Weekend reflections

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

32 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Fatfingers, I did not “assume” that PK was talking about governments. He was explicitly talking about central authority, not merely some form of co-operative or collective action. That’s what a government is. If you are obliged to submit to it, it qualifies under the walks like a dusck test.

    As for my not having to spoonfeed him – well, I take the view that bloggers who introduce threads ought to go that extra step, but that mere commenters who want to point out fallacies and/or misunderstandings need only provide minimal references, and that only so that their own efforts don’t just get dismissed as mere opinion.

    That is, in a blog a commenter isn’t trying to instruct those who don’t want to be instructed – like those who guess that a blog they are referred to is a deep economic work – but rather to highlight for all readers that there is more to be said on the subject.

    Anyone can consult that blog. If anyone is well equipped to comment here on what is to be found there, it’s Kevin Carson himself, not me, so I’ll sugest to him that he visit this thread and chip in.

    But I don’t run this thread or that blog, so it would be inauthentic for me to push anything found there. It would run the risk that I might inadvertently misrepresent it, for instance.

  2. fatfingers,

    As P.M. Lawrence said, it is Paul Kelley who assumes that cooperative effort can only be organized through government, and PML who is trying to get it into PK’s head that cooperative (or collective) effort can be achieved by voluntary means.

    The fact that PK automatically dismisses any suggestion that voluntary cooperation is possible as a call for “everyone [to] wander around guessing who is the most needy and give them money,” suggests to me that PK’s problem goes beyond mere historical illiteracy. The underlying problem is far more basic: an inability (or unwillingness) to recognize a non sequitur in his own argument. If he is unable to acknowledge a fundamental logical flaw in his argument, all the empirical evidence in the world won’t do him any good.

    But I’m more than willing to accept a person’s admission that he’s too lazy to follow a simple link that directly concerns the validity of a general assertion he made, or that he’s uninterested in any evidence as to whether his opinion is correct–just so long as he’s willing to admit that his opinion is, as a result, absolutely worthless.

    For anyone else who is interested, though, there is a wealth of historical material on associations for mutual aid among the working class before the rise of the welfare state. Kropotkin’s last two chapters on the recent history of Europe in *Mutual Aid* are a good starting point.

    E.P. Thompson has a great deal of good information on sick benefit societies, burial societies, and other mutuals in *The Making of the English Working Class*.

    Colin Ward’s *Anarchism in Action* contains a section on the “welfare road we failed to take.”

    Dr. Bob James is one of the best historians of working class friendly societies in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of his articles can be found at the “Radical Tradition” site. http://www.takver.com/history/indexbj.htm

    Finally, Section J.5.16 of An Anachist FAQ has an amazing amount of material on such self-organization, including extended block quotes and many, many references. http://www.infoshop.org/faq/secJ5.html#secj516

    The kinds of voluntary mutual aid described by these writers were first suppressed by the capitalists (because they were seen as potential breeding grounds for subversion, and a possible basis for mutual economic support during strikes), and later crowded out or suppressed by regulation when the New Class decided that working class self-organization was atavistic and should be supplanted by the benevolent supervision of “qualified professionals.” David Beito’s *From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State* is a history, in large part, of the latter phenomenon, in addition to a good account of mutual aid organizations themselves.

  3. The idea of long-run payoffs from altruism is an old one, and Maynard Smith in his classic stuff in the early 70s showed such equilibria can be stable even in the presence of cheaters (in fact, it’s quite similar to the old predator-prey models, with the proportion of cheaters often oscillating). These experiments are interesting, but they’re not really new in a theoretical sense.

    That said, I’m always a little chary of trying to apply results from experimental games to reality, because it’s so easy to tweak outcomes by small variations in rules and relative payoffs. IOW the results are often not very robust.

  4. Backflip Enterprise
    Many ABC watchers and listeners are still unaware or unable to believe that muzzling goes on within our national broadcaster. Do they need further proof than the backflip by ABC Enterprises on its commission to publish Chris Masters’ biography of Alan Jones, the commercial radio cash-for-comment shock jock?
    There is now not one ABC staff member on the executive board of the people’s erstwhile independent voice. It has been stacked by John Howard’s friends keen to dumb down its programs to appeal to advertisers chasing barrel-bottom ratings, while he juggernauts the law to allow our ABC to be sold off to commercial broadcasters and people like Alan Jones.
    Why else would the board pull the plug on Masters’ book and risk the loss of one of the finest investigative journalists in the world? The ABC as we knew it is struggling to survive on the ever-dwindling funds the federal government dribbles from our taxes. This latest of a thousand cuts calls for popular resistance and a protest march in every state.

  5. The ABC as we knew it is struggling to survive on the ever-dwindling funds the federal government dribbles from our taxes.

    You suggesting that it now cost us less than 8 cents per day?

  6. Just for the record:
    According to the ABC 2004-5 Annual Report financials section [pdf] the amount that the ABC receives in goverment funding is $808,153,000. Divide this by 365 to get total cost per day = $2,214,117. Divide this by the number of tax payers to get total cost per taxpayer per day. The number of individual returns lodged in 2003-4 [pdf] is 10,978,900 (or if you prefer, the total number of tax returns is 12,860,125). So the cost per ‘taxpayer’ per day of the ABC is somewhere between 20 and 17 cents.

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