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Work on developing the syncretism of Anarchist Communism (probably Platformist, definitely not anti-organisationalist or parochial or "small workshop"-ist) with Technocracy as developed by the Technical Alliance of 1918-32 and Technocracy Inc. 1932-present in North America. Apologies to North Americans, but since I am a European, I will probably emphasis what affects Europe more than other areas. Comments and cooperation welcome.
Rating: 3 votes, 3.67 average.

An Introduction to Anarchist Communist Technocracy

Posted 3rd May 2008 at 00:06 by Cult of Reason

I posted this introduction in the ACT "holon" at the Network of European Technocrats forums recently. As the planned audience was people who were already knowledgeable about Technocracy, it does not serve as an introduction to it but more as an introduction to how ACT (Anarchist Communist Technocracy) is different to orthodox Technocracy and so on.

Quote:
Disclaimer: This is mostly about ACT as I see it as 1. I am a very egotistical and megelomaniacal person and 2. there really has not been enough discussion to have an idea of a group vision.

Overview:

Anarchist Communist Technocracy, as its name implies, is a syncretism of the two ideologies/designs for society that arguably have the greatest chance of giving freedom to the individual: Technocracy and Anarchist Communism. While Howard Scott did try to distance himself, and by extension "his" movement, from Anarchism and Communism, like with the distancing from the IWW, some similarities remain striking and the differences are in places that reduce the difficulty that they would otherwise cause. These differences fall into two general categories: technical and social.

It is the social that is most relevant here, as that is where Anarchism's effect is most strongly seen, despite orthodox Technocracy's very small discussion of social issues. Briefly, the following sequences, at least, are removed from the orthodox technate design: Social Relations, Foreign Relations and the Military (and associated police) and the Area Control modules associated with them, as they are parts that a) most involve themselves in the social aspect and b) are most likely to offend Anarchist sensibilities.

What result is something that the original design, according to one interpretation at least, already hinted at: a seperate social structure. This social structure has responsibility for everything that the technate itself does not, including social concerns, foreign relations and defence (using the technate itself for materials). The only possible exception to that is military (but not police), which might be in the technate structure instead, depending upon circumstance. The main argument for the separate social structure, apart from the orthodox technate structure (discussed below), is that you need "different tools for different jobs", different modes of organisation for structures that cover different things. It is fine to have a minority of specialists decide on the design of a new type of valve, but social decisions need maximum participation.

On the technical side, things are different. The main influence of Anarchism here is in the organisation, again, of the technate, replacing the "nomination from below, appointment from above" system with one based on recallable delegates, "rational" authority (the Anarchist FAQ elucidates on this idea), voluntary (to a point) participation and Federalism, but with mulitple, rather than single, bases: the individual factories and shops of the industrial and service sequences, each Area Control (which also deals with the social structure most often) and each department of Continental research. Internally, each sequence will be organised in a hybrid fashion of Technocracy and Syndicalism (based on my small knowledge and possible misconception of the latter).

However, while some Anarchists, possibly a majority, are greatly in favour of decentralisation of production on ideological grounds, ACTs are not, unless that is the technically best option. Federalism is held to be the method that combines the possibility of katascopic oversight with a lack of hierarchy. This would be the sort of Federalism (as opposed to Confederalism) that is most associated with the Platformist, or Platformist-influenced, strands of Anarchism as held by Makhno and Durruti, and the Friends of Durruti group.

Purpose and rough plan:

Besides the fact that I became an Anarchist and so wanted a system compatible with Anarchism, I think that Technocracy needs Anarchism in order to ever happen. Briefly, I think that states will never voluntarily dissolve themselves, and I think that they recognise that scarcity is necessary for states to exist. The same applies for the other powers, the Capitalists. Those of you who were with me at technocracy.ca may remember the "bullets not ballots" thread I posted.

In addition, I do not think that Technocracy, due to the way it has expressed itself so far and due to its orthodox design, has much hope of getting the majority of the population behind it since, on the surface, it easily smacks of elitism with "experts" running the whole show, especially if they have the police and judiciary as well. This is unfortunate, but true, so I think that a decisive break from the orthodox is needed.

It is for these reasons that Anarchism suits so well: it is absolutey against both the state and economic inequality and it also negates some of Technocracy's bad image. In addition, Anarchism has, in the past, been bigger even than Technocracy was in the 1930s and will probably regain its popularity (which it is already starting to do) more easiliy than orthodox Technocracy.

