vampire-bandit capitalist overlords and take shelter amongst the bones of the bosses and cops and rapists of old, or their hideouts if the dogs do not see their shadow in the morn. Arbitration shall take place by mutually-agreed upon soccer teams accessible without fee or hooliganry. All shall have right to that which they produce and possess provided they do not use it to strum up songs of discord and misery for others or act as injurious warlord-rentier-industrialist-despots. And all shall move thrice annually to a new abode bearing only that which they may fit in two shopping carts lashed together with the dominant cordable flora of their bioregion. With the vanquishment of the beast whose fangs are profit, interest, ground rent, cops, borders, bosses, militaries, hetero-patriarchy, racism, and other nasty nasties, tiny ballerinas of invigoration shall escape into the atrophied imaginations to effervesce logics of mutual gain, self-determinability, free participatoriness, direct doings, solidaritous revelry, and the regeneration of all the pretty little dragonflies and mosses crushed in the fast lane of industrial excretion. It shall take place too the monthly lawless pulverizing with wicked nailbats and juggled torches of all those who would plunge the world back into the acid cesspool of hierarchical civilization -- nailbats and torches to be drawn and dispersed from the communal stores each full moon by free lottery and used under the banner Surrealist Liberation Front, for apocollapsurrection against patriarcapitalistaterror. No flags encouraged.
answered Mar 9, 2012 by AutumnLeavesCascade (9,030 points)
so would you call this an answer to the question, ALC? seems like more of a comment on my attempt at an answer...
or did someone hack your account? ;)
I just wanted to laugh and perhaps allow others to do so as well. This site's stayed very serious the whole time, and I think that's part of the reason we don't see too many new people each month.
–2 votes
At a dinner table, everyone takes what they believe is an adequate serving, usually leaving enough for the rest to have their self-determined portion.  In many cases you see this happen.  Only in panic or threat of disaster do you see people hoarding supplies and goods.  There is no law but the notion there is enough for each for their good.

Maybe if everything became "free" people would load up with food but wouldn't everyone find that only so much food can be consumed over a period of time, and that having an over allotment of food means to loss of freshness and taste.  

What of transportation?  How many cars would you want?  What of every three years you received a new loaded car of your choice?  Maybe mass transportation could improve on time and convenience and be used by most of the populaton.  Your home would be remodel every 5 years; all repairs made, and additions for your comfort and the growth of your family.  And every two year all your technology were updated.   

We think of cost according to money but more than likely resource would be better used through maintaining and recycle product rather than to continue a use and throw away mentality.  Mansions are a sign of wealth, but where wealth has no meaning comfort, style, and practicality would likely become the determining factors of a houses design.  

What about having roads that have no potholes,  every product manufactured to be offered only at the best grade and quality; and no matter what issue you are having with your home or car, at gets fixed.

There is no one without a home, food, and dignity.  

What if we has a society where we do not have to work, but see "work" as the maintaining of the system of society.  Each one of us is already a part of the systems of service and provision.  Not as part of the state and supplies to be determined by control of rationing.  There is no longer a need to want as much as someone else because each is able to have the self-determined amount according to their needs and comfort.  There is no beauracracy so needs are met more quickly and effeciently.  

Capitalistic values are what drives the currecnt system.  Under another system those values no longer will apply.
answered May 23, 2012 by afunctionalworld (2,090 points)
you're not really answering the question.
you seem to be saying that the question is wrong-headed?
It seems that many of the same concepts are taken from capitalism and used in many of the approaches to anarachy.  Value, exchange, and determined allotments; and also a great concerned with what is mine and what is yours.  We are maybe still worried that someone might have too much.

If we apply the same concepts to new ideas we just get a variation of the old systems.   We try to ammend existing systems rather than designing something entirely new.  When you have new ideas and new values the result will be totally different from what was there before.  

Every system is based on the design and purpose of that system.  It still sounds like the focus is on what each person receives.  We still want to based an economy on some sort of trade or of personal limitation.  As long as we based a design on such concepts we will struggle with how much does a person get, what is factor is the amount based on, and how can it be monitored or controlled.

Why not design a system that prioritizes the needs of people in conjunctiontion with the well-being of this planet with the goals as the only agenda: no one goes without the means to a healthy and sufficient diet; no one lives in any condition that does not give that person comfort, sustained health, and protection from the elements in a dwelling of their tastes.

No thought of a determining factor for their allocation, but rather a commitment to how do we take care of each person.  Not as a state offereing wealthfare but that we believe each person should live in dignity and health.  There is no state only people.  

