Conversations with “Free-Market Anti-Authoritarianism” – Part 1
First, I should probably lay some groundwork. What is a “free-market anti-authoritarian”? The reason I might need to explain what they are to some is that you are very unlikely to run into one anywhere but on the internet, and if you do they might go by several different monikers. One of them is “anarcho-capitalists”, but a lot of them hide from that label and choose a myriad of different things to try and distance themselves from it, some even to the point of trying to call themselves socialists. Most will call themselves anarchists though, and with a straight face. This stems from a specific tendency they seem to share, attempts to re-define language. Some do it on purpose, the majority do it because they are reciting definitions exactly as they have been presented to them. In creating a unique language they are able to present a fairly convincing argument for their positions to the uninformed and easily influenced.
This basic critique is sure to raise their ire, and I will point to the reason why shortly. But it is something easily backed up.
For most of us reading this, “anarchism” is a socialist political movement that has been taking place for centuries. It has been plagued by demonization of it’s beliefs and adherents because it stands in opposition to hierarchical relationships. Needless to say this idea has been a thorn in the side of the ruling class since the dawn of “wealth”. But sometime between then and industrialization the serfs, the peasants, became politically and socially aware. They became aware that the division of labor wasn’t equal to the division of power. They became aware of the “classes” and their relations to means of production, first in land and natural resources, and later in the industrialization of cities and factories. For anarchists names like Kropotkin; Most; Bakunin; Goldman; Proudhon; Déjacque; Makhno; Bookchin; Magón; and Marx conjured images in our minds of how society could wipe out those hierarchical relationships between the classes. From those minds a socialist revolution began, a revolution of the people against class. Class warfare was ignited. Anarchism was born.
For the ruling class, the bourgeoisie this was a problem. They had to sell themselves to the masses as the keepers of peace and order. The idea of anarchism had to be presented to the masses as the forces of chaos and disorder. Hierarchical relationships between people and the means of production had to be presented as normal and necessary even god given. And if all these things were the “way of the world” and represent harmony, then anarchism was the opposite of those things. It was chaos. The very definition of the word “anarchy” became “chaos”. But the further definition also came to hold the germ of truth, “no leaders”.
Well, anarchists know that anarchism is a political movement and not just a state of being. But those definitions are good enough for the reactionary masses. And it is from those reactionary definitions that other reactionary forces attempt to link themselves to anarchists. After all, they don’t believe in “the state”, therefore they don’t believe in leaders, therefore they are “anarchists”. So, in using the definition provided by the ruling class, instead of linking it to the actual political movement, they are able to self-identify. The fact that their identity depends on being tied to the bourgeois propaganda against anarchism doesn’t seem to be a problem in the least. And really, turns out to be the least of the problem anyway. The main problem comes from this proclivity to redefine.
The pieces that will follow are from actual conversations with some of these folks…
Next Article – “Conversations with “Free-Market Anti-Authoritarianism” – Part 2: You Damn Commies Don’t Know Nothing!!!”