Sunday, March 15, 2015

Organizing a Free Society: Holons, Consumer Unions & Useful Language

This is partly a response to a post at Eos Horizons by Enrique Lescure, where he lays out some of the organizational doctrine for a liberated social society of production: On de-centralization and distribution: The arguments for a holonic system

In addition to eminent workers associations, a freely organized society needs consumer unions for creative input into the system as consumers not only for democratization, but also efficiency. My favorite moral/psychological philosopher Erich Fromm advocated for them as a revolutionary force and I think it is important as an element of any socialized society. Consumption is the other end of production and it is just as prone to exploitation if the consumer is disempowered - this can be especially true when consumers and producers are distinct, and when consumers are captive in any way (i.e. medical patients). 

It is also important to emphasize liberty and free association (which is partly done in the article) but is nonetheless critical as an emotional and ideological element for a lot of people. "Maximum possible fairness" should be the goal to attain in the context of democratic institutions needed to dispense influence over the usage of finite resources and the free association of labor/consumption should be a goal.

But in fact the distinction and the political/ideological obsession over control needs to be de-emphasized as an eventuality. This I view in a similar way as war: there are legitimate wars against oppressive forces which seek to end the tyranny of war and militarism. These I think are the only just wars. And much the same way that war against systems which are sustained by violence are the only legitimate use of war, so too is dispensation of control over resources only legitimate as a means by which resource control ceases to be a political issue, and becomes a communal element as liberated as our right to breathe air, drink water, or speak freely.

This actually brings the system to marxist principles: and Marxism is now a term so filled with unfair vitriol and erroneous assumptions that it is actually meaningless. Marx's doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is a class dominance meant to end class, is quite the same. These three examples could even be called dialectical: the conflict of two forces come to bear fruit, a state of things that abolish both previous elements in the conflict as meaningful distinctions.

It is not helpful to call oneself marxist due to the meaning it relays. Holon, a collection of individuals acting as one, is akin to the concept of the fasces, latin for "bundle," the root of the term fascism. Liberty, the free association of labor and consumption are all the holy cows of capitalism.

From a thought-experiment standpoint, Hegel's corporatism might be a legitimate form of fascism that is comparable to our shared vision of a free, socialized state of things. Adam Smith's capitalism, or more accurately some of the mutualist / voluntarist concepts of free markets, have many of the characteristics of free association we advocate for. And of course Marx's doctrines, and even more the doctrines of liberationist unionists, syndicalists, anarchists, council communists and "Luxembourgists" all have belief in structures which would look like Holons, in some cases only as transitional structures, but almost universally as freely associated humans at work to achieve production, consumption, order and freedom. Even religious thinkers and leaders often return to many of the same doctrines where we would be at home.

The consequence of this is transcendental: to take from all kinds of philosophies those elements we find useful, and discard their mistakes. This is how Noam Chomsky has responded when I challenged why he was not a Marxist, and it is convincing. That should be our response to all of these, but we should also be careful to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions from all kinds of thought systems.

There are those who are hung up on forcing a certain viewpoint on history, or condemning a class of people, and those situations may represent intransigent conflicts. There are actually very few people for whom the underlying political principles of their ideology are not based on the liberationist, organized association of human beings which we strive for. The reasons for our detours into conflict are myriad, but to achieve liberation we need to work in the opposite direction: to foster agreement and cooperation on these shared values, and de-politicize them by using language which is not only common and relatable, but also as free as possible from terms associated with violence, carnage and oppression.

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