Contracts and Mutual Aid How Anarchism Works Part 2




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Hello! Welcome back to Non-Compete, I'm Emerican Johnson and this is part 2 of an ongoing series on how anarchism might work in real life. If you haven't seen part 1 yet, you'll probably want to start there. There's a link in the description. Otherwise, let's just jump right into: Contracts are amazingly flexible and powerful instruments. Under capitalism today, corporations use them to organize and complete incredibly complex projects without the need for any sort of authoritarian hierarchy. They do this through the principles of mutual aid. A mutual aid is a simple concept, but it's pretty powerful. It basically just means that two parties are able to exchange resources and services on equal footing, in such a way that both benefit. In a relationship of mutual aid, neither party is seen as superior. Both parties meet as equals and both benefit without taking advantage of one another. Mutual aid exchanges occur every day under capitalism. Corporations are able to act autonomously and fully self-directed while fostering alliances and undertaking collaborations without strict hierarchies. The instrument they use for these mutual aid exchanges is the contract. There are countless examples of huge corporations collaborating together on massive projects by way of contract. HP and Disney have maintained an international technology alliance since 2003; Starbucks and Barnes & Noble have been partnering together successfully for many years and other examples of successful corporate alliances include Ford and Eddie Bauer; Spotify and Uber; and Google and Luxottica. All of these collaborations are made possible through the instrument of the contract and the principles of mutual aid. Now, let's take a look at how contracts could be used to organize an anarchist society. At the individual level, as soon as someone joins a commune, the first thing they'll do is put together a contract with their commune. This contract will stipulate what the commune will agree to provide to the new member - food, clothing, shelter and so on - and will outline the responsibilities the new commune member agrees to take on for the commune. For most people, responsibilities will include some kind of labor contribution. The individual will agree to contribute to the commune by performing vital labor that is required to keep society functioning. Stuff like making food, dealing with garbage, working in factories that produce important goods and so on. This kind of labor will be rotated frequently in order to prevent boredom and fatigue and to make sure everyone shares the burden of the less desirable jobs. Communes would similar contract with other communes to meet the various needs of society. Say there's a small town consisting of about 10 communes, roughly 100.000 people. Let's call it Bread Town. The communes of Bread Town could work out a cooperative contract to build and maintain a bus system, for example. Each commune would provide certain resources or personnel in exchange for enjoying access to the bus lines. Note that using this system, there's simply no need for money. Money would be totally obsolete in a contract-based anarchist economy. So how would Bread Town obtain its buses? Simple: by way of contract and in kind mutual aid. Say there's a city a few hundred miles away that manufactures buses, we'll call it Loaf City. Bread Town would simply negotiate a contract with Loaf City and trade some of their valuable resources for a certain number of buses. In this case, Bread Town has a factory that makes really nice vacuum cleaners and washing machines that they can trade in kind, along with some other spare resources they have lying around. These kinds of contracts can overlap and interlock, so that communes are able to trade for and receive required resources among each other in ways that makes sense and are mutually equitable. Organizations and confederations of communes could naturally form, in the same way that corporations naturally and organically work together to develop huge projects together in our current capitalist society. The key difference is that under capitalism, the sole motivating force is building profits for the capitalist class. In our anarcho-communist society, mutual aid agreement would be developed with the motivation of improving society and creating goods and services that benefit the lives of every member of society, Every individual should be granted the basic civil liberties we're already familiar with. You know, stuff like free speech, freedom of the press, free assembly and so forth as long as their actions don't exploit, endanger or impinge on the safety and well-being of their fellow citizens. In addition to these traditional human rights, anarchist societies would also guarantee positive rights. Basically, every human being in an anarchistic society will have a right to having all of their material needs met in full. Material needs include all of the basic requirements of human survival and comfort. Food; clothing; shelter; electricity; running water; internet and health care and so on. In exchange for having their needs met, individuals must agree to a reasonable contribution to the commune. It's important to note that what constitutes a reasonable contribution will vary from individual to individual. Most people will be able to contribute some labor, as well as participation in managing and governing the commune. Ideally, for most folks, this would look something like a 15 to 20 hour workweek that includes labor performed for the commune. Over time, as technology and automation and other efficiency improvements are developed, the workweek can be gradually shortened. Commune residents will also be expected and encouraged to participate in the government of the commune the greatest extent possible. This will include an obligation for consenting members to serve as a delegate on the ward council at determined intervals. Say a 3-month term once every four years. They'll also be required to attend ward meetings, perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis and to vote on important matters as they arise. Of course, there will be exceptions to these requirements. Some individuals might be restricted in what they can offer due to physical and mental disabilities; learning disabilities; social anxiety issues; temporary or permanent injuries or mental trauma; and other personal circumstances. The commune will work with these individuals to negotiate contracts that suit their needs. A person with disabilities might be granted reduced or modified contribution requirements or may not be required to contribute anything at all, depending on the severity of their individual situation. Wards and communes will have a responsibility to ensure that vulnerable people are able to participate in society without being exploited, neglected or abused by their neighbors, even inadvertently. Working in exchange for resources in this manner may sound similar to what we already have under capitalism, but under capitalism, such arrangements are weighed heavily in favour of the capitalist class. Workers have their labor value robbed from them without consent in the form of profit and the direction of each capitalist enterprise's similarly focused solely on