This is what I think of when I hear Anarcho capitalism
People abide by voluntary principles, they act upon their principles and agree not to steal from or force others to do things against their will. A voluntary solution to a problem is preferable to a violent one. Highly critical of the violence and theft that is currently being used with the justification that it can actually solve social, economic problems or is for the greater good.
It is not a political position that requires an imposition of our will on a majority like a state requires. That is to say, any economic or political preference you have is fine by me, just allow individuals to opt out of it if they wish. Taxation and war included.
I am for a free and open market, peaceful trade.
Naturally definitions of words will have different meanings depending on who you talk to, I try to use the words with meanings that are true to what they originally meant or are most useful for communicating, sometimes I get it wrong and I say one thing hoping it to be interpreted in a specific way but others find my meaning of those words contrary to their own. As so often is the case whenever you start talking about politics.
So whatever you think I am advocating, understand that my goals are not to bring human society to a new age of oppression where the poor starve in the streets.
The comments hidden are my own, as I don't think they were very helpful or constructive. You may Austrian economics at mises.org interesting, there are better arguments for a free market there than here.
I agree with you, in that I believe there should be solidarity among anarchists, and shall endeavor to keep a most civil tone in this discussion.
While you may personally prefer capitalist property, this ignores the real fact that a single society cannot have both types of property. Again, this is not a question of what you do with your property, it is a question of how the society handles property- this isn't about I having my factory and you having yours, and I wanting to be mutualist and you wanting to be capitalist. It is a question of how we decide who has a legitimate right to the products created through the means of production, and to the means of production themselves. We cannot have each person living by a different definition of property- you may say that this piece of land is yours because you tilled it two years ago, and thus homesteaded it under capitalist property structure. I, however, might say, in perfect keeping with mutualist property structure, that it is my field, that I have the right to use it, because while you were gone for a year, I set up shop nearby and am now occupying and using the field. Your views on property and my views on property have come into conflict. This exacerbates- you gave the example of your following communist rules on communist land. The problem is, because capitalists and communists have very different ideas on what constitutes legitimate ownership (the communists tending to agree with the mutualists), there are almost certainly going to be disputes over what constitutes communist land. So, within a given area, you cannot have people who follow two different ideas on property. Even if we rely on polycentric law or some other form of non-state conflict resolution to resolve it, the norm and precedent of who has what rights to what has to develop. As anarchists, we are not against such establishment of a societal norm for the rights of people, so long as it is not imposed by a monopoly of violence. However, such a norm must be established, to prevent anomie.
It should be noted, that the mutualists do not wish to take from you things like family farms, or your share of ownership in a factory. They wish to change the nature of property, so that all people who actively work a means of production have control over said means of production, without regard to whether or not any mutualist believes they deserve it. You are in possession and use of things like the family farm, the tractor, the mill, etc. You are in possession and use, along with others, of such things as the tire factory, the fisheries, etc. If you are a stockholder, however, whose living comes from their investments in stocks, and who so receives a living without the contribution of labor, you are not going to keep the stock, because ownership of the means of production will go to those who are using them, ensuring that all people who labor in the creation of goods receive in full what the market has deemed the added value of their labor.
On the issue of deserts owned by the State, I have recently discussed this very matter with another anarcho-capitalist. The simple truth is that the deserts, such as the ones owned by the State (or, rather, the federal government) in the American Southwest, are not productive lands. They are deserts. A person does not simply go and homestead a desert to form a utopia (which I by no means WANT to form- I am not a utopian). No matter how much labor you mix with the Arizona desert, it is not going to become a land suitable for habitation, save for the oases that have been created largely by the action of the government through large public works of irrigation, and the government's ability to intimidate other communities into ceding some of their water to places like Phoenix. Even if the desert were hospitable, and we accepted the idea that each succeeding generation, to escape from wage servitude, should hew towns out of the last, most unfriendly places on the planet (no matter what the consequences to the common habitat, i.e., the ecology), where are we left when there is no more land? A rule of the dead, where the right to land allegedly 'originally appropriated' is passed on to each succeeding generation, simply reinventing and strengthening the disparity between those who own and so profit, and those those who do not own, and so toil.
