David Pakman: Is Common Ownership Authoritarian?
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David Pakman: Is Common Ownership Authoritarian?

David Pakman claims that collectivisation,
or common ownership of the means of production, is authoritarian. In a debate with Peter Coffin,
he said the following. “If you enforce that the means of production
must be owned in common, that is an authoritarian action to take, and I don’t believe, or
at least I’ve not seen any evidence although I’m willing to have my mind changed, that
you will end up with an egalitarian, self-determining society if you impose it in an authoritarian
way. That’s number one, that’s like a fundamental problem I have with pure socialism.” There are a number of problems I have with
David’s argument here. The first is that socialism historically has traditionally stood
for democratic workers’ control over the means of production, and libertarian socialists
or anarchists would argue that that kind of common ownership is inherently conflictual
with centralised, state-owned, command economies, which David doesn’t really acknowledge.
When he’s saying that collectivisation is authoritarian he’s not acknowledging the
libertarian tendency. What libertarian socialists want is for the
economy to be run by means of horizontal, free federations of workers’ councils. What
that means is that what to produce, how to produce it, what to do with the products are
all decided in a direct democracy of, by and for the workers. What I would like to know
is, in what sense is workers’ self-management authoritarian, when contrasted with a capitalist
or state-run system where the bulk of the population has to continually take orders
from bosses or government bureaucrats? Capitalism is imposed by violence. Private
ownership of the means of production requires that the capitalist class of private owners
use violence to protect their propertarian system, and contain the threat of workers’
democracy (which is inherently conflictual with the capitalist system). Using violence
to stop working people from managing our own affairs – that is authoritarian. It is the
case that if we wanted to establish a libertarian socialist system we would be up against that
violence. So would we have to use violence to establish common ownership of the means
of production, and if yes, would that be authoritarian? I think that the expropriation of capitalists,
in order to transfer the ownership of the means of production from the capitalists to
the workers, would likely have to be carried out by violence, but that’s only necessary
because of the violence that they use against us. So, is coercive expropriation of capitalists
authoritarian? Well, libertarian socialists argue that the use of such force should be
organised by the working class itself, by means of horizontal federations of workers’
councils and militias, and we choose to organise in a non-hierarchical manner precisely because
we don’t want to reproduce authoritarian social relations. We pick up on exactly the
point that David raises, that you can’t produce a free, egalitarian society by authoritarian
means. David doesn’t acknowledge that the use of force against capitalists does not
have to be organised in a hierarchical manner, nor does he acknowledge the defensive nature
of that violence, against a system which is fundamentally authoritarian and violent. A crucial point that David misses is that
there exists the tradition of prefiguration. Prefiguration emerged out of exactly these
concerns, that you can’t produce a free society by authoritarian means. This argument
was made way back by anarchists when they split from the first International. They said
that (in the Sonvilier Circular), “The society of the future should be nothing other than
the universalisation of the organization with which the International will have endowed
itself. We must, therefore, be careful to ensure that this organization comes as close
as possible to our ideal. How can we expect an egalitarian and free society to emerge
from an authoritarian organization? Impossible. The International, as the embryo of the human
society of the future, is required in the here and now to faithfully mirror our principles
of freedom and federation and shun any principle leaning towards authority and dictatorship.”
David would do well to look into these historical anarchist discussions about means and ends,
and the fact that if we want to build an egalitarian society, we have to create horizontal social
relations in the existing world as it is. That’s the whole point of the tradition
of prefiguration. Anarcho-syndicalism is a revolutionary labour
strategy which involves the creation of labour unions organised in a horizontal, anarchist
manner, which seek to seize the means of production by means of a general strike. Syndicalist
unions are both organisations of struggle in the existing world, and they form the organs
of economic workers’ democracy that are integral to the running of the future society.
I doubt that David has heard of this, but if he has, I really doubt that he has any
kind of sound argument as to why anarcho-syndicalism would somehow be authoritarian. David has made similar arguments that collectivisation
is authoritarian in his video ‘Why I’m Not A Socialist’. He says the following. “Fundamentally, I’m not a socialist because
I want an egalitarian, free, self-determining society and that type of society will not
emerge from authoritarian apparatus.” If you want a free, egalitarian, self-determining
society, and you recognise that that can’t be achieved by authoritarian means, the answer
is not to dismiss socialism outright but instead advocate a non-authoritarian strategy to achieving
it – strategies which David just doesn’t seem to be aware of. “What that means is that at the national
level, socialist and communist structures are fundamentally authoritarian and at scale,
enacting socialism or communism becomes authoritarian, and a top example is Venezuela.” Of course, Venezuela isn’t an example of
libertarian socialism (though he doesn’t say that it is, he’s just saying that it’s
socialism generally). He hasn’t familiarised himself with the libertarian critiques of
these kinds of state-run systems in which the state undertakes the functions of the
capitalist class. He would do well to read Chomsky’s essay on The Soviet Union versus
Socialism, or Emma Goldman’s ‘My Disillusionment’, or Maurice Brinton’s pamphlet on the Bolsheviks
and Workers’ Control. He obviously isn’t aware of the left-libertarian critique of
these kinds of state-run systems. Being a socialist doesn’t mean being a Bolshevik. He also isn’t aware of revolutionary Spain
from 1936-39, in which socialist structures of workers’ self-management were organised
across the society in a non-authoritarian way. Gas, electricity, and all sorts of other
utilities, were collectivised and brought under workers’ control rather than centralised
in the hands of the state. That was a non-authoritarian socialist system, involving millions of people,
which was crushed from the outside by the combined forces of fascists and Stalinists.
David doesn’t recognise that a non-authoritarian socialist alternative to capitalism is viable,
it’s just not tolerated by people on all sides of the political spectrum who seem to
agree that the freedom of workers has to be crushed. So that’s my response to David Pakman. I
hope that he sees this video and perhaps reconsiders his views. I hope that he learns about anarcho-syndicalism
and prefiguration, and perhaps answers the question as to whether he thinks they are
somehow authoritarian strategies. There must be so many well-meaning people out there who’ve
been banging their head against the proverbial wall of electoral politics for years to no
avail. The time for liberals to re-examine their beliefs and to learn about the revolutionary
solution is now. Jimmy Dore seems to be beginning to recognise
that the massively unequal distribution of wealth that exists in our society is a result
of the capitalist system and exactly the kinds of tendencies which Marx criticised. Libertarian
socialism is the viable alternative for people who want a free, egalitarian, self-determining
society and recognise how capitalism and authoritarianism are inherently corrosive to that end. Many thanks to my contributors on Patreon:
Brandon Haukoos-Tischer, Comrade Dr Frasier Crane, Cyclidéon, Divayth Fyr, Dracur, Flagburner,
Jack Bryant, Joe Martin, Komrade Klaus, Michael Norling, Patrick Gordon, Richard Pearson,
Vrisha Jhriress, and XxX_swagmaster420_XxX. This has been libertarian socialist rants,
thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “David Pakman: Is Common Ownership Authoritarian?

