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How would an anarchic society advance technologically?

+1 vote
Assuming that we are speaking of a left libertarian society, where means of production are owned publicly, how would we make such technological advancements that capitalism breeds? Does capitalism not breed competition and innovation? This is my main concern with a libertarian socialist society. I understand crime, healthcare, and the how oppressive capitalism can be, but his is the one thing that makes me hesitate a little in becoming a full libertarian socialist. I'm sure this is a frequently asked question and I may seem really stupid for asking, but i'm sure someone can answer this simple question.
asked Feb 12, 2015 by Freed Thought (260 points)
Hi Freed Thought! Many of the regular contributors here (myself included) don't identify with the left and/or are ambivalent to hostile towards things like technology and progress. Some of those critiques can be found elsewhere on this site, but I am hoping that one of the contributors who does identify as part of the left will answer this.

Welcome to the site! I hope you find it helpful/provocative.
Thanks ingrate! I was just curious about what a left anarchist would think on the topic. I know i'm an anarchist I.E. I don't believe in a central authority with a monopoly on force. I'm still on my political and ideological journey and I feel it important to be well versed in diverse opinions. I always found societal and technological advancement to be important to me, and I was curious as to how it would work under a left libertarian anarchic society, as I am less studied in many leftist ideologies. I'm just trying to widen my political and ideological scope as much as possible. Thanks a bunch for being respectful and giving me such a warm welcome. I honestly don't know if i'm a left or right anarchist, as I want to be very well studied in both schools of thought and the ideologies that they encompass before I make my decision. Thanks and have a good one!
Thanks dot! That raises a new question for me. We wouldn't have the entertainment industry under left anarchism? Microsoft and the like? Obviously it would be different, but non existent? What about other commodities? Would you kindly explain or direct me to an explanation of this concept; how commodities and the sort would function under a left anarchic society? I apologize for my ignorance. Thank you very much.
i would ask the IF and the WHY before i ask the HOW. just saying...

1 Answer

–1 vote
I think it wouldn't be very different than now.  Workplaces that specialize in producing widgets will also work on designing better widgets for the future, and better ways of making current widgets.

I would like to think that an anarchist workplace would be more prone to innovation, because it is more open to pursuing collective creativity.  I think that capitalism squanders creative minds by hamstringing innovation to serve quarterly profits.
answered Feb 13, 2015 by k.lin (640 points)
What you are saying, is largely what the proponents of syndicalism have been saying (for over a century).  And anyone who's worked in an industrial shop will immediately see the truth in your statements.

But that presumes that 'we' want widgets, better or otherwise; or that 'we' are willing to accept the cost of time, energy, and pollution to produce widgets of any ilk.
Because, despite the protestations of 'Economists' everywhere, the production and distribution of the necessities and luxuries of life are _Social_ functions - that society decides in one way or another what it wants and how much harm it's conscience can bear, and everything else is just paperwork and bookkeeping.  (This is a lot truer than is first apparent.  Every system of economics starts with pretty principles, then starts soldering on 'exceptions' and 'externalities' to compensate for its uglier aspects (that the author's conscience can't bear) - such as, oh, leaving the unproductive and elderly to starve since they are not producing profit for the 'system'. )
Another interesting aspect is who gets to decide whether 'resources' are exploited?  To give a rather pointed example:  Let us say your workplace (and its city of millions) has decided to produce some shiny high-tech widget, but that widget requires a very specific mineral for its manufacture; now the easiest location to mine that mineral just happens to be under my farm - the farm that has been occupied by my family for three generations and tended with our blood sweat and tears.  Now if you ask if you can bulldoze my fields and orchards and woodlots to strip mine the land - then i would say 'No.'*  So what does your imaginary society do?  Does it take no for answer and forgo its shiny toys, or does it force me and mine off the land and take what it wants by force?  (and we both know how this would turn out in the world we live in now ... is that something we wish to copy?)

* - Yeah, 'No' would be the least colorful thing i would utter in such a circumstance.
(ps::  Be welcome k.lin;  some of us aren't exactly sociable in our comments (ok, mostly me), but we all benefit from and are grateful for honest questions and thoughtful comments, and that goes to all of you who have joined us of late.)