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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Anarchists Want To Force You Into Anarchism!"

 A common misconception I often hear is that anarchists are contradictory in their anti-authoritarianism since they want to force everyone under a particular system, and are thus authoritarian in their own right. From my own experience, this is said not just by "anarcho"-capitalists who claim social anarchists want to force everyone under libertarian socialism but also from those who call themselves "anarchist without adjectives" and "panarchists" who insist that individuals who promote one particular school of anarchism (be it mutualism, collectivism, anarcho-communism, and so on) want to force the entire world under their system. Though it should be mentioned that "anarchism without adjectives" traditionally meant anarchists who were agnostic about which economic system to implement rather than today's "anarchism without adjectives" which seems to be more of a call for pluralism among all anarchist economic systems, a point I will touch on shortly.

Anarchism as a philosophy stresses a holistic set of values, hence why anarchists promote anti-authoritarianism, direct democracy, and so on. The reason for this is because these values promote a plurality of values, as individuals are able to fully maximize their individual autonomy. However, all these values are derived from the preconditions of specific values, so unles you agree to be anti-authoritarian and maintain a system that's based on anti-authorianism you will not have that plurality. The real issue is how we come to agree upon those values and enforce them without a hierarchical power structure. So if one holds an "anything goes" attitude towards new institutions and planning they will (ironically) not get a plurality of values, since some of the systems which may come out of this "anything goes" means of doing things will not meet the prerequisite for the plurality that the more "laissez faire" types claim to strive for. As an example, you could see a reemergence of capitalism or the governing state with specific systems. In a market anarchist society, individuals would have to concern themselves with the potential for capitalist property relations to re-emerge through the divorce of possession from occupancy and use to the point where the right-of-increase becomes prevalent and class society forms, whereas an anarcho-communist society would face the potential for governmental statism to re-emerge also through the divorce of possession from occupancy and use to the point where individuals and all property become entirely subordinated to "the commune". Either way, individuals and the institutions they create within each system will have to subscribe to a certain amount of values and principles if they want to maintain a society where autonomy and equality are maximized. Some anarchist systems could smoothly coexist with each other as well. In a mutualist society, communes could easily become parts of the federation; in a communist society, gifting could be done on a reciprocal basis.

Most of all, every anarchist school initially promotes a plurality of institutions and systems. Where did Proudhon say he was going to get the federation to uproot communes? Where did Kropotkin say he was going to force societies to not be mutualist or collectivist? What anarchists who promote a particular school of anarchism claim is that a society ought to be run in this system if anarchist values of autonomy and equality are to be produced and remain as such. That was Proudhon's argument against what he called "communism" and Kropotkin's argument against what he saw as mutualism. These attributes are hardly unique to "anarchists without adjectives". Anarchists of all schools never, ever say they want to force everyone under a particular system, they just claim that the specific system they advocate would result in something more desirable. For example, an anarchist society where you have elements of capitalism and governmental statism will probably be far less free and egalitarian than a system where these elements don't exist. No one is going to force that society out of its quasi-capitalism, however, if people chose to implement those particular property norms or institutions the end result will not be anarchy or anything close to anarchy (assuming that "absolute anarchy" is improbable). Likewise, preserving or instituting authoritarian cultural norms will not result in anarchy. If groups want to keep practicing them, fine, but they shouldn't expect a freer society to be the end result.

Of course, when deciding how we're going to accomplish our goals we can simply point to general tendencies of certain systems and see what does or doesn't ultimately result in more freedom and equality. No one follows a textbook like it's some infallible work that needs to be followed word-for-word. We just look at what institutions and systems are better at carrying out our values and specifically go with that. As a mutualist, I believe the best way we can achieve these goals is if our institutions and property relations incorporate reciprocity in principle and action. (I've explained this idea in this post as well.) As far as the issue of compulsion goes, any society will require some kind of compulsion, since obligations will always exist, though we can take efforts to heavily reduce the need for compulsion by balancing individualist and collectivist elements.

