I was thinking, as I fell asleep, about my idea of one type of utopia, and decided that it's insufficient, so I began revising it in my head. Here's my new idea:
Extended families would live together in a pseudo-clan system, as in my previous system, but rather than being geographically isolated, a number of these pseudo clans live in industrialized cities, within a sort of gated community. The presence of cities allows for specialization and division of labour, which lead to the high standard of living we experience today. The pseudo-clans are responsible for their own property, so their communities are constructed and maintained by themselves, and their offices and infrastructure is as well. In these cities, due to necessity and because it's simply more efficient, many of these pseudo-clans work closely together to construct further public infrastructure such as roads and public facilities. Doing so is beneficial to everyone, especially those who construct the infrastructure.
In terms of commerce, I think it's likely that there'd be a sort of 'family business' system that functions similar to how I understand the zaibatsu of Meiji era Japan operated. The zaibatsu would be large enough to have a pool of qualified workers to run the firm, and small enough that they would have the option to specialize. Family firms would collaborate with each other in joint ventures, and likely also form larger corporations either on a perpetual basis, or in order to complete particular projects. Working outside of one's own family would likely be possible, but uncommon, and probably would more often occur through marriage or on a contractual basis.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
My recent comments in a discussion about modern distributism:
As long as they condemn use of force to achieve economic ends, I will support them. However, I don't see how distributism as I understand it is possible without massive interventionism.
Voluntary distributism would be lovely, and it would occur on a small scale, likely in rural communities, but I don't think it's feasible on a large scale, nor necessarily desirable.
In one afternoon reading [The Church and the Market by Thomas Woods] I was completely blown away. Over the course of about three hours I was converted from a fairly typical right winger with vague ideas of the need for government intervention, to... whatever I am now. Agorist, anarcho-capitalist, economic 'Austrianist', whatever you want to call it.
Now, granted, I did want to believe in a free market, so I was naturally more disposed to accept his arguments. Nonetheless, I think they were very solid and irresistibly compelling.
I'm such a fan of his work that just today I ordered two of his other books. The first, Meltdown, examines the recent economic collapse of the US from a free-market perspective. Spoiler alert: the collapse wasn't due to capitalism. The second, his brand new just-released book Rollback, takes Meltdown a step farther. First it argues that all great things of the modern age have happened in spite of government intervention, rather than because of it. That's a topic that Jeffrey Tucker has been pounding away on with great success for years. From there I believe it moves on to establish how society could be far better off by 'rolling back' government.
Here is a link to that discussion.
Like I said, I'm all in favour of voluntary distributism. I don't believe it to be the most economically efficient model, nor do I think that it's going to offer the highest standard of living, but I don't believe those have to be the most important considerations either. I'm very attracted to a sort of self-sufficient local economy idea. I'm not sure yet whether or not I'd want to live in such a community myself, but the idea is certainly tempting.
My idea of utopia changes all the time, and I think right now I have three or four somewhat competing (though not necessarily mutually exclusive) systems in my head. Maybe I can integrate them over time.
Anyway, in this one idea I've got now, society would move towards a pseudo-clan system, made up of extended family, and probably several close families living in proximity to each other. Each immediate family would be fairly self-sufficient, and in times of need responsibility would radiate outwards, first in extended family (and maybe closest friends), and then to the community at large. There'd be no taxation, but rather voluntary charity.
Since the communities would be small, public goods could be provided on a voluntary basis as well, and since we are dealing with family and friendship bonds, and since family responsibility would be emphasized, there'd likely be less or maybe no problems with the 'tragedy of the commons', i.e. the abuse of goods used in common by non-contributing members.
Of course with this system, division of labour is naturally going to be limited due to a smaller population. Until that fact can be worked around, these pseudo-clans would live in a lower standard of living than they might be able to individually in a large industrialized city. Inter-clan trading would be limited by geographical considerations, which might prevent outright the industries that require specialized skills (like high technology), or a large capital investment (heavy industry, natural resources). If a high standard of living is not the primary goal, and the residents of the system obtain quality of life more from other areas, then they may approve of this trade-off.
Posted by Irenaeus G. Saintonge at 11:31 PM