Last, but not least, if a basic Anarchist Communist system of the Federalist type was set up, it would be very easy to turn that into one with a technate, as compared to Capitalist society or any statist system. That is why my current plan is:

1. Advocate both Federalist Anarchism and ACT, with the former having slightly higher priority.
2. Have a Libertarian Socialist revolution, with a majority of Federalists and a minority of the Federalists being avowed Technocrats.
3. Set up a Federalist Anarchist system across Northwestern Eurafricasia and the Americas, at the least, which either has a top level of federation on a continental or a national scale (the latter is relatively easy to amend, with just one extra layer of federation), but no smaller. "Small-workshop"-ists and Villagists must be vehemently opposed.
4. Adopt Energy Accounting and other Technocratic concepts and start separating the technical and social structures, if they are not separate already.
5. Construct technate infrastructure, Urbanates, the Hydrology etc..

A possible addition is this: I have heard, on the grapevine, of the idea that, if the UK, France and Germany were taken in the next, say, 10 years, international Capitalism would collapse due to the importance of those regions, assuming that they were held in a sort of Cold (or not) War. I have not had enough time to look into the idea more thoroughly, yet, but it is interesting.

History on RevLeft:

It should be noted that ACT asI have presented it has not been at all influenced by Hooton's article on NET. In fact, I think it rather unimpressive. Just to get that out of the way.

ACT started, really, as "Anarchist Technocracy" when I posted this at technocracy.ca (in the "Bullets not Ballots" thread) and then quoted it on RevLeft:

Quote:
I am again thinking that is impossible to get a technate to be established bloodlessly. I think that the establishment will always use force in order to try to preserve itself, however dire its circumstances might seem.

I think that the only way for a technate to be introduced would be to have a revolution. However, the immediate aim of this revolution would not be a technate. No, the immediate aim would be libertarian communism, a system based on a gift economy and individual freedom, as almost exhibited in the Ukraine and in Spain. All authority within that system would be of the type described by Bakunin as "rational" authority, that given to one individual by a second individual, and only affecting that second individual. An example of this would be the young son helping the father fix a car. The son gives rational authority to the father, on the assumption that the father is more knowledgeable about cars, and so chooses to follow the suggestions/commands of the father.

The people would subsequently form their own community councils and worker's councils (soviets... hehe...). Through those systems they determine the best ways to get things done. With sufficient people knowledgeable about the fundamentals of Technocracy then the various councils would naturally come to the conclusion that things would run better if energy use and supply was accounted as Technocracy suggests. Further than that, through the same motive of increasing efficiency and improving the systems of production and distribution, they would self-organise on a grand scale, all cooperating to form a network of production and distribution, the coordination of which would naturally fall to those most competent (that is, those considered most competent by the people in general, and those people who would effectively make the decision (as they would be the only people with an opinion) would be those with knowledge of those respective fields). Those people, and others involved with those respective fields, would come to the conclusion that, in the long term, it would be beneficial to: construct continental hydrology, construct efficient katascopically designed living spaces (urbanates) etc..

Through this, you effectively get the functional sequences, the effective "leaders" of those same sequences (who are also effectively delegates to an equivalent to the Continental Control Board, etc..), Urbanates, Continental Hydrology, distribution and transportation networks katascopically designed, and modular production, as everyone would see them as beneficial and possible (with differing timescales). In effect, an instant technate! And without a "great leader", politician, CEO, manager or bureacrat in sight!

Please, discuss!
As you can see, this shows some of the basic principles of what was discussed above. More recently, there was a question about "elites" controlling everything, to which I answered:

Quote:
In the case of Anarchist Communist Technocracy:

Who are the 'skilled' for any particular thing? In a factory the answer is simple: the workers. No one can organise production better than themselves for their situation.

In the vision of Anarchist Communist Technocracy I propose, social and technical structures would be absolutely seperate, even if everyone involved with the social structure was involved with the technical. Different tasks need different modes of organisation or, as the old Technocratic slogan goes, "the right tool for the right job." Testing for safety of cars would probably need consensus decision-making, in order to take all doubts into account (and there is usually plenty of time to come up with a conclusion, especially if marketing are not getting on to you ), while on-site fire-fighting might need a rigid command structure for a situation that needs quick decision making (not that I know anything about fire-fighting...), while the decision on a new design of valve might best be served by direct democracy and voting, since the decision cannot take too long and hold up production and there are probably few risks involved. Social structures would also vary according to circumstance and custom.

