“I can get along with left anarchists…”

In yet another chapter of ‘anarchists don’t get along with “Anarcho”-capitalists but the latter are in denial’, I just saw this post on reddit, which made me laugh internally.

I suggest reading it in whole, but the last part is what did it for me

Me: My advice would simply be to be upfront about the fact that left anarchists and capitalists can’t get along. That’s what most left anarchists do.

ACap: Well I give the benefit of the doubt to statists

Me: Well great. The trouble with giving the benefit of the doubt to people, and trusting that they fit into an narrow and unprecedented category of anarchism you’ve invented, is that you’ll end up looking like an idiot.

ACap: Except that it’s the official definition.

Me: Boo hoo. Left anarchists ruined your “official definition”.

ACap: They didn’t ruin anything, they are quite irrelevant really

Me: I can’t believe an anarcho-capitalist just said that.


Quote of the Day:"Anarcho"-Capitalist Monolith

How Anarcho-Capitalists lost their freethought.

I just discovered this quote on yet another Ning network about liberty which was unsurprisingly filled with right-“libertarians” and assorted propertarians. I felt it was too good to let it dirft into obscurity in a random thread.

Quoth Zhwazi

Mase R. Molina said:

What do you mean when you say [Anarcho-Capitalism] became monolithic?

If I had better words for it I’d use those! Anarchocapitalism isn’t a free chamber for discussion of ideas. It has an orthodoxy, a hivemind.

Their sense of identity is strong. They stick together and talk largely amongst themselves about the same tired subjects over and over, occasionally venturing out to troll enemies. They are not comfortable discussing other subjects. Trying to discuss other subjects usually leads to misunderstanding or mockery on the part of the ancap. It becomes a catch-22 where they don’t talk because they don’t know, and they don’t know because they don’t talk.

If that was scattered with different people having different randomly-overlapping comfort zones I wouldn’t call it monolithic. The thing is they all have roughly the same range of topics and range of tolerable positions on those topics as each other. This restricted range of acceptable topics leads to the above-mentioned loss of free inquiry spirit, and development of a hive mind. They repeat each others mistakes and think that they aren’t mistakes because others who agree with them can rationalize them better.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a gainful discussion with an ancap. Some have been fun, but never gainful. That’s why I’m not an ancap. It’s basically a big debate club of people who already agree with each other. The mistaken ideas they hold are side-effects of this monolithy, so I really consider avoiding the monolith to be a whole layer above avoiding their specific mistakes. To stay amongst them is to allow their limits to be yours. I can’t stand that.

Also Brainpolice has a nice addendum to it.

I agree with you, Zhwazi, but perhaps I could try to clarify and elaborate. What you’re saying is potentially true about any political ideology, and ancap would just be one example of it. The same thing is true of hardcore libcoms in my experience. But, by the very least, in terms of the orthodoxy of ancap, there is an inflexibility in which (1) word-association dogmatism destroys the prospect of understanding with other libertarian and anarchist ideologies, and other ideologies in general (2) an a priori conceptual apparatus is clung to in which rigid dichotomies are established, such as assuming that the only alternative to absolutist propertarianism is non-ownership and (3) a willful ignorance of other libertarian/anarchist positions and their history, only viewing things through the lense of a specific “capitalist” paradihm, and effectively denouncing that which deviates from the orthodoxy as statism. This can be seen most clearly at the Mises Institute. Try even suggesting that there is such thing as left-libertarianism to many of these people, and observe their reactions.

I agree of course. I’ve noticed rigidity from many other camps as well, from State Communists to Social Democrats but only among AnCaps (and Objectivists) have I experienced this amount of ideological rigidity. Of course, fundamentalist christians might be even worse but those at least don’t try to pass themselves as freethinkers.

On First Principles

“Anarcho”-Capitalist request LibSocs to state their first principles in order to understand their worldview. I explain why this is entirely to wrong question to ask.

Abstract Principles Taken to Their Logical Ext...
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In a recent conversation with Facebook ” Anarcho”-Capitalists I’ve been asked to provide an explanation of my beliefs starting from “First Principles”. As my initial answer didn’t seem to be enough, the same question was later posted, once more, in a location I couldn’t access ((h/t @Noor for letting me know and posting the discussion somewhere public)). I think this deserves an explanation on why it is entirely the wrong kind of question to ask when trying to understand Libertarian Socialism.

