A blueprint for social anarchy and/or Parecon

At the excellent Freeebay blog, Brent Emerson provides four criteria of success for social anarchy (emphasis mine):

  1. [Participants] are free from economic oppression and coercion, exercising decisionmaking authority in proportion to the degree they are affected by outcomes [2];
  2. survive and are healthy;
  3. have equal opportunity to participate in the production & consumption of goods and services and are justly remunerated for their labor;
  4. are content and happy.

These are basically the principles underlying my choice of anagorism over agorism; particularly #2 and #3 above. Starting with #2, I regard the difference between survival and health to be one of degree, not kind. Any survival strategy that significantly compromises health strategy should be regarded as at least a partial failure of survival, and any market economy in which the going rate for one’s services falls short of survival or literally uses up one’s life expectancy, should stand alongside Ayn Rand’s straw-man conception of “altruism” as a system that demands the literal sacrifice of individual lives.

Concerning #3 above, the market paradigm itself is predicated on a principle of non-entitlement. With anagorism I hope to prioritize inclusivity over non-entitlement. I am aware, of course, of the conflict between universal inclusion and total non-coercion. Perhaps a no-compromise solution is not possible and we need to shoot for maximally efficient tradeoffs.

The article linked above explores Parecon as a strategy for implementing social anarchy, which may explain the reference to “decisionmaking authority in proportion to the degree they are affected by outcomes.” I’m not sure how this quantity can be accounted for, but I think it’s a more authentic measure of “having skin in the game” than is amount of equity investment, which leads to the “one share, one vote” non-democracy of joint stock companies. The article plots a course from the status quo to Parecon by way of a social democratic state. While I am open to either the immediate or gradual removal of the state, this particular game plan raises some concerns. The role of the state during the intermediate phase is described as follows:

  1. Redistributes wealth through transfer schemes working on both ends of the income/wealth spectrum: a truly progressive income tax and a substantially enlarged estate tax, and stateadministered basic income coupons for various essential markets, such as food, housing and health care;
  2. Welcomes women fully into the workforce by “reward[ing] family care and promot[ing] gender equality at the same time”, through reforms such as reducing employment hours for everyone to coincide with the hours children spend in school, providing universal preschool, mandating “use it or lose it” paid parental leave for all parents, taxing married individuals separately, eliminating the tax deduction for ablebodied adult “dependents” while providing generous deductions for people actually needing care, extending prorated benefits to all parttime workers, and requiring employment as a condition for benefits coverage [4]; and
  3. Promotes and supports worker cooperatives in the economy and encourages decentral protoplanning among worker coops: alliances to collectively complete supply chains, determine efficient allocations, and find opportunities for new firms.

No doubt agorists both right and left will object most strenuously to #1, or denying people of the fruits of one’s labors. More concerning to me, though, is #3; tasking the hopefully now-vestigial state with the coordination and perhaps architecture of decentralized economic planning. This is the one activity which, in my opinion, must be undertaken within the non-governmental sector of pre-anarchist society, if nothing else, to prove that it can be done independently of government—what the non-market, non-state sector needs more than anything else is proof-of-concept.

About n8chz

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6 Responses to A blueprint for social anarchy and/or Parecon

  1. Daniel says:

    Parecon is basically a decentralized planned economy. I am sorry, but it suffers from some of the same problems as a centralized planned one, namely the ones pointed out by Mises and Hayek.

  2. JFM says:

    Aren’t the problems of planning pointed out by Mises and Hayek basically problems of centralization, though? A centralized planning system can’t have the data needed to match production to consumption. But the whole point of a decentralized system is to provide data collection (as well as autonomy).

  3. “I am sorry, but it suffers from some of the same problems as a centralized planned one, namely the ones pointed out by Mises and Hayek.”


  4. I agree with JFM. He’s absolutely right.

  5. “The role of the state during the intermediate phase is described as follows:”

    Emerson should vanish this part in his text, but maybe the new paradigm created by this new economy will engender a more democratic state so these 3 roles will come up de facto

  6. n8chz says:

    It’s not obvious to me that the existence of decentralized knowledge is contingent on a functioning market. It’s also not obvious to me that optimized calculations incorporating vast amounts of decentralized knowledge can only result from emergent or unintentional processes. The key factor in tackling complexity is massive parallelism, such as might be implemented as crowdsourcing. The market mechanism itself is of course a sort of crowdsourcing. The question is whether it is possible to have the computational benefits of such crowdsourcing without the one-dollar-one-vote metrics of markets—and the consequence that the superlative efficiency of the market process is in the allocation of resources to optimize the utility of each dollar, not the utility of each person.

    I second David Gendron on all three counts. In Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth the word “planning” occurs exactly twice; both times preceded by “central.” I’m not quite ready to call bullshit, as I think we are in uncharted waters here. I would vanish the democratic state even in the intermediate phase. Even the committee-driven nature of Parecon seems unnecessary. Why not go straight for a SETI@home approach?

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