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Two roads forward: Right and Left Cyberneticism.
An Anarchist Programme. (1966)

Cyberneticism of the right is a form of the managerial revolution predicted by Burnham. (See James Burnham, The Managerial Revolution). It can operate in various forms although the most efficient and closest to the original model is that of a single state economy presided over by committees of experts and managers. The managerial economy - as Burnham calls it - emerges when the class of individuals having a large share in any particular means of production becomes insignificant in both power and numbers when compared with those having a small share - when the latter are banded together. At this point the means of production are controlled by the higher executives who can - provided they don't make major mistakes - do as they wish. Hence control has passed to people who draw salaries as distinct from wages or profits. Thus the new power group consists of managers of production and executives of finance. As long as the profit system lasts financial executives are needed and these perpetuate the fight between producers of similar goods. The managers, who are interested in efficiency and planning rather than merchandising, have since Veblen been thought to have the idea that co-operation is better than competition. This idea has gained ground and in the U.S. competition between large firms in the same field is often negligible. The most useful analytic device here is the balance of power between buyer and seller (e.g. J. K. Galbraith's, American Capitalism). Since the endpoint of such a development is a status quo it is to be expected that co-operation between the upper ranks of the various hierarchies will become more common and the feeling between the cooperators will become a class feeling although individual jealousies will continue. This class feeling will give rise to more co-operation in the pursuit of common interests and the members of the high bureaucracy will become in some sense a dominant class.

This movement is already apparent in countries of widely different political structure - although most claim to be democracies - and leads to the conclusion the system existing at present has lost its vitality. Today collaboration between apparently opposed organisations is rarely if ever prosecuted and is coming to be expected; furthermore ideologies today are tending towards countenancing such a system. The future of underdeveloped capitalist countries - including economic colonies - will probably be different since the sizeable organisational structures necessary have not been built up sufficiently to automatically engender a class producing co-operation. As a result an active campaign by right cyberneticists to seize control of the economy will be necessary. Government departments are here the weapons with which to defeat the numbers of less powerful opponents and to rationalise the economy using committees of experts to plan production and then distribution. The planning of distribution destroys the need for money in the old sense and although it may be kept as a token both wages and prices are controlled by interlocking governmental bodies and the need for money disappears. The economy is then controlled centrally and other social functions would then gradually be taken over by the state. Changes in foreign policy would necessarily result from the economic changes and eventually the committees of government planners and enterprise managers (these would come to overlap) would control the whole economy and nation. Thus in underdeveloped countries the general economic programme of right cyberneticism is bolshevism but with more stress on expertness than previously.

Opposed to this is the programme of left cyberneticism which is a development of anarcho-communism although its efficient working seems to require more control over the individual by the community at large than was originally thought desirable. It is an essentially revolutionary (though, not necessarily violent) programme based on mobility and communication and requiring a party of anarchist propagandists as well as an anarchist influenced and influential mass movement to bring about and provide new social forms.

The aim is to produce food, warmth and housing of an equivalent standard for all and then to leave further ammenities to the community which would form a co-operative interlocking horizontally with other communities. At the same time universal education and re-education would attempt to direct ideas towards an individualist but socially-minded critical approach and education would be given to all to the highest degree possible. Any material surplus over this could be used to settle immigrants or given as foreign aid. A universal militia would be trained for defense and organised on a decentralised basis to avoid being crippled by an atomic strike. Industry would be converted to an automated basis so that quantities of any scarce commodity could be produced quickly and easily to maintain equality.

This rationalised production of necessities by processes automated as far as possible could also be used to produce standard components used to build a variety of things in community workshops. In time the need felt for trivial consumer goods would vanish and whatever remained a felt need would be produced by individuals in the community workshop. The result would be both a decrease in complexity and an increase in design efficiency through the upsurge in creative work. Similarly all other creative pursuits would be encouraged and exchange of informal instruction arranged.


The manner in which the problem of housing is solved is of great significance in determining the character and extent of social relationships and the possibility of certain individual relationships. This particularly concerns free love since the stability of the social system is bound up with the ease of having stable relationships of a certain form. It has long been recognised that woman is not social and economic equal of man in existing society. The property view of marriage still obtains and (married) woman is confined to a greater or lesser extent to the house unless called upon to work for the good of the home. Owning a home in the bourgeois sense means having land and house and implies that the titles be in someone's name. Hence if one partner wishes to leave he or she may find him or herself without any property at all. If the ownership is joint then the problem is more complex since the economic and legal tie will then take time and money to break. Hence in most cases the web of economic and legal ties is sufficient - except in cases of violent conflict - to hold the couple together in passive frustration and resentment. Hence love is submerged in legalism. For this reason it is not surprising that the number of semi-permanent (living together) free-lovers is small. It is only possible when:

  1. one or both have flats since rent can be on a weekly or monthly basis or
  2. one already has a house and the other does not.

