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How is Anarco-Capitalism, NOT Anarchy?

–9 votes
I am an Ancap who favors private property believing the ruling class can only exist when property rights are centralized through one monopoly (the state).  It also holds that people own themselves, and their labor produced.  If I want to sign a contract to cooperate with organization X for the Z benefit I feel I will derive that out weighs the cost of not doing so, I am free to.  Anyone who says other wise is claiming to own me and force my autonomous decision making process.
asked Sep 25, 2014 by KeithKnight13 (40 points)
flip -

The employee/ employer argument you made does not look at  the vast majority who attempt to become employers and loose their initial investment while employees loose much less.

The only reason people search for employment is because they prefer to work under those conditions than conditions they can create for themselves to accumulate wealth.  

If we lived in Anarchy and my neighbor asked me to mow his lawn, can I only do so for free or could he financially compensate me?  Who are you to rule over our transaction that yes is voluntary because both parties can walk away.
haha i was half joking with the comment i made, but it still stands true that you need to use force in order to have private property, because people will not contractually agree to a few people getting really rich off slave labor, unless this anarcho capitalist has people with guns protecting his crap (the government) then people would just rob him.

i guess your overall assumption is that all human relationships boil down to business transactions.....is it that you think people are too greedy to be able to work things out between themselves in a situation specific manor? I guess then your in the same line of thought as Hobbes, which is the antithesis of anarchism
kk13, here are some other threads where capitalism is discussed on this site. perhaps you can respond to the points made in them so that those who want to respond to you can do so without repeating themselves?





there are many more, but those are a good start.
KK13: "If we lived in Anarchy and my neighbor asked me to mow his lawn... "

This is telling about your (and most ancap) thinking. What makes you think that within the conditions of anarchy there *would* be lawns? This isn't a nit-picky question, but a question which drives at the very notions of 'ownership,' and 'property,' to be sure, but also

1. the quantification of land

2. people as 'neighbors' (which has the misfortune of arising from roots meaning 'nearest [bird]cage' in the Germanic languages!)

3. an aesthetic sense of mimicking merry old England's green veneer everywhere (that is, through colonization and Empire.)

4. that 'free trade' (transaction) is conducted as the primary relation between 'rational' human-beings.

5. that the obsession with quantities of externals dominates all other concerns, fueled by the belief that it always has among peoples everywhere...

all which plays into another facet of the ancap mythos: the Hobbesian 'state of nature' before civilization. Ol' Rockwell, et al, spews this shit.


I could go on to refute him at nearly every point, particularly his hasty and idiotic conclusions (ex: 'distinctions between sex,age, ability = social stratification),very narrowly cherry-picked 'data,' as well as his presumption that critique of civilization is fueled by 'the Noble Savage.'  But, none the less, Rockwell's is probably the most read 'libertarian' site on the planet, and this Hobbesian myth still makes for skid-marks in the tighty-whities of the suburban 'anti-statists' who read him. But, alas, the vast amount of anthropology is against him...and against Hobbes. For instance, it's telling that 'stone age' is used as a pejorative in their economic worldview, yet Marshall Sahlins isn't even mentioned!

The point being that there was violence among peoples prior to, and even in h-g societies after it arose. But, there is little to no evidence or observation that it was *instituionalized* politically (repression, empire, social stratification) or economically (ie 'private property,' and 'work'), that is, violence has never been as systemic or widespread as in *civilized* societies. Ever.

As relevant at present ol' Bob Black broaches these points on a 'libertarian' critic of his 'Abolition of Work' here:


And one final point: You may wish, like Rockwell, to do more research when spouting nonsense like 'most people believed the world was flat.' The internet has abundant sources which say otherwise, right at your fingertips.

Edited for typo and addition of a relevant link.
> "Specifies which branch of the general ideology you favor"

Anarcho-capitalism is not a branch of general anarchist ideology, it's a separate thing that uses the same name for a variety of reasons, it did not develop from an existing anarchist school of thought, rather it developed from radical currents in C20th liberalism (particularly the Austrian School).  Murray Rothbard did reference Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker but deliberately cherry-picked their ideas - their ideas were originally based on the labor theory of value (which is integral to the reasoning they used to assert their ideas), but Rothbard being an Austrian School fanboy decided to ignore that.  Furthermore Tucker abandoned natural rights in favor of an egoistic conception of property, asserting that there are only two rights to property; the right of contract and the right of might.   He was also firmly anti-capitalist - "the labouring classes are deprived of their earnings by usury in its three forms, interest, rent and profit."

> "The only reason people search for employment is because they prefer to work under those conditions than conditions they can create for themselves to accumulate wealth."

