Sunday, April 22, 2007

More on anarchism and technology

I wrote those forum posts a while back on a Quebec sovereigntist forum. I also wrote some posts on elitist groups, which I will make available in a separate post.

The original thread (in French) can be found here:

First, on the justification for the state:

Original post by Suzanne Lachance:

[quote="Laukev7"]I don't see why people here make such a fuss about anarchists. It's a perfectly legitimate political movement based on political theories.[/quote]


Theories which are however very utopian, founded on the imagined goodness of mankind. As if humans could lose their inherent nature...

They're romantics!

I know some of them, and they get pissed off when I tell them that... Some others concede that I'm right, while remaining attached to those theories, which represent an ideal that they will never attain. A sort of lost paradise.

Fallen angels...


My response:

quote]Theories which are however very utopian, founded on the imagined goodness of mankind. As if humans could lose their inherent nature...[/quote]

Governments themselves were created in the assumption that elected officials were inherently good. The theory that politicians govern for the common good of the population comes from Plato, a very utopian philosopher, so much that he advocated totalitarianism. Aristotle, the successor of Plato, was more down-to-earth and prefered democracy, but he also justified the existence of government on the achievement of the common good. He claimed, amongst other things, that the state is a natural evolution of society.

To be more precise, Plato's theory stated that society should be led by the best men and women (Plato was a feminist) in order to optimise its productivity. According to him, the best state is that in which each works on the single task at which he is the best. Therefore, according to him, leaders had to be philosophers and have total control, whereas the others should not get involved in politics.

Today, the theory behind the state changed quite a bit after the philosophers of the Enlightenement, who reexamined the Ancient Greek and Roman political theories, and invented their own models based on republican ideals, the separation of powers and the protection of individual liberties. It is thus now assumed that governments which are elected will govern for the good of the people (ADDENDUM: provided that people keep their government in check). However, the justification for the state remains the same.

But when we see today our corrupt governments, working at the behest of corporations and subservient to foreign powers, send thousants and millions of people to their deaths in unjustified wars, even though they are supposedly elected and accountable to the people, one needs to wonder whether it is really more utopian to live in a stateless society than to have a state, to pretend that it is a 'realistic' solution to improve our lives.

From what I have read about anarchists, what they promote is not an utopian society, but mainly a society without a central government. It is obvious that such a society would not be without its own problems, but it does not mean that all alternaties to the state need to be utopian.

In my opinion, whether one thinks good or bad of anarchism, one day or anther the state will have to be dismantled. Not only for the utopian reason that technology would permit this, but aslo because of the dystopian reason that modern technology, especially Big Brother technology which are evolving exponentially and are being adopted in seeral countries to keep the population under surveillance and control, would become so advanced that legal and constitutional protections would become insufficient to protect people's privacy. We will have no choice, then, but to increasingly decentralise powers in order to protect our individual freedoms from the governments and the corporations, in the hands of which technology would give them intolerable powers.

(Whew! why do I have to write such long posts!)

The following is my post clarifying how technology will eventually lead to the rejection of the state:

When I talk about technology, I refer not only to communication technology which could allow decentralised governance (it is not only, like Raymi says, a question of increasing productivity).

The first article in the Toronto Star (unfortunately no longer available, I asked someone who saved it to send it to me) (ADDENDUM: article mirrored in my previous Laukev7 Report post), discusses the possibility of a society where the compulsory implanting of microchips would become the standard, probably and fittingly under cover of increasing productivity. The second article, which is still available, reports that it would possible to record an entire life on a cube-sized computer.

In the beginning of history, hierarchical systems were necessary because there were no technologies available to substitute manual labour, nor to allow the common people to inform themselves, or to meet together and make decisions. As technologies developped, societies have become more democratic.

But at the same time, technologies make it possible for dictatorships to increase their control over their populations. The first modern totalitarian regimes only started in the 20th century with the USSR and Nazi Germany, when the press, radio, television, telephones and other tools could be used by the state to infiltrate every aspect of people's lives in a way they could not ever before.

Coercion is a fundamental aspect of hierarchical systems. The current system, while democratic, remains a hierarchical system, both on the political and the economic sides (capitalism, corporatism, etc). In older days it may have been a benign price to pay, but while technology will allow the political system to become democratic, it will on the other hand multiply tenfold the control exerted by hierarchies, to the point where only a slight amount of authoritarianism will become unbearable, leading the population to increase demands for constitutional protection and decentralisation of powers, on pain of devolving into dictatorship. Even if legal protections were sufficient, democracy can be eroded and devolve into an authoritarian regime (a process currently taking place in the United States), in the hands of which the technologies would become extremely dangerous, not only to freedom but for the survival of humanity (right now the neocons in the US are pushing for space armament...).

One can look at the current situation in the UK to come to my conclusions. Even though the governments are ostensibly elected, real control rests in the hands of corporations (a situation even worse in the US) and of technocracy; surveillance cameras litter the streets in the UK, many of them equipped with speakers which scold passer-bys when they spit their gum or order them to walk on the sidewalk.

Admitting the fact that people will always come up with technologies to counter the evils of other technologies, power resources are concentrated in hierarchical institutions, namely corporations and governments. The average people only have limited resources to resist or protect themselves from the state and the corporations.


At 10:17 PM, Blogger Douglas V. Gibbs said...

Human nature. That is why utopia is impossible. Great post.

At 3:21 AM, Anonymous Valerie said...

You write very well.

At 9:27 AM, Blogger John Tate said...

I thought I might suggest something to you Laukev7! You will meet people who also believe that humans are evil by nature and have great fun. I suggest you go to Church. Learn about Original Sin, its more powerful than your deterministic bullshit by any standards.

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