Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Society should be for man, and not the other way around! (AT Manifesto III)

After dealing with the general principles (here: AT Manifesto I) and our understanding of man (here: AT Manifesto II) it is time to define how we Anarcho Traditionalists believe that society should be organized  

The purpose of society

Men and women do not enter in society to achieve a certain goal. They are born into already functioning ones, and they inherit the only goal political groups have ever had: to perpetuate themselves, requiring most of its members to reproduce and all to accept a certain set of beliefs, assumptions and practices it deems worthy. In exchange for the achievement of that goal (a goal that, being honest, should mean nothing to the individual) they are expected to surrender a good deal of their freedom, as the belief set that all of today’s societies impose in their members (what I’ve called desiderative reason) can be summarized as follows:

1.       The only purpose of life (and the only valid mark of a life well lived) is to satisfy as many desires as possible

2.       There is only one desire (every apparently distinct desire is the manifestation of a single, original one): to improve one’s position in a strictly ordered social hierarchy

3.       The position in the social hierarchy is determined by the amount of material goods and tradable services that one is able to exclusively command (translatable into the amount of money that one has at his disposal)

We consider that set to be toxic and untenable: It condemns every single human being to a life of unnecessary work and reckless competition. It degrades the common goods that can not be monetarily valued (the natural environment, every cultural element that can not be parceled and sold separately, ideas and values themselves, which are deemed entirely irrelevant). It prevents the truer aspects of human flourishing (living lives of rich spirituality in densely woven communities that share a tradition and a value system) while it foments false ones (the accumulation of material goods beyond what can be actually enjoyed, or to the point where the marginal utility of every additional unit of consumption is negligible) that push their adherents to desperation, meaninglessness and anomy. In terms of the General Theory of the Organization, the original conflict caused by joining (again, something that happens at birth, with no choice from the unsuspecting babies) a political organization like any of the current nation states is too big, as we renounce to too much in exchange for too little.

We propose what we consider a better way, maximizing the freedom each member of society can enjoy while asking from them the bare minimum to keep the group functioning (that is the anarchistic part of our credo). That minimum would be enforced by a reduced set of rules oriented mostly to ensure a life of dignity even if fully detached from productive work (as work is more times than not the pursuit of commanding more material goods than your neighbor) and as much opportunity as the individuals want to create for themselves, without forcing them to take every chance that comes their way. However (and this is where the traditionalist part of our credo comes in handy) we recognize that humans can not act as legislators of themselves, creating laws and customs and values from scratch. The most important thing a group can provide a citizen with, from the moment of his birth, is precisely the set of shared narratives, common values and interpretative tools he will require to orient himself in the world and make sense of his environment. Those narratives, values and tools are what we call a tradition, and most historical traditions look with suspicion, if not with outright rejection, the set of values (embodied in the three aforementioned rules) that summarize and exhaust the dominant reason of our age. Thus, being frontally opposed to such reason, we propose a return to previous traditions that we deem more conductive to the common good.

Instead of a complex set of laws, statutes and regulations that favor those better connected and with greater insider knowledge to benefit from what end up being monopoly rent (be it from scarce resources like land or non renewable means of producing energy, from obscure legislation dictated by those more likely to abuse it or from intellectual property laws oriented more towards the profit of big companies than to  foster innovation) we would create a myriad of small units (called phratria, and encompassing between 5,000 and 15,000 people) adhering to particular traditions but with freedom to innovate in how they organize themselves and define their own charters, and ensure people had the possibility to move unimpeded between them, settling in those they found more to their liking. The phratria would collaborate between them in larger groups called phyla (composed by 50-100 phratria) in order to ensure they had the pooled resources required to provide costlier infrastructure. If they wanted, phyla could create further, larger associations (deimos?), the essential principle being that as people should be free to “vote with their feet” and change phratria if the one they found themselves in did not satisfy their needs of flourishing and developing, whole groups should be able to switch allegiances and bring their resources to different conglomerates if they disagreed with the collective decisions made by the ones they belonged to.

