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  • Anarcho-Collectivism versus
    Anarcho-Capitalism Debate

    Between Punkerslut and
    Hogeye Bill

    Posts #05-#06

    From Radical Graphics
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    Post #05


    Punkerslut to Hogeye Bill...

    Date: June 26, 2009

    Greetings, and sorry for the delay in responding,

    For the most part, I'd say our disagreement lies on two main areas: economics, and the method or mode of Anarchist revolution.

    In terms of Economics...

    Hogeye Bill:
    "To me there is a significant difference between simply benefiting from aggression beyond your control and participating in aggressive acts. Your argument proves too much - it could be extended to virtually all workers, who use government roads, went to government schools, buy clothes and cars, and yes, some even use computers. Does this make them morally culpable for State aggression? I don't think so."

         It is true that they hold a certain degree of moral responsibility. These are people who form, create, direct, and benefit from their government. However, there is a significant difference. Those on the bottom benefit from this authoritarian structure, that can't be denied, as they're buying and using products made with slave labor. Yet the opportunity for someone on the bottom to change things, is much different, than the opportunity for someone on top. Just a few years ago in England, the Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to associate fast food with cancer or unhealthiness. [McDonald's Restaurants v Morris & Steel] Those on top, if they like, can use the courts to completely abolish freedom of speech, and their governments participate by dragging scientists and researchers to prison. It is quite clear that some small group of Neo-Nazis wouldn't be able to prohibit Hebrew, by using the methods that a government leaves to them. But a gigantic corporation isn't stopped from doing virtually the same exact thing.

         Essentially, yes, everyone who participates and benefits from an action holds a responsibility to it. However, given this type of slavery, exploitation, and oppression, those on the bottom carry a significantly smaller responsibility than those on top. This could be stopped any time by those on top, but it would require a thirty-year uphill battle for anyone on the bottom. For instance, like Gandhi's struggle against British Imperialism.

    Hogeye Bill:
    "Ben and Jerry's, as far as I know, does not get a significant part of their income from government contracts, does not encourage foreign governments to raze barrios to make way for foreign factories, or anything like that. Since government is ubiquitous, they do deal with government and benefit in some ways, as we all do. Do they receive a net benefit, after taxes and regulations and such? I don't think so."

         A cursory glance around google reveals some interesting facts about Ben & Jerry's. The CEO has donated over a hundred thousand dollars to the Democratic Party. This is a political party that legitimizes and defends oppression of foreign peoples as a benefit to our Capitalist's economy. [http://www.newsmeat.com/ceo_political_donations/Ben_Cohen.php] And apparently, they seem to be interested enough in these politicians to promote them at their outlets. There's now an Obama Pecan Ice Cream. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/09/yes-pecan-ben-jerrys-anno_n_156674.html] There are also donations to the Democratic National Convention. This needs no criticism: the DNC moved swiftly and thoroughly through Boston, picking up the homeless, the black, and the poor, and throwing them into jail. They were virtually all released without charges once the DNC left town. These streets belong more to Obama than they do to the black families who have lived there for generations. Thanks, Ben and Jerry's -- we don't have enough racism and police brutality in our cities, but you certainly help with keeping it up!

    Hogeye Bill:
    "Yes, as long as it rules - as long special interests have a State to use as a gun - there will be a ruling elite few. But without a State, making a profit is equivalent to serving one's fellow man."

    Quoting Adam Smith...

    "But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say, the natural state of things, which nobody ever hears of." [Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, Volume 1, chapter 8.]

         To be an owner of Capital is to have all of your interests directed against the majority of people. By excluding the majority of people, and including a very few, the Anarcho-Capitalist Revolution certainly fails to be Anarchist. Other economists are generally in agreement about the inherent, anti-people quality of the Capitalist class:

    "Those who become servants for the sake of food, will soon become slaves: for slavery is but the abuse of service, established by a civil institution; and men who find no possibility of subsisting otherwise, will be obliged to serve upon the conditions prescribed to them.... This seems a consequence not unnatural in the infancy of the world: yet I do not pretend to affirm that this was the origin of slavery. Servants, however, there have always been; and the abuse of service is what we understand by slavery." -- Steuart, James, "An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy," London: Printed for A. Millar, and T. Cadell, in the Strand., 1767. Book 1, chapter 4.

