I.3 What could the economic structure of an anarchist society look like?

Here we will examine a possible framework of a libertarian-socialist economy. It should be kept in mind that in practice it is impossible to separate the economic realm from the social and political realms, as there are numerous interconnections between them. Also, by discussing the economy first we are not implying that dealing with economic domination is more important than dealing with other aspects of the total system of domination, e.g. patricentric values, racism, etc. We follow this order of exposition because of the need to present one thing at a time, but it would have been equally easy to start with the social and political structure of anarchy.

The aim of any anarchist society would be to maximize freedom and so creative work. In the words of Noam Chomsky, "[i]f it is correct, as I believe it is, that a fundamental element of human nature is the need for creative work or creative inquiry, for free creation without the arbitrary limiting effects of coercive institutions, then of course it will follow that a decent society should maximize the possibilities for this fundamental human characteristic to be realized. Now, a federated, decentralized system of free associations incorporating economic as well as social institutions would be what I refer to as anarcho-syndicalism. And it seems to me that it is the appropriate form of social organization for an advanced technological society, in which human beings do not have to be forced into the position of tools, of cogs in a machine."

So, as one might expect, since the essence of anarchism is opposition to hierarchical authority, anarchists totally oppose the way the current economy is organised. This is because authority in the economic sphere is embodied in centralized, hierarchical workplaces that give an elite class (capitalists) dictatorial control over privately owned means of production, turning the majority of the population into order takers (i.e. wage slaves). In constrast, the libertarian-socialist "economy" will be based on decentralized, equalitarian workplaces ("syndicates") in which workers democratically self-manage socially owned means of production. Let's begin with the concept of syndicates.

The key principles of libertarian socialism are decentralization, self-management by direct democracy, voluntary association, and federation. These principles determine the form and function of both the economic and political systems. In this section we'll consider just the economic system. Bakunin gives an excellent overview of such an economy when he writes: "The land belongs to only those who cultivate it with their own hands; to the agricultural communes. The capital and all the tools of production belong to the workers; to the workers' associations . . . The future political organisation should be a free federation of workers." [Bakunin on Anarchy, p. 247]

The essential economic concept for libertarian socialists is workers' control. However, this concept needs careful explanation, because, like the terms "anarchist" and "libertarian," "workers' control" is also is being co-opted by capitalists.

As anarchists use the term, workers'control means collective worker ownership and self-management of all aspects of production and distribution, through participatory-democratic workers' councils, agricultural syndicates, and people's financial institutions which perform all functions formerly reserved for capitalist owners, executives, and financiers.

"Workers' ownership" in its most limited sense refers merely to the ownership of individual firms by their workers. In such firms, surpluses (profits) would be either equally divided between all full-time members of the cooperative or divided unequally on the basis of the type of work done, with the percentages allotted to each type being decided by democratic vote, on the principle of one worker, one vote.

Worker cooperatives of this type do have the virtue of preventing the exploitation of wage labor by capital, since workers are not hired for wages but, in effect, become partners in the firm, so that the value-added that they produce is not appropriated by a privileged elite. However, this does not mean that all forms of economic domination and exploitation would be eliminated if worker ownership were confined merely to individual firms. In fact, most social anarchists believe this type of system would degenerate into a kind of "petty-bourgeois cooperativism" in which worker-owned firms would act as syndicate capitalists and compete against each other in the market as ferociously as the previously individual capitalists. This would also lead to a situation where market forces ensured that the workers involved made irrational decisions (from both a social and individual point of view) in order to survive in the market. As these problems were highlighted in section I.1.3 ("What's wrong with markets anyway?"), we will not repeat ourselves here.

For individualist anarchists, this "irrationality of rationality" is the price to be paid for a free market and any attempt to overcome this problem holds numerous dangers to freedom.

Social anarchists disagree. They think cooperation between workplaces can increase, not reduce, freedom. Social anarchists' proposed solution is society-wide ownership of the major means of production and distribution, based on the anarchist principle of voluntary federation, with confederal bodies or coordinating councils at two levels: first, between all firms in a particular industry; and second, between all industries, agricultural syndicates, and people's financial institutions throughout the society. As Berkman put it, "[a]ctual use will be considered the only title - not to ownership but to possession. The organisation of the coal miners, for example, will be in charge of the coal mines, not as owners but as the operating agency. Similarly will the railroad brotherhoods run the railroads, and so on. Collective possession, co-operatively managed in the interests of the community, will take the place of personal ownership privately conducted for profit." [ABC of Anarchism, p. 69]

While, for many anarcho-syndicalists, this structure is seen as enough, many communist-anarchists consider that the economic federation should be held accountable to society as a whole (i.e. the economy must be communalised). This is because not everyone in society is a worker (e.g. the young, the old and infirm) nor will everyone belong to a syndicate (e.g. the self-employed), but as they also have to live with the results of economic decisions, they should have a say in what happens. In other words, in communist-anarchism, workers' make the day-to-day decisions concerning their work and workplaces, while the social criteria behind these decisions are made by everyone.

In this type of economic system, workers' assemblies and councils would be the focal point, formulating policies for their individual workplaces and deliberating on industry-wide or economy-wide issues though general meetings of the whole workforce in which everyone would participate in decisionmaking. Voting in the councils would be direct, whereas in larger confederal bodies, voting would be carried out by temporary, unpaid, mandated, and instantly recallable delegates, who would resume their status as ordinary workers as soon as their mandate had been carried out.

"Mandated" here means that delegates from workers' councils to meetings of higher confederal bodies would be instructed, at every level of confederation, by the workers they represent on how to deal with any issue. The delegates would be given imperative mandates (binding instructions) that committed them to a framework of policies within which they would have to act, and they could be recalled and their decisions revoked at any time for failing to carry out the mandates they were given. Because of this right of mandating and recalling their delegates, workers' councils would be the source of and final authority over policy for all higher levels of confederal coordination of the economy.

