The 5 stages of "Anarcho"-Capitalist reaction.

.bless uS
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Every time I argue with Stateless (or minarchist) Propertarians of various degrees of vulgarity, I keep seeing a few types of reaction over and over. Not only are they common but they seem to follow in a very particular progression which made me think of the 5 stages of grief.

With the same lack of scientific accuracy then, I will now present you with the 5 stages of “Anarcho”-Capitalist reaction to Libertarian Socialists. For the lulz.

1. Surprise and Denial

“Libertarian Socialism? Isn’t that an oxymoron?”; “I can’t believe someone can support communism at this time and age.”; “You’re not a true Anarchist if you don’t support private property!”

Surprise usually occurs to those who have had a fairly sheltered political life and have only just began to radicalize recently by discovering Ayn Rand or Austrian Economics but have only the slightest experience with the wider libertarian movement or conceptions of Socialism outside of McCarthyian propaganda . It is quickly followed by denial as the position of LibSocs quickly assaults their recently acquired radicalism but disentangling the concept of liberty from the concept of property. For someone who has just recently embraced the NAP or the self-ownership principles as  true and inviolable, any direct challenge to those principles is likely to be dismissed out of hand.

2. Misunderstanding and Anger

“Stalin! Mao! Pol Pot!”; “Try to take over my house and I’ll shoot you!”; “You’re just a bunch of hippies dreaming of utopias. Get a job!”; “You’re just hate Capitalism because you’re lazy and jealous.”

This often follows and complements denial when the discussions continue for a any length of time. Occasionally someone may start from this position when he’s had discussions with LibSocs in the recent past as well. The reasons for such a reaction is generally the persistent assault on AnCap principles and the opposition to some basic building blocks such a the “Free Markets”, an opposition which is misunderstood as expression of authoritarianism. Another common cause is the misunderstanding of LibSoc positions, assuming that they support involuntary societal organization, such as forced collectivization or forbidding of trade. In general, As such discussion grows longer, the probability of comparing the LibSocs to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or their corresponding regimes approaches 1. (Db0’s Law?)

3. Bargaining

“Why don’t we put aside our differences and focus on toppling the state?”; “We would never be opposed to communes and co-operatives within Anarcho-Capitalism.”; “We’re all Libertarian socialists at the end of the day.”

The bargaining phase of the AnCap reaction tends to come as one’s understanding of the Anarchist position increases and they realize that they too are suggesting voluntary rather than coerced relations and social organization. Missing the point of Anarchists not considering voluntarism to be enough, they reach the flawed conclusion that the two movements are close enough to ally in opposition to the state. It is at this point that the crucial differences in tactics start to be expanded which can lead the discussion to back into Anger as AnCaps interpret refusals of potential alliance as stubborness or given convincing argument on why Agorism or “Libertarian” Reformism is not good enough to crush the state, they may descend into…

4. Depression

“The state is too powerful to topple.”; “I want to smash the state as much as anyone else but we need to find a way to do it peacefully.”; “I’m only an Anarchist ideologically. Practically we can’t change the system without making things worse.”; “The free market/internet/cryptography will lead to the state’s demise naturally.”; “Vote Ron Paul!”

The end of the road for the “Anarcho”-Capitalism movement remains firmly within the current system. While they have truly numerous criticisms of the state and quite a bit of perfect-society theories and literature, they are sorely lacking in transitional ideas. In short, they have no idea how to get from here to there and as a result they are stuck. There’s a lot of rationalization for this predicament of course, from claiming that they would only support “peaceful revolutions”, to insisting that they are waiting for most humans to turn AnCap due to their superior arguments to my all-time favourite, waiting for the internet to revolutionize society towards the direction they expect.

This is of course nothing but a way of giving up, of raising up their hands in frustration and devolving into wishful thinking. Those who take a more practical approach either turn to Agorism or Reformism as a best-next-solution. Supporting Socialist Revolutions and then trying to convince people to voluntary turn to propertarianism is of course out the question. One guesses because they realize the futility of achieving the later. Silently consenting to the current system is apparently a better option.

5. Acceptance

“Fine. What do you suggest we do?”; “If you don’t want to force me into collectives I have no problem with you doing your own thing.”;

This last step is usually irreversible. At this advanced stage, LibSoc ideas have finally started making sense, usually when coupled with real-life experience of wage-slavery and hierarchical domination. The veteran AnCap now understands the perspective of the LibSocs and knows better than to make egregious strawmen as he’s been in the same discussions too many times already. Rather, he turns far more to lurking as he’s also too tired to try and correct his fellow AnCap’s misunderstandings and thus draw their online ire.

At this stage, one cannot help but see a character of wary tolerance to ideas of Anarchists. The whole “I don’t see it working in practice but I’m willing to be proven wrong and if I do, I’ll join you guys in a heartbeat.” mentality. This stage is characterized by attempts at constructive criticism and attempts to distance oneself from the more extreme elements of their own camp (Block, Kinsella etc).

