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Author Topic: The Anarchist Brewing Co.  (Read 5041 times)
FatherMcGruder
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January 27, 2011, 03:23:49 AM
 #1

"The coercion-free beer for discerning anarchist!"

As a homebrewer, I understand beer. I do not completely understand anarchism though. If I can figure out how a brewery might function in an anarchist society I suppose I might learn some more about anarchism.

Apart from my own fascination with beer I would think that some aspects of a brewery might allow for some interesting discussion in the context of a hypothetical anarchy. For example, breweries require substantial amounts of grain, water, and hops. However, the inhabitants of said society would also desire grain and water, and farming hops also requires water and land that could otherwise produce grain. Breweries also generate lots of heat and require either fuel or electricity to do so. How would the society reconcile the competing demands for these resources without coercion, governmental or otherwise? Unless the population found itself particularly susceptible to alcoholism, I don't think the brewery could sell enough beer to significantly affect the prices of the resources I listed. Furthermore, if the resources became scarce, the demand for beer would decrease in the face of more pressing needs. Then again, in the absence of dependably safe drinking water, the society would come to view beer as a necessity. But, I digress.

I suspect that a brewery could function free of coercion if its workers had come together to build it and now own it as partners. But what if they sought to expand and bring on more workers? How might these new workers also come to own shares of the brewery and avoid mere wage labor? Would they simply own shares of each batch? How is that fair for the original owners, having already laid out the capital and effort to build the brewery? Would the newcomers have to buy in?

I guess I really want to know how anarchists expect to avoid economic coercion through wage labor. Bonus points if you can stick to the beer theme in your responses.


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January 27, 2011, 03:45:42 AM
 #2

I've never understood how choosing to work for someone could be considered coercion. 

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January 27, 2011, 03:51:45 AM
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How would the society reconcile the competing demands for these resources without coercion, governmental or otherwise?

Answer: bitcoin

I suspect that a brewery could function free of coercion if its workers had come together to build it and now own it as partners. But what if they sought to expand and bring on more workers? How might these new workers also come to own shares of the brewery and avoid mere wage labor?

Answer: contracts

Would they simply own shares of each batch? How is that fair for the original owners, having already laid out the capital and effort to build the brewery? Would the newcomers have to buy in?

Answer: New workers would get paid by whatever means the current workers and the new workers agree on.  I like the idea of new workers being paid partly with stock, so they gradually come to own a share of the brewery in proportion to the amount of effort they put in.

I guess I really want to know how anarchists expect to avoid economic coercion through wage labor. Bonus points if you can stick to the beer theme in your responses.

Who says anarchists expect to avoid wage labor?  I guess I need a more specific definition of "anarchist" and "wage labor".  In order for humans to exist, they must consume resources.  If they are unable to produce enough resources on their own or trade for them, then they starve to death.  Some may say that humans are compelled to work for an employer.  However, Stargazer gives a very good explication that so-called anarcho-communists do not actually solve the problem of wage slavery, but rather just shift the distribution of resources around so that you are compelled to work for a different employer (e.g. the commune's majority rule): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urASFJClhdI

Short answer to the solution to wage-slavery: you need to own skills, resources, and/or capital that can produce things demand by society.  For example, start your own home-brewery (as a sole-proprietorship or cooperative with friends).

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January 27, 2011, 04:57:49 AM
 #4

In coming to reject intellectual property laws, I found it helpful to imagine examples of life without them. Against Intellectual Monopoly, by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, really helped me out with that. However, I have trouble imagining life without coercion, the anarchist ideal.

I've heard folks explain that an anarchist society would depend on contracts, with protecting one's reputation as the incentive to honor one. But what's to stop someone from enforcing a contract with blackmail or violence?

Back in the brewery, what's to stop the new workers from not honoring the original owners' investment on the grounds that they presently use and occupy the brewery?

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January 27, 2011, 06:23:33 AM
 #5

In coming to reject intellectual property laws, I found it helpful to imagine examples of life without them. Against Intellectual Monopoly, by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, really helped me out with that. However, I have trouble imagining life without coercion, the anarchist ideal.

I've heard folks explain that an anarchist society would depend on contracts, with protecting one's reputation as the incentive to honor one. But what's to stop someone from enforcing a contract with blackmail or violence?

Back in the brewery, what's to stop the new workers from not honoring the original owners' investment on the grounds that they presently use and occupy the brewery?

Like so many things, the term 'anarchy' gets lost in the nuances of semantics.

When anarchists speak of an anarchist ideal, they are not speaking of lawlessness.  What they really mean is a society without any persistent institution with a monopoly on the use of force.  Asking how it would work out is asking for wild speculation.  A better question  would be, "has it ever worked before", for which the answer would be "yes and no".  Yes, because we have numerous examples of societies that existed that functioned for generations without any persistent institution forming that filled such a role, but also formed such institution on an improve basis due to threat of invasion or internal conflict.  The 'old west' is a somewhat recent example.  Even though there was, literally, a federal government; the closest thing that most residents of the western territories ever encountered to a government was the county sheriff or the federal marshal.  Judges were elected by the counties, and traveled from town to town to adjudicate crimes and civil disputes, but even judges were hired locally and their enforcement was as local as the sheriff's willingness to abide by the judge's decisions.  Still, it was a far more peaceful and law abiding society than contemporary cities such as Detroit or Oakland.  Disputes were rare, and more often than not negotiated between neighbors.

