Box 13, Item 999: Notes and clippings on anarchy

Title

Box 13, Item 999: Notes and clippings on anarchy

Subject

Typescripts and handwritten notes. Includes copies of published works by other authors and letters.

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Published works and letters redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions. Title in collection finding aid: Green Folder single large staggered bundle of notes on anarchy.

Creator

Source

The University of Queensland's Richard Sylvan Papers UQFL291, Box 13, Item 999

Contributor

This item was identified for digitisation at the request of The University of Queensland's 2020 Fryer Library Fellow, Dr. N.A.J. Taylor.

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For all enquiries about this work, please contact the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library.

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[124] leaves. 195.74 MB.

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Manuscript

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Lake George - Floor - Pile 7

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Annotated cutting (photocopy) of two pages from Sears PB (1965) 'Utopia and the living
landscape', Daedalus, 94:474–486. (1 leaf)

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BEHIND LEFT AND RIGHT:
ENVIRONMENTAL ANARCHISM.
There are forms of anarchism which represent a new political

^dimension outside the lineal left-right classification.

Of course

these forms of anarchism have features in common with rightist
positions (forms of capitalism and "free" enterprise) and with
of
leftist positions (formsXsocialism and communism) and currently

with both.

But they reject crucial features of both, and, more

to the point, assumptions upon which the classification of the
conventional right-left political spectrum is based.These are
assumptions of central control of a state, of control of the means
of production

(on the one side by private individuals and on the

other side by the people or a committee supposedly representing

them), of ownership of property (privately versus publicly) , and

overarching all these the familiar assumptions of human chauvinism
(e.g. those discussed in [1], such as that all of value resides in

humankind or answers back to human interests).

There are forms

of anarchism - especially environmental anarchisms, the working

out of the character of which is one of the main objectives - which

reject, or importantly qualify, all these assumptions.
There has been a concerted, but intellectually fradulent,
attempt by statements of both right and left to absorb anarchism

as theirs.

For example, Nozick [2] and others to the right try

to represent anarchism as fitting into their libertarian scheme.

Nozick (in his final chapter) outlines a framework for utopias, a
generous framework which would include most anarchist options;

but

1 As might be expected the right-left classification is not a single
thing, but a bundle of different, and not mutually consistent,
classifications.
In the sense in which 'right' means 'conservative
for example, in contrast to 'left' as 'non-conservative', the
dichotomy is exhaustive, but then the distinction is a different
one from that under discussion and attack. The origin of the
classification would hardly lead one to anticipate completeness.
The members of continental parliaments who sat on the right or the
left hardly exhausted the range of political positions, especially
those in opposition to such a centralised state mechanism of
cont..

1.1
control and concentration of power.
In the end the right­
left 'distinction' is to be left behind: it is only some­
thing to hang an introduction on.
From a philosophical viewpoint there is hardly a more
interesting word in English than 'right' with 24 headings
in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, several of major philosophical
importance, and by no means all of the senses there are
untangled.

2.
he goes on, without any discernible argument,to claim - what

certainly seems false

that the framework for utopias is nothing

but his minimal state.

Both this minimal state and the arguments

for it are, however, decidedly objectionable at least from

anarchist viewpoints not to the right, in particular which reject
the propertarians or chauvinistic assumptions slipped into the
bottom of Nozick's position.

(The criticism of Nozick is so far

no more than a set of memos:

it will have to be spelled out.)

The attempted take-over bid by the left is sometimes if
anything, even cruder.

Consider, for example, Guerin's argument

from meaning for his inclusion thesis that every anarchist is a
([1], p.12).

socialist

It is this:-

Anarchism is really a synonym
for socialism.
The anarchist is primarly a socialist whose aim
is to abolish the exploitation of man by man.
Anarchism is only one of the streams of socialist
thought, that stream whose main components are
concern for liberty and haste to abolish the State.
This is inconsistent:
for if anarchism is really a synonym for
then anarchism is no sub-variety of socialism,
socialism,/but identical with it.
In fact the terms are far from

synonymous, as perusal of a better dictionary would have revealed,
and neither includes the other in meaning:

that is all.

there is overlap, and

An environmental anarchist's aims extend further than

abolishing the exploitation of man by man, it also includes ending
the exploitation of other things, natural items

by man.

in particular,

This is, of course, by not the only respect in which

anarchism may differ from socialism;

for it may well reject the

collectiv-istassumptions of socialism, the public ownership of all
the means of productions, etc.

Guerin not only relies on the

synonymy claim but goes so far as to say that 'today the terms

"anarchist" and "libertarian" have become interchangeable'.

By

transitivity then, "libertarian" and "socialist" are interchangeable

so Nozick, also is a libertarian, is a socialist:

this would come

as a surprise to Nozick.

