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onpon4
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Anarchist Communism
« on: October 17, 2010, 03:22:34 pm »

A little discussion came up on this thread, and I'm continuing it here at Luki's suggestion.

I don't care much about your theories on happiness and contentment,  but I will say that the idea of voluntary organizations stepping up and common ownerships taking over has some serious problems in my opinion. If nothing else, it assumes that there is an endless supply of leaders and organizers ready to put in some very hard work though they may be replaced at a moments notice.

Actually, leadership is not something that Anarcho-Communism or Libertarian Socialism believe to be necessary. Order comes about naturally from a common interest to accomplish something.

Let's take one example we're probably all familiar with: free software. Like it or not, free software is essentially the very definition of Anarchist Communism; anyone is allowed access to it in order to use, modify, and distribute it as they please as long as they also provide these same rights for their modification/redistribution, which often causes people to voluntarily help on the project. In open source projects, there really is no need for a leader. As long as people are contributing to the project, the project will move forward.

Not everyone is equal in their abilities, and those abilities are both hard to find and replace even in the current system.

I realize that not everyone is equal. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." For the common interest of not only survival, but a good life as well, people will work together and do what they do best.
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2010, 03:42:44 pm »

Actually, leadership is not something that Anarcho-Communism or Libertarian Socialism believe to be necessary. Order comes about naturally from a common interest to accomplish something.

Let's take one example we're probably all familiar with: free software. Like it or not, free software is essentially the very definition of Anarchist Communism; anyone is allowed access to it in order to use, modify, and distribute it as they please as long as they also provide these same rights for their modification/redistribution, which often causes people to voluntarily help on the project. In open source projects, there really is no need for a leader. As long as people are contributing to the project, the project will move forward.

Yeah, tell that to Timewarp or any other free software program that failed. Leadership isn't necessary for rote day to day work, but it is needed to keep a group together and to move it forward. Open source projects live and die with a team and it's fairly uncommon for one to be successful without some organization. Or have I got that wrong?

I realize that not everyone is equal. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." For the common interest of not only survival, but a good life as well, people will work together and do what they do best.

But if someone has a certain key ability, what motivates him/her to use it if it involves working a lot harder than those around him? Not saying we need all theincentiveswe have now, but with no incentives there'll be a lot of people who will simply do the minimal amount required.
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2010, 04:45:12 pm »

Yeah, tell that to Timewarp or any other free software program that failed. Leadership isn't necessary for rote day to day work, but it is needed to keep a group together and to move it forward. Open source projects live and die with a team and it's fairly uncommon for one to be successful without some organization. Or have I got that wrong?

TimeWarp died because there wasn't enough interest in it, just like every other project that has died. On the other hand, projects that people have a great interest in, such as Linux, continue to thrive. This occurs all the same in our current Capitalist system; things that companies work on that the public has no interest die out. The only difference is, while lack of interest is found out after the fact in our current system, resulting in a waste of resources and effort, lack of interest in open source results in the project dying before it's made, allowing potential contributors to move on to something more worthwhile.

Also, I must stress that no central leader is not synonymous with no organization (i.e. chaos). In a system with no central leader, the default is democracy, where the majority rules, and those in a small minority are usually willing to compromise what they would ideally like in order to achieve something.

But if someone has a certain key ability, what motivates him/her to use it if it involves working a lot harder than those around him? Not saying we need all theincentiveswe have now, but with no incentives there'll be a lot of people who will simply do the minimal amount required.

The interest of achieving something, of course! Consider why people working on Project6014 are working so hard!

But let me give you a different, real-world example. A farmer. Why would a farmer grow a large amount of food and share it with others, when he can just grow enough for himself? The simple answer is, why not? It feels good to know that you're making a good difference in society. A farmer would feel much more important if he grows more and shares with everyone around him, because he knows that he's making people happy and keeping people alive. I don't know what kind of job you have, but can you honestly tell me you would be a lazy bum and do as little as possible?

Of course, there would likely be some people who are simply assholes and try to take advantage of the system, but these people would be shamed by everyone around them and, most likely, discover how unfulfilling being a lazy bum is. I must stress that in a working Anarchist Capitalist system, the bare minimum is zero contributions. There is no higher pecking order requiring you to do X amount of work. Instead, people do work because they want to contribute to society. This means lazy people cannot possibly justify doing nothing, even to themselves, and would be compelled by shame to contribute to society in some way, after which he would quickly learn that working isn't so bad.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2010, 04:48:25 pm by onpon4 » Logged

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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2010, 05:08:20 pm »

Farmers don't produce more just out of curtesy - they need overproduction for paying for the required services, like electricity, water, stove gas and land costs. Of corse farms could be made self-supporting, but it would still need a huge amount of initial investments, that need to come from somewhere, or have means of loan return.
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Lukipela
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2010, 05:22:50 pm »

TimeWarp died because there wasn't enough interest in it, just like every other project that has died. On the other hand, projects that people have a great interest in, such as Linux, continue to thrive. This occurs all the same in our current Capitalist system; things that companies work on that the public has no interest die out. The only difference is, while lack of interest is found out after the fact in our current system, resulting in a waste of resources and effort, lack of interest in open source results in the project dying before it's made, allowing potential contributors to move on to something more worthwhile.

