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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Center for a Stateless Society

A very belated welcome to the new market anarchist think tank, Center for a Stateless Society (CSS).

A tiny think tank has set out on a project to provide ongoing news commentary in order to promote their set of views, known as market anarchism.

AUBURN, ALABAMA — October 10, 2006 — Center for a Stateless Society — The Molinari Institute, a market anarchist think tank, today launched a new media effort aiming to put their agenda to abolish government front and center in US political discourse. Dubbing their project the Center for a Stateless Society (www.c4ss.org), institute officials laid out plans to publish and distribute news commentary written by anarchists with radically free-market oriented views on economics — taking market anarchism out of the realm of academia and obscure internet blogs in order to put it in the public eye.

Molinari Institute President Roderick Long explained “For too long libertarians, and I mean anarchist libertarians, have treated market anarchism almost as an esoteric doctrine. It’s time to put market anarchism front and center in our educational efforts, time to start making it a familiar and recognizable position. The Center for a Stateless Society aims to bring a market anarchist perspective to the popular press, rather than leaving it confined to scholarly studies and movement periodicals.”

Naming longtime radical libertarian activist and freelance web developer Brad Spangler as the first Director of the Center, Long unveiled the Center’s new web site at www.c4ss.org for Molinari Institute supporters and the public.

Said Spangler “I’m honored to accept the post. In anticipation of this moment, we’ve developed a database of thousands of US media outlets for email distribution of content which these publishers will be able to use free of charge. Additionally, the c4ss.org web site makes use of stable, reliable and “free as in freedom” open source web technologies. We’ve developed the site in such a way as to make maximum possible use of social bookmarking services, web syndication feeds and search engine optimization techniques. With this site, we aim to awaken more Americans than ever before to the brutal reality that all governments everywhere are essentially nothing more than murderous bandit gangs — and show them the shining light of hope for a world without the State.”

The mission of the Molinari Institute is to promote understanding of the philosophy of Market Anarchism as a sane, consensual alternative to the hypertrophic violence of the State. The Institute takes its name from Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912), originator of the theory of Market Anarchism. The Center for a Stateless Society is the Molinari Institute’s new media center.

Brad Spangler
Center for a Stateless Society


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious, when anarchists like Iain McKay say that "capitalism would collapse without the state", or words to that effect, does that just mean that without police pure communism would reign, with people taking and using things whenever they wanted, and that any attempt to restore "property" would be a state-like action?

November 19, 2006 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What terrible news! And I loved this:

"Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912), originator of the theory of Market Anarchism."

Someone who refused the name anarchist because it was used by socialists! What a joke. If only the capitalists had the decency of Molinari to refuse a name which is used by other people!

As for capitalism collapsing without the state, I would say that economic and ecological problems would soon get the better of it. Economic booms and slumps would develop, unequality would rise and things would get worse, fast.

And, of course, the wage slaves would tend to rebel and I doubt that the ruling class would "leave them alone". They would hire private goon squads, at the very least, to secure their power. As the bloody history of US labour struggles in the 19th century would suggest.

Simply put, having a system of hierarchical power enforced by private cops is not anarchism and never will be. At least Molinari refused to call it anarchism -- if only his followers would do the same!


November 20, 2006 1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, so your argument against anarcho-capitalism is not strictly linguistic, as the above remark would suggest - that the definitions of "anarchism" and "capitalism" together lead to a contradiction if you define them in a certain way. Rather, you're saying that anarcho-capitalism will collapse because of similar structural problems as state-capitalism (i.e. the boom-bust cycle). In section C.7.1 you claim that the origin of this structural problem is class-conflict; essentially the capitalists get too rich during a boom, leading to various kinds of worker resistance which triggers a backlash and subsequent bust, until exploitation leads to a boom again, and so on. A few questions come to mind:

1) The analysis seems to presuppose the concentration of wealth in a few hands. What if wealth were distributed evenly? For argument's sake, suppose that this was the case in the U.S. If everyone acted according to anarcho-capitalist rules, would this necessarily lead to a concentration in wealth?

2) If the rates of profit, interest, and rent were nearly zero, the cycle wouldn't exist either. If the U.S. went anarcho-capitalist now, why wouldn't competition drive P, I, and R to zero? (Remember, assuming people follow anarcho-capitalist rules; so that means no state, only "private defence assocations").