    "...for the Borrower is always a slave to the Lender, and shall be sure to be always kept poor, while the other is fat and full: HE THAT USETH A STOCK THAT IS NONE OF HIS OWN, BEING FORCED FOR THE UPHOLDING HIS REPUTATION TO LIVE TO THE FULL, IF NOT ABOVE THE PROPORTION OF WHAT HE DOTH SO USE, WHILE THE LENDER POSSESSING MUCH, AND USING LITTLE OR NONE, LIVES ONELY AT THE CHARGE OF WHAT HE USETH, AND NOT OF WHAT HE HATH." (caps not mine) -- Child, Josiah, "Brief Observations Concerning Trade and Interest of Money," 1668, London, Printed for Elizabeth Calvert at the Black-spread Eagle in Barbican, and Henry Mortlock at the Sign of the White-Heart in Westminster Hall.

    "It very rarely happens that the nominal price of labour universally falls, but we well know that it frequently remains the same, while the nominal price of provisions has been gradually increasing. This is, in effect, a real fall in the price of labour, and during this period the condition of the lower orders of the community must gradually grow worse and worse. But the farmers and capitalists are growing rich from the real cheapness of labour. Their increased capitals enable them to employ a greater number of men. Work therefore may be plentiful, and the price of labour would consequently rise. But the want of freedom in the market of labour, which occurs more or less in all communities, either from parish laws, or the more general cause of the facility of combination among the rich, and its difficulty among the poor, operates to prevent the price of labour from rising at the natural period, and keeps it down some time longer; perhaps till a year of scarcity, when the clamour is too loud and the necessity too apparent to be resisted." -- Malthus, Thomas, "An Essay on the Principle of Population," 1798, chapter 2.

         My opposition to Capitalism is this: that every Capitalist, whether they are small and independent, or big and wealthy, always has the same prejudices. I'm a classist, absolutely! But I'm no more a classist than Jean Batiste-Say, Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, James Steuart, Simonde de Sismondi, or David Ricardo.

         Also, you can't argue that these are exclusive to Statist-Capitalism, otherwise I could respond that competition, efficiency, and people seeking out their own desires, likewise, are exclusive to Statist-Capitalism. The examples you drew out of Statist Capitalism, with efficient and small firms, are just as much a product of Authoritarian Capitalism as Halliburton.

    In terms of the Social Revolution...

    Hogeye Bill:
    "As far as strategy goes, I think agorism has it right. (See the New Libertarian Manifesto for details.) I think general strike type ideas are hopelessly outdated, if only because the computer revolution has made (is making) the industrial mode less and less significant. Look at it this way: In 1900 90% of Americans worked in agriculture. By 1970 less than 10% did. I think factory line work will go the way of agriculture - fewer and fewer people will be doing it, and soon it will also be under 10% like agriculture. The rise in self-employment and small firms make government control much harder. All the tanks in the world can't crack PGP. For the first time in 500 years, technology favors decentralization and freedom."

         It is certainly true that as technology develops, it requires less space and fewer assembly line workers. Yet this has done little to nothing to abolish the utilitarian effects of factories. In terms of agriculture, it is true that machinery and developed methods have significantly reduced the workload, and hence, the need for laborers. But in manufacturing, this can't be said. The loss of manufacturing in the United States, for instance, is coupled by an equal growth in manufacturing in other nations. The term "Capital Flight" has been used to describe this, as the loss of manufacturing jobs in the US is more a result of factories relocating, than it is due to the inefficiency of factories.

         We need to look at what has replaced factories and farms: it is the service industry. Specifically, this entire industry caters to businesses or the personal needs of those who can afford it. It is a compliment to a Capitalist system that does most of its manufacturing overseas. If the factories were to dissolve, where would the engineers implement their new designs? Who would the administrative companies manage?

         Furthermore, I can't comprehend how the General Strike is out of date. Just this year, it was used to gain significant labor, cultural, and social rights -- the French Caribbean General Strikes of 2009. In 2007, a General Strike in Guinea gave people elective rights. In 2006, a teacher's strike in Oaxaca exploded into a Social Revolution, as workers seized their industries and barricaded the city. In 2005, the Bolivian General Strike removed a tyrant from the head of the government. And in 2000, when Bechtel attempted to purchase the municipal water supplies of the Bolivians, a General Strike forced them out of the nation. In 1984, a General Strike forced the overthrow of a military dictator in Uruguay. In 1989, the General Strike freed Poland from Soviet clutches -- less than two decades ago, and striking brought one of the most evil governments to its knees.

         Agorism, as a strategy, has never succeeded, not has it even made a serious attempt and failed. In fact, it seems absurd that a criminal market can help the people. What we see in most organized crime is authority at the top who always exploits and abuses those who want to become involved. The Russian, Irish, Italian mafia, etc., generally have this reputation. They are not creating a liberty for the people, but they exploit and use them wherever they can. This is the general trend of top-down, criminal organizations. I couldn't imagine that the head of the Mafia would be a better governor than an elected master. Given the history of such criminal organizations, we shouldn't doubt their willingness to seize and take any power, whether it is economic or political.

