In the long run no government can maintain itself in power if it does not have public opinion behind it, i.e., if those governed are not convinced that the government is good. The force to which the government resorts in order to make refractory spirits compliant can be successfully applied only as long as the majority does not stand solidly in opposition.

–Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism: The Classical Tradition, p. 21

Sometimes I think that if Ludwig von Mises were to be resurrected from the dead he would be disheartened to read what is being pushed right now under the rubric of anarcho-capitalism, at least when it comes to what is being pushed on Facebook at the moment by some of them.

I am going to structure my post as follows:

  1. Some General Observations from my Experience on Facebook with some Anarcho-Capitalist Posts
  2. Some Comments on my Observations on these online Anarcho-Capitalists
  3. Conclusion: Anarcho-Capitalism Lacks Broad Public Appeal
  4. Why I Think Anarcho-Syndicalism Has a Better Chance of Appealing to the Masses

Some General Observations from my Experience on Facebook with some Anarcho-Capitalist Posts

Before I make my observations, I want to make it explicitly clear that I am not trying to claim apodictic truth. I certainly do not have the hubris to assume that I know the truth. Of course this is the complete opposite of many anarcho-capitalists who assume that Mises’s praxeological method assures them of absolute truth, with the concomitant claim that everyone else must be wrong before he or she opens up his or her mouth. This intellectual insolence makes it virtually impossible to have a discussion with them. How can you? They are right (at least in their minds) before the debate or discussion begins. Such impudence reminds me of my futile attempts to defend atheism.

Let me quickly summarize some of my interactions with them. In fact, I used to be an anarcho-capitalist at one time. Moreover, I used to put up posts on the Mises Facebook page and on the Circle Bastiat for a few months. As you can tell, I have apostatized by moving away from anarcho-capitalism toward classical anarchism (i.e., opposition to all hierarchical relationships including the whole idea of people selling their labor to capitalists or land owners). I say this in the hopes that nobody accuses me “straw-manning” anarcho-capitalists. Moreover, I say this in hopes that nobody tells me to go read XYZ or watch ABC YouTube movie because I (putatively) don’t “understand” anarcho-capitalism. I don’t claim to know everything about it; however, I think I understand it well enough to present its basic tenants fairly.

One rather disturbing incident occurred a few months ago when I pointed out that anarcho-capitalism is inconsistent with the desires of homosexuals for equality in society.  And boy oh boy, you would think that I had committed heresy of the highest order, some sort of unforgivable sin.  If I remember correctly, I put the following quotations up on my Facebook wall from Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s book Democracy: The God that Failed:

Indeed, private property means discrimination. (209)

Anthropologist Raymond Firth records an expression of exile from the Pacific island society of Tikopia that evokes in its simplicity the pathos of the Anglo-Saxon poem, “The Wanderer.” Inasmuch as all land was owned by the chiefs, an exiled person had no recourse but to canoe out to sea–to suicide or to life as a stranger on other islands. The expression for a person who is exiled translates that such a person “has no place on which to stand.” (217)

If they continued with their behavior or lifestyle, they would be barred from civilized society and live physically separate from it, in ghettos or on the fringes of society, and many positions or professions would be unattainable to them. In contrast, if they wished to live and advance within society, they would have to adjust and assimilate to the moral and cultural norms of the society they wanted to enter. To thus assimilate would not necessarily imply that one would have to give up one’s substandard or abnormal behavior or lifestyle altogether. It would imply, however, that one could no longer “come out” and exhibit one’s alternative behavior or lifestyle in public. Such behavior would have to stay in the closet, hidden from the public eye, and physically restricted to the total privacy of one’s own four walls. Advertising or displaying it in public would lead to expulsion. (212)

There would be signs regarding entrance requirements to the town, and, once in town, requirements for entering specific pieces of property (for example, no beggars, or homeless, but also no homosexuals, drug users, Jews, Moslems, Germans, or Zulus), and those who did not meet these entrance requirements would be kicked out as trespassers. (211)

