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A man gathers wild mushrooms and exchanges them for stuff he needs, is he a capitalist?

–6 votes
I would like to understand the varying definitions of capitalism that float on this site. I believe that the foundation of any debate must be based on agreed upon definitions.

If capitalism is a system propped up by a violent, domineering, monopoly state where the people in power keep their buddies rich, I am anti-capitalist.

If capitalism is individuals attempting to maximize their well-being by exchanging value for value to meet human needs, then I am a capitalist.
asked Dec 16, 2013 by VoluntaryThinker (390 points)

1 Answer

+5 votes
The definition of capitalism seems to be the biggest problem when anarchists and 'anarcho-capitalists' debate. People exchanging mushrooms for berries isn't capitalism, it's just trade. Capitalism arose out of the process of primitive accumulation, wherein people were dispossessed of their land and means of production, with nothing left to do but sell their labor. Capitalism doesn't exist without an accumulation of capital, a bunch of dispossessed people, and a bunch of guns and steel cages (and cultural programming).

Now I suspect when you scale this idea into 'individuals attempting to maximize their well-being by exchanging value for value to meet human needs', you are talking about something very different (assuming you are an 'ancap'). Wage labor? Private property? Interest, rent, profit.......

Check these out:

(edited to remove faulty definition of market. see funkyanarchy's comment. thanks!)
answered Dec 16, 2013 by formyinformation (2,410 points)
edited Dec 17, 2013 by formyinformation
Asker - here is a direct quote from Riceboy, "Your ideas are garbage and I'm done arguing with you". I was simply announcing that we, he and I, were done talking. The disagreement between me and the members here does not bother me. It makes me think and I enjoy it. If Riceboy would like to change his mind (which it looks like he has since he just replied to me) then I would gladly continue the conversation. Even more, I would love to have more of you guys "pile on", there is plenty of room.
Rice Boy - Considering that technological advancement has solved many diseases and increased the life span of humans so far, I stand by my claim that free people, who aren't burdened by government, would continue to advance and eventually "solve disease". By this, I mean that we could prevent the unnecessary suffering that is caused by painful, life destroying diseases. People that now suffer greatly from ailments could thrive if we had developed a cure. Do I need to go into the incredible accomplishments that medical technology has made so far? Through capitalist means I might add. The list is very long.
Dot - Your quite right. I see the similarity in the criticisms that I have made and the ones made by socialists. Socialism is a theory of production that has had a-lot of rigor and thought put into it. It takes a lot of time to explain their theories and how they could work. The problem is that the socialist ideology is sacrificial to human needs and requires a new "socialist man" to be a workable theory. In theory, if this "socialist man" were ever to come into existence, their theory about how the world could be might unfold. Even if this were possible, which it isn't for reasons we will not get into here, I would never support the socialist vision. I would not want to live in the ideal socialist society. I do not want to be a socialist man. I embrace reality and the non aggression principle is core to my preferences.

My philosophy of Market Anarchism (you can imagine the second word to be anything you want if you still can't tolerate me using "your" word) does not require coercion to come into being. Nor does it require a new socialist man. All that is needed for this theory of production to evolve is the elimination of coercion, most obvious is the institutionalized violence that is the State.
"I mean that we could prevent the unnecessary suffering that is caused by painful, life destroying diseases."

you are ignoring the fact that the VAST majority of that suffering is a direct (and indirect) result of modern civilization and mass society. piling shitloads of people into smaller and smaller spaces - with *everything* that brings with it - is a major factor in the development of so many diseases and suffering.

by far the majority of issues addressed by industrial technology and all its accompanying institutions were caused by... them.
Enlighten me. Who is "piling" people into these smaller and smaller areas? Is there some great man-pile conspiracy forcing people to cram into small cities or be slaughtered? If you do not want to give up goods produced by mass coordination and economic calculation (everything except the most simple, rudimentary tools), then you need a theory of social production to employ. That means you need to tell me how, without markets, without central planners, people could coordinate their efforts to provide production goods. Or, you are advocating for a society where the most advanced technology possible is things like nets, spears, and fur clothes.