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Here are excerpts from "cRed-76" of "Anti-Joseph and the S.O.M.E. Hypothesis"
Deletions from the original are indicated by missing paragraphs and "[...]"

Excerpts from: "Why is Joseph Afraid of Consciousness ?"

How Would A Communist Economy Actually Work ?

 Contents:       TIP: Clicking on any of the paragraph numbers
 ---------            along the left margin
                      will take you back and forth
                      between the body of the article
                      and the table of contents.
number           chapters sections subheads
   3a     I.  Is Communism Possible ? 
  19a         "Anarchy of Production" 
  33a         "Cooperative Anarchy" 
  47a     III.  How the Hand and Brain Work Together 
  65a         Example #1: "Our Children Are Our Future!" 
  67a         The Real Respect Accorded a Tribal Elder 
  95a         How Would A Communist Economy Actually Work ? 
  98a         Every Thought, Word and Action 
 107a         Complex Struggles within the Communist Society
               and Economy 
 130a         Who Tells People What to Think ? 
 153a         Environmental Clean-up 
 182a         A Mockery of the Struggle Against Anarchism 

I. Is Communism Possible ?
The central theoretical question which will dominate the twenty first century and around which will revolve all other theoretical questions of profound social import is whether communism is possible. There is a profound skepticism on this question among the masses. This skepticism is not merely the result of the bourgeois world-view as saturates the mass media -- but is also a product of the failures of the Soviet and Chinese revolutions.
Workers who hear our claim that a society better than capitalism, without all the attendant ills of capitalism, is possible -- would like to believe us. But they want to hear more than nice words and fairy tales. They want us to be able to answer their questions and explain to them how such a society would actually function in practice. This does not mean that the masses somehow expect us to provide all sorts of details which no one could possibly predict in advance. Rather it means that they want some picture of how such a society would be organized. They want to have some kind of grasp of the organizational principles that would allow a society to function in the real world and create more wealth than is created by capitalism and not require a special class of exploiters.
"Anarchy of Production"
In Anti-Duhring, (Section II "Theoretical" of Part III "Socialism") Engels describes "two phenomenal forms" of organization immanent in the capitalist mode of production. My summation here may be a little rough and approximate but I trust that comrades will be able to follow.
The first form is the organization of production within (ie: inside) a factory. Engels considered such organization to be relatively rational and well-ordered.
The second form (ie: Adam Smith's "invisible hand") was the organization of production between factories in society as a whole. This form of organization had some problems. Factories were connected by the market. This worked, more or less, except when it didn't. When it didn't there were problems. Big problems.
Roughly every ten years (in Engels time) the industrial economy came to a crashing halt because the productive forces were capable of expanding far more rapidly than the market for the commodities created could absorb. Extreme hardship and misery resulted. Side by side with starvation and poverty existed, unused and idle, both (a) massive labor power and (b) the means of production to use it. But these two elements (labor power and the means of production) could not be combined to create wealth because under capitalism this can only happen when the means of production and subsistence are first converted into capital.
The second form of organization not only resulted in severe crisis periodically but also suffered a related problem. Because the means of production could not be converted into capital in the absence of suitable markets, the creation of wealth was in general severely restricted. With suitable organization, Engels noted, the elements of production existed to create "practically unlimited growth of production itself" (ie: the creation of virtually unlimited wealth).
It was problems in the second form of organization that were constraining humanity's ability to create wealth. Engels calls this form of organization "anarchy of production".
The essential point to grasp here is that Engels divided the forms of organization within capitalist society into these two general categories and Engels contrasted these categories. Engels noted that the form of organization inside a factory was far more rational and less wasteful than the form of organization between factories. And Engels noted that the two forms would eventually coalesce and that the entire economy would function as efficiently as a single factory and that this would allow creation of sufficient wealth that no one would ever again have to struggle merely to survive.
But without trying to solve all the theoretical problems of the universe, including what names to attach to what particular phenomena, I think we can generalize to one important conclusion of Engels. It is the system of organization of economic activity that is holding humanity back and before we can release the vast potential of the immense productive forces that surround us -- we must solve the organizational problem. And this requires that we find a way to create wealth by combining labor and the means of production without the necessity of first transforming them into capital. Or, in simpler terms, we need to investigate and discover how an economy can function without capital, without money and without production for the sake of the market.