Another example is the 12 tribes of Israel of the old testament, prior to the establishment of the king.  Another is the Swiss from their foundation without a monarch around 1250 A.D. to at least 1450 A.D. and arguably much longer.

No, because those examples no longer exist.

So the question needs to be updated.  Can a society exist without a persistent institution developing with a de facto monopoly on force in a modern society with modern technologies, social interactions, and population densities that are common today.  I'm inclined towards no due to intuitive reasoning, but no one can really say for certain because no one can really predict how such a society might develop.

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January 28, 2011, 11:22:59 AM
 #6

In coming to reject intellectual property laws, I found it helpful to imagine examples of life without them. Against Intellectual Monopoly, by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, really helped me out with that. However, I have trouble imagining life without coercion, the anarchist ideal.

I've heard folks explain that an anarchist society would depend on contracts, with protecting one's reputation as the incentive to honor one. But what's to stop someone from enforcing a contract with blackmail or violence?

Back in the brewery, what's to stop the new workers from not honoring the original owners' investment on the grounds that they presently use and occupy the brewery?

If the old owner is now going to retire and not continue his work in the brewery then he'd better hope he's made very good friends with the old workers.

The old workers have the experience and skill to make good beer, the new workers don't yet.  That comes through years of actually making beer.

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January 28, 2011, 11:29:21 AM
 #7


I've heard folks explain that an anarchist society would depend on contracts, with protecting one's reputation as the incentive to honor one. But what's to stop someone from enforcing a contract with blackmail or violence?
 

Is that how you operate? Do you deal with people who would do those things?

We already have and use ethics that work in a voluntary society. We carve out special exceptions for a certain class of people and the areas they get control of end up sucking, to put it mildly.

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February 02, 2011, 03:25:13 AM
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I've heard folks explain that an anarchist society would depend on contracts, with protecting one's reputation as the incentive to honor one. But what's to stop someone from enforcing a contract with blackmail or violence?
 

Is that how you operate? Do you deal with people who would do those things?

We already have and use ethics that work in a voluntary society. We carve out special exceptions for a certain class of people and the areas they get control of end up sucking, to put it mildly.

Nice. But the answer for me is... No and yes, but, not because there is another choice right now.

There are all manner of problem people out there, from the violent hoods, to the scam artists, to the simply unreliable. Really the problem is that the world is large enough that, even without the internet, its easy to dissolve into the crowd. Reputation is only as good as the size of the network that knows you.... it quickly falls off for most of us. To the point that, for the most part, its not relevant for most transactions.

Real reputation systems that can scale up to the size of communities that already are somewhat of a gap now and really only exist in terms of criminal offender databases, credit ratings, and ebay... all of which rely on central authorities, and are subject to various sorts of pressure. (never mind whether they are meaningful)

It seems to me like a general solution there, would be useful. Knowing that you are who you are is nice, and easily solved. Knowing that you do business on the up and up and can generally be relied upon more often than not, that is actually very valuable data, to both of us.

Mixing it with authentication, say via openID, makes a lot of sense. My thought was it would be nice to have a protocol that defines an openid attribute that an application can request, that can return certificates from reputation providers that allow the site to then go get the current reputation information (or some particular portion of it that they are allowed to see... not everyone needs to know that you also carry a reputation for organizing protests)
Garrett Burgwardt
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February 02, 2011, 04:26:42 AM
 #9

In coming to reject intellectual property laws, I found it helpful to imagine examples of life without them. Against Intellectual Monopoly, by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, really helped me out with that. However, I have trouble imagining life without coercion, the anarchist ideal.

I've heard folks explain that an anarchist society would depend on contracts, with protecting one's reputation as the incentive to honor one. But what's to stop someone from enforcing a contract with blackmail or violence?

Back in the brewery, what's to stop the new workers from not honoring the original owners' investment on the grounds that they presently use and occupy the brewery?

Like so many things, the term 'anarchy' gets lost in the nuances of semantics.

When anarchists speak of an anarchist ideal, they are not speaking of lawlessness.  What they really mean is a society without any persistent institution with a monopoly on the use of force.  Asking how it would work out is asking for wild speculation.  A better question  would be, "has it ever worked before", for which the answer would be "yes and no".  Yes, because we have numerous examples of societies that existed that functioned for generations without any persistent institution forming that filled such a role, but also formed such institution on an improve basis due to threat of invasion or internal conflict.  The 'old west' is a somewhat recent example.  Even though there was, literally, a federal government; the closest thing that most residents of the western territories ever encountered to a government was the county sheriff or the federal marshal.  Judges were elected by the counties, and traveled from town to town to adjudicate crimes and civil disputes, but even judges were hired locally and their enforcement was as local as the sheriff's willingness to abide by the judge's decisions.  Still, it was a far more peaceful and law abiding society than contemporary cities such as Detroit or Oakland.  Disputes were rare, and more often than not negotiated between neighbors.

