Specialized jobs in Anarchism

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Anarch
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Oct 31 2004 20:19
Specialized jobs in Anarchism

From what I understand while the middle class will not exist in an anarchist society, some of the roles like doctors and teachers may. How do you think these jobs will exist without having them reinforce social control. Or would these roles become obsolete? I suppose we could do without teachers, perhaps with communal teaching or something. But what about medicine and engineering and the like? Even if you made the jobs equal in social status someone still gets to be a doctor and someone a miner...maybe jobs could rotate, but some jobs require a lot of specialization. I am not trying to say it would not work, and I am sure it has been talked about, I am just unfamiliar with the solution.

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WeTheYouth
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Oct 31 2004 20:28

In anarchism it would be more about that the builder would be just as important as the scientist, without the builder or factory worker where will the scientist get the books and the buildings to research, so they are all equal. And without the scientist, doctor etc the builder and factory worker would not be able to keep well, or stay well for longer or make life easier.

Teachers would still be needed we would still need a system where young people are taught and where adults and the whole community can learn.

Anarch
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Oct 31 2004 20:32

Do you think there would still be the danger of de facto classes forming based on say your parents being doctors? Or would the society be open enough that anyone with an interest could become a doctor. That is how I see it, I just wonder if that is how things woud play out. It makes sense though, I mean, my parents are both in the medical field, but even if I wasn't an anarchist/trying to not profit from middle class lifestyle I would still not want to be a physical therapist. Even so, there is something to be said for levels of education/specialization influencing future generations.

WeTheYouth
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Oct 31 2004 20:38

Yeah but class difference arise out of difference in earnings, if the system inherently stops inequality then there should be no class differences which will arise.

And if anarchism was achieved in modern society then there would have to be many specialised jobs, it would be an extremely diverse society.

Mike Harman
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Oct 31 2004 21:27

There's easier ways of earning cash than working as doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers. Most people do those jobs because they want to, they're interested in it, they think it's important, find it rewarding, and I'm sure plenty of people would continue to want to do so without monetary interests. There's status attached to those jobs because they're useful, same as firemen and some other jobs, and I don't think that status is just due to money - stockbroker vs. surgeon? Surgeon's always going to win, even with a much lower income.

If both work and distribution are based on desire and need, rather than markets, then people would only have to do useful jobs - there wouldn't be financial (or violent in some cases) coercion into things which have no socially useful function (like telesales). So you'd have resources put into stuff like healthcare in terms of how much labour and resources people thought was necessary to have them running at a sufficient level, not based on tax/spend or commercial interests. I think people have a decent amount of respect for builders, plumbers as it is, at least when they're doing a decent job.

What _would_ happen, would be that jobs like cleaning in hospitals, portering, building them, would be raised to a much higher status. Those jobs are currently low-waged jobs for private contractors, and having worked in some hospitals, some of them are pretty dirty, cheaply built, bad air, overheated. A lot of people in the UK catch diseases after being admitted to hospital (15% or something like that), if the cleaning, building and maintenance of the hospital was the responsibility of the community it served, rather than a private contractor, it wouldn't have bin bags full of crap lining the corridors of wards (insert alternative horror story), because people would be taking care of an institution that served their friends and relatives, and would be doing so by choice in order to maintain it, not just to earn less than a living wage for a crappy job.

With teaching, a lot of what passes for teaching is actually childcare (after school activities, crowd control, lunch time) rather than passing on information. A communist society would reduce the daily amount of labour each person had to do, so they'd have more time to spend with their own children, or on running activities for kids in their communities, whatever. I think you'd see a de-specialisation of teaching where there was more collective responsibility for education, only a part of which would happen in an institutionalised setting. Summerhill, the school in Suffolk, although I'm not sure how it works in practice, goes a way towards this - with pupils going to lessons by choice, and with a degree of responsibility for the running of the school.

