Date: 2014-01-02 12:42 (UTC)
flexibeast: Baphomet (0)
From: [personal profile] flexibeast
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. :-)

I worry about the long-term feasibility of relying on it to establish something significantly different from the state.

Well, just to be clear on what i mean by "the state", i mean: "that institution which claims a monopoly over the legitimate use of force in a given geographical area". In this sense, things like personal welfare services can (and of course are) be provided by the state, such services aren't its core purpose; they are merely techniques to ensure it maintains its privileged position. Most states aren't based on the active consent of the individuals they claim power over; people usually aren't able to 'opt-out' of being subjects of the state, i.e. to opt-out of its system and choose another system instead. It's this that i have a fundamental problem with. It's not that i don't see a need for systems of goverance; it's that, on a deontological level, i believe that governance should be based on people actively choosing the system of governance in which they participate, rather than having a system imposed upon them as a fait accompli.

[I]n my experience, community engagement is always greatest when situated against the state (or the prevailing society more generally). More to the point, the greatness arising from community engagement is all too often embedded within the very statism you're rallying against.

A very thought-provoking point! Certainly, delimiting The Other is a time-honoured way of unifying people to an extent that isn't able to be maintained once The Other is defeated/destroyed. But strong community engagement can, and does, occur in situations other than struggles against the state: campaigns against businesses behaving badly is one example; actions to directly and indirectly deal with the consequences of natural disasters is another. i grew up in rural Victoria, and the tiny community in which i lived raised their own funds for fire fighting equipment, which then participated in mass firefighting efforts against major bushfires; and the efforts were coordinated by volunteers using personal communications equipment.

E.g., the action of Free Geek is only possible within a throwaway society.

Agreed. But to me this shows the ingenuity of people in searching for ways to make lemonade out of the lemons to which they have access. Free Geek is simply a form via which people seek to provide access to technology, a form developed within certain conditions; in other conditions, such as in the absence of the state, i imagine Free Geek as such wouldn't exist, as issues surrounding access to technology would probably be different, and people would therefore develop different approaches to address those issues.

Governance is boring and unrewarding work; few communities of direct action can survive growing the the point where they must govern themselves, because by then the personal bonds are too diffuse to maintain cohesion of the group. Let alone growing large enough to displace the state.

To a large extent i agree. i believe that states have created, and indeed often forced, unnaturally large population clusters within themselves, primarily for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Classic example: the Inclosure Acts in England forcing peasants off the land via which they had sustained themselves, such that they were forced to head to industrial areas to try to sustain themselves through wage work.

i actually believe that the conurbations humanity is developing are only sustainable at ever-increasing costs - not only financial, but environmental and psychological. And i'm not convinced they will be sustained. As a case study (but, i acknowledge, a sample size of 1): Melbourne's public transport system is increasingly overloaded, with demand increasing at a rate much greater than the increase of supply, and with successive governments, over many years, not doing much more than tinkering around the edges. i feel we have to start thinking in terms of decentralisation, of removing the state subsidies (direct and indirect) that support and promote centralisation (cf. the writings of Kevin Carson, e.g. this [PDF]), to make smaller communities more workable, and thus allow interpersonal bonds to become more influential.
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