Monday, July 10, 2006

Refuting Capitalism.org: Anarchy vs State Capitalism

Oh boy, here we go. I've got some personal investment in this. It's no secret for people who have followed me that I used to be an Objectivist. While I was definitely never of the Randian variety (and despised them more than anyone), much of my philosophical thinking was (and is still) guided by a strong commitment to reality and reason, and by extension individualism. Nowadays, "Objectivist" seems to be a slur word, and I don't know why that is. I think people just hate consistency- after all, if someone is perfectly consistent, how can you convert them to your own belief system?

I have realized, over the course of the years, that some elements of Objectivism were actually less than rigorous- its theory of knowledge, the disputes about moral sanction, and political morality (even before I deconverted). It would be rather improbable for an Objectivist to be a market anarchist, so that makes me wonder why people still accuse me of being one. I guess it's an easy cheap shot.

Is Capitalism.org the kind of site I admired? Actually, it's been around for a long time, and I did like the site, even though it was run by Randian cultists. But it does not pain me to discuss why their view of anarchy is completely and utterly wrong, devoid of any comprehension whatsoever- just what you'd expect from a cultist.

They leap off the gate screaming and raving, in a big font:

Anarchism is not a form of capitalism; anarchism is a form of collectivism, where individual rights are subject to the rule of competing gangs


Now, this is a common criticism- that we advocate the existence of armed gangs or "warlords". But if they're warlords, then what is a president or prime minister? This is yet another case of Special Pleading. If a person who gives orders to thousands of armed men is a gang leader, then what is a person who gives orders to hundreds of thousands of armed men?

Are they gang leaders because they can decide to use force at any time? Then what about the leader of an army? Declarations of war are not even needed any more... just a suitable blanket of propaganda for a couple months and you can do pretty much anything.

There is no more reason to call a protection agency a "gang" than there is to call an already existing security company a "gang". Both are groups that exist because of their customers. They have no incentive to start shooting people up and encurring both costs to their customers and the ire of the law. And they offer services in a more efficient way than any government organization.

And Objectivists believe in natural rights, so how can individual rights be "subject to" anyone? I assume they mean "the expression of individual rights...", as that would at least make sense. But the statement still doesn't make sense. Are they saying that "competing gangs" take away people's rights? No, that would be the state, which inevitably expands against individual rights because of its inherent incentive system. Why would a private company want to alienate its customers, when it has no state to rely on? This remains unanswered.

We continue with the Special Pleading at the end of their first question:

What you purpose are multiple agencies (what you incorrectly accuse to be private corporations) in the same geographic area, that have the power to use force subject to no rule of law...


Well of course they are not subject to "the rule of law". There is no law! Rather, "the law" is replaced by freely chosen codes of conduct, which are enforced by the protection agencies. This does not mean that the agencies can do whatever they want and shoot up whoever they want. If they did so, their profit would dwindle, and they would be considered rogue by other, more reputable agencies, with the associated consequences.

This specious "no law = no order" reasoning permates the whole page. To wit, the answer to the next question, which is "Why can't corporations exist without government?" (!)

Under capitalism, corporations are the result of a specific contractual legal framework (provided by government), based on the principle of individual rights. Without government, the distinction between public (state owned) and private no longer exists. Corporations cannot exist without individual rights, and governments to protect those individual rights.


Now how exactly is the state necessary for a "specific contractual legal framework"? I wouldn't expect the Randians to know this, but... international businesses and international transactions completely demolish their argument. There is no international government, and yet corporations get along just fine using private arbitration- a specifically market anarchist feature. And corporations have done the same for most of history! The history of business law is one of agreed-upon rules, not of government fiat.

We see some more basic ignorance of anarchy in their next answer:

Have you ever thought what happens when one 'corporate protection agency' disagrees with another? By what method do they solve their dispute? They do it by competition not with dollars, but with guns. They seek to solve their dispute by resorting to force against each other, i.e., a perpetual state of civil war.


Actually yes, we have thought about what happens when a protection agency disagrees with another. It's called "arbitration". Two agencies have no interest in the costly use of violence, when they can settle disputes in advance by establishing a single code to be used in cases involving both agencies. That way, the simplicity of the system remains, and the use of violence is in fact not needed at all.

