Saturday, February 29, 2020

Proposal of a New School of Anarchist Thought: Anarcho-Commensalism (Incomplete)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Resolving the Conflict Between Competition and Cooperation
2. Monopoly and Mutualism: Why We Don't Let Lions Chase Us
3. Just Deserts and Full Compensation
4. Mutualism vs. Parasitism vs. Commensalism
5. Taking Without Earning or Asking: Is it Always Stealing?
6. Giving to the Poor: When is it OK to Expect Something Back?
7. The Futility of Ownership Hinders Our Ability to Produce
8. Doing Things for Their Own Sake: Why Anarcho-Commensalism?
9. Reciprocal Altruism: The True Spirit of Giving
10. Giving Food Away, and Excluding People from Receiving
11. The Rights to Adequate Rest, Breaks, and Vacations
12. The Right to Glean: Building an Open-Access Society
13. Only Stupid People Believe in Private Property
14. Twelve Freedoms and Rights Which Anarcho-Commensalism Should Respect
15. Conclusion: Feeling Like a Number (Fuck the Devil)
16. Resources


1. Introduction: Resolving the Conflict Between Competition and Cooperation

     Throughout the history of political economy and anarchist political theory, much attention has (appropriately) been given to the issue of the conflict between two modes of survival: competition and cooperation. And also, to the related issues of whether competition and cooperation are found in nature, which is found in nature more, and which is more beneficial to the survival of human beings and other living things.

     On the pro-competition side, there are the "social Darwinists" who observe from nature that "only the strong survive", and believe that this principle can and should be applied to human beings in order to improve the state of the world.
     Subscribers to this idea include the Nazis, various other sorts of nationalists on the right wing of economics, and followers of Herbert Spencer. Additionally, those Nietzscheans whom have fallen prey to the hyper-competitive and German nationalist predispositions of Nietsche's sister Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche and her husband Bernhard Forster, the German nationalist.
     On the pro-cooperation side, there are the "anarcho-collectivists" and "cooperativist-anarchists", such as Mikhail Bakunin. Bakunin, his followers, and those who desire a stateless society based on voluntary social coherence, observe that cooperation exists in nature every bit as much as competition does. The cooperativists observe that, yes, animals compete against one another, but much less competition occurs within the species, than occurs between one species and another.
     To the cooperativists, promoting more competition than necessary - in education, in the workplace, in sexual selection, etc. - is not only unnecessary; it is also inefficient. The trampling deaths of American shoppers during Black Friday sales will attest to the danger which uncoordinated purchasing can unleash upon hordes of innocent human bodies.
     Hypercompetition makes life more dangerous, because in the rush to compete for resources and jobs, we neglect to notice or care that we are stepping over (or on) other people - including own friends, family members, and neighbors - for those resources. Observing these conditions, post-modernists and existentialists among those cooperativists have noted how anti-social, isolating, and alienating an overly competitive society can be.

     Steeped in the tradition of the anarcho-cooperativists such as Bakunin - and the anarcho-cooperativists' observation that cooperation and competition are both found in nature - the Mutualist-anarchists emerged as a synthesis between these two modes of survival. Among the Mutualist-anarchists are the Russian Pyotr Kropotkin, the Frenchman Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and the Americans Josiah Warren and Kevin Amos Carson.
     One of Kropotkin's key works is a book called Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution. In Mutual Aid, Kropotkin cites various forms of cooperation which are found in nature, as evidence that cooperation is both natural and beneficial to survival. Kropotkin noted that birds take turns at the front of the "flying V", so that each bird gets a turn to strengthen its flying muscles. So too do wolves, while traveling, take efforts to protect their young, sick, and old, just as human beings do.
     The biological term for a mutually beneficial relationship between two species is symbiosis, which is not the same thing as cooperation within species, but it is cooperation found in nature nonetheless.
     Another term worth noting, which is remarkably similar to mutualism, is the idea of "co-opetition", a neologism and portmanteau which refers to a balance between cooperation and competition. Adam M. Brandenburger and Barry J. Nalebuff, the authors of Co-opetition: A Revolution Mindset That Combines Competition and Cooperation, coined the term; they focused on the idea's application in game theory and business. As Brandenburger and Nalebuff intended it to mean, co-opetition refers to "co-operative competition", or the state of simultaneous competition and cooperation, or it refers to a balance between cooperation and competition.
     Here, I will additionally use the term "co-opetition" to refer to the freedom to choose between cooperation and competition.

2. Monopoly and Mutualism: Why We Don't Let Lions Chase Us

     Since cooperation becomes impossible whenever the rewards of competition are permanent, and competition becomes impossible whenever people are forced to "cooperate with authority", a conflict exists, and a balance must be found.
      Think about it this way: Too much monopoly is detrimental to both modes of survival. When upstarts and entrepreneurs want to start competing in the market - and when people want to form food co-ops and housing cooperatives - they will have an extraordinarily difficult time acquiring wealth and customers' business, if there are any established monopolies in place, whom are in any of the same businesses as the competitors and cooperators.
     If people wish to compete against a company that wields a monopoly - and they choose to do that by forming many groups, and cooperative companies, and collectives, and communes, but remaining separate instead of uniting as one large syndicate - then isn't that "co-opetition"? Isn't it "co-opetition" for many separate cooperatives to compete against a monopolist? After all, you can't compete against monopolists if you have no freedom to compete in the first place. If a monopolist is gobbling up all the wealth and resources, you need to compete against him, while also cooperating with everyone who understands that the monopolists are the problem.
    If there were an approximately equal mix between cooperatively managed resources, versus competitively (or individually) managed resources - and the same with firms; half cooperatives and half competitive enterprises - then there would be an approximately equal balance of competition and cooperation in society. In my opinion, this would be an ideal situation, because a society that values both competition and cooperation, and equally, will have an easy time understanding why monopolies are so harmful to both values.
     Cooperation and competition should be balanced. And they can be balanced, as long as there are no authorities, monopolies, nor oligarchies, around, which could compel people to choose competition or cooperation when they don't wish to do so. Each individual should decide, for himself, whether and when to compete and cooperate, or whether to try to do both at the same time. Doing one more than another, does not necessarily reflect a political belief, but forcing or pressuring others to do so, certainly does.

     It would seem that, with mutualism, philosophers have resolved the conflict between competition and cooperation, by creating this synthesis - mutualism - between them. However, looking more closely, we see that the supposed dichotomy of "competition vs. cooperation" is a false dichotomy.
     The idea that there is a conflict between competition and cooperation, rests on the idea that, since there competition and cooperation are not exactly the same thing, then there must be an inherent, fundamental conflict between them. That is not so; the fact that there is a difference and a distinction between them, is not evidence that they are exact opposites. They are both modes of survival, aren't they? If they have that in common, then they can't be exact opposites, now, can they?
     The British mystic Alan Watts explained that, although the lettuce plant would object to being eaten by the snail, if there were no snails, then the lettuce plants would be overpopulated. They would also, as Watts said, struggle for enough resources (water, soil, air) to survive. Essentially, they would be forced to compete against each other for food!
     So in a way, the fact that the snail competes against the lettuce plant to survive, by eating it - and the fact that the lettuce plants could not survive responsibly without some predator (or gardener) to keep them in balance - means that, to some extent, competition is good for living things. And perhaps also that competition and cooperation are good for each other because they check each other; that is, they are checks against each other. I apologize if, by saying this, I am not taking the Coronavirus outbreak seriously, but there's at least one good thing about it: it's causing people to wash their hands a little bit more often, and in a small way, that helps me, and everyone who cares about staying healthy. It also makes us think about the health needs of the least wealthy among us, and reminds us that if we don't take care of the sick and poor, then we could become sick and poor as well.
     This is not to say, however, that some predator, nor disease, should be introduced into society, to keep us active and to thin our numbers, or anything crazy like that. Comedian Louis C.K., for example, suggested that there would be fewer people who are lazy and fat and complacent, if there were wild lions roaming around on streets and in malls, etc.. And that is true; Alan Watts, too, explained that our muscles would be more taut if we had to run from predators all the time, and we would be healthier. It is true that having nothing to do, and no problems to contend with, tends to keep people weak, lazy, and complacent. But if there were lions running around in malls, a lot of us would get eaten by lions and die, and that would be very sad. And that's why we don't do it.
     But we're still letting fascists walk around malls freely.

