wdg3rd on May 07, 2010, 05:03:25 am

I am working on a story that features a group on Mars, called Lenin's Hammer. Basically, it is a commune internally set up on a pure communism model. Externally, they deal with other Martians in a free market atmosphere, but as a unit. Lenin's Hammer seems to thrive. Why this is so is a mystery to many. Actually, the answer is simple and has allowed many communist communes to last for many years, in spite of a flawed economic model.


Such enclaves are featured in several of Ken MacLeod's novels, starting with his first book, Prometheus-winner The Star Fraction.  Ken himself is essentially an anarchist, but was raised Trotskyite.  I highly recommend his works.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

sams on May 07, 2010, 09:17:55 am
I am working on a story that features a group on Mars, called Lenin's Hammer. Basically, it is a commune internally set up on a pure communism model. Externally, they deal with other Martians in a free market atmosphere, but as a unit. Lenin's Hammer seems to thrive. Why this is so is a mystery to many. Actually, the answer is simple and has allowed many communist communes to last for many years, in spite of a flawed economic model.

Any self selected group, with enough brotherhood can apply a commune, in fact communism is just the extrapolation of comradeship clubs, football teams, but there is an impossibility to scale it because humans have a limited capacity for friendship. But anyway good luck with your story  ;)
« Last Edit: May 07, 2010, 09:23:49 am by sams »

nottheowl on May 07, 2010, 11:05:59 am

It would be inaccurate to speak of an AnCap society as a single society or philosophy... I am working on a story that features a group on Mars, called Lenin's Hammer. Basically, it is a commune internally set up on a pure communism model...

As humanity moves into space, we are going to see a lot of voluntary variations on a theme. Many, if not most, could be embedded within a greater, more or less AnCap, society without violating any AnCap "rules."


Interesting. Remaining within EFT, if such a subsection of the population (not necessarily communist; religious perhaps, or totalitarian) coerced its members to remain amongst them, but refrained from infringing on the liberty of anyone outside the group, would there be any external agency that would come to their aid?





Illuminaughty on May 07, 2010, 11:35:18 am
Quote
Why this is so is a mystery to many. Actually, the answer is simple and has allowed many communist communes to last for many years, in spite of a flawed economic model.

Sandy, I don't understand this sentence. If they are thriving, then they have an economic model that works for their situation. It would be a quite good economic model for them, not a flawed economic model.

Anyway, the only difference between communism and capitalism is property rights. In communism the things you are allowed to personally own are less. Total communist oppression would not even allow you to own your time, forcing you to work on their clock. In capitalism you can personally own a lot more. Total capitalist oppression would forbid you to breath unless you owned the air or were paying someone who did own it.

People studying psychological game theory have noticed that humans (and in fact all communal animals, monkeys, dogs, etc.) look for fairness. We want to interact with each other fairly, using fair exchanges. But we also practice altruism. We will sacrifice some of our own wellbeing for the good of our community, or to punish those who work against communal wellbeing. That's why all real communities fall somewhere in the middle.

On Ceres, people pay their bar tabs, but nobody negotiated for payment before going to rescue Lorna, Guy and Fiorella at Ghetty. Because even in a largely capitalist society, there are some things that people will not make you pay for.

Economic models are only flawed if you think one model of property rights should work for every group of people in every situation.

SandySandfort on May 07, 2010, 03:46:34 pm
Interesting. Remaining within EFT, if such a subsection of the population (not necessarily communist; religious perhaps, or totalitarian) coerced its members to remain amongst them, but refrained from infringing on the liberty of anyone outside the group, would there be any external agency that would come to their aid?

The answer to your specific question, has to be, "Who knows?" However, my guess is that such totalitarian communities would piss off enough people that they would help the inmates by creating underground railroads, establishing "battered members" shelters or just kicking ass and taking names. Other people would just boycott the totalitarians and refuse to do business with them. Still others would say, "It's no skin off my nose."

When Barbara Brandon was asked, "what about the poor?" she replied, "No one will stop you from helping them."

You sound like someone who would like to see such an "external agency," where such a scenario to arise. No one (outside the totalitarian enclave) would stop you from doing any of the things I listed and more and more. For sure I would help you and I'd bet dollars to donuts a lot of AnCaps would be there too.

nottheowl on May 07, 2010, 05:29:00 pm
SandySandfort, y'got me. I am that caped and spit-curled crusader.

Illuminaughty (love the name), a model justifies a practice, but it's possible for the model to be flawed while the practice works. The Pedi (South Africa) believed that infection can be magically cured by eating meal chewed by a cross-eyed child and hung for three days in a gourd. They were correct, not because the ritual is magic, but because the grain grows penicillium mold. Flawed model, right practice. (Not sure where I picked that up- one of Lyall Watson's essays?)

You're right about intellectual theories though. The tragedy comes in when the flaw isn't admitted even after the practice has been shown not to work. Centralised economy on the large scale is probably a good example- though it'd be interesting to know what could be accomplished with sufficiently advanced IT.

Illuminaughty on May 07, 2010, 09:33:17 pm
Centralized economy has nothing to do with property rights.

