Monday, 21 January 2013


      The arrogance of most modern economist that the capitalist state system that we have devised is an advancement from the more “primitive” societies and also a natural progression in development, is more and more being challenged. As we start to understand the structures of those earlier societies we realise that anarchism is not just a template for the future, but also a welcome echo from the past. Far from our capitalist state system being the "pinnacle" of evolution, it is proving to be a massive retrograde step. Lots of those earlier societies functioned on none hierarchical structures and lasted, in some cases, for thousands of years. I found the following article very interesting, perhaps you will also. 
       -------As early as 1925, the founder of French anthropology, Marcel Mauss was famously advocating the alternative morality of stateless societies in his “Essay on the Gift”. His study of gift exchange in kinship societies – like the potlatch of the American Indians of the Pacific Southwest and the elaborate Kula rings of the Trobriand Islanders – challenged the universal assumption that economies without markets or money must operate by means of barter. Far from seeking to engage in market behaviour, in which each party strives to get the best goods possible at the least cost to themselves, Mauss postulated that gift economies were not based on calculation at all, but on a refusal to calculate. It was not that they had failed to develop a system sophisticated enough to yield profit in an efficient way, but rather that these exchange systems were rooted in an ethical system which consciously rejected the basic notions on which we generally believe economics to be based.
      Mauss, a revolutionary socialist, aligned himself with many classic anarchist positions, but he never actually described himself as one. Significantly, another Frenchman, Pierre Clastres – who was a self-proclaimed anarchist – became well known for making a similar argument to Mauss on a political level. Whilst Mauss used anthropology to illuminate ways in which it was possible to build an anti-capitalist economy (as a response to the crisis of Lenin’s socialism), Clastres used anthropology to demonstrate how it was possible for power to operate in an egalitarian, non-coercive manner. By considering the power structures of stateless societies on their own terms Clastres found a way to politicise primitive societies. In doing so, he radically challenged the notion, outlined most prominently by Thomas Hobbes, that state power is a necessary illusion.

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