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How can we know people in poverty/unable to work will be helped by charities in an anarchist society without taxation?

0 votes
I'm not saying we definitely need taxation and government and in fact I lean toward being an anarchist anyway. There are just certain issues like this that I haven't quite figured out to help me convince myself. I've heard the argument that because say, 65% of people vote for a candidate who will improve welfare systems, then 65% of people need not be forced to help those in need through taxation. But i worry that most people just assume government and assume taxation and so if their money is going to be taken from them, they would prefer it be used for things like helping the poor. However I worry that without being coerced initially, people wouldnt feel the desire to go the extra mile and give to charities and the like.
asked May 10, 2014 by anonymous

2 Answers

+5 votes
the kind of anarchist society that i want is one composed of smallish groups (some people use the number 500), where people know each other, if not well then at least by face. charities wouldn't exist as institutions (they're not particularly efficient or effective anyway), but people mostly don't like to see each other suffer, and people's basic needs would be (as they were before taxation and government) taken care of.

other anarchists answer this question differently, but most of them don't come to this site. they'd probably talk about needs getting assessed by councils, who would then determine who needed what, and how different people's attitudes would be outside of any capitalist superstructure...
but all the anarchists i know agree with the need/desire to break up the huge groups of people we have now, as it is dehumanizing and also bad for the environment, and the breaking up would include fundamental changes in how we see each other and how we see how to help ourselves and each other.
answered May 10, 2014 by dot (50,630 points)
i started writing my response below while I shoulda been sleeping but couldn't last night. this says a lot of what I was trying to, but in simpler words, with a bit less pessimism.
+2 votes
Okay - so you are going to get a bunch of comments to links that address similar sorts of "ATR" (after the revolution) questions (*guys - don't prove me wrong here...*), but also, I don't always follow a barrage of links in the comments section, and think a straight up answer is sometimes helpful (which is one reason I like to engage these questions sometimes)...

Why do we need to know that people in poverty/unable to work will be taken care of in an anarchist future? It isn't anyone's job to do anything in an anarchist future, so the idea that we can know that it will happen is absurd. It might not. It might be horrible, brutal, selfish, which sounds a lot like now.

Granted there are social welfare programs that are created and enforced (taxes levied and dispersed) to help ameliorate the conditions of extreme poverty, but really all they do is maintain a certain level of humane treatment for the poor (similar to how there are laws to ensure the "humane" treatment of animals destined for slaughter houses, or, perhaps more accurately those in entertainment, circuses and zoos). They don't solve the problems at hand, because the problems are those of capitalism and civilization, which are rather beyond the scope of charitable acts to fix.

Ideally charity will no longer be a thing. That doesn't mean people won't help each other, I am sure they would, but charity tends to be a one way  street: people give charitably to those in need, as opposed to working together to meet common needs, or actions of solidarity (which is more of a two way street). This is one of those ideas that it took me a bit to wrap my head around, because often the two things look really really similar, but the idea is sort of one of reciprocity, and recognizing oneself as being wrapped up in the struggle of the other (*If anyone else wants to jump in on this and give a better clarification of the anarchist critique of charity, I would welcome it!*).
answered May 10, 2014 by ingrate (21,070 points)
More of a polemic than a thoughtful critique, but a good example of what we are trying to avoid:
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/james-hutchings-sweet-charity-salvation-army-or-starvation-army


I don't have an anarchist example at hand, so i'll give you one from the history of my small village, many years ago.  At one time, this fellow got hurt, badly enough he couldn't 'earn his keep' and didn't have any family near to care for him.  So his neighbors decided to take care of it.  Someone had a scrap of extra land and said "that's his now, and for as long as he needs it" - no paperwork, no lawyers, no land title, just said and done.  Anyone who could afford to chipped in to buy materials, and anyone with an able arm turned up to build him a little home.  And they saw him set up with a basic household and settled in it.  And there was no Church, no State, no Corporation involved ever!  No 'by you blessing' and no permits requested!  Just seen, and saw, and done.
He lived out his life in that little house; and never had to fear the landlord, or crawl for the alms of the priest, or suffer the thousand petty indignities that mark our lives these days.
We've been fed shit for so long, we're forgetting how to look after each other - even how to look after ourselves - without someone looking over our shoulder or holding our hands.  We're forgetting that we did for centuries before the parasites insinuated themselves; that our peasant ancestors lived in various states of anarchy before anarchy was a thought or word.  They did; we can; said and done.
there's a woman who has taught a lot of people for free, and been a women's health activist for decades. as part of that she has been broke forever (supporting a clinic)... friends of hers and ex-students set up an account and pay into it every month (including people who don't like her, but still recognize how she changed their life for the better).
i'm not sure where the line is between charity and direct-action, sometimes, but there's a lot more we could be doing to push that envelope.
Taxation hurts people the most well off, the least.  The fact that '65%' of people support something, shows we don't need government to do anything because people already favor it.  It also shows how society recognizes that the poor are already helped, and thats why I pay a lot in taxes and the government spends so much.  Taxation is force, so the state doesn't earn their money by producing something valued in society, they take by force from the producers.  There is no incentive for a man who steals all his money to be frugal, because if it goes bad he'll just steal more (tax more, print more money, increase national debt); as opposed to a charity that has to convince people their money is going to a good cause and being spent effectively. (the very reason why the U.S. economy is less wealthy as the state powers grow). There will also be no political rulers coming in between a poor person and their desire to work somewhere, buy something, or talk to someone who is willing to assist them.  Not to mention all the resources governments destroy in wars would be accessible for homes for the needy (just one example of misallocation of resources). An anarchic society would not set those artificial barriers, or grant corporations rights of 'eminent domain'.

Government rulers are the cause of the distribution issue the world faces.  People want to produce goods and be able to exchange with as many people as possible which widens their opportunities for friendships, experience and choices.  The fact that we have obese people in the U.S., and starving people across a body of water, is because our government controls exports with the Import Export Banking Regulations.  Embargo's keep us from informing oppressed people, and allowing them access to technology that can give producers and charities the knowledge of where goods are in demand.  NAFTA is an example of how unless the government authorizes trade, it can not be legally established.  Its the artificial lines drawn by state rulers however many years ago, and the mindset people have that 'these people's opinions and rules must be obeyed', that stops other countries from being fed.

Also, with that many consumers, you also have that many people who can come up with ideas to exchange and work to produce those goods necessary for life; along with the 98% of the world that is uninhabited allows the many more resources to be used as effectively as possible.

In short, we know when corporations use governments to rule, people starve; and this is a continuum seeing as how when business gets bigger governments grow and people are more likely to starve. (North Korea, USSR, Vietnam, Indo China, etc.).  The best hope we have is that people value human life enough to work towards allocating resources to those in need, while understanding- when you have rulers, there are no rules.

Hope this helps, please post or email me if you have any comments.
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