Another example is the 12 tribes of Israel of the old testament, prior to the establishment of the king.  Another is the Swiss from their foundation without a monarch around 1250 A.D. to at least 1450 A.D. and arguably much longer.

No, because those examples no longer exist.

So the question needs to be updated.  Can a society exist without a persistent institution developing with a de facto monopoly on force in a modern society with modern technologies, social interactions, and population densities that are common today.  I'm inclined towards no due to intuitive reasoning, but no one can really say for certain because no one can really predict how such a society might develop.

For most of the American Old West's time period (around 1800-1900) there were no federal agents at all, or maybe one or two roving surveyors. But third party land claims administrations were set up to arbitrate disputes and it was a functioning anarcho-capitalist society for a while (until the government moved in and subsequently the crime rates spiked). For a more in depth discussion, you should read An American Experiment in Anarcho- Capitalism, it's a great read.

Then there was also the Icelandic commonwealth, from 930-1262 A.D. Which worked very well for a long time until the church ruined it. Which is incredibly disappointing.

The most recent experiment in anarcho capitalism is Somalia, which I made my thoughts clear on in this thread.

I'm doing my thesis on Anarcho-capitalism - it's really interesting and theoretically my ideal government  Grin

Now, it seems like FatherMcGruder is talking about Anarcho-Communism, which isn't really anarchy as much as mob rule. Which in my opinion doesn't work and is unjust, but I'm not studied in historical examples of anarcho-communism  Wink

-Garrett
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February 02, 2011, 04:54:59 AM
 #10

The most widely known historical example of Anarcho-Communism is Catalonia and some other parts of Spain during the civil war.  There were operating breweries and wineries there, with the workers enjoying the fruits of their labours and also supplying all sorts of others with victuals.


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February 02, 2011, 10:30:03 AM
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I think the whole point is to allow people to experiment and build their own societies. If you don't like how one place is run then you move to another. Anarcho-communism, libertarian, democratic, ... all of these could be tried on city-size scale. The internet and technology is a great enabler in today's world.
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February 02, 2011, 05:20:30 PM
 #12

Anarcho-capitalism...
Isn't that an oxymoron? Doesn't proper anarchism reject capitalism, insofar as capitalism promotes the subjugation of the poor by the rich?

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Garrett Burgwardt
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February 02, 2011, 05:22:13 PM
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...No. That is incorrect.

<edit>

Let me elaborate. In my opinion, and most anarchists' opinion (I presume), there is no entity that has a monopoly on coercive force in a true anarchistic society.

Capitalism does not promote the subjugation of anyone by anyone else- it merely suggests that the market will choose which businesses rise or fall, based on any number of factors.

In my opinion, anarcho-capitalism is far superior to anarcho-communism for some of the reasons you mention, but mostly that anarcho-communism rejects the idea of private property; a critical, basic freedom.

</edit>
FatherMcGruder
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February 02, 2011, 05:33:01 PM
 #14

...No. That is incorrect.
But capitalist relationships are authoritative and require hierarchy, which anarchists reject.

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Garrett Burgwardt
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February 02, 2011, 05:34:52 PM
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...No. That is incorrect.
But capitalist relationships are authoritative and require hierarchy, which anarchists reject.

YOU may reject that idea, but certainly not all anarchists reject the idea of a hierarchy. Read my edit of my last post.
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February 02, 2011, 05:36:17 PM
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The capitalists are slaves to the people, not the other way around.

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February 02, 2011, 05:38:05 PM
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The capitalists are slaves to the people, not the other way around.
That reminds me of the 1970s, when the libertarian party in Australia changed its name to the Workers Party to make that point. Of course this caused great confusion and was generally regarded as a failure.
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February 02, 2011, 05:42:38 PM
 #18

The capitalists are slaves to the people, not the other way around.


Thank you Kiba! This is what I was failing to articulate  Grin

I shouldn't try and debate while exhausted  Tongue
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February 02, 2011, 08:02:10 PM
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Why do anarchists drink herbal tea?
FatherMcGruder
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February 02, 2011, 08:21:51 PM
 #20

In my opinion, and most anarchists' opinion (I presume), there is no entity that has a monopoly on coercive force in a true anarchistic society.
As I understand it, anarchists do not tolerate any use of coercion.

Quote
Capitalism does not promote the subjugation of anyone by anyone else
Under capitalism, aren't employees subject to their bosses? Aren't renters subject to their landlords?

Quote
In my opinion, anarcho-capitalism is far superior to anarcho-communism for some of the reasons you mention, but mostly that anarcho-communism rejects the idea of private property; a critical, basic freedom.
Isn't private property the basis of monarchy, wherein the king owns the kingdom and its inhabitants?

Quote
The capitalists are slaves to the people, not the other way around.
Thank you Kiba! This is what I was failing to articulate  Grin
That anarchists would tolerate any kind of slavery seems counter-intuitive.

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