     It is important that we do not let down our guards against our enemies; a category which unfortunately includes both carnivorous predators and other human beings (by which I mean the authoritarian ones). It would be very sad to allow ourselves to become complacent about the predatory activities of these human beings.
     Watts explained that the lesson of this business with the snails and the lettuce, is to "cultivate your enemy". It is to "keep our friends close and our enemies closer", where we can keep an eye on them. It is to do what good debaters do; it is to "sharpen our blades against each other's". For debaters with opposing viewpoints to challenge one another to articulate themselves more clearly, is to "know thyself and know thy enemy", and it is to know your enemy so that you may better understand how to defeat it, and also that you may understand whether it is really your enemy in the first place.
     So is competition truly the mortal enemy of cooperation? Perhaps, perhaps not. It is best that we acquire more information before attempting to answer this question. We shall do so by examining the concepts of parasitism and commensalism, as they relate to mutualism and other topics.

     The key principle which guides both libertarian-socialist and free-market-libertarian thought, is that of mutually beneficial voluntary exchange. This is the idea that all exchanges and transactions between people must be both voluntary and mutually beneficial.
     While the free-market libertarians tend to emphasize one half of this idea - the part about exchanges having to be voluntary - the libertarian-socialists tend to focus on the mutually-beneficial part.
     These libertarian-socialists - whom are heavily influenced by the anarcho-cooperativist and mutualist-anarchist schools of thought - subscribe to the idea that the worker is entitled to the full product of his labor. Also, that the worker being entitled to all he produces, means that surplus profit, usury on capital and money, and excess rent, are inefficient, immoral, and impose unnecessary costs. 
     The free-market libertarians, on the other hand, tend to value competition more than they value cooperation, so they tend to reject most of these arguments, and focus on how the laborer supposedly volunteered to the set of conditions, while neglecting the possibility that the laborer was coerced into settling for those poor conditions and compensation.
     Ironically, what the laborer and the capitalist are each arguing for, is the same thing: their own benefit. Each wants to increase the chances of his survival. That each wants the same thing, is additionally observable from the fact that, when defending his views, the capitalist will often make an argument that sounds almost socialistic, when you think about it.
     The capitalist will say that other people besides the worker need compensation, and that managers, distributors, and marketing and advertising employees are just as worthy and deserving of compensation as physical laborers are (even though they often exert less physical power), because they do what laborers cannot easily do themselves; namely, market themselves, and negotiate with other employees who perform very different tasks and functions, and coordinate interactions between employees.

3. Just Deserts and Full Compensation

     Another key agreement which the socialist and the capitalist share, is the impulse to make sure that nobody gets something that they "don't deserve", usually based on the idea that they "didn't work for it". People on the left complain that about how the right-wing American colonial spirit exalts the principle "no man should eat unless he works", just as often as people on the right complain that Lenin believed the exact same thing. People starved under Lenin, just the same as they starved in the early American colonies.
     Since leftist and rightist ideology alike have inculcated in our minds this idea that "nobody should eat unless they work", we have scarcely doubted whether it is true in the first place. Indeed, the implication of this - that "nobody should get anything they didn't deserve" - itself implies that nobody should get anything they didn't work for. This idea, additionally, implies that "whatever people have, they must deserve" and "whatever people have, they must have earned through hard work".
     These are very dangerous assumptions. As George Monbiot says, "If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire." Moreover, if we assume that nobody deserves anything they didn't earn and work for, then we are attacking the ideas of charity and mercy. And Nazism has been described as "an attack on the concept of mercy itself". 
     It's not that mercy isn't, by definition, undeserved; it absolutely is. Mercy is given as a caprice, to those who have been made to think that nobody deserves presumption of innocence, nor consideration of mitigating factors and extenuating circumstances which may have guided them to choose to do something selfish and neglect the needs of others, instead of pursuing rational self-interest. And so, understanding that idea, we try to give people benefit of the doubt, and to avoid assuming ill intentions of people unreasonably and without cause to suspect anything.
     The idea that nobody deserves anything, except what they "earn through hard work", is an attack on not only mercy, and charity, but also the idea of gifts and voluntary gift-giving. This is why the mutualist idea is flawed; even though it has overcome [aufhebung; that is, transcended, or sublated] the conflict between competition and cooperation, mutualism still falls victim to some of the same pitfalls which spoil those things. Most importantly, mutualism, like competition and cooperation, fall victim to the idea that there must be quid pro quo (something for something else) in all transactions.

     To be a mutualist is to expect immediate and full compensation for what you do. Granted, there is nothing wrong with being fully compensated for the work you do, and in a timely fashion. And the mutualists are correct, for the sake of avoiding unnecessary costs, to endorse the principle "cost the limit of price", the idea that the price of a good should be no higher than the costs involved to produce it.
     But the problem which mutualism presents, is the loss of faith, trust, and presumption of innocence, which come from demanding full and timely compensation, in a manner which is fully transparent. Mutualism precludes the possibility of not only superprofits and unnecessary overhead (which is good); it also precludes the possibility of gifts, and extra compensation for a job well done
     While free-market libertarians value volunteerism a little more than they value mutual benefit, the mutualists value mutual benefit a little more than they tolerate individual decisions about how much something should cost. After all, the Spanish anarchists of the 1930s frowned upon giving tips for a reason; not because tips help working people whom are struggling, but because the anarchists considered tip-giving to be an insult to people who ought to be getting paid more than they're currently paid. And their suspicion is not unfounded; in the United States, a worker can be exempted from having to be paid the full minimum wage, if they are a tipped worker. This is to assume that the fact that a tipped worker can be tipped, ought to satisfy the worker just as much as a guarantee that they'll be paid at least as much as any other person who's working legally, which is an unfair assumption.
     Whether receiving a gift is an insult, however, should always be determined by the person who's receiving it. While it's worth taking into consideration whether the person needed the gift in the first place because they were pressured and manipulated and domineered into a difficult financial and employment situation, usually the person is better off with the gift than without it.
     We can bicker all day about whether giving homeless people money, gives them an incentive to avoid work, or whether it supporters their addiction to drugs, or even whether it encourages them to stay addicted to the U.S. Dollar. But at the end of the day, giving gifts to people, especially those less fortunate, helps them, and it also makes us feel better. We may "feel bad for feeling good" after we help people, but how many of us turn around, go back to the hobo, and ask for our money back, because we realized it wasn't truly a selfless act? You'd have to be a psychopath to do such a thing.
     We still recognize that charity and gift-giving are good, despite the fact that we cannot depend on them. But what if we could? Would we be parasites if we depended on the voluntary gifts of others; to, as Blanche duBois did, "depend on the kindness of strangers"? Perhaps. Depending or relying might be stretching it, because that weakens your independence. But living off of gifts, donations, and the waste that comes from the excess of others; is that parasitism?
     Or is it parasitic to enable wasteful people, by sitting idly by while watching them waste resources, while they do just as little work in order to earn it it as you do to scavenge it?

4. Mutualism vs. Parasitism vs. Commensalism

     It is commonly thought that the opposite of mutualism is parasitism. I, on the other hand, have suggested above, that monopoly, authority, oligarchy - and other forms of domination - are the opposites of mutualism. But another important thing to consider, as a sort of "opposite" of mutualism, is commensalism. Commensalism is a mode of survival whereby someone subsists without either helping or harming others.
     The term "commensalism" was introduced by invertebrate zoologist Pierre-Joseph van Beneden in 1873. [Note: All the really good anarchist theories are based on, and named after, observations of survival strategies which are found in nature. The term "panarchy" was coined by Belgian botanist Paul Emile de Puydt, and later became an anarchist theory in its own right.]
     While the supporters of robust competition, tend to view homeless people as "lazy" and as "parasites", the supporters of robust cooperation (i.e., the communists) view the bosses, bankers, landlords, and politicians as the lazy ones whom are not doing any work, and who own what they didn't earn (and don't use). This should be easy to understand, for anyone who's ever seen a police officer standing around doing nothing, or understands the difference between a boss and a leader, or has ever wondered why they've allowed somebody they barely know, to own the place where their immediate family sleeps at night.
     The problem that comes up, however, when we try to apply the idea of parasitism outside of the context of the natural world, and in political economy instead, is that we risk calling other human beings "parasites". Granted, what they are doing might be parasitism, from a perfectly objective perspective based on economics; taking something without giving anything back. But to call human beings "parasites" is to liken them to animals, which is dehumanizing, and dehumanizing rhetoric was used by the Nazis to compare Jewish people to animals and diseases, and to justify their "extermination".
     But more importantly, for the purposes of this discussion, "taking something without giving anything back" is not just what parasites do; it's also what commensalists do. The difference, however, is that parasites harm the person they're taking from, while commensalists do not. Again, commensalists take without either harming or hurting, while parasites just take and take. The only regard which a parasite gives to its host, is the regard which is necessary to sustain the hosts's ability to give it sustenance and control. The parasite thus "cultivates his enemy". But the host derives no benefit from this "relationship"; no mutual benefit is involved.
     In commensalism, though, there isIf you consider it a mutual benefit that each party be left alone to do what it pleases and to produce only when it pleases. There is no actual "benefit" going on, however, because there is no exchange going on in commensalism. The fly does not look for a way to pay the cow after feasting on its dung, because the cow incurs no expense in excreting that cow patty, and because no quid pro quo deal was made between the fly and the cow before the cow took that shit.
     Nobody is forced to do anything they didn't agree to do, nobody is forced to do anything on a quid pro quo basis, and yet everybody still survives. Seemingly impossible, given the hypercompetitive propaganda and "cooperation with authority" propaganda that is shoveled into our heads from our first day at school. Yet the gifts which our friends have given us are still in our possession, and the gift of life which our parents gave us is still intact. And here we all are, still surviving. Well, how do you like that!?