Rights and Duties

To achieve those ends without impinging in its members ability to pursue their own flourishing in the manner they deem more adequate, every and all phratria should recognize a number of nonnegotiable rights. Not bourgeois rights that in more than two centuries our society has been unable to respect, as it has never deigned to define who should  bear the burden of actually making them happen (so for example a right to decent housing is just an empty promise if nobody is burdened with the obligation of building the required houses). We take the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of man made by the UN General Assembly in 1948 as a starting point, but we keep only those that we can invest with meaning and whose respect our proposed organization can effectively guarantee. This is why we present them in tabular form, so besides each right we can show the corresponding duty. Only the citizens that accept and discharge the latter can lawfully claim to have the former respected:

Life, liberty and security of person
Do not use violence against other people
Not to be held in slavery or servitude
Pay fairly for other people’s services, and always treat them as ends in themselves (as autonomous agents with inherent dignity), never as means to your own ends
Not to be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment
Do not abuse other people, or threaten them with either physical or psychological pain
Recognition as a person before the law?
The whole concept of law is ludicrously overblown and needs substantial simplification. However, the simplified set of rules that would regulate an AT society obviously would treat everybody equally
Equal protection before the law, and protected against discrimination or against incitement to such discrimination
See previous duty
Effective remedy by competent tribunals for acts violating fundamental rights?
Tribunals today are required by the unjustifiable morass of laws, rules and regulations that make it impossible for lay people to defend their interests without specialized (and very expensive) “help”. They will be replaced by arbitration courts, where qualified citizens (qualification will be limited to assert the inexistence of conflicts of interest) adjudicate between defendant’s competing claims based on tradition (historical precedent) and common sense. All citizens would have the duty to periodically serve in those courts as arbiters
Not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile
Defer to the guardians, who hold the monopoly on violence. Act as guardians when summoned by the legitimate authority
Fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal
As stated before, tribunals are to be replaced by arbitration courts. People will have the duty to submit to the decision of such courts, with limited chances to appeal (under strict conditions)
Presumed innocent until proved guilty (in a procedurally correct manner)?
When serving at the arbitration courts, citizens will avoid undetected conflicts of interest by recusing themselves if needed. They will consciously avoid any bias in their judgment by actively monitoring any potential identification with one of the defendants derived from similarities or shared affiliations
Not to be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation
When serving as guardians, or in any other capacity acting on behalf of the state, citizens shall abstain from pursuing any private interest, including the interest in acquiring information about their fellow citizens not voluntarily disclosed by themselves. If in the pursuance of a criminal investigation they need to acquire any such information, they will need explicit permission (to be extended with a limited scope and for a limited duration) by the highest authority of the land
Freedom of movement and residence
Do not impede other people’s movements, or hinder their settlement in the land granted to them
Seek and enjoy asylum in other countries?
Enact a policy of open borders, so that every human being is welcome to request resident status and be granted full citizenship after a period in which he proves his ability to productively contribute to society (for example, by the payment of a certain amount of taxes)
An AT society has no use for nationality, and denounces the traditional nation state as an instrument of oppression, stultification and overall degradation of its subjects. Instead, people have the right to join any phratry, and to partake of its organization (see further chapter on representation for how those phratria may in turn join in different phyla)
Marry and form a family (entered into with free and full consent of the intending espouses)
Respect other people familial arrangements (sentimental attachments, role assignment, economic distribution) and recognize the priority of parents in the education and disciplining of their children
Own property
Respect other people property, assuming the legitimacy of their possession claims
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Let other people believe, think and worship as they see fit, as long as it does not encourage violence towards others (or towards the non consenting between themselves)
Freedom of opinion and expression
Same as previous, regarding what they can say and how they can choose to disseminate their message
Freedom of peaceful assembly and association
Let other people join whatever organization they like, and let such organizations behave collectively as they see fit, with the usual caveat (not resorting to or encouraging violence)
Freedom to take part in the government (directly or through representatives) and equal access to public service
Let other people serve, according to the specific rules set at phratry and phyla level
Social Security and entitled to realize the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality?
Provide a certain amount of your income (taxes) to the representatives of the phratry so they can redistribute it ensuring every member has their basic needs covered (through a Universal Basic Income), and they also pay from that the dues to the phyle they belong to
Work, freely chosen, in just and safe conditions, fairly remunerated?
There isn’t a universal right to work, just as there isn’t a universal right to create an immortal work of art. Those who feel tempted to try it are welcome, but nobody has an obligation neither to hire them nor to admire the product of their craft
Rest and leisure, limitation of work hours and paid vacation?
With the guarantee of a UBI to all citizens the current perverse incentives to work an irrational amount of time and the threat of destitution and exclusion if demeaning conditions are not accepted will disappear. So will most regulations, except the one that guarantees that any employee can cancel his labor contract the moment he feels the agreed conditions do not adequately compensate his effort
Adequate and secure standard of living (food, clothes, housing and medical care)
As mentioned before, a certain percentage of the income of every income-earning citizen is redistributed in the form of a UBI to ensure the basic needs (food, clothing and leisure) are supported with no strings attached, and leaving entirely to the individual recipient how to spend it. Basic housing and healthcare will also be provided by the state and paid for by the common fund, as it has been shown that the free market is unable to reach solutions that are minimally close to optimal
Education, free and compulsory (how can a right be compulsory?), promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship, but freely chosen by parents (what then if they choose to educate in bigotry and hatred?)
Educate one’s own children according to the standards set within the phratry, so they are able to pass a citizenship test around age 18 that would enable them to enjoy full political rights (whatever those are defined at phratry level to be)
Freely participate in cultural life, enjoy art and science (and collect royalties)?
This is not a universal right for us, but an earned one. Those who through training, gratification delay and genius develop the ability to enjoy art, create art or contribute to science are welcome to do so (and pursue some rewards for it as they see fit), but it is nobody’s business to actively encourage disinterested people to do so
Social and international order in which these rights are recognized’
We will take care of the social order. Regarding the international one, disengagement and avoidance of foreign debt are the best course of action. An AT society has no army, no borders, no barriers to trade and no tariffs, even if other nations want to impose them in the wares they exchange with the rest of the world. Our expectation is that when those other nations see the greater happiness and differential flourishing taking part in our superior social organization, they will end up voluntarily copying it and become AT themselves