A society-wide economic federation of this sort is clearly not the same thing as a centralized state agency, as in the concept of nationalized or state-owned industry. Rather, it is a decentralized, participatory-democratic organization whose members can secede at any time and in which all power and initiative arises from and flows back to the grassroots level. Thus Kropotkin's summary of what anarchy would look like:

"harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being. In a society developed on these lines. . . voluntary associations. . . would represent an interwoven network, composed of an infinite variety of groups and federations of all sizes and degrees, local, regional, national and international temporary or more or less permanent - for all possible purposes: production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary arrangements, education, mutual protection, defence of the territory, and so on; and, on the other side, for the satisfaction of an ever-increasing number of scientific, artistic, literary and sociable needs. Moreover, such a society would represent nothing immutable. On the contrary - as is seen in organic life at large - harmony would (it is contended) result from an ever-changing adjustment and readjustment of equilibrium between the multitudes of forces and influences, and this adjustment would be the easier to obtain as none of the forces would enjoy a special protection from the state." ["Anarchism", from The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910]

If this type of system sounds "utopian" it should be kept in mind that it was actually implemented and worked quite well in the collectivist economy organized during the Spanish Revolution of 1936, despite the enormous obstacles presented by an ongoing civil war as well as the relentless (and eventually successful) efforts of both the Stalinists and Fascists to crush it. (See Sam Dolgoff, The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-management in the Spanish Revolution, 1936-1939, New York: Free Life Editions, 1974).

As well as this (and other) examples of "anarchy in action" there have been other libertarian socialist economic systems described in writing. All share the common features of workers' self-management, cooperation and so on we discuss here and in section I.4. These texts include Syndicalism by Tom Brown, The Program of Anarcho-Syndicalism by G.P. Maximoff, Guild Socialism Restated by G.D.H. Cole, After the Revolution by Abad de Santillan, Anarchist Economics and Principles of Libertarian Economy by Abraham Guillen, Workers Councils and the Economics of a Self-Managed Society by Cornelius Castoriadis among others. Also worth reading are The Political Economy of Participatory Economics and Looking Forward by Micheal Albert and Robin Hanel which contain some useful ideas. Fictional accounts include William Morris' News from Nowhere, The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin and Women on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

I.3.1 What is a "syndicate"?

As we will use the term, a "syndicate" (often called a "producer cooperative," or "cooperative" for short, sometimes "collective" or "association of producers" or "guild factory" or "guild workplace") is a democratically self-managed productive enterprise whose productive assets are either owned by its workers or by society as a whole.

It is important to note that individuals who do not wish to join syndicates will be able to work for themselves. There is no "forced collectivization" under any form of libertarian socialism, because coercing people is incompatible with the basic principles of anarchism. Those who wish to be self-employed will have free access to the productive assets they need, provided that they neither attempt to monopolize more of those assets than they and their families can use by themselves nor attempt to employ others for wages (see section I.3.7).

In many ways a syndicate is similar to a cooperative under capitalism. Indeed, Bakunin argued that anarchists are "convinced that the cooperative will be the preponderant form of social organisation in the future, in every branch of labour and science" [Basic Bakunin, p. 153]. Therefore, even from the limited examples of cooperatives functioning in the capitalist market, the essential features of a libertarian socialist economy can be seen. The basic economic element, the workplace, will be a free association of individuals, who will organise their joint work cooperatively.

"Cooperation" in this context means that the policy decisions related to their association will be based on the principle of "one member, one vote," with "managers" and other administrative staff elected and held accountable to the workplace as a whole. Workplace self-management does not mean, as many apologists of capitalism suggest, that knowledge and skill will be ignored and all decisions made by everyone.

This is an obvious fallacy, since engineers, for example, have a greater understanding of their work than non-engineers and under workers' self-management will control it directly. As G.D.H. Cole argues, "we must understand clearly wherein this Guild democracy consists, and especially how it bears on relations between different classes of workers included in a single Guild. For since a Guild includes all the workers by hand and brain engaged in a common service, it is clear that there will be among its members very wide divergences of function, of technical skill, and of administrative authority. Neither the Guild as a whole nor the Guild factory can determine all issues by the expedient of the mass vote, nor can Guild democracy mean that, on all questions, each member is to count as one and none more than one. A mass vote on a matter of technique understood only by a few experts would be a manifest absurdity, and, even if the element of technique is left out of account, a factory administered by constant mass votes would be neither efficient nor at all a pleasant place to work in. There will be in the Guilds technicians occupying special positions by virtue of their knowledge, and there will be administrators possessing special authority by virtue both of skill an ability and of personal qualifications" [G.D.H. Cole, Guild Socialism Restated, pp. 50-51]

The fact that decision-making powers would be delegated in this manner sometimes leads people to ask whether a syndicate would not just be another form of hierarchy. The answer is that it would not be hierarchical because the workers' councils, open to all workers, would decide what types of decision-making powers to delegate, thus ensuring that ultimate power rests at the mass base. For example, if it turned out that a certain type of delegated decision-making power was being abused, it could be revoked by the whole workforce. Because of this grassroots control, there is every reason to think that crucial types of decision-making powers with the potential for seriously affecting all workers' lives -- powers that are now exercised in an authoritarian manner by managers under capitalism, such that of hiring and firing, introducing new production methods or technologies, changing product lines, relocating production facilities, etc. -- would not be delegated but would remain with the workers' assemblies.

As Malatesta put it, "of course in every large collective undertaking, a division of labour, technical management, administration, etc. is necessary. But authoritarians clumsily play on words to produce a raison d'etre for government out of the very real need for the organisation of work. . . [However] Government means the delegation of power, that is the abdication of initiative and sovereignty of all into the hands of a few; administration means the delegation of work, that is tasks given and received, free exchange of services based on free agreement. . .let one not confuse the function of government with that of an administration, for they are essentially different, and if today the two are often confused, it is only because of economic and political privilege" [Anarchy, pp. 39-40].

What about entry into a syndicate? In the words of Cole, workers syndicates are "open associations which any man [or woman] may join" but "this does not mean, of course, that any person will be able to claim admission, as an absolute right, into the guild of his choice." [Op. Cit., p. 75] This means that there may be training requirements (for example) and obviously "a man [or woman] clearly cannot get into a Guild [i.e. syndicate] unless it needs fresh recruits for its work. [The worker] will have free choice, but only of the available openings." [Ibib.] Obviously, as in any society, an individual may not be able to pursue the work they are most interested (although given the nature of an anarchist society they would have the free time to pursue it as a hobby). However, we can imagine that an anarchist society would take an interest in ensuring a fair distribution of work and so would try to arrange work sharing if a given workplacement is popular.

Of course there may be the danger of a syndicate or guild trying to restrict entry from an ulterior motive. The ulterior motive would, of course, be the exploitation of monopoly power visavis other groups in society. However, in an anarchist society individuals would be free to form their own syndicates and so ensure that such activity is self-defeating. In addition, in a non-mutualist anarchist system, syndicates would be part of a confederation (see section I.3.4). It is a responsibility of the inter-syndicate congresses to assure that membership and employment in the syndicates is not restricted in any antisocial way. If an individual or group of individuals felt that they had been unfairly excluded from a syndicate then an investigation into the case would be organised at the congress. In this way any attempts to restrict entry would be reduced (assuming they occured to begin with). And, of course, individuals are free to form new syndicates or leave the confederation if they so desire (see section I.4.13 on the question of who will do unpleasant work in an anarchist society).

