Home > Voluntaryism > We are the true anarchists

We are the true anarchists

My fellow anarchists, please stop this yellow-red, ancap-ancom, East-West-rap feud nonsense. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Many anarcho-capitalists (and voluntaryists) and anarcho-communists (and mutualists) claim to be the only true anarchists. This claim is unhelpful, divisive and unfair. They claim the ideas of the other side would lead to a mere rearranging of capitalist property relations or rehashing old, failed communist policy. These claims are unlikely to be true, as, whether you can admit it or not, all anarchist theories are revolutionary. If you do not see that, it is unlikely you have spent much time trying to understand them.

This feuding is, in fact, typical of people who do not expect to succeed in their missions. The main political parties in any country work together, at least on some issues; the weakest are constantly bickering among themselves. It is possible governments place agents provocateurs among anarchists and other minorities to keep them divided. I do not know how to tell such a person online. Suffice to say, it is easy to make a guy feel he is right and you (and your whole team) are wrong: just dismiss his argument without appearing to consider it. We can resist these divide-and-conquer tactics by committing to unity of principle and purpose while encouraging diversity of opinion. But it tends not to work that way in practice.

Stupid anarcho-communists still don’t understand that we have to have property rights to have a free society. Damn anarcho-capitalists want to maintain hierarchies and classes by allowing property and bosses. They are not even anarchists! Anarchists are what I say they are. Well, are you against rulers? Then you are all anarchists. The debate rages, while the stateless society is still a glint in the revolutionary’s eye. Is there nothing more laudable on which we could be spending our time? Many anarchists spend hours a day arguing over the minutiae of what a stateless society should look like. They get angry and fall into disunity over questions that do not matter at present. The common goal is the removal of the state. The target is clear. It does not matter how many feathers are on our arrows. Work together. It is not as hard as you are making it.

I have a problem with anarcho-capitalists who claim a kind of absolute right to property. What if some people do not have anywhere to stay and want to squat on land you have claimed? What if they want to drink from a river or a part of a river you call your own? Anarcho-communists would say that is aggression. They also point out there is possession, distinct from property, which means you can hold on to something. But simply because you had more money or got there first is not a good reason that you have permanent and complete power over it.

Green anarchists would also point out though homesteading may not mean stealing from another human, it may destroy the environment and steal from other living things. Build homes, but do not shoot anyone who steps on your lawn. Build farms and factories, but not so big they flatten the landscape. At an extreme, property is illegitimate to someone who believes aggression is immoral.

My problem with anarcho-communists is the likelihood that a society without any ownership at all leads inevitably to the tragedy of the commons. Not all property is legitimate, nor does it need to be in the hands of individuals when it could be held by communities; but it seems necessary to me that someone consider it their property in order to take care of it. Property is useful because in a world of scarcity and anonymity, all resources are contestable and many of them will be contested. We can assign property to the person and people with the best link to the resource, thus making conflicts far easier to resolve. See chapter 3 of my book for further discussion of property in a stateless society.

So I disagree with you but I disagree with everyone on something. That does not mean I am not the right kind of anarchist and should be insulted and cast aside. It means I have something different to contribute.

Until you convince another few million people, your ideal society will be little more than a dream. You might need to work with others–especially those whose ideals are actually pretty similar to yours–to achieve it.

  1. January 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm | #1

    Hey dude =) I just created a website on wordpress. I’m trying to understand the nuances of everything here, and want to join the community. Any help you can lend me would be much appreciated. Check out my site and see if you want to mutually link our sites together.

    • January 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm | #2

      Looks pretty cool and you can always ask me for feedback and stuff, though I dunno if it’s really related to what this blog is about.

      -Chris

      • January 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm | #3

        Well I literally just created my site. I plan on covering social/political issues in the near future. Would you like to mutually link our sites when I do? Also any advice on how to make my site look ordered and nice would be appreciated.
        Thanks,
        Chris

      • January 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm | #4

        Sure, that would be great.

        The only advice I feel qualified to give is to figure out what kind of content you want to write (think of a niche) and write really good stuff. That’s what they say: content is king. That said, there is a lot you can learn about social media marketing that I don’t do much but all the info is out there.

