Can we finally bury the Tragedy of the Commons myth?

Tragedy of the commons
Image via Wikipedia

The latest and hopefully the final nail has been driven in that old-time favorite myth against all forms of communal ownership, the Tragedy of the Commons. Elinor Ostrom has just received the Nobel Prize Bank of Sweden Prize in Economics in Memory of Alfred Nobel for her extensive work in debunking the Tragedy of the Commons myth. ((h/t to Francois))

And I couldn’t be happier. This annoying idea has been frequently cited (bur rarely read) by statists and propertarians alike as an argument in favour of state-control or privatization in order to avoid admitting that people could manage their own resources without a government bureaucrat or profit-seeking landlord giving the orders above. Even though many others have already countered this theory in depth, this is the first time (that I know of) that not only the refutation reaches the mainstream but is so well proven and argued that it earns a coveted award.

Furthermore, this event is important for another reason, namely the current shift of economics from the ideological to the empirical. A Political Scientist, rather than an Economist has won the Economic Prize which hopefully marks the shift to the perception of how economics is done and what it tries to achieve. It is past time we put behind us scholastic theories such as praxeology and assumed axioms and focus on what has worked best for discovering knowledge for humans. It’s past time to leave Neoclassical, Austrian and Keynesian economics in the same old pile we left Pythagoreanism, Alchemy and Astrology. It’s past time economics became a science.

The Tragedy of the Commons is the latest such casualy and hopefully it won’t be the last.

And I’m dancing on its grave.

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Ask an Anarcho-Communist

Do you have a question for an Anarcho-Communist? If so, here’s your chance to ask.

I’ve recently discovered the IAmA part of reddit which is basically a place for people to declare some kind of expertise or classification and allow people to ask whatever is on their mind on this particular concept. I’ve decided to see what kind of questions people might have for an Anarcho-Communist so I’ve made up a new thread.

There’s quite a few interesting questions already and people seem to have less initial hostility than I imagined. This is good. It shows that Anarcho-Communism (as opposed to simply ‘Communism’ which is basically the same thing anyway, even though most people misunderstand it) is not a slandered in the mind of the people yet.

So if you’ve got a question that’s been burning your mind and you’d like to ask to an Anarcho-Communist about it, head over to the thread and fire your lazers ask away!

Alternatively, feel free to ask in the comments of this post if you prefer it 😉

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Why not try to change the system from within?

Is working within the capitalist system preferred to other actions when one does not expect Capitalism to topple within one’s lifetime? Obviously not.

What is it with the people who have taken the road of compromisation to direct arrows or morality and condescention to those of us who have recognised it for the sham it is and choose to act appropriately? It is not the first time I’m reading this kind of appeal to emotion, but the difference is that this time the argument comes from a self-identified socialist who even flies and red and black flag.

So this latest argument (in Greek) basically says the following:

  1. Capitalism is bad and many of us struggle to topple it in favour of socialism.
  2. But realistically this will not happen within out lifetimes. If that is the case, why do we still struggle instead of just  living a normal life?
  3. Is it because we want to help the downtrodden nevertheless? But in that case, centrist politics are a better path since those have the possibility of making an actual change within our lifetimes.
  4. If you don’t want to follow centrist politics, it follows then that it must be because of your “egoistic idealism” which prevents compromise even though it would do more good within your lifetime.
  5. If then one does not expect his struggle to topple capitalism in his lifetime, and as a result of this knowledge does not turn to centrism, then they are a hypocritical idealist.

Unfortunately the author makes some pretty bold assumptions in here which I need to tackle.

It seems that a very main point of the author is point 2, (something which is later confirmed in the comments). But wether Capitalism will be toppled within our lifetime is irrelevant to wether one should struggle towards this purpose. The reason why I speak and take the appropriate actions against it is because it must be toppled eventually. It may not be within my lifetime but I can only hope that what I do and say will be the base on which others will step on to perhaps complete this task.

Further to this, it is practically impossible for any of us to know when Capitalism might die. None of us is a seer and if anything has been shown by history is that Capitalism is a very precarious system. Going from a stable Boom to a dangerous Bust within a few short years. And if the correct mindframe has not been cultivated when the Bust comes, then the opportunity is lost.

So if anything, not working towards the end of Capitalism through radical means, even when the system is stable, only ensures that the system will perpetuate.

Point 3 however is the largest objection I have to the whole thing. The assumption that working through parliamentary centrist channels will do more overall good than radical actions. The whole political history of the 20th century in the western nations is one of Socialist or Centrist parties trying to make the system better. What have they achieved? That the worst excesses of Capitalism will simply be migrated to areas outside of their “benevolent” influence (ie other nations), that the revolutionary movements at times of crises were safely defused by a few scraps thrown to them (via the same centrist parties) by a terrified capitalist class, that the situation in the world has nevertheless steadily grown worse.

