Why Anarchists and "Anarcho"-Capitalists can't be allies

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One things that crops up over and over when someone on the libertarian right notices the outright hostility of anarchists when he appropriates the “Anarchist” label for himself is the accusation of “harming the movement” by not being willing to look past differences and work with each other for a stateless society. The argument goes that since both Anarchist and “Anarcho”-Capitalists wish a stateless society but simply with a different mode of production (Socialism VS Capitalism respectively) we have at least one common goal we should be working together for: The abolition of the State.

On first view, this makes a modicum of sense, if we both want a stateless society, and if we are willing to tolerate each others productive organization within their respective areas, then why are we fighting, arguing and criticizing each other when united we could be more formidable in both convincing people and undermining the state?

The answer is simple: Tactics.

It is true that Anarchists wouldn’t try to violently enforce libertarian socialism on other areas and other people. This is simply contrary to the whole theory behind it. As such, it is only to be expected that after a possible revolution, in some parts of the world capitalist relations would remain and some of them might even approach the “Anarcho”-Capitalist model. However a revolution will not happen by itself. The areas which turn Anarchist or “Anarcho”-Capitalist will do so – will move to either stateless direction, by the methods that were used to bring the general populace to the boiling point of revolt.

And these methods are inherently opposite.

Libertarian Socialist of all types (yes, including individualist anti-capitalist anarchists) generally promote all tactics of Direct Action and Mutual Aid. This means that they will be positive to Unions, Strikes, Takeovers, Cooperatives, Mutual Banks, Communes and the like. They will even be the least hostile on state acts giving more power to the working class1 Their arguments on the other hand, will be based on the things which support such paths. That would include stuff like the fact human evolutionary psychology is conductive to Mutual Aid, the validity of the Labour Theory of Value and the consequent exploitation theory, the moral imperative for self-determination and self-management, a hostility against all types of domination and hierarchy and so on.

On the other hand, the “Anarcho”-Capitalist, even though distinctly lacking in tactics, are ideologically opposed to most such measures which would bring a society to a libertarian socialist revolt. They are against unions (at least, most of them are), against expropriation of land and capital by those who work it, consider Cooperatives “ineffective”, vehemently oppose all state acts which increase social security (while being least hostile to state acts which simply protect private property more) etc. Their ideological bases furthermore compels them to acts as apologists to the system through their dismissal of the LTV, the ethical support for the right to Private Property, accumulation and usury, the allowance or even support of hierarchy and domination as long as it’s “voluntary” and so on.

Even what tactics they do have end up being opposite to anarchist principles since they advocate the consolidation of force and judgement to third parties which is a distinctly anti-direct action idea.

All of this should make it obvious that there is an impassable rift between these two movements2 which prevents both of them from working together to change the system, since they would be simply pulling in opposite directions, countering each other. Much like the practical gap between Private Property and Possession, so does the difference of tactics and theory make co-operation of these two camps impossible.

Sure, if by simply willing it strong it enough, lots of people could magically pop-out a stateless society, then “joining forces” might make sense. But the world is not the magical la-la land. It’s the paths we tread, the methods we espouse and the tactics we use that defines which kind of stateless society we will have in the end.

So please “Anarcho”-Capitalists, Right Libertarians and all other assorted Propertarians, don’t ask us to co-operate and accept your as “fellow Anarchists”. Our possible co-existence in a stateless future is irrelevant when in the real world your whole worldview is counter-productive to what we suggest.

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  1. Anarchists do not support using the state to push forth regulations but do not oppose regulations which benefit the working class out of principle. Such regulation, even though flawed, can be the result of direct action or can give some breathing space for the workers to request more and get their hopes up. []
  2. Well one movement and one ideology, as there’s not really any actual movement behind AnCaps []