Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.


–2 votes
You know, without markets; since if there were markets, money, and capital it wouldn't be anarchy. The problem of economic calculation and the massive coordination problem would need a solution. Otherwise, there would be no weapon production; and hence, no means to defend from aggression.

edited to add tags
by (380 points)
edited by
Seriously? Please take dot's suggestion and stop asking questions for which there are no answers.
that is not what i said, lawrence. i said questions and comments are fine.

if the problem with the question is that the underlying assumptions are off (according to us), then on a beginner's site it is up to us to point that out (or, if we're sick of it, then to ignore the question and let someone else who wants to, do it).
A better question would have been: 'How can production happen without markets, money, or capital?'
Right as usual dot. Maybe it was what I was hoping someone else would say so I wouldn't have to...
Formyinformation - I agree. Ask it. Or answer it. If you would like to.

3 Answers

+2 votes
No no, I've got a great answer for this one, actually!

Literally anyone.
by (8.7k points)
It is not that simple. It is incredible that massive groups of diverse iindividuals coordinate their efforts to produce items that we pay pennies to own. Less than 5 minutes at minimum wage pays for a pencil; whose production required the coordination of thousands of people. This coordination was achieved by market forces. Now, tell me what you would like to see replace this? Is there any reason for a person of average intelligence to believe this could happen without the incentives and information provided by markets and prices?
Fucking pencils and "market forces"? Really? Please, without invoking these stupid cliches from Libertarian talking points, do explain to us anti-capitalist fools just what those forces might be -- and isn't it the least bit interesting to you, the partisan of No Coercion, that the market is always conjoined with forces? And as you attempt to educate us poor unenlightened boobs, please remove advertising, public relations, the manufactured need to "keep up with the Joneses" from your dissertation.
Not a single argument.  Why don't you think of an answer? Any explanation at all. Calling my statements names and trying to be clever and condescending is not impressive. But it looks like thats all you have practiced and perfected.
If pencils upset you, we can use cell phones; or about a million other things. I can just imagine how angry Leonard Reed's essay must make you. Logical analysis is like water boarding to people like you.
The term "market forces" refers to the incentives that arise in a market economy and the information conveyed by prices. Specialization of labor and coordination of resources is necessary to the production process. The price system, the existence of a common medium of exchange and unit of account (money), and property rights in the fruits of your labor, including the right to accumulate capital, are all necessary market forces. Non of which involve coercion or force at all.
I might hypothesize that the reason nobody takes "voluntaryists" seriously is that you parade around capitalist economic theory with all the assumptions and implications of modern society, and then talk down to anybody who refuses to argue on those terms.

For one thing, maybe the weapons that defend an anarchist society would not necessarily be physical weapons. Or maybe they would be physical weapons acquired or stolen from the considerable stockpile that exists in the world today. Or maybe there could be a great coordination of people with access to metals, explosive chemicals, and the appropriate machinery. Who knows.

If listing the many ways that this problem could be resolved or figured out isn't enough for you, then you're probably looking for some kind of blueprint for a future society, and I'm not interested in providing that.

P.S. The assertion that the "right" to accumulate capital doesn't involve coercion or force is fucking laughable - not to mention the same implication for the specialization of labor!

Please leave.
I worked for an hour at your request. You paid me an agreed upon amount of resources.  I saved some. We did this many times, voluntarily.  I have accumulated enough resources to purchase equipment and go into business for myself. Accumulation of capital has occured voluntarily. There is no coercion.

As technology advances in market economies, weaponry will change. Fast forward a century from the great revolution, and all of the weapons will be outdated and ineffective.  

In addition, the society would need to coordinate labor and capital simply to produce the resources necessary to maintain and repair asets. To argue that we could just stop production and live off of the capital produced before us is an admission of having no workable theory.