The confusion I believe starts from the way the Propertarians start to build their worldview. From what I understand about this point (and of course, I may be wrong – but concise information on this is not easy to find online) they declare a few particular normative propositions as inviolable or “true”, call them axioms or “first principles” and then build their ethical system from there. There’s no clear agreement on this but the axiom of Self-Onwership seems to be the primary basis on which the ideology is built. There are others like the Non-Aggression principle (Also called Zero-Aggression principle. NAP or ZAP) which may follow from Self-Ownership or may be asserted standalone.

I won’t go into details on why those “first principles” are flawed at the moment (soon though). The point is to explain why such propertarians expect someone to state their first principles initially so that they may grasp the concept. They just can’t contemplate a different way to reach a social framework than by starting from such “axioms” and when Anarchists point out that we don’t have any, they are unable to compute, as can be seen from the quote (from the discussion I linked above)

The implication is that logic is optional. She’ll deny it, of course, and say that she’s just not doing logic in the way that the oppressive capitalists demand, but it still amounts the the notion that logic itself is seen as a kind of oppression. It’s a religion.

The obvious flaw in this reasoning is that it is asserted that those first principles are the result of pure logic and therefore impossible to be flawed (thus the label of “axiom”). Of course if one starts from this assumption it is understandable that when someone else denies the necessity of “axioms” to base a socioeconomic theory on, they can be seen as denying logic itself.  But this is merely begging the question.

And this is where the biggest problem lies in this perspective. Using scholasticism (i.e. pure logic) to understand reality has been discredited for a while now and empiricism and inductive reasoning took its place. No matter how perfect one’s logic can seem, it’s very likely that some small errors or wrong assumptions have entered into it at some point, therefore leading to the wholly wrong results. Without empiricism thus, it impossible to find logical errors as there is nothing to compare the results with.

Thus (many? most? Well me at least.) Libertarian Socialists reject this perspective in favour of what has been shown to actually work in understanding and predicting reality. Science and Materialism. Talking for myself here, I find no reason to start from a principle of self-ownership (even if it wasn’t inconsistent) when I have the far better option to start from a (meta?)ethical question: “What bring the best results for the maximum amount of people?”. Starting from this question and then using scientific knowledge (on how humans behave and how human societies tend to work) we can try to compile a socioeconomic system which will achieve this result.

Adding a “first principle” such as the NAP or self-ownership would thus only come into the picture if it followed from the original question. Looking at it this way, one could call the Anarchist opposition to hierarchy and authority as a sort of “first principle” but not in the same absolute way as the AnCap ones are asserted but simply as means to an end.

And this is in the end why it’s completely misguided to ask an Anarchist what their “first principles” are. The most likely answer would be “Why do I need them?” and this is a perfectly valid response. To preempt those who would express the sentiment that having “First Principles” is obvious: It is not. The burden of proof is on people who assert that such principles are necessary to prove why this is so. An argument from obviousness just does not cut it as it’s far from obvious to me and many others.

I get the impression that people who assert that such first principles are necessary, are those who saw them expressed somewhere and immediately latched onto them as something that made obvious sense. Yes, it may make obvious sense but this does not make it an absolute or an objective fact of reality. There’s always the chance that there’s holes in the reasoning, or it does not make sense in some contexts. What I’m trying to say that even if something is making sense, it still does not validate the concept of “first principle”. This is akin to saying that because the golden rule makes sense, the Christian god exists.  It simply does not follow.

It is similarly  flawed thus to accept only a different set of first principles in order to counter your own ideology. It’s like a Christian asking someone trying to explain evolution to him, to first state which other deity they assert instead of the Christian god. A perfectly valid answer to both questions is still “None.”

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The 5 stages of "Anarcho"-Capitalist reaction.

From the first time an AnCap encounters a LibSoc for the first time, a common reaction is to be expected passing through 5 stages. Here’s a very scientific explanation of this effect.