  1. FYI he talks at length about libertarian socialism and Catalonia at 9:20 in this video https://youtu.be/k79wCaFgU40

  2. Abolishing private property is detrimental to a society which aims for its own flourishing and prosperity. The sort of ownership which you advocate for has a tendency to fall prey to the tragedy of the commons.

  3. Pakman is the best socdem on YouTube imo. I believe he also studied with Richard Wolff at some point, so he knows a thing or two about socialism. not excusing his errors by any means, but I think he's an honest actor and well worth engaging.

  4. is not like Venezuela is the new USSR, they are more like social democrats and they are very progressive in a lot of issues, anarchist shouldn't dismiss it even if its state run cuz the gov has improved the lives of the poor and fought for them and they have really increase class conscious in the barrios

  5. I think David is woefully ingorant on these topics. I'm glad I unsubscribed from him. Something didn't seem right. He might be a lefty like us, but he screams neo liberalism/liberalism at his core. I think he's making his arguments from the usual past examples of socialism/communism that were authoritarian. Does he even know WHY they didn't end up working? It's not even because socialism doesn't inherently work. It's because it was being used to garner support from the workers and the general populace, in order to seize power. Why is that never a good enough argument for them, anyway? I mean, it's just one reason why socialism ended up not working. But it's a number of complex reasons. Changing societal or economic structures is never easy to begin with. Someone's always going to try to abuse changes or crush attempts to enact it.

