vrijdag 14 september 2012

Zelf-organisatie en het baseline communisme van David Graeber - Pro-sociaal gedrag en sociale omgeving (13)

David Graeber noemt, in zijn boek Debt. The First 5000 Years (hier de Nederlandse vertaling), de zelf-organisatie van de jagers-verzamelaars het baseline communisme. Bij die term communisme denken wij aan communistische staten, maar hij bedoelt er een moreel principe mee waarop economische relaties kunnen berusten, namelijk dat van "van iedereen naar vermogen en voor iedereen naar behoefte". De twee andere principes zijn die van de hiërarchie en die van de ruil. En hoewel de economische relaties in de Paleo Sociale Omgeving bovenal berustten op baseline communisme, denkt hij dat alle drie principes in elke maatschappij voorkomen.

Ik zal nog vaker op dit indrukwekkende boek terugkomen, maar wil om te beginnen stilstaan bij Graebers uitleg bij zijn stelling dat dat communisme inderdaad baseline is, in de zin dat het principe altijd aanwezig is. Op p. 95-98 schrijft hij:
"communism" is not some magical utopia, and neither does it have anything to do with ownership of the means of production. It is something that exists right now - that exists, to some degree, in any human society, although there has never been one in which everything has been organized in that way, and it would be difficult to imagine how there could be. All of us act like communists a good deal of the time. None of us act like a communist consistently. "Communist society" - in the sense of a society organized exclusively on that single principle - could never exist. But all social systems, even economic systems like capitalism, have always been built on top of a bedrock of actually-existing communism. (...)
 Almost everyone follows this principle if they are collaborating on some common project. If someone fixing a broken water pipe says, "Hand me the wrench," his co-worker will not, generally speaking, say, "And what do I get for it? "- even if they are working for Exxon-Mobil, Burger King, or Goldman Sachs. The reason is simple efficiency (...): if you really care about getting something done, the most efficient way to go about it is obviously to allocate tasks by ability and give people whatever they need to do them. One might even say that it's one of the scandals of capitalism that most capitalist firms, internally, operate communistically. True, they don't tend to operate very democratically. Most often they are organized around military-style top-down chains of command. But there is often an interesting tension here, becaue top-down chains of command are not particularly efficient: they tend to promote stupidity among those on top and resentful foot-dragging among those on the bottom. The greater the need to improvise, the more democratic the cooperation tends to become. (...)
This is presumably also why in the immediate wake of great disasters - a flood, a blackout, or an economic collapse - people tend to behave the same way, reverting to a rough-and-ready communism. However briefly, hierarchies and markets and the like become luxuries that no one can afford. Anyone who has lived through such a moment can speak to their peculiar qualities, the way that strangers become sisters and brothers and human society itself seems to be reborn. This is important because it shows that we are not simply talking about cooperation. In fact, communism is the foundation of all human sociability. It is what makes society possible. There is always an assumption that anyone who is not an enemy can be expected to act on the principle of "from each according to their abilities," at least to an extent: for example, if one needs to figure out how to get somewhere and the other knows the way. (...)
I will call this "baseline communism": the understanding that, unless people consider themselves enemies, if the need is considered great enough, or the cost considered  reasonable enough, the principle of "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs" will be assumed to apply.
Oké, dat beschrijft onze morele intuïties van gelijkheid en hulpvaardigheid en generositeit. En dat wijst er niet alleen op dat zelf-organisatie altijd op die intuïties opgebouwd kan worden, maar ook dat zelf-organisatie altijd, soms veel, soms maar heel weinig, aanwezig is. Het is geen curiosum. En dat moet ons ook iets leren over de mogelijkheden en onmogelijkheden om in onze maatschappij (weer) meer zelf-organisatie te introduceren. Om dat wat we doen en wat we nodig hebben, (weer) meer zelf te organiseren dan we nu doen.

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