We have tried to keep the duties that require coordination between different members of society at a bare minimum, so the amount that has to be collected in taxes is also comparatively small. There should be leaders necessarily that collect and distribute the taxes and give directions to the guardians. That means there are also guardians that keep the public peace. Finally, there are arbitrators that can adjudicate in case of disputes. A number of services are provided free of charge (elementary education, basic housing and healthcare) and a common infrastructure has to be maintained for communications, energy and transportation, so the leaders must appoint some administrators, or supervisors to ensure the provision is fair and adequate. We will elaborate in more depth how those different functions could work when we deal with the economic organization of the AT society, sufficient is to say at this point that both at the phratry level and at the phyle level it would be convenient for the citizens to have somebody to be devoted full time to those duties, ideally somebody who represent them and has their interest in mind when deciding how best to allocate society’s limited resources.

On representation

It is a widespread (and in spite of that, mostly true) opinion that the “representative democracy” that today purports to defend the interests of most of the world’s population is a sad travesty. The reason we believe that as a society we can’t take care not just of the most desperately in need (because of illness, old age, or plain old bad luck and wrong decisions), but of the basic wants of absolutely everybody is not because we are selfish or because it would be hugely expensive and condemn us all to a mediocrity of squalor and poverty. Those of us who still have a gainful employment already give almost half of what we earn to the state in the form of taxes, supposedly to be used for the common good, and that would be much more than enough to guarantee an existence well above the basic subsistence level to absolutely every member of society. Unfortunately it ends up being used for anything but that, sequestered by special interest groups and to line the pockets of the politicians who, in the name of representing us administer the fruit of our labor in such an inefficient way that most of the administered amount benefits them and their cronies, but not us or especially the most needy between us.

The key to end such scandalous state of affairs, shared by traditional anarchists and right wing libertarians alike, is to reduce the state to its minimal expression, and have the representatives of the people (those necessarily devoted to the administration of the common interests) be few in number, transparent in their dealings and accountable to a sufficiently small number of constituents that would have both enough visibility of the decisions taken in their name and enough understanding of the likely consequences in their close-knit community of the consequences of such decisions. Those representatives, which we call leaders, would have a more difficult time giving big corporations (or small ones) precedence over the interests of their fellow citizens, due to their proximity and the impossibility of diluting their responsibilities in complex, faceless bureaucracies. Given the much enhanced control every phratry would have over their leaders, it is of secondary importance how they are chosen (by direct vote, heredity or lottery), for how long they serve (a month, a year, a decade or for life) or how extensive are their powers (as long as they are compatible with the basic rights we have defined as non negotiable). If they are incompetent, corrupt and permanent the population under their command will dwindle, and they will find themselves isolated and poor. If they are energetic and fair their followers will prosper, they will attract more of them and they will gain clout and respect in larger forums. As long as the effective circulation of people is ensured, and the freedom of movement is effectively supported by the possibility of a UBI wherever families decide to settle the pressure of emigration will keep leaders well behaved and attentive to the needs of their followers. 

No comments:

Post a Comment