steve999000
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Oct 31 2004 23:11

most importantly tho, many people no doubt DO become doctors engineers etc because of social status and pay. not everyone "believes" in "equality" in any case (or how were supopsed to agree what a word means)

look what happened to Cuba China et al; mass evacutaions and "brain drain"

a builder is NOT as important as a doctor. my surgeon could no doubt fix my back wall after a couple of days training in the job.

i would not trust the builder however, to operate on my brain after a couple of days training.

is it just me, or are you just ignoring the whole point of the division of labour (ie; people self evidently arent equal)

Mike Harman
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Nov 1 2004 16:53

Depends what you mean by equal. I don't think everyone has the same capacity to become a surgeon or a builder, no. Some surgeons probably couldn't lift a pickaxe off the ground, and I doubt they'd be able to sustain the physical activity require on a building site for weeks or months, in all weathers, so that inequality isn't just one way. Society couldn't operate without either occupation though, and the builder houses the surgeon as much as the surgeon operates on the builder. Heart transplant's no good if you don't have anywhere to live.

Anyway, anarchist communism doesn't mean everyone contributes and receives exactly the same. It's usually described as "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" - which takes into account that everyone has different needs and abilities. The last thing I'm talking about is rations or in fact any system based on exchange or currency.

As to training, if someone wants to do a job which requires a lot of training, they'll spend a few years learning how to do it before they became effective - orchestral musicians currently go through as many years training as a doctor, more in some cases (starting at 5, finishing at about 22) - I don't want to hear someone who's only been playing the bassoon for a couple of weeks either. Just as people will want to learn musical instruments if they don't have to (as they often do now for no financial reward), so would people want to become surgeons.

People currently do go for these jobs because of status and money, but there are also people who might have an aptitude for medicine but who are prevented from entering training for any number of reasons. I think losing a few people who only went into medicine to earn cash would be outweighed by the opportunities opened up to people to become doctors instead of (for instance) estate agents. If everyone is provided for properly while they're going through training, then there'd be less of the ten years as a poor student, five years junior doctor then a cushy consultancy career path.

More to the point, if builders, plumbers, cleaners, etc. do their job well, and if adequate resources are put into place to make sure everyone is provided for, then surgeons wouldn't be needed quite as much as they are now anyway. A lot of ill health is dealing with bad nutrition, poor living conditions, the effects of pollution, which a more equal society would do a lot to alleviate.

Cuba is a strawman example but I'll answer anyway. Libertarian socialism/communist anarchism could only be achieved after a revolution internationally, so there'd be no super powers next door blockading trade while taking doctors. I hope you're not holding up Cuba or China as examples of anarchist communism, they aren't.

However, although there's a lot of problems there, Cuba currently has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. I would have thought most of any health care problems there were mainly due to embargos on medicines and patents from the US, not a brain drain.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1739773.stm

hursday, 3 January, 2002, 06:53 GMT

Cuba records lowest infant mortality rate

Cuba has recorded its lowest infant mortality rate for four decades, with 6.2 children in every 1,000 dying before the age of one.

According to figures from the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, Cuba - along with Canada - now has the lowest infant mortality rate in the Americas.

The United States is second with seven in every 1,000 children.

Guatemala has the highest infant mortality rate with 45 in every 1,000 children.

Anarch
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Nov 1 2004 20:05

But the builder is just as important because without the builder there woudl be no hospital!

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EdLewis
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Nov 1 2004 20:24

Michael Albert (editor of ZNet - www.zmag.org) and Robin Hahnel have come up with system called participatory economics - parecon for short - in which they flesh out the basic institutional structures of what a 'good' economy would look like. They address this issue of specialized labour in what seems to me quite an interesting and useful fashion. Briefly, they argue that one of the ways in which an economy can be divided along class lines is through division of labour - when some people monopolise the empowering, creative and conceptual work like brain surgery, science etc., and when others perform only rote and menial tasks, like cleaning, or working at a till, the former group is going to come to dominate the latter. From the book Parecon:

"...even if everyone has one vote in every major decision regardless of their job, nonetheless, with a corporate division of labor, each person’s specific circumstances will empower her or him differently. This will in turn ensure that despite everyone having equal formal say, for want of information, time, skills, and disposition, those with less empowering work will be less able to arrive at or manifest their views and those enjoying jobs that convey more information, confidence, and decision-making skills will dominate debate and choice. Formal democracy doesn’t guarantee real democracy. The wills of empowered workers trump the wills of disempowered workers because the empowered workers set agendas and easily override uninformed preferences, and most likely monopolize votes as well. The wills of disempowered workers are unlikely even to be heard, much less implemented."