New syndicates will be created upon the initiative of individuals within communities. These may be the initiative of workers in an existing syndicate who desire to expand production, or members of the local community who see that the current syndicates are not providing adequately in a specific area of life. Either way, the syndicate will be a voluntary association for producing useful goods or services and would spring up and disappear as required. Therefore, an anarchist society would see syndicates developing spontaneously as individuals freely associate to meet their needs, with both local and confederal initatives taking place. (The criteria for investment decisions is discussed in section I.4.7.

To sum up, syndicates are voluntary associations of workers who manage their workplace and their own work. Within the syndicate, the decisions which affect how the workplace develops and changes are in the hands of those who work there. In addition, it means that the each section of the workforce manages its own activity and sections and that all workers placed in administration tasks (i.e. "management") are subject to election and recall by those who are affected by their decisions. (Workers' self-management is discussed further in section I.3.2).

I.3.2 What is workers' self-management?

Quite simply, "workers' self-management" (sometimes called "workers' control") means that all workers affected by a decision have an equal voice in making it, on the principle of "one worker, one vote." As noted earlier, however, we need to be careful when using the term "workers' control," as the concept is currently being co-opted by the ruling elite, which is to say that it is becoming popular among sociologists, industrial managers, and social-democratic union leaders, and so is taking on an entirely different meaning from the one intended by anarchists (who originated the term).

In the hands of capitalists, "workers' control" is now referred to by such terms as "participation," "democratization," "co-determination," "consensus," "empowerment", "Japanese-style management," etc. As Sam Dolgoff notes, "For those whose function it is solve the new problems of boredom and alienation in the workplace in advanced industrial capitalism, workers' control is seen as a hopeful solution. . . . a solution in which workers are given a modicum of influence, a strictly limited area of decision-making power, a voice at best secondary in the control of conditions of the workplace. Workers' control, in a limited form sanctioned by the capitalists, is held to be the answer to the growing non-economic demands of the workers" ["Workers' Control" in The Anarchist Collectives, ed. Sam Dolgoff, Free Life Editions, 1974, p. 81].

The new managerial fad of "quality circles" -- meetings where workers are encouraged to contribute their ideas on how to improve the company's product and increase the efficiency with which it is made -- is an example of "workers' control" as conceived by capitalists. However, when it comes to questions such as what products to make, where to make them, and (especially) how revenues from sales should be divided among the workforce and invested, capitalists and managers don't ask for or listen to workers' "input." So much for "democratization," "empowerment," and "participation!" In reality, capitalistic "workers control" is merely an another insidious attempt to make workers more willing and "cooperative" partners in their own exploitation.

Hence we prefer the term "workers' self-management" -- a concept which refers to the exercise of workers' power through collectivization and federation (see below). Self-management in this sense "is not a new form of mediation between the workers and their capitalist bosses, but instead refers to the very process by which the workers themselves overthrow their managers and take on their own management and the management of production in their own workplace. Self-management means the organization of all workers . . . into a workers' council or factory committee (or agricultural syndicate), which makes all the decisions formerly made by the owners and managers" [Ibid., p. 81].

Therefore workers' self-management is based around general meetings of the whole workforce, held regularly in every industrial or agricultural syndicate. These are the source of and final authority over decisions affecting policy within the workplace as well as relations with other syndicates. These meeting elect workplace councils whose job is to implement the decisions of these assemblies and to make the day to day administration decisions that will crop up. These councils are directly accountable to the workforce and its members subject to re-election and instant recall. It is also likely that membership of these councils will be rotated between all members of the syndicate to ensure that no one monopolises an administrative position. In addition, smaller councils and assemblies would be organised for divisions, units and work teams as circumstances dictate.

It is the face-to-face meetings that bring workers directly into the management process and give them power over the economic decisions that affect their lives. In social anarchism, since the means of production are owned by society as a whole, decisions on matters like how to apportion the existing means of production among the syndicates, how to distribute and reinvest the surpluses, etc. will be made by the grassroots social units, i.e. the community assemblies (see section I.5.2), not by the workers' councils. This does not mean that workers will have no voice in decisions about such matters, but only that they will vote on them as citizens in their local community assemblies, not as workers in their local syndicates. As mentioned before, this is because not everyone will belong to a syndicate, yet everyone will still be affected by economic decisions of the above type. This is an example of how the social/political and economic structures of social anarchy are intertwined.

I.3.3 What role do syndicates play in the "economy"?

As we have seen, private ownership of the means of production is the lynchpin of capitalism, because it is the means by which capitalists are able to exploit workers by appropriating surplus value from them. To eliminate such exploitation, anarchists propose that social capital -- productive assets such as factories and farmland -- be owned by society as a whole and shared out among syndicates and self-employed individuals by directly democratic methods, through face-to-face voting of the whole electorate in local neighbourhood and community assemblies, which will be linked together through voluntary federations. It does not mean that the state owns the means of production, as under Marxism-Leninism or social democracy, because there is no state under libertarian socialism. (For more on neighbourhood and community assemblies, see sections I.5.2 and I.5.3).

Production for use rather than profit is the key concept that distinguishes collectivist and communist forms of anarchism from market socialism or from the competitive forms of mutualism advocated by Proudhon and the individualist anarchists. Under mutualism, workers organize themselves into syndicates, but ownership of a syndicate's capital is limited to its workers rather than resting with the whole society. Under most versions of market socialism, the state owns the social capital but the syndicates use it to pursue profits, which are retained by and divided among the members of the individual syndicates. Thus both mutualism and market socialism are forms of "petty-bourgeois cooperativism" in which the worker-owners of the cooperatives function as collective "capitalists", competing in the marketplace with other cooperatives for customers, profits, raw materials, etc. -- a situation that gives rise to many of the same problems that arise under capitalism (see section H.4).

In contrast, within anarcho-collectivism and anarcho-communism, society as a whole owns the social capital, which allows for the elimination of both competition for profits and the tendency for workers to develop a proprietary interest the enterprises in which they work. This in turn enables goods to be either sold at their production prices so as to reduce their cost to consumers or distributed in accordance with communist principles (namely free); it facilitates efficiency gains through the consolidation of formerly competing enterprises; and it eliminates the many problems due to the predatory nature of capitalist competition, including the destruction of the environment through the "grow or die" principle, the development of oligopolies from capital concentration and centralization, and the business cycle, with its periodic recessions and depressions.