"Cooperative Anarchy"
Now, does the term "cooperative anarchy" refer to a system whereby the means of production must be converted into capital in order to be used ? No. Not at all. It describes a system of people working together without a formal central authority. This is clear to anyone who looks at the matter and who does not have his head up his artificial stupidity system. Consider the example that I gave. A number of interested parties, largely unpaid volunteers, met and ironed out the next generation of protocols for the internet. Was the action of these people mediated by the market? No, it was not.
The term "cooperative anarchy" would also well describe the work methods that created a free unix operating system known as Linux. This is described in my TCE documents. People from all over the world worked to create a powerful commercial quality product. People worked for nothing and the product is distributed free. There was never a central authority that made everything happen and was indispensable in coordinating it all. Was money exchanged ? Well, one of the people involved most heavily was using very outdated equipment and a fund was set up so he could buy a less antiquated PC. So there you have it: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. A successful implementation in miniature of the communist method of production. What made this possible ? A very powerful factor here was the internet itself. People coordinated the project by advertising their abilities and needs to one another on the net and spontaneously forming small temporary "production units". [...]
III. How the Hand and Brain Work Together
   1) How can society ever hope to run production as a whole
      without any formal authority
      or central administrative apparatus ?
   2) If central planning bodies are compatible
      with mass initiative and to some extent promote it,
      then why not use them to run the economy as a whole ?
   3) Is Ben relying on Adam Smith's invisible hand or not ?
   4) How does the consciousness of the masses express itself
      or manifest itself in the running of society ?
   5) What happens when different ways
      of making economic decisions clash ?
      a) What if public opinion wants a factory run one way
         but the workers at the factory insist on another way ?
      b) Suppose workers at two different factories disagree.
         Who decides what happens ?
      c) Who decides when planning bodies disagree ?
      d) If a planning body is divided
         or in a state of civil war, which side wins ?
   6) How exactly does public opinion manifest itself
      if there is no body with formal authority ?
   7) What prevents the masses as consumers
      from making decisions that would result
      in hundreds of thousands of people
      in Bangladesh being poisoned and dying ?
Example #1: "Our Children Are Our Future!"
There might be a number of organizations of different types which revolve around analysis of the economy and the making of recommendations. The majority of these groups may reach a loose consensus on some issue. Such a consensus as might be reached might even include agreement on a slogan and the general outline of a popular campaign. For example there might be general agreement that the priorities of economic development and society's resources need to be shifted in the direction of greater emphasize on the education of the very young. This would include a variety of types of projects that would focus on developing the abilities and all-round consciousness of very young children. Such a shift in priorities might take place as a form of long-term investment since the return to society might take 30 or more years to mature.
Now how would such a consensus be implemented ? The economy would be made up of a large number of groups or units, independent or semi-independent from one another. Each group would follow the economic and social debates and make a decision as to whether, and to what degree, to align its own activity with the various recommendations which are making the headlines (or whatever form of media replaces "the headlines"). In such a situation, when the general consensus in society is for a shift in a certain direction, such a shift might be implemented, in a very complex way, without the need for a single, authoritative, formal center.
The Real Respect Accorded a Tribal Elder
There are a number of theoretical issues that might be related to this but the one that most strikes me involves a passage from Engels (probably in Origin of the Family) relating how the most lowly cop, in a modern society, possessed more formal authority than the respected elder in the primitive communal society -- while at the same time the wise elder in such a primitive society might command far more real respect than the most fearsome dictator in a modern society. I only remember this quote approximately but I have always found it very thought-provoking.
The issue, as I see it, as we consider, theorize and speculate about forms and relations of production in a communist society, is to grasp that there would be no formal authority, no binding laws, no regulations that could not be disregarded by anyone who felt it was better and "made more sense" to disagree with such regulations.