Not really. There was still a lot of interest in Timewarp and several developers present on the scene when I arrived some years ago. But even with all that, they couldn't make the project work. It's not that easy to get all sorts of volunteers coding according to standards that are anywhere near easy for others to pick up and follow through on. It's also pretty hard to do innovation by committee, which is what a democracy requires.

Quote
Also, I must stress that no central leader is not synonymous with no organization (i.e. chaos). In a system with no central leader, the default is democracy, where the majority rules, and those in a small minority are usually willing to compromise what they would ideally like in order to achieve something.

I actually work in a flat organisation. Do you know what happens when there is no clear command structure and everyone has an equal say in how a project should be done? Nothing gets done. people talk a lot, but no one can make a decision because no one has that authority unless you have... a leader. and if no one is appointed, it's usually whoever shouts the loudest.

Speaking of minority and majority, you end up in a completely different ballpark there. What if what the majority wants is very objectionable to the minority, or vice versa? Are there any checks and balances n your system?


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The interest of achieving something, of course! Consider why people working on Project6014 are working so hard!

The people on that project work hard because they have a common goal and someone organizing things. I won't pretend to know their inner workings, but I'm pretty sure not everyone has an equal say in their organization.

Quote
But let me give you a different, real-world example. A farmer. Why would a farmer grow a large amount of food and share it with others, when he can just grow enough for himself? The simple answer is, why not? It feels good to know that you're making a good difference in society. A farmer would feel much more important if he grows more and shares with everyone around him, because he knows that he's making people happy and keeping people alive.

Idealistic, but not realistic. If the farmer ends up with a lot of neighbours eating his food, demanding that he grow their favourite vegetables and giving him nothing in return but contempt, he'll eventually stop giving food away. After working hard in the field all year, he's likely to feel a bit bitter if he is the only one who has to do it while others just lounge around.

Quote
I don't know what kind of job you have, but can you honestly tell me you would be a lazy bum and do as little as possible?

I'm a process design engineer. In my work I often see exactly this. If you get paid as much as the guy in the next cubicle, and you know that he spends most of his time goofing off and drinking coffee, you'll likely be less motivated to put in overtime and sacrifice family life for projects you do together. Not everyone of course, but it's true for a lot of people. If you just give someone increased responsibility and a heavier workload while keeping their salary at the same level as someone who has a lighter workload and no responsibility, they'll resent it and often underperform.

Quote
Of course, there would likely be some people who are simply assholes and try to take advantage of the system, but these people would be shamed by everyone around them and, most likely, discover how unfulfilling being a lazy bum is. I must stress that in a working Anarchist Capitalist system, the bare minimum is zero contributions. There is no higher pecking order requiring you to do X amount of work. Instead, people do work because they want to contribute to society. This means lazy people cannot possibly justify doing nothing, even to themselves, and would be compelled by shame to contribute to society in some way, after which he would quickly learn that working isn't so bad.

People don't need to be assholes to not feel compelled to give their all if they don't feel their input is recognized or respected. Anyway, if you were an asshole living in paradise with free food and no work, what would you care about those silly working ants and their opinions? You'd hang out with the other assholes.

And again, wanting to contribute to society and actually doing so are different things. I know several old ladies here in town who are trying to help immigrants with their Swedish skills. Lovely ladies, doing good in their spare time. Except they have never spoken anything but Swedish, so they have no clue about how to teach a language or even what their pupils are asking about. The immigrants come confused, and leave even more confused. Should they feel shamed, or is this a good thing? If asked, they'd probably not want to do anything else, this is where their passion lies. they just aren't good at it.
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2010, 06:12:10 pm »

Farmers don't produce more just out of curtesy - they need overproduction for paying for the required services, like electricity, water, stove gas and land costs. Of corse farms could be made self-supporting, but it would still need a huge amount of initial investments, that need to come from somewhere, or have means of loan return.

That's in today's Capitalist system. I'm talking about an Anarcho-Communist system.

