Box 14, item 977: Notes and papers on anarchism

Title

Box 14, item 977: Notes and papers on anarchism

Subject

Handwritten notes and typescript papers with handwritten emendations and annotations, 'A fundamental dilemma for (deep-) green political theory? Democratic or authoritarian procedures' (dated 8.2.95), and 'Technical interlude, strong family resemblances of ubiquitous problem-generating structures'.

Description

Title in collection finding aid: RS: bundle of ms + ts for anarchism.

Creator

Source

The University of Queensland's Richard Sylvan Papers UQFL291, Box 14, item 977

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.

Rights

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

Format

[13] leaves. 8.26 MB.

Type

Manuscript

Coverage

Lake George - Floor - Pile 7

Text

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. a new democratic public sphere of empowered,
decentralized and diverse local communities needs a set of
national and regional state structures to facilitate
legal, economic, educational and cultural values and
practices, to support those local citizens lacking in
material and cultural resources, and to settle the many
disputes and conflicts which will continue to be a part of
any foreseeable social formation. A combination of local,
direct democracy and new semi-direct democratic structures
at the national level will make life for traditional
political parties very difficult if not impossible.
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development is to be applauded because too many citizens
in contemporary societies have an impoverished notion of
the possibilities of democratic participation and often
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8.2.95

A FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM FOR (DEEP-)GREEN POLITICAL
THEORY? DEMOCRATIC OR AUTHORITARIAN PROCEDURES
There is strictly no logical space for a deep-green democracy, according forexample to
For there is a clash, an essential tension, between deeper green values and

commitments, notably to intrinsic values in nature, and democratic procedures. The main drift
of the argument is that green values, which are mandatory for deeper greens, require for their

implementation anti-democratic, indeed authoritarian procedures; otherwise they cannot be
guaranteed.
__
This nasty conundrum for green theory over democracy, which 'it typically supports, is
put in a sharp form as follows:1*
Democracy concerns procedures, environmentalism certain outcomes. What guarantee can

there be that the procedures will deliver the outcomes? What guarantee that democracy will
yield a way of protecting environments?
However the type of situation is worse than a matter of guarantess, which greens are not

really seeking and could not in general expect.^It is a type of situation, moreover, which
effects not only environmentalism but any sort of social and other amelioration, and even
democracy itself. For democratic procedures may yield unsatisfactory and even anti-democratic
ocout-r
outcomes. Plausible scenarios are easily designed where just such outcomes happens, for
instance as in what has been called a “paradox of democracy” where a constituency elects an
antidemocratic tyrant.3
A concerned attempt is made by Saward to mount a strong version of such a paradox

against deep-green political theory (which he calls ‘dark green’). The version is based upon
holismand intrinsic value requirements, coupled with democratic demands, of deep-green
theory. In clearest form, the version turns as follows: Holism implies consistency or
compatibility. But intrinsic value maintenance and democracy are not compatible, under evident

conditions (e.g. democratic procedures result in diminution or destruction of intrinsic value).
Firstly, partial confirmation for this explication:
The green imperative contains a number of elements, variously economic,
political, social, geographical, religious, and so on. Its force comes partly
from the holism it embodies, and partly from its basis in the idea of the
‘intrinsic value’ of nature. Holism implies that the various elements which

3

Goodin condensing Saward p.168.
( For here as almost everywhere else, things can go wrong. Philosophy especially supplies few
absolutes and little certainty.)
Such paradxes of democracy, and varieants thereupon, are presented trenchantly by Popper, and
nullified in UTD.

make up the imperative are compatible. The elements of the imperative gain
their importance, and their links with each other, by being referable back to a
common, intrinsic value. It is at this point that we can pick up the position of
democracy or ‘direct democracy’ in lists of basic values set out by greens.
These goals are the elements of the overall green imperative, and gain their
importance from both the holistic nature and intrinsic merit of the values
which the imperative represents.4
As should now be plain, and will be made plainer, consistency is not an invariant desideratien,
and is not insisted upon; coherence is what is “implied” and what supersedes consistency. As

more than a century of Hegalian theory revealed, there may be inconsistent wholes.
A further key assumption in the argument is that guaranteeing that intrinsic value is
protected (or like absolutes sustained) will require undemocratic procedures, such as

authoritarian ones. An underlying assumption (soon to be rejectee^) is that only undemocratic,
authoritarian procedures fit with deeper green imperatives or givens.5 Several illustrations are
offered of inconsistency of green imperatives with types of democratic procedures—none of
which tell, without testing adaptation, specifically against deeper green positions.
\ first illustration is directed against Porritt:
A direct democratic procedure (is not) compatible with imperative goals like
‘local production for local need’, Tow consumption’, ‘labour-intensive
production’, and ‘voluntary siplicity’ (other items from Porritt’s list).6