The main thing you are missing, on the list of things stopping the poor from homesteading and creating their own society, is (other than the lack of available and hospitable land), poverty. Poverty is the main jailor of the poor. When we do not look holistically at the social structure, we see the poor man as free, but in truth, without the power to produce, the poor are dependent on those who own capital- they must serve these people to receive what they need to survive. You cannot point out a single culprit to say, 'Here, this is the aggressor!', but yet it persists, because the society is not a reductionist construct. It is shaped by the interaction of its pieces, and in the context of industrial capitalism, those without capital are made subservient to those with it.
I do not seek to abolish hierarchy by making everyone poor. Indeed, if you are a billionaire, and have made that money through your own labor, without exploitation, and without robbery, robbery disguised as 'taxation', or fraud, then keep it. It is yours, and your having it does not make others subservient to you. The distinction between the working class and the owning class is not one of poor vs. rich- the poverty of the poor and the wealth of the rich is a symptom in part of this arrangement, but not its totality. The distinction between the working class and the owning class is that the owning class have real property- assets- while working class do not and so must work the assets of the owning class to be paid a [small] part of the value they produce. The owning class owns the means by which the working class survive. I do not seek to abolish hierarchy by making all people poor or working class. I seek to abolish hierarchy by changing the nature of property in such a way that all those who labor are part of the owning class, or, in Marxist parlance, I seek not a dictatorship of the proletariat, but a free society in which each person is a petit bourgeois- one who owns the means of production and works it, getting the full product of their labor, without entitlement to the products of others' labor.
If there is an Austrian economics society, I do not seek to convert it by force. My concern is that my society be a mutualist society, and here we run into reality: We are not going to run off into the wilderness and homestead societies. We live here. We are going to build our society here. That society cannot be both capitalist AND mutualist. I do believe, however, that because of the difference is ideas about property, that a mutualist, syndicalist, collectivist (a la Bakunin), or communist society would have a difficult time coexisting for long with a neighboring capitalist society. As soon as a conflict arises on their borders over what belongs to what group, the ideologies will come into direct confrontation. In such a case, yes, I would through my support behind the mutualists.
I would say, regarding the history of western nations, that whether or not they are capitalist depends on how you define capitalism. If by capitalism you mean a system wherein some own the means of production and others work them, then they are capitalist, and indeed this is the definition most people use, and the way it has been used historically. If by capitalist you mean fitting what anarcho-capitalists believe, then no, it is hardly more capitalist than Bolshevik Russia was communist. What I meant to illustrate, though, is that the homesteading principle, most often used to defend the idea of of private property and the wage labor relationship, is not how our private property and wage labor society developed. It developed out of mercantilism and continued through corporate state capitalism. The homesteading principle as a defense of private property is thus divorced from the history of the development of our private property and wage labor- based economy.
I do not deny that innovation is good. I do deny that innovation is exclusively a capitalist domain. Early socialists and mutualists included inventors and those who started their own businesses. Non-capitalist societies have repeatedly produced innovations. Many of the innovations that are so proudly held up as examples of capitalism in action came with large subsidies from the government- indeed, many were developed first for the state's military. Capitalism holds no monopoly on innovation.
On the people starving, there is more to the story. Government subsidies for agriculture generally have lead to increased yields. On the other hand, local and organic farms often produce more per acre than conventional farming (as cited in Bill McKibben's Deep Economy), but are not prevalent because of farm and oil subsidies, which, along with lots of capital, are able to outperform local and organic farms in terms of efficiency on investment. But, regardless, the food supply is massive. The main problem (and here the market abolitionists have a strong case) is not a lack of food, but a lack of wealth by those who need it. Now, granted, increasing the supply would lower the price, but what is held back by governments is miniscule compared to what is on the market, and would have little effect. There are starving people in the world because there are poor people in the world, and until we have real change in nature of economic power, coupled with a renewed dedication to mutual aid, there will continue to be poor people, who will continue to starve.