What the Capitalism.org crew is describing here, is international relations. "Countries" do not compete with dollars, but with guns. They seek to solve their disputes by resorting to force against each other. Given the incentive system of the state, that is what we should expect as well!

And it is not what we observe in international business. Corporations do not declare war on each other. Why not? Because war is costly and uncertain, and they also face judicial and retaliative complications even if they win. Instead, they settle their disputes through arbitration. Just like we say agencies will in a market anarchy.

And we end with a laugh-out-loud bluster:

For those who want an illustration of what happens when two 'competing-governments' are arguing with each other in the same geographical area, I give you the libertarian ideal: Bosnia. This is the result of the anarcho-capitalist's ill-thought out nightmare: a species of collectivism, where one is subject to the whims of the tribe or gang in power.

On a micro-level one can observe anarchism in black markets, where drug dealers compete with each other on the same "turf" to "protect" their interests.


I am laughing so hard... do I even need to answer this at all? These imbeciles are stating that a war fought between TWO STATES, and a black market that exists BECAUSE OF THE STATE, are anarchic scenarios! How plain stupid can you get? This is your brain on a cult, ladies and gentlemen.

What you have to understand about Objectivists, is that they are not capitalist in the same sense that anarcho-capitalists are. What they propose is State Capitalism: a system where the wealthy and powerful can exploit the state for their own ends. These people have more in common with right-wing buffoonery than with real economics.

13 comments:

autodogmatic.com said...

Nice write up. Having originally started down the path to anarchy by way of The Fountainhead and other books by Ayn Rand, only to never consider myself exactly an Objectivist and eventually realize that I was actually an anarchist (longest sentence ever), I was surprised to learn of how ridiculous the Randian/Objectivist folk seem to be.

I've never discovered my beliefs by first picking a title and then fitting myself to such title's description (with the exception of my childhood venture into Christianity). Rather, I've determined what it is I believed only to later have someone tell me, "So you're an anarchist, right?" Oh, well, hmm ... yeah I guess I am.

What was it specifically that drove you out of Objectivism, by the way?

Just recently found your blog and have enjoyed it thus far (Day 1, but you're on my Google Reader). I blog as "Neal" over on autoDogmatic.com. Check it out and let me know if anything piques your interest (Note that the three other bloggers on my site are not anarchists. There is still hope for them, though).

-Neal

ryan e said...

Thanks francois for that repsonse. I felt tempted to do it myself but found it to be quite challenging.

Part of the problem with their view is they don't understand the meaning of anarchy, collective, and they don't understand how government "works":

"The removal of all taxation would be the last step to implement in the transition to a free capitalist society. The costs of a proper government -- with an army (engaged only in self-defense and not imperialism), a court system, and a police force -- are very small, and easily paid for by voluntary financing methods."

Wow, they are advocating Anarchy! If they had some sense, they would realize that the "government" gains power through taxation. If there is no taxation, and people paid money to one group for defense, police, and courts, they are buying a product in a free market. They apparently just can't come to the conclusion that multiple companies could provide this service. Furthermore, they can't realize that again this is anarchy.

It's like they understand everything about market anarchy, but don't understand that there is no such thing as "government". For some reason these people just are different than everyone else because they where a badge? or wear a robe?

Even funnier these people ("government") own the land right? To govern over a land, you kinda have to own it right? NOPE, not according to capitalism.org:

"Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned."

All property is privately owned! I'm really trying to understand this.

The people who run this site really need to rethink there position as it does not pertain to logic.

A quick breakdown: a group of people(who are just like everyone else) go around (with the potential to put people to death), and lock up "the real criminals". This right to lock people up is under the principle of individual rights( because some one who initiates force unto another is breeching some ones individual rights). These people provide this service by the private "charity" of the whole society( instead of through taxation).

This idea is completely ridiculous. People will not just pay money to some group for protection. Again, multiple agencies will provide the service of protection because once again, this society described is an anarchy.

I find that calling anarchy "collective" is just blantantly ignorant. I hope capitalism.org comes to their senses and realize this "system" they decribe is lunacy or at least remove their moronic comments about anarchy.

Francois Tremblay said...

Yes, you have the best attitude about it. Very individualistic, the label serves to identify, not to define. Although it can be helpful to understand related ideas as well, sometimes.