My observation was very simple: why on earth would a homosexual want this? How can this possibly be appealing? Let’s see:

  1. I have to pretty much go hide in the closet again
  2. I will be blocked from most professions thus lowering my lifetime income substantially
  3. I will get to live in the libertarian ghetto!
  4. Private police will ban me from entering the libertarian city because I will be a “trespasser” on their homophobic (what appears to be) exclusive gated community
  5. Maybe I will get to go commit suicide because I will have nowhere to stand or live

Basically, this sounds like a hellhole for homosexuals. But what really frustrated me was how the Facebook anarcho-capitalists just parrot back all the abstruse theoretical answers–i.e., answers that ignore the human suffering that I will have to endure under their system. Let me see if I can remember some of them.

Of course, the ubiquitous non-aggression principle gets thrown out there. Ignore the horrific outcomes such as shipping the gays off to the libertarian ghetto (because remember property means exclusion and the idea seems to be to use property as the means of imposing some sort of Christian theocracy) by focusing on the putative “just means.” That seems to be how most of the arguments are framed–focus on the fact that they used the “correct means” so therefore the outcome–no matter how horrific–must be the “just one.”

Then there was this one guy who was going absolutely hysterical. It was almost too funny to listen to. His thesis was basically this: if he didn’t have some absolute property right then there would be no way to stop people from raping him!

The first problem, of course, is that we do not have absolute property rights in Canada. This is true of the United States, Europe, and I would guess most of the earth. Virtually nowhere on earth would we expect to find the anarcho-capitalist idea of absolute property rights. But–surprise, surprise–most people don’t go around all day saying to themselves, “I live in fear of being raped because I do not have absolute property rights!” The average person on the street just does not talk like this. It is an esoteric argument totally disconnected from the reality of the lived experiences of most people.

I bet you that if I were to go to a university pub and ask some female college students, tell me about what you worry about when it comes to date rape, I think they would mention things like a guy slipping a drug into their drink or maybe drinking too much alcohol and then getting taken advantage of by the guy. I seriously doubt that too many of them would raise the lack of absolute property right as their primary concern when they are on the dance floor! But that is the kind of stuff we get from these Facebook anarcho-capitalist. These kind of totally detached theoretical arguments presented in some hysterical way.

I also want to mention another observation I made a few days ago. One of my Facebook friends was involved in an online debate regarding food stamps. I think involved Rand Paul saying something in opposition to food stamps. And the criticism was something about how these putative “pro-life” politicians don’t care about starving out kids and unemployed people.

Now, the food stamp and poverty statistics in the United States are horrible to look at:

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Then you get the comments. They basically have a few lines of thought that really show a disconnect from reality. One of them was basically, “you should look after your own kids. That’s not my responsibility.” Then there is the absolute property claim (again since absolute property does not actually exist in reality they are taking hypothetical scenarios and applying them to reality) that basically says that paying for food stamps to help the poor is property theft. I am being robbed by tax extortion! Aggression!

Some Comments on my Observations on these online Anarcho-Capitalists

I started this entry by quoting on of anarcho-capitalism’s main authors, Ludwig von Mises. It seems to me that these online anarcho-capitalists are not listening to Mises.

Mises’s point is that in the long run power is rooted in public opinion. So if we assume that Mises is right in claiming power = public opinion, then the anarcho-capitalists are burying themselves with their approach to arguing their viewpoints.

Even if I were to concede everything they believe in as correct, such as absolute property rights, the non-aggression principle, Civil Rights need to be abolished, private contracts are the best way to organize society and so on, they are never going to get broad public opinion behind them with these kinds of heartless arguments.

Take the first observation I made about homosexuals living in right wing libertarian land. It is pretty obvious that public opinion is moving towards some sort of acceptance of homosexuals. Slowly but surely more and more jurisdictions (state governments and foreign national governments) are bringing in laws to legalize marriage equality. The LGBTQ rights movement has made tremendous progress.