USSR - The people (communist party) own this farm and this store, and we determine what happens to the produce of the farm and what goods the people can have from the store. Someone who tries to differ from the will of the people is to be shot.

Coal Mining Town - I own this mine and this store and I determine how much you get paid for working in the mine and how much the goods cost in the store. Someone who tries to offer my employees goods at cheaper cost, or work at better pay (so they could escape debt bondage) is a trespasser and will be shot.

It's the same game, Capitalist or Communist. We're in agreement that it's evil. If we lived in spaceships and you wanted to help people subject to coercion, I would help you. And it doesn't really matter what can be done with IT. If a centralized economy or a mining town is fabulously successful at providing wealth for the people in that economy, it wouldn't change the fact that the people in it can only live the lives that are chosen for them. They are subjects of oppression.

But if you lived in a land full of hippies and they were all like, "You can't own the land, dude, the land owns you." that's communism and its not oppression (as long as you can leave your hippies and go live with hippies doing the kind of work and living the types of lives you want to live). [By some weird fluke, if you put up a fence and started shooting people for trespassing you would be the one violating the ZAP.]

Yes, I know, the hippy world doesn't really work. People look for fairness. So industrious hippies who find that lazy hippies always take advantage of their generosity will find ways to punish the lazy hippies (stuff like giving them the ugly tie dies or not giving them any more weed or something). Without government coercion a type of market will develop in which lazy hippies who don't do their fair share will end up with less than industrious hippies.

But there are situations in which capitalism doesn't work. Currently we are seeing that intellectual property doesn't work the way people thought it would. For example, you sell me a DVD and tell me I own the DVD but you still own the movie so I definitely musn't copy that DVD, say if I want a copy to leave in the car for my kids to watch and especially in case my car gets broken into then only the copy get's stolen. If my friend is sitting in my car going through my DVDs and she says she likes that movie, I'm just going to give it to her. I can make another copy. You don't have the property rights you thought you had. And copy protection doesn't work because it makes a product less useful, so products without copy protection that are more flexible and useful will attract more customers.

Certain things people can own and certain things people cannot own. There is no culture in which everything is private property and there is no culture in which everything is common property. And what is ownable in any particular culture may not be ownable in the next. If the people of Lenin's Hammer hold a lot to be common property that we think of as private property, but it works for them, then their model isn't flawed.

Certain services you can charge for, and certain services you cannot. There is no culture in which you charge for everything you ever do for anyone else, and there is no culture in which you do everything without fair exchange. And what is common decency in one culture may be a high priced service in another. If the people of Lenin's Hammer think that most of the work they do is common decency and they would not expect payment from their comrades, and it works for them, then their model isn't flawed.

An economic model isn't a scientific fact that is always right or always wrong. It is an invention, an engineering solution to the problem of getting resources to people so they can live the lives they want to live. And different engineering solutions work better in different circumstances. That's all I'm saying.

nottheowl on May 08, 2010, 02:31:29 am
I agree with all of that, except that a model must also have an element of explanation (David Deutsch argues convincingly for this in Fabric of Reality, though he couches the argument in terms of hypotheses), which could be completely mistaken while allowing the model to work in the intended circumstances. The model itself could be implemented without any degree of coercion- or it least, the model itself need not be responsible for that coercion.

I added the "large scale central economy" only as an example of a flawed model whose deficiencies were not admitted when they began to do harm. But those deficiencies were possibly due to inefficient means of data processing, and was offhand in mentioning this.

Bad tie-dyes? That is harsh. But I'm glad to know you'd take part. Suit up, friend, we're goin' in...!

Brugle on May 08, 2010, 09:48:29 am
But there are situations in which capitalism doesn't work. Currently we are seeing that intellectual property doesn't work the way people thought it would.
Well, that depends on who you mean by "people" and what you mean by "work".  One school of thought (which, as far as I can tell, is rapidly gaining adherents) would say that IP is working exactly as some people intend, enriching certain politically powerful groups at the expense of the populace as a whole.  Not all people who consider themselves libertarians agree, but I find that school of thought convincing.

By that view, IP is government-enforced monopoly which forbids people from using their actual property (such as paper, ink, computers, or voice boxes) to form certain patterns.  In a free society, it would be legitimate for (for example) a singer to contract with every member of her audience to not reveal a song she sung to anyone else, and to be awarded damages from anyone who violated such a contract.  But such contracts would not affect third parties, such as a man who heard the song while standing outside the concert hall.  Sending thugs to prevent that man from (for example) recording that song and selling the recordings has nothing to do with "capitalism" (as the term has been used here).

Now, if you use "capitalism" to mean something other than an economy free of government meddling, please say so.   But if you use "capitalism" as the word has been used here, please don't blame it for government-caused problems.

terry_freeman on May 08, 2010, 12:57:04 pm
The coal mine scenario is not a free market. In the Real World, where anti-capitalist theorists fear to tread, the "I control everything in this town" types had to rely upon force to prevent competition. I have a distant cousin who wrote a book about his experiences setting up a co-op store in Ireland, many years ago; the gombeen ( land-owners ) sent thugs to try to shut down his business by force. He drove them off and built a thriving business which provided goods more cheaply, and provided better employment for many. He got no love from the local government.


quadibloc on May 08, 2010, 05:44:14 pm
The coal mine scenario is not a free market. In the Real World, where anti-capitalist theorists fear to tread, the "I control everything in this town" types had to rely upon force to prevent competition.
Exploitative businessmen often did use force to prevent competition. However, this was not an invariable rule. Sometimes they just colluded not to compete with one another. (Although such situations may have been accompanied by the use of force to prevent collusion among the workers.) Or they just took advantage of having greater market power than individual workers.