It is inconceivable that two free-lovers should club together to buy or build a house as by its nature this is inimical to free love. The one night stand sort of free love practised hypocritically in the present society (with its consequent devaluing of the partner) is obviously not the sort of foundation desirable for a new society although individuals may continue to practice it.

Hence in a free society the relation of legal ownership and payment for house and land must be abolished. So must the ownership relation to other consumer durables. Then it would be possible for either partner to gather together some clothes and food and may be some personal possessions - certain essential items or inessential items made by that person - and walk out. These are the essential conditions - together with the abolition of any legal reasons for marriage - for free love being generally possible although one would still expect relative monogamy to be the rule.


Are the other feature of present society militating against free love. It is assumed in our society that although -the mother hats the right to her children (only the state may override it) she also has a duty to them to sign a contract limiting her attentions to one man and to a certain extent surrendering "ownership" of her children in return for the necessaries of life. Given a radical extension of social services the material necessity for a husband could be removed and children would not necessarily be a barrier to free relationships although they may constitute a powerful cohesive factor within a relationship. In the event of a break-up the children would be assumed to go with the mother unless there were powerful overriding considerations. It would also be assumed that children would spend most of their time at community centres leaving parents free to pursue other diversions.

Division of Labour:

With the automation of factories and the restriction of factory production to necessaries and simple components only a few workers would be needed, a number more technicians and some administrators. This would make it possible - considering a given factory as being run by the people of one town or an industrial complex by several towns - for people to work in the factory only a few days a week and for jobs to be rotated to some extent. The administration of the factory would be elected and subject to recall by the people of the town and also, since the town would not be self-supporting, by people elsewhere. It would also overlap with the town administration and the national syndicates. By such means a corporate bureacratic spirit could be avoided - e.g. ancient Athenian administration.

The assembly of components from elsewhere would be done in the community workshop for individual use by volunteers. All administrative work would be voluntary and restricted as far as possible to pure liaison. The land and equipment to work it would be communally owned and the labour division and rotation either drawn up by the village in a small community or by an administrative committee (subject to election and recall) in a larger community. The members of the administration would also have to work. Abuses would be checked by rank and file initiative.


All means of communication would be controlled by the community. This means cars, aircraft, trains, radios and television. With cars this means a community car pool of such a number that most requests could be granted without favouritism developing and with overload arrangements for pooling with other communities. With trains this means that the railway - liaison officers, repairmen and drivers - would be drawn from the community and the community would be charged with the upkeep of the lines to it. These functions would also be subject to rotation.

Each community would have sufficient TV sets at its centre to cover the channels available and meet the demand for them. Programmes would be mainly informational or educational with some (high standard hopefully) pure entertainment. Each area would have its own broadcasting centre, both long range and short range so that it could communicate both with its immediate area and with all other communities. All organisations would have access to these on some basis determined by the community. All this would apply also to radio except that they would be personal property.

All travel would be free with train travel preferred over car unless the route by car was much shorter. Some number of undirected car trips per period would be allowed on a community determined basis. Hitchhiking and undirected train trips would be encouraged (each community would have to maintain a hostel). Air trips would only be used in emergency or for long distance trips due to their high cost.

Allocation of labour time:

From the initial hours of work and periods of rotation determined by local communities and national syndicates data on the demand for certain jobs and incentives could be fed into a computer with productivity data supplied by syndicates to produce improved estimates of necessary working time, periods on a particular job and time spent on infrastructural (communications) work. The effectiveness of certain schemes of organisation and/or production could also be tested in this way and the information made available through the communications system.


It is essential for a free society that there be a lively interest in the arts of all types.

  1. For pride in the community it must be designed by all in conjunction with experts in art and architecture. The community must decide on its functions and relations, needs and wants, and be designed as a whole accordingly. Within the basic matrix of roads, trees, flowers and community centres each house or building must be planned by its occupants and/or the community for its particular function and also for purely aesthetic considerations. It is to be hoped that building can be rationalised and components mass-produced in easy to use sections. By these means cheapness and variety could be achieved along with low construction costs as the community would build its own houses. Furniture could either be obtained from a community stock or made by the occupants at the community workshop. With this start and a few mass-produced items procured from a community centre pleasantly designed surroundings could be obtained.