Chomsky's argument that the consistent anarchist is a
socialist (in his Introduction to [1], p.XO) is more elaborate

and devious but equally invalid.

Chomsky's moves begin with

several appeals to authority, to the anarchist historian Rocker
(first introduced as an anarchist, and then as a socialist), to

Fischer (who simply asserted a version of the thesis in need of
defence) and to Bakunin

(who simply laid down the principle

that each member must be, to begin with, a socialist' in his
"anarchist manifesto",something which only reflects Bakunin's

narrowness, that he was only prepared to

admit

certain approved

types of anarchists to his projected revolutionary fraternity.

The appeal to authority can be no better than the arguments of the
authority, and unfortunately for Chomsky the remaining authority,
Rocker, does not deliver the arguments.

himself to modern

For a start he restricts

anarchism, thereby excluding such counter­

examples to the inclusion thesis as Thoreau.

Secondly Rocker's

argument from the 'realities of capitalist economic

forms'

and the resulting 'exploitation of man by man' does not show that
'anarchism is necessarily anti-capitalist', but only that it is
opposed to the tried forms of large-scale capitalism.

Small-scale

capitalism, for example with appropriate technology, is not
ruled out thereby;

and nor are anarchist's who would incorporate

such features into their theory.

Thirdly, Rocker simply assumes

in his view that modern anarchism is the confluence of socialism

and liberalism, that it must be one or the other (it is not the

one he thinks, so by Disjunctive Syllogism, it must be the other):
but the dichotomy is a false one, as we have already seen.

Chomsky's direct argument for his qualified**" inclusion

thesis begins thus:
Any consistent anarchist must oppose private
ownership of the means of production and the
wage-slavery which is a component of this system,
as incompatible with the principle that labor
must be freely undertaken and under the control
of the producer
(p.xiii).

Libertarian anarchists would deny this.

'The means of

production' is ambiguous as between 'some means (or methods)
of production; and 'all means of production'.

1 Need we wonder what becomes of the inconsistent anarchist?

The following have been redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.
1. Letter, Fred to Richard Sylvan re: Interested in draft paper ‘Behind left and right’ by
Sylvan. (1 leaf)
2. Photocopy of eight pages from Moore B (1972) Reflections on the causes of human
misery and upon certain proposals to eliminate them, Allen Lane. (4 leaves)

The following have been redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.
1. Annotated photocopy of four pages from Russell B (1935) In praise of idleness and other
essays, Allen & Unwin. (2 leaves)
2. Annotated photocopy of two pages from unidentified publication. (1 leaf)

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Photocopy of four pages from unidentified publication. (2 leaves)

The following has been redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.
Annotated photocopy of two pages from unidentified publication by Hobbes? (1 leaf)

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cases.

.

themselves.

BIEDENKOPF IGNORED

Although the symposium was entitled

Multinationals in

Muller (American University, Washington D.C.) had thrown
few heretical thoughts into the discussion - but they were

ignored.

on trust
bevond question", said Biedenkopf,
"that in the new economic order? which is characterized above
all by confrontation ^tween industrial ^ates^an^_^ey^^^„
countries, the role of private prope^ y
<ri ^i-,a T-d^rivitv of the concept of property
Biedenkopf compared the relati
y
German industry,
with that of patent Paction. As long a=,ue
in the last century, lagged
J?^fa Q^y ^hen German
consistently against paten
j_ ^<g Bismarck became an
industry had caught up with England s,
advocate of patent protection.
Biedenkopf said that claims to
^gyg^iimited in time;
than patent claims, since P^^^J^^tess
"Should the
holdi^g^of^private ^stments in developing countries^not^

allow the most important industrial and
be in foreign hands.

WHAT IS THE " BERNE DECLARATION "
"Berne Declaration":
development policy.
theologians.

original name of a manifesto on Swiss

Published in 1968 on the initiative of some

The Declaration was signed by over 10,000 persons, who thus
made a financial and political commitment (e.g. to giving
up 1-3%'oftheir income to development aid for three years).

An organisation sprung from it which combines information
on the relationship between Switzerland and the Third World

with social and political action:

e.g. coffee campaign, meat renunciation campaign, evaluation
of school materials and children's books, campaign against arms
exports, etc.

No fund raising for projects abroad, financially independent and
not linked to any political party.
Membership:

Over 10,000 signatories of the original Declaration,

including about 1,200 members of the Association "For Development
in Solidarity".

