Comments on Moore
Social Anarchism, February 8, 2006
On Moore's article, I had a few comments. You might want to suggest to him that he remove an internal contradiction, in his comments on my views. In his first paragraph he quotes me (correctly) as saying that anarchism "does not limit its aims to democratic control by producers over production," but has far broader concerns. He later claims that my views are diametrically opposed to what I say, which he has quoted on the first page. Thus he writes that "Chomsky regards collective worker control as a sufficient basis for anarchy," exactly what I explicitly denied in the quote on page 1. Thus his description of my views is directly inconsistent with my own words, which he quotes. He draws his erroneous conclusion from a misreading of a passage where I talk about industrialization and self-management. Misreading the comment, Moore assumes that I am saying that this is all of anarchism, whereas it should be evident, and certainly is in context, that I am discussing a particular topic. Similarly, when I discuss, say, dominance relations within a family as part of anarchist concerns, I am not saying that is all of anarchism.
I think Moore might want to correct the internal contradiction and misreading.
About the more general issues, frankly, I'm reluctant to become engaged. The world I live in, and see around me, has no resemblance to what Perlman writes about, and only limited resemblance to what Bookchin writes (very well) about. Some day, there may be a "post-scarcity society," at which point what he writes will become very relevant (it already is, for a small sector of the world's population, arguably a diminishing fraction of it). The idea that scarcity is a social category is of course true, but not relevant to the real world, in my opinion. Hunter-gatherer societies, which were all there were for most of human history, may well have had pretty relaxed lives, as Sahlins and others argue. That doesn't change the fact that going back to such a state would mean instant mass genocide on an unimaginable scale; similarly, someone who finds it a "profound indictment" to say that production continued is thereby signalling that he/she thinks that several billion people should drop dead at once, even if the author doesn't understand that.
As for scarcity, a different matter, it surely has to do with options: when they are greater, deprivation is greater for those who cannot gain access to them. The answer to this is not to eliminate options. That seems to me too obvious to merit much discussion.
In the world that I see, most people are struggling to survive, while a few (including me) are very rich. That's the world I want to change. I can't spend my time arguing about things that seem to me hopelessly abstracted from human existence, now or in the foreseeable future.