  2. All forms of creative self-expression by individuals must be encouraged in order for the individual to develop fully. Hence exhibitions in the community centre, dramatic and musical recitals and the reading of essays and poems should be encouraged. Prose of moderate length is difficult to write and hence not so much would have to be printed. In order to develop individuals in this way classes could be held as part of the wider educational scheme. In cases where tastes run to building or interior-decorating some building materials could be donated to them (and the results probably would be used eventually. Provision must always be made for individuals who want outlandish environment or relationships. Perhaps they would gravitate together preserving a balance between planned community and individual eccentricity).


In a free society everyone possessing special skills or knowledge must be prepared to teach and all must be prepared to learn. Hence for such individuals one phase of their rotating tasks would be teaching missions to other communities. By such means a high degree of general education would be achieved. The programme would include day classes for children as well as night classes and televised instruction. Periodic lectures in specialised subjects could be arranged and centres set up at which more intensive instruction could be given. Even "fulltime" students would do some work during their study, e.g. the university year could be made 50 weeks in length with 2 or 3 days ordinary work per week with regular teaching tours. The current system of academic progression could be greatly liberalised, course pre-requisites abolished and degrees replaced by certificates to teach. After several years a student would leave, continue on as a student (with the agreement of the university community and the community supporting him or her) or join the staff in teaching, researching and doing outside work. No degrees (other than a teaching certificate) or grades would be given although staff could discuss their course and progress with individual students. Cultural exchange could be promoted by offering foreign students free places under the same conditions. This would increase the spread of ideas amongst the communities as would the above measures.

Until the age of, say, twelve a child would be to some degree expected to be at school, i.e. a social or parental pressure would be, justified. After this schooling could become less compulsory although in given cases social pressure could be brought to bear until children were about fifteen. After this only individual approaches would be used. Teachers used in this phase of education would spend most of their time as teachers but would also do other work as part of the policy of rotating occupations. The same teachers could also teach adults but this would mainly be the function of visiting experts. Cultural exchange between communities could be achieved by holding regional conferences and conventions at which papers could be read, ideas discussed, art exhibited and music and drama enacted. Such activities could be broadcast to other regions.


Community problems would be discussed at meetings and those affecting other communities as well further discussed at regional conferences and by national syndicates. These latter would be such things as the anarchist party, its mass organisations, trades liaison bodies, housing co-operatives, communications workers, consumer associations. These skeleton organisations could then refer the discussion to the people for decision or comment.

Foreign Policy:

The elements of foreign policy are trade, defence and aid. When aid is seen as an end rather than a means and an internationalist attitude created in the people foreign aid could become the function of voluntary national bodies having links with the mass organisations and relevant syndicates.

In a free society defence depends on the people: hence one would introduce community militias to absorb the remnants of the old armed forces, train themselves and elect their own officers. These could co-ordinate in a national armed syndicate having access to military advisers (and giving each of its sub-units such access.) Simple advanced equipment could be manufactured and distributed to each community centre - automatic rifles, machine guns, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. Each region would then prepare contingency plans for defence of itself and adjoining regions.

Research and Technical Advisers:

In order that no meritocracy or technocracy is established it is necessary that:

  1. administrators be elected and subject to recall.
  2. experts have an advisory capacity only.

The first requirement here has been dealt with above but the second raises more complex problems. In order for an advisory expert to have full effect and not feel alienated he or she must be in contact with all the people affected by the recommendations in the analysis he or she makes and furthermore in order that these people do not feel manipulated they must see their felt needs reflected in the analysis. In advisory science a standpoint is always implicit; to resolve conflict it needs to be made explicit. Only then can the standpoint and the conclusions it implies be effectively debated. For this reason the agencies investigating should be distinct from the groups, functions and bodies they investigate and they should have free access to the means of communication. Members of pools of experts would sometimes be engaged by social groups to solve problems and would sometimes take up problems on their own initiative. They could be organised in a loose syndicate so that they could live in various different communities and yet be able to co-ordinate their efforts without killing individual initiative.

To some extent such applied experts would also be free researchers since they would not be bound to any particular organisation or community. Since however they, like students, would be supported by the community it would be understood that they would consider a problem when requested to do so or arrange via their syndicate for someone else to do so.

The above is largely concerned with applied social science (although other disciplines may be relevant). For physical research expensive and bulky equipment is required and this would have to be kept in research institutes and be allocated to them by the relevant syndicates. In the event of the research system settling down into conservatism scientists would presumably pressure it through their membership of other bodies of similar stature. Like other researchers physical scientists would be expected to apply themselves to pressing practical problems as well as to pure research and also to teach.

Forms of research not requiring expensive immovable equipment could be carried out by small groups centred about library collections and information centres.