For further reading on this topic we recommend:

Richard J. Barnet and Ronald E. Muller.
Global Reach:

The Power of the Multinational Corporations

Published by Simon & Schuster, New York 1974 (US$ 11.95)

The following have been redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.
1. Annotated photocopy of two pages from unidentified publication. (1 leaf)
2. Letter, [?], Philosophy Department, University of Queensland to Richard, 2 Jul 1993 re
update on review of the Word Society and Kaldor tax. (1 leaf)

,,

Democracy within

ANARCHY,

and

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DEMANARCHY

Present electoral arrangements offer what? What presently have is a competative game
between competating blocks of the ruling elite (with professional power-brokers who trade with

each other their patronage and cites/br the acclaimed right to govern.

Thus elections hardly represent a genuine expression of agreement by the populace to be
governed; rather they are occasions when the populace is duped into supporting one or other
elite team.

For the most part power is concentrated in organisations which are not elected not
controlled by the people effected by their contractions and not representative.
By and large, satisfactory democratic arrangements will not be participatory (see
Burnheim).
are valuable for limited purposes, viz. as/a//
. satisfactory in general (p.91). There is no need to dissent.

B argues that they are not

1. Encourage those without interest in, or not genuinely affected by issue not to vote.
2. only structural, not material issu^to refs. Certainly not material moral issues, for
instance, not capital punishment, not abortion.

has the wrong etymology and the wrong meaning for anarchist purposes. It
the office of a demarch [a president, chief magistrate, major or govemnorj; a popular
government. The municipal body of a modem Greek commune' (OED). Anarchism recognises
no chiefs or leaders, even democratic ones or demogogues. What can be done very simply,
however, is to enlarge the word by a simple important syllable 'an', giving

The following has been redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.
Flyer, Australian National University Centre for Resource and Environment Studies Seminar,
Resource development dilemmas in Indochina by Dr Philip Hirsh, 24 Oct 1991. With
handwritten annotations. (1 leaf)

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ism? I take
; ___
Why does democracy entai 1 anarchy and social
The
democracy to be government of the people by the people.
not
is
It
'Which people are we talking about?",
question is:
democratic,
I presume, for the people of Sydney to be deciding
'minding
whether or not Melbourne has trams. They would not be
I
assume
their own business" as we say. So for these reasons
by
affected
that the people are those people who are primarily
perhaps
the decision. OK, -some are affected more than others and
by an?/
everyone is affected a little bit, albeit unnoticeably,
or if you like
So that"s why I say 'primarily'
decision,
There will be difficulty in many cases in knowing
'mostly".
the
someone is affected sufficently to get into
whether
By and
electorate, but we needn"t get too up tight about that.
large people will be the best judge of that themselves.

Now if society operated in some such way, there could be no
laws in the common sense of 'law". For a law is a decision to the
effect that everyone of a certain type will be constrained to
behave in a certain fashion. But the people who are primarily
affected by the people of that type being constrained in that way
will vary from time to time, so that, in a democracy, such a law
could be deemed to be operative only for as long as the people
primarily affected by it (a) remained the same and (b) had no
wish to change their behaviour - and that, for anything a lawyer
would call a law would be to all intents and purposes no time! at
Dead
all.
Hence the truly democratic society will be lawless,
people are no longer affected by social decisions they helped to
make.
So any such social decisions must be remade by the new
electorate.
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Similarly, democracy entails socialism, where by socialism I
mean the public control of the means of production, distribution
Producing, distributing and exchanging are all
and exchange.
acts, which, if made democratically, are made publicly - by those
Those
members of the public that are primarily affected.
primarily affected will be those who are required to do the work,
those who receive the goods or services produced, and those who
e.g.
suffer the negative effects of the industrial decision,
deprivation of wealth or income, unemployment or pollution.
Democracy does not entail optimum freedom, if that means
optimum satisfaction. However, on the assumption that people will
want to maximise their satisfaction, they should prefer optimally
satisfying decision procedures in the democratic decision making
processes. Given that they are rational in this regard, they will
therefore opt for rational conflict resolution procedures rather
than merely counting heads, hands or ballot papers.
I take it that you don"t need counterexamples to show the
invalidity of arguing from anarchy or socialism to democracy.

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Cutting (two pages) from a Griffith University National Institute for Law, Ethics and Public
Affairs publication. Article 'The church in a liberal society' has handwritten annotations. (1 leaf)

The following has been redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.
Annotated photocopy of six pages from MacIntyre A (1988) Whose justice? Which rationality?,
Notre Dame. (3 leaves)

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Annotated cutting (photocopy) of New Scientist (15 July 1999) 'Let them eat yellowcake', New
Scientist, 123(1673):3. (1 leaf)

The following have been redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.
1. Annotated photocopy of two pages from unidentified publication. (1 leaf)
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The present situation can be summarised in terms of certainties
and uncertainties.

