Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

If capitalism can't survive without a state then how do you explain the grey and black markets?

–2 votes
I propose agorism as a strategy to achieve a stateless society. How can some anarchists say that capitalism can't exist without the state, if things like the grey and black markets exits? How do you explain bitcoin? I don't need the state to hire someone and pay them a wage. If that is not capitalism then what do you call it?
asked Feb 23, 2014 by anonymous
edited Feb 23, 2014

1 Answer

+7 votes
It IS capitalism. What are the minimal requirements for (public) capitalism to exist?
There are probably a million and one answers to that, but let me take a stab at it from a decidedly modern (from the period of the Industrial Revolution perhaps) and Euro-American perspective.
1. Private Property -- that is, the realm of possession that increases the wealth of the person(s) holding it, defended by force. Ownership of land, ownership of a place of production, ownership of an institution of monetary loan/investment. NOT a toothbrush.
2. Wage Labor -- that is, the extraction of a person's energy that's put to use creating a commodity or a service for a boss; the person is compensated with a wage rather than with the ability to decide how, when, why, and for whom that commodity or service is created/distributed. Further, whatever wealth is generated by that commodity or service goes exclusively to the owner of the place of production. NOT a voluntary arrangement.
3. Market Economy -- that is, a field where the exchange of goods and services are priced, negotiated, bought and sold. Profit is generated as the goods and services are sold for more than the cost of production (including maintenance/expansion of the place of production, wages, and other logistical expenditures). Profits go exclusively to the owner or owner's agent. NOT a voluntary arrangement.
4. A durable, value-laden, and enforced/defended Medium of Exchange -- that is, some form of money and/or credit, usually backed by some finite resource (gold, silver). Enforcement of the exclusive prerogative to mint the money rests with the institution capable of doing so: the state.
5. A worldview based on the scarcity of commodities and resources -- that is, one that fosters competition over that real or imagined scarcity.

A grey or black market requires scarcity, the exchange of goods and services in a market, and the use of a recognized (but not necessarily exclusive or enforced) medium of exchange. Sounds a lot like capitalism to me. While the goods and services may be illegal, the extraction of labor power from workers and the generation of wealth and profit from those who control the production and distribution of those goods and services are recognized as fully legitimate. The state doesn't really care as long as they get their cut; that's why gangsters are almost always indicted for tax avoidance and other related crimes.
answered Feb 23, 2014 by lawrence (13,560 points)
I agree with everything you said but I would also like to add that these "black markets" take on the model of "legal markets" and are just as authoritarian.

I would call it 'free market' rather than 'capitalism' which has more intellectual baggage associated with it and implies such large scale use of 'capital' that the individual can start to lose his identity in it's processes.

Bitcoin is explained here. I agree with you, it doesn't require 'capitalism' or the State. But it does require that we understand how to use it in a de-centralized way for it to be a vehicle for promoting the agorist strategy.

dotnetspec: this site does not accept @capitalism as a thread in anarchist thought (despite the name).

you will need to explain how your thinking is not @capitalist before you can answer questions here. you're pushing all my ancap buttons atm. (and just not using the word "capitalism" is not sufficient, of course.)
you can refer to all the "intellectual baggage" associated with the term 'capitalism' all you like, and you can pretend that "free market" or "the agorist strategy" is something else. however, as dot points out, nobody here (and almost nowhere else for that matter) recognizes any form of capitalism or free market or agorism as having anything at all in common with anarchism (even anarchists who were pro-private property, like Proudhon and Tucker, called themselves socialists).

what all anarchists share is an awareness that there's a lot more than "intellectual" baggage associated with capitalism. there's a real history of exploitation, oppression, and domination for those who have been and continue to be forced to work for a wage in order to survive, not to mention the ways that capitalism has been the driving force for post-mercantilist colonialism and imperialism. this is material and historical "baggage." the history of capitalism is wholly entwined with the history of the modern state, and as such, is inimical to anarchists.
the last reply was a forum 'comment' not an 'answer'. Do you mean that I should not attempt to answer a question either as a forum 'answer' or in any form until my 'thinking' has been approved?
if you note when i wrote that comment, you'll see it was before you agreed not to answer. i posted "please don't answer" in various places, not knowing where you'd look first. i was not criticizing your comment here.