  6. If I understand correctly, you said that to defend our Libertarian Socialist society, we could form militias? I don't necessarily have a problem with this, but I don't think it'd be enough. For example, in Anarchist Catalonia they couldn't protect their great society for very long, because of the fascists' organized military. So I would propose that a form of a martial-arts on the simpler side, plus weapons training in school. So everyone, at least the youth, could defend themselves on their own if needed. What are your thoughts on this, and/or is there anything that could be added or improved?

  7. My problem with socialism is not even really with socialist policies(under certain circumstances i could be convinced of its validities). My problem is with the socialist tendency of be oppossed to an open. This not necessarily socialist itself but it is a common trend. Basically if you can't maintain maintain free speech and democracy(direct democracy is fine as well) with chance reverting back to capitalist systems should socialist policies fail, then your system is pretty authoritarian. If it is more like Noam chomsky's approach then like I said, i could be convinced. I am curious what some libertarian socialists think of this. The hardcore
    Marxists are not so keen.

  8. Awesome video, I learned a lot! I hope also that David sees this video and acknowledge the questions, Thanks for this.

  9. "Being a Socialist does not mean being a Bolshevik". Quite true but the shadow of Lenin and Stalin is cast over the entire discussion of how to achieve a more equitable and free society. People have been taught it is either impossible or authoritarian to even attempt it.

  10. Collectivisation is not allowing those who disagree with your ideology which therefore means that direct democracy is authoritarian.

  11. Jesus fucking Christ, does Pakman even realize how ridiculous that claim is? It's the same as those fundamentalists complaining that they are being "forced" to accept the gays.

    He needs to stop for a second and think: isn't private ownership orders of magnitude more authoritarian? Not only does it restrict people's access to the means of production, it also makes the use of state violence to protect private property acceptable, and basically gives a few big wigs all the power to define what goes on in that property, and the workers have no say in the matter.

  12. 100% it's the overton window. I doubt he even thought there was potential for something to be done without state control.

  13. David Pakman is a self-professed neoliberal social democrat.Their entire political program is based upon the demonstrably false presupposition that neoliberal welfare capitalism is the only tenable way of running an economy.

  14. Libertarian Socialist Rants should debate Pakman. Pakman has a lot of subs and viewers, so it would be better if Pakman knew how libertarian socialism worked before he continues to discredit it to his massive, left-wing audience. Rants is smart, Pakman is open-minded, socialism will prevail

  15. The expropriation of the means of production by the working class would necessarily be authoritarian. A horizontally organized working class doesn't change that. But that in no way means that the society that results from that expropriation would be authoritarian. Organization of the working class ("prefiguration") is important for how it reflects and influences the post-revolution society, but it doesn't change the authoritarian nature of expropriation. Jumping through hoops to deny the authoritarian nature of revolution only obscures things, IMO.

  16. The strange thing is, David is actually very aware of revolutionary Spain and much of the things mentioned in this video. He just doesn't seem to acknowledge them when discussing socialism in those videos. Watch his Debunking Socialism Has Never Worked video. I'm a little confused as to why he doesn't acknowledge left-libertarian socialism in these subsequent videos, or the non-authoritarian ideals of socialism generally, or why he ignored the general socialist argument that the status quo is inherently authoritarian and violent.

    Then again, he's been very much focused on the whole Russiagate thing instead of the substantial issues he used to lately. I wonder what's going on there. I'm fearing the worst.

  17. I actually agree with pakmans general premise. As much as socialism on paper has claimed to be communal ownership of the mop, in practice it always wound up actually turning out to be more like somewhat or totally a bureaucratic institution claiming to represent workers interests and rights gaining complete control of them instead, like the "red beaurocracy" you said in another vid.

  18. There is a worry I have about democracy, one that has been expressed elsewhere many times, of the many controlling the few. Let's say 49% of workers want one thing, while 51% of workers want another. Does that mean 49% of workers must do what the other 51% desire? There is another worry that I don't hear talked about as much. What balance is there to this democratic power?

    I admit I am not very well read in these subjects, but my interest is piqued. I would love to hear solutions people have proposed for these worries.

  19. Fuck yeah, we even got UK socialist blokes shitting on DP's nonsense! Good job mate! Keep calling out the BS of right AND the center-left.
    Libertarian Socialists FTW!

