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Can a free market exist within anarchy?

–1 vote
Any voluntary actions between individuals can reasonably be seen to be a transaction; likewise, any collection of transactions can be seen to be an economy. If I decided to become employed to an individual on a voluntary basis, would that individual be branded as a "state"?
asked Aug 17, 2014 by anonymous
"Any voluntary actions between individuals can reasonably be seen to be a transaction"

no, i would say that is not a very reasonable generalization at all. that reeks of a myopic capitalist - or more generally, economist - perspective. if me having a voluntary discussion with my friend is a "transaction", then you have completely redefined that word to be absolutely meaningless.
funkyanarchy- This is one of the reasons so-called anarcho-capitalists came to bug the shit out of me. The equation of 'market' with all voluntary activity is, as you say, the myopia of an economist. Sex is no longer a relational activity between individuals who are enjoying it, but a 'transaction.' Etymologically speaking what exactly is 'being made' to 'go over' or 'beyond' what? Anarcho-capitalist are seemingly impervious to what most 5 year old's are privy to: sharing, pleasure, being in the now, etc.The notion of 'transaction' totally reifies a host of relational qualities into quantity.
I am totally incapable of tolerating the idea that all human activity is fundamentally a transaction. This is the kind of massive semantic assumption that gives anarcho-capitalism the briefest sliver of false legitimacy.

There's also the question of what constitutes "voluntary" employment when you factor in social and economic pressures...

1 Answer

+6 votes

1. Your scenario is too divorced from the reality of the world. There never has and never will be employment that can reasonably be seen to be a 'transaction.' There is always an unequal distribution of power between employer and employee. Historically the employing class, the bourgeoisie, is who 'won' the round of late 18th/early 19th century revolutions that solidified this economy. They've always been on top, and your hypothetical situation is ignoring that reality.

2. The existence of the state is not an accident. Employers are united in needing the state to create unemployment, keep people reliant on the wage system, and to protect their property. If employers did NOT create the state, they would be acting against their own interests. Similarly, with the advent of marketing and PR, capitalists work to undermine the consumers' "rational choice" that such market economics bases its theories on. It is in a capitalist's prerogative to undermine the 'free market' in any and every way they can.

3. The exploitation of the wage system relies on the open violence of accumulation to perpetuate itself, and it needs to perpetuate itself to survive. Before the industrial revolution it took centuries of witch hunts for womens' body to be successfully colonized, for their sexuality and bodily autonomy to be destroyed, and for their role as producers of producers to be in full effect. Without the surplus labor that followed, there could never have been an industrial revolution, which relied on low wages and high unemployment. In the same way, this is happening all the time, right now. Open, bare violence is needed to accumulate the resources that capitalism needs to survive. When the 'transaction' that is capital exists, the owner accumulates wealth and further invests it in other things. In this way capitalism "grows." And growth means open violence and accumulation. The world isn't resources, you have to make it into resources.
answered Aug 17, 2014 by flip (3,980 points)
I start to understant your concept of non-existent-society, but I refuse to accept it(not because I'am loggerhead, as a racional being the truth, found by the scientific method "must" be seeked), as I have explained before society is a solid concept, the relations and interactions with others are solid and have purposes and agreements which yes determine much of our behavior, as you say nor atomic nor absolute interdependence but there is a balance much sociability kills the individual but too much individualism limitates the individual (an example of that the pyramids of Giza never could have bieng built by one man, it is just an ilustration example is not that pyramids represent something).
cooperation is an example of society, its truth that everyone works for themselves but they need each other to reach a common goal. the same with all other societies common objectives bring us together as equal individuals.
being able to do something doesn't mean much, tpoth. your off-the-top-of-your-head example is telling, given that it comes from one of the most hierarchical societies in history.
plus, to argue value based on capacity seems like you're accepting a lot of what already exists. ie, there are some things that we can do better in groups, but by learning to operate in groups we don't develop skills that are more solitary (and vice versa). i'm not arguing that either is better than the other, i'm just saying that your argument is not compelling.
on the other hand amorfati, saying that society doesn't exist seems over the top. i don't have good language to talk about this, but groups of people exert pressures in a way that "society" might not be the best way to describe, but is at least *a* way.
and for both of you, i'm confused about how this got to be the topic of conversation. surely the idea of "equality" is the more contentious issue, especially as tpj seems to be insisting that it is automatic/assumed/inherent?
(but perhaps that takes us down a rockier road and i'm too sleepy to see it...)

