In my recent article about Anarchist Communism I touched very briefly upon some political philosophies that claim themselves as anarchist but can be easily demonstrated to be anything but. One of these miscategorised viewpoints is that of “anarcho” capitalism. It has made little impact in the British Isles, in my opinion, due to the internal contradictions and magical thinking involved with its proposed courses of action and how its supporters think capitalism works.
Given this I was a little surprised when a friend passed me this link to a tumblr by our very own Glasgow-based capitalist-without-a-clue. I had a skim through the blog and it seemed like a weird mix of anti-state memes, nationalism, free market nonsense, and the occasional poorly constructed defence when queried about using the term anarchist. All told I wasn’t that impressed but I decided to ask a question:
“How can you use the term anarchist (which denotes freedom from exploitative and oppressive hierarchies), and reconcile it with capitalism (a system built upon exploration and oppression to produce capital gain)?”
The reply directed my to a blog post and a video with the proviso that it “isn’t perfect but covers a lot of ground”. Well, where do I begin…?
Without Money We’d All Be Rich
The post I was directed to has little of worth to really talk about. There is some chat about early anarchists toying with economic models that still had some mode of exchange for goods (which is true but they where later rejected after being shown to be fundamental exploitative) before a ramble against the state-leftist where the only reason a company can get as large as a multi-national is due to the structures of state support. The main drive is that smashing the state but leaving capitalist relations intact will create a situation where workers will be on an even footing to the bosses.
The fact remains that you still have your needs held back from you in order to force you into work. In return you gain tokens that are worth less than the product of your labour that you can exchange for goods worth less than you hand over. The way in which people relate to their needs and one another is also changed by this process. These systems of exploitation will not magically vanish with the state as they are inherent to capitalism.
Perhaps the video will clear this point up?
Soooooo… the video isn’t something I’d describe as “not perfect” so much as pure fantasy. It starts by saying that workers will get a fair wage in an unregulated market because there is an excess of employers “bidding” for them – if one employer isn’t giving you enough you will just up sticks and find one who will! I can’t wait for the day I’m walking past the job centre to see the thousands of employers all fighting over a single person to clean the offices, however back in the real world there are more people than jobs. This is a cornerstone of capitalism used to drive down pay and conditions so that if you leave your job there is a host of people desperate enough to take it up, while there is little else to move into. Only a privileged few are ever in a position where companies are bidding for them.
Next we are told is that free market exchanges are “voluntary” and so everything will be ok (because of course people volunteer to have their needs kept back from them and to do work they have little interest in). It then goes onto to make a strawman argument that the only solutions proposed by socialism would increase the power of the state, something which conveniently ignores even the most fundamental anarchist economic solutions.
It closes with the same revelation we were fed got in the blog post about state structures favouring capital while screwing over workers, but says nothing of the structural nature of capital to create a class which owns the means of production and enforce scarcity of needs so as to exploit workers.
If any “anarcho” capitalist could show a way in which capitalist relations will not be inherently exploitative or rely on forms of oppression in the comments bellow then I’ll be happy to make a full post apologising for my mistaken position (though I won’t be holding my breath).
Until then this will be the last you hear of these “anarchists who want police protection from their slaves” on this blog.