Peer to peer, democracy, and the state

I essentially agree with Dale’s point of view, and reproduce it here to outline the differences between the p2p approach and libertarian/anarchist approaches.

Dale Carrico:

“I want not to smash the state but to democratize it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it seems to me that the definitive ideal of democratization, equity-in-diversity, is not attainable in the absence of good government, and unless we create and maintain institutions for the nonviolent adjudication of disputes the permanent possibility of violence inhering in human plurality will prevail.

Given the susceptibility of all states to capture by incumbents and all authorities to rationalization anarchism provides an indispensable vantage for critique, but few resources from which to educate, agitate, and organize the ongoing struggle for democratization, consensualization, and equity-in-diversity.

The red thread of inequity and violence undertaken by tyrannical and corrupt governments is horrible to contemplate and should bolster the resolve of radical democrats, but anarchists just seem to me to throw the baby out with the bathwater or, worse, seem in their assumptions about politics to have remained in the nursery themselves, mistaking hopes for harmony (or, worse, the customary coercions of contract for peace), or declarations of abstract principle for the painful compromised concrete struggles for reconciliation or reform.

In particular, I regard the endless recurrence to fantasies of “spontaneous order” on the part of anarchists — whether they fancy themselves to inhabit the left or the right or some place “beyond left and right” — a parade of functional facilitations of oligarchy.

Now, I abhor empire, and it is a deep confusion to identify all government with empire, or to insinuate that those who would struggle to make government of by and for the people more convivial pine after a “good empire”.

As for why governance now needs to be planetary in scope (this was the topic of the post which occasioned this upgraded exchange from the Moot), as I said, global governance already exists now, but in authoritarian corporate-militarist forms, and it is the struggle of our living generation to democratize this existing global governance in the interests of sustainability and fairness not to invent some planetary government ab initio and as some kind of end-in-itself.

Our environmental problems are planetary in character and the nation-state system is manifestly inadequate to cope with them (thus threatening us all with literal destruction) while at one and the same time the public realm has been likewise rendered planetary through p2p-media formations that are the register in which contemporary citizenship makes its play. The planetary character of our problems, of the emerging terrain of political agency, and even of existing institutions are already before us, the work is to democratize them else be enslaved or destroyed by them.

As for the more basic questions posed about the presumed dispensability of political life as such: Human plurality is palpable, as is our interdependency with one another, peer-to-peer, and our shared indebtedness to the archive of history’s accomplishments and troubles are all facts of life. That we are obligated by the voices of those with whom we share the world is no less true when we deny it or rationalize it away. Equity, diversity, consent are fragile but indispensable to human flourishing and must be accomplished through civitas. Until these fundamentals are grasped one cannot expect to talk sensibly for long about politic matters.”

Dale Carrico critique of dreams of escaping dealing with the state is part of a triarchy of concerns:

“[one] to pine for the dis-invention rather than the democratization of the state seems to me a recipe for chaos and tyranny masquerading as concern for injustice, usually arising out of wish-fulfillment fantasies of spontaneous order either based in parochialism or denialism about the ineradicability and demands of human plurality;

[two] to pine for the dis-invention of sex-gender altogether rather than for its more capacious re-elaboration through the creative and subversive citations of its norms seems to me an evasion of the problem of patriarchy masquerading as an intervention in it, usually arising out of wish-fulfillment fantasies that one might simply will oneself into genderlessness or post-gender, as though gender were a suit of clothes donned or doffed from a hanger, when will itself is not so much willed as enabled through the ongoing elaboration of norms, among them, yes, sex-gender norms;

[three] to pine for techno-transcendence — superintelligence, superlongevity, superabundance as deranging hyperbolizations of security, healthcare, sustainability — rather than for democratizing technodevelopmental social struggle to ensure that the costs, risks, and benefits of technoscientific change are equitably distributed to the diversity of their stakeholders seems to me to indulge in wish-fulfillment fantasies masquerading as consensus science and serious science policy, usually in the service of incumbents fraudulently seeking outcomes that amplify their interests or from the vantage of marginal defensive faith-based subcultures suffused with irrational fears of impotence and dreams of omnipotence among True Believers and would-be gurus.”

1 Comment Peer to peer, democracy, and the state

  1. AvatarAdam

    “I want not to smash the state but to democratize it.”

    What do you mean by ‘the state’, exactly?

    How do you democratize violence and coercion?

    “I regard the endless recurrence to fantasies of “spontaneous order” on the part of anarchists…”

    By this do you mean the ‘fantasy’ of the local butcher, green grocer, hairdresser, restaurant, pub and all other forms of non-violent, voluntrary and free-market approaches to co-operation and exchange for mutual advantage?

    Could you provide an example of a non-spontaneous order in human relations?

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