The certainties are:
There are limits to the absorptive capacity (of technological
waste products and toxic substances), resilience, and
adaptability of biological systems - a principle which
applies as much to the biosphere as a whole as it does
to local ecosystems and to individual organisms.

1.

,______________________rin

2.

The present pattern of increasing per capita
resources, discharge of technological wastes and use of
J__ 2.3 is
ecologically unsustainable:
energy in human ___
society
if it is 1not
-- brought under control through' deliberate
-- as
— a
societal action, it will come to an end either
consequence of depletion of mineral resources or, more

nf

seriously, as the result of irreversible damage to the
biosphere caused by technological waste products.
The uncertainties are:
1 How much longer the biosphere can continue to P^^ *
suitable habitat tor humanity given the present pattern of
industrial productivity.
Which particular culturally-induced environmental changes
2.
represent the greatest threat to the integrity o the

biosphere.
Which cultural phenomena are the most critical m causing
undesirable change in the biosphere .

3.

t

For example, social goals, patterns of investment, favoured
technologies, modes of decision-making, loci of power J

use of machines powered by extrasomatic energy (e.g. fossil
fuels). As a consequence of these developments, the ecological
impact of the human species (as expressed in terms of energy use)

is now about 15,000 times greater than it was at the time of the
domestic transition.

98 percent of this increase has occurred

since 1800 AD, and 80 percent in the last 50 years.

It is certain that the biosphere, as a dynamic system capable of
supporting the human species, will not be able to tolerate this
continuing intensification of technometabolism (i.e. use of

energy and resources and discharge of technological wastes by the
human population) indefinitely.
.

* . -t

ecologically sustainable.

*

Phase Four human society is not

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If humans are to continue to exist in the biosphere, they must
devise a nee societal system (or systems) , such that their needs

can be satisfied with a more modest rate of resource and energy
use than that which at present prevails in the high-energy

societies.
Certain essential characteristics, or biosocral imperatives of
^t^-new societal system are clear .

.

rhe additional ecological load now imposed

on the biosphere by human society is, in energy terms, equivalent
to about 5 percent of the total ecological load imposed by all

other animals and plants put together.

If the technometabolism

of human society as a whole continues to intensify at the same

rate as it has over the past 20 years, by the year 2100 human
beings will be using as much energy, and consequently having as

much impact on the biosphere, as all other existing forms of
life. In fact, it is highly unlikely that the biosphere would be

able to tolerate this eventuality.

Moreover, many authors are of

the opinion that the biosphere would not be able to withstand an
intensification of technometabolism in the developing countries

of the world such that it reached the present level of intensity
characteristic of the modern high-energy societies^-J:t^t^is, 5

times the present global level of technometabolism)Indeed,-^

7^533= *=^ady mentionetA i

is clear that the biosphere will not be

able to tolerate indefinitely even the present pattern of

technometabolism.

Four important biosocial imperatives can be stated as follows:

*

1.

The si2e of the Auman population must be stable.

2.

The overall rate of resource and energy use and of
technological waste production by society fi.e. the intensity
of technometabolism? must be steady for decreasing?.
This
rate must be considerably lower than that characteristic of
the high-energy societies at the present time.

3.

The organisation of society and the economic system must be
such that human health, well-being and enjoyment of life do
not depend on continually increasing per capita use of
resources and energy and production of technological wastes.

4.

The organisation of society and the economic system must be
such that high rates of employment* are not dependent on
increasing consumption of the products of resource—intensive
anc? ener^ry-in tensive industry.

distribution of natural resources, should be an essential aim of

society at both regional and global levels.

Moreover, it is also

assumed that all societal activities that threaten the integrity

of the biosphere must cease — including the manufacture, storage
and deployment of nuclear weapons.

It is self-evident that these biosocial imperatives raise some
important questions about the future of human society.

The FQP

is based on the view that consideration of these questions is an
urgent matter, and that serious thought should now be given to
the design of a new society which, for an indefinite period,
satisfies the health and well-being needs both of the biosphere^-

*

**

The actual size of this sustainable stable population will
depend on its pattern of resource and energy use. The higher
the intensity of technometabolism, the smaller the
sustainable human population.
For the purposes of this Program, 25 percent of the present
per capita intensity of technometabolism in the high-energy
societies will be taken initially as a reasonable societal
objective.

*** The word employment is used here in a broad sense to include
all direct or indirect subsistence activities that are
associated with a sense of personal involvement and purpose.
(Indirect subsistence activities are those which are aimed at
providing subsistence but which do not involve the direct
acquisition of food from its place of origin. Working for
wages with which to procure food and shelter is thus an
indirect subsistence activity).