.bless uS
Image unrelated by 27147 via Flickr

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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The political path of a freethinker

Freethinkers tend to progress in 2 distinct political directions as a rule of thumb. Socialism and Libertarianism. But nobody notices how they are part of a bigger picture.

The end of the path along Redhill/Storeton
Image by jimmedia via Flickr

I’ve written in the past on what the obvious trend for freethinker’s political orientation is but the more I talk and interact with libertarians online, the more I notice a second, more passive trend which seems to be present in the political history of those people. The Libertarian Socialist Pull.

This means the general tendency to move towards the left or, to put it a bit more practically, start giving more weight to concepts of justice, mutual aid and equality, as well as the tendency to move towards liberty which means to start demanding the right to manage all aspects of your own life without a higher authority and prioritize direct action. The first part then expresses the empathy all humans possess for others, while the second expresses the individualism which allows each human to naturally distinguish themselves.

It is no wonder then that the more someone experiences, the more they start to notice all the aspects of our current existence which limit those expressions and if this is coupled with thinking freely about them, that is, when someone does not have any irrational beliefs which would prevent them from looking at and judging the underlying causes, (eg “Goddidit”) then it is only natural that the truth will be found and lead to some uncomfortable conclusions about all the things we’ve considered normal until now.

This is by no means an easy process and can be as difficult as a deconversion if one is to start from a point of heavy indoctrination ((In fact, deconverting from a patriarchal or otherwise authoritarian religion would be rightly considered just one step in the greater process of the Libertarian Socialist Pull as the causes of such a deconversion are most likely the free thinking about the differences between the theory of faith and the experience of reality)). As such, it is a gradual progression, with people slowly discovering the puzzle pieces which just don’t seem to fit right, no matter how you turn them and then discarding them, only to discover that a whole chunk of the puzzle has now become disconnected and can be discarded as well.

From what I’ve observed, it seems that there are generally two paths towards Libertarian Socialism, one from Socialism and one from Libertarianism and which one people start walking depends on their upbringing and general circumstances and experiences. But in broad strokes, I would say that we can talk about two types of human personality which are more susceptible to either pull: Empathetic  – which is positive towards Socialism and Individualist which prioritizes Libertarianism. Why? Because the personality one has will define which difficult questions the freethinker will choose to investigate first.

Where one starts in the current political spectrum is not so important but it generally also correlates to one’s personality as well (although of course irrational beliefs one has not yet discarded play a large role). However as one asks the pointed questions and discovers that the easy answers are unfulfilling or just do not stand the light of reason so do the answers one discovers pull them more towards the Libertarian or Socialist pathways. You’ll notice I’ve split these two for now because it may very well be the case that one may initially move away from the other side as the initial answers which make sense, feel like a breath of cool air among stagnating fumes, and as a result are accepted with less rigor as one strives to investigate the whole spectrum of thought these ideas originate. In fact, I would say it’s rare for one to move simultaneously towards socialism and libertarianism at the same time.

EDIT: I realize that there is something I probably should have mentioned ((h/t to redditr commernie)) as it is quite important: What is it that causes some people to be empathetic while others to be individualistic? The answer to this is the material conditions one lives in. For example, wage-workers are quite unlikely to be individualists as the constant interaction with fellow human workers and the actual experience of the dreadfulness of wage-slavery is sure to fan the flames of empathy and mutual aid as they seek to collectively improve their lot and resist against the bosses. On the other hand, those lucky few who get to be entrepreneurs have the uncommon chance to experience liberty of action and control of one’s own destiny which make all interventions by a state seem as a horrible violation of rights. For them then, individualism becomes the primary basis of ethics. It is in fact for this reason that the individualists are always so outnumbered compared to socialists as there’s far more wage-slaves than there’s entrepreneurs or rich people.

As a general observation, the Socialist path will usually lead one towards Social Democracy while the Libertarian path will lead someone towards Liberalism (“Liberalism” and “Libertarianism” respectively for all you Yanks) but sooner or later one will discover the inability of the state apparatus to perform the tasks one expects from it (Protect public interests or Protect private property respectively for each path) and will take anti-reformist turn to revolution or anti-statism.

