So, before I get deeper into this one, there have been some objections raised to the previous installment. Some of it has some merit, like this one…
“There are LEGITIMATE forms of anarchism that are “pro-market“”
There are, of course, forms of anarchism that believe in using “market forces” to create change and to meet the needs of the people. Mutualism and Proudhon come straight to mind. So, straight from some Mutualist sources, thought I would include, “What is Mutualism”…
“A Social System Based on Equal Freedom, Reciprocity, and the Sovereignty of the Individual Over Himself, His Affairs, and His Products, Realized Through Individual Initiative, Free Contract, Cooperation, Competition, and Voluntary Association for Defense Against the Invasive and for the Protection of Life, Liberty and Property of the Non-invasive.” – Mutualism.org
“Mutualism is an economic theory and anarchist school of thought that advocates a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market.” – WiKi
A summary of Proudhon’s mutualism by G. Ostergaard:
“… he argued that working men should emancipate themselves, not by political but by economic means, through the voluntary organization of their own labour–a concept to whch he attached redemptive value. His proposed system of equitable exchange between self-governing producers, organized individually or in association and financed by free credit, was called ‘mutualism’. The units of the radically decentralized and pluralistic social order that he envisaged were to be linked at all levels by applying ‘the federal principle’.” – Mutualism.org
And other forms and strains of anarchism could also be included in the “pro-market” category, but it seems to be mainly the mutualists that are opposed to the “free-market” part of my initial argument. But again, this is about definitions. When mutualists say “free-market” they aren’t talking about a commodity market that allows for and is dependent on the centralization of wealth. The opposite of capitalist markets. But since this isn’t about Mutualism, time to move on…
The next objection was one that is common and seems to be the whining pleas of marginal individuals that are attempting to somehow “prove” that they belong within the larger anarchism movement. It goes something like this…
“Why are you trying to marginalize people that want the same thing as you? All this does is alienate potential allies. If I say I am an anarchist because I oppose the government and you say I am not an anarchist, it means you don’t care about anarchy.”
There were more along those lines, but that is the general sentiment. Lots of “Free-Market Anti-Authoritarians” repeat these arguments like they are religious dogma. Their identity depends on being able to piggy-back their beliefs to the political movement that is “anarchism”. I will quickly address those three sentiments above, but will get more into some of their arguments later one.
First, what makes these folks think we “want the same thing”? It is precisely because they choose to use the bourgeois definition of “anarchy” and “anarchism” that they even believe that we want the same thing. Anarchists are opposed to the state because it is the tool that maintains and “legitimizes” hierarchical relationships to “private property”. Where mutualists and other “pro-market” anarchists oppose the state for those very reasons, the Free-Market Anti-Authoritarians oppose the state because they see it as a competitor in the capitalist markets. They aren’t opposed to hierarchical relationships to property, only to the state being able to determine the extent of those relationships. They don’t oppose the state provided services so much as they are opposed to the state providing them. They don’t have a problem with a police force that will protect “private property”, which serves only to continue society as “more of the same”. As Marx put it, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” and an armed force to protect the “have’s” from the “have not’s” is the perpetuation of those class struggles. Nothing new to see here folks, so lets move along…
Are these people “potential allies” who myself and others are just alienating? There are lots of people opposed to “the state”. Every couple of years there are election battles between groups of people who, supposedly, represent a majority of the population. All those people running for office and voting because they “oppose the state”, at least in it’s current make-up. That doesn’t make them “allies” or even “potential allies” with a political movement that wants to end class division.
Finally, what about the idea that if I don’t accept that someone is an “anarchist” just because they say they are, I hate anarchy. Well, give me a break. Anyone can say they are anything they want to call themselves. Someone can walk around and call themselves and elephant. But when I say, “Hey, you aren’t an elephant” it isn’t because I am trying to limit their freedom or that I hate elephants. And to top it off, they might like to repeat the oft repeated phrase from these right-wingers in anarchist clothing, “That is a logical fallacy, NO TRUE SCOTSMAN!”, to which I can only say, if you ain’t a Scot, you ain’t a Scot. If you ain’t an elephant, you ain’t an elephant. The logical fallacy is thinking you are any of those things, claiming you are any of those things, and yet not meeting the basic criteria to be any of the above.
That done, lets move on to one of the conversations….
Free-Market Anti-Authoritarian (FMC) – You commies don’t know anything about economics.
Kom-E Ron (ME) – Love how rightwingers think you have no concept of economics if you don’t accept the teachings of their savior Ron Paul and their saints of the “free-market”. And yet they can’t see that the state and capitalism are twins. They are the centralization of power. While they invite us to take a Mises course, they don’t even grasp the basic concepts of what they advocate, capitalism. Even given cute names like “free-market”, capitalism is a very specific thing.
Capitalism is the centralization of capital for the purpose of investment in search of future profit.
Profit is the amount left over after all costs for production and distribution have been met.
You can tell capitalism by its defining feature, the private ownership of the means of production, enforced through “private property rights”. Yes, enforced. Without the threat of violence or force, there is no such thing as private property. One of the pillars of “private property” is the threat of force in the name of “defense”. The form that threat takes is irrelevant, since only the threat of force is enough to keep any super-power in place, be it a state or a king or a land baron.
You can tell socialism and communism by their defining feature, equal access to the means of production. Anything that denies access to the means of production is NOT socialism or communism, no matter what cute name they give it. Private control of access to the means of production is capitalism, no matter what propaganda you have swallowed.
Capitalism and profit are two of the words that the Free-Market Anti-Authoritarians like to “redefine”. They like to give off the idea that “capitalism” is nothing but a means of paying labor and that “profit” is nothing more than feeling like you made an advantageous trade. The biggest problem with the redefining of these words to fit their purposes is that they use these new definitions to try and portray their belief system as nothing more than the simple, inevitable, trade that goes on between individual producers. But capitalism and profit belong firmly within the sphere of class division. They are dependent on the separation of labor from the means of production, through “private property rights”, enforced through force; the threat of force; or the actual use of force.
One last thought in this piece. Someone said, “Isn’t it interesting that all arguments on the internet come down to “definitions“? Well, first and foremost, you can’t have a discussion at all unless you can come to an agreement on the definition of words. Before you even make your argument, you must define what the words to that argument mean. Then those definitions have to be acceptable and understood by everyone in the discussion. Without that consensus there can be no discussion or argument.
Coming up – “Kom-E Ron, why you hate “private property”?