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WORLD ORDER, CULTURAL CONVERGENCE
AND REGIONAL CULTURAL AUTONOMY

The success of Australia's relations with the Pacific Island States
will be based upon the practical and sustained recognition that no one
culture is basically superior to another, -that each and every
[traditional]
culture, together with its social, polLtical and
economic ingredients, have a measuring and value
...
that our new
found freedoms [and independence] were fought so that to a significant
degree a renaissance of Melanesian values, principles and expectations
can take place (Lini, p.ll and p.6).
World order with regional cultural autonomy is a highly desirable goal.

It

is an objective not only of political leaders such as Lini but also of ambitious

proposals such as Mazrui's world federation of cultures J But there is

evidence

that, despite its prime facte plausibility and appeal, it is an impossible goal.
There are various routes to this most unwelcome conclusion.

Mazrui admits that tris 'approach

Consider first Mazrui's cultural paradox.

to

appears

have

But it is worse than that:

contradictory aims' (M p.9).

approach is contradictory, almost as it stands, and Mazrui
way out.

to

the

next premiss:

calculations.

reform

as

a

problem of building up

on

'To get mankind to agree to a new world system [one with

social

reasoning

and

Consensus behind three or four values will need consensus

behind many more supporting values and perspectives.
world

clear

In Mazrui's terms, which leal

order], we need to give mankind that shared framework of

social

no

The argument proceeds as follows:

World order implies a certain consensus.

Pl.

indicates

the

problem

of

supporting

mobilizing
values;

...

consensus;

and

we

see

In

summary,

w*

s <e

we see consensus as a
this

latter

as

an

outgrowth of cultural convergence' (M p.l).

P2.

Such consensus implies [substantial]

cultural

convergence.

In

Mazrui's

'World order...': as mentioned before, I think you should take into account
the world order writings of people such as Richard Falk (A Study of Future Worlds,
etc.) and Johan Galtung (The True Worlds, etc.).

'Consensus

formulation,

behind much-needed world reforms is impossible without

substantial cultural convergence on a global scale' (M p.9).

[Substantial]

P3.

Mazrul's

cultural

formulation:

'the

convergence

In

which the world has so far

convergence

cultural

dependence.

cultural

implies

attained carries with it the evil of dependency'.
P4.

Cultural dependence is incompatible with regional cultural autonomy.

Hence, by P1-P4, world order is incompatible with
and

world order with such regional autonomy is impossible.

hence

is valid, but some of the premisses can
of P2 with Pl.

produce

cultural

regional

be

certainly

shaken,

autonomy,

The argument

the

especially

Even so, no matter how hard they are shaken the problem

cannot be entirely removed.

*****

There is no general solution to the
cultural

regional

This

autonomy.

problem

result

of

world

order

maintaining

is an application of a generalised

Arrow's Theorem.in the application, world options or courses-of-action are the
regional cultures are the factors.

and

alternatives,

Then the factor rankings

are different cultural rankings of the world options.
that

is

there

no

dominant

culture,

no

cultural dictator.

conditions can be assumed satisfied, or satisfied by

result

Regional autonomy implies
Since the other

adjustments 3,

the

dismal

given that world order it taken to require overall rankings of

follows,

world options.

Although a general solution is impossible, a solution
possible
confront.

however

for

all

the

choices

world

a

federation

Given the environmental and economic

that

seems

increasingly

unlikely:

choices
more

may

be

nonetheless

cultures ever has to

of

that
and

are

more,

being

made

because

environmental dependence, choices made by one culture spill over into others.

2

of

The resolutions hitherto have primarily been
cultural

assimilation.

the

And

by

cultural

arsenal of defences, ranging from explicit claims of cultural

claims

through

down

superiority

of democratic cultural adjustment .(tribal voting with the feet)

tn the face of technological superiority and improved "standards of living"
least

registered

as

imported

by

e.g.

relatively easy to shatter;
dominant

culture

ranked

highly,

concerning local environments);

etc.

economics).
the

of

Many

superiority

is

these
only

(at

defences are

in

the

things

not in other matters (such as discrimination

the improved "standards of living" often enough

from leisurely lives of primitive affluence to "wage slaves",

people

converted

and

been backed up by

has

domination

cultural

domination

Some of the evangelical defences are harder to break.

While it is easy in

hindsight to see that there was little justification for imposing religions like
various forms of Christianity in the way they were imposed on other

gentler

or

militarily weaker cultures, the same is not seen in regard to ideologies such as

positivistic science of mainstream economics.

Perhaps most

more

that

dangerous

than

pretentious

the

idea

main Western culture is the

guardian of the truth, is the idea that it has a special

Rationality

is

tool

a

all,

of

dangerous

hold

on

rationality.

that can be applied to justify convergence to orthodox

Western norms.