5. Taking Without Earning or Asking: Is it Always Stealing?

     Even though mutualism still falls for quid pro quo as an imperative, it is still a fundamentally helpful school of thought. Mutualists and mutualist-anarchists would never do what hypercompetitionists do; mutualists would never stoop to pretending that "taking something that you didn't ask for" is always stealing.
     Do I have to ask permission in order to breathe, or sit in the sunlight, or to let the rain fall onto my head? Of course not!; the sun and the clouds cannot speak to grant us permission. And so we must "take without asking" from the air and the sun and the clouds. This is not stealing; it is freely taking what is freely given.
     When you buy a CD (compact disc), and you rip the audio files onto your computer, and then you share those files on the internet, are you stealing? No, because you're not selling them, nor profiting from them, nor pretending that you created those sound files by yourself.
     Are you enabling someone else to steal? No! You're freely sharing something you purchased - which theoretically makes it your property, right? - and then you're allowing somebody else to make a copy of it and take it with them. That's not stealing; it's piracy. Stealing removes the original copy; piracy does not. And because nothing is removed, piracy does not "take" anything from the original owner; not in any valid sense of the word.
     It is only because of the enforcement of the right to endless profit - and also because of the abuse of intellectual property laws (and the violent enforcement of the notion that somebody can own an idea or discovery) - that some people perceive internet piracy and sharing as "theft". Well, sharing is, most assuredly, not theft. Producing something should not guarantee you the right to endless profit, nor the right to sic the agents of the state upon people who wish to share a portion of your art or your products with their friends and family (or even with random people on the internet).

     Did you "take" your parents' DNA when you were born? No. You might "take after" your parents, but you didn't take anything from them (except some of what could arguably be called "your mother's food").
     Have you ever stopped to think about why carpooling is encouraged, but hitchhiking is illegal in six states (as well as all places on highways past the "no pedestrians past this point" signs)? Carpooling is more widely accepted because, unlike hitchhiking, it's something that rich people do a lot more than poor people. And mainstream society cannot endorse anything that chiefly benefits poor people, unless it is paid for by taxpayer money (which hitchhiking is not). And hitchhikers typically aren't heading to work (at least not something that the government would consider to be work), while the carpoolers are.
     What all of this demonstrates, is that we can only rationally conclude that the definition of stealing is not - and not simply - "taking something without asking". Nor, especially, does stealing mean "taking something you didn't work for, earn, or deserve." If that were the definition of stealing, then every actor who says "I really didn't deserve this award" - and every Christmas gift recipient who says "you shouldn't have" - would immediately have their gifts yanked away from them, and nobody would think it strange.
     If we allow people to believe that the definition of "stealing" is "taking something you didn't earn, without asking", then we risk teaching people that they must do something to earn even the air, the rain, and the sunshine. And the food, which almost anybody can figure out how to grow by themselves (given enough access to seed-bearing plants, which were given to all mankind by God in Genesis 1:29).

6. Giving to the Poor: When is it OK to Expect Something Back?

     That is why those of us whom are able to wrap our minds around the concept that some people do "deserve things that they didn't earn", still give to charity.
     It is because we recognize each other's right to give things to others, and to perform tasks for others, out of the kindness of their hearts. And also, if we are giving to charity, then it is also because we believe that the risk of making a person feel uncomfortable or ashamed for accepting and/or needing a gift, is less important than the benefit which would come from helping them. But that doesn't mean that the gift-givers are always right.
     Some people, even the very needy, have too much pride to simply accept charity forever, and those who volunteer and work with the needy, should be understanding of that. Those who give to homeless people should not expect to be greeted with politeness when they tell the homeless person that they want something in return.
     This "something in return" includes stipulations and limitations concerning how the giver would like the receiver to spend the money. A man holding a sign that says "Won't lie, I'll spend your money on beer" might be doing that because they really want a cheeseburger, but they know that saying they want beer is the only way people will trust them enough to give them money.
     Those who give should not expect work - nor services, nor favor - from homeless people, once they have made the decision to give them something. This is to say that those who give to the homeless should not give them anything on a quid pro quo basis; someone who gives should not try to use a needy person as an opportunity to acquire something - like services, or information, or goods - because this takes advantage of a person whom is in need, and turns this act of charitable giving into an act of predation. It is to give something only to take something.
     Still, some homeless people are capable of working, and want to work. But that does not mean that it is acceptable to expect work out of homeless people; for example, expecting work in exchange for providing food or lodging. Don't get me wrong; I slept in a park in Portland, Oregon, and once woke up to an offer of "help build a peace-sign-shaped garden in exchange for some chocolate muffins". I was in need, but I was well-rested enough to help, so I took that opportunity, and met some nice activists from Veterans For Peace in the process who told me about World War II -era "Victory Gardens".

    This is not to say, though, that I endorse "work-for-welfare" (also called "workfare"). Work-for-welfare has been described as slavery, and, I think, aptly so. In Finland, half a million people have been lured into working in unpaid internships for as long as a full year or two, based on the possibility - not even the promise, but the possibility - that, at the end of that year or two, they might be hired. Often they were not hired at the end of those internships, and most of the people who fell prey to this scheme were immigrants and young people who were desperate for jobs. Even more sadly, the failure of Finland's U.B.I. (universal basic income) program has been blamed on the idea that it gives people no incentive to work; meanwhile, the fact that half a million are "stuck working for free" - essentially, slaves - is routinely ignored.
     People should not be lured into working for free, based on the idea that it's better than receiving welfare. It's not; or, at least, it's arguable whether it is. Universal basic income programs - and, also, the Negative Income Tax - have been proposed, precisely to address the problem of people remaining dependent upon handouts from the government. They were proposed to address what former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called the "poverty trap in welfare". This "poverty trap" lures people into accepting welfare, and gets them dependent upon it, by requiring them to report any new income as soon as they receive it. Since they have to report new income immediately, they cease qualifying for benefits, and their benefits are taken away before they are ready for that to happen.
     Thousands of Wal-Mart workers across the country, too, are taking welfare benefits while working part- or even full-time jobs; such workers are being called "the working poor". In Mississippi in 2013, a woman claimed that her employer at K.F.C. (Kentucky Fried Chicken) fired her simply for being homeless.  The employer said one of the reasons was that she couldn't lift heavy boxes, but let's be honest; should we really be expecting homeless people to be capable of heavy lifting, considering their situation?
     We must remember that many homeless people are too addicted, or sleep-deprived, or sick, or nutrient-deprived, or heat-deprived - or all of the above - to be contributing members of the work force. A person cannot easily and quickly go from living on the street (or in a park) to a 40-hour-a-week job. The expectations we put on homeless people, to get themselves out of their situation, is absolutely unreasonable.

