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–7 votes
I didn't see a clear answer to the initial question. We are in an anarchist society, and I have a lawn mower, a truck, and some lawn tools. I would like to hire you as my employee to mow people's lawns. The customers will pay me, and I will pay you.  Every party to these transactions is satisfied with them.  But anarchist society cannot tolerate this, because you and I are in a capitalist-proletariat relationship. I own the means of production, and you work them and sell me your labor. Capitalism has broken out!  How will you suppress it? If you use organized violence or threats on behalf of the community, you are a state and there is no anarchy.
"If you use organized violence or threats ... you are a state and there is no anarchy."

Also, I know desire is socially constructed and sometimes arbitrary and all that, but I don't know why anyone would rather have fewer things as opposed to having more things, i.e. why anyone would ever willingly become someone's subordinate employee rather than sharing things in common with others.
Also-also, a single temporary agreement between individuals (no matter how bizarre, unnecessary, or maybe even impossible in a hypothetical anarchist society) does not equate to a capitalist social order.

Basically there are a lot of assumptions here that need to be dealt with, and in the process of dealing with them, your question would probably be answered for you...

Also-also, a single temporary agreement between individuals (no matter how bizarre, unnecessary, or maybe even impossible in a hypothetical anarchist society) does not equate to a capitalist social order.

this is the main point.

(i started to actually answer the question, but i got bored. too bored to even find the other threads on this site where this question has been addressed.


boredom seems to be, after all, a mode of survival brought to us by capitalism.
A retort in two parts.

"Capitalist acts..."  - we'll leave that one 'til i pretend to give a shit.

Lawns?  That most hated, useless, fucking obscene artifact of american imperialism;  the pre-eminent badge of the petit-bourgeusis (sp??), and you choose that as the foundation upon which to bear your arguments?
Unless you have a couple of dairy sheep in your front yard, the 'lawn' serves no biological purpose - indeed the entire fucking purpose of the lawn is to declare that you can waste the resources that grassland should be providing.
Now, that said, there is only one way an anarchist society would require a lawn care service - if me, and mine, everyone of our kith - were dead and buried and rotted away.

"The customers will pay me, and I will pay you.  Every party to these transactions is satisfied with them."
Wow.  Whole lotta presumptions goin' on around there.
a) Anarchist society.  
ergo - everyone's food, shelter, clothing, and other material needs are provided by some aspect of the gift economy.
Therefore, _No_One_, (!!!) could be _compelled_ to do anything they didn't want to do, for money (which is now totally useless, even as asswipes) or for otherwise.  If you want to found the Manchester Free Lawn Mowing Society, then have at it... ; but i fear your client list and you labor list will both be thin as poor house gruel.

b) ergo - money is useless.  (if i have to explain this, i may as well learn took.)

c) non-sequitor -- if you get your ass kicked (in your imaginary future society), it'll not be because of any ideological disagreement;  just that your neighbors can see you for the asshole you are.
[* If admin thinks that crosses some line, they are welcome to delete it.  For myself, i'll wear it.]
I'm disappointed that no one has give a direct response to my comments. Some people even made it about lawns. The question is simple. How do you suppress free exchange where it means that some people will be employers and capitalists and others will be laborers who work for capitalists? Saying no one will voluntarily do so is just as silly as making the question be about whether people would have lawns.  And yes, if you use organized violence on behalf of the community, you are a state whether you call yourself that or not.
in my condition of anarchy, i don't use money. no hiring, no selling of labor, no payers, no payees, etc.

if you wanted to start your own printing press or computer system to create money and then attempt to convince people to use it, i wouldn't try to stop you. but you sure won't find me using it or engaging with you by use of it.

cl93: yes, your question is fact, it's overly simplistic. it's a de-contextualized thought experiment attemting (vainly) to render a complex world into simple quantifiable units of account. a typical bullshit ancap tactic. i made it very clear: lawns symbolize a worldview, a very anti-anarchic worldview. it ignores the entire violent process of capitalism wherein lawns have become aesthetically appealing. capitalism can never be anarchy, not even if pope rothbard and cardinal rockwell believe and tell us otherwise.

such 'exchanges' are conditional upon how the choices being made have come to be in the first place. your question, and your comment here, is  an attempt to overlook the very forces (the state, indoctrination to western ways of thought, colonialism, genocide, slavery, enclosure, witch-hunts, etc) in which such 'exchanges' have become possible. it's disingenuous at best.