Unlike other, perhaps more idealist, versions of Anarchism, ACT (you know you are in trouble when your ideology needs an acronym ) assumes centralised production to a point, since the most efficient methods probably result in there being one (big) factory for any particular thing in any particular large area, depending on transport "costs" (in energy) from other areas. To give control of the factory to the entire community around it would be questionable for a couple of reasons: 1. it is in everyone's interests that the factory keeps on working and, while highly unlikely, the chance of the community trying to use it as leverage should be avoided and 2. in the interests of coordination for higher efficiency, bodies that have a broader scope, that can "see the big picture", must have control over the factory with structures that have federalism and collective responsibility.

Because of this, ACT proposes that for each factory all the workers (yes, all the workers! Due to automation the workforce is small (or large with very short hours, in which case a somewhat different organisation is needed) and the work is technical, though at first this may not be the case, requiring federation within the factory) run the factory directly democratically in an assembly. The factory then federates with other factories of its type, so you have a federation for a particular industry. This then federates further until, ultimately, you have a large federation, sequence or syndicate for all manufacturing, which then federates just once more with the sequences for transport, mining, health, education an so on until you have a full organisational structure for the entire Technate, which covers an area of continental scale (it is not world-wide).

Here is a picture of the orthodox, not Anarchist Communist, Technocratic structure (I will pick out some differences from what the ACT will be like):



First of all, we remove the Conintental Director, Armed Forces, Social Relations and Foreign Relations units. Those would instead be sorted out by the separate social structure. From this we also rid the Area Controls of their social functions, taking them back to absolute technical administration, where they should be. Their purpose is to coordinate the efforts of the sequences in any geographical area and they are made up of delegates from each industrial and service concern in that geograpical area. The Area Board's purpose is to coordinate the different Area Controls, made up from delegates of each. The Continental Control Board is made up of delegates from all the industrial and service sequences, the research sequence and the Area Board.

Now that is all very nice and democratic, but how does that result in those with the greatest skill doing the tasks that require such skill? The answer, for any self-respecting Anarchist, should be simple in my view: rational authority, that authority that is forced upon men, according to Bakunin, by their own reason:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakunin
Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognize no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such an individual, I have no absolute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal to my reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my undertakings; it would immediately transform me into a stupid slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakunin
I bow before the authority of special men because it is imposed upon me by my own reason. I am conscious of my inability to grasp, in all its details and positive developments, any very large portion of human knowledge. The greatest intelligence would not be equal to a comprehension of the whole. Thence results, for science as well as for industry, the necessity of the division and association of labor. I receive and I give such is human life. Each directs and is directed in his turn. Therefore there is no fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination.
It is almost Anarchism in a nutshell, isn't it? I also find it rionic how so many have this strange view that division of labour must be done away with.

Back on topic, the social structure will probably be a bit more eclectic, but will still, nonetheless, federate to a scale comparable to the Technate simply due to the social bonds it induces. There will probably be many spontaneous social structures that come and go and which are only barely connected to any others, but that does not matter as long as the technical structure is intact.
This is currently the general state of the ACT idea at tyhe moment.



This is taking longer than expected and is rambling and incomplete. It is probably best if there are simply questions and answers from now on since I am barely awake.
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    Ẋʼn's Avatar
    Damn! I should have read this ages ago!
    Posted 1st September 2010 at 23:38 by Ẋʼn Ẋʼn is offline
  2. Old Comment
    EvilRedGuy's Avatar
    Awesome, didnt know this was here.
    Posted 18th October 2010 at 10:14 by EvilRedGuy EvilRedGuy is offline
  3. Old Comment
    that makes quite a bit of sense actually thanks
    Posted 28th February 2011 at 19:45 by anonymousj anonymousj is offline
  4. Old Comment
    I mainly browse this site and don't post but this post on ACT has really struck me as to how much my beliefs adhere to it
    Posted 4th August 2011 at 12:21 by Student of kropotkin Student of kropotkin is offline
  5. Old Comment
    I think this is probably closest to what my ideal society might be.
    Posted 2nd February 2012 at 21:19 by The Stalinator The Stalinator is offline
 
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