     In 2010, it took an average of eight months to find a job. Some employers offer to compensate their new employees for the expenditures they made in order to find a new job. Could you imagine what it would take to compensate a homeless person who's a new hire, for the eight months' worth of expenses finding a new job? All the money they spent on buses traveling to job interviews, all the money they spent on phone calls and mail to potential employers, and more? No employer could afford it, and that is why employers should not exist; we should all work for ourselves.
     But the poor and homeless can't easily work for themselves, because they're being kept away from access to the means of production, and away from skills training regarding how to operate them. Studying the history of a union called the I.B.W.A. (International Brotherhood Welfare Association) - as well as the American Medical Association's quota system that limits the licensing of new doctors - will attest to that fact.
     We can't be productive, nor contribute, at work, if we are too tired or sick or hungry. It predisposes us to accidents. Sometimes it even seems as though our bosses don't even care whether we could get our co-workers sick.

     It doesn't help, either, that there are federal laws requiring that the wages earned for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week, must be paid at 50% higher the baseline wage. Don't get me wrong; people certainly deserve more compensation for the additional effort. But overtime also tempts many people into working more than forty hours per week, when they would not need that many hours if they were paid more.
     The average American works for 34.5 hours per week, so in a way, for every person working more than forty hours per week, there is someone who is struggling to get 28 to 30 hours of work per week (which makes it difficult for them to qualify for benefits).
     A person cannot easily and quickly go from living on the street (or in a park) to a 40-hour-a-week job. Let alone a 45- or 50- hour-a-week job. Being homeless is difficult; it requires a lot of walking, carrying all your possessions on you, and sleeping on uncomfortable surfaces. Homeless people need time to recover from being homeless - and they usually also need medical attention - before they can contribute to a workplace.
     But again, the fact that they can contribute, does not mean that they should be expected to contribute. That's why any person receiving help from a homeless or poor person should be extremely grateful, and show it. People should work when they are able to, and only as much as they say they are able to bear (as opposed to what their boss says about the matter). The more people working, the less work per person there is to do; this is why Kropotkin wanted more women in the workplace. More women working reduced the individual burden on each worker. But it also made the workforce more productive overall, which, unfortunately, increased the incentive to exploit that labor. That's why, although people are working less than they used to, they're not working as little as they could.

    No person should be expected to produce, even if they are able to. To expect someone to produce is to feel entitled; if not entitled to what they produce, then entitled to pressure others into performing actions. Even if the person doing the pressuring, does not materially or substantially benefit from that coerced production, it is still manipulative, and "low-key aggressive", to pressure or coerce people that way. Few people work well under pressure, and a person cannot be trusted to make wise decisions or even tell the truth when they are under duress.
     A person should produce when they are able to. That is the true meaning of the Marxist slogan "From each according to his ability [... to each according to his needs]". "From each according to his ability" doesn't mean "Make people work in gulags, and make them give as much as they're able to"; it means "Let people contribute when they're ready."
     Although the U.S.S.R. did have gulags, and many people were worked to death, no sector of society was fully collectivized except for farms, so it is debateable whether the failure of the U.S.S.R. can fairly be blamed on the principle "From each according to his ability". Moreover, Lenin pointed out in 1917 that the saying "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" was not being properly understood.
     As Lenin wrote in The State and Revolution: "The state will be able to wither away completely when society adopts the rule: [']From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs['], i.e., when people have become so accustomed to observing the fundamental rules of social intercourse and when their labor has become so productive that they will voluntarily work according to their ability." [emphasis mine]

     In other words, a Leninist society, a mutualist society, and a voluntaryist free-market society would not be very different from one another, as long as they all respect everyone's rights to adequate and full  compensation, but also the right to forego full compensation for whatever reason. That is, as long as it's not due to any form of "low-key aggression" or soft threats - such as pressure, duress, coercion, intimidation, or manipulation - and as long as you're not doing it to "poor-shame" them (that is, to make them feel ashamed for being poor or in need).
     You shouldn't have to produce, nor should you be expected to produce, because - to repeat - it takes a lot of investment in a person, and their material condition and their skills and education, to help them go from not producing anything, to producing on the level of the average employed person.
     Someone might find it necessary - instead of immediately getting a job after graduating from high school - to travel the country, learning about how to live and work in different places, in order to figure out which place seems like a comfortable and affordable one in which to work, live, and pay taxes.
     Someone may be ready to produce when they have acquired enough skills and education to be a contributing member of the workplace. But if they haven't traveled enough, then they might lack the ability to be a contributing member of society - and also to be a socially functional member of the workplace - if they lack perspective about what the economy and job market are like in other parts of the country, and/or the perspective about what people are like in different parts of the country. If we're able to put ourselves in each other's shoes, and have perspective about how hard, and easy, other people in other parts of the country, have had it, then we will have an easier time sympathizing with our co-workers.
     This is part of what it means to "socialize" the economy in the actual sociological sense; it is to ensure that people who are working together, are properly socialized. This will help prevent interpersonal conflicts from spilling out onto the workplace floor, where it could endanger people's safety.

    Cooperativists, socialists, and mutualists - and leftists of all varieties - should take special care that they steer clear of falling for capitalist talking points, like the requirement that all exchanges occur on a quid pro quo, something-for-something-else basis. There's nothing wrong with equal exchange; it's just that, if employers are going to demand that "no man should eat unless he works", then the working people should demand that "no man should work unless he eats" (that is, no man should be expected to work until he has had enough to eat, and also to sleep).

7. The Futility of Ownership Hinders Our Ability to Produce

     So produce when you are ready to produce.
     But there, another problem presents itself: Many of us lack the means to produce, or if we don't, then we merely access them instead of owning them, and we depend on other people, from whom we rent-out the means of production on which our lives depend. This is hardly a state of independence. And so we must seek to own our own means of production, for if we do not, then we will have to pay somebody every time we produce, because we are using somebody else's property to be productive.
     When we register our cars at the Department of Motor Vehicles or state Secretary of State's offices, we are acknowledging that the state owns the car; and that we are merely tenants. When we refrain from developing our homes, and instead obey the rules of the homeowner's association or the city, we are relinquishing our homes to others. When we allow the F.B.I. to write its own search warrants, and when we pay taxes on the value of our homes, we are doing the same thing; relinquishing our homes to others.
     As Michael Badnarik said in his 2001 "Constitution Class", "You don't own the things you think you own." This is the dilemma which is faced by the renters of capital. And "the renters of capital" actually includes both the supposed owner (the landlord) and the tenant, because the government owns so much land, and denies the right of exclusive individual ownership of land in full allodial title in most places (48 states, all but Alaska and Texas).
     If neither landlord nor renter alike fully owns the land beneath the home, and the landlord still has to pay property taxes on it as well - and also if you don't fully own your house, nor your car - then how the heck are you supposed to be expected to be productive with either of them? You can't be dependent if you owe money on what you're using to stay afloat economically. You can't give what you don't own. You have to fully own something before you're able to give it away. If you give somebody something that you think you own, but you don't, then you're giving away somebody else's property, which is not very different from stealing on somebody else's behalf.
     All our efforts to keep what we own, are thus in vain. All of our efforts to keep our money are in vain, because our money has had the words "Federal Reserve" printed on it for decades; it never truly was our property in the first place. If it were really my money, then it would have my face on it, or at the very least, I'd be able to stop the government from taking it from me. Why is "earned income" from wages, being taxed anyway? When did the meaning of "earned" change to "unearned"?

8. Doing Things for Their Own Sake: Why Anarcho-Commensalism?

     The fact that the futility of ownership hinders our ability to produce (rich and poor alike), and the problem of debts and expectations, are why a theory of free and voluntary gift-giving is necessary. It must be a theory based on observations from the free gifts exchanged in nature by plant and animal species, and it must also be based on voluntary gift-giving without expectation or security of reward, in keeping with the true spirit of giving.
     The magi gave gifts to Christ when he was a baby, incapable of returning their favor, and they gave despite not knowing whether the child would survive into adulthood (due to King Herod's decree that all first-born children in Nazareth must be killed). Despite the lack of assurance that the magis' gifts would be returned, they gave the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the child, and later on, the child grew up to save the sins of all mankind, the three magi included.
     That is why I am proposing a school of anarcho-commensalism; you never know what someone who seems insignificant, might be able to do for you. But it goes beyond that; beyond seeing value and worth to you in others who don't seem valuable. Anarcho-commensalism must have, as its first principle, the idea that each and every human being is worthy of grace; rather than merely "worth something" or "valuable". To be worthy of grace is to deserve a free gift. And how do you "deserve" or "earn" a free gift anyway? Who really deserves a free gift? In a way, nobody, but in a more profound way, everybody.