maximizing profits for capitalists without consideration for social welfare. In addition, our anarchist commune actively seeks consensus, consent and participation from every member of society, rather than giving all of the power and decision-making ability to a small regime of wealthy, ruling elites. Now, you may be asking: what if an individual simply refuses to participate? What if someone simply doesn't want to work and they'd rather sit around playing video games all day, living off of the labor of other people while shirking their own responsibilities? First of all, I don't think this would happen nearly as often as capitalist propaganda would imply. After all, one of the biggest lies in capitalism is that hard work gets rewarded. Under capitalism, It's just a fact that those who work the hardest get the least while those who work the least, the capitalist elite, reap the most rewards. In an anarcho-communist society, every individual has a real stake In the work of building the society. Since hierarchies are stripped away, we can all participate in shaping and molding our community. The work we do, being inherently self-directed and consensual, will be much more rewarding than the standard capitalist arrangement of wage slavery. All that being said, on the rare occasion that a member of the commune is, for lack of a better term, too lazy to work, there would be mechanisms for community intervention. The first step would probably be to determine if the individual isn't suffering from some kind of undiagnosed physical or mental illness. If the individual is found to be of sound, mind and body and they really are simply refusing to work out of mere idleness, they'd be granted basic material needs and simply written off as a loss. That's it. Again, in reality, these kinds of lazy, parasitic individuals would be extremely rare in a society where everyone has access to legitimate and meaningful participation. At the very least, we could be assured that there will be far fewer lazy and unproductive workers under socialism than there are lazy and unproductive capitalists under capitalism. The vast majority of work that is vital for society to function could be performed on a part-time basis. Om his book, The Conquest of Bread, Pyotr Kropotkin estimated that a productive workweek would be something like 20 hours. Though it's likely that with our modern technology, we could get that number down to 10 or 15 hours per week without sacrificing productivity and output. This would free up our day for activities that are more personally rewarding, such as leisure, art and scientific pursuits. How would this be possible? Well, for starters, we would eliminate the thousands of jobs that are essentially little more than busy work in capitalist servitude. These kinds of bullshit jobs are a mainstay of modern capitalism and they're a tremendous waste of human energy. In our anarcho-communist society, we would root out and eliminate jobs that are unnecessary and wasteful of our time and energy. On the other hand, there are some vital jobs that require longer work weeks and more training and specialization. Medicine, emergency response and other such jobs may require extensive and continuous training and longer workdays than most other jobs. How would we deal with them? Well, with common sense. Let's take doctors as an example. Capitalists and even some socialists have argued that medical doctors need to be paid substantially more than other workers because the training is so extensive and expensive. While it is true that the training required to become an MD is intense, I don't think it would be difficult at all to find, train and employ good doctors in an egalitarian anarchist society. To begin with, there are many benefits of being a doctor that go beyond monetary compensation. Doctors receive social recognition and rewards that elevate them to a higher status in our society. After all, medical professionals help people and save lives. They therefore justly receive intrinsic benefits of helping other human beings. This is kind of a social capital and it's already a huge motivation for doing hard, but vital social service-oriented work, even under capitalism. Look at the hundreds of thousands of people who become nurses, EMTs, firefighters and teachers, all of which are difficult, stressful, time-consuming jobs that come with relatively little pay under capitalism. People don't choose these jobs to get rich, they choose them out of an intrinsic desire to serve humanity and make a positive impact on the world and to net some of the social benefits of doing work that's seen as highly valuable to society. I question the motivation of any doctor who only practices medicine simply because they want to make more money. In a socialist society, where medical school is free, we would have better doctors who do the work because they are passionate about the practice of healing people. Imagine how many great medical minds never even had the chance to become doctors because they were born in poverty. Socialist society would widen the field of potential medical professionals and allow for a larger pool of medical school candidates, since more people would have access to quality education. Finally, we could of course find other ways to balance out the workload of people who select these specializations. Perhaps people who work longer weeks would be granted longer vacation times. Even in our current capitalist society, doctors aren't exactly known for lacking when it comes to taking time off for vacations and golf. How would individuals become trained and educated for specialized fields? At the outset, every citizen should have the option to attend a two or four-year vocational school or university through a student contract that's designed with the principles of mutual aid. While attending higher education, students will still be required to perform vital labor for their community but because a standard work week is already so short to begin with, it wouldn't really infringe on their studies and ideally, their labor would be aligned with the subject of their studies so that their work and their studies can reinforce one another and further benefit both the student and the community. The shorter work week of an anarchist society would allow anyone to go back to school at any point in their lives to further specialize or change career paths. All of this could be easily managed and negotiated by a contract with the commune. Now, I really wanted to talk about police and military issues in this part of the series but there's just way too much to go over. So I'm extending the series a little bit and we'll talk about security and defense issues in part 3. That's it for now. I did want to let you know that in my part 1 of the series, I did ask if other anarchists could come forward and let me know about their vision for an anarchist society and one youtuber Aaron Collective did that. There's a great video, I'll put a link in the description. I'd also love to hear what you think. So if you have any questions, comments or ideas for how an anarchist society might be developed in reality, please leave a comment. If you like this video, give it a thumbs up and consider subscribing so you get notified when part 3 comes out. That's it for now. I'm Emerican Johnson, this is Non-Compete. Thanks for watching.