The Accumulation of Freedom: Writings on Anarchist Economics

By Abbey Volcano

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Abbey Volcano is an anarchist militant currently living in Eastern Connecticut, typically organizing with the Quiet Corner Solidarity Network and struggles around reproductive freedom. When she's not reading awesome graphic novels and watching sci-fi, she's subverting the dominant paradigm, typically writing on identity, sexuality, and gender. She's a member of the Workers Solidarity Alliance, Queers Without Borders, and a constant critic of the violence and boredom inherent in institutionalized hierarchies of all kinds. (From : Queering Anarchism.)

Anthony J. Nocella II, Ph.D., award-winning author and educator, is an Executive Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, National Co-coordinator of Save the Kids, and co-founder and Editor of the Peace Studies Journal and Transformative Justice Journal. (From :

SUNY Cortland, Communication and New Media, Faculty Member... (From :

Iain McKay is an independent anarchist writer and researcher. He was the main author of An Anarchist FAQ as well as numerous other works, including Mutual Aid: An Introduction and Evaluation. In addition, he has edited and introduced Property Is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology; Direct Struggle Against Capital: A Peter Kropotkin Anthology; and Kropotkin’s 1913 book Modern Science and Anarchy. He is also a regular contributor to Anarcho-Syndicalist Review as well as Black Flag and Freedom. (From :


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The Accumulation of Freedom: Writings on Anarchist Economics Acknowledgments We would of course like to thank everyone at AK Press—especially Zach, Charles, Lorna, Jessica, and Kate—the contributors, and the many people who have written in support of the book. Without all of you this book would not be possible. Deric Shannon Since this book is about anarchist criticisms and alternatives to capitalism, I would like to take the time to thank people who have helped me along in the spirit of mutual aid. Without many of these people I would have gone without food and shelter, without others I would have gone without needed kindness and friendship, and without them all my life would certainly be emptier. First and foremost, thank you to Amney Harper for repeatedly saving my life. I will never forget my debt to you. Secondly, and in no particular order, I would like to thank: Amanda Rose Zody, Jacquelyn Arsenuk, Abbey Volca... (From :

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Preface Ruth Kinna Economics was once called the dismal science and is still often associated with dry, technical argument and the modeling of preferences based on assumptions of perfect knowledge and rational calculation. The language of economics—investment, fiscal stimuli, growth, productive efficiency, bull and bear markets—is quite familiar. And the practical implications of these terms are all too predictable and easily understood, particularly during periods of recession. But to many the content of the subject remains mysteriously abstract and its scope seems narrowly focused. The study of economics is too often limited to the analysis of capitalist markets, the murky dealings of international finance or, as the recent and spectacular collapse of the banks shows, with system failure. Naturally, there have always been critical voices within the discipline, but it is only recently that the possibility of imagining how eco... (From :

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Anarchist Economics: A Holistic View Deric Shannon, Anthony J. Nocella, II, John Asimakopoulos In an online discussion titled “Anarchist Economics” one poster recently commented, “Anarchist economics?! Now, that’s an oxymoron!” After further discussion, it became clear that this person, a long-time anarchist, operated under the assumption that “economics” is capitalism. While that may be true for the typical university “economics” class, there is a long history of economic analyzes, models, and practices that are based on anti-capitalist principles. Meanwhile, to many who are not even radicals, capitalism looks like it is on its last legs, or at the least like an undesirable way to organize humanity. Hundreds of billions (!) of public dollars have been spent to help private and enormous failed businesses recover. And while corporations are bailed o... (From :

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Part 1: History “Not whether we accomplish anarchism today, tomorrow, or within ten centuries, but that we walk towards anarchism today, tomorrow, and always.”—Errico Malatesta Examining the History of Anarchist Economics to See the Future Chris Spannos Situating “Anarchist Economics” Beyond economy, an anarchist society should provide new socialization of children and future generations, stateless and self-governing adjudication and law-making, and cultural and ethnic diversity and equality—all based on mutual aid and participatory self-management in all spheres of life. But here, considering only the history of anarchist economics, imagine scenarios where the 1871 Paris Commune had not come to a tortured end; the Factory Committees and Soviets of the Russian Revolution had not fallen under Bolshevik control (1917–1921); th... (From :

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Part 2: Analysis “Oh, Misery, I have drunk thy cup of sorrow to its dregs, but I am still a rebel.”—Lucy Parsons Capitalism in the 2000s: Some Broad Strokes for Beginners Abbey Volcano and Deric Shannon Capitalism, the economic system that we live under, is not in stasis. It is not a monolith, exhibiting the same features in all places and times. Rather, over the years capitalism has assumed different forms in different historical, cultural, and geographical contexts. Indeed, in broad strokes, one can see how the features of capitalism have historically changed—now in its current neoliberal globalized form and perhaps morphing into some newly emerging form post-crisis. Even if we took a fairly small slice of history, this is not too difficult to demonstrate. Consider, for example, a single bounded region like the United States... (From :

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Part 3: Critique “We are free, truly free, when we don’t need to rent our arms to anybody in order to be able to lift a piece of bread to our mouths.”—Ricardo Flores Magón Globalized Contradictions of Capitalism and the Imperative for Epochal Change John Asimakopoulos According to the Congressional Budget Office, as of summer 2009 the United States has approved $787 billion in “stimulus spending” with trillions in additional commitments and calls for a second package to save capitalism for/from the capitalist lords on the backs of neo-serf taxpayers. Now that we face a new globalized Great Collapse, the time has come to show objectively why all of this was easy to predict and why capitalism must be replaced by a new socioeconomic system. This new egalitarian system is not assured based on deterministic-mechanistic Marxist economic theo... (From :