      The primary focus of study, of the school of Anarcho-Commensalist thought, should be as follows: How and why human beings share and give gifts, even (and especially) when the state, and hierarchical systems, try to make sharing and gift-giving, difficult (or punished, illegal, or impossible).
     The goal of anarcho-commensalism should be to liberate generous and greedy people alike from the cycle of expectations.

     The militarization of the American police has created a standing army in every county; and when so many officers exist, with such broad powers to enforce and so little chance of being served with justice when they do wrong or overstep their authorities, this creates a standing threat against each citizen: "Be nice to each other, unless we say one of the ways you're being nice to each other is illegal" (for example, panhandling, hitchhiking, formerly gay marriage, etc.).
     We should do what we do because it is right, not because it's legal. And also, we should do what we do because it is right, not because it is "not wrong, and who's to say what's right and wrong anyway". Some things are right, and some things are wrong. Giving money to a homeless person is not wrong (unless you throw coins at them as hard as you can). Offering a ride to someone is not wrong (unless you're planning on kidnapping, hurting, or robbing them). The morality in each situation is the same: when the consensual nature of the interaction stops being consensual, then it has to end, and the people have to stop associating with each other (and some compensation might be due, if anyone got hurt).
     If there were no standing army - and no threat to the independence of the morality of each person - then we would meet each other as we are, for the first time, in stateless anarchy. Each person wouldbe doing as they please, without being intimidated by the state, and without being negatively influenced by the various perverse incentives which governments offer us (for example, rewards for spying on our neighbors and reporting them for victimless crimes).

     We deserve to be free from the manipulative pressures of others, and from the constant manipulation which we undergo due to all of the "punishment-and-reward", "carrot-and-stick-method" systems in which we have been conditioned to participate. People might work a little less without rewards, and commit more crimes without punishment, but according to Alfie Kohn, rewards and punishments also alienate the person from the acts they want to do. It shifts the focus away from whether the act is right, or worth doing, in the first place, and it causes us to think that "if something is good, it will have a reward to go with it, and if something is bad, then it will have a punishment to go with it."
     Attaching rewards and punishments to too many things, deludes us into thinking that nothing is good, in and of itself, unless there is some monetary reward attached to it. We are led to think that the fact that there is a monetary reward for something, is the only thing that makes it an objectively desirable thing to do. Alfie Kohn has discovered this through his research on reward-and-punishment -based parenting.
     Reward and punishment systems also lead us to reward people simply because they've done something good, and punish people because they've done bad. To reward people whom have done good, is to give to people who have already experienced or received something good. They don't need any more rewards; they've already done something good.

     This is not to say that criminals should not experience consequences for their actions, however; but do they always need more punishment? Recent research on criminal recidivism says no; it's bad for criminals to be placed with other criminals, because then, they never learn to shake-off the criminal lifestyle.
     In my 2012 article "Is it Time to Legalize Murder?", I explained that, in the Babemba tribe in Zambia, a person who commits a crime is seen to be crying for help, so the village comes together for what we would call in the West "an intervention". They tell him about good things he's done in the past, and convince him that he's a good person. The only guilt-tripping that goes on, is in the mind of the criminal. Believe it or not, there are ways to apprehend criminals that don't involve threats of violence, and most people who have done wrong can be rehabilitated.
     I don't mean to say that you should "get away with it" when you harm or wrong somebody; your reputation ought to suffer. That is, unless and until you: 1) compensate the person you harmed, 2) admit that what you did was wrong, 3) show genuine remorse, 4) show real understanding of the chain of cause-and-effect that you brought upon the victim, and 5) apologize to your community for potentially putting them in danger (by ceasing to care about the rights of people other than yourself).
     George Carlin said, "Two wrongs don't make a right, but it damn sure makes things even."

     But which is more important: getting even, or forgiveness? That is the nature of the debate between mutualism and commensalism. To quote the character Nancy Wheeler from the show Stranger Things, "We ask for forgiveness, not permission." When permission is routinely denied, or permits exorbitantly expensive, then it becomes necessary to take what is given, and ask for forgiveness later (but only what is given freely, and only if forgiveness is requested).
     Have you ever heard the saying "hard work is its own reward"? We can say the same about good deeds; good deeds are their own reward. Just like bad deeds - crimes - are their own punishment. Sometimes we even feel bad for taking from otherseven when it doesn't hurt them. We still know that we didn't ask for permission, and we know that they might be upset.
     If taking without asking permission is really always wrong, then why is short-selling still legal? Is it really acceptable to bet on the price of a stock declining, and using other people's money, without their knowledge or consent, to make that bet? Of course not. Yet most people who invest, know that short-selling exist, and know that their money might be used in this way. So we look the other way, and criticize poor people who "take" through accepting, instead of criticizing rich people who truly take through legalized forms of theft like short-selling and wasting taxpayer funds, or misusing those funds on their own personal expenses.
     If something is "worth doing", then it is really worth doing. The rewards of good deeds are not always monetary, and we should not always expect the rewards to be monetary. "For what profits a man if he gain the world but lose his soul?" - Matthew 16:26

9. Reciprocal Altruism: The True Spirit of Giving

     We need reciprocal altruism.
     This is basically to say that we need mutualism, but we must use reciprocal altruism to overcome mutualism. We must transcend the expectation of not only full compensation, but also punishment and reward entirely.
     This is the only way we can extend the faith, trust, presumption of innocence, and benefit of the doubt, for society to go on without everyone being suspicious of each other; without everyone seeing themselves as the only victim and the only entitled person, while everyone else must explain why they are a bigger victim in order to get treated with basic levels of respect and human decency.
     Doing good should be thought of as something good in and of itself, which does not necessary merit extra rewards, acknowledgement, awards, or notice. Likewise, doing bad should be thought of as a fall from grace, from which a person must be rehabilitated by the community, in addition to providing compensation to his victims (i.e., paying his victims to stop complaining).
     If that does not happen, then we will see a future in which people routinely allow other people to victimize them and physically harm them, either for money or for the promises of money. Don't believe me? Have you ever heard of a show called Fear Factor?

     Simply paying your taxes is not enough to show that you are a decent, charitable person. You shouldn't even want to show that you're a charitable person; you should just be a charitable person, without caring who notices. In a way, playing the lottery is more charitable than paying your taxes, because at least in the lottery there is some level of anonymity about who is supplying the funds. Have you ever noticed that you often hear taxpayers bragging about helping poor people with their taxes, but you never hear people who lost the lottery brag about giving money to the person who won it?
     Secret giving is good, but as I wrote in my 2011 essay "Population Economics", "the only form of giving which is more holy than anonymous giving to anonymous recipients[,] is to take a man off the street, provide for his most urgent needs, give him a job, and teach him to provide for himself." I wrote this after studying comments on charity by Jesus and Rabbi Eleazar.
     The latter form of charity is better than secret giving, because not only do the needy appreciate face-to-face giving; it also takes courage to walk up to someone, and level with them, when the two of you are obviously in very different situations, and different socio-economic "levels". To be a socialist is, of course, to reject the very idea of levels, and of classes and hierarchies.
     To give to the poor is good, but it is much better to really identify with them and sympathize with them, and also to refrain from telling them what to spend the money on until you know them well, and understand what their most urgent needs actually are.

10. Giving Food Away, and Excluding People from Receiving

     If you don't eat, you don't exist. That is why we don't make homeless people pay at free meals. You can't even perform prison labor if you're dead. That is why everybody "deserves" to be fed; someone who does wrong cannot make it up to their victims if they're no longer alive.
     We give serial killers their choice of a last meal, don't we? And yet a homeless person is never guaranteed his meal of choice once in his life, unless he kills someone and winds up on Death Row. It should be no surprise, then, when a poor person robs a bank, or even attempts to steal a police officer's gun, in order to spend one night in jail (or if not that, then end their own suffering).
     Everyone should be free to access free meals. The police should not discourage people from asking for change, nor from selling things on the street, nor from sleeping where they have judged to be the best place to sleep.

