The Impossibility of Anarcho-Capitalism

jOzwRsR

We have all seen them. Those experts in co-opting terms. It was not so long ago that “libertarian” referred specifically to libertarian socialists and everybody familiar with the term knew it. And now there is “anarcho”-capitalism. Not a new development, and pretty generally a very fringe one. But, all the same, a dangerous one. Why? Because it is, very simply put, not anarchism. It is antithetical to it. It can not be anarchism. In respect for our true anarchist comrades we should do everything we can to oppose that label. To allow it to go unopposed is to help perpetuate the common misrepresentations and misunderstandings anarchism is already so prone to.

So, on what grounds do we oppose that label? For the fact that, as I said, anarcho-capitalism can not be anarchist. In arguing that, I will, as a Marxist, argue from a Marxist standpoint.

“Government” and “state” are taken, in a Marxist sense, to be tools of class rule. They exist to protect property relations under capitalism, which is why they wither away in the progression to communism, where these property rights are actively done away with. Statelessness is not absence of authority, it’s absence of class oppression and property rights, as classes are done away with and all the things that go with that.

Capitalism as an economic system also necessarily creates a class system. It can not be capitalism otherwise; the class divide is essential to its operation. You have your owners and your workers. Your bourgeoisie and your proletariat. In talking of capitalism as it relates to the state, then, you apply that knowledge to the Marxist analysis of state which, as I said above, is an expression of class rule. The ruling class in capitalist society is consequently the wealthy class. Owners are rulers.

So when anarcho-capitalists say we just need to “get rid of the state” but maintain capitalism, I feel perfectly justified in laughing at them. If it’s clear that a state is nothing but an expression of class rule, and if it’s clear that capitalism necessitates class divide, it’s clear that the state does not just magically disappear and that for as long as you have capitalism, you have a state.

There you have it, in simplest form. Anarcho-capitalism is impossible because stateless capitalism is impossible; because capitalism necessitates class divide and class divide is what creates the state.

But let’s approach this from a different way. After all, anarcho-capitalists don’t share the Marxist perception of the state as a tool of class rule, do they? On the other hand, another of the common anarcho-capitalist lines is “voluntaryism”. Happily enough, we can just as easily prove anarcho-capitalism as impossible from that standpoint as well.

Voluntaryism holds that all forms of human association should be voluntary. To an-caps, this refers pretty much to voluntaryism in the economic and social realms; they stress the importance of voluntary association in labour and in entering into social relations, like those between the owners and the workers, between different classes. So how can this be turned against them and prove anarcho-capitalism impossible?

Let’s take the example of wages, of a lack of policy regarding wages: an-caps say that without a state, there is no body to regulate minimum wage. Thus there is no technical or official (state imposed) limit on how low the capitalists can set wages. They say that that doesn’t matter, however, because the workers applying for a job are doing so voluntarily, and if they don’t like the sound of the working conditions they’ll be subjected to, they can voluntarily leave and go find another employer! Therein is the balance of reasonable wages maintained. Simple.

I think not.

Oh, certainly, when presented with a better job, for instance, one that pays better, the workers will take it. But very often these an-caps act like that is the magic solution to everything, like it’s that simple and there’s no limit on how many times it can work. That’s very clearly not the case; if a bunch of workers are being exploited and a new opening with better payment is available, they’ll all rush to it, but the new employer only has so much money and the new opening only so many spots, so those that don’t get the job get stuck working the same old exploitative job they have been working, except now the exploiting owner can even further exploit because he knows no other opportunities are open. But then — look — another opens! And it’s the same rush, everybody tries to get a job, but soon, it’s full again, and the employer can continually exploit and exploit and the workers can’t do anything about it, and there’s only so many “better” opportunities that will open up. And once other employers realize how profitable this tactic is, it’s not going to subside. It’s going to get more and more exploitative.

In that respect, I would have this to remark on: does that not violate the very voluntaryist principles an-caps hold so dear? The workers are forced into the very same wage slavery relationship they are forced into under regular capitalism, except now exponentially worse! Indeed, it degenerates entirely into a society of wage slaves as the only subset of the working class in total. When every owner realizes that they are free to exploit unfettered and free from the yoke of a restrictive state, you can be certain that they will. No worker will be safe. No work will be voluntary.

As the saying goes, you’ll be free to choose who you’re exploited by, not free to choose not to be exploited.

“Ah, but wait!” The an-caps say, “The workers are free to rebel and overthrow the exploitative capitalists!”

Able, yes. Likely at all? Probably not. Likely to succeed? Most certainly not.

What, would you suggest that the whole working class rise up and overthrow the exploiters after the exploitation has taken root? That the starving Masses, barely able to afford their own food and support themselves, let alone a family — a throwback to the old days of capitalism as Marx remembers it — will find the time to organize and, moreover, the means to revolt and successfully overthrow the rulers? Further, is it not likely that, even provided somehow a revolt could begin at all, the capitalists will be waiting with their own private army?