I don't ask for a blueprint.  Even a couple of paragraphs explaining how peoples' incentives would lead them to act in a way that would produce goods in a wageless, money less, propertyless, society. And how they would know how much of what to produce with the limited resources available.
people acted for themselves and others before markets. people will act for themselves and each other after markets.
VT, it seems impossible to talk to you when you imply that that a) society is a given, b) society as it stands is how it will/should/must be, c) markets are what enables any kind of positive social interaction.

on the other hand, i'm not sure why the people who you piss off the most (apparently) are the ones who feel most compelled to continue responding to your posts.
but maybe i'm being short sighted, and a strong fierce rejection of your assumptions is really the most important thing here? it's possible.
Human beings, as they exist today, would not have the incentive to produce without markets. People will act for themselves and the people they care about. But, without markets they will not coordinate their action to produce the things that require coordination. Nobody is going to work in a steel mill without a mkt for steel, without wages. Nobody will choose to do most things required for production unless they can capture the benefits from doing it. If you think people will change entirely and a different way could work for Man2.0, then maybe. Juat saying, "it is true, it is possible", brings you into comparison with religiosity.
there are definitely things that would be different in the kind of anarchist society that many frequenters of this site seem to want.

how about you consider more of the ramifications of that simple
or, you know, look around on this site for other questions and comments and answers that people have given about this (or similar) topics?

but it's also true that there are many anarchists who are religious in their vision for an anarchist society (this is true for many people who want a different world, not just anarchist).
there are also, of course, the people who are so determined to be rational and rigorous, that they don't challenge *enough* of the status quo.
I have been looking around. And I will continue to look around. I am rational and will remain so. Your suggestions are reasonable.
I think a community of humans would find great incentive to produce weapons if it meant defending their lives, by any means they possibly could. Why in the world would you think they wouldn't, just because there's no market?

Please check this out, re:incentives...
I will check it out. I think we must be defining terms differently. I mean to say that without the incentive of pay for work, there would never be enough people willing to do certain tasks. For steel, we might need coal; which is difficult and dangerous to mine. So, unless I can be incentivized with higher wages, I will not mine the coal. It takes alot of people who have never met each other to coordinate their effort to produce things. The reason we all coordinate our efforts to produce things we need is because we are incentivized by peoples willingness to pay us. They are incentivized to pay us because they can sell the products to others. Through a decentralized bidding process we are able to tell how much of what is needed, when and where.

Of course people have the incentive to acquire weapons to defend themselves. But without a market they will not do their part to produce the weapon. I am talking about modern weaponry.  An individual could make a spear on his own. But even something as rudimentary as a sword requires coordination via a market or, tragically, from a centralized coercive authority.
I read section 3. Economy in the page that you hyperlinked.

These are good answers to some of the questions we had been going back and forth on. I particularly like the answer to "who will take out the trash". I think that there will likely be many cooperatives or communes in a free society that will function in a way very similar to the examples given.

I don't think that everyone would prefer to live in these cooperatives, but it is possible. I think that if you would prefer that everyone adopt this kind of life style and integrate themselves into these types of societies, you should encourage them to do so. I am not opposed to these solutions in any way and I think they could improve human happiness and meet the needs of the people who choose this life style.

Those who prefer using money and earning wages to obtain things that they need could continue to do so. If the cooperative found this distasteful, they could boycott these people and refuse to cooperate with them; that is their prerogative. I think that it is unlikely that many cooperatives would decide to be entirely self-sustaining and would likely interact through exchange with "outsiders who use money" as well as other similar cooperatives. Cooperatives could specialize in the production of certain goods that they have a mutual advantage to produce. They could trade with other cooperatives and outsiders to generate better living situations for their members.