For social anarchists, therefore, libertarian socialism is based on decentralised decisionmaking within the framework of communally-owned but independently-run and worker-self-managed syndicates (or cooperatives).

In other words, the economy is communalised, with land and the means of production being turned into communal "property." The community determines the social and ecological framework for production while the workforce makes the day-to-day decisions about what to produce and how to do it. This is because a system based purely on workplace assemblies effectively disenfranchises those individuals who do not work but live with the effects of production (e.g., ecological disruption). In Howard Harkins' words, "the difference between workplace and community assemblies is that the internal dynamic of direct democracy in communities gives a hearing to solutions that bring out the common ground and, when there is not consensus, an equal vote to every member of the community." ["Community Control, Workers' Control and the Cooperative Commonwealth", pp. 55-83, Society and Nature No. 3, p. 69]

This means that when a workplace joins a confederation, that workplace is communalised as well as confederated. In this way, workers' control is placed within the broader context of the community, becoming an aspect of community control. This does not that workers' do not control what they do or how they do it. Rather, it means that the framework within which they make their decisions is determined by the community. For example, the local community may decide that production should maximise recycling and minimise pollution, and workers informed of this decision make investment and production decisions accordingly. In addition, consumer groups and cooperatives may be given a voice in the confederal congresses of syndicates or even in the individual workplaces (although it would be up to local communities to decide whether this would be practical or not).

Given the general principle of social ownership and the absence of a state, there is considerable leeway regarding the specific forms that collectivization might take -- for example, in regard to methods of surplus distribution, the use or non-use of money, etc. -- as can be seen by the different systems worked out in various areas of Spain during the Revolution of 1936-39 (as described, for example, in Sam Dolgoff's The Anarchist Collectives).

Nevertheless, democracy is undermined when some communities are poor while others are wealthy. Therefore the method of surplus distribution must insure that all communities have an adequate share of pooled revenues and resources held at higher levels of confederation as well as guaranteed minimum levels of public services and provisions to meet basic human needs.

I.3.4 What relations would exist between individual syndicates?

Just as individuals associate together to work on and overcome common problems, so would syndicates. Few, if any workplaces are totally independent of others, but require raw materials as inputs and consumers for their products. Therefore there will be links between different syndicates. These links are twofold: firstly, free agreements between individual syndicates, and secondly, confederations of syndicates (within branches of industry and regionally). Let's consider free agreement first.

Anarchists recognise the importance of letting people organise their own lives. This means that they reject central planning and instead urge direct links between workers' associations. Those directly involved in production know their needs far better than any bureaucrat. Therefore anarchists think that "[i]n the same way that each free individual has associated with his brothers [and sisters!] to produce . . .all that was necessary for life, driven by no other force than his desire for the full enjoyment of life, so each institution is free and self-contained, and cooperates and enters into agreements with others because by so doing it extends its own possibilities." [George Barret, The Anarchist Revolution, p. 18] An example of one such agreement would be orders for products and services.

This suggests a decentralised economy -- even more decentralised than capitalism (which is "decentralized" only in capitalist mythology, as shown by big business and transnational corporations, for example) -- one "growing ever more closely bound together and interwoven by free and mutual agreements." [Ibid., p. 18] For social anarchists, this would take the form of "free exchange without the medium of money and without profit, on the basis of requirement and the supply at hand." [Alexander Berkman, ABC of Anarchism, p. 69]

Therefore, an anarchist economy would be based on spontaneous order as workers practiced mutual aid and free association. The anarchist economy "starts from below, not from above. Like an organism, this free society grows into being from the simple unit up to the complex structure. The need for . . . the individual struggle for life . . . is . . .sufficient to set the whole complex social machinery in motion. Society is the result of the individual struggle for existence; it is not, as many suppose, opposed to it." [G. Barret, Op. Cit., p. 18]

In other words, "[t]his factory of ours is, then, to the fullest extent consistent with the character of its service, a self-governing unit, managing its own productive operations, and free to experiment to the heart's content in new methods, to develop new styles and products. . . This autonomy of the factory is the safeguard. . . against the dead level of medicocrity, the more than adequate substitute for the variety which the competitive motive was once supposed to stimulate, the guarantee of liveliness, and of individual work and workmanship." [G.D.H. Cole, Guild Socialism Restated, p. 59]

This brings us to the second form of relationships between syndicates, namely confederations of syndicates. If individual or syndicate activities spread beyond their initial locality, they would probably reach a scale at which they would need to constitute a confederation. At this scale, industrial confederations of syndicates are necessary to aid communication between workplaces who produce the same goods. No syndicate exists in isolation, and so there is a real need for a means by which syndicates can meet together to discuss common interests and act on them.

A confederation of syndicates (called a "guild" by some libertarian socialists, or "industrial union" by others) works on two levels: within an industry and across industries. The basic operating principle of these confederations is the same as that of the syndicate itself -- voluntary cooperation between equals in order to meet common needs. In other words, each syndicate in the confederation is linked by horizontal agreements with the others, and none owe any obligations to a separate entity above the group (see section A.11, "Why are anarchists in favour of direct democracy?" for more on the nature of anarchist confederation).

As such, the confederations reflect anarchist ideas of free association and decentralised organisation as well as concern for practical needs:

"Anarchists are strenuously opposed to the authoritarian, centralist spirit . . . So they picture a future social life in the basis of federalism, from the individual to the municipality, to the commune, to the region, to the nation, to the international, on the basis of solidarity and free agreement. And it is natural that this ideal should be reflected also in the organisation of production, giving preference as far as possible, to a decentralised sort of organisation; but this does not take the form of an absolute rule to be applied in every instance. A libertarian order would be in itself, on the other hand, rule out the possibility of imposing such a unilateral solution." [Luigi Fabbri, "Anarchy and 'Scientific Communism", pp. 13-49, The Poverty of Statism, Albert Meltzer (ed), p. 23]

As would be imagined, these confederations are voluntary associations and "[j]ust as factory autonomy is vital in order to keep the Guild system alive and vigorous, the existance of varying democratic types of factories in independence of the National Guilds may also be a means of valuable experiment and fruitful initiative of individual minds. In insistently refusing to carry their theory to its last 'logical' conclusion, the Guildsman [and anarchists] are true to their love of freedom and varied social enterprise." [G.D.H. Cole, Op. Cit., p. 65]

If a workplace agrees to confederate, then it gets to share in the resources of the confederation and so gains the benefits of mutual aid. In return for the benefits of confederal cooperation, the syndicate's tools of production become the "property" of society, to be used but not owned by those who work in them. This does not mean centralised control from the top, for "when we say that ownership of the tools of production, including the factory itself, should revert to the corporation [i.e. confederation] we do not mean that the workers in the individual workshops will be ruled by any kind of industrial government having power to do what it pleases with [them]. . . . No, the workers. . .[will not] hand over their hard-won control. . . to a superior power. . . . What they will do is. . . to guarantee reciprocal use of their tools of production and accord their fellow workers in other factories the right to share their facilities [and vice versa]. . .with [all] whom they have contracted the pact of solidarity." [James Guillaume, Bakunin on Anarchism, pp. 363-364]

Facilitating this type of cooperation is the major role of inter-industry confederations, which also ensure that when the members of a syndicate change work to another syndicate in another (or the same) branch of industry, they have the same rights as the members of their new syndicate. In other words, by being part of the confederation, a worker ensures that s/he has the same rights and an equal say in whatever workplace is joined. This is essential to ensure that a cooperative society remains cooperative, as the system is based on the principle of "one person, one vote" by all those involved the work process.