A world federation of cultures - an Integrated world culture, so almost

to

say - appears to afford a viable alternative to world government, as a source of

world order in particular.
firstly,

it

is

a

what

'we

it

less remote prospect:

than we were a century ago;
Secondly,

Moreover,

should

is

preferable

alternative,

-'we are no nearer a world government

but we are much nearer to world culture'
be

since,

(t

p.2).

aiming for are internalised controls [those of

culture], based on new human inclinations,

rather

organisational mechanisms [government]' (M p.2).

than

external

not.

governmental,

typically

by

Thirdly, cultural controls and

liaisons permit flexibility, regional autonomy, and so on,

rigid

controls

in

ways

that

more

authoritive and externally imposed, controls do

There is evidence, furthermore, from a

range

of

indigenous

cultures

-

Melanesian cultures are ]ust one group of examples - that culture can substitute
Hie vision of a well-ordered

for government.

cultures

government

without

it

anarchists;

especially

is

goes

of

federation

back,

of

course,

prominent

in

the

organisations

to

the

century
and

of

convergence

to

Bakunin

of

work

19th

or

Kroprotkin.

To make the vision work does not however require

the

Mazrui

extent

imagines;

it

does not require a single shared culture

essence, a single characterising feature

is wanted

in

the

rope

strands [the regional cultures

need

as

sought

where a family resemblance is what

A model for a world federation is given Wittgenstein s rope picture.

strands

Various

erroneously

Mazrui has

shared cultural universe, or one world culture
an

cultura1

overlap and criss-cross

It is this overlap of

that give the rope its strength

usually does, run through the length of the rope.

But no

strand

So similarly there

need be no shared or common culture for a world federation, or rope, of culttires

to have strength, and to ensure thereby world order.
regional cultures overlap one another suitably.

it

will

not

follow

that

It is enough that adjacent

Nor is overlap transitive;

there must be something shared.

so

This rope model of

cultures may be alternatively described in other family ways , e.g

in terms

of

a network of cultures.

FOOTNOTES

1.

For these objectives see Mazrui's Introduction, p.l ff. Here as elsewhere in
text, author's names double as references.

2.

On the generalisation see Routley.

3.

For methods of adjustment, e.g. completing rankings, see again Routley.

REFERENCES

O. Lint, 'Keynote Address', Australia and the South Pacific,
Proceedings on a
Conference
held
at the Australian National University, Centre for
Continuing Education, Canberra, 1982.
A.A. Mazrui, A World Federation of Cultures: An African Perspective, Free Press,
New York" 1*976. All page references prefixed M are to this work.
R. Routley, 'On the impossibility of an orthodox social theory and of an
orthodox solution to environmental problems', Logique et Analyse 23 (1980)
145-166.
K. Lehrer and C. Wagner, Rational consensus
Rolland, 1981.

Science

in

and

Society,

Re Idel,

1. It is widely assumed that cultural convergence is a good thing, to

NOTES

promoted.

This

is the operational assumption in Lehrer and Wanner, who want to

see the conditions for
everywhere

their

(fortunately,

fail for important real
excessive

be

cultural

Markov

convergence

theorem

applying

virtually

of course, the conditions are pretty restrictive, and
life

cases).

convergence

is

There
not

are

good

reasons

for

thinking

a good thing. Certainly some cases of

convergence are undecidable.

Experimental testing of convergence (Defi groups) showed that
when

convergence,

occurred, tended to confirm the status quo. Methods of convergence are

it

essentially conservative. Both locally and on a larger scene such methods can be
damaging,

in several respects. They undercut the perhaps otherwise positions of

minorities. And they can reinforce the posltLon of dangerous power triggers.

Consider what would happen - what appears to be happening -

scene

the

world

where we have, in some measure, "enforced convergence". What we would be

headed for - what we are headed for ts imposition

western

in

paradigm,

with

its

economism,

5

everywhere

violence

of
and

the

dominant

environmental

* "

destructiveness. Lower cultures are progressively undermined.

buddhism,

which

stand

opposed

to

main

afford just one conspicuous example. (The

useful

working

example.)

Buddhism

is

Those

practicing

directions of the dominant paradigm,
American

right

out

impact

of-

on

step

Thailand

with

is

a

economism,

encouraging as it does removal of consumerist ambitions, and it is dianetrically
opposed

to

violence and like destructive practices. (Thus to pull Buddhism out

of the educational curriculum, as in the fairly recent American-inspired,

constitution,

their

is not the enlightened step it is usually seen as: to be sure, it

is "progressive" enough, but in a direction more of us should not be headed.)

2. Total consensus represents a limit of convergence. Consensus also

its serious limitations then.