Such formal authority corresponds, more or less, with what I described in Seattle # 69 as "top down" organizational methods. I said that while top-down methods are sometimes necessary, that we should consider ways of accomplishing as much as possible without resort to top-down methods. Where possible, we should place greater reliance, I said, on "bottom-up" methods. Bottom-up methods are inherently more democratic and involve the masses to a greater degree than top-down methods in a wide variety of situations. Bottom-up methods are inherently "more parallel". By this I mean that greater brainpower is applied to a problem, more knowledge and experience are gained, etc.
Communist society will be based on bottom-up methods. Hence how bottom-up methods come into the world and function must be taken seriously.
Hence we can answer the first three questions from his most esteemed highness of the Kingdom of Spam.
   1) How can society ever hope to run production as a whole
      without any formal authority
      or central administrative apparatus ?
By relying on conscious social planning, consensus, persuasion and the kind of respect attained by a tribal elder in primitive communal society. By relying on the individual and group decisions of the masses who would be highly educated and informed and would figure out "the right thing to do" without need for a special class of administrators.
   2) If central planning bodies are compatible
      with mass initiative and to some extent promote it,
      then why not use them to run the economy as a whole ?
Actually centralized planning bodies may play a useful role. How much they are used might depend on their track record and competence. There is no reason to rule out the possibility that a central planning body might emerge to play a powerful and useful role in the direction of the overall economy. In fact there are reasons to expect this. But even then, its authority would not need to be formal. And the situation would likely be far more fluid than Joseph seems to imagine. For example, if the central planning body made serious errors, this might lead to its breaking up, or being replacing by a competing body or system of bodies. Or there might be a period in which competing bodies operate independently or semi-independently from one another. Or the competing bodies might resolve their contradictions and unite. Or the contradictions in such a united central body might lead it to break up again.
Are there reasons to believe that central planning bodies would NOT play a leading role in directing the economy or major portions of it ? Yes. Because other methods might do far better at promoting mass initiative. [...]
   3) Is Ben relying on Adam Smith's "invisible hand" or not ?
No. I am not. Adam Smith's "invisible hand" referred precisely to a system by which actions were coordinated via turning the means of production into capital. This is the most elementary Marxism. The production of goods in a communist society will be for direct distribution. There will be no capital. And the "intelligence" that guides the actions of all will be "distributed" without there necessarily being a need of a central authority and certainly not of a market. [...]
[...] What would be an example of "distributed intelligence" ? Let's start with the brain. The brain contains a very large number of relatively "dumb" elements. The "dumb" elements are called neurons, or brain cells. These "dumb" elements "talk" to one another (hopefully it is not necessary to be any more technical than this). What "emerges" from the process is an intelligence of vastly higher order. Where is the central formalized command-and-control-center that tells the brain cells what to do ? There is none. [...]
Of course there does appear to be a section of the brain that is somewhat specialized in certain command-and-control functions. Many researchers believe that the pre-frontal cortex (more or less the area under your forehead) plays a special role in areas like will, volition, determination and other attributes that are typically associated with a person's "character". But even in the pre-frontal cortex, the same principle of distributed intelligence applies because this area of the cortex is itself made up of hundreds of millions or billions of "dumb" elements and the intelligence emerges from the complex collective interworkings of these elements. [...]
These kinds of questions are being widely discussed in a great many spheres of activity in society. The concepts of "distributed intelligence" and "emergent phenomena" (ie: the complex behavior of a system emerging out of the interaction of the simpler units or sub- systems from which it is made) are increasingly being recognized as profound and important to the study of all systems, whether in nature or created by man.
A flock of birds or a school of fish can be observed to arc from right to left almost simultaneously and with such precision and grace that it would appear to be choreographed. Is there a "leader" in this flock or school that communicates to all the others what they must do ? No. There is not. The phenomena emerges from the collective and parallel action of the participants. We have all been part of such phenomena. When an audience claps in appreciation for a performance, the clapping is at first random and chaotic. But within a few seconds the clapping has become synchronized, without appreciable effort. Each member of the audience, consciously or not, slightly speeds up or slows down the tempo of his clapping to adjust to the perceived average rhythm. And this process, which has a degree of complexity, feels so simple and natural that we generally never give it a second thought. [...]
How Would A Communist Economy Actually Work ?