Of course, Acceptance is not the end of the road. Fortunately quite a few AnCaps are eventually brought over by the very viral ideology they have to argue against and pass through the veil to the opposing site as more open minded mutualists. The Libertarian Socialist Pull claims one more “victim”.

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21 thoughts on “The 5 stages of "Anarcho"-Capitalist reaction.

  1. Haha! It's the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross version of "anarcho-" capitalist grief.

  2. Definitely lulz here. I don't know about the progression, but the five categories of reaction certainly cover a lot of ancapism.

    I've a question though: I've got mutualist inclinations, but I generally consider myself a propertarian anarchist. However, I am in favor of worker-controlled enterprises, unionism, and greater equality. Would you consider me an anarcho-capitalist, or some kind of confused individualist, or what? If I oppose the separation of labor and ownership and the employee-employer relationship (through what I'd call free-market means) how can I be considered a capitalist? But if I'm for private property how can I be a socialist?

    Regardless, I think the conversation on property/possession/ownership etc needs to be had.

    1. Darian, can you explain what is the point of allowing private when you don't want to have wage-slavery or landlordism?

      1. I actually need to be going somewhere so I'll try to sum up briefly.

        I'm not opposed to rent, as I see the landlord using the fruits of his labor to get a place rentable. I think that with greater competition in the market the renter will get a better say in the deal.

        I think that competition and worker empowerment will make wage slavery impossible – some may choose to work for a wage at some time, but I don't think it would be possible to capitalists to hold people under them.

        In general I think occupancy and use is a good standard with the exceptions that past labor needs to be taken into account, and I have a looser standard of use than many.

        1. The best result for a rentor is to own his own place rather and have no reduced freedom due to the landlord. Similarly, the best result for the wage-worker is to be a free worker. If this is in fact the end result you're seeking, why don't you make **that** your top priority rather than simply trusting in the markets because they might possibly bring this about?

          The past labour can justly be taken into account in the price of the sale of housing or capital. Why do you think that occupancy and use requires such any exception?

          1. >The best result for a rentor is to own his own place rather and have no reduced freedom due to the landlord.

            That depends. Sometimes renting a place is beneficial for the reduced commitment it entails, so in that case the rent would be a service charge.

            >Similarly, the best result for the wage-worker is to be a free worker. If this is in fact the end result you're seeking, why don't you make **that** your top priority rather than simply trusting in the markets because they might possibly bring this about?

            My political agenda is the maximization of liberty for every individual. Freedom in work and freedom to trade are both part of this. I don't trust the abstract market to bring this about, but a consistent libertarian consciousness, which would be necessary to end government forms of domination, ought to be effective in combating economic domination. If the worker has numerous satisfactory choices besides wage labor, and authoritarianism in all areas of life is frowned upon then I don't think wage work would be chosen by many.

            >The past labour can justly be taken into account in the price of the sale of housing or capital. Why do you think that occupancy and use requires such any exception?

            Because they might not want to sell, and since I don't see rent as inherently exploitative I think it should be accepted.

            Property vs possession is of course a major sticking point. One problem for this is the propertarian viewpoint that all rights are property rights or derive from property rights. When someone's worldview is shaped in this way, saying that you don't believe in property is heard as saying there is no basis for individual autonomy. This is a view I don't hold by the way – the concept of owning oneself is kind of silly, and to me property standards are just a way to ensure people receive the fruits of their labor.

            Another problem is that ancaps seem to generally view property as a given – if something is declared as someone's property (except for some criminals – though corporations outside the military industrial complex are usually given a pass) then that's all there is to it. Holding it to a standard of occupancy and use then leads to "I'll be ready with my gun if you try to occupy my barbecue grill". But bringing this back to my view, I think a middle ground between the somewhat arbitrary common ancap view and strict occupancy and use is best. I doubt there will be a single solution but I think these things will work out if people are actually willing to talk about them without trying to win at internet machismo. Hence, I've enjoyed your posts concerning market anarchism and need to look through your archives.

            One last thing for now – since one goal of my political philosophy is avoiding workplace hierarchy I don't see why I should be considered a capitalist. Maybe post-capitalist is a decent label? Attaching "post" to words does seem to be the cool thing to do.

          2. That depends. Sometimes renting a place is beneficial for the reduced commitment it entails, so in that case the rent would be a service charge.

            If the price of the housing was not so increased due to the possibility of rent then one could just as well buy their own house without it being a huge investment. Furthermore this idea of jumping jobs and locations very often and thus requiring low commitment in your housing is by itself a problem of capitalism and an effect most people do not enjoy. Those few would would like to do something like this on a regular basis would not be able to support a rent structure anyway and they would be able to do it by buying and selling their houses instead.

          3. My political agenda is the maximization of liberty for every individual. Freedom in work and freedom to trade are both part of this.

            Have you read this post of mine?

            If the worker has numerous satisfactory choices besides wage labor, and authoritarianism in all areas of life is frowned upon then I don't think wage work would be chosen by many.