So, beyond this reciprocal sharing, what other roles does the confederation play? Basically, there are two. Firstly, the sharing and coordination of information produced by the syndicates (as will be discussed in section I.3.5), and, secondly, determining the response to the changes in production and consumption indicated by this information. As the "vertical" links between syndicates are non-hierarchical, each syndicate remains self-governing. This ensures decentralisation of power and direct control, initiative, and experimentation by those involved in doing the work. Hence, "the internal organisation [of one syndicate] ... need not be identical [to others]: Organisational forms and procedures will vary greatly according to the preferences of the associated workers" [Ibid., p. 361]. In practice, this would probably mean that each syndicate gets its own orders and determines the best way to satisfy them (i.e. manages its own work and working conditions).

As indicated above, free agreement will ensure that customers would be able to choose their own suppliers, meaning that production units would know whether they were producing what their customers wanted, i.e., whether they were meeting social need as expressed through demand. If they were not, customers would go elsewhere, to other production units within the same branch of production. However, the investment response to consumer actions would be coordinated by a confederation of syndicates in that branch of production. By such means, the confederation can ensure that resources are not wasted by individual syndicates over-producing goods or over-investing in response to changes in production (see section I.3.5).

It should be pointed out that these confederated investment decisions will exist along with the investments associated with the creation of new syndicates, plus internal syndicate investment decisions. We are not suggesting that every investment decision is to be made by the confederations. (This would be particularly impossible for new industries, for which a confederation would not exist!) Therefore, in addition to coordinated production units, an anarchist society would see numerous small-scale, local activities which would ensure creativity, diversity, and flexibility. Only after these activities had spread across society would confederal coordination become necessary.

Thus, investment decisions would be made at congresses and plenums of the industry's syndicates, by a process of horizontal, negotiated coordination. This model combines "planning" with decentralisation. Major investment decisions are coordinated at an appropriate level, with each unit in the confederation being autonomous, deciding what to do with its own productive capacity in order to meet social demand. Thus we have self-governing production units coordinated by confederations (horizontal negotiation), which ensures local initiative (a vital source of flexibility, creativity, and diversity) and a rational response to changes in social demand.

It should be noted that during the Spanish Revolution syndicates organised themselves very successfully as town-wide industrial confederations of syndicates. These were based on the town-level industrial confederation getting orders for products for its industry and allocating work between individual workplaces (as opposed to each syndicate receiving orders for itself). Gaston Leval noted that this form of organisation (with increased responsibilities for the confederation) did not harm the libertarian nature of anarchist self-management:

"Everything was controlled by the syndicates. But it must not therefore be assumed that everything was decided by a few higher bureaucratic committees without consulting the rank and file members of the union. Here libertarian democracy was practised. As in the CNT there was a reciprocal double structure; from the grass roots at the base. . . upwards, and in the other direction a reciprocal influence from the federation of these same local units at all levels downwards, from the source back to the source." [The Anarchist Collectives, p. 105]

Such a solution, or similar ones, may be more practical in some situations than having each syndicate receive its own orders and so anarchists do not reject such confederal responsibilities out of hand (although the general prejudice is for decentralisation). This because we "prefer decentralised management; but ultimately, in practical and technical problems, we defer to free experience." [Luigi Fabbri, Op. Cit., p. 24] The specific form of organisation will obviously vary as required from industry to industry, area to area, but the underlying ideas of self-management and free association will be the same. Moreover, in the words of G.D.H Cole, the "essential thing. . . is that its [the confederation or guild] function should be kept down to the minimum possible for each industry." [Op. Cit., p. 61]

I.3.5 What would confederations of syndicates do?

Voluntary confederation among syndicates is required in order to decide on the policies governing relations between syndicates and to coordinate their activities. There are two basic kinds of confederation: within all workplaces of a certain type, and within the whole economy (the federation of all syndicates). Both would operate at different levels, meaning there would be confederations for both industrial and inter-industrial associations at the local and regional levels and beyond. The basic aim of this inter-industry and cross-industry networking is to ensure that the relevant information is spread across the various elemental parts of the economy so that each can effectively coordinate its plans with the others. By communicating across workplaces, people can overcome the barriers to coordinating their plans which one finds in market systems (see section C.7.1) and so avoid the economic and social disruptions associated with capitalism.

However, it is essential to remember that each syndicate within the confederation is autonomous. The confederations seek to coordinate activities of joint interest (in particular investment decisions for new plant and the rationalisation of existing plant in light of reduced demand). They do not determine what work a syndicate does or how they do it. As Kropotkin argues (based on his firsthand experience of Russia under Lenin), "[n]o government would be able to organize production if the workers themselves through their unions did not do it in each branch of industry; for in all production there arise daily thousands of difficulties which no government can solve or foresee. It is certainly impossible to foresee everything. Only the efforts of thousands of intelligences working on the problems can cooperate in the development of a new social system and find the best solutions for the thousands of local needs." [Revolutionary Pamphlets, pp. 76-77]

Thus Coles statement:

"With the factory thus largely conducting its own concerns, the duties of the larger Guild organisations [i.e confederations] would be mainly those of coordination, or regulation, and of representing the Guild in its external relations. They would, where it was necessary, co-ordinate the production of various factories, so as to make supply coincide with demand. . . they would organise research . . . This large Guild organisation. . . must be based directly on the various factories included in the Guild." [Guild Socialism Restated, pp. 59-60]