Against this and other illustrations, it is worth emphasizing goals resemble objectives and
targets, goals are goals which are not mandatory and by no means always achieved, especially if
the achievers, like present humans, fall short (e.g. in ecological sensitivity) or their

organisational means and opportunities are inadequate. Observe the oppositional attempt, to
convey (fatTup-grading by high redefinition), ^ twistzgoals, programs, and principles—through

‘imperative goals’ and the like—into ‘imperatives’, ‘prescribed outcomes’, undeniable
principles, intimates. That attempt should be resisted.
A second example looks at an alleged
contradiction in the programme of the German Green Party. ‘Grassroots
democracy’ is one of the four ‘basic principles’ of the party’s ‘global
conception’. Another is the ‘ecological’; ‘Proceeding from the laws of nature,
and especially from the knowledge that unlimited growth is impossible in a
limited system, and ecological policy means understanding ourselves and our
environment as part of nature’. In effect, this means that certain outcomes are
proscribed from decision-making procedures. Proscribed outcomes go well
beyond any plausible list of outcomes which must be proscribed in the
interests of defending a direct democratic decision procedure. Therefore,
there is a clear contradiction between elements of the value-set, whereas given
the holism the green imperative is based on we would have the right to expect
these goals and values to be thoroughly compatible.7

Saward, paper version p.3.; repeated p.5.
Cf. p.12 essay.
[Reference]
[Reference]

3

The last charge repeats the critical point already rejected, that holism implies consistency. A
further critical point should also be rejected: the flawed inference that ‘certain outcomes are
proscribed’. A political party in a democratic system has to be prepared to see its principles,
however splendid, overriden, certainly by other parties if they gain or hold political power.

‘..^principles [too] can only be akin to [givens and] Taws of nature’, against which democratic
procedures must inevitably be traded off the board’. Sets of principles, which may themselves
turn out to be inconsistent, are hardly akin to natural laws; consider for instance reasons for

their revision, procedures for rechecking and revision, and so on. In any case, democratic
procedures are not traded away against laws of nature, which they may try to upset or suppress.
(Rather effort should be directed at informing the electorate, etc.).
To reinforce his case, Saward appeals to other authors who have advanced similar claims
CO

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(it is like appealing for information of a newspaper repeat to other newspapers).
Frankel accuses Bahro of an ‘anti-democratic’ vision of an ecological society,
given that politics as conflict will have no place in a sea of ‘givens’. He sees
the dilemma as being similar to that of socialists—deeming certain things as
desirable in an ultimate sense, but proclaiming attachment to democracy and
the diversity it implies. Ophuls has stated the matter especially clearly. The
basic question about politics, he writes, is ‘Is the way we organize our
communal life and rule ourselves compatible with ecological imperatives and
other natural laws? ... how we run our lives will be increasingly determined
by ecological imperatives’8
In an ecological society, enough of the demos (members of democratic constituency) will hold

ecological attitudes and vote accordingly, almost by definition. Problems of effecting change lie
with unecological communities, which may not support ecological principles under instituted
democratic procedures (as presently in many places). Principles, and ecological “givenT, stand,

they remain ‘desirable in an ultimate sense’, but they are not followed and implemented, while
revealed democratic preferences go unchanged. There need be no ‘anti-democratic vision’, but

rather an unecological prbxis, which principled greens will work to change.

The route is accordingly barred to Say ward’s
important conclusions...: that at best direct democracy, and for that matter
indirect forms of democracy, can only be at or near the bottom of value-lists
of greens. A commitment to democracy must clash with values that are
inherent to ecologism—and ecologism is about inherency, intrinsic values,
laws of nature and holism. Things—like democracy—that can only have
instrumental value must lose out to imperatives backed by inescapable
canonical force.9
familiar: pragmatism, jettison intrinsic value.
What Skyward proposes instead is dep
Out therewith go deep-green positions.
8

9

[Ref.] Note that a very streamlined version of Saward’s case is being presented. The last part of
Saward’s essay contains much fitfand a good deal of garbage.
[ref].