The syndicalists would argue that the capitalists used the entrenched violence of the property structure to exploit what is not theirs by right. You can't place all the blame on the syndicalists. Nobody is talking about the violent seizure of the means of production from their legitimate holders. We're talking about challenging the fundamental underlying principle that determines who is and is not a legitimate holder of the means of production.
Your idea of thousands of individual communities existing side by side with entirely different property rights is again not entirely realistic, for the reasons I have already pointed out, in that the two sides have different definitions of what is legitimate property, and will come into conflict.
As for your ideas on syndicalism in a capitalist society, while I am not a syndicalist, I believe they would find it patronizing in the extreme. Syndicalists are not afraid of work, they are opposed to wage labor. They do not lack ingenuity. Your view on them seems to be that they are violent parasites, which is ridiculous, especially when you are supporting a system of structural violence that supports an owning class. But, I am not here to argue as a syndicalist against capitalism. I am here to argue as a mutualist.
You asked me to address each of your arguments, but have not addressed each of mine. After the spare desert land runs out- which would happen quicker than you imagine, as there is not enough water or spare topsoil to terraform the whole desert- what then becomes of your homesteading? You have every piece of land owned. The class structure is set. What's worse, considering the costs of homesteading a desert, or of most other available homesteading expeditions, these lands would most likely be dominated by the owners of the means of production, the wealthy, who have the money to expand and homestead them. If this is supposed to be solace to the dispossessed, it fails as spectacularly as the assumption that they should be pleased that they can choose their exploiter or can someday, with luck, maybe possibly seek to become one of those who own property.
Your final solution to poverty is a fallacy of enlightenment mixed with the erroneous belief in the laziness of the poor. Education (currently provided by the State, as private education is not affordable to the poor) helps raise people out of poverty, but education alone is not the answer, and lack of education is not the root- lack of resources is. The lack of education is a symptom of the lack of resources, which then creates a negative feedback loop perpetuating the lack of resources. Yes, India makes it difficult to start a business. But, India (which incidentally, has a number of worker's cooperatives) is not the only economy on earth. America does not make it so difficult to start a business, and the wealth gap, the obscene concentration of the means of production, persists. Workers do need to organize, but not to play the capitalist game- they need to organize to change the very nature of that game.
Actually, the original market anarchists (and original anarchists, for that matter) were the mutualists, who believe in worker control of the means of production in a market system, through the establishment of possession-and-use-based rights to the productive (or 'real') property (and actual personal property rights to non-productive property). Mutualism can coexist with syndicalism and communism, whereas 'anarcho'-capitalism cannot, because its view on property differs from those acceptable to syndicalists and communists. It isn't a question of what people are choosing to do with their property, it's a question of the basic nature of property itself, and who has the right to what.
Now, note, a common rebuttal to what I am about to say, from ancaps, is to call me a collectivist. I am not a collectivist. I am an individualist, a market anarchist, and used to be an ancap, straight down the line voluntaryist agorist. I still hold many of those views, but in the interest of abolishing hierarchy, I've changed my views on property.
In capitalism, we get an owner class that, viewed through reductionism, seems alright, but when the entire system is viewed, and the arrangement thus contextualized, is a privileged group. We get a second, worker class, of people who do not own capital and must work for those who do own capital to survive. The owners of capital get the labor of the non-owners without contribution of labor. Consider: My employer owns this field. When I work the field, he makes a profit. He is not working. Even accepting that value is subjective, it must be recognized that my labor has, in the context of the society, produced wealth, the degree of which is left to the whim of the market, but the source of which is the same: my labor. When a person is allowed the fruits of my labor, the product of my toil, by sheer virtue of ownership, I am robbed of my self-ownership.