So it is important to note that the lowest units of confederation -- the workers' councils -- will control the higher levels, through their power to elect mandated and recallable delegates to meetings of higher confederal units. "Mandated" means that the delegates will go to the meeting of the higher confederal body with specific instructions on how to vote on a particular issue, and if they do not vote according to that mandate they will be recalled and the results of the vote nullified. Delegates will be ordinary workers rather than paid representatives or union leaders, and they will return to their usual jobs as soon as the mandate for which they have been elected has been carried out. In this way, decision-making power remains with the workers' councils and does not become concentrated at the top of a bureaucratic hierarchy in an elite class of professional administrators or union leaders. For the workers' councils will have the final say on all policy decisions, being able to revoke policies made by those with delegated decision-making power and to recall those who made them:

"When it comes to the material and technical method of production, anarchists have no preconceived solutions or absolute prescriptions, and bow to what experience and conditions in a free society recommend and prescribe. What matters is that, whatever the type of production adopted, it should be the free choice of the producers themselves, and cannot possibly be imposed, any more than any form is possible of exploitations of another's labour . . . Anarchists do not *a priori* exclude any practical solution and likewise concede that there may be a number of different solutions at different times. . ." [Luigi Fabbri, "Anarchy and 'Scientific Communism", pp. 13-49, The Poverty of Statism, Albert Meltzer (ed), p. 22]

Confederations (negotiated-coordination bodies) would, therefore, be responsible for clearly defined branches of production, and in general, production units would operate in only one branch of production. These confederations would have direct links to other confederations and the relevant communal confederations, which supply the syndicates with guidelines for decision making (as will be discussed in section I.4.4) and ensure that common problems can be highlighted and discussed. These confederations exist to ensure that information is spread between workplaces and to ensure that the industry responds to changes in social demand. In other words, these confederations exist to coordinate new investment decisions (i.e. if demand exceeds supply) and to determine how to respond if there is excess capacity (i.e. if supply exceeds demand).

In this way, the periodic crises of capitalism based on over-investment and over-production (followed by depression) and their resulting social problems can be avoided and resources efficiently and effectively utilised. In addition, production (and so the producers) can be freed from the centralised control of both capitalist and state hierarchies.

However, it could again be argued that these confederations are still centralised and that workers would still be following orders coming from above. This is incorrect, for any decisions concerning an industry or plant are under the direct control of those involved. For example, the steel industry confederation may decide to rationalise itself at one of its congresses. Murray Bookchin sketches the response to this situation as follows: "[L]et us suppose that a board of highly qualified technicians is established [by this congress] to propose changes in the steel industry. This board. . . advances proposals to rationalise the industry by closing down some plants and expanding the operation of others. . . . Is this a 'centralised' body or not? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, only in the sense that the board is dealing with problems that concern the country as a whole; no, because it can make no decision that must be executed for the country as a whole. The board's plan must be examined by all the workers in the plants [that are affected]. . . . The board itself has no power to enforce 'decisions'; it merely makes recommendations. Additionally, its personnel are controlled by the plant in which they work and the locality in which they live" [Post Scarcity Anarchism, p. 267].

Therefore, confederations would not be in positions of power over the individual syndicates. As Bookchin points out, "They would have no decision-making powers. The adoption, modification or rejection of their plans would rest entirely with the communities involved." [Op. Cit., p. 267]. No attempt is made to determine which plants produce which steel for which customers in which manner. Thus, the confederations of syndicates ensure a decentralised, spontaneous economic order without the negative side-effects of capitalism (namely power concentrations within firms and in the market, periodic crises, etc.).

As one can imagine, an essential feature of these confederations will be the collection and processing of information in order to determine how an industry is developing. This does not imply bureaucracy or centralised control at the top. Taking the issue of centralisation first, the confederation is run by delegate assemblies, meaning that any officers elected at a congress only implement the decisions made by the delegates of the relevant syndicates. It is in the congresses and plenums of the confederation that new investment decisions, for example, are made. The key point to remember is that the confederation exists purely to coordinate joint activity and share information, it does not take an interest in how a workplace is run or what orders from consumers it fills. (Of course, if a given workplace introduces policies which other syndicates disapprove of, it can be expelled). As the delegates to these congresses and plenums are mandated and their decisions subject to rejection and modification by each productive unit, the confederation is not centralised.

As far as bureaucracy goes, the collecting and processing of information does necessitate an administrative staff to do the work. However, this problem affects capitalist firms as well; and since syndicates are based on bottom-up decision making, its clear that, unlike a centralised capitalist corporation, administration would be smaller.

In fact, it is likely that a fixed administration staff for the confederation would not exist in the first place! At the regular congresses, a particular syndicate may be selected to do the confederation's information processing, with this job being rotated regularly around different syndicates. In this way, a specific administrative body and equipment can be avoided and the task of collating information placed directly in the hands of ordinary workers. Further, it prevents the development of a bureaucratic elite by ensuring that all participants are versed in information-processing procedures.

Lastly, what information would be collected? That depends on the context. Individual syndicates would record inputs and outputs, producing summary sheets of information. For example, total energy input, in kilowatts and by type, raw material inputs, labour hours spent, orders received, orders accepted, output, and so forth. This information can be processed into energy use and labour time per product (for example), in order to give an idea of how efficient production is and how it is changing over time. For confederations, the output of individual syndicates can be aggregated and local and other averages can be calculated. In addition, changes in demand can be identified by this aggregation process and used to identify when investment will be needed or plants closed down. In this way the chronic slumps and booms of capitalism can be avoided without creating a system which is even more centralised than capitalism.

I.3.6 What about competition between syndicates?

This is a common question, particularly from defenders of capitalism. They argue that syndicates will not cooperate together unless forced to do so, but will compete against each other for raw materials, skilled workers, and so on. The result of this process, it is claimed, will be rich and poor syndicates, inequality within society and within the workplace, and (possibly) a class of unemployed workers from unsuccessful syndicates who are hired by successful ones. In other words, they argue that libertarian socialism will need to become authoritarian to prevent competition, and that if it does not do so or will become capitalist very quickly.

For individualist anarchists and mutualists, competition is not viewed as a problem. They think that competition, based around cooperatives and mutual banks, would minimise economic inequality, as the credit structure would eliminate unearned income such as profit, interest and rent and give workers enough bargaining power to eliminate exploitation. Other anarchists think that whatever gains might accrue from competition would be more than offset by its negative effects, which are outlined in section I.1.3. It is to these anarchists that the question is usually asked.

Before continuing, we would like to point out that individuals trying to improve their lot in life is not against anarchist principles. How could it be? What is against anarchist principles is centralized power, oppression, and exploitation, all of which flow from large inequalities of income. This is the source of anarchist concern about equality -- concern that is not based on some sort of "politics of envy." Anarchists oppose inequality because it soon leads to the few oppressing the many (a relationship which distorts the individuality and liberty of all involved as well as the health and very lives of the oppressed).