  20. Anarchists are opposed to be forced to live in common. People were to be allowed to be 'individualists', mutualists, collectivists, etc.

  21. I hope that some day I will go down in history with the quote "the moment the left learns proper marketing stuff will change".

    I recognized that it is a huge difference how you frame it. The worst line is "communual ownership over the means of production", because no one gets what that means or/and associates it with the USSR. Democratic ownership over the means of production is still bad I came to realize. Democratic ownership over companies is also shit. But what I am most successful with is democracy in companies or running companies democratically. Then even conservatives and liberals often say "sounds pretty logical to me". If you contrast it to dictatorship in the company then it is even easier to persuade people.

  22. Crazy how these people will defend the use of violence for self-defense while simultaneously arguing that defending yourself from the aggression of enforced private property law is wrong

  23. Obligatory recommended reading: Elinor Ostrom's work on the commons. Private property is not the only option.

  24. If workers self management is better/more productive than private ownership, then why don't we see any companies like that in the U.K? As far as I know, there are no laws stopping people from setting up co-operatives.

  25. I kinda can't stand Pakman anymore. He has openly misled his audience on Venezuela by just regurgitating press releases or information handed out by the government or "intelligence" agencies and doesn't challenge or investigate it. He doesn't even interview anyone to try to verify the validity of what mainstream news says about Venezuela. He is basically a stenographer for the government on this issue and its so frustrating because people seem to trust his perspective. It's just lazy and irresponsible. I unsubscribed from him many months ago.

    I also couldn't deal with his commentary mostly boiling down to "trump said something dumb" as the topic in most videos. Wow, who could ever see that coming?! Trump said something dumb?! It's just lazy and click-baity at this point.

  26. Oh Cameron! Please respond to another PJW's video on pathological altruism. It's worthy to react this kind of video essay,try right now!!!

  27. Hi, I have some questions unrelated to the video: 1.) Is the "boss-worker" relationship still a hierarchical one, if the worker voluntarily agrees to work for the boss, and why? 2.) Once the revolution becomes real and there is a bunch of people voluntarily deciding that they want to live in a market system outside of ancom communes, what do we do with it?

    I would really appreciate some answers to this questions they are quite existential to me, thanks.

  28. Lets be honest, its not unlikely to find an American, who's leaning left, but is still living in the notion that "everything further to the left than social democracy, must be authoritarian"… the poor fuckers have been taught this since birth.

    Lets not see this guy as an enemy. He himself said his mind could be changed on this. And if he thinks the only interpretation of "common ownership" is through the in theory, representative state, then of course its likely to have elements of authoritarianism.

  29. Apparently David believes that a single dictator with complete control over the means of production who can abuse, hurt, underpay, or fire any employees and anytime is more libertarian than the people possessing it. Sound logic david.

  30. " It is authoritarian to force people to live in a democracy
    so let's return to monarchy "

    If you can see that the above is ridiculous, then perhaps compare it to Mr. Pakman's argument against socialism, which is worker control of the means of production, which is rule by the people in the workplace, which is workplace democracy.

  31. "Libertarian Socialism" is like an abolitionist who that thinks society ought to be built on slavery or an atheist that believes Islam is the one true religion. Doublethink is not a sufficient adjective to describe "libertarian socialist", "anarcho-communist", etc.
    And, yes, obviously "collective ownership" is authoritarian. If someone or some group of people initiate force against me for owning something, anything, I have invest my own time, labor, money, resources, etc. into by declaring in "their property", and that I MUST live like a collectivist, that is both theft and Authoritarianism.

    If a bunch of people want to pool their money and "collectively own" something then fine, do it, but the moment you force someone to join your "collective" or you prevent them from privately owning something you are engaging in authoritarianism, you are forcing them to live the way you think they should.

    That's the antitheist of Libertarianism. That's why I say "Libertarian socialism" is beyond double-think, it's outright self-contradicting insanity.

  32. Yikes it looks like you have rosacea, if you haven't already you should see a dermatologist. Rosacea can have a number of causes including genetics and may flair up periodically throughout your entire life without treatment. Luckily there are simple medications that can control it, and you live in a great country to get health care. Sorry for posting this type of feedback/advice in a comment on youtube but I know no other way to contact you.