     Nobody should be turned away from food pantries due to their lack of identification documents, nor due to their lack of a residence, nor due to their residence being in the wrong location for the person to be eligible to receive services from that particular food pantry. You might not believe it, but it happens.
     In the north suburbs of Chicago, and likely other places in America, people are increasingly being turned away from receiving government services - such as parks and lakes and recreation centers, libraries, and food pantries, on the grounds of where they live. As if it's not enough that homeless people can't easily work, and can't legally own a gun, or do pretty much anything, when they don't have a legal residence, now where you live has to become an issue!? We should expect to hear the phrase "Your zip code determines your whole life" a lot more often in the coming years.
     Nobody should be turned away from a homeless shelter because they insist on keeping something they see as necessary to their survival and protection, like a knife, or a dog. Nobody should be turned away from a homeless shelter because they have an addiction problem, or "too many possessions". 
     No homeless person should be legally robbed by police because they "have too many possessions". Well, what are they supposed to do? Go from having solely a sleeping bag and a mat, to working 40 hours a week and having a house? Impossible.

     Food pantries have so much food. Libraries have so many books. Government and its military captured so much land and nature that we turned into parks for the public. And now they're all just scrambling to find reasons to take these things away from people!
     During a government shutdown, the Obama Administration even stooped to shutting down the national parks and closing-off access to them. Excuse me, but the government didn't create the land, and the parks department normally manages, and sometimes shuts off, access to the park. Shouldn't the government shutting down, mean that none of those employees are even there anymore, and we can go into the park if we want? Who's to say, for sure, that the government is really managing it in a more environmentally sustainable manner than we would? The government may be protecting those lands, but at the same time, licensing-out the right to pollute other lands that we might want to protect just as well.
     What this all means is that, not only is ownership futile; now, giving has practically been rendered futile, because the gifts of government welfare programs are not truly gifts, and all other attempts to give gifts voluntarily without receiving permission from the government, have been thwarted and denied. And so, Anarcho-Commensalist studies are necessary.

     The police must stop telling churches and drivers that they are not to hand out food or money to panhandlers and beggars. Bosses of restaurants and grocery stores must stop telling employees that they are not free to give out unsold food without permission.
     Unsold food is not always food waste, it is not always spoiling, and it does not always need to be checked by the local health department. Besides, homeless people don't care if their food is spoiling a little bit. And anyway, such a process would be needlessly time-consuming and expensive, which would only increase the burden on the poor person receiving the food, to pay for the inspections, and it would only cause more waiting, meanwhile the food is spoiling even more than it may already be.
     And, mind you, this is on top of how long the food has already been sitting on the shelf, after it was loaded with toxic preservatives designed to increase its shelf-life. Yet so much of it inevitably ends up in the dumpster, where - you guessed it - you can be arrested for salvaging it, unless your state recognizes the right to salvage abandoned property, and/or the cops are cool about it.
     Charles Manson is dead, yet that fact didn't stop him from catching flak for writing his song "Garbage Dump". In that song, Manson (who didn't kill those people; Tex Watson did) wrote, "You could feed the world with my garbage dump". He continues, "When you're livin' on the road, and you think sometimes you're starvin', get on off that trip, my friend, just get in them cans and start carvin'", adding, "I don't care if the box boys are starin' at me, I don't even care who wins the war, I'll be in them cans behind my favorite store".
     Hell, every food (except honey and a few others) is spoiled a little bit. Nearly all food is spoiled at least a little. bit. If you don't eat any food that's even the least bit spoiled, then you risk dying from a lack of probiotic bacteria in your system. Your yogurt has bacteria in it, doesn't it? Sour cream is spoiling. Croutons are spoiled.
     Take aspartame, for example. Aspartame is a legal artificial sweetener, is literally made out of shit; it is the excretion of the e. coli bacteria. That's right, escherischia coli, which live in the healthy intestines of mammals. Aspartame is what happens when shit takes a shit, yet we're putting it in our drinks to make them sweeter. And telling our kids that it's safe to drink it!
     If slightly spoiled food weren't OK to consume, then Coca-Cola and other soda sellers would have been put out of business a long time ago. But that's just the thing; the fact that they're OK to consume, doesn't mean that we should get used to putting them in our bodies all the time. And that is why homeless people must sometimes eat fresh food.

     There is so much food in this country. America wastes, or throws away, somewhere between 30 and 40% of all food produced (according to the F.D.A.; some sources have estimated that one-half is thrown away). The Earth produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, and yet the total world population has not yet surpassed 8 billion people.
     There is enough food to go around, as long as we take some efforts to waste it a little less. "Waste not, want not."
     One way to "waste not, want not" is to put food to use quickly, by feeding people sooner after food is harvested. But local health departments' bleaching of food at farm-to-fork picnics (to destroy it), and the bleaching of chicken sent to China for packaging in week-long journeys (to preserve it) - as well as the other processes of lengthening foods' shelf-life and prohibiting giving them away which I have mentioned - have made it all but impossible for most people to eat fresh food. So too has the rise of "food deserts"; places in urban areas where there are few grocery stores, and so people rely more on fast food restaurants and buying food from convenience stores and gas stations.
     Have you ever heard the expression "you are what you eat"? It's true. If you eat too many dead things, you end up dead. If you eat a dead duck, you will become a dead duck. That is the problem with the risk of spoiling food at free meals for homeless people, but it is also the problem experienced by anybody and everybody who eats preserved or processed foods. And that is nearly all of us.

     People who work in restaurants don't go to work to deny people food; they go to work because they want to feed people. It should be unnecessary to say, but food service workers feel ashamed when their employers make them deny unsold food to poor people. The managers say this will deter them from scraping together enough money to buy food at the price requested by the restaurant. But why does the seller get all the leverage, in price determination? Doesn't the buyer get to influence that decision?
     Granted, somebody who's asking for a handout isn't exactly a "buyer" in the traditional sense of the word, but it's not like the employee who gives out a loaf of bread, is really losing anything. In fact, nobody is losing anything. It's unsold food that the restaurant was going to throw away, so the boss doesn't lose anything. The employee who gives the food away, actually gains something: they receive thanks, for giving away something that wasn't theirs. They also get to smile at work after helping somebody, instead of resenting their boss more for stopping them from helping somebody less fortunate.
     Stealing to prevent waste is wrong; but giving what would otherwise be wasted, in order to prevent waste, is not wrong, because it has no victims. Giving is just a win-win situation like that. Especially when it's giving in order to prevent waste.

11. The Rights to Adequate Rest, Breaks, and Vacations

     It is often said in the restaurant and janitorial industries, "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean." This was first said by the founder of McDonald's, Ray Kroc. Bosses say this to employees when they notice that they don't seem to be doing much. But Kroc would say it do his employees because he couldn't stand to see them idle for even a second.
     The employee will often respond that there isn't actually anything to do; there might not be any customers around, for example. The boss will typically respond that "there are always things to do"; for example, cleaning. Or the boss will come up with what's called "busy-work"; that is, tasks designed to keep the employee occupied, but which don't really accomplish any service which is necessary or worthwhile.
     Just because a person is able to work, doesn't mean they should be expected to. To argue the opposite is chutzpah (which means brazenness, boldness, audacity, or shamelessness). To say that just because someone can work, then they should work, risks making us believe that everybody who works should work all the time just because they theoretically "can". Well, excuse me, but the fact that you are not in wheelchair, should not mean that you should be expected to be doing somrthing literally every moment of the forty hours you're at work each week.

     To treat people this way is to "take a mile whenever someone gives so much as an inch" (to paraphrase the popular saying). People should not be afraid to show they can work more, out of fear that they'll be expected to work that much all the time. People should not be afraid to ask for a break or ask for time off, out of fear that they'll be told, "As a matter of fact, why don't you take the whole week off... Actually, don't even come back, you're fired."
     As Marianne Williamson wrote, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure", continuing, "Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you." When we expect people to either work their fingers to the bone, or else not work at all and live on the street, we give them an ultimatum: either "shrink" (as Williamson put it), or find somebody to report or boss around in order to get ahead.
     People should not be expected to use every single moment they're at work, to be financially beneficial to their bosses. Nor should bosses expect that every single moment of rest which employees take - and remember, we're literally talking about leaning here should be counted as an official break which merits requesting the approval of managers. To say otherwise is to micromanage and deny autonomy.
     In the words of Dolly Parton, "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap." In much the same way, it takes a lot of rest for a person to be able to contribute at work, as much as they are expected to. Employees lean on things because they need support, and because they're typically not allowed to sit down without requesting a break. Being on your feet for three-and-a-half hours at a time, twice a day or more, is difficult! McDonalds's slogan used to be "Have you had your break today?"; why shouldn't they ask their workers that, in addition to their customers?