I've answered all this before (not with any presumption that these provide The Answer but simply as my answer[s]):

pro-caps can really bring out my inner-grumpy-old-man tired of repeating himself. :-)

edited for extra link and clarity

I'm disappointed that no one has give a direct response to my comments. Some people even made it about lawns. 

people have indeed answered you. rice boy, amor fati, and clodbuster all answered you before you posted the above. your inability to accept or understand what they are saying about your question/assumptions is why it is hard to take seriously conversations on this site that are begun by an-caps. and people are talking about lawns because it's funny that you chose something so symbolically and actually heinous to many of us.

(also, while RB did not explain their post about how violent defense of community is not a state, you just repeating that it is is really not useful.)

Thanks. Yeah, I got pretty much the quality of answers I expected.

Thanks. Yeah, I got pretty much the quality of answers I expected

and that 'quality' was...?

I feel like this is a really bad question, and it's kind of telling that the hypothetical is posed so that the person asking the question is the owner and employer...

Oh, I might have misunderstood the question - if you meant literally how would I stop this from taking place, I'd say probably a gun or a big hammer.

not a very cunning linguist, if you ask me.

[sorry, i couldn't resist]
guns-n-hammers-and-nails-oh-my... no, RB, those pro-caps will tell you your view always entails violence to maintain if cap'ism has ever done otherwise.
f@, yep, and we must remember:  'you are what you eat' and i think cl93 is exactly what they are eating, since they won't engage the assault on their presups.
Counter-question: let's say I'm some random person, and I want to grow food in order to feed myself, but some other random person claims to "own" all of the fertile land around me and says that I can't grow my food there - but I can grow food for him, and then he'll give me money to buy food (from him, probably).

How would you prevent me from using the land that he stole (not just from me, but from everybody)? Will there be guns involved?
This is the kind of engagement I was hoping for. Thanks.  See John Locke, Second Treatise of Government.  Any acquisition of property must leave enough and as good left for others.  I can't claim property rights in something that prevents you from making a living for yourself.
interesting, from what you've written, it seems that actual engagement is the last thing you want.

you probably mean to be on the site
"Any acquisition of property must leave enough and as good left for others" would mean, for me, that there can't be any acquisition of property - assuming I even wanted to abide by this concept in the first place. Any property ownership would inherently restrict my ability to live.

And who gets to decide what "enough" is? Why would property ownership ever be preferable to holding things in common? Why should we care what Locke has to say about anything? Why bother responding to this one comment and not the scores of others?
I get that you don't like lawns and yard tools. I still haven't seen a response to my question.
Thanks though. It's been fun. Sort of.

I still haven't seen a response to my question.


No...none at all.

3 Answers

+7 votes

As to being in an 'anarchist society,' I'm uncertain as to what you mean, exactly.

I can tell you this, as anarchist who desires a deepening sense and expression of anarchy, I have no use for your tools which aid in creating and maintaining such a worldview as believing lawns and lawn-tools, are in the least bit necessary or desirable.

Since you wish to begin your thought-experiment entailing a budding Ancapistan within an actual anarchist milieu, I'd probably answer that If you try to fence me in by encircling me with your 'private properties', oh capitalist prick-tater, I do believe I'd fight you, rip-down your fences, and if I couldn't do it myself, I'd become affiliated with others to kick your ass away from me and all I love, given the poisons capitalism has offered in so many forms: slavery, enclosure, ecocide, genocide, colonialism; all grounded in a pathetic worldview where all relations become reified "things' to be bought, sold, destroyed, as long as it all adds up nicely to those who steal the most.

Which brings me to:

It's not so much that anarchists 'cannot tolerate' capitalist (anti-)social relations, as much as capitalist relations are neither social, nor do they even come close to hinting of 'anarchy.'

by (7.5k points)
+3 votes
A person under threat of hunger or displacement cannot consent to being exploited economically, just like a person under threat of violence cannot consent to being exploited sexually.  The latter is rape.  The former is slavery.  Many people recoil from this simple, accurate comparison because they don't want to think of themselves as slaves.  Or slavers.

