Post-Scarcity Anarchism

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Until very recently, human society developed around the brute issues posed by unavoidable material scarcity and their subjective counterpart in denial, renunciation and guilt. The great historic splits that destroyed early organic societies, dividing man from nature or man from man, had their origins in the problems of survival, in problems that involved the mere maintenance of human existence. Material scarcity provided the historic rationale for the development of the patriarchal family, private property, class domination and the state; it nourished the great divisions in hierarchical society that pitted town against country, mind against sensuousness, work against play, individual against society, and, finally, the individual against himself." - P. 9

"Neither the material "privileges" that modern capitalism seems to afford the middle classes nor its lavish wasting of resources reflects the rational, humanistic, indeed unalienated, content of a post-scarcity society. To view the word "post-scarcity" simply as meaning a large quantity of socially available goods would be as absurd as to regard a living organism simply as a large quantity of chemicals. For one thing, scarcity is more than a condition of scarce resources; the word, if it is to mean anything in human terms, must encompass the social relations and cultural apparatus that foster insecurity in the psyche. In organic societies this insecurity may be a function of the oppressive limits established by a precarious natural world; in a hierarchical society it is a function of the repressive limits established by an exploitative class structure." - P. 10-11

"Capitalism, far from affording "privileges" to the middle class, tends to degrade them more abjectly than any other stratum in society. The system deploys its capacity for abundance to bring the petty bourgeois into complicity with his own opression - first by turning him into a commodity, into an object for sale in the marketplace; next by assimilating his very wants to the commodity nexus. Tyrannized as he is by every viccisitude of the bourgeoise society, the whole personality of the petty bourgeois vibrates with insecurity. His soporifics - commodities and more commodities - are his very poison." - P. 11-12

"The very concept of "rights" is becoming suspect as the expression of a patronizing elite which bestows and denies "rights" and "privileges" to inferiors. A struggle against elitism and hierarchy as such is replacing the struggle for "rights" as the main goal. It is not *justice* any longer that is being demanded, but rather *freedom*. Moral sensibilities to abuses - even the most minor abuses by earlier standards - are reaching an acuity that would have seemed inconcievable only a few years ago." - P. 15

"In attempting to uphold scarcity, toil, poverty and subjugation against the growing potential for post-scarcity, leisure, abundance and freedom, capitalism increasingly emerges as the most irrational, indeed the most artificial, society in history. The society takes on the appearance of a totally alien (as well as alienating) force. It emerges as the "other", so to speak, of humanity's deepest desires and impulses. On an ever-greater scale, potentiality begins to determine and shape one's everyday view of actuality, until a point is reached where everything about the society - including its most "attractive" amenities - seems totally insane, the result of a massive social lunacy." - P. 15

"Dropping out" becomes a mode of dropping in - into the tenative, experimental, and as yet highly ambiguous, social relations of utopia. Taken as an end in itself, this lifestyle is not utopia; indeed, it may be woefully incomplete. Taken as a means, however, this lifestyle and the processes leading to it are indispensable in remaking the revolutionary, in awakening his sensibilities to how much must be changed if the revolution is to be complete. The lifestyle is indispensable in preserving the integrity of the revolutionary, in providing him with the psychic resources to resist the subversion of the revolutionary project by bourgeois values." - P. 16

"The traditional workers' movement will never reappear. Despite rank and file revolts, "bread and butter" issues are often too well contained by bourgeois unionism to form the basis for the old socialist type of labor union. But workers may yet form radical organizations to fight for changes in the *quality* of their lives and work - ultimately for workers' management of production. Workers will not form radical organizations until they sense the same tension between what-is and what-could-be that many young people feel today." - P. 28

"In this respect, the period in which we live closely resembles the revolutionary Enlightenment that swept through France in the eighteenth century - a period that completely reworked French consciousness and prepared the conditions for the great revolution of 1789. Then as now, the old institutions were slowly pulverized by molecular action from below long before they were toppled by mass revolutionary action. This molecular movement creates an atmosphere of general lawlessness; a growing personal day-to-day disobedience, a tendency to not "go along" with the existing system, a seemingly "petty" but nevertheless critical attempt to circumvent restriction in every facet of daily life. The society, in effect, becomes disorderly, undisciplined, Dyonisian ... Be it an angry gesture, a "riot" or a conscious change in lifestyle, an ever-increasing number of people - who have no more of a commitment to an organized revolutionary movement than they have to society itself - begin spontaneously to engage in their own defiant propaganda of the deed." - P. 49

"Thus if revolutionary thought is to be taken at all seriously, it must speak directly to the problems and forms of social management. It must open to public discussion the problems that are involved in a creative development of liberatory social forms. Although there is no theory of liberation that can replace experience, there is sufficient historical experience, and a sufficient theoretical formulation of the issues involved, to indicate what social forms are consistent with the fullest realization of personal and social freedom." - P. 143

Posted by St. Drogo at 12:38 PM  

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