In "How Mark Attempts to Extinguish the Living Flame of Marxism" I outlined four features which would be characteristic of the role of the masses in a communist economy:
   1) The role of the masses as producers
   2) The role of the masses as consumers
   3) The struggle for public opinion
   4) The consciousness of the masses
How would these four elements work together on a mass basis ?
Every Thought, Word and Action
If we combine the first two elements together so that we have three elements, then the elements correspond, roughly, to (a) what people do, (b) what people say, and (c) what people think. There are, of course, various complications. One is that many of these actions would likely be mediated either by mass organizations or the activity of groups of people, political parties and cultural trends which can overcome the isolation of the individual. Another complication is that there would be no clear dividing line between what people say and what they do. A production unit that deals with media, for example, creates a product that consists, essentially, of what people say. When people read, watch or listen to such a product, there are consuming the product. Finally, we all know that what people think influences everything else, just as everything else influences what people think.
Let's consider an analogy. All analogies are, of course, imperfect -- but if readers bear with me we may be able to form a crude picture. Let's consider the masses as if they were a single entity.
The first two elements above are somewhat like muscles. They are effectors. Let's consider them to be like a pair of hands. Joseph sneers, by the way, at the role that the masses might play as consumers. Why is this ? Well Engels notes (same section of Anti- Duhring as above) that appropriation (ie: consumption) is predominantly "the acts of individuals" under capitalism. This is not necessarily true, however, under communism. Under communism, consumption will have much more of a mass or social character than it does under capitalism. [...]
Continuing our analogy: The third element in our list is somewhat like the nervous system and brain. Via this vehicle, the masses are mobilized and become conscious.
And finally, the fourth element is analogous to the mind.
So we can form a crude picture of how these four highly interactive elements might work together on a mass basis. Just as the mind is a product of the functioning of the brain (and, for that matter, the rest of the body) so will the consciousness of the masses be a product of the functioning of the first three elements. Just as the mind and brain propel into action the hands, so will the consciousness of the masses and the struggle for public opinion motivate the masses to make their production and consumption decisions on the basis of politics.
This last point is very central. Politics will continue to exist under communism and will play an increasing role in all the actions of the masses. Differing views will continue to exist as to what the priorities should be for social resources and in what directions society and the economy should be developed.
Politics will lose its character as an expression of the political clash of antagonistic classes. The struggle for class domination and the struggle for individual existence will be unknown. Politics will be different than we know them at present. But clashes, rooted not in the battle of classes with conflicting material interests but in differing views on "what should be done", will continue. Politics is the social manifestation of the struggle to resolve social contradictions. As long as there are contradictions, there will be politics. [...]
Complex Struggles within
the Communist Society and Economy
Of interest then, is how the four elements in the above analogy would work together to give shape to the very complex economic- political struggles in a communist society/economy that would be more complex than any of us can imagine -- like an ecosystem of ecosystems.
Keeping all this in mind, let's examine two more of our Grand Inquisitor's questions:
   4) How does the consciousness of the masses express itself
      or manifest itself in the running of society ?
   5) What happens when different ways
      of making economic decisions clash ?
      a) What if public opinion wants a factory run one way
         but the workers at the factory insist on another way ?
      b) Suppose workers at two different factories disagree.
         Who decides what happens ?
      c) Who decides when planning bodies disagree ?
      d) If a planning body is divided
         or in a state of civil war, which side wins ?
We can begin with question # 4. The consciousness of the masses expresses itself thru the actions of the masses. The actions of the masses include their activity as it relates to: (a) the production of wealth, (b) the consumption of wealth, and (c) the struggle for public opinion. This would seem somewhat straightforward, although this kind of thing apparently confuses Joseph.
It can also be seen that the struggle for public opinion, in its turn, affects: (a) the activity of the masses in the production of wealth, (b) the masses' activity in the consumption of wealth, and (c) the consciousness of the masses. In addition, the first two elements (ie: the role of the masses in production and consumption) also affect the struggle for public opinion and the consciousness of the masses. So everything affects everything else. It can be seen here that we have a system that is highly recursive. This means that everything affects everything else and does so along a near infinite number of pathways in a way that becomes extremely complex. So at this point, not only is Joseph confused, but we have a system that might confuse the rest of us also.
And this brings us to Joseph's fifth question: What happens when there is a clash ?
