Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Minimum Viable Product



from The Girls (a story of revolution)

- Do you know what I think? About anarchism?
- What?
- It depresses me because it doesn't seem possible.
- You mean, it is possible, in the past millions of people have lived under the rules property for all and no hiring oneself out for wages, impossible for us because we're never going to get there.
- Yes.
- And if we could sell anarchism as a way to make people happy? As something that makes you happy to think about, even before it is achieved, whether or not it is achieved? We'd more and more want to talk about it, and imagine that when enough of us are talking about, it'd get its chance. We'd like to hear others talk about it, and like to pass on the message. We like to pass on messages that make people happy. We don't do it now because we start out with the idea that it all is impossible.
- We can't simply pretend.
- Ever hear of the manager's acronym, MVP? "Minimally Viable Product"? A new product not completely finished, invested in and developed to the point where market testing can show whether anyone will be interested in buying or using it. We can do this with anarchism, get it developed to the point where people can see, as we hope they will in our market testing of spreading the message, that they would like to have it. That it is a happy message, a wonderful new product is coming, and people spread the word.
- And when the consumers are ready you sell it to them. So what would be the anarchist MVP?
- First, the product has to be finished enough to be viable in itself, and so that the test results may be considered reliable evidence of the final product's attractiveness. The world of buying and selling falls into a stable, "viable", structure of supply and demand, vain power plays and monopoly. Anarchism has its two rules that prohibit hiring anyone to work for you and owning what you can't use. Let's imagine testing these two rules. What would be a MVP? Something people could test right now?
- Rules to be tested?
- Yes, rules people are already familiar with we can test without producing the final product, an anarchist state. We can't right now outlaw employment, can't take away from people property they don't use. But we might be able to give people a MVP version of the rules.
- Is that possible?
- In Judaism, at least in the Kabbalistic interpretation, god deliberately provokes the Jews into breaking his rules. God must do this because he has made man in his image, and he himself is a creator, not an obedient slave. If you stop the interpretation there, then like with Buddhist detachment, or ironic indulgence in crude pleasures, you can give yourself freedom to do anything. You know the indulgence is against the rules, but you know you really don't have to follow the rules.
- Buddhism is immoral?
- And Judaism too, if you stop there with it. But let's go on with the story. Adam and Eve get expelled from the garden of Eden, and now have to work, where before they didn't have to do anything. Paradise is lost, but not completely: if you love god as he commands you to he promises you a way back.
- What does that mean if god also provokes you to breaking that rule?
- That's just it. He doesn't do that. He makes an exception. A regular relation of supply and demand appears automatically in the world of buying and selling things. Similarly, the prohibition against employment, together with forfeiting property not used, allow a regular continual redistribution of property automatically. When people acquire more than they can use, through good luck, gifts, whatever, without any specific intervention, for example taxation, it is reabsorbed by the community. Also in Judaism there is sort of self regulating product produced by the functioning of two rules: god says, I give you laws but you can break them, but you must love, and cannot break that rule. Following?
- Yes.
- If god himself does not abide by his rules, they are not "used" by god, and so, under anarchist rules are not god's possession, they can be yours, your property, to use at your discretion. God's imperative to love prevents indulgence in passions, fear, anger, hatred, envy, all of which make you blind and occupy the time and place in which you could be loving, make you want to control the world and people in it, so impel you to break the anarchist rule against employment of people. Using people blocks your return to the promised land. God's rule to love guides your return home. If you disobey, break all rules without discrimination, you'll never get there.
- What is the promised land?
- The land where you don't have to work.
- But that's a dream.
- In the world of buying and selling, there is no rest from work. Individuals are encouraged to refresh their bodies by indulging in sexuality, and violence too, if only in imagination, but these releases are supposed to be without meaning, like the Buddhist detached from the world who allows himself to kill. In fact, the exchange of one thing for another can be seen as continually expressing these bodily releases: the act of approaching someone to make a deal is attraction without content or meaning, because the transaction is stripped of personal considerations, limited to logical calculation. And once the transaction is complete, you are supposed to have got the better of your trading partner, in other words, have committed an act of violence on the actual person your trade logic doesn't allow you to notice.
- You're saying that what we consider relaxation and entertainment is another version of the work of buying and selling things.
- Yes. This entertainment is not only not rest, is simply another form of doing, it is even a continuation of the same kind of doing as in buying and selling.
- Then how do we really rest?
- Let's go back the story from Genesis, to Kabbalah and Judaism. You may "expropriate" god's unused rules to yourself, and use them at your discretion. Yet you respect god's property rights, his inalienable ownership of the rule, love! You think about how you should do your work, in the world outside the gates of Eden, for the sake of getting back to the promised land where you don't have to work.
- How do you get back?
- You choose which rules to obey, you search for love, and - this is the point - you find it.
- You find love.
- And love is rest. All the good things in life: beauty, truth, goodness, religious experience of wholeness, are forms of resting. They're not quite paradise, because they don't last, but they get us out of the hopeless condition of wandering aimlessly, save us from the insanity of doing for the sake of doing, work for the sake of work.
- And what is the minimally viable product?
- Instead of anarchism's, no ownership without use, we have: you don't have to obey the laws god doesn't respect himself. Instead of anarchism's no work for wages, we have: you must love. Observing both rules we can get back into paradise with the people we love.
- If we seek to love one another, and choose our own rules, we will find rest. I don't see how this will necessarily make us more happy than working all the time and simultaneously entertaining ourselves all time, because if you are right about the sexuality and violence of every act of buying and selling we live in a totally and continually entertaining world.
- Leave it to the consumers to make their choice. The old buying and selling model, or our anarchist minimum viable product. I think it's possible that the anarchist model itself, testable now without political change, is as certain fundamentalists put it, good news that people will want to share with each other. The buying and selling model, with its consequences of inequality of wealth, environmental destruction, risk of nuclear war, aside from being an old story definitely is not good news.