Episode Eleven – Anarcho-Capitalism
This is a funny topic. As a post-left anarchist I find the topic of communism vs. capitalism to be among the stupidest of false dichotomies. Obviously I understand the critiques of capitalism and communism but they are not the same. We are under no particular fear of any version of communism happening around us. Even Socialism both does and does not exist in equal measure. But Capitalism is all around us. Today I’ll define anarchism as no gods, no masters (masters meaning capitalism or bosses and the state). The idea of anarchism having a non-hostile relationship to capitalism seems absurd.
But those who argue such a position do have a meaningful point. If all of a sudden the world changed and we lived in a world without coercion who would stop people who liked markets from doing market things? On the other hand it is hard to imagine a world, absent coercion, where we wouldn’t have the meaningful option to walk away from these markets. This is an argument used today usually to pretend that we currently have the ability or capacity to walk away from market relationships. I’d argue that the way we are tangled in a web of social relationships means we do not have the capacity to procure food, shelter, or other maslow shit without market relationships… YMMV
Of course most of the time when anarchists discuss anarcho-capitalism it is from a fixed position of being against it. but today I’d love to discuss the deeper points of the anarcho-capitalist position. I assume we’ll mostly agree that those first principles are wildly different from most anarchist, whether leftist or post, communist or not, ones.
So, using wikipedia as a baseline, the anarcho-capitalist advocates the elimination of centralized state dictum in favor of self-ownership, private property, and free markets. They further argue that society tends to contractually self-regulate and civilize through the spontaneous and organic discipline of the free market.
Here is where I part ways with the ancaps and market anarchists. I do not favor a society that contains thousands or millions of people and consider all social engineering with that assumption in mind to be… avoided. I wouldn’t mind having a neighbor who constantly tried to sell me things. But I wouldn’t want to live with them. I guess the first question I have about anarcho-capitalism is, how it will contain a society. If it uses persuasion and the techniques of our sales and marketing world, I won’t mind–I consider myself generally immune–but I’m not sure that maps to what anyone would consider a better world. If it is more a bazaar not a cathedral (ie one to one vs institutionalized) then who would actually be against it? Not I and not most non-idealogical anarchists. Carry on!
This week we will try to discuss anarcho-capitalism. While we agree that ancaps are not anarchists in the sense that we use the word we don’t think that means they’re entirely without consideration. Why do people who argue for the non-aggression principle want to associate with the rabble who are most definitely aggressive? “private property anarchism” versus an anarchism of the abolition of property. But most importantly for our conversation is that this phenomenon mostly seems to exist in the US alone. What is it in US history and intellectual history that makes this obsession with property such a flash point? What is it about rights and principles that attracts or is this just another meme fight for the internet?