Now just image buying billboard space and publishing Hoppe’s arguments. Anarcho-capitalism means ghettos for gays! Get back in the closet or get expelled! Go commit suicide because this is our land and we can make whatever rules we want on our land! Purge gays from the professions!

It makes them look like totally disconnected reactionaries.

From a purely theoretical point of view, Hoppe’s arguments are logically consistent. If I were trying to set up a society based exclusively on private property, I too would not want gay rights. Equality, fairness, having to accept “anti-family” values etc., these are all anathema to capitalism. Hoppe states that very clearly, he needs property and family values for his anarcho-capitalism system to work:

They must also be willing to defend themselves, by means of ostracism, exclusion and ultimately expulsion, against those community members who advocate, advertise or propagandize actions incompatible with the very purpose of the covenant: to protect property and family. (216)

I think Hoppe is right to worry about the gay rights movement in the context of his property-only society. The literature on gay rights has historically be very radical and tends to draw upon classical (real) anarchist ideas. For example, the Anarchist Library has a paper entitled For a Dialectic of Homosexuality and Revolution by David Berry. I’ve picked out one quote that I think gives the essence of what I am trying to say. Hoppe wants for his right wing libertarian anarcho-capitalist paradise some sort of Christian puritanical theocracy it seems. Family values! Property! And stuff like that. Now compare and contrast that with the anti-puritanical and anti-bourgeoisie views expressed in gay liberation literature. Basically, the two are enemies. They are incompatible:

There were other influences on Guérin’s thinking about sexual liberation, notably among the anarchists. In his youth, Guérin read E. Armand’s individualist anarchist organ L’en dehors, which used to campaign for complete sexual freedom, and for which homosexuality was regarded as an entirely valid form of “free love”.  Much later, Guérin discovered the German individualist anarchist, Max Stirner. If some anarchist-communists have been a little puzzled by Guérin’s interest in Stirner — generally anathema to the non-individualist wing of the movement — the answer lies in what Guérin perceived to be Stirner’s latent homosexuality, his concern with sexual liberation and his determination to attack bourgeois prejudice and puritanism: “Stirner was a precursor of May 68”.

There you go. The gay liberation material talks about: “attacking bourgeois prejudice and puritanism.” This is the complete opposite of what Hoppe wants: he seems to want the puritanical family values stuff that will support capitalism. Train the kids from day one for living in (putatively) “voluntary” hierarchies, i.e., a wage laborer by getting them to accept the hierarchical nature of the traditional family (dad rules).

When I did all of this, I had just recently come out of the closet. What I found so surprising was that none of these anarcho-capitalists could grasp the fact that my argument was simply that I do not want to have to live in a ghetto; I do not want to have all the professions blocked to my access; I do not want to have to go suicide myself; I do not want to be blocked from entry to a city by a private police force. In other words, the outcomes are going to adversely affect ME. I am going to suffer because of this. 

So what I was looking for was for someone to address my concerns. 

Tell me why do I want to live under these conditions? Why do I want to go from a situation where I have some legal protections that protect me from discrimination to a situation where I seem to have absolutely no protections?

Telling me about absolute property rights and a non-aggression principle doesn’t speak to my concerns for the obvious reason that I do not own land or property. I don’t own a factory. I don’t own a private city. I don’t own a Wal-Mart. I own nothing. So telling me about how property is going to be used to “protect my rights” is a meaningless response.

My educated guess is that they have no answer. Their entire system is simply whatever property produces must be just. So if property sticks the gays in a ghetto then that is the “just” outcome. To then say, “hey, this outcome sucks” is just an “aggression” against the property owners.

The same thing applies to the food stamp observation I made earlier. If they have an absolute property right then taxing it to feed a starving unemployed family is an “act of aggression” against the property owner. Consequently, in their system, they are being logically consistent. But the message is horrific.