They also recognise the need for both relatively empowering and disempowering work to be done, however, plus the fact that job rotation is going to lose the efficiency gains that come with having specialists. Their solution is instead to have everyone have jobs comprised of a balance of empowering/disempowering tasks. After all, any job is comprised of various tasks and there is no reason why someone who does brain surgery can't clean bedpans as well. They call what they are advocating 'balanced job complexes'. Anyone interested should check out the website, which has several whole books online plus essays, articles and instructionals, at www.parecon.org

Final point - Albert reckons that parecon is essentially a form of anarchist economics which has grown out of the work of Kropotkin and Rocker, plus left Marxists like Pannekoek. Many anarchists disagree, however - see debates on the parecon site.

Logic
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Nov 2 2004 14:18

In response to the cleaner/surgeon example, I agree with the PARticipatory ECONomics suggestion of the balanced job complex (a collection of tasks within a workplace that is comparable in its burdens and benefits). As EdLewis says - there is no reason why a surgeon can not clean bed pans. However this appears to raise problems - considering that some structural engineers, for example, would not be physically able to do construction work for 8 hours a day?

EdLewis
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Nov 2 2004 18:04

A couple of points in response to you, Logic. First, and this is really just semantic, in a parecon there would be no structural engineers per se, just as there would be no cleaners or surgeons per se - rather, people that clean, or do brain surgery or structural engineering would also do other tasks as part of the bundle of tasks that make up their work activities. Second, people would be free to choose whatever types of labour they wish, so long as they have a balanced job complex like everyone else, and so long as their work activities are negotiated with the other relevant economic participants. This process of negotiation is in turn constrained by the principle of self-management, which says that people's influence over decisions should be proportionate to how much they would be affected by those decisions.

So to apply this to your example of someone who is not capable of doing 8 hours of construction work, this need not be a problem. There are enough people capable of doing *some* construction work to satisfy society's need for it, particularly in a society that is not grossly wasteful and inefficient like our current one.

steve444333
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Nov 2 2004 21:52

"Depends what you mean by equal"

I dont mean anything by it. its meaning is not fixed, it is socialy contructed.

"Some surgeons probably couldn't lift a pickaxe off the ground, and I doubt they'd be able to sustain the physical activity require on a building site for weeks or months, in all weathers, so that inequality isn't just one way."

well lots of people cant. much MORE people CAN do it than surgery tho. that is why the sugeon has more power and hence, money, the social manifestation of power. of course, this is due to a particular social arrangement yes. but i personally dont have a problem with paying the surgeon more oney. you havent offered a convincing reason either. that would mean, if you cant convince me, someone sympathetic to your argument, aCTUAL surgeons are CETAINLY going to prefer societ yas it is than a utopian scheme, so they WILL leave, if there was the civil war that would inevitably ensure in implementing council communism or anarchism.

"Heart transplant's no good if you don't have anywhere to live. "

like i said, more people CAN be builders, hence the lower price of that labour, that is how a market works. you have offered a "should" against that arrangement, but no content.

"It's usually described as "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" - "

its also NEVER been successfully implemented. Russia, Spain etc.

" I don't want to hear someone who's only been playing the bassoon for a couple of weeks either."

this is taste and unimportant. surgery is life or death. besides, i personally think orchestral musicians only get so much money because of the pomposity of the british class sytem . what the fuck are anarcho copmmunists doing going to the orchestra?!

