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+2 votes
As an anarchist and web developer, I have been thinking about the changes that would occur to the internet and to my job in an anarchistic society.

While there are many non-profits that would likely continue to need websites, the majority of people who hire me are businesses and I am unsure if there would be any use for an anarcho-syndicalist society to have the same degree of use for web developers. I guess I am curious if there would be the ability/drive for businesses to start which would actually need advertising via websites.

P.S. I apologize for my lack of knowledge about anarchism, I have recently been reading about it after finding many of it's ideas similar to my own.
by (140 points)
edited by
making the huge assumption that we would still have things like computers after such a dramatic change, i'd be interested to hear more thought on this. what is the internet good for? now it's good for selling, porn, info gathering, and quick communication, right? what of those do you think would still be relevant in an anarchist society? what kind of anarchist society are you envisioning?
saying that you've been reading about anarchy doesn't tell us much, since there are so many different anarchies to be reading about. which ideas are similar to yours?
I mean that I agree with the central ideas of anarchy, as I understand them (anti-hierarchy, anti-coercion, egalitarianism, etc.). I am not at a point where I can say with certainty which group of anarchy if any I would belong to (though I would say I don't currently agree with primitivism or the possibility of a capitalist society which follows the core tenets of anarchy).

I can't imagine a large-scale anarchist society thriving without an informed populace and I believe the internet is the best way to allow everyone access to information. In the past year I have watched course lectures from several schools made freely available - I think the courses and services offered that way now could be a seed to something much greater which could be the most efficient way yet to spread knowledge throughout the globe.

I also think that the ability to quickly communicate would be relevant. Wouldn't using the internet in some way help in creating discussions which everyone can take part in? Attendance not being dependent on a specific time one is available or location one might currently be at? A group such as a town or neighborhood would much more easily be able to all have a chance to be heard compared with having meetings of some kind which are held in a specific location for an hour compared with anywhere and have the specific discussion ongoing or last 24 hours etc.

Despite these uses and likely others I am personally unsure about using the internet concerning business. I can't see any reason a new idea could not lead to a new business being started - i will try to avoid the question of how exactly a business would be run (this is getting long enough), but if you believe it is necessary to consider the question then I would be happy to consider it with anyone - would that new business use the web in a way to provide information about their product or would you consider that a type of advertising and advertising a construct of capitalism that would not be needed? It is possible, of course, that someone reading this believes in an anarcho-capitalist society and I welcome your input.

what kind of anarchist society are you envisioning?
- I don't believe I am far enough in my exploration of anarchy or even that it is possible to completely envision what an anarchist society would end up as. I am open to anyone with any beliefs to tell me what they think would or might occur.

Sorry for the length :)
i try not to envision much, actually. i think that if anarchy were ever to be common, it would require a significant enough break that i probably couldn't really imagine it well. so i think about lots of different options, as much as i can.
the one that appeals to me the most is probably a big diversity of cultural styles, with smallish groups of people doing different things that wouldn't necessarily get along with each other well, but don't have to because people aren't trying to make global systems.
that said, i'm not sure how you are thinking of "businesses" in a world that doesn't have capitalism (which, if you've read the About Us for this site, you'll recognize is not anarchist, despite what some confused/manipulative people may claim). this site does not welcome the input of capitalists, regardless of any prefix they use - although their comments occasionally stay up, when relevant.
Yes I have read the About Us and a number of the questions and answers on the site since writing my comment.

I was thinking along the lines of a worker-owned collective. Most likely what I am thinking of is being affected by capitalist ideas.

My original question was not asked because of worry about my current job (which I doubt I will continue for more than a few years). Now I understand that to answer my question(s) I need to learn more about alternative systems than the little I understand. If you know of any really good books or articles about alternatives I would be happy to add them to my long list of things to read - if not, no worries, my list continues to grow on its own.

Thanks for your comments :)
i appreciate that you're interested in learning.
i wouldn't say that i'm that conversant with alternatives books, but Anarchy Works gets recommended here a lot, and bolo'bolo is one of my favorites (very different from each other; neither is necessarily exactly what you're looking for -- but Anarchy Works is a good beginner's book).
there are dramatically different trajectories you will learn about, depending on which start you get and what your interests are. if you are most interested in what is the minimum that has to change for what some people call anarchy, then parecon might be what you want to look into. if you are more imaginative, or are interested in (what i think are) the fundamental issues, then more philosophical readings, including some of the green anarchist stuff (fredy perlman, john moore, etc) could be more interesting to you.
many many options. :)