The sales pitch is again to defend a horrific outcome. Kids and poor people starving for food–this is an awful message to sell.

Come join our anarcho-capitalist movement and defend starving out kids and single moms and unemployed people. As the underclass grows, more and more people are going to be in desperate economic conditions. Why are they going to want to listen to the anarcho-capitalist propaganda?

Hmmm. It is easy to conjure up why a lot of people are going to reject the anarcho-capitalist message pretty much immediately. Let’s say Bob has lost his job. Bob then lost his apartment. So Bob is now living out of his car. Bob is told how he is the “aggressor” against the property rights of bankers because Bob has the temerity to ask for food stamps paid for by the “violence of taxes.” Do you really think that Bob is going to now say: I love anarcho-capitalism! They rock!

It stretches credulity. I can see Bob saying something like this: the government bailed out those banking bastards and now you are telling me that their “property” has to be treated as sacrosanct? And because of these property rights, I am told, go starve! WTF! Fuck that.

I think that this is the major problem with anarcho-capitalism. Telling Bob about Lockean property rights or homesteading theories or “natural rights” means absolutely nothing to him. Bob wants food. Bob needs a job. Bob is suffering in pain. He is probably sick and afraid and suffering from depression. And what do they offer Bob? Abstruse theories that don’t provide solutions.

Well if only we had free voluntary exchange! Well if only gold were money! Well if only pigs fly!

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That is the problem right there. If only X, Y, Z, A, B were to exist then Bob would be free! But by the time all of these things come around (if they ever do come into existence), Bob will be dead.

To me it seems as though the anarcho-capitalists have nothing to offer people at the moment. They have abstruse theories that don’t deliver the immediate goods. Instead, they come across as offering up mean spirited solutions: attack food stamps or relegate homosexuals to ghettos.

But as the underclass grows, I think it makes the anarcho-capitalist message more and more marginalized. So I don’t see how they expect to get anywhere with their message. Consequently, one of the reasons for why I ended up rejecting anarcho-capitalism is that I think it is totally unimplementable. They just are not going to get broad public opinion behind them. The trend seems to be towards poverty and suffering among the masses. That means people without property! So the message for broad public opinion needs to speak to people without property. It needs to speak to the people in the growing underclass. A sales pitch based on the defense of absolute property rights seems to be completely out of place given the current situation.

Conclusion: Anarcho-Capitalism Lacks Broad Public Appeal

Again, I think the anarcho-capitalists can learn a lot from Ludwig von Mises. Take Mises’s book Liberalism: The Classical Tradition. It was one of the first books I read when I was still into all this anarcho-capitalism stuff. The book was written in 1927. It seems to be about how Europe has fallen into some sort of bloody battle between various political factions. Mises’s liberalism (he means laissez-faire capitalism) seems to be dead:

Only when the Marxist Social Democrats had gained the upper hand and taken power in the belief that the age of liberalism and capitalism had passed forever did the last concessions disappear that it had still been thought necessary to make to the liberal ideology. (26)

I think that is exactly what is going to happen if our economy totally collapses. I am writing this on October 5, 2013. The US government “shutdown” is happening and the October 17, 2013 debt ceiling event is coming shortly (which if it were to happen is supposed to be quite catastrophic to the US economy). When things start to fall apart, I suspect that liberal ideas–laissez-faire capitalist ideas–are going to become more and more marginalized. 

When reading about this 1927 period of upheaval in Europe, Mises seems to be saying that fascists (one extreme group) is “saving civilization” from another extreme group, namely, the “socialists and communists.”

It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merits that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error. (30)

My impression is this: when there is social upheaval, these “liberal” or “laissez-faire” ideas pretty much disappear. They just don’t have much practical relevance to the struggles happening in the streets. So I think as our world today starts to implode, I think “laissez-faire” ideas will become less and less relevant. 