No, the reformist parties are never a better solution. History has proven that much time and again.

What is the reason why me and others refuse to play this game? No it’s not utopian idealism, it is the knowledge that our energy would be better served elsewhere. Direct action for example is a 100 times more effective than parliamentarism. It is through direct action that every socialist change has happened, for which then the aforementioned parties have attempted to get credit. Leading by example, with cooperatives and takeovers is another.

There’s too many different ways that Capitalism can be undermined, and reformism is not one of them. If anything, the accusation of naive idealism should be directed back to those who call themselves socialists and yet support a course of action that has been proven, both in theory and in practice, to be actually helping the Capitalist system stay in place, rather than the opposite.

Of course, that is not to say that parliamentarism cannot have its uses. In some political systems for example, where non-voting counts for the winning party, it’s far better for radicals to simply vote for the most radical party that exists, or alternatively to simply create a new party for the purpose of removing the votes from the (usually two) ruling ones and to serve as an awareness vessel. Winning parliamentary seats is irrelevant as even if by stroke of luck it happens, it will not amount to anything.

In short no, even if Capitalism is not to be toppled within my lifetime, direct action from below is infinitely better than parliamentarism. Any emotional arguments to the contrary simply try to play people in supporting the lesser evil and perpetuate the status quo.

Further Reading

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Socialism doesn't apply via self-description

Should we take those who call themselves “Socialist” at their word? Anti-Socialists seem eager to do so but such a label can only be assigned by act, not by word

Socialists in Union Square, N.Y.C. [large crow...
Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

Db0: A reader recently contacted me asking if he could write an article on Socialism and have it posted at the Division by Zer0. Since WordPress provides the capability to have multiple users and since the contributor role already exists and since writing has been slow around here lately, why not? Following you’ll find the opinion of Orgthingy from (I assume) France, edited for clarity by yours truly.

Whenever I mention that I’m a socialist, many point out that I’m a “Communist Nazi” or “Racist Bastard”, when I ask how’s being socialist racist, they answer “Nazis are National SOCIALISTS YOU RACIST BASTARD GO TO HELL!”; it basically annoys me.

Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and other “dictators” are nothing but the usual: Dictators that use the Communist and Socialist noble messages to satisfy themselves. Hitler didn’t provide jobs by his “Creative and evil Socialist ideas” but rather to kill the Jews (and others) so the Aryan-blooded Germans would think he actually created jobs for them.  He didn’t. Socialism isn’t about satisfying anybody by killing others.

Now Stalin’s turn, USSR wasn’t Socialist/Communist at all, but State Capitalist. Stalin was a control-freak, but not every kind of control means “The Socialist Devil”; Capitalism has its kind of control as well, but people just don’t know.

Now it’s Saddam’s turn: His country had billions of dollars ,before he became president, flowing into country’s revenue, then he made his country billions in debt! After googling I found out that he spent the money either on weapons or for personal use; that really isn’t socialism.

People Wake up, just because they claim they’re socialists doesn’t mean they are!

Db0: Orgthingy is pointing out the classic fallacy of taking Dictators at their word on whatever they claim to be. Thus Stalin was a “Communist”, Hitler a “Socialist” etc. The people who accept such a self-definition by dictators and brutal regimes are guilty of intellectual dishonesty, for they won’t as readily accept, say, the claims of North Korea of being a “Democratic Republic”, nor would they accept claims of such people that their acts are for the greater good and whatnot.

It is obvious that a dictator will attempt to provide legitimacy to their rule. It will always be “for the people” or “for the nation” and any other such rhetorhic. The specifics will not matter but it will be whatever most people believe in. As such the dictators of USSR called themselves Communists, and the fascists of Germany called themselves National Socialists (as Socialism back then was still quite popular).

However to believe one thing those Leaders say but dismiss the other is simply disingenuous. Especially since what they claim to be has a perfectly clear definition already which diverges from their actual practices. For example, Socialism is supposed to be Worker’s ownership of the means of production and egalitarianism, but National socialists promoted exactly the opposite. Their regime was defined by a strict hierarchical pyramid of power and corporate cronyism, where economic freedom was high but political freedom low. Indeed, Capitalists all over the world loved the Nazis (as they have loved every other fascist/right-wing dictator since).

The rulers of any country will hijack the ideology that is most popular at the moment in order to retain their rule with the minimum of resistance. Nazi leaders gave the illusion of working for the good of the German people (National “Socialism”) while the USA ruling elite give the illusion of allowing power and choice for everyone (“Democracy”). None of these have much legitimacy and nor do they necessarily merge with what others mean when they say “Socialism” or “Democracy”. These labels do not work through self-identification.

