Hierarchy: Good or Bad? (Part 4 of a Series)

in anarchism •  3 years ago 

Sometimes “painting with a broad brush” can transform a rational idea into something downright silly. It seems that some people like very general scapegoats to blame things on. To some people, all of the problems in the world are the fault of greed, or money, or inequality, or guns, or hate, etc. This article will deal with “hierarchy,” which is a favorite scapegoat of some on the political left, including some leftists who wear the label “anarchist.”

There are many types of arrangements that could be viewed as hierarchy, such as a military chain of command, a football team and its captain, an employer and his employees, a teacher and his students, and so on. In fact, taken in the broad sense, removing “hierarchy” from society would mean removing any situation in which one person even instructs or guides another on what to do. To be blunt, achieving such a goal is impossible, and attempting it is insane.

Imagine if in every business, organized undertaking, or group of people, no one ever followed the instructions of anyone else. Imagine a football team where every player decided for himself what play he would run, instead of subjecting himself to the “hierarchy” of the team captain or coach (or whoever calls the plays). Imagine a company that had no plan for what product it was making, no plan for who should do what, or for who is even part of the company. Organizational structure can be very strict, or very relaxed, or anything in between, but to all the way have no one deciding anything except for himself makes any complex undertaking nearly impossible.

The moment you have organization, you also have some form of hierarchy. There are, of course, certain types of hierarchy that society would be better off without. There are two ways in which a hierarchy can be inherently immoral and destructive: 1) when those at the “top” use force to compel obedience from those “below,” and; 2) when those following someone else’s instructions imagine themselves to bear no responsibility for their own actions. In other words, when hierarchy involves “authority”—where the commanders think they have the right to command and the obeyers think they have the obligation to obey—then it is horrendously dangerous. But the problem there is the belief in “authority,” not the presence of hierarchy.

Often even voluntary hierarchical arrangements are described using authoritarian terminology. For example, an employer might be referred to as a “boss.” However, the only power the employer really has is the same power the “worker” has: the power to terminate the arrangement. When an employer wants to stop paying someone for their labor, it’s called “firing” that person. When the worker wants to end the deal, it’s called that person “quitting.” But both have equal power, and neither can coerce the other into doing anything. Any employer who attempted to forcibly conscript workers would be universally recognized as being in the wrong.

Furthermore, any employee who followed instructions to commit fraud, theft, assault or murder, and who then argued, “Hey, I was just doing as I was told,” would also be recognized as being in the wrong. This is because, without the involvement of the belief in “authority,” people don’t think that hierarchy can make something bad into something good.

There is nothing wrong with an individual who willingly follows the instructions of someone else, while still accepting personal responsibility for whatever he actually does. In fact, society could not exist without such things happening nearly constantly. The number of possible examples is staggering: a new driver follows the instructions of a driving instructor; a landscaper does the work that a property owner tells him to do; a hiker chooses to go the direction the guide says he should; an orchestra follows the lead of a conductor; an apprentice follows the guidance of his mentor; and so on, ad infinitum. To condemn “hierarchy,” in and of itself, is to condemn a huge percentage of voluntary, productive, useful and moral human behavior.

Some people even make the absurd claim that being an anarchist requires opposing all hierarchy. But “anarchism” means the advocacy of “rule by no one,” while voluntary hierarchy has nothing at all to do with ruling. Voluntarily cooperating while following someone else’s lead is not being ruled. Apparently some people’s juvenile desire to never have to follow anyone else’s requests, instructions or advice leads some to declare that any arrangement where one person tells someone else what to do (i.e., any hierarchy) must be oppressive and unjust.

This immature view is why a lot of people hallucinate oppression when it comes to “employers” and “employees.” No, an “employer” obviously doesn’t have the right to force you to do what he says. However, employers do have every right to not hire you, not trade with you, and not interact with you at all. To claim that not trading with someone is the same as violent oppression is just ridiculous. If two people find a mutually agreeable arrangement where one pays the other to do certain work, there is nothing immoral or oppressive about that, even though it could be viewed as a “hierarchy” of sorts.

To lump voluntary and forced “hierarchy” together, and then condemn both, makes as much sense as talking as if all trade is theft, or all physical contact is assault. The problem is that the entitlement-mentality leftists don’t seem to understand the rather huge difference between these two sentiments:

  1. “I should be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want to, and not ever have to do what anyone else wants me to, and still get whatever stuff I need for free.”

  2. “No one should force me to do anything, but often it’s helpful to voluntarily cooperate and trade with others for mutual benefit.”

Thinking the former makes you a communist. Thinking the latter makes you a responsible, rational human being. The two are mutually exclusive.

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Very good post @larkenrose. Enjoyed the content.

'Any employer who attempted to forcibly conscript workers would be universally recognized as being in the wrong.'

But it is ok for the employers to collude to keep wages minimal?
Why would I pay more than the guy down the road pays his employees?
Even to the point of paying starvation wages, as we have now.

