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Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Where does initial capital come from in an anarchist society?

+1 vote
Anarchism, in this question, refers to anti-capitalist anarchism.

In capitalism, the general idea is that the profits belong to the capitalists because they provide the capital for the resources and the means of production. Example:. someone starts a factory, but they have to use their own money (or borrowed money) to get the factory started, thus earning them the right to the profits.
A more contemporary example might be shareholders investing their money into a company, allowing them to receive a portion of the profits.

Now, it's quite obvious that in an anarchist society, workers collectively own the means of production and the resources necessary to produce. This gives them the right to share the profits among themselves.

My question is: In an anarchist society, who would provide the capital for a new business that is collectively owned by workers?

Surely it is impractical to assume that workers can always, collectively, raise the money required for starting a new business. After all, if someone has an idea, it's hard to get a huge amount of people to support it and risk their personal capital and start working for that business.

A second question: what if a syndicate starts failing and making a loss? Do the workers get less money, do they work for nothing or do they just leave the business without paying what they owe?

AnCaps can answer, but I don't think they can add much more than "that's what I was thinking". I'd really like an answer to this, if there is one.
asked Jan 13, 2015 by KHA (140 points)
An 'anarchist' society = industrial society, and 'anarchists' = workers?
I don't quite understand what you mean by that. In my post, I meant to say that means of production need to be financed, as well as resources for production. Currently, one person or a group of richer people finance these. I'm asking how that would work in a society based on anarchist principles of anti-capitalism.
i believe the questions that amorfati asks are pointing to some assumptions that you make that are not shared by many/most regulars of this site.
ie, most of us don't agree that an anarchist society just means changing who the bosses are--ie keeping the forms of work (ie industry), money,  etc. (although there are anarchists who do think that.)

so this is a perfectly fine question to ask on this site, but it might take a while before someone comes on who agrees enough with the premise to take a stab at answering the question.

and there is no anarchism that is not anti-capitalist. just to be clear.
also an-caps cannot answer here (although they can comment, if they desire).
If the above comments confuse you I recommend reading the following:
-"The Abolition of Work" by Bob Black
-"Industrial Domestication: Industry as the Origin of Modern Domination" by Os Cangaceiros
-"The Decline and Fall of Work" by Raoul Vaneigem
@dot
I accept that AnCaps are not anarchists in any meaningful sense, I just don't want to leave them out of the conversation.
I also do not suggest a "change of bosses" (as far as I'm aware), but because the collective owns the means of production, it must pay for it as well. I suppose a different way I could ask it is: how would funds be raised to purchase new means of production in anarchist societies? Without centralised power, I find it hard to believe that these funds can be centralised. Perhaps I'm getting this all wrong, but I don't quite understand how new businesses/factories/whatever would be started and more specifically funded.

@flip
Thank you, I'll take a look at those.
i pretty much do want to leave them out of the conversation (except for extremely rare exceptions).

and attempting to bridge your terminology and mine, what you're calling "the collective" i'm calling "new bosses".

but yes, flip's suggested reading list is probably more helpful than my overly-terse responses. have fun!
Perhaps you're right. Perhaps I'm looking at this from a very narrow idea of work, production and society. I'll read what flip sent and try to expand my views.
money today gets created out of thin air by hierarchical institutions - government, the federal reserve, banks, etc. in the form of debt and interest.

in anarchy, money as such would no longer exist, so the idea of monetary capital disappears along with the concept of capitalism.  the ideas of funding", "funds", and "profit" came about as constructs of coercive hierarchy, not as real things independent of human thought.

2 Answers

+4 votes
if you assume that an "anarchist society" comes out of the current world, then one answer might be: the "primitive/initial" capital can come in the form of all the existing crap that modern humanity has created; re-appropriation, re-tooling, general re-use of whatever makes sense. beyond that, it is up to those with the desire to "produce," and the conflicting desires of those that refuse to be subjugated by the requirements and processes of (mass?) production.

i will add that i don't have any desire for an "anarchist society" that perpetuates industrial civilization, or the concept of "work," or other material value-based relations, or for that matter ANY kind of  "production" that requires resources or processes that extend beyond the immediate individual or voluntary community doing the producing.

the question implies a continuation of much that is (imo) fucked up about the current world.
answered Jan 13, 2015 by funkyanarchy (10,300 points)
big thumbs up here, funky!
thx!  

btw, how big are your thumbs?  ;-)
my right one (from years of bowling) has grown to epic proportions. the left one looks pretty small in comparison. :)
Wow, that clears up a lot in 2 paragraphs.
0 votes
Your questions assumes the use of currency and the need for a structured business (essentially) to gain or acquire currency as profit.

My brother showed me a video on a guy who has a philosophy project called Ubuntu (just Google search it). The idea is that everyone in the community would work like 10 hours a week doing chores basically and in return the entire community benefits from the labor of the everyone involved. It takes the money out of it. Everyone has what they need and everyone takes care for everyone.

If you have an anarchy society why does there have to be capitol? Would there be universal currency, would it be a barter system?
answered Jan 13, 2015 by clisterdude88 (170 points)
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