The social norms that would develop in each cooperative would be voluntarily agreed upon and nobody would be coerced into anything. This would be an addition to the free market in goods and services and I would welcome people with this goal in mind in the world that I imagine; my anarchist society would be friendly to these groups. I would regard the resources under the control of the cooperative as commonly held property that belonged to the members of the cooperative; however, they could ignore my regard entirely and decide that nobody in the cooperative truly "owns" anything. As a condition of my cooperation with the members of the cooperative, they would have to agree not to use coercion or aggression against me; this includes taking my property from me without my permission. I would homestead or contract for certain things through voluntary, free association with other individuals and groups. I would make it clear that I will defend what I regard as my property with far greater force than the property is worth to me or the person who would try to remove it from my possession; in other words, I would mark and defend my territory. This behavior would likely manifest itself in the creation of agencies that would do this on my behalf; they would be proficient at defense and would facilitate mutual agreements between myself and others in the society. I would never initiate aggression against the members of your community. We could coexist and you could live this kind of lifestyle in the society that I imagine. Depending on how well your commune functions, I might even decide to join and deny myself private property. It is unlikely that I would choose this alternative, but I would be happy to have the option.

I also enjoyed the subsection titled, "What about people who don’t want to give up a consumerist lifestyle?". I agree with the assessment regarding the current state of things. This is similar to the discussion that I linked in my last comment @ I think that we have less disagreements than we think; almost entirely due to the failure to properly define the terms that we use (capitalism, wages, property, etc.)
Not in response to any individual point of yours in particular but rather to your entire system of logic, VoluntaryThinker, I'd like to recommend that you check out a recently-published book called "Demotivational Training", because it's a really comprehensive analysis of markets, exchange, work, employment, and the idea of the self-motivated and fully-invested employee.

If you're wondering why people react so negatively to what might seem like innocuous comments of yours, the explanation is likely there.
It is not my system of logic, it is just logic. If you would like to attribute the process to anyone, I guess you could pin it unto Aristotle. If you will not pick an individual point in my comment, I do not know what you are intending to point out.

I will take a look at the book you have recommended. It will take awhile to get to the top of my list, but I'll google it and read a review or two before I attempt to rank its value to me.

To clear things up (maybe): I do not like the "wage-slave" system we currently have to deal with. I know the origins of the current statist-capitalist model are rooted in disgusting violations of the Non-Aggression Principle. I know the history of European and American corporations and the economic hitmen that have used the monopoly power of the state to design a system that serves them by sacrificing the rest of us. The free market that I support is completely opposed to this system. You might argue that this vile social structure arose naturally out of what I call the free-market; and hence, would cycle back around even if we were able to achieve a stateless, peaceful, non-coercive society. You might be right, but I would have to disagree.

I don't know if all that bantering (or anything I have written here for that matter) made any sense to you. But, please don't mistake me for an apologist for corporations or the coercive system that you call capitalism. I believe I have made my views clear; but if I have not, or if I have been inconsistent, please point it out to me.
What I'm saying is that,
1: the "non-aggression principle" is not a useful measure of the goodness or desirability of a thing;
2: basing all interactions around the logic of markets and exchange is horrifying, and implying that this is "natural" or "necessary" is a baseless lie;
3: implying that there can be such a thing as "voluntary exploitation" is immediately absurd without needing any further explanation;
4: it's not a lack of consistency but rather the very nature of your worldview that I take issue with; even assuming a lack of contradictions or hypocrisies, I would still oppose it;
5: denying the existence of distinct logical frameworks and insisting that your worldview is an example of "pure logic" is the most heinous garbage that you could ever assert.

Here is the first chapter of the book, if you care to read it. I doubt you will.

Recommended for anyone who's interested in demolishing the logic of markets, though.
"Human beings, as they exist today, would not have the incentive to produce without markets."

First, your construct "human beings" in your narrow context is a fallacy. When have human beings not existed as they exist today? It seems to me that you are imputing a lot with this short phrase, yet it is nowhere spelled out explicitly in any of your meanderings. It appears to me that the assumptions behind your imputation/construct is that people are motivated primarily by commodity consumption. If you knew anything about actual human beings in actual history, you would know that for 99% of our existence as human beings, there were no markets and no state. If contemporary human beings are not biologically distinct from those 99%ers, then your coy phrase "as they exist today" is 100% about culture and politics. What are the distinctions you're assuming?