edited for typos
you may have mistunderstood my example I absolutely reject hierarchy, want i meant to picture was that only an individual is limited to his only "force" an intellect and that is why individuals need to group (in societies) to reach larger and common goals (not controlled or directed by anyone hierarchically), what i mean is society is important for the development of individuals so they can fullfil other needs but I'm not saying either that it is mandatory; choosing to be part of a society is an act totally (or should be) voluntary, free associacion between people (again with commun goals), and obviously free disassociation. (I apologize for my English)
@tpothjuan : "as a racional being the truth, found by the scientific method "must" be seeked"

'Truth' is one of the most oft-used buggaboo words. It appeals to our emotions, but is so fuzzy in meaning as to be laughable. One simple test: Define truth. Truth = _________?

@tpothjuan: "society is a solid concept, the relations and interactions with others are solid and have purposes and agreements which yes determine much of our behavior,"

And this goes straight to our controversy. Above you stated that 'society' determines value and I responded unequivocally that there are those who may share the value of neither the work nor the final product of some given 'mercancy.' I then asked you whether or not these latter people are then part of your 'society.' And you've still not answered.

This is important because what you seem to be doing is supplying the age-old authoritarian formula that the community (the activity and relations of individuals) and its 'cause' is more important than the flesh and blood people who make it up. It seems to me that this only furthers tyranny on (at least) three levels: 1) a flat out majoritarian authority seeking a general consent by way of suppressing conflicting views (those who don't value the same things in the same manner); 2) a morality which seeks to internalize the values of the dominant group on a population through *guilt,* that is, the notion of debt, and 3) an ideology (such as your Giza example) where conflict is resolved through the annihilation of individual, perception, thought and action by way an absolute ideal (in this case as in most cases really, 'society.')

None of this is at all anarchistic in my view. All in all, it is the old story of a dominating class demanding consent by hook or by crook in the name of 'the common good' (AKA 'cooperation-with-us-and-our-class-values). It is a flat denial that real life relationships aren't just cooperative, but also include conflict, which is inevitable among those who develop their critical thought and strength of action. This underlies the difference between *identity* and *individuality* and, respectively, the difference between *society* and *socializing.* 'Society' isn't necessarily a social concept, but is most often an anti-social concept precisely because it is used to manufacture a general consent through coercion from without and within individuals. Here's another perspective from one of my favorite contemporary thinkers, Clement Rosset:

"The fact that any given sentiment can be valid for the person who feels it only if it involves willy-nilly all those who do not feel it is, as is well known, the eternal rule of fanaticism. It should be pointed out that fanaticism breeds on that eminently terroristic idea, presented over the past two centuries as eminently liberal and progressive, according to which all persons are like one another. Nothing could be more disturbing, in fact, nor more dangerous for those who are apparent beneficiaries than this avowal of universal similitude and fraternity. For it follows from the fact that so-and-so must be considered my fellow man that he must think what I think, consider good what I consider to be good, and if he objects, we will force him to open his eyes. This is why the fact of recognizing one's fellow man in someone else always constitutes less a favor than a constraint and a violent act. This is always why every manifestation of humanism verges on terrorism." (Joyful Cruelty 10-11)

*edited for clarity
"you may have mistunderstood my example I absolutely reject hierarchy,"

This may sound like semantic pedantry, but I don't think anyone 'absolutely' rejects hierarchy for the reason that 'absolute' is a, circular, self-contradictoryl (non-) concept invented to justify hierarchy and its binary, oppositional, thought. Rejecting hierarchy is a living process, as is beginning to perceive the world beyond quantities, particularly in quantities of 2.