Actually the answer is kind of simple: the various sides fight it out. This would kind of be like a war except that, generally speaking, there is little real destruction, no real causalities and, in the long run, everybody wins. Everybody wins because all sides are fighting for the general interest, not their own private interests. Everybody wins because the main weapons in this war are public support and the support, consciousness and passion of workers and consumers -- and this creates an environment and a dynamic where the side which has positions most closely corresponding to the general interest has the ultimate advantage.
Let's see if we can get a clearer picture:
   a) What if public opinion wants a factory run one way
      but the workers at the factory insist on another way ?
There are many possibilities, many scenarios. Let's consider:
Another factory could be set up to do things the way that the majority public opinion wants. If there is enough support it might not be difficult to set up a competing factory that better serves the public interest. In a communist economy a factory would NOT be set up on the basis of capital from the capital markets which would then be used to purchase means of production. Rather, the means of production would simply be supplied from production units sympathetic to the cause. Similarly a labor force might simply volunteer to help out. Maybe the workers would work a little less at their other job (or jobs) in order to have the time to support the new factory.
Another possibility is that long-term work could be done to win over the workers at the iconoclast factory. Or -- to persuade some portion of the workers to stage a labor action (possibly similar to a strike or a slowdown or at the least a dampening of enthusiasm) in order to put pressure on the rest of the workers to rethink their positions. Naturally this might involve mobilizing other workers, not in the factory, to refrain from supporting the iconoclast factory.
Now suppose the iconoclast factory were producing in a way that was harmful to the public ? Suppose, for example, the factory was a polluter, either polluting the natural environment with chemical poisons or the social-mental environment with bad culture ? Then stronger action could be taken. A boycott of the factory's products could be organized. This would certainly tend to demoralize the factory's workers and make them think twice about their position. After all, they are only working there in the first place because they get satisfaction from serving the general interest.
Or, more severely, the factory's suppliers could refuse to supply the factory with the goods it needs to produce. It should be kept in mind that in a communist economy there are no commodities nor money to buy them with. Hence the renegade factory would have to find other production units that would freely supply it with what it needs. If it can't -- the renegade factory loses the struggle. Game over. It is shut down. But what if the renegade factory does find a supplier ? Then the factory's opponents could initiate action against the factory ally that is supplying it with goods -- attempt to target it via the organization of producer or consumer actions (strikes, slowdowns, boycotts). And on and on it goes. Most struggles might be minor and end in simple compromise. More important issues would tend to escalate and on occasion the most important issues might quickly convulse the whole of society.
It can be seen that all these action are highly dependent on the consciousness of the public -- who are all producers and consumers and who all will interact with the struggle based on the strength of their consciousness, convictions and passion about the rightness of the cause and their confidence in the various combatants.
   b) Suppose workers at two different factories disagree.
      Who decides what happens ?
   c) Who decides when planning bodies disagree ?
   d) If a planning body is divided
      or in a state of civil war, which side wins ?
Similar to the case of the renegade factory, the answer, most esteemed Joseph, is that the various sides may fight it out. Or they may negotiate a compromise. Or, as in other kinds of war, they may do a little of both, engaging in skirmishes of various kinds in order to gauge their own strength and support and the strength and support of their adversaries. The outcome would depend on the strength of the convictions of the combatants, the correlation of forces and their ability to mobilize "troops" (ie: producers, consumers and the mass consciousness) for their "war".
A further complication is that the production units are not "fixed" as are factories, but would likely come into being and pass out of existence frequently, as needs develop and dissipate. It would be a very fluid situation and human labor and the physical means of production might very frequently be recycled from one project to another. Furthermore, production units would contain and be made up of other production units, which in turn would contain others, and so on and the various production units would exist in a variety of relationships, or negotiated agreements, with one another. Engels' prediction that the organization of production within a unit would approach and eventually meet the organization of production between units would be fulfilled. All the earth (we won't talk about other planets since these speculations doubtlessly sound enough like science fiction already) and all humanity would constitute, in this sense, a single production unit.
So what do we have ? Producers and consumers organizing work actions and boycotts, for and against various types of production and consumption units, targeting or aiding their allies and enemies. Meanwhile all sides endeavoring to raise the public consciousness as part of an effort to mobilize larger and larger numbers of people into the support of their cause. And all of this taking place in a world without money, without wages, without capital and without a market. Yes this can be confusing.
