Taganarchism

Thomas Frank Interviews David Graeber

Salon is running a great new interview with David Graeber by Thomas Frank. Here are some highlights (Graeber’s words):

Well, radical elements in the labor movement began embracing such visions from quite early on. After the successful campaigns for the eight-hour day in the 1880s, people immediately started thinking, can we move this to seven, six, or less. Paul Lafargue, Marx’s son-in-law, and author of “The Right to Be Lazy,” was already calling for something along those lines in 1883. I have a Wobbly T-shirt with a turn-of-the-century style design that says “join the IWW for a new dawn,” it has a sun rising over the rooftops, and on the sun is written, “four-day week, four-hour day.” […]

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the great divisions between anarcho-syndicalist unions, and socialist unions, was that the latter were always asking for higher wages, and the anarchists were asking for less hours. That’s why the anarchists were so entangled in struggles for the eight-hour day. It’s as if the socialists were essentially buying into the notion that work is a virtue, and consumerism is good, but it should all be managed democratically, while the anarchists were saying, no, the whole deal—that we work more and more for more and more stuff—is rotten from the get-go. […]

Call it the revolt of the caring classes. Because, after all, the working classes have always been the caring classes really. I say this as a person of working class background myself. Not only are almost all actual caregivers (not to mention caretakers!) working class, but people of such backgrounds always tend to see themselves as the sort of people who actively care about their neighbors and communities, and value such social commitments far beyond material advantage. It’s just our obsession with certain very specific forms of rather macho male labor—factory workers, truck-drivers, that sort of thing—which then becomes the paradigm of all labor in our imaginations; that blinds us to the fact that the bulk of working class people have always been engaged in caring labor of one sort or another. So I think we need to start by redefining labor itself, maybe, start with classic “women’s work,” nurturing children, looking after things, as the paradigm for labor itself and then it will be much harder to be confused about what’s really valuable and what isn’t.

Full Story: Salon: David Graeber explains why the more your job helps others, the less you get paid

See also:

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs

How the “Do What You Love” Mantra Enables Exploitation

An Army of Altruists

New From Hakim Bey/Peter Lamborn Wilson: Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto (Updated)

New(ish) material from Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey), published in the Spring 2012 issue of Fifth Estate:

Reversion to 1911 would constitute a perfect first step for a 21st century neo-Luddite movement. Living in 1911 means using technology and culture only up to that point and no further, or as little as possible.

For example, you can have a player-piano and phonograph, but no radio or TV; an ice-box, but not a refrigerator; an ocean liner, but not an aeroplane, electric fans, but no air conditioner.

You dress 1911. You can have a telephone. You can even have a car, ideally an electric. Someday, someone will make replicas of the 1911 “Grandma Duck” Detroit Electric, one of the most beautiful cars ever designed.

1911 was a great year for Modernism, Expressionism, Symbolism, Rosicrucianism, anarcho- syndicalism and Individualism, vegetarian lebensreform, and Nietzschean cosmic consciousness, but it was also the last great Edwardian year, the twilight of British Empire and last decadent gilded moments of Manchu, Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, French and Ottoman monarchy; last “old days” before the hideous 20th century really got going.

The next step backward would be to join the Amish and other Old Order Anabaptists in 1907 — no telephones, no electricity at all, and no internal combustion. With this move, the battle would virtually be won. The next generation would be able to make the transition to no metal — the neo-neolithic. Arcadian pastoralism.

After that a dizzying sliding spiral back into — illiteracy. Oral/aural culture. Classless tribal anarchy. Democratic shamanism. The Gift. This would be the ultimate Luddite goal. But the first step will be back to 1911.

Full Story: Autonomedia: Peter Lamborn Wilson, “Back to 1911”

And people told me quitting most Google services was extreme 😉

(via the newly rejuvenated Aurthur Magazine Twitter account)

Update: It turns out this is an excerpt from a longer manifesto first published by OVO in November 2011:

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: Music

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: On (Type) Writing

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: Energy

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: Photography

Back to 1911 Movement Manifesto: Telephone

When Libertarians Were Socialists

I read these two articles years ago, and spent some time tracking them back down today. The main purpose of this post is to place links to these essays here so that I can refer back to them later. I pass them on with context, but no comment.