Thus we end up with something like this (Where “|>” symbolizes the break with reformism) :

Empathetic: Apolitical > Social Democrat |> Socialist > Vulgar Marxist (eg Stalinist, Maoist etc).

Individualistic: Apolitical >  Free Market Minarchist |> Liberal > Vulgar Libertarian (eg “Anarcho”-Capitalist).

Now it is very possible that someone will progress all the way to the far side of this path and stay there, or be brought up with such a ideology in the first place and just stay there ((Which I attribute to them investing too much of their life to accept that they might be wrong, or on groupthink)). But what I’ve noticed happening more often than not, is that after the break with reformism, freethinkers reach a dead-end and start noticing the impassable barrier posed by the following fact:

You can’t have equality without liberty and you can’t have liberty without equality.

The reasons for this have been explained many times by lots of anarchists so I won’t go into much detail other than to say that the practical implications of it make themselves known by the actual experience of everyone who has had their rights trampled by the state (even the “worker’s state) or their lives disrupted or ruined by the capitalist bosses.

Once this is noticed, then the second part of the freethinker’s journey begins as Libertarians and Socialists move towards their converging point. Anarchism.

My own experience of course has not been much different. I started profoundly apolitical but very empathetic. As soon as I linked the huge societal and environmental issues of our time to the economic system we live in I started moving towards a State Socialist direction, taking a break with reformism once I read the arguments against the failure of the parliamentary process and finally rejecting the need for a state in socialism as something counter-productive.

On the other side, I’ve seen and heard of many examples of Individualists, even at the extreme end of “Anarcho”-Capitalism coming to reject that ideology and start espousing more leftist concepts to the point of passing into the anti-capitalist camp altogether. The best historical example of this is of course Voltairine de Cleyre while in own online circles I’ve noticed (among others) Francois Tremblay and just yesterday Sean from the Skeptical Eye, both of which started from Objectivism no less.

In fact, the latter was what triggered me to write this post as it’s something that I seem to notice almost monthly lately. This was because we had quite clash a while back when both of us were more in our respective polar ends so when he explained that he’s almost abandoned his pro-capitalist ideas, it was just a very powerful real-world example of what I was thinking already.

None of this of course is meant to imply that one is not a freethinker unless the progress towards Libertarian Socialism anymore than one can expect a freethinker is always right. Of course I think people who have not yet embraced Anarchism are wrong but this is only logical, this does not mean that they are close minded. However I do have the impression, backed by experience, that the Libertarian Socialist Pull is in fact real for freethought.

And that is a cause for hope.

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

Can the two camps of anti-statism unite in order to pursue their common goal? No. It is tactically impossible.

Protester throwing Molotov Cocktail at a polic...
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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 class ((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.)) 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 movements ((Well one movement and one ideology, as there’s not really any actual movement behind AnCaps)) 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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In which I try to clarify LibCom for Stefan Molyneux

I’ve just finished talking in an online Anarcho-Capitalist talk-show. Unfortunately, while I was there after the host requested clarification, I came away disappointed.

really really free market!
Image by Shira Golding via Flickr

Last week in a video from Freedomain Radio was posted in /r/Anarchism with the notice that its host, Stefan Molyneux – apparently an “Anarcho”-Capitalist of some renown – was honestly curious about some aspects of Social Anarchism, such an Anarcho-Communism or Anarcho-Syndicalism,  and wished that “someone competent” from that movement call him to clarify some of his contentions.

Although the fact that he didn’t understand some aspects about this very popular movement and for some reason couldn’t find out sources of clarification (although a wealth of information is at best, one internet search away) was immediately suspect, I decided to take him up on this “challenge” (Yes I do understand it wasn’t a formal challenge, I’m just using this word for lack of a proper alternative).