Like I said in my post, the things that got me away from Objectivism were the epistemic theory and political morality. Those were the really big ones that stuck to me.

dlkjdfsa said...

I read the post twice. I'm new to the ideas of anarchy but have major doubts. Politics have always made me pissed yet I do think there needs to be a government. I would like to see the United Counties of Earth some day. I have a fondness of Socialism, Environmentalism, and Humanism. Please don't tell the red neck Americans I'm surrounded by! I am a soft Atheist.

I wasn't going to make any bold statements about Anarchy for fear of looking like an idiot. I was really just going to ask a question. Then I saw you have content moderation turned on....... What the fuck? What kind of Anarchist are you? Explain the content moderation and I might start commenting.

Francois Tremblay said...

"Then I saw you have content moderation turned on....... What the fuck? What kind of Anarchist are you? Explain the content moderation and I might start commenting."

If you need to know, I started it a couple weeks ago because of a couple of statist trolls who were posting inappropriate comments. If it really bothers you that much, don't comment. I am here to post about Market Anarchist theory, which is a pretty narrow topic, and I'm not really out for a big readership, so I don't feel like I ought to care too much about what does or does not bother you.

If you can grok that, however, I will be more than happy to answer your further questions.

dlkjdfsa said...

I understand the Troll issue. I had a strong feeling it would be the T word. I just thought it was funny to see an Anarchist blog with content moderation. I have a pack of hateful Christian readers that constantly try and hurt my feelings. Idiots. No one has been able to hurt me with words so I see it as a game. I have the upper hand with actual thoughts in my mind instead of the dribble that comes out of there pecks.

"Both are groups that exist because of their customers."

Why would there need to be protection agencies if there weren't threats of violence and theft? I hate to see so many gated communities in New Orleans. Who would protect the people that can't afford protection? I definitely think government is messed up. But I think it's core problem is that it tries to creates laws in the wrong areas usually stemmed from religion.

I just did a tour of duty through the bible belt. If those little Christian clans were able to have there own rules and law enforcers to travel around the country. I feel I already were a target on my forehead being an atheist in the south. I would be lynched in a second flat if they didn't have to answer in a court of law. I think anarchy sounds nice and might work if everyone was a humane atheist with a world view. Wouldn't anarchy just create a billion little governments(customer groups) right now? I live in a part of New Orleans with "their" own security police agencies. Thank god I'm white or I would feel really creeped out.

Francois Tremblay said...

"I just thought it was funny to see an Anarchist blog with content moderation. I have a pack of hateful Christian readers that constantly try and hurt my feelings. Idiots."

Well, I don't know what your blog is about, but this blog is a technical blog on issues that concern few people. Therefore I basically do not tolerate anything- there is no reason for most people to be here. I heartily welcome the others however.


"Why would there need to be protection agencies if there weren't threats of violence and theft?"

There's always threats of violence and theft, wherever you are. This is just human nature. People are self-interested and sometimes resort to crime because they think it's an easier way to make a buck (which it can be). The only question is whether you are allowed to protect yourself or not. We definitely agree that you should be allowed to protect yourself, as long as you respect other people's freedom.


"Who would protect the people that can't afford protection?"

Who does it now? Do you really think people who live in ghettos torn by the War on Drugs, created by the state, are "protected" by the state? Agencies in an anarchy would have no interest in perpetuating that. Why spend the money when most people don't support it anyway?


"I just did a tour of duty through the bible belt."

... not in the military, I hope? If so, may I recommend that this blog may not be for you.


"If those little Christian clans were able to have there own rules and law enforcers to travel around the country. I feel I already were a target on my forehead being an atheist in the south. I would be lynched in a second flat if they didn't have to answer in a court of law."

What, you don't want to be protected yourself? Your agencies would have a couple of things to say about that...


"I think anarchy sounds nice and might work if everyone was a humane atheist with a world view."

Actually, if everyone is evil, then the last thing you want is a center of power that they can take over and exploit. It's just simple logic.


"Wouldn't anarchy just create a billion little governments(customer groups) right now?"

Government have the power to extort, steal, enslave and kill. A private company that did that would lose 99% of its customers in 10 seconds flat.

Francois Tremblay said...

By the way, if you'd like to talk with me and others, we always like to get new people in our group. My Skype username is francoistremblay28144. We don't bite. ;)

dlkjdfsa said...