Quote
Not really. There was still a lot of interest in Timewarp and several developers present on the scene when I arrived some years ago. But even with all that, they couldn't make the project work. It's not that easy to get all sorts of volunteers coding according to standards that are anywhere near easy for others to pick up and follow through on. It's also pretty hard to do innovation by committee, which is what a democracy requires.

If TimeWarp truly is wanted, people who want it will do whatever they can to contribute to the project. Otherwise, in the minds of the potential developers, the output is not worth the effort. Of course, there can be a situation where there are no people interested who have a necessary skill (i.e. programming or 3D modeling), but if that's the case, those who are interested will come up with a compromise, or perhaps try to get people with the necessary skill interested.

Quote
I actually work in a flat organisation. Do you know what happens when there is no clear command structure and everyone has an equal say in how a project should be done? Nothing gets done. people talk a lot, but no one can make a decision because no one has that authority unless you have... a leader. and if no one is appointed, it's usually whoever shouts the loudest.

Yes, I can see your argument. This usually isn't the case, however, because most people are willing to make compromises for the benefit of a team effort. In the cases where a leader really is needed, a pseudo-leader will "take over" and direct traffic, without actually being officially in charge, and if he fails to properly represent what the majority wants, he will be ousted.

Quote
Speaking of minority and majority, you end up in a completely different ballpark there. What if what the majority wants is very objectionable to the minority, or vice versa? Are there any checks and balances n your system?

You mean, like in a game, making the KKK a protagonist and black people an antagonist? In this type of case, if it doesn't result in the death of the project, some type of bigotry must be normalized and a change in thought is needed. A leader being in charge wouldn't help at all, because he would most likely make the decision that would make more developers willing to keep at it. Therefore, rather than angering the racists who want the KKK to be the protagonist, he will anger the few black people who are part of the project by allowing the KKK to be a protagonist.

Of course, you would be right if we were talking about government, but we aren't. Putting in checks to ensure against "objectionable" content would only serve to hinder freedom of speech.

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Idealistic, but not realistic. If the farmer ends up with a lot of neighbours eating his food, demanding that he grow their favourite vegetables and giving him nothing in return but contempt, he'll eventually stop giving food away. After working hard in the field all year, he's likely to feel a bit bitter if he is the only one who has to do it while others just lounge around.

Your example isn't realistic either; it's pessimistic. Reality is far more likely to be between the idealistic and pessimistic extremes.

Quote
I'm a process design engineer. In my work I often see exactly this. If you get paid as much as the guy in the next cubicle, and you know that he spends most of his time goofing off and drinking coffee, you'll likely be less motivated to put in overtime and sacrifice family life for projects you do together. Not everyone of course, but it's true for a lot of people. If you just give someone increased responsibility and a heavier workload while keeping their salary at the same level as someone who has a lighter workload and no responsibility, they'll resent it and often underperform.

In your example, people are only going to work because they want to make money. In a society where such an incentive doesn't exist, people wouldn't go to a workplace and do nothing productive. You have to keep in mind, in an Anarcho-Communist society, there is no paycheck you get for being in a workplace. People only would go to a workplace if they want to work.

Quote
People don't need to be assholes to not feel compelled to give their all if they don't feel their input is recognized or respected. Anyway, if you were an asshole living in paradise with free food and no work, what would you care about those silly working ants and their opinions? You'd hang out with the other assholes.

The problem with this assertion is it wouldn't be paradise. The rest of the working majority would detest you for wasting resources and not doing your fair share. In short, you and your asshole friends (if they even exist) would be outcasts.

This would be nearly impossible, but let's say, for the sake of argument, that for some reason 80% of people were lazy bums. Guess what would happen? Quality of life would plummet and they would be compelled to work to improve the quality of life by doing work; researching, making new things, etc.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2010, 06:13:46 pm by onpon4 » Logged

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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2010, 07:58:41 pm »

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Not really. There was still a lot of interest in Timewarp and several developers present on the scene when I arrived some years ago. But even with all that, they couldn't make the project work. It's not that easy to get all sorts of volunteers coding according to standards that are anywhere near easy for others to pick up and follow through on. It's also pretty hard to do innovation by committee, which is what a democracy requires.
If TimeWarp truly is wanted, people who want it will do whatever they can to contribute to the project. Otherwise, in the minds of the potential developers, the output is not worth the effort. Of course, there can be a situation where there are no people interested who have a necessary skill (i.e. programming or 3D modeling), but if that's the case, those who are interested will come up with a compromise, or perhaps try to get people with the necessary skill interested.

