Anarchist Collectivism and Music

At this stage, I'm just kind of making notes here, but my experiences as a musician tells me that anarchism works. Capaitalists would have us believe that greatness can only be achieved by a philharmonic orchestra. That a constituted corporation needs to manage and co-ordinate the composers, resident conductor and musicians. I say that every band I played in was a bunch of musicians agreeing to work together for a common cause. Not every band was anarchist in its structure, many were dictatorships, one by me, many by another bandmate, but the foundation and constituency was essentially anarchist in every one.

The height of anachist music co-operatives in recent times, has been punk and the DIY, no label movement. While Bandcamp is essentially heirachic and capitalist, unlike other, more conventional labels, Bandcamp also democratises the production and distrubution of music. The collectivist approach fits. The collectivist approach works. It's more like a private, local record store than a label. It's biggest classification of artists is the DIY movement, despite all of the front page label promotion. Collectivism works, even if, in transition, those collectives depend on more structured, formal corporations. At least for now.

Open source software is often developed and maintained by communal collectives. Mastadon is an example of this. In fact, open source, communal, DIY software, running peer-to-peer, fees us from heirarchy. Client server models, like twitter, enslave us in heirachies, owned by self appointed, wealthy "kings." "Structure" is sold to us by people who would enslave us and, while we never had a ubiquity of connection that bypasses structure before the internet, why do we still seek to beg technology "kings" provide us with our needs, when we can, more and more, provide those needs ourselves.

Some types of structure are still needed. The university, for example, as a centralised repository (repo, in open source terms) of knowledge is crucial, but the running of the faculties, and even the infrastructures of these institutions could be just as effectively done by those who hold the knowledge of each discipline, and the authority of one speaker has to be justified, and not simply accepted.

I believe we are approaching an age where anarchy is not only a plausible means of managing and spreading benefit to the wider populace, fairly and without favour or corruption, it may actually be the only way to reign-in the gross concentration of power created by modern capital.

Author's Note(s)

A. Regarding the matter of local, independent, live music collectives (pub bands), it has occurred to me that, even where a member/founder of such a collective takes a leadership role, it is only in so much as, and for as long as, the bandmates trust that leadership. There is an agreement within the collective that, say, the "songwriter" or "music director" has the understanding and passion for the art the group wants to present that, so long as the trust in this member's abilities and intent remains intact, they hold a responsibility to the collective to organise rehearsals, book gigs and issue publicity, or delegate such to bandmates, as needed. If this trust is broken, the collective loses members, or disbands.

Trust is the key human emotion to the success of collectives. Electing one, who has demonstrated they are trustworthy, to undertake tasks within their skillset, for the purposes of the collective, until those purposes are met, the trustee is unable to continue, or the trustee has failed to maintain trust. To establish trust based structures requires constitution. In an anarchist collective, the constitution deals more with the management of trust within the group, how to maintain it, how to select or replace a trustee who has lost trust, or needs to step down for personal collectivist principles more widely than live musicreasons, rather than dealing with titles, heirachies or power. Anarchist/collectivist constitutional frameworks guide selection of trustees in a process more like a job criteria than an organisational structure. NB: most of this stuff at this stage is me winging it from reading a few articles on wikipedia, and synthsising from my personal experiences. If I can, I will pull together something of a bibliography, but I'm no academic by any lurid stretch of imagination, I just have 40 years of adult life skills.

B. Using collectivist principles more generally, institutions like hospitals or universities need disciplined structures to facillitate best practices and outcomes of health or education, but this does not exclude collectivism as a means of organising and providing productivity and good social benefits. Frameworks are still more about ideas and evidence for social benefit over ego and ownership. In fact, collectives can be built from collectives as equally as they could be by individuals. In a hospital environment, the hospital itself may be trustee collective brought together by the collectives running wards, which in turn are managed in trust by representatives of nursing and medical collectives. These are not heirachies, consensus must be sought and applied at every level, rather thay are structures for conducting consensus processes over broadband, diverse fields, accounting for public benefit through data, facts and measurement.


Further Reading To Do


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