But it is ok to get confused. We will sort matters out gradually if we can come up with one or two good examples of how things might interact. We should keep in mind that in any ecosystem everything affects everything. And this means that the effects of human intervention can be quite difficult to calculate.
I will give one example, from the "Tuesday Science Section" of yesterday's New York Times (1-31-95). Wildlife research biologists are scheduled to soon release into Yellowstone National Park a group of wolves. The aim is to restore the ecosystem. What would the result be? One scientist interviewed sketched out a single hypothetical chain of cause and effect:
   (1) carcasses of large prey, like elk, slaughtered by wolves
       will add nutrients and humas to the soil,
   (2) the more fertilized soil will support lush vegetation,
       probably attracting showshoe hares,
   (3) the presence of hares will likely prove a lure for foxes
       and other predators,
   (4) the foxes will also prey on rodents like mice,
   (5) a displaced mouse predator, like a weasel, is likely
       to fall prey to an owl.
It should be noted that there are likely innumerable other chains of cause and effect. All the same, biologists appear to have a consensus that the net result will be a stronger and more interesting ecosystem in Yellowstone.
Who Tells People What to Think ?
   6) How exactly does public opinion manifest itself
      if there is no body with formal authority ?
The short answer here is that people will talk to each other and after a while it becomes relatively clear who thinks what and what views predominate.
Embedded within Joseph's question is the view that the media will need to be controlled by some authority. I guess Joseph is hoping that the authority will be him and not me.
Actually, however, the media will not be controlled by anyone. Whatever cyberspace equivalent of newspapers, magazines or BBS's will evolve -- these outlets will be production units. Media workers (writers, movie makers, programmers) will write what they want, make films about what they think is important, and report on public opinion as they see fit. Similarly consumers of media will read, listen to and participate in whatever they want. There will be no "intellectual property" in information protected by law but restrictions on the use of information might be negotiated among production units and there will be protection of personal privacy.
Two points are of interest here: (1) in an age of highly interactive computer-mediated communications the distinction between "active" producer and "passive" consumer will tend to rapidly erode, (2) despite the volume and complexity of material to read, watch or listen to, information consumers will find what they want when they want it.
Engels' views may be of interest here. What did he say ?
   "As soon as there is no social class
       to be held in subjection ...
       as soon as class domination and
       the struggle for individual existence ...
       are eliminated together with
       the collisions and excesses
                                arising from them
       there is nothing more to repress,
              nothing necessitating a
              special repressive force, a state...
   "The interference of the state power
       in social relations becomes
       superfluous in one sphere after another
       and then dies away of itself.
   "The government of persons is replaced by
       the administration of things and the
       direction of the process of production."  [2]
I will argue that the need for coercion of any sort, the need for a special body with powers above that of ordinary individuals, a special body that makes rules, laws and regulations that others must obey, even when they disagree, will eventually become superfluous in one sphere after another.
Environmental Clean-up
We might view this issue as being analogous to the problem of the environmental clean-up of all the chemical pollutions and toxins that capitalism will leave us. Cleaning up chemical toxins will be a big issue. There will always be some traces of chemical pollution left. However the chemical pollution left will, over time, grow smaller and less significant. This is because (1) humanity's abilities to clean up old pollution will be constantly increasing, and (2) new pollution will be drastically cut down and soon enough stopped altogether or reduced to an insignificant amount.
Similarly we will deal with the residue left of many of the dysfunctional attitudes that capitalism will leave us. Capitalism (and all the class divided societies that preceded it) has severely polluted the mental-emotional environment of everyone. I believe that the clean-up of this environment will eventually become the primary priority for a society that understands the need to eliminate the necessity for coercion.
People's consciousness is not really subject to coercion. Of course capitalist ideology, culture and conditions of life do frequently condition people's minds to be dominated by fear, hatred and alienation. But while coercion may create such attitudes -- it cannot uncreate them.
Hence cleaning up the residue of the mental-emotional pollution and dysfunction left by class-divided society will require an enormous mobilization of society's resources. Why would such an enormous mobilization be undertaken in order to help people "clean up" their consciousness ?