Anarchists desire to create a society in which such relationships are impossible, believing that the most effective way to do this is by empowering all, by creating an egoistic concern for liberty and equality among the oppressed, and by developing social organisations which encourage self-management. As for individuals' trying to improve their lot, anarchists maintain that cooperation is the best means to do so, not competition.

Robert Axelrod, in his book, The Evolution of Cooperation agrees and presents abundant evidence that cooperation is in our long term interests (i.e. it provides better results than short term competition). This suggests that, as Kropotkin argued, mutual aid, not mutual struggle, will be in an individual's self-interest and so competition in a free, sane, society would be minimalised and reduced to sports and other individual past-times.

Now to the "competition" objection, which we'll begin to answer by noting that it ignores a few key points. Firstly, the assumption that libertarian socialism would "become capitalist" in the absence of a state is obviously false. If competition did occur between collectives and did lead to massive wealth inequalities, then the newly rich would have to create a state to protect their private property (means of production) against the dispossessed.

Secondly, as noted in section A.2.5, anarchists do not consider "equal" to mean "identical." Therefore, to claim that wage differences mean inequality makes sense only if one thinks that "equality" means everyone getting exactly equal shares. As anarchists do not hold such an idea, wage differences in an otherwise anarchistically organised syndicate do not indicate a lack of equality. How the syndicate is run is of far more importance, because the most pernicious type of inequality from the anarchist standpoint is inequality of power, i.e. unequal influence on political and economic decision making.

Under capitalism, wealth inequality translates into such an inequality of power, and vice versa, because wealth can buy private property (and state protection of it), which gives owners authority over that property and those hired to produce with it; but under libertarian socialism, minor or even moderate differences in income among otherwise equal workers would not lead to this kind of power inequality, because direct democracy, social ownership of capital, and the absence of a state severs the link between wealth and power (see further below).

Thirdly, anarchists do not pretend that an anarchist society will be "perfect." Hence there may be periods, particularly just after capitalism has been replaced by self-management, when differences in skill, etc., leads to a few people exploiting their fellow workers and getting more wages, better hours and conditions, and so forth. This problem existed in the industrial collectives in the Spanish Revolution. As Kropotkin pointed out, "But, when all is said and done, some inequalities, some inevitable injustice, undoubtedly will remain. There are individuals in our societies whom no great crisis can lift out of the deep mire of egoism in which they are sunk. The question, however, is not whether there will be injustices or no, but rather how to limit the number of them." [The Conquest of Bread, p. 110]

In other words, these problems will exist, but there are a number of things that anarchists can do to minimise their impact. Primarily there must be a "gestation period" before the birth of an anarchist society, in which social struggle, new forms of education and child-rearing, and other methods of consciousness-raising increase the number of anarchists and decrease the number of authoritarians.

The most important element in this gestation period is social struggle. Such self-activity will have a major impact on those involved in it (see section J.2). By direct action and solidarity, those involved develop bounds of friendship and support with others, develop new forms of ethics and new ideas and ideal. This radicalisation process will help to ensure that any differences in education and skill do not develop into differences in power in an anarchist society.

In addition, education within the anarchist movement should aim, among other things, to give its members familiarity with technological skills so that they are not dependent on "experts" and can thus increase the pool of skilled workers who will be happy working in conditions of liberty and equality. This will ensure that differentials between workers can be minimised.

In the long run, however, popularisation of non-authoritarian methods of child-rearing and education are particularly important, because as we have seen, secondary drives such as greed and the desire the exercise power over others are products of authoritarian upbringing based on punishments and fear (See sections B.1.5, "What is the mass-psychological basis for authoritarian civilization?" and J.6, "What methods of child rearing do anarchists advocate?"). Only if the prevalence of such drives is reduced among the general population can we be sure that an anarchist revolution will not degenerate into some new form of domination and exploitation.

However, there are other reasons why economic inequality -- say, in differences of income levels or working conditions, which may arise from competition for "better" workers -- would be far less severe under any form of anarchist society than it is under capitalism. Firstly, the syndicates would be democratically managed. This would result in much smaller wage differentials, because there is no board of wealthy directors setting wage levels for their own gain and who think nothing of hierarchy and having elites. The decentralisation of power in an anarchist society will ensure that there would no longer be wealthy elites paying each other vast amounts of money. This can be seen from the experience of the Mondragon cooperatives, where the wage difference between the highest paid and lowest paid worker was 4 to 1. This was only increased recently when they had to compete with large capitalist companies, and even then the new ratio of 9 to 1 is far smaller than those in American or British companies (in America, for example, the ratio is even as high at 200 to 1 and beyond!).

It is a common myth that managers, executives and so on are "rugged individuals" and are paid so highly because of their unique abilities. Actually, they are so highly paid because they are bureaucrats in command of large hierarchical institutions. It is the hierarchical nature of the capitalist firm that ensures inequality, not exceptional skills. Even euthusiastic supporters of capitalism provide evidence to support this claim. Peter Drucker (in Concept of the Corporation) brushed away the claim that corporate organisation bringsmanagers with exceptional ability to the top when he noted that "[n]o institition can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organised in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership of average human beings." [p. 35] For Drucker, "the things that really count are not the individual members but the relations of command and responsibility among them." [p. 34]

Anarchists argue that high wage differences are the result of how capitalism is organised and that capitalist economics exists to justify these results by assuming company hierarchy and capitalist ownership evolved naturally (as opposed to being created by state action and protection). The end of capitalist hierarchy would also see the end of vast differences of income because decision making power would be decentralised back into the hands of those affected by those decisions.

Secondly, corporations would not exist. A network of workplaces coordinated by confederal committees would not have the resources available to pay exhorbitant wages. Unlike a capitalist company, power is decentralised in a confederation of syndicates and wealth does not flow to the top. This means that there is no elite of executives who control the surplus made from the company's workers and can use that surplus to pay themselves high wages while ensuring that the major shareholders receive high enough dividends not to question their activities (or their pay).

Thirdly, management positions would be rotated, ensuring that everyone gets experience of the work, thus reducing the artificial scarcity created by the division of labour. Also, education would be extensive, ensuring that engineers, doctors, and other skilled workers would do the work because they enjoyed doing it and not for financial reward. And lastly, we should like to point out that people work for many reasons, not just for high wages. Feelings of solidarity, empathy, friendship with their fellow workers would also help reduce competition between syndicates for workers. Of course, having no means of unearned income (such as rent and interest), social anarchism will reduce income differentials even more.