And sometimes workers faced poverty not because of any fault on the part of businessmen, but because of overpopulation - which was mistakenly blamed on the rich due to past experience.

Rocketman on May 09, 2010, 12:02:45 pm

 Other people would just boycott the totalitarians and refuse to do business with them.


 Sandy:  In this one area I'm going to have to disagree with you.  I've said many times in various postings that "I know how these bastards think." and I think I've proven that I do.  If it were just a few small individuals doing it it would be one things but as soon as it becomes an annoyance to those in power you can expect those in power to outlaw any choice by the seller.  If you have something for sale and you find out that the individual is a member of the government you would have no right to refuse to sell to him the object.  If you did you could be arrested and fined or imprisoned for refusing to do so.  That's how they will handle that situation.   >:(  >:(  >:(

Brugle on May 09, 2010, 02:27:36 pm

 Other people would just boycott the totalitarians and refuse to do business with them.


 Sandy:  In this one area I'm going to have to disagree with you.  I've said many times in various postings that "I know how these bastards think." and I think I've proven that I do.  If it were just a few small individuals doing it it would be one things but as soon as it becomes an annoyance to those in power you can expect those in power to outlaw any choice by the seller.  If you have something for sale and you find out that the individual is a member of the government you would have no right to refuse to sell to him the object.  If you did you could be arrested and fined or imprisoned for refusing to do so.  That's how they will handle that situation.   >:(  >:(  >:(

Sandy appeared to be talking about not trading with totalitarians who emerged from their enclave into a wider AnCap society.  If government thugs tried to enforce their edicts outside of their enclave, I expect that they would be handled just like any other criminals.  (I don't know what defensive organizations would exist, but you can be sure that people near a governmental area would be concerned.)

If you were go into the totalitarian enclave and refuse to trade with government officials there, then you might be fined or imprisoned or worse.  If so, your friends (and other sympathetic people) might try to help you, or they might decide that anyone so foolish deserves what he gets.

terry_freeman on May 10, 2010, 01:28:32 am
The example of the Coop, which I mentioned, was not a theoretical concept, not a thought experiment, not a work of fiction.

It was a description of how poor, downtrodden people in the real world managed to get out from under the thumb of colluding merchants. My distant cousin didn't just do the trick once; he helped establish a network of similar voluntary coops in many of the poorest parts of Ireland. Put that in your "capitalists always exploit the poor and nothing can be done" pipe and smoke it. The poor people of today are wealthy by comparison to those in Ireland in those days, and therefore have much greater resources to work with.

If I had a dime for everyone who told me that something couldn't be done, I'd be a rich man. For every half-assed theory about why the poor can't do squat, why they need some benevolent government intervention, there is a poor entrepreneur who is being put down by the government - and who will strive to find a way out from under their thumbs., given just a bit of daylight to work with.

Government is not the solution; it is the problem. Take a gander at the extensive research by Jane jacobs and others; government attempts which allegedly "help the poor" by confiscating "blighted" property and remaking it in the image of the Central Planners have about the same efficacy as a bombing run. I can speak at great length about the manner in which Pittsburgh politicians destroyed one neighborhood after another. Their targets were "the poor"; the only real beneficiaries were wealthy politicians and developers. Pittsburgh is no more corrupt than other cities, as near as I can tell. Google up "regulatory capture" -- there's an extensive literature showing how government coercion is used to lock out competitors. Check the web site of the Institute of Justice; they have numerous case studies for your review. The IJ's mission is to stop governments from using coercion to prevent poor entrepreneurs from succeeding at things like driving taxi cabs, opening beauty salons, and so forth.

The "company town" cannot prevent competition without using force, either legal or not. Poor people are not as stupid as you may think. If the government gets out of their fricking way, poor people will develop better alternatives to exploitative "company towns."  It has already been done many times over; if you persist in claiming that it cannot be done, your reality check bounced.

 

quadibloc on May 13, 2010, 09:48:12 am
If I had a dime for everyone who told me that something couldn't be done, I'd be a rich man. For every half-assed theory about why the poor can't do squat, why they need some benevolent government intervention, there is a poor entrepreneur who is being put down by the government - and who will strive to find a way out from under their thumbs., given just a bit of daylight to work with.

Government is not the solution; it is the problem.
Government can certainly be a problem.

But the problem with this line of argument is that it conflates "it is not certain that all poor people can escape from poverty through their own unaided efforts" with "it is not possible for any poor person to escape from poverty through his own unaided efforts". The second statement is indeed patently false. However, people who advocate big government welfare programs, however misguidedly, are usually only asserting the first.