So, the apparent conundrum is an error in your premise.  The employee cannot consent to their own exploitation, because economic coercion precludes consent.  The employee's "satisfaction" at temporary relief from coercive economic pressure is akin to a rape victim's relief when the attacker leaves.
by (480 points)
edited by
Visceral.  Succint.  Excellent.
i initially upvoted this answer for the same reasons, cb, but something stuck in my craw and i'm still trying to figure out what.

i think that it's the word "exploit" when used for rape. i don't think rape is about exploitation (or at least not most of the time). and putting the two concepts together is loaded and conceptually dangerous, i think.

i appreciate the point that is being made, and i think i agree with it, but i still have that creepy feeling on the back of my neck.
and on an entirely unrelated note, the original question obviously has a different definition of consent, so this whole answer wouldn't make sense to the OQ.

for it to make sense, there would have to be (more) agreement about the definition of capitalism, which neither side of this conversation is likely willing to shift on.
We may have different definitions of exploitation, too.

To me, when a person uses a differential in power for their own purposes, to the detriment of someone else, that is an exploitative act.  That definition puts a cop angling for promotion through BS arrests, a rapist gratifying their desire for power & control, a CEO using imminent domain to destroy homes, and a slaver coercing labor from the economically oppressed, all in the same general category of "exploiters."

How do you use that word?

Edit: I don't mean to imply moral equivalence between all those acts. They are all bad, but differently bad.
let's do this!


(also, i want to think about it more.)
[random thoughts:]


"gratifying their desire for power & control"

I think that does, at the core, apply to every Thing we hate - sexist structures, capitalist structures, police state structures, monoculture, and on and on...
(Though there is always an aspect of fear in the agent, goading on that gratification.)



Yes, any mention of 'rape' definitely loads the conversation, but perhaps we are overly scant with our priming powder?  I freely admit my near-ignorance on the subject, (and am woefully trying to balance the experience of the individual, with the patterns aggregated over the broadscale of our societies), but i read your comments as meaning harm of one individual against another individual (personal or impersonal).

Yet systemic sexual exploitation sleets by us everyday - u.n. 'peacekeepers' accused of exploiting children for candy and favors (the latest in a long line of the same);  women in impoverished african towns trading the fishermen - sex for fish, because they have no other way to feed their children;  the near-endless litany of abuses from the orphanages and residential schools, run by both church and state, in nation after nation;  the coerced sex trade around us this very day - how can you consent to anything, with an empty belly and a roving addiction and violence at every turn?
(Blindspot??  i know it is for me, a common weakness?)
rape is used for too wide a variety of types of interactions. the idea that every coerced sex act should have the same word is (among other less toxic things) emotional blackmail, demogoguery, and politically simplistic.

not saying that k.lin is doing anything bad (or maybe, not intentionally bad, or avoidably bad... whatever, k.lin's point is fine), just that our language options are fucked up, and the best i can do at the moment is point that out.

(maybe we need a question about rape? ugh :( )

i think i over-generalised this.  k.lin and yourself both were speaking in the specific to start, it was me that dragged it into the general debris.


Maybe best to let it lie for now; but this keeps coming up in my mind - the interwoven complexities of individual acts of violence, the individual reactions to that violence, the effect of the social pressure to react with a prescribed level of outrage to some affront to social norms (without regards to the health or mind of the individuals involved.)

So much deadwood in that thornbush, needing to be cut out slowly and gently, before we can begin to make our way through...

But i fear that if we don't address the issue, both in broadscale and in detail, that it will remain a pressure point that can be used at will to manipulate many of us.  Someday soon, but not today.
+2 votes

ok, cl93, here you go:

as long as consenting adults are acting in ways that do not impact ANYONE that has not consented to those acts, i'd have no need or desire to stop them.

acts of capitalism DO impact others that have NOT consented to those acts, pretty much by definition. so, like anything else in this anarchist's world, those involved would be dealt with like anyone else acting in ways that have undesirable impact on my life. anything from a friendly discussion to violent death (of one or the other of us), depending on the specific context.

[made comment an answer, using super secret, ultra high tech hacking techniques along with tor. thanks dot! (for having a functioning brain when mine was on break.) ]

by (13.4k points)
thank you for not responding to cl93, once again. :-)
FA, you're awesome. i helped with ultra high tech hacking techniques!