'It is conceded by all radical thinkers that the fundamental cause of this terrible state of affairs is:

  1. that man must sell his labor;
  2. that his inclination and judgment are subordinated to the will of a master.

There can be no freedom in the large sense of the word, no harmonious development, so long as mercenary and commercial considerations play an important part in the determination of personal conduct.'
Emma Goldman http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/emma-goldman-what-i-believe

Crapitalism and anarchism are mutually exclusive.
You do a really good job of getting most of the message out there, and perhaps I should serve as an example of why it's better to leave out the parts that ding the sleeple's cognitive dissonance, but that is not what I am compelled to do.
I hope that one day you use your prominence to bring out the other parts of anarchism into your messages.
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/emma-goldman-a-new-declaration-of-independence

«But it is ok for the employers to collude to keep wages minimal?»

There isn't a worldwide conspiracy of business owners to keep wages down because employers have to compete to get the most qualified workers. Good help is hard to find, don't you know?

«Why would I pay more than the guy down the road pays his employees?»
Maybe because if you do, whenever you want to hire someone, you'll get tons of resumés and you'll get to pick the best ones out of the lot and the other guys will get the crumbs. That's why.

«Even to the point of paying starvation wages, as we have now.»
Listen, if you get nothing more than starvation wages and can't get better from another employer, then your qualifications are probably shit, so it's no wonder you believe in conspiracies. Anything but believing it might be your own fault.

Then they shame you for not bowing down and kissing their feet?

Being free to choose which exploiter gets the spoils while starvation and living under a bridge are the alternative, is not a free exchange.
Were we to keep working, but stop paying, not only would you be free to order ANYTHING from the internet, but getting a job would be a free exchange, a matter of going to where work is happening and helping, and not getting a job would take a special kind of person.

You should try opening an economics text book one of these days. Maybe it'll raise your IQ some.

What you're being paid is exactly what your boss thinks you're worth. The way you're talking, I bet he's probably right on the money. If you want to make the kind of money he does, start your own business and be your own boss. You're free to do that too. (Oh no, that's right! You'll probably need government permission to do that under the current fascist system.)

If your utopia requires force to remain in place, you suck.

If you think that were my microphone to carry to the masses that they would choose what they currently have over going to the store for the price of finding something to do, do you seriously think that they wouldn't?

When things are free, not working will take a special kind of human being.

Crapitalism as a term came as a result of needing to keep the slaves producing on the plantation in the face of rising reading rates.

Here is a short story that will appeal to your inner crapitalust while ending your need for banksters: http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.php

If you can't entertain options to your status quo, how do you know you've not been duped?

«If your utopia requires force to remain in place, you suck.»

Who's holding a gun to your head?

«If you think that were my microphone to carry to the masses that they would choose what they currently have over going to the store for the price of finding something to do, do you seriously think that they wouldn't?»

If it weren't for the way things are, you wouldn't have a microphone to yell into or a computer to complain about how you're being exploited.
«When things are free, not working will take a special kind of human being.»
If everything were free, why would anyone need to work? If nobody works, how will anything get done?

Thanks so much for busting my guts.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/black-or-white
If I create a microphone does the microphone not exist before it is paid for?

Profits are irrelevant to production.

The shelf stocker doesn't check the corporate balance sheet before stocking the shelf, nor do the workers from the miner to the delivery guy to the consumer.

Only the wealthy, and their dupes, worry about the accounting department falling in a lake, or taking the day off to fly kites.

«If I create a microphone does the microphone not exist before it is paid for?»
Actually, to create a microphone you need tools, parts, some kind of work area, in a word: capital.

«Profits are irrelevant to production.»
They are if you want to keep producing.

«The shelf stocker doesn't check the corporate balance sheet before stocking the shelf, nor do the workers from the miner to the delivery guy to the consumer.»
He checks his pay stub. That's part of his own balance sheet.

«Only the wealthy, and their dupes, worry about the accounting department falling in a lake, or taking the day off to fly kites.»

You live in lala land. Even in the good ol' days before capitalism people had to work to eat and they didn't eat so well and they had no computers to complain about it on Steemit.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/false-cause
You can call things capital, if you like.
Calling things names doesn't make them authoritative.
It's clear that you would rather choose a master than live free of them, and that is your prerogative.
https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem
To continue is pointless, you are not ready to do the reading you need to do to free your mind from the matrix provided to you by the authorities you accept without question.
Were you to want to do that, I would start here: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alexander-berkman-what-is-communist-anarchism
For your comments on economics, skip to chapter 2.

«It's clear that you would rather choose a master than live free of them, and that is your prerogative.»

For humans to cooperate and produce anything, they have to organize. Organization implies some form or another of structure.

You live in a fantasy-land where everything just comes out of the blue. (And saying that actually isn't an ad hominem. It's a simple fact.)

Anarchism has nothing against band leaders and architects, but if you had read the material you would know that.
I'll link to it, again, in case you'd like to end your willful ignorance.
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alexander-berkman-what-is-communist-anarchism

You don't even pay me "starvation wages." Why the hell does someone else have an obligation to give you a "job," or trade with you at all?