1. State Socialism and Anarchism by Benjamin Tucker, a proponent of individualist anarchism, a predecessor to modern libertarianism. The essay was written in 1886. The position put forward in this piece is summarized on the Wikipedia entry on Tucker:

According to historian of American individualist anarchism, Frank Brooks, it is easy to misunderstand Tucker’s claim of “socialism.” Before Marxists established a hegemony over definitions of “socialism, “the term socialism was a broad concept.” Tucker (as well as most of the writers and readers in Liberty) understood “socialism” to refer to any of various theories and demands aimed to solve “the labor problem” through radical changes in the capitalist economy; descriptions of the problem, explanations of it causes, and proposed solutions (for example, abolition of private property, cooperatives, state-ownership, and so on.) varied among “socialist” philosophies. Tucker said socialism was the claim that “labor should be put in possession of its own,” holding that what “state socialism” and “anarchistic socialism” had in common was the labor theory of value. However, “Instead of asserting, as did socialist anarchists, that common ownership was the key to eroding differences of economic power,” and appealing to social solidarity, Tucker’s individualist anarchism advocated distribution of property in an undistorted natural market as a mediator of egoistic impulses and a source of social stability. Tucker said, “the fact that one class of men are dependent for their living upon the sale of their labour, while another class of men are relieved of the necessity of labour by being legally privileged to sell something that is not labour. . . . And to such a state of things I am as much opposed as any one. But the minute you remove privilege. . . every man will be a labourer exchanging with fellow-labourers . . . What Anarchistic-Socialism aims to abolish is usury . . . it wants to deprive capital of its reward.”

From the essay:

The economic principles of Modern Socialism are a logical deduction from the principle laid down by Adam Smith in the early chapters of his Wealth of Nations,—namely, that labor is the true measure of price. But Adam Smith, after stating this principle most clearly and concisely, immediately abandoned all further consideration of it to devote himself to showing what actually does measure price, and how, therefore, wealth is at present distributed. Since his day nearly all the political economists have followed his example by confining their function to the description of society as it is, in its industrial and commercial phases. Socialism, on the contrary, extends its function to the description of society as it should be, and the discovery of the means of making it what it should be. Half a century or more after Smith enunciated the principle above stated, Socialism picked it up where he had dropped it, and in following it to its logical conclusions, made it the basis of a new economic philosophy.

The abandonment of the labor theory of value is one difference between the anarchism of then and the libertarianism of today.

2. Herbert Spencer, Labortarian, a blog post including two excerpts from Herbert Spencer‘s book Principles of Sociology Part VIII: Industrial Institutions (published in 1896), one on the subject of labor unions and one on the subject worker cooperatives. In short, Spencer believes both are valuable and that the latter could possibly solve major problems in labor.

Spencer, well known in his time, is perhaps best remembered as the original Social Darwinist and coiner of the term “survival of the fittest” (though he may not fit the stereotype of a Social Darwinist). He too was an influence what became modern libertarianism.

It’s Time for the Left to Reclaim the Word “Anarchy”

Mother Jones has an article on left anarchism:

If you’ve watched the news much in the past two years, the term “anarchist” probably evokes balaclava-clad ruffians with no political agenda beyond breaking windows, burning police cars, and looting stores. Mention the word and the world tunes out; violent thugs can’t possibly have a message worth listening to. The term has been used to paint all activists with the same brush and to justify violent responses against peaceful and aggressive protesters alike. The New York Post even called Carlo Giuliani, the protester killed by Italian carabinieri at the G-8 summit in Genoa, an “anarchist berserker” who “deserved what he got.”

As it happens, it was during another protest, more than 100 years ago, that the word “anarchist” first made headlines. On May 1, 1886, an anarchist group called the Chicago Knights of Labor — whose supporters included Mary Harris “Mother” Jones — staged a peaceful march for an eight-hour workday. The event led to a days-long general strike involving thousands of workers; at one rally, police arrived and without provocation sprayed the crowd with gunfire, killing at least one demonstrator.

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