I’m working on an article for a special issue of Anarchist Studies focusing on technology. This article focuses many of my central ideas about technology toward anarchists in particular, but it has implications for direct or participatory democrats, and radical democrats. It would also pose problems for communists who hold true to Marx’s commitment to the withering away of the state under communism.
This article focuses on issues of justice that have unfortunately not been taken up very well in the literatures I have been able to find. The treatment of justice by anarchists has been incomplete and haphazard. Distributive and resource-based justice and social justice have been well developed more broadly (by liberals and socialists), and have important uses when injected into an anti-authoritarian politics. With the added demand of simplicity – of relying on neither representatives or authorities, nor on unwieldy participatory models which may not be capable of grappling with overly complex sociotechnical systems – we may turn to the systems themselves to ask of them what they demand from us in order for them to function. Which artifacts permit a nonauthoritarian, stateless society when deeply embedded in social reproduction?
In the last decade, the anarcho-primitivists and anti-civilizationists have been joined by some in CrimethInc among the anarchists who seem to understand a key problem related to technology. There seems to be a shift elsewhere, too, but the tendency among most anarchists to see all technologies as completely and totally shaped by their political context (to view the politics of artifacts as purely contingent) remains. This mythology is beginning to crack if for no other reasons than the renewed attention to scarcity, generated by recognition of the “peak everything” world we live in today.
When we consider (1) complexity; (2) specialization and expertise and their relation to the division of labor; (3) resource distribution; (4) the distribution of “the good”; and (5) the distribution of risk; all in a world with rapidly declining resources that much of the technical infrastructure depends upon; and the world population surging toward and above 7bil, anarchists are forced to reevaluate their tendency to view the political qualities of artifacts as fully contingent only upon capitalism and the state.