Dissent in a non-capitalist society
I was asked about what would happen in a communist society (or BESS, a better economic and social system, as i now call it to avoid the red rag words of communism and anarchism etc) if some people didn’t agree with the decision of the collective council they are part of?
The person said: "In 'true' communism, what do you do with all the traitors who prevent the smooth running of the autonomous system with their different ideas?"
Various points there - ‘traitors’ already puts in into a violence mode which colours the point. lets say instead ‘dissenters’. let me call it a BESS (better economic and social system)please, because of the silly red rag feelings that the words communism and anarchism bring up. in a BESS dissent is both welcome and fine. any BESS that repressed dissent is one i would stop supporting right away. That covers your ‘different ideas’ point too. different ideas are fine. the reason why i think soviet bolshevism was not communist is that right in 1917/1918 they pushed out different ideas. they violently and organisationally pushed through just one narrow view. hence, it was not communism of any type i could get fully behind.
‘Prevent the smooth running’ - whose says a BESS will insist on running smoothly? it won’t. i will run in the same way that almost all human efforts do: in a bit a mess sometimes but we muddle through and work it out. that realistic point is understand. a BESS has realism and flexibility at its core.
Basic thing is that a BESS works by everyone getting a say as an equal. Now that will mean sometimes Jimmy and Samantha’s view is not supported, not given the collective go ahead, and they will be pissed off. but they will not be jailed or shot. they will be argued against…. and they will have, as equal members of that collective group, the ability to appeal the decision and try to make it go X way, instead of Y. if they still fail, then hard lines. but you had a decent chance to make your case (and we generally do NOT have that chance in capitalism. so its already a hugely better system)..so, we would have to accept that in such a democratic system the decision will sometimes go against our view. but, its ok, you wont be shot for being pissed off about it.
The person then said more about it:
“But Jimmy and Samantha aren't happy with the group decision and have decided to grow their beets their own way and sell them by the side of the road. They feel the democratic majority don't know enough about beet farming, and the voters are so weighed down with daily referendums on every other aspect of their lives, it was hardly an informed campaign; this way they can demonstrate that their way is better for everyone and the land. They set their own prices, distribute profits as they think best and people can decide for themselves which beets they want. After all, they are not harming anyone, and there's no penalty against doing it, why should anyone rightfully stop them?”
My replies to that:
1. In a BESS its almost certainly the case that decisions will be made without enough info sometimes...since that would be true for ANY human system. the fact thats its true for any system therefore does not, in itself, condemn any system (how’s that for logic!) . So the existence of that problem does not make a BESS unworkable any more than it makes capitalism unworkable. but in a BESS that problem would be quite a bit less than in capitalism. because, basically in capitalism e are not encouraged to learn things, not really. they pretend there is a focus on education, but its largely a sham. and we are not encouraged to get involved in organising our societies either. and we do not have a decent chance to discuss issues either. All those would have more chance to really be done in a BESS.
2. Jimmy and Samantha, or anyone, have gone through the thorough process of research, discussion, appeal etc it is highly likely they will feel that their idea WAS given a decent hearing. so the vast majority of the time it would be ok. they may be pissed off, but will feel the democratic process was fair. First point to consider is that is HUGELY better than now. we have very little chance for that now, in most work places now its closer to a tyranny than a democracy. We have very little control over councils and decision makers now. So since the point of a BESS is to be BETTER than capitalism, its aim is achieve and we should support it as,indeed a better option for us all.
3. Despite that there would a small minority who are still not ok to accept the democratic decision. Though it would be a far small minority than it is now, because of 1 and 2. but, yes, there is bout to be some folk. i may well be one of them sometimes, since I’m a highly individual person and as we say in Scots, rather ’thrawn’ (stubbornly going against the tide). if they decide to set up their own ‘mini collective’ that is, as you say not harming anyone, then fine… guan on yersel Jimmy and Samantha!
4. But, to take it to its extreme, not to evade any aspect of what you are saying: some folk may do their own thing that DOES harm others. The Davidson brothers fence off common land and say ‘this is OURS now, no one else in the area can use it. fuck off’. Then we are into problems. First thing is that because of all the above, and the cooperative egalitarian aspects of the system, this kind thing would probably be VERY rare. Even now in conflict , selfish and acquisition focused capitalism this kind of extreme problem of going against the agreed way is not that common. In a BESS it would be even less common. That is not evasion, its a calm reasonable consideration of what is likely to be the case.
But since it would happen sometimes, what to do?
One option would be to basically ignore them. In a system in which most folk take an active part in it and decide themselves how to do things, those who perversely go against it would seem, above all, just a bit whacky. Oddballs to be treated with tolerance. So, in many cases such folk doing things like selling beets on the side of their own garden would just be accepted kindly. Even if the Davidson brothers wired off a large area the size of 3 or 4 football pitches it might not be that big a problem. The local group may decide ‘eejits, just ignore them…they might come around after a few years of feeling left out.’ Thats one option.
Or if it was felt the area was needed for feeding the local area and that they could simply not allow the Davidson brothers to selfishly use that large area only for their own profit then there might need to be some element of force involved. That would be after a LONG process of discussion, appeal, etc, on the part of everyone involved, as equals. And the force, any violence needed would be measured, appropriate. That is, REALLY so! The council would have little reason to excessively hurt people who are essentially the same as them. the Davidsons would be able to take part in an appeal agains that force, make a complaint that it was excessive. and if proven correct the people who did it would have to take the consequences.
Which is, again, FAR better than now. What happens now is that we have little chance to really have our voice heard, especially if we are not a rich powerful person, and the police turn up very quickly, and then the army, and violence is used not as a last resort, but as a second stage got to after a very shallow first stage. And the police SAY they use measured violence, but actually dont. And we have a very poor system of complaining about police violence, that ends in extremely few police people being reprimanded.
The BESS would be much better than that. So, again, we should chose to organise ourselves in a BESS, a better economic and social system, rather than the far worse option of capitalism. No?