Further, if it's true that the majority of contemporary humanity have lives that are inextricably entwined with markets and the ideology of productivity, it's most certainly not voluntary. I would say that most people's incentive to produce something (usually in exchange for wages) has to do with not wanting to starve or live without shelter. That's not a voluntary trade-off -- it's naked coercion, something you allegedly find abhorrent.

One more thing. Seems like you're saying that without markets, human beings would be lazy. I don't have a problem with that. Do you?
1. That depends on your definition of good. To initiate violence against someone is a good thing. Now, try to universalize that statement. How about: To murder is good. Is it possible that such a statement is universalizable? Can everyone prefer that other people murder and that be the standard of what is "good". The answer is objectively no. Initiatory violence is bad. Bad is the opposite of good. Not initiating violence is good. There is some logic for you.
2. Even when you provide non monetary, non physical reward in appreciation for a job well done there is an active market; a market in praise or emotional recognition of some other sort. As such, when we thank and give our gratitude to someone who takes out the trash or clears shit out of our drain in the cooperative, marketless society, we are involved in a market. Value for value.
3. The pure meaning of exploitation is simply to use. I can voluntarily request that you exploit my body for an hour to paint a picture that you will give me 1 million dollars for. Then you could sell it for 2 million. Not an issue. No boundaries were violated. No threat, no force, no harm. I wantes your resources more than my hour and my painting. You wanted the painting more than your money. I win, you win.

The rest was just childish dribble, drabble anger flinging. However, I will take a look at your book. I love defending ny "world view". If I am wrong, I will only thank you graciously for pointing it out.
As they exist today is as they have existed through today. I was distinguishing between the mythical people that might exist in the future. I dont believe in these people. But apparently, in some people's perspective, people will go work in coal mines and steel forges to make modern weapons without an incentive. An incentive that distinguishes that action from leisure. I have no problems with laziness. But I will only take care of people I care about. If you want to be lazy and starve go ahead. Or get up and go get some food. Living takes action. It is not passive.
VT, you now seem to be being intentionally stupid. sorry.
of all the places on the internet to go and say that people are claiming that "future people will go to coal mines", it is phenomenal that you have found us.
as for your "universalizing" attempt to be logical. i think you need to start back with nietzsche. *nothing* is good all the time. absolutely nothing. so that chain of words by which you attempt to demonstrate logic is... remarkable.

EITHER GO READ OTHER THINGS ON THIS SITE, or just go away. you are wasting all of our time, including your own.
And Nietzsche had it right did he? Give me an example of when initiating violent action against a person who is not using coercion, aggression, threats, or force is good. Ex: Rape is always not good. So is murder. I had read some essays about AnSocs and decided that I would see for myself if they were truly as ridiculous as the essayists had claimed. I'm thinking the answer is yes. I have read other things here, a-lot actually. I've also taken your suggestions.  If I am prompted about the goodness of my theory, ethics will usually come up.

We can just say that good is what increases happiness. Or I could tip toe around using the word good. Universalizing preferences for or against certain behaviors is a good way to assess them.

If the stateless society is to develop modern military equipment we will need steel. We will need to mine many things to produce military equipment. So, if the equipment is to be produced, people will need to mine or develop machines to do it for them.

These kinds of statements and questions are nonsense: Nothing is good or bad. Do I exist? Is reality real? We can have things that require labor to produce without using labor. Someone will do the dirty jobs without compensation (emotional, economical, whatever-ical). AND YOU CALL ME STUPID?!

