David Fleming – Energy & Anarchy

7pm, Room 8, Lambeth Town Hall

Talk by David Fleming – Energy and Anarchy “The market is not the solution; it is part of the problem”. David proposes an alternative.


Leo Tolstoy drew comparisons with religion, christianity in particular.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon described the power of small local groups and self-organization.

Matthew Arnold wrote “Culture and Anarchy”, and argued for state administered education, suggesting strong education and cultural awareness will lead individuals to good instinctive choices.

Colin Ward was editor of British anarchist newspaper Freedom from 1947 to 1960, and the founder and editor of the monthly libertarian journal Anarchy from 1961 to 1970. He recognised that people will naturally organise themselves.

This propensity to ‘naturally organise’ ourselves can be observed throughout history. The 1956 Hungarian uprising was funded by buckets in the streets into which people put money towards their greater good. Hannah Arendt, often intrigued by the mechanisms of revolution, wrote of community self organisation in the context of the 1956 revolution.

On Organisation

“Organisation is nothing more than the method we choose to get food on the table”

Forms of Organisation

  • Command and Control: Authoritarian
  • The Market: ‘Fabricated’ rewards and incentives
  • Presence (participation): individual involvement

We can judge these forms of organisation by these broad criteria:

  • Incentives (Intrinsic & Extrinsic)
  • Creative Potential
  • Presence/Absence (of the individual)


Command & Control Market Presence
Extrinsic: Fear; Power Extrinsic: Monetary Intrinsic: System objectives

Incentives, particularly the artificial extrinsic ones, don’t work.

  • Disincentives – Punishment – lead to resentment towards the ‘powers that be’
  • Hence impaired relationships
  • Focus on payback
  • Sterilisation – we take less risks
  • Devalues the task

As an example of this last point, consider this case study: Two groups of volunteers were asked to solve a challenging puzzle. One group was paid, the other was not. A coffee break was announced, and the paid group immediately took the opportunity to get away from the task. The unpaid group however worked right through the break. The task was devalued by the artificial incentive.

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