3) In discussing the "realization crisis" you say that cuts in investment initiate the the bust part of the cycle:

As workers' power increases, the share of income going to capital falls, as do profit rates, and capital experiences a profits squeeze and so cuts down on investment and employment and/or wages. The cut in investment increases unemployment in the capital goods sector of the economy, which in turn reduces demand for consumption goods as jobless workers can no longer afford to buy as much as before. This process accelerates as bosses fire workers or cut their wages and the slump deepens and so unemployment increases, which begins the cycle again. This can be called "subjective" pressure on profit rates.

It seems to me that if anarcho-capitalism works the way Rothbard says it does, then there won't be large corporations and businesses to make the investment cuts; there will only be small and medium-sized businesses kept at that size by free-market competition (see this discussion by Dr. Long for details). Why does the initial firing of investment-area workers accelerate, and how does your explanation fit with the small to medium firm size Dr. Long expects to see under anarcho-capitalism?

Also, er, do you read Kevin's blog regularly, or do you just google for your name every day...? o_o

November 20, 2006 6:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


I think it goes beyond that (Iain, correct me if I'm wrong) to include positive inputs like subsidies to the operating costs of big business and legal privilege protecting it from true competition.


I also agree with the sentiment, but I think it's a gross distortion of the CSS to characterize what they want as "a system of hierarchical power enforced by private cops." As I've argued before, the anarcho-cap category is so broad and loose that generalizations about it are meaningless without first making a lot of distinctions within the category. Rothbard himself took considerably more radical positions against corporate capitalism than are common among run of the mill Catoids, and left-Rothbardians like Long and Spangler go far beyond Rothbard himself in their economic radicalism. Although their Lockeanism isn't radical enough to suit me, their radical application of it would probably affect a majority of existing absentee land titles. They have expressed sympathy with, among other things, the South Central farmers, anti-latifundist land reform in Latin America, and labor unions--hardly corporate shills, IMO.

And I don't think a system of exploitation through private cops would be very stable in a free market. Without a territorial state and its taxing and spending power, private business couldn't manage the cost-externalization necessary for corporate power. And without the backing of the territorial state to enforce entry barriers, and forcibly prevent people from buying stuff produced outside the corporate system, they would be unable to collect producer rents.

November 22, 2006 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the rates of profit, interest, and rent were nearly zero, the cycle wouldn't exist either. If the U.S. went anarcho-capitalist now, why wouldn't competition drive P, I, and R to zero?"

Then it would hardly be capitalist -- and would simply explode. Crises are caused when surplus value drops to a level which does not allow the accumulation of capital. In other words, if competition did result in this then we would be faced with another Great Depression (Tucker never did address this issue in his works -- but then self-employment was more commonplace).

Then one of two things will happen:

1. The unemployment is such that workers will agree to any job and so surplus value production gets going again.

2. The working class rebel and seize their workplaces -- and so ending capitalism once and for all.

Which of these two happen depends on the balance of power -- whether the unions are stronger than the private cops and the fascists.

In such circumstance, I guess that the right "libertarians" will turn to fascism (for a bit) like their guru von Mises in order to protect "civilisation" against the civilised.

But, to be honest, "anarcho"-capitalism could only come about by a revolution against the capitalist class (they will, of course, take some of its ideas to bolster its power in the mean time).

And if we are going to have a revolution then there seems little point in keeping capitalism after going to all the trouble of getting rid of the state. I doubt that people will say, "public tyranny is terrible but private tyranny is fine." A key problem with "anarcho"-capitalism is that it is self-contradictory and archist, with no awareness of economic power.

Kevin, my comments were about "anarcho"-capitalism in general rather than any specific group. And it takes the buscuit to call an "anarchist" think tank after a self-proclaimed non-anarchist who was hostile of the "socialist" ideas of the real founder of all forms of anarchism, Proudhon.

I have my issues with individualist anarchism in the US form but at least they had a concept of what anarchism is (a libertarian form of socialism). I would call it "inconsistent" anarchism -- and the key difference between it and "anarcho"-capitalism is that it can easily become consistent anarchism by consistently applying its own principles.