'Anarcho'-capitalism relies on a number of flawed premises, the first of which is the homesteading principle, which states that one person's labor entitles them forever to property over the means of production (even if this entails the perpetual servitude of others). The basic idea is that I, by applying labor once, can permanently claim something, no matter how much labor is later applied by others. Even if this were a sound idea, though, it is flawed in that it has no bearing on the actual development of capitalism, which has ever been a partnership with the State. The wealth of the oldest capitalist families was built on conquering, the confiscation of church lands, the enclosure of the commons, and, in many cases, slavery. The wealth of capitalist nations was built on colonialism and the appropriation of resources that continues to this day. The market has never really been free, because the state and the capitalist class have always been in partnership. Now, one may argue that this is what ancaps say, too, but what ancaps fail to understand is that capitalism and the modern State are codependent. Capitalism creates the conditions of anomie. It was in the reign of industrial capitalism that common law was forsaken for civil law, and that the police, standing army, and prison became mainstays of the State. The State is necessary for the capitalist class to protect the conditions of their power and maintain order in a society of dispossessed persons. Capitalism cannot be divorced from the State.
Now, you may say that there are no such things as classes. That should be true, but it simply isn't. You may say that it is not exploitation, because the wage labor contract is voluntary. Yes, it is voluntary on an individual basis, but only because I must allow my labor to fat the owner, or I will have no wealth at all- the means of my survival are in the hands of others, and this gives them power over me without having to explicitly and clearly threaten me. You may say that the owner has invested, and surely this is why he deserves the fruit of my labor, but this justifies the idea that one can, by spending money, lift themselves to a position of dominance and power over others, an idea that is essentially anti-anarchist (as anarchists are, even more than champions of personal freedom, enemies of hierarchy, understanding that an equality of power is essential to meaningful freedom). You may say that the labor theory of value is wrong, but I am not adhering to the dogma of it, and none can deny that wealth, even subjectively determined, is the product of labor. You may say that I can choose another employer, but this is no greater comfort than my choosing another president. You may say that capitalism is a meritocracy and anyone can become a factory owner, but this fails on two counts- first in that it is untrue, as those born to poverty will never have the opportunities afforded those born to wealth, and second in that the ability to climb and fall a hierarchy does not remove the fact that a hierarchy exists. You may say that worker control of the means of production is inefficient, or that workers would never buy capital on their own, but worker's cooperatives have disproven both of these.
There is a way for anarchism to be a free association of free people without hierarchy, and with pluralism for both the market and the networks of gift economics. That way is not capitalism, however.
Usually I refer to myself as a Voluntaryist to bypass the argument altogether. I think it's funny how Anarcho-Communists and syndicalists look at State Capitalism and then conclude that we advocate that kind of "free" market. They don't realize the hypocrisy of their position against it. They often claim that the Soviet Union was not true communism without realizing what we have now is not true capitalism.
yeah, I find the confusion with the definition of the word capitalism quite annoying. I try to remember when talking with non an caps, we are usually using different definitions of the same word. At the end of the day what they are really referring to when they say capitalism is the kind of fascistic totalitarian mess we are in now and I'm against that too, once they understand that things go more smoothly. There's nothing worse than spending hours arguing only to find out you largely agree with each other, you were just using different definitions.
Market anarchism permits the individual to monoploize large sums of property and, in consequence, establish his or her own government and will in the end result in coersion. Emma Goldman said that religion is the dictator of the human mind, government is the dictator of human conduct and property is the dictator of human need. Religion will tell you to not believe many things are true, and will establish it's "divine right" upon one's mind. "Why is X not true? Because it's not." Government will defend the interests of the few in power before anybody else's and coerse people into the belief of the ruler and anyone who does not conform will be crushed "Why can't I do this? Because you can't." Property is the material representation of religion, one praises his own objects and "violating" those of other's is a "sin". "Can you feed me, capitalist? No, this food is mine.". Maybe market anarchism could survive if there was a society of extremely responsible and kind people, even more than anarcho-socialism requires, but as far as I know, no such people exist. I'll end, this with a personal conclusion I myself have phiolosphied: "Everything you have, is because someone else doesn't."
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More