Community cannot continue to be “side-lined”, that is, in the current system community is an afterthought; it comes second behind the omnipotent industry. People go to work, they come home, they tend to chores and loved ones and engage in “leisure”. But this is leisure in an extremely narrow sense. This is leisure shaved from the sides of the bulky block of industry.
As populations grow and as wealth increases it is becoming especially clear that there are some problems within our current system and the industry within it. These problems, for the most part, are nothing new. Karl Marx foresaw them (in a way) and many late “comrades” and anarchists have attempted to do away with them once and for all, either by directing their attention to class struggle and dynamics or by seeking to overthrow the infamous “state”. But all of these well-intentioned individuals were mis-oriented in a sense. To isolate the state and to view all aspects of our system in terms of it is fundamentally dangerous. Let’s elaborate.
It can be said that under the blanket of the “state”, both industry and community fall. Industry, by nature of the intrinsic forces and historical development of capitalism, currently plays the larger role. Industry provides the momentum of the “masses”, so to speak. Therefore, industry with lack of community is tolerable; society is kept moving along, however miserably. And community with lack of industry in the “modern” day is decidedly tragic. But few it seems, have stopped and considered the exact nature of both industry’s and community’s relationship to the state. Our late comrades (Karl Marx included) viewed capitalism, at its base level, as a system in which private ownership of industry eroded the community as a whole and the well-being of the proletariat. The only way to detach this leech of private ownership and to restore the health of the overall community was to endow the state with special industrial and communal dominion (the result of the abolition of private ownership). Yet, however “free” the community seemed to be after this endowment of the state, it still remained imprisoned by industry. To elaborate, let’s take a look at the historical relation between industry and community. For the majority of civilization’s history, industry and community were essentially intertwined. In the Feudal system for instance, community was very isolated and static. The “web” of trade was instead a single strand, running from the Fiefs on one end to the Lords on the other. An important point to be made is that industry in these times, however closely coupled with community it was, was not at a state yet capable of “imprisoning” community. Community and industry in this age were simply one and the same, not yet of sufficient structure and complexity to give rise to any direct animosity or erosion among one another. Later, as humans progressed into capitalistic form, the newly formed “industry”, essentially as it it conceived of and functions today, began constructing a wall around its newly discovered territory, community. Due to industry’s intrinsic societal “momentum”, its creation of wealth and many forms commonly conceived of as “progress”, it quickly and persuasively staked its claim on community. Yet that isn’t to say that community was or is in any way entirely non-functional or “dead”, rather it had been warped and caged, “fetishized”, as Marx would have said and fashioned into a commoditized cell of the state. But the blame for this imprisonment oddly enough falls neither on the inmate, community, nor on its ultimate “law”, the state. Rather it falls solely on the shoulders of the great beast of industry. To carry the metaphor a bit further, it could be said that one (our late comrades) can change the law (the state) but the “beast” of industry, or in this case, its psychopathic, raging, almost demonic possession of the prisoner (community) cannot be quelled. It seems the case that industry, not intrinsically a force of coercion, has bound community and repeatedly threatened to take its life. And though we may still be uncertain of industry’s true intent to “shoot”, the threat is enough to press charges.
So now comes the question of “how?”. If, as it has been seen with the failures of the communist movement, we cannot change or endow the state with greater or different powers, then what can we do and how can we do it? Must we alter industry or is it something deeper? Anarchists advocate abolition of the state, and the “organic” restructuring of industry, but this is fundamentally flawed and would be disastrous. Society would devolve into disparate factions, each vying for the establishment of their own worldview, ultimately crashing into chaos and “mob-rule”. So now what? It seems we have exhausted all our options… doesn’t it? But let’s revisit the nature of what a “state” really is. A state, at its base level, is a system that regulates and controls (and of course gives rise to) both industry and community. Clearly both industry and community have their own respective qualities and benefits, and it’s also just as clear that they must have some some of framework within which to fully operate and complement one another. But we must be conscientious of how this framework is formed; the proper framework must preserve their synergism. Industry helps propel community forward, keeping it “modern” and “prosperous”. And community helps lend a sense of belonging and purpose to the workers in industry. In Marx’s worldview, there was a sort of worker-industry-community casual chain. He believed that the freedom of the individual directly correlated with the nature of that individual’s work, and vice versa. And this is true to a certain extent. But I propose that it is more helpful to think not in terms of such a casual chain of freedom but instead in terms of a synergistic system of freedom.
It can be said that each person has two identities, at base level. Each person is a worker and each person is a member of a community. In the communist system these identities were made to “overlap” in a sense, in that man’s “worker identity” derived its sense of community (or it was supposed to) from the nature of the industry in which it was in. But this is an extremely impoverished version of community. Community is not merely a derivative of labor, rather it is a collage of communal interaction and enjoyment and of creative expression. But how is it possible to separate, or if not to separate, “distance” community from industry? Through the “cyclicalization” of our societal system. I propose that instead of having people’s lives revolve around their work, we shall have work revolve around community and strengthen the industry-community synergy. To be clear, industry shall remain intact, its powerful momentum conserved. But it shall be displaced in a sense, no longer able to envelop its poor victim, community.
Instead of having people work throughout the year, I propose that we instead adopt a system that consists of alternating between periods of “industry” and “community”. So, for example, one may work his “industry” job for four months per year and then spend another four months engaged in “community council” affair and another four enjoying time with his family and traveling, if capable. The system will effectively preserve the synergistic relationship between industry and community, while allowing citizens to walk free of the shackles of industrial enslavement. Now to address the aspect of regulation and control of this system. Instead of a centralized, communal-industrial governing state, I propose two separate bodies of supervision. The first, “The Committee of Industry” or something of the sort will supervise, “safe-guard” and regulate industry. The “safe-guarding” process will entail forms of income regulation, viz. taking care to insure that extreme wealth is not accumulated and that the “capitalistic core” does not overheat. The second body of supervision, “The Community Consulate” and its constituents, “The Community Counsels” or something of the sort, will communicate economic information with The Committee of Industry and determine their respective community delegation and everyday affair.
As a crucial aside, it must be noted that this is not a call for immediate implementation. First and foremost, an acceptance and adoptance of a form of basic income needs to occur. This will help ease the transition into a new society built around increasing free time and community affair. And just as early socialists and Marxists adopted a political strategy of “revolutionary waiting”, that is, waiting for the economic forces to ripen and then rearrange them, we must also employ this strategy. The prime reason for this being the concurrence of an ever rising population and the imminence of automation and the following massive job displacement. Though in Marx’s day automation was a pipe dream and the population was manageable, we are at a point at which our new societal system must take these things into consideration. As anarchist theorists Murray Bookchin wrote, “If man had to acquire the conditions of survival in order to live (as Marx emphasized), now we must acquire the conditions of life in order to survive.” My friends, our time to acquire is nearly here!