Yes, that’s another thing. Capitalists have historically prevented their own demise at the hands of angry workers by maintaining a private standing army. Remember the Homestead Strike of 1892? The Pinkertons served pretty exclusively as the goons of capitalists in sabotaging unions, intimidating workers and preventing strikes. There is every reason to believe that the same would occur under anarcho-capitalism. No, I’m sorry, but it isn’t as simple as “But they’re free to leave if they don’t like the working conditions!”

All of this goes to show how ridiculous the notion of voluntaryism spouted by an-caps really is. You can not have voluntaryism in wage slavery and you can not have voluntaryism in any attempts at ending exploiting owners being crushed by goon squads. Voluntaryism as an-caps see it can not exist under the conditions which they call for.

So, we’ve established that anarcho-capitalism is impossible in two ways: that it is necessarily not anarchist and that the voluntaryism espoused by an-caps can not exist. I’m certain there are other ways which I haven’t gone into here, but I think these suffice for the purposes of this article; determining that anarcho-capitalism is a pure contradiction in terms. Now all that needs to be done is for an-caps to understand that.

About the Author

Bazyli Kronstadt
I write some things. I'm most interested in the Middle East, specifically the Kurds and Rojava.

11 Comments on "The Impossibility of Anarcho-Capitalism"

  1. Excellent article and glad to see new stuff posted

    although I’m wondering if bunkermag will be able to continue with the divide between 8chan and Bunker

  2. I don’t understand completely your argument against “stateless capitalism”. They want a world where private firms replace the functions that government as a monopoly of power (state) currently does: i.e. protect property rights, police, courts, etc. Without that monopoly of power — can you even call that a state? I guess all the companies could form an oligopoly or a monopoly, effectively making another state, but that’s not the argument you’re making. Class distinctions are a necessary condition for the creation of the state. But if people actively oppose the state, but choose to retain class distinctions, like an-caps do — how would that necessarily lead to the creation of a state?

    The argument that an-caps like to use that people can just “find another job” is lazy and usually dishonest. They don’t actually think people can be exploited since all transactions are mutually beneficial and “both sides profit”. It’s a lame cop out. It’s my experience that their understanding of exploitation is “someone doesn’t like their job or how much they’re paid” rather than surplus value, appropriation from the collective force, etc. Because if it was otherwise, they’d realize why finding another job under capitalism wouldn’t solve the issue.

    • Bazyli Kronstadt | January 8, 2016 at 9:26 pm | Reply

      Thanks for the response!

      >They want a world where private firms replace the functions that government as a monopoly of power (state) currently does: i.e. protect property rights, police, courts, etc. Without that monopoly of power — can you even call that a state?

      There is just as much of a monopoly of power, though, because even under regular capitalism the wealthy class form the state and have the power to appoint government. Anarcho-capitalism may seek to do away with government, but they fail to recognize that it is the capitalist class collectively that makes government in the first place. A state remains under anarcho-capitalism because there is no essential change between the capitalists of modern society and the capitalists of their idealized society. Capitalists they remain, so state remains with them.

      >But if people actively oppose the state, but choose to retain class distinctions, like an-caps do — how would that necessarily lead to the creation of a state?

      See the above response, because I think it applies here as well. People saying they oppose the state does not mean they understand the nature of the state, which is an expression of class rule. Hence why if class distinctions are retained the state remains fundamentally unchanged. Only the specific governments, which the state appoints anyway, change.

  3. you can be sure that whenever anyone argues that someone doesn’t have the right to use a certain world that their views will be vacuous and ill-considered because they have to focus on semantics rather than substance

    • Bazyli Kronstadt | January 10, 2016 at 11:16 am | Reply

      I said nothing about your “rights”. I said that it doesn’t work, realistically and in practical, physical life; what is that but substance? No semantics here, unless you want to call my calling you out for not really being anarchists semantics, but then you’re dodging around the whole fact that it’s not anarchistic and that devalues a big part of anarcho-capitalism right there; the notion that there is no state and everybody is free to do as they like unfettered by one. Which doesn’t really make you look good. So that distinction is pretty important.

      No, it’s easy to call out any argument you disagree with as pointless semantics just because you don’t like what it has to do. It doesn’t mean it is.

  4. Man, that is one huge bullshit. You define your own version of word anarchy, when literal, and common meaning is way different, common is basically chaos, thanks to communist anarchists (you ruined the term for everybody).