  2. January 10, 2013 at 5:08 am | #5

    You make a good point. I think it is necessary for radicals to work together. I would also say that anarcho-communism, towards which I lean, does not mean that no one can have any private property. But it does mean the resources, the production, and the distribution of goods produced are controlled by the community as whole. Hence, in a general sense there is no private property, but in a particular sense the steel workers own the steel mill, the grocery workers own the community grocery storehouse (no longer a store with buying and selling under anarcho-communism) , the farmers own the farm, the textile workers own the textile mills, the auto workers own the auto factory. Everyone “owns” their own clothes, home, and plot of land. Everyone in the community is free to consume the goods produced, but no one is allowed to accumulate what is produced at the expense of the community. I have a hard time understanding how capitalism is compatible with anarchism, as it will create an employing, owning, propertied class, that in the absence of an “official” state, would be the “unofficial” state. That being said, I have found many things in common with right libertarians and think there is ample room to talk, discuss, and work together.

    • January 10, 2013 at 12:12 pm | #6

      Well put :)

      Also it’s the difference between private property and personal property is it not? In a Libertarianism Socialist / Social Anarchist world, productive private property (i.e. property currently owned by the corporations or upper classes) would be given to the commons, but personal tangible property would be respected…

      • January 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm | #7

        Toey Jammer, what if I work really hard and save up money and then pay some people to build me a factory? Shouldn’t it be mine?

    • January 10, 2013 at 5:49 pm | #8

      Well said, thank you. I have no disagreement with the vision you sketch. It sounds ideal. If the people around are ideologically non-aggressive (that term is a little loaded but I use it broadly) there is no reason people in such communities could not coexist with other types of anarchists–though perhaps not easily in the same community.

      Capitalism is one of those things that means different things in different contexts. I don’t think libertarians who call themselves capitalist believe it would create a propertied class. In fact, they would probably argue prosperity would be so widespread as to have nearly eliminated poverty. We know that is possible from seeing places like Canada and Western Europe. Without a state to fiddle with the economy and kill incentives to produce the poor would probably have that much more.

      It is possible capitalism necessarily creates class distinctions but if there is no state, the upper class (and to a commensurately lesser extent, the middle classes) doesn’t have its own private armies (the police and other security forces) paid for by someone else, so class distinctions would not be so bad. I do not see what is necessarily wrong with having inequality of wealth; it is only when inequalities get severe, or they cause the impoverishment of the lower classes, or are held in place by force, that they are truly problematic.

      • January 10, 2013 at 9:59 pm | #9

        Chris, So what use do you have for a factory if you are part of a community where all of your essential needs (i.e. food, water, shelter, clothing, health, education, etc …) are taken care of?

        Personally I think it comes down to realising that wealth accumulation is NOT a source of happiness. Take our indigenous peoples BEFORE they where “colonised” for example. Sure they didn`t have the “modern technology” we had, but they were ALLOT happier than we were. They knew their place in the world and had a spiritual connection with the earth in which they knew they came from. In a sense you could say they where much more advanced than us and our endless (and unsustainable) pursuit of “capital wealth”… They actually had an anarchy society which for the most part worked beautifully!

        (I’m from Australia and I’m assuming your from the US)

      • January 11, 2013 at 12:05 am | #10

        You don’t want to assume that ;)

        I agree with pretty much everything you say but I could still provide a counter argument of an ancap (not that I’m saying that’s what I am) and my perspective, having worked for small and medium businesses before. Accumulation and creating wealth through free exchange are two different things. I don’t see anything wrong with creating wealth as long as you do not suck it out of the community. Usually, creating wealth means creating jobs and giving people things they want, things that benefit them in one way or another. And when people are free to exchange, and give and take, all of which are characteristic of the free market, and use a currency for that if they like, it tends to benefit just about everyone.

      • January 11, 2013 at 12:11 am | #11

        Cool Chris, and I agree :)

      • January 11, 2013 at 12:59 am | #12

        I guess an other way to look at it.. An anarchist society has to allow for every minority… Even the ones who want to consume till they self destruct. So long as they don’t effect the ones who are happy to just be which is essentially what is happening now with the environment and climate change.

        I personally believe we have a lot learn from our Indigenous brothers. We have huge problems with social inequality and intergration for our Aboriginal population here in Australia. Check out this documentary, the Aboriginal elder Uncle Bob is an inspiration!

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