Finally, I thought I'd bring up the allegedly "adjectives-less" approach. From what I have seen, what is called "anarchism without adjectives" is more of an appropriation than a rejection of adjectives. I have witnessed "an"-caps and individuals who hold similar ideologies label themselves "anarchist without adjectives" merely because they wouldn't oppose mutualists creating a market socialist system or communists creating a commune down the road from them, and assume that holding this view gives them a free pass into social anarchist spaces. It's hardly limited to market anarchists though. I know of social anarchists who use the "without adjectives" label who presuppose what a future society would look like before norms, customs, and so forth have been decided upon. Personally, I feel that it's impractical to go into activism which takes on such a huge long-term goal of complete social revolution without a clear-cut set of values. You're going to have to create new institutions and forms of exchange, which will ultimately lead to new social relations and new paradigms, so putting your finger in the air and going whichever way the wind blows seems very naive and unthoughtful. Agnosticism doesn't appear to be a good idea, especially now that actions and new paradigms are needed more than ever.

15 comments:

  1. Rothbardianism (ancap) is 100% authoritarian. They advocate for the "freedom" to choose your monarch. They are against the state, but not against monarchy. Hermann Hoppe glorifies monopoly of hierarchy (monarch) and shuns direct democracy.

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    1. I'm extremely familiar with that line of thinking. Hoppe makes me laugh he's so nutty.

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    2. ancap as a whole isn't necessarily authoritarian. Hoppe, however, is both an authoritarian and a racist nut, and it annoys me that there are ancaps who take him seriously.

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    3. Actually, any capitalist system would become de facto authoritarian. Capitalist property creates systems of authority and dominance. If you want to form a capitalist society "after the revolution" then go for it: just don't expect it to be in anarchy or anything close to anarchy.

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    4. Venum Veneno, actually no. Ancapism advocates freedom NOT to choose monarch and actually prefers that anyone would be their own monarch (self-ownership, NAP etc.)

      So stop trolling and using strawmen.

      If there is group of anarchists that love free-association more than anything, it is ancaps.

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    5. But would "an"-caps oppose voluntary monarchs?

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    6. "Ancapism advocates freedom NOT to choose monarch and actually prefers that anyone would be their own monarch (self-ownership, NAP etc.)"

      This is just silly. Everyone CAN'T be their own monarchs in a capitalist society. The whole point of capitalism is to leverage your private ownership of capital into a fortune by forcing others to accept less than they otherwise would for their goods and services while forcing them to pay you more for yours. That's literally the only way to make profit, and profit is typically used to finance private fortunes and/or to aquire more capital and thus more profit.

      There is literally NO WAY for everyone to be a private monarch in any capitalist society, because to do this, you would need to make sure everyone had access to the same amount of capital at all times.

      The only way to do that is to eliminate private property, and thus, to eliminate capitalism.

      So AnCaps can go on all they want about wanting everyone to be their own "self-owning monarchs" just like i can go on about how I want everyone to have their own magical flying unicorn: It's not going to happen, and our respective ideologies can't make it happen.

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  2. Hoppe is not "pro-monarchist" (If you actually care about accuracy in this blog), he just suggests that a monarchy would be better suited for minarchic organization because a democracy will tend to treat the public sector as a rivalrous good. Meaning, a monarch would act as a better care-taker of the commons. The agents of a democracy view other agents as eternal competitors in the application of state force and the consumption of state expropriations.

    Beyond that situation, Hoppe is an anarchist, who differs with anarcho-socialists in the justification of private property (anarcho-capitalist). It's kind of lame to attack these men in such a clumsy way.

    Interesting perspective though for the article. Anarchism without adjectives and panarchism are really anarcho-capitalism/market anarchism. Essentially, there would be a market for government.

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    1. "Hoppe is an anarchist"

      This has to be a joke. Sorry, but with the promotion of monarchy aside the system which Hoppe advocates for is not anarchistic. The governing principle would arise with landlordism or those restrictive covenants he promotes.

