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    (Original post by Gremlins)
    Well, for one thing no Left Anarchist proposes that we all collective manage the entire world. They favour comunes in federation with one another with free movement between them. Anyway, most anarchists don't have a problem with people owning stuff like houses or beds or anything, which is qualitively different (we reckon) to people owning things they can't actually manage on their own like acres of land or factories that require dozens or hundreds of people to operate.
    I'm not necessarily saying they do, just positing it as an example to show that property and 'social' rights are fundamentally linked.

    As an aside, I think that the syndicalist view has serious problems. As a solution to problems of legitimate ownership of land, unequal incomes &c. it doesn't seem to be any solution at all. We are still left with having to devise a system by which communes decide how much land they can each own. Libertarianism is just syndicalism in which each individual is a syndicate...

    I agree broadly that we have more in common with each other than we sometimes acknowledge, but I'll point out that that's not hte only difference between Mutualists and Capitalists, and that most left anarchists are Collectivists (who believe in 'wages' and prices of some kind) or Communists (who don't).
    I'm not sure I'd class communists as anarchists, for that reason. If you don't have 'price' (ie. some system of exchange), you're left with absurdities: an anarchist society in which people are either entirely banned from freely exchanging material things, or in which a central authority dictates what is to be done with material things. Neither of these seem very coherent. Is it really a surprise that no attempt at a communist society ever gone anywhere but despotism?
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    (Original post by Collingwood)
    As an aside, I think that the syndicalist view has serious problems. As a solution to problems of legitimate ownership of land, unequal incomes &c. it doesn't seem to be any solution at all. We are still left with having to devise a system by which communes decide how much land they can each own. Libertarianism is just syndicalism in which each individual is a syndicate...
    I've thought this for a while. There may well be some very good objections to the existence of private property, when stated in abstract terms - but the point is that if you're willing to defend collective property, as left-anarchists are, all that's left is haggling over the price. Most of their arguments seem to me to be an insistence that if 1 person can exclude the other 99, there must be some justification for it (and that this justification is lacking). But what they miss is that they require precisely the same kind of justification when they insist that the 99 people can exclude the 1.

    I'm also entirely unclear how collective property - worker owned firms, say - is supposed to clear up the problems that private property is supposed to have. We hear all of the time that "allowing people to accumulate property on an unlimited basis ultimately acts to the detriment of those who are unable to acquire property, and thus as a result live at the mercy of those who can and have, possibly even generations prior," (Andy in this very thread) which may or may not be correct. But if it is, the point generalizes completely to collective property! Think about it for a second: why does the fact that a firm is in the hands of its workers (instead of shareholders) mean that it's suddenly somehow easier for those without property to acquire some? It's a complete non sequitur. If I'm born into the world without any property, I'll find it just as impossible to acquire any in Andy's left-anarchist utopia where worker run firms own everything as in mine where private individuals do. Furthermore, there is no good reason why worker run firms are going to be any less exploitative than others. For one thing, we have worker run firms at the moment - lots of them - and they are certainly no better. Think of law firms or investment banks: if any companies are exploitative towards their junior employees, these are, yet they are run on essentially mutualist grounds. They do it by having two different classes of workers, associates and partners, only one of which participates in the ownership of the firm. Why would such a situation not arise in a left-anarchist society? Why would existing workers not seek to entrench their own position at the expense of future workers? I've never heard an answer. One response might be that this sort of situation 'wouldn't be allowed.' But there are two problems with this: one is that you need to be very careful in saying stuff like this within the context of talking about an anarchic society, because unless there are mechanisms under which this result can be brought about via the spontaneous order generated by many independently acting agents it looks suspiciously like the kind of thing which is going to require a centralized authority to enforce - a centralized authority which would, of course, be totally destructive of anarchy. The second is that even if it turns out that this is possible, the results wouldn't be attractive. I think we'd see much less employment in this kind of society, and an entire class of people shut out of work altogether (because hiring someone would be expensive - you have to give them a share in the firm for crying out loud!). Worker run firms are incentivized to maximise profit per worker rather than simply profit as traditional firms do, and so there would likely be significant effects on the labour market, tending towards higher unemployment.

    Edit: I should probably add that I have nothing against worker owned firms in the slightest - I think there are reasons to look favourably upon them, as well as reasons not to (the diversification of risk is another big one). I wish the Co-Op and John Lewis all the best, but I don't think that cooperatives are the panacea they are made out to be. However, the best way to judge the matter is this: abolish all laws which privilege one form of corporate governance over the others (we certainly have some here in the UK) and let the market decide. That is, let people choose via their purchasing and employment decisions what the right balance should be.
 
 
 
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