6

has

WORLD ORDER, CULTURAL CONVERGENCE
AND REGIONAL CULTURAL AUTONOMY

The success of Australia's relations with the Pacific Island States
will be based upon the practical and sustained recognition that no one
culture is basically superior to another, that each and every
[traditional]
culture, together with its social, political and
economic ingredients, have a measuring and value ...
that our new
found freedoms [and independence] were fought so that to a significant
degree a renaissance of Melanesian values, principles and expectations
can take place (Lini, p.ll and p.6).

World order with regional cultural autonomy is a highly desirable goal.

It

is an objective not only of political leaders such as Lini but also of ambitious
proposals such as Mazrui's world federation of cultures.But there is

evidence

that, despite its prima facie plausibility and appeal, it is an impossible goal.
There are various routes to this most unwelcome conclusion.

Consider first Mazrui's cultural paradox.

appears

to

have

Mazrui admits that his 'approach
But it is worse than that:

contradictory aims' (M p.9).

approach is contradictory, almost as it stands, and Mazrui
way out.

to

the

next premiss:

calculations.

reform

as

a

problem of building up

on

'To get mankind to agree to a new world system [one with

social

reasoning

and

Consensus behind three or four values will need consensus

behind many more supporting values and perspectives.
world

clear

In Mazrui's terms, which lead

order], we need to give mankind that shared framework of

social

no

The argument proceeds as follows:

World order implies a certain consensus.

Pl.

indicates

the

problem

of

supporting

mobilizing
values;

...

consensus;
and

we

see

In

summary,

we

see

we see consensus as a

this

latter

as

an

outgrowth of cultural convergence' (M p.l).
P2.

Such consensus implies [substantial]

cultural

convergence.

In

Mazrui's

formulation,

'Consensus

behind much-needed world reforms is impossible without

substantial cultural convergence on a global scale' (M p.9).

[Substantial]

P3.

cultural

formulation:

Mazrui's

'the

implies

convergence
cultural

dependence.

cultural

In

which the world has so far

convergence

attained carries with it the evil of dependency'.

P4.

Cultural dependence is incompatible with regional cultural autonomy.

Hence, by P1-P4, world order is incompatible with

and

cultural

world order with such regional autonomy is impossible.

hence

is valid, but some of the premisses can
of P2 with Pl.

produce

regional

certainly

shaken,

be

autonomy,

The argument

especially

the

Even so, no matter how hard they are shaken the problem

cannot be entirely removed.

*****
problem

There is no general solution to the

regional

This

autonomy.

cultural

result

of

order

world

maintaining

is an application of a generalised

Arrow's Theorem.in the application, world options or courses-of-action are the
alternatives,

regional cultures are the factors.

and

Then the factor rankings

are different cultural rankings of the world options.
that

is

there

no

dominant

culture,

no

cultural dictator.

conditions can be assumed satisfied, or satisfied by
result

Regional autonomy implies
Since the other

adjustments 3,

the

dismal

given that world order it taken to require overall rankings of

follows,

world options.

Although a general solution is impossible, a solution
possible

confront.
however

for

all

the

choices

world

a

federation

Given the environmental and economic
that

seems

increasingly

unlikely:

choices
more

may

be

nonetheless

cultures ever has to

of

that

and

are
more,

being

made

because

environmental dependence, choices made by one culture spill over into others.

2

of

The resolutions hitherto have primarily been
cultural

the

And

assimilation.

cultural

by

cultural

arsenal of defences, ranging from explicit claims of cultural

claims

through

down

superiority

of democratic cultural adjustment (tribal voting with the feet)

in the face of technological superiority and improved "standards of living"

least

registered

as

ranked

culture

e.g.

people

converted
etc.

the

superiority

of
is

these

only

(at

defences are

in

things

the

not in other matters (such as discrimination

highly,

concerning local environments);

Many

economics).

imported

by

relatively easy to shatter;
dominant

and

been backed up by

has

domination

domination

the improved "standards of living" often enough

from leisurely lives of primitive affluence to "wage slaves",

Some of the evangelical defences are harder to break.

While it is easy in

hindsight to see that there was little justification for imposing religions like
various forms of Christianity in the way they were imposed on other

gentler

or

militarily weaker cultures, the same is not seen in regard to ideologies such as
positivistic science of mainstream economics.
more

dangerous

than

pretentious

the

idea

Perhaps most

that

is

tool

a

all,

main Western culture is the

guardian of the truth, is the idea that it has a special

Rationality

of

dangerous

hold

on

rationality.

that can be applied to justify convergence to orthodox

Western norms.