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Some borrowed stuff

Viking RoarI finally registered on StudiVZ after the prompt of Viola and checking out the photos of Wacken I found quite a few of them that I just had to have for myself. I tried to download them but StudiVZ has a very stupid idea to stop people from downloading, by redirecting the actual file link to an empty .gif file. However this cannot obviously stop anything, but rather delay and annoy me. I just printed the screen, pasted it into GIMP and cut the part that was of interest. Of course that meant that the picture was only as large as StudiVZ’s small window, but it’s better than nothing. To this end I’ve created a new dandy album with all of those for you to admire me once again 😉

FirebreathingSome of the best pictures were taken by Anton who just took one amazing Firebreath pic of me in my last show, among others. I just can’t believe how good this looks :D. I guess that’s what happens when the photographer is a professional.

He also has some newer ones uploaded from the recent BBQ but I’ve still to…borrow those 😉

In any case, well done Anton 😉

Shout to the heavensI also saw some more cool ones taken at the Final Destination as well at the [tag]Wacken[/tag] Warm-up party and I just could not resist making a copy for me. Some of them are just so well shot 😀

So go and have a look at the new stuff.


Ένα μόνο θα πώ.


απλά δείτε το…

Εγώ σκατοπορώθηκα. Είδα και το trailer του Pirates of the Carribean 3 και σκατoπορώθηκα ακόμη περισσότερο.
ΥΣ: Ουρίστε και ένα ωραίο λινκ για ένα τύπο που έκανε σύγκριση τις εικόνες απο το κόμιξ με τις εικόνες απο την ταινία για να δεί κατά πόσο έμειναν πιστοί στην αρχική ιδέα.

8 more hours

…until l leave my house to go to my home country.
It’s already been 10 months since I’ve left and there’s just so many people too see. Both in Athens and Thessaloníki. I hope most of them are not away.

Tarot Card

Since I took this test anyway:

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really “Satan” at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild – or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Καταραμένη Βαρεμάρα

Τελειώσα και το Neverwhere το Σάββατο (που παρεπιπτόντως είναι καταπληκτικό), αφ’οτου γύρισα απο το Final Destination, και την Κυριακή επήλθε η απίστευτη βαρεμάρα.

Χωρίς βιβλίο, χωρίος υπολογιστή, χωρίς μουσική, μόνο με το καμμένο MTV να παίζει κωλο-fakeality shows…πολύ χάλι μιλάμε.

Πάλι καλά που ξύπνησα κατα της 4 και δεν χρειάστηκε να βαρίεμαι όλη την ημέρα.

Κατα της 6μμ είχα βαρεθεί αρκετά οπότε την έκανα για πλατεία Zeil μπας και δω τίποτα ενδιαφέρον. Αφότου ξόδεψα 7 καταραμένα ευρώ για μια μακαρονάδα έφτασα στην πλατεία και χάζευα τα μπιχλιμπίδια. Σε μια φάση, όπως κατέβαινα προς (την παραλία; όχι δεν είναι Θεσσαλονίκη.) την λαχαναγορα, είδα κάτι Gothαδες να περπατάνε προς την ίδια κατεύθυνση με εμένα και είπα να τους πάρω στο κατόπι να δω που πάνε.
Αυτό αποδείχθηκε καλή κίνηση μιας και, αφότου έπαιξαν 10 λεπτά ποδόσφαιρο με ένα τενεκεδάκι (FFS δηλαδή.), κατέληξαν για λίγα λεπτά σε μια καφετέρια. Για να μην τα πολυλογώ. αποδείχθηκε οτι εκείνη την μέρα είχε Battle Of the Bands στις 8.

Είχε 10 έουρο είσοδο αλλά τα άξιζε. 8 μπάντες, 30 λεπτά η καθε μια και οι περισσότερες πολυ αξιόλογες (με τρανή εξαίρεση την πρώτη, την οποία ο τραγούδιστής χαντάκωσε εντελώς με την παραφονία του). Στο τέλος ψιλογνώρισα μερικούς απο τις τελευταίες μπάντες, που με είχαν προσέξει να κάνω headbangin’ και μου έποιασαν την κουβέντα. Δεν είπαμε πάρα πολλά διότι είμουν στην διαδικασία να απομακρύνω την ύπαρξη μου απο το μέρος, αλλα nevertheless είναι μια καλή αρχή μιας και μπορεί να τους ξαναπετύχω.

Monkey SuitΩρίστε και μια φωτό που πήρα με το καινούργιο νέο και αστραφτερό κινητό μου. Αυτή η μπάντα λεγόταν Monkey Suit (Ο Τραγουδιστής προσπάθησε να σιγουρέψει οτι θα τους θυμάμαι. Μπορώ να πω οτι πέτυχε.)
Ψιλοχάλι η ποιότητα αλλα τεσπά.

Τώρα το μόνο που μένει είναι να μπορέσω να διαβάσω τα φυλλάδια που πήρα ώστε να μπορέσω να δω πότε είναι ο επομενος γύρος του BotB.

Α, και να βρω τι να κάνω την υπόλοιπη εβδομάδα.