    Andy Carloff,

    From Radical Graphics
    Image: From Radical Graphics,
    From "Unsorted" Gallery

    Post #06

    Hogeye Bill

    Hogeye Bill to Punkerslut...

    Date: July 20, 2009

    "Essentially, yes, everyone who participates and benefits from an action holds a responibsility to it."

         As I said, I would drop the "and benefits" from your statement, changing it to anyone who participates in aggression holds a responsibility. There are cases where someone aggresses without benefiting, e.g. murdering the wrong guy or mugging someone who turns out not to have any money. There are cases where someone benefits from someone else's wrong-doing, e.g. someone murders someone you don't like or a competitor, or a thief buys something from you with stolen money. In my moral system, there is no culpability for such.

         I would go even farther. If someone rips off the State, I think that is morally good. If someone gets 20 welfare checks, or "steals" a computer from a government agency, I think that is morally praiseworthy. Such a person benefits from the State, but in my theory of property justice he has done no wrong - he is simply homesteading stolen property from a thief (who clearly has no right to it.)

         I agree with you that big corporations and unions and established politically connected entities are more likely to utilize and participate in State aggression - as a heuristic. But just as I would not accuse an individual black teenage male of being a criminal just because of his demographic class, I do not accuse a large entity of aiding and abetting State aggression just because of its size. I require evidence of participation.

         So when you write about Ben and Jerry's actions, we are on the same page. However, simply giving money to an extortionist doesn't qualify IMO as aiding and abetting aggression. I don't blame a taxpayer for paying the State extortionist (though I try to convince him to resist as much as he can). In the same way, I don't blame a corporation or other entity for paying off one or the other wing of the War Party. Both of those can be seen as self-defense. I'm more concerned with, e.g. corporations using governments to get land by eminent domain, or getting government to injure or outlaw their competition.

    Hogeye Bill:
    "Yes, as long as it rules - as long special interests have a State to use as a gun - there will be a ruling elite few. But without a State, making a profit is equivalent to serving one's fellow man."

    "Quoting Adam Smith, 'But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject....'"

         Yes, firms do attempt to create cartels. But such cartels are unstable since (without govt force) there is incentive to defect. In practice, cartels tend to break down, usually rather quickly. The railroad cartels of the 19th century were remarkably unsuccessful in price-fixing - until the US government stepped in and created the ICC which cartelized it. Cf: Big Business and the Rise of American Statism by Roy A. Childs. (The popular myth on both the left and right is that such "trust-busting" was anti-business. In fact, as Gabriel Kolko on the left and people like Rothbard have shown, the big established firms fully supported the cartelization, as they were the main beneficiaries. See my piece Progressivism is Closet Fascism.)

    "My opposition to Capitalism is this: that every Capitalist, whether they are small and independent, or big and wealthy, always has the same prejudices."

         I'm not sure what prejudices you refer to here. All men, whether in a capitalist or worker role, prefer more to less OTBE. That is a fact of human nature. You write, "Also, you can't argue that these are exclusive to Statist-Capitalism." Yet, the paragraph preceding this statement specifies that the bad effects are due to "the want of freedom in the market of labour" - clearly applying only to statist capitalism. They are due to government imposed "parish laws," to "combinations" (i.e. cartels) which we've seen are rather innocuous without government power to enforce them. It also cites monetary inflation, also a product of the State. So contrary to your assertion, these are exclusive to the statist perversion of capitalism.

    "I can't comprehend how the General Strike is out of date. Just this year, it was used to gain significant labor, cultural, and social rights -- the French Caribbean General Strikes of 2009...."

         All your examples of "successful" general strikes seem to have resulted in an increase in the power of the State. Did any succeed is abolishing the State, or even setting up parallel structures independent of the State? No. Some apparently even legitimized the State ("elective rights"). Others replaced one ruler with another (Bolivia, Uruguay). The fall of the Soviet Union had more to do with imperial overstretch and the contradictions of a controlled economy than any general strike. So I'm not convinced of the efficacy of general strikes, except for perhaps some short-term concessions. No revolutionary results occurred.

         Agorism helps people avoid the depredations of the State. It is also scalable. IMO all attempts to live while avoiding government plunder, all attempts to provide goods and services outside the control of the State is a step in the right direction. Free market (non-statist) protection agencies come in the final stages. The mafia organizations you cite prosper mainly due to the State, taking advantage of demand due to State aggression (e.g. prohibitions against drugs, prostitution, etc.) Put another way, the State subsidizes the mafia with its inane laws. I don't see mafias in a statist society as indicative of how protection agencies would work in a free market. I see Classical Iceland or the not-so-wild Wild West to be more like what would occur.

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