Even in the society envisaged conflict must arise from legitimate clashes of interests between individuals and groups. The problem is to find socially acceptable means of canalising and resolving such conflicts - e.g. community discussion, generally agreed standards of fairness, etc. It is also virtually certain that: acts today called criminal will continue to occur but on a reduced scale. Thus the means of prevention, cure and (to some extent) retaliation must be examined.

Violent Crimes Against Persons:

Unless motives of self-interest are involved these would appear to be due to morbid psychological causes. It is to be hoped that these are non-recurrent or removable. If they are not it maybe possible that the effected individual be allowed to lead a normal life on condition that he or she sought help or took preventive action when such a mood was felt to be coming on. In cases of curable or incurable psychosis the decision would have to be left to a doctor's discretion. All possible research would have to be done on the problem of neurosis but with a removal of some of its basic causes its incidence would decline. Most crimes of violence seem to arise from past or present environmental stress and thus appear to be partially curable. In closer knit communities than existing cities their incidence falls considerably because of a number of factors - good and bad. The causes and manifestations of neurosis vary from culture to culture but it is generally found that the less tension or anxiety in a social system the less neurosis there appears to be whether because it is this that causes the neurotic behaviour patterns or is the condition under which the patterns are manifested. In closer-knit, less anxiety-ridden, communities the incidence of violence should fall given the other social changes envisaged. Child-rearing patterns may however still produce the necessary condition and research is needed on to determine the effects of various patterns.

Comparative sociology and anthropology will probably provide a sufficient empirical basis for generalisations on this subject. Several generations should be sufficient to produce the new personality type suited to the material and spiritual conditions of the new society.

Crimes of Self-Interest:

In a society where the conditions of life are much the same for all people most of the incentive for this sort of crime vanishes. Furthermore in the sort of community envisaged any sort of conspicious consumption would be so glaringly obvious as to be unthinkable.

The "life of crime" would be impossible and whether a large scale robbery was possible would be immaterial since there would be no way of realising on its proceeds. Most material goods - cars, TV's, etc. - would be owned by the community as a whole or made available - housing, furniture, etc. - free to individuals. Also trade would be carried on only by and between communities through their elected officers. Only small quantities of things could be stolen and used and given a reasonable but uniform standard of living the motivation would be low and the threat of immediate recall and public disgrace (for an official) or the disapproval of friends and neighbours (for an individual not abusing official powers) would be sufficient deterrent. Also militating against such selfish individualism would be the feelings of social responsibility and community pride arising from involvement in community affairs. (N.B. It is to be noted here that the community's possessions are owned by the people as a voluntary co-operative with free entry and exit electing their own officers - not as by a state.)

Just as material self-interest would decrease so too would social or political ambition - the one because the envisaged society is egalitarian and the other because the highest posts would be as community administrators or in the syndicates as members of councils of liaison officers. This being so, and because virtually no money would be used in exchanges between communities and syndicates, the incidence of swindling, double-dealing, lying, blackmail and corruption would also decline. Efficiency, humility and contact with the people would ensure a good name; the possibility of excessive re-election would be limited by the customs of the syndicate or community.

The material incentives for administrative work would be the same as for other work and the hours longer. With short periods of office and staggered re-election continuity could be assured without the growth of a corporative spirit. The general tenor of society being one favouring involvement and, to some extent, other directedness, crimes (and noncrimes) of self-interest would be less frequent and the levelling of social and economic distinctions in a general situation of material well-being would tend to act in the same way.

Other activities currently considered criminal will not be considered since they are not important here being either:

  1. activities contravening special moral or religious codes which have received state support,
  2. activities only possible in a commercial society,
  3. activities forbidden by "raison d'etat."


The question of punishment has not been touched upon yet and most interest devoted to a consideration of causes. Some action to be taken in cases of crimes against persons has been discussed as have various steps possible in the case of crimes of self-interest.

As well in the cases of such crimes reparations would have to be made - but not excessive ones as this could lead to further violence - or stolen objects returned. Some extra sanctions may also be applied depending on the particular case and the community's judgement of the matter but these could not be such as to make the offender less socially minded.

The emphasis should instead be on sympathy, understanding and kindness - but not unmixed with moral disapproval. Again it must be stressed that private ownership can only be allowed for things made by or given to individuals and for the necessary amount of food, fuel and clothing. Everything else mostly belongs to the comnunity although it may be used by individuals - and hence if all have equal access crime is unlikely. The emphasis in dealing with crime should be on reform and on the inculcation of the moral attitude proper to such a society: individualism in opinions and works, respect and help for others in actions; that is to say, the reverse of the present society.

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