After some fiddling with the way to call-in ((Blogradio’s builtin call-in feature sucks in GNU/Linux. I don’t know why this is so but calling via it, the voice reaches me as if in slow-motion. /rant)) I’ve finally settled to using Skype to call their landline number and soon it was my turn to speak. You can find the discussion here starting at 22:30 (I’ll post the Youtube vid when Stefan uploads it). I’m not nearly as glib as Stefan and thus you have to suffer through my thick accent and “umm”s as I’m trying to make my point (although hearing my playback, I don’t think I was as muffled as he claimed). Which is incidentally why I have not made any videos 😉

Unfortunately I must say that I was disappointed in the end. While Stefan proclaims his wish to understand the Social Anarchist movement, I got away with the impression that this is simple rhetoric to appear open-minded. I didn’t get the feeling that he was trying to clarify points he was not sure of, but rather throwing various concepts at me in an attempt to trip me up so that he can take over and proceed to claim intellectual superiority, as you will find out he did.

The points we discussed in rapid succession were:

  • Does LibCom discard Property Rights?
  • How can a society progress from Primitivism to LibCom?
  • How does  new industry get created?
  • How would a future LibCom society work?
  • How would you proceed to a future LibCom society?

Now each of these points, especially the last two, takes some explaining and I could only give the vaguest framework in all of the ~15 minutes I was on the phone (of which I spoke for about 7 at best). In the last one especially, arguably the most detailed and important part of Anarchist thought, I was given the whole of 1 minute before being abruptly cut-off mid sentence.

But what irked me most is that after being cut-off Stefan proceeded in a long-winded monologue in which he assumed ignorance of my part of what a LibCom society would look like and proceeded to claim superiority and attack my presumed ignorance of both the details of the future and of how Free Markets really work.

Needless to say he didn’t make any arguments I couldn’t counter, only that I didn’t get a chance. In fact, I found out this way of kicking off your caller and then making a closing statement without allowing a rebuke as a low trick which doesn’t really raise my perception of Stefan a lot. If he really didn’t have enough time for me, then just leave it at that. Don’t silence your opponent so that your argument goes unchallenged.

So here I’m also going to take the opportunity to address what Stefan said after I was disconnected:

1. You need to think in some detail.

Here Stefan made the assumption that I didn’t have any details on my ideas other than some vague concept of “Strikes and so on”. This is in fact quite far from the truth and such an impression was only given due to the short amount of time I was given to express them and the constant switching of subjects which was not allowing me to elaborate more on any one of them. Anarchists have about 150 years of political theory and needless to say that everything that needs it, has been described in as much detail as possible. Further than that, we also have around 100 years of actual, practical experience in social struggle and revolution which the theories have taken into account and been modified accordingly (which is the reason for example why social anarchists reject reformist tactics).

On the opposite side, AnCaps have at best 60 years of theorizing about a future Utopia of free markets and absolutely no idea how to get there. Stefan boasted about his 1 year of thinking about this, which is practically nothing in the larger picture of things. And this is why I was trying to explain that it’s not worth spending so much time visualizing the perfect AnCap world, when you don’t have the progression tackled first.

2. You need to work within the system before you criticize it.

The gist of this argument was basically that unless one is an enepreneur or capitalist, they don’t understand the system and thus they should refrain from criticizing it. Here Stefan considers that since his experiences in this have convinced him of the superiority of the Free Markets, then it’s obvious that someone who criticizes them must not have enough experience to make an educated criticism.

Of course he realized the trap he put himself into, when he admitted that he could also be called on criticizing the government while not being a politician. He attempted to get out of this by claiming he has enough experience in working with the govt and being educated by them that he can now make an accurate criticism. However he misses the point that Anarchist and all other critics of the Capitalist system have as much of “peripheral” experience of the Capitalist system and the markets as he has of the State. We too have worked for Entepreneurs. We too have had to suffer “market discipline”. We too have been educated and propagandized ad infinitum by a system which treats Capitalism as the natural state of affairs. The indoctrination towards this is as big, if not bigger than the indoctrination towards Statism.

And thus Stefan’s contention can be turned back upon him. If he wished to support the system, he should try becoming a wage-slave on a third world country to see how privileged he is currently. Or he should take an unskilled job at a MacPosition  to see how superior the entepreneurs and bosses really are. There’s lots of experiences that Stefan has not lived in order to judge Capitalism as a good system, Experiences which the Anarchists and other Socialists have lived through, which is incidentally why the movement was started: From experiencing the true nature of the system as the majority of the world does rather than the privileged few.