In fact, I read one paper that suggests that these cruel and inhumane anarcho-capitalist prescriptions are not in the best interests of the capitalist class. It is almost as though the anarcho-capitalists don’t know what is in the best interests of capitalists. Going after food stamps or going after gay rights. Very bad and ultimately self-defeating thinking.

The last thing a capitalist–a real capitalist not some Facebook capitalist–wants is to go back to what Mises is describing, i.e., violence and fighting in the streets and blood shed. Because a poor person might lose their car in a riot, but a rich person might lose a factory or an office building. The rich have a lot more to lose from naked violence in the streets as society starts to fall apart with lots of desperate hungry and unemployed people.

From what I have read, the 1960s era–back when the “evil” Civil Rights Laws were created–was basically a form of bribery by the capitalist class meant to “buy peace.” The story seems to be that too many radical groups were rioting in the streets threatening the property owners. In order to “buy peace,” the capitalists brought in Civil Rights Laws. So it actually makes more sense for capitalists to pay some taxes in order to protect their property from being burned to the ground. Yet these anarcho-capitalists don’t seem to see this. By being so stuck in their “absolutely true” ideology, they can’t see that it is in the best interest of capitalists to have Civil Rights Laws and other laws that keep the poor masses assuaged. But of course, that means some taxes–oh the tyranny! And so I suspect that these anarcho-capitalists will shoot themselves in the foot. In order to avoid some taxes up front for food stamps or civil rights, they will end up paying a lot more for private police forces needed to protect their property from total destruction at the hands of the angry mob of poor and destitute population.  Again, I think this speaks to the lack of practical consideration when it comes to most anarcho-capitalists. Yes, in theory taxes to pay for food stamps are “exploitation” and “aggression” against property owners. But, but, but! Practically, they might make a lot more sense in suppressing open revolt against your property claims.

Why I Think Anarcho-Syndicalism Has a Better Chance of Appealing to the Masses

I think that anarcho-syndicalism has a better chance of appealing to the masses because it speaks directly to the suffering and needs of the poor and underclasses. What I find very attractive is what the anarcho-syndicalists did in the 1920s in Italy. In an article entitled Italian Syndicalism and Fascism, we see that the masses of workers and the underclasses can strike at the root of power by going after the factories. Organizing the masses to go after the big property assets by occupying them can strike fear in the hearts of the existing ruling classes:

As Malatesta argued at the time of the factory occupations, “[i]f we do not carry on to the end, we will pay with tears of blood for the fear we now instil in the bourgeoisie.” Later events proved him right, as the capitalists and rich landowners backed the fascists in order to teach the working class their place. Tobias Abse correctly argues that the “aims of the Fascists and their backers amongst the industrialists and agrarians in 1921-22 were simple: to break the power of the organised workers and peasants as completely as possible, to wipe out, with the bullet and the club, not only the gains of the biennio rosso, but everything that the lower classes had gained . . . between the turn of the century and the outbreak of the First World War.”

Over the occupied factories, flew “a forest of red and black flags” as “the council movement outside Turin was essentially anarcho-syndicalist.” Railway workers refused to transport troops, workers broke into strikes against the orders of the reformist unions and peasants occupied the land. Such activity was “either directly led or indirectly inspired by anarcho-syndicalists.”

ImageFor me, let’s say we have 40 million Americans on food stamps. This is a very large group of people in a very precarious situation. I just do not see how they will gravitate towards the anarcho-capitalist message. Why would very poor people care about protecting the absolute property rights of the people who actually have property? For me, this is one of the fatal flaws with anarcho-capitalism. Why would members of a large underclass buy an ideology that tells them that there is something out there called “justly acquired property.” I think that saying that “justly acquired property” exists is a chimera.