A world federation of cultures - an integrated world culture, so almost

to

say - appears to afford a viable alternative to world government, as a source of

world order in particular.
firstly,

it

is

a

what

'we

it

less remote prospect:

than we were a century ago;
Secondly,

Moreover,

should

is

preferable

alternative,

'we are no nearer a world government

but we are much nearer to world culture'
be

since,

(M

p.2).

aiming for are internalised controls [those of

3

culture], based on new human inclinations,

than

rather

organisational mechanisms [government]' (M p.2).

typically

governmental,

in

ways

more

that

authoritive and externally imposed, controls do

There is evidence, furthermore, from a

not.

by

Thirdly, cultural controls and

liaisons permit flexibility, regional autonomy, and so on,
rigid

controls

external

range

of

indigenous

cultures

-

Melanesian cultures are just one group of examples — that culture can substitute

The vision of a well-ordered

for government.

government

without

cultures

it

anarchists;

especially

is

back,

of

course,

prominent

in

the

goes

organisations

of

federation

the

to

century

and

of

convergence

to

Bakunin

of

work

19th

or

Kroprotkin.

To make the vision work does not however require

Mazrui

extent

the

imagines;

does not require a single shared culture , a

it

shared cultural universe, or one world culture.

an

cultural

erroneously

Mazrui has

sought

essence, a single characterising feature, where a family resemblance is what

is wanted.
Various

A model for a world federation is given Wittgenstein's rope picture.

strands

in

the

rope

overlap and criss-cross.

It is this overlap of

strands [the regional cultures] that give the rope its strength.

need,

as

usually does, run through the length of the rope.

But no

strand

So similarly there

need be no shared or common culture for a world federation, or rope, of cultures
to have strength, and to ensure thereby world order.

regional cultures overlap one another suitably.
it

will

not

follow

that

It is enough that adjacent

Nor is overlap transitive;

there must be something shared.

so

This rope model of

cultures may be alternatively described in other family ways, e.g.

in terms

of

a network of cultures.

FOOTNOTES

1.

For these objectives see Mazrui's Introduction, p.l ff. Here as elsewhere in
text, author's names double as references.

4

2.

On the generalisation see Routley.

3.

For methods of adjustment, e.g. completing rankings, see again Routley.

REFERENCES

W. Lini, 'Keynote Address', Australia and the South Pacific, Proceedings on a
Conference
held
at the Australian National University, Centre for
Continuing Education, Canberra, 1982.
A.A. Mazrui, A World Federation of Cultures: An African Perspective, Free Press,
New York, 1976. All page references prefixed M are to this work.

R. Routley, 'On the impossibility of an orthodox social theory and of an
orthodox solution to environmental problems', Logique et Analyse 23 (1980)

145-166.
K. Lehrer and C. Wagner, Rational consensus

in

Science

and

Society,

Reidel,

Holland, 1981.

1. It is widely assumed that cultural convergence is a good thing, to

NOTES

promoted.

This

is the operational assumption in Lehrer and Wagner, who want to

see the conditions for
everywhere

their

(fortunately,

fail for important real

excessive

be

cultural

Markov

convergence

theorem

applying

virtually

of course, the conditions are pretty restrictive, and
life

cases).

convergence

is

There
not

are

good

reasons

for

thinking

a good thing. Certainly some cases of

convergence are undecidable.

Experimental testing of convergence (Defi groups) showed that

occurred, tended to confirm the status quo. Methods of convergence are

it

when

convergence,

essentially conservative. Both locally and on a larger scene such methods can be

damaging,

in several respects. They undercut the perhaps otherwise positions of

minorities. And they can reinforce the position of dangerous power triggers.

Consider what would happen - what appears to be happening -

scene,

the

world

where we have, in some measure, "enforced convergence". What we would be

headed for - what we are headed for is imposition

western

in

paradigm,

with

its

economism,

5

everywhere

violence

of
and

the

dominant

environmental

destructiveness. Lower cultures are progressively undermined.

which

Buddhism,

stand

opposed

to

main

afford just one conspicuous example. (The
useful

working

example.)

Buddhism

is

Those

practicing

directions of the dominant paradigm,
American

right

out

impact
of

on

step

Thailand
with

is

a

economism,

encouraging as it does removal of consumerist ambitions, and it is dianetrically

opposed

to

violence and like destructive practices. (Thus to pull Buddhism out

of the educational curriculum, as in the fairly recent American-inspired,

constitution,

their

is not the enlightened step it is usually seen as: to be sure, it

is "progressive" enough, but in a direction more of us should not be headed.)

2. Total consensus represents a limit of convergence. Consensus also

its serious limitations then

has

Citation

Richard Sylvan, “Box 13, Item 999: Notes and clippings on anarchy,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed February 23, 2024, https://antipodean-antinuclearism.org/items/show/66.

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