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How do anarchists counter the presumption that most people would take rather than give, rendering communization futile?

–1 vote
I hear it a lot: most everyone would rather take from others than provide for themselves and/or give, ergo a world devoid of exchange value would not fair well.
This doesn't sound too far off from the situation of the world today, if not exactly what the world is today -- a capitalist/statist elite always taking, never providing for themselves/giving. But how would thy other anarchists debunk this argument to someone unfamiliar to anarchism, economic or class analysis, or anything relevant to it at all; i.e. simple laymen's terms?
Or could there be some truth to this idea, that maybe not much would change in terms of appropriating material needs and desires?
I think this kind of goes hand in hand with the "humans are naturally greedy" bs.
asked Feb 27, 2013 by anonymous

3 Answers

0 votes
I would argue that this statement implies certain things about the concept of human nature, that we are inhherently greedy. I would respond that this pseudo-capitalist greed is somthing learnt rather than being innate, that human nature is either tribal therefore based on the idea of community-working together for the benifit of the all, or that human nature comprises basically of the ability to learn, other than that  we are born Tabula Rasa (a blank state), you can't prove an newly born child knows anything or is either self-centered or altruistic.
answered Mar 8, 2013 by freedomtoobey (240 points)
+1 vote
People think this because in our current social structure, consumption is meant to be the fun part and the release valve that makes up for all the misery, and the labor we do disregards our desires and needs.

People strongly desire processes of self-actualization: feelings of participation in decisions, belonging to group & place, purposeful effort, achievement-by-effort,  competence in abilities, confidence in role, recognition of contribution, respect from peers, respect for peers, autonomy, and engagement (losing oneself in the task). I see "work" as focusing on extrinsic motivations such as bribes (e.g. money, trophies, awards, codependency, comfort) and punishments (e.g. detention, prison, assault & battery, eviction, debt). The design of work breaks peoples' psychologically needs, whereas behaviors like consumerism fulfill psychological needs, in a vicarious and unhealthy way. But if the labors of our daily lives fulfilled these needs AND produced the things people needed then we would not have a strong preference for consumption. Time and time again healthy people given the opportunity choose a meaningful life over an infantile life. Even if we are naturally selfish, that doesn't rule out the possibility meeting our needs through productive play.

Recycled content from:
answered Mar 8, 2013 by AutumnLeavesCascade (10,510 points)
+1 vote
i think that the question and maybe the answers somewhat imply a humanist perspective.  I guess the way I would answer this question is that I dont really care what 'most people' think human nature is, what people prefer, etc.  I'm interested in finding a way I can live without domination with others who are also interested in that, and who I'm interested in involving my life with.  If other people want to live shitty lives, then thats a choice they make for themselves, but the problem then arises about how we come into conflict when they decide to live a life of domination and the ways in which their choices come to impact us.  It's a way of not being relativistic but also not moralistic.  I dont think the solution to this is to once and for all say 'what we should do', 'what humans want', or any other determinist position.  i think this question, and the previous answers, presume in one way or another a 'right way to live' that i do not in any way want to suggest.  It's not that i disagree with the critiques of civilization and many conceptions of human nature that stem from enlightenment and progress-oriented values, its just that I'm a primitivist because I decided that that is the way that I want to live my life with my family and friends if thats what they also choose, not because I have decided the correct path for humanity to follow.
answered Mar 8, 2013 by jingles (2,680 points)
edited Mar 8, 2013 by jingles