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Anarchism 101 | Human Iterations
"The freedom of all is essential to my freedom. I am truly free only when all human beings, men and women, are equally free. The freedom of other men, far from negating or limiting my freedom, is, on the contrary, its necessary premise and confirmation." –Mikhail Bakunin

***

For anarchists who do know something about anthropology, the arguments are all too familiar. A typical exchange goes something like this:

Skeptic: Well, I might take this whole anarchism idea more seriously if you could give me some reason to think it would work. Can you name me a single viable example of a society which has existed without a government?

Anarchist: Sure. There have been thousands. I could name a dozen just off the top of my head: the Bororo, the Baining, the Onondaga, the Wintu, the Ema, the Tallensi, the Vezo… All without violence or hierarchy.

Skeptic: But those are all a bunch of primitives! I’m talking about anarchism in a modern, technological society.

Anarchist: Okay, then. There have been all sorts of successful experiments: experiments with worker’s self-management, like Mondragon; economic projects based on the idea of the gift economy, like Linux; all sorts of political organizations based on consensus and direct democracy…

Skeptic: Sure, sure, but these are small, isolated examples. I’m talking about whole societies.

Anarchist: Well, it’s not like people haven’t tried. Look at the Paris Commune, the free states in Ukraine and Manchuria, the 1936 revolution in Spain…

Skeptic: Yeah, and look what happened to those guys! They all got killed!

***

"The dice are loaded. You can’t win. Because when the skeptic says “society,” what he really means is “state,” even “nation-state.” Since no one is going to produce an example of an anarchist state—that would be a contradiction in terms—what we‟re really being asked for is an example of a modern nation-state with the government somehow plucked away: a situation in which the government of Canada, to take a random example, has been overthrown, or for some reason abolished itself, and no new one has taken its place but instead all former Canadian citizens begin to organize themselves into libertarian collectives. Obviously this would never be allowed to happen. In the past, whenever it even looked like it might—here, the Paris commune and Spanish civil war are excellent examples—the politicians running pretty much every state in the vicinity have been willing to put their differences on hold until those trying to bring such a situation about had been rounded up and shot.

There is a way out, which is to accept that anarchist forms of organization would not look anything like a state. That they would involve an endless variety of communities, associations, networks, projects, on every conceivable scale, overlapping and intersecting in any way we could imagine, and possibly many that we can’t. Some would be quite local, others global. Perhaps all they would have in common is that none would involve anyone showing up with weapons and telling everyone else to shut up and do what they were told. And that, since anarchists are not actually trying to seize power within any national territory, the process of one system replacing the other will not take the form of some sudden revolutionary cataclysm—the storming of a Bastille, the seizing of a Winter Palace—but will necessarily be gradual, the creation of alternative forms of organization on a world scale, new forms of communication, new, less alienated ways of organizing life, which will, eventually, make currently existing forms of power seem stupid and beside the point. That in turn would mean that there are endless examples of viable anarchism: pretty much any form of organization would count as one, so long as it was not imposed by some higher authority, from a klezmer band to the international postal service." –David Graeber

***

"See, what we always meant by socialism wasn’t something you forced on people, it was people organizing themselves as they pleased into co-ops, collectives, communes, unions. …And if socialism really is better, more efficient than capitalism then it can bloody well compete with capitalism. So we decided, forget all the statist shit and the violence: the best place for socialism is the closest to a free market you can get!" –Ken Macleod

***

"But where would these ne’er-do-wells be taken, once they were brought into “custody”? Specialized firms would develop, offering high security analogs to the current jailhouse. However, the “jails” (or rehabilitation programs) in market anarchy would compete with each other to attract criminals.

Consider: No insurance company would vouch for a serial killer if he applied for a job at the local library, but they would deal with him if he agreed to live in a secure building under close scrutiny. The insurance company would make sure that the “jail” that held him was well-run. After all, if the person escaped and killed again, the insurance company would be held liable, since it pledges to make good on any damages its clients commit.

On the other hand, there would be no undue cruelty for the prisoners in such a system. Although they would have no chance of sudden unchaperoned escape (unlike government prisons), they wouldn’t be beaten by sadistic guards. If they were, they’d simply switch to a different “jail,” just as travelers can switch hotels if they view the staff as discourteous. Again, the insurance company (which vouches for a violent person) doesn’t care which jail its client chooses, so long as its inspectors have determined that the jail will not let its client simply escape into the general population and do harm." –Robert Murphy

***

"Knowledge is an immense power. Man must know. But we already know much! What if that knowledge should become the possession of all? Would not science itself progress in leaps, and cause mankind to make strides in production, invention, and social creation, of which we are hardly in a condition now to measure the speed?" –Peter Kropotkin

***

"To the daring belongs the future." –Emma Goldman

***

Primers

“Towards Anarchy” – Errico Malatesta, 1920
[http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/malatesta/towardsanarchy.html ]

“Anarchy Works” – Peter Gelderloos, 2010
[http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-anarchy-works ]

***

Theory

The Possibility of Cooperation – Michael Taylor
An influential work in game theory, Taylor covers how most of the collective action problems used to justify the state are misdiagnosed and/or solvable through alternative means. pdf torrent | amazon

Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective – Kevin Carson
A comprehensive survey of the economic dynamics that pressure for and against large organizations and hierarchies, as well as the historical and political causes of our present situation. full text | direct purchase | amazon

How Nonviolence Protects The State – Peter Gelderloos
How nonviolence is rarely responsible for the historical victories often claimed in its name, the difficulty of defining “violence” and the problems with absolutist constraints on tactics. full text | printable booklet | amazon

Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty – ed. Charles Johnson & Gary Chartier
A collection of pieces on a variety of topics, united by a focus on the centrifugal dynamics within truly freed markets that equalize wealth and facilitate broad resistance to power dynamics. pdf | direct purchase | amazon | audiobook

Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice – ed. Edward Stringham
Writings on conflict mediation mechanisms in societies with polycentric social norms and arbitration courts. amazon | direct purchase"
anarchism  mikhailbakunin  favidgraeber  introduction  emmagoldman  peterkropotkin  robertmurphy  kenmacleod  theory  primers  anarchy  petergelderoos  kevincarson  michaeltaylor  edwardstringham  charlesjohnson  garychartier  capitalism  inequality  power  horizontality  law  legal  nonviolence  gametheory 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Kevin Slavin: Debunking luck
"Pioneering gamer Kevin Slavin takes the PopTech audience on a colorful tour of the history of luck in America, games of chance, gambling and mathematical formulas. "That's amazing, the idea that anything that seems to be built out of chance or instinct or luck can yield to a computational assault.""
2013  kevinslavin  games  play  history  luck  statistics  saschapohflepp  crispinjones  mohansrivastava  shingtat-chung  dariuskazemi  boardgames  gametheory  dice  jacksonlears  stanulam  nicholasmetropolis  georgedyson  computing  johnvonneumann  edwardthorp  teetotums  chance  meritocracy  jasonrohrer  unpredictability  success 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Good Show - Radiolab
"In this episode, a question that haunted Charles Darwin: if natural selection boils down to survival of the fittest, how do you explain why one creature might stick its neck out for another?

The standard view of evolution is that living things are shaped by cold-hearted competition. And there is no doubt that today's plants and animals carry the genetic legacy of ancestors who fought fiercely to survive and reproduce. But in this hour, we wonder whether there might also be a logic behind sharing, niceness, kindness ... or even, self-sacrifice. Is altruism an aberration, or just an elaborate guise for sneaky self-interest? Do we really live in a selfish, dog-eat-dog world? Or has evolution carved out a hidden code that rewards genuine cooperation?"

[Related: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/books/review/deWaal-t.html?pagewanted=all ]

[Update: in case the URL breaks, try this: http://www.radiolab.org/story/103951-the-good-show/ ]
radiolab  good  altruism  genetics  instinct  generosity  evolution  georgeprice  heroism  heroes  gametheory  math  selfishness  self-preservation  human  cooperation  niceness  kindness  survival  reproduction  darwin  charlesdarwin 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Philosophy of Punk Rock Mathematics – Technoccult interviews Tom Henderson | Technoccult
"Many students want teachers to “show me the steps...sequence...that they can perform that will give them an answer...not unreasonable; they know that performance on exams, & therefore their performance on All-Seeing GPA, is largely determined by being able to Do The Steps."

[ via: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/5348 ]
education  games  math  learning  tcsnmy  teaching  pedagogy  belesshelpful  superstruct  janemcgonigal  arg  evoke  gametheory  gaming  play  tomhenderson 
february 2010 by robertogreco
In The Games Of Madness: How Gameplay and Narrative kill Meaning in "Games" [via: http://tale-of-tales.com/blog/2010/01/18/frictional-how-gameplay-and-narrative-kill-meaning/]
"While gameplay at the core of game making, it comes with a lot of baggage & makes certain meanings harder to realize in the medium...most striking issue is the entire failure mechanism that is used in just about any game. You try a certain task, you fail & then have to repeat it. As described in other posts, this can be especially damaging in horror games, where repeating scenes seriously lessens the experience. This mechanism also imposes limits on the player’s rate of progress & effectively tells the player: “Either you complete this or you will not proceed!”. Other baggage include the notion that gameplay must be fun & the need to constantly pose challenges. What I mean with the last point is that players assume that a game will always keep them occupied w/ some kind of obstacle to overcome. This leads to very little interactive content that is added for its intrinsic sake alone. Instead a game’s interactive content almost always have some connection to the goals of the gameplay."
gameplay  gamedesign  games  gaming  narrative  structure  gametheory  thinking  design  storytelling 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Edge: Economics is not Natural Science: Douglas Rushkoff
"We must stop perpetuating the fiction that existence itself is dictated by the immutable laws of economics. These so-called laws are, in actuality, the economic mechanisms of 13th Century monarchs. Some of us analyzing digital culture and its impact on business must reveal economics as the artificial construction it really is. Although it may be subjected to the scientific method and mathematical scrutiny, it is not a natural science; it is game theory, with a set of underlying assumptions that have little to do with anything resembling genetics, neurology, evolution, or natural systems."
economics  douglasrushkoff  science  crowdsourcing  change  reform  markets  local  debt  gametheory  stevenjohnson  sustainability  human  physics  power  networks  history  edge  renaissance  middleages  medieval  systems  crisis  theory 
august 2009 by robertogreco

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