4
... greens should not think in terms of green imperatives. Indeed, it suggests
that to think in terms of imperatives based on arguments about intrinsic merit
is unjustifiable.10
Fortunately the argument developed does not sustain the proposals. There is, to itberate a

central point, no inteVal or latent contradiction between (deep-)green policy objectives and
democratic procedures. Rather, green objectives will fail to be achieved without ^ell-disposed
decision makers, who may not straightforwardly reflect any “will” of the demos. A logical
requirement on a realistic set of political objectives is that there are accessible circumstances

where they are realisable, where all elements of the whole world obtain. It should not be
required that there are are no situations where they may conflict, become inconsistent. It is
certainly not required that they are realised, by whatever means. A community, as variously

represented, can choose better or worse. There are many means available, which it may shun

(again there are no guarantees), enabling it to choose better, including improved structures,

attitudinal change and consciousness raising, and so on.
In the end, Saward too recognises the popules power of attitutdinal change, thereby

removing himself;his previous loading of authoritarian means upon greens. There
needs, from a green perspective [and others], to be a change in political
)
culture such that it will be compatible with sustainability. This, of course, is a
familiar theme from green writing. How[?] ... It can only be the case that
‘political change will ony occur once people think differently or, more
particularly, that sustainable living must be prefaced by sustainable thinking’.
Byibandoning foundationalist myths of intrinsic merit, greens abandon the
implicit arrogance that have made democracy such a tenuous part of green
political theory.11
But he overstates the attitudinal point, with ‘only...the case’. People can be politically led
(retardation, as distinct from genuine advancement is a common phenomena); they could just

elect a green government which instituted, under permuaible democratic methods, sustainable
living or the like. And:the fmq ungrammatical sentence is a complete non-sequitur. Attitudinal
change may including coming to appreciate intrinsic merit in natural things other than humans.

10

11

Of course it is now put in terms of “imperatives”; it y>uld be better expre^n terms of
principles, policy objectives or the like.
[Ref. and page]

.

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11
4.

Technical interlude: Strong family resemblances of ubiquitous problem-generating

structures.
The skeleton or scaffolding of organisation is structure; it is the frame on which
organisation is hung, which organisation fills or fleshes out. The sense of structure, explicating

the underlying organic image, implies as much. According, for instance, to the Concise Oxford

Dictionary, ‘structure: manner in which a building or organism or other complete whole is
constructed, supporting framework or whole of the essential parts of something’. Structure

itself is primarily, though not entirely, a matter of relations of elements and parts.

Remarkably, the same sort of problem-generating structures occur in a range of
seemingly diverse theoretical areas, to be displaced in each case by a similar sort of problem-

dissipating structure.
To illustrate, consider an order on a type (or set) of items Q given by one order relation R,

where R may itself depend on item c in Q, i.e. R = Rc. For example, where Q is a system of

worlds including your world the ordering R of worlds may depend on your world (and my
world could supply a different order). Differently, where Q is a system of values or valued
items, R may depend upon your values; and so on. As an order, R is at least transitive, and
perhaps either (if like <) reflexive or (if like <) symmetric, on its range. The system <£2, R> is
a simple ordered structure, or a frame. (The latter is the term now used in modal logic, where
such structures are the bases of models for the logic.) A cap or top t of such a system is an
element such that all items of Q bear R to t but which does not itself bear R to any element of

Q. (The notion, that of supremum, and likewise maximum, may be similarly defined relative to
subsets or types within Q.33)
Simple Theorem. There are order structures without tops.
Examples are provided by systems (often with much more structure) with no supremum. Here

is a simple 6 element example drawn from relevant logical theory.

+1

X
/ \

„ = {=2, -1, -0, +0, +1, +2}

R = — is as shown by arrows.
T = {+0, +1, +2} is a truth component

-1

Topologically, several notions of prime political and philosophical cast are tantamount to

tops in order structures, including chiefs (top persons in power rankings) hierarchs, grand
leaders, centres, absolutes, and objective items.