            You forget that what is frowned by many is determined by the system they live in. Wage-work got the name "wage-slavery" in a time where it and authoritatianism was frowned by many and yet as the time progressed and it became an unavoidable option, it slowly because not only acceptable for short periods but also for one's whole life.

            Again, if many frown on authoritarianism in all aspects of life, it's far better to make it systematically impossible in the first place rather than leave a possibility for it to recreate itself and hope for the best.

          4. I did read that post and I find little to disagree with. I think that a free society with include many types of social arrangements, and that many people will deal with different types at different times. This competition and innovation among economic models is part of what I would call a free market. I realize that the term "market" might be confusing because in this case it doesn't require the use of cash, etc but that's how I think of it.

          5. The competition between social system might comprise of a state capitalist arrangement that forces other to accept their system through imperialism. It can lead to a totalitarian system becoming the norm because it can exploit the people living in it for leverage against all the other socioeconomic arrangements. I see no reason why you expect such competition between socioeconomic systems will lead by necessity to a better result for the individual within them. It might just lead to a worse one.

            Of course such a scenario is highly unlikely in the first place as it's unlikely to see the state goes away unless a revolution is socialistic, and then, the resulting community is not likely to wish to compete with other socialist communities.

          6. Because they might not want to sell, and since I don't see rent as inherently exploitative I think it should be accepted.

            It's not inherently exploitative? It's non-labour income! You basically say that someone should be able to make money without working.

            It's also authoritarian since the landlord has always the option to set terms to the rentor or even kick them out by cancelling their contract, something which would of course create a situation of domination based on fear (much like wage-slaver). None of these are good outcomes.

          7. One last thing for now – since one goal of my political philosophy is avoiding workplace hierarchy I don't see why I should be considered a capitalist.

            I don't think I'd call you any kind of capitalist myself as that would imply you support wage-labour as the optimal way to organize production. However I do not know what to make of your passive acceptance of "voluntary" hierarchies.

          8. If ancaps and objectivists want to have managers making decisions about their company, I would peacefully agitate against that, but saying that it is "unacceptable" for them to do so sounds nanny-statish.

          9. Saying that it's unacceptable is not statist. It's a moral condemnation. The way you deal with it is what constitutes authoritarianism or not.

            Again, if you're going to oppose hierarchies, you need to understand why some would "volunteer" to them. You would quickly find out that nobody would be willing to do it where it not for passive coercion in the form of lacking alternatives, ie, being forced into a "work or starve" relationship. This can only happen if you combine Private Property with social darwinism AKA free markets.

  3. i think most of these reactions are, at least in my case, reactions to words based on preconceived notions of what they mean. I've had sympathy and support for communists so long as the association is voluntary for as long as i can remember. However, I've until more recently (last year or two) considered the word "socialist" to insinuate Statism. I've also not had much fondness for the word "capitalism" because of it's popular use. I have not problem with investment, interest or profit, but primarily when it is within certain contexts. I'm either an anarchist without adjectives or a libertarian anarchist.

    i think you may be neglecting however that there are probably many "libertarian socialists" who go through to these phases backwards and support "capitalism" or go towards the mutualist medium. Personally, I think open mindedness and free thinking rationality move people to the center. The problem in mainstream politics is that both extremes are fucking stupid if not evil.

  4. I find that "an"-caps always try to "prove" that libertarian socialism doesn't work. For example, they'll point to the lack of worker coops in today's capitalist system as to why autogestion would fail, that sort of thing, despite the fact that even they admit that truly free markets don't exist anywhere on earth (except for maybe some campground somewhere in New Hampshire) so you can't really blame companies for failing. Or they try to equate communes, collectives, unions, and coops with states, which is completely ridiculous and makes no sense whatsoever. What I can't stand are these little pseudo-philosophical arguments like, "no one is entitled to anything except to be left alone, therefore I'm entitled to own as much property as I can homestead". Then there's the fact that they try to appropriate social anarchist subculture into their "an"-cap/Mises Institute/etc. culture, which is just ridiculous.

  5. This is great stuff. It sort of describes my own transition from being a self proclaimed Libertarian, although it would have been more accurate to describe myself as an Anarcho-Capitalist, I had yet to fully understand what Anarchy or Capitalism truly were at a fundamental level. It was through my discussions with an acquaintance on a social forum that I was teased into recognizing the contradictions between capitalism and what I ultimately wanted society to look like. After a long discussion I popped out a fully conscious Anarcho-Communist. It was pretty amazing how everything about socio-economics, politics, and the work-life struggle fell into place at that point.

  6. Funny, 3 and 5 apply, and 4 half-way does. 2 does, but not in the extreme (I think you’re a bunch of utopian hippies, but hey, that’s better than even minimal statists, and it’s a long way from mass murdering Marxists). And 1 I’ve never really had a problem with. But yeah, most ancaps are pretty thick. Thick skulled, not “thick libertarian.” The same is true of any camp, I suppose.

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