2 Answers

–1 vote
With the economy still in a recession, I wonder if there's a future for information technology, but IT is still changing society like the industrial revolution did. There is a constantly increasing amount of people who are always online with their mobile phones, so there may always be a need for web developers. With an abundance of anarchist web sites like this one, there may be plenty for someone like you to do now and in the future.
by (740 points)
I mostly agree with what you're saying, that society will always want to have frivolous technologies like the internet, but i disagree with you're certainty that the internet will always be around. As Zubaz points out, the internet relies on electricity, and electrical grids are very fragile, arguably more so than the web's infrastructure...but the internet and the elctrical grid are starting to look like the exact same thing now, huh?
+2 votes
It's highly unlikely the internet would still exist in an anarchist type society. One issue, of many, is the internet needs fuel to produce energy (electricity) for it to run and stay online. That would need to be done in areas all over to keep it online. How would anarchists be able to produce enough energy for the gazillion servers? The options are limited to the types of fuel, which are wood, fossil fuels (coal/oil/natural gas), nuclear reactor, and "clean" energy to use to produce the energy needed to keep the internet online. Wood would be a bad option to use for fuel to produce energy. It would practically require an entire forest just to kind of keep the internet running for a little while. That's presuming that all the energy produced from wood was dedicated to keeping the internet online. It definitely would cause a bunch of negative things to the environment, animals, and people living in that area and elsewhere.

The next would be fossil fuels, but that'd required a bunch fairly organized groups/bureaucrats willing to share it, retrieve the coal/oil/natural gas from the ground, process and refine it, determine where to ship it, and the act of shipping it itself. A whole host of issues and problems would come from trying to do something like that; from degradation of the environment, pollution, filth-iffying air and the water supplies, spills...etc. If the area you lived in had coal and everyone in the group was okay with mining it, they could use it to produce energy to keep the internet online and other technology. They could also conceivably refine coal into liquid fuel (gasoline/diesel) for cars or any gas powered machine needed for transporting. The Nazis converted coal into diesel prior and during WWII. However, if doing something like that, I doubt keeping the internet running would be anywhere near a top priority. That's if other anarchists groups even tolerated it. It would definitely piss off anarchists living in surrounding areas because they'd have to deal with the filth and pollution produced by some other group's coal plant, mines, reactors...etc.

Nuclear power would be kind of similar to fossil fuels in that there'd need to be people living in that area that is okay with mining for uranium ore and rare earth metals.  Mining for those materials would turn that area into an insta-shithole. Not to mention people and animals would likely end up developing various types of cancer, and a host of other issues involving animals, humans, fishies, and the environment. If an anarchist group did get a nuclear reactor working, there'd need to be a place to dispose of the radioactive nuclear waste. A nuclear reactor also needs an outside source of energy to run it, backup generators, and a consistent source of water to limit the possibilities of a meltdown. It'd also require an tightly organized group/bureaucrats to make sure it goes smoothly, and if they decide to share with others. I imagine no one would be willing to take nuclear waste off of the people running the nuclear reactor, nor would any anarchists within 30 miles be pleased with some other group running a nuclear reactor. An accident or meltdown would irradiate areas within 5 to 30 miles of the reactor.

Finally there's "clean" energy like hydroelectric dams, solar panels, wind turbines, water turbines...etc. Those wouldn't provide enough energy to keep the internet online by themselves. It too would require organized groups/bureaucracies to keep them functioning.  Damming up rivers or attempting to would piss off people downstream. It would put people in a situation where the group that built the dam would have control over people downstream. It would further mess up migration of animals and fishies.

So, assuming anarchists could be able to do each of those things and were willing to do so. It would just be a recreation of the machine of today. There'd be a large amount of bureaucrats. Bureaucrats galore!! To make it worse, there would probably be meetings everyday especially if it was an anarcho-communist or syndiaclist land. They really like meetings and direct democracy from what I've gathered. Just imagine going to a meeting after working in the mine all day developing black lung and/or radioactive lung so people elsewhere can use the internet or any energy intensive technology. To me, I would be confused as to what actually changed.

Personally, I think some anarchists would realize quickly what was going on, would not be okay with reproducing the state and current technology, and would try to prevent it. I've seen people on anarchist message boards discuss that they'd keep the current technology fully functional without realistically explaining how they plan to accomplish that. If their explanation sounds like Star Trek magic or other sci-fi magic (like mining asteroids), then it's safe to dismiss them imo. In conclusion and 9 years in the making, when you hear or read anarchists discussing maintaining current technology and/or developing more advanced tech. Then I think it's best to briefly think about how these anarchists would realistically go about producing the energy needed for any energy intensive technology, like the internet. And maybe think about if that's desirable or not to you and/or why.
by (4.7k points)
I like this answer, making it shorter:

Anarchists have an issue with rulers, hence it would be hard for them to accept managerial bureaucracies.

I really like the idea of "anarchist technology" because it's so broad, and it can applied to any situation, whereas "anarchist internet" is pretty much impossible, unless were talking about anarchists using the internet.

Anarcho-primitivist LAN could be something got this pine wood box with a hole in it, and you put little pieces of paper inside, then everyone can open the box and read the pieces of paper! You could also set up a normal computer network with solar panels but then i think you'd have to live in the desert in order to make that fully operational. Maybe we could start a cyborg tribe in death valley! That's be SO COOL. We could eat scorpions all day long and haul water in from some city 100 miles away, and i'd bet you the cops wouldn't even be brave enough to screw with us!