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June 7, 2008
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Anarcho-Capitalist Unite by depthsofspace Anarcho-Capitalist Unite by depthsofspace
Edited from a Forbes advertising.
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LOL. Appropriating one movement's imagery to subvert it to the interests of capital owners. I should be more angry about this.
If you're not a voluntarist you're not an anarchist, and capitalism is a system of voluntary association. If you don't like it that's fine, in a stateless society you're free to experiment with any sort of lifestyle you want, but don't suppose we're not anarchists just because we prefer to trade for a living.
Capitalism is not defined by trading. It is defined by the property system. In fact, the original socialist anarchism, mutualism, was a market system with a Proudhonian, not Lockean, property concept. This isn't a question of what people choose to do with their property. It's a question of how property is defined, and what gives someone the right to make use of and decisions about productive property. It's about the system of hierarchy, exploitation, and de facto ownership of the capitalist over the non-propertied class. The two definitions of property, one in use by anarchists and the other in use by autarchists/'anarcho'-capitalists, are incompatible.
There is no ownership of human beings in any definition of property I've encountered, though I'm not familiar with all too many. Even in the state capitalism of the modern world the wealthy do not own the lower classes except indirectly through the state. Never to my knowledge has slavery every existed anywhere except when subsidized by the state, so I don't really understand your fear of exploitation in a stateless market.I do think exploitation can and does happen in voluntary relationships, but the worst kind of course is the kind you can't escape from; i.e. physically violent exploitation. All the others can generally be avoided, and I think that alone tends to prevent them from becoming too widespread. The employer who pays too little will lose his help to the man who pays fairly. And anyone with some self-esteem won't allow themselves to be guilt-tripped or verbally abused into slavery; it's kind of their own lookout if they do.

I feel like this is simple and consitant; it has to at least be a valid way of looking at the issue, yet every other variety of anarchists under the sun seem to want to single us out for cruel mocking.
First off, slavery existed in the Icelandic commonwealth, which was an ancap system, so that's false right out of the gate.

You seem to misunderstand the basic critique of exploitation that has guided anarchists and their brethren from the beginning- that the exploitation is systemic. You can't look at it as a reductionist, as you are doing and as I once did back when I, first drawn to individualist anarchism, thought that 'anarcho'-capitalism was the way to go. You have to look at it contextually. The system as a whole is flawed. While no individual capitalist is necessarily to blame, the fact remains that there exists a class of people who own the means of production, and because they own the means of production, are entitled to the labor of those who work the means of production. There exists likewise a class of people who, lacking the means of production, must work the means of production, but do not get the full value of their labor. That value is the profit- the value that their labor has added to the product.

I don't mean to say that there is an intrinsic value, but rather that, in the context of the society, the forces of supply and demand (what is available and what the society needs) determines the value that labor adds to a product. If I labor to grow potatoes during a famine, obviously, the value I have added, in the context of the famine, is much greater than the value I have added in the context of, a time of great abundance. Whatever that value added, though, the source of the value is the same- labor. In the capitalist system, those who own stock in the means of production gain the profit, the value added by the labor performed, even when they do not contribute. This takes away the meaningful exercise of self-ownership from the people who, having no means of production, must work for others. The result of this system is the creation of a class hierarchy, the disenfranchisement of a great many people, and the root of social antagonism that, left unchecked by the monopoly of violence of the State/Capitalist alliance, would explode from anarchy to anomie.

Because anarchists are opposed to all hierarchy, whether it is by state, patriarchy, race, class, or any other distinction, we must oppose this system. The fact that one can, rarely, move up or down the hierarchy from the position of exploited to exploiter, or can choose a different master, does no more to erase the hierarchy than the State's offer of allowing us to choose our governors. The opposition to capitalism has been at the core of our ideology, including the ideology of individualist anarchists, since the movement began.

I am not arguing against markets. I support markets, and the right of people to choose whether to sell their products on a market or join some sort of federation of communes, syndicates, or gift economies. I am not arguing against the concept of use rights (property). I am arguing against the systemic stratification of society between workers and owners, and making the claim that it is more exploitative to continue with capitalism, than it would be to switch to a system whereby property rights to productive property such as land and factories is based on possession and use.
I don't see what's inherently wrong with hierarchy, so many of them are unavoidable. Professionals and laymen, parents and children, teachers and students, experienced and unexperienced; life to me seems pretty much full of hierarchy. The only hierarchies I've seen be actually destructive are involuntary, which capitalist hierarchies are not. Nobody is forced to work at gunpoint, let alone for anyone specific. Reality sort of forces you to work if you want a certain standard of living, and while you can call that systemically unfair you're still left without a good example of a non-capitalistic market producing the kind of wealth we're used to even in chaotic state capitalism. If you would like to cite an example I'd be curious, and perhaps also concerning what happened in Iceland.