"People currently do go for these jobs because of status and money,"

yes. why esle. they compete. and the better ones win. your system would encourage this who "want" to do it, even if theyre shite at it.

PARECON is fucking hopelsess, and a prime example of why his "job complexes" wouldnt work. he has no background in moral philosophy or economics, avoids those crticisms. he simply asserts like you that we "should" counter genetic differences, but offers NO moral argument. leikewise, he simply asserts that ownership of the "m,eans if production" would be forbidden. without either outlining twhat this is or why it should be. Is Alberts comuter the "means of produciton"? are his hands?

Logic
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Nov 2 2004 22:52
Quote:
much MORE people CAN do it than surgery tho. that is why the sugeon has more power and hence, money,

I suppose the difference between the amount of people who could be surgeons and those who could be builders would be significantly less in a society in which all had equal opporunity to be educated.

If say 1 in every 100 people has the ABILITY to be a surgeon then the job of a surgeon is more important, and hence surgeons are significantly more powerful. However, if say, 1 in 20 people have the ABILITY to be a surgeon, due to equal opportunities for all, then the ability is more common and the individual is less important.

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EdLewis
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Nov 2 2004 23:13

Steve,

FYI Albert has some background in economics and Hahnel, co-creator of parecon, is an economics professor. There is no assertion that 'genetic differences' should be countered. Rather, in pursuit of diversity, they are to be welcomed, celebrated even. However, it is argued that they should not influence how much of the economic pie we are entitled to for the trivially simple moral reason that to do so would be to subject us to the genetic lottery, which is no different, morally, than the inheritance lottery also operative under capitalism. It is about fairness, quite an elementary moral concept. Parecon's alternatives, for anyone who's interested, are payment, or 'remuneration', according to effort/sacrifice, although need plays a role.

You are right that our hands, brains too, are means of production. However, ownership of these things is different to ownership of land, tools, factories etc. which entitle owners to profit from the labour of others who use those productive means - another form of remuneration deemed unjust from a parecon perspective - and to exercise disproportionate influence over the activities of those workers. My ownership of my hands and brain entitles me to neither of those things, nor does it even entitle me to what I can get in a market through the use of them - which may be a lot if I am particularly able at, say, playing snooker - if we abolish markets (perish the thought).

Btw, what do you advocate? If you want private ownership of m.o.p. plus markets isn't that ... capitalism?

EdLewis
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Nov 2 2004 23:28
Quote:

If say 1 in every 100 people has the ABILITY to be a surgeon then the job of a surgeon is more important, and hence surgeons are significantly more powerful. However, if say, 1 in 20 people have the ABILITY to be a surgeon, due to equal opportunities for all, then the ability is more common and the individual is less important.

It's indicated in my last post but I'll say it again: it needn't be the case that any level of natural ability entitles you to more power over others, at least not in the sense in having more say, getting more cash etc., if we decide that that is unfair and decide on a different system, like payment for effort and sacrifice, instead.

EdLewis
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Nov 2 2004 23:31

Guess I haven't quite figured out this quote system embarrassed Anyway, the second paragraph in the box (on my previous post) is my response to Logic.

steve444333
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Nov 3 2004 18:38

whether its 1 in 20 or 1 in 100 is my point; that determines the price of his labour. That is why footballers get paid so much. because they are the best 11 (say one team) out of however many MILLION who play football and live in that city.

the background of the guy who works at Verso or wherever is totally irrelevent. he didnt write the book. Alberts points may be "elementary", but they have to be convincing. I might not WANT fairness. I might think UNfairness is morally justifiable. Albert ASSERTS fairness but offers no content to what it is. and dont cite "sacrifice" and "effort", he doesnt define them either. he then absurdly oes on to give numbers out of 20. for fucks sake! even a two person interaction would become impossibe.

we DO have equal opportunity in education. everyone can get free schooling to 16. any one can borrow money to go to uni, regadless of their class background. they may be LESS likely to go. there is no need to say WHY tho. no doubt youll say its because of other factors. well, whatever. yeh. a working class person might get the piss taken out of them by their wroking class mates. but they CAN do it. they ARE allowed to. if they cant afford it, then maybe they should be allowed to borrow more.

personally, no, i cant find any convincing moral objection to "profit", because again its meaning is not fixed. i cant imagine how an econmoy would diversify without it.