     Employers in Europe tend to understand employees' need of sufficient rest - and vacation, and even massages - better than American employers. "Doing nothing" is not a bad thing; we need a proper balance between rest and recreation, and hard work.
     American author Christopher Ryan, the author of Civilized to Death, says that most of the things Americans do to take vacations from work - like hunting, fishing, and hiking - are the things that people in rural areas and the third world have to do for a mere 20 hours a week in order to survive. We're so rich, that other people's struggles for survival, are our vacations, while we're also so overworked that each American worker still works an average of 34.5 hours a week in addition to that "vacation".
     And what are hunting and fishing - and also gathering (for those of us who help garden in vineyards, etc., on their vacations) - but forms of taking things from nature without asking? We would scarcely call hunting, fishing, and gathering "stealing"; that is, unless some person, or group or company, is taking so much that they're decimating the population of game or fish, or are interfering with other people's ability to take from nature, or have even gone so far that they're interfering with the balance of the ecosystem itself.
     The Lockean proviso must guide us; each can homestead, and take from nature, as much as he wishes; but he cannot justify his claim unless he makes where he lives habitable, and leaves - as Locke wrote - "enough, and as good", "in common for others". Simply put, we can take from nature, but not too much. Not without giving something back, at least, like planting a tree for every tree harvested, or assisting in the sustainable management of farms, fish stocks, etc..
     Instead of "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean", we should be told "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to glean."

12. The Right to Glean: Building an Open-Access Society

     To glean is to gather grain, or other material, which remains after the main crop has been gathered. Basically, to glean is to collect unsold or unmarketable food; the food is usually discarded because it would be difficult to sell. This food would go to waste otherwise. Gleaning, and similar practices, should be some of the most important studies in the minds of those who partake in anarcho-commensalist studies.
     These studies should include research on two of the most important private property rights cases of all time; the English cases of Worlledge v. Manning (1786) and Steel v. Houghton (1788), adjudicated by the House of Lords. Before those cases, the poor people of England were allowed to glean upon other people's property, without being guilty of trespassing. But the effect of those cases was that the poor had no common-law rights to glean, even as church groups, without specific permission from the owner of the property. Among the various arguments raised for this change in law: 1) gleaning is obviously not a common right, because many people have never even heard of it; and 2) "the law should not turn acts of charity into legal obligations".
     The idea that "the law should not turn acts of charity into legal obligations" is certainly a notion that is anti-statist, libertarian, and pro-voluntary. And that presents a conflict to those who want mutually beneficial voluntary exchange (with lots of free giving and free receiving as well). To trod upon another man's land, to take his produce, without his awareness and/or consent, is certainly wrong. That is, if the man earned his property justly.
     But remember, many of the people who were "fortunate" enough to own arable (i.e., farmable) land, "earned" their plots not through homesteading, but through doing favors for the king. The immense power and wealth which was afforded to the king, by virtue of laying claim to any and all lands he wishes on the isle of Britain, allowed the king and his men to wield enough military power to confiscate any lands they pleased.
     These lands included lands which were already being occupied, and tended to for the purposes of farming, by commoners (i.e., common people). The removal of commoners from their land, and the slow encirclement of common lands by land-owning lords, was a process known as "enclosure", or "territorial enclosure". For more information on this topic, learn about the "Highland Clearances" in Scotland.
     Perhaps farmers who leave produce on their fields, intend to turn it into mulch, to grow more crops. Perhaps they are keeping trespassers out for their own safety, because there are dangerous pigs or goats on their property. Perhaps a lot of things. But if we fall for the ideas that: 1) everybody has what they have because they earned it, worked for it, and deserved it; and 2) anything a person does to claim his property, should be accepted; then we risk allowing people to claim fruits and nuts as "their property" simply by picking it off of a tree or bush, and then throwing it on the ground.
     We can either fail to admit this, or else abandon the idea that legitimate property claims can exist entirely. Since each is ridiculous and unnecessary, there is anarcho-commensalism.

     Anarcho-commensalism also exists because, as ridiculous as it is, it is reality that, in a world in which all land is owned, every child (unless it will inherit an estate) will begin life as a trespasser upon somebody else's private property, and will have to work and earn and buy his way off somehow until he has private property of his own. [Note: I should credit this idea - that all propertyless people are effectively trespassers - to Ryan o'Doud.]
     The fact that it is so difficult to avoid becoming a trespasser, is part of what makes it so unacceptable that a decision like Steel would be allowed to stand, after it was the only thing holding society together - that is, the only thing keeping the poor from attacking, or even eating, the rich - after private land enclosures had deprived many people of access to their ancestral common lands. Anyone whom has ever tried to hitchhike, and has tried to rest while doing so, will attest to the fact that it is difficult to avoid trespassing. Sometimes you can become a trespasser without even knowing it!
     Could you imagine what would happen if all things "public" (like public parks) were actually held in common, instead of managed by the government? If people were free to farm in public parks? If public parks could never be "closed", because it's impossible to "close" nature? If nobody could ever be kept out of a park, because parks would be loaded with free food that anybody could take? As long as the criminal element could be kept out, it would be Paradise. The criminal element might not even be attracted to it, because there would be no reason to sell anything, or pander violence, to people who would have access to so many free things.
     This was the dream of the "Diggers" of San Francisco, who in the 1960s sought to revive a previous movement calling themselves the Diggers, which was a group of radical agrarian Protestants in Britain in the mid-17th century. The Diggers of San Francisco were a group of activists who performed street theater, praised the value in being authentic, and started "free stores" and a "free bakery" in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. They even formed a "Free Family" with other activists.

13. Only Stupid People Believe in Private Property

     The title seems rude, if not also hyperbole and a cheap shot; I know, and that is intentional. But I'm referring to something very important regarding theories about private property.
     In his 1762 work The Social Contract, French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say [']this is mine['] and found people simple enough to believe him[,] was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: [']Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one![']"
     It is time that we affirm Rousseau on this. We have chosen to imitate this man instead of dismantling this man's fences (etc.). We have presumed that if each of us attempts to claim as much private property as he wishes, then maybe things will turn out "equal enough". This has led to a rigged market, disguised as a free economy, in which the only way to get ahead is to fuck somebody else over; to become a manager or a boss - a hierarch - over someone else. We are so deluded that we believe that if each person is allowed enough opportunity to fuck other people over, then everybody will be equal. But that's not true, this has only resulted in an economy in which everybody has been fucked over. And that is part of the reason why everybody is wrong.

     But at the same time, everybody is right. As Bob Dylan sang in his song "One Too Many Mornings", "You are right from your side, and I am right from mine."
     What I am saying is simply that everybody is part-right and part-wrong. We may resort to taking a job telling someone else what to do, or even commit a crime against somebody or their legitimate property, out of a feeling that we deserve it, perhaps because somebody else hurt us in the past. In taking from others because someone hurt us in the past, we misdirect that hurt and perpetuate the cycles of hierarchy, violence, theft, and domination.
     The fact that we have done wrong, doesn't mean that we ourselves are personally wrong, nor does it mean that we are "bad people". It is said to "love the sinner, hate the sin". People do awful things sometimes, and that is what makes it so hard to believe that "there are bad actions, but there is no such thing as bad people". A person who has wronged another person, needs to restore them to their pre-injury condition.
     But sometimes, that is impossible; and when we attempt to estimate intangible damage (like emotional and reputational damages) in terms of money and numbers, that is when morality begins to break down. Thinking we can put a number or monetary value on suffering, risks leading to an economy in which we routinely allow people to hurt us or abuse us in exchange for money (as I explained above, in discussing criminal rehabilitation in Section #9). This goes whether we do it as part of a legal settlement after someone has harmed us, or whether we do it as part of our jobs (such as when people in training to become police officers allow themselves to be pepper-sprayed or tased, and when people in training to become soldiers allow themselves to be hazed and brutalized by their fellow cadets, and injected with mysterious chemicals in medical tests).
     We must end this cycle of domination, hierarchy, and abuse - and restore human beings and the Earth to the condition they were originally in, long before the wars between them ever began - and we will do it, by ceasing to resort to the threat of violence to protect physical private property claims which are unoccupied by human beings.