      I'm very familiar with Hobbes' arguments for monarchy (which I'm assuming Hoppe applies) and I'm not convinced. Historically speaking, monarchies have been far more authoritarian than republics (not to say republics are "free" in any way but only that they are "freer" insofar that they give a tiny bit of power to the common people whereas a monarchy does not). Also, monarchs don't believe in "the commons". What "the commons" were in the medieval era were plots of land left aside for the peasants. I know of Hoppe's book and all he basically does is use a few calculations to "prove" that a dictatorship would be more efficient than a republic, which is incredibly dubious. Does he use any empirical examples or does he just derive everything a priori like most Austrian Schoolers do?

      "Anarchism without adjectives and panarchism are really anarcho-capitalism/market anarchism. Essentially, there would be a market for government."

      You are conflating the term "market" with "competition", implying that any form of competition is a market. This is totally false. Competition happens in non-market societies all the time (read my senior thesis if you want some examples of competition in gift economies).

      With that said, a few people I know who advocate the AWA position are essentially calling for city-states located miles apart from each other where each city-state has its own economic system. It would result in a giant clusterfuck very quickly, not just because of issues with infrastructure but also with issues of relations between each of those city-states. How the fuck does a communist community trade with a capitalist one? What happens when the capitalists are sitting on top of resources that communists and mutualists need to survive? See what I mean?

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    2. Actually now that I think about it, I certainly advocated that position as an ancap (so for about another year), believing people could just form groups based upon their ideology (whether it was authoritarian communist or market anarchist or social democrat or republican authoritarian)...as long as they all kept to their bits of (ancap-defined) property strewn about.

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  3. Well, anarchism is not like Marxism, a doctrinal "scientific" approach, anarchism is alive and always adapting and evolving. That's why in the Spanish Revolution, you had "anarcho-communism" in zones were abundance existed, and Mutualism where scarcity existed, in fact, many CNT controlled enterprises sold their products on the international market (albeit the blockade make it hard). Errico Malatesta said that these schools of economic thought are not supreme, but expression of certain conditions, and what those conditions require. The problem is not about what economic model we will adopt, the problem is what TACTIC we should adopt to ignire the flames of social revolution, that will lead there.

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    1. I generally agree that tactics should be the most considered when moving towards a new society. However, I would add that tactics are most often based on the economic system you are trying to create. For example, anarcho-communists won't have much use for an alternative currency like Bitcoin, and some market anarchists might not have much use for radical unionism (seeing as how many of them seem hellbent on self-employment instead of taking over existing workplaces to run them democratically and horizontally).

      The notion of taking up a particular school of anarchism rather than an "AWA" approach isn't out of any kind of intellectual elitism, but rather as a means of mapping out where you and others want to move. In other words, it should serve as a guide rather than a hardline dogma, as I mentioned in my post above. No one thinks that an anarchist society would be or should be homogenous; what we do is try to get an understanding of which institutions, organizations, forms of exchange, relations, etc. would maximize individual sovereignty for all. If others want to implement a form of organization that we feel would not result in this maximization of liberty, we will let them go at it, we'd just warn them that what they're implementing will not result in anarchy.

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    2. I completely agree, but on which institutions, organizations, forms of exchange, relations, etc. will the future a society will be based, depends on the revolutionary and post revolutionary society and the conditions it dictates. The same idea applies to tactics, the environment should dictate what tactics are better, we need to be anchored in reality, not in abstract thought.

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    3. I will say though that I can see why it would be problematic to take an "after the revolution" stance on things, just because what you envision will ultimately dictate the tactics used and vice-versa. We should always keep in mind that the governmental principle/hierarchical authority can always return no matter what our tactics to abolish it, so we always have to be determined to anarchism.

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  4. Great blog, I found it through anarchopac on youtube who also has some great ideas.

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