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Part 4: Practice “What I believe is a process rather than a finality. Finalities are for gods and governments, not for the human intellect.” —Emma Goldman Anarchist Economics in Practice Uri Gordon It cannot be enough to criticize capitalism, even from a distinctly anarchist point of view. Nor will it do to merely construct models of free and equal economic arrangements, no matter how inspiring and realistic. In addition to these, the discussion of anarchist economics must also involve a look at ways of getting from here to there. In other words, it requires that we examine anarchist economics in terms of concrete, present-day practices and assess their role within the more general context of anarchist revolutionary strategy. In this chapter I attempt to initiate such a discussion by surveying and examining the significance of the actual e... (From :

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Part 5: Resistance “The great are only great because we are on our knees. Let us rise!”—Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Occupy, Resist, Produce! Lessons from Latin America’s Occupied Factories Marie Trigona Latin America’s occupied factory movement has built an expansive system of workers’ self-management through direct action and the expropriation of the means of production. The worker occupations lend insight to workers around the world, demonstrating that direct actions at the workplace can lead to revolutionary practices, self-determination, and worker control—three essential elements of a free society, and an essential component for an anarchist economics if we are to study what self-management might look like in a post-capitalist future. In Argentina, more than 13,000 people work in occupied factories and businesses, otherwise known as rec... (From :

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Part 6: Vision “The bourgeoisie may blast and burn its own world before it finally leaves the stage of history. We are not afraid of ruins. We who plowed the prairies and built the cities can build again, only better next time. We carry a new world, here in our hearts. That world is growing this minute.”—Buenaventura Durruti Chopping Off the Invisible Hand: Internal Problems with Markets and Anarchist Theory, Strategy, and Vision Deric Shannon With capitalism in crisis (again), people all over the world are looking for alternatives. It makes sense that people are, as it should be all but obvious to anyone by now that capitalism is prone to crises and that if we want a decent world, we need to organize it in some other way. Anarchists typically don’t stop with wanting an end to the existing economy (or in the parlance of some, abolish “e... (From :

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Ditching Class: The Praxis of Anarchist Communist Economics Scott Nappalos Libertarian Communism, the Aspiration of Classes in Struggle Class relationships stand at the core of global societies in our time. The interlocking web of capitalist and state power relations are embedded and reproduced as class exploitation at every level in communities. The abolition of class exploitation is the foundation of any future socialist economy, one which I hope would lead to a society where all people and communities would be able to develop autonomously to their full capacities. During every struggle for liberation and autonomy, class has stood in the way of further developing our human potential. Class has provided the bedrock for counterrevolutions and, even more threatening to liberation, has been capitalism’s ability to reproduce class relations even when the old actors, the capitalists, have fled the scene. New classes rise to take the place... (From :

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The Anarchist Method: An Experimental Approach to Post-Capitalist Economies Wayne Price There are various opinions on the question of what a libertarian socialist economy would look like. By “libertarian socialism,” I include anarchism and libertarian Marxism, as well as related tendencies such as guild socialism and parecon—views which advocate a free, cooperative, self-managed, nonstatist economy once capitalism has been overthrown. Before directly discussing these programs, alternate visions of communal commonwealths, it is important to decide on the appropriate method. Historically, two methods have predominated, which I will call the utopian-moral approach and the Marxist-determinist approach (neither of these terms is meant to be pejorative). I will propose a third approach, which has been called the “method of anarchism” (or “of anarchy”). The utopian-moral method goes bac... (From :

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Afterword: Porous Borders of Anarchist Vision and Strategy Michael Albert Any distinctive political perspective strongly favors particular visionary and strategic claims though people of contrary perspectives reject or at least largely doubt those claims. I claim participatory economics and participatory society provide a worthy, viable, and even necessary and potentially sufficient anarchist revolutionary vision. I also claim that proposing anarchist strategy is a much more complex and delicate undertaking. Along the way, I centerpiece two central anarchist themes: the need to strategically plant the seeds of the future in the present, and the seemingly contrary need to recognize that future people should freely and diversely decide their own future lives rather than today’s activists arrogantly and intrusively deciding future peoples’ lives for them. Anarchist Vision Anarchism... (From :

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Postscript: Toward the Occupation of Everyday Life Deric Shannon, Anthony Nocella II, John Asimakopoulos November 16, 2011 Over the last couple of months we’ve finished this book while watching a new global phenomenon evolve. Occupation isn’t typically referred to as a movement, but a tactic. Yet people have begun referring to the “Occupy Movement”—a movement whose primary concerns are the inequalities that are endemic to capitalist society. That is, there has never been a historical moment under capitalism that has not been typified by the wealthy largely owning and operating the world at the expense of the rest of us and this series of attempts at taking (and keeping for periods of time) public space seem aimed against exactly those organizing principles. Anarchists argue that there is nothing new in these unequal arrangements—although in a time of capitalist crisis perhaps those large-scale inequalit... (From :

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Contributor Biographies Ernesto Aguilar, born and raised in Houston, is a media worker and organizer who has been active in many movements, including founding a variety of groups focusing on everything from reproductive rights to international solidarity movements and police accountability. In the early 1990s, Aguilar cofounded the Black Fist collective, which focused on issues of race in the anarchist movement and was allied with groups like the Federation of Black Community Partizans, the precursor to the black anarchist formation Black Autonomy International. The Black Fist collective convened with Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin the Anti-Authoritarian Network of Community Organizers conference in Atlanta in 1994. Aguilar was also involved in the formation of the Anarchist Black Cross Network and in web development for the anarchist newspaper Onward. In 2001, he founded the Anarchist People of Color e-mail list and website, (From :


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