Let me give you a simple example. My dad worked most of his life for General Motors Canada. Following anarcho-capitalism, everything he owns is unjust property. Why? First of all, my dad belonged to a very powerful labor union–the Canadian Autoworkers. But unions are in league with the devil remember! Enemies of the property owners, the shareholders in GM stock. But then of course, GM seems to be a recipient of government bailouts. I remember as a boy watching the TV when they were bailing out the car companies. It seems like car company bailouts happen every 10 years it seems. So even the “capitalists” are getting government subsidy money, but that is tax money–another act of property aggression! So everything about General Motors seems to suggest “tainted property” or “unjustly acquired property.” And I bet that one could do this for every industry.

Maybe the easiest way to show that all property (or at least most property) is “tainted” and therefore “unjustly acquired” is to point out that oil has pretty much touched everything. Plastic water bottles. Plastic pens. Gasoline to drive your car. Jet fuel to air mail a letter. Use oil to make electricity. Fertilizers apparently are made with oil and everyone needs to eat food.  And so on. The get a book such as William Engdahl’s book A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. What we find is that the entire history of oil is about violence, robbery, coup d’etats and so on. It has nothing whatsoever to do with “justly acquired property” acquired through “homesteading” and all the anarcho-capitalist justifications for “justly acquired property.”

Engdahl’s story of the history of oil begins with a story of land theft by the British:

But the trump card which Her Royal Britannic Majesty played in the final phase of the negotiations around the Baghdad railway was her ties with the Sheikh of Kuwait. In 1901, British warships off the Kuwait coast dictated to the Turkish government that henceforth they must consider the Gulf port located just below the Shaat al-Arab, controlled by the Anaza tribe of Sheikh Mubarak al-Sabah, to be a ‘British protectorate.’

Turkey was at that point too economically and militarily weak to do other than feebly protest the de facto British occupation of this distant part of the Ottoman Empire. Kuwait in British hands blocked successful completion of the Berlin-Baghdad railway from important eventual access to the Persian Gulf waters and beyond. (24-25)

And again, from a practical point of view, the masses are not going to be impressed by esoteric arguments about property rights or theories on property rights origins, such as the idea that people own themselves (self-ownership) or original appropriation or homesteading theories.

But seizing factories and banks by having the workers and the poor–the underclasses–rising up when the economy totally tanks, well that is something that probably has a better chance of being sold to them. It is exactly what Mises said in my opening quote: power = public opinion. So, public opinion will be much more accepting of something like a factory occupation than listening to theoretical arguments about how “just property” emerged in some fairy tale past.

This seems to be the direction the world is heading, at least in America. Look at the Facebook posts I am reading or am posting. Get rid of food stamps! If the October 17, 2013 default happens, seniors will lose social security benefits! One of my British friends posted an article about how the UK government wants to strip all benefits from young adults under 25. What a horrific idea. So now you cut off 18-25 year olds. Let us assume they have no food, no housing, no school. What are they going to do? Sit around and read Rothbard about how the production process is supposedly distorted by central bank interest rate interventions? Or are they going to say: Fuck this! I have had enough! I bet they will take the Fuck this! option. It just seems much more natural. They will be prime targets, I think, for anarcho-syndicalism. But there seems to be little appeal of anarcho-capitalism to this group.

The beauty, I think, of anarcho-syndicalism is that it has all the right messages. It speaks of freedom and liberation. It speaks to the workers and the underclasses–hence it will have much broader appeal. It directly attacks concentrated power by occupying factories and other large businesses. It has perfect propaganda value: the workers seize the factories and then they fire the managers! Talk about role reversal. Now the poor people have jobs working in the occupied factories, and the rich are forced to suffer in the streets unemployed! There you go, you rich people! Enjoy the anarcho-capitalist system of absolutely no social safety nets! Enjoy your world without food stamps! Have a taste of your own medicine.

