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Domination and Cooperation, the Two Forms of Organizing for Society

Is Civilization Benefited by Authority or by Liberty?

By Punkerslut

Image by Punkerslut, Made with Graphics by David Drexler, CC BY-SA 2.0 License
Image: Image by Punkerslut, Made with Graphics by David Drexler, CC BY-SA 2.0 License

Start Date: August 25, 2011
Finish Date: August 25, 2011

The Practice of a Dominating Organization

"Does Heaven speak? The four seasons pursue their courses, and all things are continually being produced, but does Heaven say anything?"
          --Confucius, ~600 BC
          "Analects of Confucius," Book 17, Chapter 19

     The traditional organization always has its leader or leaders. There is a hierarchy, orders, and a system of duties and responsibilities. Such an organization is ruled through domination, because no matter how the ruler is chosen, they're equally empowered. Election or not, the leader will possess the same rights in making orders and deciding the agenda of the whole organization. "Democratic" organization or not, the majority will be expected to submit to whatever orders are given.

     No matter how "free" one is to become the master giving the orders, nobody is free when it comes to being a simple participant. This is the system of Domination, which is the widespread method for the great vast majority of governments, corporations, and business interests around the world. In some cases, it expands into other atmospheres, such as the schools and universities of the educational system.

     The members of this organization believe that they can reach their shared aim best by uniting together under one particular leadership. Society is nothing more than the creation and destruction of these groups, as well as their inter-connections. From careless socializing to scientific study, groups must naturally spring up. They often arise just for their own sake, out of the inherently social nature of humanity. And, they often agree to the authority of an organization. It is often not done consciously, but only with the thought that there is no other way of organizing.

The Practice of a Cooperative Organization

"I love men too - not merely individuals, but every one. But I love them with the consciousness of egoism; I love them because love makes me happy, I love because loving is natural to me, because it pleases me. I know no 'commandment of love.' I have a fellow-feeling with every feeling being, and their torment torments, their refreshment refreshes me too..."
          --Max Stirner, 1845
          "The Ego and Its Own," Part 2, Chapter II, Section 2

     There is another form of organization. It is one where there are no orders or leaders. Everyone participates with everyone else according to how they desire. After all, the organization only exists because of each person who belongs to it, and for no other reason at all. The individuals were intelligent enough to have the decision-making capacity to join a group that they think represents their interests. Why, then, should they be stripped of all liberties and freedoms upon entering the group? If they are smart enough to know the group's strength is their own strength, then what makes them so stupid that they cannot manage their own strength?

     We always hear about "freedom" and "liberty," but what do I mean by these words when I say that cooperative society is free society? The obedient participant of an authoritarian system must obey orders. The free participant of a cooperative society has an obligation to obey nobody. "Order," or the functioning of the group towards its collective goal, is established by the members voluntarily choosing to undertake certain activity. Nobody is ordered to behave in a way that brings the organization towards its end; it is out of their own self-interest, choice, and initiative that the people choose to work together.

     The question is often posed, "But if people are not ordered, why should they do anything?" To this, one may respond, "But if people are ordered, what will bring them to the organization to begin with, if they can join or quit by choice?" If a person risks something by being expelled for not fulfilling the standards of a group, then this risk is its own motive, just as ambition was the driving factor in bringing the person to the group to begin with. If someone doesn't do any work in a self-managed farm, for instance, what right to that wealth could a single, idle person try to enforce against the many who did a fair share of work? It would be socially impossible.

Expanding the Principle of Cooperation Toward All Society

"In all governments, there is a perpetual intestine struggle, open or secret, between Authority and Liberty..."
          --David Hume, 1777
          "Essays Moral, Political, Literary," Part 1, Essay 5

     The voluntary principle has generally been accepted in labor unions, in worker cooperatives, and in scientific societies. But the authoritarian principle still reigns throughout the rest of society: the government, the capitalist system, the university, the mandatory schooling systems, and so on. There is no principle of choice in any of these systems. All of these systems are based on domination, because they all have the same core of authority.

     Government demands that you obey, or threatens you with jail. Capitalism makes the same demand, but threatens to withdraw the wages you need for bread. And the university system, likewise, demands obedience, but it threatens you by withdrawing your right to a diploma. The diploma is nothing more than the modern equivalent of a mid-evil title like baron or duke, that allows some cunning person to exploit the better-natured individuals around them. The owners of prisons do not ask you for permission to use force upon you, just as the owners in prohibiting you from the land, or the masters of universities in excluding you.

     If the voluntary principle were applied to every social system that the individual participated in, then it would essentially mean Anarchy, or the complete absence of rulers. Every school would be managed cooperatively between the students and the teachers, just as every factory would be organized by those who labored on the assembly lines. Every neighborhood would have its neighborhood association, as every small, concerted effort of hobbyists or social justice advocates would have their own small associations. Every person would likely be participating in many organizations with the cooperative method running through them.

     This would be the free society, where the positive, social aspects of humanity are emphasized, while providing as little interference with the individual as possible. Or, in a single word, it would be Anarchy.

"What constitutes the characteristic, the raison d'etre of anarchism is the conviction that the governments -- dictatorships, parliaments, etc. -- are always instruments of conservation, reaction, oppression; and freedom, justice, well-being for everyone must come from the fight against authority, from free enterprise and free agreement among individuals and groups."
          --Errico Malatesta, 1930
          "Against the Constituent Assembly as Against the Dictatorship"


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