For economic reasons.
At a certain point it becomes not only "cost effective" to mobilize wealth and resources to raise people's consciousness -- but it becomes the most powerful of all economic investments -- with the greatest ratio of wealth produced to wealth consumed.
In the section above which discuses the "economic warfare" that would take place in a communist economy, we can see that the main factor in the creation of an outcome favorable to the general interest is -- people's consciousness. Just as during a strike intense discussion might take place to raise a worker's consciousness on why he should not be a scab (sometimes of course this requires more than "talk" but this is more the exception) -- so in the "economic warfare" in a communist society -- the struggle for consciousness will become key. And raising the consciousness of all, of the masses, and the recalcitrants -- will have economic value of sufficient magnitude to be worth whatever effort it takes. Ultimately it becomes vastly "cheaper" to re-educate the recalcitrants than to fight them and suppress them constantly.
I believe the tendency would be for the toxic residue to tend toward zero -- and the need for coercion would tend toward zero with it.
Another point must be made here also. The "recalcitrants" are in principle no different than the rest of us. They are only a little further along the bell-shaped curve of social dysfunction than everyone else. When we examine, understand and treat their dysfunction so that they gain something beautiful in their consciousness for each thing ugly that they give up -- we also advance the solutions to the dysfunctions that trouble us all and we work to, so to speak, raise the mass consciousness.
And there are immensely powerful returns from all work to raise the level of the mass consciousness. It is the constant dialectical flow back and forth from matter to consciousness to matter again which creates wealth and this is one reason why consciousness is the highest and the ultimate form of wealth -- because it is the source of wealth -- it is what makes possible the transformation of the raw materials given to us by nature into something of a higher order. As our economy becomes more complex, as the relationship of consciousness to the productivity of labor becomes more clear and obvious it will increasingly be seen that consciousness itself is a product of labor just as labor is a product of consciousness.
When we deal with truly complex questions -- like how to raise the general level of culture -- we can see that there is no substitute for the active participation of the masses themselves. They can organize boycotts or labor actions against units that manufacture toxic culture. Whether the boycott or labor action would be successful is in direct proportion to the actual offensiveness and harmfulness of the cultural product. The masses might even organize to make a particular cultural product better via altering aspects of it, even something as minor as altering the ending of a soap opera or intervening to affect the selection of an actor or actress if for some reason they believe that important (although I refuse to speculate on whether soap operas will still exist under communism). What stands out -- is that the involvement of the masses in these kinds of questions, the debate that ensues in the process of sorting matters out -- might not infrequently play as large or larger a role in raising the public consciousness as the outcome of a particular struggle itself.
A Mockery of the Struggle Against Anarchism
Joseph calls my conceptions of how a communist society might function an "anarchist-technocratic utopia". Let's see: we are talking of a society with no antagonist classes and, in fact, no classes whatsoever, that functions without using money, wages, capital or a market. In this society there is no need for and consequently no existence of the exploitation of man by man. In this society everyone works and uses all the resources at hand, including available technology, to solve problems. And the problems do get solved. This society runs according to the principle: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs". All that is potentially missing is Joseph's supreme authority that coordinates everything and tells everyone what to do.
Well I guess to many people this would be utopia. I call it communism.
So who is the anti-communist ? Among other things, Mark and Joseph's views are a gross distortion of the way that communists have traditionally dealt with anarchism. For example, Engels, in Anti- Duhring, ridicules anarchists who want to abolish the state "overnight". Usually criticism of anarchism has been directed at their failure to recognize the need for class struggle or that this struggle must necessarily lead to a period of the dictatorship of the proletariat -- a period during which the proletariat uses organization to suppress the attempts of the bourgeoisie to regrab the reins of society. Usually anarchists are criticized for their failure to recognize the need for a state during that period. But this is not the content of Joseph's criticism. Joseph, on the contrary, wants to keep, if not a formal state, then a central administrative authority that can tell recalcitrant people (who might, he notes, make up as much as 90% of the population) what to do -- until the end of time.
Mark and Joseph are "communists" that have shut the door on the future. Those who follow them are giving up on their principles and themselves.