Hey, don't take the sacred TimeWarp into that silly discussion! It's not failed yet!  Grin Okay maybe it is, but I'm still dreaming for proper Melee with global server list and multiple ships on a battlefield, everything running on my Android phone of course  Roll Eyes would be easier to improve UQM network then to fix TimeWarp bugs I guess.

This would be nearly impossible, but let's say, for the sake of argument, that for some reason 80% of people were lazy bums.

Actually, 99% of people are lazy bums and other 1% have mental illnesses of some sort (that's not scientific data, just personal opinion).
What makes that lazy bums work is greed and desire to be better than others. No way someone will work for the sake of others if it won't give him/her more than others have. Even if you'll make zillion of robots to do all routine job for other ppl they will just do some silly things like abusing the power, making robots battle each other etc - there will be no reason for a person to improve, because you'll take the basic ground for improvement away, and that ground is our ancient instincts like hunger, greed and envy. Yes they're bad, but only if you abuse them in the way prohibited by law, when they are working properly you're doing useful work and moving progress ahead and filling up your pocket. So, why throw away a thing which worked for a million years and made humans dominant species on the planet? It's against open-source software ideas Tongue
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2010, 09:00:12 pm »

Actually, 99% of people are lazy bums and other 1% have mental illnesses of some sort (that's not scientific data, just personal opinion).
What makes that lazy bums work is greed and desire to be better than others. No way someone will work for the sake of others if it won't give him/her more than others have. Even if you'll make zillion of robots to do all routine job for other ppl they will just do some silly things like abusing the power, making robots battle each other etc - there will be no reason for a person to improve, because you'll take the basic ground for improvement away, and that ground is our ancient instincts like hunger, greed and envy. Yes they're bad, but only if you abuse them in the way prohibited by law, when they are working properly you're doing useful work and moving progress ahead and filling up your pocket. So, why throw away a thing which worked for a million years and made humans dominant species on the planet? It's against open-source software ideas Tongue

I've heard this argument before, so I'm well aware of it. People are greedy and only care about themselves and their power, so if you aren't given a higher status for working harder, you will be a lazy bum. But I highly disagree. Even if power is a heavy driver today, and it very well might be, that doesn't mean that power is a necessary driver. Scientists are already driven by a quest for knowledge. I know very well that I'm driven to make games by my desire to make people happy. Linux sure wasn't driven by a desire for power, but I'd bet it was driven by a desire to have a UNIX-like OS on home computers. You see where I'm going here? People don't only care about their power over others. Power is something that many people seek, but it is not the only thing that people seek.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2010, 09:06:31 pm by onpon4 » Logged

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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2010, 09:16:09 pm »

It matters whether your putting food on the table, not if your games are making people happy.
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2010, 09:58:54 pm »

Just to point something out, Linux is absolutely NOT a leaderless, anarchist project. Linus Torvalds always has and still does control what goes into it, in addition to running and organizing the project. Linux is an example of a benevolent dictatorship, NOT anarchist communism. There are very few succesful free software/open source projects without any kind of leadership.

It matters whether your putting food on the table, not if your games are making people happy.

I agree wholeheartedly.
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2010, 10:33:17 pm »

Just to point something out, Linux is absolutely NOT a leaderless, anarchist project. Linus Torvalds always has and still does control what goes into it, in addition to running and organizing the project. Linux is an example of a benevolent dictatorship, NOT anarchist communism. There are very few succesful free software/open source projects without any kind of leadership.

I understand this, but it is still an effort from many people with no monetary incentive. That was all I was saying.

It matters whether your putting food on the table, not if your games are making people happy.

So, all you care about is whether you have food? You have no desire to be useful to others? I'm having a hard time believing that.
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2010, 10:38:13 pm »

So, all you care about is whether you have food? You have no desire to be useful to others? I'm having a hard time believing that.

Unless you satisfy the first, the second is irrelevant.
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2010, 11:01:30 pm »

So, all you care about is whether you have food? You have no desire to be useful to others? I'm having a hard time believing that.

Unless you satisfy the first, the second is irrelevant.

I realize that, but it's pretty easy to satisfy the first unless you're facing a food crisis.
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2010, 11:07:35 pm »

That's in today's Capitalist system. I'm talking about an Anarcho-Communist system.

So tell me about your system Are farms completely self-sustained? Or are there factory communities producing tractors and the likes?

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If TimeWarp truly is wanted, people who want it will do whatever they can to contribute to the project. Otherwise, in the minds of the potential developers, the output is not worth the effort. Of course, there can be a situation where there are no people interested who have a necessary skill (i.e. programming or 3D modeling), but if that's the case, those who are interested will come up with a compromise, or perhaps try to get people with the necessary skill interested.