    I really expected real arguments not just “this can’t work because I can imagine how it will not work on an island separated from the world”, oh and there is that notion that people are so stupid that they literally can not do anything that will make them more money than exploitative work, seriously you just can not stop people from doing work on their own, not to mention that it is impossible to get everyone to agree that every business owner will pay just as little as everyone else, even if it is minimal there is always someone who values more efficient and reliable employee, and they will pay to not waste his resources on things like accidental damage to means of production, cost of training, lose of efficiency, you can go on and on about reasons to pay at least a little more then the rest for the best avaliable. It doesn’t pay to exploit workers, they are frustrated, they steal, they create schemes to get another income for all involved in stealing. I just thought of best example of exploitation i’ve ever heard, and how people dealt with it, it is a story of communist Poland, where money was worthless, so people just did everything they could to have a decent life, that and they stole everything they could trade between themselves, poles just created their own little gray market for purpose of avoiding getting exploited, and get more from the jobs than worthless pay. of course it was “possible” to live of the wage, but that would take more time and effort than avoiding that or letting someone else get somthing for you, and you get them something you could get more easliy, just perfect model of what people would do. And that was communist, poeple just couldn’t stand it, lack of economic freedom was one of reasons of why USSR fallen, you can’t make everyone get equal resources, and forbid them work for their own selfish reasons on their own, and then get people who will work for him on his means of prouction that he created out of his selfishness for their share of whatever they produce, if you do, you have to opress that man, and that means that you own him and therefore you are not anarchist and that means Ancoms aren’t anarchists in their own definition, by denying people right to be capitalists… man i wasn’t going for that.

    • >You define your own version of word anarchywhen literal, and common meaning is way different, common is basically chaos, thanks to communist anarchists (you ruined the term for everybody).oh and there is that notion that people are so stupid that they literally can not do anything that will make them more money than exploitative worknot to mention that it is impossible to get everyone to agree that every business owner will pay just as little as everyone elseIt doesn’t pay to exploit workersit is a story of communist PolandAnd that was communistif you do, you have to opress that man, and that means that you own him and therefore you are not anarchist and that means Ancoms aren’t anarchists in their own definition, by denying people right to be capitalists<

      You're trying to use the USSR or Poland as an example of AnCom society, so I wouldn't linger too much on what you have to say.

      God damn you're dense.

    • Bazyli Kronstadt | January 10, 2016 at 8:18 pm | Reply

      I don’t know why that other guy is calling this his article.

      Anyway, Peter, most of your post is a big strawman about what I (the real author) was suggesting and a vast misrepresentation of communism (and anarchism) plus the problem that you think using the “common” definition of anarchy (a co-opted definition used to discredit real anarchism, it is true) is acceptable when talking of anarchism in its real political sense.

      I don’t really feel pressed to address most of that since it’s all pretty much strawman.

  5. >You define your own version of word anarchy

    The fuck are you talking about, when did I do this? I use the anarchist definition. It’s established, not something I just made up to suit my argument.

    >when literal, and common meaning is way different, common is basically chaos, thanks to communist anarchists (you ruined the term for everybody).

    Well this is fucking stupid, obviously when we’re talking about anarchism in the political sense, the proper sense, we’re not going to use the ‘common’ definition (that was co-opted by the right in an attempt to discredit actual anarchism). No anarchist worth his salt uses that definition. As for “ruining” the term, it was certainly not actual anarchists (the originals) that did that.

    >oh and there is that notion that people are so stupid that they literally can not do anything that will make them more money than exploitative work

    That’s not what I suggested. It’s not a matter of intelligence, it’s a matter of conditions not favoring workers’ abilities to break the cycle of wge slavery in the slightest.

    >not to mention that it is impossible to get everyone to agree that every business owner will pay just as little as everyone else

    Not really, it’s not beyond capitalists to be able to cooperate on issues if they all realize it’s in their interests.

    >It doesn’t pay to exploit workers

    Fucking Grade-A LOL.

    >it is a story of communist Poland

    Why are you bringing up a totally unrelated example? We’re not talking about “communist” Poland. Nothing there is applicable here.

    >And that was communist

    No it wasn’t…

    >if you do, you have to opress that man, and that means that you own him and therefore you are not anarchist and that means Ancoms aren’t anarchists in their own definition, by denying people right to be capitalists

    You’re trying to use the USSR or Poland as an example of AnCom society, so I wouldn’t linger too much on what you have to say.

    God damn you’re dense.

  6. One question Ancaps can never seem to ask..(Ok, I’m sure they can, it makes 0 sense, but they can) Without a powerful state, where would the drive to innovate come from? Who would ever invest the resources to develop new technology or products when the second they hit the market, every asshole is going to ape said product? Patent laws are only enforceable through a coercive state. Would everyone in the world be forced to sign a binding agreement not to infringe?

  7. CAPITALISM IS A TOOL OF THE JEW.

    “libertarianism” and “anarch-capitalism” are predominantly Jewish
    http://chelm.freeyellow.com/Jewish_index.html

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.