14. Twelve Freedoms and Rights Which Anarcho-Commensalism Should Respect

     All of this necessitates the enumeration of the rights and freedoms which we have, as humans born upon the Earth, and, presumably, entitled to an equal share of what it produces, and as much access as we wish to those which exist in such abundance that it would be impossible to quantize, price, or even share them (such as air, sunlight, and land; arranged in order of ease of access from easiest to most difficult).
     Here are the freedoms and rights which it will be most important to recognize, in order for an anarcho-commensalist society to flourish:

     1. The freedom from the state (and from unwarranted authority, and domination, subjugation, coercion, and other forms of order which are difficult to justify, such as hierarchy, etc.).
     2. The right to open access; that is, the rights to responsible homesteading (according to Lockean principles) and the right to glean. That is, the right to own, and to take, as we please, as long as we don't interfere with other people's ability to do the same.
     3. The freedom from being pressured (or coerced) to compete.
     4. The freedom from being pressured to cooperate.
     5. The right to demand full and immediate compensation when possible.
     6. The right to forego or refuse full compensation when one wishes.
     7. The right to freely give / the freedom to give.
     8. The right to receive / the freedom to receive.
     9. The right to be free from being tempted with gifts which are marketed as free, only to be pressured to do something or give something in exchange for that supposedly "free" gift.
     10. The right to take what would otherwise be wasted (as long as it's not somebody's justly-acquired property).
     11. The right to give away what would otherwise be wasted, whether you have permission to do so or not.
     12. The freedom from being monetized; that is, the right of the whole person - as well as our parts, our  labor, our work, our actions, our attributes, and our characteristics - to be free from being reduced to the value of something monetary or something related to currency or numeric value. This is freedom from "feel[ing] like a number" (as musician Bob Seger put it).

15. Conclusion: Feeling Like a Number (Fuck the Devil)

     The freedom from feeling like a number, is perhaps the most important of these.
     Revelation 13:16-18 reads as follows: "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
     St. John says in Revelation 13:18 that "the number of the beast" is "the number of a man". Perhaps the mark of the beast is the numbering of men.

     We cannot go on much longer in society if we are consumed with looking at each other as if each of us was either a full or an empty bag of money.
     We cannot go on teaching our children, from the first time they're in a grocery store and try to take something off the shelf that we don't want to buy for them, that every single thing we do must be compensated in some way. It will lead to a world without forgiveness, and a world which recognizes the original innocence of nobody; not even of children.
     It will lead to a world in which our children will have become conditioned to accept people looking at them, while thinking solely about what that child can do for them, instead of the intrinsic worthiness of that child (rather than its "worth").

     We cannot continue to burden our children with debt, and with the illusion that nature wants something back from us, for the crime of enjoying a little bit of the immensity of what it produces. A child who feels guilty that they ate a grape at a store should be praised, but not for the "basic level of decency" it shows; instead, for feeling sympathy for somebody else.
     But we should not feel guilty for the farmer who goes uncompensated when we eat a grape at the store, if the farmer is around so much flourishing production and reproduction of life and produce, that he himself would eat a grape somebody else harvested without blinking an eye.
     "Thou shalt not steal" shouldn't have to mean "Thou shalt not feel". It shouldn't mean that we ought not forgive the thief.
     A child should not be body-slammed onto the pavement for stealing a candy bar from a store. Instead, it should be asked whether the person who did the body-slamming ever did anything wrong. It should also be asked whether he was abused as a child, for the sake of full disclosure, before anyone rushes to judgment about just how many people are in the wrong here. Not that such abuse would excuse what he did; it just might mitigate it.

     Everybody is consumed with talking about "Who is wrong", but few people are talking about the fact that everybody's wrong. As Mr. Green says at the end of the 1985 film Clue, "They all did it!" Everybody has done something wrong in their lives; as Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" (John 8.7). But the fact that we're all guilty, necessarily means that we all belong in jail. But does that stand to reason? We can't live like that. And so we have resolved to let each man be free, while adopting the standard "innocence until guilt is proven".
     Each of us is guilty of something, but the fact that we've done something wrong, doesn't mean that we are guilty; it actually proves that we are innocent, in a way. At least in the sense that we don't deserve punishment. Because if everybody is guilty of something, then there is nobody whom is truly innocent, who could administer punishment without being a hypocrite.
     As it says in Timothy 1:9, "the law is made not for the righteous[,] but for lawbreakers and rebels". Similarly, Plato wrote that "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." We defend the guilty before we decide whether to punish them, because we know that punishing them before we're absolutely sure that they're guilty, just adds insult to injury; it inflicts one bad thing as a solution to another bad thing. That may seem like an appropriate and proportionate reaction, but people have been known to resort to even more terrible crimes, to cover up their original crimes. That is why most societies have developed limitations on how harshly, or how long, a person can be punished or incarcerated.

     We should be forgiven because we "know not what we do" (to paraphrase Luke 23:34).
     We forgive a child for failing to understand the many vagueries of the difference between stealing and taking without asking (which I have hopefully clarified with this article), or for failing to understand why they are free to take from adults such as their parents, but not free to take from grocery store shelves, which are managed by adults who probably have children of their own.
     This is what it means to not be able to see the Kingdom of God until you are born again (John 3:3). We have to see the world anew - through the eyes of an innocent child who has just done something wrong, or through the eyes of the person we have wronged - to truly see the world as it is; something made up of more than a single person's perspective. It is to see original innocence, and also humility, the importance of which St. Francis of Assisi made Pope Gregory IX understand. It is to see each person, and ourselves, as worthy and deserving of forgiveness (and also of free gifts, and the benefit of the doubt). And that idea can help people forgive, whether they need help forgiving others, or themselves.
     That is why we can live without working, but only as long as we never take those who help us for granted.

16. Resources

     See the links listed below, to various articles and videos which you can use to learn more about the topics discussed in this article.
     In the section labeled The Difficulties Homeless People Face, there is a link about the legality of panhandling, which goes to an article from The title of that article is "Most panhandling laws are unconstitutional because there's no freedom from speech".
     Perhaps it would be appropriate to amend my list of freedoms and rights, in anarcho-commensalism, so as to clarify that the freedom of speech should be protected, and that the freedom from speech - that is, the supposed right to be free from people asking you for things - should not be recognized, nor protected.

Alfie Kohn, Competition, and Co-opetition:

Alfie Kohn: The Case Against Competition:

Alfie Kohn on the Oprah Winfrey Show criticizing systems based on incentives/rewards and punishments:


Commensalism, Gleaning, and the Diggers


Examples of commensalism in nature:

Commensalism discussed in the contexts of anarchist theory and politics:

Steel v Houghton:


The Diggers' Free Store in San Francisco:

Important Mutualist Texts

Kropotkin's Mutual Aid:

Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread:

Mutualist-anarchist theorist Kevin Carson's article "Who Owns the Benefit":

Capitalist, Anarchist, and Spiritual Perspectives on Topics Mentioned in This Article:

Daniel Behrman on capitalism compensating workers:

Hannah Arendt's definition of action (as opposed to labor and work):

Bob Black's The Abolition of Work:

Alan Watts on the conflict between lettuce plants and snails (transcript severely fractured):

The Difficulties Homeless People Face

Woman fired for being homeless:

Platform of the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party (see Homelessness section):

Legality of panhandling:

Legality of hitchhiking:

Government services excluding people by residence (including parks shutdown):

Candidate Brian Ellison's campaign to "Arm the Homeless":

"It's Illegal to Be Homeless"

Food Waste:

Police tell California church to stop feeding the homeless:

Farm to fork picnic raided:

Statistics on food waste in America:

Charles Manson's "Garbage Dump" audio, with lyrics:

Chicken chlorinated before sent to China for packaging:

Other Articles Related to Topics Mentioned in This Article:

FinnishBolshevik on "unpaid internships" (slavery) in Finland:

Gift economies:


Articles by Me, Regarding Topics Mentioned in This Article:

My earliest writing about applying reciprocal altruism to economic exchanges:

My article about mutualism and cooperation as solutions to poverty:

My article about intellectual property and "paying it forward":

My 2011 article about panhandling:

My articles about homelessness (including the I.B.W.A.):

My 2018 article about applying Hegelian ideas to political thought:

My 2012 article about whether criminals need further punishment:

My article on China, caste systems, and the Mark of the Beast:

My book / series of articles Time Money Moon Value, which brings a spiritual and shamanic perspective to monetary ethics:

My articles about how to live without money and why real free markets lead to free stuff:

Written and Originally Published (incomplete) on February 29th, 2020

Edited and Expanded on March 1st through 3rd, 2020

This article is dedicated to
Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora Aksnes,
and also to the homeless, poor, and needy people of the world,
and especially of Waukegan, Illinois.