30 Aug 2016

Libertarian communism

We professors were talking over a "mental map" to help students see the different characteristics of the power structures that affect our lives. Although there are many elements that one might focus on (religious? formalized?), we wanted to compare and contrast centralized to decentralized and coercive to free. We agreed that "the state" is a centralized and coercive (i.e., possessing a monopoly on violence) and that the opposite would be markets, which are characterized by competition and voluntary trade.

Taking those two anchors as given, we got into the harder off-diagonals. Yes, it does make sense that a community would be decentralized and coercive (otherwise you're thrown out), but what would be decentralized AND non-coercive?

Those two terms imply voluntary as well as centralized, which makes no sense when you think of any example combining two or more people. How can you centralize AND be free? Although my peers were not exactly pleased with my answer (the individual), I think it fits the definitions as well as provoking the correct philosophical questions: An individual is free to act according to their whim and capable of motivating action ("eat that carrot!") by command and control.

Indeed, we spend most of our days obeying these whims, and we certainly notice when we are coerced (forced to do other than our first choice) or when we are exchanging with others on a voluntary basis.

Bottom Line No man is an island, but we all live on reefs.