He also did a grave mistake of pointing out programming and web developing as an example of the free market (that one should experience). A mistake that undermines his own position as an “Anarcho”-Capitalist. You see the environment he works in, is a peculiar one because it differs from a capitalist system in some very important variables. The most important one, is that the workers own the means of production. Programming languages are free. Web Servers are free. Replication is free. The only cost one has to start their own business online is the small cost to get a hosting plan, and most often than not, not even that ((All because of Free Software naturally))!

As such, to point to the internet as a free market paradise is to concede that a truly free market can only work via Socialism, much like Mutualists have been claiming for ages. In fact, what Stefan sees and is inspired of, is the kind of thing Tucker was seeing in the 19th century, when the land was free and people could start their own homestead or business at very small upfront cost and retain it. However, this is not Capitalism, as much as Molyneux would like to redefine it. Not only that, but actual Capitalism constricts such a development as it is inherently destabilizing to it. It happened in Tucker’s age and it is also happening ((or at least, the Powers That Be are working towards it. See Patents, Copyrights, Net Neutrality etc)) now in the internet.

In closing, I came out of this discussion disillusioned. For all of Stefan’s proclaimed wish to understand and speak with the other side, it seems to me that he only wishes to score some easy points with his internet audience. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been so eager to kick me off his show with vague suggestions of a one-on-one talk without even bothering to learn who I am! It seems to me that instead of actually understanding what I said, he was all to eager to misrepresent Social Anarchism and cover that by continuously repeating his “wish to understand.”

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Quote of the Day: Anarcho-Capitalist "Freedom"

Ludvig von Mises defends Freedom the best way he knows. By backing Fascism.

Quoth Ludwig von Mises (H/t to An Anarchist FAQ)

It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilisation. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live eternally in history.” [Liberalism, p. 51]

Yes, Fascism has really saved civilization. Why? Because it didn’t let Capitalism go down of course. Thus we see the classic example of “Anarcho”-Capitalist where Anarchism is meant to imply Anti-Statism but only when it’s in the interests of the Plutocracy.

And yet, many people still promote these ruling-class apologetics as the only true “Freedom”.

It seems that I have made some waves…

Oh shi– A recent post of mine was linked from Mises.org and now I’m being swarmed by Misoids!

Rant in E-Minor album cover
Image via Wikipedia

It seems that my latest post refuting the Austian refutation of Marxist exploitation theory has been noticed by none other than the official mises.org blog. The reaction was only to be expected.

I provide to you a sample of AnCap civility for your amusement 😉

This guy admits he’s no economic or marxist sholar, yet he’s calling our theorist hollow!? What a moron!

No, I said that your system sounds hollow. Learn to read?

He also has a laughable article on his site trying to debunk Rothbard’s “Egalitarianism as a Revolt against Nature”

The only laughable thing about this article is Rothbard himself really. What a douchebag.

Yawn. Another crank. Let him “refute” to his heart’s content. Just more nonsense to ignore for me

Not bored enough to write a comment about it obviously. But I also got the crank title at least.

Like most marxoids dedicated to proving that capitalism is evil because if the worker didn’t work for a wage the worker would starve, the role of the people who actually sell food is mysteriously overlooked.

Marxoid? Ok Misoid, I do not ovelook the role of people who sell food at all. If they are the intermediary for selling the item, then they simply pay the worker for the food he produced. Their labour is the act of selling and they should get to keep the full suplus value they create with that.

In short, this moron does not know what he is talking about.

Thank you. Hugs and kisses back.

The site also seems to have been designed to make reading a chore, irritating like chalk on a blackboard.

Does my mother smell of Elderberries too?

Who gives a damn if some commie loser wastes his time jostling with chimaeras he made up?

Who indeed.

So there you have it. And this is simply the product of half a night’s gnashing of teeth. I can’t wait to see what more beautiful gems of indignation I’m going to receive.

All is not bad though, I already had 2 civil comments so there is hope that not all AnCaps are twats. Nevertheless, I’m glad I put up my warning to them yesterday. It might reduce the number of inane comments I get.

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