November 25, 2012

Some Draft Precepts


1. All sovereignty lies with the people, so it must rightfully stay at the ground level.
2. All power therefore can only be legitimately dispersed at the ground level.
3. The only legitimate governmental form can be local councils. (Which can federate upward, but with all real power and control remaining at the local/regional level.)
4. The natural boundaries are watersheds/foodsheds and similar geographical features.
5. By definition, wherever power has been concentrated up a hierarchy, we have tyranny. This is regardless of alleged benevolence (though such allegations are always lies in practice) or alleged electoral validation (the inertia of an already atomized and massified electorate doesn’t count as validation; and where did intact communities ever vote in a free, transparent election to surrender their sovereignty? and even if they did, this wouldn’t legitimize the power concentration but merely mean, as Rousseau said, that the people dissolve themselves as a people, leaving a legitimacy vacuum).
These are not only self-evidently true (the only alternative is straight might-makes-right), they’re also the implicit and sometimes explicit basis of all modern mass society and hierarchical power. These all claim ultimately to be based on the sovereignty of the people. I’m merely analyzing this proclaimed basis, which of course they don’t want anyone to analyze. I’m pointing out the fact that according to their proclaimed basis all these forms have zero legitimacy.
That’s in addition to their proven malevolence in practice.
And in addition to the fact that they don’t work at doing the things they claim they’ll do.
And in addition to the fact that they’re all 100% dependent on fossil fuels and shall collapse without them, leaving mass devastation and famine in their aftermath.
All this is toward the proposition that we need to organize for this ahead of time, that our organization needs to be on a basis in accord with nature, and that the political forms in accord with nature are the same which, according to existing political philosophy, are the only legitimate ones.
Politics, like everything else, is ultimately organic and must always return to this mean.



  1. Good stuff, Russ.

    One of the things I’m struggling with is the first precept. What makes humanity “special” is the voluntary division of labor among a collective. While each person in a collective has the sovereignty to withhold his labor, everybody else in the collective who relies upon a pledge to provide such labor that is later withdrawn is in something of a pickle. What is the recourse of the collective in such a situation, particularly if the person who withholds his labor collects the fruits of everybody else’s labor?

    While I find that I’m naturally gravitating towards an anarchist point of view, I am having a hard time understanding how it plays out in the real world. Is sovereignty one way, all power and no responsibility?

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 26, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

    • In posts like this one


      I’ve tried to describe work as an integral part of our humanity. This is contrary to the fraud which would sunder abstract humanity and hominid-as-worker, representing the latter as a “cost” to wealth accumulation. On the contrary, our work is our humanity, our necessary production (food, shelter, basic medicine, etc.) is part of the self-reproducing human cycle, while surplus “wealth” is a by product at best, and as history demonstrates, actually a pollutant.

      So when I refer to the people, and use the term sovereignty (which term I don’t insist upon, but since it’s so well-known in political philosophy it can serve as a useful shorthand for the legitimacy or lack thereof of forms and institutions), I’m assuming the people as a working community, including our existence as workers. An able-bodied hominid who refuses to work places himself outside humanity, in the so-called “state of nature” (which is really a state of anti-nature).

      I don’t see why any community would let an able-bodied person who refuses to work to draw upon its resources or production. (More evidence for how human community has been largely eradicated in modern times.) Even most if not all anarchists would agree that in such a case the malefactor should be driven out. Such a creature outlaws itself, and the community must then follow through on the outlaw’s own logic.

      Comment by Russ — November 27, 2012 @ 7:53 am

      • Like you, I’m trying to return to first principles by throwing off the abstractions that drive our understanding of the world and, therefore, our understanding of what is possible.

        Before there was money, credit and “economics” there was the voluntary division of labor. Not only is labor an integral part of our humanity, so is the division of labor and the specialization that comes with it.

        Hierarchy seems to be an overlay. When you divide labor so that the collective can produce more than each of the individuals of the collective acting on his own, it seems impossible to argue that any member of the collective deserves more of the results than any other.

        Somehow at some point, perhaps at the very beginning, somebody managed to assert hierarchy into the system. It could even be that the hierarchy asserted itself, as most human beings prefer to follow rather than lead.

        The basis of the hierarchy is a value system that allocates the output of the collective based on perceptions of relative worth.

        It seems that even under a purely cooperative society, we would still have a value system that allocates the output of the collective based on perceptions of relative worth: an able-bodied member of the collective who does not work will be excommunicated from the collective. Of course, this rule won’t apply to children, or to able-bodied adults who contribute non-economically to the well-being of the collective (e.g., caregivers), etc. The fact that there are exceptions seems to demonstrate the rule.

        Anyway, I think you answered my question. Excommunication/exile/ostracism is how the collective asserts its sovereignty.

        There is a part of me that wonders, though, whether the emphasis on work/labor undervalues the contributions of people whose labor is mostly or entirely intellectual. I’m just now starting to get into the writings of anarchists like Proudhon, and it strikes me that anarchists and Marxists alike romanticize the proletariat to the point where they can see nothing worthwhile outside of the proletariat. I think being a slacker is part of the human condition, as well, and that the slacker can contribute in his own way, but only if the collective has patience.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 27, 2012 @ 11:41 am

      • I can agree about division of labor only in the broadest sense. While within a tribe or peasant village there may be some recognizable go-to people for certain tasks, as a rule most people would perform most tasks. Meanwhile divisions on account of gender, caste etc. are just as artificial as any other. They’ve existed, but are neither necessary nor universal across human cultures. I don’t think there’s any practical or fact-of-human-nature reason why Adam Smith-type “division of labor” has to exist, and we can aspire to forego it.