If nobody replies to me, comments or answers my questions, you will likely never hear from me again. You can all go back to your nihilistic circle jerk. Have fun patting each other on the back and pretending you are doing philosophy or discussing a coherent social theory.
All of the sudden, market just means 'exchange', and exploitation just means 'use'. This is silly.
You can all go back to your nihilistic circle jerk. Have fun patting each other on the back and pretending you are doing philosophy or discussing a coherent social theory.

exactly. you either learn to/accept our premises, in which case maybe MAYBE we could have a different conversation, or you insist that we accept your premises, which is not going to happen (we didn't search you out and attempt to start a conversation, although some of us did give it a decent shot).
you sort of tried the first (which is the only reason i expect anyone here is still trying to talk to you).

these conversations pretty much always end with the guest saying something along the lines of above: "you all are stupid because you don't accept my premises, which by the way are the only correct ones."
it's understandable, but i expect you don't feel any more satisfied in your self-righteousness than anyone here does. i think you gave it a valiant effort; but there has to be something more at stake than winning a fight with/convincing someone online who i don't know, for me to put real effort into explaining the differences, especially when you can't seem to be bothered to figure out who you're even talking to.
>> "you all are stupid because you don't accept my premises, which by the way are the only correct ones."

I'm pretty sure this is the source of most of my vitriol toward "anarcho"-capitalists; that they make these broad, universal statements about goodness and fairness and necessity (of markets, for example) that just plainly aren't universally true (if at all), yet they insist that they are the ONLY truth.

I don't know why I waste my time arguing with people like this.
Okay, okay. Dot - you are being fair to criticize my last comment for being "self-righteous". I may be entirely incorrect. It doesn't seem to me that you are correct. I don't think that I know everything and it is quite possible that some of things that I have written here on this site are wrong. I might be more wrong than right. I will look into the writings that you and a few others have encouraged me to read.

If I am wrong, I am okay with that. It is hard for anyone to see when they are wrong. Especially since we can seek out reinforcement for our biases online. That is why I have continued on with you and your members.

Insults aside, I appreciate all of the effort that you and some other members have put into this conversation. I don't think that you are idiots and I am sorry for anything rude or unnecessary that I have said in my previous comments. I'll leave them there for the record so that it doesn't look like the attacks are going just one way (from y'all to me).

I hope I didn't facilitate any permanent harm to Rice Boy or Lawrence; I could just imagine them on the verge of an aneurism when I read some of their comments. Dot and formyinformation were pretty fair tempered and patient. Thanks to all though. Peace out.
VT for what it's worth, while i kept my temper a bit better, i think that rice boy's responses were actually the ones in best faith (including his aggravation) and would be the most helpful to pointing you in a direction synchronous with this site.
so if you are tempted to revisit the threads you've been on, seriously considering his comments is probably your best bet.
–1 vote
Assuming that weapons would be needed (and they probably would in the early days, to defend against counter-revolutionaries and the like) then, like in most things, anarcho-syndicalism has the answer: they would be made by the workers, like they always have been.  But they wouldn't be wage slaves (or the more regular kind of slaves), they would instead be an active part of the enterprise, involved only if they freely choose to get involved and able to quit at any time they wish.  They would also have equal say in the running of the enterprise, through the syndicate that would run the factory and of which they would be a member.

It is hard to get too specific, most anarchists don't have a clearly-defined idea of what an anarchist society would be like.  Those decisions should be made at the time, by the people who are part of it.

Other anarchist philosophies have other answers to the problem (as is the case with a lot of potential problems) but there is no reason to think that the production or procurement of weapons would be impossible in an anarchist society, if it was felt that there was need for them.
by (290 points)
i hope that people appreciate anarchisteve participating on a site that is not especially friendly to his kind of @. i like having a variety of anarchists responding to questions!
and i hope that whatever disagreements happen are more through comments (and/or writing one's own answer) than voting (a fairly empty kind of feedback, after all)...
"But they wouldn't be wage slaves (or the more regular kind of slaves), they would instead be an active part of the enterprise, involved only if they freely choose to get involved and able to quit at any time they wish.  They would also have equal say in the running of the enterprise, through the syndicate that would run the factory and of which they would be a member."