33

Consider, a pertinent issue, the matter of

A supremum t of R (in type T) is an (that) element (of T) such that all elements (of T) bear R to t
but which does not itself bear R to anything (in T).

11

Topologically, several notions of prime political and philosophical cast are tantamount to
tops in order structures, including chiefs (top persons in power rankings) hierarchs, grand
leaders, centres, absolutes, and objective items.

Consider, a pertinent issue, the matter of

central control or authority, where as in the next diagram all elements answer to L

Looked at from above t is centre of a network. In the diagram shown, it remains a structure, a

flattened hierarchy, when t and relations leading to it are deleted, under decapitation so to say.
What this shows in a simple fashion is that there can be ordered structures without central

control (and ranging further there can be statelessness, absence of central control, anarchy
without “anarchy” or chaos, because there is order), anencephaletic structures. Order,

including good order of a range of sorts, does not require central controls, leaders, absolute

rulers or arrangements, or similar. Order does not require hierarchy, such hierarchy.34
Let us briefly allude to a much wider philosophical sweep. Related order structural

considerations to those that tell against central states, absolute rulers, top authorities as required
for satisfactory order, also count against absolutes of other sorts, such as absolute truth (there

need be none, as the first diagram above indicates), absolute order (thus R itself is relative to c),

and objectives Qt various sorts, such as objective fact (another supposed absolute), objective

value (supplied under an absolute order), and so on. On this broad sweep the following sorts
contrast sets emerge:35

centralism
elitism
statism

in

decentralism
egalitarianism
anarchism

Part of what seems correct in Bookchin's vendetta against hierarchy can be captured in this way.
For a fuller picture see Sylvan 93/4, chapter 10.

n

12
central control or authority, where as in the next diagram all elements answer to t.

t
c
Cl

C4

a

C2
c3

b

at
b2

a2

bi
Looked at from above t is centre of a network. In the diagram shown, it remains a structure, a
flattened hierarchy, when t and relations leading to it are deleted, under decapitation so to say.
What this shows in a simple fashion is that there can be ordered structures without central

control (and ranging further there can be statelessness, absence of central control, anarchy
without “anarchy” or chaos, because there is order), anencephaletic structures. Order,
including good order of a range of sorts, does not require central controls, leaders, absolute

rulers or arrangements, or similar. Order does not require hierarchy, such hierarchy.34
Let us briefly allude to a much wider philosophical sweep. Related order structural
considerations to those that tell against central states, absolute rulers, top authorities as required
for satisfactory order, also count against absolutes of other sorts, such as absolute truth (there

need be none, as the first diagram above indicates), absolute order (thus R itself is relative to c),
and objectives of various sorts, such as objective fact (another supposed absolute), objective

value (supplied under an absolute order), and so on. On this broad sweep the following sorts
contrast sets emerge:35

centralism
elitism
statism
absolutism
realism
objectivism

in
rough
contrast
respectively
with
maximizing rationalism

decentralism
egalitarianism
anarchism
pluralism
nonrealism
nonjectivism

satisizing rationalism

Naturally, these simple structural considerations are only indicative, not decisive. For we
might find, as more and more constraints are imposed on structures, as account is taken of

Part of what seems correct in Bookchin's vendetta against hierarchy can be captured in this way.
For a fuller picture see Sylvan 94, chapter 10.

13

actual conditions, that freedom contracts, that structural arrangements are forced towards
centralism or absolutism. While such forcing may now look, in the light of a little logic,
implausible, it requires further argument that it need not in general eventuate. The argument

here against centralism and statism takes these lines: that there is ready design of institutional

arrangements for decentralised communities which does not lead back to a central state. The
state is organisationally otiose.
Organisation is delivered anencephaletically, more specifically through a decentralised
functional ecoregionalism. As to how this can be accomplished, a sweep of anarchoidal work
discloses.36

36

Most of the key elements are already available from political theory relevant to anarchism. As to
putting them together see e.g. Bumheim 85 (where demarchy and much else of reference is
explained) and Sylvan 95.

Citation

Richard Sylvan, “Box 14, item 977: Notes and papers on anarchism,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed February 22, 2024, https://antipodean-antinuclearism.org/items/show/81.

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