        You don’t consider caregiving to be part of work? I sure do. But you’re right that I’m satisfied that physical workers can sufficiently provide their own ideas and management and don’t need specialists in such areas, and are better off without them. I’m satisfied that the “wealth creator” ideology is 100% a lie, and not even the caricature of a more modest underlying truth.

        This doesn’t mean that intellectual work isn’t valuable, but that we mustn’t again let the scam get a handhold that anybody’s intellectual/artistic/etc. contribution is so important that he should get an exemption from the regular work (to repeat, caregiving etc. is part of the regular work; anything necessary). From there the logic goes to not just exemptions but extra portions, and so on to the whole nightmare. Kafka wrote a great story on the theme.


        I’m not clear on your slacker example. Someone who actually is a slacker (as opposed to just inaccurately being seen that way by the mainstream) by definition produces nothing and heads nowhere. But even if someone truly is fermenting something worthwhile under a slack-looking exterior, that’s no reason he can’t do his daily work.

        Since I didn’t mention it explicitly in the post it’s worth repeating that by these truths the “employment” model is also illegitimate and the employer/employee dichotomy to be abolished. I bet far more slacking is on account of the inability/unwillingness to “get a job” rather than the unwillingness to work. Pull down the illegitimate enclosure of our work, and we’ll see far less slacking, much of which is imposed by the system in the form of “unemployment” anyway.


        I don’t know that the anthropological evidence is that people prefer to follow rather than lead, or that the leader/follower dichotomy is normal/natural, as opposed to specific to certain forms and institutions.

        I’m not saying all this to deny that hierarchy may reassert itself in the aftermath of the collapse/destruction of all existing hierarchies. It’s possible, but my point is that I see no reason to think it’s probable, let alone foredoomed. There’s good reason to think that if we organize the right way according to the right ideas, we can build truly cooperative communities. Of course, if there’s a more specific reason to fear hierarchical reassertion, our philosophy does need a plan for the problem.

        BTW, my term “worker” is regular English and has nothing to do with the technical term proletariat. The Marxian proletariat only briefly existed in full-fledged form, and barely exists today either physically (industrial workers are dispersed around the globe) or psychologically (one of corporatism’s most thoroughgoing victories was to infuse almost all workers including the Marxian proletariat with petty bourgeois consciousness). That aspect of Marxism is a dead letter.


        Comment by Russ — November 27, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

      • Quick hit (longer reply later): from what I can tell, the concept of “division of labor” predates Adam Smith by thousands of years and seems to be the basis of all Western civilizations. It certainly was present in Athens, and Hammurabi seemed to understand it, as well. Farmers, artisans, shoemakers, etc. It seems clear to me that people voluntarily divided the labor of the collective amongst themselves long before the rise of the debt-money system we have these days. It also seems clear that hierarchy asserted itself early on, as well.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 27, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

      • Obviously I didn’t mean that Smith invented the concept. I mentioned Smith because he gave the classical description of the modern “capitalist” division of labor, which is what I’m talking about.

        Under corporatism and globalization there’s tremendous pressure for localities and regions to specialize (and according to the ideology of system economics it’s irrational and a sin to go against this pressure). But this is really just a pathology of fossil fuels (the level of energy consumption they enable) and goes against the logic of natural economics and all the normal facts of nature (the fossil fuel era is an abnormal and unique blip). In nature all economic sectors are predominantly local/regional, and local/regional generalization is the most rational, efficient, and practical mode of economy.

        Comment by Russ — November 28, 2012 @ 3:19 am

  2. Soverivnty rests with the person. “People” is an euphemism for the hierarchical constructs.

    Comment by robindatta — November 30, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

  3. Russ/Tao
    Lot of good stuff… just wanted to throw in my opinion of the root cause of the pickle of power…..our old friend fear…. which is perpetuated by the fact that only we know what we are thinking and no one else can possible know that, yet-
    . Our judgement of others and their intent is based on observation of outward actions and bits and pieces of information we gather…breaking a contract to perform is a decision that happens for a reason in the mind of the one who breaks it…He will face the judgement of others and knows that there may be consequences… but has no idea what they will be until the group evaluates his past behavioral patterns. the culture of the group will have its patterns too of how they have behaved in the past and that has a lot to do with the individuals decision on breaking the contract and if the consequences are worth it or if he can plead his case effectively .

    So as we can easily see individual and group rights are interdependent in a civilized world and have not changed since the Greeks started questioning ethics…Now that we have cognitive science and understand the workings of brain and how it shoots endorphins and or adrenaline into our blood stream that causes reactions that others may not understand because they did not get the same stimulus perhaps we can solve this age old question of what is right…..ummmmm seems like a generalizable concept beginning to form….in my opinion.the real issue is dealing with our FEAR…. or TRUST and it will never be resolved until we can read other peoples minds….so the creator ( for those that chose to believe there was one, like me) left us with an unlimited brain that can recognize the patterns of thought by body movements that correlate with our body language and can recall these incomplete patterns instantaneously…often times incorrectly

    So…where do we go from here group?
    surely we can do better than the Greeks with over 2500, years behind us …and we still do not understand?

    Kind regards

    Comment by Dave Outlaw — December 5, 2012 @ 3:16 am

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