I have usually always enjoyed reading Tucker and his comrades (I think Kevin and Shawn are doing excellent work in keeping this important tradition alive). I cannot, however, say the same for Rothbard -- "The Ethics of Liberty" is one of the worse books I've read (and I've read Trotsky and Cliff!).

November 24, 2006 12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon in Comment 6,

In such circumstance, I guess that the right "libertarians" will turn to fascism (for a bit) like their guru von Mises

When did von Mises turn to fascism? He got out of Austria in 1934 to avoid it.

I cannot, however, say the same for Rothbard -- "The Ethics of Liberty" is one of the worse books I've read (and I've read Trotsky and Cliff!).

It's one of the worst philosophy books ever written. When the Mises Institute and their ilk complain that Rothbard never got his due, EoL is one reason why. Absolute trash.

- Josh

November 25, 2006 4:24 PM  
Blogger freeman said...

"It's an odd feature of the anarchist tradition over the years that it seems to have often bred highly authoritarian personality types, who legislate what the Doctrine IS, and with various degrees of fury (often great) denounce those who depart from what they have declared to be the True Principles. Odd form of anarchism."
-- Noam Chomsky

December 05, 2006 4:20 AM  
Blogger Francis St-Pierre said...

A6 : But, to be honest, "anarcho"-capitalism could only come about by a revolution against the capitalist class

What would you say about this assertion :

No matter what men espouse or believe politically, their actions tend to be those that are efficient as a means to supporting human life and therefore, by definition, increase wealth.

-- More total wealth = less state per individual.

December 09, 2006 11:52 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Francis St.-Pierre,

I'd agree, with the qualification that the individuals concerned operate in an environment without perverse incentives from privilege and subsidy. The people running the present corporate economy decidedly do not take actions that tend to the efficient promotion of human life. Because they do not internalize the negative consequences of their actions, the result is Pareto non-optimality: they benefit as individuals from actions that actually reduce net social utility.

This is the root of what Ivan Illich called "counter-productivity" or the "second watershed," when technologies are adopted past the point of diminishing returns. The problem is that he saw this adoption as spontaneous, rather than as the result of economic privilege distorting rational incentives.

December 12, 2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger Francis St-Pierre said...

Kevin : "I'd agree, with the qualification that the individuals concerned operate in an environment without perverse incentives from privilege and subsidy. The people running the present corporate economy decidedly do not take actions that tend to the efficient promotion of human life."

Well, this is exactly the point. State services (justice, police, roads, healthcare, etc.) are far from being efficient, almost by definition.

People do seek the most efficient options for essential services, but also for more advanced needs such as postal services and business loans. All of these small shifts away from State services combined make a difference in the long run.

Of course leaders benefit from inefficient activities, but what power do they ultimately have to stop people from seeking efficiency for themselves?

As people's basic needs are fulfilled without spending 90% of their earnings, they can now vote with their wallet.

December 12, 2006 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Money is driving this, that's just how it is going to be. Money has a way of leading people down all kinds of wrong paths, sadly where the common good seems to evaporate.

December 23, 2006 8:34 PM  
Blogger zapatista said...

How would property be distributed? Like how would property be taken back when an individual is no longer occupying it? What institution would regulate this?

April 09, 2008 5:19 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Most individualist anarchists believe these things would be done in a way that reflects the local community's consensus on the rules of the game, and enforced by free juries or similar judicial bodies. And since it would be a society of small occupant-owners, the rules would probably be set with their interests in mind: namely, to be able to go on extended vacations, and the like, without having to worry about their homes being taken over. One likely scenario: a would-be homesteader announces his intention of occupying a house that's apparently been abandoned for several years. A jury of the local community convenes a hearing on the question, and requests witnesses who might know something about the owner and his activities, whether he left a forwarding address, etc. After some conventional waiting period, if there were no news of the previous owner, the would-be homesteader might be given provisional title to use the land pending the owner's return, so long as he made no major structural changes to the house, etc. After another waiting period, the restrictions might be lifted and full ownership recognized, on the ground that the owner was responsible for taking reasonable precautions in making his intent of resuming possession widely known. It would really be a somewhat more possession-oriented version of how the common law treats constructive abandonment.

April 09, 2008 8:40 AM  

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