There is also an indirect effect going on here. One can talk about the “free market” and “market mechanisms” until you turn blue in the face. But, will it all work? I think it was around 1920 that Benjamin Tucker–the famous American individualist anarchist–wrote that he was losing faith in the idea of simply saying that the free market will smash the existing powers. The initial plan seems to have been simply to throw the country onto a free market. Then competition would eventually destroy usury, i.e., things like rent and interest and profit. Capitalism would be destroyed by letting the free market work its magic. But by 1920 he made an important observation. Although free market competition is an important force, it is only one force at work. There are other forces working in the opposite direction. One of these “opposing forces” is concentrated capital. In other words, even if you were to create a perfectly free market tomorrow, the existing concentrated capital and the existing banking sector could negate the whole free market process.

Is Benjamin Tucker right? I don’t know. I suspect that he might be. If the US government were to disappear tomorrow, I seriously doubt that the owners of capital are going to just sit by idly to let the free market take over and destroy all of their rents, profits, and interest income. So they will need to hobble the free market, which means they will need some sort of government or state. Maybe this will take the form of a “private state” as opposed to a “public state.” But I seriously doubt that existing capital will let the free market forces come back. And maybe just the existing concentrated capital makes the idea of reestablishing a free market impossible or nearly impossible.

But a mass poverty induced movement toward anarcho-syndicalism might solve this problem. If the workers and the underclasses can smash concentrated capital by taking over all the factories and banks and other large institutions, then property will no longer be concentrated in the hands of the few. Now, all property will be in the hands of the many, i.e., the poor, the workers, the underclasses, the students and so on. And so, now you can actually talk about having a “free market” based on “voluntary exchanges” because now you don’t have this concentrated capital problem that Benjamin Tucker was worried about around 1920. This is because anarcho-syndicalism, by putting capital into the hands of like 90% or more of the population, implies that social relationships will be far more equal. Now, ideas that tend to be more anarcho-capitalist will make more sense: exchange, voluntary transactions, choice, competition, creative destruction and innovation and so on. Now more people can experiment because now more people have access to capital. This would actually support the whole entrepreneurial emphasis of anarcho-capitalism. What I am trying to say is that anarcho-syndicalism is a means for “unlocking” concentrated capital and getting capital out there for many people–maybe even most people–to utilize. It also prevents existing capital owners from re-establishing some sort of “private state” which is exactly what I fear would happen if anarcho-capitalism were to be imposed. This is because I don’t see how anarcho-capitalism will destroy all the existing “unjustly acquired” property. How will it undo all the previous property distributions—all these unjustly acquired property distributions? My impression is that anarcho-capitalists assume that they can just run with the existing distributions as though existing distributions are our starting point for the new right wing libertarian world. But if Benjamin Tucker is right, then the free market mechanisms won’t kick in–things will stay pretty much as they are because of existing concentrated capital. And so there will still be a highly skewed society (many poor; few rich) without any free market mechanisms going on to give us all these rosy solutions of “voluntary exchanges” and “choice” and “competition.”

But anarcho-syndicalism pretty much guarantees that concentrated capital will be smashed. Capital will now be widely held. This makes talk of free market solutions sound much more viable now. Now with smashed concentrated capital since the workers own all the capital (the many own all the means of production–I do not mean to “literally” smash physical capital; what I mean is that concentrated capital in the hands of a few has been smashed, so now that physical capital is owned by the masses), now solutions desired by people such as Benjamin Tucker could very well be implemented. Now we can have many choices and competition and now talking about “free market processes” actually makes some sense. It also means that the idea of having the police protecting property has come to an end. One might need some sort of police to protect possessions, but there really is no need now for police to protect property. This is because property–the idea of “excluding people from access to the means of production”–no longer exists in any practical sense.

I am going to conclude by saying that one could use anarcho-syndicalism with its appealing messages to break up the existing concentrated capital problem. You take advantage of the growing underclass as the economy tanks. Then, non-capitalist free market solutions will probably work. So I see anarcho-syndicalism as a possible means to the end of non-capitalist free market solutions. And of course, maybe syndicalism will carry on. I am not sure exactly how this would play out. But I do think it would be better for the masses and especially the growing under class to go this way.

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