Of course, the "competition" objection assumes that syndicates and members of syndicates will place financial considerations above all else. This is not the case, and few individuals are the economic robots assumed in capitalist dogma. Since syndicates are not competing for market share, it is likely that new techniques would be shared between workplaces and skilled workers might decide to rotate their work between syndicates in order to maximise their working time until such time as the general skill level in society increases.

So, while recognising that competition for skilled workers could exist, anarchists think there are plenty of reasons not to worry about massive economic inequality being created, which in turn would re-create the state. The apologists for capitalism who put forward this argument forget that the pursuit of self-interest is universal, meaning that everyone would be interesting in maximising his or her liberty, and so would be unlikely to allow inequalities to develop which threatened that liberty.

As for competition for scarce resources, its clear that it would in the interests of communes and syndicates which have them to share them with others instead of charging high prices for them. This is for two reasons. Firstly, they may find themselves boycotted by others, and so they would be denied the advantages of social cooperation. Secondly, they may be subject to such activities themselves at a future date and so it would wise for them to remember to "treat others as you would like them to treat you under similar circumstances." As anarchism will never come about unless people desire it and start to organise their own lives, it's clear that an anarchist society would be inhabited by individuals who followed that ethical principle.

It is doubtful that people inspired by anarchist ideas would start to charge each other high prices, particularly since the syndicates and community assemblies are likely to vote for a wide basis of surplus distribution, precisely to avoid this problem and to ensure that production will be for use rather than profit (see section I.4.9, "What would be the advantage of a wide basis of surplus distribution?"). In addition, as other communities and syndicates would likely boycott any syndicate or commune that was acting in non-cooperative ways, it is likely that social pressure would soon result in those willing to exploit others rethinking their position. Cooperation does not imply a willingness to tolerate with those who desire to take advantage of you.

Examples of anarchism in action show that there is frequently a spontaneous tendency towards charging cost prices for goods, as well as attempts to work together to reduce the dangers of isolation and competition. One thing to remember is that anarchy will not be created "overnight," and so potential problems will be worked out over time. Underlying all these kinds of objections is the assumption that cooperation will not be more beneficial to all involved than competition. However, in terms of quality of life, cooperation will soon be seen to be the better system, even by the most highly paid workers. There is far more to life than the size of one's pay packet, and anarchism exists in order to ensure that life is far more than the weekly grind of boring work and the few hours of hectic consumption in which people attempt to fill the "spiritual hole" created by a way of life which places profits above people.

I.3.7 What about people who do not want to join a syndicate?

In this case, they are free to work alone, by their own labour. Anarchists have no desire to force people to join a syndicate, for as Malatesta argued, "what has to be destroyed at once. . . is capitalistic property, that is, the fact that a few control the natural wealth and the instruments of production and can thus oblige others to work for them . . . [but one must have a] right and the possibility to live in a different regime, collectivist, mutualist, individualist -- as one wishes, always on the condition that there is no oppression or exploitation of others." [Malatesta: Life and Ideas, p. 102]

In other words, different forms of social life will be experimented with, depending on what people desire. Of course some people (particularly right-wing "libertarians") ask how anarchists can reconcile individual freedom with expropriation of capital. All we can say is that these critics subscribe to the idea that one should not interfere with the "individual freedom" of those in positions of authority to oppress others, and that this premise turns the concept of individual freedom on its head, making oppression a "right!"

However, right-wing "libertarians" do raise a valid question when they ask if anarchism would result in self-employed people being forced into cooperatives as the result of a popular movement. The answer is no, because the destruction of title deeds would not harm the independent worker, whose real title is possession and the work done. What anarchists want to eliminate is not possessions but capitalist "property" -- namely "the destruction of the titles of the proprietors who exploit the labour of others and, above all, of expropriating them in fact in order to put . . . all the means of production at the disposal of those who do the work." [Op. Cit., p. 103]

This means that independent producers will still exist within an anarchist society, and some workplaces -- perhaps whole areas -- will not be part of a confederation. This is natural in a free society, for different people have different ideas and ideals. Of course, some people may desire to become capitalists, and they may offer to employ people and pay them wages. However, such a situation would be unlikely. Simply put, why would anyone desire to work for the would-be employer? Malatesta makes this point as follows:

"It remains to be seen whether not being able to obtain assistance or people to exploit -- and he [the would-be capitalist] would find none because nobody, having a right to the means of production and being free to work on his own or as an equal with others in the large organisations of production would want to be exploited by a small employer -- . . . it remains to be seen whether these isolated workers would not find it more convenient to combine with others and voluntarily join one of the existing communities" [Op. Cit., p. 102-103].

So where would the capitalist wannabe find people to work for him?

However, let us suppose there is a self-employed inventor, Ferguson, who comes up with a new innovation without the help of the cooperative sector. Would anarchists steal his idea? Not at all. The cooperatives, which by hypothesis have been organized by people who believe in giving producers the full value of their product, would pay Ferguson an equitable amount for his idea, which would then become common across society. However, if he refused to sell his invention and instead tried to claim a patent monopoly on it in order to gather a group of wage slaves to exploit, no one would agree to work for him unless they got the full control over both the product of their labour and the labour process itself.

In addition, we would imagine they would also refuse to work for someone unless they also got the capital they used at the end of their contract (i.e. a system of "hire-purchase" on the means of production used). In other words, by removing the statist supports of capitalism, would-be capitalists would find it hard to "compete" with the cooperative sector and would not be in a position to exploit others' labour.

With a system of communal production (in social anarchism) and mutual banks (in individualist anarchism), "usury" -- i.e. charging a use-fee for a monopolized item, of which patents are an instance -- would no longer be possible and the inventor would be like any other worker, exchanging the product of his or her labour. As Ben Tucker argued, "the patent monopoly. . . consists in protecting inventors and authors against competition for a period of time long enough for them to extort from the people a reward enormously in excess of the labour measure of their services -- in other words, in giving certain people a right of property for a term of years in laws and facts of nature, and the power to extract tribute from others for the use of this natural wealth, which should be open to all. The abolition of this monopoly would fill its beneficiaries with a wholesome fear of competition which should cause them to be satisfied with pay for their services equal to that which other labourers get for theirs, and secure it by placing their products and works on the market at the outset at prices so low that their lines of business would be no more tempting to competitors than any other lines" [The Anarchist Reader, p. 150-1].

In other words, with the end of capitalism and statism, a free society has no fear of capitalist firms being created or growing again, because it rejects the idea that everyone must be in a syndicate. Without statism to back up various class-based monopolies of capitalist privilege, capitalism could not become dominant. In addition, the advantages of cooperation between syndicates would exceed whatever temporary advantages existed for syndicates to practice commodity exchange in a mutualist market.