  33. Radical does NOT mean Authoritarian, David Parkman you doofuss. Go to sleep with your DooDoo covered in fluoride.

  34. Glad you made this resposeto David Pakman's remarks. Thought I was going to have to become a real YouTuber and do it myself. Thank god it didn't come to that, phewwww!

  35. He's aware of the difference between Socialism and Bolshevism, he just wants to stay in a Capitalist system because in a Socialist one David's "contribution" to society is essentially fucking worthless.

  36. "Coercive expropriation" as you call it, is indeed authoritarian, as anyone objecting to collective ownership will be violently coerced into submission by an outside force. You can rationalize why that act of violence it's justified or not, but to say it's not authoritarian is just wrong. The tyranny of the mob is just as authoritarian as the tyranny of the despot.

  37. That's a great point about Jimmy Dore. I've been a fan for years because of his questioning of war and politicians, but I've gone much further to the left and anti-authoritarian in recent years, and I hope he does the same, especially since he's such a fan of Noam Chompsky.

  38. Advocating the devil: After achieving state-power violently, and then immediately dismantling it – is that still Anarchism? Also, what are the merits of bringing down the state via a violent path? Some say that it's to dismantle asap our means of enslavement and degradation ie capitalist industries. That, one more second of sweatshops, military-industrial complexes, prison-industrial complexes, etc is unethical and immoral, and that no moral and ethical person should stand for this. Some say that voting towards socialism within a capitalist structure is slow and unbearable while all these horrible shit keeps happening. What do you think?

  39. Thanks for holding David Pakman to a higher intellectual standard! He's a social democrat but I see the potential for him to become a socialist.

  40. So basically the people regulate the economy? Correct me if I’m wrong. That in itself is government, am I wrong? How do we keep the power balanced in a society like this?

  41. I don't really understand how capitalism requires violence to maintain itself. I am an employee in a company. I report for work every day and I take my orders, I receive bi-monthly installments of my salary, etc. But at no point do I feel threatened with violence. Either I am being obtuse or the claim that the capitalist class maintains itself by violence is an absurd claim. Perhaps someone can explain this to me.

  42. Here's a question that might be considered really stupid, but please indulge me: in an egalitarian society in which the economy is collectively managed by horizontal federations of workers, would everyone in a given company earn the same amount of money regardless of their level of responsibility or skill? I am confused on this point. I have a strong impulse towards anti-authoritarianism but I see an issue with having too equal a distribution of wealth. Human nature is, sadly, selfish and in a society where the distribution of wealth is too equal, the incentive to work must necessarily be diminished.

  43. "Literally any action taken to change the status quo is inherently authoritarian because it forces people to change what they're doing."

    And here, ladies and gentlemen, we see how liberalism is fundimentally reactionary.

  44. Anarchists should negotiate a compromised agreement with an authoritarian owner which is acceptable for all. Forced common ownership is authoritarian and breaks anarchy.

  45. What I don’t understand is how this Libertarian Socialist society would function without ENFORCING everyone to work. Every one would HAVE to work to have a balanced society, and those that couldn’t find work would likely have to have it dictated to them by some authority, probably “counsel” of some sort. That is where the Authoritarianism starts creeping in.

  46. The problem lies in the use of collective vs individual. This is a false dilemma that is presented. They collective is a collection of individuals in agreement. Because a few individuals don't like the outcome, they call it "tyranny of the majority", and it is that "tyranny" (which has its roots in Greek as "single ruler" – tyrant) that is implying when he equate it with authoritarian. In a democracy, individuality is inherent. You cannot vote your own mind if you aren't an individual capable of making arguments.

  47. Packman assumes leftism is compatible with Statism but such States failed because it is not compatible. Leftism is derived only from anarchism. Anarchism>no ruler>all equal rulers>equality>leftism.

  48. if the means of production are taken from their holders by force, isn't it an authoritarian action? If somebody dictates your behaviour and takes over your means of action and power, isn't it authority negating freedom, regardless of the structure of this authority (horizontal or hirarchical)?
    You could say that this act of authority is justified and necessary, but how can you say it's not authoritarian?

  49. All workers will agree with you?
    All workers will agree with you?
    What will you do with them? Just not think about it???

  50. On of David's biggest problems is that he actually seems to believe that Conservatives argue in good faith and believes that countries like the Soviet Union is the only way for countries for run as "socialist" countries

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