If i REALLY REALLY like what albert sees as a totally shit job, but i get paid what he reccomends, i have "swindled" him out of something. his book is downright patronising in places, virtually saying no one should "want" to do "rote" jobs. what if they DO? what is his solution then?

anyway, this is now about albert, who is a borrowing fucktard i am not interested in talking about. if that is the economics of enrager, it is as "bankrupt" as he is.

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2004 19:05

steve444333, since you've obviously got much better economic knowledge than Michael Albert (who I have no agreement with afaik), and you think this:

" i cant find any convincing moral objection to "profit", because again its meaning is not fixed. "

Could you please describe why you don't accept Marx's theory of surplus value. I assume someone of your vast economic knowledge is familiar with at least Capital Vol 1.

Ta, looking forward to it.

By the way Steve, orchestral musicians get very little money compared to surgeons (I have relatives who've worked as orchestral musicians, although they don't know). Some soloists get lots of money, some conductors do, most orchestral musicians earn somewhere in the region of considerably less than a plumber, much, much less than a surgeon, yet it's a specialised job that people do for status that costs a fair amount in terms of training, resources, and especially infrastructure.

Despite all that time spent training, and the relatively limited employment opportunities, there are plenty of people who are excellent musicians who play in amateur community orchestras - they undertake years of training, do a day job, yet still go out and rehearse every week with orchestras.

Musicians in other fields may or may not receive as much training (your main point with surgeons), but plenty of them play at an exceptional level, yet do so in their spare time while holding down other jobs. People also volunteer with the St. John's Ambulance service and the Red Cross, undertake first-aid training, all without any financial remuneration, or very little. In some cases people put their own money (earned from other jobs) into these kinds of activities.

Assessing the value of someone's work based on their income is a very, very silly thing to do.

What's this guy do for half-a-million a year?

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pingtiao
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Nov 3 2004 19:07

oh, sorry, I banned him.

He is a paedo-lovin', "anarcho"-capitalist totin' annoyance, and We The Mods have decided to ban him each time he re-registers.

Sorry.

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2004 20:01

Bollocks, I was just beginning to enjoy myself.

Logic
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Nov 3 2004 20:20

The class system and differences in class culture, lifestyle and income means that working class kids have less chances of achieving than middle class kids - despite of their ability. In anarchism there would be no social classes.

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Anarch
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Nov 3 2004 21:54

A classless society is of course the goal. I just wonder whether there would be some difficulties concerning formerly middle class positions. Or even in things like being a prison gaurd, unless there were no prisons? Part of the problem would be that middle class people are well cemented in their current lifestyle. When the revolution comes how far would the redistribution of property go? What about the middle class person with the nicer house? I suppose you could take it from them but this sort of thing would alienate the middle class from the revolution. This is allright I guess as the middle class is pretty useless to the revolution anyway but then society would be lacking a lot of skilled positions...

Mike Harman
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Nov 3 2004 22:04

Capital Vol. 1 doesn't have anything about enforcement or preventing people form extracting surplus value. You haven't answered the question. I'm talking about his theory of capitalism, not anything he said about communism. No mention of communism in Capital Vol. 1, it's all about your favorite system

Logic
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Nov 3 2004 22:19

If you abolish currency then you dont have a problem do you?

WeTheYouth
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Nov 3 2004 22:28
Logic wrote:
If you abolish currency then you dont have a problem do you?

That will only ever be achieved after a long time of socialism, which is truly international.

Logic
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Nov 3 2004 22:44

so money is still required in an anarchist society?

Logic
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Nov 3 2004 22:51

never mind! understood!