When you talk of running an enterprise, it sounds like a worker-cooperative version of capitalism. I am confused by what you are trying to get across.
+2 votes
My grandfather was a mechanical engineer who worked for the British in World War II. His job was to go around to small private workshops and get them to make essential weapons components. At that time throughout Britain people were contributing to the war effort by growing their own food, collecting scrap metal, organizing neighborhood patrols, etc.. Similar things happened in all the heavily involved countries. In other words, when society REALLY needed weapons, they abandoned market mechanisms because market mechanisms by themselves didn't work well, and never have.

In fact, the ability for markets, as such, to coordinate activity is vastly exaggerated, and the claim that the cooperation of thousands of individually skilled workers can only be (or even is best) coordinated by market mechanisms is empirically false. The world economy is dominated
by corporations each employing tens of thousands of specialized workers. Do these corporations use market mechanisms internally to coordinate production? On the contrary, internally they use other forms and only externally do they lobby for the market model, forcing their competition to deal with its inadequacies. The idea that decentralized non-market mechanisms cannot produce large scale cooperation is similarly false. Witness, for example, the large scale irrigation systems maintained for centuries in east Africa. For the more modern inclinations, observe the availability of high quality free software (I've certainly never been paid for my Linux kernel code). The reality is that large scale endeavors have occurred using the whole range of human economic mechanisms, and that there is no reason, theoretical or empirical, to believe that market forces alone will lead to a desirable outcome, let alone the best one.

I read Leonard Read's "I...Pencil", and I recommend everyone here do likewise, since it's short and charming. Read expresses wonder at the range of people who unknowingly interact to produce everyday objects and persuasively claims that in fact no one knows how to make even a pencil, and concludes that it's foolhardy to impose rigid economic plans. You will note, however, that nothing he says actually supports the idea of an institutionalized "free" market (though he probably thinks they do). To the contrary, if even the production of a pencil involves subtle and unplannable human coordination, isn't it no less foolhardy to impose
a violent "free" market ideology than to impose, say, a Stalinist command
economy (which, by the way, also made pencils)?

I think that market mechanisms' main strength is that they work when other mechanisms fail. In particular they are well suited to exploiting alienated labor. To the extent our society needs alienated labor, we might want a market. But this is perhaps a necessary evil. The more often I read the question and comments, the more I begin to read it as:
"How, without a market or state, will we force people to do work they don't like, to build parts for machines they don't understand, to be used to kill people they don't know, for a cause they don't care about?". Exactly.
by (610 points)
edited by
"How, without a market or state, will we force people to do work they don't like, to build parts for machines they don't understand, to be used to kill people they don't know, for a cause they don't care about?"

1) Why should anybody be forced to do anything?  If nobody is willing to do a job then you should determine whether it is necessary.  If it isn't then it is fine that it isn't being done.  If it is necessary then you should examine why it isn't being done.  Is it too laborious?  Is it dangerous?  Is it tedious?  The answer to that should help to make the job more desirable (or less undesirable).  If still nobody is willing to it (and it is absolutely essential) then the society is in serious trouble anyway and defending it is pointless.

2) Poor education of the workers is sadly a necessity for capitalism.  Intelligent workers ask why they're giving most of their earnings to parasitic executives and shareholders.  This wouldn't be true in my vision of an anarchist society (though education takes time).

3) Surely it would be easier to kill someone you don't know than someone you do (except in circumstances where you know someone you'd happily kill)?  And while they may not know the people they would surely know the objectives of those people.

4) If they don't believe in the cause then they shouldn't be fighting for it.  Conscription doesn't really fit with the anarchist philosophy.
Oh my yes. I wasn't advocating those things, quite the opposite. I'm suggesting that perhaps the things free market capitalism and authoritarianism are good at aren't really things we want too much of.
That is sadly true, discipline and unquestioning obedience can be very useful in combat situations but are not our "strengths".  Just one more thing making the path to an anarchist future so difficult.