There's always threats of violence and theft, wherever you are. This is just human nature.

That is bullshit. Human nature is to be loving, nurture our young and support our friends and family. Granted religion has divided the world into hating groups because of faiths that can not be disproved. I think Atheism is the answer because we look at ourselves as Earth Beings not American Christians, English Muslims, etc..

The only question is whether you are allowed to protect yourself or not.

Every rose has a thorn.

Do you really think people who live in ghettos torn by the War on Drugs, created by the state, are "protected" by the state? Ghettos... created by the state

Ghettos are caused by more than the state alone. And yes police do enter these areas. Granted there is a natural desire not to because of the increased risk. The general philosophy in the mind of the police right now is, the problem is to big, just let them kill each other. The problem with that mind set is there are innocent people that have been brain washed into thinking they can't escape or improve the ghetto and children that had no choice in being born in the Ghetto and eventually perpetuate it.

"I just did a tour of duty through the bible belt."
... not in the military, I hope?


As an evangelical atheist. I do carry a knife.

Actually, if everyone is evil, then the last thing you want is a center of power that they can take over and exploit. It's just simple logic.


If everyone is "evil" we are all screwed no matter what. That is logic.

Government have the power to extort, steal, enslave and kill. A private company that did that would lose 99% of its customers in 10 seconds flat.

Not if the customer base didn't give a shit about human/animal rights. America is the "land of the free" and yet our consumers support communism. I try not to buy anything from China but they make such good knives....

Francois Tremblay said...

"That is bullshit. Human nature is to be loving, nurture our young and support our friends and family. Granted religion has divided the world into hating groups because of faiths that can not be disproved. I think Atheism is the answer because we look at ourselves as Earth Beings not American Christians, English Muslims, etc.."

I think that's an oversimplification. But I did not mean that everyone wanted to commit crimes. Simply that it is also part of human nature.


"Ghettos are caused by more than the state alone."

The War on Drugs is a creation of the state. That is the #1 problem.


"As an evangelical atheist. I do carry a knife."

Good, good...


"If everyone is "evil" we are all screwed no matter what. That is logic."

Sure, but having a state only hurts the situation anyway. That was my point. (and even "being evil" has degrees)


"Not if the customer base didn't give a shit about human/animal rights."

People want to be free. That is, again, human nature. They buy these services for themselves, not for others. They have zero incentive to support theft and murder.


"America is the "land of the free" and yet our consumers support communism."

Because they offer better products. That is the law of the market. You offer a good product, you are rewarded. It's accountability.

dlkjdfsa said...

The War on Drugs is a creation of the state. That is the #1 problem.

I don't think the war on drugs created the state as much as mankind's agricultural revolution and the advent of money. I do however agree with you that the war on drugs is problem #1. If drugs were legalized there would be an enormous drop in the crime rates. I would insist that penalties for drinking/tweaking/trippin'/buzzin' and driving get far more sever. Everyone should be responsible for there actions regardless of there state of mind.

Sure, but having a state only hurts the situation anyway. That was my point. (and even "being evil" has degrees)

I think mankind will always have the capacity to be evil. Those that can not suppress it should be dealt with according to there crime. I truly think that with education most of the evil would vanish from this world. Education tears down the walls that separate us. What's really frightening to me is that religions are again penetrating the schools.

Because they offer better products. That is the law of the market. You offer a good product, you are rewarded. It's accountability.

I don't think that is why Wall-mat is so successful. Most of there products are crap. It's the price that drive people to shop there. The prices are so low because of sweat shops in China. The knife I carry most often is a folding locking blade box cutter with a replaceable razor. I've never seen anything like it. It was 8$, made in China with an American patent pending. My second favorite knife is a stainless steel Push Dagger made in the USA, $85. The Push Dagger is illegal in Massachusetts and California??? Be scared, be very scared..... You have an evil big brother underneath you Canadians.

I've enjoyed what I've heard from you and Alleee on Vox. Keep up the good work! If you ever need another voice for atheism I would love to participate. :)

Francois Tremblay said...

Send me your stuff at francoistremblay28@gmail.com

And like I said, don't hesitate to come see us on Skype. We always welcome new people.

Aaron Kinney said...

The word "buffoonery" should be A word of the day on Stephen Colberts show!