Wow, I'm...uh...a bit flabergasted.  It's difficult to know what to say to something as blatently and utterly absurd as that.  Seriously, in what existant world does everyone have access to start up capital? It's hard to take anything you say seriously if you sincerely believe the above statement.

> "If we lived in Anarchy and my neighbor asked me to mow his lawn, can I only do so for free or could he financially compensate me?  Who are you to rule over our transaction that yes is voluntary because both parties can walk away."

I'm sick to the back teeth of this bullshit strawman argument*.  Firstly, have a brief think about this quote from 'The General Idea of Proudhon’s Revolution'**:

"Proudhon saw individual contracts, freely entered into between parties of roughly equal bargaining power, as the surest safeguard of liberty."

Proudhon was an anti-capitalist, as were Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, and every other market anarchist prior to Rothbard, yet they would have been fine with the contract you described, because what you described isn't capitalism, it's a transaction between roughly equal parties.  This is why your assertion that the employed are only employed because they want to be makes it hard to take you, and particularly your claim to be an anarchist seriously - you appear to so intent on apologising for capitalism (in the sense of apologetics) that you're willing to pretend that all transactions that can possibly occur in a capitalist system take place between parties with roughly equal power, which is so blatently false that to believe it you'd have choose to not use your critical faculties when looking at power relations in capitalism.

* Which originates from the Austrian School's derptastic inability to understand, much less engage with analysis that operates around anything other than their rationalised model of the individual.

** http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/robert-graham-the-general-idea-of-proudhon-s-revolution

2 Answers

+5 votes
While I can appreciate the ancap desire for a statelessness, I do not appreciate why they desire it. Most here at @101 may view capitalism as a system of power relations. I fully concur. But, as I've said elsewhere on this site, capitalism is a system of logic. 'Anarcho-' capitalism is simply a hard-nosed *perspective* which takes that logical system as reality itself, that is, reality 'freed' of anyone's perspective. 'Value-free' as old Mises used to claim for his 'praxeology.' It is reality.

But that's an out-and-out lie. The conceptual field of every logical system is provided by what is already considered to be 'worthy' and 'fitting,' that is, axiomatic, as the very origins of the term tells us. An axiom is an imperative, a command, an  "ought to," rather than a description of what "is." It's morality.

 It may come as no surprise that the word 'ought' and 'own' share the same roots. And this is significant, given the primacy of 'self-ownership' in the ancap axiomatic pantheon,  out of which the ancap field of play is constructed. And the game played there is usually deductive logic for that very reason. But, 'own(ing)' is ambiguous, as is 'self.'

Love him, hate him, or just don't care, Stirner understood this and used similar language ancaps use, but his 'self' or 'ego' (unique one) was  insubstantial, simply a linguistic end-point of which nothing else can really be said. Ancaps, following Rand and Rothbard (and addicted to the same logopiates), adhere to the contradictory nonsense called the 'Law of Identity' (scary...a law!) at the end of the day. A=A;You=you. It's self-evident! After all, you are typing this post! It never occurs to our quixotic rationalists, that logical argumentation ceases whenever flesh is brought in to 'prove' a logical argument.

But, the 'self-evidence' of 'self,' 'ownership' or 'self-ownership' is no argument. It tells us nothing about how I am my own property, since 'own' is, as stated above, a moral evaluation. I am not a willing participant in anyone's moral evaluation. And to say an 'ought' is 'self-evident' is speaking  ye olde tyme metaphysical lore . One cannot see (as 'evident' ) an imperative. Ever.

So, all in all, ancap logic which informs their relations with others, the earth, non-humans, and so on, begins as a command (imperative). It is hierarchical within and without. It depends on obedience to a logical system as it spins its horrid web of reification, quantification, dead categorizations. It is metaphysical, plain and simple, and reveres its own valuations of the real over the real. There is no process, flux, love of the uncertain, the unintelligible, the ephemeral, that is to say... living.

Edited for typos.
answered Sep 25, 2014 by AmorFati (8,720 points)
edited Sep 25, 2014 by AmorFati
–1 vote
To add a simpler, less philosophical dimension to Amor's answer:

Proudhon said: "Property is theft."

By controlling property that you don't directly need, you are stealing it from someone who might need it. It is also impossible to own private property outside of that property which you directly use, without a state to enforce your "ownership" of that property.

 If a person "owns" a means of production, they also have control over the product and over the labor. It doesn't matter if the worker thinks otherwise, because if he doesn't contribute to production, he doesn't earn wages and so he can't buy products, and so he doesn't live. As a result, anarcho-capitalism basically has a very high probability of becoming a dictatorship of the elite, kind of like America is becoming.