We can take on an organic view of humanity.  We are not worried about who does work what, how much do they do, and what is the level of their importance.  There is no trade, we just do what we do.  We become an organism that nutures and takes care of itself.
the main disconnect i'm getting is that you think all anarchists abide by one of the three systems explained here? most of the anarchists i know don't think about economics and consider it (as you seem to) a way of thinking about the world that is inherently flawed (too tied in to how capitalism has trained us to think).
so most anarchists don't have an economic system that they're aiming for. the ones who do, tend to use one of the three listed here, i guess? unless there are others i don't know about.
so perhaps i should have contextualized the question/answer more when i answered...?
or am i missing your point?
Anarcho-communist, I presume.
–2 votes
Participatory Economics, or Parecon, asserts that economic life can be handled through cooperative councils of workers and consumers.  

As I understand it, demand for a good or service is communicated from an egalitarian group representing a geographic area, or a particular interest.  So, the Paris area grocery council, or the heart surgeon's innovation council, asks for what they want.  

Then, councils relevant to growing French beans or designing better surgical tools respond with what they can produce and in what parameters. By iteration, agreement to produce & receive X kilos of haricots vert and a tiny stent for newborns is reached.  

Compensation for everyone involved 1) varies within reasonable parameters, according to the effort individuals put forth, and 2) is relatively normalized by deliberately balancing jobs for egalitarian empowerment and contribution.

That's a summary of my understanding of Parecon, anyway.  Profs. Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel explain their own work more elegantly in Parecon: Life After Capitalism.  Also, zcomm.org explains more here: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/participatory-economics/
answered Feb 13, 2015 by k.lin (460 points)
how does money get created in such a system? and/or what do you mean by "compensation"?
Compensation is access to goods and services.  Fair compensation under Parecon is a fraction of the total economic product, proportional to the effort and sacrifice contributed by the worker, or according to other criteria for non-workers like children or the elderly or people with health issues.

Right now, money is "made" when a bank writes a double-entry in a ledger, one credit and one debit, for a loan.  *Poof*, money comes from nowhere. Under Parecon, a similar double-entry will be used, a discretionary credit issued to the worker (or whoever the worker designates), and a debit entered for expected future consumption.

Now, exactly what form that would take will depend on many decisions.  Paper bills?  Electronic cards?  We have multiple systems in place right now, like Visa and PayPal and cash and bitcoin. I can imagine a variety of representations of compensation under Parecon, but exactly which is used isn't terribly important.

Sometimes people get hung up on money.  Even in anarchy, bookkeeping is likely to continue, but that doesn't mean the medium of exchange has to be an eternal exploitative weapon like it is now.
i think money - how it gets created, and by who - means a lot.

money represents debt and credit and interest in today's world, and as you said, it gets created out of thin air by banks (in concert with the federal reserve and governments). the volume of money continues to expand, requiring an expansion of "goods"  and "services" to fill it up.

you mentioned the forms of money - paper, electronic, credit cards, etc. - but not my question of "how it gets created" - who issues it, how it would get issued, and if the numbers would continue to expand as they do now. to me, those things matter more than the particular form of markers - that and the underlying mindset of money as debt and interest created by central authority. in other words, under parecon, how does the "poof" aspect of money go away?

the kind of anarchy i want doesn't include the concept of continual growth (represented by money expansion), bookkeeping, interest, debt, or some central organization creating and overseeing the volume of "money".

you might want to check out the concept of gift economy, or charles' eisenstein's book "sacred economics".

edited to add: the "poof" question. :)
As far as who would keep track of issuing debits and credits, I imagine the answer is a series of cooperative councils, made up of people who want bookkeeping to be part of their balanced job. And, the bookkeeping itself would remain the mechanism of creating money.

What I have read about Parecon is not explicit on accounting. It spends a good deal of page space explaining balanced jobs and answering conceptual objections.  In my imagination, money is annihilated when used. A unit represents an imbalance, and correcting the imbalance by spending it means the unit no longer exists.  There is no accumulation, only outstanding imbalance of pay to consumption. Even that can be flexible. Money could expire after a period of disuse or diminish in exchange power over time if such measures seem beneficial.

As far as the expansion of goods and services, it is a dangerous problem with capitalism.  As I read it, Parecon is driven by actual consumer requests.  Overproduction will be much lower, because those producing the excess will know their efforts are wasted - they get no additional benefit, and they see the products of their labor unused.  They can then request less materiel from their own councils, and efficiency goes up.  Needs are met more accurately with less production overall.  And useless crap no one wants, never gets made.

I have participated in gift economies within specific situations.  I would like to see a broader experiment.  Burner campouts have lots of externalities to consider. *edit But they are lots of fun. :)
thanks for the reply.

it sounds sort of like the concept of time-banking, but it leaves me wondering what type of scale it implies, and how "goods" (material things) get related to "services" (using one's energy and skills) in such a system.

i feel more inclined to abandon "systems", and to move toward locally based solutions for real needs like food and shelter, and to continue to move away from concepts of accounting, production, consumption, debt......and like you, i'd like a broader context to do so...which to me mostly means continuing to look for other people who want to fundamentally shift their way of looking at the world from one of economics, to one of freely giving and receiving, and then trying our best to live it out. :)