Now, to say that the owners of the means of production make no contribution is not true. In a capitalist system they are the ones who make production possible by bringing together the desperate interests and people and knowledge needed to perform a task. They work to get investment, they work to fill positions. Even the people who simply provide the money that makes it possible cannot be said to have not contributed; they've made it possible! The reason they cough up to make it possible is for a return on their investment, and this incentive has proven to be a wonderful driver of economies; it's the reason almost anyone has work today. I'm all for alternative ways of doing things. I'd love to think that if in a stateless society the communists or syndicalist communities began to be more prosperous and happy I'd jump right on board, but at the moment you cannot deny the success of capitalism in making people in all classes vastly more wealthy.

Finally, mutualism is something I don't know much about; I think I've read one critique, but if it was accurate then I don't like it one bit. I don't think you can argue that any conception of property rights that isn't based on each individual's absolute responsibility for their actions is ethical or practical. From what I read, if a man rents out an apartment in mutualist system the tenant can decide to claim it as his own at any time, which would of course be theft if the landlord did not agree. If human beings are responsible for their actions then they are responsible for the effects of those actions including the produce of their labor. What constitutes that produce and what is to be compensated for is up to the parties involved to agree upon. Anything else seems truly unfair to me.
"I don't see what's inherently wrong about hierarchy"

Then you aren't an anarchist. Anarchism literally means, 'without hierarchy'. You can't support one person effectively owning another person, having the right to boss them around, and be an anarchist. That isn't how it works.

A non-capitalist market would be mutualism. It hasn't happened yet because we haven't had a successful anarchist revolution. If I were a reactionary (for example, an 'an'-cap), I would be bound by precedent. I am not.

Iceland was a Scandinavian nation. They kept slaves. It's not that hard to find out.

Actually, I CAN deny the success of capitalism in making people of all classes vastly more wealthy. That's why we have an underclass. Capitalism isn't making them vastly more wealthy, because they are dispossessed and unemployed. Often, you're poor even if you DO work. And, although everyone is contributing (though the workers are the ones doing all the actual labor), the ones who own and invest seem to be the ones reaping most of the benefits of everyone else's labor. Now, I never claimed the capitalist did nothing. I claimed that he exploited the workers, and that this exploitation was more exploitative than the results of mutualism. Your defense of capitalists reads like a chicago school textbook, with the same classist, asinine assumptions that the capitalist class is some sort of special club made up all the motivated, strappy workers who boldly invested and steered their business to success. The truth is, most of the wealthiest people are the children of wealthy people, born into ownership. Many contribute literally nothing, not even their 'executive leadership' (actually, most companies hire someone else to do this, so quite a few capitalists contribute literally nothing). You need to pull the wool from your eyes and look at the real world.

As for mutualism, it is only theft under your view of property. Under the view of property used by mutualists and all other types of anarchist, your view of property is systemic theft of a worse degree, so we'd much prefer our property system. And, since our property systems can't coexist, and since your property system entails hierarchy, we as anarchists condemn your property system.
Anarchism isn't about hierarchy. It's about the abolition of government- a powerful social order can still exist.
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"Then you aren't an anarchist. Anarchism literally means, 'without hierarchy'. You can't support one person effectively owning another person, having the right to boss them around, and be an anarchist. That isn't how it works."

Anarchy means 'without rulers' by definition. I don't give a piss about the semantics. You're an idiot if you think hierarchy means human ownership by default. You can't have a world without authority. There will always be people who know more or who have more than others, and that's all it takes to constitute a hierarchy. A hierarchy exists between my doctor and me, and there's nothing evil about that relationship. Hierarchy is a part of life and will never go away. For the sake of your integrity I hope you don't advocate the use of violence, because that creates the most lopsided hierarchy imaginable, the guy with the gun and the guy without.

"Iceland was a Scandinavian nation. They kept slaves. It's not that hard to find out."

And yet you can't tell me a think about what happened there concerning unsubsidized slavery. Now I define slavery has literally forced labor. If you think you're enslaved when there's no gun or club to actually make you do the work without pay, then you're a pussy. By my definition humans make terrible slaves, unless of course they believe they're free; that's what governments are for. You cannot site a notable example of private slavery because it doesn't happen; it isn't profitable.

Your rhetoric is anachronistic. I wonder if it's ever occurred to you that the state, with all it's twisted, micromanaging, money-grubbing evil might be a huge player in economic affairs, manipulating and distorting market forces. The state's ends are, of course, the ends of the rich people who always control the state. Of there's an underclass. They created it through the state, through welfare and public schooling. Of course the rich are people too, people as corruptible as us all, but they're powerless to do the kind of evil things they do without the state to make us pay for it. And even so, this half-assed attempt at capitalism has lifted billions of people out of poverty. You deny this because you are dishonest. Your insistence that contributing money is contributing nothing is childishly simpleminded.
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