Ironically, once a state is formed to protect the concept of private property, then in reality, all ownership of property shifts to the state, which exercises authority over it. For example, in America everyone likes to think that they own their homes, but if they were to stop paying for the "priviledge" of using it in the form of taxes, their homes would be seized from them. So really, the idea of private property is only an illusory, transformative concept, serving as the step between the control of property directly by the public and the control of property directly by the state.
answered Sep 27, 2014 by Lantz (170 points)
edited Sep 27, 2014 by Lantz
I don't believe people are born with the legal obligation to feed, clothe, or house others.  I don't see you living your life as an act of violence against someone; even though you are using a computer which is not necessary for survival while people in Haiti starve, or you may have space in your living room I cannot morally sell my house then claim to be homeless then obligate you to share your home with me.  The state steals more property than it protects, so I do not support the monopoly on the geography of the U.S., as you said, try not paying your property taxes and see who owns your house.  Therefore states do not protect property rights of individuals as I favor, which is why I oppose the state.  The fact that people have to produce in order to consume is not a criticism of property, its a fact of nature.  Either someone else works to produce it and you forcibly take it which virtually enslaves them; or the producer may give it voluntarily through trade or charity. I favor a system that gives non property owners the right to acquire property in the means of production, not be subject to live in a life they were born into by no choice of their own.

"the producer may give it voluntarily through trade or charity"

It's telling that these are the only possible relationships you can conceive of.
My living my life and using my computer is an act of violence, as are the lives of any other people whose lives are built on the exploitation of others (the vast majority of Americans). Just because it's an inconvenient fact doesn't mean that we can ignore it. My computer was likely built by someone forced to work in poor conditions in order to scrape together a meager survival. I don't like that fact, and neither should most people. That's why I'm an anarchist, and I'm trying to change things.

If you don't have any compassion for other people, I have trouble seeing why you would want to be an anarchist.  The stereotype of anarchists as overly-individualistic self-serving jerks is false. It would be very, very difficult to create a stateless society based on those principles.

As for your example about obligating me to share my house with you, that is why I said that it is impossible to own private property outside of that property which you directly use. Even the most communal anarchist, I think, will accept the fact that a person has a right to control his/her living area and other property that he/she directly uses (for example, a car). However, if I owned a 50 room mansion and lived in it alone while everyone around me was on the streets, not only would I be obligated to share, but I would likely be the victim of a riot.

In fact, that is an almost-guaranteed outcome in an anarcho-capitalist society. If a person could somehow accumulate a vast amount of property without the help of the state, then that property would likely be taken from them, because they wouldn't have the defense of the state. It is impossible to have a capitalist system without a strong state because the inequality inherent to capitalism would not be tolerated by the deprived majority (the so-called "proletariat" as Marx called them).

Also, people do need to produce. However, the ownership of the means of production shifts the purpose of production from personal survival, innovation, progress, or whatever other reason you can think of (remember, there is no one controlling you or the means of production) to profit for the owner who, as I said, then controls both the product and the labor of the workers. In this way, capitalism actually hinders production and progress(when's the last time any US company produced anything that wasn't profitable?)

Capitalism also restricts choice, because people are forced to take whatever job they can get in order to survive (you think all those people working in factories and cubicles under American capitalism today want to be there?) If a person doesn't have to worry about fitting into an economic system propogated by the wealthy to benefit the wealthy, that person has much more freedom to do what he/she wants to do.

Because the ownership of production shifts power into the hands of the bosses, an anarcho-capitalist society, even if it doesn't have a "state," will quickly develop a ruling elite which will play the exact same role in the exact same way as an official state would, except without the pesky business of having to pretend to care about the people. The most likely outcome for an unrestrained anarcho-capitalist society that I could see would be a descent into a type of neo-feudalism, in which the "serfs" are allowed to keep their tiny sliver of property (which they could pretend they owned, but like property in the US today, it would be really be the ruling elite that owned it) in exchange for their labor. They would receive almost none of the product, as that would go to the benefit of the ruling elite. They would have little recourse out of this system, because the ruling elite will have developed a means of controlling them (most likely some kind of military) and to stop working would mean starvation.
RiceBoy:  i twitched at that quote too.  But let us not be too harsh, it wasn't that long ago that we were all trying to hash out what the hell 'charity' was and why we hated it.  Until he spins the chamber and contradicts - let us presume that he was using 'charity' in the conventional sense, and include our concepts of the Gift within that.

Lantz:  i like that comment.
One thing i've found with the an-caps is they rapidly accept the need for an agency of violence to protect their 'property' from the have-nots.  They just imagine it being a group of 'security' companies offering contracts for armed protection of your shit - just like SouthAfrica today; rather than the 'monopoly of violence' claimed by our Industrial states.
The only thing between the hungry and the fed, is a line of thugs.