Look, the wall between us can only be overcome by your expanding you knowledge base, I will spend time right now to find the EG quote I have been looking for, then maybe you can understand.
I was ancrap for many years, until I had the time to spend reading the original modern ancom proponents, this book was like flipping a switch, I was not prepared to be communist, I had swallowed the crapitalust agitprop without question, and liked the taste.
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/624/624-h/624-h.htm
Work harder and everything will be ok.

But, to answer your question,...
You have no obligation to help me in any way, it is well within your rights to watch me starve under a bridge because I refuse to give half of the value that my labor creates to you for allowing me to produce it in your crapitalust endeavor.
I agree, I cannot force you to do anything, nor do I want to do so.
But, as a human being, if you are not appalled at the poverty in this world, and are not willing to rectify it, what kind of compassion/humanity do you call that?
Is there any question that we are ruled by criminals?
That crapitalism has made this possible?
Do you doubt that as long as the workers continue to fill the shelves the accountants, lawyers, politicians, and ceo's can jump in a lake and the shelves will continue to be full?
Let me look for the essay that explained it to me,....
https://www.minds.com/newsfeed/585564527286820864

Being condescending with your commie crap doesn't make it any more rational. You think like an entitlement-mentality child, as if it's not YOUR responsibility to take care of yourself. If someone else OFFERS you a trade--even a crappy trade--he is not oppressing you.

And again, how can you bitch about what the "evil, greedy capitalists" pay, when YOU pay NOTHING? How many people have you employed? You didn't answer last time: if THEY are somehow obligation to provide people with jobs, why aren't YOU obligated to do so, too?

Still looking,...but if you look on my page you'll see what I have found, so far.

Ok, I've got to do other things today, I'll get back to my search, somewhere in the 10's of thousands of pages I've read is found the quote I am looking for, but the haystack is large and the needle small.
To answer your question about employing people, I wouldn't do that, I have no desire to take anything away from a starving worker, a worker forced by crapitalusts to produce for the benefit of the wealthy because to not do so is to starve.
Why that is so hard for you to grasp must be a function of the matrix around you, you are trained from early on that this is how it is, this is the only way it can be, and that alternatives to crapitalism are to be rejected out of hand, as you have done.
Do you pay your workers the full value that their labor creates?
Of course not, you are as much a crapitalust as George Soros.
I hope you can escape the pit that your education has you trapped in.
I'll leave you until I find the quote I am looking for,....
Thanks for the time you have given me to this point,...

Well, I haven't found the quote I have been looking for, but I have found this person: https://steemit.com/@ekklesiagora, who does a fine job of laying out how crapitalism is predicated on theft.

Found it, you can skip to Chapter 2, if you want to short change your knowledge base,....
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alexander-berkman-what-is-communist-anarchism

«It is conceded by all radical thinkers that the fundamental cause of this terrible state of affairs is:

that man must sell his labor;
that his inclination and judgment are subordinated to the will of a master.»

What else are you going to offer in exchange for your daily bread? You expect people to feed you for free? And if nobody sells their labor, who's going to grow the wheat, build the ovens and bake your bread?

And if you're not satisfied with whoever was nice enough to give you a job (and for the life of me, I can't imagine who would hire you), find another because you're entirely free to do that.

How would you categorise a system whereby the revenues of the owners are over 200 times those of the producers of value!

Crapitalism?
Profits are nothing but uncompensated wages of the laborers that go to the 'owners'.

Do you realise that you have just tagged Steemit as Crapitalist?

Lol, it is a crapitalust world.
The blockchain will still have utility in a free world.
If you want to track down something I would look on it first.
In the future.

There is actually another solution, a horizontal organization as opposed to a vertical one. One prime example is an Octologue. We're building an example of one in Anarchapulco.

You can organize any way you want, but organization will always imply a structure of somekind.

Stratifications are essential to the emergence of complexity. But humans should learn to avoid exclusion and coercion on the basis of a class. Hierarchy as a means to cooperate is great. Oppression resulting from hierarchical structures is the result of an abuse of position. Great article.

It is true that humans voluntarily seek into hierarchy and that deeming all hierarchies bad are stupid. But I kind of wonder how you make the first of you two sentiments communist. It's like saying that libertarians are fascists, which you sometimes hear on the left. It's a contradiction in terms. Fascists are anti-libertarians. Everybody in a communist society are supposed to work for the state and subject to the community. Not much freedom there.

Another perversion of the hierarchy structure TPTshouldn'tB use is that every level is told a different lie.

Grunts: We have to stop communism
Enlisted: I see a promotion in your future (if we achieve these objectives)
Generals: This war is helping our economy (and the summer cottage is really nice too)

When the hierarchy is based on different lies, it is no wonder the entire structure seems to be inept and idiotic.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

anarcho-capitalism has nothing to do with anarchy, its just tyrany of those who have capital over those who have no capital. id rather choose state to be the tyran