But if what they can do isn't enough, the project is doomed to fail. As every volunteer project without the proper resources. And both getting them and getting everyone to agree with them is not an easy task. That is my point. people don'tust magically turn up and agree to compromise and follow someone else's direction, especially if they hold one of several key skills. But if they don't, the project doesn't move forward.

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Yes, I can see your argument. This usually isn't the case, however, because most people are willing to make compromises for the benefit of a team effort. In the cases where a leader really is needed, a pseudo-leader will "take over" and direct traffic, without actually being officially in charge, and if he fails to properly represent what the majority wants, he will be ousted.

No, this usually is the case. People are complex creatures and "the benefit of team effort" ranks pretty low on your list of priorities. That's management speak and we spit on it. Pseudo-leaders do emerge, but will almost always fail since they lack any actual authority. For instance, imagine your school janitors. Do you really think that they work together for team benefits and will willingly allow one of their own to start organizing the schedule of everyone else just like that?

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You mean, like in a game, making the KKK a protagonist and black people an antagonist? In this type of case, if it doesn't result in the death of the project, some type of bigotry must be normalized and a change in thought is needed. A leader being in charge wouldn't help at all, because he would most likely make the decision that would make more developers willing to keep at it. Therefore, rather than angering the racists who want the KKK to be the protagonist, he will anger the few black people who are part of the project by allowing the KKK to be a protagonist.

No, I mean as in the aforementioned janitors all voting together that "Cleaning toilets is Jack's job, we've all voted for that so clearly that's decided". You seem to be somewhat under the impression that we're just talking about computer development here. We're not, I don't care much about intellectual theories on how software should be produced. You mentioned that you want volunteers to take over real life things, such as refineries, farms and whatnot. That's what I'm curious about.

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Of course, you would be right if we were talking about government, but we aren't. Putting in checks to ensure against "objectionable" content would only serve to hinder freedom of speech.

So what is at top, organizing these groups?

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Your example isn't realistic either; it's pessimistic. Reality is far more likely to be between the idealistic and pessimistic extremes.

Here's a more realistic version. Bob and Bill have a farm each. They are both the same size, and based on "to everyone what he needs", they get the same kind of resources from wherever, and can both live similar lives. Bill works his ass off to produce as much food as possible. As a result he works long days, but it pays off in the form of loads of crops that he can give onwards to everyone. That gives him a lovely warm feeling, but he doesn't see his wife much. Bob does the bare minimum required. He grows crops comfortably, and hands out what little gets left over to others. His days are shorter and he can spend more time with his wife and children. Are you telling me that after several years of this, most Bill's out there wont start thinking "maybe spending more time with my family and doing less for the world wouldn't hurt, Bob seems to manage okay"?

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In your example, people are only going to work because they want to make money. In a society where such an incentive doesn't exist, people wouldn't go to a workplace and do nothing productive. You have to keep in mind, in an Anarcho-Communist society, there is no paycheck you get for being in a workplace. People only would go to a workplace if they want to work.

I suspect your society will be a dirty dirty place, few people actually want to clean toilets or sweep streets at 5 in the morning. Also, I'm very good at what I do. I enjoy my job and I find it rewarding. But given the alternative to simply travel around the world, paint a  little and try to write stories, I'd never go back in to work. I suspect a lot of engineers out there feel the same. Optimizing a bitumen pumping system is rewarding, but it's hardly what anyone dreams of doing. So how is going to run the factories? Well meaning volunteers with a background in political sciences? They'll blow a refinery up before noon.

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The problem with this assertion is it wouldn't be paradise. The rest of the working majority would detest you for wasting resources and not doing your fair share. In short, you and your asshole friends (if they even exist) would be outcasts.

I reiterate, why do I care what the majority thinks? People who flaunt social conventions and are ostracised for it exist today, why would they suddenly cease to exist?

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This would be nearly impossible, but let's say, for the sake of argument, that for some reason 80% of people were lazy bums. Guess what would happen? Quality of life would plummet and they would be compelled to work to improve the quality of life by doing work; researching, making new things, etc.

And by the time this is noticeable and we've exhausted current stocks, we have a whole generation that hasn't learned about all the fancy high tech stuff they need to operate and control, power generation and production slump off, people starve and humanity slips backwards into the 18th century, feudalism is reinstated and we start over. Good going.
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Re: Anarchist Communism
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2010, 11:18:58 pm »

I understand this, but it is still an effort from many people with no monetary incentive. That was all I was saying.

As a matter of fact several key Linux developers are paid to work on Linux, and other free software/OSS projects have paid contributors as well.
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